Friday, October 30, 2009

On The Road

I am off to Tanzania today to cover the first part of the three part documentary. The sun glints off the new paint of the airplanes around me as I sit in the Africa Lounge overlooking the runway. I am acutely aware of my own carbon footprint, not only from this project but all my travels. Part of my impetus for creating this documentary is to find the best way to neutralize my own carbon footprint. I will happiily share what I find out.

The project in Tanzania is on Forestry.

I am curious to find out how forestry works within the present Kyoto Protocol, and why so few forestry projects in Africa have succeeded in registering their projects with the Clean Development Mechamism (CDM) that allows the carbon they sequester to be sold on the open market. To date there are only a few, and Green Resources, which runs this project I am visiting in Sao Hill, has a good track record of regsitration and carbon removal.

I will be high up in the forests, so may be unable to attend to my blog, but will update it as much as possible while on the road.

My flight is being called. Time to lay down more carbon in the atmostphere and get on my three hour flight over southern Africa.

Jeffrey Barbee
Octber 30th, Oliver Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Road to Copenhagen

Sliverback Gorilla in the Virungas, Central Africa
By Jeffrey Barbee

Today is the start of my road to Copenhagen, where the COP15 climate congress will happen in December. I have embarked on a trip of discovery of how Carbon Trading works in Africa, who should benefit, who does benefit and what could be done to make it better.

Why here? Why not on my blog at Global Post? In short, I have been bitten by the Jeff Jarvis bug. It's insidious, all-pervasive, and intends to disrupt the inner working of every business on the planet, including mine. (Oops it already has!) Right now, sitting next to my loo, five stories above Johannesburg, South Africa, is his book What Would Google Do? (WWGD) It is gift from my father, the cross-platform international development guru John Barbee, and a road-map to all things googley. He deserves some credit for the launch of this blog, which I hope will become a source for bringing together all the different aspects of what defines my work and how it gets done, starting with The Road to Copenhagen.

I aim to bring as many people as possible on this journey, so invite your friends. I will be sharing some of the on-the-ground realities of Global Warming, Climate Change and most importantly, what we can do about it. Copenhagen is coming. This much-vaunted conference will, if you believe the mainstream media, either doom us all to a world hotter than hell, or will save us from disaster. I will be there to tell the real story as I see it, and presenting, over the next six weeks a series of short videos that will make up a documentary that will be shown to delegates and the public during the conference.

Only by seeing what benefits have already come from the Kyoto Protocol, and where it fell totally flat, will the world be able to re-craft it into something better, something workable, and something that makes a real difference in the lives of people in the developing world.

So in that vein, I am traveling to Copenhagen, through Tanzania, Malawi and South Africa. A circuitous route, to be sure, but in fact the three projects I am profiling in these three countries should be looked at as signposts on the road to a lower carbon future. They may be successful or they may be struggling, but all of them offer a window into the realities of changing our relationship with the natural world, from extraction to custodianship.

I have no illusions. Previous stories like my trip through the Atlantic two years ago, and some of the work I have done with the New York Times, The Guardian, The Pulitzer Center, and Global Post all illustrate the dire straits of our planet's ecology. But we shall be judged in the future not only for what we have done, but also for what we may fail to do. It is this failure I hope to address, for our future is not written in stone, and humanity has an incredible ability to adjust and adapt in times of need. This project aims to show a possible way forward, a chance to change it all around. Maybe our last chance.

I will be watching the sunrise through the forests of Tanzania, talking to the movers and shakers of the carbon markets, visiting the most deforested country on Earth, and much more, so join in, get involved and feel free to send your comments and suggestions in. This is your chance be part of the road to Copenhagen.

I would like to think that if Google were to make an educational and entertaining documentary with this purpose, this is What Google Would Do. So thank you Jeff Jarvis, for a very fine book.
Jeffrey barbee October 26, 2009
South Africa