It was eye-catching enough to grab attention and convey the
important information in an instant. Combined with humour to carry this
information, the result was a visual ‘one-liner’,
a joke that speaks the message the ad intends.
But if Oxfam's PR Department is giving
themselves a pat on their own shoulders, they need to think again. Did it
help negotiators at the Durban Climate Summit to get serious? No. More seriously, how on earth did they think they could get away by treating eating
carbon as some kind of joke? This brings us to the question - what exactly is
the kind of diet Oxfam staff feeds on? Silicon?
I suppose it would come as a shock to Oxfam
to discover whenever we ordinary mortals bite into an apple, steak or dish of
ice cream, we're sure to get plenty of one type of element: carbon. Because
carbon is present in all known forms of life, every food we eat contains
Carbon is unique in its ability to form large,
diverse molecules because of the way it forms electronic bonds with other
atoms. The chemical bonds carbon forms allow it to form long molecular chains
essential to life as we know it.
Large carbon-based molecules are called
organic macromolecules. There are four major groups of macromolecules: fats,
carbohydrates, proteins and nucleic acids. All four share the basic property of
having a carbon atom "skeleton,"
but differing chemical properties mean that each type of macro-molecule has a
unique function in diet and health.
So bad enough Oxfam committed a faux pax but it becomes much worse
that their advertisement has gone viral over the internet as the resulting
cheap publicity only succeeded in exposing the level of scientific
illiteracy the pervades their organization. And to think Oxfam chooses to
lecturing and haranguing the rest of the world about the great climate
apocalypse coming unless we take action now; arrogated themselves the role of a
key driver of inter-governmental negotiations and advocating policies they
themselves formulated. Thank God for the Durban Summit coming to naught!
It is pathetic that Oxfam arrogates
itself to speak on behalf of developing countries only to succeed in sounding
more and more as the British Crown. They can be more successful align
themselves to the voices of the developing world if they take a cue from
India's Environment Minister's stirring speech that won her a standing ovation
"Natarajan recalled that former Indian Prime Minister Indian Prime
Minister Indira Gandhi had said that poverty is the "greatest polluter and
development is the greatest healer".
"Equity has to be the centrepiece of the Climate discussion and our
negotiations should be built on it," she underlined. She insisted that
"we cannot accept the principle of CBDR to be diluted. The firewall of
CBDR must not be broken. Equity in the debate must be secured." Noting
that India has taken "ambitious steps" to address climate change, she
said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has announced that the country's per capita
emissions would never exceed that of developed countries. "We have pledged
to lower our emissions intensity of our GDP by 20-25 per cent by 2020."
She said a recent report from Stockholm Institute has noted that the mitigation
pledges of developing countries amount to more mitigation than that of
"What we demand is for existing commitments to be met. What we
demand is comparability of actions. We demand that the emissions gap must be
bridged." Natarajan said that there should be "clear time-lines"
that advance the actions and ambition of parties. "We should have an
ambitious implementation phase till 2013 and then go to the Review in 2013-15
to make an assessment based on science and commitments," Natarajan said.
"We should then begin work on the arrangements... We should not
confuse legally binding arrangements with ambition. We need commitments, not
mere hollow promises," she underlined. Besides the question of India,
China and the US agreeing to a new treaty, texts dealing with the Kyoto
Protocol and the Long-Term Cooperative Action, the two main tracks of
negotiations, are also being studied. There is concern, however, that ministers
and negotiators may have to catch their flights before any agreement can be
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