Apr 10, 2021 Last Updated 4:12 AM, Apr 8, 2021

Exactly a decade ago to the day, on April 18, 2004, when I emailed my first ever Views from Auckland column to Laisa for the May 2004 issue of this magazine, little did I imagine that my tenth anniversary column would be her tribute. In fact, when I called from Auckland to wish her well on her birthday on January 15 this year, she reminded me that 2014 was my column’s tenth year. Ever since, I’ve been wondering what the theme for my anniversary column for the May issue should be. Laisa, like many times before, gave me the idea – but in such a sad way, this once.

And to think that Bosso won’t even be reading it… Laisa’s professionalism and work ethic always held me in awe. In her final weeks, she wanted to work as long as she would be able to. When she was too frail to travel to work, she insisted that a small office be set up at her home. It was done but sadly, it did not work out well but Laisa did not give up. The last issue of this magazine left the presses on April 3. Her colleagues rushed with an advance copy to her home. Though she was too weak to meet with them, her son Aisake leafed through the copy for her that evening. He later said she smiled and then went to sleep.

She passed away the next morning. Her ability to plan ahead and work simultaneously on as many as six titles on an average workday was simply superhuman. Ever the meticulous planner, Laisa had the cover story for this magazine’s April issue written well in advance in February. In what can only be a strong premonition of the inevitable that April 4 was to bring, she not only held that cover story back but also had several extra stories prescheduled for April. “A major reason why the Islands Business team was able to come out early with the April edition is basically because of Laisa’s immaculate forward planning and impressive work ethic,” says Samisoni Pareti, who held the fort for Bosso.

.....to read more buy your personal copy at

http://www.islandsbusiness.com/subscribe/

 

That grim, much-derided prediction of impending apocalypse that has provided satirical grist to many a cartoonist’s mill – so often depicting an unkempt, placard-carrying vagrant picketing the street – was last month elevated to the status of rocket science. Literally. Research funded by no less hallowed an institution as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has predicted that our civilisation is in terminal decline. Not many of us will be around to welcome the dawn of the next century, apparently.

The way we have been destroying our environment over the past couple of centuries and the way climate change – man made or not – is ravaging us, we don’t need a rocket scientist to tell us that we’re all heading for trouble. Big trouble. But when an organisation like NASA, full of rocket scientists besides other nerdy, brainy sorts, gets associated with what claims to be a serious study proposing that we’re all doomed, the world does take notice.

The study draws parallels between several past civilisations that declined and disappeared, some of them mysteriously, many of them for good reasons – and compares them with the challenges that our civilisation finds itself confronting. Again, most of the findings are more common sense than rocket science: too many people chasing dwindling resources, the widening gap between the haves and have-nots upsetting the social status quo leading to war, disease, chaos and ultimately, decimation. Instances of past civilisations going down the tube are legion.

From the highly progressive Nabta Playa people who disappeared in about 6000 BCE around what is now Egypt, through the great Indus Valley civilisation (India/Pakistan/ Afghanistan) that is believed to have gone to seed around 1900 BCE to the Khmers (in today’s Cambodia) and the Incas (in modern Peru) well into the Christian era, history is littered with vanished civilisations. The list is endless: Romans, Guptas, Mesopotamians, Mauryas, Han…

.....to read more buy your personal copy at

http://www.islandsbusiness.com/subscribe/

According to popular climate change lore, the continuous spewing of carbon and harmful greenhouse gases over nearly 200 years, primarily by western nations, is what has caused the earth to warm up irrevocably these past few decades. This warming has caused polar ice caps and continental glaciers to melt like ice cream on a hot tin roof. Different climate scientists have come out with different estimates at different times about how much this melting will cause sea levels to rise over the next century or so.

Estimates vary from a couple of metres to several tens of metres. Scary scenarios have been painted about what the world map and the world’s demographics will look like in 100 years. Famines, water shortages, mass migration, wars, natural catastrophes, even apocalypse have all been predicted with all manner of scientific modelling. At climate change meets down the years, small islands states and countries that perceive themselves as being vulnerable to rising sea levels have repeatedly complained that they are being made to pay for the centuries long abuse of the environment by the industrialised world.

Countries like Tuvalu have leveraged the emotive appeal of this argument to drum up support from governments and world development organisations. A few years ago, even Queen Elizabeth said in a speech that the world’s poor were suffering the effects of climate change for no fault of theirs and because of the industrial pollution caused by the relentless growth ambitions of the industrial western world. Rising sea levels have all along been seen as the single most devastating effect of climate change—and low-lying coastal areas and small islands states have been seen as those being the first to be affected.

...to read more buy your personal copy at

http://www.islandsbusiness.com/subscribe/

The Davos charade

As the world’s super rich and ultra influential movers and shakers rub shoulders at the hardy annual that is the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the champions of the world’s have-nots do everything they can to give them as big a guilt complex as possible. But in a world in which Gordon Gecko and The Wolf of Wall Street—who have no use for anything even remotely resembling a moral compass—are role models worthy of emulation, is there anything that could entice them away from the dollar paved path leading to the temple of the goddess of greed?

This year, a bleeding heart NGO used statistics with some effect. Just before the January forum, the global media went wild with stories about the world’s 85 richest people having as much wealth as the poorest half of all humans on earth. The Oxfam report, which sought to highlight rising inequality across the world also found that just one percent of the world’s population owns 65 times the total wealth of those in the bottom half of wealth distribution. This one percent owns some $110 trillion— about half the world’s accounted wealth.

While economists and analysts are divided on the assumptions, premises, methodology and even sources on which these statements are based, the report has brought back to centrestage debates such as whether true egalitarianism in free market democracies is achievable realistically; if dire poverty can really be wiped out within a capitalistic framework; if a more equitable redistribution of wealth can be achieved democratically to avoid utterly preventable problems that plague over a billion humans—such as hunger, health, shelter, hygiene, education and livelihoods.

This year, Pope Francis addressed the Davos jamboree telling the influential attendees to ensure that humanity was served by wealth, not ruled by it. The Pope called for “…decisions, mechanisms and processes directed to a better distribution of wealth, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality”. Also among the other sideshows, I believe there were meditation sessions, which the participants could attend to develop ‘mindfulness’.

...to read more buy your personal copy at

http://www.islandsbusiness.com/subscribe/

No event in recent memory has seen so many world leaders, bitter political rivals, technocrats, A-list celebrities, thousands of media persons and hundreds of thousands of common folk descend on a venue in a far off country at such short notice to pay their respects to a departed soul. The attendee list at the event was a virtual who’s who of the whole wide world—a list that needed no preparation to compile, no invitations to be sent and almost no protocols to be followed. Such was the greatness and the charisma of Nelson Mandela, undoubtedly one of the greatest leaders in all of mankind’s history, that the world’s movers and shakers descended on a stadium in South Africa without any of the security fuss and the cloying protocol that always accompanies them.

An imposter of an interpreter with a serious criminal conviction to his name and who was known to be of unsound mind was able to stand next to the world’s most protected man, US President Barack Obama, in full view of billions of viewers around the world. Such an incident is unthinkable in any other country or venue. And even if it ever happened, it would have caused enough outrage for a dozen heads to roll. Reams upon reams have been written on Nelson Mandela’s extraordinarily eventful life—often described as the long walk to freedom—and his death since his passing last month.

The story of his struggles, his rise from obscurity to one of the world’s most well loved leaders of all times has inspired a generation. Along the way, his achievements—helping make apartheid a thing of the past, being his most significant one—have been celebrated ever since he was set free from 27 years of inhuman, solitary incarceration. His utterances on cultivating tolerance, compassion and forgiveness for others’ transgressions, even if you have been the unjust victim, have conferred on him the quality of a political saint—not unlike another giant of a previous era: Mahatma Gandhi.

...to read more buy your personal copy at

http://www.islandsbusiness.com/subscribe/

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.