Turkish attack on Syria endangers a remarkable democratic experiment by the Kurds by James L. Gelvin for the Conversation, 10/13/19
Photo Credit: AP Photo
The Kurdish region of Syria also has some politically problematic origins. The Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Union Party — Rojava’s leading political party — played an outsized role in the creation of Rojava. The party is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, a far-left militant group that has fought against the Turkish government, first for the independence of Kurds from Turkey in the 1980s and 1990s, then — in the early 2000s — for their autonomy within Turkish borders.
Many Kurds in Rojava consider PKK founder Abdullah Ocalan a national hero. It was Ocalan who came up with the idea of confederalism in the first place, back in 2005. But both Turkey and the United States consider the PKK to be a terrorist organization. The PKK is currently conducting an insurgency against the Turkish government.
The Rojava project is now in imminent peril. Even if Turkey hadn't launched its military offensive, Rojava would probably still have a tenuous future. The Syrian–Kurdish Democratic Union Party has refused to take sides in the Syrian civil war. Its vision, now realized, lay elsewhere.
Nevertheless, it is doubtful that the Syrian regime will reward Kurds for their relative impartiality during the civil war. Nor is it likely that the regime will reward them for limiting their goal to autonomy instead of independence.
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Greta Thunberg made it to New York emissions-free — but the ocean doesn't yet hold the key to low-carbon travel by Steve Fletcher for the Conversation 9/1/2019
UN Photo/Manuel Elias The Swedish teenage climate activist, Greta Thunberg joins demonstration outside the United Nations in New York on 30 August 2019.
This isn't exactly cheap either – and nor will it save much on your carbon footprint. Cruise vessels are one of the most energy-intensive of all tourism activities, emitting significant quantities of greenhouse gases and health– damaging pollutants including nitrous oxide, sulphur dioxide and particulate matter. In fact, perhaps unexpectedly, the carbon dioxide generated per passenger in a standard class cabin on a seven-day cruise on board a large modern vessel is approximately 1.5 times that of a single economy flight between London and New York.
Admittedly, some of these emissions will be from the many activities on the ship rather than fuel and basic power consumption. An alternative ferry service with many of the luxuries of the cruise ship experience stripped away would be more climate-friendly, though by how much is difficult to say as ferry companies don’t routinely disclose carbon emissions. And the isolation of a seven-day oceanic journey with few activities may not appeal to many travelers.
But the carbon cost of these journeys should come down significantly in the next 20 years. The traditional reliance of vessels on heavy fuel oil, which creates air pollution and contributes to climate heating, is reducing. Thanks to new International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations to substantially reduce air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions from ships in the next decade, greener fuels are slowly coming into use.
Like cars, hybrid vessels combining conventional engines with batteries are also becoming increasingly common. Cruise companies are considering even greater use of battery power in response to the new 2020 regulations, as well as to minimize pollution in the sensitive environments many of their boats disturb, such as coral reefs and fjords.
Other technologies such as solar collectors, conventional sails and keel-mounted turbines are also increasingly contributing to the propulsion, electricity and heating of ships. My estimate is that collectively, these technologies could reduce carbon emissions by as much as 50% over the next 20 years.
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