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Common Earth draws on ancient wisdom to save planet



The Commonwealth has launched a regenerative climate change model called Common Earth, which marries the ancient wisdom of indigenous groups with emerging innovations, technologies and scientific approaches.

Common Earth is a programme that is designed to create a network of projects that could be replicated and adapted to any community, country or region.

Government officials, environmentalists, scientists, economists, and representatives from indigenous groups from around the Commonwealth recently met at the organisation’s headquarters in London to discuss how the initiative can achieve sustainable development whilst protecting the planet.

“It is not game over in the battle against climate change its game on,” said Secretary-General Patricia Scotland. “Because this about looking at practical, existing strategies to clean streams, restore forests and damaged ecosystems, protect marine health, educate our populations and challenge the economic and development approaches that led to the decline of our planet.

“It is about a development model that takes into account the ancient wisdom of the indigenous peoples that found a way to live in harmony with their environments, and integrates it into our scientific advances and solutions to climate change. And it is a model I will take to ministers in our upcoming trade and finance summits and heads of governments at their meeting next year.”

Common Earth, she said, will be based on regenerative economic models. 

Economist Stuart Cowan explained how these types of economies will work: “When we talk about regenerative economies we are looking at cycles of growth transformation. We are looking for ways to bring ecological systems back into full health and blossoming, and figuring out how our economies can meet all our needs, while nature flourishes.

“So as we think about climate change the health of living systems is critically important. The way we use our land, grow our food and design our cities and transportation systems can reduce carbon emissions rapidly and efficiently.”

The Common Earth project will be hinged on the activities of five working groups:

  • the ‘Commonwealth Small State, Climate Change Blue-Green Trade Working Group’;
  • the ‘Gender and Climate Change Working Group’;
  • the ‘Indigenous Affairs Working Group’;
  • the ‘Waters Prosperity Working Group’;
  • the ‘Regenerative Finance Working Group’.

Nichie Abo, a member and former chairman of the Tribal Council for the Kalinago Indians in Dominica, described the conference as important in providing solutions to climate change. He gave an overview of the Kalinago Global Resilience projects, which have created approaches to building infrastructure and farming that can help to protect, preserve and restore natural resources.

“The Kalinago way is simple, it is not materialistic, not extractive, it has respect for the earth and the entire environment and we view ourselves as one element in the circle of life,” he said. “What has brought us to this point is that we are not spiritually connected to the earth. And this indigenous philosophy is what the world is now returning to because Western societies have recognised, and science has proven the benefits of the indigenous way of life.”

Rola Khoury, CEO of the Common Earth implementation partner the Cloudburst Foundation, said: “The Common Earth Commonwealth Regenerative Development Convening was an unprecedented meeting between scientists, regenerative and drawdown practitioners, and diverse communities including many youth and indigenous peoples who came to discuss the importance of integrated climate action to restore ecosystems and communities.”

“In addition to delivering pilot projects from Belize, Kalinago, New Zealand, and Kiribati, delegates formed five working groups on blue green trade, indigenous affairs, regenerative finance and gender and climate change. All participants agreed to take coordinated action on regeneration in their regions and to deliver new projects including the Global Common Earth Network.”


Did an earthquake take out SA Internet?

Seabed avalanches caused by an earthquake could have cut several undersea cables, leading to one of South Africa’s biggest Internet outages yet, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.



Picture by TooMuchCoffeeMan from

There is still no official explanation for freak breaks 11 days ago in two separate undersea cables that provide international access to South Africa’s Internet users. However, as reported in the Sunday Times yesterday, the most common causes of such breaks are damage by ship anchors and earthquakes at sea.

However, the freak occurrence of two separate cables being cut simultaneously far out at sea, as happened on the morning of 16 January, can only be explained by sea-bed activity.  One of the cables was cut in two places, and it is widely believed that a third major cable was also cut.

The cable damage mostly occurred in or near an area called the Congo Canyon, which starts inland and extends 220km into the sea. It is known for having the world’s strongest “turbidity currents”, underwater sediment avalanches over hundreds of kilometers, which are known to destroy undersea cables.

The most likely culprit is a 5.6 magnitude earthquake that struck the Atlantic Ocean near Ascension Island shortly before the cables were cut on the morning of 16 January. The earthquake occurred just before 8am South African time, and local ISPs reported losing international access from just before 10am. The epicentre of the earthquake was more than a thousand kilometres off the coast of Africa, but disturbances caused by seismic activity at sea become more powerful as they approach the coast. Combined with turbidity currents, this could well have taken out all cables in the area.

The West Africa Cable System (WACS) was cut in two places, and the South Atlantic 3 (SAT3) cable in one location. Industry insiders believe that the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) cable was also cut, but it has not been publicly confirmed.

South Africa is connected to the global Internet via seven such cables, with a total capacity of 42.3 terabits per second (tbps).  These cables, in turn, connect to additional cables connecting the West and East coasts of Africa, with a single cable running from Angola to Brazil providing another 40 tbps.

However, it emerged in the past week that smaller ISPs in South Africa had bought capacity on only one or two cables. In a freak occurrence, two of the most commonly used cables, the WACS and SAT 3 cables, were cut simultaneously, plunging millions of Internet users into data darkness.

Customers of the major mobile network operators – Vodacom and MTN – were largely unaffected, as these tend to have both part-ownership and access to most of the cables running up both the East and West coasts of Africa.

Visit the next page to read about how ISPs have battled to reroute access, how massive resources are needed to deal with these kinds of outages, and when the ship will reach the breakage points.

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Lenovo express-delivers new range from CES to SA



Lenovo has unveiled its new range of ThinkBook laptops, barely two weeks after they were showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. 

The company’s newest sub-brand, ThinkBook, is intended to meet the demand for more aesthetically pleasing, yet agile and powerful devices.

The new range is aimed at small and medium enterprises. According to the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), there are more than 2-million SMEs in South Africa – although there are only 667,433 in the formal sector. This tallies with estimates in recent editions of SME Survey, produced by World Wide Worx, which suggest 650,000 active, formal businesses in South Africa. These SMEs employ about 14% of the South African workforce. 

Lenovo argues that access to affordable, yet efficient, technology is a crucial factor in aiding business success and contributing towards the success of the nation. The company has found, in its own research, that younger people prefer working, creating and communicating online “with stylish devices that make a statement”. This means they require streamlined laptops which can be used to collaborate from any remote location, to enhance productivity.

Lenovo said in a statement on Thursday night: “Backed by customer research, ThinkBook is specially designed for SMEs, who typically purchase consumer laptops for perceived design and price advantages but can no longer rationalise their lack of extended services and warranties – core needs of any business. ThinkBook allows growing firms to keep a competitive edge in attracting today’s young tech-savvy execs with trendy yet cost-effective devices. 

Thibault Dousson, general manager of  Lenovo for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said at the launch event: “With the capacity, SMEs have to grow and upskill the country’s workforce, they are perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between the public sector and large enterprise. Bearing in mind the demands of the digital economy, this sector needs skills and resources in order to compete, and that is where devices such as the ThinkBook come in.”

In South Africa, ThinkBook laptops are now available in 13-, 14- and 15-inch variants. The flagship ThinkBook 14 and ThinkBook 15 devices are powered by Windows 10 Pro and up to 10th Gen Intel Core processing, which Lenovo says combines high performance with intuitive, time-saving features. Options include Intel Optane memory, WiFi 6, and discrete graphics.

The ThinkBook 15 comes at just 18.9mm thin, while the ThinkBook 14 is a mere 17.9mm, both with FHD displays and two Dolby Audio speakers, dual-array, Skype certified microphones and a USB 3.1 (Gen2, Type-C) port.

Lenovo has also introduced the ThinkBook S series, including an elegant 13.3-inch ThinkBook 13s. The sleek and light device is constructed of a metallic finish on an all-aluminium chassis, alongside a narrow bezel display. As with the ThinkBook 14 and 15, the ThinkBook 13s also features advanced Intel processing and an FHD display, Dolby Vision and Harman speakers with Dolby Audio.

Visit the next page to read about the design and features of the new ThinkBook range.

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