Durban UN climate “news”–Expo brews up plenty of interest

Note: If there is any hope of preventing climate catastrophe, it surely isn’t at this dog and pony show.  As the Conference of Polluters nears the end of the first week, we thought we’d share a little bit of the absurdity coming from the exposition center located in the UN controlled compound.

-The GJEP Team

Cross-posted from Times Live   Sapa | 02 December, 2011

An environmental activist paints a banner during a demonstration outside the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties meeting (COP17) in Durban. Image by: MIKE HUTCHINGS / REUTERS

At the Climate Change Response Expo in Durban you can drink a Whistling Weasel or watch a man whip up a tornado at the flick of a switch.

You can also talk to scientists about Gizmo, the new South-African-developed pencil buoy used to study water quality, while clutching a replica of the collar bone of an ancient Australopithecine.

The expo, next to the Durban Convention Centre (the COP17 climate change summit’s venue) was bustling yesterday morning, despite oppressively hot weather.

“This is like February,” said Karen Owen, who managed a stall serving beer and wine in the expo’s food court.

The beer – brewed up-province at Nottingham Road – is good, but the names on the bottles are better. You can order a Whistling Weasel pale ale, a Tiddly Toad light lager, a Pye-Eyed Possum Pilsener or a Pickled Pig porter.

Nearby, Alex Kofer spoke to whoever would listen about his “Wizzard” worms. He had 20000 of them, in a snooker table-sized tray.

Despite their numbers, the worms were difficult to see. They were hidden under a mound of soggy newspaper, cardboard and lettuce leaves, which Kofer fed them to encourage them to produce more compost.

“They can eat their own body weight in a day,” he said, hauling out a wriggler for inspection.

Kofer said the worms ate kitchen waste and wet cardboard, and took about four months to produce a tray of compost.

Elsewhere at the expo, SA Weather Service meteorologist Hugh van Niekerk demonstrated how to make a tornado in a glass chamber the size of a fridge.

By creating water vapour and blowing in air to simulate wind while switching on an extractor fan in the chamber ceiling, he created a mini tornado.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s stand boasted a glass case containing a section from the trunk of a 1200-year-old baobab . It was found in the Pafuri area near in the Kruger National Park.

According to an attached notice, isotopes in its growth rings have been analysed and the data used by scientists to gain an insight into the climate change that happened during the tree’s growth span.

A woman at the international conservation organisation WWF’s stall handed out pencils made from newspaper, each bearing the iconic panda logo.

“Have one – they show there is a future for the newspaper industry,” the former journalist said.

The expo will run until next Friday.

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