Message from Africa: Whatever Happens, Don’t Ever Give Up

The following is an edited repost from last November:

William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer’s book The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind made it to Amazon’s top 10 Best Books of 2009, as well as Publisher Weekly’s Best Book of the Year.  It tells about how Kamkwamba, “a simple farmer in a country of poor farmers” built a windmill about of bicycle parts and other scrap pieces when he was 14, after being forced to drop out of school because of a severe drought in Malawi. He built his windmill to pump water and generate electricity for his home. Now every home in Wimbe, Kamkwamba’s hometown, has a solar panel and a battery to store power. His message to  “all the people out there – to the Africans, and to poor people” is to never give up.

Trust yourself, and believe.  Whatever happens, don’t ever give up.” Here is Mr. Kamkwamba speaking at last year’s TED conference:


The situation that we are in is too important to get sidetracked by anti-science deniers and others without the ability to imagine a different, better world. Let’s take Mr. Kamkwamba’s words to heart, and keep up the good fight for real action on global warming. Go to or my Action, Not Apathy page for ideas on where to start.

If you live in Ontario, and you are reading this before August 25, 2010, please go to the Toronto Environmental Alliance’s website and send the provincial government that the message that you support wind power. The government is considering a 5km exclusion zone for off-shore wind power, which would kill any attempt to install wind turbines in Lake Ontario. The province is open for comments until Aug 24 – click here to tell the province you, like  William Kamkwamba, support wind power! (Thanks to Cheryl McNamara at Carbon Slim for that link)

U.S. Department of Defense Report: Climate Change Threatens U.S. National Security

U.S. security agencies are starting to make it clear that their country’s dependence on foreign oil is a serious problem, and that America’s future is best secured by pursuing alternative energy strategies that will loosen the stranglehold oil has on the economy.  Currently, the United States sends one billion dollars a day out of the country to pay for this oil addiction. Government organizations have taken a number of measures to address these security concerns. For example, the CIA has created a center on climate change, the U.S. Marines have committed to reducing their carbon pollution by 30 percent by 2025, the Navy is committed to reducing their carbon pollution by 50 percent by 2020. As well, many U.S. bases have implemented smart grid technology and renewable energy sources and the Pentagon building was weatherized and rehabbed to become LEED certified  (consequently, their energy bill went down from 2.9 million to 2.2 million a month).

Last month, the Pentagon released the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). In the review, Pentagon officials conclude that climate change will act as an “accelerant of instability and conflict,” ultimately placing a burden on civilian institutions and militaries around the world. The report states that military services have already invested in non-carbon power sources, such as solar wind, geothermal, and biomass at domestic installations, as well as alternative vehicle fuels, including hybrid, electric, hydrogen and compressed national gas.

Operation Free is an coalition of U.S. veterans against using foreign oil.  They  have been traveling across the country, spreading the message that U. S. dependence on foreign oil is making America vulnerable and funding her enemies, and causing destabilizing climate change.

Operation Free has just produced a video.  Here are some excerpts from the video, which can be viewed at the bottom of the page.

Before I retired, I saw up close what our dependence on oil has cost our country.  I think our country can do a lot better than we are currently doing. We’re wasting precious, precious resources that we should be investing in our own country.” Roger Koopman, Retired Air Force Officer, Raleigh, North Carolina

We have slashed federal investments in renewable technologies by 86%, and we have doubled our imports of oil from the Middle East. I refuse, and you should refuse, to be part of the first generation Americans in history to say ‘it’s too hard’.” U.S. Congressman Steve Israel

“This is about our national security. This is about the future of our nation. So we cannot miss this opportunity to invest in alternative energies that are going to make our country stronger.” Iraq veteran and U.S. Congressman John Boccieri


More links:

Center for Naval Analysis: National Security and Climate Change

The Greening of the Pentagon’s Master Strategy Review”

Center for New American Security

Quadrennial Defense Review Report