De Niro brings star quality to fight against climate change

American actor Robert De Niro, speaks during the World Government Summit in Dubai, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018. (AP/Kamran Jebreili)
Updated 11 February 2018

De Niro brings star quality to fight against climate change

DUBAI: The government of the UAE has teamed up with Hollywood star Robert De Niro to raise awareness about the dangers of global climate change.

The Climate Project is a two-year initiative to share knowledge on coping with climate change, and to promote what was called “finance-able” climate resilience projects in developing countries.

De Niro, a long-standing campaigner against the effects of climate change in the Caribbean and especially the hurricane-ravaged island of Barbuda, said the ability to attract investment depended on the quality of projects a country proposed.

“If a country is strong, people will want to invest. In Barbuda, we’re there to help, to bring back what they had before, and investment is part of that, it’s really that simple. Community agriculture and sustainable development are key,” he said.

In a veiled criticism of the climate change-denying policies of the Trump administration, he added: “The situation in my country is not helpful, but we will fix that. When a country’s leaders fail to take a position, ordinary people have to write to their representatives and be on top of them to bring about change.”

The Climate Project will be run by the UAE ministries of foreign affairs and international co-operation, and climate change and environment. Thani Al-Zeyoudi, the climate change minister, said it would deliver climate initiatives and products to 10 million people by 2020.

“Through an innovative approach which brings together communications and media experts with scientists, thought leaders and government representatives, the project will produce products aimed at both the general public and decision makers. It is aimed at developing climate resilience standards,” he said.

The project will focus on three main areas: Gender and youth, because women and children often bear the brunt of climate change challenges; extreme weather events such as hurricanes and earthquakes; and sustainable solutions that offer long-term remedies to, and defenses against, climate issues.

WWWorries? Inventor of Web laments coming-of-age woes

Updated 12 March 2019

WWWorries? Inventor of Web laments coming-of-age woes

  • Tim Berners-Lee was working at CERN as a software engineer when he invented the hypertext-transfer protocol
  • He hopes countries can make the web available to more citizens

GENEVA: The inventor of the World Wide Web knows his revolutionary innovation is coming of age, and doesn’t always like what he sees: state-sponsored hacking, online harassment, hate speech and misinformation among the ills of its “digital adolescence.”
Tim Berners-Lee issued a cri-de-coeur letter and spoke to a few reporters Monday on the eve of the 30-year anniversary of his first paper with an outline of what would become the web — a first step toward transforming countless lives and the global economy.
The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, plans to host Berners-Lee and other web aficionados on Tuesday. “We’re celebrating, but we’re also very concerned,” Berners-Lee said.
Late last year, a key threshold was crossed — roughly half the world has gotten online. Today some 2 billion websites exist.
The anniversary offers “an opportunity to reflect on how far we have yet to go,” Berners-Lee said, calling the “fight” for the web “one of the most important causes of our time.”
He is convinced the online population will continue to grow, but says accessibility issues continue to beset much of the world.
“Look at the 50 percent who are on the web, and it’s not so pretty for them,” he said. “They are all stepping back suddenly horrified after the Trump and Brexit elections realizing that this web thing that they thought was so cool has actually not necessarily been serving humanity very well.”
The anniversary is also a nod to the innovative, collaborative and open-source mindset at the Geneva-based CERN, where physicists smash particles together to unlock secrets of science and the universe.
As a young English software engineer, Berners-Lee came up with the idea for hypertext-transfer protocol — the “http” that adorns web addresses — and other building blocks for the web while working at CERN in March 1989. Some trace the actual start of the web to 1990, when he released the first web browser.
Berners-Lee reminisced about how he was really out to get disparate computer systems to talk to one another, and resolve the “burning frustration” over a “lack of interoperability” of documentation from disparate computing systems used at CERN in the late 1980s.
Now, the hope of his World Wide Web Foundation is to enlist governments, companies, and citizens to take a greater role in shaping the web for good under principles laid out in its “Contract for the Web.”
Under the contract’s sweeping, broad ambition, governments are supposed to make sure everyone can connect to the Internet, to keep it available and to respect privacy. Companies are to make the Internet affordable, respect privacy and develop technology that will put people — and the “public good” — first. Citizens are to create and to cooperate and respect “civil discourse,” among other things.
To Berners-Lee, the web is a “mirror of humanity” where “you will see good and bad.”
“The Contract for the Web recognizes that whether humanity, in fact, is constructive or not actually depends on the way you write the code of the social network,” he said.
Some tough regulation may be necessary in some places, in others not, Berners-Lee said.
On one issue, he’s insistent: “Net neutrality — strong regulation,” Berners-Lee said, hammering a fist on the table. He was alluding to a principle that anyone with an Internet connection should have equal access to video, music, email, photos, social networks, maps and other online material.
Berners-Lee said the web has created opportunity, made lives easier and given the marginalized a voice, but “it has also created opportunity for scammers, given a voice to those who spread hatred, and made all kinds of crime easier to commit.”
Ultimately, his “Contract” proposal is not about “quick fixes,” but a process for shifting people’s relationship with the online world, he said.
“It’s our journey from digital adolescence to a more mature, responsible and inclusive future,” he wrote.