Some memories of my father

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It is now four weeks since he passed away in the early hours of 11 June. Yet I still find myself dialling his telephone number at least twice a day to exchange some news or to ask for his opinion or advice on some matter.

Three months short of his 85th birthday, he had retired from the civil service 25 years ago after a continuous public service spanning over 40 years. I do remember most of his postings, in particular those at the Customs and the then Water Works Department. He was dedicated to his duties at the Department of Social Services where he spent more than twenty years of his public service.

He was an only child as his elder sister had died at birth. At the tender age of six he was already an orphan when he lost his father who worked as a linotype operator at the government printing press. It was in 1937, two years before the outbreak of World War II. Without a breadwinner at home and inexistent social services life was miserable.

My father was not into politics. He was of the opinion that it would have been much better had I followed in his footsteps! He told me as much in very forceful language many times, in particular on the morrow of Black Monday in October 1979 when standing in the timber balcony of our home in St Paul Street Valletta we could still observe smoke coming out from the gutted Progress Press, home to The Times and The Sunday Times for many years.

He was a civil servant of the old school who took much pride in his work. As a young boy I could observe this at close quarters whenever he took me along. As an account keeper at the Water Works Department in the 1960s he would patiently listen to and address complaints on “errors” in water and electricity bills. Later in the 1980s, he would apply his skills as a welfare officer in the different area offices of the Department of Social Services assisting the elderly and vulnerable who sought the assistance of the state.

In 1977, after taking part in a sympathy strike called by the UĦM in solidarity with bank employees he was transferred to the Bormla Area Office of the Department of Social Services. It was certainly not intended to be a pleasant experience. In fact, he used to recount how in the first weeks after his being transferred to the Bormla Social Services Area Office, various officials of the local Labour Party Club used to turn up at the office “to check” on the progress of the new welfare officer! Subsequently he was transferred to other Area Offices.

My father spent his last weeks in palliative care at the Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre where he was much impressed by the dedicated service of all members of staff, without exception. My family is grateful to them all as their care and dedication ensured that his last days were bearable right to the very end. May he rest in peace.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 10 July 2016

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Il-bidla tal-klima u l-ħolqien tax-xogħol: x’relazzjoni?

illum 

 minn Carmel Cacopardo

ippubblikat 30 ta’ Novembru 2008

Dan kien is-sustanza tal-indirizz tal-kelliem fis-seminar organizzat mill-UĦM nhar il-25 ta’ Novembru 2008

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Kull union tagħti prijorità lill-kundizzjonijiet tax-xogħol tal-membri tagħha. Union ġenerali bħall-UĦM għandha l-possibiltà u r-riżorsi li tifrex il-ħarsa tagħha b’mod iktar wiesa’.
Il-Unions kienu fost tal-ewwel li fehmu u ħadmu biex ħaddieħor jifhem illi l-politika ekonomika ma tistax tħares biss lejn il-profitt materjali iżda trid kontinwament tiffoka fuq l-impatti soċjali.
Illum diversi qed jirrealizzaw li aħna ma ngħixux f’ekonomija. Ngħixu f’eko-sistema. Ma nillimitawx rwieħna iżjed għall-effett fuq il-bniedem iżda nikkunsidraw ukoll il-flora u l-fawna tal-viċin u tal-bogħod.
Meta nagħmlu hekk inkunu qed nassiguraw li nħarsu lil hinn minn imneħirna. B’hekk inkunu qed nassiguraw li filwaqt li aħna illum kellna l-opportunità li nieħdu d-deċiżjonijiet meħieġa għall-progress fi żmienna fl-istess ħin inħallu l-possibilità li dawk li għadhom ma twildux meta jiġi l-waqt ikunu huma wkoll jistgħu jieħdu d-deċiżjonijiet tagħhom. Dan hu l-bażi ta’ politika dwar l-iżvilupp sostenibbli u l-pedament ta’ ekonomija ġdida, ekonomija ekoloġika.
Il-politika dwar il-klima nipproponi li nħarsu lejha b’dan il-mod.
Illum hawn preokkupazzjoni dwar il-bdil fil-klima. Din il-preokkupazzjoni hi mnissla mill-fatt li l-bidla fil-klima qed tinħass u l-effetti tagħha qed jidhru. Sakemm dawn l-effetti bdew jidhru ftit kienu dawk li taw kaz: imma l-ħsara diġà kienet hemm.
Dak li l-effett tiegħu jmur lil hinn minn leġislatura Parlamentari – f’kull rokna tad-dinja – dejjem tħalla għal “iktar tard”. Issa l-“iktar tard” wasal.
Il-klima qed tinbidel u għandha effetti kbar fuqna u madwarna.
It-temperatura li qed togħla nieħdu pjaċir biha fix-xhur xitwin imma fis-sajf iddejjaqna u per konsegwenza nixgħelu iktar kmieni u għal perjodi itwal l-air conditioner.
Fil-heat waves li qed ikollna fis-sjuf qed jiżdiedu l-imwiet ta’ anzjani li ma jifilħux għas-sħana żejda, filwaqt li bit-temperatura togħla fix-xitwa b’mod partikolari f’pajjiżi ferm iksaħ minn tagħna, qed jonqsu l-imwiet kawża tal-kesħa fix-xitwa. Imma b’temperatura li togħla iktar nistgħu nkunu f’pożizzjoni li mard li jinġarr minn insetti li ma għixux fit-temperaturi li kellna s’issa jistgħu jfeġġu fiċ-ċirkustanzi l-ġodda li qed jiżviluppaw.
In-natura, kemm il-flora kif ukoll il-fauna, bit-temperatura togħla qed titħawwad ftit. Għax tifhem li nbidel l-istaġun u l-bidla tat-temperatura jibda proċess tal-istaġun li jkun imiss.
L-intensità tax-xita nassoċjawha mal-għargħar f’B’Kara u l-Imsida jew mat-tappieri tad-drenaġġ ifuru f’diversi partijiet ta’ Malta. Forsi m’aħniex konxji li xita qawwija tkaxkar il-ħamrija mill-għelieqi tagħna.
In-nuqqas tax-xita mhux biss tnixxef l-għelieqi imma tnaqqas r-rata li biha l-ilma tal-pjan ikun sostitwit bl-ilma tax-xita li jipperkola mill-blat. Flimkien mal-użu dejjem jiżdied tal-ilma tal-pjan in-nuqqas ta’ xita qed iżid id-dipendenza tal-pajjiż fuq sorsi mhux naturali għall-ilma meħtieġ għall-konsum b’mod li illum niddependu għal 60% tal-ilma mir-Reverse Osmosis.
Is-silġ qed idub għax it-temperatura medja globali qed togħla u per konsegwenza l-livell tal-baħar qiegħed jogħla.
Filwaqt li dan mhux se jiġri għada jista’ jibda joqrob lejn tmiem is-seklu li qegħdin fih.
Is-silġ fl-Artiku qed jonqos u nafu ukoll li jekk iddub dik li hi magħrufa bħala l-Greenland Ice Cap il-volum ta’ ilma ġenerat iservi biex jgħolli l-livell tal-baħar b’7 metri. Dan ikkawżat mill-gassijiet serra (greenhouse gases) li jirriżultaw mill-ħidma umana. Il-kontribut tagħna bħala Malta ġej prinċipalment mill-enerġija u t-trasport u f’miżura inqas mill-iskart u mill-agrikultura.
It-tnaqqis tal-kontribut tagħna bħala pajjiż lejn il-bidla fil-klima għaldaqstant irid jindirizza prinċipalment il-ġenerazzjoni tal-enerġija u t-trasport.
Fil-qasam tal-enerġija alternattiva filwaqt li ma nistax ngħid li ma sar xejn, nista’ iżda ngħid li dak li sar sar tard u bil-mod. Għalkemm ġie determinat sit potenzjali għall-istallazzjoni ta’ turbini tar-riħ għadu kmieni biex nistgħu ngħidu li dak hu s-sit. Meta jkun tlesta l-eżami tal-impatti ambjentali nkunu nistgħu nitkellmu aħjar fuq is-sit tas-Sikka l-Bajda.
Dwar siti fuq l-art nifhem li mhux faċli. Bejn li ħadd ma jridhom wara biebu prinċipalment minħabba l-ħsejjes li jiġġeneraw u bejn problemi ta’ estetika. S’issa iżda ma jidhirx li saru sforzi biex jinstabu siti adatti fuq l-art.
Fir-raba’ tagħna l-bdiewa użaw irdieden tar-riħ biex itellgħu l-ilma. Is-siti ta’ dawn l-irdieden tar-riħ huma magħżula bir-reqqa minn missirijietna. Dawn is-siti, li jgħoddu bil-mijiet, kollha għandhom il-potenzjal li jintużaw biex ikunu istallati turbini ta’ daqs medju.
Fiż-żoni industrijali hemm ukoll il-possibbiltà ta’ stallazzjoni ta’ turbini tar-riħ, tal-inqas f’dawk il-partijiet li huma ’l bogħod mill-abitat.
Dwar l-enerġija ġġenerata mix-xemx sar ftit wisq. L-għajnuna finanzjarja mogħtija mill-Gvern fl-aħħar baġit għalkemm hi ġeneruża hi ftit wisq biex tagħmel differenza. Minbarra dan l-applikabbiltà tagħha hi limitata għal min għandu l-mezzi biex joħroġ parti mill-kapital rikjest.
Kien ikun iktar floku kieku kienet ikkunsidrata skema fejn l-ispejjeż tal-istallazzjoni jkunu jistgħu jitħallsu permezz tal-elettriku ġġenerat.
F’dan il-kuntest l-eżempju li l-Gvern qiegħed jagħti permezz ta’ skejjel bħal San Benedittu fejn ġew istallati pannelli fotovoltajċi għandu jkun estiż għall-bini pubbliku kollu fuq medda ta’snin. Dan jinvolvi spiża kapitali mhux żgħira imma fi ftit żmien din hi spiża li tista’ tkun irkuprata, b’mod partikolari issa li r-rati tal-elettriku sparaw ’il fuq.
Fil-mixja lejn ekonomija ekoloġika, qed jinħolqu (u jistgħu jinħolqu bosta iktar) impiegi illi jikkontribwixxu biex tkun ippreservata l-kwalità ambjentali u fejn neċessarju din tkun restawrata. Dan jinkludi impjiegi konnessi mal-ħarsien tal-eko-sistemi u l-biodiversità, impjiegi konnessi mat-tnaqqis fil-ħela ta’ enerġija elettrika, tal-ilma u riżorsi oħra, tnaqqis fl-użu tal-carbon mill-ekonomija (decarbonisation), tnaqqis fil-ġenerazzjoni tal-iskart u tniġġis ta’ kull forma.

Dan se jfisser:
1. li jistgħu jinħolqu impjiegi ġodda fil-manufattura ta’ apparat li jnaqqas it-tniġġis,
2. xi impiegi ser jiċċaqalqu minn xogħol li qed isir illum għal xogħol ġdid li qed jinħoloq bħal fil-qasam tal-iskart jew fil-qasam tal-ġenerazzjoni tal-enerġija alternattiva flok dik tradizzjonali,
3. xi impiegi ser jintilfu u dan in konnessjoni ma’ attività li tista’ tkun eliminata jew imnaqqsa,
4. impiegi oħra ser ikunu żviluppati u trasformati biex jieħdu konsiderazzjoni ta’ realtajiet ġodda.

Dawn l-impiegi jikkonċernaw
1. il-ħtiġijiet tekniċi konċernati l-ġenerazzjoni ta’ enerġija alternattiva,
2. il-miżuri meħtieġa biex tiżdied l-effiċjenza tal-bini fl-użu tal-enerġija,
3. xogħol speċjalizzat konċernanti t-trasport, kemm dak għall-użu privat kif ukoll dak għall-użu tal-pubbliku,
4. l-industrija tar-riċiklar,
5. l-industrija tal-iskart,
6. is-servizzi ambjentali,
7. l-agrikultura in partikolari fit-transizzjoni lejn agrikultura organika.

It-triq hi twila u iebsa. Hemm problemi diversi konnessi mal-fatt li bdejna tard fit-triq lejn ekonomija li tirrispetta l-ambjent. Hemm ukoll il-problema li l-Gvern mhux dejjem konvint minn dak li qiegħed jagħmel.
Imma nemmen li l-kuxjenza nazzjonali li qed tifforma ser tgħin u tkun ta’ sostenn kbir biex din it-triq nibqgħu mexjin fiha bħala pajjiż.
F’din il-mixja l-unions għandhom rwol kbir. Mhux biss ta’ edukazzjoni tal-membri bħall-attività tal-lum. Imma fuq kollox li jassiguraw li l-partiti politiċi kollha jibqgħu mexjin f’din it-triq.

Tackling Climate Change means taking action now

 

 As published in the Malta Independent 26 November 2008 :

author Michael Carabott

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In what can be described as a break from the norm, and a somewhat forward looking agenda, the Union Haddiema Maghqudin yesterday held an extraordinary general meeting to discuss climate change, with politicians from political parties adding to the mix.

The meeting was held at the New Dolmen Hotel in Qawra and brought together Rural Affairs and Resources Minister George Pullicino, Opposition Climate Change Spokesman Leo Brincat, the ever interesting Carmel Cacopardo from Alternattiva Demokratika, AN’s John Spiteri Gingell and the UHM’s own two Gejtus, President Gejtu Tanti and secretary general Gejtu Vella.

The debate was very interesting and perhaps the most salient point raised by all is that while ‘fixing’ climate change involved an expense, it will be much more damning and expensive to fix if we leave it till later. Another very salient point raised by Minister Pullicino is that people must realise that green energy is more expensive to produce than conventional type energy.

In his opening address, UHM President Gejtu Tanti said that a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showed that Southern Mediterranean states, in particular small islands, were to be hit hard by rising temperatures in the future.

He said that such evidence shows that the problem of climate change needs to be tackled on a local, continental and global level. He said that two areas that will be particularly hit hard will be agriculture and tourism. “However, we must also look on the bright side of life – European and US studies have shown that millions of jobs can be created in the fight against climate change,” he said.

Mr Tanti said that like the world has a black economy, fighting climate change will create a green economy, an economy that will present new opportunities.

The union president said that many countries were pumping billions of euros into the economy to alleviate the global financial downturn and the probability is that this cash will be pumped into the green economy to hit two birds with one stone. He said that to a certain degree, the last local budget was trying to do the same.

AD’s Carmel Cacopardo opened the session and said that it was extremely positive that the UHM was speaking out about environmental issues and not only those with a direct or indirect impact on employment.

He said that it was incorrect to say that the environment is only related to humans. “We live in society. Society is our way of fitting into an eco-system, but there are also flora and fauna. It is important for our starting point to not only look at the economy. Society needs to take the step to move to a green economy. We need to not only look at social and economic impact, but the environment must figure in all decisions. This is the only way to get to a level of sustainable development,” he said.

Climate change means a change in temperature and the world was going through the phenomenon of tropicalisation. “For example, in the Mediterranean, we are finding fish that were not there originally. That can also mean insects can spread disease to Europe,” he said. Mr Cacopardo said the snow on the Alps is melting, as are the ice caps while islands disappear and seasons change. He said Malta’s main contributors to climate change were energy generation, waste, transport and agricultural activities. He also hit out at the car registration tax and said that before anything else, Malta’s public transport system needed a radical overhaul that has been promised for years and never materialised.

In a pre-recorded video, Leo Brincat said that jobs can be created by going for a green economy. “Look at the proliferating solar water heaters and photovoltaic systems to take an example. We need more people who are qualified in their installation and maintenance,” he said.

Mr Brincat said that trade union involvement needed to be ongoing. “Many countries have found that implementation of climate change policies bring about investment. We need sustainability and that will lead to the creation of green jobs which will offset the losses of conventional.

He said that the Malta Labour Party was proposing a Climate Change Bill and wanted all stakeholders involved. He said that several countries were putting climate change at the top of the agenda, also making reference to pledges made by US President Elect Barack Obama. He said that climate change needed to be taken in the context of Kyoto targets.

Minister George Pullicino said climate change was mostly brought about by human activity. “Consumption of energy is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. If we act now, the ‘price’ we have to pay will be lower than if we do not act right now on a global level.”

He said the EU has set targets which state that members must reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 20 per cent of 1990 levels. “For us that means reducing carbon dioxide levels by 50 per cent of what we have today and that does not mean reducing consumption by half, it means producing energy without as many emissions,” he said.

Mr Pullicino said Malta needed to utilise new clean fuels. He also said Malta needed to meet a second target in 2020 – that of 10 per cent of energy generated to be clean.

He said that Malta needed a culture change in implementing energy efficiency in construction. “For clean energy, we need initiatives, enforcement and incentives,” he said. However, he warned people that everything came at a price and that clean energy was more expensive than conventionally generated power. “To have three per cent of our consumption being generated by wind, we need to spend e130m and to have the same percentage generated by solar power we need a e350 million investment.

He said that Malta needed a change of attitude whereby people would not leave lights on for no reason, with electrical appliances on in the background or even on standby. He also spoke about the new concept in utility bills where people will not subsidise others and will simply pay for their own consumption, explaining that a low income family, under the old system would be subsidising others.

However, he said that Malta was not at a complete loss on the environment, adding that just a few years ago 20 per cent of energy generation went towards producing water while it now stood at 4 per cent. He also said that Maltese technicians were working in Turkey and Tunisia to design and maintain reverse osmosis plants.

view also previous entry in blog

Seminar tal-UĦM dwar il-bdil tal-klima u l-impatt tagħha fuq l-impiegi

climate-change 

 

F’isem Alternattiva Demokratika illum attendejt għal seminar organizzat mill-UĦM dwar il-bdil tal-klima u l-impatt tagħha fuq l-impiegi. Ħadt pjaċir nisma’ mhux daqstant lill-kelliema mistiedna daqs kemm lid-delegati tal-Union jitkellmu dwar il-preokkupazzjonijiet ambjentali tagħhom. Il-mistoqsijiet u iktar il-kummenti jixhdu interess f’dak li qed jiġri.

 

Lejn tmiem is-seminar ħadt sehem f’diskussjoni qasira flimkien ma rappreżentanti tal-partiti politiċi oħra. Kienet diskussjoni qasira imma waħda ċivili.

 

Prosit lill-UĦM. Imma hemm bżonn li issa l-Union tibda tieħu interess f’dak kollu li jikkonċerna l-ambjent. Neħtieġu iktar ilħna li jinstemgħu meta jkun meħtieġ.