Saturday, May 31, 2008

Cool Earth: no good deed goes unpunished

Cool Earth is a cooperative effort led by a Conservative businessman and a Labour politician aimed at preserving rainforests by enabling individuals and organizations to pool their resources and purchase large areas of them:
WHEN millionaire businessman Johan Eliasch decides to head for his country estate, it involves a slightly longer trek than a drive to the Cotswolds.

After leaving his office in London’s Mayfair, it is a 12-hour journey by air and road before he can view his 400,000-acre plot in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. The estate is the size of Greater London.

Eliasch, 43, a banker, film producer and chief executive of the Head sports equipment company, has bought it from a logging company to protect the plants and wildlife. He sees himself as a pioneer on the new frontier of climate change.

Eliasch, who is also deputy treasurer of the Conservative party, is part of a growing trend towards “green colonialism”. Link.

According to Cool Earth, an average acre of rainforest locks in more than 100 tonnes of carbon. Sponsors are invited to contribute about $140 to protect one acre. Eliasch has suggested that the entire Amazon could, in theory, be purchased for about $50 billion. Such an astronomical investment seems like a promising proposal when you consider that logging in the rainforests is thought to contribute more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than all of the human activity in China or the United States.

More background on Cool Earth here and here.

Unfortunately, Cool Earth’s plans seem to have been completely misunderstood by some in the Brazilian government:
. . . the daily O Globo from Rio de Janeiro reveals that a private report by the Abin, Brazilian Intelligence Agency found out that Johan Eliasch, a Swede businessman who works as a consultant for British prime minister Gordon Brown, estimated that the whole Amazon Forest can be bought for about US$ 50 billion.

Apparently, Eliasch's purpose is to encourage British businessmen to buy real estate in the area. Brazilian authorities have been investigating Eliasch's participation in the acquisition of 160,000 hectares of land in the states of Amazonas and Mato Grosso.

Eliasch is head of the NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) Cool Earth, which is in the Brazilian government's black list as suspect of doing monkey business in the Amazon. Link.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

How about a 2020 ban on gas-powered vehicles?

What would happen if the US and the EU both decided to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles as of a future date about twelve to fifteen years in the future, say 2020 for instance? That ought to give automakers plenty of time to adjust and it wouldn’t place any limitations on vehicles already on the road prior to that date.

Norway has already been considering banning gas vehicles, although the Norwegians are apparently thinking of switching to ethanol whereas it seems to me that electric vehicles would probably be preferable.

A future ban would be a great spur to technological innovation and would make an enormous contribution to both energy independence and the environment. It would be an example for China and India and the rest of the world too.

There are two principle drawbacks to replacing gas with electric: the energy for the electricity has to come from somewhere and the range of current electric vehicles is too short. The first objection is really just one aspect of the great general question of where we should get our power from in the future and there are obviously several answers (solar, wind, nuclear, “clean” coal, etc.). The range of electric vehicles is constantly improving: lithium-ion batteries should bring the distance up to 250 or 300 miles. There is also the option of using battery-exchange stations for long trips.

Distance is obviously a much smaller problem in limited areas like Hawaii. Big cities are another special case. Here are a couple of guys testing out electric vehicles in London. The cars shown are a bit unsafe and unsexy, but they’re fun:

For more information on environmentally friendly vehicles, read AutoblogGreen - a fascinating blog that is frequently updated.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Classic Children’s Television

Some of the BBC’s attempts to kill off the amazing John Noakes (after a couple of minutes of dog stuff)-back when children’s TV presenters were expected to risk life and limb:

Patti Smith on kids TV!

Philip Glass on Sesame Street:

JK Rowling Interview:

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

One Blog, Four Links

It’s adorable but it probably won’t end well . . .

The calendar for September, 1752

The Tale of the Harvard Gringo

World’s coolest bike

I stole one of his photos for this LOL Cat:
funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Some Crazy-Ass Videos

Petra Haden, “Don’t Stop Believin’”

Leningrad Cowboys and the Red Army Choir, “Sweet Home Alabama”

Bulgarian Idol, "Without You" Take 1

Bulgarian Idol, "Without You" Take 2 (with awesome audience support!)

African High-School Dropout’s Windmill Brings Electricity To Village

Here’s a very inspiring video about a teen-ager in Malawi who built a working windmill from old parts after seeing a picture of one in a book:

Here is William’s Blog.