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Study Pinpoints Main Source of Asia’s Brown Air Pollution Cloud – NYTimes.com

“South Asia has a cloud over its head — an unpleasant, unhealthy and climate-affecting soup of sooty haze that envelops the region, particularly in winter….

Orjan Gustafsson of Stockholm University in Sweden and colleagues have now removed the cloud of uncertainty hanging over the brown cloud. Burning of biomass, they report in Science, is the greater culprit.”

via Study Pinpoints Main Source of Asia’s Brown Air Pollution Cloud – NYTimes.com.

AP – China dams reveal flaws in climate-change weapon

Critical view of carbon trading and the CDM – Clean Development Mechanism, as seen in hydroelectric projects in China:

“The AP has found that hydroelectric projects, whose climate impact is most widely questioned, have quickly become the No. 1 technology in the CDM, and China in particular is rushing in to capitalize.

The Chinese now have at least 763 hydro projects in the CDM approval pipeline and are adding an average of 25 a month. By 2012, those projects alone are expected to generate more than 300 million “certified emission reductions,” each supposedly representing reduction of one ton of carbon dioxide. Even at recent depressed market prices, those credits would be worth $4 billion.”

via The Associated Press: China dams reveal flaws in climate-change weapon.

World Social Forum – Registration begins, tents, rain, parades.

Today registration was open for the World Social Forum in Belem, the cost being 30 Reais (~$13 US) for those from the geopolitical North. Yes, world travelers, bring your passports for registration. At this point of early registration the vast majority are Brazilians, though as the official opening draws near expect a more international crowd.

The event is taking place at two conjoined universities in a jungle amazon river edge setting on the Northern edge of Belem, “The Federal University of the Rural Amazons” and “Para Federal University”. Expect a lot of long distance walking to are fro events, careful venturing off the roads as there is thick fresh mud to be avoided, and also red fire ants.


The crowds moving through the registration hall.


Some tents going up for locals.


More tenting…


Larger structures still going up all over the place…


A group of Brazilian Christians was out on colorful display at an early parade at the WSF site. I didn’t really get this, no political signs, just Bible verses. But I must admit they knew how to party.

To the question – “what are you doing here?” one marcher replied “bringing Jesus to save the world”. Well, I suppose everyone pretty much agrees on that goal – and we’ll be sure to ask around for other possible solutions to the how to save the world question in the coming days.

The goals of the World Social Forum, and a view of Belem


View of downtown Belem, Brazil. Belem is the site of the 2009 World Social Forum (WSF).

What’s the WSF all about? From the official WSF site:

“Goals of action …

1. For the construction of a world of peace, justice, ethics and respect for different spiritualities, free of weapons, especially nuclear ones;
2. For the release of the world domain by capital, multinationals corporations, imperialist, patriarchal, colonial and neo-colonial domination and unequal systems of commerce, by canceling the impoverish countries debt;
3. For universal and sustainable access to the common property of mankind and nature, for the preservation of our planet and its resources, particularly water, forests and renewable energy sources;
4. For the democratization and independence of knowledge, culture and communication and for the creation of a system of shared knowledge and acquirement with the dismantling of Intellectual Property Rights;
5. For the dignity, diversity, ensuring the equality of gender, race, ethnicity, generation, sexual orientation and elimination of all forms of discrimination and caste (discrimination based on descent);
6.  For ensurance (during the lifetime use of all people) of the economic, social, human, cultural and environmental rights, particularly the rights to food, health, education, housing, employment and decent work, communication and food security and sovereignty;
7. For the construction of a world order based on sovereignty, self-determination and on people’s rights, including minorities and migrants;
8. For the construction of a democratic, emancipator, sustainable and solidary economy, focused on every people and based on ethical and fair trade;
9. For the construction and expansion of truly local, national and global democratic political and economic structures and institutions, with the participation of people in decisions and control of public affairs and resources;
10. For the defense of the environment (amazonic and others ecosystems) as source of life for the planet Earth and for the originary peoples of the world (indigenous, afro-descendent, tribal and riverine), that demand their territories, languages, cultures, identities, environmental justice, spiritually and right to live.”

Also see the WSF charter of principles.

1. The World Social Forum is an open meeting place for reflective thinking, democratic debate of ideas, formulation of proposals, free exchange of experiences and interlinking for effective action, by groups and movements of civil society that are opposed to neoliberalism and to domination of the world by capital and any form of imperialism, and are committed to building a planetary society directed towards fruitful relationships among Humankind and between it and the Earth…etc.

With the recent collapse of the neoliberal model, the World Social Forum obviously takes on added significance.

Russia says old nuclear satellite poses no threat – International Herald Tribune

“MOSCOW: Russia’s military said Wednesday that an old Soviet-built nuclear-powered satellite has spewed fragments in orbit, but insisted they do not threaten the international space station or people on Earth.”

via Russia says old nuclear satellite poses no threat – International Herald Tribune.

Another example of the underplayed and  extremely dangerous overlap between military applications and environmental risk.

Sloppy reporting follows:

“In 1978, the Soviet Cosmos-954 nuclear-powered satellite scattered radioactive debris over a lightly populated area of Northern Canada on its fiery re-entry, but caused no injuries.”

Cancer is common everywhere, so of course it is possible that this radioactive debris has caused injuries, either in Nothern Canada or beyond.

Oversupply pushes solar panel prices down

“MCLEAN, Va., Jan. 14 (UPI) — Oversupply and low demand have made solar panels cheaper for U.S. homeowners.

Prices for rooftop solar systems, including installation, have fallen by 8 percent to 10 percent since October and are expected to drop an additional 15 percent to 20 percent in 2009.”

via Oversupply pushes solar panel prices down – UPI.com.

Strange math in this article. 15 – 20% panel price drop and the whole system goes down over 50%. Must be incorrect or missing logic somewhere, maybe the expected government subsidies are huge:

In California a typical 4 kilowatt, $32,000 solar energy system cost a homeowner about $23,000 last year after state and federal incentives. This year, if the price predictions come true, the price for the same system would be between $10,000 and $12,000.