Wednesday, 28 January 2009
Our guide on one trip in Patagonia talked of a new resurgence in coal production because of some of the political problems being experienced regarding alternatives. This reminded me of some of the issues of building a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth, previously discussed in this blog here and still very much at issue. Some of the details about why can be found on this 'nonewcoal' site. 'Clean coal' is by many accounts a fallacy so whether in Chile or UK planning to use more coal seems a backward step compared with opting for investing in more renewable energy in the longer term. Also regarding renewables, I found it sobering to read George Monbiot's recent article about his conversation with Shell's Chief Executive, Jeroen van de Veer. Whereas in 2000 the company allegedly claimed to be making large scale investment in renewable energy and was at that time very open about the amounts being invested, they now seem to be very vague about just how much they're investing and Monbiot fears that this reluctance to be more sepcific is because their spending in renewables has fallen sharply. While Monbiot doesn't blame Shell or its Chief Exec for doing what the market demands if discharging their duty to shareholders, he's critical that they create the impression that they have a different agenda. He's also critical of government for letting companies seek profit without taking much account of the consequences of doing that for people and environment.
Headlines I'd heard before reading this article talked of the UK Government bailing out the car industry but the emphasis here seems to be as much on investment in 'green technology'. On the surface that looks good but I can't really tell what shade of green Mandelsson is referring to. And what connections are there here to Obama's announcements of a couple of days ago? .....mentioned here. The UK could so easily have re-routed it's industrial base to go the way of Denmark with developing green energy technologies (specifically wind turbines) many years ago. Good to see more happening on this front now but a shame more didn't happen earlier. The too little too late tone of the Independent article could apply as much to the investment in green technology as to the bail-out. But I guess hindsight is a wonderful thing and we must start from here.
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
I'm glad to see that my local robot enthusiast has also put some pictures of Chile up on his website . The Frutic symposium in Chile that led to this trip focused on information and technology for the sustainable production of fruit and vegetables, nuts, wine and olives....a topic that I think many could identify with one way or another. All delegates were given an MP5 player as a name badge and conference information pack. I believe it was also needed to get your lunch which provided an incentive to re-charge it at end of the day.
Good to hear via the New Scientist blog that Obama has been prompt to take action on environment regarding (i) more jobs in renewable energy (ii) measures for increasing car fuel efficiency and (iii) instructing the Environmental Protection Agency to review a decision made in Bush's time that blocked California's action to forge ahead of other states in limiting car emissions. More on this in the Independent's article on America going Green.
Friday, 23 January 2009
...I mean the one on the foreground. We hadn't, though I'd never seen a penguin in the wild either until this visit to Otway Sound in Patagonia. The interloper visiting the penguins' burrows, presumably in search of eggs, is allegedly a 'quique' or 'lesser grison' (galictis cuja), listed on one website as a type of ferret. Nearby penguins were uneasy and behaving as though they could sense it, though we didn't see a face-to-face meeting while we were there. We were already amazed to see the Magellan penguins, only afterwards did we realise just how lucky we'd been to catch sight of this animal also.
Saw some superb works of art in Chile.The first of these is part of Jorge Gonzalez Camarena's famous 'Presence of Latin America' displayed in Concepcion - full of stories and this little picture doesn't really do it credit. It is a huge mural and quite magnificent. The others are less famous but also great in different ways. The second is a sculpture seen in a modern shopping mall, also in Concepcion. The third another sculpture, located at Casanueva vineyard in the Itata valley where the owner keeps art and wine side-by-side. The fourth is on a house on the sea front in the Patagonian town of Punta Arenas and the last is to be found on the side of a building in a busy market street at the port of Talcahuano.
Just back from Chile and I feel very fortunate to have visited Patagonia. Incredibly scenic. I loved the wide open spaces, the big skies, the wildlife, the light, the mountains, glaciers and waterfalls. I was intrigued to see so many lupins....they certainly look better like this than they do in my garden.