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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Environment: U.S. The New "Third World"

Brazil &mdash you heard us right &mdash now has more than five million hybrid cars on its roads, Raw Story tells us.
[...] almost nine in ten new vehicles in Brazil now run on both gasoline and ethanol derived from sugar cane, the car manufacturing association Anfavea said Monday.
Hybrid vehicles probably will comprise 52 percent of Brazil's market by 2013. In 2007, they comprised a mere 12 percent.

Last year, Brazil produced 22 billion liters of ethanol biofuel derived from sugar cane. We've blogged before about biofuel, including a link to Science News with a comparison of the efficiency of various biofuel sources. Take a look.

The saddest part of this story is, we're falling behind other countries by the day in terms of innovation, education, and achievement. Singapore and Korea are leading the global field in stem-cell research (Singapore, courtesy of our top stem-cell researchers); Europe is leading the global field in researching and developing hybrid vehicles; and now Brazil, ahead of us in yet another field, even as American multinationals are relocating their business to China, India, Eastern Europe, and Africa to take advantage of cheap labour.

Image from Rockjumper Birding Tours

In more heartening environmental news, Raw Story reports that the Philippines has successfully rescued one of its native eagles from the brink of extinction using a breeding program based on American experiments involving condors.
Chief breeder Domingo Tadena, 60, is hoping his 30 years of captive breeding here on the lower slopes of the country's tallest mountain will soon be crowned with the first successful release of the king predator into the wild.

"We now have enough breeding stock," he tells AFP.

"The goal is to eventually release all birds that are hatched here," the breeder said as he hand-fed the chick, the 22nd hatched at the Philippine Eagle Foundation.

Drawing on lessons learned from the condor and harpy eagle conservation programmes in the United States, the foundation's goal is to set free one captive-bred bird each year.

"In the next five years I am confident that we can do this," said Dennis Salvador, the foundation's director.

Standing one metre (3.28 feet) tall with a two-metre (6.56-feet) wingspan and weighing 7.5 kilograms (16.5 pounds), the eagle with the massive hooked beak and hackles spreading out like a crown behind its head is found only here on Mindanao island.

It pairs for life and the female lays one egg every two years. Each eagle needs 17 square kilometres (6.56 square miles) of tropical rainforest to survive.

With old growth tropical rainforest being cut down at the rate of 100 hectares (247 acres) a day, only about 500 breeding pairs remain as prey and nesting sites vanish and the bird itself is pursued by trophy hunters.
Yet another excellent argument for limiting the breeding of the human species &mdash we have 6.x billion of those, insufficient resources to feed them, and too many beautiful creatures that are dying because of us.

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At 3:32 PM, Blogger Chuck Butcher said...

Um Brazil would be that Brazil that is slash and burning Amazon rain forest? That great big carbon trapping forest?

At 8:48 PM, Blogger ThePoliticalCat said...

Yeah, that would be that Brazil. But hey, at least they have environmentally sound cars!

I know. It all sucks.


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