Here are my favorite environment, health, climate change, international development or country specific blog posts (and articles) for the past week in no particular order.
- EPA Library Materials: Not Open for Public Access from Treehugger
While we may understand the Bush administration’s reasoning behind hiding thousands of e-mails and other presidential records (though we obviously don’t agree with it), we have no idea why it would choose to direct the EPA to lock away a significant portion of its library materials from the public.
- Bike Sharing to Save Cities from Inhabitat
[T]he mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, has decided that another way to solve [the problem of automotive congestion in the downtown areas] is to provide to people access to cheap alternative, mass transportation, the Velib Bike System.
While Paris is not the only city that has implemented a system such as this, Stockholm, Vienna, Brussels, Barcelona, and even Lyons have similar systems, this is believed to be the largest attempt at providing a low-cost biking sharing system provided by a government. The idea is simple, locate enough stations around the metro stations in the city, and you give commuters different options to travel to and from work, diminishing the need for the use of their automobiles. As of this moment the city has installed over 10,500 bicycles, and is expected to double that number by the end of the year. As you can imagine, these bikes were designed with heavy use in mind as each bike is expected to be used between 10 and 15 times per day by different passengers. They are meant to be tough, the components are hidden, and the materials chosen for the frame are heavier that the standard commercial bikes.
- Cuba Captures The Wind To Solve Energy Problems from The Seitch
This falls under “things that you can do in a Communist country that you would not be able to pull off elsewhere”.
In 2004 after a series of summer blackouts left the populous furious because of the lack of air conditioning or refrigeration, the communist government took action. Implementing what they called the Energy Revolution. Reports say that Castro was on tv daily explaining in detail the steps towards energy independence, and government workers went door to door replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFLâ€™s.
- Unlikely Allies Battle Deforestation in the Amazon from NPR
An unlikely alliance is working to stop to the destruction: The corporate colossus Cargill has teamed up with the non-profit environmental group The Nature Conservancy in a bid to reduce the footprint of soy farming on land that has been illegally cleared around Santarem
- Ten Rules for Accelerating Development from Africa Unchained
Nicky Oppenheimer (Chairman of De Beers) outlines his 10 rules for accelerating development in Africa. Here is a little taste.
First, beware of those bearing gifts: The business of aid has become just that, a business. From NGO’s professing to speak for Africans to consultants bearing high-altitude plans which seldom survive contact with the ground, their interests are as much in themselves as their professed target, their constituents more often the fee-paying donors than the African recipients.
Instead of seeing aid as a form of assistance, Africa needs to view and use it as an investment catalyst, steering much of it towards infrastructure. New ways should be sought and developed to use aid in partnership with the private sector, leveraging it to attract greater funds and in practical ways through reducing risk in infrastructure ventures.
- Bill Clinton is Blogging via Pienso
- West African fisheries being destroyed from Gristmill
Poor African countries have been selling their fishing rights to richer countries for years, and now they can neither catch enough fish for their populations nor protect their fisheries from collapsing.
- Eco-Drainage To Fight Floods In India from Treehugger
Floods in London, floods in Pakistan, floods in China, monsoons inundating parts of India; the meteorological refrain is: how can the worldâ€™s largest cities improve and re-integrate their obsolete drainage systems to keep up with the increasingly severe floods brought on by (very probably) global warming?
In Delhi, the national Central Road Research Instituteâ€™s (CRRI) is pioneering an â€˜eco-phaltâ€™ project that utilizes a technology called Drain Asphalt Modified Additive that allows asphalt to absorb surface water quicker.
- Africa, Offline: Waiting for the Web from NYTimes via Social ROI
Attempts to bring affordable high-speed Internet service to the masses have made little headway on the continent. Less than 4 percent of Africaâ€™s population is connected to the Web; most subscribers are in North African countries and the republic of South Africa.
A lack of infrastructure is the biggest problem. In many countries, communications networks were destroyed during years of civil conflict, and continuing political instability deters governments or companies from investing in new systems.
Africaâ€™s only connection to the network of computers and fiber optic cables that are the Internetâ€™s backbone is a $600 million undersea cable running from Portugal down the west coast of Africa. Built in 2002, the cable was supposed to provide cheaper and faster Web access, but so far that has not happened.
Most countries in Eastern Africa, like Rwanda, depend on slower satellite technology for Internet service.
- Intel and OLPC kiss and make up from CNET’s Crave Blog
There’s nothing like allegations of predatory conduct to bring two organizations together.
Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child project has decided to bring Intel on board as a partner and a possible future supplier, just a few months after Negroponte went on 60 Minutes and essentially accused the chip maker of trying to destroy his low-cost PC project. Intel has agreed to join the board of the OLPC and work with the organization on possible “collaborations involving technology and educational content,” according to a press release Friday morning.
In related news, Nick Neg has stated that “a retail version of the laptop may be commercially available in September 2007“. Woo hoo.
STARBUCKS is leaving the Forbidden City. It closed its store on July 13th, following a hugely popular online campaign led by Rui Chenggang, an anchorman for China’s biggest TV network. He argued that the outlet, which has operated within the walls of the 600-year-old city since 2000, â€œtramples over our Chinese cultureâ€. After all, what would the eunuchs, concubines and court guards of old, let alone the emperors, have made of paying $4 for a cup of milky coffee next to the Hall of Preserving Harmony?