Archive for September, 2011

Make you Fink on Friday

Normally Make you Fink on Friday is a moan and a bitch session, but today not. In fact it is a collection of good news.

Belo Monte Dam on the Xingú River in Brazil

Turning this river into that lake

The Brazilian government was moving ahead “at any cost” with plans to build the third-largest dam in the world and one of the Amazon’s most controversial development projects – the Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River in the state of Pará.

Drowning hundreds of communities like this displacing 50,000 people

The Belo Monte dam complex dates back to Brazil’s military dictatorship and the government has attempted to build it through various series of national investment programs including Brasil em Ação and the Program to Accelerate Growth. Original plans to dam the Xingu have been greenwashed through multiple public relations programs over the course of two decades in the face of intense national and international protest.


A judge in Brazil has ordered a halt to construction of a multi-billion-dollar dam project in the Amazon region.

Judge Carlos Castro Martins barred any work that would interfere with the natural flow of the Xingu river.

He ruled in favour of a fisheries group which argued that the Belo Monte dam would affect local fish stocks and could harm indigenous families who make a living from fishing.

The government says the dam is crucial to meeting growing energy needs.

Judge Martins barred the Norte Energia company behind the project from “building a port, using explosives, installing dikes, building canals and any other infrastructure work that would interfere with the natural flow of the Xingu river, thereby affecting local fish stocks”.

Judge Desterro said the Brazilian environmental agency, Ibama, had approved the project without ensuring that 29 environmental conditions had been met.

Sources: BBC News & Positive TV Read more.

Burma dam: Work halted on divisive Myitsone project

Burma’s president has suspended construction of a controversial Chinese-backed hydroelectric dam.

Myitsone Project - Power for China

In a letter read out in parliament on Friday, Thein Sein said the $3.6bn (£2.3bn) Myitsone dam was contrary to the will of the people.

The project fuelled fighting between the army and ethnic Kachin rebels.

Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who recently joined the anti-dam campaign, welcomed the move, seen as a rare victory for social activists.

The BBC’s South East Asia correspondent Rachel Harvey says it appears to be further evidence of the new leadership’s desire to seek legitimacy by being more open to public opinion.

Source: BBC News Read more

Bolivian President Evo Morales has suspended work on the road until a referendum is held.

However, a national furore over the construction has continued.

Half a million trees to fall through Indian territory (TIPNIS). Endangered and endemic species are found in the area to be deforested.

The proposed 300km (190-mile) road, financed by Brazil, would link Brazil to Pacific ports in Chile and Peru.

But it will also pass through an Amazon nature reserve that is home to about 50,000 people from three different indigenous groups.

About 1,000 protesters were staging a 500km (310-mile) march to the main city La Paz when riot police stopped them in the Yucumo region on Sunday.

Bolivians march against Evo Morales over jungle highway crackdown

Evo Morales was forced to reverse the decision to continue in the light of three government ministers resigning over the violence involved.

Source: BBC News, here too & Blue Channel 24 Read more


I am pleased with all this good news; it is beginning to show governments that the people want a say in the future. Governments have forgotten this, they have forgotten that they represent the people.

Hopefully, these projects can be resolved amicably.

I was particularly pleased with Burma’s decision, it has shown that the change of government is maybe leading the country on a better path after more than 30 years of dictatorship.

The way it is

Change the World Wednesday 28th Sep

Tomato Icecream

Despite my hopes, my tomatoes remained tomato-flavoured, not a hint of curry. Experiment No.1 in GMOs – FAIL! This week I am trying for icecream-flavour…

Move over Monsanto, my GMOs are much more fun.

I was up at 4:30am today checking out the CTWW for this week. I do believe I have become derailed. I can assure you that I went back to bed until 7:30, a much more reasonable hour for a senior citizen’s first morning coffee, which reminds me, it’s time for the second. BRB

Back, ah, you’re still here…

This weeks Change the World Wednesday challenge on Reduce Footprints:


This week replace at least one car trip with a bicycle or walking trip.
OR …
If you never use a car, please write a post about how you make a “no car” life work.
Well, been done before, but that’s gone, so here’s my story for the second part of the challenge.
I got my license to drive at 15 (Yes, it was legal when I was a boy) and I rolled Dad’s car beyond recognition at 16. So yes, I support better driver training.

My first bike - 1951 Matchless G3LS

Until I was 41 I drove everywhere. I always had a car. My cars, after motorcycles, ranged from moderate types in the early years, a thumping great noisy gas guzzling V8 before I got married to sedate family saloon types as a responsible father. I have always driven, I did it for jobs, I did it for pleasure. I drove cars, trucks, taxis, fire engines (that was fun), army tanks, bulldozers, buses, Land Rovers (off road, more fun; boys just love mud). I could pull a reconditioned V8 motor out and have it fully reconditioned and back on the road within a week, that’s better than some mechanics can do (you’d know if you ever had to have it done).

So for 26 years a greater part my life revolved around vehicles of one sort or another.

Then my life changed. The week that I turned 41 I found myself in Rio de Janeiro en route to Europe. My first destination was Madrid… I never got there. The reasons are for another story on another blog another time.

For the first time in my life, I didn’t have a car. I was initially a tourist. From then on it was buses and taxis. In New Zealand I would never have considered a bus, the city services had deteriorated in frequency to way beyond pathetic. But, I found myself in a city where buses ruled, they may have been driven by retired Japanese kamikaze pilots (you have to do it to understand), but they went everywhere. If I wanted to go to Copacabana from Catete (where I stayed initially) there was a choice of buses and routes every few minutes. They were cheap, no parking, no gas to buy, etc. I discovered another world – public transport.

Uruguay Immigration Stamps

At Christmas that first year I wanted to go to Uruguay to stay with friends (also to get my visa renewed); I got a bus. Six hours across to São Paulo, forty hours from there to Montevideo. It cost like $60 and I didn’t have to read a map to find my way. I didn’t even have to worry about border crossings, the bus driver collected our passports when we boarded, and returned them all stamped when we got off the bus.

Now I have lived without a car for nearly twenty years. I don’t need one. I love the freedom of not having a car. No repairs, no insurance, no annual registration, no warrant of fitness (six-monthly fitness inspection)and best of all, no stress! I have more money for beer, and less headaches (because I don’t drink that much).

Since then, I have bussed, trained, boated and occasionally flown all over South America, covered thousands of miles, with the exception of Venezuela and Colombia, and loved every minute of it. I wouldn’t swap my public transport lifestyle if you gave me a car.

I bus to work every day in one of these

Now, I know that not all cities have great public transport systems, but if your city does, try it, you’ll like it.

Window shopping from the bus is great too. During the week, I saw a shop with reconditioned PCs for sale really cheap. Want one! If I had been driving through that intersection (busy, busy, busy) I would have missed it; you blink and you have missed your green light. In the bus you have time to relax and look, which is something that in today’s stressed out world there is no time for any more.

I would use a bicycle, if it were conducive to my health; unfortunately leg problems preclude cycling. In fact, before I was condemned to my walking stick, I used to walk to town each day for work it was only 25 minutes. I still do on occasion, but now it takes more than an hour.

A “no-car” life really works.

Monday Moaning


Look, no paint!

I have written on this before, but that blog disappeared. But the latest move by Coca-Cola to ‘greenwash’ its product is a farce.

A can without paint.

How lame is that?

Of course the move is hailed as going green. But going green has nothing to do with it. Just think of the money the company will save, just think about the increase in profits, just think will that saving be passed on to the consumer?

Like shit it will!

Until they fix the problems INSIDE the can there is no way Coca-Cola can be considered ‘green,’ it will always be RED!

:: 1 – Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a product that is used to line metal (inc Aluminium) cans to prevent spoilage; that is among many other things like baby bottles, baby food cans, etc.

Coca-Cola has not denied when asked by Environment Working Group (EWG) in 2009, in fact they said nothing. Read the report.

:: 2 – The use of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) in place of sugar. Read the Accidental Hedonist about Why Coke uses High Fructose Corn Syrup. Here’s an extract:

“Some quick numbers, on why Coke would use HFCS over sugar.

Annual US Per capita consumption of Coke in servings: 411

People in the United States: 297,890,000

Servings of Coke in the US, per year: 122,432,790,000

How much a 5 cent cost increase in sweetner, per serving, would affect the bottom line of Coca Cola: $6,121,639,500″


Then there’s this from Wikipedia: “The highly processed substance is more harmful to humans than regular sugar, contributing to weight gain by affecting normal appetite functions, and that in some foods HFCS may be a source of mercury, a known neurotoxin.”

Aspartame, a product initially used in chemical warfare

:: 3 – Coca-Cola Diet and Coca-Cola Zero, this is just wonderful, they is sweetened with aspartame, now recognised as a neurotoxin.

Check this quote: “During the Gulf War (not Iraq), ten thousand soldiers were victims of poisoning by Coca-Cola light. A Coca-Cola light é adoçada com aspartame. The Diet Coke is sweetened with aspartame. Durante os combates, os paletes com as latas ficavam expostas ao sol muito quente nessa região. During the fighting, the pallets with the cans were exposed to very hot sun in this region.

A partir de From 33°C 33 ° C , o aspartame se transforma em metanol (álcool metílico), muito tóxico, que, depois, se reduz a formaldeído (formol), ainda mais tóxico. , Aspartame turns into methanol (methyl alcohol), very toxic, which then reduces to formaldehyde (formalin), even more toxic. E o que acontece no estomago a 37° C? And what happens in the stomach at 37 ° C?

Aspartame was invented by Monsanto during chemical warfare.”

Chemical warfare, now isn’t that just ducky?

With global warming many other areas of the world are being exposed to high temperatures, doesn’t this ring alarm bells?

It doesn’t matter if the can has freakin’ polka dots, it’ll NEVER be green until these issues are addressed.

In the meantime, just keep feeding it to the kids so that Coca-Cola can continue to make a profit.

Greenwashing, Bah humbug!

Brazil Joins the Ranks

Ban Bisphenol Globally

Brazil has become one of the few countries to ban bisphenol-a (BPA) in baby bottles and products throughout the country.

ANVISA (Brazil’s National Health Watchdog) in a decision of recent studies abroad that show exposure to BPA is not in the best interests, particularly in infants fro 0 – 12 months.

Bisphenol-A is present in the polycarbonate used for baby bottles and can linings used for drinks and prepared foods and found to be responsible for many conditions and ailments.

With a time limit of 90 days, manufacturers and retailers have to have the products off the shelves by 31st December this year.

Brazil joins the European Union, Canada, China, Malaysia, Costa Rica and the 11 states in the USA who have had the good sense to believe the research and reports.

The Paradox

While the market for alternative technologies to BPA is growing rapidly, virtually all those alternative products, besides glass, are less known that BPA itself.

Are we trading one risk off against another?

Is the cure worse than the disease?

Once again, this is a clear example that man has no idea what he is really doing.

Ecuadorian-UN accord that puts ecology over oil drilling hailed as model for world

White-banded Swallows perching of a tree stump on the bank of Rio Tiputini, Yasuní National Park in Ecuador

23 September 2011 – An Ecuadorian accord to leave vast oil reserves, conservatively valued at $7.2 billion, untapped to protect biodiversity in a national park in return for half that amount from the international community was heralded at the United Nations today as a model in the fight to save the planet.

“It is not often that a government chooses sustainable development over easy money,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a high-level meeting on the Yasuní-ITT Initiative, under which the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and Ecuador agreed last year to set up a trust fund to protect the Yasuní National Park, a World Biosphere Reserve in the country’s Amazon region, with an estimated 846 million barrels of crude oil lying under it.

“The initiative is helping Ecuador move on multiple fronts towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” he told the event, held on the sidelines of the General Assembly’s annual general debate in the presence of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa.

“It is supporting indigenous livelihoods and culture. It is protecting biodiversity. It will help to avoid emissions of greenhouse gases. And it is showing the contribution that can be made through an innovative financial mechanism.”

Source: UN News Center Read more


Ecuador is one of the lesser known countries in South America, perched between Colombia and Peru.

With all that is going on in the world it is gratifying to see such a small country making the effort and putting the world’s major powers to shame and disgrace.

Ecuador is indeed a model for the rest of the world.

Let’s hope that others follow the leader.


Yasuní National Park

Such beautiful areas of the planet should be left… beautiful and not fall victim to man’s greed for power and money.

Make you Fink on Friday

Monsanto or Organic?


Small Footprints Stumbled this page to me and I find it very interesting and extremely disturbing:

The source: ecopolitology go there, read more, it gets worse and is definitely something to ‘Fink about on Friday.’

Change the World Wednesday – 21st Sep

The Idea Bus

Awake, dressed, have coffee, don’t have any idea what to write…

Wait… wait… it’ll come. *Looks around for the ‘idea bus.’*

My post last week was about my ‘nemesis,’ the fridge. It looks a little more distant after recent financial indications. Two weeks ago the real (Brazilian dollar) was at R$1.58 = $1, it has been steadily losing ground since; last night it had fallen to R$1,79 = $1. The real has become the currency most affected by the money market. Such a dramatic swing means that stuff like fridges, TVs, PCs & Laptops (another plan)  are very likely to become R$100-200 more expensive very quickly. Which will affect me personally, seriously.

This week’s Change the World Wednesday is about water. We have often spoken about water and I have posted on the subject several times; unfortunately all those posts are floating away somewhere in the blogosphere; where, nobody knows.

This week’s challenge:

This week pay close attention to the water which gets tossed down the drain and reduce it. (There is more, check the link to read the full text.)

Last week’s Make you Fink on Friday post was about water and is a good starting point as to why we need to constantly be reminded about water. If you haven’t already, hop across to check it out; I’ll wait for you to come back…

Oh, back already.

You see water is a problem because there are too many people on the planet using this valuable commodity faster than nature can replenish usable supplies.

Curry Flavoured Tomatoes

My answer to the challenge, is that I already do those things. In fact, I expect to have curry-flavoured tomatoes soon. I emptied the water that was soaking last night’s curry pot on to the garden. Talk about GMOs.

At work I do things like this. If the water in my cup has lost its chill, I empty it into the pot plants outside my classroom rather that tip it down the sink.

There are a myriad of small ways that we can conserve or reuse water.

The second part of this week’s challenge is a plea from Small Footprints:

In addition to reducing water waste, I’d like your help on future challenges. Please leave a comment with ideas for new activities. These can be something your passionate about … something that you struggle with … or perhaps something you’d like to use as a way to increase our awareness. If your idea is used (which is almost 100% certain), I’ll give you credit and link back to your blog.

And that is the part that I am really going to address today. Small Footprints does a wonderful job on the CTWW and as a blogger I understand that sometimes the ideas just don’t come easily all the time.

My suggestion is that we look at something we do at home, something that seems entirely inconsequential, something that we don’t even think makes a difference… but does.

Briquettes for the BBQ

I guarantee that most of you use some form of briquettes or alcohol to get the ‘barbie’ (Aust & NZ slang for BBQ) going.

I don’t.

I use cardboard from an old carton to light my BBQ. Simply tear off 4″x 4″ pieces roughly (jaggered edges are better) from an old box. I keep my old cardboard in the ‘fridge’ garden cupboard for exactly this reason.

A dozen pieces, then sprinkle some of the finer charcoal over them (not the dust, but smaller pieces) and once they catch add larger pieces. Soon you have a great glowing base for your ‘barbie.’

By doing this, I am a) recycling cardboard, b) not buying manufactured job-specific products, and c) saving money.

The world does not need briqettes!

Do you have a little trick like this? If so, post a comment on CTWW.

Water alone produces light in Philippines

A Litre of Light

In this day and age of high tech, we often overlook the simplest solutions. It seems that we lave lost the focus, lost the impetus for innovation. If it doesn’t have a ‘chip’ then it doesn’t count, if it can’t be programmed, then it doesn’t count.

In the Philippines a novel idea in its simplicity has changed the future for many. Light without technology, without power for the struggling millions who can’t afford it.

Taking the advantage of recycling this cheap device filled with water; yes, just water, is illuminating homes.

Take a look at this BBC video clip, I’m sure that you will be as amazed as I was.

So simple…


You can extend this idea, think about the garden shed, the garage, a dark corner of the veranda or terrace.
Recycle and save.

Pet Fish

I had a large community aquarium


Many families, at some stage, have an aquarium for the kids to care for and marvel at the fish that live within.

I did, my kids loved watching the fish swimming around their tropical tank. The fish would have been disposed of responsibly on my separation had my ex not flushed them all down the toilet before I could attend to the matter and move the aquariums to my new abode.

People don’t realise the dangers of releasing fish into the wild when the kids grow up and/or get bored with them.

Warning against freeing pet fish

Guppies could establish populations even when no males were present

The release of a single female pet fish into the wild can generate entire new populations, even with no males present, according to new research.

A new study has revealed how the guppy’s ability to keep on reproducing has earned the fish its reputation as one of the world’s most invasive fish.

St Andrews University biologists, who made the discovery, are now warning pet owners against releasing the fish.

“Seemingly harmless activities such as a child freeing a few pet fish or a concerned householder using guppies to control mosquitoes, can ultimately contribute to the reduction of biodiversity in freshwater habitats across the world.”

The popular ornamental guppy, whose native home is Trinidad and the north-eastern fringe of South America, is now present in more than 70 countries worldwide.

Source: BBC News Read more.

So if you have fish, or plan to get an aquarium, think about their disposal seriously, because this is just another way that man has an adverse effect on natural habitats.

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