Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

‘Good’ mosquitoes

Brazil releases ‘good’ mosquitoes to fight dengue fever

Capture  - The BBC's Julia Carneiro watched as the mosquitoes were released

Capture – The BBC’s Julia Carneiro watched as the mosquitoes were released

Brazilian researchers in Rio de Janeiro have released thousands of mosquitoes infected with bacteria that suppress dengue fever.

The hope is they will multiply, breed and become the majority of mosquitoes, thus reducing cases of the disease.

The initiative is part of a programme also taking place in Australia, Vietnam and Indonesia.

The intracellular bacteria, Wolbachia, being introduced cannot be transmitted to humans.

The programme started in 2012 says Luciano Moreira of the Brazilian research institute Fiocruz, who is leading the project in Brazil .

“Our teams performed weekly visits to the four neighbourhoods in Rio being targeted. Mosquitoes were analysed after collection in special traps.

“Transparency and proper information for the households is a priority. ”

Ten thousands mosquitoes will be released each month for four months with the first release in Tubiacanga, in the north of Rio.

‘Good’ bacteria

The bacterium Wolbachia is found in 60% of insects. It acts like a vaccine for the mosquito which carries dengue, Aedes aegypti, stopping the dengue virus multiplying in its body.

Wolbachia also has an effect on reproduction. If a contaminated male fertilises the eggs of a female without the bacteria, these eggs do not turn into larvae.

If the male and female are contaminated or if only a female has the bacteria, all future generations of mosquito will carry Wolbachia.

As a result, Aedes mosquitoes with Wolbachia become predominant without researchers having to constantly release more contaminated insects.

In Australia this happened within 10 weeks on average.

The research on Wolbachia began at the University of Monash in Australia in 2008. The researchers allowed the mosquitoes to feed on their own arms for five years because of concerns at the time Wolbachia could infect humans and domestic animals.

Three more neighbourhoods will be targeted next, and large scale studies to evaluate the effect of the strategy are planned for 2016.

Dengue re-emerged in Brazil in 1981 after an absence of more than 20 years.

Over the next 30 years, seven million cases were reported.

Brazil leads the world in the number of dengue cases, with 3.2 million cases and 800 deaths reported in the 2009-14 period.

Source: BBCNews

Change the World Wednesday – 17th Sep

Emmylee at my birthday BBQ

Emmylee at my birthday BBQ

It’s been a quiet week after my bursts of energy around my birthday. Speaking of which, today is Emmylee’s.

*ties knot in finger to remember to phone her*

Give Emms my camera and I get an 8gb SD chip full of selfies…

Anyway, today she’s reached the ripe old age of eight.

BIG news, American waistlines have grown an inch in the last decade.

More news, to fight cancer… roll in the kitty litter.

It appears that the bacteria, Toxoplasma gondii, we get from our feline buddies and is carried by 60% of the population is a cancer hunting/destroying bacteria. What can I say, get closer to your pussy! Cheaper than chemotherapy.

Sad news…

The reason we need Marina da Silva for presidenta! (See last wee’ks CTWW)

The dams are dry, sorry too late

In recent months Brazil has undergone a severe water shortage, particularly in the state of São Paulo. A report in the news this morning is rather disturbing. It appears that deforestation of the Amazon basin has reached a threshhold The vegetation of the Amazon basin let moisture rise and so produce the clouds that moved across the country and fell as rain. Apparently, there is not enough vegetation left to make suffcient moisture to form the necessary clouds. Brazil’s inaction, or insufficient action, has caused their own demise. Had the country been more prudent earlier, we wouldn’t have these drought problems. Another example of man’s inability to husband the planet effectively.

This week it was reported that deforestation in Brazil increased for the first time in the last few years, despite a major illegal logging band being dismantled.

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Now let’s move along.

This week’s CTWW is about CFCs

This week, let’s deal with any ozone-depleting chemicals in our lives. Here are some steps to take:

  • Check labels and avoid any solvents, cleaning supplies, foams, etc. which contain CFCs (in addition to the common names mentioned above, they might be found on the label as methane, ethane, Trichlorotrifluoroethane).
  • Check storage areas for old aerosol cans, fire extinguishers, or air conditioning units and dispose of them properly (call your hazardous waste disposal department for information on the best way to dispose of them).

There’s a lot more, check the banner above for the rest.

greencheckMy life is CFC Free.

My refrigerator is only a couple of years old and CFC free.

I don’t have any old stuff like aerosols, fire extinguishers, etc in use that might contain CFCs; and I don’t use air conditioning.

However, I do still have my two old fridges that are bound to have CFCs. I haven’t thrown them out as I use them in the carport for storage cupboards.

“In Brazil, a pilot project was launched to remedy this problem. Working within the framework of the Swiss Climate Protection Initiative, the Swiss foundation SENS International launched a project to recycle old refrigerators and other cooling appliances in a manner compliant with Swiss standards.
It is not enough to merely replace old refrigerators with more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly ones. The old appliances also need to be recycled in a manner that ensures the complete extraction and destruction of CFCs. However, this requires a certain degree of know-how, specific equipment and facilities as well as new legislation. Until fairly recently, these factors were missing.”Source No date given.

The problem is the recycling plant is in São Paulo, 460km away. I’ll have to look into this further and see if there are any facilities here in Rio.

Another source tells me there is a comprehensive recycling programm for old fridges but doesn’t sy where, have to look further.

Meanwhile, it’s back to bed… 3am writing CTWW, I am seriously in need of therapy.

Nature Ramble

Looking at a strange turtle from Brazil.

This one talks…

Scientists study ‘talking’ turtles in Brazilian Amazon

This is an adult Giant South American river turtle. The turtle is the largest member of the side-necked turtle family and grows up to nearly three feet in length. Credit: Photo credit: C. Ferrara/Wildlife Conservation Society Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-08-scientists-turtles-brazilian-amazon.html#jCp

“Turtles are well known for their longevity and protective shells, but it turns out these reptiles use sound to stick together and care for young, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society and other organizations.

“Scientists working in the Brazilian Amazon have found that Giant South American river turtles actually use several different kinds of vocal communication to coordinate their social behaviors, including one used by female turtles to call to their newly hatched offspring in what is the first instance of recorded parental care in turtles.

“The study appears in a recent edition of the journal Herpetologica. The authors are: Camila Ferrara of the Wildlife Conservation Society; Richard C. Vogt of the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas de Amazônia, and the Associação de Ictiólogos e Herpetólogos da Amazônia; Renata S Sousa-Lima of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Bruno M.R. Tardio of the Instituto Chico Mendez; and Virginia Campos Diniz Bernardes of the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas de Amazônia, and the Associação de Ictiólogos e Herpetólogos da Amazônia.

“These distinctive sounds made by turtles give us unique insights into their behavior, although we don’t know what the sounds mean,” said Dr. Camila Ferrara, Aquatic Turtle Specialist for the WCS Brazil Program. “The social behaviors of these reptiles are much more complex than previously thought.”

My source: Gary Roger Nature Check the link there for more story

Nature Ramble

Not so much a ‘ramble’ today, but something rather newsworthy, especially as the FIFA World Cup opens next Thursday.

FIFA makes billions from the World Cup.

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Row over protection for World Cup mascot armadillo

The Brazilian three-banded armadillo serves as the inspiration for this year’s World Cup mascot “Fuleco”

Conservationists in Brazil are challenging football’s governing body Fifa to do more to protect the animal that inspired this summer’s World Cup mascot.

The Brazilian three-banded armadillo is listed as a vulnerable species and is the basis of the Fuleco mascot that will feature on official merchandise and souvenirs.

Scientists have called on Fifa and the Brazilian government to designate parts of the armadillo’s dry forest habitat as protected areas.

The government has met with scientists to discuss drawing up a conservation plan, but Fifa has not yet responded directly to the challenge.

The football governing body admits it has “no direct relationship with an NGO”, but one of its commercial affiliates gave a one-off payment of 100,000 reais (£27,000; $45,000) to the Caatinga Association, which is trying to protect the species.

The armadillo in question, Tolypeutes tricinctus, is found only in Brazil, where it lives in a type of tropical dry forest known as Caatinga, in the country’s northeast.

Critics say Fifa is doing little to help protect the species, despite the body’s claims it will raise awareness

Known locally as the “tatu bola” or “armadillo ball”, it protects itself by rolling its flexible armour into an almost perfect and impenetrable ball when threatened. But unlike other armadillo species, this one is not adapted to life underground.

The mascot’s name is a combination of the words in Portuguese for “football” and “ecology” and Fifa says “as a member of a vulnerable species, the official mascot can play a key role in driving environmental awareness”.

Brand licensing for merchandise and souvenirs featuring the official marks for World Cup events is worth millions in revenue for Fifa. But scientists say that more of these earnings should be invested in protection for the species.

In an article published last month in Biotropica, a group of Brazilian scientists wrote: “As football fans and conservationists, we challenge Fifa and Brazil to set an ambitious mark: at least 1000 hectares of Caatinga declared as protected area for each goal scored during the 2014 World Cup”.

Based on an average of 170 goals in recent tournaments, this could result in the conservation of over 170,000 hectares, the article says. It also calls for other measures like the establishment of new protected areas.

“The message is that if we don’t do anything, this amazing animal could disappear,” Enrico Bernard, a zoologist at the Federal University of Pernambuco and one of the authors, told the BBC.

“Football is passion and we would like people to demonstrate the same passion for biodiversity and for helping to conserve it”.

Although the Brazilian three-banded armadillo was listed as vulnerable by the IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature) almost two decades ago, its situation is even more desperate now.

“In the last evaluation of the Brazilian list of endangered species last year, the three-banded armadillo moved from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘in danger’ because it lost nearly 50% of its habitat in the last 15 years (three generations for the animal),” said Flavia Miranda, deputy chair of the Anteater, Sloth and Armadillo Specialist group at the IUCN.

Miranda is also calling on Fifa to invest more of its revenues “back into the conservation of the species or its habitat”.

The Caatinga dry forest once covered nearly 845,000 square km or about 11% of the Brazilian territory, but has now been reduced to half of its original area.

“The Caatinga suffers intense deforestation because it is a source of fuelwood,” said Rodrigo Castro, executive secretary of the Caatinga Association, an NGO that has worked for the protection of the species for over a decade.

The species can roll itself into a ball as a defence against predators

“Besides this, livestock ranching is expanding, the local population is increasing and an activity linked to cultural traditions, hunting, is another factor that has contributed to a drastic reduction of the species.”

It is estimated that more than 20 million people live in the Caatinga, many of whom are amongst Brazil’s poorest. Enrico Bernard says the Caatinga is amongst the least known and least protected Brazilian ecosystems, with only 1% of the original area under legal protection.

Fifa has not responded directly to the challenge set in Biotropica magazine, but in a statement sent to the BBC, it said that choosing Fuleco as the official mascot “has helped to raise awareness in Brazil around the three-banded armadillo and its status as a vulnerable species.

“According to our latest research in the Brazilian market Fuleco is known by 95% of the Brazilian population.”

The world football governing body added that Fuleco is an important part of efforts “in particular in regards to recycling and reducing the impact of waste on the environment”.

Earlier this month the Brazilian Environment Ministry invited a group of over 30 scientists, including Miranda and Castro, to meet for a week in the natural reserve of Serra das Almas, in the northeastern state of Ceara, to help draw up a five year National Action Plan for the Conservation of the Brazilian three-banded Armadillo.

“The actions proposed include the creation of new protected areas, better monitoring to reduce deforestation, environmental education programs to reduce hunting and more research about the distribution and behaviour of the species, about which little is known at the moment,” according to Castro.

“We will have to work very hard in the restoration of habitats, the creation of natural reserves and the fight against hunting”, says Flavia Miranda, who will be executive coordinator of the conservation plan announced last week.

The plan is an important step according to Castro, but the challenge remains to turn the set of targets announced into funded and effective actions in the next five years.

Less than two weeks before the World Cup, local scientists say there is still time to ensure the tournament produces what could be its best score, an “environmental goal”.

“The Brazilian three-banded armadillo gave life to Fuleco, but Fuleco has achieved very little for the three-banded armadillo. We hope that millions of people watching the matches will become aware of the plight of this animal and that the World Cup will have an impact on the fate of the species,” Rodrigo Castro told the BBC.

“The outcome depends to a great extent on FIFA. We still hope it will understand this is the first ever World Cup that could leave a lasting legacy for biodiversity, helping to save the Brazilian three-banded armadillo from extinction”.

Source: BBC News

Change the World Wednesday – 12th Mar

Cloro was a great one for licking his, apparently, he kept them in good working order

Cloro was a great one for licking his nuts, apparently, he kept them in good working order…

I am crazy. It’s 2am and I’m at the keyboard with a tankard of iced sparkling mineral water, it’s too early for coffee; and too hot (I’m sweating). But don’t expect me to stay up and finish this, it’s just until I get sleepy again… then it will be crash until coffee.

I am still catless, but apparently not for long. You’ll have to read Legacy to find out why.

Carnaval is well in the past, back to work. The garis (street sweepers) and council have reached an agreement and are back to work.

My PC is still behaving like a PC should, so it seems as though my troubles are over for the present, despite the fact that it looks like a gutted box beside me with its blinking lights.

I like the lights blinking on and in the PC, they’re a comfort, they indicate that things are as they should be.

I had an interesting conversation with a fregües (regular) at the bar during the week. He uses disposable cups for his beer, which I think is totally crass.

Blue Plastic Cup

The terrible convenience

The bar has them for the kids who buy soda to drink in the praça (park) and some of the regulars have taken to using them for beer.

I challenged him on it. He just considered a convenience. When I asked him how many barrels of oil would be wasted in his lifetime just for his convenience, he replied, “guilty as charged.” Now this guy is no fool, he’s a maritime engineer, but even for educated Brazilian, it’s hard to get the message across. The next time I saw him at the bar… yes, he was still using a disposable cup.

Click on the banner for the full post

On with this week’s CTWW. It’s a good one and I can get right into it.

If you haven’t already done so, replace at least one incandescent light bulb with a CFL or LED bulb.

 

OR … If you have switched all your bulbs to Eco-friendly varieties, please conduct a brief analysis of your home furnishings. Are items sustainable and Eco-friendly, made from materials like bamboo, cork, or recycled content? Were they made locally? How many pieces are second hand? Do any items contain foam (cushions, pads, etc.) which typically are treated with fire retardants (toxic chemicals)? Has anything been varnished or finished with lacquers (both contain harmful pollutants)? Do you have wood furniture? If so, do you know where the wood came from and whether or not the trees were sustainably grown? The idea, here, is to start thinking about the sustainability of our furnishings and raise our awareness on the types of items we should both support and avoid.

Part One I am in the process of changing over, as much as I was against CFLs initially, because of disposal and breakage problems, I have had to toe the line, because in Brazil this year incandescent light bulbs will become illegal, to make and to sell.

I would prefer LEDs, but I haven’t found them in our part of town yet, we do live out in the styx a bit when it comes to innovation. You see people think that Rio stops after you have passed the posh suburbs of Barra da Tijuca and Recreio, once you go over the hill Grota Funda (now you can go through it, we’ve got a tunnel) the world ends. But I will keep looking.

Part Two (This will have to wait until the real morning, you know with coffee and daylight)

Daylight

Coffee

Okay, we’re ready to continue…

At the start of summer I made a big purchase; not a thing I do often. I bought two new fans.

ana_pesquisa__17_Now fans here in Brazil, and probably everywhere, are big on plastic.

You can see them in all the stores.

In my efforts to avoid plastic, it was a criteria that I set myself.

ventidelta-coluna-premium-60cm-pretoI found what I was looking for a nearly all metal model.

One was an upright, the other on a tube base for a table.

The only visible plastic is the name plate on the front, the blades and the small clips to hold the front grill in place.

So yes, I consider the environment when I buy.

Now as for the rest of my furnishings.

In the living room, I have two new items, a coffee table and a bookcase stand; both are made of wood. But the wood is a composite type, which I consider more ecological that real wood because it is usually made from recycled wood.

beerboxEverything else is second hand and some is just boxes, like my beer box.

Oh, there is another one on the other side of the TV for my wine bottle candle holders.

My sofas, 3 & 2 seat, were rescued from the street as discards by a neighbour, they have foam in them, actually they had foam in them, there is not as much as there should be. But to compensate for this, the one I use most is covered by a camp mattress and a blanket and the cushion is an old doubled over pillow.

So rather than rushing out and buying new stuff, I make do with what’s available. When I do, I do consider the environment as well as the cost, because I can be a real Scrooge.

Nature Ramble

Off the coast of Sergipe in Brazil they have been testing new circular hooks designed to combat the inadvertent catching of marine turtles.

The hooks are a welcome success, in more ways than one; fishermen have hauled in a total of fifteen new species of marine life, hither to unknown.

Local fishermen with forty years fishing behind them have never seen the likes before.

Now the fish are in the Oceanário de Aracaju for study.

A species of shark

A species of shark

 

newspec2

A species of eel

A species of crustation

A species of crustacean

All photos are caps of the Globo video clip

Change the World Wednesday – 5th Feb

Running late today.

Yesterday Brazil had a power cut affecting the south and west of the country, including here. Power was out for over an hour.

diskdrive

I hate disk drives

That’s not the tricky bit. When I got home and turned the PC on it didn’t want to connect with my backup drive and after repeated attempts, I gave up. Today I had another fiddle and after a couple of hours and lots of coffee managed to recover it. So all is well… until the next time. But I am creating another backup disk just in case.

Yesterday was also a stupendous 45ºC (112ºF), humidity was very low, so I was drinking lots of water, today is a cooler 41ºC. We are due for this heat wave until the 15th, so another ten days.

No more guava, plenty growing, but no ripe ones.

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Let’s get on with this week’s CTWW.

This week, monitor food portion sizes and cook accordingly. Even if you are cooking once for more than one meal, pay attention to portions and resist cooking more than necessary, which often leads to waste. Need help determining portion size? There’s more… Click on the banner for the full challenge.

Living alone this can be a tough one. I buy my meat in meal-sized portions, but when it comes to veges you can’t buy half a lettuce. I wish I had the ground available to grow more of my own. I buy a lettuce, and by the time I have used half, the rest is ready for the compost.

I rarely buy pre-prepared meals, so portions a not a great problem there. And the odd time I get a delivered pizza, I eat half one day, and the rest the next day.

FeijoadaAs a chef, I have a pretty good idea, how much I need of something to make one meal. Sometimes I make several lots, for example when I make feijoada (Brazilian black bean dish) I make it the day, then pack six portions in old marg containers for the freezer; thaw and reheat later.

So I pretty much do this challenge as a matter of course.

I hate throwing food out. When I do, it makes me cringe.

 

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