Thursday, March 30, 2017

New Survey Report on the South Rupununi Savannahs

The WWF has released an important new survey report on the savannahs. According to the web site:
"The publication represents the most recent (and potentially, the first) broad-based documentation of floral and faunal diversity in Guyana’s southern Rupununi region, is based on work undertaken in the Kusad Mountain and Parabara areas. "

It can be downloaded from the same web page shown above. It is full of amazing pictures, maps and introduces the biodiversity idea using local examples. Just what is needed in schools.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

What is a green economy?

The government is aiming for a green economy (see this report) but what is a green economy? It would seem that it is difficult to define easily in practical terms.

According to Wikipedia:
'The green economy is defined as an economy that aims at reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities, and that aims for sustainable development without degrading the environment. It is closely related with ecological economics, but has a more politically applied focus.'
It is said to include:
Renewable energy
Green buildings
Sustainable transport
Water management
Waste management
Land management
And regarding energy (and of special interest to us in Guyana):
"Green economies require green energy generation based on renewable energy to replace fossil fuels as well as energy conservation and efficient energy use."
So we have a long way to go in the energy sector.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Guyana and climate change - Jan 2017

Some recent developments reported locally:

Integrated approach to tackle climate change (Guyana Chronicle)
"The need for closer collaboration between agencies here in addressing climate change was raised on Thursday as the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) commenced a two-day stakeholder engagement in Georgetown.
..provision will be made through the Climate Change Adaptation Programme (CCAP), which will be implemented in several Caribbean countries, including Guyana."

Guyana to participate in Climate Change & ACTO Meetings (GINA)
"Guyana will participate in fourth board meeting of Japan Caribbean Climate Change Partnership Project (JCCCP) at the invitation of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which will be held in Jamaica from February 1- 2 2017."

So why is climate change so important to Guyana? We need to pay more attention to this issue so here are a few things which come to mind:
- it is causing sea-level rise which will become a critical issue for obvious reasons, eventually much of our best farm land will be lost plus our capital
- the slowly rising temperature will have very serious effects in the future, agriculture will have to adapt
- there is a global shift away from using oil which has important implications
- we need to shift our energy sector (and transportation) away from fossil fuels to hydro and solar.

Friday, December 30, 2016

The problem of consciousness

The question of how consciousness comes about has perplexed mankind for ages. Most of those with a science background assume that it arises due to special features of the brain such as high complexity, computing power etc. If this were true then perhaps computers of the distant might start to show this property also. This view suggests that there is no survival after death.

However another school of thought holds that consciousness resides elsewhere (with the soul or spirit) and that the brain is only a kind of filter. Survival after death is therefore possible.

Consider then this story about a man who lives with most of his brain missing... as reported by Science Alert. At first I thought this must be fake news! First described in The Lancet (a well-known medical publication) in 2007, link provided in article.
"A French man who lives a relatively normal, healthy life - despite missing 90 percent of his brain - is causing scientists to rethink what it is from a biological perspective that makes us conscious."

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Solar roofs

The US company Tesla, famous for electric cars, has announced glass roofing tiles which are also solar panels. According to this article in Bloomberg:

"If Musk’s claims prove true, this could be a real turning point in the evolution of solar power. The rooftop shingles he unveiled just a few weeks ago are something to behold: They’re made of textured glass and are virtually indistinguishable from high-end roofing products. They also transform light into power for your home and your electric car. "

While they are not cheap they are tough, light-weight and long-lasting. It looks a very promising product. Hopefully other companies will come out with competing products soon and such tiles will become available in Guyana in a few years. Being light-weight is important as it reduces shipping costs and is also better for the kind of houses built here.