Sunday, March 29, 2009

Guyana's Institute of Science and Technology (IAST)

I have extracted a brief summary of IAST's current activities based on an article in the Kaieteur News (print edition).

Four focus areas identified: biofuels, indigeous materials, bioprospecting and analytical lab services.

- a pilot plant continues to use recycled oil from restaurants to fuel IAST vehicles.
- a plant near Mabaruma produces fuel from palm oil. This is to expand.
- new plant is to be built at IAST to explore ethanol production using molasses and cassava.

Indigeous materials
- combining clay and recycled rubber from tyres to produce material for roads
- use of rammed clay for building
- building materials using coconut fibre and balata
- road building using kilned clay

Analytical lab services
- significant improvement in facilities including chromatography, extraction of bioactives and testing for environmental contaminants.

Other activities mentioned included training in biofuel plants and support for investors.

IAST has had its ups and downs over the years but currently seems to be achieving real progress.

Global warming and the economic crisis

I wonder if historian will look back and comment that the economic crisis did have one benefit, it slowed down carbon emissions and allowed more time for solutions to be found saving and some lives as a result.

Enforced lifestyle change?

Global warming - lifestyle change 1

This is a big subject and I am still working on a post. I have not yet found the kind of online resources I had hoped for. There are comments by many about the need for lifestyle change sometimes with a few suggestions but usually not more than that.
More later.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Solar halo visible in GT

This midday a solar halo is visible in Georgetown probably caused by ice crystals high in the atmosphere.

See Wikipedia for more on this phenomena.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Global warming - update

Two recent news items of particular concern to us in Guyana had me thinking more than usual about this issue.
Firstly there was a BBC report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the sea level rise by the end of the century was now expected to be around 1m, about twice their prevous projection. So presumably we can expect a rise of around 10cm within 10 years. A very serious issue here at sea level...
Secondly there was a report on the effect of global warming on the Amazon rainforest to the effect that the rainforest will start dying off as the temperature rises:
"It had previously been thought that the trees and other vegetation, and the vast range of animals living among them, would be safe if temperatures rose no more than 2C. Researchers have now found that even 2C will destroy large tracts of the forest but that the die-back is slow and will take up to a century to have its full effect."
A rise of 2C is likely by 2050 and die-back will likely be felt first at the edge of the Amazon basin in countries such as Guyana.
While the die off of the rainforest will be slow, giving some time for us to control global warming, it would seem to be very difficult to mitigate. For sea level rise there is at least the (expensive) option of reinforcing sea walls and drainage systems.
One expert commented that "that at least a fifth of the Amazonian rainforest was almost certainly doomed."
So what do we do? Some thoughts on this in the next post.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Future technology

Next Big Future is a great site for keeping up to date with cutting edge technological developments such as nanotech and the like. Some, I am sure, will impact us here but not for 5-10 years or so...