2006-12-15

RTBF Spoof - Flemish Independency

Pour votre information, la chaîne nationale francophone RTBF a joué un coup à la façon "Orson Welles" dans 'The War of the Worlds"...

Une émission factice et de fiction sur l'annonce de mercredi soir (2006-12613) de l'indépendance de la Flandre et l'éclatement de la Belgique: roi en fuite, ministres dans les bunkers, contrôle de passeport à la sortie de Bruxelles, l'OTAN en crise... tout y était.... Pendant une demie-heure à 21h ce mercredi, la moîtié du pays fut en paralyse... d'autant plus que la RTBF n'avait rien annoncé, et intterompu sa programmation régulière... et n'a posté un message (ceci est une fiction) qu'àprès intervention de la ministre de tutelle

Coup de maître, coup de théâtre,.... les avis sont partagés.... En tout cas, le débat sur l'avenir du pays est relancé...
En Flandre, les réactions sont unanumiment négatives vis-à-vis cette "propagande des francophones bruxellois" ....Il y a eu d'innombrables coups de téléphone à une céllule de crise d'affaires intérieures....

ci-joint quelques réactions internationales

Il faut toutefois noter que:

- la RTBF est une chaîne publique: il risque donc d'y avoir des répercussions graves
- la Belgique existe toujours (ça reste quand même le pays des surréalistes)

Quote from the Flemish Minister-President Yves Leterme:
Selon le ministre-président flamand, Yves Leterme (CD²V), l'émission-fiction dans laquelle la RTBF a mis en scène, mercredi, l'indépendance de la Flandre, constitue "une caricature d'un certain nombre d'exigences flamandes".


The China Post:

State television in Belgium's French-speaking region outraged political leaders when it interrupted programming with a half-hour hoax newscast reporting that the Dutch-speaking part of the country had declared itself independent.

The broadcaster RTBF said the Wednesday program showed the importance of debate on the future of Belgium. There have been 20 years of relative linguistic calm in Belgium since far-reaching autonomy was granted in the 1980s to the Flemish Dutch-speakers and the francophones from Wallonia and Brussels.


"A bad joke that shows bad taste," said Didier Seeuws, spokesman for Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, after the prime-time broadcast.


He said it was "task of public broadcasters to inform the public correctly, not to create confusion."


The RTBF's phony newscast reported that the "Flemish parliament has unilaterally declared the independence of Flanders" and that King Albert and Queen Paola had fled the country on an air force plane.


It showed fuzzy pictures of people walking to a plane in the dark of night on a military airfield near Brussels and a small crowd of pro-monarchy demonstrators outside the royal palace waving the Belgian flag.




BBC Coverage de l'évènement:
Viewers fooled by 'Belgium split'

RTBF reporters kept up the spoof for nearly two hours
Belgians reacted with widespread alarm to news that their country had been split in two - before finding out they had been spoofed.
The Belgian public television station RTBF ran a bogus report saying the Dutch-speaking half of the nation had declared independence.

Later it said Wednesday night's programme was meant to stir up debate.

It appears to have succeeded. Thousands of people made panicked calls to the station and politicians complained.

2006-12-13

Prince Charles to Use Commercial Flights

ENN: Environmental News Network [[Today's News Full Story ]]: "Prince Charles to Use Commercial Flights

December 08, 2006 — By Sue Leeman, Associated Press
LONDON -- Putting his money where his environmentalist mouth is, Prince Charles is swapping gas-guzzling private planes and helicopters for commercial flights, train journeys and biodiesel cars.

A longtime champion of green causes, the heir to the throne says action is needed now to avoid leaving a ruined planet to the next generation.

'From February, we are going to look at the diary and see what we can do to reduce our carbon footprint,' a spokeswoman for the prince's London residence, Clarence House, said Thursday on condition of anonymity in line with royal rules. 'Wherever possible, we will be making less use of helicopters and chartered planes and rely more on car journeys, scheduled flights and trains.'

The prince is also having his Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles converted to run on 100 percent biodiesel and is converting to the use of electricity from sustainable sources at his London and country homes, the spokeswoman said.

Energy-efficient boilers that burn wood chips are being installed at his country homes at Highgrove in southern England _ where he farms organically _ and at Birkhall in Scotland.

For the first time, the prince's annual accounts published next summer will include details of his household's carbon emissions and set targets to reduce this.

The royals have traditionally used private transport. But pressure to be more cost-effective has seen the scrapping of the royal yacht Britannia and cuts in the use of the royal train.

Charles' mother, Queen Elizabeth II, recently took a scheduled train for the first time, to Norfolk in eastern England, but has not announced any plans "

Daan does Kayer Soze


Daan does Kayer Soze
Originally uploaded by wacondah.

Uw Stem Telt

Ga eens kijken op een interessante webwedstrijd die probeert het Vlaams Blogging-Fenomeen in kaart te brengen: klik hier.

U kan natuurlijk op Wacondah zelf stemmen, maar lieve op http://brussel.blogt.be

2006-12-01

Human Development Report 2006: Beyond Scarcity - Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis

Throughout history water has confronted humanity with some of its greatest challenges. Water is a source of life and a natural resource that sustains our environments and supports livelihoods – but it is also a source of risk and vulnerability. In the early 21st Century, prospects for human development are threatened by a deepening global water crisis. Debunking the myth that the crisis is the result of scarcity, this report argues poverty, power and inequality are at the heart of the problem.In a world of unprecedented wealth, almost 2 million children die each year for want of a glass of clean water and adequate sanitation. Millions of women and young girls are forced to spend hours collecting and carrying water, restricting their opportunities and their choices. And water-borne infectious diseases are holding back poverty reduction and economic growth in some of the world’s poorest countries.
Beyond the household, competition for water as a productive resource is intensifying. Symptoms of that competition include the collapse of water-based ecological systems, declining river flows and large-scale groundwater depletion. Conflicts over water are intensifying within countries, with the rural poor losing out. The potential for tensions between countries is also growing, though there are large potential human development gains from increased cooperation.

The Human Development Report continues to frame debates on some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity. Human Development Report 2006:
• Investigates the underlying causes and consequences of a crisis that leaves 1.2 billion people without access to safe water and 2.6 billion without access to sanitation
• Argues for a concerted drive to achieve water and sanitation for all through national strategies and a global plan of action
• Examines the social and economic forces that are driving water shortages and marginalizing the poor in agriculture
• Looks at the scope for international cooperation to resolve cross-border tensions in water management
• Includes special contributions from Gordon Brown and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, President Lula, President Carter, and the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan.
The report is available here: http://hdr.undp.org/hdr2006/

2006-11-29

UNOG Structure


Last picture taken at the United Nations in Geneva in a (vain?) attempt to understand the reporting lines...
  • Reading: NEUROMANCER, (for the 3rd time) by Neal Stephenson
  • Viewing: nothing much for lack of time, but planning on Borat soon
  • Ipodding/Listening to: Fatboy Slim - Weapon of Choice and visualizing Christopher Walken doing his great moves
  • Thinking: "The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour" – Japanese proverb
  • Travelling: from Puerto Natales to Geneva to Marseille to London

Save the Fish - Greenpeace report on the Pacific Plastic Pit

The plastic garbage pit of the Pacific Trash particles, looking like food, imperil sea life

Plastic trash caught up in a swirling vortex in the North Pacific Ocean between
California and Hawaii is killing sea life, choking birds and fish and entangling
seals and sea lions, a new Greenpeace report says.

Soda six-pack rings, plastic bags, condoms, beach toys and stray nets -- much of it washed off U.S. shores and some tossed directly into the ocean -- float in a mix of plastic pollution that injures hungry animals as big as whales and as small as zooplankton, according to a report by the international environmental group.
Scientists traveling aboard the Greenpeace vessel Esperanza said Sunday they now are gathering firsthand data on threats to the world's oceans from pollution, overfishing and whaling. As part of that investigation, they released the report, a compilation of studies published since 1990 on plastics in the marine environment.
The current research examines plastic as it weathers into particles the size of sand grains, so small they become part of the tissue of ocean organisms.
"These small fragments of plastics may pose more of a threat to marine life because they resemble the prey of lots of organisms -- everything from zooplankton to whales,'' said Adam Walters, a chemist speaking by telephone aboard the vessel and an author of the report.
These bits can fill the stomachs of birds and other sea creatures that mistake them for food, causing malnutrition and eventually starvation. The researchers are measuring the distribution of the particles as they that float or fall to the ocean floor.

Over the past three decades, marine biologists have found plastic bags blocking the digestive tracts of sea lions, discarded fishing line strangling sea turtles and nets cutting off the flippers of manatees.
The research on micro-particles is new.
Since last March, scientists on the Esperanza have sampled plastic particles in the Mediterranean, North Atlantic, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and near the Philippines. Next come the Sea of Cortez and the South Pacific.
Thilo Maack, a marine biologist with Greenpeace in Hamburg, Germany, also speaking from the ship, said he has been diving for samples.
"Between the plankton, you see the red, yellow and all colored plastics floating. We find the plastic in the tissues of animals. For us, this is a very worrying signal,'' because it could be accumulating in the food web, Maack sad.
They often find "ghost nets,'' abandoned floating nets filled with fish.
"The marine mammals try to feed on these fishes, and get entangled in ropes and loose net parts. Eventually they drown because they can't get to the surface,'' Maack said.
The report, which doesn't contain the results of the research on micro-plastic, offers solutions.
Floating plastic debris can be cut worldwide by cleaning beaches, reducing garbage in storm drains, improving the handling and transport of raw pellet and other plastic materials, and adopting an international treaty prohibiting vessels from dumping trash at sea, according to the report.
The ultimate solution lies in policies that allow the use of plastics and synthetics only in cases where they are absolutely necessary, it said.
Other findings in the report compiled by Greenpeace are as follows:
-- At least 267 different species, including 111 species of seabirds, are known to have suffered from entanglement or ingestion of plastic rubbish.
-- Plastics consistently make up 60 to 80 percent of all marine debris. The seabed, particularly near coasts, is littered with plastic bags.
-- About 80 percent of the plastic in the ocean washes in from rivers, storm drains, beaches, sewage treatment plants and other sources; about 20 percent gets dumped in the ocean from vessels and fishing boats.
-- Much of the plastic litter in oceans comes from derelict fishing debris, since plastic and other synthetic materials have replaced natural fibers over the past 35 years.

2006-10-26

Ipod 80 GB Top25 Playlist

september 2006, the month that changed your life.
after much hesitating, even publicly condemning the iPod rage, you concede defeat and head for the store.

3 weeks later a very tiny tiny box arrives with a freshly-engraved little white case in it. it was virgin, it remained virgin for 10 more minutes, the time you needed to open the box (carefully), untie the knots and connect the cables.

the computer sprang to life, the machine powered itself up feeding on a drip-IV USB cable and all of sudden, you were mesmerized.

some forgotten mp3s still lingering on the hard disk were transfered along the drip-IV and the ride home ended being boring...

in fact, if ever the word "serendipity" had a practical application-annex-experience: the iPod would be it...

Push the button, play, and forget you ever wanted to switch music

You've got the music in you

Literary event, de la rentrée

According to the raving critics, this American writing in French is poised to hit and run on this fall's literary awards: Jonathan Littell - Les Bienveillantes. An aboslute must-read

2006-10-23

Your Personal Eoclogical Footprint... and what you need to do about it

Go on to calculate your own BigFoot (in French and in Dutch) imprint and impact on the planet's resources and...find out how you can reduce your impact... Living off the land is no longer within everybody's reach as we are already over-consuming the resources...

Wacondah's footprint is estimated at 4,1 hectares... of land used yearly to sustain our way of living. The average Belgian uses 5,6 hectares. The sustainable footprint is calculated at 1,8 ha, but this does not take into account restoration of lost land, resources and habitats. It's sustainable in a sense that no further losses are to be encountered.... and TACEPA, (toutes autres choses étant égales par ailleurs...) which would e.a. mean that all human beings enjoy the same levels of access to resources...
Some challenges we are considering:
- eat more fresh and local vegetables and fruits
- no more publicity and direct-mail!
- consume less meats
- continue using only recycled paper
- shower less and avoid baths
- car sharing (sustain this) and go "public" where possible, or better, lobby the gov't to install more bike routes
- use a lid on each kitchen pot and kettle
- stop using Airco in the car (already doing this)
- use the kill switch on all electrical appliances, and not the "sleep" modus
- lower the house temperature to 19°C.
- drive in a more relaxed fashion
- avoid planes for holidays

More info can be obtained at www.ecolife.be

2006-10-03

Rainy Day at the Cottage


Rainy Day at the Cottage
Originally uploaded by ?ick Harris.
This guy knows how to capture some great views...

2006-09-29

Verkiezingen 2006: Groen!- kandidaat "Wereldrecordpoging folders bussen"

In de categorie: "onnozele politiekers die denken dat ze hiermee de kiezer een dienst bewijzen" gaat de prijs deze week alvast naar de hr. Diederik Vandendriessche. Dit prototype van een "Groen!" kandidaat heeft zonet het wereldrecord verkiezingsvuilnis bij de burger binnenkieperen verbroken... Hij spendeerde 25hr aan het binnensteken van verkiezingsdrukwerk en verbeterde daarmee het 24hr-rekord van zijn collega Groen! politicus "Tom Caals".

enkele opmerkingen:
- Groen! verkozenen zouden moeten weten dat verkiezingsafval het aantal bomen in de wereld serieus om zeep helpt
- als het nu nog zwart op grijs zou zijn, maw gerecycleerd...
- ik had vorige week nog 2 Groen!-kandidaten aan mijn deur: toen ik hen voorstelde in plaats van verkiezingsfolders uit te delen aan de ganse gemeente, aan iedere burger (stemgerechtigd of niet) een BOOM cadeau te doen om in hun hof te plaatsen, kreeg ik enkel een glimlach vol wansmaak te zien, maar geen goedkeuring.
- zie ook dit artikel: "
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reforestation om te zien of je ergens kunt helpen (maar print de pagina zeker niet af...)

2006-09-27

How to Save the World (in 10 simple steps)


Below are some details on how you could make your life simpler. They may appear "sixties" and a bit over-the-top... but applying some of this stuff on small-scale could probably have some interesting impacts... Source:

currently reading: Lester R. Brown - Plan B 2.0: rescuing a planet under stress and a civilization in trouble
  1. Building & Maintaining a Simpler Home: Buy or build a home that is designed for living simply. Follow the Japanese model (I love this!)-- movable walls, multi-purpose, reconfigurable rooms, and no wasted space. Use the roof as a permaculture garden, a solar collector, a meditation space, a water collector. Landscape with native species that don't need watering, herbicides and pesticides to flourish. Use simple, durable construction methods and learn to do your own repairs and preventative maintenance. Share your tools, know-how and time with others in your community helping them and allowing them to help you build and maintain your home.
  2. Simpler Furnishings: Build storage into walls, so you don't need furniture for storage. Consider flooring (padded -- but not with chemical-laden carpets -- or cushion-covered) that obviates the need for seating. Make both seating and tables portable, adjustable and multi-purpose. Make them simple. Make them yourself, so you can repair and maintain them yourself. (I love this!, but not sure whether I'll be able to maintain everything myself)
  3. Simpler Utilities: Insulate. Use renewable energy sources. Collect rainwater. Use graywater for irrigation and other purposes. Use compact fluorescent and LCD lights. Use timers and setback thermostats. Turn off heat, A/C and lights when you're away or not using them. Dress to be comfortable when it's 80°F indoors in summer and 60°F in winter, and set thermostats accordingly. (agreed!)
  4. Eating Simpler: Learn to make meals out of simple, unprocessed, raw ingredients. Buy local, organic and fair trade products, and avoid processed and chemical-laden foods. Learn to cook simple, quick meals. Follow the French model -- learn about sauces, herbs and spices and how they simply make raw foods exotic and nuanced. Become a vegan (do not agree).
  5. Dressing Simpler: Buy local, durable, hand-made clothing and personal-care products made from natural ingredients and free of slave labour, animal products and animal testing. Learn to make your own clothes, jewelery, accessories and personal-care products. Climate permitting, stop wearing clothes entirely.
  6. Simpler Fun: Learn how to entertain at home, simply, creatively and inexpensively, instead of having to "go out" to have fun. Rediscover simple pleasures and share them with your community: sandlot sports, massage, non-electronic games (like cards and charades), meditation, making love, conversation, hands-on hobbies, playing with children and animals.
  7. Simpler Transportation: Remember that every minute you spend walking adds three minutes to your healthy life, so it "takes" no time at all. Put a carrier and light on your bicycle and use it. Use virtual presence technology to reduce the need to travel. Carpool. Drive a hybrid. Avoid flying as much as possible.
  8. Simpler Investment: Pay off your debts. Don't get into debt. Don't buy on impulse. Buy stuff that lasts. Invest your time and energy in things that will make you self-sufficient and resilient and which are recession-proof, like your own sustainable business, know-how and fitness. Donate cash you don't need to responsible causes you believe in -- they'll invest your money with more focus and care than you probably can. If you can, work less -- and recapture time that will save you nearly as much as you have foregone in income, that will simplify your life further.
  9. Simpler Health Care: Take charge of your own health -- illness prevention, diagnosis and first-line treatment. Preventing illness is cheaper and simpler than coping with it, but it takes an investment of time. Learn how the system works, and when it works in the interest of the patient and when it works against it.
  10. Simpler Education: Learn, and teach, how to learn. When you and those you love have acquired that, use it to acquire critical life skills, through self-education, collaborative learning and home-schooling.

2006-09-22

Local elections coming up...


Just think about it... in Belgium the voting is compulsory...

Water Wars Loom - but none in the past 4500 years

Despite warnings about water wars in the 21st century, the last time that two countries actually went to war over water supplies was some 4500 years ago, when the Sumerian city-states of Umma and Lagash locked horns in what is now southern Iraq. The war (which Lagash won) was over the allocation of irrigation water. Since then, pointed out Professor Aaron Wolf of Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, thousands of international water treaties have been signed because people simply can't afford to risk losing such a vital resource. Executive Director Achim Steiner of the United Nations Environment Program agreed that conflicts on an international level were rare. Violence does break out over water resources within countries, however: two recent examples are in Sri Lanka and Kenya.

In the five decades to 1999, Wolf's research indicates there have been no wars and just 37 military acts over water between states -- 30 of them involving Israel and its neighbors.

Free Market Economic System is the best


A new poll of 20 countries from around the world finds a striking global consensus that the free market economic system is best, but that governments should also do more to regulate large companies. In all but one country polled, a majority or plurality agreed with the statement that “the free enterprise system and free market economy is the best system on which to base the future of the world.” On average, 61% agreed while 28% disagreed.

2006-09-20

The Write Stuff - Journalism & Cartoons

Cartoon shown during a conference in Stockholm - August 2006. It's not only fitting to the craft of journalism, but could apply to most human "writing" activities... (Picture taken of a slide-show presented by Asit. K. Biswas during his acceptance of the Stockholm World Water Week Award)

2006-09-18

5 things to eat before you die

check out what other people want to eat....
"the food-bloggers guide to the globe: the traveller's lunchbox"

here are mine:

1. Rammequin - Fried floating toast with melted cheese and whipped egg
2. "Tiger Balls" over a Canadian bonfire- an outdoorsman's favourite: melted marshmellows, peanut butter, peanuts...
3. Belgian Fries, hand-cut, double-fried - a true original
4. Sole Meunière, fresh-caught in the Galician surf, west of Santiago.
5. "Américain frites" from "Au Vieux Saint Martin"

Google-hack of note

those of you familiar with Douglas Adams' masterpiece, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" are well acquainted with the question: the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything. Type these worlds into your google interface and look at the neat answer

2006-06-06

2006-06-02

Turn Down, Switch Off, Recycle, Walk, Change

the EU is holding "Green Week" with focus on Biodiversity, Climate Change and what we as citizens of this planet can do...

2006-05-12

Family business

"Families are just like pets ... not everybody should own one" (Randel S. Carlock 2006)


International: Family Business Network (includes numerous national chapters)
The Family Business Network (FBN) represents entrepreneurial families in 40 countries. Depending on the countries, family firms account for 50 to 70% of jobs, and they are said to be more reliable employers, due to their long term vision and strong connection with local communities.


International Select club - admission condition: exist as a family business for at least 200 years: Henokiens


Europe: European Group of Owner Managed and Family Entreprises

Belgium: Familiebedrijf

Nederland: Centrum voor het Familiebedrijf

Wacondah's Photos @ Flickr

to all: please note that all recent Wacondah Photos can be accessed on Flickr, accessible in different sets (e.g. Brussel Blogt)


Reading: "From Beirut to Jerusalem" - Thomas L. Friedman (absolute must-read *****/*****)
Listening to: Arsenal
Travelling: back from Berlin
Last picture: Unmarked Police Helicopter above Brussels

2006-05-10

Bruegel 2006 - Brussel, Gaasbeek, Tervuren, Meise




A new festival honoring BRUEGEL kicks off this friday, May 12 2006.

Bruegel was very active in the Pajottenland region, but painted much more than peasant weddings or stag parties... 5 new exhibitions will try to give a comprehensive view of his revolutionary art... the only problem being that his paintings are only rarely sent out from the museums where they're saveguarded...
Bruegel's paintings reside in 41 musea worldwide ... so the exhibitors have choosen to put up real-scale photos...


In het Kasteel van Gaasbeek zal een expositie worden ingericht over Bruegel en zijn tijd.

2006-04-25

Earth Day Special: how to go green (10 tips)

How can we live lightly on the Earth and save money at the same time? In honor of Earth Day 2006, the Worldwatch Institute teams up with the Washington, D.C. members of SustainUS, the U.S. youth network for sustainable development, to share some ideas on how to go green and save green at home and at work.
This Earth Day, it’s time to take action.

And we really mean it. Study after study has confirmed that global warming is already occurring and that it is caused primarily by human activities. The only uncertainties are how soon and in what ways it will disrupt our existence. Stronger storms? Flooded coastlines? Harsher droughts? More disease? Not to mention that our waterways, food, and air are already polluted to unsound levels in many areas, affecting our health and quality of life every day.

But there is still time to act, and our great-great-grandchildren will thank us for living more sustainably, starting now. Fortunately, many of the steps we can take can actually make our lives better as well.

Below we offer a list of 10 things you can do today that will not only reduce your ecological footprint, but also save you money and help you live a happier, healthier life. (We call this a positive feedback loop.) Start with these, ...


Re-route your commute.
Walk or bike to work and save money on gas and parking while improving your cardiovascular health and reducing your risk of obesity.
If you live far from your office, investigate the option of telecommuting. Or move closer—even if this means paying more rent, it could save you money in the long term.
If your streets are not conducive to biking or walking, lobby your municipal government to increase spending on sidewalks and bike lanes. With little cost, these improvements can pay huge dividends in decreased traffic and pollution.


Buy used.
Whether you’ve just moved to a new area or are looking to redecorate, consider a service like craigslist or FreeSharing to track down furniture, appliances, and other items, rather than buying them new. Check out garage sales and thrift stores for clothing and other everyday items.
Use your creativity in gift giving, including making homemade gifts, donating to a good cause, or even regifting. (And gift green, in general.)
Your purchasing habits have a real impact, for better or worse. When making new purchases, make sure you know what’s “Good Stuff” and what isn’t.


Buy local.
Shop at your local farmers’ market. Though the offerings can be more expensive, you can generally count on a higher quality product—and the entire purchase price goes directly to the farmer. Buying any goods produced locally saves energy by reducing the fossil fuels needed to transport food and other items across the country and around the globe.
Start a local currency program in your town. This can ensure that money stays in your local economy, valuing local services and supporting local merchants.


Compost your food scraps.
Composting helps reduce the amount of waste you send to the landfill, which can save you money if you live in a municipality with a “pay as you throw” system. In the process, you create free, healthy fertilizer for your garden (or your neighbor’s—or lobby for a community garden!)
If you don’t have a yard or space for a compost pile, try indoor ‘vermiculture,’ or worm composting.


Change the thermostat setting and install energy saving devices.
Setting your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer can translate to substantial savings on your utility bills.
Install low-flow showerheads and take shorter showers to save water and the energy used to heat it. Or, consider eventually installing a solar hot water heater on your property.
Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible and use a drying rack or clothesline.
When incandescent bulbs burn out, replace them with longer-lasting, low-energy compact fluorescent bulbs.
With the money you save from making these changes, consider buying wind energy from your local utility or purchasing renewable energy offsets. Renewables offer our best hope for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as a host of other pollutants. In some cases, “green energy” options can be cheaper than electricity from conventional sources!


Skip the bottled water at the grocery or convenience store.
Filter your tap water for drinking rather than using bottled water. Not only is bottled water expensive, but it produces large amounts of container waste.
Check out this recent update and life cycle analysis for the latest on bottled water trends.


Make your own cleaning supplies.
Using simple ingredients such as baking soda, soap, and vinegar, you can make cheap, easy, and non-toxic cleaning products that really work! Save money, time, and your indoor air quality.


Think twice about new electronics.
E-waste from discarded cell phones and computers is a growing environmental problem. Mounds of electronic refuse are being shipped abroad illegally for ‘disassembly’ by workers with little protection against the mercury and other toxic substances they contain.
Keep your electronics as long as possible and dispose of them responsibly when the time comes.
Buy higher-quality items and don’t give in to ‘psychological obsolescence’ marketing campaigns.
Recycle your cell phone and support good causes at the same time!
Ask your local government to set up a responsible recycling and hazardous waste collection event.


Add one meatless meal per week.
While strict vegetarianism isn’t for everyone, even the most devout carnivores can cut back on meat consumption without cramping their style—and save money in the process. Industrial meat production requires huge energy inputs and creates noxious waste problems. The proliferation of factory farms is damaging the environment, and the global nature of the industry creates conditions that promote the spread of diseases such as avian flu, potentially costing society billions.


Use your local library and other public amenities.
Borrowing from libraries, instead of buying personal books and movies, saves money and printing resources. Consider donating the money saved to your local library.
Be an active civic participant and ensure that the public spaces and facilities in your town are well maintained. This will promote a healthy, sustainable community.

Long Live Public Transportation

As Gasoline prices all over the world are skyrocketing, more and more drivers are parking their cars and switching to public transportation:

Source: USA Today

WASHINGTON — Soaring gas prices appear, once again, to be leading some drivers to park their cars.
Public transit systems across the USA are seeing an increase in ridership. Although it's difficult to directly link the gains to higher gasoline prices, officials say rising prices at the pump are at least partly responsible.

Nationwide, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline was $2.90 Sunday, up 1.6 cents from Saturday and 39.1 cents higher than a month ago, according to AAA. Statewide averages were $3 a gallon or higher in Hawaii, California, Washington, D.C., and New York.

Among mass transit systems:

•Washington, D.C. Thursday was the sixth-busiest day in history on Metrorail, the area's train system, while Tuesday was the ninth busiest. There were no special events in the area to explain the higher ridership. "We think gas prices had something to do with it," Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority spokeswoman Candace Smith says.

•Salt Lake City. Ridership is up 50% on the 19-mile, light-rail system in Salt Lake City from a year ago. The Utah Transit Authority has added 10 used rail cars it bought from San Jose, Calif., to meet demand. But in some cases, cars are becoming so packed that the doors are dragging on the platforms at stops because of the increased weight, spokesman Justin Jones says.

Riders responding to onboard polling increasingly are saying they are motivated to take public transportation because of higher gas prices, Jones says.

•Tulsa. Tulsa Transit's March ridership was the highest since August 2003. For the fiscal year, which began in July, trips on the bus system are up 28% from the prior year.

•San Francisco. After taking a "nosedive" in recent years, ridership on Bay Area Rapid Transit is up 4.1% this fiscal year, which began July 1, spokesman Linton Johnson says. He attributes the gain to heavier traffic and higher gas prices.

The increase in ridership, or number of trips, is similar to last year when gasoline prices hit record levels, William Millar, of the American Public Transportation Association, says. The number of trips nationwide was up 5% in August and September compared with the same months in 2004. "It looks like history is repeating itself," he says. "The spike in gas prices is causing many people to look for ways to beat the high cost, and trying transit is one of the things they are doing."

Gasoline prices are climbing largely because oil prices have reached record levels, not adjusted for inflation. Oil, which closed at $75.17 a barrel Friday, accounts for about half the cost of gasoline.

Also boosting the cost of gasoline has been the conversion from additive MTBE to ethanol in many gasoline blends. Although ethanol production has been ramping up, there are concerns that there won't be enough ethanol at the right place and the right time.

There have been reports of East Coast gasoline stations shutting down temporarily in recent days as their suppliers close to make the switch to ethanol.

2006-03-19

Mexico - 4th World Water Forum


DSC00040
Originally uploaded by wacondah.
Mexico is one of the largest cities in the world, with over 25 million people in the D.F. and surrounding areas. Host to the Tri-annual WWF, the city faces huge challenges everyday.

One key issue here is the lack of available resources: imagine the Aztecs and Mejica culture having their capital in a lake, all traffic and trade was done by boat: nowadays, this huge lake seems to be drained completely... and as a result the city is rapidly sinking away causing buildings to collapse etc... (also note that this is earthquake country).

Anyways, the Mexicans are very very friendly people, with "le sense du service", but also a bit of the "philosophia mañana".

4th World Water Forum in Mexico

Day 2 of the World Water Forum is coming to an end;
check out the pictures live on flickr

The Mexican forum is well attended with over 12OOO delegates from more than 120 countries. Opening statements by the Prince of Orange and L.Fauchon made a great impression on the participants.

Montezuma has not appeared yet, but this may happen tomorrow.

International media have largely focused on the publication of WWAP and Unesco's World Water Development report #2 which heavily underlines the urgency already expressed at the opening of the Forum: we all bear a collective responsibility in bringing more and better water to more people.

Tomorrow, March 19th is crucial day where the Right to Water will be debated:

suerte!

2006-03-11

World Water Forum IV in Mexico

U.N. Reports a Fifth of World Lacks Clean Drinking Water Despite Abundant Supplies

March 10, 2006

NAIROBI, Kenya — Mismanagement, limited resources and environmental damage have combined to deny 1.1 billion people access to safe water, a U.N. report said Thursday.

Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the hardest-hit areas, where ecological degradation, poor water management and a burgeoning population have led to water shortages exacerbating poverty, disease and drought, the report said.

The report was compiled by 24 U.N. agencies, who say it is the most comprehensive assessment to date of the planet's freshwater supplies.

Globally, diarrheal diseases and malaria kill around 3.1 million people a year. The U.N. said 1.6 million could be saved if they had safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene.

The report estimated that hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity and health care costs are lost each year because of poor water and sanitation. Meeting the U.N. Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of people without a steady supply of clean water by 2015 would save $7 billion annually, the report said.

Water pollution in China alone cost the country $1.7 billion in lost industrial income in 1992, the last year for which figures were available in the report.

In Kenya and elsewhere in East Africa, where drought is creating a hunger crisis, better water management could also save lives, the U.N. said.

"Good governance would certainly reduce the impact of drought," said Salif Diop, head of the water unit in the early warning and assessment division of the U.N. Environment Program. "Deforestation, overgrazing, not managing lakes; all those are factors that aggravate drought."

Water use has increased six-fold in the last century, double the rate of population growth, the report said. More water is needed for food production, which must grow by 55 percent to meet food needs by 2030. But private investment in water services is declining and financial resources for the water sector are stagnating, the report found.

The 584-page report, to be presented at the Fourth World Water Forum in Mexico City next week, says better water management by local authorities, the private sector and civil society -- not just by governments -- is critical.

"Good governance is essential for managing our increasingly stretched supplies of freshwater and indispensable for tackling poverty," said Koichiro Matsuura, director general of the U.N. educational and cultural body, UNESCO.

Source: Associated Press

2006-01-04

New Year's Resolutions

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