Archive for the ‘planet’ Category

A plastic bottle for a shoe

August 29, 2008

When was the last time we heard this? I mean, the story of a guy who complained of not having a pair of Nike shoes until he saw someone so poor that he crafted a shoe out of a discarded plastic water bottles…a barefooted man, or an amputee who doesn’t have feet so he can walk? Many times, images like these knock at our senses and make us numb. Be kind and generous, says a friend who sent me this in an email.

World Poverty at a Glance:

Region ——————–Population in $1/day poverty (millions)
East Asia & Pacific———–170.0
Latin America —————-47.0
& Caribbean
South Asia——————–456.0
Sub-Saharan Africa———-309.0
Total Devel’g Countries—–982.0 million

Europe & Central Asia ——–1.0
Middle East N. Africa———4.0

Total—————————987 million
Source: http://web.worldbank.org/

The causes of poverty include poor people’s lack of resources, an extremely unequal income distribution in the world and within specific countries, conflict, and hunger itself. As of 2008 (2004 statistics), the World Bank has estimated that there were an estimated 982 million poor people in developing countries who live on $1 a day or less (World Bank, Understanding Poverty, Chen 2004). This compares to the FAO estimate of 850 million undernourished people.

Extreme poverty remains an alarming problem in the world’s developing regions, despite the advances made in the 1990s till now, which reduced “dollar a day” poverty from (an estimated) 1.23 billion people to 982 million in 2004, a reduction of 20 percent over the period. Progress in poverty reduction has been concentrated in Asia, and especially, East Asia, with the major improvement occurring in China. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people in extreme poverty has increased.” Source: http://www.worldhunger.org.=0=

Water Is Detected in Mars!

August 1, 2008

Phoenix Mars Lander confirms the presence of water in the red planet. University of Arizona scientists say the vital and limiting factor of life as we know water to be on Earth is detected for the first time near the polar north of the intriguing planet on July 30, 2008.

The definitive confirmation of water away from Earth offers scientists clues on the origin, formation, evolution, and outcome of planetary systems. It brings new postulates regarding the habitability of heavenly bodies. The significant discovery of the Lander’s sophisticated instruments also strengthens the possibility of life in the solar system and in the outer reaches of space. Photo Credit: H2O on Earth/Toriaj

Wow Words For Al Gore’s Climate Agenda

July 19, 2008

There is little argument against Al Gore’s call for a shift from fossil-fuel based energy sources to environmentally friendly fuel alternatives to preserve the planet. His ambitious target date for the next US president to accomplish this is 10 years. But those who know Gore and his gas-guzzling life-style know better. He isn’t immaculately in synch with his climate agenda making them suspect politics or hypocrisy to be partly behind his high-brow rhetoric.

As a famed leader of the environmental movement, the Nobel prize-winner Gore joins California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats, and Liberals to promote clean sources of energy by tapping on solar, wind, hydroelectric, and hydrogen power. Surely, this is good to the environmentalists’ and green planet-savers’ ears. However, for practical purposes, these energy sources aren’t well-developed to meet our present requirements. It will take sometime, most likely exceeding the timeline Gore has envisioned, before sanitized technologies will dominate our energy consumption.

Many experts believe the rational approach to the energy shortage is to do everything. We require all technologies and means: oil drilling, methane gas, coal, electro-magnetic, bio-fuels, and nuclear power (in addition to what the Democrats prefer) for us to be energy sufficient at this time. Others advocate to open USA’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves to ease up the price of gasoline.

Drilling oil in the vast continental USA, off-shore reefs, inland Utah-Wyoming-Colorado shales, and the Alaskan National Wilderness Reserve is basically what the majority of Americans want. They know these resources have to be tapped, sooner or later. They think it’s cost-saving and time-efficient to have them set up ahead, anytime we need them.

But the lawmakers, influenced by lobbyists and interest groups, have been indecisively slow. People complain why these authorities aren’t listening. There appears to be a big gap to bridge between them and what the government decision-makers plan to do.

Hampered by the fear of adding more damage to the environment, the Democrats like Gore who resisted oil exploration, are being blamed for having dilly-dallied since 10 years ago, against the proposal of Pres. George W. Bush and the Republicans. As the energy crisis comes full-blown to a level which hurts, we’re caught flat on our noses.

Many believe, had we started tapping America’s rich energy reserves earlier (as carefully as we can to avoid unduly adding to the destruction of the planet,) pipes could have been in place to gush oil needed to solve our present fuel problems. But excuses are commonplace in politics. The gamut of reasons why they can’t do the drilling now is as strong as our fear of global warming—as many as the bewildering explanations why oil prices continue to rise.

Overcoming political party squabbles and setting aside the environmental debacle, we must do everything to solve the present energy crisis. While we start cleaning up our planet of pollution and avert the deleterious effects C02 emissions in the environment, we can’t escape using oil for awhile. Without perfecting the technologies of other sources of energy, we can’t focus in tackling the issue of global warming right at the core.

We’ve been trying to tap energies from solar, wind, water, and nuclear to run our industries and light up our cities. When done in a large scale, this will surely rebalance the equation of energy supply and demand. Alternative sources of energy will lessen speculations in oil futures—one of main reasons which drive worldwide fuel prices sky-high.

We’ve made in-roads to replace our cars with the hybrids, the plug-ins, the bio-fuel driven, and the ethanol-powered. Yet it will take sometime before clean, efficient, and less costly hydrogen and fuel cells will be in wide use to free us from our dependence on gas. Al Gore’s audacious target is fine, but can we do it? When the private entrepreneurs and government doers ride the wagon, maybe we will.=0=

What’s up in Mars?

May 27, 2008

Amber sky, phantom vapor rising
Over a stretch of land, away from home
Ruddy-brown rocks,
Marbles polished by time
Furrowed river covered by sand
Jigsaw puzzles abound
Parched relics of ages
One must understand
.

AFM, 02/03/04

After the successful Martian travels of Viking in 1976 and the two rovers Spirit and Opportunity in 2004, Phoenix Mars Lander arrives on Sunday, May 25, 2008 on the north pole of the red planet—an intrepid odyssey of a spacecraft, 171 million miles from its earth launch in Cape Canaveral, Florida on August 4, 2007.

With a scaled price of $420 million and powered by solar panels and lithium batteries, the 3 month mission led by scientists from University of Arizona, aims to unravel more of the planet’s secrets whose polar latitudes might harbor clues of life or carry its building ingredients.

The Phoenix will dig down to the icy layer. It will examine soil in place at the surface, at the icy layer and in between. It will scoop up samples for analysis by its onboard instruments….Has Mars ever had life? How should humans prepare for exploring the planet? What can Mars teach us about climate change? (Phoenix Landing, Mission to the Martian Polar North, NASA, 5/08).

There are many questions to answer. The mission ignites fresh hopes and old controversies—- Will it find evidence of habitability in the Martian surface? Is money poured to fund the space program better spent in solving some of the world’s serious problems? What will the military do with the enormous potentials of outer space? Who’ll gain ownership of space and determine the property rights of celestial bodies? Is robotic exploration better than sending humans to the cosmos? For God believers, agnostics, and atheists, what does it mean if life is discovered away from planet earth?

A minor radio problem hinders the smooth operation of the lander two days after the successful landing, but Gary Napier of the Lockheed Martin Space Systems which built the spacecraft assured, “Phoenix has performed extremely well, beyond our expectations. Currently it is in great shape.” AFP (05/27/08.) ==0==