Friday, May 16, 2008


In Uganda, which has one of the lowest levels of electricity in Africa, Motorola has launched an initiative to provide solar cell phone recharging stations that can be run by local, entrepreneurial women. Each kiosk is charged by a 55-watt inverted solar panel and can charge up to 20 phones at a time. The women who run the kiosks, meanwhile, are also equipped to sell handsets and operator SIM cards and to provide repair services. For local people without their own phones, the kiosks effectively function as a local "phone booth" for making occasional calls as well.

Polar bears were listed on Wednesday as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act because their sea ice habitat is melting away. But the new protection was not accompanied by any proposals to address either climate change, which environmentalists say causes the deterioration of the bears' habitat, or drilling in the Arctic for the fossil fuels that spur the climate-warming greenhouse effect. In announcing the government's decision one day before a court-ordered deadline, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne acknowledged that human-caused greenhouse gas emissions contributed to the global warming damaging the polar bears' habitat. "While the legal standards under the Endangered Species Act compel me to list the polar bear as threatened, I want to make clear that this listing will not stop global climate change or prevent any sea ice from melting," he said at a briefing. Reuters

Climate change will lead to a "fortress world" in which the rich lock themselves away in gated communities and the poor must fend for themselves in shattered environments, unless governments act quickly to curb greenhouse gas emissions, according to the vice-president of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Prof Mohan Munasinghe was giving a lecture at Cambridge university in which he presented a dystopic possible future world in which social problems are made much worse by the environmental consequences of rising greenhouse gas emissions. . . The scenario, which he termed "barbarisation" was already beginning to happen, he said. "Fortress world is a situation where the rich live in enclaves, protected, and the poor live outside in unsustainable conditions. "If you see what is going on in some of the gated communities in some countries you do find that rich people live in those kind of protected environments. If you see the restrictions on international travel you see the beginnings of the fortress world syndrome even in entering and leaving countries," he said. Guardian, UK