Monday, 28 May 2012


   Water, the Hub of Life.
Water is its mater and matrix, mother and medium.
Water is the most extraordinary substance!
Practically all its properties are anomolous, which enabled life to use it as building
material for its machinery.
Life is water dancing to the tune of solids.
- Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (1972)

Water is the driver of Nature.
- Leonardo da Vinci

We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.
- Jacques Cousteau

A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself.
- Laura Gilpin - From The Rio Grande, 1949

All the water that will ever be is, right now.
- National Geographic, October 1993

If you gave me several million years, there would be nothing that did not grow in beauty
if it were surrounded by water.
- Jan Erik Vold, What All The World Knows, 1970

Water is H20, hydrogen two parts, oxygen one, but there is also a third thing that makes water
and nobody knows what that is.
- D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930), Pansies, 1929

Water, thou hast no taste, no color, no odor; canst not be defined, art relished while ever
mysterious. Not necessary to life, but rather life itself, thou fillest us with a
gratification that exceeds the delight of the senses.
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900-1944), Wind, Sand and Stars, 1939

{Water is} the one substance from which the earth can conceal nothing; it sucks out its
innermost secrets and brings them to our very lips.
- Jean Giraudoux (1882-1944), The Madwomen of Chaillot, 1946

When the well's dry, we know the worth of water.
- Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), Poor Richard's Almanac, 1746

The crisis of our diminishing water resources is just as severe (if less obviously
immediate) as any wartime crisis we have ever faced.
Our survival is just as much at stake as it was at the time of Pearl Harbor, or the Argonne,
or Gettysburg, or Saratoga.
-Jim Wright, U.S. Representative, The Coming Water Famine, 1966

High quality water is more than the dream of the conservationists, more than a political
slogan; high quality water, in the right quantity at the right place at the right time,
is essential to health, recreation, and economic growth. Of all our planet's
activities--geological movements, the reproduction and decay of biota, and even the
disruptive propensities of certain species (elephants and humans come to mind) -- no force
is greater than the hydrologic cycle.
- Richard Bangs and Christian Kallen, Rivergods, 1985

Between earth and earth's atmosphere, the amount of water remains constant; there is never
a drop more, never a drop less.
This is a story of circular infinity, of a planet birthing itself.
- Linda Hogan, "Northern Lights," Autumn 1990

Filthy water cannot be washed.
- West African Proverb

If you could tomorrow morning make water clean in the world, you would have done, in one
fell swoop, the best thing you could have done for improving human health by improving
environmental quality.
- William C. Clark, speech, Racine, Wisconsin, April 1988

In every glass of water we drink, some of the water has already passed through fishes,
trees, bacteria, worms in the soil, and many other organisms, including people. . .
Living systems cleanse water and make it fit, among other things, for human consumption.
- Elliot A. Norse, in R.J. Hoage, ed., Animal Extinctions, 1985

Estuaries are a happy land, rich in the continent itself, stirred by the forces of nature
like the soup of a French chef; the home of myriad forms of life from bacteria and
protozoans to grasses and mammals; the nursery, resting place, and refuge of
countless things.
- Stanely A. Cain, speech, 1966

Many estuaries produce more harvestable human food per acre than the best midwestern
- Stanely A. Cain, speech, 1966, testimony, U.S. House of Representatives,
Merchant Marine and Fisheries subcomittee, March 1967

{The estuary} is the point where man, the sea-his immemorial ally and adversary-and the
land meet and challenge each other.
- U.S. Department of the Interior, National Estuarine Pollution Study, November 1969-

Life originated in the sea, and about eighty percent of it is still there.
- Isaac Aasimov, Isaac Asimov's Book of Science and Nature Quotations, 1988

The oceans are the planet's last great living wilderness, man's only remaining frontier on
earth, and perhaps his last chance to produce himself a rational species.
- John L. Cullney, "Wilderness Conservation," September-October 1990

The marsh, to him who enters it in a receptive mood, holds, besides mosquitoes and
stagnation, melody, the mystery of unknown waters, and the sweetness of Nature undisturbed
by man.
- Charles William Beebe (1877-1962), Log of the Sun, 1906

Wetlands have a poor public image. . . Yet they are among the earth's greatest natural
assets. . . mankind's waterlogged wealth.
- Edward Maltby, Waterlogged Wealth, 1986

Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and
cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever
is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.
- Lao-Tzu (600 B.C.)

Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.
- Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, 1798

For we needs must die, and are as WATER spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up
again; neither doth God respect any person
- II Samuel 14.14

That which is now a horse, even with a thought
The rack dislimms, and makes it indistinct
As water is in water
- Shakespeare, Anthony and Cleopatra, Act 4, Scene 12, 1, 2

By the shores of Gitchee Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis,
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.
- Longfellow, The Song of Hiawatha, 1855

A little water clears us of this deed
- Skakespeare, Macbeth, Act 2, Scene 2, 1.68

Gutta cavat lapidem (Dripping water hollows out a stone)
- Ovid, Epistulae Ex Ponto, Book 3, no. 10, 1. 5

Here lies one whose name was writ in WATER
- John Keats, Epitaph for himself, in Richard Monkton Milnes Life, Letters and
Literary Remains of John Keats, 1848, vol. 2

The many-voiced song of the river echoed softly.
Siddhartha looked into the river and saw many pictures in the flowing water.
The river's voice was sorrowful. It sang with yearning and sadness, flowing towardsits goal..
Siddhartha...was now listening this song of a thousand voices...then the great
song of a thousand voices consisted of one word: Om -- perfection...
From that hour Siddhartha ceased to fight against his destiny.
- Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha, 1951

When you put your hand in a flowing stream, you touch the last that has gone before and
the first of what is still to come."
- Leonardo da Vinci

To trace the history of a river or a raindrop…is also to trace the history of the soul,
the history of the mind descending and arising in the body. In both, we constantly seek
and stumble upon divinity, which like feeding the lake, and the spring becoming a waterfall,
feeds, spills, falls, and feeds itself all over again."
- Gretel Ehrlich - From Islands, The Universe, Home, 1991

"THE River," corrected the Rat.
"And you really live by the river? What a jolly life!"
"By it and with it and on it and in it," said the Rat. "It's brother and sister to me,
and aunts, and company, and food and drink, and (naturally) washing. It's my world,
and I don't want any other. What it hasn't got is not worth having, and what it doesn't
know is not worth knowing. Lord! the times we've had together..."
- Kenneth Grahme - From The Wind in the Willows

I have never seen a river that I could not love. Moving water…has a fascinating vitality.
It has power and grace and associations. It has a thousand colors and a thousand shapes,
yet it follows laws so definite that the tiniest streamlet is an exact replica of a great
- Roderick Haig-Brown

To live by a large river is to be kept in the heart of things.
- John Haines

You could not step twice into the same rivers; for other waters are ever flowing on to you.
- Heraclitus of Ephesus

What would the world be, once bereft of wet and wildness? Let them be left, O let them be
left, wildness and wet; Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet."
- Gerard Manley Hopkins

Water is the most critical resource issue of our lifetime and our children's lifetime.
The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land."
- Luna Leopold

A river is the report card for its watershed.
- Alan Levere

To put your hands in a river is to feel the chords that bind the earth together."
- Barry Lopez

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by
the world's great flood and runs over from the basement of time. On some of the rocks
are timeless raindrops -- under the rocks are the words and some of the words are theirs.
- Norman Maclean - From A River Runs Through It

Many a time have I merely closed my eyes at the end of yet another troublesome day and
soaked my bruised psyche in wild water, rivers remembered and rivers imagined.
Rivers course through my dreams, rivers cold and fast, rivers well-known and
rivers nameless, rivers that seem like ribbons of blue water twisting through wide
valleys, narrow rivers folded in layers of darkening shadows, rivers that have eroded
down deep into a mountain's belly, sculpted the land. Peeled back the planet's history
exposing the texture of time itself.
- Harry Middleton

We let a river shower its banks with a spirit that invades the people living there,
and we protect that river, knowing that without its blessings the people have no source
of soul.
- Thomas Moore

A river sings a holy song conveying the mysterious truth that we are a river, and if we
are ignorant of this natural law, we are lost.
- From The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life

Rivers are magnets for the imagination, for conscious pondering and subconscious dreams,
thrills and fears. People stare into the moving water, captivated, as they are when
gazing into a fire. What is it that draws and holds us? The rivers' reflections of
our lives and experiences are endless. The water calls up our own ambitions of flowing
with ease, of navigating the unknown. Streams represent constant rebirth.
The waters flow in, forever new, yet forever the same; they complete a journey from
beginning to end, and then they embark on the journey again."
- Tim Palmer - From Lifelines

When we save a river, we save a major part of an ecosystem, and we save ourselves as well
because of our dependence--physical, economic, spiritual,--on the water and its community
of life.
- Tim Palmer, - The Wild and Scenic Rivers of America

Anything else you're interested in is not going to happen if you can't breathe the air
and drink the water. Don't sit this one out. Do something. You are by accident of fate
alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet."
- Carl Sagan

All things are connected, like the blood that runs in your family…The water's murmur is the
voice of my father's father." 1854
The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our
children. You must give to the rivers the kindness you would give to any brother.
- Chief Seattle

I gave my heart to the mountains the minute I stood beside this river with its spray in my
face and watched it thunder into foam, smooth to green glass over sunken rocks, shatter
to foam again. I was fascinated by how it sped by and yet was always there; its roar
shook both the earth and me.
- Wallace Stegner

To the lost man, to the pioneer penetrating a new country, to the naturalist who wishes
to see the wild land at its wildest, the advice is always the same -- follow a river.
The river is the original forest highway. It is nature's own Wilderness Road.
- Edwin Way Teale

I chatter, chatter as I flow to join the brimming river, for men may come and men may go,
but I go on forever.
- Lord Tennyson- From The Brook, 1887

Rivers must have been the guides which conducted the footsteps of the first travelers.
They are the constant lure, when they flow by our doors, to distant enterprise and
adventure, and, by a natural impulse, the dwellers on their banks will at length
accompany their currents to the lowlands of the globe, or explore at their invitation
the interior of continents.
- Henry David Thoreau

It was a kind of solemn, drifting down the big still river, laying on our backs looking
up at the stars, and we didn't even feel like talking loud, and it wasn't often that we
laughed, only a little kind of low chuckle.
- Mark Twain

When they went ashore the animals that took up a land life carried with them a part of the
sea in their bodies, a heritage which they passed on to their children and which even
today links each land animal with its origin in the ancient sea.
Fish, amphibian, and reptile, warm-blooded bird and mammal - each of us carries in our
veins a salty stream in which the elements sodium, potassium, and calcium are combined
in almost the same proportions as in sea water. This is our inheritance from the day,
untold millions of years ago, when a remote ancestor, having progressed from the
one-celled stage, first developed a circulatory system in which the fluid was merely
the water of the sea. In the same way, our lime-hardened skeletons are a heritage from
the calcium-rich ocean of Cambrian time. Even the protoplasm that streams within each
cell of our bodies has the chemical structure impressed upon all living matter when the
first simple creatures were brought forth in the ancient sea. And as life itself began
in the sea, so each of us begins his individual life in a miniature ocean within his
mother’s womb, and in the stages of his embryonic development repeats the steps by
which his race evolved, from gill-breathing inhabitants of a water world to creatures
able to live on land.”
- R. Carson - The Sea Around Us (1951)

The quality of water and the quality of life in all its infinite forms are critical
parts of the overall, ongoing health of this planet of ours, not just here in the
Amazon, but everywhere... The hardest part of any big project is to begin.
We have begun. We are underway. We have a passion. We want to make a difference.
- Sir Peter Blake (1948-2001) -last journal entry before being murdered
by pirates on the Amazon River

Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves
you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most absent-minded of men
be plunged in his deepest reveries--stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going,
and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region.
Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if your
caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes, as every one knows,
meditation and water are wedded forever.
- Herman Melville (1819-1891), Moby Dick, 1851

Water is also one of the four elements, the most beautiful of God's creations. It is both
wet and cold, heavy, and with a tendency to descend, and flows with great readiness.
It is this the Holy Scripture has in view when it says, "And the darkness was upon the
face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
Water, then, is the most beautiful element and rich in usefulness, and purifies from all
filth, and not only from the filth of the body but from that of the soul, if it should
have received the grace of the Spirit.
- John of Damascus (679?-749) Exposition of the Orthodox Faith

Water, like religion and ideology, has the power to move millions of people.
Since the very birth of human civilization, people have moved to settle close to it.
People move when there is too little of it. People move when there is too much of it.
People journey down it. People write, sing and dance about it. People fight over it.
And all people, everywhere and every day, need it.
- Mikhail Gorbachev, President of Green Cross International quoted in
Peter Swanson's Water: The Drop of Life, 2001
BBC News, "Water arithmetic 'doesn't add up'," 13 Mar 2000

And Allah has created from water every living creature: so of them is that which walks
upon its belly, and of them is that which walks upon two feet, and of them is that
which walks upon four; Allah creates what He pleases; surely Allah has power over all things.
- Qur'an 24.45, M. H. Shakir's translation

In a mucked up lovely river, I cast my little fly.
I look at that river and smell it and it makes me wanna cry.
Oh to clean our dirty planet, now there's a noble wish,
and I'm puttin my shoulder to the wheel
'cause I wanna catch some fish.
- Greg Brown, "Spring Wind" from Dream Café, 1992

With respect to water, Canadians and Americans suffer from the same disease: We say that
it is priceless, but act as if it were absurdly cheap. Most North Americans pay far less
for their water than even just the cost of supplying it, cleaning it up and returning
it to the environment. Yet subsidizing water use is economically and ecologically disastrous.
In fact, heavy subsidization of water in the US is the cause of any water "shortages" that
may exist there.
- Editorial, The Toronto Globe and Mail, 23 May 1998

My soul is full of longing
For the secret of the Sea,
And the heart of the great ocean
Sends a thrilling pulse through me.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), The Secret of the Sea

If there is poetry in my book about the sea, it is not because I deliberately put it there,
but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out the poetry.
- Rachel Carson (1907-1964) accepting the National Book Award for
The Sea Around Us, 1952

The face of the water, in time, became a wonderful book- a book that was a dead language
to the uneducated passenger, but which told its mind to me without reserve, delivering
its most cherished secrets as clearly as if it uttered them with a voice.
And it was not a book to be read once and thrown aside, for it had a new story to tell
every day.
- Mark Twain a.k.a. Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910)

Why is almost every robust healthy boy with a robust healthy soul in him, at some time or
other crazy to go to sea? Why upon your first voyage as a passenger, did you yourself feel
such a mystical vibration, when first told that you and your ship were now out of sight of
land? Why did the old Persians hold the sea holy? Why did the Greeks give it a separate
deity, and own brother of Jove? Surely all this is not without meaning.
And still deeper the meaning of that story of Narcissus, who because he could not grasp
the tormenting, mild image he saw in the fountain, plunged into it and was drowned.
But that same image, we ourselves see in all rivers and oceans.
It is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and this is the key to it all.
- Herman Melville (1819-1891), Moby Dick, 1851

I understood when I was just a child that without water, everything dies.
I didn't understand until much later that no one "owns" water.
It might rise on your property, but it just passes through.
You can use it, and abuse it, but it is not yours to own.
It is part of the global commons, not "property" but part of our life support system.
- Marq de Villiers, Water, 2000

A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself.
- Laura Gilpin, The Rio Grande, 1949

All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come
from, there they return again.
- Ecclesiastes 1:7 from New International Version of The Bible

I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river
Is a strong brown god - sullen, untamed and intractable
Patient to some degree, at first recognized as a frontier;
Useful, untrustworthy as a conveuor of commerce;
Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges.
The problem once solved, the brown god is almost forgotten
By the dwellers in cities - ever, however, implacable,
Keeping his seasons and rages, destroyer, reminder
Of what men choose to forget. Unhonoured, unpropitiated
By worshippers of the machine.
- T. S. Eliot (1888–1965) from Four Quartets

So much water is pumped in and out of underground aquifers in the Los Angeles
area that much of the landscape rises and falls more than 4 inches each year…
The immense annual groundswell caused by pumping practices is 100 times larger
than normal seismic fluctuations. It is particularly notable in northern parts
of Orange County, where 75% of all the water used is pumped from the ground.
The ground movement overshadows the more subtle tectonic forces at work along
Southern California's countless thrust faults, the researchers said.
"It is actually quite astonishing," said geophysicist Gerald Bawden at the
U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, who led the study team.
"The magnitude and extent of these motions are a product of Los Angeles' great
thirst for water; they are unprecedented, and have not been observed elsewhere in the world."
- Robert Lee Hotz and Kenneth Reich, "Aquifer Levels May Lift, Lower L.A. Land,"
Los Angeles Times, 23 Aug 2001

The trouble with water—and there is trouble with water—is that they're not making any
more of it. They're not making any less, mind, but no more either.
There is the same amount of water in the planet now as there was in prehistoric times.
People, however, they're making more of—many more, far more than is ecologically
sensible—and all those people are utterly dependent on water for their lives
(humans consist mostly of water), for their livelihoods, their food, and increasingly,
their industry. Humans can live for a month without food but will die in less than a week
without water. Humans consume water, discard it, poison it, waste it, and restlessly
change the hydrological cycles, indifferent to the consequences: too many people,
too little water, water in the wrong places and in the wrong amounts.
- Marq de Villiers, Water, 2000

Only one-third of the water that annually runs to the sea is accessible to humans. Of this,
more than half is already being appropriated and used. This proportion might not seem so
much, but demand will double in thirty years. And much of what is available is degraded
by eroded silt, sewage, industrial pollution, chemicals, excess nutrients, and plagues of
algae. Per capita availability of good, potable water is diminishing in all developed and
developing countries.
- Marq de Villiers, Water, 2000

Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink.
Water, water everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" 1798

The real conflict of the beach is not between sea and shore, for theirs is only a lover's
quarrel, but between man and nature. On the beach, nature has achieved a dynamic
equilibrium that is alien to man and his static sense of equilibrium. Once a line has been
established, whether it be a shoreline or a property line, man unreasonably expects it to
stay put.
- G. Soucie, Smithsonian 1973

Don't throw away the old bucket until you know whether the new one holds water.
- Swedish proverb

The wars of the twenty-first century will be fought over water.
- Ismail Serageldin, World Bank Vice President for Environmental Affairs,
quoted in Marq de Villiers' Water, 2000

A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king,
and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.
- Shakespeare (Hamlet)

He thought his happiness was complete when, as he meandered aimlessly along,
suddenly he stood by the edge of a full-fed river. Never in his life had
he seen a river before -- this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing
and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh,
to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were
caught and held again. All as a-shake and a-shiver -- glints and gleams
and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble. The Mole was bewitched,
entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots,
when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spellbound by exciting
stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still
chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world,
sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.
- Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

The cure for anything is salt water sweat, tears, or the sea.
- Isak Dinesen

Enough shovels of earth - a mountain. Enough pails of water - a river.
- Chinese Proverb

If you wish to drown, do not torture yourself with shallow water.
- Bulgarian Proverb

Only a fool tests the depth of the water with both feet.
- African Proverb

The deeper the waters are, the more still they run.
- Korean Proverb

The formula for water is H2O. Is the formula for an ice cube H2O squared?
- Lily Tomlin

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Folhas artificiais: técnica facilita reproduzir fotossíntese

((o)) eco

Um projeto de folha artificial desenvolvido por um cientista do MIT substitui a cara platina por um composto barato feito de molibdênio, níquel e zinco. Foto: ACS

A maneira mais eficiente de transformar a luz do sol em energia existe há cerca de 400 milhões de anos: a fotossíntese. Cientistas têm trabalhado em replicá-la em materiais que agem como folhas artificiais por algum tempo. Agora, deram um passo adiante substituindo materiais caros por outros baratos.

A mudança é importante, pois enquanto folhas artificiais podem ser as células de combustível do futuro, os custos de produção continuam um problema. Um dos maiores obstáculo da fotossíntese artificial é que isso só é possível quando os cientistas usam a platina, um metal caro, como catalizador. Entretanto, Danial Norcera, do MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) afirma que a sua equipe encontrou uma maneira de usar um composto barato, feito de níquel, molibdênio e zinco. Isso o coloca a um passo mais perto de encontrar uma fonte barata e portátil de energia renovável para países em desenvolvimento.

Folhas artificiais – retratadas em um artigo recente do New Yorker – se parecem com uma fina carta de baralho, descrita pelo MIT como “uma célula solar de silício com materiais catalizadores diferentes colados em ambos os lados”. Coberta com água e posta sob o sol, a célula quebra hidrogênio e água, mimetizando a fotossíntese.

Em uma folha verdadeira, o hidrogênio é combinado com CO2 (dióxido de carbono) retirado da atmosfera para produzir açúcares, estruturas celulares e outras formas de matéria orgânica. Na versão artificial, os cientistas usam o hidrogênio em células de combustível para produzir eletricidade, ou então o combinam com CO2 para produzir combustíveis como o metanol. Este poderia ser usado em motores de carros, da mesma maneira que os biocombustíveis de etanol são usados hoje, e poderia oferecer uma fonte de energia neutra em carbono.

“Devo dizer que o sistema de Norcera é excelente – provavelmente, no momento, é o melhor do mundo, mas existem outras abordagens alternativas e diversos centros estão trabalhando nelas”, disse Jim Barber, biólogo do Imperial College de Londres.

Barber é parte de outro time que pesquisa fotossíntese artificial. Seu projeto usa óxido de ferro, a popular ferrugem, como um material barato para absorver luz e servir como semicondutor. “O sol é a única fonte de energia que nos é disponível em uma magnitude capaz de satisfazer nossas necessidades. Por isso, é tão importante continuar a perseguir essa pesquisa e seu desenvolvimento. O trabalho de Nocera é um salto gigante em direção ao objetivo de capturar a luz do sol e armazená-la como combustível”, explicou Barber.

Folhas artificiais poderiam também preencher parte das pretensões não alcançadas por outras formas de energia renovável. Elas poderiam ser usadas em regiões áridas onde a energia hidrelétrica é impossível, também ocupariam menos espaço do que os painéis solares e, além disso, não requerem uma bateria para armazenar a energia que geram.

De acordo com Barber, se os sistemas de fotossíntese artificial puderem usar algo como 10% da luz solar que recai sobre eles, com o uso de apenas 0,16% da superfície terrestre poderiam produzir 20 terawatts e satisfazer toda a demanda global de energia prevista para 2030.

Norcera pode ser um dos primeiros pesquisadores a comercializar essa tecnologia: segundo a revista Wired, ele fechou um contrato com o grupo indiano Tata para produzir um gerador de energia do tamanho de uma geladeira.

Publicado através da parceria de ((o))eco com a Guardian Environment Network (veja a versão original). Tradução de Eduardo Pegurier

Monday, 14 May 2012

Avifauna e serviços ecossistêmicos

Avifauna e serviços ecossistêmicos: saberes dos moradores da região de Joselândia, Barão de Melgaço, MT

Relatório de Campo 01/2012

Samuel Borges de Oliveira Júnior

             Nos dias 24 e 25 de abril, no meio de uma vegetação que misturava cerrado, cambarás e uma área alagável, estava observando o ninho de um gavião-real, com a presença do seu João, morador do distrito de Joselândia. Seu João mora na região desde pequeno e é apaixonado pelo Pantanal, conforme demonstra nossas conversas.

            As árvores não lhe são estranhas, sabendo o nome e para que utilizar cada uma delas. Os animais também fazem parte do seu cotidiano, sejam eles aves, mamíferos ou peixes. Os peixes são importantes para ele, pois gosta de pescar e fica ansioso quando se aproxima o dia da pescaria. E como é bom deliciar um pacu frito ou ensopado em sua casa.

            Nessa área, as aves são nossas companheiras constantes, desde pequenos passarinhos até o grande tuiuiú, que chama atenção quando passa sobrevoando a área. Como o assunto de interesse da pesquisa é sobre as aves logo começo a perguntar o nome das espécies que passam pela gente. A grande maioria está na ponta da língua de seu João. Socós, siquiras, garças, pixuítas, amassa-barros, beija-flores, gaviões, araçaris, entre outras, são algumas das aves que frequentam essa região onde estávamos.

            Depois de falarmos sobre os nomes, começo a perguntar para que “servem” (eles usam muito a palavra “servir” para indicar o uso das espécies na região), ou seja, quais são os serviços ecossistêmicos relacionados à avifauna local. A primeira “utilidade” diz respeito às espécies utilizadas como complemento alimentar (serviço ecossistêmico de Provisão). Entre essas espécies temos jacus, mutuns, arancuãs, inhambus. Mas, segundo seu João, quase já não caçam mais essas aves na região. Poucas pessoas ainda fazem essa prática.

Mutuns- Crax fasciolata (Foto: Samuel Borges)

 Jacus – Penelope ochrogaster (Foto: Samuel Borges)

             Ele também fala que algumas pessoas gostam de ter um “passarinho” em casa, pra alegrar e pra fazer companhia. Na sua casa não é diferente. Eles têm um papagaio cural que é considerado como se fosse da família. Além de ficar o dia inteiro “conversando” com quem está próximo dele, esse papagaio chama a atenção por ser todo amarelo. Esse gosto por um animal de estimação se enquadra no serviço ecossistêmico Cultural, ligado a questões estéticas, de beleza, como é o caso do papagaio de seu João.

Cural –Amazona aestiva (Foto: Samuel Borges)

             Além disso, o nome das aves também está presente nas cantigas de siriri que seu João conhece e canta. Essas cantigas, típicas da cultura local, fazem parte também do serviço ecossistêmico Cultural. Como são muitas cantigas, um relatório contendo apenas essas cantigas será futuramente postado no blog.

             Acaba o dia e voltamos para a residência do seu João. Casa simples, mas aconchegante, onde a felicidade está estampada no rosto de seus moradores, que em todo o momento são solícitos, como se você fosse o integrante mais importante da família. Entre causos e brincadeiras, chega o momento de descansar um pouco. Apesar do recanto do pesquisador ser uma barraca, o dia-a-dia vivido durante a pesquisa, compensa e faz valer a pena qualquer esforço.

Casa do Seu João (Foto: Samuel Borges)

Recanto do pesquisador (Foto: Samuel Borges)

            Esse foi o primeiro relatório de campo da pesquisa realizada na região de Joselândia, no nosso magnífico pantanal mato-grossense. A riqueza e a beleza da avifauna pantaneira e dos saberes locais dos moradores sobre as aves e sobre a região onde moram demonstram a importância da conservação do pantanal e das comunidades que estão inseridas no bioma. Essa deve ser nossa causa de luta. Não devemos apenas pesquisar as comunidades e depois nos isolarmos. Temos que ajudar a conservar essa diversidade das espécies e dos saberes presentes nessa região.

Cuiabá, 14 de maio de 2012.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Civil Society, Economic Powers and Quality of Life by andré pilon

André Francisco Pilon, 8 May 2012 16:24

Civil Society, Economic Powers and Quality of Life: An Ecosystemic Approach to Live Better in a Better World

Natural and built environments, essential values to a peaceful coexistence, are gradually undermined by powerful political, economic and technological forces: problems are fragmented and reduced by academic formats, market-place interests and mass media headlines, public policies focus on the bubbles on the surface (consequences), ignoring what lies in the bottom of the boiling pot.

Delegates at international events are warned about the lack of safety in emerging countries, due to armed robbery, kidnapping etc. (never attempt to be a hero!). Meanwhile, rich natives surround themselves with an apparent "safety net" (strongholds, private security), incapable of facing the true problems, because, in the first place, it could undermine their business and investments.

The impact of current socio-political-economical systems are repeatedly reminded: chronic problems get worse from year to year: the billion people who live in crowded slums and the like; the unemployed and out of school youngsters, roaming the streets, who are lured by a culture linked to consumerism and are increasingly pushed to criminality.

Rapid urbanization has transformed the cities of Latin America in chaotic centers of social conflict Leroux (1998), plagued by the invasion of real estate building and illegal settlements, overwhelming use of private cars instead of public transportation, garbage cluttering, disastrous floods, climatic unbalance, air pollution and lack of drinking water.

In the emergent countries, the new middle classes dispute vacancies in the parking lots of shopping centers and super-markets and attribute street criminality to the “evil” nature of worthless people, while the "most favoured" move about in armoured cars and relentlessly propagate the idea that economic growth is synonymous of quality of life (for whom?).

Corporate interests and privileges, in the private and in the public sphere, are responsible for the outsourcing of services and public works, channelling huge funds into poorly executed and over-billed consultancies and contracts (under the guise of state "streamlining"). Less money would be spent by restructuring the state and the admission of qualified civil servants.

Questions about values, goals and principles should be considered, critically inquiring into prevailing paradigms of growth, power, wealth, work and freedom, in view of a network of hope, dignity and self-reliance: individuals who think critically, communicate effectively, value diversity, act ethically and show an empathy with others.

To build sustainable cities it is necessary to redesign social institutions and technologies. It is not only the right to urban resources, it is the right to change ourselves by changing the city: the kind of city we have is linked to the kind of human beings we are willing to be (Harvey 2006).
The current asymmetry of power between individuals and corporations is reflected in buckled environmental policies in environment, energy, transportation, housing, health etc., in the disorderly expansion of big cities by real estate interests, in the loss of green areas, in corruption, violence and crime.

Corruption, spurious alliances between public and private interests clash with transparency and the restoration of institutional control over the affairs of state. Development strategies based on mega-projects are linked to irresponsible consumerism, abuse of natural resources, environmental collapse, inequalities, violence and poor quality of life.
The issue is also cultural, culture shapes individual and collective identities, values essential to preserve quality of life, builds the social significance of communal life and guides the expectations of the future. Education and media, manipulated by vested interests, "develop a culture based on intolerance and violence" (UNESCO-EOLSS, 2008).
If a public good is a "res nullius", anyone can freely take ownership of it, since it has no owner, but if it is a "res communis", a collective good, its enjoyment is restricted to the general interest and should respect the rights of those who, for lack of means, resources, knowledge or opportunity, do not have access to it (Quéau, 2010).

The transition from a non-ecosystemic to an ecosystemic model of culture requires new paradigms of growth, power, wealth, work and freedom embedded into the cultural, social, political and economic institutions, whose critical role goes beyond individual morality and motivations; the focus should not be on consumer behaviour, but on its social, political, economic, physical and and cultural embeddedness.
In this sense, quality of life depends on the combination of four “dimensions": intimate, interactive, social and biophysical (Pilon, 2009). Being-in-the-world covers the relationship with oneself ("inner world"), the relations with those closest ("interactive world"), the relations with society as a whole ("man's world"), the relations with the environment, beings and things (Binswanger, 1963).

Acceptance of ethical norms, peace building, environmental equilibrium requires a host of ethically interpreted and ordered social experiences, a capacity to develop morally relevant interests as the bases of rights-bearing, a broad, universally rationalised cultural knowledge, an empathy with people, including those regarded as alien, or even hostile (Znaniecki, 1935).

Authentic freedom (or freedom for) should not be confused with “freedom from” (Fromm, 1941), it is not the absence of external constraints, but the possibility of making critical options; it requires a capacity to make appropriate choices, in which self-interest is linked to the pursuit of common endeavours.

Institutions determine the "rules of the game," stabilize the behaviours and interactions between people, create predictability and decide how the constituted authority is exercised, controlled and redistributed (March and Olsen, 1989). They create systemic confidence (not idiosyncratic), reducing the risks of citizens’ dependency on the “good will” of influential people to solve public or private affairs.

A society dominated by mass media, advertising and consumption, by public education policies averse to the formation of character and development of civic spirit, can only result in individuals which accepts any expedient to "get there", eager for immediate gains and power, uncompromising with the general well fare. The inclusion of more people in this system of things, only reproduce the system, in a vicious circle.

"The emphasis on human rights rather than on collective political action, merely reiterates individualistic approaches (Harvey, 2005). RIghts and duties must be linked to ethical standards, to a set of morally relevant social experiences throughout life; social status, personal identity, should not be the result of the "privilege" of belonging to groups seeking mastery upon others through ruse, violence and crime, whether in the streets or government cabinets.

Chronic problems due to the lack of urban planning (or its subordination to the interests of business corporations), are reflected in the growing distance between workplace and home, in the absence of leisure and cultural activities in neighbourhoods, in the widespread and intensive use of private vehicles for locomotion, in the precariousness of the means of collective transportation, in energy waste and increasing environmental pollution.

Characterized by large differences in power between individuals and corporations (natural persons and legal persons), "asymmetrical societies" (Coleman, 1985) permit business to have a substantial influence on State affairs and public policies, corporations usually diffuse responsibility along hierarchical structures and preserve shareholders, considered as mere investors in the financial markets.
According to an independent research network (STRN, 2010), favourable institutions, vested interests, established beliefs, sunk investments, low costs, stabilized by lock-in mechanisms, act against green practices and innovations in different areas (transport, energy, agri-business), leading to path dependence and entrapment; “it is an uphill struggle against economic, technical, political, scientific, and cultural systems”.

Beyond the interests of financial markets, business corporations and technologies embedded in global enterprises, scientists, philosophers and educators committed to cultural, political and economical changes warn that cities can not remain as centers of capital accumulation and profit generation, but should care for the natural and built environment, for harmony and solidarity.

Solidarity is not restricted to the care for the most needy, but combines participatory democracy, leadership development and cooperative work, with a view to organizing and facilitating group of citizens committed to an integrated view of the various aspects of quality of life: education, culture, justice, labour, environment, health, safety, housing, leisure, transport, consumption.

Cultural inclusion cannot be a matter of mass communication, or of educational programmes exclusively devoted to professionalism and the market. We must preserve and develop the best that mankind has constructed through its history, the letters, the arts, philosophy. When will we be considered true citizens, in every sense of the world, instead of mere users and consumers?

“Social inclusion” only accommodate people to the prevailing order and do not prepare them to change the system (Labonte, 2004); once “included", a new wave of “egocentric producers and consumers” (Chermayeff and Tzonis, 1971) reproduce the system responsible for their former exclusion and increase the abuse of nature in the name of the so-called “progress” and irresponsible consumerism.

Growth, power, wealth, work and freedom must acquire new meanings (O’ Sullivan, 1987). The accumulation of wealth to the exclusion of other components of the development process (culture, education, ethics, justice, equity, beauty, safety, health) has led to overwhelming natural devastation and severe social and cultural impacts, with high levels of crime and violence, observed nowadays in major cities of emergent countries.

Recently, the United Nations proposed the following questions for the citizens of the world: What is the best thing about your city? What's the worst thing about your city? What do you want the authorities to do about it? What can you do about it? It is a clear attempt to foster civic participation and personal engagement, but to make things happen it is necessary to create active socio-cultural niches at many societal levels.
A socio-cultural niche is made up of a new structure, a core that differs from the system, able to create the necessary conditions to explore new ways of understanding things and generate new ways of being in the world, by building a "semiosphere" specific, consisting of new paradigms and meanings, involving discovery, interpretation and invention, as a essential condition to develop critical capacities to operate changes.
For its emergence, it is necessary that public policies and a multitude of agents in different areas (education, culture, health, leisure, environment, etc.), demonstrate a clear commitment in view of an integrated ecosystem approach, favourable to the development, in the social-cultural niches of citizenship, of a critical judgment regarding the current paradigms that underlie the political, economic and cultural models.

The present ethos should not center on individual good and individual value alone, neither on development projects based on the current paradigms of wealth, growth, power and freedom, but on quality of life, on healthy environments and on healthy life styles. Problems should not be reduced to the segmented bubbles of the surface (taken for granted issues), but searched deep inside the “boiling pot”.

People, groups and organizations that want fundamental changes, the construction of a new social fabric and not just new patches on already worn tissues must take action. Of course this is a process in the medium and long term, but different actions and initiatives are available to everyone, especially those who work in crucial areas to human development such as culture, education, mass-media, justice, health, environment, politics and economy.

Binswanger, L. Being-in-the-World: Selected papers of Ludwig Binswanger. Condor Books. London, 1963.
Chermayeff, S. and Tzonis, A. Shape of community. Realization of human potential. Middlesex, Penguin Books, 1971.
Coleman, J. The Asymmetric Society, New York, Syracuse University Press, 1985
Fromm, E. Escape from Freedom, New York: Rinehart & Co., 1941.
Harvey, D. Spaces of Global Capitalism: Towards a Theory of Uneven Geographical Development, Verso, 2006.
Leroux, A., The Urban Environment. ReVista, Fall, 1998 [online]:
March, J. G. and. Olsen, J. P. Rediscovering institutions: the organizational basis of politics, Free Press, 1989.
O’ Sullivan, P. E. Environment science and environment philosophy. The Int’l J. of Environment Studies, 28; 257-267, 1987.
Pilon, A. F., The Bubbles or the Boiling Pot? An Ecosystemic Approach to Culture, Environment and Quality of Life. Environmental Geology, 57 (2) 2009. [online]:
Pilon, A. F. “The Right to the City” An Ecosystemic Approach to Better Cities, Better Life. University Library of Munich, MPRA Paper No. 25572 [online]:
Quéau, Ph., Le bien commun mondial et les sociétés de la connaissance. Ecole polytechnique, Montréal, 8 avril 2010 [online]:
STRN Sustainability Transitions Research Network, Mission Statement, 2010 [on line]:
UNESCO-EOLSS Joint Committee, Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems, 2008 [em linha]:
UN-Habitat, Message on world habitat day: your city - tell us the good, the bad and the ugly! [online]:
United Nations University, Website on Sustainable Development Governance, 2010:
Znaniecki, F. Ludzie terazniejsi a cywilizacja przyszlosci (The People of Today and the Civilization of Tomorrow), Ksiaznica Atlas, Lwow, Poland, 1935.
Author’s abridged curriculum vitae (posted online):

Monday, 7 May 2012

Fogões eficientes no Peru

((O)) eco

Tradicionalmente, os moradores das zonas rurais do Peru preparam seu alimento em fogo aberto, dentro de casa. Isto não só é ruim para o clima, como para a saúde das pessoas.

Fogões a lenha com uma concepção moderna reduzem em 80% o consumo de lenha, evitam o desmatamento e protegem o meio ambiente de gases nocivos.

Objetivo do projeto: Diminuir o consumo de lenha para reduzir a poluição

Amplitude do projeto: Construção de 30 mil fogões eficientes por ano

Volume de investimentos: 
1,8 milhão de euros

Redução de emissões de CO2: 7 milhões de toneladas nos próximos sete anos

Um filme de Karl Harenbrock

Esse conteúdo é publicado em uma parceria de ((o))eco com a Deutsche Welle, emissora pública alemã