RIP Chavez

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Many of you might have heard about Hugo Chavez’s death almost a week ago. He was the first socialist president of Venezuela and elections will be held to see if there will be a second socialist leader. During his time in power (1999 – 2013) he had brought many changes to his country. He nationalized many key industries, including the oil industry. He also increased government funding towards health care, education and social welfare programs.

He was also a key figure in development of the Americas. Many of the South and Latin American countries relied on Venezuela’s aid.

“During his time in power, Venezuela earned almost $1 trillion, according the Hoover Institute. And many countries in the region have depended on Chavez’s generous economic aid, which was funded by Venezuela’s oil reserves.”

“On the day Hugo Chavez took office in February 1999, oil was around $30 a barrel and by the day he died, it was $111, after a peak of around $140 a barrel during the 2008 financial crisis.” (A small clip on Aljazeera about Hugo Chavez’s death)

Although he was elected as president of Venezuela, almost every country in that region had benefited from him. But many criticize his input in Venezuela. There are some who believe that he did not do enough for Venezuela. They believe that he should have invested moreĀ  in Venezuela first, before helping their neighbors. He had given economic aid or preferential trade deals to neighboring countries to counter. His death leaves uncertainty in the region.

Is Hugo Chavez is a good leader? What does his death mean for Venezuela and its neighbors? Is Venezuela better off continuing its socialist regime?

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Capturing Carbon

Researchers say that the natural ability of sea urchins to absorb CO2 could be a model for an effective carbon capture and storage system.

Newcastle University scientists discovered by chance that urchins use the metal nickel to turn carbon dioxide into shell.

They say the technique can be harnessed to turn emissions from power plants into the harmless calcium carbonate.

The research is in the journal, Catalysis Science and Technology.

Many sea creatures convert carbon dioxide in the waters into calcium carbonate which is essentially chalk. Species such as clams, oysters and corals use it to make their shells and other bony parts.

Bubbling under

When the team at Newcastle looked at the larvae of sea urchins they found that there were high concentrations of nickel on their external skeletons.

Working with extremely small nickel particles, the researchers found that when they added them to a solution of carbon dioxide in water, the nickel completely removed the CO2.

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At present most carbon capture and storage (CCS) proposals are based around the idea of capturing CO2 from electricity generating stations or chemical plants and pumping the stripped out gas into underground storage in former oil wells or rock formations.

This is how it’s done!

But there are still question marks about the possibility that the stored carbon may leak back out again.

The Newcastle researchers say that an alternative approach would be to lock up the CO2 in another substance such as calcium carbonate or magnesium carbonate.

This can already be done by using an enzyme called carbon anhydrase but it is very expensive.

PhD student Gaurav Bhaduri who is the lead author on the research paper explained that using nickel would be a far more economic option.

Continue Reading!

There are so many options out there, but we haven’t acted on any of them? Most of the time we hear about using renewable energy to reduce emissions, but what about what is already out there?

Oceans represent an important global carbon sink, absorbing 25% of annual man-made CO2 emissions and helping to slow the rate of climate change. The Southern Ocean in particular is known to be a significant oceanic sink, and accounts for 40% of all carbon entering the deep oceans. And yet, until now, no-one could quite work out how the carbon gets there from the surface waters.
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This is one of the biggest carbon sink in the word. If we could possibly create something to capture carbon from the oceans, not only will it help with climate change, but also help aquatic life forms which are threatened.

I was also looking at the business aspect of this. In many developed countries, there are carbon tax involving government and private sector. If a business creates a system which captures the carbon, they could possibly sell carbon credits to governments and private sectors. This could be the next BIG THING!

Africa must ‘boost infrastructure spending’!!??

Insufficient infrastructure spending remains “the biggest risk” to Africa’s economic growth, the boss of mobile phone network Bharti Airtel, has said.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Sunil Bharti Mittal said African governments should spend as much as possible on infrastructure.

Graham Mackay, chairman of brewer SAB Miller, added that such spending was trailing Africa’s economic growth.

He said it was resulting in “bottlenecks” for businesses.

‘Go for broke’

Mr Mittal’s mobile phone network is one of the largest in Africa, now operating in more than 15 African countries.

“Africa is a very large continent that [still needs] a lot of investment in infrastructure,” Mr Mittal said. “That is to my mind the biggest risk to Africa’s [economic] growth.

“Governments should go for broke, and get as much infrastructure built as possible. Can you imagine if Africa was to start investing heavily in infrastructure?”

Despite, his concerns, Mr Mittal said some countries were performing strongly in regard to their spending on infrastructure, covering everything from electricity generation and distribution, to road building and provision of fresh water.

He highlighted Ghana, Rwanda and “pockets of ” Nigeria for praise.

UK-based brewing group SAB Miller traces its origins back to South Africa, and it remains the largest brewer in the country.

Mr Mackay said: “Are Africa’s infrastructure investments keeping up with its economic growth? I would say no.

“On balance the infrastructure deficit is widening rather than narrowing.”

He added that his company often had to make “heroic endeavours” to get things done in certain countries.

Goodluck Jonathan, President of Nigeria, said that while the infrastructure gap in Africa was “significant”, countries across the continent were continuing to take action to improve the situation.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21163081

The world invested capital in Africa, post-1950s, to create infrastructures and economic activity. But then, they force the developing world’s governments to reduce investment by the governments and the private sector do the investing, with the ideology of Neoliberalism. And now, they want the governments to start investing in their countries? It makes me think, was the restructuring for the sake of developing world, or was it just another way to forcibly open-up developing countries for exploitation?