TEGUCIGALPA, Feb 18 (Tierramérica).- The European Union representative in Honduras, Germano Stragneiro, asked President Manuel Zelaya to enact mechanisms to guarantee the security of environmentalists, specifically in the area of the Plátano River Biosphere, in the eastern department of Olancho.
Stragneiro pointed to the difficulties in launching conservation projects in the biosphere because many of the experts fear for their lives since the murder three months ago of environmental leader Mario Guifarro.
Human rights commissioner Ramón Custodio told Tierramérica that he shares the EU representative's concern, noting that the biosphere is an area of "high insecurity" for environmental protection, and that Guifarro's death "must not go unpunished."
At least 10 environmental activists have been murdered in the last 15 years in Honduras, most of them in Olancho.
New Wind Park
HAVANA, Feb 18 (Tierramérica).- By the end of February Cuba will have a wind park with the capacity to generate 5.1 megawatts per hour, as part of a development program to replace fossil fuels with alternative energy sources.
Tests have already begun and "two of the six wind turbines installed generated electricity on Feb. 11," Orlando Leiva, head of the Eolic Group of the eastern Cuban province of Holguín, told Tierramérica.
The Gibara I wind park, will save the equivalent of about 3,000 tons of petroleum per year. The northern coast of Holguín has been identified as having among the best conditions on the island for capturing wind energy.
La Niña Throws Lightning Bolts
RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb 18 (Tierramérica).- This year there will be more lightning in Brazil. January saw a 35-percent increase over January 2007 in the southeast, the most populous region of the country, according to the National Institute of Space Research.
This is the result of the climate phenomenon known as La Niña, in which the surface waters of the Pacific Ocean cool down, altering atmospheric circulation and causing collisions between hot and cold air masses over Brazil, with more frequent and heavy rains, Osmar Pinto Junior, coordinator of the Institute's atmospheric electricity group, told Tierramérica.
Lightning strikes will kill 70 to 80 people in Brazil this year, predicts Pinto. In 2007, the lightning death toll reached 46. Brazil is the world leader in lightning, with about 60 million strikes each year.
Photocatalysis Fights Water Contamination
CARACAS, Feb 18 (Tierramérica).- Venezuela hopes to have ready this year the prototype of a lake decontamination system that uses solar rays to destroy the toxic substances in the water -- heterogeneous photocatalysis.
"Water contaminants degrade with the increase in the speed of the chemical reaction between the compounds involved. The toxic organic molecules oxidize and generate ultra-pure water," Juan Matos, a chemist with the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research and leader of the project that also involves Cuba, told Tierramérica.
While the Venezuelan experts will focus on the toxic chemicals, the Cubans will take on the microbiological angle -- bacteria and viruses.
Small reactors would operate on energy from solar collectors, a technology that Matos hopes to apply in Maracaibo Lake. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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