HAVANA, Apr 16 (Tierramérica).- Cuban scientists have developed a type of cement that is cheaper to produce and less polluting than conventional cement, with the support of the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne, Switzerland.
In this newly developed process, a large part of the clinker, a main component of cement, is replaced with a mixture of metakaolin - a refined form of kaolin clay - and limestone. Since the latter is not fired in the process, carbon emissions into the atmosphere are reduced.
The use of metakaolin leads to the production of “low-carbon” cement, explained project head Fernando Martirena, director of the Center for Structures and Materials Research and Development at Marta Abreu Central University of Las Villas, in the central Cuban city of Santa Clara.
"It could make a significant contribution to mitigating the problems of climate change,” Martirena told Tierramérica, “by reducing global emissions from cement production,” which accounts for between five and eight percent of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by human activities.
Studying Manatee Reproduction Through Feces
RIO DE JANEIRO, Apr 16 (Tierramérica).- The analysis of feces could be the key to better understanding the reproductive cycle of the Amazonian manatee in its natural habitat, according to the Conservation of Amazonian Aquatic Vertebrates Project at the Mamirauá Institute in Brazil.
A team of scientists is exploring rivers in protected areas of the Amazon rainforest in search of feces from this particular species of manatee (Trichechus inunguis).
More than 300 samples have been gathered, some almost two decades ago, in order to test them for the presence of sex hormones. The objective is to understand the influence of factors such as the water level in high- and low-water periods and the availability of food during the reproductive cycle.
“There are very few scientific accounts of the reproduction of this mammal in the wild. The existing data is almost all drawn from animals in captivity,” veterinarian Carolina Oliveira, one of the researchers, told Tierramérica.
“Data on hormonal levels will make it possible to estimate the period in which Amazonian manatees mate and the females give birth,” she added.
Public Officials Charged for Violating Environmental Law
TEGUCIGALPA, Apr 16 (Tierramérica).- Over the past year, the Environmental Prosecutor’s Office of Honduras has issued 19 injunctions against an equal number of individuals, including a number of public officials, for violations of the General Law on the Environment.
Reina Pineda, the special prosecutor for environmental crimes, told Tierramérica that the majority of public officials charged are local government authorities who have issued logging permits or committed other acts that infringe on forest conservation and the preservation of biodiversity.
Also facing charges are private citizens implicated in illegal trade in timber and trafficking in endangered species, among other crimes specified in the environmental law.
The worst violations have been reported in the departments of Cortés in northwestern Honduras, Olancho in the northeast, Francisco Morazán in the center of the country, and Copán in the west, as well as areas in southern Honduras, according to the office of National Human Rights Commissioner Ramón Custodio. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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