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Afghanistan, the Yuan, Cap and Trade April 4, 2010

Posted by Afflatus in Environment, World Affairs.
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This article explains the extent to which both India and Pakistan are vying for influence in Afghanistan, and they’re essentially fighting a proxy war there. The article also makes clear that India’s interests don’t align with ours, and their presence there is increasing instability despite their philanthropy ($1.3 billion invested in irrigation, schools, hospitals).  Though obvious, it’s crucial to keep in mind that regional interests are extremely important. An uncritical reader of US media coverage of Afghanistan could easily lose sight of this fact. Though I do expect to see the US actively engaged in the region for many years, India and Pakistan’s interests will outlast ours.

I also thought Obama’s recent decision to delay this “Chinese currency manipulating Treasury report” was a great move. The way they handled it seems truly creative and I’m becoming optimistic the issue will be resolved diplomatically later this year. The genius of it is that the US will be in a relatively stronger negotiating position vis a vis China in June. They’re also getting fantastic talking points and sound bites into the media.I’m in favor of anything multilateral and diplomatic, AND they whipped the unions and labor leaders into support.

The EU’s cap and trade system seems to have been implemented horribly! A surplus of permits not sold but handed out for free, and a overall emissions cap which was set too high has created serious problems. The silver lining in the article is that businesses were able to reduce emissions for cheaper than everyone expected! What should the EU’s policy be going forward? Lower the overall cap, tell businesses to stop whining, and devalue the permits.

Day 1,460 June 14, 2009

Posted by surfair in Environment, Rediculous.
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Something tells me your internship won’t look too cool after this. Even though it seems like you’re doing the right thing. Making a difference, yeah! Sticking it to them! Rah, rah, rah.  You’re on day 35 and loving it, like your first summer girlfriend. You’d probably sneak into your parent’s liquor cabinet for them too.14542_web

But then you hear about this guy, Muse Opiang. (Quite the mouthful, but at least it follows the recent tide of more “cultured” names finding their way into headlines – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Barack Obama, Aung San Suu Kyi, Kim Jong-il).  He’s been clawing his way through the dense canopies of Papua New Guinea for four years. Searching for the “impossible”. An egg-laying mammal, that’s part of the same order as a platypus, known as a spiny anteater (long beaked echidna).  His office is a jungle, he works outside everyday, and he gets to play with animals.

WTF?

WTF?

Oh wait, so how’s this related to your internship? Opiang is a research intern with the Wildlife Conservation Society. Yup, research intern. And he’s been an intern for four years. Completed the first study on an egg-laying mammal. His unwritten resume would blow our word-processed-bullshit out of the water.

He tracked a nocturnal creature through a rainforest for 500 hours before he even saw one. Damn, you think he ever doubted his work? Three weeks of bushwacking through the moonlit forests with no one but his thoughts and some f***ing panthers… nuts. In the end its stories like his that keep us humble. Reminding us to keep up.

So on day 1,460, Muse Opiang wrote the final chapter of his first story. Sick Muse, great work man.  His study was published in the Journal of Mammology and will be vital to the preservation of this rare species. Pretty frickin’ wierd looking though, eh?

Here’s the details:

World’s First Study of Egg-laying Mammal

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Wildlife Conservation Society research intern working in the wilds of Papua New Guinea has successfully completed what many other field biologists considered “mission impossible”—the first study of a rare egg-laying mammal called the long-beaked echidna.

The WCS-supported study—which consisted of thousands of hours of grueling field work in Papua New Guinea’s Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area—took Muse D. Opiang, now of the Papua New Guinea Institute of Biological Research, several years of remotely tracking the porcupine-sized mammals and recording their dens and other signs. (more…)

Tropicana: Saving the Environment? March 26, 2009

Posted by Afflatus in Environment.
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I found a very interesting blog post by Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics, on his blog about Tropicana’s new environmental/marketing campaign. Essentially, each time you buy a carton of Tropicana orange juice and type the code in online, you will save 100 square feet of rain forest in the Amazon. As an economist, Levitt analyzes the costs and benefits of this decision for Tropicana. He argues it’s an extremely smart business decision. It’s a great idea, and it saves the rain forest; but is it really as helpful as you think? Read more here.

Julian refuses to drink Trader Joes orange juice, and instead insists on drinking Tropicana. The environment has nothing to do with it though, he just likes the taste!