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    Mongabay, a leading resource for news and perspectives on environmental and conservation issues related to the tropics, has launched Tropical Conservation Science - a new, open access academic e-journal. It will cover a wide variety of scientific and social studies on tropical ecosystems, their biodiversity and the threats posed to them. Tropical Conservation Science - March 8, 2008.

    At the 148th Meeting of the OPEC Conference, the oil exporting cartel decided to leave its production level unchanged, sending crude prices spiralling to new records (above $104). OPEC "observed that the market is well-supplied, with current commercial oil stocks standing above their five-year average. The Conference further noted, with concern, that the current price environment does not reflect market fundamentals, as crude oil prices are being strongly influenced by the weakness in the US dollar, rising inflation and significant flow of funds into the commodities market." OPEC - March 5, 2008.

    Kyushu University (Japan) is establishing what it says will be the world’s first graduate program in hydrogen energy technologies. The new master’s program for hydrogen engineering is to be offered at the university’s new Ito campus in Fukuoka Prefecture. Lectures will cover such topics as hydrogen energy and developing the fuel cells needed to convert hydrogen into heat or electricity. Of all the renewable pathways to produce hydrogen, bio-hydrogen based on the gasification of biomass is by far both the most efficient, cost-effective and cleanest. Fuel Cell Works - March 3, 2008.

    An entrepreneur in Ivory Coast has developed a project to establish a network of Miscanthus giganteus farms aimed at producing biomass for use in power generation. In a first phase, the goal is to grow the crop on 200 hectares, after which expansion will start. The project is in an advanced stage, but the entrepreneur still seeks partners and investors. The plantation is to be located in an agro-ecological zone qualified as highly suitable for the grass species. Contact us - March 3, 2008.

    A 7.1MW biomass power plant to be built on the Haiwaiian island of Kaua‘i has received approval from the local Planning Commission. The plant, owned and operated by Green Energy Hawaii, will use albizia trees, a hardy species that grows in poor soil on rainfall alone. The renewable power plant will meet 10 percent of the island's energy needs. Kauai World - February 27, 2008.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Four million truckers paralyse Indian economy - food crisis looms

More than four million truckers in India have stopped working and are protesting over high fuel prices. Their strike is paralysing the country's economy and is threatening to fuel the food crisis further. The truckers want the government to lower taxes and undo the cuts in fuel subsidies it recently introduced. The truckers vow to shut down the country if no deal is reached.
Truckers are simply no longer able to work. Diesel has become so expensive that we can not survive. We are being forced to lay down our work. [...] We had talks with the government, but it was just an eyewash. We are hoping that a solution would be found soon. - Gurinder Pal Singh, AIMTC
The road transport sector is India's most important mechanism to supply the subcontinent's 1.4 billion inhabitants and its economy. Trucks not only supply raw materials and finished goods to end users, they also transport food and agricultural products from the country-side to the growing mega-cities.

Food crisis

Rising fuel costs are already the largest factor in the increase in food prices, heavily affecting the poor. But if the transportation sector shuts down altogether, a fullblown food crisis would emerge.

The Confederation of All-India Traders said it expected prices of food and essential items to rise sharply if the strike continued for more than two days:
If the strike continues, prices of food grains, pulses, consumer durables, and raw materials for industry will go up by 10-15 percent. - Praveen Khandelwal, Confederation of All-India Traders.
The Indian economy is booming, but the country imports 70 percent of its liquid fuels from abroad. This heavy oil-dependency has wreaked havoc amongst fuel intensive economic sectors such as agriculture, transport and the airline industry.

High oil prices recently forced the Indian government to cut back fuel subsidies, leading to higher prices for consumers. The move angered the masses who took to the streets by the millions. The fuel protests have now spilled over to other sectors.

According to the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), the recent subsidy cuts signal the second price jump in a short time. Earlier this year, diesel prices increased by more than 40 percent. In order to save the transportation sector, the AIMTC urges the government not only to re-subsidize and regulate the price of transportation fuels, but to lower road toll taxes as well.

Over the past few weeks the world has seen fuel riots, strikes and protests in more than 90 countries.
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