Getting ready for the week ahead! A quick update, with lots of news and pictures!

I am in Rio now. Lots has been going on, so here is a quick summary!

  • Today we will be meeting with the Planet Earth Institute and getting more info on the week ahead.
  • Jaime Amezaga, Paul Younger and James Robinson are also arriving this evening.
  • Over the weekend I went to various events around the city. There is so much going on and it has been brilliant to have so many events open to the public of all ages. Education is the key and promoting discussion and celebrating sustainability is the way to do it!
  • The famous Christ the Redeemer statue that sits on Corcovado mountain is illuminated in green for this week. Amazing!
  • I went to the People’s Summit festival which was huge and inspirational – so many activities going on. Picture here
  • First I attended a brilliant talk on ‘flying rivers’ by Gerard Moss that studies the huge amounts of evaporation (including evapotranspiration) over the Amazon. To give you an idea – the average discharge (flow) in the Thames is 65.8 m3/s. The average flow in Brazil’s second largest river, the Rio Sao Fransisco, is about 2800 m3/s. The evaporation from the Amazon rainforest has been estimated at over 3200 m3/s! In other words, Brazil’s second largest river is actually a huge flow of water going up to the sky. Preservation of the Amazon rainforest is CRITICAL to maintaining a stable climate system on this earth and its importance is similar to that of the keystone in a bridge – it is a fundamental part of this world and it needs to be there in its entirety. For more info see http://www.riosvoadores.com.br/english
  • I also took part in an art installation made by the public who bring bits of rubbish and contribute to this amazing mural. Shame about the air-conditioned tent.
  • I also went to another part of town where there was a huge exhibition of sustainable agriculture – key to protecting the environment whilst feeding the world’s mouths.
  • Right alongside Greenpeace’s new flagship, the entirely crowd-funded Rainbow Warrior was moored alongside. I had hoped to have a look around on one of the guided tours, but the queue was 2 hours long! It looks amazing however, has huge steel masts to sail on the wind and also has a biodiesel motor.
  •  Saw an micro example of biogas production from animal waste. There is a huge potential for this in the agricultural sector in the UK, which is growing, and anaerobic digestion is already employed by many water utilities companies, including Northumbrian Water.
  • Also saw a small aeroplane that runs on 100% ethanol which I thought was pretty cool until I realised that it was for the crop-dusting of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer.
  • Last at the exhibition of interest was an example of vertical gardening, using a honeycoombe structure made of pressed coconut fibre.
  • Finally, whilst waiting for the bus home, an interesting flyer featuring two faces of Brazil’s president Dilma, wearing official state banner as well as a chain-saw slung over her back. The caption says (roughly), what face will you bring to Rio+20?.This is in repsonse to the recent Forest Code legislation that is going through which will provide amnesty to past illegal deforestation and reduce the requirement of protecting forest around water bodies and rivers. Today there will be a huge march in Rio against the regressive changes in legislation.
That’s a summary of the news so far, the next post will feature thoughts on an event that Claire and I hope to go to this afternoon. (They were going to be part of the same post but there is so much to tell that I got carried away!)

Ed Byers, PhD Civil Engineering and Geosciences

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