Release of methane gas at the Arctic sea

Extraordinary and unexpected clouds of methane gas which is a greenhouse gas and is 20 times more intoxicating than carbon dioxide gas has been found bubbling at the surface, by a few scientists who were there to explore and take survey in the Arctic Ocean.

The head of the Russian team who was surveying there was surprised by the extent and quantity if the methane gas. This team has been taking several surveys in the seabed of East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for about 20 years. In an interview, Igor Semiletov who is working at the Russian Academy of Sciences said that he has witness such a thing for the first time in his work career, and he has never seen methane gas being released with such a force and large scale. Continue reading

Reconditioning Plastic Bottles

Axion International, a company from the New Jersey founded in 2007, has devised a new technique of recycling old plastic items. This innovative technique is to construct different building material like bridges etc by using discarded detergent containers, plastic bottles, milk carton and several other related things. This building material will be strong enough to replace steel, iron and concrete as it will be a mixture of frayed plastics and some amount of fiberglass. This technology has first time been introduced by the professor of engineering Thomas Nosker at Rutgers.

Plastics have a quality that they don’t degrade. Buried in the ground for centuries may even not decay them completely. Many people for the same reasons melt plastic and use it as boards at beech house decks or many make out clothing material by twirling it up. Continue reading

Permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

A legislation was put forward by the Republican lawmakers in Congress, pressurizing the Obama administration to grant permission for the construction of the very controversial keystone XL pipeline on Wednesday.

This legislation is a response to the recent verdict of the State Department in which they delayed the approval 7 billion$ project; which was to be approved a year before; as it takes into consideration the substitute routes which bypass the areas sensitive with respect to environment in Nebraska. Continue reading

July 4th a chance to mark US-Irish co-operation on tackling child hunger

Hilary Clinton and Tom Arnold, CEO, Concern at the launch of the ‘1000 days’ partnership between the US and Ireland in New York. Photo: Concern.A joint US-Irish partnership is mobilising governments in order to put hunger at the forefront of international development policies, writes Paul O’Brien, Overseas Director, Concern Worldwide.

As the United States celebrates its independence day, it offers us here in Ireland an opportunity to reflect on the relationship between our two countries.

President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Ireland highlighted once again the strong bonds that exist. Nowhere is this more evident right now than in the global fight against hunger. As President Obama noted in his speech on College Green “Ireland is working hand in hand with the United States to make sure that hungry mouths are fed around the world – because we remember those times. We know what crippling poverty can be like, and we want to make sure we’re helping others”.

This is an immensely important partnership between the US and Ireland. Chronic hunger, or undernutrition, contributes to the deaths of three million children under five each year.

Trauma of AIDS orphans neglected – Irish missionary seeks to decriminalise suicide

Brother Aidan Clohessy on the site of new psychiatric college in Mzuzu, Malawi. He is now planning a refuge for homeless AIDS orphans in the capital, Lilongwe. Photo by Amy Colley.An Irish missionary is setting up a refuge to rescue hundreds of AIDS orphans from the streets of a major African city. County Tipperary native Brother Aidan Clohessy of the St John of God order is currently fundraising for the €2m facility in Lilongwe city in Malawi where one in eight adults live with the deadly virus.

The 70-year-old believes kids who lose their parents can be driven to depression and even suicide if they don’t get access to professional counselling and treatment. He said: “Kids who lose a mother or father to HIV or AIDS are at a very vulnerable stage of their lives and their immediate priority is survival. “But at the same time they are suffering from post traumatic stress as well as going through a grieving process for their parents. There is a trauma there that is not being treated and you see behavioural problems such as depression, dropping out of school and they may fall into alcohol abuse or smoking marijuana or even suicide.”

Mission Accomplished? How Africa views Irish missionaries

Picture of the first Missionary Sisters of St Columban to go to China in 1926, with Columban Fathers. Photo: Columban Father's Archive.The view from Africa of Irish missionaries who worked on the continent is overwhelmingly one of “great gratitude” and “affection”, according to a panel of speakers from Africa at a debate in the Irish Aid offices in Dublin to celebrate Africa Day on 25th May.

Rather than evaluating the legacy of the missionary movement from an Irish perspective, the debate, entitled “How Africa views Irish missionaries”, invited Africans themselves to discuss how they see the work of Irish missionaries in Africa.

“Our view of missionaries is usually mediated through the Irish media or missionary congregations themselves and this evening we are trying to turn the lens around and look at Irish missionaries from the African view,” explained Joe Humphreys, Irish Times journalist and author of God’s Entrepreneurs: How Irish Missionaries Tried to Change the World, who chaired the event.

Salome Mbugua, a native of Kenya and currently Director of the migrant network AkiDwA in Dublin, praised Irish missionaries for their pivotal role in promoting health and education across the continent. This success, said Ms Mbugua, rested with the fact that Irish missionaries shared the experience of being a colonized people with Africans.

Opposition to urbanisation is misguided – academic

Nigeria cityscape. Photo: World BankEN | ES [LONDON] Growing urbanisation does not have to spell disaster for either human health or the environment, and both research and underused technologies can help mitigate its negative effects, a conference has heard.

Developing nations must accept that urbanisation is inevitable, and invest in research and infrastructure to support their growing populations, Cecilia Tacoli, a researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), told delegates at the Population Footprints conference in London last week (25–26 May).

The conference, organised by University College London and the Leverhulme Trust, both based in United Kingdom, looked at the effects of population growth and dynamics on health and climate change.

Much of the world’s population growth will be in cities in Asia and Africa, whose urban populations are set to double between 2000–2030 to 3.4 billion, according to the 2007 UN Population Fund’s report ‘State of World Population: Unleashing the Potential of Urban Growth’.

Yet developing countries refuse to engage with the process of urbanisation and keep passing policies that hamper migration to cities, Tacoli told SciDev.Net. Their urban infrastructure is therefore poorly equipped to provide basic services such as healthcare, food, water and fuel.

Sensationalism or silence in the Congo: rape, death and the media

En route to Panzi Hospital in South Kivu, DRC. According to journalist André Thiel, this Congolese woman was kidnapped and raped for six years by Hutu rebels. Despite family support, she and her daughter have been rejected by villagers. Photo: Flickr/andré thiel.Rape and conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are in the news. Like the daily global toll of avoidable death and illness, wars which do not obviously involve Americans, Europeans or Israelis usually struggle to be noticed.  However, the DRC media coverage has not been universally welcome.

However one looks at it, media coverage of the Democratic Republic of Congo has not been good. A study by the New York-based International Rescue Committee (IRC) across the DR Congo between January 2006 and April 2007 estimated that 45,000 extra people were dying each month from preventable diseases and starvation as a legacy of conflict.

In the global media covered by the Alertnet world press tracker, between September 2006 (when the press data begins) and April 2007, there were 1,327 stories on the DRC, whereas Israel-Palestinian, Afghanistan and Iraq conflict generated 19,946, 29,987 and 43,589 stories respectively.

Irish Foreign Minister and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to co-host forum on hunger in Africa

Irish Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore T.D. (right) to discuss global hunger with US Secretary of State Clinton during visit to aid programme in Tanzania, 9 to 12 June 2011. Photos: US Department of State and Flickr/infomatique.It is estimated that almost one billion people do not have enough food to meet their daily requirements. Up to three and a half million children under 5 die each year from lack of adequate nutrition.

The number of undernourished dropped in 2010, recovering from the 2008 food price crisis. Food prices have since hit a new peak, however, and world food prices are set to remain high into 2012, according to the latest FAO analysis.

On Sunday 12 June, Irish Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Eamon Gilmore, T.D., and US Secretary of State Clinton will co-host a High Level Forum in Dar es Salaam on the fight against hunger in Africa. This is part of the ongoing cooperation between Ireland and the US to tackle global hunger and malnutrition, and which was highlighted by President Obama during his recent visit to Ireland.

Mr Gilmore will visit Tanzania, one of the priority countries for the Irish Government’s aid programme, from 9 to 12 June 2011. While there, the Tánaiste (i.e., Deputy Prime Minister) will assess the impact of Ireland’s aid programme in the fight against poverty and hunger. He will meet senior members of Government, and will co-host with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, a High Level Forum on the fight against hunger.

Are missionaries accurately represented in the media?

Dubliner Fr Tony Byrne, a Holy Ghost priest known as the “Green Pimpernel” for running a daring airlift operation into Biafra during its civil war with Nigeria.Are missionaries being fairly and accurately represented in the media? This was one of the questions discussed at the second of three public debates examining the past, present and future of Irish missionaries. The debate took place this month at the Irish Aid Centre in Dublin.

The chair was Joe Humphreys, Irish Times journalist, advisor to and author of God’s Entrepreneurs: How Irish Missionaries Tried to Change the World. He remarked that much of what the public knows about the missionaries has been through religious and secular literature, documentaries and press coverage.

He asked whether we have an accurate picture of missionary work and indeed whether missionaries wanted us to have one. He gave the example of an incident from the preface to his book. A fellow journalist had spent an extraordinary day with a nun in South Africa in a high security prison where she worked, meeting prisoners, many on death row, only to be told “now, you know, you can’t write about any of this. I don’t want my name in the paper.”

Humility is not the only reason why many are wary of journalists. However, Fr Gerry O’Connor, CSsR, told that if the Irish missionary movement is to have a future, it needs to be asked difficult questions: “The only way change comes about is if people ask questions you don’t want to hear.”