BRAZIL: Mega-Cities Far
From Meeting Air Quality Standards
RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazil's major
cities will have to reduce their air pollution much
more if they hope to comply with the new parameters
for air quality established by the World Health Organzation
The WHO reduced the acceptable maximum level of the
annual average for suspended particulates from 70
to 20 micrograms per cubic meter, cut the daily maximum
limit of ozone from 120 to 100 micrograms, and the
daily average of sulfur dioxide from 120 to 25 micrograms.
Sao Paulo, for example, has an average of 45 micrograms
of suspended particulates per cubic meter -- more
than twice the WHO recommended limit.
"Now society, industry and the government are stimulated
to make a great effort to reduce urban pollution,"
Nelson da Cruz Gouveia, a professor at the University
of Sao Paulo who participated in the revision of the
index, told Tierramérica.
Every year, air pollution is responsible for the deaths
of some 50,000 people in Brazil.
VENEZUELA: Flamingos Enjoy
CARACAS - So far in 2006, in
the northwestern Venezuelan marsh of Los Olivitos
alone, 6,700 Caribbean flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber
ruber) have hatched, reports Betsabey Motta, from
the Environment Ministry's office of biodiversity.
The flamingo population in northern Venezuela has
grown continuously over the past 10 years, said Motta.
Flamingos "are an overprotected species in Venezuela,
as they require a simple habitat, even with scant
vegetation, but salt mining continues to threaten
all of the flora in marshes like Los Olivitos, to
the detriment of other bird species," Jorge Hinestroza,
professor of ecology at the University of Zulia, told
The rainy season -- longer and more intense this year
-- helped in the production of more plants as food,
sought by migratory birds like the flamingo in the
southern extension of the Caribbean Basin.
CHILE. Air Pollution Online
SANTIAGO - The levels of air
pollution recorded each hour by the seven monitoring
stations in the Chilean capital are published in real
time on the web page of the Metropolitan Region's
health authority (http://www.asrm.cl), which previously
only reported the daily average.
The regional health ministry decided to make the data
available after three citizen organizations sued the
agency for access to public information. The ministry
had refused over the course of three months to respond
to several requests.
Moisés Sánchez, director of the Pro-Access Foundation,
one of the plaintiffs, told Tierramérica that the
publication of the data (begun Oct. 31) helps Santiago
residents to protect themselves, and will serve to
improve the existing plans to curb air pollution.
In Santiago, a city hemmed in by mountains, the worst
air pollution is recorded between April and September.
In 2005 there were seven environmental alerts and
two pre-emergencies declared by the authorities.
HONDURAS: European Union
to the Rescue of a River Basin
TEGUCIGALPA - Over the next 18
months the European Union will be promoting a reforestation
project in the Goascorán River Basin, along the Honduras-El
Salvador border, which flows into the Pacific Ocean.
The 250,000-dollar initiative will be carried out
by the Honduran VIDA Foundation.
The foundation's director, Isaac Herrera, told Tierramérica
that the project includes planting trees, environmental
education, irrigation, and promoting farms that use
environmentally friendly techniques.
Two weeks ago, the 6,000 residents of the basin suffered
flooding from the river, which destroyed homes and
crops, and killed one person.
Deforestation in the area is a serious problem, says
Herrera, and merits prompt action "so that tragedies
like this aren't repeated."
CUBA: Eco-Gardens in the
HAVANA - Urban crops in Cuba
will produce some 4.3 million tons of vegetables and
fresh herbs this year, Adolfo Rodríguez Nodals, head
of the National Urban Agriculture Group, told Tierramérica.
Urban gardens make good use of space in populated
areas, utilizing organic fertilizer and biological
pest control, among other techniques to grow food
at low cost and with no harm to the environment.
In Havana, urban farming provides each of the 2.2
million inhabitants with 200 to 250 grams of vegetables
and fresh herbs daily, and in other parts of the country
the portion surpasses 300 grams, says Rodríguez Nodals.
Experts from the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) recommend daily intake of 300 grams
of vegetables per person, which helps ensure a minimum
of vitamins and minerals in the diet, as well as maintaining