BOGOTA, (Tierramérica).- The Water Classrooms initiative will train 3,000 school children in the northern Colombian department of Atlántico to take care of water resources, through an agreement between the private sector and the departmental government.
The plan will be carried out through workshops for primary school teachers about controlling the use of water at home, in the neighborhood and city.
The teachers will serve as "multipliers of knowledge" in the classroom, raising awareness among their students about the need to protect water resources and prevent waste.
Ecotourism in Antarctica
BUENOS AIRES, (Tierramérica).- Argentina's tourism office is promoting ecological tourism in Antarctica, the frozen continent located 4,600 km from the nation's capital, and 1,200 km from its southern extreme.
Antarctica receives some 10,000 visits each year, largely along the Antarctic Peninsula, but the frigid climate and vulnerability of the environment prevent the construction of a more complex tourism infrastructure.
Through the technical and scientific support of Argentina's Defense Ministry and air force, it will be possible to increase the flow of tourism looking for unexplored areas, said tourism secretary, Daniel Scioli.
The visits will be organized in small groups for brief stays of just one night, and include learning about the scientific activities of the Argentine base in Antarctica, installed on the island of Marambio in 1969, on the Weddell Sea.
Transport of Dangerous Substances
LIMA, (Tierramérica).- The Peruvian government is launching a plan for the safe shipment of contaminating materials like petroleum, acids and other industrial products, with the support of United Nations agencies.
Debate on the plan began in July with the participation of the ministers of transport, energy and mining, and industry, and the Civil Defense Institute.
The initiative will establish procedures to reduce or eliminate the environmental risk of transporting industrial products or inputs, and will be disseminated among local authorities, the business community and the Peruvian population.
Cheap and Wasted Water
MEXICO CITY, (Tierramérica).- Mexico's water consumers pay a third of the cost of purification and distribution, and just 30 percent comply with payments for the service, complain authorities.
These circumstances mean no one wants to invest in the water system, which suffers serious problems of leaks and waste. More than half the water distributed is lost.
To raise awareness about the importance of water, the government prepared a series of public service messages that will be disseminated by the communications media beginning in August.
Mexico has 4,675 cubic meters of water available per person per year, a quantity far behind that of Canada (90,000 cubic meters), Brazil (42,944), Argentina (26,544), Guatemala (11,804) and United States (8,801), according to a World Bank study.
Tegucigalpa the Most Polluted
TEGUCIGALPA, (Tierramérica).- A report by the Swiss Foundation for Development Aid warns that the Honduran capital has the worst air pollution of Central America, which explains why there has been an increase in respiratory illnesses there.
Samples for measuring air quality revealed particle concentrations seven times greater than the limit established by the World Health Organization of 75 micrograms per cubic meter of air.
According to the regional study, the atmosphere of Tegucigalpa presents the highest concentration of particulates on the isthmus. The pollution comes from construction, forest fires, vehicles and industrial emissions.
One of the effects of the air pollution has been an increase in cases of asthma and bronchitis, which jumped from 20,000 in two years ago to 32,000 in 2001, according to Health Ministry figures.
Anti-Dengue Fumigation Criticized
SAN SALVADOR, (Tierramérica).- Ecologists in El Salvador denounce the use of the insecticide permithrin in the government's fumigation campaign aimed at eradicating the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits dengue fever among humans.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sharply restricted the use of that pesticide in any form, due to its carcinogenic properties and toxicity for aquatic organisms, while Britain's Pesticide Action Network says the chemical alters the glandular functions of living beings, says the independent Salvadoran Ecological Union.
"Pesticides have never been the solution. What we will end up with will be super-mosquitoes," ecologist Mauricio Sermeño told Tierramérica, referring to the possibility that the insect will develop resistance to the chemical.
The Salvadoran government declared a state of emergency as a result of the dengue epidemic, which has already caused eight deaths among the thousands who have been infected with the disease.
Promoting Clean Energy
SAN JOSE, (Tierramérica).- Central America could cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 200,000 tons in the next 10 years through a plan encouraging the use of renewable energy sources, financed by the Global Environment Fund and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
The project "Strengthening renewable energy capacity for Central America" has backed 21 initiatives for clean production of electricity, such as solar panels, small hydroelectric dams and the combustion of farm waste, in the seven countries of the region.
Launched with the backing of the Biomass Users Network, the program is in the phase of result analysis. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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