BRAZIL: More Lightning
Due to Global Warming
RIO DE JANEIRO - The frequency
of lightning will increase 30 percent over the next
25 years in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo, quadrupling
the losses to electrical utility infrastructure because
of more blackouts, according to the national space
research institute, ELAT.
Losses to Sao Paulo state will be equal to those of
the entire country today by 2030: 185 million dollars
''Global warming, La Niña climate phenomenon in the
Pacific Ocean, and increased heat in cities of more
than 500,000 residents will be the factors behind
the increase,'' Osmar Pinto Junior, head of the ELAT
atmospheric electricity division, told Tierramérica.
The ELAT prediction model is based on ''conservative''
projections, with a temperature increase of just half
a degree centigrade and moderate effects from La Niña.
Global warming is likely to affect all tropical regions
of South America in a similar way, meaning more lightning
strikes across the continent, said Pinto.
CUBA: Forest Fires and
HAVANA - The intense drought
that has been thrashing Cuba increased the risk of
forest fire, which last year burned 11,447 hectares
of forest, with losses totaling 16 million dollars.
Official sources report that a blaze lasting 10 days
destroyed some 1,500 hectares of forest in late March-early
April in the eastern mountain range Pinares de Mayarí.
In Camagüey, 500 km east of Havana, a fire favored
by the local drought conditions affected an area of
forests and coastal brushland covering nearly 400
Sources from the government's National Center for
Protected Areas told Tierramérica that the fire danger
from drought is aggravated by negligence on the part
of poachers, who light campfires in banned areas.
VENEZUELA: Rescuing a
Spectacled Bear in the Andes
CARACAS - A four-month-old spectacled
bear (Tremarctos ornatos) in the Sierra Nevada National
Park, in the southwest Venezuelan Andes, was rescued
earlier this month when a local resident found it
and alerted the authorities.
''It's the first time we have had direct information
about a Venezuelan bear of this kind. The ones living
in the (northwest) state of Lara were donated by other
Andean countries,'' Ricardo Babarro, an official with
the Environment Ministry, told Tierramérica.
''Guerrero'', as the 3.5-kilo cub has been named,
will be moved to the Bararida Zoo, in Lara, which
has the most experience in raising this species in
captivity, and is home to four other spectacled bears.
The rescued animal will undergo genetic testing as
part of efforts to protect the species, unique to
South America and in danger of extinction as a result
of years of hunting by humans.
HONDURAS: Funds Approved
TEGUCIGALPA - The Small Grants
Program, a component of the Global Environment Facility,
promoted by the United Nations, has approved for Honduras
a total of 500,000 dollars to carry out 21 environmental
and social development projects in poor communities.
Hugo Galeano, the program's coordinator in Honduras,
told Tierramérica that the funds will go to grassroots
groups in extremely poor communities, and that one
of the areas targeted this year is the Mosquitia jungle
community on the Atlantic coast to support environmental
conservation and ecotourism efforts, and aid for Indian
divers who have been injured in their work.
The programs aim to protect biodiversity, mitigate
and adapt to climate change, fight persistent organic
pollutants, and reduce soil degradation, based on
proposals by each community, Galeano said.