Monthly Archives: October 2012

A avenida da Liberdade é um dos eixos mais poluídos da Europa. (Foto: PÚBLICO/arquivo)

Estudo da Universidade Nova concluiu que os níveis de poluição baixaram após as alterações no Marquês, mas é cedo para certezas.

Um estudo realizado por investigadores da Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade Nova de Lisboa, revelado ontem, concluiu que os níveis de poluição da Avenida da Liberdade diminuíram depois das alterações na circulação rodoviária no Marquês de Pombal.

O estudo mostra uma redução dos níveis médios diários das partículas inaláveis e de dióxido de azoto, não se registando quaisquer ultrapassagem do valor-limite diário, após 16 de Setembro, quando na primeira quinzena do mesmo mês o valor limite foi ultrapassado oito vezes. Os dados apresentados defendem que os níveis de partículas inaláveis baixaram 32% e os de dióxido de azoto apresentaram uma redução de 19%.

O estudo analisou também o perfil horário das concentrações médias (que retirou os fins-de-semana e os dias de precipitação registados entre 24 e 28 de Setembro, uma vez que a precipitação actua como “”lavagem” da atmosfera que reduz naturalmente os níveis de poluição”, registando mudanças não só nos valores, mas também no perfil de concentrações. Assim, antes da intervenção na rotunda do Marquês de Pombal, os maiores níveis de concentração de partículas ocorriam entre as 20h e as 23h, com valores a rondar os 65 µg/m³ (microgramas por metro cúbico) durante este intervalo.

Depois das alterações registou-se uma diminuição média de 20 µg/m³, nunca tendo ultrapassado os registos anteriores. O pico de concentração passou a ser entre as 8h e as 13h, e não entre as horas de ponta da manhã e da tarde.

No que respeita aos níveis de dióxido de azoto, o período de pico actual ultrapassa os valores anteriores. No período precedente às obras no Marquês de Pombal, o pico ocorria por volta das 17h, com valores que ultrapassavam os 100 µg/m³. Depois da nova rotunda, o valor mais alto alterou-se para o período compreendido entre as 6h as 8h, ultrapassando os valores anteriores em igual período, mas nunca a linha dos 100 µg/m³.

O estudo observou também outras zonas para além da Avenida da Liberdade, para determinar se esta diminuição na poluição atmosférica será local (e por isso relacionada com as alterações na circulação da rotunda e área circundante) ou se a diminuição seria generalizada. Assim, analisaram-se as estações de monitorização da qualidade do ar dos Olivais e de Entrecampos. Ambas apresentaram uma redução das partículas inaláveis e dos níveis de dióxido de azoto. “Se olharmos para os dados em bruto houve uma redução nos Olivais, Entrecampos e na zona da Avenida. No entanto, se filtrarmos esses valores [correspondentes aos níveis de dióxido de azoto] e os analisarmos retirando-lhes os dias em que ocorreu precipitação e os fins-de-semana, a redução limita-se à Avenida, o que pode significar que há uma relação com as obras que abrangeram não só o Marquês e o novo regime de circulação na Avenida da Liberdade”, esclarece Pedro Gomes, do Departamento de Ciências e Engenharia do Ambiente, e um dos autores no estudo, em relação aos níveis de dióxido de azoto.

Pedro Gomes alerta ainda que esta análise tem um carácter muito preliminar e que carece “dos dados de tráfego rodoviário registados nesta zona e da validação dos dados de qualidade do ar parte da Comissão de Coordenação e Desenvolvimento Regional de Lisboa e Vale do Tejo, gestora da rede de monitorização de qualidade do ar”, acrescentando que deverá ser feito um novo estudo, “talvez em Dezembro, altura em que haverá um balanço da câmara desta experiência”. O estudo já foi enviado para a câmara.

Autor: Liliana Pascoal Borges
Fonte: Ecosfera



A prototype of an electric motorcycle, which has a gyro stabilization system. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)

SAN FRANCISCO — Zipping around on a motorcycle can be fun, but being in a downpour or an accident on one is not. Driving a car is safer and more comfortable, but traffic and parking can be annoying.

What if you got rid of the bad parts of both?

You might end up with something like the C-1, an electric motorcycle that looks as if it came out of the movie “Tron.” For protection, the bike is encased in a metal shell, and it is controlled like a car, with a steering wheel and foot pedals. Two big gyroscopes under the floor are designed to keep it from tipping over, even when a car hits it from the side. The C-1’s top speed is 120 miles an hour, and it can travel 200 miles on a full charge.

A small start-up called Lit Motors is developing the C-1 in a three-story warehouse here. Its 33-year-old chief executive, Daniel Kim, was tinkering with a biodiesel sport utility vehicle eight years ago when a 500-pound chassis nearly crushed him. The experience got him thinking about cutting out the bulk.

“Most people drive alone,” Mr. Kim said in an interview. “Why not cut the car in half? I was really into bicycles at that time and I thought, Why can’t we have the efficiency of a bicycle and motorcycle but all the amenities of a car?”

Fully electric vehicles have long been a dream among environmentalists and technologists, but companies have found it hard to deliver affordable and practical vehicles to the mass market. One of the biggest names in this field is Tesla Motors, which makes expensive sports cars and has had trouble increasing manufacturing.

But Lit Motors, which has just 10 people on staff, thinks it can bring the benefits of an electric vehicle even to those who aren’t rich. Mr. Kim says his motorcycle will be money-saving, safe to drive and simple to build.

The main culprit in the high price of electric vehicles is the battery, said Dan Sperling, a professor of civil engineering and environmental science and policy at the University of California, Davis and director of its Institute of Transportation Studies. Unlike computer chips and digital storage, which have improved rapidly while dropping in price, battery technology has made slow progress, he said, so vehicle batteries are still bulky and pricey.

The other challenge, Dr. Sperling said, is that most people are not ready to embrace electric vehicles yet. Consumers could be nervous about the reliability and maintenance of such an expensive purchase — buggy software, for example, could lead to more serious consequences than it would on something like a smartphone. That’s why many auto companies have stuck to making hybrid vehicles, which use both gas and electricity and are more affordable, easier to produce and more familiar to drivers.

“It’s not like when you buy an iPhone and you throw it out or don’t use it as much when it gets old,” Dr. Sperling said. “Unlike an iPhone or Windows system, it can’t crash — it has to perform with high reliability all the time.”

Mr. Kim, who dropped out of Reed College and the University of California, Berkeley and later studied industrial design at the Rhode Island School of Design, has plans to overcome those obstacles. The motorcycle is lighter than a car so its batteries can be smaller and cheaper. And to improve reliability, the system is equipped with more components than it actually needs, Mr. Kim said.

The C-1’s secret weapons are the gyroscopes that allow it to balance itself, similar to the approach used in the Segway scooter. In a video, the company shows the bike remaining upright as a car yanks it from the side. Only one gyroscope is needed to maintain balance, but there are always two running; each gyroscope has redundant computer chips, controllers and sensors, so if any one of those fails, there are extras to back it up.

The bike is made up of 2,200 parts, or one-tenth the number in the average car, which should make it easier to mass-produce, Mr. Kim said. He plans to start manufacturing the motorcycle in the United States.

There are two main target markets for the vehicle, said Ryan James, chief marketing officer for Lit Motors: motorcyclists between 45 and 60 years old who are concerned about safety but don’t want to give up their two-wheeler and younger commuters who live in urban or suburban areas where driving a car can be a bother or feel wasteful.

Still, Mr. Kim’s start-up, which is on a hiring spree, faces some tough hurdles. So far it has raised just $720,000 from early investors and another $80,000 from family and friends. It will have to get people to buy a vehicle they haven’t had a chance to drive or even see in real life — and spend some serious money on it. Each motorcycle will cost $24,000 for the first production run of 1,000 in 2014, Mr. Kim said, and he hopes to bring the price down to $14,000 by around 2016, putting it in the range of a nice Ducati motorcycle or an entry-level car like a Honda Fit.

The company is already taking early orders and down payments on its Web site. About 250 people have signed up.

Mr. Kim said the company plans to team up with car dealerships in California, San Francisco and Los Angeles, in addition to selling the bikes online. And next summer, Mr. James will be driving an early version of the electric motorcycle to college campuses and conventions to show it to people and let them test-drive it. The company is also working on smartphone apps so C-1 owners can be part of their own social network.

Mr. Kim has his doubters. Kevin See, an analyst with Lux Research, which studies electric vehicles and alternative energy, said the motorcycle might appeal only to a small niche, and the initial price tag would be much higher than most people were willing to pay for a two-wheel vehicle. There are also plenty of more affordable vehicles on the market that perform well and already have a trusted brand, he said.

“It’s very tough to roll out a vehicle of any kind with such a significant price premium versus an incumbent,” he said. Mr. See said the C-1 reminded him of Aptera Motors, a start-up that tried to sell a futuristic car but went out of business in December. (Steve Fambro, a founder of Aptera, is listed as one of Lit’s technical advisers.)

Dr. Sperling of the University of California said the biggest challenge for Mr. Kim would be finding buyers for the vehicle and then finding the means to deliver it.

“He’s got some clever ideas, and it really comes down to questions that all these companies face, and that is can they find a market for the product, and can they actually do the manufacturing in an efficient and effective way?” Dr. Sperling said.

Still, he said he was optimistic about the company’s chances.

“There are people who want to do something to save the world, make a contribution to it, do something both in terms of energy and climate,” he said. “If it’s cool and good for the world, you’ve got a winner.”

Author: Brian X. Chen
Source: The New York Times


Segundo o Banco Mundial, valores atingiram US$ 3,5 trilhões; órgão faz apelo para que governos incluam gestão de riscos de desastres em programas de investimento.

O Banco Mundial e o Governo do Japão estão pedindo mais esforços para a que a gestão de riscos de desastres seja incluída em políticas nacionais de desenvolvimento.

O apelo foi feito, na quarta-feira, durante uma conferência na cidade japonesa de Sendai, atingida no ano passado pelo terremoto e o tsunami.


Segundo o Banco Mundial, as perdas econômicas causadas por desastres naturais triplicaram nos últimos 30 anos, alcançando US$ 3,5 trilhões, ou cerca de R$ 7 trilhões.

O presidente do Banco Mundial, Jim Yong Kim, alertou para a “necessidade de uma cultura de prevenção”. Ele destacou que o planejamento pode ajudar países a reduzir danos e perdas de vida, além da prevenção custar menos do que a ajuda de emergência.


Nos últimos 10 anos, o Banco Mundial financiou US$ 18 bilhões para estratégias relacionadas aos desastres naturais, em 92 países.

A diretora-gerente do Fundo Monetário Internacional, FMI, também participou do encontro no Japão.

Segundo Christine Lagarde, um novo estudo do FMI mostra que 700 desastres naturais foram registrados nos últimos dois anos, afetando 450 milhões de pessoas.

Autor: Leda Letra
Fonte: Instituto CarbonoBrasil / Radio ONU


The effects of the Midwest drought on prices for corn, meat and poultry are showing up on restaurant menus. Small eateries are being hit hardest.

Dan Horton, left, Anthony White and Richard Navarro have lunch in August at Smokin’ Jonny’s BBQ in Gardena. Owner Jon Sekiguchi says he’s selling beef ribs only on the weekends, when customers are more willing to splurge. He also says he’s struggling to find affordable beef sausage for his $6.95 smoked sausage sandwich. (Francine Orr, Los Angeles Times / October 14, 2012)

Smokin’ Jonny’s BBQ opened less than a year ago, but pricey corn on the cob has already disappeared from the menu.

Rising beef prices are causing owner Jon Sekiguchi headaches as well. His Gardena restaurant sells beef ribs only on the weekends, when customers are more willing to splurge. And he’s struggling to find affordable beef sausage for his $6.95 smoked sausage sandwich.

Scorching weather this summer in the Midwest left crops parched and livestock famished. Restaurants, already struggling with high fuel costs and a sluggish economy, are starting to feel the pinch of higher food costs.

“It’s a tough one,” Sekiguchi sighed. “I didn’t want to sell corn for $3 when I used to charge $1.50. And it used to be better quality too.”

Commodity prices were increasing even before the dry spell. Economists say even bigger hikes are ahead as the poor U.S. harvest ripples through the food chain.

Now fast-food giants, fancy eateries and even corner coffee shops are scrambling to adjust. The cost of food rivals labor as the top expense for most restaurants. Restaurateurs are revamping menus, reducing portion sizes and even considering staff cuts. In the months to come, they say, watch for smaller steaks, fewer tortillas per entree and maybe even menu-wide price increases.

Customers are already seeing a change. Gina Grad, a radio network content producer, said she’s noticing smaller servings, steeper bills and thinner crowds at the trendy restaurants in her Los Feliz neighborhood, where organic and locally grown ingredients reign.

The “only good thing” to come out of it: “The number of people out to brunch on weekends is down,” said Grad, 34. “You can finally get a table in less than an hour.”

Actor Chase Edmondson, 22, of North Hollywood, said he’s taken to ordering kids meals to combat menu shock.

“It’s kind of ridiculous when you’re getting a hamburger for $12,” Edmondson said.

Restaurant prices have been rising for more than a year. Wholesale food costs rocketed 8.1% last year, the largest jump in more than three decades. The Olive Garden’s Never-Ending Pasta Bowl, offered at $8.95 for the last five years, jumped to $9.95 in late August, partly because of higher food costs.

And this summer, a Big Mac cost $4.33 on average in the U.S., up from $4.20 in January and $4.07 a year earlier, according to the popular Big Mac index compiled by the Economist.

Those increases will continue, but at a faster pace.

The price of corn — a key component in livestock feed and an ingredient in powdered sugar, salad dressing, soda and more — catapulted 60% in early summer. A British trade group recently predicted “a world shortage of pork and bacon next year,” which most analysts interpreted to mean that higher prices are ahead.

In the meantime, chickens and turkeys are getting more expensive just in time for the holidays. Already, chicken prices are up 5.3% from a year earlier, while the cost of turkey and other poultry is up 6.9%. Eggs cost 18% more in September than they did a year earlier.

Zacky Farms in Fresno, one of the country’s largest turkey producers, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this month, blaming the rocketing price of animal feed.

Buffalo Wild Wings, the popular chicken wing chain based in Minneapolis, recently told analysts that it’s boosting menu prices by an average of 4% in its company-owned stores to help offset soaring wing costs.

Analysts expect overall food costs to rise 5% to 20% by the end of the year — a painful squeeze for businesses that, even in the most prosperous times, operate on tight margins with little room to maneuver.

“If the cost of the food goes up that much, it can pretty much wipe out their profit,” said John Davie, chief executive of food service partnership Dining Alliance. “Restaurants will be forced to look at everything from the phone bill to payroll to food costs to how they negotiate with vendors.”

Many big chains have avoided hefty menu price hikes thanks to long-term deals with their suppliers. It’s the little guys who are getting hammered hardest, said Don Krueger, an analyst at Motley Fool.

“Sophisticated large guys can hedge far into the future,” Krueger said. “The smaller mom-and-pop restaurants are going to get hit with the drought very shortly.”

Michael Colmaire, co-owner of Chicken Lady Cafe & Catering in Beverly Hills, said he’s loath to raise menu prices in a tough economy. But he can’t rule it out either.

“We’ll do everything we can up to our limit,” Colmaire said. “But we can’t sabotage our business and obviously we can’t work for free.

In lieu of price increases, some restaurants are scrimping on portions or dropping the extras — but many customers are noticing. Some are venting their frustration on social media.

Fast-food lover Sabrina Hartwell of Hesperia said she’s finding burgers with smaller, drier patties and fewer pickles and fries. “There aren’t as many specials anymore,” the 18-year-old said. “And when they’re available, they’re not as cheap.”

Brentwood restaurant consultant Kian Abedini said more eateries are turning to small plates and tapas dishes to save money. He’s noticing cheaper cuts of meat such as skirt and flank steaks on menus, along with more curry and rice dishes. Pickled items are showing up as well — they’re in vogue and less expensive than fresh foods, Abedini said.

Sherman Oaks real estate agent Jonathan Cohen, 46, said he, like other consumers, will be watching menu prices carefully.

“Eating out used to be much more automatic and spontaneous,” he said. “Now it’s more a point of discussion.”

Author: Tiffany Hsu
Source: Los Angeles Times


Reprodução/You Tube

São Paulo – Você pode nunca ter pensado em dirigir um carro-inseto, mas a montadora japonesa Toyota resolveu, mesmo assim, criar um quatro-rodas que se aproxime ao máximo disso: o carro verde Smart Insect. Com portas que abrem para o alto, tamanho compacto pensado só para um ocupante e os faróis redondinhos, que lembram um olho, o visual desse carango remete rapidamente a um bichinho. Para fazer jus à vocação ecológica, o modelo é totalmente movido a eletricidade, tendo zero emissão de poluentes. Não para aí.

O carro elétrico é quase um inseto de estimação: ele possui sensores de movimento, reconhecimento de voz e sistemas de previsão de movimento do dono. Detalhe: a partida é dada automaticamente depois que o rosto do dono é reconhecido. Inclusive, o termo “Insect” justifica-se por algo que vai além da sua forma , significando “information network social electric city transporter”, algo como “transporte elétrico para a cidade ligado a uma rede de informação”. O protótipo foi apresentado no começo do mês na feira de tecnologia Ceatec Japan 2012. Veja um vídeo do YouTube com mais imagens do modelo clicando na foto ao lado (o processo de reconhecimento é mostrado a partir dos 45 segundos).

Autor: Vanessa Barbosa
Fonte: Exame


Germany’s switch to renewable energies is getting expensive. (dapd)

Germany’s switch to renewable energies is driving up electricity bills across the country, with a green technology surcharge set to rise by nearly 50 percent next year. With frustration over the high price tag, it promises to become a key issue in next year’s election campaign.

Germany’s four leading electrical grid operators — RWE, E.ON, Vattenfall and EnBW — announced on Monday that they would be hiking by 47 percent the charge to consumers that goes into financing subsidies for producers of renewable energy. For the time being, solar, wind and biomass power make up a quarter of the country’s electricity supply but are set to account for 80 percent by 2050.

Germany’s status as a global leader in clean energy technology has often been attributed to the population’s willingness to pay a surcharge on power bills.
But now that surcharge for renewable energy is to rise to 5.5 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) in 2013 from 3.6 in 2012. For an average three-person household using 3,500 kWh a year, the 47 percent increase amounts to an extra €185 on the annual electricity bill.

Consumer Priorities

The steep rise in the surcharge is likely to trigger debate about the cost to consumers of Berlin’s energy revolution, a drastic energy policy reversal triggered by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in Japan.

Known as the Energiewende, the shift to a sustainable energy supply based on renewable energies and the phasing out of nuclear energy by 2022 has evolved into one of the top priorities of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government.

With costs associated with that energy revolution now spiralling, however, it is likely to become a central issue ahead of next fall’s general elections. According to a recent poll conducted by Emnid, Germans are more interested in affordable electricity than in the nuclear phase-out. Now faced with the bill for the switchover, consumers may start to withdraw their support.

Sharing the Costs

“For many households, the increased surcharge is affordable,” energy expert Claudia Kemfert from the German Institute for Economic Research told AFP. “But the costs should not be carried solely by private households.”

But experts have pointed out that with many energy-intensive major industries either exempt from the tax or paying a reduced rate, the costs of the energy revolution are unfairly distributed.

Last week, Environment Minister Peter Altmaier unveiled a complex roadmap aimed at holding costs in check. But according to the German Federal Association for Energy and Water Management (BDEW), further expenses are still in store for consumers.

Meanwhile, the German Federal Association of Renewable Energies (BEE) maintains that not even half the surcharge goes into subsidies for green energy. “The rest is plowed into industry, compensating for falling prices on the stock markets and low revenue from the surcharge this year,” BEE President Dietmar Schütz told the influential weekly newspaper Die Zeit.

Coalition Differences

As election year looms, the surcharge is also causing tension between Merkel’s Christian Democrats and their junior partners, the Free Democrats.
Economics Minister Philipp Rösler called for a “rapid change to energy policy” in response to the network operators’ announcement. He stressed that the switch to renewable energies must be economically viable and described the new surcharge as “an alarming signal.”

Speaking to the Passauer Neue Presse at the weekend, he put the case for a reduced energy tax, only for the environment minister to reject the suggestion in an interview on Monday with public broadcaster ZDF. “I am not convinced by the idea,” said Altmaier emphatically.

jlp/SPIEGEL/wire reports

Source: Spiegel International


Estas medidas visam garantir a normal continuidade do abastecimento de água. Foto: Pedro Cunha

A Câmara de Alijó está a implementar um plano de contingência devido à seca, cortando nos gastos de água nas regas de jardins e fontes e apelando à população para uma racionalização dos consumos.

As chuvas que caíram no Douro neste início de Outono não chegaram para repor os níveis normais de água na albufeira de Vila Chã, localizada no concelho de Alijó, distrito de Vila Real.

Precisamente por causa da falta de precipitação que se registou nos últimos meses, a autarquia alertou nesta quinta-feira para um cenário de “seca severa”.

Nesse sentido, o município, liderado pelo socialista Artur Cascarejo, está a colocar em prática um plano de contingência que tem como objectivo precaver situações que, no limite, podem levar a eventuais falhas no abastecimento de água.

A autarquia está a cortar nos consumos, nomeadamente na redução da quase totalidade das regas de jardins, fontes e demais serviços municipais.

Está também a ser feito um apelo à população, através da distribuição, pelos CTT, de desdobráveis com conselhos de poupança, e ainda através das juntas de freguesias e dos padres, que na hora da missa irão alertar também para o uso mais sensato deste bem.

O objectivo é “sensibilizar, aconselhar e alertar a população para a importância da redução do consumo de água”.

Estas medidas e alertas visam, de acordo com a autarquia, “garantir a normal continuidade do abastecimento de água às populações, procurando estimular a redução do consumo, de modo a não se atingir um ponto de ruptura no sistema que impedisse o normal abastecimento de água”.

Autor: Lusa
Fonte: Ecosfera / Público


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