Global Warming in Argentina - Our Part in the Matter

The Sunday magazine in Argentina's biggest newspaper dedicated its cover to the country's contribution to Global Warming. According to the publication, even though the country isn't near the developed nations levels, Argentineans contaminate more than Indians, Chinese and Brazilians. "Argentina contributes with an amount between 0,5 and 0,6 to the total greenhouse gases emissions, a laughable level compared with the 25 percent the United States emit. But on a deeper analysis, Argentineans emit per capita more than Chinese and Hindus, whose countries are in full economic development, or even more than Brazilians and Uruguayans". The report highlights that 44% of Argentinean emissions come from the agriculturist and cattle activity, and 70% of that, from the methane that the 55 millions of cows that inhabit the country exhale. According Guillermo Berra, professional from the INTA in charge of accounting the cattle industry emissions for the Kyoto protocol inventory, a way to reduce these emissions would be to change the cows feeding (since the more complicated the food is to digest, the more emissions) and improve their reproductive cycle. With measurements like that, "there could be a reduction between 10 and 20 percent of the emissions", says the expert. Soy cultivation, gas waste, dirty energy and garbage fillings are among the other Argentinean contributions. Learn about what's happening and what's being carried out (or not) to improve the situation.

Picture: Last year, Buenos Aires had one of its worst storms ever, with massive rain and hail the size of golf balls.Another important contaminant agent the article mentions is soy cultivation, one of the most important ones in Argentinean agriculture. "Soy emits nitrous oxide, which is 300 times stronger than carbon. If above that, we continue to destroy native forests, the balance is tragic", observes Osvaldo Canziani, Argentinean representative in the Inter-Governmental Panel of Experts in Climate Change from the United Nations. Of course the experts separate emissions from cultivations and food from those generated in cars and air conditioning.

Argentina is also guilty for wasting gas -which has always been abundant and cheap in the country- in stoves and thermo tanks to heat water; and for the lack of development and application of solar technologies. Besides that, there have been some experiments at the Zoo in La Plata city (capital of Buenos Aires Province) with the anaerobic fermentation of elephants and rhinoceros excrements to obtain natural gases.

In the energy business, the report says Argentina "is moving backwards in the matter of clean energy": "in the middle of the gas crisis, two years ago, we embraced the fuel-oil shipments the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, sent us; we are investing 350 millions in a carbon turbine in Rio Turbio, Sanra Cruz; while the Aeolian energy projects are stopped. In the past the country's electric matrix wasn't that bad: in the 70s and 90s hydroelectric and nuclear power stations were built, while in the last years the gas stations became more popular". The problem, says the article, also lays in the Argentinean homes, that don't use the energy in a conscious way.

Last but not least, 5% of the country's emissions correspond to garbage dumps, where methane gas is produced from waste compacting without oxygen. Though this is the same gas expelled by cows, in contrast to this one the cattle gas can be captured, as it's beginning to be done in Olavarría city, Buenos Aires province.

In 2002, in the middle of the Argentinean crisis, some businessmen had the idea to add value to the garbage by capturing the methane from the land fillings. Until now, the only thing that's taken care of is the burning of that gas, which turns it into carbon, a less corrosive gas to the atmosphere. The city is now studying if that will be turned out in electricity, heating or the industry. About 50% of that biogas plant was paid with green bonuses from the Carbon Fund created by the Kyoto Protocol.

The report highlights that possible consequences in the country could include "the drying of the Cuyo region because of the lack of snow in the mountains, the raising of temperatures up to 5 degrees in the North, and the melting of glaciers in the South". In fact, it states that 48 of the 50 glaciers are already melting.

Even though this data is not at all encouraging, the fact that the Global Warming issue got to such a massive media is in fact good news. Some Argentinean designers and entrepreneurs, as we usually report, are also joining the party, and there's another article coming in Elle Magazine in the next weeks where TreeHugger took part, so let's hope the theme grows some solid interest in society. ::Clarin full article (Spanish)

Tags: Argentina | Buenos Aires

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