Green Nation Fest

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Thanks to heavy traffic and our confusion in the subway, we missed Amy Miller , who is the director of the documentary The Carbon Rush and was the first speaker yesterday at the Museu Nacional. In Quinta Boa Vista, zona norte Rio de Janeiro, the Museu Nacional is hosting seminars as a part of the ongoing Green Nation Fest. It’s actually easy to find if you take the subway and get off at the São Cristóvão stop.
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When we finally arrived, we were two hours early for the second seminar of the day so we walked around the exhibits set up in another section.

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Museu Nacional
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I unfortunately can’t say much about that part of the Green Nation Fest. This is due mostly to the fact the I didn’t really get to see/experience most of the more exciting sounding exhibits. They all had extremely long lines and we didn’t have that much time. What I did see included the shops tent, the bathrooms and the pastel and espetinhos/ yakisoba tent (both were good). Even though I didn’t see the exhibits, long lines are a great sign and all of the people exiting seemed pleased.

In the shop tent, hung on the walls, I saw these:
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The people are made of recycled/reused materials

When it was time, we headed back to the Museu National and found our seats in the auditorium.

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First we saw Kevin Bone and his lecture on Deep Water Drilling and Fossil Fuel Extraction. Among other things, he warned about the possible dangers of deep water drilling for pre-sal in Brazil and unreported oil spills that are occurring in the Campos and Santos basins.

As the oil industry booms in Brazil and more and more deep water drilling sites are springing up, the statistics rise for possible accidents. The depth of the drilling for pre-sal (some estimates place it at upwards of 17,000 feet deep) also make a future cleanup, should there be a massive deep spill, a very difficult endeavor. You can see more about pre-sal and offshore drilling in my post, A Bubblin Crude…Oil that is .

My opinion…

As I mentioned in my previous post, oil and oil exploration is booming in Brazil. From our brief time in Angra, I had a chance to see this phenomena up close. I mingled with and befriended (or they befriended me really) foreign workers. Among other nationalities, they were, American, Canadian, British, Norwegian, Dutch and Mexican. They worked as engineers, technicians, various types of specialists, naval architects, project mangers, quality control managers and translators.

It seemed to take a lot of people to merely get a rig into the water, much less run the ports, drill, filter and then finally transport the oil. These are major operations that require thousands of people for the overall production, including the people who operate the port, translators, human resource mangers and environmental technicians. That’s a lot of jobs and a lot of people working, at least for a short time.

From talking to the English speaking workers, especially the higher ups, I learned that they were earning for the most part, quite a bit of money. Actually it was so much money in some cases that they didn’t know what to with it all. This isn’t necessarily true for those lower on the chain of command, but it is still employment. They are jobs (something a lot of Americians these days would love to have) and a lot of these people are working very hard. Most people that I met (including the higher ups) worked 12 hour shifts, seven days a week. How they managed to still go out and mingle at night amazed me.

It is a boom.

I asked one of the American workers, who had become my friend in Angra, if Brazil was the new Texas and without blinking an eye he responded, “Yes”.

Brazilians also know this. The news is full of new places where oil is being discovered offshore and the bright future of the oil industry. They theorize what this could mean for Brazil. As an emerging economy, this boom could be a possible game changer for the country. Brazil, is as many have argued, a country that wants to be taken seriously. As threats of possible global oil shortages mount, by producing more and more oil themselves, Brazil could leverage the power they need to become an even more prominent and influential global power…a serious country.

It is also very important to take into account that even though Brazil has made tremendous strides in the production and use of sugar cane ethanol, a bio and not fossil fuel, US tariffs (which were lifted only in December) did much to hamper the growing enterprise in terms of export. Brazil was in some ways forced to look elsewhere to finds fuels to export globally for profit.

They haven’t only been looking to oil and natural gas. WIND AND SOLAR ENERGY IN BRAZIL: UNDERSTANDING THE HOW AND WHY (BY ERIC LONSTEIN AND TODD WINTNER) (a post on the wonderfully informative Rio Matters that I have mentioned before) discusses Brazil’s use of hydroelectric power and growing wind industry in the country.

Brazil seems to historically be on the lookout for things to use, sell, export and at times exploit. It seemed however in the last several decades that Brazil had taken a more sustainable path, without being told to do so. During the oil crisis in the 70s, Brazil made a concentrated effort to become a more energy independent nation. This lead to the building of dams, use of hydroelectric energy and the development and use of sugarcane ethanol.

The new surge in drilling and the recent changes to the Forest code appear to possibly be backward steps but should not overshadow all of the remarkable progress Brazil has made in terms of environmental stewardship.

Getting back to the lecture…

Mr. Bone was very careful to walk the fine line of warning about what could happen in Brazil, by using the BP spill in the Gulf as an example, without attempting to tell the Brazilians what to do. He was a good speaker and if he should come to a conference/fest your way, I recommend him and Joseph Levine.

In terms of oil and drilling in Brazil, I believe it’s a very difficult situation with the worldwide demand as the biggest part of the problem. Without demand there would be no boom to eventually bust.

Hydraulic Fracturing

Speaking of boom and bust, that leads me to the second speaker we saw yesterday, Joseph Levine. His lecture focused on the environmental hazards of Hydraulic fracturing, also know as fracking.

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Hydraulic fracturing is an extraction method for natural gas, that is on the rise in the United States. By using massive amounts of natural water reserves and pumping back out chemical filled waste that can only be dumped and never used again, fracking appears to be the opposite of a sustainable process. Natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel but the means of it’s extraction seem to totally negate it’s benefits of use. The water and the waste aren’t the only problems with fracking. Read more at the website for the film Gasland’s Hydraulic Fracturing FAQs.

Josh Fox, the director of the film Gasland was supposed to be a speaker at Green Nation yesterday but sadly it was not meant to be for us. It’s okay. We were told he couldn’t make it because he’s busy working on Gasland 2, which the world needs. If you haven’t seen the first Gasland, I highly recommend it.

There is fracking now is Brazil. It doesn’t seem to be on the scale of the American companies yet, but, as Mr. Levine’s aerial before and after shots showed, these things tend to multiply like bunny rabbits (think Night of the Lepus type bunnies). They start out in remote areas and before you know it they’re everywhere and the water supply is depleted and tainted. We can’t live without water. Seriously, if you’re interested or alarmed by this, please watch Gasland.

Okay, so that’s my long-winded (as usual) wrap-up of our day yesterday at Green Nation Fest. I am really glad that I got the opportunity to attend and am eagerly awaiting Gasland 2′s release.

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