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Articles by Shalini Ramanathan

Shalini Ramanathan is a project developer with Africa Clean Energy and is based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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  • More power to the sweet stuff

    A story in The New York Times last week reports the increasing popularity in Brazil of flex fuel vehicles that can use gasoline or ethanol interchangeably. Drivers with these snazzy cars can choose a fuel for the day's driving based on availability, price, or sheer whim. These flex fuel vehicles might have a market well beyond Brazil now that oil has hit $54 a barrel. While using ethanol as a transportation fuel won't solve all air quality problems, it can be part of the solution in many countries.

  • Final prez debate

    Just watched the final presidential debate, and I guess the environment isn't a domestic issue. I say that because it came up more in the first debate, which focused on foreign policy, than it did last night.

    Am I the only one repulsed by the cheesy question about strong women? Do compliments about Laura Bush really matter more to voters than arsenic in drinking water, global climate change, and the end of Superfund?

  • Trees for peace

    Wangari Maathai, Kenyan woman and founder of the Green Belt Movement, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In a year dominated by the grisly war in Iraq, this is a welcome reminder that disorder and destruction, not just war, are the opposite of peace. See this story for details on the awarding of the 2004 prize.

    The Green Belt Movement that Maathai founded has organized rural Kenyan women to plant and maintain twenty million trees; it has also inspired similar movements in other East African countries. Maathai drew world attention to the fact that rural African women, who spend hours each day gathering fuel wood, are disproportionately affected by deforestation. Her Green Belt Movement has been credited with creating job opportunities for thousands of rural women, as well as countering Kenya's alarming rates of deforestation. For a good summary of the Green Belt Movement's work, see this article, written by a Kenyan woman.

  • One class of chemicals is causing a cacophony of environmental problems

    To the average observer, environmental crises may seem to pop up as randomly as Starbucks franchises. Every so often, worries about a substance such as DDT or dioxin surface and, after a public outcry and tireless campaigning by environmental groups, some action is taken. In his powerful new book Pandora's Poison, Joe Thornton makes the point that many of the environmental problems that have come to light in the past 40 years are not isolated from each other at all but rather have been caused by just one class of chemicals: organochlorines.