South America

BRICS trample US in South America – Pepe Escobar

May 29, 2015

It started in April with a rash of deals between Argentina and Russia during President Cristina Kirchner’s visit to Moscow. And it continues with a $53 billion investment bang as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visits Brazil during the first stop of yet another South American commercial offensive – complete with a sweet metaphor: Li riding on a made in China subway train that will ply a new metro line in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the 2016 Olympics. Where is the US in all this? Nowhere; little by little, yet inexorably, BRICS members China – and in a smaller measure, Russia – have been no less than restructuring commerce and infrastructure all across Latin America. Countless Chinese commercial missions have been plying these shores non-stop, much as the US did between World War I and II. In a key meeting in January with Latin American business leaders, President Xi Jinping promised to channel $250 billion for infrastructure projects in the next 10 years. Top infrastructure projects in Latin America are all being financed by Chinese capital – except the Mariel port in Cuba, whose financing comes from Brazil’s BNDES and whose operation will be managed by Singaporean port operator PSA

University of Oxford finds trees inhale less carbon when they are drought – impacted

March 6, 2015

For the first time, an international research team has provided direct evidence of the rate at which individual trees in the Amazonian basin ‘inhale’ carbon from the atmosphere during a severe drought. The researchers measured the growth and photosynthesis rates of trees at 13 rainforest plots across Brazil, Peru and Bolivia, comparing plots that were affected by the strong drought of 2010 with unaffected plots. They found that while growth rates of the trees in drought-affected plots were unchanged, the rate of photosynthesis – by which trees convert carbon into energy to fuel their activities – slowed down by around 10 percent over six months. Their paper, published in the journal, Nature, concludes that trees may be channelling their more limited energy reserves into growth rather than maintaining their own health. Computer simulations of the biosphere have predicted such responses to drought, but these are the first direct observations of this effect across tropical forests. The three-year international study is the first detailed, large-scale examination of the complete carbon cycle, looking at both the growth and metabolism of forest plots at different sites across the Amazon basin. Each of the plots is one hectare and contains around 400-500 trees. The rainforest
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