Thursday, January 10, 2013

Chevy Volt Electric Vehicle

US Car manufacturer General Motors released Chevrolet Volt several years ago. It is an electric car but can also run on gas. Today, this plug-in hybrid car is considered as one of the most fuel efficient vehicles that help car owners save money and emit less CO2 gases into the air. Instead of turning a key, a driver pushes the blue power button of the car to start it. Similar to the hybrid Toyota Prius, this Chevy Volt can generate electricity when the driver hit the brake at a traffic light. This Chevy Volt has got lithium-ion battery pack to store energy. According to its official website, when the battery is fully charged, it can run to up to 38 miles. The range can be extended to 380 miles with the help of internal combustion engine that uses gasoline. This Chevy Volt car is manufactured in Michigan. Engineers who design the compact car realize that gasoline is still needed to extend its range.


Another electric vehicle that is attracting people's attention is the Tesla Model S Performance. The manufacturer of this expensive luxury sedan is  based in Palo Alto, California. Even though it is relatively a new car manufacturer, having been founded in 2003, its Roadster, Model S and Model X enter the market when people are looking for vehicles that are environmentally friendly and free from fossil fuel. If the electricity for charging the cars is generated from renewable energy, these cars will definitely be considered as the most preferred transport vehicles.
Unfortunately, around half of the electrical energy supply in the USA is still generated from coal that creates more pollution to the atmosphere. Americans are trying to reduce their dependency on fossil fuel that is mostly imported from the Middle East. Department of Energy of the USA is giving incentives and grants to research institutes and energy companies to develop biofuel and/or build power plants that use renewable energy. The most promising projects are the Concentrated Solar Power Plants in Mojave Desert. One of them is the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) built and run by an Israeli company BrightSource.
Even though electric vehicles do not directly emit CO2 gases, the source of energy that is used to recharge the battery may still come from fossil fuels. In addition, after ten to fifteen years of operation, the batteries cannot be used anymore. These spent batteries contain toxic materials that are harmful to the environment. They have to be recycled.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Magnificent Birds of Paradise

by Charles Roring
Magnificent Birds of Paradise (Cicinnurus magnificus) live in the mountain range of Arfak. Birdwatchers from around the world go to Manokwari city to see the birds. Male bird clears ground by picking up fallen leaves and twigs among the tropical shrubs to attract the female magnificent birds of paradise. They eat red fruit (Pandanus connoideus). In the mornings and in the afternoons, they gather at their dancing grounds where male birds show their beautiful feather. Each adult male bird makes his own dancing ground to attract the female birds. When the sun rises, each male will call the females.
When they come, the male bird will expand his feather and play his antennas. The best place to watch the Magnificent Birds of Paradise is in the villages of Kwau and Syioubri. It takes around 2 hours by 4WD pick-up truck to reach one of the villages. As a tour operator, I have guided a lot of tourists and birdwatchers on various trips both to Arfak mountains and District Senopi of West Papua to watch paradise birds and other tropical birds such as cinnamon fruit dove, lesser birds of paradise, Blyth's hornbill, sulphur crested cockatoo, pinon imperial pigeon, kingfishers.
It's easy to recognize the male magnificent birds of paradise. He can be identified from his green chest and two tail antennas that look like sickles. When he opens his mouth, the inside part is green. 

The female bird has got brown feather and pale blue beak. When she hears the call of a male bird, she will come to the display or dancing ground to watch his courtship dance performance.
Ecotourism is one of the ways that I promote as an alternative income generation scheme for the local people. They will be able to earn money through the selling of goods and services that they provide to tourists. Ecotourism can improve their standard of living and at the same time encourage the villagers to preserve their environment.
If you are interested in watching birds in Manokwari, and need my service in providing guided tours and arranging transportation as well as accommodation, please, contact me by e-mail: peace4wp@gmail.com. 
Note:
The above photographs were given to me by Angela Peetz (from Germany) who visited Arfak mountains in late December 2012. I arranged her birdwatching trip in the mountains.