Wednesday, November 10, 2010

MOP-22 Report

Our Twenty-second Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in short, MOP-22 convened for its second day in Bangkok, Thailand,yesterday.

In the morning, delegates considered the special situation of Haiti and compliance and reporting issues. The co-chairs also led delegates through a review of the agenda and decisions to be forwarded to the high-level segment.

Plenary was adjourned mid-morning to allow contact groups on QPS, ODS destruction, the ToR for the evaluation of the financial mechanism, as well as the Budget Committee to convene throughout the day.

Our plenary reconvened at 7 pm in the evening and heard updates from contact and informal groups and we ended around 9 pm. It was a tiring day. None of the contact groups which met in the afternoon did not complete their work. And we only have today for the final day of the preparatory segment. Tomorrow is the start of the high level segment.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The State of the World's Ozone Layer

Greetings from Bangkok. I am here to lead the Brunei's delegation to the 22nd Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The meeting is held at the United Nations Building in Bangkok from 8th to 12th November 2010.

Yesterday was the first day of the meeting. The first three days are the preparatory meeting at senior officials level and the last two days will be the high level or ministerial level meeting.

What is the Montreal Protocol and what does it do to us in Brunei?

The Montreal Protocol is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion. It is believed that if the international agreement is adhered to, the ozone layer is expected to recover by 2050. This is probably one of the best example of international cooperation. More than 196 countries have ratified it. It helps everyone in the world including all of us in Brunei and our future generation by saving the ozone layer.

What is the 22nd Meeting all about?

The meeting continues on ensuring previous progress and reporting it on any problems that existed in ensuring all the ODS (ozone depleting substances) will be wiped out according to the schedule agreed by everyone. There are several groups of these halogenated hydrocarbons that have been shown to play a role in ozone depletion. All of these ozone depleting substances contain either chlorine or bromine.

Since the Montreal Protocol came into effect, the atmospheric concentrations of the most important chlorofluorocarbons and related chlorinated hydrocarbons have either leveled off or decreased.

However with the level of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) going down, the level of Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) as substitutes to the CFCs have gone up.

Unfortunately, HCFCs, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), are now thought to contribute to anthropogenic global warming. On a molecule-for-molecule basis, these compounds are up to 10,000 times more potent greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide. The Montreal Protocol currently calls for a complete phase-out of HCFCs by 2030, but does not place any restriction on HFCs.

Since the CFCs themselves are equally powerful as greenhouse gases, the mere substitution of HFCs for CFCs does not significantly increase the rate of anthropogenic global warming, but over time a steady increase in their use could increase the danger that human activity will change the climate.

Policy experts have advocated for increased efforts to link ozone protection efforts to climate protection efforts. Policy decisions in one arena affect the costs and effectiveness of environmental improvements in the other.

If you are able to go through those technical CFCs, HCFCs and the HFCs, well done. So the argument in the meeting now is should the Montreal Protocol now control HFCs as well? The meeting was divided yesterday, some arguing that HFCs are not ODS, we should not discuss it in this forum but to discuss it in the Climate Change forum. Some argued that since the Climate Change froum since Copenhagen last year did not get anywhere, we should discuss it in the Montreal forum. The argument over the next four days will be along this line.

The fact we are discussing it, already shows we are now at the crossroads. I do hope the world finds which lane to go for. One delegation cannot change this but the whole world can.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Faster RPN Housing

Yesterday morning, together with the Director of Housing Development, took a stock on how construction is going on in the various packages which we have awarded to several contractors. Altogether there are like 6 different main contractors building around 1,931 houses in the Meragang area plus about 800+s in the Tanah Jambu. They are all due for completion by next year or 2012.

Next year we will see a bumper crop of housing. Together with the 2,000 houses in Pandan built by BEDB plus our smaller projects in Rimba, there should be more than 4,000 families receiving their houses. For the Belait District, it should cover applicants quite close to the year 2000 but for applicants in Brunei/Muara District, these houses in Meragang will bring in 1993 and 1994 applicants.

The houses are built much faster now due to technology changes. Previously, you would see contractors building the tiang, the beams etc before laying the bricks. We learnt which is fast and the one built by Bina Puri in Pandan did not use much bricks for the side walls but uses a plastic formwork. Instead of using bricks, the side walls are literally concrete with reinforced bars in the middle. When they poured the concrete in, the plastic formwork became the mould. With this method, time is slashed.

For the houses in Tanah Jambu currently being built by Adinin, the contractors are using similar methods but instead of using plastic formwork, they use aluminium formwork. Another company building our housing in Sungai Liang which is SKS is also using aluminium formwork. As a result the government is also building houses at a much faster rate.

This is what the formwork look like while waiting for the concrete to be poured in. The house looked as if it is encased in steel.

Once the cements are dry, they take off the formwork and goes to the next house to build the next house.

The major difference between Adinin and Bina Puri is the thickness of the walls in between the terrace houses. In Pandan, it is about 100 mm thick (4 inches) but for Tanah Jambu, it is about 125 mm thick (5 inches). Brick walls are normally 6 inches thick.

And the inevitable group photo at the end of the visit.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Time Traveler?

I was very intrigued when I read a news article about a film-maker believes he has found evidence of time travel in footage from a Charlie Chaplin film premiere shot in 1928. You can go to youtube or the still as above.

George Clarke, from Belfast, says he has been puzzled for more than a year by the film which appears to show a woman talking on a mobile phone. He has posted the video on YouTube where it has notched up more than 2.2 million hits in just ten days, reports the BBC. Mr Clarke was checking the extras on a Chaplin DVD box-set and began watching a clip of the 1928 Hollywood premiere of The Circus.

"As I sat back to watch it I realised in the first 30 seconds there's a lady strolling by with her hand up to her ear which looked quite familiar in today's society," he said.

"So I wound it back and watched it again, zoomed it in and slowed it down and got other people in to check it out. Everybody had the same reaction - it looks like she's talking on a mobile phone."

He has since showed the clip to a number of people, including the audience of a Belfast film festival but says no-one has been able to provide an explanation. Since posting it on Youtube, the clip has provoked nearly 18,000 comments, divided between those who believe in the possibility of time travel, and that someone also pointed out that this is not an uncommon item in 1920s.
A quick check at Siemens website that in 1924, Siemens had a patent for a compact, pocket size carbon microphone and the photograph of a middle aged man holding which looked like a mobile phone in 1924 which looked like this:-

According to the Siemens website, for a while, the carbon amplifier patented by Siemens played a major role in hearing aid technology and significantly raised the volume of hearing aids.

The electrical energy controlled by the carbon microphone was not fed to the receiver directly. It first drove the diaphragm of an electromagnetic system connected to a carbon-granule chamber. Current was transmitted across this chamber from the vibrating diaphragm electrode to the fixed electrode plate.

The amplified current produced mechanical vibrations in the electromagnetic hearing diaphragm that were then transmitted to the ear as sound.
Which do you believe?

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