Thursday, July 14, 2011

TED Talk: Paul Nicklen - "Taes of ice-bound wonderlands"

I think it's possible that if everybody was as passionate as Paul Nicklen is about the marine life that lives among the Antarctic polar ice, the world would have a lot fewer problems.

"Five-hundred bucks" - Superpoop

"Taxing the Rich" - Toothpaste for Dinner

Charlie Wittmack

"A FEW DAYS before he begins the push toward the summit of Mount Everest, during some of the monotonous downtime at base camp, Charlie sits in a tent with Brian Block, one of his climbing partners, and the two explore life’s bigger questions: Why are we here? What’s the purpose? And what does it mean to truly live?"

Human limits continue to be tested. Charlie Wittmack is the only person ever to have completed the "World Tri": swim the English channel (275 miles), bike from France to the Bay of Bengal (9000 miles), then run to the foot hills of Everest before climbing to the summit (950 miles). Incredible. Read the rest of the story HERE.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Petrol or bust

In Malawi, gasoline costs around 290 Kwacha per liter. At a rate of 150 kwacha per dollar, this is approximately $8 per gallon. Today, my colleague who was planning to drive me to a village on the outskirts of town called at the last minute to say that he couldn't drive me because he couldn't find a petrol station anywhere in town that had gasoline for purchase. Not a drop.

In Malawi, people will walk 10k to work if they can't afford to pay the rising prices of mini-bus transport (private minivan taxis). There is no public transportation in Malawi, so, if you have to get to work, but can't afford transport, you simply walk or you ride your bicycle.

The reason that gasoline is so cheap in the U.S. (relative to sub-Saharan Africa) is that there is a heavy tax on petroleum products in the latter's case. By imposing a tax on gasoline, the government forces people to ration gasoline to preserve their bank accounts. It's treated as a limited resource there as opposed to in the U.S., where we act as if the world has an unlimited supply.

At $4 per gallon, would you still insist on driving your car? Or are there more affordable ways for you to get around? With our national debt and trade deficits looking worse every year, perhaps taxes on resources such as gasoline (not to mention additional taxes on fast food and soft drinks) are something our government should consider? Hell, it might even motivate you dust off your old bike...

NOTE: correction made on 7/8/2011. Price of gasoline in Malawi is 290MK per liter, meaning the price per gallon is nearly $8.