Gasoline Quiz: the answer

One great thing about blogging for ZDnet, the readers here are smart. The most popular answer to my quiz was the correct one.

gasprices1.jpg

One great thing about blogging for ZDnet, the readers here are smart. The most popular answer to my quiz was the correct one. The picture of cheap gasoline above was taken at a typical suburban gas station near Quito, Ecuador. I was there on a birding trip, not to collect green tech info. But there were interesting things to note.

According to the CIA summary Ecuador is a signator of the Kyoto Protocol. In addition to being an oil exporter, it has significant hydroelectric power with its Andean terrain and heavy rainfall. The gasoline above is sold by a European corporation but there's little doubt that Ecuadorean government policy helps maintain that relatively low price.

With more than half its usual export income from oil sales, Ecuador is caught on it a oily mess. They need to exploit their oil in the Amazon Basin, that means pollution and destruction of rainforest. Meanwhile, they are building up ecotourism from North America and Europe, but that requires folks to use ever-more expensive and polluting airplanes. Meanwhile, there are private efforts to restore cloud forest in the central highlands where there was once a monoculture of cattle raising. Takes only fifteen years or so for a former pasture to become a bird-rich rain forest again. Constant rain, no frost, continuous gorwing season. Presto chango.

Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar as its official currency, making it an attractive destination for Europeans, many of whom have five weeks or more of vacation annually. The country has no real rail service and depends on diesel buses and trucks for nearly all transport. Planes are beyond the reach of most Ecuadoreans. In rural areas people depend on bottled water, in a country with no recycling programs. How many plastic bottles thrown away per captita per year? The mind boggles.

In addition to oil, Ecuador has almost unlimited hydropower with its near-vertical central spine and constant river flow down steep gorges along both the east and western slope of the Andes. There is some geothermal potential from its many volcanoes as well.

There was not widespread solar power use. But solar seems to be happening, privately, at least in the eco-lodge sector. Here's one Ecuadorean lodge trumpeting their solar program. This lodge is not far south of Quito near the tallest active volcano on earth, Cotopaxi.

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