22 Mar 2012

More impressions from Marseille

Brazilian work ethic
  1. The Brazilians had the best booth in the Pavillion -- excellent espresso, cappuccino and caipirinhas -- all of them free!

  2. The Chinese had "presence" with their booth. It may have been the second largest (after France), but its central location made it stand out. (The other BRIC countries -- Russia and India -- were either absent or invisible.)

  3. I went to a discussion of desalination in Gaza. Although it's clear that they need desalination as a water source (since their aquifer will be depleted in 7-10 years), I worry about the Palestinian president's insistence that the Palestinian Authority should control the $500 million budget for this project. Given the PA's reputation for corruption, it would seem wiser to entrust the money to a build-operate-transfer contract signed with an international operator. Too much corruption would lead to massive problems as water ran out. This video presents the Palestinian position.

  4. Isn't it interesting that both energy plants and water infrastructure are both so long lived that it's hard to predict how they will be used in 50 years, and yet politicians insist on having a greater role in the construction and operations of water facilities? Is that because "there's no substitute" for water? I'm not sure about that, but I AM sure that politicians can screw up both, e.g., the German government's hasty decision to shut down its well-run nuclear plants in a populist response to Fukushima.