Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα ecosystem. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα ecosystem. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Κυριακή, Δεκεμβρίου 21, 2014

Turistas podrían causar un desastre ecológico en la Antártida

Los ambientalistas advierten de que la creciente popularidad del turismo polar podría amenazar seriamente al ecosistema de la región: los visitantes traen bacterias patógenas, que pondrían en peligro la salud de los pingüinos de la Antártida.

Los científicos advierten que los turistas en la región polar, sin saberlo, pueden desempeñar un papel fatal en el futuro del ecosistema de la región. Junto con los visitantes, en el continente entran bacterias y virus contra los que la fauna local no tiene inmunidad, informa 'New Scientist'.

"El efecto de la creciente industria del turismo polar, así como de la presencia de los investigadores, no puede pasar desapercibida", afirma Ray Grimaldi, un investigador de la Universidad de Otago (Nueva Zelanda). Uno de los ejemplos sería la gripe aviar, que causó una epidemia y la muerte masiva en las colonias de pingüinos papúa en el 2006 y 2008.

En el verano del 2014 en la colonia de pingüinos de la costa del golfo de la Esperanza también se registró un brote de una enfermedad desconocida. A causa de esta, los pingüinos perdían las plumas y morían rápidamente.

  actualidad.rt.com/ciencias

21/12/14
 --
-

Todo sobre este tema:

Παρασκευή, Νοεμβρίου 21, 2014

Reducing use of plastic bags: MEPs strike deal with Council Presidency


EU countries would have to reduce the use of the commonest and most polluting plastic carrier bags, under draft rules informally agreed between MEPs and the Italian Presidency of the Council on Monday and confirmed by the member states’ permanent representatives on Friday. Plastic carrier bag litter is a major environmental problem, as it is known to pollute bodies of water and aquatic eco-systems in particular.


 "This is an historic moment for all of Europe. For the first time ever we have agreed on ambitious measures to reduce the amount of plastic bag waste in the environment. This is good news for the environment and all Europeans who expected the EU to take ambitious action on plastic bags”, said Margrete Auken (Greens/EFA, DK), who is steering the legislation through Parliament.

“As front-running countries have demonstrated, dramatically reducing the consumption of these disposable bags is easily achievable with a consistent policy. Swiftly phasing out these bags is a readily-implementable solution to the pervasive problem of plastic waste in the environment", she added.

“We are satisfied with the green light for this important dossier” said Environment Committee chair Giovanni La Via (EPP, IT).

“The European Commission’s new approach demonstrates an important sense of responsibility. We called upon the Commission to act as a real facilitator between the two legislative institutions. Parliament and Council have done a good job for the Environment and the European citizens”, he added.

Reduction targets

If the rules come into force, member states would be able to choose between two policy options: to either take measures to ensure that average yearly consumption of these bags does not exceed, on 90 lightweight bags per citizen by 2019 and 40 by 2025, or alternatively, ensure that, by 2018, they are not handed to shoppers free of charge.

The European Commission would have to evaluate the impact on the environment of oxo-degradable plastic materials, which fragment into small particles, and propose measures accordingly.

Next steps

The agreement between the EP delegation and the Italian Presidency will be put to a vote in the Environment Committee on Monday 24 November in Strasbourg.

Background

Lightweight plastic bags thinner than 50 microns – the vast majority of plastic carrier bags used in the EU – are less reusable than thicker models and become waste more quickly. They are also more prone to litter the environment.

In 2010 every EU citizen used an estimated 198 plastic carrier bags, some 90% of which were lightweight. In a business-as-usual scenario, consumption of plastic bags is expected to grow further. Estimates also suggest that over eight billion plastic carrier bags became litter in the EU in 2010.
 http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/content/20141121IPR79835/
21/11/14
--
-
Related:

 Related:

Κυριακή, Νοεμβρίου 02, 2014

'Leaders must act', urges Ban, as new UN report warns man's impact on climate may soon be 'irreversible'

UN, 2 November 2014 – Citing “clear and growing” human influence on the climate system, a United Nations report issued today has warned that if left unchecked, climate change will increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.

Echoing that dire warning, UN Secretary-General Ban-moon said that if the world maintains its “business as usual” attitude about climate change, the opportunity to keep temperature rise below the internationally agreed target of 2 degrees Celsius, “will slip away within the next decade.”

 
 “With this latest report, science has spoken yet again and with much more clarity. Time is not on our side…leaders must act,” declared the UN chief, in Copenhagen, Denmark on an official visit that included a press conference to launch the final installment of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

According to a press release from the panel, the so-called “Synthesis Report” confirms that climate change is being registered around the world and warming of the climate system is unequivocal. Since the 1950s many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.

“Our assessment finds that the atmosphere and oceans have warmed, the amount of snow and ice has diminished, sea level has risen and the concentration of carbon dioxide has increased to a level unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years,” said Thomas Stocker, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I, which participated in the compilation of the final report along with two other expert working groups.

Calling the report the “most comprehensive assessment of climate change” ever carried out, the Secretary-General urged worldwide action in light of its stark findings, saying that “even if emissions stopped tomorrow, we will be living with climate change for some time to come.”

Yet, the “good news is that if we act now, we have the means to build a more sustainable world,” he said, explaining that quick and decisive action that draws on many readily available tools and technologies can put the world on the right track. It was a myth that climate action would be costly, he said, stressing that in fact, inaction “will cost much, much more.”

R. K. Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC, underscored that the means to limit climate change are at had. “The solutions are many and allow for continued economic and human development. All we need is the will to change, which we trust will be motivated by knowledge and an understanding of the science of climate change.” 

[un.org]
2/11/14
--
-
Related:

Τετάρτη, Οκτωβρίου 22, 2014

In fight against hunger, UN launches initiative targeting threat of desertification

 UN, 22 October 2014 – The growing menace of desertification poses a distinct threat to the world’s agriculture and eco-systems, the United Nations agriculture agency warned today, as it announced a new initiative aimed at curbing the spread of land degradation and building resilience to climate change.

The programme, named Action Against Desertification and launched by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in partnership with the European Union and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP), will devote some €41million to bolstering sustainable land management across the world’s most vulnerable areas in an effort to fight hunger and poverty.


“Desertification and land degradation are very serious challenges. They lead to hunger and poverty, themselves at the root of many conflicts,” FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, said in a press release marking the programme’s launch.

“But recent successes show that these problems are not insurmountable. We can boost food security, improve livelihoods and help people adapt to climate change.”

The FAO reports that more than 70 per cent of people living in drylands and other fragile ecosystems across Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific derive their livelihoods from natural resources. At the same time, an uptick in population growth and climate change has placed increasing pressure on these ecosystems, intensifying degradation and desertification and putting millions of lives at risk.

In an effort to thwart the costly effects of desertification in Africa, the Action Against Desertification will build on an already existing “flagship programme” – the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative – which supports local communities, Government and civil society in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Gambia, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal with the sustainable management and restoration of their dryland forests and rangelands.

Two-thirds of the African continent is classified as desert or drylands and climate change has led to prolonged periods of drought; over-intensive farming and over-grazing have caused land degradation; and deforestation has turned once fertile land into desert in many areas.

On that note, the FAO-backed programme it will support agro-forestry while also incentivizing the creation of farmer field schools where farmers can learn about the causes of desertification and the best ways to combat and prevent it.

Meanwhile, in both the Caribbean and the Pacific, the new initiative will target the problems of soil loss and degraded natural habitats by helping local communities adopt improved sustainable land and forest management practices. 

un.org
22/10/14
--
-
Related:

Κυριακή, Οκτωβρίου 19, 2014

More Than Half of World’s Wildlife Population Lost: World Wide Fund for Nature

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) released a statement Saturday following the 12th meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity, highlighting that the world has lost more than half of the planet's wildlife population.

"At a time when the world has seen the loss of more than half of the planet's wildlife populations, countries are neither moving fast enough nor doing enough to prevent further decline," the statement reads.
Species populations worldwide have declined 52 percent since 1970, with a 76 percent decline in freshwater species and a 39 and 40 percent decline in marine and terrestrial species decline respectively, according to finding revealed at the convention that was concluded on Friday in South Korea.

The findings compiled in the WWF Living Planet 2014 report also states that global freshwater demand is projected to exceed current supply by more than 40 percent by 2030.

While urging governments to "supercharge" their efforts in conserving the environment, the WWF statement noted that forest ecosystems alone contribute $720 billion to the global economy.

"The COP [convention] urges Parties to take comprehensive and urgent measures necessary to ensure the full implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and corresponding national biodiversity strategies and action plans (NBSAPs)," the statement says, adding that it urges the relevant parties to do so by October 2015.

The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, also known as the Aichi targets, and a main theme at the convention, is a ten-year framework for action by all countries and stakeholders to save biodiversity and enhance its benefits for people, as explained on the Convention on Biological Diversity website.

Among the strategies are getting the governments and society more involved, promoting sustainable use, safeguarding ecosystems and promoting the benefits of conserving biodiversity.

The WWF, formerly the World Wildlife Fund, was founded in 1961 in Switzerland and has been active in issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment. It is the world's largest independent conservation organization with over 5 million supporters worldwide, working in more than 100 countries.
(RIA Novosti)
18/10/14
--
-
Related:

Τετάρτη, Οκτωβρίου 15, 2014

Guangzhou using invasive species against mosquito-borne fever

Southern Chinese authorities' introduction of an invasive fish species to combat a surge in dengue fever has sparked fears that the practice will break the environmental balance.

The water bureau in Guangzhou Municipality, China's third-largest city, has reacted to the mosquito-borne disease by adding mosquitofish to "controllable static waters." While the fish are named for their diet of mosquito larvae, they are also known for harming indigenous species worldwide.


Professors of environmental studies at local universities including the the renowned Sun Yat-Sen University have cautioned against the move.

"The best solution to the dengue problem is to improve the overall environment. Introducing foreign species must be meticulous. The impacts must be controlled," said Li Yanliang, chairman of the National Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Association.

Although the bureau said limiting the number of mosquitofish would ensure that the environment is not affected, it told Xinhua it did not know how many of the fish it had thrown into Guangzhou waters.

Local media reported one district in Guangzhou received more than 54,000 mosquitofish.

Guangzhou has seen a rise in dengue fever cases since September, with over 27,000 cases reported. 

Source:Xinhua - globaltimes.cn
15/10/14
--
-

-----

------

Σάββατο, Οκτωβρίου 11, 2014

Russian Defense Ministry to Build Arctic Environmental Center. Presence in the Arctic is not to harm the region's ecology

MOSCOW, October 11  - Russia's Defense Ministry is set to build a regional environmental center in the Arctic to prevent pollution in areas where Russian forces are deployed, Deputy Minister of Defense Dmitry Bulgakov said Saturday.

"To control the ecology of the Russian Arctic zone, a regional environmental center of the Northern Fleet is to be created in the near future, which will carry out ecological monitoring and control compliance with Russian and international environmental legislation," Bulgakov said.


According to the deputy minister, Russia's military presence in the Arctic is not to harm the region's ecology.

He noted that Russian troops have been deployed in the Arctic in accordance with "existing international standards and international law regulations regarding environmental security issues".

Russian forces systematically receive "training and briefings on environmental safety and compliance with legislation", Bulgakov stated.

In April, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that Russia will build a unified network of naval facilities on its Arctic territories to host advanced warships and submarines as part of a plan to boost protection of the country's interests and borders in the region.

(RIA Novosti)
11/10/14
--
-
Related:

Παρασκευή, Οκτωβρίου 10, 2014

Ocean Acidification from Climate Change Could Cost $1 Trillion

The United Nations Environment Programme and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) released a report this week at a conference in Korea, compiling studies on the impact of increased ocean acidification, caused by absorbing carbon dioxide, on the marine and coastal ecosystems. 

The report updated a 2009 report, since the amount of research into ocean acidification has grown, along with concerns about the effect it is having on marine organisms and the economies dependent on them.


“The oceans are facing major threats due to rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” said CBD’s executive secretary Braulio Ferreira de Souzo Dias in the report’s introduction. “In addition to driving global climate change, increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide affect ocean chemistry, impacting marine ecosystems and compromises the health of the oceans and their ability to provide important services to the global community. The impacts of ocean acidification are beginning to be felt in some areas, but future projections indicate even more broad-reaching deleterious impacts if action is not taken.”

The report finds that ocean acidification has increased about 26 percent in the past 200 years, absorbing more than a quarter of the carbon released by human activity. “Ocean acidification is a direct result of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations due to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, cement production and other human activities,” it says.

It points out that the absorption of carbon by the ocean has significant benefits: by absorbing more than a quarter of human-produced carbon emissions, it has substantially slowed climate change. But that’s offset by the negative impact on seawater chemistry and its effect on marine life, as well as the economies and communities dependent on it.

“It is now nearly inevitable that within 50 to 100 years, continued anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions will further increase ocean acidity to levels that will have widespread impacts, mostly deleterious, on marine organisms and ecosystems, and the goods and services they provide.,” says the report. “Marine calcifying organisms seem particularly at risk, since additional energy will be required to form shells and skeletons, and in many ocean areas, unprotected shells and skeletons will dissolve.”

It points out that the cost to industries linked to just coral reefs could lose as much as $1 trillion annually by the end of the century if no action is taken.

“When ecosystems stop delivering the way they should, they essentially deliver less services and less benefits,” said Salvatore Arico of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). “In the case of coral reefs, those systems are essential for people’s livelihoods in many regions of the world and they will be significantly affected.”

But the report also finds that international awareness of these consequences is growing, along with the amount of research being done.

“Many programs and projects are now investigating the impacts of ocean acidification on marine biodiversity and its wider implications, with strong international linkages,” it says. “The United Nations General Assembly has urged States to study ocean acidification, minimize its impacts and tackle its causes. Many United Nations bodies are focusing attention on these issues.”

| October 9, 2014
--
-

Παρασκευή, Οκτωβρίου 03, 2014

Commission proposes moderate decrease in deep-sea fishing opportunities 2015-2016 to protect vulnerable species

European Commission, Press release, Brussels, 3 October 2014:

The European Commission has today proposed fishing opportunities for deep-sea fish stocks in EU and international waters in the North-East Atlantic for 2015-2016. In line with scientific advice, the Commission proposes an increase of total allowable catches (TACs) for 4 stocks, a decrease for 9 stocks, and a status quo for 5 stocks as compared to 2014. For 4 stocks, mainly deep-sea sharks, the proposal does not yet contain a figure, because scientific advice will be delivered later this month.

European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, said: "Deep sea ecosystems and fish stocks are particularly vulnerable to human activities, such as fishing, and need appropriate protection. Hence, sustainable management is the only way we can ensure the future of deep-sea fisheries. It is good news that the scientific advice allows for increases for a number of these stocks, but unfortunately the situation is bleak for most other stocks. We look forward to continue working with the Member States to improve the knowledge on these stocks, and to work towards sustainable deep-sea fisheries."
 
For the important stock of Roundnose grenadiers West of the British Isles, scientific advice on how to achieve Maximum Sustainable Yield is available. Based on this, the Commission proposes a moderate cut for this stock (-12%), which should allow it to be fished at sustainable levels in 2015. For 2016 a small increase will be possible (+2%). For 4 stocks of Greater forkbeard, the Commission proposes 10% increases. 

For a number of other stocks, data is limited and a precautionary approach implies significant cuts to protect the stocks. This is especially the case for Red seabream in the areas West of Portugal and around the Azores. The scientific advice for the area West Portugal even calls for the development of a recovery plan.

The Commission's proposals are based on scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES). However, available data for most deep-sea stocks are insufficient to allow scientists to fully assess the stock status, either in terms of number of fish or fishing mortality. 

Background
Deep-sea fish are slow-growing and long-lived, which makes them particularly vulnerable to fishing. They are caught in waters beyond the main fishing grounds of continental shelves. They are distributed on the continental slopes or associated with seamounts.
Fishing for deep-sea species has been regulated by the European Union since 2003. Deep-sea fisheries account for about 1% of fish landed from the North-East Atlantic. The catches – and related jobs - have been declining for years, due to depleted stocks.
The poor state of key deep-sea stocks and the lack of scientific data clearly demonstrates that a better management framework for deep-sea fisheries, as proposed by the Commission in 2012 (see IP/12/813), remains highly necessary.
 http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-1084_en.htm?locale=en
3/10/14

Rare fish fries released into Yellow River to repair ecosystem

Photo: news.xinhuanet.com
Over 7 million rare fish fry have been released into the upper reaches of the Yellow River, China's second largest, since 2009 to help to repair its ecosystem, said local fishery authorities.

Qinghai Province in northwest China, where the Yellow River and Yangtze River originate, plans to release about 900,000 rare, captive-bred, native fish this year to replenish stocks, said Wang Guojie, deputy chief of the province's fishery environment supervision office.


The Ministry of Agriculture, in charge of fishery affairs, announced in 2007 that one third of the 150 fish species in the Yellow River were believed to be extinct due to human encroachment and low rainfall.

Over fishing, dumping and hydropower projects degraded the environment and led to a shrinking fish population. In Qinghai, 22 fish species are native and most of them are only found on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau.

"Fish grow much more slowly on the plateau than at low altitude, due to cold weather. Plateau fish, living at around 4,000 meters above the sea level, are extremely resistant to cold, but only add an average of half kilogram in weight every ten years," said Wang.

Once the stocks are damaged, it's hard to restore quickly, he said.

"Our survey shows a rise in fish stocks in some key areas over the past five years, meaning the released fry have adapted well," said the official.

Qinghai has plans to build more fish farms and expand the project's release area.

(To stay up to date with the latest China news, follow XHNews on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/XHNews and Xinhua News Agency on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/XinhuaNewsAgency.)

Sources: Xinhua  - globaltimes.cn
3/10/14
--

Παρασκευή, Σεπτεμβρίου 26, 2014

South Africa nuclear plans 'huge risk'. (Greenpeace)

JOHANNESBURG. -(By Hassan Isilow.) -South Africa's plans to invest in nuclear energy are likely to put the country at risk due to the huge costs involved and the potential health risks, an international environmental group has warned.
"As far as Greenpeace Africa is concerned, investing in new nuclear energy is actually going to put this country at risk," Melita Steele, senior climate and energy campaign manager for Greenpeace Africa, told Anadolu Agency in an interview.
On Monday, Russia and South Africa signed an agreement for the construction of new nuclear power plants as part of South Africa's procurement and development program.
The deal, signed in Vienna on the sidelines of an International Atomic Energy Agency conference, calls for the construction by Russia's state-owned nuclear company Rosatom of eight nuclear power units in South Africa.

Rosatom put the estimated cost of the project at between $40 billion and $50 billion.
Steele said that apart from the huge cost of building nuclear plants, there were no long term solutions for nuclear waste.
She cited Japan's 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, when nearly 120,000 people were evacuated from their homes – and still have yet to return – following a nuclear plant meltdown.
"As far as Greenpeace is concerned, investing in both coal and nuclear [energy] are nothing more than a dead end," said Steele.
"It [nuclear energy] will send this country into both electricity price crisis as well as electricity supply crisis," she insisted.
Greenpeace is an influential global advocacy group ostensibly devoted to protecting the environment.

-Renewable energy-
Steele urged the South African government to instead focus on renewable energy, such as solar and wind power.
"We think that, as far as the research we've done, South Africa has some of the best solar resources in the world," she told AA.
Steele saw no reason why South Africa should not become a climate leader.
South Africa currently generates almost 90 percent of its electricity from coal-fueled power stations.
Environmental groups say the use of coal has negative effects on human health and the ecosystem.  
www.aa.com.tr/en
25/9/14

Πέμπτη, Σεπτεμβρίου 25, 2014

US to create world's largest marine reserve in Pacific

The United States is to create the world's largest marine reserve, stretching over about 1 million 270,000 square kilometres of the Pacific ocean, the White House press service said.

US President Barack Obama will sign the bill on Thursday, setting out plans for a new environmental zone encompassing seven desert islands and coral atolls existing under US juridiction.


The current Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument territory between the Hawaiian islands and Samoa will be expanded sixfold to become a marine-protected area (MPA).The zone will ban any business activity there, including commercial fishing and mining operations.

American scientists believe the region has a tropical marine environment with unique animal and vegetal life that needs protection, seeking to defend deep-sea coral reefs thought most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

http://en.itar-tass.com/non-political/751198
25/9/14
--
-
Related:

Τετάρτη, Αυγούστου 20, 2014

Double threat for Tibet (Climate change and human development are jeopardizing the plateau’s fragile environment.)

The plateau and its surrounding mountains cover 5 million square kilo­metres and hold the largest stock of ice outside the Arctic and Antarctic; the region is thus often referred to as the Third Pole. And like the actual poles, it is increasingly feeling the effects of climate change, but rapid development is putting it doubly at risk, the report says.

Released in Lhasa on 9 August by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the government of Tibet, the assessment aimed to address gaps in knowledge about the extent of the problems the 4,500-metre-high plateau faces. It finds that precipitation has risen by 12% since 1960, and temperatures have soared by 0.4 °C per decade — twice the global average.
In addition, glaciers are shrinking rapidly and one-tenth of the permafrost has thawed in the past decade alone. This means that the number of lakes has grown by 14% since 1970, and more than 80% of them have expanded since, devastating surrounding pastures and communities.
The plateau feeds Asia’s biggest rivers (see ‘Running wild’), so these problems are likely to affect billions of people, the report says. Pollution from human and industrial waste as a result of rapid development is also a serious risk.
But the assessment also suggests ways to combat the problems, calling on the Chinese and Tibetan governments to make conservation and environmental protection top priorities. It will help in the design of “policies for mitigating climate change and striking a balance between development and conservation”, says Meng Deli, Tibet’s vice-chairman.
tibet-map
“The Tibetan plateau is getting warmer and wetter,” says Yao Tandong, director of the CAS Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research in Beijing, who led the assessment. This means that vegetation is expanding to higher elevations and farther north, and growing seasons are getting longer. But some areas, such as the headwater region of Asia’s biggest rivers, have become warmer and drier and are being severely affected by desertification and grassland and wetland degradation.
Human activity, too, is on the rise. The population of the plateau reached 8.8 million in 2012, about three times higher than in 1951. And the number of livestock has more than doubled, putting more strain on grasslands.

Multiple menaces

Growing urbanization is creating more waste than the region can handle. Tibet has the capacity to treat 256,000 tonnes of domestic solid waste a year, less than the amount generated by its two largest cities, Lhasa and Shigatse. “You see a lot of rubbish lying around the plateau, including headwater regions,” says Kang Shichang, a glaciologist at the CAS Institute of Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute in Lanzhou. “It’s an environmental menace.”

A bigger threat comes from mining. According to the assessment, Tibetan mines produced 100 million tonnes of wastewater in 2007 and 18.8 million tonnes of solid waste in 2009. Because most of the mines are open pits and have limited environmental oversight, “air, water and soil pollution is particularly serious”, says the report. Officials release few details about actual pollution levels.

Pollution is coming not just from local sources. Dust, black carbon, heavy metals and other toxic compounds are being blown in from Africa, Europe and southern Asia. The dust and carbon residues are darkening glaciers, making them more susceptible to melting, and the toxic chemicals are poisoning crops, livestock and wildlife.

But the threats from mining and pollution are dwarfed by the potential repercussions of changes in ice and vegetation cover, the assessment says. Different surfaces — snow, grassland, desert — reflect and absorb different amounts of solar radiation, affecting how the air above them is heated. This means that changes in coverage are likely to affect the onset and strength of Asian monsoons. It also has important ramifications for the livelihood of downstream river communities because the glaciers, permafrost and ecosystems act as a giant sponge, helping to control the release of water and prevent floods. “The significance of the assessment goes beyond national borders,” says David Molden, head of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in Kathmandu.

Temperatures in the plateau are projected to rise by between 1.7 °C and 4.6 °C by the end of 2100 compared with the 1996–2005 average, based on the best- and worst-case global-emissions scenarios. So as urbanization and climate change tighten their grip, researchers worry that unbridled development will devastate the plateau’s environment. To protect it, the report says, the central government must evaluate local officials on the basis of their environmental, not just economic, achievements. It must also invest more in ecological compensation, for example by paying herders more to cut their livestock numbers. Moreover, it must be much more open about pollution incidents.

“Tibet will be a test case of how seriously China takes ecological protection,” says Yao. “Safeguarding the plateau environment is crucial not only for sustainable development of the region, but also to social stability and international relations.”
tibet.net
19/8/14
--
-
Related:

Δευτέρα, Αυγούστου 11, 2014

Exxon Starts "Most Controversial Oil Rig in the World”

For the oil industry, business comes first. After years of preparation, on Saturday ExxonMobil began drilling a $700 million well in the Kara Sea in Russia’s Arctic. It is Russia’s most northerly well.

In doing so, the oil giant has ignored growing concerns over Russia’s role in the Ukrainian conflict, and the sanctions imposed on its business partner, Rosneft, which is run by a close associate of Putin, Igor Sechin, who is also personally blacklisted.

Indeed, the go ahead shows just how ineffectual the sanctions against Russia really are. Exxon’s excuse is that the contract to hire the rig was signed before sanctions were announced, but the oil giant is still working with Putin’s blacklisted inner circle.

Exxon has also ignored huge questions over whether an oil spill in the region could be contained. And of course it has totally disregarded the issue of climate change and the need to disinvest from fossil fuels in the most ecologically sensitive areas, such as the Arctic.

Not surprisingly, the start of drilling was praised by President Putin, who many people feel has blood on his hands over Ukraine. Putin sang the praises of Exxon, calling it “Russia’s old and reliable partner.”

He also labelled the joint venture as a model of “efficient international cooperation” which Russia was “open to expand.”

Putin added “businesses, including Russian and foreign companies, perfectly realize that and despite certain current political difficulties, pragmatism and common sense prevail, and we are pleased to hear that.”

Rosneft is certainly excited by the Kara Sea drilling. The well, known as Universitetskaya, is the first of as many as 40 offshore wells the Russian company plans to drill in the Arctic by 2018.

Igor Sechin calls the drilling of the Kara Sea well the “most important event of the year for the global oil and gas industry. As a result of this work we are planning to discover a new Kara sea oil province. Developing of the Arctic shelf has a huge multiplicative effect on the whole Russian economy.”

Sechin brags about the so-called vast reserves of the region arguing that “The volume of resources exceeds the oil and gas resources of the Gulf of Mexico, the Brazilian shelf, the shelf of Alaska and Canada, and it will be comparable to the resource base of Saudi Arabia.”

Exxon for its part said it was keen to carry on investing in Russia. “Our cooperation is a long-term one,” a spokesperson said. “We see big benefits here and are ready to work here with your agreement.”

Many environmentalists are outraged by Exxon’s Arctic plans. Gustavo Ampugnani, an Arctic campaigner at Greenpeace, argues that “The West Alpha platform is fast becoming the most controversial oil rig in the world. He added that Exxon and Rosneft’s plan “to drill in the ecologically sensitive Arctic is nothing less than absurd.”

 http://ecowatch.com
--
-
Related:

Τρίτη, Ιουνίου 24, 2014

Plastic waste causes $13 billion in annual damage to marine ecosystems, says UN agency


UN, 23 June 2014 – Concern is growing over widespread plastic waste that is threatening marine life – with conservative yearly estimates of $13 billion in financial damage to marine ecosystems, according to two reports issued at the inaugural meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly.
“Plastic contamination threatens marine life, tourism, fisheries and businesses,” underscores the eleventh edition of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Year Book, which updates 10 issues previously highlighted over the past decade and provides mitigation steps for each.

“Plastics undoubtedly play a crucial role in modern life, but the environmental impacts of the way we use them cannot be ignored,” added Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director.
Valuing Plastic, a UNEP-supported report produced by the Plastic Disclosure Project (PDP) and Trucost, makes the business case for managing and disclosing plastic use in the consumer goods industry. 

“Over 30 per cent of the natural capital costs are due to greenhouse gas emissions from raw material extraction and processing,” says the report, adding “marine pollution is the largest downstream cost, with the $13 billion figure most likely a significant underestimate.”
Calculating the negative financial impact of issues, such as marine environment or air pollution caused by incinerating plastic, the report reveals that the overall natural capital cost in the consumer goods sector each year is $75 billion.

A large and unquantifiable amount of plastic waste enters the ocean from littering, poorly managed landfills, tourist activities and fisheries. Some of this material sinks to the ocean floor, while some floats and can travel over great distances on ocean currents – polluting shorelines and accumulating in massive mid-ocean gyres.
“These reports show that reducing, recycling and redesigning products that use plastics can bring multiple green economy benefits: from reducing economic damage to marine ecosystems and the tourism and fisheries industries – vital for many developing countries – to bringing savings and opportunities for innovation to companies while reducing reputational risks,” advocated Mr. Steiner.

There have been many reliable reports of environmental damage due to plastic waste that include mortality or illness when ingested by sea creatures such as turtles; entanglement of animals, such as dolphins and whales; and damage to critical habitats, such as coral reefs.
There are also concerns about chemical contamination, invasive species spread by plastic fragments and economic damage to the fishing and tourism industries in many countries by, for example, fouling fishing equipment and polluting beaches.
Since the 2011 UNEP Year Book last reviewed plastic waste in the ocean, concern has grown over microplastics (particles up to 5 mm in diameter, either manufactured or created when plastic fragments), which have been ingested by marine organisms – including seabirds, fish, mussels, worms and zooplankton. 

“One emerging issue is the increasing use of microplastics directly in consumer products, such as ‘microbeads’ in toothpaste, gels and facial cleansers,” explains the UNEP Year Book. “These microplastics tend not to be filtered out during sewage treatment, but are released directly into rivers, lakes and the ocean.”
Communities of microbes have been discovered thriving on microplastics at multiple locations in the North Atlantic – where the “plastisphere” can facilitate the transport of harmful microbes, pathogens and algal species.

The Yearbook affirms that “microplastics have also been identified as a threat to larger organisms, such as the endangered northern right whale, which is potentially exposed to ingestion through filter-feeding.”
Production trends, use patterns and changing demographics are expected to cause increasing plastic use, and both reports call for companies, institutions and consumers to reduce their waste.

Valuing Plastic finds that while consumer goods companies currently save $4 billion each year through good plastic management, such as recycling, plastic use disclosure is poor. Less than half of the 100 companies assessed reported any data relevant to plastic.
“The research unveils the need for companies to consider their plastic footprint, just as they do for carbon, water and forestry,” said Andrew Russell, Director of the PDP. “By measuring, managing and reporting plastic use and disposal through the PDP, companies can mitigate the risks, maximize the opportunities, and become more successful and sustainable.”
Initiatives such as the PDP and UNEP-led Global Partnership on Marine Litter have helped raise awareness of, and begun to address, the issue. However, much more needs to be done.
Recommendations of the reports include that companies monitor their plastic use and publish the results in annual reports; and commit to reducing the environmental impact of plastic through clear targets, deadlines and efficiency and recycling innovations.
Since plastic particles can be ingested by marine organisms and potentially accumulate and deliver toxins through the food web, efforts should be stepped up to fill the knowledge gaps and better understand the capacity of various plastics to absorb and transfer persistent, toxic and bioaccumulating chemicals. 

“By putting a financial value on impacts – such as plastic waste – companies can further integrate effective environmental management into mainstream businesses,” asserted Trucost Chief Executive Richard Mattison. “By highlighting the savings from reuse and recycling, it builds a business case for proactive sustainability improvements.”
 un.org
23/6/14
--
-
Related:

Τετάρτη, Ιουνίου 18, 2014

Obama to create world's largest marine sanctuary in Pacific

U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced plans to create what could be the world's largest marine sanctuary in the south-central Pacific Ocean in an effort to protect the ocean and its marine ecosystems.

Obama announced his executive actions in a video message to those present at the second and final day of the two-day "Our Ocean" conference hosted by the U.S. State Department, which focused on sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and ocean acidification.
"We've already shown that when we work together, we can protect our oceans for future generations. So let's redouble our efforts," Obama said.

The White House in a background statement said the Obama administration is considering how to "expand protections near the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in the south- central Pacific Ocean, an area which contains some of the most pristine tropical marine environments in the world."

The administration will consider the input of fishermen, scientists, conservation experts, elected officials, and other stakeholders "before making decisions about the geographic scope and details," it added.

The Washington Post, however, reported that Obama is looking at expanding the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument from almost 87,000 square miles (225,328 square kilometers) to nearly 782,000 square miles (2.03 million square kilometers) and that the plan will affect seven islands and atolls controlled by the United States.

The newspaper also said that the plan, led by Secretary of State John Kerry, is likely to spark a new political battle with Republicans over the scope of Obama's executive powers.

Obama also said he is directing federal agencies to develop a comprehensive program aimed at deterring illegal fishing, addressing seafood fraud, and preventing illegally caught fish from entering the marketplace by increasing traceability and transparency.

According to the White House statement, black market fishing constitutes up to 20 percent of the wild marine fish caught each year around the world, and drains up to 23 billion U.S. dollars from legitimate fishing enterprises.

Kerry explained at the ocean meeting that the announcement by Obama to deal with illegal fishing will ensure that "all seafood sold in the United States is both sustainable and traceable, meaning customers will know exactly who caught it, where and when. "

"We can all do more, and if there's no market, we have an ability to really to be able to diminish the impact of illegal and undocumented, unwarranted fishing, and we want to do that," Kerry said.

He said nations at the conference have pledged to invest a total of 1.4 billion dollars towards protecting our ocean. In addition, including Obama's announcement, marine protections will be extended to cover more than 3 million square kilometers in the Pacific Ocean.

"We need to do more," Kerry told the heads of state, ministers, scientists, and industry representatives from about 80 countries at the conference. "But that is a terrific start."
WASHINGTON, June 17 (Xinhua)
[cntv.cn] 
18/6/14
--
-

Οι νεκροί Έλληνες στα μακεδονικά χώματα σάς κοιτούν με οργή

«Παριστάνετε τα "καλά παιδιά" ελπίζοντας στη στήριξη του διεθνή παράγοντα για να παραμείνετε στην εξουσία», ήταν η κατηγορία πο...