Archive for ‘Most Vulnerable’

Cagayan, Palawan, Iloilo vulnerable to sea level rise

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

MANILA, Philippines – The world-famous sweet Guimaras mangoes might soon become an endangered variety as global warming could submerge Iloilo province, together with Cagayan and Palawan, the Climate Change Commission (CCC) warned yesterday.

The commission, chaired by President Arroyo, warned that many parts of the country, including the regions where the mangoes are grown, are “seen to go underwater due to climate change” due to the rise in sea level by at least a meter.

Citing a study of the University of the Philippines Los Baños, CCC vice chairman Secretary Heherson Alvarez said Iloilo ranks third among the provinces in the country that are most susceptible to the rise in sea level.

The study identified Cagayan province as the most vulnerable, followed by Palawan.

“We are extremely vulnerable because we are in the southwestern Pacific area where there is an occurrence of many depressions, (which) mature into storms, and violent storms sometimes enter the archipelago,” Alvarez said.

The Philippines has been calling for a deep and early cut of carbon dioxide emissions by Annex-1 countries under the Kyoto Protocol in order to moderate, if not avert, the accelerating destructive storms brought about by climate change.

“If people will not unite for a deep and early cut of carbon dioxide, the entire country will go under the surface because of the frequency of extreme weather disturbances entering the Philippines every year,” Alvarez said.

Aside from the possible sinking of many parts of Iloilo, he said climate change has started affecting mango production on the island of Guimaras, resulting in losses to mango farmers.

In 2009, the National Mango Research and Development Center (NMRDC) reported that erratic weather patterns attributed to climate change have already taken its toll on the production of the “sweetest” mango in the world.

The decline in mango production, according to the center, was shown in price increases despite the peak season last year.

Rhod Orquia, an NMRDC researcher, said mango production in Guimaras is being threatened by climate change since the shifting trend in the onset of rains already affects the planting process and harvesting schedule of mangoes.

Guimaras has more than 200,000 mango trees planted by 7,000 farmers.

Source: Cagayan, Palawan, Iloilo vulnerable to sea level rise - philstar

Date: 22 May 2010

Salt killing crops, driving migration in storm-hit southern Bangladesh

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Worsening sea water storm surges and overuse of irrigation have left fields, wells and ponds in parts of southern Bangladesh too salty to grow crops, leading to a growing exodus of farmers from the region.

During Cyclones Sidr and Aila, in 2007 and 2009, sea water was driven into ponds and rivers in Khulna, Bagerhat and Satkhira districts in southern Bangladesh, and some fields remained flooded by sea water long enough to raise levels of salinity in the soil and in underground aquifers used for irrigation.

Now farmers on hundreds of thousands of acres in the region are watching their rice crops wither and die before reaching maturity. In some cases, farmers have sown rice plants several times in a season but seen none survive.

Binoy Singh, a farmer in Surigati village in Bagerhat district, recently lost nearly his entire 10-acre rice crop to salt contamination.

“The pond, the river and the groundwater contain excess salt. Salinity in the land has risen too much. The plants became red and dried up after some days of cultivation,” he said.

“Some two years back we were cultivating rice with water from the river and deep tube wells. But now the salinity of the water from these sources has gone above the permissible level for rice production,” he said.

Last year Singh got a ton of rice from his land. This year he may get less than a tenth of that amount.

“I am very much worried how I will feed my family members this year,” he said.

Worsening storm surges and sea level rise linked to climate change, as well as overuse of irrigation, threaten to make soil salinity a worsening problem across broad areas of southern Bangladesh, a vast and heavily populated river delta region that sits barely above sea level.

In the Tala, Debhata and Kaliganj sub-districts under Satkhira district, salinity in wells 70 to 80 feet deep is now 10 times higher than the tolerable limit for rice cultivation, researchers say.

That poses a grave threat to food security in southern Bangladesh, and is driving displacement as farmers migrate in search of other work to feed their families.

“This is really unfortunate for the people of that area who go hungry many days a year in the absence of food,” said M.A. Rashid, a scientist at the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute in Dhaka.

Institute researchers are installing wells in some of the worst hit areas in an attempt to find out whether there is water suitable for irrigation still available deeper underground. In many areas, farmers now have to dig wells at least 500 feet deep to get water that is safe for irrigation. Earlier such water was available at 200 to 250 feet.

Now “water available at 200 to 250 feet deep is risky for irrigation. If rain water or fresh water is not supplied in the fields after cultivation, rice plants will die after a few days,” Rashid said.

Akmal Sheikh, Abdul Khaleq and Abul Kalam, farmers in Bagerhat district, said they are now losing a second season of crops to salt contamination.

“Last season we experienced a similar problem. We could not cultivate rice in all of our lands and got less output. This time, in the case of Boro rice (produced in the January to May season), the situation is disastrous. Almost all the plants died in the early stage,” they said.

The men said they had spent about $350 to cultivate each acre of land. Most of the farmers in the area depend on loans from private sources with a high rate of interest. Normally, they repay the loan after selling their crop. Those who lose their crops, however, usually have no choice but to sell some of their land to repay the loan.

As excessive salinity makes more crops fail, thousands of farmers are becoming landless and migrating elsewhere within or outside of Bangladesh, residents said. Many farmers tell of neighbours who have left for Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, or for neighbouring India over the last six months to a year.

Some have fled rather than face legal prosecution for failing to repay loans, or have spent time in local jails, Singh said.

Iftekhar Alam, an engineer and salinity expert with the Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation, said excessive use of groundwater for irrigation is also driving the worsening salinity problem in the area.

Overuse of well water for irrigation, he said, is reducing the underground pressure that holds back sea water, allowing it to seep into aquifers.

“This movement of saline water into the mainland through the aquifer is increasing alarmingly. That is why the farmers are getting excess salt in the groundwater,” Alam said.

“Within the next few decades, major parts of the southern reaches of the Padma River may experience underground saltwater intrusion,” he warned.

His organization has so far installed 80 test wells across the country to better understand the reasons behind increasing salinity in groundwater.

Over the last 25 years, sea water from the Bay of Bengal has pushed 40 kilometres inland throughout underground aquifers, replacing fresh water, he said.

Source: Salt killing crops, driving migration in storm-hit southern Bangladesh – AlertNet

Date: 13 May 2010

During Cyclones Sidr and Aila, in 2007 and 2009, sea water was driven into ponds and rivers in Khulna, Bagerhat and Satkhira districts in southern Bangladesh, and some fields remained flooded by sea water long enough to raise levels of salinity in the soil and in underground aquifers used for irrigation. Now farmers on hundreds of thousands of acres in the region are watching their rice crops wither and die before reaching maturity. In some cases, farmers have sown rice plants several times in a season but seen none survive. Binoy Singh, a farmer in Surigati village in Bagerhat district, recently lost nearly his entire 10-acre rice crop to salt contamination. “The pond, the river and the groundwater contain excess salt. Salinity in the land has risen too much. The plants became red and dried up after some days of cultivation,” he said. “Some two years back we were cultivating rice with water from the river and deep tube wells. But now the salinity of the water from these sources has gone above the permissible level for rice production,” he said. CROP REDUCED 90 PERCENT Last year Singh got a ton of rice from his land. This year he may get less than a tenth of that amount. “I am very much worried how I will feed my family members this year,” he said. Worsening storm surges and sea level rise linked to climate change, as well as overuse of irrigation, threaten to make soil salinity a worsening problem across broad areas of southern Bangladesh, a vast and heavily populated river delta region that sits barely above sea level. In the Tala, Debhata and Kaliganj sub-districts under Satkhira district, salinity in wells 70 to 80 feet deep is now 10 times higher than the tolerable limit for rice cultivation, researchers say. That poses a grave threat to food security in southern Bangladesh, and is driving displacement as farmers migrate in search of other work to feed their families. “This is really unfortunate for the people of that area who go hungry many days a year in the absence of food,” said M.A. Rashid, a scientist at the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute in Dhaka. Institute researchers are installing wells in some of the worst hit areas in an attempt to find out whether there is water suitable for irrigation still available deeper underground. In many areas, farmers now have to dig wells at least 500 feet deep to get water that is safe for irrigation. Earlier such water was available at 200 to 250 feet. Now “water available at 200 to 250 feet deep is risky for irrigation. If rain water or fresh water is not supplied in the fields after cultivation, rice plants will die after a few days,” Rashid said. Akmal Sheikh, Abdul Khaleq and Abul Kalam, farmers in Bagerhat district, said they are now losing a second season of crops to salt contamination. “Last season we experienced a similar problem. We could not cultivate rice in all of our lands and got less output. This time, in the case of Boro rice (produced in the January to May season), the situation is disastrous. Almost all the plants died in the early stage,” they said. The men said they had spent about $350 to cultivate each acre of land. Most of the farmers in the area depend on loans from private sources with a high rate of interest. Normally, they repay the loan after selling their crop. Those who lose their crops, however, usually have no choice but to sell some of their land to repay the loan. MIGRATION GROWING As excessive salinity makes more crops fail, thousands of farmers are becoming landless and migrating elsewhere within or outside of Bangladesh, residents said. Many farmers tell of neighbours who have left for Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, or for neighbouring India over the last six months to a year. Some have fled rather than face legal prosecution for failing to repay loans, or have spent time in local jails, Singh said. Iftekhar Alam, an engineer and salinity expert with the Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation, said excessive use of groundwater for irrigation is also driving the worsening salinity problem in the area. Overuse of well water for irrigation, he said, is reducing the underground pressure that holds back sea water, allowing it to seep into aquifers. “This movement of saline water into the mainland through the aquifer is increasing alarmingly. That is why the farmers are getting excess salt in the groundwater,” Alam said. “Within the next few decades, major parts of the southern reaches of the Padma River may experience underground saltwater intrusion,” he warned. His organization has so far installed 80 test wells across the country to better understand the reasons behind increasing salinity in groundwater. Over the last 25 years, sea water from the Bay of Bengal has pushed 40 kilometres inland throughout underground aquifers, replacing fresh water, he said.

We’ll be under water by 2020, says expert

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Large areas of countryside around Sandwich could become submerged due to rising sea levels, according to Kent environmental campaigner Geoff Meaden. Dr Meaden said:

“Nearly a third of east Kent is likely to sink below the waves by 2020.”

Source: We’ll be under water by 2020, says expert – Your Thanet News, Kent, UK

Date: 11 May 2010

Press Conference on Vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Overdue commitments made to small island developing States (SIDS) must be fulfilled to enable them to survive climate change and other international crises that were threatening their very existence, officials from three such States said at a UN Headquarters press conference this afternoon.

“We should not allow countries to sink for the progress of others,”

Amjad Abdullah, Director-General of the Ministry of Housing, Transport and Environment of the Maldives told correspondents, in the midpoint of a day in which the particular vulnerabilities of those countries was under discussion in the Commission on Sustainable Development, which began the second week of its two-week annual session today.

Mr. Abdullah was joined at the press conference by Ambassador Collin Beck from the Solomon Islands and Lotoala Metia, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning of Tuvalu.  Discussions during today’s special focus on small island developing States in the Sustainable Development Commission will form a part of the preparations for a high-level meeting planned for this September to review progress made under the 2005 Mauritius Strategy for the Development of the small-island States.

Going forward on climate change, Mr. Beck said it was crucial for a solid outcome to emerge from the talks under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Cancun, Mexico, at the end of this year, including legally binding agreements to limit carbon emissions.  Small island developing States were already experiencing worsening food security and the need to relocate people to higher ground on a daily basis.

Minister Metia confirmed that climate change had already had a very big impact on the islands of Tuvalu and he had made pleas at a host of international forums for aid to their national action plan.  To date, they had not received any of the pledged assistance, even though they were nearing the end of the five-year cycle.  They had made their case again today in the Commission.  They had little choice:  if the seas rose, they would be submerged.

Asked if the small island developing States had been pressured to sign onto last year’s Copenhagen accord on climate change, Mr. Metia said the accord was a “death certificate” and those countries would stand firm in resisting it, despite any bullying or promises of assistance.  To questions about his preference regarding a new head for the UNFCCC, he said that whoever heads it must be dedicated to ensuring the survival of the most vulnerable.

In response to questions about arrangements for emigration to other countries if the sea levels became untenable, the panellists from Tuvalu and Maldives said resolutely that migration was not on the agendas of their Governments.  “It’s our right to enjoy where we are,” Mr. Abdullah said.

In conclusion, Ambassador Beck warned that the window of opportunity to stop rapid climate change was drawing closed, and the fate of small island developing States would eventually happen to others, even though those countries were on the front line.

Source: Press Conference on Vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States – United Nations

Date: 10 May 2010

It is only matter of time before the small island nation of Kiribati is submerged. Their tipping point has already occurred.

Monday, February 15th, 2010

It is only matter of time before the small island nation of Kiribati, made of 33 small atolls (ring-like coral islands) of no more than 6.5 feet above sea level, is submerged. Thus, their tipping point has already occurred.

Source: Debate on Climate Shifts to Issue of Irreparable Change – Washington Post

Date: 29 January 2006

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