Posts Tagged ‘United Nations’

Forget carbon, this is worse: researcher

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Attention should turn to nitrous oxide if climate change is to be properly addressed, according to a Brisbane-based member of a Nobel Prize-winning team who says the gas has 300 times the impact of carbon dioxide.

Queensland University of Technology professor Richard Conant was part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with Al Gore.

Professor Conant’s latest research suggests the best way to reduce greenhouse emissions is to improve the way nitrogen fertiliser, which releases nitrous oxide, is applied to crops throughout the world.

Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture come from two main sources: 38 per cent from nitrous oxide from poor soil fertilisation and 34 per cent from methane from stock.

Professor Conant said the nitrous oxide could be better controlled than methane-emitting pigs and cattle.

“The three greenhouse gases related to agriculture are carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane,” he said.

“They have different impacts on the atmosphere. Now if we say carbon dioxide has an impact of one, methane has an impact of say 21 times.

“Nitrous oxide has an even bigger impact, something like 300 times the impact of CO2.”

The figures represent the ability of a molecule to absorb the long wave energy radiation from the earth.

Nitrous oxide was, per molecule, a bigger destroyer of the cushioning greenhouse environment surrounding the earth, Professor Conant said.

“Nitrous oxide is not the main greenhouse gas, it is just that for every molecule of greenhouse gas, it just absorbs a lot more of the energy from the earth,” he said.

Professor Conant’s latest research suggests it is possible to produce more food and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving the way nitrogen fertiliser is applied in developing countries.

Professor Conant, who now works at QUT’s Institute of Sustainable Resources, has used computer modelling to analyse the way nitrogen is applied throughout the world to cereal crops, like maize, rice, wheat, millet and sorghum.

Collectively, these cereals make up about 70 per cent of the world’s food production.

“Literature in this field implies that with greater (nitrogen) fertilisation we can expect that we are going to be less efficient at growing food,” Professor Conant said.

“So there is this fear out there that we are seeing diminishing marginal returns on our nitrogen inputs to the system.”

However, Professor Conant’s research into international cereal crop farming shows that is not the case.

“I think that while in some countries the nitrogen inputs are increasing, the benefits from those nitrogen are not increasing as much in the developing world as they are in the rich world,” he said.

If better food yields could come from improved nitrogen fertilising, Professor Conant said more food could be produced with a lower greenhouse impact.

“By bridging this gap, food production in developing countries can grow more quickly than nitrogen inputs grow in those countries,” he said.

Professor Conant’s research will be housed at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and used by all member nations.

Source: Forget carbon, this is worse: researcher – Brisbane Times AU

Date: 16 June 2011

World ‘must invest $40bn a year in forests’: UN

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Investing $40 billion annually in the forest sector is needed for the world to transition into a low carbon, resource-efficient green economy, according to a UN report released here Sunday.

The additional investment “could halve deforestation rates by 2030, increase rates of tree planting by around 140 per cent by 2050,” said the report published by the Nairobi-based United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

“Carefully planned investments would also contribute to increased employment from 25 million today to 30 million by 2050,” it also added.

The cost of ensuring a green transition would equal $40 billion a year or around 0.034 per cent of global GDP, the report said.

Such an investment, equivalent to about two-thirds more than what is currently spent on the sector, would also remove an extra 28 per cent of carbon from the atmosphere, the Nairobi-based UNEP said.

Earlier this week the UNEP warned that fires, felling and agriculture are whittling Europe’s forests down into isolated patches, threatening to speed up desertification and deplete wildlife.

The UN Environment Programme is working with scientists to draw up maps of areas that need to be replanted to help reconnect fragmented forests. The maps will submitted at a June 14-16 ministerial meeting in Oslo.

Source: World ‘must invest $40bn a year in forests’: UN – France 24 International News

Date: 05 June 2011

People destroy forests at peril – ILO chief

Monday, June 6th, 2011

“This year’s theme “Forests – nature at your service” reminds us that we destroy forests at our peril,” Director General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Juan Sumavia said here Sunday.

“Their fate dramatically illustrates how social development, economic growth and environmental sustainability are inextricably intertwined,” noted Sumavia. “The un-sustainability of the prevailing model of growth has been increasingly laid bare – economically, environmentally, socially and politically.”

Environmental degradation is one manifestation of the imbalances produced by this inefficient model of growth. Another is its failure to yield sufficient opportunities for the decent work that people need.

“The economic crisis which it did produce has forced millions of people out of work and pushed many more back into poverty. Globally, there were 27.6 million more unemployed people in 2010 than before the crisis. The number of workers in extreme poverty in 2009 is estimated to have been over 40 million more than it would have been without the crisis. And the pre-crisis situation was already unacceptable”, he explained.

Environmental degradation and misuse of the forest resource and the deep-seated crisis of jobs and decent work are interconnected.

In an inefficient growth model with a marked deficit of decent jobs, the quest for survival along with the unbridled exploitation of resources fuels unsustainable use of forests with loss of jobs and livelihoods. It also and fosters intolerable labour practices such as forced labour.

Yet forests are at the service of job creation. We must also take steps to ensure that they are at the service of decent job creation.

Tens of millions depend directly on forests for their living. For 60 million indigenous and tribal peoples, forests are not only the economic basis of their survival but also the very foundation of their cultural and spiritual identity. Some 14 million are employed in the formal forestry sector. And the survival of a much larger number depends on informal and often subsistence use of forests.
ILO research has shown that there are significant sustainable employment and income opportunities in Amazon forests. Another study in collaboration with China suggests that reforestation can create several hundred thousand temporary and permanent rural job opportunities.

Under the Green Jobs Initiative involving the United Nations Environment Programme, the International Trade Union Confederation, the International Organisation of Employers and the ILO, “our recent global study “Skills for Green Jobs” highlights the role of training in controlling deforestation (Brazil), job creation for low income and unemployed youth (Republic of Korea), and contributing to poverty reduction (Uganda),” he pointed out.

Brazil is building decent work standards into forest management in the Amazon region. Similarly, programmes for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+) increasingly recognize that the co-benefits of employment, income and local governance are critical for the success of these schemes.

“We must use the opportunity of the Rio UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 to make progress towards an inclusive growth model with policies that are efficient for people, for productive investment and for nature,” concluded Samuvia.

Source: People destroy forests at peril – ILO chief – Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)

Date: 05 June 2011

Rising forest density offsets climate change-study

Monday, June 6th, 2011
  • Trees get denser, store more carbon-study
  • Forest density can complicate U.N.-led carbon market

By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

Rising forest density in many countries is helping to offset climate change caused by deforestation from the Amazon basin to Indonesia, a study showed on Sunday.

The report indicated that the size of trees in a forest — rather than just the area covered — needed to be taken into account more in U.N.-led efforts to put a price on forests as part of a nascent market to slow global warming.

“Higher density means world forests are capturing more carbon,” experts in Finland and the United States said of the study in the online journal PLoS One, issued on June 5 which is World Environment Day in the U.N. calendar.

Trees soak up carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, as they grow and release it when they burn or rot. Deforestation in places from the Congo basin to Papua New Guinea is blamed for perhaps 12 to 20 percent of all emissions by human activities.

The report, based on a survey of 68 nations, found that the amount of carbon stored in forests increased in Europe and North America from 2000-10 despite little change in forest area.

And in Africa and South America, the total amount of carbon stored in forests fell at a slower rate than the loss of area, indicating that they had grown denser. [ID:nLDE75407A]. Forests in Asia became less dense over the same period.

And some countries still had big losses of carbon, including Indonesia and Argentina. The study did not try to estimate the overall trend, saying there was not yet enough data.

Greater density in some countries, including China, was probably linked to past forest plantings, lead author Aapo Rautiainen of the University of Helsinki told Reuters.

“Forests that were established in China a few decades ago are now starting to reach their fast-growing phase. That is a reason for rising density now,” he said.

WARMER

Global warming, blamed by the U.N. panel of climate experts mainly on human use of fossil fuels, might itself be improving growth conditions for trees in some regions. Warming is projected to cause heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels.

The United States has had among the most striking shifts — timberland area expanded by just one percent between 1953 and 2007 but the volume of growing stock surged by 51 percent.

A shift towards farming in the Midwestern United States meant that forests in the east had been left to grow, and get denser.

The report also suggested that forest managers might rotate fellings less frequently since trees kept thickening.

But it could complicate efforts to design market mechanisms to encourage developing nations to safeguard tropical forests. Under the U.N.-led effort, people would get tradeable credits for slowing the rate of deforestation.

Measuring the density of a forest requires more complex monitoring than just measuring the extent of a forest by photographing it from a plane or by satellite.

“There does need to be a greater sampling to be able to come to a legitimate and credible number for the carbon,” said Iddo Wernick, a co-author at the Rockefeller University in New York.

Negotiators from about 180 nations will meet in Bonn, Germany, from June 6-17 to discuss measures to slow global wraming, including the protection of tropical forests. (Editing by David Cowell)

Source: Rising forest density offsets climate change-study – Thompson Reuters Foundation AlertNet

Date: 05 June 2011

Worst ever carbon emissions leave climate on the brink

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year, to the highest carbon output in history, putting hopes of holding global warming to safe levels all but out of reach, according to unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency.

The shock rise means the goal of preventing a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius – which scientists say is the threshold for potentially “dangerous climate change” – is likely to be just “a nice Utopia”, according to Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA. It also shows the most serious global recession for 80 years has had only a minimal effect on emissions, contrary to some predictions.

Last year, a record 30.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuel – a rise of 1.6Gt on 2009, according to estimates from the IEA regarded as the gold standard for emissions data.

“I am very worried. This is the worst news on emissions,” Birol told the Guardian. “It is becoming extremely challenging to remain below 2 degrees. The prospect is getting bleaker. That is what the numbers say.”

Professor Lord Stern of the London School of Economics, the author of the influential Stern Report into the economics of climate change for the Treasury in 2006, warned that if the pattern continued, the results would be dire. “These figures indicate that [emissions] are now close to being back on a ‘business as usual’ path. According to the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's] projections, such a path … would mean around a 50% chance of a rise in global average temperature of more than 4C by 2100,” he said.

“Such warming would disrupt the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people across the planet, leading to widespread mass migration and conflict. That is a risk any sane person would seek to drastically reduce.”

Birol said disaster could yet be averted, if governments heed the warning. “If we have bold, decisive and urgent action, very soon, we still have a chance of succeeding,” he said.

The IEA has calculated that if the world is to escape the most damaging effects of global warming, annual energy-related emissions should be no more than 32Gt by 2020. If this year’s emissions rise by as much as they did in 2010, that limit will be exceeded nine years ahead of schedule, making it all but impossible to hold warming to a manageable degree.

Emissions from energy fell slightly between 2008 and 2009, from 29.3Gt to 29Gt, due to the financial crisis. A small rise was predicted for 2010 as economies recovered, but the scale of the increase has shocked the IEA. “I was expecting a rebound, but not such a strong one,” said Birol, who is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost experts on emissions.

John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace UK, said time was running out. “This news should shock the world. Yet even now politicians in each of the great powers are eyeing up extraordinary and risky ways to extract the world’s last remaining reserves of fossil fuels – even from under the melting ice of the Arctic. You don’t put out a fire with gasoline. It will now be up to us to stop them.”

Most of the rise – about three-quarters – has come from developing countries, as rapidly emerging economies have weathered the financial crisis and the recession that has gripped most of the developed world.

But he added that, while the emissions data was bad enough news, there were other factors that made it even less likely that the world would meet its greenhouse gas targets.

  • About 80% of the power stations likely to be in use in 2020 are either already built or under construction, the IEA found. Most of these are fossil fuel power stations unlikely to be taken out of service early, so they will continue to pour out carbon – possibly into the mid-century. The emissions from these stations amount to about 11.2Gt, out of a total of 13.7Gt from the electricity sector. These “locked-in” emissions mean savings must be found elsewhere.

“It means the room for manoeuvre is shrinking,” warned Birol.

  • Another factor that suggests emissions will continue their climb is the crisis in the nuclear power industry. Following the tsunami damage at Fukushima, Japan and Germany have called a halt to their reactor programmes, and other countries are reconsidering nuclear power.

“People may not like nuclear, but it is one of the major technologies for generating electricity without carbon dioxide,” said Birol. The gap left by scaling back the world’s nuclear ambitions is unlikely to be filled entirely by renewable energy, meaning an increased reliance on fossil fuels.

  • Added to that, the United Nations-led negotiations on a new global treaty on climate change have stalled. “The significance of climate change in international policy debates is much less pronounced than it was a few years ago,” said Birol.

He urged governments to take action urgently. “This should be a wake-up call. A chance [of staying below 2 degrees] would be if we had a legally binding international agreement or major moves on clean energy technologies, energy efficiency and other technologies.”

Governments are to meet next week in Bonn for the next round of the UN talks, but little progress is expected.

Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to the UK government, said the global emissions figures showed that the link between rising GDP and rising emissions had not been broken. “The only people who will be surprised by this are people who have not been reading the situation properly,” he said.

Forthcoming research led by Sir David will show the west has only managed to reduce emissions by relying on imports from countries such as China.

Another telling message from the IEA’s estimates is the relatively small effect that the recession – the worst since the 1930s – had on emissions. Initially, the agency had hoped the resulting reduction in emissions could be maintained, helping to give the world a “breathing space” and set countries on a low-carbon path. The new estimates suggest that opportunity may have been missed.

Source: Worst ever carbon emissions leave climate on the brink – The Guardian UK

Date: 29 May 2011

Cut out meat to stop nitrogen pollution say scientists

Monday, April 11th, 2011

First they told us not to eat meat because of climate change. Now scientists are telling the public to adopt a ‘demitarian’ diet, that contains half as much meat, to stop an even more dangerous threat to the planet – nitrogen pollution.

The first study in the world to calculate the total costs of nitrogen pollution across a whole continent found that the problem is costing each person in Europe up to £650 every year because of health and environmental damage.

The main cause of the pollution is agriculture through the manure of animals and the nitrogen fertilisers spread on crops. Around half of nitrogen added to farm fields in Europe leaks into the surrounding environment rather than feeding plants. This causes algae slimes to grow in water and on trees, suffocating wildlife and disturbing delicate ecosystems.

Also nitrogen ‘smog’ released into the air by burning fossil fuels in power stations and cars cause breathing or heart problems that take six months off the life of all Europeans, as well as being a greenhouse gas.

The ground-breaking European Nitrogen Assessment by more than 200 scientists from 21 countries concludes that nitrogen pollution poses an even greater threat to humankind than carbon. The cost is greater than the benefits gained by using nitrogen fertiliser to grow food and therefore it is in the EU’s interest to take action.

Dr Mark Sutton, the UK lead author, said the best way to control the problem is through eating less meat.

He explained that most of the nitrogen used in agriculture is used to grow feed crops for animals or comes from manure.

Therefore cutting down on animal protein, would significantly reduce the amount of pollution.

“The largest challenges are to manage nitrogen better in agriculture and to moderate Europeans’ consumption of animal protein,” he said. “Amazingly, livestock consume around 85 per cent of the 14 million tonnes of nitrogen in crops harvested or imported into the EU; only 15 per cent is used to feed humans directly. European nitrogen use is therefore not primarily an issue of food security, but one of luxury consumption.”

Already celebrities like Sir Paul McCartney and Joanna Lumley have urged people to give up meat at least once a week for ‘Meat Free Mondays’. The United Nations and well known academics like Lord Stern also advocate cutting down on meat to help the environment.

Dr Sutton, from the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology, and the other scientists involved in the project have signed an agreement pledging to be ‘demitarians’ or eat half as much meat.

He also said people can switch to public transport and use less energy in order to cut nitrogen use.

However he ruled out a tax on nitrogen fertiliser because of the threat to food security.

Source: Cut out meat to stop nitrogen pollution say scientists – The Telegraph UK

Date: 11 April 2011

The coming hunger: Record food prices put world ‘in danger’, says UN

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Food riots, geopolitical tensions, global inflation and increasing hunger among the planet’s poorest people are the likely effects of a new surge in world food prices, which have hit an all-time high according to the United Nations.

The UN’s index of food prices – an international basket comprising wheat, corn, dairy produce, meat and sugar – stands at its highest since the index started in 1990, surpassing even the peaks seen during the 2008 food crisis, which prompted civil disturbances from Mexico to Indonesia.

“We are entering danger territory,” said the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s chief economist, Abdolreza Abbassian.

Global food prices have risen for the sixth month in succession. Wheat has almost doubled since June, sugar is at a 30-year high, and pork is up by a quarter since the beginning of 2010.

The trends have already affected the UK where the jump in food prices in November was the highest since 1976. Meat and poultry were up 1 per cent and fruit by 7.5 per cent in one month.

Food producers have been told to expect the wheat price to jump again this month, hitting bakers and the makers of everything from pasta to biscuits.

More is sure to follow and that in turn will add to pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates to control rising prices. Higher mortgage bills by the end of the year will add to the unpleasantness facing “middle England” from a year of tax hikes and below-inflation pay rises.

However, the biggest impact of the food price shock will be felt in countries in the developing world where staple items command a much larger share of household incomes.

Economists warn that “soft commodity” food prices show little sign of stabilising, and that cereals and sugar in particular may surge even higher in coming months. In addition, long-term trends associated with growth in population and climate change may mean higher food costs become a permanent feature of economic life, even though the current spike may end in due course. Speculation, too, may be part of the crisis, as investors climb on to the rising food-price bandwagon.

Mr Abbassian said the UN agency is concerned by the unpredictability of weather activity, which many experts link to climate change. He said: “There is still room for prices to go up much higher, if for example the dry conditions in Argentina tend to become a drought, and if we start having problems with winterkill in the northern hemisphere for the wheat crops.”

One concern, especially in Ukraine and Russia, is that the cold winter, following disastrous droughts and summer fires, will have damaged the seeds for next year’s crops, leading to an even more acute crisis than seen last year. Government policies, especially the export bans imposed by nervous Indian and Russian governments, have exacerbated such problems in world markets.

Meanwhile, burgeoning consumption in the booming economies of east Asia and the pressure exerted by the demand for crops for biofuels rather than food, especially in the US, is adding to the unprecedented squeeze on world food supplies.

The latest surge in crude oil prices adds to the risk of turmoil. Many experts say oil prices show few signs of abating, and the price of a barrel is set to breach the $100 barrier again soon. Opec officials yesterday said they were happy with such a level. Oil peaked at just under $150 a barrel in 2008; any sign of renewed tension in Iran would see the price exceed that. Higher oil prices add to food price inflation by increasing transportation costs.

The interplay of rising fuel prices, the growing use of biofuels, bad weather and soaring futures markets drove up the price of food dramatically in 2008, prompting violent protests in Mexico, Indonesia, Egypt, Cameroon and Haiti. Last year’s spike was provoked mainly by the freakish weather conditions in Russia and Ukraine, but one of the underlying trends is the growing and changing appetites of east Asia.

As more Chinese enter the middle classes they tend to consume more poultry and meat, just as Westerners did at a similar stage in their economic progress. However, meat and poultry husbandry consumes at least three times the resources that grains do, while the drift towards the cities in China is reducing the yields of its farms. Similar trends are visible in the other fast-growing, populous nations such as Brazil, India and Indonesia.

Countries that are poor and produce relatively little of their own food are most vulnerable to the food price shock – Bangladesh, Morocco and Nigeria top the “at risk” list, according to research by Nomura economists, who also identify growing shortages of water as a critical factor restraining any growth in agricultural productivity.

Owen Job, strategist at Nomura, said: “The economists’ model of increasing supply as demand grows may be breaking down. Supply cannot keep up with factors such as biofuels and the urbanisation of China. Some 30 per cent of all water used in agriculture comes from unsustainable sources.”

* David Cameron has disclosed that the Treasury was considering introducing a “fuel stabiliser”. Under the move, tax paid by motorists would be cut when the cost of oil surged worldwide and rise when it dropped. He said: “We are looking at it. It’s not simple but I would like to try and find some way of sharing the risk of higher fuel prices with the consumer.”

Source: The coming hunger: Record food prices put world ‘in danger’, says UN – The Independent

Date: 6 January 2011

Fears of new food crisis as prices soar – FT.com

Monday, November 29th, 2010

The bill for global food imports will top $1,000bn this year for the second time ever, putting the world “dangerously close” to a new food crisis, the United Nations said.

The warning by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation adds to fears about rising inflation in emerging countries from China to India.

“Prices are dangerously close to the levels of 2007-08,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, an economist at the FAO.

The FAO painted a worrying outlook in its twice-yearly Food Outlook on Wednesday, warning that the world should “be prepared” for even higher prices next year. It said it was crucial for farmers to “expand substantially” production, particularly of corn and wheat in 2011-12 to meet expected demand and rebuild world reserves

Source: Fears of new food crisis as prices soar – FT.com

Date: 17 November 2010

“Latin America Faces an Environmental Emergency”

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Milagros Salazar interviews Uruguayan ecologist EDUARDO GUDYNAS

An Uruguayan expert warns that the unrelenting extraction of natural resources in Latin America fails to take into account the environmental damage, with the pretext that the wealth generated will sustain social programs.

The Latin American economy based on exploitation of natural resources does not create social well-being and is unsustainable in the context of climate change, says Uruguayan Eduardo Gudynas, lead researcher at the Latin American Center for Social Ecology (CLAES).

Gudynas, who was in Lima to lead a workshop with the Peruvian Network for Equitable Globalization, is one of the contributors to the new report Global Environmental Outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean (GEO-ALC), produced by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), to be officially presented later this year.

TIERRAMÉRICA: You assert that there is an imbalance in Latin America between the exploitation of resources and protection of the environment. How serious is the problem?

EDUARDO GUDYNAS: Latin America is faced with an environmental emergency, because the pace of establishing new protected areas and setting up environmental regulations, for example in the industrial sector, is much slower than the increased pace of negative impacts from resource extraction.

TIERRAMÉRICA: In the context of climate change, is the threat any greater?

EG: Much more, not only because of the vulnerability of developing countries, but also because Latin America isn’t taking responsibility.

Always left in the margins is the fact that the region’s principal source of greenhouse gas emissions is deforestation, followed by changes in land use and agriculture. As such, discussing climate change means talking about rural development, agricultural policies and land ownership.

But there are economic and political interests that stand in the way. It is simpler to propose using energy efficient light bulbs than talk about these issues.

In the international sphere the focus is on the historic responsibility of the countries of the North for emissions, and requiring compensation from them, but there is little action in this region to confront climate change and preserve our ecological heritage.

TIERRAMÉRICA: How did we arrive at such a state?

EG: Historically it has been argued that the road to development for South America is the appropriation and extraction of natural resources. Attention went to how to do it most efficiently and we missed the opportunity to diversify the economies in the years of high prices for basic commodities.

That accentuated the focus on raw materials, to the detriment of the environment, even in countries with strong industry, like Brazil.

TIERRAMÉRICA: Which countries in the region are worst off?

EG: Brazil is in a critical state because of its nearly complete appropriation of resources and their impacts. It is followed by the Andean countries, like Peru (with big mining projects) and Ecuador (extensive petroleum exploitation).

Brazil is already a major mining country, mostly iron and aluminum, and has a policy to increase that production through low taxation in order to continue attracting foreign investment. Most worrisome is that the strategy includes flexibilizing its environmental policies. Also of concern is the search for “cheap energy” through hydroelectric dams in the Amazon.

TIERRAMÉRICA: Is “extractivism” bad in and of itself, or is the problem that the environmental and social costs are not included?

EG: There is global overconsumption of raw materials. The economic impact of the social and environmental damages should be taken into account to evaluate the costs of the productive process, as well as the contribution to climate change.

But these assessments are not done, because if they were the extractive projects would never be approved.

The impacts in the areas where the resources are extracted are ignored, and that explains why there are conflicts. It’s the paradox of macroeconomic well-being at the cost of local harm.

TIERRAMÉRICA: Does this happen in countries governed by political parties of the center and right, and of the left?

EG: It does. Although there are substantial differences in the role that the government plays in the extractivist sector. In the countries governed by the left, like Bolivia or Brazil, a portion of the wealth generated by that sector is used for social programs as a way to legitimize the policy in order to continue exploiting the resources.

At this point, extractivism, in addition to being a political problem, is a cultural problem. It is deeply rooted in the idea that mining and petroleum are sources of wealth and that they should be exploited as soon as possible.

The governments of the left have used that idea to say that they are more efficient in using the Earth’s resources. But being a cultural problem, it is reproduced in different political currents.

TIERRAMÉRICA: So how can other alternatives for sustainable development be generated?

EG: That is the problem. Because the idea of extractivism is so widespread, other possibilities are seen with mistrust or are rejected. And that is a serious situation because there are sectors like petroleum that are going to disappear. Survival lies on the “post-extractivist” path.

TIERRAMÉRICA: What role does regional integration play in that path?

EG: It plays a fundamental role. To escape the old approach requires economic and social coordination among neighboring countries, even if those alternatives do not aim to annul the mining or petroleum industries, but rather to reformulate them.

TIERRAMÉRICA: How can anyone negotiate integration with Brazil without losing? The energy agreement between Brazil and Peru has undertones of inequality.

EG: A prime objective is to reduce the asymmetries among the nations so that the smallest can have relatively the same level of development as the largest.

Peru shouldn’t just sell electricity to Brazil and be left with the environmental and social damages as well as having to buy Brazilian cars. They have to find other ways so that the neighbor advances as well.

Source: “Latin America Faces an Environmental Emergency” - tierramerica

Date: 08 July 2010

Revealed: Shocking satellite images of lakes show extent of man’s impact on world’s water supply

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

These dramatic before-and-after satellite photos show the terrifying effect man is having on the world’s resources.

Taken over nearly 40 years, photographs show the drying up of several bodies of water around the world – receding as mankind’s demand for water grows.

Included in the shocking collection is the once mighty Aral Sea in Central Asia.

The expanse of water, like several others across the globe, has been reduced to worryingly sparse levels. In April the situation at the Aral Sea was described as ‘one of the planet’s worst environmental disasters’ by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

1973: Satellite image of the Aral Sea used to be the fourth largest lake in the world  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1291433/Shocking-extent-mans-impact-worlds-water.html#ixzz0tJbT54ux

1973: Satellite image of the Aral Sea used to be the fourth largest lake in the world

1999: More than 25 years on the sea has noticeably shrunk to less than half its size  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1291433/Shocking-extent-mans-impact-worlds-water.html#ixzz0tJbkxZhc

1999: More than 25 years on the sea has noticeably shrunk to less than half its size

2009: Satellite image taken last year shows a situation described as one of the planets worst  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1291433/Shocking-extent-mans-impact-worlds-water.html#ixzz0tJcJS9pj

2009: Satellite image taken last year shows a situation described as 'one of the planet's worst'

Shown here in images taken from space between 1973 and 2009, slowly but surely the Aral – in fact a salt water lake – has shrunk from being the size of Ireland to a cluster of contaminated ponds.

An inland lake, the Aral is found between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and used to be the fourth largest lake in the world. Since the 1960s, it has lost more than half of its volume.

The drying is due to overuse of the lake’s feeder rivers. In the 1960s the former Soviet Union diverted the Syr Darya and Amu Darya for the irrigation of cotton and paddy fields.

Now 50 years later the water is at a dismal 10 per cent of its level when the projects first began.

So great was the impact on the region the local climate was thought to have changed and pollution has risen to dangerous levels.

The destruction of the lake has also decimated the local fishing industry, causing severe knock-on unemployment and further economic woe for the people living around it.

Across the globe once rich and fertile lands are facing the same catastrophe.

Arid and desolate Iraq was once a green, lush environment even reputed to be the setting of the Garden of Eden.

Seen from above between 1973 and 2000 the Mesopotamia marshlands straddle the borders between Iraq and Iran near the mighty Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

1990: Satellite image of drained areas (grey) amongst marshland (dark red) around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq. Darker areas show deep water  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1291433/Shocking-extent-mans-impact-worlds-water.html#ixzz0tJdKeEmO

1990: Satellite image of drained areas (grey) amongst marshland (dark red) around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq. Darker areas show deep water

2000: The same image shows how dramatically the water has receded in just 20 years. The rivers were drained to provide agricultural land  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1291433/Shocking-extent-mans-impact-worlds-water.html#ixzz0tJdShqna

2000: The same image shows how dramatically the water has receded in just 20 years. The rivers were drained to provide agricultural land

The marshes were systematically drained in the mid- to late 20th century. This was done to provide agricultural land, but also to destroy the habitat of the Shi’a Muslim Marsh Arabs, who were persecuted by the Iraqi ruling Ba’athist Party.

Also included in the before-and-after pictures are the Toshka Lakes, in southern Egypt.

They were formed in the 1990s by diverting water from Lake Nasser, an artificial lake formed behind the Aswan High Dam on the river Nile.

The region was planned to be a major new agricultural and industrial site for Egypt. But as these images show, the region is drying fast.

One image taken in March 2001, shows the lakes near their maximum capacity. A later satellite picture from December 2005 shows how the waters receded due to drought and rising demand for water, leaving a ring of brown wetlands around the edges of the lakes.

Lake Chad, located in the Sahel region near the Sahara, was the fourth largest lake in Africa in the 1960s and had an area of more than 10,000 square miles.

But by the 21st century it had shrunk to less than 600 square miles – around a twentieth of its size. This was caused by increased use of irrigation combined with severe droughts.

The Toshka Lakes in southern Egypt were formed in the 1990s by diverting water from Lake Nasser, an artificial lake that formed behind the Aswan High Dam on the river Nile.

The region was planned to be a major new agricultural and industrial site for Egypt but as these images show – between 2001 and 2005 – the region is drying fast.

The waters have receded, leaving a ring of brown wetlands around the edges of the lakes, because of drought and a rising demand for water in the area.

Dr Benjamin Lloyd-Hughes of the Walker Institute for climate system research, University of Reading, said: ‘Ultimately the disaster seen at the Aral Sea and the marshes are the combined effects of man and rising temperatures in those regions.

‘There has not been much change in rainfall in those areas but the temperature has risen by over 1 degree Centigrade since 1970, which will have enhanced losses due to evaporation.

‘Pollution in the area will have become worse because as the water evaporates, pollutants in the water become more concentrated and less diluted.’

At Lake Chad and the Toshka Lakes the same effect of man in combination with climate change has been observed.

Dr Lloyd-Hughes added:

‘There has been a 30% reduction in annual rainfall since 1900 in these regions but not a significant change in temperature.

‘Reductions in lake levels here seem to driven by reductions in rainfall rather than increased evaporation.

‘The outlook is that there will be no change in rainfall but temperature could increase by another two degrees Centigrade by 2100. This is not good but not so bad as for the Aral Sea and Mesopotamia.

‘Global warming is a problem that is happening everywhere but if drought is happening in your region then it is a far greater problem.’

With the growth of mass-agriculture to feed a severely ballooning global population, water demand has begun to perilously outstrip supply, making disasters like the Aral Sea a grim and alarming likelihood for the future.

Source: Revealed: Shocking satellite images of lakes show extent of man’s impact on world’s water supply – dailymail.co.uk

Date: 03 July 2010

Results 1-10 of overall 44
REPORTS see all

Reversing Meat-Eating Culture to Combat Climate Change

Download

Livestock Production and Shorter-Lived Climate Forcers

Download

Plant-Based Diets - A solution to our public health crisis

Download

Leaders Preserving Our Future - Insights Paper - WPF - November 2010

Download

Maintaining a Climate of Life - Summary Report

Download

Livestock's Climate Impact

Download

Livestock & Sustainable Food

Download

Reducing Shorter-Lived Climate Forcers Through Dietary Change

Download

The global cost of biodiversity loss: 14 trillion Euros? - EU Commission (2008)

Download

Forests, Fisheries, Agriculture: A Vision for Sustainability (2009)

Download

  • LATEST NEWS

  • Categories