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Interesting Geography stuff for InterHigh

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Archive for the ‘Solution to problems’ Category

Climate change the main cause for cold weather in Europe?

Posted by Lindy on February 9, 2012


The exceptionally cold weather characterized by chilling winds and temperatures well below zero degrees Celsius has been striking Europe for more than a week. According to a scientist Alfred Wegener from the Institute for Polar and Marine Research the main cause for this exceptionally cold weather is climate change, or to be more precise the huge loss of Arctic ice.

The effect is twofold, the Wegener scientists report.

First, less ice means less solar heat is reflected back into the atmosphere. Rather, it is absorbed into the darker ocean waters. Second, once that heat is in the ocean, the reduced ice cap allows the heat to more easily escape into the air just above the ocean’s surface.

Because warmer air tends to rise, the moisture-laden air near the ocean’s surface rises, creating instability in the atmosphere and changing air-pressure patterns, the scientists say.

One pattern, called the Arctic Oscillation, normally pushes warm Atlantic air over Europe and keeps Arctic air over the poles.

But in mid-January this year, the Arctic Oscillation abruptly changed, allowing the jet stream to plunge into Siberia and push cold and snowy weather over much of Europe.

Similar situations have emerged the past two years.

http://www.wcyb.com/weather/30391119/detail.html

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Posted in Climate change, Fragile environments, Global warming, Hazards | Leave a Comment »

Pioneering six-mile walkway to attract ‘eco tourists’ to Amazon rainforest

Posted by Lindy on January 24, 2012


23rd January 2012

A project to build a pioneering science centre with more than six miles of walkways will give tourists spectacular views in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. The £6.4m centre will be built by a British charity and will act as a research base for scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, provide jobs for Brazilian tribes and attract eco-tourists, according to The Sunday Times.

Tourist high-light: The walkway will give visitors a stunning view of the rainforest from high above the jungle floor. The ambitious walkway will be located in Roraima, a remote province of northeast Brazil, and will be designed by the same architects who created  the London Eye and Kew Gardens’ treetop walkway. Researchers will use the walkway to study the rainforest canopy while tourists will be able to enjoy stunning views from high above the jungle floor.

The project is being co-ordinated by the Amazon Charitable Trust and is expected to take two years to construct. Robert Pasley-Tyler, a managing partner of the Amazon Charitable Trust, said of the project: ‘It will employ the local river tribe, giving them a way of making a living without destroying the forest, and also boost awareness around the world. Visitors will also get to see the nearby pink dolphins and the giant otters before spending a relaxing day on a riverside beach.’

Roraima is the northernmost and least populated state of Brazil. It borders Venezuela and Guyana and renowned for its challenging hiking routes.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2090563/Pioneering-mile-walkway-attract-eco-tourists-Amazonian-rainforest.html#ixzz1kQDzUYgl

Posted in Amazon, Appropriate technology, Global warming, management, Solution to problems | Leave a Comment »

Rainforest: the problem with roads

Posted by Lindy on January 19, 2012


http://e360.yale.edu/feature/as_roads_spread_in_tropical_rain_forests_environmental_toll_grows/2485/

Taken from an article by William Laurance

Brazil is currently building 7,500 kilometers of new paved highways that crisscross the Amazon basin. Three major new highways are cutting across the towering Andes mountains, providing a direct link for timber and agricultural exports from the Amazon to resource-hungry Pacific Rim nations, such as China.

Despite their environmental costs, the economic incentives to drive roads into tropical wilderness are strong. They are:

  • a cost-effective means to promote economic development
  • give access natural resources
  • local communities in remote areas often demand new roads to improve access to markets and medical services
  • new roads can be used to help secure frontier regions

Roads that cut through rainforests can also create barriers for sensitive wildlife, many of which are ecological specialists. Studies have shown that even narrow (30 meter-wide), unpaved roads drastically reduce or halt local movements for scores of forest bird species. Many of these species prefer deep, dark forest interiors; they have large, light-sensitive eyes and avoid the vicinity of road verges, where conditions are much brighter, hotter, and drier. A variety of other tropical species — including certain insects, amphibians, reptiles, bats, and small and large mammals — have been shown to be similarly leery of roads and other clearings. And by bringing naïve rainforest wildlife into close proximity with fast-moving vehicles, roads can also promote heavy animal mortality. For some creatures, especially those with low reproductive rates, roads could potentially become death zones that help propel the species toward local extinction.

Although the direct effects of roads are serious, they pale in comparison to the indirect impacts. In tropical frontier regions, new roads often open up a Pandora’s box of unplanned environmental maladies, including:

  •  illegal land colonization
  • fires
  • hunting
  • gold mining
  • forest clearing.

“The best thing you could do for the Amazon,” said the respected Brazilian scientist Eneas Salati, “is to bomb all the roads.”

In Brazilian Amazonia, my colleagues and I have done studies showing that around 95 percent of all deforestation occurs within 50 kilometers of highways or roads. Human-lit fires increase dramatically near Amazonian roads, even within many protected areas. In Suriname, most illegal gold mining occurs near roads.

Paved highways are especially dangerous to forests. They provide year-round access to forest resources and reduce transportation costs, causing larger-scale impacts on forests and wildlife than do unpaved roads, which tend to become impassable in the wet season. The proposed routes of new highways often attract swarms of land speculators who rush in to buy up cheap forest land, which they then sell to the highest bidder.
Perhaps the most damaging aspect of paved highways is that they spawn networks of secondary roads, which spread further environmental destruction. For instance, the 2,000-kilometer-long Belem-Brasília highway, completed in the early 1970s, has today evolved into a spider web of secondary roads and a 400-kilometer-wide swath of forest destruction across the eastern Brazilian Amazon.

Can the environmental impacts of tropical roads be minimized? In theory, the answer is “Yes, partially.”

  • Frequent culverts can reduce the effects on streams and hydrology.
  • Impacts on animal movements can be reduced by keeping road clearings narrow enough so that canopy cover is maintained overhead, providing a way for arboreal species to cross.
  • In high-priority areas rope-bridges are being used to facilitate road crossings of monkeys and possums.
  • For small ground-dwelling species, culverts beneath roads can allow road-crossing movements

Posted in Amazon, Fragile environments, management, Solution to problems | Leave a Comment »

What Can Be Done to Slow Climate Change?

Posted by Lindy on January 15, 2012


For the full article go to: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120112193442.htm

This is a very interesting article, but if you are tempted to include in your GSCE exam, make sure you mention Shindell (of NASA) as it is so new, that many exam markers will not have come across it, and may think you have got confused.

The main idea behind what they are saying is that while CO2 has the main long term impact on climate change, it we want to have some effective short term impacts ( i.e. within 40 years) these are the best ways to go, as they don’t just reduce climate change but reduce the impacts on health and agriculture as well.

The 2 key elements are methane and black carbon.

Black carbon are specs that come from burning fossil fuels and wood, and are implicated in respiratory illness and climate change. If these specs are inhaled (e.g. by burning wood for cooking as happens in large parts of the LICs) then many get sick and/or die from it – in particular women and young children. Also black carbon absorb radiation form the sun and so raise the air temperature, darken the ice caps so increasing the heat they absorb and contribute to melting and also to changes in rainfall patterns.

Methane as we know is 20-30 times worse than CO2.

What are the specific actions Shindell thinks we should take?

For black carbon, reduce the emissions from cars by filtering, and even removing the worst offenders from the road, upgrading the cookers using wood, especially in LICs, and banning agricultural stubble burning.

For methane, change methods of production of rice so the paddies do not omit methane, capturing methane from landfill sites,making sure methane do not escape from oil and gas wells and managing animal/human manure more effectively.

Who will benefit?

Russia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan who have a lot of ice will be the prime winners.   Iran, Pakistan and Jordan would experience the most improvement in agricultural production. Southern Asia and the Sahel region of Africa would see the most beneficial changes to precipitation patterns.  The south Asian countries of India, Bangladesh and Nepal would see the biggest reductions in premature deaths as a result of chest infections.

Posted in Bangladesh, Climate change, Energy sources, Fragile environments, Global warming, management, Solution to problems, Weather | Leave a Comment »

The best solutions make you laugh!

Posted by Lindy on January 12, 2012


http://www.cottagecountrynow.ca/opinion/columns/article/1275088–poverty-to-blame-for-escalating-population
A lovely extract about population growth and poverty:
‘Thailand has had striking success in family planning using humour and audacity. During one innovative vasectomy festival, a record breaking 1,190 vasectomies were performed in one day by a team of 40 doctors and 80 nurses.
Rewards included free use of “family-planning buffaloes” for farming, and free piglets. Media helped break down taboos and birth control carnivals, condom blowing contests and community events promoted the link between population growth and low standards of living.’

Posted in Fun stuff, Population, Solution to problems | Leave a Comment »

World pays Ecuador not to extract oil from rainforest

Posted by Lindy on January 3, 2012


Friday 30 December 2011

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/dec/30/ecuador-paid-rainforest-oil-alliance

Governments and film stars join alliance that raises £75m to compensate Ecuador for lost revenue from 900m barrels. Supporters of the Yasuní ‘crowdfunding’ initiative say it could change the way important places are protected.

An alliance of European local authorities, national governments, US film stars, Japanese shops, soft drink companies and Russian foundations have stepped in to prevent oil companies exploiting 900m barrels of crude oil from one of the world’s most biologically rich tracts of land. According to the UN, the “crowdfunding” initiative had last night raised $116m (£75m), enough to temporarily halt the exploitation of the 722 square miles of “core” Amazonian rainforest known as Yasuní national park in Ecuador.

The park, which is home to two tribes of uncontacted Indians, is thought to have more mammal, bird, amphibian and plant species than any other spot on earth. Development of the oilfield, which was planned to take place immediately if the money had not been raised, would have inevitably led to ecological devastation and the eventual release of over 400m tonnes of CO2.

Ecuador agreed to halt plans to mine the oilfield if it could raise 50% of the $7.6bn revenue being lost by not mining the oil. While the world’s leading conservation groups pledged nothing, regional governments in France and Belgium offered millions of dollars – with $2m alone from the Belgian region of Wallonia. A New York investment banker donated her annual salary and Bo Derek, Leonardo DiCaprio, Edward Norton and Al Gore all contributed.

The idea of asking people to pay for something not to take place was widely dismissed by national treasuries as holding the world to ransom. The German development minister, Dirk Niebel, said that the principle of paying for the oil not to be exploited “would be setting a precedent with unforeseeable referrals”. However, Germany has now contributed $48m in “technical assistance”. The former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was widely criticised after he wrote off $51m of Ecuador’s $10bn external debt as Italy’s contribution. Other governments pledging support were Chile, Colombia, Georgia and Turkey ($100,000 each), Peru ($300,000), Australia ($500,000) and Spain ($1.4m).

Supporters of the scheme argued that it could be a model for change in the way the world pays to protect important places. The money raised is guaranteed to be used only for nature protection and renewable energy projects. Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon and other countries with oil reserves, have investigated the possibility of setting up similar schemes as an alternative to traditional aid.

The biological richness of Yasuní has astonished scientists. One 6sq km patch of the park was found to have 47 amphibian and reptile species, 550 bird, 200 mammal and more species of bats and insects than anywhere in the western hemisphere. According to Ecuadorean scientists, it would take in the region of 400 years to record Yasuní’s 100,000 or more insect and 2,000 fish species.

Posted in Amazon, Climate change, Energy sources, Fragile environments, International action, Solution to problems, Sustainability | Leave a Comment »

Shock as retreat of Arctic sea ice releases deadly greenhouse gas

Posted by Lindy on December 24, 2011


http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/shock-as-retreat-of-arctic-sea-ice-releases-deadly-greenhouse-gas-6276134.html#

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region. The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years.

Earlier they had found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of metres in diameter. This was  the first time that they had found continuous, powerful structures, more than 1,000 metres in diameter. Over a relatively small area they found more than 100. Scientists estimate that there are hundreds of millions of tonnes of methane gas locked away beneath the Arctic permafrost, which extends from the mainland into the seabed of the relatively shallow sea of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. One of the greatest fears is that with the disappearance of the Arctic sea-ice in summer, and rapidly rising temperatures across the entire region, which are already melting the Siberian permafrost, the trapped methane could be suddenly released into the atmosphere leading to rapid and severe climate change.

Posted in Climate change, Fragile environments, Global warming | Leave a Comment »

Senegal: Prospects and Pitfalls Along a Great Green Wall

Posted by Lindy on December 1, 2011


http://allafrica.com/stories/201111300170.html

29 November 2011

Former goat-herder Samba Ba proudly points to a row of metre-high acacia trees growing amid the fine grasses that are the only other vegetation in this part of northern Senegal’s arid savannah. “Planting trees is a blessing – trees mean life. We call this the Nile River of the Sahel.”  Ba hopes that in time the trees will bear black fruits that can be used as goat-feed. He and his fellow villagers are also planting the Sahel acacia, which produces a gum with medicinal properties, the tamarind, which has edible bitter-sweet fruit, and the desert date or “sump” tree, which bears small fruits whose oil can be used in cooking. These are all thorny trees with small leaves, the only kind that can survive in the arid conditions.

Sedentary and semi-nomadic Fulani herdsmen are planting five hectares of vegetable and fruit crops and approximately 1,000 trees as part of the Great Green Wall project (“La Grande Muraille Verte”), an ambitious pan-African environmental programme designed to combat desertification along the southern edge of the Sahara and provide nomadic populations with extra livelihoods while enhancing their food security.

The scheme falls within the framework of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, which aims to decrease poverty and improve food sources, and is being supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Donors have pledged US$3 billion to the 11 participating countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan.

 

Ambitious

The governments of these 11 Sahelian states intend that 20 years from now, a giant hedge, 15km wide and 7,000km long, spreading across two million hectares, will help slow the advancing desert and impede the hot winds that increase erosion.

“The wall is just the final result. What we’re looking for… is to protect and improve the eco-systems of these Sahel regions, and [through this] to improve the diets, health, lifestyle and environment of the Savannah people,” said Matar Cissé, director general of the national agency implementing the project, in the Senegalese capital, Dakar.

Chronic drought has made it increasingly difficult for Fulani nomads to make a traditional living as pastoralists, but herdsmen would consider settling in such villages if they could earn a living by growing and selling fruit and vegetables. They are developing a system that will help these people help themselves to stay in one place, create jobs and raise their own incomes.

 

Food production and shifting lifestyles

Villagers are taught how to plant market gardens and use drip irrigation by connecting a small elevated water tank to perforated pipes that deliver small amounts of water to each plant.

So far, the 133 women participating in the scheme in Mbar Toubab have produced lettuce, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, okra, aubergines, watermelons, carrots, cabbages and turnips. Their mango and orange trees have yet to bear fruit.

Such a project must be based on market research that identifies who will be able to buy the vegetables, where, and at what prices, if it is to support livelihoods and food security, said the NGO Groundswell International.

 

Food security versus desertification

Food insecurity in the Sahel is largely due to a growing gap between rich and poor, with an “underclass of the bottom 30 percent” living in chronic poverty. Solutions include subsidized prices, social protection schemes, and disaster reduction, among many others.

Desertification is what forces people to migrate. In the popular imagination desertification is about billowing sand dunes advancing at a rate of two kilometres a year, but… [it] is the overuse of natural resources, over-grazing, intensive farming and the subsequent erosion of land-pockets that become completely denuded and then join together. Tree-planting projects to combat desertification work

best when the trees are owned by the farmers themselves. Usually only 20 percent of newly planted trees survive… so there is a high risk to tree-planting… unless we mobilize millions of [farmers] to invest in trees as well as manage them themselves, the battle against desertification cannot be won.

 

Pastoralist-led solutions

The most innovative projects to improve the lives and livelihoods of pastoralists are being developed by the pastoralists themselves, with the help of NGOs.  In Niger they have established settlement sites where they plant trees and market gardens alongside health and education services. Pastoralists then migrate from these points. Rather than using such schemes to encourage the nomads to settle – which often leads to tension with sedentary communities – a combination of mobility and agriculture is the most risk-averse survival strategy. [Partial] mobility…is a much better and less risky strategy than staying in one place… [which] leads to over-grazing, and if the area does not get much rainfall that year, the pastoralists are much more vulnerable

Posted in Fragile environments, management, Sahel, Solution to problems | Leave a Comment »

A really neat way to look at things

Posted by Lindy on November 19, 2011


Posted in Appropriate technology, Climate change, Development, Energy sources, Global warming, Recycling, Renewable, Solution to problems | Leave a Comment »

Mexico To Earn Royalty On Light Bulb Carbon Credits

Posted by Lindy on November 18, 2011


http://planetark.org/wen/63813

08-Nov-11 – from an article by  Sonali Paul

Mexico will earn a royalty on carbon credits generated from energy-saving light bulbs through a world-first deal that could pave the way for other developing countries to fund emissions cuts. Under the project, an Australian company, Cool nrg International will distribute 45 million energy efficient light bulbs to 6.5 million low-income households in Mexico City. The aim is to generate energy savings of 33,000 gigawatt hours, cutting annual emissions by the equivalent of about one-third of car emissions in a city renowned for its smog. In total, the project aims to reduce 16 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, over 10 years.

Every tonne of CO2 saved will generate a credit, or certified emission reduction (CER), which will be sold to companies in rich nations, which will incur huge fines if they overstep their limits and do not buy in carbon credits to cover any shortfall.

The project is seen as a possible model for other developing countries looking for ways to fund the promotion of energy saving and less-polluting technologies.

While complex to carry out and monitor, the Mexican project could result in significant emissions cuts, help low-income households save money on energy and generate funds for the government too as they receive commission from light bulb company.

A light-bulb project by Cool nrg and its partners in 2009 was the first of its type to be approved under an expanded form of the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism. The CDM allows clean energy project developers to earn CERs from projects in poorer countries.

Posted in Climate change, Energy sources, Global warming, Solution to problems | Leave a Comment »