Coach House Geography

Interesting Geography stuff for InterHigh

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Climate change will be good for Britain’s growers says Met Office but not for everyone else

Posted by Lindy on December 5, 2011

From an article by Louise Gray

05 Dec 2011

The report, which brings together for the first time climate change projections for 24 different countries, found that farmers in the UK, Germany and Canada could all benefit from global warming.  In these temperate climates, the increase in temperature will not kill plants but can make it easier to grow crops like wheat. The UK could benefit the most with an estimated 96 per cent of agricultural land becoming more suitable for crops by 2100.

However Australia, Spain and South Africa will all see their crop production fall as the plants die in the hotter climate. More than 90 per cent of the land in these countries will become less suitable for agriculture. The report estimated that the production of staple food crops will decrease in parts of Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India Russia, Turkey and the USA. A recent Oxfam have warned that food prices are already rising as a result of reduced crop yield around the world due to climate change and warned the problem could drive malnutrition in future.

The report also estimated the likelihood of water shortages and floods in different countries across the world. In the UK the number of households under ‘water stress’ will increase to almost a quarter of the population as the average temperature rises by up to 3C in the south. This means that by 2100 18 million people will be at risk of ‘not having enough water to meet their daily needs’.

Water stress will be worse in South and South East, where there is already a problem providing the growing population with enough water. This winter water companies in Anglia, South East Water and Severn Trent have declared themselves in drought and are asking consumers to limit water use. It is expected the South East and Midlands will face a hosepipe ban next summer following the driest 12 months on record in some areas.

At the other end of the scale the risk of costal and river flooding will also increase because of rising sea levels and more heavy bursts of rainfall. The Met Office estimated that there will be a “general increase in flood risk for the UK”, although this will not apply everywhere. The projections ranged from a three and a half times greater risk of flooding to a decrease in flooding by a fifth.

Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said that overall the impact of climate change could be extremely damaging for the UK and the world.

“This report highlights some of the very real dangers we face if we don’t limit emissions to combat the rise in global temperature. Life for millions of people could change forever, with water and food supplies being placed in jeopardy and homes and livelihoods under threat. This makes the challenge of reducing emissions even more urgent,” he said.

The report warned that if the world does not limit temperature rise to 2C by cutting carbon emissions then the majority of countries are projected to see an increase in river and coastal flooding, putting 49 million more people in danger by 2100.

The Lib Dem minister arrived at the United Nations talks in Durban yesterday (Monday) to try and persuade the rest of the world to sign up to ambitious carbon emissions, despite the fact that his own Government is being criticised for rowing back from climate change back home.

Mr Huhne wants the world to agree to work towards a legally binding deal by 2015 that would commit all countries to cutting emissions. But at the moment the US, China and India are refusing to sign up, raising fears that the talks could collapse.

“The UK wants a legally binding global agreement to keep the global temperature rise below 2C,” he said. “If this is achieved this study shows that some of the most significant impacts from climate change could be reduced significantly. By the end of the week we need to see progress to move towards this goal.”


Posted in Climate change, Food supply, Water, Weather | Leave a Comment »

Ways of managing coasts under pressure

Posted by Lindy on December 5, 2011

Trials prove GPS technology helps habitats and fishermen

Thursday, 01 December 2011 14:37

TRIALS have shown that new technology is allowing South West of England fishermen to continue to fish in their local area while protecting the marine habitats in Lyme Bay. The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) say that by rolling out GPS technology, fishermen can prove that they are not fishing in vulnerable or protected areas, and so continue to operate in less sensitive areas of Lyme Bay rather than stopping fishing in the area altogether.

By embracing new technology it shows that the sector is ready and able to respond positively to the need to protect the marine environment while continuing to make a living from the sea.

Following the MMO’s evaluation of this trial, expected in Spring 2012, the Government hope that fishermen around the country will be able to adopt this new technology to help ensure that fishing can continue to take place without damaging sensitive marine habitats.

Posted in coasts, Lyme Bay | Leave a Comment »

Senegal: Prospects and Pitfalls Along a Great Green Wall

Posted by Lindy on December 1, 2011

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.



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 »

Bangladesh flood management

Posted by Lindy on November 29, 2011

The situation:

1/5 to ¼ of the country floods every monsoon, but this has the advantage of providing fertile soil. However, 50% to 70% is subject to flash floods which cause a lot of harm to the people and economically. So flood management is essential to raising the level of development of the people.

The problem:

2.         Nature of floods

It  has  230  rivers,  of  which  57  are  international, Bangladesh in most cases occupies the lower course.  Of the three large transboundary river systems  (Ganges,  Brahmaputra  and  Meghna),  only  7%  of  their  huge  catchment  areas  lies  in Bangladesh.

The seasonal flooding regime has been characterized by means of inundation of the different land types,  which  have  been  divided  into  five  categories,  ranging  from  very  low  to  high  land.  Except high  lands  (which  cover  30%  of  the  country’s  total  area),  all  other  types  are  subjected  to  flood inundation to different degrees. Excepting very low lands, human settlements can be found in all other land categories.

  • Bangladesh generally experiences four types of floods.
  • Flash floods occur during mid-April before the on-set of the south-westerly monsoon.
  • Rain-fed floods generally happen in the deltas in the south-western part of the country and are increasing in low-lying urban areas.
  • River floods are the most common; the areas are inundated during monsoon season along the river and in cases far beyond the riverbanks.
  • Storm surge floods occur along the coastal areas of Bangladesh, which has a coastline of about 800 km along the northern part of Bay of Bengal. In case of important cyclones the  entire  coastal  belt  is  flooded,  sometimes  causing  great  loss  of  lives.
  • Coastal  areas  are  also subjected to tidal flooding from June to September.

3.         Flood management and mitigation strategies

a) Initially after the early disasters, they went for huge structural projects. But these were expensive and took a long time to get on stream, so these were largely abandoned.

b) Then there was a move towards small  and  medium  scale  flood control, drainage and irrigation projects (FCDI)  to  provide  early benefits. But this concentration on just agriculture was seen to be short-sighted.

c) So next ecological protection came to the fore.

As a result, since the 1960’s about 628 large, medium and small-scale FCDI projects have been implemented; they comprise levees and embankments, drainage channel improvements, drainage structures,  dams  and  barrages,  pumping  systems,  etc.  They  have  provided  flood  protection  to about 5.37 million ha of land, which is about 35% of the total area.

But structural measure alone can not mitigate the disasters. The Flood Forecasting and

Warning System (FFWS), established in the 1970s has been under continual review.  85 flood-monitoring stations provide  real-time  flood  information  and  early  warning  with  lead-times  of  24  and  48  hours.  The FFWS  is  currently  assisting  Government,  disaster  managers  and  the  communities  living  in  the flood  prone  areas  in  matters  of  flood  preparedness,  preparation  of  emergency  mitigation  plans, agricultural planning and rehabilitation, etc

Taken from

Posted in Bangladesh, management, Rivers | Leave a Comment »

Ghana Global Human Development Still Needs Improvement

Posted by Lindy on November 25, 2011

A summary by an article by Helena Selby

23 November 2011

The development of people or humans in the world is expected to increase as the years goes by, however, due to environmental issues, and how people choose to live their lives, bearing in mind that with every action they take concerning the environment, it has a future consequence on people around them. Human development is all about expanding the livelihood of people, in terms of freedom, to cope with the environment in a positive manner.

If people of the world really want to make the world a better place to live for generations to come, there is the need to understand the link between environmental sustainability and equity. According to the United Nations report on human development for 2011, there have been remarkable progresses in human development over recent decades. The report aims at taking a bold step towards the reduction of environmental risk and inequality in the world.

According to the Administrator of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Helen Clark, as a way of the UN achieving its aim on human development, the report identifies pathways for people, local communities, countries and the international community to promote environmental sustainability and equity in mutual reinforcing ways.

What is Human Development?

The report defines human development as the expansion of people’s freedom and capabilities to lead lives that they value and have reason to value. It is about expanding choices. But promoting human development requires addressing sustainability. Locally, nationally and globally, this should be done in ways that are equitable and empowering. By means of sustaining human development, there was the need to expand the substantive freedom of people today, while making reasonable efforts to avoid seriously compromising those of the future generation.

What is Human Development Index (HDI)

HDI is a combined measure of life expectancy, access to education and the standard of living.

Even though good progress has been made in basic education and health, the standard of livng in many countries is still lagging behind.

Unfortunately, much development has taken along side increasing environmental degradation – globally, nearly 40% of land is degraded due to soil erosion, reduced fertiliser and overgrazing. Land productivity is declining, with estimated yield loss at 50% in most cases. Agriculture accounts for 70-85 percent of water use, and an estimated 20 percent of global grain production uses water unsustainably, imperilling future agriculture growth. Desertification threatens the dry lands that are home to about a third of the world’s people, and some areas like the sub Saharan Africa are particularly vulnerable.

Today, around 350 million people, many of them poor, live in or near forests, on which they rely for subsistence and income. Around 45 million people, at least 6million of them women, fish for a living, and are threatened by over fishing and climate change. To the extent that women in poor countries are disproportionately involved in subsistence farming and water collection, they face greater adverse effect of environmental degradation, the report stressed.

Posted in Climate change, Human geography, Sahel | Leave a Comment »

How is this for a one-liner?

Posted by Lindy on November 19, 2011

The new IPCC report on extreme weather disasters and climate change highlights that 95% of deaths from such disasters occur in the developing world, while most of the economic losses occur in the developed world. We lose stuff, they lose their lives.

Posted in Climate change, Weather | 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

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 »

Climate smart agriculture – a new way to use old solutions

Posted by Lindy on November 17, 2011

This is a short summary of a very long article, the full text of which can be found here:

What is the aim of CSA? Climate smart agriculture (CSA) increases crop yields, whilst storing more soil carbon and providing greater climate resilience

The present: As a major user of freshwater and fossil fuels, a significant producer of greenhouse gases and a frequent trigger to deforestation, agriculture has tended to be seen as part of the climate change problem rather than an agent of mitigation. The concept of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) seeks to reverse that pattern.

Developed countries currently focus on reducing energy inputs and emissions, and look for suitable opportunities for biofuel production. They look at opportunities for carbon trading from agricultural production, while the least developed countries are likely to be predominantly focussed on adapting their agricultural systems to meet the challenges posed by a changing climate.

What is Climate Smart Agriculture? Climate resilient agriculture has as its focus the effort to maximise farm output in a changing climate. But Climate Smart Agriculture is this, plus a drive to move agriculture out of the box where it is part of the problem, and into the box where it is part of the solution – George Jacob, Communications, Self Help Africa

By promoting agricultural best practices, such as Integrated Crop Management, conservation agriculture, intercropping, improved seeds and fertilizer management practices, CSA encourages the use of all available and applicable climate change solutions This is done to not only adapt but also mitigate and increase productivity sustainably – Farming First coalition

CSA is agriculture that is resilient and adapted to climate change; helps reduce emissions and sequester carbon; reduces pressure on forests; maintains ecosystem services and biodiversity; and produces food, fibre and fuel crops that the world needs – David Howlett, Africa College, Leeds University

Posted in Appropriate technology, Climate change, Fragile environments, Global warming, Solution to problems | 1 Comment »

Kibera – cash for trash – a new video

Posted by Lindy on November 14, 2011


Posted in Appropriate technology, Kibera, Recycling, Sustainability, Urban environments | Leave a Comment »