Another warning

Casanare drought raises Colombia climate fears

Colombian cattleman Daniel Cuadra: “I don’t know what the future holds, but we need to prepare ourselves because next year could be worse.”

The rotting corpses of dead cows and wild capybaras line the road that leads from Paz de Ariporo to Hato Las Taparas in the Colombian province of Casanare.

At least 20,000 animals, including wild pigs, deer, small crocodiles and tortoises have died of thirst during a catastrophic dry season in this central region.

And many fear this year’s drought is only heralding a future of increasingly harsh summers and even more severe water shortages in Colombia’s plains.

Dry as bone

“Here we have two very distinct seasons: a dry season and a rainy season,” explains Angely Rodriguez who overseas agricultural and environmental affairs in Paz de Ariporo.

“In a couple of months, it will be raining so much, all this will be like a mirror, completely flooded.”

But that will be of little consolation to farmers whose livestock has been decimated.

Ms Rodriguez says dry spells – which usually last from December to April – are nothing new for the inhabitants of Casanare, but “never before during the dry season did we have such a lack of water”.

As we drive across the yellow plains, all we seem to come across are tanker lorries.

Some are carrying water to replenish ponds, marshes and other natural drinking sources as part of efforts by the authorities to alleviate the suffering of wildlife and cattle.

Water is being delivered to some of the worst hit areas to replenish ponds, but many of the lorries carry oil

But the large majority carry oil extracted from under the soil of these plains.

Ms Rodriguez thinks the recent boom in oil exploration and extraction in the area is to blame for the water scarcity in the summer months. “We’ve seen water sources that used to last all summer run completely dry,” she tells the BBC.

“We’re aware global climate change is part of the problem. But we also need to look into the consequences of seismic exploration and how much water the oil industry is extracting,” she says, as we drive past a flock of vultures feasting on another dead cow.

‘Too simplistic’

Like Ms Rodriguez, many worry about the consequences of seismic reflection – an exploration method that uses small controlled explosions to create an image similar to a sonogram to help locate new oil deposits.

Many in Colombia fear that this method affects water sources, and dismiss oil industry studies which suggest the contrary.

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Change the World Wednesday – 23rd Apr

Update

A month ago in my Monday Moaning I wrote of the plight of São Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city.

They didn’t have water. The reservoirs that supply the city were down around the 30% mark.

Jaguari Dam - Responsible for 45% of Saõ Paulo's water

Jaguari Dam – Responsible for 45% of Saõ Paulo’s water – image: Diario Central

A month later and the plight has become critical, the reservoirs have fallen to 11.9% of their capacity (last night’s news).

Now literally, they don’t have water.

The water company is pleading with people to save water, substantial discounts are being offered to those who reduce their usage by 20% from their previous average, those who use more than their previous average will be fined heavily.

Don’t say, “But that can’t happen here!” Because it is happening! NOW!

In some areas of the world the water situation has become serious, it’s up to you to see it doesn’t get worse.

Back to our regular programme…

The problem with rabbit food is that one good fart and I'm hungry again

The problem with rabbit food is that one good fart and I’m hungry again

The BIG question!

Did I go vegan for a day? The answer is no… I did two days. Nothing fancy, just simple salads and a home made garlic and herb vinaigrette.

I did it this time just to show you I could, normally I don’t plan them, they just happen, and normally they are more vegetarian than vegan; I do like eggs and cheese with my salad.

In my perambulations for last week’s post, I did fine this. Grateable and meltable vegan cheese on Bunny Kitchen. Just thought I’d say.

Without this fellow and his ilk, there wouldn't be life on the planet

Without this fellow and his ilk, there wouldn’t be life on the planet

 Bees…

Yes, this week’s CTWW is about bees.

Click the banner for the full post

We’ve all heard that Bee populations are declining. Since bees pollinate the majority of our food crops, worldwide, their decline is a cause for great concern. Why are they in trouble? Research points to GMO agriculture and the use of pesticides. It’s time to take action! Here’s your challenge …

This week, take action to protect honey bees. Please choose at least one action from the following list:

  • Plant at least one native, flowering plant in your yard. Avoid hybrid plants … they don’t produce enough nectar or pollen and are useless to bees and other pollinators.
  • Plant a vegetable garden.
  • Let pests live (natural pest controllers, like Lady Bugs, need them for food).
  • Keep your lawn and garden pesticide-free.
  • Eliminate chemicals in your home.
  • Provide a year-round, clean source of water for bees (rainwater collection, a small garden water feature, bird bath, etc.).
  • Leave some dead trees or plants in your yard … bees will nest in them. Or, place a bee house in your garden.
  • Buy organic food.
  • Take up beekeeping.

Well, let’s see how I stack up with that lot.

Attracts big black bees in the late afternoon. Honey bees are too small to pollinate these

Attracts big black bees in the late afternoon. Honey bees are too small to pollinate these

My most prolific flower is the passion fruit; I currently have three that I am training along the house, fence and garage, and more in the plantling stage, three in the ground and about twenty saplings in a planter as standbys.

I have a few tomatoes and garlic around, mainly I have herbs and fruit.

The gulf fritillery caterpillars must be destroyed, or they eat the passion fruit vines to death. Other than that, insects are free to roam.

My lawn is pesticide free, in fact, my lawn is lawn free… I don’t have one.

We talked about harmful chemicals a couple of weeks ago. I am experimenting with orange and vinegar air freshener so that I have one less chemical.

Aedes aegypti plays Dengue once, dengue twice you're dead

Aedes aegypti plays Dengue once you’re sick, dengue twice you’re dead

Now the water feature here is a no – no.

Standing water is used by the Aedes aegypti mosquito to produce larvae, Aedes aegypti is the source of dengue fever, which is deadly, and seriously prolific here in many city areas.

Yes, lots of dead material around here, but not enough for natural beehives.

Buy organic, when I can.

Oh, the neighbours would be up in arms if I did that. My area is urban, the houses very close together. The authorities would pounce with a heavy pounce.

Well, there’s my summary.

Simple Green Ideas

This is so simple, and I have done this…

Need a new coffee table?

Got an old window lying around from house renovations?

Got some old bricks< glass would be classy?

coffeetable

NB: Lost the credit for this, if it’s yours, let me know and I’ll add it.

Monday Moaning

The world is head over heels in love with bio-fuels and fracking. The latter fraught with problems over excessive water use, pollutant chemicals, earthquakes. The former with diverting staple foods to energy.

Now a US government report tells us that bio-fuels may not be all they’re cracked up to be…

Corn biofuels worse than gasoline on global warming in short term – study

• $500,000 study paid for by federal government
• Conclusion: 7% more greenhouse gases in early years

Biofuels made from corn residue have attracted more than $1bn in federal support. Photograph: Marvin Dembinsky Photo Associate/Alamy

Biofuels made from the leftovers of harvested corn plants are worse than gasoline for global warming in the short term, a new study shows, challenging the Obama administration’s conclusions that they are a much cleaner oil alternative and will help combat climate change.

A $500,000 study – paid for by the federal government and released Sunday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change – concludes that biofuels made with corn residue release 7% more greenhouse gases in the early years compared with conventional gasoline.

While biofuels are better in the long run, the study says they won’t meet a standard set in a 2007 energy law to qualify as renewable fuel.

The conclusions deal a blow to proponents of cellulosic biofuels, which have received more than a billion dollars in federal support but have struggled to meet volume targets mandated by law. About half of the initial market in cellulosics is expected to be derived from corn residue.

The biofuel industry and administration officials immediately criticised the research as flawed. They said it was too simplistic in its analysis of carbon loss from soil, which can vary over a single field, and vastly overestimated how much residue farmers actually would remove once the market gets underway.

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Opinion:

Of course the biofuel industry would be squealing like stuck pigs over this report, because they’re about to be made into bacon.

The report shreds the advantage of biofuels in the short term.

It may mean that governments across the globe have to backpedal in their thinking.

But, of course, we know they won’t.

Happy Easter

easter-humor-cartoon-melted-eggs-global-warming

Satireday on Eco-Crap

banksyfooling

Make you Fink on Friday

Gout surge blamed on sweet drinks

Gout was once a common complaint in men as this 1799 cartoon shows. Copyright Wellcome Trust Medical Photographic Library

Sugary drinks have been blamed for a surge in cases of the painful joint disease gout.

Men who consume two or more sugary soft drinks a day have an 85% higher risk of gout compared with those who drink less than one a month, a study suggests.

Cases in the US have doubled in recent decades and it seems fructose, a type of sugar, may be to blame, the British Medical Journal study reports.

UK experts said those with gout would be advised to cut out sugary drinks.

About 1.5% of the UK population currently suffers from gout and there has been an increase in numbers over the last 30 years – although the condition is more associated with Victorian times.

The symptoms of painful, swollen joints, mainly in the lower limbs, are caused when uric acid crystallises out of the blood into the joints.

US and Canadian researchers said the increase in cases had coincided with a substantial rise in the consumption of soft drinks.

Previous research had also shown that fructose increases levels of uric acid in the bloodstream.

Diet

To look in more detail, the team carried out a 12-year study of 46,000 men aged 40 years and over with no history of gout, asking them regular questionnaires about their diet.

Over the period, 755 newly diagnosed cases of gout were reported.

The risk of developing the condition was significantly increased with an intake level of five to six servings of sugary soft drink per week.

This link was independent of other risk factors for gout such as body mass index, age, high blood pressure and alcohol intake.

Diet soft drinks did not increase the risk of gout but fruit juice and fructose rich (my emphasis, think HFCS) fruits (apples and oranges) were associated with a higher risk, the researchers said.

But this finding needs to be balanced against the benefit of fruit and vegetables in preventing other chronic disorders like heart disease and stroke.

Dr Hyon Choi, from the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver said dietary advice for gout had focused on restricting purine-rich foods, such as red meat and beer.

He said practitioners should advise patients with gout to reduce their fructose intake.

“I can think of some situations, for example in severe treatment failure gout, where reducing sweet fruits, such as oranges and apples could help,” he added.

Dr Andrew Bamji, president of the British Society for Rheumatology, said anecdotally cases of gout appeared to be rising.

“When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense in that fructose inhibits the excretion of uric acid.

“I will certainly change my advice to patients and I suspect the number drinking fructose is quite large.”

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