Posts Tagged ‘deforestation’

Make you Fink on Friday

Ebola is on everybodies lips.

Well, if it isn’t it should be.

First West Africa, then the USA, then Spain, then Macedonia and the latest in France. All have had cases and in some cases deaths from Ebola. And, it’s going to get a lot worse.

How saving West African forests might have prevented the Ebola epidemic

Deforestation has destroyed much of the region’s habitat for fruit bats – and put these Ebola carriers into greater contact with people

African fruit bats – Ebola virus carriers – are losing habitat to deforestation, leading to more encounters with people. This could be what led to the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Photograph: David Brossard/flickr

The world now knows in great detail how Thomas Eric Duncan, a man who just a few weeks ago showed admirable compassion for a sick, pregnant neighbor in Liberia, has become the first person to come down with Ebola in the United States.

What is less well known is how the virus came to West Africa to infect Duncan’s neighbor. Knowing and acting on that story is absolutely critical if we hope to contain future outbreaks of Ebola and other scary diseases before they turn into global headlines.

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa may have surprised most of the medical establishment – this is the first such outbreak in the region – but the risk had been steadily rising for at least a decade. The risk had grown so high, in fact, that this outbreak was almost inevitable and very possibly predictable.

All that was needed was to see the danger was a bat’s eye view of the region. Once blanketed with forests, West Africa has been skinned alive over the last decade. Guinea’s rainforests have been reduced by 80%, while Liberia has sold logging rights to over half its forests. Within the next few years Sierra Leone is on track to be completely deforested.

This matters because those forests were habitat for fruit bats, Ebola’s reservoir host. With their homes cut down around them, the bats are concentrating into the remnants of their once-abundant habitat. At the same time, mining has become big business in the region, employing thousands of workers who regularly travel into bat territory to get to the mines.

Industrial kimberlite diamond pit mine in Sierra Leone, West Africa owned by Koidu holdings, one of a number of international mining companies who have come to Sierra Leone in search of diamonds. Mining is among major factors driving deforestation of the region. Photographer: David Levene

The result: virus, bats and people have had more opportunities to meet.

Source: TheGuardian Read more

Opinion:

I don’t really need to say much, except that the greed of corporate Earth has brought this on us.

Man has done it again!

By all that I have read about this, Ebola will make AIDS look like a case of measles; and look at the scare that gave us.

The shit has hit the fan!

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Monday Moaning

A drought is coming to land near you.

The dams are dry, sorry too late

In recent months Brazil has undergone a severe water shortage, particularly in the state of São Paulo. A report in the news this morning is rather disturbing. It appears that deforestation of the Amazon basin has reached a threshhold The vegetation of the Amazon basin let moisture rise and so produce the clouds that moved across the country and fell as rain. Apparently, there is not enough vegetation left to make suffcient moisture to form the necessary clouds. Brazil’s inaction, or insufficient action, has caused their own demise. Had the country been more prudent earlier, we wouldn’t have these drought problems. Another example of man’s inability to husband the planet effectively.

Drought bites as Amazon’s ‘flying rivers’ dry up

Scientists say deforestation and climate change responsible for forests not producing vapour clouds that bring rain to Brazil, reports Climate News Network

Amazon rainforest kick up humidity that brings rain to Brazil – it’s a giant water pump, but human activity is damaging it. Photograph: Fernanda Preto/Getty Images

The unprecedented drought now affecting São Paulo, South America’s giant metropolis, is believed to be caused by the absence of the “flying rivers” − the vapour clouds from the Amazon that normally bring rain to the centre and south of Brazil.

Some Brazilian scientists say the absence of rain that has dried up rivers and reservoirs in central and southeast Brazil is not just a quirk of nature, but a change brought about by a combination of the continuing deforestation of the Amazon and global warming.

This combination, they say, is reducing the role of the Amazon rainforest as a giant “water pump”, releasing billions of litres of humidity from the trees into the air in the form of vapour.

Meteorologist Jose Marengo, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, first coined the phrase “flying rivers” to describe these massive volumes of vapour that rise from the rainforest, travel west, and then − blocked by the Andes − turn south.

Satellite images from the Centre for Weather Forecasts and Climate Research of Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE) clearly show that, during January and February this year, the flying rivers failed to arrive, unlike the previous five years.

Deforestation all over Brazil has reached alarming proportions: 22% of the Amazon rainforest (an area larger than Portugal, Italy and Germany combined), 47% of the Cerrado in central Brazil, and 91.5% of the Atlantic forest that used to cover the entire length of the coastal area.

Latest figures from Deter, the real time deforestation detection system based on high frequency satellite images used by INPE, show that, after falling for two years, Amazon deforestation rose again by 10% between August 2013 and July 2014. The forest is being cleared for logging and farming.

Tocantins, Pará and Mato Grosso, three states in the Greater Amazon region that have suffered massive deforestation, are all registering higher average temperatures.

As long ago as 2009, Antonio Nobre, one of Brazil’s leading climate scientists, warned that, without the “flying rivers”, the area that produces 70% of South America’s GNP would be desert.

Source: TheGuardian Read more

Change the World Wednesday – 10 Sep

goiababranca

White guava

Here we go again. I woke this morning to find two big goiaba branca just waiting to be plucked.

And plucked they were, then eaten for breakfast.

Delicious they were.

And all this before coffee…

I surprise myself sometimes.

I am pleased to report that the coffee situation has been rectified. Coffee is not merely a beverage, it is a cup of liquid sanity.

Last week I extended my foray to the dumping ground and dragged home another lovely piece of wood.

Grotty yard table

Grotty yard table standing to the side

My orignial yard table was a grotty old thing.

It is now the wind break for my latest addition.

My yard now sports a respectable table

My yard now sports a respectable table – the lighting was terrible for the photo this morning.

My new BBQ corner, still supported by one of the grotty old stoves that I replaced. But it’s a great place to store charcoal.

By collecting other people’s throw-outs, my lot improves; little by little.

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Remember my celery butt? Now planted in a pot of its own and thriving.

My celery butt

Okay, it’s time for this week’s CTWW.

Click the banner for full post

The week we are looking at spreading the good word. Bringing other people into the ‘green’ fold.

All of the green-living activities which we, as Eco-conscious people, adopt help control climate change. But we need more people to climb on board. So, this week, encourage others to take action against climate change. Need some ideas? Write a post about the situation and ask your readers to take on an Eco-friendly activity. Open a conversation with friends and family. Write to officials with your concerns and suggest actions which they can take. The idea, this week, is to get other people thinking about climate change and acting against this threat.

 

Various shades of green

Various shades of green

A great idea. But just a post here, is preaching to the converted. Let’s face it, most of the people are here becasue they are already various shades of green.

So I propose to add an intro on some of my other blogs inviting readers to come and look at this CTWW. It doesn’t sound like a great deal, but some of my blogs have 1,000+ followers, if I can generate the slightest impetus for a few of them to come and at least look at CTWW, then I win.

I agree with the sentiment of writing to officials. But sometimes I feel that we are banging our heads against the proverbial brick wall.

Proverbial brick wall

Proverbial brick wall

And it hurts.

To really make a change, we have to tackle the governments. Once we have tackled the governments, we have to get them to tackle the capitalists. And only then will we see some meaningful changes to the status quo. We have to use our collective votes to ban this ‘two-party’ system; where one is just as bad as the other.

Meanwhile we still have our brick wall.

Here in Brazil we will have elections in October. There were three serious contenders for president. Dilma Rousseff, the incumbent; Aércio Neves, great on economics and infrastructure; and Eduardo Campos, who died a couple of weeks ago in a plane crash. Now on an average, Dilma was polling high, then came Aércio who was catching her up. Eduardo was struggling to get into double figures. His running mate, Marina da Silva has stepped into his shoes. This has changed the game. Dilma and Marina are neck and neck, with Aércio trailing a third.

greenworld

Brazil could become the greenest country

Sorry to bore you with all this political background, but you are about to see why.

If Marina da Silva becomes presidenta, Brazil could become the greenest country on the planet.

Marina, a former minister for the environment, is probably the most conscious politician ever in matters of the environment.

The capitalist agriculture sector is quivering in it’s collective boots; because she will reform, boy how she will reform.

Deforestation in the Amazon could stop overnight.

Ecological and social disasters like the Belo Monte hydro power scheme could have the plug pulled.

When questioned on this, she is keeping mum; a sure indication that she is thinking.

She will aim at showing the world that green is achieveable.

There is a drawback with Marina, she is an evangelical and could take the country backwards in contentious social issues like same sex marriage.

But there is hope.

 

Nature Ramble

Off into a far off country.

Madagascar…

No NOT the movie!

…and the world’s rarest bird.

Madagascar pochard, world’s rarest bird, needs new home

Madagascar pochard - I changed the image from the BBC video capture.

Madagascar pochard – I changed the image from the BBC video capture.

The Madagascar pochard, the world’s rarest bird, will not be able to thrive without a new wetland home.

This is according to a study revealing that 96% of the chicks are dying at two to three weeks old.

Conservationists say that human activity has driven the birds to one remaining wetland, but that that site has insufficient food for the ducks.

The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), which led the research, estimates that only 25 individual birds now remain in the wild.

Human activity, including deforestation, farming and fishing, has destroyed their habitat to the point that this last population is now restricted to one wetland in north-east Madagascar – a complex of lakes near Bemanevika.

After the rediscovery of the species at this site in 2006, the WWT and its partners, including the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Peregrine Fund, set up a conservation breeding programme and began to monitor the wild birds.

Dr Geoff Hilton, head of species research at the WWT, said that with such a small number of birds, keeping a close eye on the population was straightforward.

“We had about 10 or 11 females, [and] we were able to tell that most of those females were laying eggs, and those eggs were hatching,” he told BBC News.

But at the point when the ducklings were two to three weeks old, they would start disappearing.

Too deep to dive

Piecing the evidence together, including samples of food from the bottom of the lake, the researchers realised that the chicks were starving to death.

These diving ducks feed from the bottom of lakes, and this steep crater lake was simply too deep for them.

WWT senior research officer Dr Andrew Bamford, who led the study, said: “The last refuge of the Madagascar pochard is one of the last unspoilt wetlands in the country, but it’s simply not suited to its needs.

“Something similar happened in the UK when the lowland red kite became confined to upland Wales, and in Hawaii, where the last nenes survived only on the upper slopes of volcanoes because introduced predators had occupied their favoured grassland habitats.”

Dr Hilton added: “What we think we’re seeing is a bit of a classic wildlife conservation conundrum.

“The place where the species hangs on at the end is not a particularly good place for them – it’s just the place that’s been least badly affected by human activities.”

But the researchers say the species could thrive in Madagascar again if the captive-bred ducks can be found a new wetland home.

“We have been very successful in establishing a captive population,” said Dr Hilton.

“And we have recently identified a lake that we think has potential to be restored and become a reintroduction site.

“The main thing we have to do is work with the local people to reintroduce and restore the pochard, but also to restore the lake and help people to get a better livelihood from the lake they live around.”

Source: BBCNews see more photos and the links

Brazil dismantles ‘biggest destroyer’ of Amazon rainforest

The group is accused of logging and burning large areas of public land in the Amazon

The authorities in Brazil say they have dismantled a criminal organisation they believe was the “biggest destroyer” of the Amazon rainforest.

The gang is accused of invading, logging and burning large areas of public land and selling these illegally for farming and grazing.

In a statement, Brazilian Federal Police said the group committed crimes worth more than $220m (£134m).

A federal judge has issued 14 arrest warrants for alleged gang members.

Twenty-two search warrants were also issued and four suspects are being called in for questioning.

The police operation covers four Brazilian states, including Sao Paulo.

Five men and a woman have already been arrested in Para state in the north of the country, Globo news reported.

‘Impunity’

The BBC’s Wyre Davies in Rio de Janeiro says details are still sketchy, partly because the police operation is focused on one of the most remote and inaccessible parts of the Amazon region.

Political and police corruption is still rife in Brazil’s interior, our correspondent adds.

That problem coupled with alleged ineptitude on the part of the federal government means that loggers and illegal miners are able to operate with impunity, he says.

The Amazon rainforest is home to half of the planet’s remaining tropical forests

The police announced the operation in a statement: “The Federal Police carried out today Operation Chestnut Tree designed to dismantle a criminal organisation specialising in land grabbing and environmental crimes in the city of Novo Progresso, in the south-western region of Para.

“Those involved in these criminal actions are considered the greatest destroyers of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest.”

‘Fifty years’

The group members face charges of invading public land, theft, environmental crimes, forgery, conspiracy, tax evasion and money laundering.

They could be sentenced to up to 50 years in jail, although the maximum length that can be served by law in a Brazilian prison is 30 years.

Last year, the Brazilian government said the rate of deforestation in the Amazon increased by 28% between August 2012 and July 2013, after years of decline.

It made a commitment in 2009 to reduce Amazon deforestation by 80% by the year 2020.

Brazil is home to the biggest area of Amazon rainforest, a vast region where one in 10 known species on Earth and half of the planet’s remaining tropical forests are found, according to the leading conservation organisation WWF.

Source: BBCNews

Monday Moaning

Yes, I know it’s Tuesday, I can’t count – so bite me!

But, I have a moan, and this one has been stewing for sometime.

It’s a question.

Why do we have this?

Standard toilet paper

Standard toilet paper

In every household, business, place of entertainment, simply everywhere you’ll find toilet paper.

Made from wood, wood comes from trees, trees are in short supply.

Why do we turn perfectly good trees into toilet paper simply to wipe our bums?

Bums have to be wiped

Bums have to be wiped

Sure, bums have to be wiped. I am not denying this simple luxury.

My question is why do we have to cut down trees to do it?

There are alternatives.

We have bidets and toilet shower hoses and the like.

But we also have recycled toilet paper.

recycled-toilet-paper

Recycled toilet paper

My point is, that if we can have some recycled toilet paper, we can have ALL recycled toilet paper!

When we consider the environment and the illegal logging and the deforestation, it is CRIMINAL that we use virgin wood to make toilet paper.

The toilet paper manufacturers don’t give a shit. (excuse the pun, it was unintentional, but it stays) So it is up to governments to legislate instead.

Oh, the manufacturers will complain, the companies will wring their hands with grief, the corporations’ myopic eyes will water at the loss of profits as though you had just squeezed their collective testicles.

But I don’t care.

Any government has the power to ban toilet paper made from virgin wood, effective in three months, has the power to ban the sales.

The fine for any non-compliance: reforestation of a substantial tract of deforested land; or a million dollars for every tree used!

The world must ban first-use toilet paper.

Support recycled toilet paper,

make it your choice!

 

Nature Ramble

Not so much a ‘ramble’ today, but something rather newsworthy, especially as the FIFA World Cup opens next Thursday.

FIFA makes billions from the World Cup.

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Row over protection for World Cup mascot armadillo

The Brazilian three-banded armadillo serves as the inspiration for this year’s World Cup mascot “Fuleco”

Conservationists in Brazil are challenging football’s governing body Fifa to do more to protect the animal that inspired this summer’s World Cup mascot.

The Brazilian three-banded armadillo is listed as a vulnerable species and is the basis of the Fuleco mascot that will feature on official merchandise and souvenirs.

Scientists have called on Fifa and the Brazilian government to designate parts of the armadillo’s dry forest habitat as protected areas.

The government has met with scientists to discuss drawing up a conservation plan, but Fifa has not yet responded directly to the challenge.

The football governing body admits it has “no direct relationship with an NGO”, but one of its commercial affiliates gave a one-off payment of 100,000 reais (£27,000; $45,000) to the Caatinga Association, which is trying to protect the species.

The armadillo in question, Tolypeutes tricinctus, is found only in Brazil, where it lives in a type of tropical dry forest known as Caatinga, in the country’s northeast.

Critics say Fifa is doing little to help protect the species, despite the body’s claims it will raise awareness

Known locally as the “tatu bola” or “armadillo ball”, it protects itself by rolling its flexible armour into an almost perfect and impenetrable ball when threatened. But unlike other armadillo species, this one is not adapted to life underground.

The mascot’s name is a combination of the words in Portuguese for “football” and “ecology” and Fifa says “as a member of a vulnerable species, the official mascot can play a key role in driving environmental awareness”.

Brand licensing for merchandise and souvenirs featuring the official marks for World Cup events is worth millions in revenue for Fifa. But scientists say that more of these earnings should be invested in protection for the species.

In an article published last month in Biotropica, a group of Brazilian scientists wrote: “As football fans and conservationists, we challenge Fifa and Brazil to set an ambitious mark: at least 1000 hectares of Caatinga declared as protected area for each goal scored during the 2014 World Cup”.

Based on an average of 170 goals in recent tournaments, this could result in the conservation of over 170,000 hectares, the article says. It also calls for other measures like the establishment of new protected areas.

“The message is that if we don’t do anything, this amazing animal could disappear,” Enrico Bernard, a zoologist at the Federal University of Pernambuco and one of the authors, told the BBC.

“Football is passion and we would like people to demonstrate the same passion for biodiversity and for helping to conserve it”.

Although the Brazilian three-banded armadillo was listed as vulnerable by the IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature) almost two decades ago, its situation is even more desperate now.

“In the last evaluation of the Brazilian list of endangered species last year, the three-banded armadillo moved from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘in danger’ because it lost nearly 50% of its habitat in the last 15 years (three generations for the animal),” said Flavia Miranda, deputy chair of the Anteater, Sloth and Armadillo Specialist group at the IUCN.

Miranda is also calling on Fifa to invest more of its revenues “back into the conservation of the species or its habitat”.

The Caatinga dry forest once covered nearly 845,000 square km or about 11% of the Brazilian territory, but has now been reduced to half of its original area.

“The Caatinga suffers intense deforestation because it is a source of fuelwood,” said Rodrigo Castro, executive secretary of the Caatinga Association, an NGO that has worked for the protection of the species for over a decade.

The species can roll itself into a ball as a defence against predators

“Besides this, livestock ranching is expanding, the local population is increasing and an activity linked to cultural traditions, hunting, is another factor that has contributed to a drastic reduction of the species.”

It is estimated that more than 20 million people live in the Caatinga, many of whom are amongst Brazil’s poorest. Enrico Bernard says the Caatinga is amongst the least known and least protected Brazilian ecosystems, with only 1% of the original area under legal protection.

Fifa has not responded directly to the challenge set in Biotropica magazine, but in a statement sent to the BBC, it said that choosing Fuleco as the official mascot “has helped to raise awareness in Brazil around the three-banded armadillo and its status as a vulnerable species.

“According to our latest research in the Brazilian market Fuleco is known by 95% of the Brazilian population.”

The world football governing body added that Fuleco is an important part of efforts “in particular in regards to recycling and reducing the impact of waste on the environment”.

Earlier this month the Brazilian Environment Ministry invited a group of over 30 scientists, including Miranda and Castro, to meet for a week in the natural reserve of Serra das Almas, in the northeastern state of Ceara, to help draw up a five year National Action Plan for the Conservation of the Brazilian three-banded Armadillo.

“The actions proposed include the creation of new protected areas, better monitoring to reduce deforestation, environmental education programs to reduce hunting and more research about the distribution and behaviour of the species, about which little is known at the moment,” according to Castro.

“We will have to work very hard in the restoration of habitats, the creation of natural reserves and the fight against hunting”, says Flavia Miranda, who will be executive coordinator of the conservation plan announced last week.

The plan is an important step according to Castro, but the challenge remains to turn the set of targets announced into funded and effective actions in the next five years.

Less than two weeks before the World Cup, local scientists say there is still time to ensure the tournament produces what could be its best score, an “environmental goal”.

“The Brazilian three-banded armadillo gave life to Fuleco, but Fuleco has achieved very little for the three-banded armadillo. We hope that millions of people watching the matches will become aware of the plight of this animal and that the World Cup will have an impact on the fate of the species,” Rodrigo Castro told the BBC.

“The outcome depends to a great extent on FIFA. We still hope it will understand this is the first ever World Cup that could leave a lasting legacy for biodiversity, helping to save the Brazilian three-banded armadillo from extinction”.

Source: BBC News

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