Posts Tagged ‘Peru’

Make you Fink on Friday

In the past few posts I have alluded to too much talk and not enough action.

Today, I offer proof.

Lima climate talks agree on just one paragraph of deal with 24 hours left

As crucial UN climate summit in Peru enters final hours, negotiators have made little progress on draft text

‘We have seen the laggards throwing in language of all kinds into the negotiating document,’ said Tony de Brum, the foreign minister of the Marshall Islands. Photograph: IISD

Negotiators working on a deal to fight climate change have agreed on just a single paragraph of text, casting a shadow over the prospects for a strong outcome in Lima.

The talks – scheduled to end at noon local time on Friday after 10 full days – are intended to provide a clear blueprint for a global agreement to fight climate change by the end of next year.

But while negotiators descended on Lima in a positive mood, buoyed by recent commitments from the US and China, the talks have fallen into a rut.

“We are going backwards,” said Alden Meyer, who monitors the climate negotiations for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Those at the talks still have every expectation that Lima will produce some kind of agreement by Friday evening, or more likely early Saturday morning – but the paralysis is in stark contrast to the upbeat backdrop to the summit’s opening.

“I am not really sure that we will see a clear outcome coming here in Lima,” said the former Mexican president, Felipe Calderón, who addressed the meeting.

By Thursday morning the text, which had started at a reasonable six pages, had ballooned to about 50, with negotiators throwing in their objections to almost every single clause. Just one section, paragraph 34, on countries intensifying engagement in the years up to 2020, has been agreed by negotiators.

Source: TheGuardian Read more

Opinion:

One paragraph approved from 50 pages…

That’s pretty dismal.

And, just goes to show that there’s not really a lot of interest in doing anything.

Ten days of negotiations and that’s the best they can do; one lousy paragraph that doesn’t mean anything until 2020.

For pity’s sake, wake up!

Before it’s too late… if it isn’t already.

Nature Ramble

An amazing small traveler, makes a round trip migration of 16,000 miles

‘Unique’ bird migration discovered

The tag was recovered from a male red-necked phalarope in Shetland

A tracking device which weighs less than a paperclip has helped scientists uncover what they say is one of the world’s great bird migrations.

It was attached to a red-necked phalarope from Scotland that migrated thousands of miles west across the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

The journey has never before been recorded for a European breeding bird.

The red-necked phalarope is one of the UK’s rarest birds, and is only found in Shetland and the Western Isles.

The RSPB, working alongside the Swiss Ornithological Institute and Dave Okill of the Shetland Ringing Group, fitted individual geolocators to 10 red-necked phalaropes nesting on the island of Fetlar in Shetland in 2012.

Each geolocator weighed 0.6g and was fitted to the bird with harnesses made from tubing.

It was hoped the trackers would shed light on where the birds, which are smaller than starlings, spend the winter.

After successfully recapturing one of the tagged birds when it returned to Fetlar last spring, experts discovered it had made an epic 16,000-mile round trip during its annual migration.

It had flown from Shetland across the Atlantic via Iceland and Greenland, south down the eastern seaboard of the US, across the Caribbean and Mexico, ending up off the coast of Ecuador and Peru.

After wintering in the Pacific, it returned to Fetlar, following a similar route.

Gender roles

Prior to this, many experts had assumed that Scottish breeding phalaropes joined the Scandinavian population at their wintering grounds, thought to be in the Arabian Sea.

Although long, the phalarope migration is beaten by some distance by Arctic terns, which make a return trip of about 24,000 miles between the North and South poles each year.

It had previously been thought the birds wintered in the Arabian Sea

However, the phalarope is the only known westward migration into the Pacific. This westward movement in late summer and autumn is into the prevailing weather and in virtually the opposite direction to all other migrants leaving the UK.

Numbers of red-necked phalarope in Scotland fluctuate between just 15 and 50 nesting males.

Malcie Smith of the RSPB told BBC Scotland he had almost fallen out of his chair when the tracking results showed where the birds had gone.

He added: “We are freezing up here in Shetland and it’s quite nice to think of our red necked phalaropes bobbing about in the warm tropical waters of the Pacific.

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Make you Fink on Friday

Heart disease present in ancient mummies

The mummified remains had signs of heart disease

Fatty arteries may not just be a curse of modern unhealthy lifestyles, say researchers who used scans to look at the heart health of mummies.

A study in The Lancet of 137 mummies up to 4,000 years old found a third had signs of atherosclerosis.

Most people associate the disease, which leads to heart attacks and strokes, with modern lifestyle factors such as smoking and obesity.

But the findings may suggest a more basic human pre-disposition.

Previous studies have uncovered atherosclerosis in a significant number of Egyptian mummies but it had been speculated that they would have come from a higher social class and may have had luxurious diets high in saturated fat.

To try and get a better picture of how prevalent the disease was in ancient populations, the researchers used CT scans to look at mummies from Egypt, Peru, southwest America, and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.

They found that 47 or 34% showed signs of definite or probably atherosclerosis.

Where the mummies’ arterial structure had survived, the researchers were able to attribute a definite case of atherosclerosis by looking for the tell-tale signs of vascular calcification.

In some cases, the arterial structure had not survived but the calcified deposits were still present in sites where arteries would have once been.

Age-related

As with modern populations, they found that older people seemed to be more likely to show signs of the disease.

The researchers said the results were striking because they had been able to look at the disease in people living in disparate global regions, with different lifestyles and at different times.

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Opinion:

Contradicts a lot of things.

All along we are told that heart problems are a modern curse caused by our diets and habits, and now we find that it existed before our junk food and cigarettes.

Nothing ‘new’ at all.

Nature Ramble

This week my Nature Ramble is a little different. We’re going to Peru, to the Apurimac region upwind from Cusco.

Warning

I wish to warn you that some of the scenes in the video involve animal cruelty, although not of the bloody kind, it is still torment.

I do not condone bullfighting, neither the bloody Spanish spectacle nor the Peruvian.

Peru is one of the places in South America that has bullfighting. Not on the level of cruelty as traditional Spanish bullfights where the animal is torment by bloody injuries and is finally dispatched. In some communities, the event is a little like a rodeo with bull riding events.

But there is another aspect to bullfighting in the Peruvian Altiplano, the Andes that involves the magnificent condor.

“Each year high up in the Peruvian Andes, people celebrate the sacred condor in dozens of celebrations known as Yawar fiestas. These festivals are also threatening the last few hundred condors left in Peru because the birds are incorporated into bull fights in a fusion of Incan culture and Spanish colonial influence.”The Guardian

The Guardian video is better than the one I have included, where you see the condor is finally released; unfortunately not all live to be returned to the wild.

The condor is a magnificent bird.

Seen here at Cruz del Condor in the Colca Canyon, 3,600 metres above sea level.

I have seen these giant birds here many times when I was working in Peru as a tour guide. They are truly one of nature’s spectacles. I have also seen bullfighting rings, but never witnessed a bullfight, either with or without condors.

Make you Fink on Friday

Quinoa plants

For thousands, of years the Inca, and now the Aymara and Qechua have eaten one of the few grains that grow at high altitude.

It can stand extremely hot temperatures during the day and below freezing at night in the Andean deserts above 3,600 (10,000ft +/-).

It is one of the Earth’s most nutrition laden foodstuffs…

Kinwa (Quinoa)

2013 has been declared International Year of Quinoa by the United Nations.

Once scorned by the Spanish conquerors as ‘Inca food’ and because of its sacred value in religious ceremonies, the Spanish forbade its cultivation.

But what is happening to this seed, now that the western world has discovered it?

Quinoa brings riches to the Andes

Bolivian and Peruvian farmers sell entire crop to meet rising western demand, sparking fears of malnutrition

A woman carries quinoa in Bolivia. The ‘pseudo-grain’ may be the most nutritious foodstuff in the world. Photograph: Laurent Giraudou/Corbis

A burst of colour on a monochromatic panorama, a field of flowering quinoa plants in the Bolivian desert is a thing of beauty. A plant ready for harvest can stand higher than a human, covered with knotty blossoms, from violet to crimson and ochre-orange to yellow.

Quinua real, or royal quinoa, flourishes in the most hostile conditions, surviving nightly frosts and daytime temperatures upwards of 40C (104F). It is a high-altitude plant, growing at 3,600 metres above sea level and higher, where oxygen is thin, water is scarce and the soil is so saline that virtually nothing else grows.

The tiny seeds of the quinoa plant are the stuff of nutritionists’ dreams, sending demand soaring in the developed world. Gram-for-gram, quinoa is one of the planet’s most nutritious foodstuffs. Once a sacred crop for some pre-hispanic Andean cultures, it has become a five-star health food for the middle classes in Europe, the US and increasingly China and Japan.

That global demand means less quinoa is being eaten in Bolivia and Peru, the countries of origin, as the price has tripled. There are concerns this could cause malnutrition as producers, who have long relied on the superfood to supplement their meagre diets, would rather sell their entire crop than eat it. The rocketing international price is also creating land disputes.

“Royal quinoa has given hope to people living in Bolivia’s most destitute and forgotten region,” says Paola Mejia, general manager of Bolivia’s Chamber of Quinoa Real and Organic Products Exporters.

Royal quinoa, which only grows in this arid region of southern Bolivia, is to the grain what beluga is to caviar; packed with even more protein, vitamins and minerals than the common variety.

Averaging $3,115 (£1,930) per tonne in 2011, quinoa has tripled in price since 2006. Coloured varieties fetch even more. Red royal quinoa sells at about $4,500 a tonne and the black variety can reach $8,000 per tonne. The crop has become a lifeline for the people of Bolivia’s Oruro and Potosi regions, among the poorest in what is one of South America’s poorest nations.

It is quinoa’s moment on the world stage. This year is the UN’s International Year of Quinoa as the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation recognises the crop’s resilience, adaptability and its “potential contribution in the fight against hunger and malnutrition”.

Evo Morales, the Bolivian leader whose government suggested the special recognition for the grain, said: “For years [quinoa] was looked down on just like the indigenous movement To remember that past is to remember discrimination against quinoa and now after so many years it is reclaiming its rightful recognition as the most important food for life.”

However, there are concerns the 5,000 year-old ancestral crop is being eaten less by its traditional consumers: quinoa farmers. “They have westernised their diets because they have more profits and more income,” says Mejia, an agronomist. “Ten years ago they had only an Andean diet in front of them. They had no choice. But now they do and they want rice, noodles, candies, coke, they want everything!”

Daysi Munoz, who runs a La Paz-based quinoa farming collective, agrees. “As the price has risen quinoa is consumed less and less in Bolivia. It’s worth more to them [the producers] to sell it or trade it for pasta and rice. As a result, they’re not eating it any more.”

Bitter battles are being fought over prime quinoa-growing land. Last February dozens of people were hurt when farmers fought with slings and sticks of dynamite over what was once abandoned land.

Many people who migrated to cities in search of a better life are now returning to their arid homeland to grow royal quinoa, says Mejia. Most land is communally owned, she adds, so “the government needs to set out the boundaries or there will be more conflicts”.

In the village of Lacaya, near Lake Titicaca, the farmers have recently sown quinoa. It grows faster in the wetter conditions but the variety quinua dulce is less sought after than royal quinoa.

What is quinoa?

Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa willd) is actually a “pseudo-grain”, not belonging to the true grass family but a member of the goosefoot plant family, which includes spinach and sugarbeet.

Its exceptional nutritional qualities led NASA to include it as part of its astronauts’ diet on long space missions. A 1993 NASA technical paper says: “While no single food can supply all the essential life sustaining nutrients, quinoa comes as close as any other in the plant or animal kingdom.”

Quinoa is the only plant food that contains all 10 essential amino acids for the human diet. Its protein content (between 14%-18%) surpasses that of wheat, rice, maize and oats, and can be a substitute to animal protein. Its calorific value is greater than that of eggs and milk and comparable only to that of meat.

It is a source of vitamin E, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and contains more minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus than other grains.

Recent research found quinoa contains phytoestrogens, which are said to prevent or reduce osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis, breast cancer and other conditions that can be caused by lack of oestrogen after the menopause.

 

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NB: Qechua is spelt correctly in Qechua which does not use the ‘u’ after ‘q’. However ‘quinoa’ is a Spanish word coming from ‘kinwa’ (Qechua) and absorbed into English.

Opinion:

And what of the Altiplano Indians?

They may be getting richer, but will they suffer because of the westernised diet in favour of their traditions?

Nature Ramble

This week we’re off to Alaska and Peru.

This is a reblog, so you’ll have to bear with the link; but it is a fascinating story.

“Why do sea lions haul out?”

“It only begged the question:

What was it like before the Exxon-Valdez oil spill?”

“Why do sea lions haul out (video of haul out near Seward, Alaska)?”.

An insightful look at the world of sea-lions.

I had experience with sea-lions when I worked in Peru doing the tours to the Ballestas Islands which are home to many colonies and harems.

One of the colonies on the Ballestas Islands of the coast of Pisco in Peru. Image credit – AV

Life is very cruel for the pups. Sometimes a tour coincided with whelping during which the bull would come along and inspect the newborn pups, if the pup was male the bull would dash it to death on the rocks, it was pitiful to listen to the cries and the complaints of the cow. This cruelty was necessary to ensure more females were available than males for the harems. Nature is a very male dominated world.

Mystery Solved

500+ pelicans die on Peru’s northern beaches

Just a few weeks after many dolphins met the same fate.

The problem has been found…

Man!

The deaths are the result of leaked fertilizer and agricultural insecticides.

Update

The Dolphins

3,000 dolphins have been washed up dead

The dolphin deaths are now being attributed to offshore sonic blasting for oil (a sonic blast that led to internal bleeding, loss of equilibrium and disorientation) after evidence of acoustal impact has been found in the dead animals.

Doesn’t alter the fact that it is man who is responsible.

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