brad brace

6/2/2017

Reservoir Overflow

Filed under: capitalism,climate change,usa,violence — admin @ 7:24 am

reservoir2
Went to Pacific Car Care as the 1992 Toyota was overheating — they charged $766 for a new radiator, thermostat and oil change! At the last minute they noticed that the reservoir bottle was also leaking: they want $70 for a new one — bought it on eBay for $14. I usually feel I’m being ripped-off at Auto Repair Garages. But I really can’t afford to have a car anymore, anyway, anyhow.. 1 in 5 Oregonians suffer from mental illness on any given day. I fear these attacks are but the tip of a rapidly melting iceberg.

5/3/2017

BlackBloc

pepsi

“A black bloc is a name given to groups of protesters who wear black clothing, scarves, sunglasses, ski masks, motorcycle helmets with padding, or other face-concealing and face-protecting items. The clothing is used to conceal marchers’ identities, and hinder criminal prosecution, by making it difficult to distinguish between participants. It is also used to protect their faces and eyes from items such as pepper-spray which law enforcement often uses. The tactic allows the group to appear as one large unified mass. Black bloc participants are often associated with anarchism.

The tactic was developed in the 1980s in the European autonomist movement’s protests against squatter evictions, nuclear power and restrictions on abortion, as well as other influences. Black blocs gained broader media attention outside Europe during the 1999 Seattle WTO protests, when a black bloc damaged property of GAP, Starbucks, Old Navy, and other multinational retail locations in downtown Seattle…”

from://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_bloc

Montpelier, Vermont – Established in 2000, in a cooperative household located at the termination of a wooded dirt road in Southern Vermont, the Green Mountain Anarchist Collective (GMAC), for a time, did its part in carrying forth Vermont’s long tradition of radical, leftist politics. Founded in Windham County by Natasha Voline, Johnny Midnight, Xavier Massot, and (myself) David Van Deusen, the collective was birthed with strong Situationist, leftist, and militant inclinations. The original GMAC nucleus lived together (along with comrades Imelda R, Bridget M, and Ted K), and operated as a kind of outlaw community, connected to the broader area counter culture based in and around Brattleboro. Together, they functioned on a cash & barter basis, opening phone and utility accounts under assumed names. They adorned the walls with stolen Salvador Dali works. Torr Skoog and Liam Crill, of the Boston band The Kings of Nuthin [who Massot befriended shortly after he emigrated from his native France], were occasional visitors. Half of the household’s income came from the black market, the rest from a single student loan and occasional manual labor [once being paid to build a bird aviary for Kermit W –the rumored son of Egypt’s Nasser]. One household member was wanted by the law (facing some years in prison); another was an artist; two were brought up in strong union households; a few experimented in poetry; the household included two guitars and a five piece drum set in the living room. All present shared an interest in furthering a more creative, life affirming, and non-capitalist future. When not cutting their-own wood to feed the stove (which was typically the case), they “borrowed” a half cord at a time from unoccupied vacation homes scattered throughout the area. Trips to town often involved beer at the Common Ground (a co-op founded by local communes in the 1970s), or $5.40 double whiskeys at Mike’s (a rough-around-the-edges working class tavern on Elliot Street). However, town, being 15 miles away, largely remained un-visited. Instead, target shooting off the back porch with .22’s & SKS’s, making firecrackers out of black powder, listening to The Clash & Johnny Cash, trying to get a half junked 56’ Chevy working, long conversations, chess, strong marijuana (very strong marijuana), vigorous debate, and intensively reading from the Situationist, Existentialist, Anarchist, and Marxist cannons filled the time until a more direct political involvement came to be…

To recognize that a small insular collective, alone, is incapable of throwing off the chains of social/cultural and economic oppression is to come to one of three conclusions; 1. Revolution is in fact impossible, 2. A uniquely new mass movement must be built from the ground up, or 3. Revolutionaries must work with those mass organizations already in existence in order to influence a left turn in their direction. The Green Mountain Anarchist Collective rejected the first of these conclusions out of hand, finding history to tell a different story. GMAC then sought to synthesize the second and third of these conclusions into concerted series of actions. In short, GMAC worked with existing organizations, where possible, to build new expressions of class struggle which would be more grounded in anarchist principles than its parent groups; ie the support for the Dairy Farmers of Vermont and Montpelier Downtown Workers Union [although it could be argued that the Vermont Workers Center, excluding the question of Black Blocs, was as far left as GMAC]. And finally, GMAC saw no compelling reason not to work with existing mass organizations in a defensive capacity aimed at overcoming further attacks of capitalist and reactionary interest against working people; ie its collaboration with the ISO and SVR in opposition to the Minutemen, and organized labor against acute attacks of the boss against workers (and in favor of a withdrawal of U.S. troops from foreign occupations)…

from://news.infoshop.org/anarchist-news/rise-and-fall-green-mountain-anarchist-collective

3/5/2017

Solmali Famine

somalia-famine

After withdrawing from Mogadishu earlier this month, Al Qaida-inspired Al Shabaab is placing more restrictions on the movement of people, particularly men, in areas under its control.

In Somalia’s Al Shabaab-controlled Kismayu, witnesses said malnourished children were dying due to the lack of food aid.

Gulf of Aden: A dangerous gateway

Yemen is host to the second largest Somali refugee population, with nearly 192,000. About 15,000 of those have arrived since in January.

They cross the Gulf of Aden on what are often unseaworthy and overcrowded boats. Many do not survive the dangerous crossing.

The agency said it expected more refugees to arrive in Somalia over the next months, but thought they were waiting for calmer seas. The route is also often used by migrants who pay smugglers to get them to Yemen, seen as a gateway to wealthier parts of the Middle East.

At least 6.2 million people in Somalia — or just about half the country — are grappling with the prospect of an acute food shortage due to deepening drought. And on Saturday, Somalia’s prime minister made it clear that the conditions are exacting a stark human cost.

Over a two-day span, at least 110 people died of hunger in just a single region, Hassan Ali Khaire said Saturday during a meeting with the Somali National Drought Committee.

“I can confirm that Bay region in the south and other parts of Somalia are deteriorating rapidly,” Khaire said, “and my estimation is that half of the country’s population has felt the impact of this drought.”

The country already declared the drought a national disaster on Tuesday. As Somalia has dried up, Khaire says the lack of clean water has increased the risks of waterborne diseases, while the ability of malnourished people to fight off those diseases has plummeted.

“It is a difficult situation for the pastoralists and their livestock. Some people have been hit by [hunger] and diarrhoea at the same time,” Khaire’s office said in a statement. “The Somali government will do its best, and we urge all Somalis, wherever they are, to help and save the dying Somalis.”

The United Nations is putting out urgent calls for aid, saying as many as 5 million people need aid in the shadow of a looming famine.

“Thousands have been streaming into Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, in search of food aid, overwhelming local and international aid agencies,” the news service reports. “Over 7,000 internally displaced people checked into one feeding center recently.”

If a full-blown famine should descend on Somalia, the World Health Organization says it would be the country’s third famine in a quarter-century — and the second in less than a decade.

Citing a joint report by the U.N. and the United States Agency for International Development, famine killed about 258,000 people in Somalia between 2010 and 2012.

The U.N. is currently appealing for $864 million in humanitarian aid, while “the U.N. World Food Program recently requested an additional $26 million plan to respond to the drought.” The country has been hit by a severe drought that has affected more than 6.2 million people who are currently facing food insecurity and lack of clean water because of rivers that are drying up and recent years with little rain. Earlier in the week, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq, warned the drought could lead to famine. “If we do not scale up the drought response immediately, it will cost lives, further destroy livelihoods, and could undermine the pursuit of key state-building and peace-building initiatives,” he warned, adding that a drought — even one this severe — does not automatically have to mean catastrophe. According to the United Nations, “Somalia is in the grip of an intense drought, induced by two consecutive seasons of poor rainfall. In the worst-affected areas, inadequate rainfall and lack of water has wiped out crops and killed livestock, while communities are being forced to sell their assets, and borrow food and money to survive.” The United Nations adds that “the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) — managed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) — have found that over 6.2 million, or more than half of the country’s population, are now in need of assistance, up from 5 million in September.”

“We estimate that almost half of the Somali population, 3.7 million people, are affected by this crisis and a full 2.8 million people live in the south, the most seriously affected area. It is likely that tens of thousands will already have died, the majority of these being children.”

The United Nations says a lack of rain over the past few years has created a famine in two areas in southern Somalia: Bakool and Lower Shabelle. Officials say the famine could spread to other areas.

This is the first time since nineteen ninety-one that the UN has declared a famine in Somalia. The Horn of Africa is experiencing its worst drought in sixty years. UN officials have said more than eleven million people are in need of food aid. Somalia has not had an effective central government since 1991, when the former government was toppled by clan militias that later turned on each other. For decades, generals, warlords and warrior types have reduced this once languid coastal country in Eastern Africa to rubble. Somalia remains a raging battle zone today, with jihadists intent on bringing down a transitional government which relies on African Union peacekeepers and Western funding for survival.

No amount of outside firepower has brought the country to heel. Not thousands of American Marines in the early 1990s. Not the enormous United Nations mission that followed. Not the Ethiopian Army storming into Somalia in 2006. Not the current peacekeepers, who are steadily wearing out their welcome.

Somalia continues to be a caldron of bloodshed, piracy and Islamist radicalism. There are currently 6,000 Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers in Mogadishu, but they are struggling to beat back Islamist fighters, who are rallying around Al Shabab, a brutal group that is aligned with Al Qaeda and has turned Somalia into a focal point of American concerns on terrorism .

In 2011 Somalia experienced a full-blown famine in several parts of the country, with millions of people on the brink of starvation and aid deliveries complicated by the fact that militants control the famine zones.

The Islamist militants controlling southern Somalia forced out Western aid organizations in 2010, yanking away the only safety net just when one of the worst droughts in 60 years struck. When the scale of the catastrophe became clear, with nearly three million Somalis in urgent need and more than 10 million at risk, the militants relented and invited aid groups back. But few rushed in because of the complications and dangers of dealing with the militants.

American government rules banning material aid to the Shabab complicate aid efforts. Aid officials have worried that paying so-called taxes to the militants who control needy areas could expose them to criminal prosecution.

12/28/2016

More Accidents Than Whales

Filed under: climate change,colonialism,conservation,culture,japan,usa,wildlife — admin @ 8:08 pm

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— Drove to the coast early this morning to see the whales at Depoe Bay*. No snow/ice in-sight just cold fog and dark but saw four white vans that had driven off the road and a white pick-up upside-down in the middle of the road: maybe one of the Washington-yahoos, who roared by me earlier. A nice drive: I like seeing fog/clouds lift off the hills and the early morning light come through the trees. The Toyota’s odometer turned 180K at Depoe Bay. Eventually a glorious sunny day at the coast: couldn’t stay that long as I didn’t want any more dark driving in the fog while returning home. The ocean was very alive today and too rough for the whale-watching boat to go out (probably for all of this week too). People were getting drenched from the crashing waves/spouts just walking down the sidewalk by the water. I didn’t realize how very far out the whales were: nearly to the horizon sometimes, and all you really see is a faint, brief spout maybe 10 ft high and a couple of miles out. But I appreciate how you’d follow the whale migrations (and the much closer summer feeding), if you lived there: I saw a few people sitting out in their lawnchairs, perched on a cliff, binoculars and thermos at hand; there were also Whale Watching Volunteers explaining the migration/whales for a few hours midday at various spots along the road. Unfortunately there were not the 12-hr photos I’d prepared-for: the sky was too bright for one thing… I guess the whales migrate 12K miles from Alaska to Baja in about two months, continuously without eating, down to their Mexican spawning grounds — they still won’t feed until back up in Alaskan waters. That’s about all I remember from my visit to Whale Watching Center: it got quite busy (some from Japan but more locals I think): it’s difficult to discern a whale-spouting from a distant seagull or white-cap. While a cloudy day would have made a better series of 12hr-photos, today’s sun (and calm wind) made it easier to see the spouts from shore. On the way back, another vechile off the road and upside-down, and then… a crashed motorcycle with its rider writhing on his back waiting for the paramedics. What a day and a long story. And then to find that a squirrel has discovered a way to reach my new yellow birdfeeder and had dislodged and broken it, but I’ll be able to glue the plastic back together… not so sure we can say the same about the Arctic/Alaska or even the motorcyclist. There’s a brief off-chance that we can still all function/grow as a cohesive, caring human species. The whales will know…**

*- Depoe Bay is a city in Lincoln County, Oregon, United States, located on U.S. Route 101 next to the Pacific Ocean. The population was 1,398 at the 2010 census. The bay of the same name is a 6-acre (2.4 ha) harbor that the city promotes as the world’s smallest navigable harbor. [On March 11, 2011, Depoe Bay’s port was damaged by a tsunami caused by the Tohoku earthquake off the coast of Japan. If you can somehow accept the coming Tsunami — this coastal area would still be appealing if there wasn’t so much car traffic now — from Portland-surrounds and then even when you get to the coast, mid-week off-hours.] Depoe Bay was named for Siletz Indian Charles “Charley” Depot who was originally allotted the land in 1894 as part of the Dawes Act of 1887. There are conflicting accounts of the origin of his name. One says he was given the name “Depot Charley” for working at the military depot near Toledo, Oregon. The family was later known as “DePoe”. His original tribal affiliation was Tututni.

** –

12/18/2016

larsen

8/17/2016

Dakota Access Pipeline Standoff: Mni Wiconi, Water is Life

standingrock

The controversial Dakota Access Pipeline project is back in the news. Over the weekend, tribal activists faced off against lines of police in Hunkpapa Territory near Cannon Ball as construction crews prepared to break ground for the new pipeline, while Standing Rock Sioux governmental officials resolved to broaden their legal battle to stop the project.

On July 26, 2016 the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe was stunned to learn that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had given its approval for the pipeline to run within a half-mile of the reservation without proper consultation or consent. Also, the new 1,172 mile Dakota Access Pipeline will cross Lake Oahe (formed by Oahe Dam on the Missouri) and the Missouri River as well, and disturb burial grounds and sacred sites on the tribe’s ancestral Treaty lands, according to SRST officials.

Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners will build, own and operate the proposed $3.78 billion Dakota Access Pipeline and plans to transport up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil fracked from the Bakken oil fields across four states to a market hub in Illinois. The pipeline—already facing widespread opposition by a coalition of farmers, ranchers and environmental groups—will cross 209 rivers, creeks and tributaries, according to Dakota Access, LLC.

Standing Rock Sioux leaders say the pipeline will threaten the Missouri River, the tribe’s main source of drinking and irrigation water, and forever destroy burial grounds and sacred sites.

“We don’t want this black snake within our Treaty boundaries,” said Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II. “We need to stop this pipeline that threatens our water. We have said repeatedly we don’t want it here. We want the Army Corps to honor the same rights and protections that were afforded to others, rights we were never afforded when it comes to our territories. We demand the pipeline be stopped and kept off our Treaty boundaries.”

On July 27, SRST filed litigation in federal court in the District of Columbia to challenge the actions of the Corps regarding the Dakota Access pipeline. The suit seeks to enforce the tribal nation’s federally protected rights and interests. The nation is seeking a preliminary injunction to undo the Corps’ approval of the pipeline at a hearing on August 24. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and several other native nations have asked to join the lawsuit.

On August 8, Dakota Access called the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to give 48-hour notice that construction would begin on August 10 for an access corridor and staging area where pipes and other equipment will be stored for construction.

As news of the planned construction spread via social media among tribal citizens and activists, a grass-roots gathering assembled at what is now being referred to as the Sacred Stone Camp where people are holding the line to stop construction. After Dakota Access workers began clearing an area for preliminary pipeline work, several hundred protestors gradually assembled at the site, prompting law enforcement to intervene and arrest more than a dozen people. Among those were Chairman Archambault and SRST Councilman Dana Yellow Fat, who quickly posted bond and were released.

“We have a voice, and we are here using it collectively in a respectful and peaceful manner,” Archambault said. “The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is doing everything it can legally, through advocacy and by speaking directly to the powers that be who could have helped us before construction began. This has happened over and over, and we will not continue to be completely ignored and let the Army Corps of Engineers ride roughshod over our rights.”

Archambault said the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples requires free, prior and informed consent for development impacting Indian land, territories and waters.

“We have a serious obligation, a core responsibility to our people and to our children, to protect our source of water,” he said. “Our people will receive no benefits from this pipeline, yet we are paying the ultimate price for it with our water. We will not stop asking the federal government and Army Corps to end their attacks on our water and our people.”

The proposed construction route is within a half-mile of the tribe’s reservation border, sparking concerns for protection of cultural resources that remain with the land. Hunkpapa religious and cultural sites are situated along the route of the pipeline, including burial sites of ancestors.

“The land between the Cannonball River and the Heart River is sacred,” said Jon Eagle Sr., STST’s Tribal Historic Preservation Officer. “It’s a historic place of commerce where enemy tribes camped peacefully within sight of each other because of the reverence they had for this place. In the area are sacred stones where our ancestors went to pray for good direction, strength and protection for the coming year. Those stones are still there, and our people still go there today.”

Eagle worries that the pipeline will harm many tribal nations along the Missouri.

“Wherever the buffalo roamed our ancestors left evidence of their existence and connection to everything in creation,” he said. “The aboriginal lands of the Oceti Sakonwin extend as far west as Wyoming and Montana, as far north as Canada, as far east as the Great Lakes, and as far south as Kansas. Construction along this corridor will disturb burial places and cultural sites.”

According to the recently filed “motion for preliminary injunction” by the SRST, Dakota Access initially considered two possible routes: a northern route near Bismarck, and a southern route taking the pipeline to the border of the Standing Rock reservation. Federal law requires the Army Corps to review and deny or grant the company’s permit applications to construct the pipeline. The southern route takes the pipeline across the Missouri River and Lake Oahe, implicating lands and water under federal jurisdiction.

In the initial environmental assessment, the maps utilized by Dakota Access and the Army Corps did not indicate that SRST’s lands were close to the proposed Lake Oahe crossing. The company selected this route because the northern route “would be near and could jeopardize the drinking water of the residents in the city of Bismarck.” The Army Corps of Engineers has not issued a public response to the newly filed litigation or protest. In a statement that appeared in a May 4 story in the DesMoines Register, Col. John Henderson, commander of the Corps’ Omaha District said, “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is not an opponent or a proponent of the project. Our job is to consider impacts to the public and the environment as well as all applicable laws, regulations and policies associated yet with this permission and permit review process.”

An Energy Transfer spokesperson said, “It is important to note that Dakota Access does not cross any reservation land and is compliant with all regulations regarding tribal coordination and cultural resources. We have communicated with the various tribes that have an interest in the DAPL project as we recognize the traditional range of the Native Americans and their sensitivity to historic ranges for cultural properties. We are confident the USACE has adequately addressed the portion of the project subject to their review and where a NEPA analysis is required. They are the experts in this area, and we believe they have done an excellent job addressing any comments received to date.”

Tribal leaders and environmental activists say the company’s draft environmental assessment of December 9, 2015 did not mention that the route they chose brings the pipeline near the drinking water of tribal citizens. In fact, it omitted the existence of the tribe on all maps and analysis, in violation of environmental justice policies.

Great Sioux Nation Defends Its Waters From Dakota Access Pipeline

While federal law requires meaningful consultation with affected Indian nations, SRST governmental officials allege that didn’t happen despite numerous requests by the nation. Since they first heard of the proposed project in 2014, SRST leaders have voiced strong opposition to company, state and federal officials, and to Congress.

They met with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of the Interior, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to discuss the harm imposed by the pipeline. All three agencies subsequently wrote letters to the Army Corps expressing environmental and cultural resource concerns related to the pipeline.

Archambault said they’ve been working on many levels for more than seven months to stop construction. But the tribe and the three federal agencies were apparently ignored by the Army Corps, which moved ahead with permits for the pipeline.

In addition, Standing Rock youth ages 6–25 from the reservation vowed to run to Washington, D.C. to deliver a petition with 160,000 signatures on change.org opposing the pipeline to the President of the United States. After running for 2,200 miles, they were able to meet with Army Corps officials and hold rallies along the way; they returned home on August 10.

Standing Rock leadership has also put out the call to Indian country to stand in support of protecting their water, land and people. Dozens of Indian nations have already written letters and resolutions to support the Lakota people.

As for the growing number of people at the grassroots rally, Archambault publicly asked that everyone be peaceful and respectful of one another in the coming days.

“We want peaceful demonstrations and I need everyone to understand that what we are doing, in the manner we are doing it, is working,” he said. “By being peaceful and avoiding violence we are getting the attention needed to stop the pipeline.

The emphasis was on peace as a Lakota man smudged police officers at the scene of an ongoing protest at the construction site of the Dakota Access oil pipeline in North Dakota.

“We’re getting the message out that all the wrongdoing that’s been done to Indian people will no longer be tolerated,” he said. “But we’re going about it in a peaceful and respectful manner. If we turn to violence, all that will be for nothing. I’m hoping and praying that through prayer and peace, for once the government will listen to us.”

Archambault also honored the Lakota youth who want to make a better future in his message.

“Our youth carry powerful messages when they speak, and we respect our youth and listen to them,” he said. “We honor and support the youth, runners, elders, campers, and supporters, and we are thankful for all the important efforts they’re making to protect our water.”

In the midst of an ongoing effort by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other entities to prevent construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the company Dakota Access LLC has begun construction of the 1,150-mile project, which will carry crude oil from western North Dakota to Illinois.

Construction has begun in North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois, but not yet in Iowa, where regulators have declined to allow construction just yet. In consideration of the environmental impact of the project and other safety concerns, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not yet issued permits for the project to cross the Missouri River—Standing Rock’s main water source—or the Mississippi.

Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault insists that the fight to stop the pipeline has not come to an end and that the tribe and its allies will continue to exercise their rights to ensure that consideration of the health and well-being of the citizens of the Great Sioux Nation will be taken into consideration by the Army Corps of Engineers and other influential entities.

“The start of construction by Dakota Access will not deter us,” Archambault said in a statement. “To the contrary, the Tribe will continue to press forward, to demonstrate that the Corps has not adequately consulted with the Tribe regarding cultural resource issues, and has not adequately addressed the risk of an oil spill that would harm the Tribe’s waters. The Tribe is dedicated to the protection of our Treaty rights, our Reservation lands, and our people—and we will ensure that the federal government upholds its trust responsibility when it makes its decision regarding the Dakota Access pipeline.”

5/18/2016

Solomon Islands Disappear Under the Sea

solomon_islands

Indigenous Pacific Islanders in the Solomon Islands are watching their homes disappear into the ocean as climate change raises the sea level and the natural trade wind cycle physically pushes the water against their shores.

Here in North America, governments have yet to engage the problem on a serious scale as the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Indians in the Mississippi Delta watches their homes fall into the Gulf of Mexico. It will be too late to act when the expensive real estate of Manhattan Island or Miami is facing a similar fate.

Simon Albert of the University of Queensland told New Scientist, “All the projections show that in the second half of the century, the rest of the globe will reach the rate of sea level rise that the Solomon Islands is currently experiencing.”

The rate of sea level rise is measured in millimeters per year. It is accelerating, but at the current rate five of the islands in the Solomon chain have disappeared entirely since 1947, and six others have shrunk between 20 and 62 percent.

The sunken islands — Kakatina, Kale, Rapita, Rehana and Zollies — were wildlife habitat, but the only human use was by fishers. The six currently falling into the Pacific will hit humans a bit more directly. On the most populated, Nuambu, 11 families have lost their homes since 2011. Nuambu is still home to 25 indigenous families.

Albert and his four colleagues, writing in the International Business Times, detailed how they determined the current land disappearances are not part of a normal variation in sea level:

We studied the coastlines of 33 reef islands using aerial and satellite imagery from 1947–2015. This information was integrated with local traditional knowledge, radiocarbon dating of trees, sea level records, and wave models.

Because the Solomon Islands government—unlike the U.S. government—respects the customary land tenure they call “native title” and the U.S. calls “aboriginal title,” the indigenous people have been able to relocate whole villages to higher ground.

The capital of Choiseul Province, Taro, is expected to become the first provincial capital in the world to relocate because of sea level rise.

The original study on the islands disappearing was published in Environmental Research Letters. Some of the questions were addressed by the common sense but rare method of asking the indigenous people who live in the Solomons. Oral traditions helped separate natural cycles from climate change and told how long two villages relocated to the interior had been on the coast. The answer from the people who lived there was about 80 years.

The people losing their homes now are called Pacific Islanders, but if the settlers don’t pay attention and act on climate change, history will call these indigenous people the canaries in the coalmine.

8/1/2014

Disaster-Prone Caribbean Looks to Better Financing

Filed under: agriculture,caribbean,climate change,disaster,weather — admin @ 4:58 am

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Jun 15 2014 – A freak storm, followed by heavy floods in December 2013, will go down in history as the most destructive natural disaster to have hit the Caribbean island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with reported total damages and losses of at least 103 million dollars.

Six months later, the country, which is a member of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), is still in the recovery phase of this crisis, but Tourism Minister Cecil McKee said several lessons have been learned, making the country better prepared for future catastrophic weather events.

“Although Caribbean nations have contributed little to the release of the greenhouse gases that drive climate change, they will pay a heavy price for global inaction in reducing emissions.” — Hela Cheikhrouhou, executive director of the Green Climate Fund “We have been dealing with our river defences and our coastal defences,” McKee told GIP, adding that the government is not only repairing damaged homes but also “relocating a number of persons whose homes are situated on river banks in areas that are obviously going to put them at risk should we have a reoccurrence of such events.”

A slow-moving, low-level trough on Dec. 24 dumped hundreds of millimetres of rain on the Caribbean island states of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia and Dominica, killing at least 13 people.

Scientists have called the floods the worst disaster in living memory for the small countries, caused by higher-than-average rainfall of 15 inches, which overwhelmed the water systems’ ability to facilitate smooth run-off.

For Mckee, the Christmas disaster was a reminder that “climate change is going to be here with us for some time.”

“If we look at the events of Christmas Eve 2013, I think we can all agree that climate change is affecting not only St. Vincent and the Grenadines but the entire Caribbean in a significant way,” he asserted.

But simply understanding the problem is not enough – many of the island nations in the Caribbean are in dire need of financial resources to assist with mitigation and adaptation.

Caribbean looks to climate finance

Flooding is commonplace in the Caribbean, with Guyana, one of the most flood-prone countries in the region, recently benefitting from a multi-million-dollar credit scheme to guard against flooding. A statement from the World Bank said more than 300,000 people from the flood prone region of East Demerara will benefit from reduced flooding and climate risks as a result of an 11-million-dollar loan from the International Development Association (IDA).

Nearly 90 percent of Guyana’s population lives in this narrow coastal plain, largely below sea level and, therefore, highly vulnerable to climate change.

Extreme rainfall in 2005 resulted in flooding and damages estimated at nearly 60 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), or 465 million dollars at the time.

The impact on poverty was evident and many subsistence farmers, small business operators and vendors were affected.

Sophie Sirtaine, the World Bank’s country director for the Caribbean, said the funds would assist in providing opportunities for all Guyanese by reducing vulnerability to climate change.

“To boost competitiveness, it is essential to address the vulnerability to climate risks and ensure that the skills learnt in the classroom lay the foundation for future work-place success,” she told GIP.

Specifically, the project will upgrade critical sections of the East Demerara Water Conservancy dams and channels; improve drainage capacity in priority areas along the East Demerara coast; and increase flood preparedness by installing instruments to monitor hydro-meteorological data.

The IDA credit to the Government of Guyana has a final maturity of 25 years, with a five-year grace period.

During its annual board of governors meeting held in Guyana last month, Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) President Dr. Warren Smith said the Caribbean was becoming more aware of the severe threat posed by climate change on a daily basis. “Seven Caribbean countries…are among the top 10 countries, which, relative to their GDP, suffered the highest average economic losses from climate-related disasters during the period 1993-2012.

“It is estimated that annual losses could be between five and 30 percent of GDP within the next few decades,” he added.

According to Smith, despite the region’s high vulnerability and exposure to climate change, Caribbean countries have failed to access or mobilise international climate finance at levels commensurate with their needs.

Caribbean countries are hoping that the South Korea-based Green Climate Fund (GCF) would prove to be much more beneficial than other global initiatives established to deal with the impact of climate change.

GCF Executive Director Hela Cheikhrouhou, who delivered the 15^th annual William Demas Memorial lecture during the CDB meeting, said that the concern expressed by Small Island Developing States all over the world finds a strong echo in the Caribbean, where the devastating effects of hurricanes have been witnessed by many.

“Although Caribbean nations have contributed little to the release of the greenhouse gases that drive climate change, they will pay a heavy price for global inaction in reducing emissions,” Cheikhrouhou warned.

The GCF came into being at the 16^th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UFCCC) held in Cancun, Mexico.

Its purpose is to make a significant contribution to global efforts to limit warming to two degrees Celsius by providing financial support to developing countries to help limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.

There are hopes that the fund could top 100 billion dollars per annum by 2020.

“Our vision is to devise new paradigms for climate finance, maximise the impact of public finance in a creative way, and attract new sources of public and private finance to catalyse investment in adaptation and mitigation projects in the developing world,” Cheikhrouhou said.

Selwin Hart, climate change finance advisor with the CDB, said the GCF provides an important opportunity for regional countries to not only adapt to climate change but also to mitigate its effects.

McKee said the region is also putting measures in place to mobilise financial support in events similar to what affected the three OECS countries in December 2013.

“Countries are being asked to place monies in regional holding systems that would allow the region to respond more [efficiently] and I think that we are looking more and more to the international bodies and the more developed countries”, which are largely responsible for climate change, for assistance, he told GIP.

CODRINGTON, Barbuda, Jun 30 2014 (GIP) – The 1,800 residents of the tiny Caribbean island of Barbuda are learning to adapt as climate change proves to be a force to reckon with, disrupting not just the lives of the living but also the resting places of those who died centuries ago.

United States-based archaeologist Dr. Sophia Perdikaris said when Hurricane Georges hit in 1998, it did a lot more than turn the spotlight on the island’s shrinking coastline. “One of the sure things that will happen as a result of climate change is that one-third wetlands will engulf the one-third lowland…so that will leave us with 21 square miles of usable land.” — John Mussington

“In the early years when I first started coming to Barbuda, it was because hurricane activity had exposed a lot of archaeology and it was an effort to do rescue. A human skeleton from 450 AD was exposed in the area called Seaview,” Perdikaris told GIP.

“In fact, some of the archaeology [including the human skeleton] that we are now housing in the newly formed museum was excavated by Hurricane Georges.”

Perdikaris, a professor of anthropology and archaeology at the City University of New York, Brooklyn College, said some of the findings coming out of Barbuda point to climatic shifts in weather conditions at the same time that the northern part of Europe was experiencing the little Ice Age.

“Similar signatures are coming out of Barbuda that actually have the same stories in Greenland, Iceland and the North Coast of Africa,” she said. “Hence, Barbuda is not just a small island in the Caribbean but actually a major part of bigger weather events in the circum Atlantic.”

Perdikaris said one of the things that Barbudans are faced with today is “a big word, climate change – what does it really mean and how is it affecting people’s lives and what can they do to change it?”

But she noted that the residents are very adaptive.

“We do find solutions with the help of the amazing expertise of the local people because they are the best experts for their local environment,” she said.

“We are trying to gather enough information to see what our challenges are and how we move forward; and then find the funding resources and technology to make that happen.

“We are monitoring erosion in many parts of the island and we also have been testing the wells to see whether the water is safe to drink or whether the salinity has been changing; all of these efforts in order to assess the three aquifers that are under Barbuda,” she added. Another project being developed on the island is aquaponics, the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics (growing plants without soil), amid a growing realisation that climate change will likely seriously threaten food security in Barbuda.

“There are diminishing resources in the sea. It is problematic to grow crops if you have a drought or if you only have salty water to water them so we have developed an aquaponics facility,” said Perdikaris.

Dr. Perdikaris said climate change has forced the residents of the island with a single village to make changes to their way of life and also to put measures in place to secure their future.

“As glaciers melt because of high temperatures what it’s doing to the rest of us is actually increase the sea level, and by increasing the sea level a number of things are taking place,” she said. “With a low-lying island like Barbuda, one of our main concerns is how much of the island, how fast, will actually be under water.

“As the sea waters are rising, they are not only claiming land but they are actually claiming the coral reefs,” Perdikaris added.

Marine biologist and environmentalist John Mussington said the warning by scientists that the 62-square-mile [161-square-kilometre] island is becoming one of the most vulnerable spots due to the consequences of climate change is not being taken lightly.

“Barbuda is flat; the highest point is just over 100 feet. Now with climate change predictions they are talking about several metres in terms of sea level rise. When you look at the present topography of Barbuda, it is 62 square miles. A third of Barbuda is taken up by lagoons and wetland systems. “Another third is what we call the lowlands. One of the sure things that will happen as a result of climate change is that one-third wetlands will engulf the one-third lowland to become two-thirds wetlands,” Mussington told GIP.

“So that will leave us with 21 square miles of usable land for sustaining communities. That is the reality we are facing.”

Barbuda’s culture is firmly based in a “living off the land concept” that Mussington said is fast becoming a thing of the past with the advent of climate change.

“We want to sustain the fact that Barbuda has a tradition of its people living off the land and one of the things we are going to face in terms of challenges from climate change is we are not going to be able to do that,” he said.

“If we are going to survive we have to overcome those challenges, hence the direction we are taking in terms of being able to continue to feed ourselves protein wise and vegetable wise.”

The entire population is being educated in aquaponics technology, a method of growing crops and fish together in a re-circulating system.

“We had a dream in 2012 of actually helping the situation in Barbuda by being able to guarantee that we can continue to get our protein source in the form of fish as well as to produce vegetables in spite of what was going to happen and what is happening from climate change,” Mussington said.

“In the aquaponics technology that we are pioneering we now house in our tanks 4500 tilapia.

“We have to find solutions in order to continue living on the island. That is why aquaponics turned out to be one of those things that we are pushing because the end result of the climate change consequences is that our coral reefs are going to suffer, our beaches are going to be shifting and changing,” Mussington added.

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Jun 26 2014 (GIP) – The Caribbean region’s bid to become food secure is in peril as farmers struggle to produce staple crops under harsh drought conditions brought about by climate change. But scientists are fighting back, developing drought-tolerant varieties which are then distributed to farmers in those countries most severely affected.

“We are mainly affected by issues of drought and…CARDI has been looking at methods of sustainable management of production using drought tolerant varieties. We are working with certain commodities and doing applied research aimed at producing them in the dry season,” Dr. Gregory Robin, CARDI representative and technical coordinator for the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), told GIP.

“We’re starting first with the crops that are more significantly affected by drought. We take, for example, dasheen, which is a crop that requires a lot of moisture and I’m working with that crop in St. Vincent and St. Lucia,” he said.

“Validation will serve Jamaica, Grenada, Dominican Republic – all the islands that produce dasheen. Sometimes it’s not cost-effective to do activities in all the islands so some of the sweet potato work done here can be used in St. Kitts, Barbados and islands with similar agro-ecological zones and rainfall patterns,” he added.

The Trinidad-based CARDI (Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute), which has worked to strengthen the agricultural sector of member countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for more than 30 years, is at the forefront of the research.

“CARDI has a body of professionals around the region so if we have any issues of climate change and drought, CARDI is a body of scientists that is available to all the islands of the CARICOM region,” Robin said.

Another crop being given special attention is sweet potato. Robin explained that for the Caribbean region, sweet potato is very important as a food security staple and foreign exchange earner.

“We’re working with the crops that we think are going to be affected most. Sweet potato can take a certain amount of moisture stress but dasheen and crops that require a high level of moisture are not going to be standing up so well to moisture stress, so we are starting with those with a high requirement of moisture first,” he said.

Noting that irrigation is key to productivity, the CARDI official explained that, “I have been working here for the past seven years and it’s the first time I’ve seen it so dry and it’s highlighting the point that we need to look at our rainwater harvesting systems.”

Climate change has also forced Guyana, considered the bread-basket of the Caribbean, to develop new varieties.

“We have also been growing different varieties of crops that are resistant to salt water because one of the impacts of climate change is that the salt water will creep more into the inland areas and so we are looking at salt-resistant rice for example; looking at crops that are much more resilient to dry weather and that can withstand periods of flooding,” Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy told GIP.

“We’ve been doing things like shade technology, drip irrigation, using technology and methods and utilising animals and crops that are far more resilient to extreme weather conditions.”

In addition to developing drought-tolerant varieties, CARDI is also actively developing new technologies to assist farmers with irrigation.

“I remember when I started in agriculture probably 20 years ago farmers used to irrigate using a drum and a bucket,” Bradbury Browne told GIP.

But he said over the years CARDI has introduced drip irrigation technology and other types of irrigation technology.

“For example if I want to apply 3,000 gallons of water to an acre of sweet potato I can programme [the irrigation system] so that I don’t have to be there physically to be turning on a hose or a pipe and there would be no issue of flooding if I am called away on an emergency,” said Browne, who now serves as a field technician at CARDI.

Meanwhile, longtime legislator in Antigua and Barbuda Baldwin Spencer noted that more frequent and extreme droughts are expected to become a feature of Caribbean weather.

And he said the impact of such drought conditions will increase heat stress, particularly for the more vulnerable, such as the elderly.

“Despite the decline in the production and export of major agricultural commodities from the OECS, agriculture remains an important sector in the economic and social development of the region from the stand-point of food security, rural stability and the provision of input to other productive sectors,” said Spencer, who served as prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda from March 2004 until Jun. 12 this year.

“These benefits are at risk from climatic events and this risk only increases as the climate continues to change,” he said.

Experts project that decreased production levels of major crops combined with increasing food demand will pose large risks to all aspects of food security globally and regionally including food access, utilisation and price stability.

The World Bank said food security is consistently seen as one of the key challenges for the coming decades and by the year 2050, the world will need to produce enough food to feed more than 2.0 billion additional people, compared to the current 7.2 billion.

It said most of the population growth will be concentrated in developing countries, adding pressure to their development needs.

The World Bank added that to meet future food demand, agricultural production will need to increase by 50-70 percent, according to different estimates. And this will happen as the impacts of climate change are projected to intensify overall, particularly hitting the poorest and most vulnerable countries.

7/31/2014

Dubai Is Building The World’s First Temperature-Controlled City

Filed under: architecture,climate change,uae — admin @ 4:36 pm

By Beckett Mufson — Jul 8 2014

If anywhere in the world could use a bit of A/C, it’s definitely the desert-bound city of Dubai. Today it reached a high of 108?F–but Monday will top that by over ten degrees, according to The Weather Channel. We’re sweating just thinking about it. According to an announcement from Sheik Mohammad Bin Rashad, the city’s constitutional monarch, Dubai has a plan to let incoming tourists beat the heat for good: constructing the largest temperature-controlled city on the planet. Boldly entitled, The Mall of the World, the development plan will include over 20,000 hotel rooms, an indoor theme park, a hospital, theater district, and the largest shopping center in the world. A giant retractable glass dome will cover the Mall’s 48 million sqare foot chunk of Dubai, protecting visitors from the aforementioned 118? summer heat. This is almost like the Internet of Things applied to a sprawling metropolitan hub.

The Mall’s design takes inspiration from all over the world. One shop-lined street dubbed “The Celebration Walk” is similar to La Rambla in Barcelona, while another is based on the Oxford Street shops in London. It’s theater district looks eerily similar to Broadway in NYC.

These attractions are designed to host 180 million visitors per year–an ambitious plan. The Sheik is confident, however, in his city’s ability to sell, commenting, “The growth in family and retail tourism underpins the need to enhance Dubai’s tourism infrastructure as soon as possible. This project complements our plans to transform Dubai into a cultural, tourist and economic hub for the two billion people living in the region around us; and we are determined to achieve our vision.”

With Barcelona, London, and New York all bundled up into one, temperature-controlled desert oasis, The Mall of the World may have a lot to offer–but they’ll have to be careful not to make the same mistakes China has made with its Manhattan replica. Time will tell if Dubai if this tourism powerplay will be a success–but at least it’ll have A/C.

Kiribati and Climate Change: The Fight You Don’t Read About

Filed under: climate change,kiribati — admin @ 4:32 pm

If someone was to google “Kiribati,” search results will speak of the sad realities of this Pacific Island nation.

“Plagued by sea-level rise,” “Besieged by the rising tide of climate change,” and “Climate change destroys Pacific Island Nation” are the headlines you are most likely to stumble across.

Sadly, this island nation, rose to fame as steadily as the level of seawater has been rising to consume their islands.

Recent news articles about the people of Kiribati speak of them becoming climate refugees, having to relocate to another Pacific Island nation close by, Fiji, because of the continuous threat of climate change to its people.

But these headlines miss the fact that there’s still several decades before such a move caused by climate change might be necessary.

Constantly, the reality of the people of Kiribati have been brought to life with a common narrative — that they are mere victims of climate change. This is not a narrative only unique to Kiribati, but one that is slowly blanketing the rest of the region — from Tuvalu to the Marshall Islands. Yes, they are a vulnerable group of islands at the forefront of climate change, akin to the canary in the coal mine, but the way Kiribati is talked about by global media is like climate change porn. Its superficial and there’s no character development — Kiribati has become defined as the nation that is drowning.

Yet when I travelled there earlier this year, I saw a dramatically different side of Kiribati. My experience was defined by the people I met, the strength of their unique culture, and their warrior-like commitment to fight for their islands in the face of climate change. Armed with nothing more than a smile, a spring in their step, and the conviction of their forefathers — they are the caretakers of these lands and the vast ocean that surrounds them.

This video is another side of Kiribati that isn’t being told enough.

The place is beautiful, the people are joyful and their positivity is infectious. It was shot on the fly, during our 350 Kiribati Climate Warrior training. It shows just a snapshot of what it is about Kiribati that makes it worth fighting for.

The people I met in Kiribati refuse to remain silent as they continue to be talked of as climate change porn. Sure, the fossil fuel industry and the burning of coal may result in the map having less green dots and more blue in their region one day, but they are convinced that they must continue speaking their truth, and showing the humanity of what is at stake.

While they are aware of the realities of climate change, they are not defined by it.

They choose to be defined by the commitment to a better future, they choose to be defined by hope, they choose to be defined by resilience, they choose to change the narrative of the Pacific, shouting, we are not drowning, we are fighting!

The enemy of Kiribati is not just climate change, but it is the disempowering notion that its time to give up on the people, and the nation.

Right at this time, Kiribati needs all the allies we can muster around the world to fight its enemies. These allies are the people who will no longer just read the headlines, get depressed, and do nothing. Instead, they’re the people who realize that wherever they are in the world, there is something they can do to be part of the solution.

Are you one of them?

The work that we do at 350.org is to act as a focal point for those people all over the world to take action – before it really is too late.

El Nino Triggers Drought, Food Crisis in Nicaragua

Filed under: agriculture,climate change,nicaragua — admin @ 4:29 pm

The Las Canoas lake in Tipitapa, near Managua, dries up every time Nicaragua is visited by the El Nino phenomenon, leaving local people without fish or water for their crops.

MANAGUA, Jul 10 2014 – The spectre of famine is haunting Nicaragua. The second poorest country in Latin America, and one of the 10 most vulnerable to climate change in the world, is facing a meteorological phenomenon that threatens its food security.

Scientists at the Nicaraguan Institute for Territorial Studies (INETER) say the situation is correlated with the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a weather cycle that periodically causes drought on the western Pacific seaboard and the centre of the country, in contrast with seasonal flooding in the north and the eastern Caribbean coast.

Crescencio Polanco, a veteran farmer in the rural municipality of Tipitapa, north of Managua, is one of thousands of victims of the climate episode. He waited in vain for the normally abundant rains in May and June to plant maize and beans.

Polanco lost his bean crop due to lack of rain, but he remains hopeful. He borrowed 400 dollars to plant again in September, to try to recoup the investment lost by the failed harvest in May. ENSO brings drought The warm phase of ENSO happens when surface water temperatures increase in the eastern and central equatorial areas of the Pacific Ocean, altering weather patterns worldwide. Experts at the Humboldt Centre told IPS that in Nicaragua, the main effect is “a sharp reduction in available atmospheric humidity”, leading to “significant rainfall deficits” and an irregular, sporadic rainy season from May to October. Over the last 27 years there have been seven El Nino episodes, and each of them has been associated with drought, they said.

If the rains fail again, it will spell economic catastrophe for him and the seven members of his family.

“In May we spent the money we got from last year’s harvest, but with this new loan we are wagering on recovering what we lost or losing it all. I don’t know what we’ll do if the rains don’t come,” he told IPS.

His predicament is shared by thousands of small producers who depend on rainfall for their crops. Some 45 kilometres south of Tipitapa, southwest of Managua, campesino (small farmer) Luis Leiva regrets the total loss of three hectares of maize and squash to the drought.

Leiva sells his produce in the capital city’s Mercado Oriental market, and uses the profits to buy seeds and food for his family. Now he has lost everything and cannot obtain financing to rent the plot of land and plant another crop.

“The last three rains have been miserable, not enough to really even wet the earth. It’s all lost and now I just have to see if I can plant in late August or September,” he said with resignation.

Rainfall in May was on average 75 percent lower than normal in Nicaragua. According to INETER, there was “a record reduction in rainfall”, up to 88 percent in some central Pacific areas, the largest deficit since records began.

Based on data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), INETER has warned that the drought could last until September.

The nightmare is affecting all farmers on the Pacific coast and in the centre of the country. Sinforiano C·ceres, president of the National Federation of Cooperatives, a group of 300 large farming associations, expounded the sector’s fears to the inter-institutional National Board for Risk Management.

“We have already lost the early planting (in May), and if we lose the late planting (in August and September) there will be famine in the land and a rising spiral of prices for all basic food products,” he said at a forum of producers and experts seeking solutions to the crisis. There is a third crop cycle, in December, known as “apante”.

The country’s main dairy and beef producers raised their concerns directly with the government. Members of the Federation of Livestock Associations and the National Livestock Commission told the government that meat and milk production have fallen by around 30 percent, and could drop by 50 percent by September if the ENSO lasts until then, as INETER has forecast.

Moreover, the National Union of Farmers and Livestock Owners said that over a thousand head of cattle belonging to its members have perished from starvation.

It also warned that the price of meat and dairy products will rise because some livestock owners are investing in special feeds, vitamins and vaccines against diseases to prevent losing more cattle on their ranches.

The agriculture and livestock sector generates more than 60 percent of the country’s exports and earns 18 percent of its GDP, which totalled 11 billion dollars in 2013, according to the Central Bank of Nicaragua.

In the view of sociologist Cirilo Otero, head of the non-governmental Centre for Environmental Policy Initiatives, a food crisis would have a particularly severe economic impact on a country that has still not recovered from a plague of coffee rust that hit plantations in Nicaragua and the rest of Central America over the last two years.

“Thousands of small coffee farmers and thousands of families who depended on the crop have still not been able to recover their employment and income, and now El NiÒo is descending on them. I don’t know how the country will be able to recover,” he said.

According to Otero, if ENSO continues its ravages for the rest of the rainy season, thousands of families will suffer from under-nutrition in a country where, in 2012, 20 percent of its six million people were undernourished, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

“Producers do not know how to mitigate the effects of climate change, nor the mechanisms for adapting to soil changes. Unless the government implements policies for adaptation to climate change, there will be a severe food crisis in 2014 and 2015,” he said.

The government has set up commissions to monitor the phenomenon, as well as information meetings with farmers and livestock producers.

The authorities have also expanded a programme of free food packages for thousands of poor families, and are providing school meals for over one million children in the school system, as well as a number of small programmes for financing family agriculture.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega ordered urgent imports in June of 20.5 million kilograms of beans and 73.5 million kilograms of white maize to supply local markets, where shortages were already being felt. The government’s intention is to lower the high prices of these products while hoping for a decent harvest in the second half of this year.

The price of red beans has doubled since May to two dollars a kilogram, in a country where over 2.5 million people subsist on less than two dollars a day, according to a 2013 survey by the International Foundation for Global Economic Challenge.

St. Lucia

Filed under: climate change,resource,st lucia — admin @ 6:32 am

As unpredictable weather patterns impact water availability and quality in St. Lucia, the Caribbean island is moving to build resilience to climate-related stresses in its water sector.

Dr. Paulette Bynoe, a specialist in community-based disaster risk management, climate change adaptation policy and environmental management, says integrated water resource management is critical. “All governments must work together within the region and lessons learnt in one country can be translated to other countries.” — Dr. Paulette Bynoe

“We have been making progress…making professionals and other important stakeholders aware of the issue. That is the first step,” she said.

“So in other sectors we can also look at coordination whether we talk about agriculture or tourism. It’s important that we think outside of the box and we stop having turfs and really work together,” she added.

Earlier this month, Bynoe facilitated a three-day workshop on Hydro-Climatic Disasters in Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) in St. Lucia. The workshop was held as part of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States-Reducing the Risks to Human and Natural Assets Resulting from Climate Change (OECS-RRACC) project.

Participants were exposed to the key principles of IWRM and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR); the implications of climate change and variability for water resources management; policy legislation and institutional requirements needed at the community level to facilitate DRR in IWRM; the economics of disasters; and emergency response issues.

Rupert Lay, a water resources specialist with the RRACC Project, said the training is consistent with the overall goals of the climate change demonstration project in GIS technology currently being implemented by the OECS Secretariat.

“What we need to do now in the region and even further afield is to directly correlate the effects, the financial impacts of these adverse weather conditions as it relates to water resources,” he said.

“We need to make that link strongly so that all of us can appreciate the extent to which and the importance of building resilience and adapting to these stresses.”

On Jul. 9, the St. Lucia Water and Sewage Company (WASCO) placed the entire island under a water emergency schedule as the drought worsened. The government has described the current situation as a “water crisis”.

The crisis, initially declared for the north of the island, has expanded to the entire country.

Managing director of WASCO Vincent Hippolyte said that there had not been sufficient rainfall to meet the demands of consumers. At the most recent assessment, the dam’s water level was at 322 feet, while normal overflow levels are 333 feet.

“Despite the rains and the greenery, drought conditions exist because the rivers are not moving. They do not have the volume of water that will enable WASCO to extract sufficient water to meet demand,” he said.

“We are in the early stages in the drought situation. It is not as severe as the later stages, but we are still in drought conditions.”

The government said that experts predicted the drought would persist through the month of August.

Bynoe said what’s happening in St. Lucia and elsewhere in the Caribbean is consistent with the projections of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Climate Modeling Group from the University of the West Indies.

She said both bodies had given possible future scenarios of climate change as it relates to the Small Island Developing States, and how climate change and climate variability could affect water resources.

“I think generally the issue is that in the region there is a high likelihood that we can have a shortage of water so we can experience droughts; and perhaps at the same time when we do have precipitation it can be very intense,” Bynoe, who is also Director of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Guyana, said.

She noted that the models are saying there can either be too little water or too much water, either of which could create serious problems for the Caribbean.

“With too much water now you can have run off, sedimentation, water pollution and water contamination which means in countries where we depend on surface water the treatment of water become critical and this will then bring cost implications because water treatment is very costly,” Bynoe explained.

“But also, if you are going to treat water you have to use a lot of energy and energy is one of the sectors that contribute to greenhouse gasses. So you can see where the impact of climate change is affecting water but with water treatment you can also contribute to climate change.” For St. Lucia and its neighbours, Bynoe said lack of financial resources tops the list of challenges when it comes to disaster mitigation and adapting new measures in reference to hydro-climatic disasters.

She also pointed to the importance of human capital, citing the need to have persons trained in specific areas as specialists to help with modeling, “because in preparation we first have to know what’s the issue, we have to know what’s the probability of occurrence, we have to know what are the specific paths that we can take which could bring the best benefits to us.”

She used her home country Guyana, which suffers from a high level of migration, as one example of how sustainable development could be negatively affected by capital flight.

“But you also need human capital because first of all governments must work together within the region and lessons learnt in one country can be translated to other countries so that we can replicate the good experiences so that we don’t fall prey to the same sort of issues,” Bynoe said.

“But also social capital within the country in which we try to ensure that all stakeholders are involved, a very democratic process because it’s not only about policymakers; every person, every household must play a role to the whole issue of adaptation, it starts with the man or woman in the mirror,” she added.

In October 2010, Hurricane Tomas passed very near St. Lucia killing 14 people and leaving millions of dollars in monetary losses. The island was one of three Eastern Caribbean countries on which a slow-moving, low-level trough on Dec 24, 2013 dumped hundreds of millimetres of rain, killing 13 people.

El Nino Triggers Drought, Food Crisis in Nicaragua

Filed under: agriculture,climate change,nicaragua,weather — admin @ 5:47 am

The Las Canoas lake in Tipitapa, near Managua, dries up every time Nicaragua is visited by the El Nino phenomenon, leaving local people without fish or water for their crops. Credit: Guillermo Flores/IPS MANAGUA, Jul 10 2014 (IPS) – The spectre of famine is haunting Nicaragua. The second poorest country in Latin America, and one of the 10 most vulnerable to climate change in the world, is facing a meteorological phenomenon that threatens its food security.

Scientists at the Nicaraguan Institute for Territorial Studies (INETER) say the situation is correlated with the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a weather cycle that periodically causes drought on the western Pacific seaboard and the centre of the country, in contrast with seasonal flooding in the north and the eastern Caribbean coast.

Crescencio Polanco, a veteran farmer in the rural municipality of Tipitapa, north of Managua, is one of thousands of victims of the climate episode. He waited in vain for the normally abundant rains in May and June to plant maize and beans.

Polanco lost his bean crop due to lack of rain, but he remains hopeful. He borrowed 400 dollars to plant again in September, to try to recoup the investment lost by the failed harvest in May. ENSO brings drought The warm phase of ENSO happens when surface water temperatures increase in the eastern and central equatorial areas of the Pacific Ocean, altering weather patterns worldwide. Experts at the Humboldt Centre said that in Nicaragua, the main effect is “a sharp reduction in available atmospheric humidity”, leading to “significant rainfall deficits” and an irregular, sporadic rainy season from May to October. Over the last 27 years there have been seven El Nino episodes, and each of them has been associated with drought, they said.

If the rains fail again, it will spell economic catastrophe for him and the seven members of his family.

“In May we spent the money we got from last year’s harvest, but with this new loan we are wagering on recovering what we lost or losing it all. I don’t know what we’ll do if the rains don’t come,” he said.

His predicament is shared by thousands of small producers who depend on rainfall for their crops. Some 45 kilometres south of Tipitapa, southwest of Managua, campesino (small farmer) Luis Leiva regrets the total loss of three hectares of maize and squash to the drought.

Leiva sells his produce in the capital city’s Mercado Oriental market, and uses the profits to buy seeds and food for his family. Now he has lost everything and cannot obtain financing to rent the plot of land and plant another crop.

“The last three rains have been miserable, not enough to really even wet the earth. It’s all lost and now I just have to see if I can plant in late August or September,” he said with resignation.

Rainfall in May was on average 75 percent lower than normal in Nicaragua. According to INETER, there was “a record reduction in rainfall”, up to 88 percent in some central Pacific areas, the largest deficit since records began.

Based on data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), INETER has warned that the drought could last until September.

The nightmare is affecting all farmers on the Pacific coast and in the centre of the country. Sinforiano C·ceres, president of the National Federation of Cooperatives, a group of 300 large farming associations, expounded the sector’s fears to the inter-institutional National Board for Risk Management.

“We have already lost the early planting (in May), and if we lose the late planting (in August and September) there will be famine in the land and a rising spiral of prices for all basic food products,” he said at a forum of producers and experts seeking solutions to the crisis. There is a third crop cycle, in December, known as “apante”.

The country’s main dairy and beef producers raised their concerns directly with the government. Members of the Federation of Livestock Associations and the National Livestock Commission told the government that meat and milk production have fallen by around 30 percent, and could drop by 50 percent by September if the ENSO lasts until then, as INETER has forecast.

Moreover, the National Union of Farmers and Livestock Owners said that over a thousand head of cattle belonging to its members have perished from starvation.

It also warned that the price of meat and dairy products will rise because some livestock owners are investing in special feeds, vitamins and vaccines against diseases to prevent losing more cattle on their ranches.

The agriculture and livestock sector generates more than 60 percent of the country’s exports and earns 18 percent of its GDP, which totalled 11 billion dollars in 2013, according to the Central Bank of Nicaragua.

In the view of sociologist Cirilo Otero, head of the non-governmental Centre for Environmental Policy Initiatives, a food crisis would have a particularly severe economic impact on a country that has still not recovered from a plague of coffee rust that hit plantations in Nicaragua and the rest of Central America over the last two years.

“Thousands of small coffee farmers and thousands of families who depended on the crop have still not been able to recover their employment and income, and now El Nino is descending on them. I don’t know how the country will be able to recover,” he said.

According to Otero, if ENSO continues its ravages for the rest of the rainy season, thousands of families will suffer from under-nutrition in a country where, in 2012, 20 percent of its six million people were undernourished, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

“Producers do not know how to mitigate the effects of climate change, nor the mechanisms for adapting to soil changes. Unless the government implements policies for adaptation to climate change, there will be a severe food crisis in 2014 and 2015,” he said.

The government has set up commissions to monitor the phenomenon, as well as information meetings with farmers and livestock producers.

The authorities have also expanded a programme of free food packages for thousands of poor families, and are providing school meals for over one million children in the school system, as well as a number of small programmes for financing family agriculture.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega ordered urgent imports in June of 20.5 million kilograms of beans and 73.5 million kilograms of white maize to supply local markets, where shortages were already being felt. The government’s intention is to lower the high prices of these products while hoping for a decent harvest in the second half of this year.

The price of red beans has doubled since May to two dollars a kilogram, in a country where over 2.5 million people subsist on less than two dollars a day, according to a 2013 survey by the International Foundation for Global Economic Challenge.

6/27/2014

Small Islands Facing Climate Change Are Beacons For The Rest Of The World

Filed under: caribbean,climate change,global islands — admin @ 3:18 pm

Facing potential extinction under rising sea levels, many small island nations are embracing renewable energy and trying to green their economies. Although the least responsible for carbon emissions, small countries like Barbados are on the front lines of climate impacts.

“Small island nations’ voices have to be heard by the rest of the world,” said Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

“Many will undergo fundamental changes. Some will lose 60 to 70 percent of their beaches and much of their tourism infrastructure. Climate change will destroy some countries and the livelihoods of millions of people,” Steiner told GIP in Bridgetown.

Up to 100 percent of coral reefs in some areas of the Caribbean sea have been affected by bleaching due to too-hot seawater linked to global warming. Without global action to reduce emissions there may not be any healthy reefs left in the entire Caribbean region by 2050, according to UNEP’s Small Island Developing States Foresight Report.

Released in Bridgetown on World Environment Day Jun. 5, the report calculates that island nations in the Caribbean face187 billion dollars in shoreline damage from sea level rise well before the end of this century.

A 50-cm sea level rise will mean the country of Grenada will lose 60 percent of its beaches. Sea levels are destined to rise far higher than that, say recent science reports about the unstoppable melt of the massive ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland along with hundreds of glaciers.

Islands are especially vulnerable to the impacts of global warming which will adversely affect multiple sectors including tourism, agriculture, fisheries, energy, freshwater, health and infrastructure, the report concludes.

“When our planet speaks we must listen,” said Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.

“Nature knows how to hit back,” Stuart told GIP.

For Barbados, World Environment Day with its theme “Raise Your Voice Not the Sea Level” was not just a ceremonial action but part of a commitment to become “the most advanced green economy in the Latin American and Caribbean region,” he said.

This country of 275,000 people is in the eastern Caribbean, 800 km from the shores of Venezuela. Facing recurring droughts in the past two decades, Barbados has been forced to use energy-intensive desalination to provide enough drinking water.

Imported fossil fuel means energy costs are many times higher than in rich countries like the U.S. Barbados has set a goal of 30 percent renewable energy by 2029 but expects to achieve this by 2019, said William Hines, Barbados’ Chief Energy Conservation Officer.

Solar energy is 30 to 40 percent cheaper but requires significant upfront investment since nearly everything must be imported. However, the payback period in a sun-rich country like Barbados is five to seven years, Hines said.

Aside from finding the money to build large-scale solar, integrating into the nation’s electrical grid has also been challenging. But because this is a small nation, the scope and scale of such challenges are smaller, and they can be resolved relatively quickly.

The three-coral atoll nation of Tokelau in the South Pacific became the first country in the world to become 100 percent powered by renewable energy in October 2012. Other South Pacific nations, including the Cook Islands and Kiribati, plan to be 100 percent renewable by 2020.

As a group, the 52 Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have committed to cut their fossil fuel dependence by 50 percent by 2035. This is as much about setting an example for the world as it is a solution to the crippling fossil fuel costs that devour half of some countries’ budgets.

Barbados is going beyond renewable energy and has put policies into place intended to `green’ its entire economy. It has already completed a three-year study called the Green Economy Scoping Study to determine what needs to be done. That research concluded that green policies are not enough, and that Barbados also needs more public and private investment, along with education and changes in consumer behaviour.

“Barbados is one of the world leaders in greening their economies,” Steiner told GIP in an interview.

Small islands need support including financing and technology transfer from the developed world to be able to make this transition and to cope with current and future climate impacts. They can and want to move quickly to diversify their economies, create green jobs, increase resource efficiency and shift to green energy, he said.

“Small islands can serve as beacons for the rest of the world,” Steiner stressed.

World’s First Climate Change Refugee Denied Asylum in New Zealand

Filed under: climate change,kiribati,new zealand — admin @ 3:16 pm

A Man from the small Pacific islands of Kiribati applied as a “climate refugee” in New Zealand. Mr. Teitiota is the first to apply for such a refugee status. A New Zealand Judge dismissed Mr. Teitiota case and denied him and his family refugee status. This ruling was appealed the New Zealand Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the lower court. Mr. Teitiota and his family have been living illegally in New Zealand for the past seven years, after his initial visa exprired he applied for refugee status. Since Mr. Teitiota’s case and appeal have failed in the New Zealand courts, he and his family are to be deported back to Kiribati. Mr. Teitiota is married with three children, all three children were born in New Zealand; however, New Zealand does not recognize the offspring of illegal immigrants born in the country as citizens.

Kiribati

Abandoned Kiribati farm that has been destroyed by sea water

The New Zealand court held that under international law Mr. Teitiota does not qualify as a refugee. The UN Refugee Convention of 1951 states that a refugee must fear persecution if they returned home, the courts determined that this is a criterion that Mr. Teitiota does not meet. The court went on to say that if refugee status were granted, the floodgates would open for all medium-term environmental deprivation or damage refugees, which would create an influx of refugees. The court further said that Mr. Teitiota and his family would be able to resume their prior subsistence life with dignity in Kiribati.

The islands of Kiribati are quickly being swallowed by the Pacific Ocean. Projections show that the Island will cease to exist by the end of this century. However, the island will become uninhabitable even earlier due to the rise in the rise in the sea-level combined with a more severe storm cycle that will contaminate the water table and with it all the agricultural land. The main atoll, Tarawa is six square miles in total, crammed into this space are 50,000 islanders and that space is quickly shrinking.

The President of Kiribati is exploring options for a mass migration and the Kiribati government hoped that the case in New Zealand would give them that option. Other options the government is pursuing include the purchase of land in Fiji as a possible resettlement option. The government has also explored the option of building a man made island to resettle the population. In total there are over 100,000 people in Kiribati that will eventually be displaced by the rising sea level. With any option the the option of building a man made island to resettle the population. In total there are over 100,000 people in Kiribati that will eventually be displaced by the rising sea level. With any option the government pursues it will be difficult to relocate such as large group of people.

Housing Crisis Worsens Urban Inequality in Pacific Islands

Filed under: climate change,housing,vanuatu — admin @ 3:01 pm

PORT VILA, Jun 10 2014 (GIP) – Rapid migration to cities and towns, driven by scarce public services and jobs in rural areas, is producing a profound social shift in Pacific Island countries, where agrarian life has dominated for generations. But the urban dream remains elusive as a severe lack of housing forces many into sprawling, poorly-serviced informal settlements.

In the southwest Pacific Island state of Vanuatu, which has a population of 247,262, the urban growth rate is four percent, the second highest in the region after the Solomon Islands.

On the outskirts of the capital, Port Vila, with a population of 44,000, is Freswota, comprising six areas known as Freswota 1-6, which are home to an estimated 8,000 people.

Chief Maki Massing, originally from west Ambrym Island in the nation’s northern provinces, is a widower with six children who has lived in Freswota 4 for 30 years.

“If you don’t find work, you must go back to your island, because Port Vila is a very expensive town.” — Chief Maki Massing, community leader in Freswota As the late afternoon sun fades, light bulbs strung across the front yard of his compound illuminate the house Massing built of cement and corrugated iron. Colourful lengths of fabric curtain the doorways. Early evening bustle fills the nearby street as he tells me why he left his rural village of Lalinda.

“My children came to Port Vila for school,” he explained. “As my income in the village from growing copra was not very good, I came here to find work so I can pay the school fees.”

Massing is fortunate to have landed a job in the formal sector. After working in a bank for 15 years, he joined the state ministry of health, where he has been employed since 1992.

The circumstances of most people in Freswota vary from permanent employment to informal labour (with people taking jobs as market vendors selling fresh produce) to unemployment, but they share one commonality: low incomes and poor living conditions.

Frank William at the Port Vila Municipality Council told GIP that land in the capital has not yet been zoned for specific development uses, such as residential or commercial, which has hindered urban planning progress. “Some public housing is available for people who come to Port Vila to work,” he said, “but people on low incomes are still unable to afford them.”

The average cost of a basic decent house lies somewhere in the range of 31,600-52,700 dollars, which is out of reach for many local residents living on the minimum monthly wage of roughly 316 dollars. The National Housing Corporation, which is under-resourced, sells land without housing development to residents in Freswota 3-6.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) reports that 16.8 percent of government workers and 17.1 percent of private sector employees in Port Vila live below the poverty line.

“For me, it’s too expensive because I must also pay for water, electricity, transport and school fees,” Massing said. Even with a government job, he has to earn extra money by renting out two small rooms in his house.

Throughout the Pacific Islands the scale of rural to urban migration dramatically outpaces job growth, availability of land and state capacity to expand housing and public services.

Thirty-five percent of all Pacific Islanders, in a region with a population of 10 million, now live in towns and cities. In Vanuatu, 25 percent of the national population are urban residents and this is predicted to rise to 38 percent by 2030. Lack of decent housing is worsening urban poverty, with 24 percent of all metropolitan residents in the Pacific Islands inhabiting slums. In Port Vila, one-third of children are impacted by poverty, which is 20 percent higher than the national average, reports the Pacific Islands Forum.

Leias Cullwick, executive director of the Vanuatu National Council of Women, claims that a low minimum wage and high cost of living in Port Vila are tipping families into severe hardship.

“Eighty percent of people in urban areas cannot even afford one decent meal per day. In the hospitals, 70 percent of the women giving birth cannot afford enough healthy food, so [their] babies are going to be malnourished,” she said.

People’s lives are also affected by lack of basic services. Massing claims that water, electricity and roads are urgently needed in Freswota 4.

“For the first five years here, I had to go down to the river every afternoon to wash and collect water to bring back to the house,” he said.

Traditional community leaders, such as Massing, are taking initiatives to address social and development issues in urban settlements.

“I talked to the government on behalf of my people and they then provided some water and electricity in this area,” he continued.

And while he understands the desires that drive people to Port Vila from rural areas, Massing believes that the city is not the best option for everyone.

“I bring everybody together here and talk to them and say you must work to stay here. If you don’t find work, you must go back to your island, because Port Vila is a very expensive town,” he said, emphasising the need to prevent destitution and crime.

According to the Pacific Islands Forum, state institutions need to take measures to improve urban planning and reform the housing market in the interests of those in most need.

Many Port Vila residents, including Massing and Cullwick, are also concerned about the misuse of public funds allocated to improving infrastructure and services. The Vanuatu Corruption Commission, established last year, has a mandate to address political and administrative mismanagement.

Proposing a bottom-up approach, Cullwick said traditional housing in villages could be better utilised for those marginalised in towns. She believes adapting traditional dwelling designs and using readily available natural building materials, such as thatch and bamboo, could reduce the cost of constructing a safe and healthy house.

In the meantime, Vanuatu has joined the UN-Habitat’s Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme (PSUP), which aims to improve urban living conditions and progress toward Millennium Development Goal 7 – bettering the lives of at least 100 million slum-dwellers by 2020. Urban profiles, part of Phase 1, are currently being drafted ahead of the next phases of planning and implementation.

Pacific islands face fishing crisis

As the population on the Pacific islands grows, finding enough fish to eat is becoming increasingly difficult. Now, the fishing industry is switching to tuna to tackle the problem.

The coral fishermen of Vanuatu are facing a growing crisis: they are increasingly returning from their fishing expeditions with ever dwindling hauls. That`s because the coral reefs that they travel out to are disappearing at an alarming rate as are the fish stocks near the coast that have traditionally served as the staple diet for people in the region. It`s a similar story in the other Pacific Islands too.

A variety of factors are responsible for the phenomenon. In addition to environmental pollution, rising temperatures and a creeping acidity in the ocean`s waters – both a consequence of climate change – have taken a huge toll on the reefs.

In fact, the ocean’s chemical makeup has changed more now than it has in 55 million years. That has put incredible pressure on the region’s embattled coral reefs, which have seen their rich biodiversity diminish. More people, fewer fish

The growing population has led to a shortage of food – and climate change has exacerbated the problem

“Coral fishing in the region could shrink by 20 percent by the year 2050,” says Johann Bell, a fishing expert who lives on New Caledonia, an archipelago located some 1,500 kilometers east of Australia. Bell works with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), an organization of Pacific island countries and territories dealing with environmental and social issues. The decline of the fish catch presents a troubling problem for SPC members. “We have observed that the gap between the amount of fish available in the reefs and the amount that we need to feed the population is growing,” says Bell. And the numbers don’t lie: that gap amounts to 4,000 tons of fish a year. The disappearing reefs have only exacerbated an existing problem. The population on southwest Pacific Ocean islands continues to expand at a rapid rate, expected to reach 50 percent by 2030. If that happens, the islands would need an additional 150,000 tons of fish a year.

A fourth of the world’s tuna stock is found in the waters surrounding eight Pacific islands: Micronesia, Kribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islands

But attempting to increase the catch for coral fishermen would only put the reefs under further pressure. “When you don’t cultivate an eco-system in a sustainable way, when you overfish, it is significantly less prepared to deal with the changing climate,” says Doris Soto, a senior officer of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department at the Food and Agricultulture Organization (FAO). That is why fishermen in the region are not permitted to catch more than 3 of the 50 to 100 tons of fish pro square meter of water each year. Yet, fish forms the main diet on the Pacific islands, and remains an important source of protein for residents. As coastal fishing wanes, so too does the locals’ most basic staple. Vanuautu, like most Pacific islands, has been forced to look for alternatives. But the question is just where. One alternative would be on land. For instance, the Nile tilapia is a large fish and the most prominent example of species that can be cultivated in fisheries and aquacultures on land.

The Pacific Community has recommended the increased use of freshwater aquacultures, and the Nile tilapia is the perfect solution. Since the region is expected to get more rain in future, the Nile tilapa can now even be bred in areas which have received little precipitation so far. To catch tuna, fishermen have to venture far past the coral reefs where they have traditionally caught their bounty

But the SPC’s main solution to the question of alternative food sources lies further off the coast. Far into the ocean’s turquoise waters, huge swarms of tuna swim freely, offering an enticing alternative. But the fishing sector first needs to adapt its ways to learn how and where to catch the fish before tuna can become a fixture on lunch tables. Luring tuna to the coast Fishermen have already been forced to venture further out into the ocean in their small fishing boats for catch. That means more fuel is needed, raising costs. That`s why the Pacific Community recommends installing Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) to attract ocean fish and other sea creatures back towards the coast. FADs are usually man-made floats or buoys that are anchored to the ocean floor with long ropes. They lure tuna and other marine life that often seek protection in the shadow of the floating devices. Vanuatu has already started experimenting with FADs, installing one between the islands of Nguna, Pele and Efate. That has made it easier for the surrounding 30 communities to access fish.

“Now our fishermen can fish in the vicinity of their homes,” Mariwota, a village elder from the community of Taloa was quoted as saying in a joint report by the Pacific Community and Germany’s federal development agency (GIZ). “They are now ensured a good catch,” he said. Selling by-catch at local markets

Many Pacific islands earn a lot of money selling fishing licenses to foreign shipping companies

The approach also involves pushing foreign fleets, that catch tuna in the region on a large scale, to contribute towards improving the food security of the local population. That`s because it`s not just tuna but also other marine creatures, too small to be processed in canning facilities, that end up in the huge fishing nets. The practice has long been criticized by environmental organizations as well.

The SPC now suggests that this by-catch, that in the past was thrown back in the ocean, should be used to feed the local populace. “We want the fleets to be forced to bring their by-catch to land and sell it in cities here before they return to their home countries with the tuna they’ve caught,” says Johann Bell. Bell also believes that the Pacific islands should reduce the number of fishing licenses handed out to foreign companies. “The island countries should hold onto more of those licenses to feed their own people,” he says. His concept could be especially helpful to the islands that lie further west, like Papua New Guinea and Palau. That`s because climate change is set to affect the distribution of tuna stocks in the region. “Our latest studies have shown that climate change will cause tuna fish to head east and to subtropical regions,” says Bell. He predicts that by the end of the century, the island countries in the west could see their tuna catch shrink by up to a third, while the catch increases in the east. That is why the Pacific islands have come up with the Vessel Day Scheme, or VDS, where vessel owners can buy and trade licenses for days fishing at sea. The scheme helps reduce the amount of tuna catch and more fairly distribute the fish among the participating islands. “Originally, the system was developed so that all the island countries could profit equally from the tuna populations, which have long traveled back and forth in the ocean’s waters,” says Johann Bell. “But it is also a good way to adapt to climate change.”

Strong M6.4 earthquake registered off the coast of Vanuatu

Filed under: climate change,disaster,vanuatu — admin @ 2:47 pm

Earthquake registered as M6.4 on the Richter scale struck off the coast of Vanuatu on June 19, 2014 at 10:17 UTC. USGS reports depth of 59.9 km (37.2 miles), EMSC is reporting same magnitude at depth of 60 km.

Epicenter was located 85 km (53 miles) WNW of Sola, and 219 km (136 miles) N of Luganville, Vanuatu.

There are about 6 295 people living within 100 km radius.

USGS issued green alert for for shaking-related fatalities and economic losses.

Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though some resistant structures exist. Recent earthquakes in this area have caused secondary hazards such as landslides that might have contributed to losses.

Seismotectonics of the Eastern Margin of the Australia Plate

The eastern margin of the Australia plate is one of the most sesimically active areas of the world due to high rates of convergence between the Australia and Pacific plates. In the region of New Zealand, the 3000 km long Australia-Pacific plate boundary extends from south of Macquarie Island to the southern Kermadec Island chain. It includes an oceanic transform (the Macquarie Ridge), two oppositely verging subduction zones (Puysegur and Hikurangi), and a transpressive continental transform, the Alpine Fault through South Island, New Zealand. Since 1900 there have been 15 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded near New Zealand. Nine of these, and the four largest, occurred along or near the Macquarie Ridge, including the 1989 M8.2 event on the ridge itself, and the 2004 M8.1 event 200 km to the west of the plate boundary, reflecting intraplate deformation. The largest recorded earthquake in New Zealand itself was the 1931 M7.8 Hawke’s Bay earthquake, which killed 256 people. The last M7.5+ earthquake along the Alpine Fault was 170 years ago; studies of the faults’ strain accumulation suggest that similar events are likely to occur again.

North of New Zealand, the Australia-Pacific boundary stretches east of Tonga and Fiji to 250 km south of Samoa. For 2,200 km the trench is approximately linear, and includes two segments where old (>120 Myr) Pacific oceanic lithosphere rapidly subducts westward (Kermadec and Tonga). At the northern end of the Tonga trench, the boundary curves sharply westward and changes along a 700 km-long segment from trench-normal subduction, to oblique subduction, to a left lateral transform-like structure.

Australia-Pacific convergence rates increase northward from 60 mm/yr at the southern Kermadec trench to 90 mm/yr at the northern Tonga trench; however, significant back arc extension (or equivalently, slab rollback) causes the consumption rate of subducting Pacific lithosphere to be much faster. The spreading rate in the Havre trough, west of the Kermadec trench, increases northward from 8 to 20 mm/yr. The southern tip of this spreading center is propagating into the North Island of New Zealand, rifting it apart. In the southern Lau Basin, west of the Tonga trench, the spreading rate increases northward from 60 to 90 mm/yr, and in the northern Lau Basin, multiple spreading centers result in an extension rate as high as 160 mm/yr. The overall subduction velocity of the Pacific plate is the vector sum of Australia-Pacific velocity and back arc spreading velocity: thus it increases northward along the Kermadec trench from 70 to 100 mm/yr, and along the Tonga trench from 150 to 240 mm/yr.

The Kermadec-Tonga subduction zone generates many large earthquakes on the interface between the descending Pacific and overriding Australia plates, within the two plates themselves and, less frequently, near the outer rise of the Pacific plate east of the trench. Since 1900, 40 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded, mostly north of 30?S. However, it is unclear whether any of the few historic M8+ events that have occurred close to the plate boundary were underthrusting events on the plate interface, or were intraplate earthquakes. On September 29, 2009, one of the largest normal fault (outer rise) earthquakes ever recorded (M8.1) occurred south of Samoa, 40 km east of the Tonga trench, generating a tsunami that killed at least 180 people.

Across the North Fiji Basin and to the west of the Vanuatu Islands, the Australia plate again subducts eastwards beneath the Pacific, at the North New Hebrides trench. At the southern end of this trench, east of the Loyalty Islands, the plate boundary curves east into an oceanic transform-like structure analogous to the one north of Tonga.

Australia-Pacific convergence rates increase northward from 80 to 90 mm/yr along the North New Hebrides trench, but the Australia plate consumption rate is increased by extension in the back arc and in the North Fiji Basin. Back arc spreading occurs at a rate of 50 mm/yr along most of the subduction zone, except near ~15?S, where the D’Entrecasteaux ridge intersects the trench and causes localized compression of 50 mm/yr in the back arc. Therefore, the Australia plate subduction velocity ranges from 120 mm/yr at the southern end of the North New Hebrides trench, to 40 mm/yr at the D’Entrecasteaux ridge-trench intersection, to 170 mm/yr at the northern end of the trench.

Large earthquakes are common along the North New Hebrides trench and have mechanisms associated with subduction tectonics, though occasional strike slip earthquakes occur near the subduction of the D’Entrecasteaux ridge. Within the subduction zone 34 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded since 1900. On October 7, 2009, a large interplate thrust fault earthquake (M7.6) in the northern North New Hebrides subduction zone was followed 15 minutes later by an even larger interplate event (M7.8) 60 km to the north. It is likely that the first event triggered the second of the so-called earthquake “doublet”. (USGS)

Fiji Asks For Help to Fight the Affects of Climate Change in the Pacific

Filed under: climate change,fiji — admin @ 2:40 pm

The Government of the island nation of Fiji is accusing the international community, pointing mainly at Australia, of being selfish in regards to climate change policy. Fiji, like many other pacific nations is suffering greatly from the rising sea levels; these small island nations contribute very little to global carbon emissions but are suffering the consequences of the rest of the world’s high level of carbon output.

In a climate change summit hosted by Fiji, interim Prime Minister Bainimara said the global will to combat climate change is receding. He further pointed at Australia, saying that since the election of conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbot there has been a distinct change of attitude in Australia toward climate change policy. Abbot has been quoted as saying that he will not support any climate change policy in Australia that would negatively impact the Australian economy.

The interim Prime Minister of Fiji issued a harsh statement to the world, pointed at Australia and Prime Minister Abbot, saying that history will judge them harshly if they do nothing to effect policy change and allow the islands of the pacific to sink below the ocean. He further stated that leaders need to see the situation is dire for Fiji and other island nations and that leaders need to risk minor economic impact to save lives.

Indonesia was invited to the climate change summit in Fiji and pledged support to Fiji in combating climate change. Indonesia also has a strong incentive to mitigate the effects of climate change in the pacific. Indonesia has offered $20 million to Fiji to help fight the effects of climate change and has offered further support in the form of increased trade agreements with Fiji to boost trade revenue by a targeted $1 billion in the future.

The situation in Fiji is so serious that entire communities have had to be relocated since January 2014. The village of Vaunidogola had to be relocated to higher ground due to rising sea levels; the relocation affected 50 families whose ancestors had lived on that land for generations. The government of Fiji has also identified 600 villages across the Fiji islands that are at risk from the rising sea levels. The government predicts that over the next 10 years 40 settlements will have to be relocated due to the rise in sea levels, the pollution of the ground water and the destruction of agricultural land.

5/24/2014

Greenhouse Gardening

Filed under: agriculture,antigua,caribbean,climate change,resource,weather — admin @ 4:37 am

Antigua is one of the most drought-prone countries in the Caribbean. So whenever it rains, the inhabitants generally regard the weather as “showers of blessing”.

But that is starting to change. Many farmers now see the rains as a curse and are now fighting an uphill battle to save their crops, vital for both the local and foreign markets.
“The yield and lifespan [of crops in a greenhouse] basically are three times as much as open-field production.” — Delrie Cole

“We are a drought-prone country,” Ruleta Camacho, senior environmental officer in the ministry of agriculture, stated. “The issue now is that due to the impact of climate change, we are having exacerbated drought and exacerbated rainfall events.”

Heavy rainfall can damage crops and high humidity brings with it an infestation of pests and diseases, increasing the consumption of pesticides.

“We are having large amounts of rain in very short times. There are a number of communities that are affected by flood conditions, communities where the livelihoods of the population could be affected,” Camacho added.

One such community is Jonas Road where Delrie Cole has been farming for the last three years. But since Cole introduced greenhouse technology to his farm, he is no longer at the mercy of the rains.

With the greenhouses he is also able to grow his vegetables – cilantro, parsley, basil, peppers, eggplant, lettuce, pumpkins and tomatoes – during periods of drought or deluge.

“The need for the greenhouses came about because of climate change and a lack of production in the summer season when you have more stressful conditions,” he said.

“Due to the changing climate we are having hotter summers and it’s a pretty difficult time when you have the plants being stressed and the fruits are falling from the trees.

“The greenhouse basically gives you that edge where you can better operate in terms of control, cutting down some of the humidity that you would have during the summer,” he explained.

Greenhouse farming, which is cultivation of plants inside a building with glass walls and roof under controlled conditions, has become necessary with climate change.

Temperature and humidity can be controlled, making it possible for farmers to grow crops year-round.

“The yield and lifespan basically are three times as much as open-field production,” said Cole, who has been a farmer for more than 30 years.

“We are doing crops which are running 12 months, so whereas you would have planted a field that is carrying us through 12 months, farmers in the open would have been planting three crops within that same length of time and their yield would be less.”

Farmers in Antigua stand to benefit from the Reducing the Risks to Human and Natural Assets Resulting from Climate Change (RRACC) project being implemented by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“The ministry of agriculture has identified the threat of heavy rainfall on cash crops such as lettuce and tomatoes,” Susanna Scott, coordinator of the RRACC project, said.

“A lot of damage could result from intense rainfall, which is expected to increase with climate change and also in time of drought the impact of the dry weather on these crops is severe as well,” she said. “So what we are looking at doing is investing in greenhouses to provide a protective area for crop growing.”

Antigua’s main agricultural exports include cotton to Japan and fruits and vegetables to other Caribbean territories.

Hot peppers and vegetables are also exported to the United Kingdom and Canada. Other agriculture products are bananas, coconuts, cucumbers, mangoes, livestock and pineapples.

Agriculture is currently a rather insignificant part of the economy, making up just four percent of GDP. However, it appears that cultivation is on the rise, with approximately 300 acres of land planted with vegetables.

Antigua has also been campaigning to encourage more youth to get involved in agriculture and there is evidence of some success.

Oraine Halstead and Rhys Actie, who are both under the age of 25, are full-time farmers.

“As a boy growing up with my grandmother, she was involved in planting vegetables and I got a little knowledge of it and fell in love with it,” Actie, a national of St. Lucia who moved here at the age of nine years and is now 23, said.

Halstead, who has been a farmer for two and half years, said farming is a very fulfilling career.

“I love to be around plants, taking care of them. It’s a joy to see them grow to maturity and the food they produce,” he said.

In the wake of climate change, greenhouse farming is seen as the only way to protect crops and manage a better yield than in normal condition. Farming under controlled condition protects crops from wind, rain, sun and precipitation.

The advantages of vegetable production in tropical greenhouses include higher yield and quality; reduced risks for quality and yield; less susceptibility to disease and damage caused by heavy rainfall; extended harvest time; reduced water consumption; and better use of fertiliser and pesticides.

“People are more keen as to what they consume and where it’s coming from. We are doing vine ripening so the flavour is good. Consumers are knocking on our doors because of the quality and the taste of our tomatoes,” Cole said.

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