Archive for the 'erosion' Category

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China admits problems with Three Gorges Dam

dam skippy

Photo retrieved from: NatureNews.com

“China has finally admitted that all is not rosy with its Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric power project. The dam is plagued by problems that need to be resolved urgently, the State Council — China’s cabinet — said last Wednesday.

“The statement was made after a high-level meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao, and highlights issues such as pollution, silt accumulation, ecological deterioration and geological hazards near the dam. It also points out the project’s adverse effects on irrigation, water supply and shipping in downstream regions, which affect an area of 633,000 square kilometres over eight provinces. These problems should be addressed through more research and monitoring, and more efficient dam operation, the statement says.

“The admission was welcomed by Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environment Affairs, a non-governmental organization in Beijing. “Although China had acknowledged problems in the dam areas before, this was the first time that it admitted the project’s negative impact on the middle and lower reaches of the river,” he says.”

read more: Nature News

Drought Descends On Texas, Surrounding States

Photo retrieved from: www.seacoastonline.com

“Much of Texas is bone dry, with scarcely any moisture to be found in the top layers of soil. Grass is so dry it crunches underfoot in many places. The nation’s leading cattle-producing state just endured its driest seven-month span on record, and some ranchers are culling their herds to avoid paying supplemental feed costs.

May is typically the wettest month in Texas, and farmers planting on non-irrigated acres are clinging to hope that relief arrives in the next few weeks.

“It doesn’t look bright right at the moment, but I haven’t given up yet,” said cotton producer Rickey Bearden, who grows about two-thirds of his 9,000 acres without irrigation in West Texas. “We’ll have to have some help from Mother’s Nature.”

That the drought is looming over the Southwest while floodwaters rise in the Midwest and South reflects a classic signature of the La Nina weather oscillation, a cooling of the central Pacific Ocean.

This year’s La Nina is the sixth-strongest in records dating back to 1949.

“It’s a shift of the jet stream, providing all that moisture and shifting it away from the south, so you’ve seen a lot of drought in Texas,” Mike Halpert, deputy director of the federal government’s Climate Prediction Center in Silver Spring, Md.”

Read more: Associated Press

 

Amazon Drought May Have Bigger Impact On Global Warming Than U.S. Does In A Year

Photo retrieved from: www.huffingtonpost.com

“A widespread drought in the Amazon rain forest last year was worse than the “once-in-a-century” dry spell in 2005 and may have a bigger impact on global warming than the United States does in a year, British and Brazilian scientists said on Thursday.

More frequent severe droughts like those in 2005 and 2010 risk turning the world’s largest rain forest from a sponge that absorbs carbon emissions into a source of the gases, accelerating global warming, the report found.

Trees and other vegetation in the world’s forests soak up heat-trapping carbon dioxide as they grow, helping cool the planet, but release it when they die and rot.

“If events like this happen more often, the Amazon rain forest would reach a point where it shifts from being a valuable carbon sink slowing climate change to a major source of greenhouse gases that could speed it up,” said lead author Simon Lewis, an ecologist at the University of Leeds.

The study, published in the journal Science, found that last year’s drought caused rainfall shortages over a 1.16 million square-mile (3 million square km) expanse of the forest, compared with 734,000 square miles (1.9 million square km) in the 2005 drought.

It was also more intense, causing higher tree mortality and having three major epicenters, whereas the 2005 drought was mainly focused in the southwestern Amazon.”

Read more: Huffington Post

Sequía En La Amazonia Aumenta Temores Sobre Calentamiento Global

Durante la sequía de 2010, el río Amazonas mostró su nivel más bajo en medio siglo. Foto encontrado en: www.bbc.co.uk

“Durante la sequía de 2010, el río Amazonas mostró su nivel más bajo en medio siglo, lo que produjo que varios afluentes terminaran completamente secos.

De hecho, más de 20 municipios se declararon en estado de emergencia.

El líder de la investigación, Simon Lewis, de la Universidad de Leeds, es el científico que obtuvo una disculpa del diario Sunday Times el año pasado, debido al escándalo denominado “Amazongate”.

Lewis cree que “es difícil de detectar patrones con sólo observar dos sequías. Sin embargo, el hecho de que hayan ocurrido tan seguidas es preocupante”.

En efecto, ambas sequías estuvieron asociadas a aguas cálidas muy inusuales en el Océano Atlántico, frente a la costa brasileña.

“Si se descubre que fueron provocadas por un aumento de las concentraciones de gases de efecto invernadero en la atmósfera, podríamos tener más años de sequía en el futuro cercano”, dijo Lewis.

“Si eventos como este ocurren con más frecuencia, la selva amazónica podría dejar de ser un valioso freno para el cambio climático, para pasar a convertirse en una de las principales fuentes de gases de efecto invernadero”.”

Leer más: BBC

The Lost Lands of Takalar

Under threat: A child walks on a beach of Laikang Bay, Mangara Bombang district, Takalar regency, South Sulawesi. Coastal erosion has become an alarming issue in the region. Photo retrieved from: www.thejakartapost.com

“The environment and investment office of Takalar regency recorded seven kilometers of its coast as seriously eroded, five kilometers as moderately damaged, and the remainder as slightly affected with a small part unaffected.

“Erosion in Takalar is getting worse,” said Alwy Rahman, the head of the environment and investment office of Takalar recently.

Apart from the coastal zone, settlements, roads and bridges as well as cemeteries have also been adversely affected.

The varying degrees of erosion have forced 400 families to relocate.

According to Alwy, unless promptly dealt with, the erosion is likely to have a worse impact.

“We need to build concrete embankments and breakwaters quickly. But sadly, we don’t have enough funds to do this,” he said.

Soil in Takalar is said to be eroding mainly because of human activity removing the area’s natural protection against waves.

People are removing mangroves on a large scale, fishing using explosives therefore destroying coral reefs which normally function as barriers to waves.”

Read more: The Jakarta Post

China’s Ability to Feed its People Questioned by UN Expert

Photo retrieved from: www.guardian.co.uk

“With memories still fresh of the famines that killed tens of millions of people in the early 1960s, the Chinese government has gone to great lengths to ensure the world’s biggest population has enough to eat, but its long-term self-sufficiency was questioned by UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter.

“The shrinking of arable land and the massive land degradation threatens the ability of the country to maintain current levels of agricultural production, while the widening gap between rural and urban is an important challenge to the right to food of the Chinese population,” said De Schutter at the end of a trip to China.

He told the Guardian his main concern was the decline of soil quality in China because of excessive use of fertilisers, pollution and drought. He noted that 37% of the nation’s territory was degraded and 8.2m hectares (20.7m acres) of arable land has been lost since 1997 to cities, industrial parks, natural disasters and forestry programmes.”

Read more: Guardian

Cambio Climático: Las Dos Caras De La Moneda Para Los Mexicanos

Foto encontrado en: www.wsj.com

“El aumento de la frecuencia y la intensidad de las tormentas extremas en México y otros países generan riesgo a las instalaciones turísticas, aumento de los costos deseguros, costos por la interrupción de negocios.

La reducción de las precipitacionesincremento de la evaporación en algunas regiones genera escasez de agua, competencia por el agua entre el turismo y otros sectores, desertificación, aumento de incendios forestales que amenazan lainfraestructura y que afectan la demanda.

El aumento de la frecuencia de fuertes precipitaciones en algunas regiones crea el riesgo de inundaciones y daños en la arquitectura histórica y cultural, daños a la infraestructura turística y alteración de la estacionalidad.

La elevación en el nivel del mar genera erosión en costas, pérdida de área de playas; costos más elevados para proteger y mantener las fronteras marítimas.

El cambio en la biodiversidad terrestre y marina pone en riesgo los atractivos naturales y de especies; mayor riesgo de enfermedades en zonas tropicales.”

Leér más: CNN

Water, Water Everywhere, And Not A Drop To Swim In

Photo retrieved from: www.npr.org

“This is one of the unfortunate byproducts of developing a tiny shard of land in the middle of the sea: there’s nowhere to put the trash.  People do burn it, using it to smoke fish and cook.  And there are a few dumps – though also near the beach.  But inevitably plastic bottles, car transmission, paint cans, and diapers all end up in the turquoise water.

And then there’s the bathroom situation.  In the last census, only a third of South Tarawa households reported having a flush toilet.  Which means lots of people use the lagoon – about 29 percent, according to that report.  Others use the ocean side of the atoll.

Probably the most oft-repeated piece of advice to travelers here is: “Whatever you do, don’t swim in the lagoon.”

Compounding all these problems is the fact that South Tarawa has too many people.  When you conjure an image of a small Pacific island, you think deserted sandy beaches, colorful reefs, sloping coconut trees.  Many of Kiribati’s outer islands do fit that description.  But South Tarawa has more 40,000 people live on South Taraw, with upwards of a thousand new residents moving here each year – folks from the rural islands hoping to make it in the big city.  One of Tarawa’s neighborhoods, Betio (pronounced ‘BEH-so’ – ‘ti’ makes an ‘s’ sound in Kiribati), has so many people crammed on to so small a piece of land, it’s more densely populated than Hong Kong.”

Read more: NPR

Arab World and Med Region More Vulnerable to Climate Change

Photo retrieved from: www.greenprophet.com If Egypt’s Nile Delta is flooded by rising seas, half of its population will be at risk.

“The seriousness of climate change in the Arab World was pointed out recently in an article in the news site ArabBusiness.com, in which it was noted that powerful dust storms in Iraq, freak floods wreaking havoc in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and rising sea levels eroding Egypt’s coast are all sure signs that countries in the Middle East are some of the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

This is certainly nothing new as the Middle East has never been an area that has received ample rainfall. With one of the fastest growing populations in the world, especially in countries like Egypt, people living in the Arab World by the year 2015 will have to survive on less than 500 cubic meters of water a year each, against a world average exceeding 6,000 cubic meters per head, according to Mohamed El-Ashry, former head of the Global Environment Facility.

Five hundred cubic meters of water per person per annum is barely enough to survive on, much less maintain a decent quality of life. Although desalination is now widely used in Saudi Arabia, and in the Gulf States, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, strict measures of water conservation and recycling, such as those now being considered in Abu Dhabi will now have to become the norm.

After all, if a small country like Israel, with a population of 7.5 million can reclaim 75% of its sewage waste water then why can’t Arab countries do the same? The ravages of climate change will not go away soon; and the sooner that Arab countries take more measures to conserve water, the better off they will be.”

Read more: Green Prophet