Sunday, July 31, 2011

Iraq could be running out of water

Ensuring national security is the most important issue for any country, and strategies are developed and policies made towards that end.

The issue of national security goes beyond the concept of safeguarding the land, skies and water of a given country to stopping the country from breaking apart and protecting it against threats to its natural resources.
Most Arab countries are considered arid because on the one hand the rates of rainfall are very low and, on the other, water resources — if they exist — are located outside their geographical boundaries.
However, over the years, this delicate issue has not received the attention it deserves.

On March 21 this year, the UN issued a report on the eve of World Water Day, about the tragic water situation in Iraq. The report said that 50 per cent of water resources are wasted in Iraq, and six million people have no access to clean water.
In the report, the UN warned that the Tigris and Euphrates rivers could completely dry up by 2040. The accelerating decline of water supplies and increasing demand threaten to bring Iraq closer to the water poverty threshold, the report cautioned.

We shall overlook the negative aspects of the report, about Iraq running out of water and the dangers to the environment of the whole region — and focus on the possibility of Iraq becoming an arid country.
The UN report failed to make clear some points, as it follows diplomatic protocols that forbid it from stating facts in a blunt manner. The real reason behind the expected water catastrophe in Iraq is the drop in the water levels at the sources of the two rivers.

Iraq suffers from drought; rainfall is low and does not exceed 200 millimetres annually at most locations, while the rainfall exceeds 600 millimetres, and at times double the amount, in the Kurdish region of the country. Hence water strategy depends mainly on the river water. However, the source of both rivers is outside the country. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Scholarships and Bursaries Call for Caribbean Nationals in Graduate Studies in Climate Change

Scholarships and Bursaries Call for Caribbean Nationals in Graduate Studies in Climate Change

Study areas related to Climate Change that can be considered for these Scholarships and Bursaries are:
Climatology; Environmental Sciences; Coastal Management; Water Resources; Sustainable Tourism; Gender Studies

The CARIBSAVE Partnership, the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the University of Waterloo (UW), Canada, announce a joint research project entitled:

Partnership for Canada-Caribbean Community Climate Change Adaptation (ParCA)*

Students’ scholarships and bursaries will focus on ParCA; a project that will conduct comparative case study research in Tobago, Jamaica and two Atlantic Canadian provinces. The project will use a community-based vulnerability assessment (CBVA) framework in collaboration with coastal communities and local partners to identify vulnerabilities and exposures, and develop strategies for adaptation to climate change. Under this program, funding is available for Caribbean Nationals to study at the University of the West Indies or the University of Waterloo at Masters and PhD levels.

ELIGIBILITY for Scholarships and Bursaries

Must be a Caribbean National
Must have successfully completed an undergraduate or graduate degree at a high level in an area relevant to Climate Change including Climatology, Environmental Sciences, Coastal Management, Water Resources, Sustainable Tourism, Gender Studies.
Must have been accepted and registered in a Masters or PhD Programme at UWI or UW.
Evidence of professional experience in any of the fields indicated above will be an asset.
Applicants for Scholarships and Bursaries will be assessed by a Selection Committee established by the University of the West Indies, the University of Waterloo and The CARIBSAVE Partnership.

Applications should be sent via email to The Office of Research, The University of the West Indies: and must be copied to The CARIBSAVE Partnership: When applying please include ‘ParCA’ as Subject in the email.

The following should be included in your Application: an up to date Curriculum Vitae; a covering letter indicating qualifications; professional experience; preferred study location (UWI Campus or Waterloo); your area of interest for graduate studies and full contact details for three Referees. Closing date for this round of applications is 31 August 2011.

* Funding for this project and its student scholarships and bursaries is kindly provided by the Canadian IDRC and the Tri Council and disseminated through The CARIBSAVE Partnership, The University of Waterloo and The Unversity of the West Indies. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Medvezhiy Glacier Advances

In the early summer of 2011, the Medvezhiy Glacier in Tajikistan slid abruptly down its valley and for greater distance than it has in at least 22 years.

The sudden downhill slide of the glacier raised concern among glaciologists and emergency management groups about a potential glacial outburst flood that could flow down into the Vanch River valley.
According to satellite imagery and reports from local scientists, the glacier has moved roughly 800 to 1,000 meters since June 2011. The glacier normally moves 200 to 400 meters in an entire year. The mud-covered terminus of the glacier now blocks the Abdukagor River and is forming a lake behind a wall of ice 150 to 200 meters high and 300 to 350 meters across. Cracks and ice tunnels may be allowing some water to flow through; a bridge across the river downstream has been washed out from one water surge so far.
The Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured this natural-color image of Medvezhiy Glacier on July 23, 2011. Annotations mark the position of the glacier terminus on May 2, June 3, and July 23, 2011.

Located in southern Tajikistan in the Pamir Mountains, Medvezhiy (Bear) Glacier is roughly 16 kilometers long, and drains out of the Academii Nauk (Academy of Sciences) Range. The upper end of Medvezhiy sits 4,500 meters above sea level, with the terminus at roughly 3,000 meters. It is described by glaciologists as a pulsating glacier with periodic surging; the most recent surges were 1989 and 2001.
Major surges in 1963 and 1973 caused the formation of ephemeral lakes that swelled behind the ice. In each case, the glacier surged as much as two kilometers down the valley and blocked the Abdukagor River with ice dams as much as 100 meters high. When the ice dams broke, more than 20 million cubic meters of water flowed down the river. No lives were lost in those instances, but infrastructure damage was significant, according to reports. Scientists have regularly surveyed the area since the 1960s.
Novikov, V. (2002) Severe Hydrometeorological Events and their Fluctuation. World Meteorological Organization, CBS Teschnical Conference poster, Accessed July 29, 2011.
United Nations Environment Programme/GRID-Arendal (2007) Formation of lakes and glacier lake outburst floods (GLOFs) by Medvezhi Glacier, Pamirs. Accessed July 29, 2011.
UN Chronicle (2009) Global Warming and Surging Glaciers. Accessed July 29, 2011.
NASA Earth Observatory image created by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using EO-1 ALI data provided courtesy of the NASA EO-1 team and the United States Geological Survey. Caption by Mike Carlowicz, with background information from Erkin Huseinov and Viktor Novikov.
Instrument: EO-1 - ALI Source

Location:Cayman Islands

Friday, July 29, 2011

Report: U.S. Cities Must Prepare for Water-related Impacts of Climate Change

Today marks the release of a new NRDC report called Thirsty for Answers: Preparing for the Water-related Impacts of Climate Change in American Cities.

The report makes clear that some of the most profound effects of climate change are water-related, like sea level rise, increased rain and storms, flooding, and drought. These changes affect the water we drink, fish, and swim in, as well as impact our infrastructure and the economy.

One need only look as far as the recent deadly flooding and severe storms in the Midwest, or to the impacts of the prolonged drought across the South, to understand the profound effects of water, or a lack thereof. Whether any specific weather event, like the flooding in the Midwest, reflects the impacts of climate change or not, the research compiled in our report makes clear that these kinds of events are likely to increase in the coming years as a result of climate change.

In our report, we compiled local and regional research findings about the water-related impacts of climate change in 12 U.S. cities (chosen for their geographic diversity and range in size, in order to provide a snapshot of the varied national picture): New York, Boston, Norfolk (Virginia), Miami, New Orleans, Chicago, St. Louis, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Homer (Alaska). We also analyzed what many of these municipalities are doing in terms of preparedness planning, and offer their solutions as examples for other communities to emulate.

A brief rundown of the types of changes and impacts detailed in the report include:

Rising Seas: Most of the coastal cities in the report are facing threats from sea level rise, including coastal flooding and storm surges. Miami ranks number one worldwide in terms of assets exposed to coastal flooding, and the Norfolk-Virginia Beach metropolitan area ranks tenth, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Rising seas threaten to decimate the protective wetlands surrounding New Orleans and inundate a large portion of the Florida Keys.

Increased Storms and Flooding: The Midwest and East Coast are at the highest risk for more frequent and intense storms. The frequency of very heavy rainfall in Chicago, for example, is expected to increase by 50 percent in the next 30 years. More frequent and intense rainfall contributes to the type of flooding recently seen along the Mississippi River, and combined sewer overflows that send untreated sewage and stormwater into the Chicago River and Lake Michigan.

Water Supply Impacts: Rising seas are likely to cause increased saltwater intrusion into freshwater supplies, including drinking water for millions of Americans, especially in Miami and the San Francisco Bay area. In the West, rising temperatures, less rain, and decreased snowpack will create challenges for maintaining a sufficient water supply. For example, a large decline in the spring snowpack in the watersheds that supply water to Seattle is projected over the next two decades. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Thursday, July 28, 2011

An effective response to climate change

Foreign Secretary William Hague has delivered a speech titled 'The Diplomacy of Climate Change' to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Thank you Governor Whitman. I am most grateful for your generous introduction.

I am delighted to be here at the Council on Foreign Relations. In the modern networked world, diplomacy is no longer the sole preserve of diplomats. Instead, we all have a stake in global affairs. That is why the work of renowned bodies such as this is more valuable than ever.

Today I want to talk about why I believe we, as foreign policy practitioners, need to up our game in building a credible and effective response to climate change. Climate change is perhaps the twenty-first century’s biggest foreign policy challenge along with such challenges as preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. A world which is failing to respond to climate change is one in which the values embodied in the UN will not be met. It is a world in which competition and conflict will win over collaboration.

We are at a crucial point in the global debate on climate change. Many are questioning, in the wake of Copenhagen, whether we should continue to seek a response to climate change through the UN and whether we can ever hope to deal with this enormous challenge.

I will first argue that an effective response to climate change underpins our security and prosperity. Second, our response should be to strive for a binding global deal, whatever the setbacks. And third, I will set out why effective deployment of foreign policy assets is crucial to mobilising the political will needed if we are to shape an effective response. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

This week in climate change effects: wilder fires, toxic tundra and iceberg ‘islands’

The record-breaking heat may be easing across much of North America, but the dramatic markers of our fast-changing climate continue unabated.

In a summer where much of the continent has sweltered under epic heat and humidity, it is not surprising that forest fires are on the rise. A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences reveals that Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons are far more likely to experience large fires more frequently.

According to Discovery Science, researchers used established climate models and compared climate conditions, fire frequency, temperature changes and precipitation levels. From this they determined that within just a few decades, big fires may become as much as 10 times more common than they have been in the last 10,000 years—likely once every 20 to 30 years.

From the article:

This study helps explain what people who live in the West have begun to notice in recent years, said Terry Chapin, an ecosystem ecologist who studies the effects of climate change on wildfires at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Serious wildfires seem to be happening more often than they used to, he said.

“That’s something the United States has not come to grips with, with respect to climate change: We assume that either climate change doesn’t happen or that we can manage things such that climate change won’t affect us,” Chapin said. “This seems like a clear and present example where recent and projected changes in climate are going to have a huge impact on human society. We need to adjust and adapt rather than try to fix the symptoms.” More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

African land grab threatens food security: study | Reuters

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Rich countries grabbing farmland in Africa to feed their growing populations can leave rural populations there without land or jobs and make the continent’s hunger problem more severe, an environmental think tank said on Tuesday.

The trend is accelerating as wealthier countries in the Middle East and Asia, particularly China, seek new land to plant crops, lacking enough fertile ground to meet their own food needs, Washington DC-based Worldwatch Institute said.

Worldwatch said its researchers interviewed more than 350 farmers’ groups, NGOs, government agencies and scientists over 17 months. The meetings, held in 25 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, addressed issues that hinder the efforts of African farmers to alleviate hunger and poverty.

“People are always saying that Africa needs to feed itself. It can’t do that if the Chinese and the Saudis are taking up the best land for production for food,” Danielle Nierenberg, director of Worldwatch’s Nourishing the Planet project, told Reuters.

The International Food Policy Research Institute reports that 15 million to 20 million hectares of land in sub-Saharan Africa have been purchased by foreign investors between 2006 and mid-2009. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Pakistan still not prepared for floods, says Oxfam

Pakistan is still not sufficiently prepared to cope with flooding and other natural disasters, a year after the worst floods in its history, aid agency Oxfam has said.

More than 1,750 people are thought to have been killed and 20 million people affected by last year's floods.

An Oxfam report expresses concern about the pace of reconstruction.

It says more than 800,000 families are still without permanent shelter as another monsoon season approaches.

The aid agency also says many people who missed the chance to plant or harvest crops are struggling to sustain themselves, with little work available and rising food prices.

"Villagers in areas that we work fear new flooding. Many are planting fewer crops than usual as they are worried that their harvests will be destroyed in fresh floods," Neva Khan, head of Oxfam in Pakistan, said.

"In some areas, where fresh flooding has already begun, families have started to dismantle their houses and move to higher ground as they are scared of losing everything again." More >>>

Location: Islamabad

Microfinance Can Help Rural Communities Adapt to Climate Change

CAPE TOWN, Jun 27, 2011 (IPS) - Projects to fight climate change are being designed all around the world. But only five percent of them can be financed with the current international funds available, which means resources have to be used more wisely. Microfinance could be one solution.

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges to development that the world has ever faced.

According to the World Bank, mitigation of its effects in developing countries could cost 140 to 175 billion dollars per year by 2030, while adaptation costs are expected to reach between 75 and 100 billion dollars per year between 2010 and 2050.

"The low-income masses will be most affected by climate change in their daily lives. We need solutions for mainstreaming adaptation projects to also include these people," said African Development Bank director for energy, environment and climate change development Hela Cheikhrouhou.

She spoke at the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) 2011 Partnership Forum, held from Jun. 24-25 in Cape Town, South Africa.

The CIF, established by the World Bank and regional multilateral development banks, provide funding to support developing countries’ climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.

Even though more than a third of CIF money have so far gone to 15 African countries, few people in rural and poverty-stricken areas – who struggle most to access financing – have been able to benefit from the schemes, largely due to administrative barriers.

"We need to make sure that funds can be accessed by rural populations because there is urgency in making climate change projects happen on the ground," said Victor Kabengele, project coordinator at the ministry of environment of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

He demanded less red tape and fewer conditions -- otherwise including the poor in climate change projects would remain an empty promise. Without money, the best ideas are worth little, Kabengele pointed out: "Money is the name of the game. Access to microcredit is therefore crucial." More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Monday, July 25, 2011

The scourge of 'peak oil'

Energy derived from oil reaches, quite literally, every aspect of our lives.

From the clothes we wear, to the food we eat, to how we move ourselves around, without oil, our lives would look very differently.

Yet oil is a finite resource. While there is no argument that it won't last forever, there is debate about how much oil is left and how long it might last.

Tom Whipple, an energy scholar, was a CIA analyst for 30 years - and believes we are likely at, or very near, a point in history when the maximum production capacity for oil is reached, a phenomenon often referred to as "peak oil".

"Peak oil is the time when the world's production reaches the highest point, then starts back down again," Whipple told Al Jazeera. "Oil is a finite resource, and [it] someday will go down, and that is what the peak oil discussion is all about."

There are signs that peak oil may have already arrived.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently increased its forecast for average global oil consumption in 2011 to 89.5 million barrels per day (bpd), an increase of 1.2 million bpd over last year.

For 2012, the IEA is expecting another increase of 1.5 million bpd for a total global oil consumption of 91million bpd, leaving analysts such as Whipple to question how production will be able to keep up with increasing consumption. Whipple's analysis matches IEA data which shows world oil production levels have been relatively flat for six years.

"This is getting very close to the figure that some observers believe is the highest the world will ever produce," Whipple wrote of the IEA estimate in the July 14 issue of Peak Oil Review. He told Al Jazeera that peak oil could be reached at some point in the next month, or at the latest, within "a few years". More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A world in hunger: east Africa and beyond

The severe drought across much of east Africa is a human emergency that requires urgent attention. It also signals a global crisis: the convergence of inequality, food insecurity and climate change.

A drought across much of east Africa in mid-2011 is causing intense distress among vulnerable populations, many of them already pressed by poverty and insecurity. The range of the affected areas is extensive: the two districts in Somalia that are now designated as famine-zones are but the most extreme parts of a much wider disaster that stretches from Somalia across Ethiopia into northern Kenya, and as far west as Sudan and even the Karamoja district in northeast Uganda.

The numbers put at risk in this, the worst drought in the region since the 1950s, are enormous. At least 11 million people are touched by the disaster. In the Turkana district of northern Kenya, 385,000 children (among a total population of about 850,000) are suffering from acute malnutrition (see Miriam Gathigah, “East Africa: Millions Stare Death in the Face Amidst Ravaging Drought”, TerraViva / IPS, 18 July 2011). In Somalia, the conflict between the Islamist Shabaab movement and the nominal government makes conditions even more perilous for those affected.

The world's largest refugee camp, at Dadaab in northern Kenya, offers a stark illustration of the consequences of the drought. The population of Dadaab, which was designed to cope with 90,000 people, has increased in recent months to 380,000 - and 1,300 more are arriving daily (see Denis Foynes, “Eleven Million at Risk in Horn of Africa”, TerraViva / IPS, 19 July 2011).

The lessons of crisis

But just as striking is that this is part of a recurring phenomenon. Major warning-signs of malnutrition and famine were already visible in April 2008; among them were climatic factors, steep oil-price increases, increased demand for meat diets by richer communities, and the diversion of land to grow biofuel crops (see “The world’s food insecurity”, 24 April 2008).
More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Friday, July 22, 2011

Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts”

Statement by the President of the Security Council

At the 6526th meeting of the Security Council, held on 2 May 2011, in connection with the Council's consideration of the item entitled “Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts”, the President of
the Security Council made the following statement on behalf of the Council:

“The Security Council recalls its resolutions regarding Osama Bin Laden, and its condemnation of the Al-Qaida network and other associated terrorist groups for the multiple criminal terrorist acts aimed at causing the deaths of numerous innocent civilians and the destruction of property. “The Security Council also recalls the heinous terrorist attacks which took place on 11 September 2001 in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania and the other numerous attacks perpetrated by the network throughout the world. “In this regard, the Security Council welcomes the news on 1 May 2011 that Osama bin Laden will never again be able to perpetrate such acts of terrorism, and reaffirms that terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or group.

“The Security Council recognizes this critical development and other accomplishments made in the fight against terrorism and urges all States to remain vigilant and intensify their efforts in the fight against terrorism. “The Security Council expresses once again its deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims of terrorism and their families.

“The Security Council reaffirms the importance of all its resolutions and statements on terrorism, in particular resolutions 1267 (1999), 1373 (2001), 1624 (2005), 1963 (2010) and 1904 (2009), as well as other applicable international counter-terrorism instruments, stresses the need for their full implementation, and calls for enhanced cooperation in this regard.

“The Security Council further reaffirms its call on all States to work together urgently to bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of terrorist attacks and its determination that those responsible for aiding, supporting or harbouring the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these acts will be held accountable.

“The Security Council reaffirms that Member States must ensure that any measures taken to combat terrorism comply with all their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law.

“The Security Council stresses that no cause or grievance can justify the murder of innocent people and that terrorism will not be defeated by military force, law enforcement measures, and intelligence operations alone, and can only be defeated by a sustained and comprehensive approach involving the active participation and collaboration of all States and relevant international and regional organizations and civil society to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism and to impede, impair, isolate and incapacitate the terrorist threat.” More >>>

Location: Islamabad

Is climate change a global security threat?

The UN Security Council expressed concern Wednesday that climate change may aggravate threats to international peace and security after what diplomats described as intense negotiations between Germany and Russia, which initially opposed any council action.

Small island states, which could disappear beneath rising seas, are pushing the Security Council to intervene to combat the threat to their existence. Meanwhile there has been talk of a new environmental peacekeeping force — the green helmets — which could step into conflicts caused by shrinking resources.

The final statement expressed "concern that possible adverse effects of climate change may, in the long run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security".

The Security Council had failed to agree on whether climate change was an issue of world peace in 2007, when Britain brought up the issue. This is one of the first debates that will be occurring within that forum, which raises the whole issue of the security implications around climate change and the potential security implications for the globe.

Is it a real opportunity to achieve significant results or an attempt to divert attention from the root causes of the problem and away from the countries that cause global warming and distribute the burden evenly on world nations? More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Europe Headed for Water Crisis

LUCERNE, Switzerland, Jul 22, 2011 (IPS) - Future glacier retreat in the Alps could affect the hydrology of large streams more strongly than previously assumed, a new study shows. Water shortages in summer could become more frequent.

Even though their ice is called 'eternal', many alpine glaciers' lives may come to an end within this century. For 150 years, most of them have been more or less constantly retreating, and since the eighties, their shrinkage has visibly increased.

The Furka Pass in central Switzerland has long been awaiting its visitors with a special attraction. Just below the highest point of the pass, tourists may enter an ice grotto dug into the Rhone glacier to discover glacier life from the inside. Each year however, the grotto's entry can be found a few metres further downhill. Long-term measurements reveal that from 1879 to 2010, the Rhone glacier has lost 1266 metres of its original length.

The Swiss Alps are often called 'Europe's water tower'. Nearly 60 billion cubic metres of water are stored in its glaciers. Matthias Huss, glaciologist and senior lecturer at the Department of Geosciences at the University of Fribourg explains that glaciers fulfil a balancing function: "They release water exactly when we need it, while storing it in periods when we need it less." More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

World's Forests' Role in Carbon Storage Immense, Research Reveals

ScienceDaily (July 20, 2011) — Until recently, scientists were uncertain about how much and where in the world terrestrial carbon is being stored. In the July 14 issue of Science Express, scientists report that, between 1990 and 2007, the world's forests stored about 2.4 gigatons of carbon per year.

Their results suggest that forests account for almost all of the world's land-based carbon uptake. Boreal forests are estimated to be responsible for 22 percent of the carbon stored in the forests. A warming climate has the potential to increase fires and insect damage in the boreal forest and reduce its capacity to sequester carbon.

"Our results imply that clearly, forests play a critical role in Earth's terrestrial carbon balance, and exert considerable control over the evolution of atmospheric carbon dioxide," said A. David McGuire, co-author and professor of ecology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Institute of Arctic Biology and co-leader of the USGS Alaska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.

The report includes comprehensive estimates of carbon for the world's forests based on recent inventory data. The scientists included information on changes in carbon pools from dead wood, harvested wood products, living plants and plant litter, and soils to estimate changes in carbon across countries, regions and continents that represent boreal, temperate and tropical forests.

The authors note that understanding the present and future role of forests in the sequestration and emission of carbon is essential for informed discussions on limiting greenhouse gases. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Monday, July 18, 2011

Govt plans to regulate groundwater extraction

New Delhi, Jul 17 (PTI) The government is planning to regulate over-extraction of groundwater for irrigation and industry which is seriously affecting drinking water supply in rural India, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has said.

He said drinking water security was facing multiple threats including drying up of groundwater sources due to its unregulated over-extraction.
"80 per cent of drinking water supply schemes of rural India are depending on groundwater sources and these sources are drying up due to unregulated over-extraction of water for industry and irrigation," Ramesh told PTI.
"It is a serious issue. We are planning to regulate over-extraction of groundwater for irrigation and industry," the minister said.
Ramesh was given additional charge of the Drinking Water and Sanitation portfolio after Gurudas Kamat refused to take the charge as Minister of State with Independent charge and quit the government.
According to the Ministry, drinking water supply schemes are being affected as perennial water sources are becoming seasonal. They are also getting contaminated by chemical contaminants found in the earth like arsenic and fluoride.
Leaching or fertilisers, untreated industrial effluent and sewage are also threatening the safe and sustainable drinking water.
The goal of the central government''s National Drinking Water Programme is to provide every rural person with safe water for drinking, cooking and other domestic needs on sustainable basis. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dramatic Climate Swings Likely as World Warms: Ancient El Niño Clue to Future Floods

ScienceDaily (July 15, 2011) — Dramatic climate swings behind both last year's Pakistan flooding and this year's Queensland floods in Australia are likely to continue as the world gets warmer, scientists predict.

Researchers at the Universities of Oxford and Leeds have discovered that the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the sloshing of the warmest waters on the planet from the West Pacific towards the East Pacific every 2-7 years, continued during Earth's last great warm period, the Pliocene.

Their results suggest that swings between the two climatic extremes, known as El Niño and La Niña, may even have occurred more frequently in the warmer past and may increase in frequency in the future. Extreme ENSO events cause droughts, forest fires and floods across much of the world as well as affecting fishery production.

Reporting in the journal Paleoceanography, the team of geochemists and climate modellers use the Pliocene as a past analogue and predictor of the workings of Earth's future climate. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Will North America Be the New Middle East?

The climate problem has moved from the abstract to the very real in the last 18 months.

Instead of charts and graphs about what will happen someday, we’ve got real-time video: first Russia burning, then Texas and Arizona on fire. First Pakistan suffered a deluge, then Queensland, Australia, went underwater, and this spring and summer, it’s the Midwest that’s flooding at historic levels.

The year 2010 saw the lowest volume of Arctic ice since scientists started to measure, more rainfall on land than any year in recorded history, and the lowest barometric pressure ever registered in the continental United States. Measured on a planetary scale, 2010 tied 2005 as the warmest year in history. Jeff Masters, probably the world’s most widely read meteorologist, calculated that the year featured the most extreme weather since at least 1816, when a giant volcano blew its top.

Since we’re the volcano now, and likely to keep blowing, here’s his prognosis: “The ever-increasing amounts of heat-trapping gases humans are emitting into the air put tremendous pressure on the climate system to shift to a new, radically different, warmer state, and the extreme weather of 2010-2011 suggests that the transition is already well underway.”

If you could burn all the oil in those tar sands, you’d run the atmosphere’s concentration of carbon dioxide from its current 390 parts per million (enough to cause the climate havoc we’re currently seeing) to nearly 600 parts per million, which would mean if not hell, then at least a world with a similar temperature. It won’t happen overnight, thank God, but according to the planet’s most important climatologist, James Hansen, burning even a substantial portion of that oil would mean it was “essentially game over” for the climate of this planet. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Friday, July 15, 2011

Best Climate Change Remedy? More Trees, Study Says - International Business Times

Forget wind power and extra efficient lightbulbs — trees are an incredibly effective climate change weapon given the amount of greenhouse gases they absorb, according to a new study in the journal Science.

Trees are natural sponges, or “carbon sinks.” The study found that they cumulatively absorbed almost a third of annual fossile fuel emissions, or nearly 2.4 billion tons of carbon. And tropical forests that have been allowed to grow back after deforestation are removing an astounding 1.6 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere, co-author Josep Canadell told Agence-France Presse.

“This is the first complete and global evidence of the overwhelming role of forests in removing anthropogenic carbon dioxide,” Canadell said. “If you were to stop deforestation tomorrow, the world’s established and regrowing forests would remove half of fossil fuel emissions.”

An international team of climate scientists compiled data spanning nearly two decades, from 1990 to 2007, to present the findings. The central implication, given the capacity of forests to act as safeguards against rising CO2 emissions, is that “forests are even more at the forefront as a strategy to protect our climate,” Canadell said. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Goldman Sachs: Saudi Arabia Will Fail To Meet Oil Demand By 2012

It's all speculation over the future of the commodities market. But Goldman Sachs is predicting a significant upturn.

And they're particularly bullish when it comes to crude oil. According to Goldman Sachs, Brent crude oil prices could be as high as $120 at the end of 2011 and $140 at the end of 2012. The global economy, they believe, is on the rise, despite the Japanese earthquake and the high oil prices. A rise in demand will push up commodity prices. And Goldman Sachs believes this will be fueled by the fact that Saudi Arabia won't be able to meet oil demand.

Despite claims by analysts and even OPEC that Saudi Arabia will be able to increase output to meet growing market demand, Goldman believes that the Saudis have reached their peak oil output. This stems from 2008 when oil surpassed $100 a barrel. This was plenty of reason to boost market supply, but Saudi Arabia hit its peak at 9.5 million barrels a day. Now, despite claims that Saudi Arabia has the potential for a 12 million barrel-a-day capacity, Goldman estimates a supply shortage. US natural gas, gold futures and copper prices (due to China demand) could also see a significant increase. The solution? Go long on commodities - crude oil, copper, zinc, gold - or even soybeans.

- Over time, it is increasingly getting obvious that Saudi Arabia is going through the process of peak oil production and eventual decline. And as peak oil author Matt Simmons had said, "as Saudia Arabia goes, so goes the world". The first alarm bells started ringing as early as 2005 when it was first discovered that apparently the Saudi's could be having problems keeping up production of light sweet crude oil which is the more desired grade of oil. In the years after that, the peakoiler community watched as Saudi's answer to keeping up their oil production was done instead with heavy, sour crude oil. We knew that was it, back then, and waited for the time when even the heavy, sour stuff would start to peter out, and then it would actually be Global Peak Oil, for all intents and purposes. More >>>

Location: Cayman islands

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

OAS Member States Approve Draft Declaration on Sustainable Tourism Development in the Americas

The representatives of the Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS), at a meeting in Washington, DC, approved the draft Declaration of San Salvador for Sustainable Tourism Development in the Americas, which will be considered for final approval by the Ministers and High Authorities of Tourism in San Salvador on September 29 and 30, 2011, in the framework of the 19th Inter-American Travel Congress.

The Preparatory Meeting for the 19th Inter-American Travel Congress was held June 23 and 24, 2011, at OAS headquarters in Washington, DC, and was presided by El Salvador’s Alternate Representative to the Organization of American States, Agustín Vásquez.

The meeting addressed subject areas of cooperation to be financed by the Special Multilateral Fund of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (FEMCIDI). The delegates identified the following subject areas: competitiveness in the tourism industry, particularly those of micro, small and medium enterprises, and the support for human capabilities development at the public and private levels through training and the use of information and communication technologies; promoting Sustainable Tourism Development, through the mitigation of negative environmental impacts; raising awareness of the importance of maintaining the ecological balance of tourist attractions; the relationship between tourism and other sectors of the economy; and the support for ecotourism and sustainable tourism through dialogue between the public and private sectors.

At the end of the meeting, the Governments of Ecuador and Honduras offered to host the next Inter-American Travel Congress in 2013, a decision that will be made in the upcoming months after consultations among the Member States of the Organization.

Furthermore, a proposal was made to organize a promotional fair for regional tourism to be held during the Congress in San Salvador to further highlight the event and promote tourist attractions in the Americas.

The Inter-American Travel Congress, created in 1939 with the objective of promoting the development of tourism in the Americas, is one of the oldest institutions of the Inter-American System. The last Travel Congress was held in Guatemala in 2003.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Location: Cayman Islands

Cook Islands: 100% Renewable Energy by 2020

5 July 2011, Rarotonga Cook Islands – The Cook Islands has an electricity target of 50% renewable energy by 2015 and 100% by 2020. While this may seem like an extreme target, according to the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Hon. Henry Puna – “it is ambitious but it is not impossible

Plans are already underway to bring this to fruition.

The Cook Islands will be launching their Renewable Energy Chart this year – Te Atamoa O Te Uira Natura, the plan that outlines how they will achieve their renewable energy targets. This chart has undergone consultation with relevant stakeholders and has taken into account input from numerous supporting partners. It is now in the process of being finalised for endorsement.

“It is flexible to take into account possible changes which may happen, as well as addressed the long term concerns – for example the outer island of Aitutaki now has a peak demand for electricity of 900 kilowatts,” said Repeta Puna, the Policy Adviser from the Office of the Prime Minister.

“In Te Atamoa O Te Uira Natura we have planned for a two megawatt solar plant for Aitutaki to take into account the future demand for electricity.”
More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

World on the Edge by the Numbers – Shining a Light on Energy Efficiency

Our inefficient, carbon-based energy economy threatens to irreversibly disrupt the Earth’s climate.

Averting dangerous climate change and the resultant crop-shrinking heat waves, more-destructive storms, accelerated sea level rise, and waves of climate refugees means cutting carbon emissions 80 percent by 2020.

The first key component of the Earth Policy Institute’s climate stabilization plan is to systematically raise the efficiency of the world energy economy. One of the quickest ways to increase efficiency, cut carbon emissions, and save money is simply to change light bulbs.

Some 19 percent of world electricity demand goes to lighting. The carbon emissions generated by this sector equal roughly 70 percent of those produced by the global automobile fleet.

Of the 3,400 terawatt-hours of electricity consumed annually by the world’s light fixtures, more than 40 percent is used by commercial buildings, including offices, retail businesses, schools, and hospitals. Close to one third is used in the home; 18 percent in industrial buildings; and the remaining 8 percent in outdoor applications, such as lights at traffic stops and in parking lots. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Monday, July 11, 2011

Fukushima: Nuclear power's VHS relic?

The most obvious cause of the disaster at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station was the massive wall of tsunami water that swept the site clean of back-up electricity generation on 11 March, removing cooling capacity from reactor cores and resulting in serial meltdown.

Would a newer reactor have fared better? Was the relationship between industry and regulators too close? Perhaps.

A question less often discussed, but equally intriguing, is whether decisions made half a century ago for reasons of commercial and geopolitical advantage have left the world with basic designs of nuclear reactor that are inherently less safe than others that have fallen by the wayside.

Alvin Weinberg, a physicist who worked on many of the early US reactors and directed research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), said

during an interview in the 1980s that the scaling-up of PWRs for commercial use rendered them fundamentally flawed.

"As long as the reactor was as small as the submarine intermediate reactor, which was only 60 megawatt (MW), then the containment shell was absolute, it was safe," he said.

"But when you went to 600MW reactors and 1,000MW reactors, you could not guarantee this, because you could in some very remote situations conceive of the containment being breached by this molten mass; and that change came about, I would assert, because of the enormous economic pressure to make the reactors as large as possible." More >>>

This goes to reinforce my argument that safety standards must be regulated at a much higher standard than is presently the case. Perhaps this should be handled by the IAEA. Editor

Location:Cayman Islands

Political Sustainability and Human Security

Economic Revival Requires a Revival of our National Community

New York - As the nation's debt deadline approaches, and the political and media gamesmanship in our nation's capital increases in intensity, I find myself thinking more and more about community. The value with which we hold each other, and our relationship to those with whom we share our living space. The political parties blame each other for the stubborn persistence of unemployment, now over 9% officially and over 16% when we count those who have given up on the job market or are underemployed.

The Republicans blame the declining economy on over-taxation. The Democrats blame job loss on Republican resistance to additional stimulus. Twice this year the Republicans have been willing to "play chicken" with the President and the nation's well being: first over the budget by threatening a government shutdown, and now by holding the entire economy hostage while threatening to default on our debt. Ideology is dominating debates that should be settled by data, not wishful thinking. People in America need work. Our community has work that needs to be done. It's time to close that loop.

The creation of a global economy and communication network has placed the American economy and our society in uncharted territory. We do not really understand the complex economic, political, ecological, social and cultural forces that drive the world economy. We don't really know the answers to the problems we face. Like FDR during the New Deal we need to pragmatically experiment. We need to learn what works and what doesn't. What collective community responses are needed? What private entrepreneurial forces need to be unleashed? In March of 1933, as FDR assumed the Presidency in the depths of the Great Depression, some of his speeches and articles were collected in a book entitled Looking Forward. At the dawn of the New Deal, Roosevelt wrote:
"The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something." Franklin D. Roosevelt, Looking Forward, chapter 2, p. 51 (1933). More >>>

Going forward into this century all states need to have all political parties work together for the benefit of their country and people. To deal with the perfect storm that we are faced with, climate change, sea level rise, energy shortages, and a rapidly rising population it is imperative that political stalemate becomes a thing of the past. Editor

Location: Cayman Islands

Saturday, July 9, 2011

French Nuclear Power Plant Explosion Heightens Safety Fears

Blast at EDF's Tricastin power station in Drôme comes days after nuclear authorities found 32 safety concerns at plant

An explosion sparked a fire at a French nuclear power station on Saturday, just two days after the authorities found 32 safety concerns at the plant.

The blaze at the Tricastin plant in Drôme in the Rhône valley sent a thick cloud of black smoke into the sky. A mistral wind sent it south over a nearby motorway on one of the busiest travel days of the year as the French left for their summer holidays.

EDF, which runs the power station, said the incident took place in an electric transformer situated in the non-nuclear part of the plant and had not resulted in any radiation leak or any other contamination. A statement issued by the energy giant raised further concerns as it omitted to mention the explosion – only a fire – and did not give the cause of the blaze.

"This event happened in the non-nuclear part of the installation and had no radiological consequence on the environment and the population. The fire brigade was immediately called and the fire was rapidly brought under control. Nobody was hurt," it said.

EDF added that the plant's number one reactor was not in operation at the time of the fire, having been "closed for its annual maintenance". Police confirmed there was no environmental contamination.

On Thursday France's nuclear safety authority, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), demanded 32 safety measures at the Tricastin number one reactor, a 900MW water pressurised reactor built in 1974 and put into operation in 1980. More >>>

All such incidents strengthen my arguments that the industry must be regulated by governments to ensure adequate human security. Editor

Location: Cayman Islands

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pakistan to boost renewable energy to meet power shortfall

KARACHI, Pakistan (AlertNet) – Pakistan is planning to boost exploitation of alternative and renewable energy sources in an attempt to tackle a chronic power shortage and address the challenges of climate change.

A new long-term energy policy aims to provide at least five percent of the country’s total commercial energy supplies from clean renewable sources such as wind, solar and bio-waste by 2030.

At present, just 10 megawatts of the country’s daily commercial energy requirement of 11,000 MW, or less than 0.1 percent, is generated from wind and solar sources, according to Faiz Mohammad Bhutta, an executive member of the Renewable and Alternative Energy Association of Pakistan, a non-governmental organization.

Demand for energy is increasing with Pakistan’s rapidly growing population. The country currently produces fewer than 14,000 MW domestically, a shortfall of 5,000 MW compared to overall domestic and commercial needs.

The persistent power crisis has slowed economic activity and led to increased unemployment and poverty, as well as growing unrest in some cases as families suffer through hot summer temperatures without fans and air conditioners.

The government estimates that daily energy requirements in 2030 will be more than 160,000 MW, of which 110,000 MW will be needed for the commercial sector. The new policy calls for alternative and renewable sources to provide at least 5,500 MW.

Much of the rise in demand will come from population growth, with the country’s population of 177 million is expected to soar to 262 million by 2030, according to the Population Census Organisation. Growing demand for power as incomes rise, and from industrial growth, also are expected to play a role. Full Article >>>

Location: Islamabad

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Flashback: The Girl Who Silenced the World for Six Minutes

Enhancing soils anywhere enhances life everywhere "

The World Day to Combat Desertification is observed every year on 17 June. This year, the Day's slogan is "Enhancing soils anywhere enhances life everywhere"

The year 2010 is the International Year dedicated to Biodiversity. To this end, UNCCD aims to sensitize the public to the fact that desertification, land degradation and drought dramatically affect the biodiversity resident in the soil.

There is a close relationship between livelihood and ecosystem wellbeing, and soils that are rich in biodiversity. Healthy soils produce life, and yet soil health depends a lot on how individuals use their land. What we do to our soils determines the quality and quantity of the food we eat and how our ecosystems serve us. Our increasing ecological interdependence also means enhancing soils anywhere enhances life everywhere

The World Day to Combat Desertification has been observed since 1995 (General Assembly Resolution A/RES/49/1995) to promote public awareness relating to international cooperation to combat desertification and the effects of drought, and the implementation of the UNCCD. Last year, more than 40 events took place all over the world (see the 2008 report). We can celebrate the Day through organizing activities such as seminars, media events and campaigns. Every single activity involving community participation and cooperation is encouraged!

For more information about the Day, please contact: secretariat(at)

We would be delighted to hear from you about how your country plans to mark the Day. The information received will be posted on our website.

We wish you every success in your activities to celebrate 17 June 2010.
More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rising Hydrocarbon Costs: A Quick Summary for Policy Makers

During the past century, world economic growth has depended largely on ever-expanding use of hydrocarbon energy sources: oil for transportation, coal and natural gas for electricity generation, oil and gas for agricultural production. It is no exaggeration to say that the health of the global economy currently hinges on increasing rates of production of these fuels.

However, oil, gas, and coal are non-renewable resources that are typically extracted using the “low-hanging fruit” principle. That is, large concentrations of high-quality and easily accessed fuels tend to be depleted first. Thus, while the world is in no danger of running out of hydrocarbon energy sources anytime soon, oil, gas, and coal extraction efforts are increasingly directed toward low-quality, hard-to-produce fuels that require higher up-front investment and entail increasing environmental costs and risks.

These trends are easily demonstrated in the case of oil.

Dependency: The dependence of the world economy on oil is illustrated by the close correlation between oil price spikes and US economic recessions that has been noted by several analysts.[1]

Declining resource quality: The pace of world oil discoveries has been declining since 1964. Oilfields found during the past decade have tended to be smaller, on average, than those located decades earlier, and tend to require expensive new technologies (including horizontal drilling, deepwater drilling, and hydrofracturing) for their development. As Jeremy Gilbert, former chief petroleum engineer for BP, has put it, “The current fields we are chasing we’ve known about for a long time in many cases, but they were too complex, too fractured, too difficult to chase. Now our technology and understanding [are] better, which is a good thing, because these difficult fields are all that we have left.”[2] Full Article >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

The Mystery of the (Maybe) Missing Monarchs

Two recent studies of monarch butterfly populations paint very different pictures of the champion migrant’s long-term fate.

In March, ecologist Lincoln Brower of Virginia’s Sweet Briar College expressed concern that monarchs are perilously close to collapse. But in June, University of Georgia ecologist Andrew Davis found no clear population trend in the counts from two U.S. monitoring stations. Both studies were published in the journal Insect Conservation and Diversity.

“I wrote my paper because I wanted people to see a different side of the story,” said Davis, a member of Monarch Net, a cooperative network of monarch monitoring programs. “I think the situation is not as simple as Dr. Brower and his colleagues make it out to be.”

Brower, who has studied monarchs for 55 years, worries that Davis’ paper will give people a false sense of security. “He’s generated a controversy here that could be detrimental to the conservation of monarchs in Mexico,” Brower said.

Every fall, hundreds of millions of brilliant orange, white and black monarch butterflies migrate south to overwinter in the mountains of Central Mexico. Coming from as far as Canada, the monarchs fly on a combination of air currents, thermals and hard-wired instinct. Butterfly spotters say it can be like seeing an orange blizzard. But despite the athletic feat of these intrepid travelers, their existence is a frail one.

Until spring, the butterflies live in an oyamel fir tree forest no larger than the city of Chicago, clustering against the trees for shelter from winter storms. Though the monarch’s forest is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site, that hasn’t stopped illegal logging, which Brower describes as “absolutely ferocious.” Full Article >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Sharks in Bahamas to get legal protection

(CNS): Sharks in the Bahamas are to be offered legal protection according to the local media.

The Tribune is reporting that new legislation is currently under review by the country’s Attorney General after a 10 months campaign by the Bahamas National Trust and the PEW Environment Group to make the Bahamas a sanctuary for sharks. The islands are home to one of the world's healthiest shark populations, while global populations but at present there are no laws to prevent shark fishing or the export of shark meat and fins. Meanwhile, the lack of protection for sharks in Cayman was raised recently when a hammerhead was sold for meat at the George Town fish market.

Although the sharks are protected when they are within the waters of the Cayman Islands' marine parks there is no protection for them anywhere else.

Globally all shark populations have declined dramatically, including the scalloped hammerhead, which the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists as endangered. This means this type of shark is considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild. Locally these sharks were sighted with more regularity no more than a decade ago. However, in recent years sightings have diminished for unknown reasons and the current status of local populations of scalloped hammerheads remains largely undetermined. Full Article >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Japan plans new round of 'stress tests' on reactors

The "stress tests" are designed to show whether plants can stand up to extreme disasters such as the earthquake and tsunami that began the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in March.

All of Japan's reactors were shut down after the March 11 crisis. Only nineteen of the country's 54 reactors are operating because of delays in restarting plants where regular maintenance tests are being carried out.

The new safety tests will be similar to those currently being done on the 143 reactors in the European Union.

"There is no change in our view that [nuclear power] is safe," said Japan's economy, trade and industry minister, Banri Kaieda. "We are planning the stress tests to gain the understanding of local residents. We will get further confidence from the people and will restart operations at some plants."

Japan's government has said that if more reactors are not restarted, the country could see power shortages later in the summer, but officials are hesitant to reopen plants before the safety checks. Major power users have already been told to cut their peak usage by 15 percent in July to avoid blackouts (Justin McCurry, London Guardian, July 6). -- AP Full Article >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

International Climate Change Financing: The Green Climate Fund (GCF)

Recent reports from the Congressional Research Service that have not been

made readily available to the public include the International Climate Change Financing: The Green Climate Fund (GCF) (pdf).

Location: Cayman Islands

UNEP-Risoe Launches Technology Transfer Publication Series

29 June 2011: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP)-Risoe Centre has announced the launch of a new publication series titled "Technology Transfer Perspectives," which aims to stimulate debate and information sharing on technology transfer among academics, experts, policy makers, practitioners and other stakeholders, and will include mitigation and adaptation-side approaches.

The first edition of the series, titled "Diffusion of renewable energy technologies: case studies of enabling frameworks in developing countries," will be complete in time for the 17th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UNFCCC in Durban, South Africa, at the end of 2011.

The first four articles of this first edition are available: FIT for use everywhere? Assessing experiences with renewable energy feed-in tariffs, by James Haselip, UNEP Risoe Centre, Denmark; Bioenergy in India: Barriers and Policy Options, by Darshini Ravindranath and Srinivas Shroff Nagesha Rao, UN Development Programme (UNDP) India; Enabling Environment and Policy Principles for Replicable Technology Transfer: Lessons from Wind Energy in India, by Emi Mizuno, Climate Strategies, UK; and An enabling framework for wind power in Colombia: What are the lessons from Latin America? by Isaac Dyner, Yris Olaya and Carlos Franco, Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

According to the articles, an effective enabling environment for technology diffusion requires consideration of the market, as opposed to projects specifically. [Publication: Technology Transfer Perspectives Series]

Location:Cayman Islands

Environment: Worlds Of Water

Why water security is one of the greatest challenges of the twenty-first century, and why water politics have just got more complicated.

Water is the most essential and most awkward of natural resources. It has no substitutes, but many uses - as drinking water, for sanitation purposes, in agriculture, in industrial processes, in electricity generation. Water's versatility makes it coveted by many different consumers, each with their own needs and political heft.

Sometimes water ends up not being water at all: it becomes an input to agricultural production or energy or, in the case of bio-fuels, both. In hydraulic fracturing, water is key to the extraction of natural gas. Elsewhere, it is needed to cool power stations. In southern Mongolia's bone-dry Gobi, water is needed for the region's huge mineral wealth to be developed.

Sometimes, the process works the other way, and huge amounts of energy and wealth are used to provide water. In California, it is the State Water Project, transporting water to southern California, that is the single largest user of electricity. In Saudi Arabia, up to 1.5 million barrels of oil per day are used to desalinate and pump the country's water.

Water's usability depends not only on sheer quantity, but also on quality and type. Water's most common form - ocean saltwater - is its least directly useful (though advocates of large-scale desalinisation and salt-water farming have long promised that could change).

The availability of water in both necessary quantity and quality depends, in part, on geography. Despite the overall global abundance of water, over one billion people live in water-scarce or water stressed parts of the world, a number expected to triple over the next few decades as groundwater depletion, climate change and accelerating demands on water extraction take their toll. Globally, the Water Resources Group has defined a forty percent gap between projected water requirements in 2030 and current accessible and reliable supply. In some places, the gap is much greater.
Full Article >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

UN calls for greener food production to feed world in 2050

GENEVA — World food production will have to increase by up to 100 percent by 2050 and focus on greener methods to sustain an expected 9 billion population, the U.N. said Tuesday in its annual survey of economic and social trends.

The U.N.’s annual World Economic and Social Survey called for governments to invest nearly $2 trillion (about 1.3 trillion euros) a year to help small-scale farming and to reduce environmental harm.

Only a fraction of the small investment goal has been reached so far through allocations from $20 billion in climate change funds managed by the World Bank aimed at helping developing countries boost clean energy technology, sustainable farming and other initiatives, the survey said.

The survey said the 2007-2008 food crisis and higher food prices “revealed deep structural problems in the global food system” that produce high carbon emissions and lead to a warmer climate, as well as more polluted land and water.

It also said 925 million people — more than one of every seven in the world — are undernourished and nearly all live in developing countries. Two-thirds are concentrated in seven countries: Bangladesh, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia and Pakistan.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

© The Washington Post Company

Location:Cayman Islands

Warming Ocean Layers Will Undermine Polar Ice Sheets, Climate Models Show

Warming of the ocean's subsurface layers will melt underwater portions of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets faster than previously thought, according to new University of Arizona-led research. Such melting would increase the sea level more than already projected.

The research, based on 19 state-of-the-art climate models, proposes a new mechanism by which global warming will accelerate the melting of the great ice sheets during this century and the next.

The subsurface ocean layers surrounding the polar ice sheets will warm substantially as global warming progresses, the scientists found. In addition to being exposed to warming air, underwater portions of the polar ice sheets and glaciers will be bathed in warming seawater.

The subsurface ocean along the Greenland coast could increase as much as 3.6 °F (2 °C) by 2100.

"To my knowledge, this study is the first to quantify and compare future ocean warming around the Greenland and the Antarctic ice sheets using an ensemble of models," said lead author Jianjun Yin, a UA assistant professor of geosciences.

Most previous research has focused on how increases in atmospheric temperatures would affect the ice sheets, he said.

"Ocean warming is very important compared to atmospheric warming because water has a much larger heat capacity than air," Yin said. "If you put an ice cube in a warm room, it will melt in several hours. But if you put an ice cube in a cup of warm water, it will disappear in just minutes."
Full Article >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

The decline of agriculture?

Climate change induced extreme weather events and shifting weather patterns are challenging farmer’s ability to feed us.

Wendy Johnston with Oakwyn Farms in Athens, West Virginia, is deeply concerned about how shifting weather patterns are impacting farmers’ ability to feed the global population.

“This year we’re off to a slow start,” Johnston, who farms 40 hectares, told Al Jazeera. “Last year in April we were able to plant, but this year we even had rain, cold and snow a few days in April. The weather has become very unpredictable, and that’s the real problem.”

Climate change is making farming more difficult for her, and she wonders how much worse things will become.

On March 31, The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned of “potentially catastrophic” impacts on food production from slow-onset climate changes that are expected to increasingly hit the developing world. The report filed with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, warned that food production systems and the ecosystems they depend on are highly sensitive to climate variability and change. Changes in temperature, precipitation, and related outbreaks of pest and diseases could reduce production, the report said. Those particularly vulnerable are poor people in countries that rely on food imports, although climate change events are already driving up food costs around the globe, including in developed countries. April broke many weather-related monthly records in the US, including 292 tornadoes and 5,400 extreme weather events, which combined to cause 337 deaths.

The US National Climatic Data Center announced in June that April’s weather extremes were “unprecedented” and “never before” seen in a single month. The center also noted drought across the southern plains, wildfires in the southwest, and record floods along the Mississippi River. Full Article >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Biofuels land grab in Kenya's Tana Delta fuels talk of war

Kenya’s Tana Delta is disappearing and its inhabitants evicted to make way for foreign biofuels.

Gamba Manyatta village is empty now, weeds already roping around the few skeletal hut frames still standing. The people who were evicted took as much of their building materials as they could carry to start again and the land where their homes stood is now ploughed up.

Mohamed Abdi, 13, points out where his hut used to be. His was the last of the 427 families to leave. “They told us we would be burned out if we didn’t go,” he said. “They drove machinery round and round the village all day and all night to drive people out. No one understood why, as the village had been there for more than 25 years.”

The eviction of the villagers to make way for a sugar cane plantation is part of a wider land grab going on in Kenya’s Tana Delta that is not only pushing people off plots they have farmed for generations, stealing their water resources and raising tribal tensions that many fear will escalate into war, but also destroying a unique wetland habitat that is home to hundreds of rare and spectacular birds.

The irony is that most of the land is being taken for allegedly environmental reasons – to allow private companies to grow water-thirsty sugar cane and jatropha for the biofuels so much in demand in the west, where green legislation, designed to ease carbon dioxide emissions, is requiring they are mixed with petrol and diesel. Full Article >>>

Location: Islamabad

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Warming Oceans Cause Largest Movement of Marine Species in Two Million Years

Warming ocean waters are causing the largest movement of marine species seen on Earth in more than two million years, according to scientists.

Warming ocean waters are causing the largest movement of marine species seen on Earth in more than two million years, according to scientists. (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias, file)
In the Arctic, melting sea ice during recent summers has allowed a passage to open up from the Pacific ocean into the North Atlantic, allowing plankton, fish and even whales to into the Atlantic Ocean from the Pacific.

The discovery has sparked fears delicate marine food webs could be unbalanced and lead to some species becoming extinct as competition for food between the native species and the invaders stretches resources.

Rising ocean temperatures are also allowing species normally found in warmer sub-tropical regions to into the northeast Atlantic.

A venomous warm-water species Pelagia noctiluca has forced the closure of beaches and is now becoming increasingly common in the waters around Britain.

The highly venomous Portuguese Man-of-War, which is normally found in subtropical waters, is also regularly been found in the northern Atlantic waters. Full Article >>>

Location: Cayman Islands