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2007July26.doc - -- United Nations Environment Programme ...

  1. 1. THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS Thursday 26 July, 2007 UNEP and the Executive Director in the News • No development, no peace (The Guardian) • Development would bring peace to Sudan (Taipei Times) • Kenya Plastic Bags Rule Relaxed (The Nation Nairobi) • A dark side to the ethanol boom? (Christian Science Monitor) • Droit de l’environnement au Mali: Des recueils de textes pour le public (Afribone.com) Other Environment News • Ozone has 'strong climate effect' (BBC) • Ozone Cuts Plant Growth, Spurs Global Warming – Study (Reuters) • Humans Have Shifted Global Precipitation Patterns (ENS) • Listen to Earth, Pope Says in Environmental Plea (Reuters) • Enemy of the planet The ethics of consumption (The Independent) • Renewable energy projects will devour huge amounts of land, warns researcher (The Guardian) • Erosion May Send Alaska Oil Wells Into the Ocean (Reuters) • Report Faults NASA on Equipment Losses (The Guardian) • North American Energy Cooperation Enters a New Era (ENS) • SOUTHERN AFRICA Unequal Water Resources Present a Challenge (IPS) • Forests experience resurgence in fungus (AP) • Beijing to Build Windmills for 2008 Olympics (Reuters) Environmental News from the UNEP Regions • ROAP • ROA • RONA Other UN News • UN Daily News of 25 July 2007 • S.G.’s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 25 July 2007 Communications and Public Information, P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya Tel: (254-2) 623292/93, Fax: [254-2] 62 3927/623692, Email:unepmedia@unep.org, http://www.unep.org
  2. 2. The Guardian: No development, no peace To reduce the risk of war, we must help impoverished people everywhere get onto the ladder of economic development. July 25, 2007 8:00 AM Anyone interested in peacemaking, poverty reduction, and Africa's future should read the new United Nations environment programme (UNEP) report Sudan: Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment. This may sound like a technical report on Sudan's environment, but it is also a vivid study of how the natural environment, poverty, and population growth can interact to provoke terrible human-made disasters like the violence in Darfur. Extreme poverty is a major cause, and predictor, of violence. The world's poorest places, like Darfur, are more likely to go to war than richer places. This is not only common sense, but is verified by studies and statistical analyses. In the UNEP's words, "There is a very strong link between land degradation, desertification, and conflict in Darfur." Darfur, the poorest part of a very poor country, fits that dire pattern. Livelihoods are supported by semi-nomadic livestock-rearing in the north and subsistence farming in the south. It is far from ports and international trade, lacks basic infrastructure such as roads and electricity, and is extremely arid. Declining rainfall has contributed directly or indirectly to crop failures, the encroachment of the desert into pasturelands, the decline of water and grassland for livestock, and massive deforestation. Rapid population growth - from around one million in 1920 to around seven million today - has made all of this far more deadly by slashing living standards. The result has been increasing conflict between pastoralists and farmers, and the migration of populations from the north to the south. After years of simmering conflicts, clashes broke out in 2003 between rival ethnic and political groups, and between Darfur rebels and the national government, which in turn has supported brutal militias in "scorched earth" policies, leading to massive death and displacement. While international diplomacy in Darfur focused on peacekeeping and on humanitarian efforts, peace can be neither achieved nor sustained until the underlying crises of poverty, environmental degradation, declining access to water, and chronic hunger are addressed. Stationing soldiers will not pacify a hungry, impoverished, and desperate population. The UNEP report, and experiences elsewhere in Africa, suggests how to promote economic development in Darfur. Both people and livestock need assured water supplies. In some areas, this can be obtained through boreholes that tap underground aquifers. In other areas, rivers or seasonal surface runoff can be used for irrigation. In still other areas, longer-distance water pipelines might be needed. With outside help, Darfur could increase the productivity of its livestock through improved breeds, veterinary care, collection of fodder, and other strategies. A meat industry could be developed in which Darfur's pastoralists would multiply their incomes by selling whole animals, meat products, processed goods (such as leather), and dairy products, with the Middle East a close and potentially lucrative export market. But Darfur will need help with transport and storage, power, veterinary care, and technical advice. 2
  3. 3. Social services, including health care and disease control, education, and adult literacy programs should also be promoted. Living standards could be improved significantly and rapidly through low-cost targeted investments in malaria control, school feeding programs, rainwater harvesting for drinking water, and mobile health clinics. Cell phone coverage could revolutionise communications in Darfur's vast territory, with major benefits for livelihoods, physical survival, and the maintenance of family ties. The way to sustainable peace is through sustainable development. To reduce the risk of war, we must help impoverished people everywhere, not only in Darfur, to meet their basic needs, protect their natural environments, and get onto the ladder of economic development. ________________________________________________________________________ Taipei Times: Development would bring peace to Sudan International diplomacy has focused on peacekeeping in Darfur, but the underlying causes of poverty need to be addressed first By Jeffrey Sachs Thursday, Jul 26, 2007, Page 9 Anyone interested in peacemaking, poverty reduction and Africa's future should read the new UN Environment Program (UNEP) report Sudan: Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment. This may sound like a technical report on Sudan's environment, but it is much more. It is a vivid study of how the natural environment, poverty and population growth can interact to provoke terrible human-made disasters like the violence in Darfur. When a war erupts, as in Darfur, most policymakers look for a political explanation and a political solution. This is understandable, but it misses a basic point. By understanding the role of geography, climate and population growth in the conflict, we can find more realistic solutions than if we stick with politics alone. Extreme poverty is a major cause, and predictor, of violence. The world's poorest places, like Darfur, are much more likely to go to war than richer places. This is not only common sense, but has been verified by studies and statistical analyses. In the UNEP's words, "There is a very strong link between land degradation, desertification, and conflict in Darfur." Extreme poverty has several effects on conflict. First, it leads to desperation among parts of the population. Competing groups struggle to stay alive in the face of a shortage of food, water, pasture land and other basic needs. Second, the government loses legitimacy and the support of its citizens. Third, the government may be captured by one faction or another, and then use violent means to suppress rivals. Darfur, the poorest part of a very poor country, fits that dire pattern. Livelihoods are supported by semi-nomadic livestock-rearing in the north and subsistence farming in the south. It is far from ports and international trade, lacks basic infrastructure such as roads and electricity, and is extremely arid. It has become even drier in recent decades because of a decline in rainfall, which is probably the result, at least in part, of man-made climate change, caused mostly by energy use in rich countries. Declining rainfall contributed directly or indirectly to crop failures, the encroachment of the desert into pasturelands, the decline of water and grassland for livestock and massive 3
  4. 4. deforestation. Rapid population growth -- from around one million in 1920 to around seven million today -- made all of this far more deadly by slashing living standards. The result has been increasing conflict between pastoralists and farmers, and the migration of populations from the north to the south. After years of simmering conflicts, clashes broke out in 2003 between rival ethnic and political groups, and between Darfur rebels and the national government, which in turn has supported brutal militias in "scorched earth" policies, leading to massive death and displacement. While international diplomacy focused on peacekeeping and on humanitarian efforts to save the lives of displaced and desperate people, peace in Darfur can be neither achieved nor sustained until the underlying crises of poverty, environmental degradation, declining access to water and chronic hunger are addressed. Stationing soldiers will not pacify hungry, impoverished and desperate people. Only with improved access to food, water, health care, schools and income- generating livelihoods can peace be achieved. The people of Darfur, Sudan's government, and international development institutions should urgently search for common ground to find a path out of desperate violence through Darfur's economic development, helped and supported by the outside world. The UNEP report, as well as experiences elsewhere in Africa, suggest how to promote economic development in Darfur. Both people and livestock need assured water supplies. In some areas, this can be obtained through boreholes that tap underground aquifers. In other areas, rivers or seasonal surface runoff can be used for irrigation. In still other areas, longer- distance water pipelines might be needed. In all cases, the world community will have to help pay the tab, since Sudan is too poor to bear the burden on its own. With outside help, Darfur could increase the productivity of its livestock through improved breeds, veterinary care, collection of fodder and other strategies. A meat industry could be developed in which Darfur's pastoralists would multiply their incomes by selling whole animals, meat products, processed goods (such as leather), dairy products and more. The Middle East is a potentially lucrative nearby market. To build this export market, Darfur will need help with transport and storage, cellphone coverage, power, veterinary care and technical advice. Social services, including health care and disease control, education and adult literacy programs should also be promoted. Living standards could be improved significantly and rapidly through low-cost targeted investments in malaria control, school feeding programs, rainwater harvesting for drinking water, mobile health clinics and boreholes for livestock and irrigation in appropriate locations. Cellphone coverage could revolutionize communications for sparse populations in Darfur's vast territory, with major benefits for livelihoods, physical survival and the maintenance of family ties. The only way to sustainable peace is through sustainable development. If we are to reduce the risk of war, we must help impoverished people everywhere, not only in Darfur, to meet their basic needs, protect their natural environments and get onto the ladder of economic development. ________________________________________________________________________ 4
  5. 5. The Nation Nairobi: Kenya Plastic Bags Rule Relaxed 26 July 2007 Nairobi All local authorities have been instructed to carry out awareness campaigns before banning plastic bags. In the meantime, the Nairobi City Council has been directed to go slow on the ban as residents get more information on how to comply. Local Government minister Musikari Kombo, in a ministerial statement that was read in the House on his behalf by Vice-President Moody Awori, said the directive to all councils was meant to prepare them for the eventual ban on plastics as indicated in the Finance Bill by Finance minister Amos Kimunya. Before the countrywide ban comes into force from January next year, Mr Kombo said, technical departments of local authorities should buy digital micrometer to measure the thickness of plastic bags- not limited to not less than 30 microns and carry out vigorous awareness campaigns to inform the public about the compliance. He was responding to request for a ministerial statement by Kilome MP Mutinda Mutiso (Narc) on the ban by City Hall and whether it had the requisite expertise to enforce it. "Shoppers are being harassed by city council askaris when they come from supermarkets and they want to know what is happening," he had said. Mr Kombo said the ban on plastic bags of less than 30 microns in the city followed a meeting organised with the assistance of Unep in Nairobi on June 22, 2006. The meeting, he said, came out with a strategy on how to achieve sustainable plastic waste management practices. The highlights were to minimise the manufacture of plastic material; initiate programmes to reduce, re-use and recycle plastic bags. The minister observed that the problem of over use, misuse and indiscriminate littering of plastic bags was big in Nairobi. He said that the city's supermarkets annually gave out approximately one million bags, which he argued, had contributed to visual pollution, blockage of drainage and gutters, posed a threat to aquatic life and caused livestock deaths. MPs Mutiso, Jimmy Angwenyi (Kitutu Chache, Ford People), Mwandawiro Mghangha (Wundanyi, Ford People) and Simeon Lesrima (Samburu West, Kanu) said the sudden ban on plastic bags would have big consequences on the economy. ________________________________________________________________________ Christian Science Monitor: A dark side to the ethanol boom? A backlash to fuel made from corn is emerging among environmentalists, economists, and antipoverty activists. 5
  6. 6. By Brad Knickerbocker In some circles, ethanol made from corn has become a golden nectar in the fight against global warming. It comes from a benign, wholesome, home-grown plant, and it produces no nasty greenhouse gases that cause climate change. But a backlash to corn ethanol is emerging. Environmentalists, economists, and poverty activists all are raising questions. Making ethanol from corn may be "much less efficient" than producing gasoline from oil, reports the Associated Press: "Just growing corn requires expending energy – plowing, planting, fertilizing, and harvesting all require machinery that burns fossil fuel. Modern agriculture relies on large amounts of fertilizer and pesticides, both of which are produced by methods that consume fossil fuels. Then there's the cost of transporting the corn to an ethanol plant, where the fermentation and distillation processes consume yet more energy. Finally, there's the cost of transporting the fuel to filling stations. And because ethanol is more corrosive than gasoline, it can't be pumped through relatively efficient pipelines, but must be transported by rail or tanker truck." Other environmental problems exist as well, according to a report cited in a recent article in the online magazine NewScientist.com. Among the report's conclusions: "Intensive harvesting erodes soil; massive use of fertilizers contributes to the eutrophication of rivers and lakes and the reduction of fish and aquatic life habitat; widespread use of pesticides contaminates water and soil; and extensive irrigation for corn monoculture depletes water resources." Another downside to corn ethanol, according to a BBC report, is that land which until recently was growing crops for food is now growing crops for fuel: "The United Nations says a third of the total US maize [corn] crop went for ethanol last year. The International Monetary Fund says there's no question that demand for biofuels is driving up food prices – and that it will go on doing so…." UN officials are cautious about such predictions, but they do acknowledge the problem, reports Reuters. According to UN Environment Program executive director Achim Steiner: "… there is significant potential and risk for competition between food production and production for a global biofuels market…. We have to be aware that there are risks, and for some countries those risks may not be worth taking." In the United States, the push for corn ethanol already has boosted food prices – everything from a dinner entree to the popcorn families munch at the latest "Harry Potter" movie. "Higher corn prices have boosted the cost of producing beef, poultry and thousands of processed products," writes columnist John Wasik of Bloomberg.com: "Food prices have climbed an average of $47 per person due to the ethanol surge since last July, according to an Iowa State University study published in May; corn-price futures reached a 10- year high of $4.28 a bushel in February. All told, ethanol has cost Americans an additional $14 billion in higher food prices." Meanwhile, "rising food prices are threatening the ability of aid organizations to help the world's hungriest people," according to a story in The Christian Science Monitor this week. One main reason? "Growing demand for grains as biofuels is pushing up the price of grains for human and livestock food," the Monitor reports. 6
  7. 7. "Is a biofuel backlash coming?" asks business columnist Eric Reguly in the online edition of The Globe and Mail in Toronto. "In Rome, the World Food Program, the UN agency charged with fighting famine, said its budgets are being strained because of surging food prices…. "The world has 800 million cars. If filling them with ethanol and other plant-derived fuels keeps pushing prices up, the world's 2 billion poor people will have something to say about it." But as many economists have pointed out, part of the problem is that in some countries – the US among them – biofuels are heavily subsidized by the federal government. Mr. Reguly continues: "Left on its own, the market in time would find a balance between food and fuel production. As it is, the billions in subsidies are encouraging a dramatic rise in biofuel production that would not otherwise occur. "This is partly why the UN food agencies are worried. Too much biofuel is coming to the market too quickly and the casualties might be the poor who can't afford the sharply rising food prices." ________________________________________________________________________ Afribone.com : Droit de l’environnement au Mali: Des recueils de textes pour le public Le ministère de l’Environnement et de l’Assainissement, en partenariat avec le Programme des Nations unies pour l’environnement (PNUE), le PNUD et la GTZ, a élaboré des recueils de textes en droit de l’environnement au Mali (tomes I et II) destinés au grand public. Dans le but de renforcer les capacités législatives, réglementaires et institutionnelles de notre pays dans le domaine du droit de l’environnement, le ministère de l’Environnement a élaboré des recueils de textes en droit de l’environnement au Mali. La cérémonie de lancement des ouvrages a eu lieu hier. La production de ces recueils a été rendue possible grâce au partenariat entre le gouvernement, le PNUE, le PNUD et la GTZ à travers le Projet partenariat pour le développement du droit et des institutions de gestion de l’environnement en Afrique (Padelia) et le Programme de renforcement des capacités de l’Etat et des collectivités locales en matière de gestion de l’environnement et des ressources naturelles (PRC-GERN). Le tome I des recueils intitulé « Recueil de textes de base régissant l’environnement et les ressources naturelles au Mali », est divisé en deux parties. La première est relative au cadre juridique. Elle est composée de quatre titres qui traitent successivement de la protection du cadre de vie, de la protection de la biodiversité, de la protection du patrimoine hydrique et des textes relatifs d’une manière générale à l’environnement. La seconde partie du tome I traite des textes relatifs au cadre institutionnel. Cette partie est composée de trois titres : le premier est relatif aux attributions spécifiques d’organes constitutionnels, le second prend en compte les missions et l’organisation des structures propres du ministère de l’Environnement et de l’Assainissement et le troisième titre est relatif aux structures relevant d’autres ministères en charge des questions environnementales. Le tome II « Recueil de textes internationaux dans le domaine du droit de l’environnement au Mali » est une compilation en français des déclarations, conventions, accords et traités internationaux (Cat) signés et ratifiés par le Mali. Ledit recueil se justifie par la dispersion et la fragmentation des Cat auxquels le Mali a adhéré. Joseph-Byll Cataria, représentant résident du Pnud au Mali, a expliqué que « les recueils mis à la disposition du public sont d’une importance capitale pour tous les acteurs du développement, 7
  8. 8. y compris les institutions de l’Etat, les professions juridiques et judiciaires, le secteur privé et la société civile... ». Pour le secrétaire général du ministère de l’Environnement et de l’Assainissement, la protection de l’environnement est une obligation constitutionnelle et toutes les politiques sur l’environnement doivent se baser sur des textes. Selon lui, ces textes sont en train de disparaître à cause de leur méconnaissance par la société, ce qui, conclura-t-il, « explique la diffusion de ces recueils de textes ». ==================================================================== 8
  9. 9. Other Environment News ____________________________________________________________________________ BBC: Ozone has 'strong climate effect' By Paul Rincon Science reporter, BBC News Ozone could be a much more important driver of climate change than scientists had previously predicted, according to a study in Nature journal. The authors say the effects of this greenhouse gas - known by the formula O3 - have been largely overlooked. Ozone near the ground damages plants, reducing their ability to mop up carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. As a consequence, more CO2 will build up in the atmosphere instead of being taken up by plants. This in turn will speed up climate change, say the Nature authors. "Ozone could be twice as important as we previously thought as a driver of climate change," co- author Peter Cox, from the University of Exeter, UK, told the BBC News website. Scientists already knew that ozone higher up in the atmosphere acted as a "direct" greenhouse gas, trapping infrared heat energy that would otherwise escape into space. Ozone closer to the ground is formed in a reaction between sunlight and other greenhouse gases such as nitrogen oxides, methane and carbon monoxide. Greenhouse emissions stemming from human activities have led to elevated ozone levels across large tracts of the Earth's surface. Carbon take-up This study is described as significant because it shows that O3 also has a large, indirect effect in the lower part of the atmosphere. Research into ground-level ozone has tended to concentrate on its harmful effects on human lungs. But the gas also damages plants, reducing their effectiveness as a "carbon sink" to soak up excess CO2 from the atmosphere. Furthermore, Peter Cox said: "The indirect effect is of a similar magnitude, or even larger, than the direct effect." There are uncertainties, Dr Cox admits; but he added: "Arguably, we have been looking in the wrong place for the key impacts of ozone." A large amount of work has been carried out on the health effects of ozone. 9
  10. 10. Ozone enters plants through pores, called stomata, in the leaves. It then produces by-products that reduce the efficiency of photosynthesis, leaving the plants weakened and undersized. Complex interactions However, efforts to determine how rising levels of ozone will affect global plant growth are complicated by other factors. High levels of both CO2 and O3 cause stomata to close. This means they take up less of the carbon dioxide they need for photosynthesis, but also absorb less of the harmful ozone. The researchers built a computer model to estimate the impact of predicted changes in ozone levels on the land carbon sink over a period running from 1900 to 2100. This model was designed to take into account the effect of ozone on plant photosynthesis and the interactions between O3 and CO2 through the closure of pores. They used two scenarios, depending on whether plants were deemed to have high or low sensitivity to ozone. Under the high scenario, ozone reduced plant productivity by 23%; under the low scenario, productivity was reduced by 14%. "It's an interesting effect, and I don't think it has been introduced into a coupled [computer] model before so that the overall effect can be seen," said Dr Nathan Gillett, from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, UK, who was not involved in the study. "Their finding that the effect on CO2 is larger than the radiative forcing from ozone itself makes it a significant contribution to climate change." _____________________________________________________________________________ Reuters: Ozone Cuts Plant Growth, Spurs Global Warming - Study WASHINGTON, 25 July (Reuters) - The affects of greenhouse gas ozone, which has been increasing near Earth's surface since 1850, could seriously cut into crop yields and spur global warming this century, scientists reported on Wednesday. Ozone in the troposphere -- the lowest level of the atmosphere – damages plants and affects their ability to absorb carbon dioxide, another global warming gas whose release into the atmosphere accelerates climate change, the researchers wrote in the journal Nature. While carbon dioxide is blamed for global warming, it also has a beneficial effect on plant growth, and ozone counteracts this effect, said Stephen Sitch, a climate researcher at Britain's Met Office, which deals with meteorology. "As CO2 (carbon dioxide) increases in the atmosphere, that stimulates plant growth," Sitch said by telephone. He noted that many scientific simulations that predict the impact of global warming have included this effect but "they haven't included the other effect, the negative effect of ozone damaging productivity." 10
  11. 11. Plants and soil currently slow down global warming by storing about a quarter of human carbon dioxide emissions, but that could change if near-surface ozone increases, the researchers said. Projections of this rise in ozone "could lead to significant reductions in regional plant production and crop yields," they said in a statement. Carbon dioxide's fertilizing effect can be powerful, Sitch and his colleagues reported, pushing global plant productivity by 88.4 billion tons (tonnes) a year. This figure does not take into account the depressing effect of ozone; with that factored in, the fertilizing power of carbon dioxide is 58.4 billion tons, the scientists wrote. Without accounting for increased ozone, earlier simulations have underestimated the amount of carbon dioxide that will remain in the atmosphere, Sitch said. Ozone's damaging effect on plants means they will suck up less carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, leaving more of this chemical to contribute to greenhouse warming, he said. "Carbon dioxide is the largest greenhouse warming gas but ... (ozone) is reducing plant productivity by an appreciable amount," Sitch said. Ozone has doubled since the mid-19th century due to chemical emissions from vehicles, industrial processes and the burning of forests, the British climate researchers wrote. Carbon dioxide has also risen over that period. Unlike carbon dioxide, which is directly caused by these human-spawned emissions, ozone is a so-called secondary air pollutant, produced by reactions with other chemicals like nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide. Tropospheric ozone is different from stratospheric ozone, which contributes to a protective layer high above Earth's surface that guard against harmful solar radiation. Story by Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent _____________________________________________________________________________ ENS: Humans Have Shifted Global Precipitation Patterns NORWICH, UK, July 25, 2007 (ENS) - For the first time, climate scientists have clearly detected the human fingerprint on changing global precipitation patterns over the past century. Their study to be published in tomorrow's issue of the journal "Nature" demonstrates that "human activities have contributed significantly to shifts in global precipitation patterns over the past century," including increased rain and snowfall in northern regions, drier conditions in tropical areas north of the equator, and increased rainfall in the southern tropics. Human-induced changes have not previously been detected in global studies of precipitation, partly because drying in some regions cancels moistening in others, reducing the global signal. Here the scientists used the patterns of the changes in different latitude bands instead of the global average. Authors of the study, "Detection of Human Influence On 20th-Century Precipitation Trends," include climate scientists from Canada, the United States, Japan and the UK. 11
  12. 12. The UK authors are Peter Stott at the Met Office Hadley Centre and Nathan Gillett at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. U.S. authors include Susan Solomon of the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, Gabriele Hegerl of the Nicholas School for the Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke University, North Carolina and F. Hugo Lambert, Department of Geography, University of California-Berkeley. In the study, which the University of East Anglia says "breaks new ground in climate change research," the scientists studied the combined effect that changes in greenhouse gases and sulphate aerosol concentrations in the atmosphere have had on global precipitation over land during the past century. Greenhouse gases and sulphate aerosols are produced primarily by burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gasoline. Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere have increased steadily over the past century. According to the study, over the past century, climate records indicate there have been sizable shifts in precipitation patterns around the globe as a result of the emission of greenhouse gases and sulphate aerosols.. Looking at average conditions over broad regions of the globe, and comparing them to changes anticipated due to human influence on climate, scientists have determined that human-induced climate change has caused most of the observed increase in precipitation north of 50° latitude, a region that includes Canada, Russia and Europe, as well as in the southern hemisphere. Human-induced climate change has also made important contributions to the drying observed in a broad region north of the equator that includes Mexico, Central America and northern Africa. These shifts may have already had significant effects on ecosystems, agriculture and human health, especially in regions that are sensitive to changes in precipitation, such as the Sahel region in northern Africa. The evidence suggests that natural factors, such as volcanic activity, have also contributed to the changes in global precipitation patterns over the past century, although to a much smaller extent than human activity. The study compared observed precipitation changes with those produced by complex computer climate models that were used to estimate the effects of human activities over the past century. In recent years, scientists have become increasingly sophisticated in combining different global climate models to increase the accuracy of their results. In this study, 14 different models were used. As a result, the scientists have considerable confidence in the findings of this study. This study has also given scientists increased confidence in their ability to predict future changes in global climate. By using computer models to simulate climate change that has already occurred, the researchers have demonstrated the reliability of these models. The paper’s authors include Xuebin Zhang and Francis Zwiers of the Climate Research Division, Environment Canada, Toronto; and Toru Nozawa, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan. ________________________________________________________________________ 12
  13. 13. Reuters: Listen to Earth, Pope Says in Environmental Plea ITALY: July 26, 2007 LORENZAGO DI CADORE, Italy - Pope Benedict said the human race must listen to "the voice of the Earth" or risk destroying its very existence. The Pope, speaking as he was concluding his holiday in northern Italy, also said that while there is much scientific proof to support evolution, the theory could not exclude a role by God. "We all see that today man can destroy the foundation of his existence, his Earth," he said in a closed door meeting with 400 priests on Tuesday. A full transcript of the two-hour event was issued on Wednesday. The setting of the appeal was appropriate. Benedict is wrapping up a three-week private holiday in the majestic mountains of northern Italy where residents are alarmed by the prospect of climate change that can alter their way of life. "We cannot simply do what we want with this Earth of ours, with what has been entrusted to us," said the Pope, who has been spending his time reading and walking in the scenic landscape bordering Austria. World religions have shown a growing interest in the environment, particularly the ramifications of climate change. The Pope, leader of some 1.1 billion Roman Catholics worldwide, said: "We must respect the interior laws of creation, of this Earth, to learn these laws and obey them if we want to survive." "This obedience to the voice of the Earth is more important for our future happiness ... than the desires of the moment. Our Earth is talking to us and we must listen to it and decipher its message if we want to survive," he said. Last April the Vatican sponsored a scientific conference on climate change to underscore the role that religious leaders around the world could play in reminding people that wilfully damaging the environment is sinful. THEORY OF EVOLUTION In his talk with the priests, the Pope spoke of the current debate raging in some countries, particularly the United States and his native Germany, between creationism and evolution. "They are presented as alternatives that exclude each other," the Pope said. "This clash is an absurdity because on one hand there is much scientific proof in favour of evolution, which appears as a reality that we must see and which enriches our understanding of life and being as such." But he said evolution did not answer all the questions. "Above all it does not answer the great philosophical question 'where does everything come from?'" Story by Philip Pullella ________________________________________________________________________ 13
  14. 14. The Independent:Enemy of the planet The ethics of consumption Eating al fresco in Britain had always been an uncomfortable experience. Then along came the patio heater. The only problem is the immense damage they do the environment. Now the Government has come up with a simple solution: wear a jumper. Michael McCarthy reports Published: 26 July 2007 Remember Just Say No? Three snappy words encapsulated the urgent advice to a whole generation at risk of being seduced by the tempting but dangerous pleasures of drugs. Well, a new phrase very much along those lines is on the way, a phrase that similarly denotes a personal struggle, but which refers to new social concerns a million miles from drugs (though just as vital): Just Wear A Jumper. What's that asking you to avoid? Simple. Heating the air outside your back door. The green campaign against patio heaters is stepping up. Those devices like giant, fiery standard lamps that once you may have seen only outside the few British restaurants bold enough to put tables on the pavement, are spreading, into more and more catering outlets - and into the home. They're quickly joining garden furniture and the barbecue as middle-class outdoor essentials. Certainly, if, merely as a householder, you want to dine alfresco in the evening, in the miserably sodden summer of 2007, you may well find the idea attractive. Yet they are anathema to environmentalists because of their profligate emissions of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. "It's difficult to conceive of an article that inflicts more gratuitous damage on the environment than a patio heater," says Tony Juniper, executive director of Friends of the Earth. "They just blaze energy out into the open air. Given what we know about climate change, they're just not justifiable." This week the Government's domestic energy watchdog, the Energy Saving Trust (EST), let fly at patio heaters with both barrels. Based on regular polling of a group of more than 1,000 consumers, the EST estimated that ownership of domestic patio heaters is now 1.2 million, and set to almost double to 2.3 million in the near future. And, not mincing its words, it appealed to DIY stores, garden centres and other retail outlets to stop selling them. "We are calling for responsible retailers to reconsider the sale of patio heaters in light of the substantial amount of carbon emissions they produce," said Philip Sellwood, the Chief Executive. "People are also influencing the larger more damaging commercial sector with a third of pubgoers choosing pubs where there is a patio heater. Landlords are helping to make patio heaters desirable - which they are not." And then, in words which may long be remembered, he added: "Why don't people just wear a jumper?" Why? Well, they have to be convinced they should. For these are the opening shots in a fascinating social struggle, over what is in effect an entirely new issue: low-carbon consumerism. Many of us like to think of ourselves as educated consumers, and we often take a careful look at the labels on products before we buy them. How much salt does this contain? How many additives, E-numbers, artificial colouring or preservatives? But marketing specialists and 14
  15. 15. environmentalists both are realising that consumers are starting to look out for another potentially dodgy ingredient: carbon. What if the product's label also tells you how much carbon dioxide its manufacture, distribution, and/or use, entails? You can work this out with many things, even with a packet of crisps. What if a comparison of labels showed you that X Crisps were responsible for fewer emissions of CO2 than Y Crisps? Would it not affect your buying decision - and would not X Crisps get your vote? A lot of people are starting to think this would be the case, and that we are witnessing the beginnings of a wholly new trend - to view carbon in the retail sector as a pariah material. A key example frequently given is sales of 4x4 cars, which after rising for many years, are now falling. It is widely felt that the amount of fuel they use, and thus the amount of greenhouse gases they emit, are over the top and unnecessary, even to live a busy family life with children to be taken to school in busy cities. The 4x4 is becoming socially unacceptable because of its carbon cost. Yet the patio heater is an even more extreme example of a carbon emitting device, and its sales appear to be soaring. What's going on? Recent polls have shown us that although the general level of environmental concern is fairly high in Britain, people's willingness to do something about it, in their own lives - to make changes in their behaviour - is actually surprisingly low. It may be the case that a product needs to be effectively demonised in the public eye - as 4x4s have been - before people will actually turn away from it. The moment has not yet arrived when the glowing heater on your patio is a source of shame, the way a Sky TV satellite dish on the wall once was, years ago (remember that?). The green groups, however, are striving manfully to bring that shaming moment about. This week's Energy Saving Trust report goes into detail about the carbon emissions you will be responsible for it you light up next to the geranium tubs. The average one, it says, emits about 50kg of CO2 a year, and it estimates that 2.3 million patio heaters would emit the same amount of carbon annually as driving from Lands End to John O'Groats 200,000 times. It also looks at the issue of patio heaters and pubs, which has exacerbated the problem. In fascinating research published earlier this year, British Gas found that the smoking ban in pubs in Scotland, adopted in March 2006, had led to an enormous increase in use of the heaters, as they were bought to warm outside areas where smokers were still permitted to puff. Half of all pubs in Scotland bought at least one patio heater after the ban, and many bought several. British Gas calculated that at least 40,000 new patio heaters would be bought by English pubs for the smoking ban south of the border, which came in on 1 July. The Energy Saving Trust hits out at drinkers who encourage this trend, saying that a third of pub-goers - about eight million people - who like to sit outside look for a pub with a patio heater. It ought to be said that the EST figures, which are extrapolated nationally from their 1,000- strong polling base, are challenged by Calor Gas, the market leader in supplying the propane and butane fuels that most patio heaters use. Based on actual sales, the company estimates that the number of heaters in use in Britain is not 1.3 million, but 600,000. 15
  16. 16. Andrew Ford of Calor Gas said that patio heaters were responsible for only 0.002 per cent of UK carbon emissions, and that the use of mobile-phone chargers alone was responsible for very much more. He will have a hard time, however, convincing greens of the patio heaters' merits. For most environmentalists, they are the very devil. London's Mayor, Ken Livingstone, has turned his fire on them this year. "For the sake of the climate, I urge pub and café owners to kick the patio heater habit," he said. "We need to call a halt towards this trend for wasting energy in this way. I hope garden centres and other retail outlets will reconsider their promotion." Some of them have. In a notable victory for the patio-antis, Wyevale, the garden centre company, stopped selling the heaters earlier this year following pressure from Friends of the Earth. But most of the major DIY chains and garden centres continue to carry them, and buyers continue to come through the doors. In fact, this does seem to be a case where the green conscience of the nation is not quite adequate to make the change in behaviour that would see the patio heater go the way of the cigarette-smoke-filled pub. And some environmentalists would prefer Government action against the heaters. "In politics there's this kind of feeling that some of the things we have to do to stop global warming are unpopular so they are difficult for politicians to carry out," said Tony Juniper. "But if they can invade Iraq in the face of the opposition there was to that, surely they can ban patio heaters. It would be a very good symbolic ban. By bringing it in you would give the signal that society has now reached the point where it's socially unacceptable to waste energy so profligately. Governments need to get their acts together. They need to start putting in place measures, not only for new technologies that are necessary to combat global warming, but also for the changes that are necessary in our personal behaviour. "You can walk into a DIY store and see them on sale everywhere, they're still being promoted as if there's absolutely nothing wrong with them, yet it's difficult to understand why they're even allowed on the market." So when you're planning that patio dinner party next week, the summer dinner, the one with the lamb and the rosé and the summer pudding to follow, and you look at the weather forecast and it says that even though it's virtually August it's going to be chilly with scattered showers, and you walk past your garden centre and there is that great thing like a giant candle waiting to shed its warmth all over your guests, think of the planet, and remember again those words, so suitable, really for an English summer: Just Wear A Jumper. What is it about heaters? * Ownership of domestic patio heaters is to double from 1.2 million now to 2.3 million in a year, according to the Green Barometer, produced by the Energy Saving Trust. * Two-thirds of owners use their patio heaters once or twice a week. * Half of owners use them during the hottest months of the year. * The EST says that the average patio heater uses the same amount of energy as a gas hob in a kitchen uses in six months. 16
  17. 17. * While a hob is used every day in most kitchens the report reveals that patio heaters are typically only used mostly in July and August. * The average patio heater emits about 50kg of CO2 per year. * 2.3 million domestic patio heaters would emit the same amount of CO2 in a year as driving from Lands End to John O'Groats 200,000 times. * Northern Ireland has the most householders who own or are planning to buy a patio heater with 14 per cent compared with England, 10 per cent, Wales 8 per cent and Scotland 7 per cent. * Yorkshire & Humberside has the most householders who own or are planning to buy a patio heater, 18 per cent, compared with the East of England, 3 per cent. * A third of pub goers in England look for a pub with a patio heater, the highest in the UK, compared to Northern Ireland, 25 per cent, Wales, 24 per cent, and Scotland 17 per cent. Nearly half of pub goers in the North-east look for a pub with a patio heater. _____________________________________________________________________________ The Guardian: Renewable energy projects will devour huge amounts of land, warns researcher Ian Sample, science correspondent Wednesday July 25, 2007 Large-scale renewable energy projects will cause widespread environmental damage by industrialising vast swaths of countryside, a leading scientist claims today. The warning follows an analysis of the amount of land that renewable energy resources, including wind farms, biofuel crops and photovoltaic solar cells, require to produce substantial amounts of power. Jesse Ausubel, a professor of environmental science and director of the Human Environment programme at Rockefeller University in New York, found that enormous stretches of countryside would have to be converted into intensive farmland or developed with buildings and access roads for renewable energy plants to make a significant contribution to global energy demands. Prof Ausubel reached his conclusions by ranking renewable energies according to the amount of power they produce for each square metre of land. The assessment allows direct comparison between the different approaches, based on the impact they will have on the surrounding landscape. The analysis showed that damming rivers to make use of hydroelectric power was among the most harmful to the landscape, producing around 0.1 watts of power per square metre. The world's largest dam, the Three Gorges power station on the Yangtze in China, stores nearly 40bn cubic metres of water, submerging land that was previously home to more than 1 million people. Biofuel crops and wind energy fared better in the study, with both generating around 1.2w to a square metre. Leading the renewable energy sources were photovoltaic solar cells, which use sunlight to create electricity, at around six to seven watts to a square metre. 17
  18. 18. Prof Ausubel investigated how much land renewable energies would need to provide electricity for large populations and compared them to output from nuclear power stations. In one example he showed that damming rainfall and flooding the entire Canadian province of Ontario would generate hydroelectric power equivalent to 80% of that produced by the country's 25 nuclear power plants. Another calculation revealed that to meet US energy demands for 2005 with wind power would require constant winds blowing onto wind farms covering more than 780,000 square kilometres of land, the area of Texas and Louisiana combined. A comparison of solar energy with nuclear found that a hectare of photovoltaic cells was needed to produce the same amount of power as one litre of fuel in the core of a nuclear reactor. The report breaks what Prof Ausubel calls the "taboo of talking about the strong negative aspects of renewables", by focusing on examples that highlight their limitations. "When most people think of renewables and their impact, they're mistaking pleasant landscaping with what would be a massive industrial transformation of the landscape," he said. "A fundamental credo of being green is that you cause minimal interference with the landscape. We should be farming less land, logging less forest and trawling less ocean - disturbing the landscape less and sparing land for nature. But all of these renewable sources of energy are incredibly invasive and aggressive with regard to nature. Renewables may be renewable, but they are not green," he added. The report, which appears in the International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology today, also criticises plans for widespread farming of biofuels. With current technology, Prof Ausubel estimates that one to two hectares of land would be needed to produce fuel for each of the world's 700m cars and other motor vehicles. "From an environmental point of view the biofuels business is a madness," he said. Prof Ausubel said that despite technical and political concerns, nuclear power plants still ranked as the most environmentally-friendly for large conurbations. "The good news about nuclear is that over the past 50 years all of the forms of waste storage seem to have worked." Power compared Dams Hydroelectric energy is the least efficient way of using land to produce power. One square metre on average produces 0.1 watts. Biofuels A generator burning biomass requires crops from 250,000 hectares to match the electricity output of a nuclear power station. Wind energy Wind farms generate around 1.2 watts for every square metre of land. Solar power Photovoltaic cells covering an area of 150,000 square kilometres would be needed to meet US electricity needs for a year. To power New York city would take 12,000 square kilometres, about the size of Connecticut. ________________________________________________________________________ 18
  19. 19. Reuters: Erosion May Send Alaska Oil Wells Into the Ocean US: July 26, 2007 ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Old Alaskan oil wells could be swallowed by the ocean as rising temperatures speed up erosion of the state's Arctic coastline. The disappearance of sea ice that shields against storm-waves, and of permafrost that holds shorelines together, is eating away at the coast of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, according to a US Geological Survey study. Erosion rates have risen steeply along the coastline of the reserve -- where the administration of US President George W. Bush wants to increase oil drilling -- possibly due to warmer weather, the study showed. "Coastal erosion has more than doubled along a segment of the Arctic Alaska coast during the past half century," it said, adding the land loss was being magnified by the conversion of freshwater "thermokarst" lakes into saltwater bays as they become inundated with waters from the Arctic Ocean. "There's a warming trend in Alaska, and that's documented," said John Mars, primary author of the study. "We think that that is related to what we're seeing." The US Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the reserve, has identified about 30 old oil exploration wells that need to be cleaned and plugged before the sea claims them. "Hopefully we'll get all of these wells before anything happens," said Sharon Wilson, spokeswoman for the BLM's Alaska regional office. CLEANING UP The BLM has already cleaned and plugged the J.W. Dalton well in 2005 after more than 300 feet (90 meters) of shoreline was eaten away in a single summer. That well, drilled in 1979, is now underwater. "There was sort of a mass failure in terms of the land that just melted away," said Wayne Svejnoha, a BLM scientist, adding the cleanup is expected to cost around US$20 million per well. Cleanup is planned next year for a 1976 well on the east side of Teshekpuk Lake, Svejnoha said, although a waste pit has been breached and may be leaking pollutants into the lake. Environmentalists find it ironic that BLM is on the verge of authorizing new oil developments in the Teshekpuk wetlands. "On the one hand, they're having to scramble and clean up old wells that may soon be covered by water. And on the other hand, they may be proposing to expand that oil-field infrastructure in the same area," said Stan Senner, executive director of Audubon Alaska. He and others oppose BLM plans for new exploration along Teshekpuk Lake, a potentially oil- rich area but also critical to migrating geese, caribou and other Arctic wildlife. 19
  20. 20. But Svejnoha said new oil drilling would lack some erosion-related environmental risks. Operators no longer store drilling waste in pits next to wells, eliminating the specter of such pits unleashing their contents into the sea, he said. Coastal erosion is among the climate impacts -- such as reduced periods for hard-frozen tundra and solid sea-ice cover -- that environmentalists say makes North Slope oil operations riskier than before. More than oil sites are affected by erosion, with sections of the North Slope's sole highway at risk, as well as abandoned defense communications structures built early in the Cold War -- many of which have associated hazardous-waste stockpiles. Story by Yereth Rosen ________________________________________________________________________ The Guardian: Report Faults NASA on Equipment Losses By BLOOMBERG NEWS Published: July 26, 2007 NASA has lost $94 million in office equipment over the past decade, looking the other way as employees give computers to spouses or claim missing laptops are lost in space, according to a Congressional report. “These problems are deeply rooted in an agency culture that does not demand accountability,” the Government Accountability Office said in a report released yesterday. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration noted the problem five years ago in its own study. Instead of tightening controls, it relaxed them, making $10,000 the minimum value for trackable items, instead of $5,000, the report said. The report recommended 10 steps, including disciplining negligent employees and toughening oversight. In one instance documented by the accountability office, an unidentified worker explained the fate of a missing laptop, worth $4,265: “This computer, although assigned to me, was being used on board the International Space Station. I was informed that it was tossed overboard to be burned up in the atmosphere when it failed.” The employee was not disciplined. In a written statement included in the report, NASA agreed with 8 of the 10 suggestions. ________________________________________________________________________ ENS: North American Energy Cooperation Enters a New Era 20
  21. 21. VICTORIA, British Columbia, Canada, July 24, 2007 (ENS) - The first trilateral framework agreement on energy science and technology was inked Monday by the energy ministers for Canada, Mexico and the United States. The compact is designed to stimulate innovation and to share and help build energy capacity in all three countries. The ministers said they will look for ways to increase cooperation on research and development and to reduce barriers to the deployment of new technologies in biofuels, gas hydrates, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, clean coal, and electricity transmission. To further these efforts, the three countries will exchange scientific and technical personnel to participate in joint studies and projects. "Science and technology are fundamental to increasing energy security, sustaining economic prosperity and protecting our environment," said Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Gary Lunn, who hosted his counterparts Mexican Energy Secretary Georgina Kessel, and U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman at the Victoria meeting. "With greater North American cooperation, all three of our nations can increase the potential return on our investments in energy science and technology," said Lunn. "Our challenge in North America is to make the use of energy compatible with economic growth and the preservation of the environment. Basic and applied scientific research, which this agreement promotes, is a key factor in overcoming this challenge successfully," said Kessel. Bodman said, "Today's trilateral agreement renews our joint efforts to ensure sustainable energy development, increase energy efficiency and advance the use of clean energy technologies across North America and the world," Bodman said. In a joint statement, the three ministers confirmed their commitment to aligning energy- efficiency standards on key consumer products. Their recent collaborative efforts have harmonized energy performance standards for refrigerators, air conditioners and large electric motors. They committed to strengthening trilateral cooperation on motor vehicle fuel efficiency and standby power consumption, and identified seven additional energy-using products as potential candidates for harmonization. Regarding standby power - the electricity consumed by electronics when not in use - the ministers agreed to support a trilateral workshop that will be held in Mexico City in September to explore possible joint approaches. The ministers discussed increasing the region's energy security, recognizing the critical contribution that an integrated energy market makes to the North American economy, representing approximately US $150 billion in trade between the three countries. "While recognizing and fully respecting the jurisdictional authorities of each country," the three ministers committed to work together to enhance the effectiveness of the North American energy market. Cooperation on energy issues has also been a key element of discussions among the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. since 2005. 21
  22. 22. Last year in Cancun, the countries' leaders renewed their commitment to trilateral cooperation on energy conservation, clean energy technologies and bringing new energy technologies to the marketplace. In their joint statement the energy ministers said, "The outcomes of today's meeting will demonstrate to leaders the effectiveness of cooperation by the energy ministers on energy security" in advance of the North American Leaders' Summit to be held August 20 and 21 in Montebello, Quebec." Energy will be one of the important issues for U.S. President George W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Felipe Calderon of Mexico at their meeting in Montebello. ________________________________________________________________________ IPS: SOUTHERN AFRICA Unequal Water Resources Present a Challenge By Steven Lang JOHANNESBURG, Jul 25 (IPS) - Water resources are unevenly distributed throughout the countries of Southern Africa. The region boasts of some of the world’s largest lakes and rivers, but is also a land of vast deserts. Measured by volume the Congo River, rising in the East African highlands and flowing through the rainforests of Central Africa, is second only to the Amazon. Lake Tanganyika, one of Africa's Great Lakes, contains the second largest volume of freshwater in the world, and Lake Victoria has the second largest surface area of any freshwater lake. Five river basins – the Zambezi, Congo, Orange, Limpopo and Okavango -- carry more than enough water to ensure that all inhabitants of the region are well supplied. The Congo basin has almost 30 percent of the fresh water reserves in Africa, yet supports only 10 percent of the continent’s population. The region is, however, also home to two extensive deserts. The Kalahari spreads through South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, and the Namib Desert covers most of the country named after it. Frequent droughts have struck large parts of South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Malawi. These long dry periods have proved disastrous for farmers trying to eke out a living in marginal areas and left the inhabitants of urban slums vulnerable to diseases due to a lack of proper sanitation. This manifestly uneven distribution has motivated many engineers and visionaries to devise plans to improve the management of Southern Africa’s water resources. Some of these plans have already been turned into valuable water projects such as the Kariba (between Zambia and Zimbabwe), Gariep (South Africa) and Cahora Bassa (Mozambique) dams. A number of other schemes such as the Lesotho Highlands Water Project and the Grand Inga Dam on the Congo River are in varying stages of completion. However, in spite of the overall regional availability of water and substantial international aid 22
  23. 23. efforts to ensure the safe provision of water, there are still many rural people and urban poor who do not have sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation. In Mozambique, just 43 percent of people have access to potable water, according to 2004 figures from the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, overseen by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) -- and in Angola, 53 percent. In Zambia, the figure is 58 percent. The United Nations, regional and international organisations recognise the importance of ensuring that everyone has access to clean water. "Access to improved water supply is not only a fundamental need and human right, it also has considerable health and economic benefits (for) households and individuals," notes the website of the WHO and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation. In the Millennium Declaration of September 2000, paragraph 23 on protection of the environment, the U.N. General Assembly committed itself to "…stop the unsustainable exploitation of water resources by developing water management strategies at the regional, national and local levels, which promote both equitable access and adequate supplies." To implement the Millennium Declaration, the United Nations drew up eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aimed at significantly reducing poverty and improving living conditions for the poorest people by 2015. Goal seven, which seeks to ensure environmental sustainability, includes a target to halve the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. While the international community as a whole appears to be on track to meet this target, sub- Saharan Africa is falling short. According to the 2007 update of a U.N. report, 'Africa and the Millennium Development Goals', 63 percent of people in this region lacked access to basic sanitation facilities by 2004, for instance – only marginally down from 68 percent in 1990, the base year for the MDGs. Projecting this slow rate of progress into the future leaves little doubt that most of Africa will fall short of achieving goal seven by the MDG deadline. National and local water authorities in Southern Africa are slow in piping water to rural areas most frequently affected by drought. These areas often experience water shortages because in some cases storage dams have not been built, while in others existing dams and pipelines have not been properly maintained. Poor farming methods have exacerbated water shortages, degrading the soil, and opening the door to soil erosion that diminishes the ability of land to retain water when it rains. Instead of water being stored in the soil, it gushes through erosion channels into the nearest river -- putting the sustainability of the agricultural sector that feeds the population at risk. Rapid population growth and urbanization are putting strain on the water authorities in urban areas. In many slums, dozens, and sometimes hundreds of people share a single water source. A lack of sanitation infrastructure means that effluent remains exposed among the shacks, and so creates a breeding ground for bacteria. 23
  24. 24. More positively, leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) seem aware of how important it is to make better use of existing water resources. Most countries in the region have devoted substantial resources to their national water authorities, and are working together with donor agencies to improve water provision. Dedicated commissions have been set up for the four largest river basins in Southern Africa, and usage of all the major rivers is governed by multilateral commissions. SADC as a whole is fortunate in that most of its rivers and lakes are relatively clean and unpolluted when compared to waterways in the industrialised world, and in other emerging countries in South East Asia. However, much remains to be done to ensure that this relatively pristine state will persist in the medium and long term. (END/2007) ________________________________________________________________________ AP: Forests experience resurgence in fungus Wed Jul 25, 6:19 PM ET ASTORIA, Ore. - Coastal state forests are experiencing a resurgence in Swiss needle cast disease, a fungus that kills the evergreen needles on Douglas fir trees by interrupting the process of photosynthesis. Aerial surveys conducted by the Oregon Department of Forestry show 338,543 acres infected by the disease — almost double the 2004 total, The Daily Astorian newspaper reported. The fungus thrives in warm, wet conditions on the coast. The disease turns needles yellow before the tree "casts" them off. The fungus doesn't kill the trees, but it reduces their growth rate by 20 percent to 50 percent. Surveys from 2003 to 2005 showed a coastwide decline in the severity of infection, prompting forest pathologists to credit efforts to diversify Douglas fir tree stands with other species such as hemlock and cedar. Foresters also selected hardier Douglas fir trees in hopes of finding genetic strains that were more tolerant of the fungus. "The fact that we're up almost as high as we were in 2000 is fairly concerning to me because in the last seven or eight years people have been doing a lot to manage the disease," said Alan Kanaskie, a Department of Forestry pathologist. Kanaskie said there's not a whole lot more foresters can do to contain the disease. A fungicide would solve the problem, he said, but it would be expensive and risky to spray it over the hundreds of thousands of acres of infected coastal forestland. The disease tends not to spread inland more than about 18 miles because of weather conditions, Kanaskie said, so forests in the Willamette Valley are protected. The surveys show that Tillamook County has the most extensive damage. About 70 percent of the stands in the Tillamook State Forest are Douglas fir, and about 40 percent of the entire forest is affected by Swiss needle cast. Assistant Tillamook District Forester Wayne Auble called his forest the Swiss needle cast "epicenter." After the Tillamook burn, the forest was replanted with Douglas fir, Auble said, 24
  25. 25. creating a "monoculture" that is more vulnerable to the disease than forests with a variety of tree species. "We're going under the assumption that the disease is going to be a continued presence, so we have to figure out how to manage with it," he said. "We've tried lots of things. There's no magic bullet." ________________________________________________________________________ Reuters: Beijing to Build Windmills for 2008 Olympics BEIJING -- Beijing has started work on a 580 million yuan ($76.69 million) project to build 33 windmills to supply clean energy in time for the 2008 Olympic Games, state media said on Tuesday. The new power plants, which would sit on the outskirts of Beijing, were expected to produce an estimated 100 million kwh of electricity a year and help reduce the city's reliance on polluting coal-fired generators, the China Daily said. "Beijing has never had any large windmills before, much less wind-power stations," it quoted an official as saying. "Wind power could arouse people's awareness of energy conservation and environment protection," the official added. The project, which the paper said was the 10th largest in the world, would also cut carbon dioxide emissions by at least 10 million tonnes per year, it said. The Chinese Olympic Committee wanted at least 20 percent of the Olympic venues to be powered by wind-generated electricity, the report added. The government was considering subsidies to encourage people to use wind power, which would cost 0.3 yuan per kwh more than getting electricity from a coal-fired plant, it said. "China has the greatest wind power reserves in the world, but the high cost and China's reliance on imports of equipment has slowed down the development of wind power," an energy official was quoted as saying. Source: Reuters 25
  26. 26. ROAP MEDIA UPDATE THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS Thursday, 26 July, 2007 UNEP or UN in the news  Taipei Times : Development would bring peace to Sudan  CounterCurrents.org : Iraqis Blame US Depleted Uranium For Surge In Cancer  Reuters : World Bank Fund Encourages Developing Countries to Stop Deforestation General Environment News  THE ASAHI SHIMBUN : Schools, hospitals targeted for emission cuts  People’s Daily Online : Over half of geological disasters in China caused by human activities: official  EastDay.com : Rainstorms kill five, affect 700,000 in China  EastDay.com : Drought affects 320,000 people in east China province  CSR Asia : Beijing to build windmills for 2008  People’s Daily Online : Earthquake hits Indonesia  PakTribune.com : Earthquake of magnitude 4.5 shakes NAs  The China Post : Taitung hit by worst drought in 30 years UNEP or UN in the news Taipei Times : Development would bring peace to Sudan International diplomacy has focused on peacekeeping in Darfur, but the underlying causes of poverty need to be addressed first By Jeffrey Sachs, Thursday, Jul 26, 2007, Page 9 Anyone interested in peacemaking, poverty reduction and Africa's future should read the new UN Environment Program (UNEP) report Sudan: Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment. This may sound like a technical report on Sudan's environment, but it is much more. It is a vivid study of how the natural environment, poverty and population growth can interact to provoke terrible human-made disasters like the violence in Darfur. When a war erupts, as in Darfur, most policymakers look for a political explanation and a political solution. This is understandable, but it misses a basic point. By understanding the role of geography, climate and population growth in the conflict, we can find more realistic solutions than if we stick with politics alone. Extreme poverty is a major cause, and predictor, of violence. The world's poorest places, like Darfur, are much more likely to go to war than richer places. This is not only common sense, but has been verified by studies and statistical analyses. In the 26
  27. 27. UNEP's words, "There is a very strong link between land degradation, desertification, and conflict in Darfur." Extreme poverty has several effects on conflict. First, it leads to desperation among parts of the population. Competing groups struggle to stay alive in the face of a shortage of food, water, pasture land and other basic needs. Second, the government loses legitimacy and the support of its citizens. Third, the government may be captured by one faction or another, and then use violent means to suppress rivals. Darfur, the poorest part of a very poor country, fits that dire pattern. Livelihoods are supported by semi-nomadic livestock-rearing in the north and subsistence farming in the south. It is far from ports and international trade, lacks basic infrastructure such as roads and electricity, and is extremely arid. It has become even drier in recent decades because of a decline in rainfall, which is probably the result, at least in part, of man-made climate change, caused mostly by energy use in rich countries. Declining rainfall contributed directly or indirectly to crop failures, the encroachment of the desert into pasturelands, the decline of water and grassland for livestock and massive deforestation. Rapid population growth -- from around one million in 1920 to around seven million today -- made all of this far more deadly by slashing living standards. The result has been increasing conflict between pastoralists and farmers, and the migration of populations from the north to the south. After years of simmering conflicts, clashes broke out in 2003 between rival ethnic and political groups, and between Darfur rebels and the national government, which in turn has supported brutal militias in "scorched earth" policies, leading to massive death and displacement. While international diplomacy focused on peacekeeping and on humanitarian efforts to save the lives of displaced and desperate people, peace in Darfur can be neither achieved nor sustained until the underlying crises of poverty, environmental degradation, declining access to water and chronic hunger are addressed. Stationing soldiers will not pacify hungry, impoverished and desperate people. Only with improved access to food, water, health care, schools and income- generating livelihoods can peace be achieved. The people of Darfur, Sudan's government, and international development institutions should urgently search for common ground to find a path out of desperate violence through Darfur's economic development, helped and supported by the outside world. The UNEP report, as well as experiences elsewhere in Africa, suggest how to promote economic development in Darfur. Both people and livestock need assured water supplies. In some areas, this can be obtained through boreholes that tap underground aquifers. In other areas, rivers or seasonal surface runoff can be used for irrigation. In still other areas, longer- distance water pipelines might be needed. In all cases, the world community will have to help pay the tab, since Sudan is too poor to bear the burden on its own. With outside help, Darfur could increase the productivity of its livestock through improved breeds, veterinary care, collection of fodder and other strategies. 27
  28. 28. A meat industry could be developed in which Darfur's pastoralists would multiply their incomes by selling whole animals, meat products, processed goods (such as leather), dairy products and more. The Middle East is a potentially lucrative nearby market. To build this export market, Darfur will need help with transport and storage, cellphone coverage, power, veterinary care and technical advice. Social services, including health care and disease control, education and adult literacy programs should also be promoted. Living standards could be improved significantly and rapidly through low-cost targeted investments in malaria control, school feeding programs, rainwater harvesting for drinking water, mobile health clinics and boreholes for livestock and irrigation in appropriate locations. Cellphone coverage could revolutionize communications for sparse populations in Darfur's vast territory, with major benefits for livelihoods, physical survival and the maintenance of family ties. The only way to sustainable peace is through sustainable development. If we are to reduce the risk of war, we must help impoverished people everywhere, not only in Darfur, to meet their basic needs, protect their natural environments and get onto the ladder of economic development. Jeffrey Sachs is a professor of economics and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2007/07/26/2003371359 ..................................................... CounterCurrents.org, India : Iraqis Blame US Depleted Uranium For Surge In Cancer By RIA Novosti, 25 July, 2007, RIA Novosti CAIRO — Iraq’s environment minister blamed Monday the use of depleted uranium weapons by U.S. forces during the 2003 Operation Shock and Awe for the current surge in cancer cases across the country. As a result of “at least 350 sites in Iraq being contaminated during bombing” with depleted uranium (DU) weapons, Nermin Othman said, the nation is facing about 140,000 cases of cancer, with 7,000 to 8,000 new ones registered each year. Speaking at a ministerial meeting of the Arab League, she also complained that many chemical plants and oil facilities had been destroyed during the two military campaigns since the 1990s, but the ecological consequences remain unclear. “Our ministry is fledgling, and we need international support; notably, we need laboratories to better monitor air and water contamination,” she said. The first major UN research on the consequences of the use of DU on the battlefield was conducted in 2003 in the wake of NATO operations in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Montenegro. The UN Environment Program (UNEP) said in its report after the research that DU poses little threat if spent munitions are cleared from the ground. “Health risks primarily depend on the awareness of people coming into contact with DU,” UNEP writes in its 2004 brochure “Depleted Uranium Awareness.” 28
  29. 29. No major clean-up or public awareness campaigns have been reported in Iraq. http://www.countercurrents.org/du250707.htm ................................................. Reuters : World Bank Fund Encourages Developing Countries to Stop Deforestation Story by Ben Wilson AUSTRALIA: July 25, 2007 SYDNEY - A planned US$250 million World Bank fund to encourage developing countries to stop deforestation in return for access to carbon credits has attracted strong international support, a senior official said on Tuesday. Forests are not included under the existing emissions reduction framework, the Kyoto Protocol, even though deforestation, especially in the tropics, contributes about 20 percent of man-made global carbon emissions -- some two billion tonnes of carbon per year. "We want to make sure that if it is 20 percent of the problem it can be 20 percent of the solution in the future," said Kristalina Georgieva, director of strategy and operations in the World Bank's sustainable development unit. Georgieva hopes the programme will encourage more investment from public and private sector bodies to tackle deforestation. "The objective here is to make standing forest with high biodiversity and carbon storage value generate revenues," she told reporters at a Sydney meeting on forests and climate. "It means we can make a tree standing be as valuable as this tree being chopped down, to provide income to communities that would allow them to develop and have their needs met without chopping down the forest." Georgieva said interest in the proposed Forest Carbon Partnership Facility from both developed and developing nations meant it was on track to launch in December. The project would try to ensure developing nations were able to monitor forest depletion, and had the clout to stamp down on illegal logging. Countries that cut emissions from deforestation would be able to sell carbon credits to other countries. Fourteen forest-rich countries from Central and South America, Africa and the Asia-Pacific have expressed interest in the scheme. The bank will choose about five countries, who will have to prove they are tackling illegal logging, to participate in a pilot stage. Some critics have said tackling deforestation needs billions of dollars in funding. Georgieva acknowledged the World Bank, which plans to raise US$250 million to $300 million for the first stages of its programme, was "starting small". The Australian government this week committed US$10 million to the World Bank's Global Forest Alliance and other governments, including Germany and the United Kingdom, are also expected to contribute. A successful pilot programme would also add weight to calls for the inclusion of deforestation in any new agreement on combatting global warming, which will be discussed at a UN-led meeting in Bali in December. The Kyoto Protocol runs out in 2012. 29
  30. 30. Georgieva also backed calls from some developing nations for rich countries to pay to save forests, but said potential donors needed to see that the proposed World Bank scheme would work and address concerns that forests might be protected in one area of a country while being decimated in another. "If we do nothing, if we don't experiment, then the scepticism whether we actually can provide compensation for avoiding deforestation would be there." http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/43256/newsDate/25-Jul-2007/story.htm General Environment News THE ASAHI SHIMBUN : Schools, hospitals targeted for emission cuts The government wants schools, hospitals and even pachinko parlors to establish their own emission-reduction targets to help Japan reach its goal under the Kyoto Protocol, according to a draft interim report. A joint panel of the Environment Ministry and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is currently reviewing the government's 2005 plan to meet its target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 6 percent from the level in fiscal 1990 during the 2008-2012 period. However, Japan's emissions in fiscal 2005 increased by 7.8 percent from the fiscal 1990 level. To reverse this trend, the panel has drafted a rough plan for an interim report on the government's review. Panel members will discuss the draft today, and issue a final report by the end of the year. The draft says industries that already have implemented action plans to reduce emissions should expand and strengthen such measures. It also calls on those without action plans, including schools, hospitals, newspaper companies, pachinko parlors and other businesses, to set up such plans. Businesses already with action plans but without specific reduction figures should come up with exact amounts for their targets, according to the draft. The draft says the government will continue to call on industries, such as power and steel, which are finding it difficult to meet their reduction goals, to act on a voluntary basis. The government will not force these industries to sign contacts nor impose penalties for failure to attain their targets. The draft also fell short of proposing domestic markets for trading emission rights or an environmental tax. The draft, meanwhile, stresses the need to "drastically step up reduction measures" in offices and homes, where emissions are notably increasing. In addition, the draft cites plans to give tax breaks to office buildings that introduce energy- conservation systems and to urge companies to indicate on their products the amount of carbon- dioxide emissions involved in the production process. 30
  31. 31. Currently, new or remodeled homes and buildings that have 2,000 square meters or more of floor space are required to take energy-conservation measures. The plan will put existing homes under that requirement. The draft also calls for the need to punish building owners and others for failing to meet energy- conservation standards.(IHT/Asahi: July 25,2007) http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200707250101.html ............................................... People’s Daily Online : Over half of geological disasters in China caused by human activities: official July 26, 2007 Land subsidence has appeared in 16 Chinese provincial areas due to the excessive exploitation of underground water and over half of geological disasters are caused by human activities, an official with the Ministry of Land Resources said on Wednesday. Jiang Jianjun, director of the geological environment department of the ministry, said that land subsidence appeared most severely in China's plain and delta regions such as the Yangtze River Delta region, Pearl River Delta region and North China Plain. Provinces including Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Hebei, and municipalities of Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin are suffering from land subsidence. The foremost reason is the lowering of underground water level due to excessive exploitation of underground water. Geological movement of the earth and too many skyscrapers also contributed to land subsidence, Jiang noted. Human activities such as railway, road, building construction activities, are having greater influence on land conditions and increasing the chances of geological disasters, he said. Jiang said road or railway tunnels in hills or mountains weaken the stability of the hills and mountains, irrational mining and random stack of mining wastes and tailings in mountainous areas may lead to bigger possibility of mud-rock flow in cases of cloudbursts and torrential floods. He urged that professional evaluation on the geological impact of large and key projects be conducted so as to prevent human-resulted geological disasters. Statistics showed that in first half of this year, there were 2690 geological disasters in China, with 199 people dead or missing. Direct economic losses topped 600 million yuan (79.365 million U.S. dollars). Source: Xinhua http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90778/6224324.html .................................................. EastDay.com, China : Rainstorms kill five, affect 700,000 in China 26/7/2007 9:35 Five people were killed and more than 700,000 people were affected after fresh rainstorms ravaged northwest, southwest and central China. 31
  32. 32. Nearly 150 millimeters of rain hit Jingchuan county, northwestern Gansu province, between 7:40 p.m. and 10:40 p.m. on Tuesday, an official with the Gansu Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said. The rainstorm, which destroyed 430 houses, left two dead, one missing, three injured and affected nearly 100,000 people in 72 villages, the official said, adding that road and agricultural facilities were also seriously damaged. Two farmers in Huocheng county, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, were swept away by floods triggered by heavy rain on Tuesday night and died. At least 48 herdsmen and 13,000 goats have been stranded for nearly two days in a mountainous area in northwestern Xinjiang after a landslide cut off their path on Monday. Fallen rocks and mud have erected a huge dam between two opposite mountains in Jinghe county of Bortala prefecture, which is about 400 km northwest of the capital city of Urumqi. Flooding water has filled in the dam, forming two lakes of 3,000 sq. m. and1,000 sq.m. each and completely blocking the mountain paths. Two teams of rescuers and experts, carrying communication equipment and food and drinking water, have been searching new access to the herdsmen, who were depasturing their goats in a mountainous pasturing area when the landslide suddenly rushed down. A rainstorm on Monday in southwestern Guizhou Province caused one death and affected 640,000 people Xifeng and Yinjiang counties saw rainfall of 100 to 114 millimeters on Monday, while the downtown area of Guiyang, Guizhou's capital, received 64 millimeters of rain from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Some 425 houses have collapsed in the rainstorms in Guizhou. Rain which began on Saturday has also swollen rivers in Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture in central Hunan province. More than 100,000 people have been called up to protect the embankments of the rivers, where the water level was three to seven meters higher than the warning line. Longshan, a county in the prefecture, saw 317 millimeters of rain, the strongest storm in a decade. The water level at the middle section of the Yangtze River has also risen to the warning lines. At 2 p.m. Wednesday, the water level of the river's section in Wuhan, capital city of Hubei Province, was 24.96 meters, approaching the 25-meter line which marks the need to start implementing flood control plans. It is estimated that the flood would push up the river to 25.05meters at about 8 p.m. Thursday as more downpours are expected in three days in the river's upper and middle reaches, making the flood control situation even worse. 32
  33. 33. Surveillance will be reinforced along the river, particularly at dams, water gates and reservoirs in the wake of upcoming flood crest, said Li Xiansheng, mayor of Wuhan and also the commander in chief of the city's flood control operation. The water level of the middle and lower sections of the Hanjiang river, the biggest branch of the Yangtze, has already exceeded warning lines. About 26,000 people have been mobilized to protect the dikes in Hubei Province. Meanwhile, the water level of the swollen Huaihe River in the east is rising again due to continuous rain. The river has been swollen for more than 20 days. Water level at the Wangjiaba, a key hydrological station of the Huaihe, rose to 27.63 meters at 3 p.m. Wednesday, 0.13 meters higher than the warning line. "The flood control work of the Huaihe is still at a critical period as the water level has been high for a long time and many sections of the river's dikes are facing an increasing risk of being breached," said an official with the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters. In Anhui Province, a tornado hammered 33 villages in ten townships for 40 minutes early Wednesday morning, bringing down 133 houses and destroying 290 hectares of cropland and 90,000 trees. It also cut off many electricity and telephone wires, incurring an economic lose of 21 million yuan (2.77 million U.S. dollars). No casualties have been reported. China's death toll from natural disasters was 715 with 129 people missing by July 16 this year, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs. The All-China Federation of Trade Unions, along with its branches in the flood-hit regions, has extended 10.7 million yuan (1.4 million U.S. dollars) to help people survive the mischance. http://english.eastday.com/eastday/englishedition/node20665/node20668/node22810/node21144 3/node211449/userobject1ai2998624.html ……………………………….. EastDay.com, China : Drought affects 320,000 people in east China province 26/7/2007 More than 320,000 people in Jiangxi Province are suffering from drinking water shortage due to a severe drought, the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters said yesterday. High temperatures have parched most parts of Jiangxi since mid-July, affecting people and more than 177,000 hectares of cropland. The province only received an average precipitation of 579 mm over the past three months, 30 percent less than the comparable average amount over the past years. On July 20, Large and medium-sized reservoirs have seen average water storage drop by 1.34 billion cubic meters than the average figures in the past years. 33
  34. 34. Weather forecast said high temperatures would continue for a relatively long time, making the drought worse. Local governments are working on water consumption plans and reinforcing management of water resources to ensure drinking water supply and irrigation. In a sharp contrast, severe floods have hit nearly half of China's regions this summer, claiming at least 400 lives so far, one of the worst rainy season since 1998. http://english.eastday.com/eastday/englishedition/node20665/node20668/node22810/node21144 3/node211449/userobject1ai2998640.html ………………………………………. CSR Asia, China : Beijing to build windmills for 2008 Filed under: China Energy— Samantha Yeung Beijing has started work on a 580 million yuan ($76.69 million) project to build 33 windmills to supply clean energy in time for the 2008 Olympic Games. The Chinese Olympic Committee wanted at least 20 percent of the Olympic venues to be powered by wind-generated electricity. The new power plants, which would sit on the outskirts of Beijing, are expected to produce an estimated 100 million kwh of electricity a year and help reduce the city’s reliance on polluting coal-fired generators. The project would also cut carbon dioxide emissions by at least 10 million tonnes per year. The government was considering subsidies to encourage people to use wind power, which would cost 0.3 yuan per kwh more than getting electricity from a coal-fired plant. http://www.csr-asia.com/index.php?p=10362 ………………………………… People’s Daily Online : Earthquake hits Indonesia July 26, 2007 A moderate earthquake with magnitude of 5.8 rocked Aceh province in western part of Indonesia on Thursday, with no report of casualty or damages so far, Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said. The quake struck at 06:37 Jakarta time (1137GMT) with epicenter at 338 kilometers northwest Aceh province, in northern tip of Sumatra Island, and 10 kilometers under seabed, an official of the agency said. In December 2004, over 170,000 people were killed by tsunami triggered by powerful earthquake in the province. Indonesia is laid on a vulnerable quake-hit zone so called the Pacific Ring of Fire where two continental plates meet that cause frequent seismic and volcanic movements. http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90777/6224606.html ............................................ PakTribune.com, Pakistan : Earthquake of magnitude 4.5 shakes NAs Thursday July 26, 2007 PESHAWAR:An earthquake centered in the remote mountains of Afghanistan shook parts of northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from the quake, which Pakistan's Meteorological Office said had a 4.5 magnitude. 34

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