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Newsletter 209

  1. 1. SOUTH AMERICA ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND HEALTH NEWSLETTER209 t h issue, October 18, 2012 COLOMBIA: IX Migratory Bird Festival 2012 In this issue: Colombia is preparing to welcome the extreme travelers. They already  Colombia: IX Migratory Bird are coming and we are preparing to welcome them with the ninth Festival 2012. Migratory Bird Festival that, throughout the month of October, will  Climate Change: The Blue feature fun and educational activities with a conservation message on Carbon Solution. these wonderful and charismatic species.  Climate Change: Global Warming Causing Antarctic Ice to Expand. The Festival will be held in 4 regions of the country: Roncesvalles  Science: Arctic and (Tolima); Jardín (Antioquia), Génova (Quindío) and San Vicente de Southern Oceans Appear to Chucurí (Santander); a variety of activities have been scheduled within Determine the Composition which we will have observational outings, workshops, lectures, of Microbial Populations. neighborhood outlets, radio programs, cultural performances and  Conservation: Billions parades all framed within the objective of generating knowledge about Required to Meet these beautiful and important visitors. Conservation Targets. PostER by Albán Banco Luna.  Conservation: Illegal Hunting, Wildlife trade May Since 2004 Fundación ProAves has held the Migratory Bird Festival Cause Conservation Crisis. continuously for the sole purpose of making known to the communities the importance of preserving the  Space: An Unusually habitats of our guests of honor, trying to ensure the habitat of hundreds of birds that travel each year Pristine Piece of Mars. from North America to southern South America.  Water: Excellent Idea to Purify Water from Navajo. ProAves recognizes the importance of taking actions to achieve behavioral changes aimed at  Environment: UNEP conservation which is why the Festival of Migratory Birds symbolically contributes to the Painting Competition for promotion, recognition and interest in providing responsible actions and solidarity of the Children. people in relation to the biodiversity of our country and the entire continent. Next events: During the festival we expect the participation of more than 5,000 people including adults, children and young people from all parts of Colombia, especially in the municipality of San Vincent de Chucurí in the October 31-November3, department of Santander, where the Cerulean Warbler Bird Reserve is located, the first Reserve created Maryland-U.S. Summit on the Science of in South America for the conservation of a migratory bird. Eliminating Health Disparities, U.S.A. On October 20 there will be an observational walk along the Reserve trails, where we will have the November 5-8, Lima-Peru involvement of the San Vicente community, including several educational institutions and the Mayor of RedLAC’s 14th General Assembly the municipality; during the walk we hope our migratory friends will give us a chance to admire them in November 12-14, SP- Brazil all their splendor, beauty and strength. II International Conference on Epidemiology On Saturday October 27 the closing parade, whose central theme is the habitat of migratory birds during conferencia/cve_conf.htm their stay in the tropics, will close with decorated floats adorned as coffee trees, water sources, forests November 12-15, 2012, Israel and birds which will roam the main streets of town, likewise, with different costumes, large banners, Fourth International Conference on Drylands, Deserts and dances and plays by children, young people and adults around the town saying "Welcome traveling Desertification: Implementing friends". Join us in the celebration. Rio+20 for Drylands and Desertification With support from: The information contained herein was gathered from news sources from across the region, and the views expressed below do not necessarily reflect those of the Regional Environmental HUB Office or of our constituent posts. Addressees interested in sharing any ESTH-related events of USG interest are welcome to do so. For questions or comments, please contact us at * Free translation prepared by REO staff.
  2. 2. SCIENCE: The Blue Carbon SolutionOne of the most promising new ideas to reduce atmosphericCO2 and limit global climate change is to do so by conservingmangroves, seagrasses and salt marsh grasses. Such coastalvegetation, dubbed “blue carbon”, sequesters carbon farmore effectively (up to 100 times faster) and more perma-nently than terrestrial forests.Carbon is stored in peat below coastal vegetation habitats asthey accrete vertically. Because the sediment beneath thesehabitats is typically anoxic, organic carbon is not brokendown and released by microbes. Coastal vegetation also con-tinues to sequester carbon for thousands of years in contrastto forest, where soils can become carbon-saturated relativelyquickly. Therefore, carbon offsets based on the protectionand restoration of coastal vegetation could be far more costeffective than current approaches focused on trees.Furthermore, there would be enormous ad-on benefits to Photo by touterse (flicker user) Under Creative Commons License.fisheries, tourism and in limiting coastal erosion from theconservation of blue carbon. How will it make a difference?Read more: Conserving key coastal and marine ecosystems, like conserving forests, is an immediately available and cost-To learn more about blue carbon activities around the world, visit effective tool for removing greenhouse gases already inhttp://bluecarbonportal.org the atmosphere. In addition, these habitats provide many other ecosystem services that are critical for helping communities and biodiversity adapt to the impacts of climate change. The UN Response The UNEP/IUCN reports catalyzed the interest of international Financing mechanisms and management systems that organizations and national governments in Blue Carbon science value the role of forests in reducing emissions already and in developing policies. So far efforts have generally been ad exist, but equivalent systems do not yet exist for marine -hoc and uncoordinated. They must be consolidated in a and coastal ecosystems. coordinated way if they are to progress effectively. The proposed Blue Carbon Initiative would address this by providing Read more at: support for developing policy guidance and tools for carbon CI_Climate_Solutions_Blue_Carbon.pdf accounting and ecosystem management. The project ‘Developing methodologies for carbon accounting and ecosystem services valuation of Blue Forests’ - part of the UNEP Blue Carbon Initiative - focuses on measuring and managing carbon and other ecosystem services in coastal vegetated ecosystems (the Blue Forests) and on exploring their options in international carbon markets. There is a strong UN basis for achieving the objectives of the project. Besides the UNEP/IUCN reports on carbon sequestration in coastal ecosystems, UNEP’s Division of Early Warning and Assessment (DEWA) manages a Carbon Benefits project, its Division of Environmental Policy Implementation (DEPI) has a payment for ecosystem services unit, as well as a REDD unit, DEWA-North America is working on mapping global mangrove cover, and the IOC-UNESCO manages an Ocean Carbon Coordination Project. Photo by Graela (flickr user). Under Creative Commons License.Read more at:
  3. 3. Global Warming Causing Antarctic Ice to ExpandCLIMATE CHANGE: World Bank Unveils 10-Year Environmental Strategy By Lisa FriedmanThe ice goes on seemingly forever in a white pancake-flat landscape, stretching farther than everbefore. And yet in this confounding region of the world, that spreading ice may be a cockeyed sig-nal of man-made climate change, scientists say. This is Antarctica, the polar opposite of the Arctic.While the North Pole has been losing sea ice over the years, the water nearest the South Pole hasbeen gaining it. Antarctic sea ice hit a record 7.51 million square miles in September. That hap-pened just days after reports of the biggest loss of Arctic sea ice on record.Climate change skeptics have seized on the Antarctic ice to argue that the globe isnt warming and Photo by Dan Patterson (flickr user). Under Creativethat scientists are ignoring the southern continent because its not convenient. But scientists say Commons License.the skeptics are misinterpreting whats happening and why.Shifts in wind patterns and the giant ozone hole over the Antarctic this time of year - both related to human activity - are probablybehind the increase in ice, experts say. This subtle growth in winter sea ice since scientists began measuring it in 1979 was initiallysurprising, they say, but makes sense the more it is studied."A warming world can have complex and sometimes surprising consequences," researcher Ted Maksym said this week from anAustralian research vessel surrounded by Antarctic sea ice. He is with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.Many experts agree. Ted Scambos of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado adds: "It sounds counterintuitive, but theAntarctic is part of the warming as well."Read more: Arctic and Southern Oceans Appear to Determine the Composition of MicrobialPopulations Differing contributions of freshwater from glaciers and streams to the Arctic and Southern oceans appear to be responsible for the fact that the majority of microbial communities that thrive near the surface at the Poles share few common members, according to an in- ternational team of researchers, some of whom were supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). In a paper published in the Oct. 8 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the researchers report that only 25 percent of the taxonomic groups iden- tified by genetic sequencing that are found at the surface of these waters are common be- tween the two polar oceans. The differences were not as pronounced among microbesPhoto by eddybox43 (flickr user). Under Creative CommonsLicense. deeper in the oceans, with a 40 percent commonality for those populations.The findings were produced by research supported by NSF during the International Polar Year 2007-2009 (IPY), a global scientificdeployment that involved scientists from more than 60 nations. NSF was the lead U.S. agency for the IPY. "Some of the DNA sam-ples were collected during "Oden Southern Ocean 2007-2008," a unique collaborative effort between NSFs Office of Polar Pro-grams and the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat to perform oceanographic research in the difficult-to-reach and poorly studiedAmundsen Sea," said Patricia Yager, a researcher at the University of Georgia and a co-author on the paper.The Oden cruise was among the first IPY deployments. In addition, some of the samples used in the research were gathered as partof NSFs Life in Extreme Environments Program.The Polar regions often are described as being, in many ways, mirror images of one another--the Arctic being a ocean surroundedby continental landmasses, while Antarctica is a continent surrounded by an ocean--but the new findings add a biological nuance tothose comparisons."We believe that differences in environmental conditions at the poles and different selection mechanisms were at play in control-ling surface and deep ocean community structure between polar oceans," said Alison Murray of the Desert Research Institute inReno, Nev., and a co-author on the PNAS paper. "Not surprisingly, the Southern and Arctic oceans are nearest neighbors to eachother when compared with communities from lower latitude oceans."Read full article at:
  4. 4. CONSERVATION: Scientists Say Unveils 10-Year Environmental StrategyCLIMATE CHANGE: World Bank Billions Required to Meet Conservation Targets By Lisa Friedman By Matt McGrath Reducing the risk of extinction for threatened species and establishing protected areas for nature will cost the world over $76bn dollars annually. Researchers say it is needed to meet globally agreed con- servation targets by 2020. The scientists say the daunting number is just a fifth of what the world spends on soft drinks annually. And it amounts to just 1% of the value of ecosystems being lost every year, they report in the journal Science. Back in 2002, governments around the world agreed that they would achieve a significant reductionToucan. Photo by @Doug88888 (flickr). Under in biodiversity loss by 2010. But the deadline came and went and the rate of loss increased.Creative Commons License. Significant cost. At a meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya that year govern-ments re-committed to a series of targets to be achieved by 2020. But there is a marked lack of data on how much it would cost toprotect species and landed areas. And some experts believe that uncertainty about financial information helps governments whoare reluctant to commit to funding the targets.Now researchers from a number of conservation organisations and universities have set out in detail the likely costs of preservingall threatened species. Theyve also worked out the cost of establishing and expanding protected areas to cover seventeen percentof land and inland water areas.Environmental economist Donal McCarthy from the RSPB lead the study. He told BBC News that the amounts involved are signifi-cant. "Reducing the extinction threat for all species would cost $5bn a year, but establishing and maintaining a comprehensiveglobal network of protected areas would cost substantially more," said Mr McCarthy.Read more: Illegal Hunting, Wildlife Trade May Cause Conservation CrisisA new report published today by Panthera confirms that widespread illegal hunting and the bushmeat trade occur more fre-quently and with greater impact on wildlife populations in the Southern and Eastern savannas of Africa than previously thought,and if unaddressed could potentially cause a ‘conservation crisis.’ The report challenges previously held beliefs of the impact ofillegal bushmeat hunting and trade in Africa with new data from experts.While the bushmeat trade has long been recognized as a severe threat to the food resources of indigenous peoples and to wildlifepopulations in the forests of West and Central Africa, far less attention has been focused on the issue in African savannas, in partdue to the misconception that illegal hunting for bushmeat in African savannas is a small-scale phenomenon practiced for subsis-tence living.Motivated by a growing concern about the impacts of illegal hunting and the bushmeat trade in these savannas, Panthera, the Zoo-logical Society of London and the Wildlife Conservation Society organized a workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa attended bykey wildlife experts to identify the drivers of illegal hunting and the bushmeattrade, and the interventions necessary to mitigate these issues.TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, has highlighted a new report,entitled Illegal Hunting and the Bush-Meat Trade in Savanna Africa: Drivers,Impacts and Solutions to Address the Problem, at the Convention on BiologicalDiversity’s (CBD) eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CBD, CoP11) in Hyderabad, India. This report provides the first comprehensive overviewof the threat posed by illegal hunting and the bushmeat trade in African savan-nas for twelve years, and provides new insights into just how grave the issuehas become.Read more at Brazilian Northern muriqui. Photo by Bart Van Dorp (flickr user).
  5. 5. SPACE: An Unusually Pristine Piece of Mars By Monte MorinBlasted into space by a collision with an asteroid, the jagged hunk of Mars rock tumbled silentlythrough the solar system for 7,000 centuries.Finally, on July 18, 2011, the rocks long journey ended as violently as it had begun: It plunged toEarth as a fireball that illuminated the Moroccan night, awakening soldiers and nomads with asonic boom. One eyewitness said it turned from yellow to green before it finally split in two andvanished from view.Such was the dramatic arrival of the so-called Tissint meteorite, named for a village where piecesfell. The unusually pristine specimen is one of only five Martian projectiles that have been ob- This iron meteorite fell in Campo delserved entering Earths atmosphere and then recovered for study. Cielo, Argentina. Photo by Kevin Walsh (flickr user). Under Creative CommonsIt turns out the meteorite has a great deal in common with other rocks that have made the trip License.from Mars to Earth, according to a report published online Thursday by the journal Science.An international team of researchers examined its molecular structure and determined that Tissint was probably ejected fromMars by the same impact that launched another group of meteorites that also landed on Earth, many in Antarctica, after a shorterjourney through the solar system. They determined this by calculating the meteorites exposure to cosmic rays.As the Mars rocks traveled through space, they endured constant bombardment by cosmic rays — high-energy protons that wouldpenetrate the rocks and sometimes knock out protons and neutrons from their atoms. The process created rare isotopes that sci-entists use to determine how long it took the rocks to make their journeys.Tissint has a cosmic ray exposure age of 700,000 years, give or take 300,000, authors wrote. This was consistent with the meteor-ites that arrived earlier, "suggesting that they were ejected from Mars during the same event."Read more at:,0,7715849.storyWATER: Excellent Idea of the Day: Clean H2O for Navajo By Alyssa DanigelisRoughly 80,000 Navajo lacking indoor plumbing and must travel long distances for fresh water. Arizona’s largest aquifer mostly lies under-neath tribal land, but that water is too brackish to drink. A low-tech solar water desalination plant under construction could finally bringfresh water to the people who need it. "Once, twice, three times a week they’re literally taking their pickup truck with a tank in the back,driving an average of about 40 miles to go to a fresh water tank," said Wendell Ela, a chemical and environmental engineering professor atthe University of Arizona who is leading a Navajo desalination demonstration project in a tribal area east of Flagstaff.Water hauling has become a costly, time-consuming routine for many Navajo, yet conventional water purification wouldn’t work wellthere. So many live off the grid that an expensive infrastructure would have to be built first to power a new plant. Plus, a high-tech systemneeds constant oversight and specialized expertise to run.ANALYSIS: Sun-Powered Oven Makes Salt Water Drinkable. Ela, working with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, a solar company and sev-eral university experts on the project, took a different approach. His team created a membrane distillation system that uses hollow fiber modules to purify salty water. Resembling thin vermicelli, the modules are basically a bunch of membrane straws with a large surface area to facilitate evaporation. To power the distillation system, they’re using a trough-like solar collector that tracks the sun. Water also gets passed along the array to cool the photovoltaics. Since the solar energy also heats the water as it passes, thermal conversion jumps from 20 percent to upwards of 50 per- cent. Since the plant will be built entirely from off-the-shelf components, it can be maintained and repaired easily, Ela added. The goal for the demonstration plant is to produce 1,000 gallons of potable water daily. Fully distilled water by itself is flat and tasteless, Ela pointed out, so that water will be blended with some salty water to create the right mineral balance.Desalination equipment being tested on the Read more at: at the University of Arizona.
  6. 6. ENVIRONMENT: Young Winners of Global Art Competition on the Environment Awardedin BrazilYoung artists from across the world were honoured today at a special prize-giving ceremony in Brazil forthe 21st International Childrens Painting Competition on the Environment.Twelve young people received prizes for their environmental artwork, having beaten over 630,000 otherentries in the annual competition, which is run by the United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP). Among the main prizewinners at the ceremony was 14-year-oldKa Mun Leong of Malaysia, whoearned global second place in the competition for her colourful painting of a clock divided in two; one halfshowing pollution, fires and smoke-billowing factories, the rest depicting a clean river surrounded by treesand animals. Ka Mun received a prize of US$1,000 and a trip to the Tunza Interna- tional Youth Conference on the Environment in Dubai in January 2013. The Tunza conference is one of the worlds biggest environmental sum- mits for young people and is organized by UNEP. Global first prize winner 13-year-old Diana Fan from the USA did not Jofiel Italo Garamendy Guzmán 11 attend the award ceremony. Her top-ranked painting depicts a penguin years old, Bolivia combined with scenes of the deep ocean, forests and wind turbines. Six regional winners were also rewarded at the event in Brazil: Atthaphon Wirotrat,Thailand (Asia Pacific), Cristina Iurie Durnea, Moldova (Europe), Waldir Hisashi Santana Tokuda, Brazil (Latin America and the Caribbean), Michelle Hau Tung Lai, Canada (North America) and Dariyush Jehangir Postwalla, Bahrain (West Asia). The regional winner for Africa, Carolina Ferreira of Cape Verde, did not attend the cere- mony. All regional winners receive US$1,000 and will also participate at the Tunza Conference in Dubai. Parents of the prizewinners were also invited to the award ceremony, along with representatives of local art galleries and museums. Children from across the world were invited to submit artworks on theAndrea Yépez, 10 year old, Ecuador topic of Green Communities to the competition. From lions and humans playing a snooker match on a map of the Earth, to a team of animal doc-tors and nurses operating on a sick planet, the young artists tackled the theme with imagination and flair."From climate change to threatened species, these young artists depict in creative and inspiring ways thekey environmental challenges facing their own communities, as well as their peers around the world," saidUNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. "Through these colourful and poignant artworks, they demon-strate ways the need to build Green Communities across the globe, where people are encouraged to leadmore sustainable lives, use resources more efficiently, and play their part in ensuring inclusive sustainabledevelopment for all," he added.The search for the winners of the 22nd International Childrens Painting Competition, which carries thetheme Water: Where Does it Come From?, is already underway. All young people between 6 and 14 yearsmay enter the competition before 15 February 2013. Full details are available at: Cristian Steven Guerra Lucero 10 years old, ColombiaUNEP has also unveiled the theme for the 23rd edition of the competition, which will be launched next year. "Brazil will host two major sports events in the next few years?the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games," said Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, who has been leading a team in sustainability discussions with the Gov- ernment of Brazil and the organizers of both sports events. "In order to support global awareness and action in support of environmental issues to the success of these two mass spectator events, UNEP is announcing today that the theme for the following 23rd International Childrens Painting Competition will focus on sport and the environment," he added. A gallery of the winning paintings from the 21st International Childrens Painting Compe- tition available at: Lumy Nori Oda 15 Years, Brasil For more information on UNEP activities for young people, visit: