Newsletter 214


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Newsletter 214

  1. 1. SOUTH AMERICA ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND HEALTH NEWSLETTER214 t h issue, January 2, 2012 In this issue: ECUADOR: Galapagos Green Airport Started its Operations Ecuador: Galapagos After a year of construction, the Ecological Airport started its Green Airport. operations in the Galapagos Islands, which, it is estimated, Climate Change: Geo- will receive between 800 and 1,000 passengers daily. Engineering Against Climate Change. Despite that the last details aren’t finished yet; it is expected Science: Four Planets in to use all excess material from the old airport as stone or ‘Habitable Zones’. wood, and thereby reuse the existing material to maximum. Health: U.N. Contemplates Ban on Vaccine Preservative. Ezequiel Barrenechea, Principal of the America Corporation Climate Change: for Latin American and the Caribbean, and President of the Humans Changing Galapagos’ Airport, said that with the use of solar energy, Saltiness of the Seas. water reuse and the better use of winds, among other Science: Farm Soils environmental innovations supported in technology, Determine Environmental Galapagos will become the main place in the world where an Fate of Phosphorous ecological airport operates. Peru: Will Send an Expedition to Antarctica. Climate Change: The “It is the first and only, for now, truly green and certified by U.N.‘s Global Warming the LEED Gold” confirmed Barrenechea, referring to the Forecasts Are Performing rating system for sustainable buildings developed by the Photo by photographer23 (flickr user). Under Creative Badly Green Building Council of America. Next events: The building of the terminal will “Walls are white and windows are be officially opened the first week February 1, 2013 huge. This way, we use a larger REO S&T School Contest of February 2013. The track and amount of natural light. The Launching the platform are expected to be building is located in a zone where winds are predominant in order to February 4, 2013 ready in August. Construction of reduce interior temperature, and World Cancer Day this terminal will cost $24 million. therefore the use of air March 22, 2013 “(…) it’s a World Natural Heritage, conditioned” explained Ezequiel World Water Day and icon as far for the protection Barrenechea, President of the March 23, 2013 of nature is concerned,” said Galapagos’ airport. Earth Hour Barrenechea. April17-19, 2013 Regarding water, as the airport is located in a zone where there is not IFT Energy Read more at: http:// potable water, a desalination plant has been installed in the airport to Santiago, Chile recycle toilette water. The photovoltaic system is been designed to supply April 22, 2013 galapagos-green-airport-started-its- 13% of the electrical energy required, but it is expected to increase to Earth Day operations-2/ 25%. June 5, 2013 Read more at: World Environment Day aeropuerto-ecologico-mundo-se-inaugurara-hoy-ecuador 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. CLIMATE CHANGE: Geo-Engineering Against Climate Change By Albert AngSeeding the oceans with iron may not address carbon emissions.Numerous geo-engineering schemes have been suggested as possible ways to reduce levels of thegreenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and so reduce the risk of global warming andclimate change. One such technology involves dispersing large quantities of iron salts in the oceansto fertilize otherwise barren parts of the sea and trigger the growth of algal blooms and other pho-tosynthesizing marine life. Photosynthesis requires carbon dioxide as its feedstock and when thealgae die they will sink to the bottom of the sea taking the locked in carbon with them.Unfortunately, present plans for seeding the oceans with iron fail to take into account several fac-tors that could scupper those plans, according to Daniel Harrison of the University of Sydney Insti- Photo by Explain-that-stuff (flickr user). Undertute of Marine Science, NSW. Writing in the International Journal of Global Warming, Harrison has Creative Commons License.calculated the impact of iron seeding schemes in terms of the efficiency of spreading the iron, theimpact it will most likely have on algal growth the tonnage of carbon dioxide per square kilometer of ocean surface that will beactually absorbed compared to the hypothetical figures suggested by advocates of the approach."If society wishes to limit the contribution of anthropogenic carbon dioxide to global warming then the need to find economicalmethods of carbon dioxide sequestration is now urgent," Harrisons new calculations take into account not only the carbon diox-ide that will be certainly be sequestered permanently to the deep ocean but also subtracts the many losses due to ventilation,nutrient stealing, greenhouse gas production and the carbon dioxide emitted by the burning of fossil fuels to produce the ironsalts and to power their transportation and distribution at sea.Read more at: Four Planets in Habitable Zones Spotted Within Spitting Distance of Earth By Pete Spotts Astronomers say they have uncovered evidence for what could be four super- Earth planets orbiting within the habitable zones of two stars within 22 light- years of Earth. Three of those candidate planets are among a tightly packed clutch of five that orbit Gliese 667C, part of a triple-star system 22 light-years away in the constellation Scorpius. The other possible planet is one of five orbiting tau Ceti, a sun-like star 12 light-years away in the constellation Cetus. Taken together, the detections not only add to accumulating evidence that planets look to be more common than stars – and that planets in habitable zones could be more common than previously thought, some of researchersThis diagram shows an artists rendering comparing our own reporting the finds system to Kepler-22, a star system containing the firsthabitable zone planet discovered by NASAs Kepler mission.The habitable zone is a region where under the right The finds also illustrate the power of improved statistical tools to boldly un-conditions, liquid water can form stable pools on the surface. cover candidate planets where no planet had been found before.Credits: NASA /Ames/JPL-Caltech The evidence for these candidate planets requires independent confirmation,the researchers caution. Still, the tools represent "a real breakthrough," says Steven Vogt, an astronomer at the University of Cali-fornia at Santa Cruz and a member of the team reporting the results for tau Ceti. The approach the team took leaves only aboutone chance in 3 million that the detections could herald something other than a planet.Read full article at:
  3. 3. HEALTH: CHANGE: World Bank Unveils 10-Year Environmental StrategyCLIMATE U.N. Contemplates Ban on Vaccine Preservative By Alison Bryant By Lisa FriedmanConcerns about a vaccine preservative long thought put to rest are roaring back to life as aUnited Nations program considers a worldwide ban on the additive.The U.N. Environment Program is toiling with the idea of putting the kibosh on thimerosal, anorganic mercury compound widely used as a preservative in multidose vaccines since the 1930s.More than a decade ago, a public scare that the additive could cause autism led to the eradica-tion of the ingredient from most childhood vaccines in the U.S. and Europe. But a 2004 FDA re- Photo by Thompson Rivers University (flickr user).port quashed the argument, saying theres no link between thimerosal and autism. Under Creative Commons License.Now health officials and experts find themselves again quelling that same fear. Why put forth the effort? Thimerosal plays a vitalrole in keeping vaccines fresh and ready to use in the developing world, where refrigeration and single-dose vials may not be anoption. If the preservative goes, some experts say, disease could resurge in areas where it has been tempered by vaccines.Read more: CHANGE: Humans Changing Saltiness of the Seas By Larry O’HanlonWhen you hear about climate change its most often about melting glaciers and seaice, increasing frequency of heatwaves and powerful storms. Maybe, just maybe,youll hear about the acidification of the oceans too. What you dont hear about is thesaltiness of the seas. But thats changing too, according to a new piece of research justpublished in Geophysical Research Letters.The saltiness, or salinity, of the oceans is controlled by how much water is enteringthe oceans from rivers and rain versus how much is evaporating; what my kids recog-nize as “The Water Cycle.” The more sunshine and heat there is, the more water canevaporate, leaving the salts behind in higher concentrations in some places. Overtime, those changes spread out as water moves, changing the salinity profiles of the Photo by Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory (flickr user). Under Creative Commons License.oceans.Oceanographers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory fingerprinted salinitychanges from 1955 to 2004 from 60 degrees south latitude to 60 degrees north latitude and down to the depth of 700 meters inthe Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. They found salinity changes that matched what they expected from such natural changes asEl Niño or volcanic eruptions (the latter can lower evaporation by shading and cooling the atmosphere).Reat more about this topic at: Farm Soils Determine Environmental Fate of Phosphorous By Brow UniversityJust 20 years ago, the soils of the Amazon basin were thought unsuitable for large-scaleagriculture, but then industrial agriculture — and the ability to fertilize on a massive scale— came to the Amazon. What were once the poorest soils in the world now producecrops at a rate that rivals that of global breadbaskets. Soils no longer seem to be thedriver — or the limiter — of agricultural productivity. But a new Brown University-ledstudy of three soybean growing regions, including Brazil, finds that soils have taken on anew role: mediating the environmental consequences of modern farming.Read more at: Photo by openDemocracy (flickr user). Under Creative Commons License.
  4. 4. P E R U : W i l l Se n d a n E x p e d i t i o n t o t h e A n t a r c t i c A f t e r F i ve Y e a r s * The Peruvian Government announced that next January 5, 2013, the Antar XXI Expedition will depart from Callao-Lima to the Antarctic on board the Humboldt research ship. Ambassador Nicolas Roncagliolo of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, provided details on the expedition to Andina, the official news agency. The official explained that the research expedition seeks to re-establish the presence of Peru in the Antarctic, as these trips had been suspended during the last five years. “Thanks to the support of other countries, we performed our maintenance duties on the Machu Picchu Station and a few studies. This time, our country will count on its own re- sources to strengthen scientific activities and, therefore, its permanence in the Antarctic.Photo by Mark Brandon (flickr user). Under Creative Commons Discussing the Humboldt itinerary. Javier Gaviola, director of Hydrography and Navigationof the Peruvian Army, explained that the Humboldt will stop at Punta Arenas, in the south of Chile, to finish logistic operations andto wait for the best weather conditions to cross the Drake Passage. “If weather is too windy, crossing Drake Passage might take upto four days. With regular conditions, however, it takes only two days” he explained.The next stop will be Frei Air Park, the Chilean Antarctic Base, where a Peruvian Air Force airplane will carry the rest of the team,made up of researchers, military members and journalists. From there, the ship will go to Machu Picchu Station, where researcherswill work until the first week of March, when they will return to Lima.The Humboldt belongs to the Institute of the Peruvian Sea (IMARPE according its initials in Spanish). It will carry 23 researchers. Itwas upgraded with a 6.9 million dollar investment, according to IMARPE’s President German Vasquez.Read more at: L IMA T E C H A N G E : The UNs Global Warming Forecasts Are Performing Very, Very Badly By Patrick MichaelsFor nearly a week, a leaked draft of next year’s “Fifth Assessment Report” onclimate change, by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on ClimateChange (IPCC), has been burning up the blogosphere. Since it’s everywhere, I’lltake my liberties and join the party. The most impressive figure shows howbadly one of their most-cited series of predictions is faring. Explanation follows.The colored shading shows the projected range of global annual average surfacetemperature change from 1990 to 2015 for models used in the succession ofIPCC assessment reports, labeled “FAR” (First Assessment Report, 1990), SAR(1995), TAR (2001) and AR4 (Fourth, 2007). The “emissions scenarios” generallycover the range from each report during the period from 1990 to 2015, and thechanges in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration that have been observed Photo by Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory (flickr user). Under Creative Commons License.pretty much fall within this range. The very large grey zone is irrelevant to theforecasts that were made.The three small black rectangles each year are the observed global temperature histories in common use. For every year exceptthe last one (2011), the black “whiskers” are an estimate of the 90% confidence range for the observed temperature. Since thethree records pretty much use the same data, I wouldn’t have a lot of faith in the reality of those whiskers. Data were not fullyavailable for 2011, so any whiskers would not be comparable to the others. Quite obviously, for more than a decade, the observa-tions have fallen near or below the lower end of the IPCC projected range. Houston, we have a problem.Will this chart will be altered or disappear completely in the final IPCC report due in 2013? Consider what happened the last timearound, in the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report.Read more: