Wednesday, November 28, 2012
The southern part of Manhattan went black after floodwaters shorted out electrical systems. With the subway system disabled, many residents resorted to traversing the island by foot, and water supplies in some areas became contaminated with bacteria and pollutants.
The largest Atlantic hurricane on record, Sandy wreaked US$50 billion in economic losses along the US northeast coast, providing a costly reminder of how ill-prepared even the richest nations are for weather extremes. Some recent weather disasters have now been attributed, at least in part, to human activity, including the 2003 European heatwave1 and the floods in England in 2000 (ref. 2). According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), storms, floods and droughts will strike more frequently and with greater strength as the climate warms3. And if nations are struggling to cope now, how will they manage in a warmer, harsher future?
Just a decade ago, 'adaptation' was something of a dirty word in the climate arena — an insinuation that nations could continue with business as usual and deal with the mess later. But greenhouse-gas emissions are increasing at an unprecedented rate and countries have failed to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol climate treaty. That stark reality has forced climate researchers and policy-makers to explore ways to weather some of the inevitable changes.Nature special:nature.com/kyoto
“As progress to reduce emissions has slowed in most countries, there has been a turn towards adaptation,” says Jon Barnett, a political geographer at the University of Melbourne in Australia.
Adaptation has tended to focus on hard defences, such as shoring up sea walls and building dams. But as awareness of adaptation has grown, so too has the concept. “Adaptation means different things to different people, and is extremely location specific,” says Neil Adger, an environmental and economic geographer at the University of Exeter, UK. Although residents in Bangladesh can raise their houses on stilts to survive floods, some settlements in Alaska and the Maldives must move in the face of rising sea levels. More
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
20 November 2012: The Third Regional Political Dialogue on Energy Efficiency in Latin America and the Caribbean met to discuss the institutional and policy frameworks needed in the region to promote rational and sustainable energy use to guide mutual and international cooperative efforts in LAC on the issue.
Monday, November 19, 2012
Over the last several decades, as demand for fish and shellfish for food, feed, and other products rose dramatically, fishing operations have used increasingly sophisticated technologies—such as on-vessel refrigeration and processing facilities, spotter planes, and GPS satellites. Industrial fishing fleets initially targeted the northern hemisphere’s coastal fish stocks, then as stocks were depleted they expanded progressively southward on average close to one degree of latitude annually since 1950. The fastest expansion was during the 1980s and early 1990s. Thereafter, the only frontiers remaining were the high seas, the hard-to-reach waters near Antarctica and in the Arctic, and the depths of the oceans.
The escalating pursuit of fish—now with gross revenue exceeding $80 billion per year—has had heavy ecological consequences, including the alteration of marine food webs via a massive reduction in the populations of larger, longer-lived predatory fish such as tunas, cods, and marlins. Unselective fishing gear, including longlines and bottom-scraping trawls, kill large numbers of non-target animals like sea turtles, sharks, and corals.
As of 2009, some 57 percent of the oceanic fish stocks evaluated by FAO are “fully exploited,” with harvest levels at or near what fisheries scientists call maximum sustainable yield (MSY). If we think of a fish stock as a savings account, fishing at MSY is theoretically similar to withdrawing only the accrued interest, avoiding dipping into the principal.
Some 30 percent of stocks are “overexploited”—they have been fished beyond MSY and require strong management intervention in order to rebuild. The share of stocks in this category has tripled since the mid-1970s. A well-known example of this is the Newfoundland cod fishery that collapsed in the early 1990s and has yet to recover.
This leaves just 13 percent of oceanic fish stocks in the “non-fully exploited” category, down from 40 percent in 1974. Unfortunately, these remaining stocks tend to have very limited potential for safely increasing the catch.
These FAO figures describe 395 fisheries that account for some 70 percent of the global catch. Included are the small minority that have undergone the time-consuming and expensive process of formal scientific stock assessment, with the remainder being "unassessed" fisheries. There are thousands more unassessed fisheries, however, that are absent from the FAO analysis. In a 2012 Science article, Christopher Costello and colleagues published the first attempt to characterize all of the world’s unassessed fisheries. The authors report that 64 percent of them were overexploited as of 2009.
The top 10 fished species represent roughly one quarter of the world catch. Nearly all of the stocks of these species are considered fully exploited (most of these fish have more than one geographically distinct stock), including both of the major stocks of Peruvian anchovy, the world's leading wild-caught fish. Stocks that are overexploited and in need of rebuilding include largehead hairtail—a ribbon-like predator caught mainly by Chinese ships—in its main fishing grounds in the Northwest Pacific. (See data.)
Despite the unsustainable nature of current harvest levels, countries continue to subsidize fishing fleets in ways that encourage even higher catches. Governments around the world spend an estimated $16 billion annually on increasing fleet size and fish-catching ability, including $4 billion for fuel subsidies. Industrial countries spend some $10 billion of that total. More than $2 billion is spent by China, whose 15-million-ton catch is nearly triple that of the next closest country, Indonesia. More
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
It is now up to the European Parliament and to the Council of the European Union to make a final decision on the Commission proposal. This would mean easier travel to and from the various destinations as the countries included on the list would be expected to reciprocate, making it easier for Europeans to travel to the Caribbean and the various territories.
The move is aimed at simplifying travel and nationals from the countries would no longer require a visa for short stays of up to 90 days if they have a relevant passport for business or pleasure.
"Traveling without a visa is not just a symbolic gesture - it will have a direct impact on citizens of these countries and on EU citizens, in the form of more people-to-people contacts and business opportunities," said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.
In addition to the UK’s overseas territories, the list of proposed countries includes Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu and Timor-Leste. More
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
The South Pacific territory - comprising the three atolls of Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo - had been dependent on diesel to generate electricity.
New Zealand, which administers Tokelau, funded a $7m (£4.3m) solar project.
Solar grids were constructed on the three atolls, with the last completed earlier this week.
"The Tokelau Renewable Energy Project is a world first. Tokelau's three main atolls now have enough solar capacity, on average, to meet electricity needs," New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said in a statement.
"Until now, Tokelau has been 100% dependent upon diesel for electricity generation, with heavy economic and environmental costs," he added.
Project co-ordinator Mike Basset-Smith said that the move represented a "milestone of huge importance" for Tokelau, as it would now be able to spend more on social welfare.
The remote islands of Tokelau lie between New Zealand and Hawaii. More
Sunday, November 4, 2012
Palau will receive US$4 million to establish a solar-powered desalination project, to ensure a regular and reliable supply of safe drinking water to residents in Peleliu, Palau. The project includes the installation of a solar-powered Reverse Osmosis (RO) plant that desalinates groundwater using solar energy, producing fresh water. The solar power generation system will produce approximately 98,820 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy per year, contributing 0.11% electricity towards Palau’s current power generation. Palau’s Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Industries and Commerce through the Energy Office will be the focal point for the project, and the Bureau of Public Works will operate and maintain the systems upon completion.
A similar project was approved for the Marshall Islands, which will receive US$3,150,105 to establish the Potable Water Solutions for Outer Islands by Photovoltaic (PV) Reverse Osmosis (RO) System Project. This project will assist islands in maintaining water supply while minimizing the effects of long, dry periods of little to no rainfall. Under the project, small portable solar PV powered RO systems will be installed at community elementary schools in each outer atoll, providing 150 to 300 gallons of fresh potable water daily.
The PEC Fund is a commitment by the Government of Japan to provide 6.8 billion Japanese yen (approximately US$66 million) to Forum Island Countries for the establishment of solar and desalination initiatives to address environmental challenges. Islands which have accessed the fund include Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, the Republic of Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. [PIFS Press Release: Palau] [PIFS Press Release: Marshall Islands] More