The environment in the news



Download 276.2 Kb.
Page1/6
Date conversion18.10.2016
Size276.2 Kb.
  1   2   3   4   5   6


THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS

Tuesday, 5 August 2008


UNEP and the Executive Director in the News


  • Xinhua: UNEP chief to support greening of Beijing Olympics

  • Scoop (New Zealand): Head Of UNEP To Attend Opening Of Olympic Games

  • Environment News Service: Green Olympics Effort Draws UN Environment Chief to Beijing

  • Scientific American: Sunrise on China's First Carbon-Neutral City



Other Environment News


  • Reuters: Toughest event in Beijing - stopping the rain

  • McClatchy: China breaks Olympic promises on rights, media, pollution

  • Reuters: Almost half of monkeys and apes under threat

  • BBC: Primates 'face extinction crisis'

  • Reuters: Ontario strikes deal to join climate group: report

  • Forbes: EU asks for views on post-2012 climate change agreement

  • Time Magazine: Climate Change in Action in Greenland

  • New York Times: Editorial Death in the Gulf of Mexico

  • Cyberpresse.ca : Les changements climatiques forcent l'évacuation d'un parc national


Environmental News from the UNEP Regions


  • ROAP

  • RONA

  • ROWA


Other UN News


  • Environment News from the UN Daily News of 4 August 2008

  • Environment News from the S.G.’s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 4 August 2008 (none)

UNEP and the Executive Director in the News

Xinhua: UNEP chief to support greening of Beijing Olympics

www.chinaview.cn 2008-08-04 21:02:12


Special report: 2008 Olympic Games
NAIROBI, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- Head of the UN Environment Program (UNEP) said Monday he will attend the Beijing Olympic opening ceremony on Friday as part of UNEP's continuing support for the Greening of the Games.
A statement from the Nairobi-based UN agency said Achim Steiner, UNEP's Executive Director, will take the opportunity to see first-hand some of the environmental improvements implemented around Beijing for the Games.
He will visit several of the green facilities built for the Olympics including Beijing's newly-inaugurated subway lines and the Solar Wall, 2,000 square meters of solar panels.
UNEP has been working with the Beijing Olympic Committee for the last three years in order to help make the Summer Games environmentally-friendly.
"The Chinese government has spent 17 billion U.S. dollars on a large-scale green drive ahead of the Games, including a series of long-term environmental improvements for the city. As part of this ,the city has introduced tougher standards for vehicle emissions and phased out ozone-depleting substances," the statement said.
The authorities have also expanded Beijing's public transport network with three new subway lines and the introduction of some 3,800 compressed natural gas buses -- one of the largest fleets of in any city in the world.
According to the statement, the Olympic venues themselves also have many green features like the 20 percent of their energy comes from clean wind sources, solar power features prominently in the Olympic Village, and the Bird's Nest stadium has an advanced rainwater recycling system.
The statement said Steiner who is also a UN Under-Secretary-General will take part in the Olympic Torch Relay on Friday before attending the Opening Ceremony.
"While in the city, Mr. Steiner will meet with China's Environment Minister Zhou Shengxian and Wan Gang, the Minister for Science and Technology," the statement said.
Steiner will also take part in a special event on Volunteering for the Olympics on Thursday alongside film star Zhou Xun, who is the Chinese Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Program, and Khalid Malik, the United Nations Resident Coordinatorin China.
The UN environmental agency said it will produce a Post-Games Environmental Report in order to assess the successes and challenges of the environmental measures taken by Beijing for the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games in the second half of 2008.

Back to Menu

_________________________________________________________________
Scoop (New Zealand): Head Of UNEP To Attend Opening Of Olympic Games

Tuesday, 5 August 2008, 11:05 am

Press Release: United Nations

Head of UN environment agency to attend opening of Olympic Games


4 August 2008 - The head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner, is to attend the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics on 8 August as part of the agency's continuing support for the greening of the games, it was announced today.

UNEP has been working with the Beijing Olympic Committee for the last three years with the aim of making the games environmentally-friendly.

The Chinese Government has spent $17 billion on a large-scale green drive ahead of the games, including a series of long-term environmental improvements for the city.

As part of this, the city has introduced tougher standards for vehicle emissions and phased out ozone-depleting substances. The authorities have also expanded Beijing's public transport network with three new subway lines and have introduced 3,800 compressed natural gas buses - one of the largest fleets in any city in the world.

UNEP says that the Olympic venues themselves also have many green features: 20 per cent of their energy comes from clean wind sources; solar power features prominently in the Olympic Village; and the Bird's Nest stadium has an advanced rainwater recycling system.

Mr. Steiner will visit several of the green facilities built for the Olympics including Beijing's newly-inaugurated subway lines and the Solar Wall - 2,000 square metres of solar panels.

On 8 August, he will take part in the Olympic torch relay before attending the Opening Ceremony. While in the city, Mr. Steiner will also meet with China's Environment Minister, Zhou Shengxian, and Wan Gang, the Minister for Science and Technology.

Mr. Steiner will also take part in a special event on volunteering for the Olympics on 7 August alongside film star Zhou Xun, who is the Chinese Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and Khalid Malik, the UN Resident Coordinator in China.

In the second half of 2008, UNEP will produce a post-games environmental report to assess the successes and challenges of the environmental measures taken by Beijing for the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Back to Menu

_________________________________________________________________
Environment News Service: Green Olympics Effort Draws UN Environment Chief to Beijing
BEIJING, China, August 4, 2008 (ENS) - The head of the United Nations Environment Programme, Achim Steiner, will attend the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics on August 8 as part of the agency's continuing support for the greening of the games, the UN announced today.

UNEP has been working with the Beijing Olympic Committee for the last three years with the aim of making the games environmentally friendly.

The Chinese government has spent $17 billion on a large-scale green drive ahead of the games, including a series of long-term environmental improvements for the city.

The city has introduced tougher standards for vehicle emissions and phased out ozone-depleting substances.

Beijing's public transport network has been expanded with three new subway lines and Beijing has introduced 3,800 compressed natural gas buses - one of the largest fleets in any city in the world.

UNEP says the Olympic venues themselves also have many green features. Twenty percent of their energy comes from clean wind sources; solar power features prominently in the Olympic Village; and the Bird's Nest stadium has an advanced rainwater recycling system.

Steiner will visit several of the green facilities built for the Olympics including the new subway lines and the Solar Wall - 2,000 square metres of solar panels.

On August 8, he will take part in the Olympic torch relay before attending the Opening Ceremony. While in the city, Steiner will also meet with China's Environment Minister Zhou Shengxian and also with Science and Technology Minister Wan Gang.

Steiner will take part in a special event on volunteering for the Olympics on August 7 alongside film star Zhou Xun, who is the Chinese Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Development Programme, and Khalid Malik, the UN Resident Coordinator in China.

About 160,000 people will attend the Olympic opening ceremony on Friday, said a Beijing city government official here today.

About 70,000 will be guests, VIPs, athletes and actors performing at the ceremony and the remaining 90,000 will be the audience, staff and volunteers, said Zhou Zhengyu, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Committee of Communications, at a press conference.

The authorities have tested a plan to get this huge number of people in and out of the National Stadium, or Bird's Nest, said Zhou.

The guests, athletes and artists will take chartered buses and the audiences will take public buses and the metro.

In the second half of 2008, UNEP will produce a post-games environmental report to assess the successes and challenges of the environmental measures taken by Beijing for the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reminding U.S. citizens traveling to China for the Olympics that international treaties and U.S. wildlife laws limit the types of items they can buy and bring home.

"Just because you find something for sale overseas doesn't mean you can import it," said Benito Perez, chief of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement. "Some products made from wildlife are illegal to import while others may require permits."

The United States, China, and most other countries protect their native animals and plants under national laws and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES. Signed by more than 160 nations, this treaty supports sustainable trade in wildlife and plants while safeguarding endangered species.

In many cases, U.S. laws provide even stronger protections. The United States generally prohibits the importation of elephant ivory. Goods subject to seizure would include ivory carvings, jewelry, and figurines as well as raw and carved tusks.

Products made from sea turtle, such as tortoise shell jewelry and items with tortoise shell inlay, are prohibited and so are big cat skins and furs.

Restricted goods also include traditional medicines made from or parts of tiger, rhinoceros, leopard, Asiatic black bear, musk deer, pangolin, and seahorse.

"CITES regulates trade worldwide in more than 30,000 different animal and plant species," Perez said. "Travelers need to ask questions and check trade restrictions before they buy."

Travelers returning to the United States must indicate on their Customs declaration form whether they are bringing back any wildlife or wildlife products acquired abroad. Additional requirements apply if the species is protected under CITES or is a live animal or if they are importing eight or more of any item.

"By making informed choices, travelers can support conservation and avoid having their souvenirs confiscated at the airport," Perez said.

More information about U.S. requirements for wildlife imports can be found under the International Travelers and Importers/Exporters tabs on the Office of Law Enforcement's website at: http://www.fws.gov/le/

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

Back to Menu

_________________________________________________________________

Scientific American: Sunrise on China's First Carbon-Neutral City

This seaside city aims to reduce--and eventually eliminate--greenhouse gas emissions through a circular economy

By David Biello

 

RIZHAO—This seaside resort city facing Japan and Korea across the Yellow Sea takes its name from an ancient poem, "ri qu shien zhao," or "first to get sunshine." More than 2.8 million residents enjoy that early sunshine (even if Gisborne in New Zealand is actually the first to see the sun in the morning) as well as a gentle sea breeze and a host of water sports. But Rizhao is also among the first—ahead of the rest of China and most cities in the world—to pledge to become carbon neutral, that is, to balance the amount of greenhouse gases it emits through industry and other human activities with the amount of greenhouse gases it eliminates.



"The city will try to go carbon neutral," says Fan Changwei, a tall, thin middle-aged lawyer with the city's Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB). "I don't know when we will succeed but we will move in that way."

Rizhao is one of four cities globally—the others are Arendal, Norway; Vancouver, Canada; and Växjö, Sweden—to even attempt the feat, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). "Climate neutrality is an idea whose time has come" UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said in February at the launch of the Climate Neutral Network, an effort to connect cities, countries and companies working to achieve this ambitious goal. It is "driven by the urgent need to address climate change," Steiner notes, "but also the abundant economic opportunities emerging for those willing to embrace a transition to a green economy."

There is no question that it's the latter that's motivating Rizhao, which is churning out high-rises amid the former long, low buildings that still make up the majority of its homes and businesses. But these new skyscrapers have an important difference: they were built to utilize the sun's power.

Nearly 100 percent of them take advantage of Rizhao's 260 days of sunshine to heat water for bathing—and 30 percent of those going up in surrounding suburbs and villages also make use of the technology. The effort got underway in 2004 with a solar system made by Tsinghua University in Beijing and employed by the Beijing Shang Shui Hotel. Now, newer solar hot-water heating systems in China cost about $190, around the same price as electric versions only they also save about 348 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year. "To save money is very important," Fan notes.

By comparison, hot water accounts for 17 percent of the energy used by U.S. homes and buildings, making it one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

"The first important measure was to popularize solar hot water," says Wang Shugang, chief of Rizhao's EPB. Nearly every building in Rizhao now supports dark arrays of tubing to heat the water, or grill-like units beneath the ubiquitous enclosed terraces of most apartments.

The second important step, according to Wang, was to "shut down many small-size enterprises [that] are really high consumers of coal as well as use central heating. New enterprises don't need their own boilers."

Industries that shut down or moved as a result of the go-green effort include cement, papermaking and steel. The local coal-fired power plant now employs Siemens technology designed to keep a lid on dust and acid rain–forming sulfur dioxide emissions. Food, furniture and other factories have been shifted to industrial parks on the rim of the city, and industrial boilers, in some cases, are being pressed into use to provide hot water for residential heating.

But it is the local Luxin Jinhe Biochemical Company citric acid plant—a key component of beverages like Coca-Cola and Pepsi as well as various medicines—that truly illustrates the concept of a "circular economy." Mold chews up the sugar in cassava, corn and sweet potato in huge vats, turning it into the weak acid. The waste is separated, liquids flowing to so-called biodigesters where microbes break it down into methane and solids are turned to bricks of meal for domestic animals and fertilizer. The methane, or "marsh gas," is then burned to both dry the meal and produce electricity in four generators on site—50,000 kilowatt-hours a day from 882,867 cubic feet (25,000 cubic meters) of gas—while the bags of feed and fertilizer are sold to local farmers.

This citric acid plant is just one of 10 similar enterprises using marsh gas. "To develop a circular economy is a good way for carbon neutral and also for energy conserving and investing in energy efficiency," Fan says. The city also hopes to compress such methane into a liquid fuel and even pipe it to city homes for cooking. Small-scale biodigesters are being used in villages throughout the region.

As a result of these efforts, Rizhao, unlike the rest of China, has seen output rise, energy use fall by nearly a third, and carbon dioxide emissions—the leading greenhouse gas behind global warming—cut in half, according to government statistics.

Rizhao's former mayor, Li Zhaoqian, was promoted to vice governor of Shandong Province, in part in the hope that he'll be able to replicate this success on a larger scale. After all, Rizhao has both enhanced its economy (doubling gross domestic product between 2000 and 2005) and improved the environment, a recipe the rest of China—and the world—has struggled to match.

The seaside city with its enclosed marina is essentially a tourist community (last year 27 million Chinese, primarily from inland provinces, visited), so it may also spread its example to other parts of the world's most populous country. At the same time, no one is accounting for all of the greenhouse gases those same tourists emit when they travel to the resort. Even the thousands of recently planted poplars lining the roads cannot make up for that quantity of fossil fuel burning.

And then there's the shipping; Rizhao is the ninth biggest port in all of China, according to Fan, exporting seafood and other goods to Japan and South Korea. It's difficult to make such shipping carbon-neutral, he notes. "We can't do anything for those ships because they do not belong to us."



Back to Menu

_________________________________________________________________
=============================================================

Other Environment News

Reuters: Toughest event in Beijing - stopping the rain

Tue Aug 5, 2008 12:26am EDT

By Crispian Balmer

BEIJING (Reuters) - China boasts that its scientists can make enough rain to fill the Yellow River but as the Olympics draw near the question is whether they can also prevent a deluge.

With forecasters predicting a 41 percent chance of rain on the day of the August 8 opening ceremony, officials have said China was considering deploying experimental technology to try to ensure dry weather and clean air for Friday.

However, many other nations have abandoned such meteorological manipulation projects and state research has largely dried up because of nebulous results.

"The most recent scientific assessment says there is very, very slim evidence of the success of weather intervention in increasing, decreasing or preventing rain," said Leonard Barrie, co-director of the World Meteorological Organization research department, based in Switzerland.

"In a way you can regard Beijing as a demonstration of their weather modification capabilities," he told Reuters.

August is the rainy season in Beijing, with thunderstorms a regular feature that could wreak havoc with the Games.

Organizers are especially anxious about the lavish opening ceremony which will be played out in the national "Bird's Nest" stadium in front of a TV audience to be numbered in the billions.

"We will see if certain weather conditions will affect Beijing and if we need to apply certain techniques," said Zhang Qiang, deputy head of the Beijing Weather Modification Office.

SHOOTING CLOUDS

There are two main methods of controlling rainfall.

Either the Chinese could try to induce rain before it reaches the city centre, by firing a chemical agent into clouds to "seed" them and make them more efficient at generating ice crystals that melt to produce raindrops -- effectively draining the skies.

Otherwise they could use a coolant that increases the number of water droplets in the cloud formations, thereby decreasing their size and making them less likely to fall as rain.

Cloud-busting technology has already been deployed at previous sporting events, and with considerable success if one believes the assertion of Russian scientists.

They have said their "cloud-seeding" activities kept the rain at bay during the 1980 Moscow Olympics and again during the fortnight of the Goodwill Games in 1994 in St. Petersburg.

But many scientists are skeptical about the real success of manipulation programs, saying it is very hard to assess how much rain any seeding really provokes.

"Although the principles behind it are well established, it is difficult to prove that a given round of cloud seeding produced a particular effect," says the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research based in Colorado.

Two years ago, China was bullish about its capabilities, saying it had created the "world's leading force" in making rain.

"Its aircraft alone have undertaken enough missions to fill four Yellow Rivers, the country's second longest river, in the past five years," the official Xinhua news agency said.

But the Chinese Weather Modification Office has itself sought to play down its chances of success should bad weather threaten to rain on its athletes' parade, suggesting it is powerless to halt the progress of thick storm clouds laden with water.

"(Modification) of clouds and rain are only at the early stages of experimentation," deputy director Zhang said.

(Additional reporting by Lucy Hornby)


Back to Menu

_________________________________________________________________

McClatchy: China breaks Olympic promises on rights, media, pollution

By Jack Chang and Tim Johnson, McClatchy Newspapers Mon Aug 4, 4:45 PM ET

BEIJING — With four days left before the start of the 2008 Summer Games, Chinese officials have not lived up to key promises they made to win the right to host the Olympics, including widening press freedoms, cleaning up their capital city's polluted air and respecting human rights.

The failures were evident Monday:

— A thick pall of smog covered Beijing , raising concerns that endurance events such as long-distance races would have to be moved out of the city. Some still held out hope that emergency measures would clear the city's air by Friday.

— Near Tiananmen Square in the heart of the city, police scuffled with protesters who said they were evicted from their homes to make way for Games-related development.

— Chinese censors continued to block access to politically sensitive Web sites for thousands of foreign journalists gathered at the Olympic press center.

These failures stand in contrast to the Herculean efforts China has made to prepare for the Olympics, building world-class venues, housing and other infrastructure.

Eager to impress a world audience, Chinese organizers have spent an estimated $40 billion on the 18-day event and built breathtaking facilities such as the landmark National Stadium , known as the Bird's Nest, where the opening ceremonies will be held Friday.

However, before and after 2001, when China won the right to host the Summer Games, Chinese Olympic officials repeatedly said they'd use the Games to improve the country's human rights record and allow reporters unfettered access to cover the competitions.

"We will give the media complete freedom to report when they come to China ," Wang Wei , the secretary general of the Beijing Olympic Bid Committee, told a press conference in 2001. "We are confident that the games coming to China not only promote our economy, but also enhance all social conditions, including education, health and human rights."

When they applied to host the games, Beijing officials also had completed a Candidature File, in which they agreed to meet specific requirements. Although the International Olympic Committee said the file is a public document, Beijing Olympics officials didn't follow through Monday on a request by McClatchy to see the Candidature File they completed.

Reached by phone, the Beijing Olympic organizing committee's head of media operations, Sun Weijia, declined to comment.

A model file found on the International Olympic Committee Web site, however, requires host cities to provide athletes with a healthy physical environment, to give the news media open access and to honor the International Olympic Committee's charter, among other measures.

One of the charter's six fundamental principles states, "Any discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement ."

Critics, including top U.S. officials, said Chinese officials have violated those agreements by tightening repression of political dissent in advance of the Games and not allowing reporters covering the Olympics full access.

Some critics look back and say that it was easy to believe most of the official statements.

"The argument certainly appeared plausible, if not compelling," recalled Rep. Christopher Smith , a New Jersey Republican, who visited Beijing last month. "But in the years, now months, run-up to the Olympics, the reality has been numbingly disappointing."

A recent report by the human rights advocacy group Amnesty International found that Chinese officials have stepped up their persecution of followers of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement, and detained rural petitioners seeking redress on a range of political issues.

"I suppose it was just a bunch of words when they made those promises," said Sophie Richardson , the Asia advocacy director for the U.S.-based watchdog group Human Rights Watch . "When the Chinese government is serious about something, they do it."

In 2001, after China was awarded the games, Beijing Olympic officials signed a second document, called the Host City Contract, which includes legally binding requirements for hosting the Games. An International Olympic Committee spokeswoman said Monday that the contract isn't a public document, although previous Olympic host cities have released their contracts.

The criticisms have put Chinese officials on the defensive, and state-controlled media quoted Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao saying over the weekend, " China is a responsible country. We will fulfill the promises we made for the Olympics."

Despite making verbal pledges, Chinese officials likely didn't legally agree to take any action to improve the country's human rights record, said Susan Brownell , a U.S.-based adviser to the Beijing City Olympic Education Standing Office.

Brownell said she'd seen neither Beijing's Candidature File nor the Host City Contract but had talked to people who'd seen the contract.

"The idea's out there that China made commitments on human rights, but it's simply not true," Brownell said. "Nobody was in any mood to make any promises then."

Chinese officials, however, emphasized human rights and press freedoms in their Olympic bid after losing out to Sydney to host the 2000 Summer Games.

Suspecting that International Olympic Committee members were still wary of China following the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, officials made statements that International Olympic Committee members interpreted as pledges to relax the government's authoritarian grip on its citizens in the run-up to the games.

In January 2007 , the Chinese government also significantly loosened restrictions on foreign media, which allowed reporters to travel freely across the country and interview anyone who consented. Those new provisions end on Oct. 17, 2008 .

But a series of disasters this year have left China's leaders wary of social and political instability. Snowstorms socked in much of the nation in late January and early February, the worst ethnic riots in nearly two decades erupted in ethnic Tibetan areas of China and a 7.9-magnitude earthquake in Sichuan on May 12 took about 80,000 lives, by the most recent count.

While authorities offered journalists unprecedented access around the quake zone, large Tibetan-inhabited areas of western China remain blocked, in defiance of their promises.
Back to Menu

_________________________________________________________________

Reuters: Almost half of monkeys and apes under threat

Tue Aug 5, 2008 12:26am EDT

By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO (Reuters) - Almost half the world's monkeys and apes are facing a worsening threat of extinction because of deforestation and hunting for meat, an international report showed on Tuesday.

"We have solid data to show that the situation is far more severe than we imagined," said Russell Mittermeier, president of Conservation International and head of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) primate specialist group.

An assessment for an IUCN "Red List" of endangered species found that 48 percent of the 634 known species and sub-species of primates, humankind's closest relatives such as chimpanzees, orangutans, gibbons and lemurs, were at risk of extinction.

In a previous report five years ago, using different yardsticks, just 39 percent of primates were judged at risk. The IUCN includes governments, scientists and conservation groups.

Habitat destruction, led by burning and clearing of tropical forests for farmland, and the hunting of monkeys and apes for their meat were the main threats. Some species were "literally being eaten into extinction," a statement said.

"Gorilla meat, chimpanzee meat and meat of other apes fetches a higher price than beef, chicken or fish" in some African countries, Mittermeier told Reuters.

He said that deforestation was aggravating hunting. Roads cut to help loggers and burning of forests to create farmland were opening previously inaccessible regions to poachers.

ASIA WORST

Primates were suffering most in Asia, with 71 percent of all species at risk, against 37 percent in Africa. The report was to be released at a conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.

In southeast Asia, human populations were higher than in Africa and habitats for orangutans, gibbons or leaf monkeys were getting ever more fragmented. Demand for pets and Chinese hunger for traditional medicines were adding pressures.

Among species most at risk, or "critically endangered", were the Bouvier's red colobus, an African monkey which has not been seen in 25 years, and the greater bamboo lemur of Madagascar totaling only about 140 in the wild.

"If you took all the individuals of the top 25 most endangered species and assigned each of them a seat ... they probably wouldn't fill a football stadium," Mittermeier said.

Chimpanzees, the species most like humans, stayed "endangered", the middle of a three-stage scale of risk between critically endangered and "vulnerable". The mountain gorilla, found in jungles in Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo, stayed critically endangered despite a rise in numbers.

Mittermeier said that the outlook was not all gloom. In Brazil, the black lion tamarin and the golden lion tamarin were downlisted to endangered from critically endangered after conservation efforts.

"There's no question that we can win the battle," he said.

Wider efforts to slow deforestation as part of an assault on climate change would help primates -- burning of forests releases about 20 percent of the greenhouse gases widely blamed for raising world temperatures.

Mittermeier said that he would like to see more than $100 million a year going to conserve primates in five years' time, up from less than $10 million now. And tourism might help -- such as arranging trips to spot lemurs, baboons or gibbons.

(Editing by Richard Williams)



Back to Menu

_________________________________________________________________

BBC: Primates 'face extinction crisis'



A global review of the world's primates says 48% of species face extinction, an outlook described as "depressing" by conservationists.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species says the main threat is habitat loss, primarily through the burning and clearing of tropical forests.

More than 70% of primates in Asia are now listed as Endangered, it adds.

The findings form part of the most detailed survey of the Earth's mammals, which will be published in October.

Other threats include hunting of primates for food and the illegal wildlife trade, explained Russell Mittermeier, chairman of the IUCN Primate Specialist Group and president of Conservation International.

"In many places, primates are quite literally being eaten to extinction," he warned.

"Tropical forest destruction has always been the main cause, but now it appears that hunting is just as serious a threat in some areas, even where the habitat is still quite intact."

The survey, involving hundreds of experts, showed that out of 634 recognised species and subspecies, 11% were Critically Endangered, 22% were Endangered, while a further 15% were listed as Vulnerable.

Asia had the greatest proportion of threatened primates, with 71% considered at risk of extinction. The five nations with the highest percentage of endangered species were all within Asia.

'Depressing' picture

"It is quite spectacular; we are just wiping out primates," said Jean-Christophe Vie, deputy head of the IUCN Species Programme.

He added that the data was probably the worst assessment for any group of species on record.

"The problem with these species is that they have long lives, so it takes time to reverse the decline. It is quite depressing."

Although habitat loss and deforestation were deemed to be the main threats globally, Dr Vie explained how human encroachment into forests was also creating favourable conditions for hunters.

"This creates access, allowing people to go to places that they could not go in the past," he told BBC News.

"Primates are relatively easy to hunt because they are diurnal, live in groups and are noisy - they are really easy targets.

"Many of the Asian primates, like langurs, are 5-10kg, so they are a good target. Generally, you find that what is big and easy to get disappears very quickly."

In Africa, 11 of the 13 kinds of red colobus monkeys assessed were listed as Critically Endangered or Endangered.

Conservationists fear that two may already be extinct. The Bouvier's red colobus has not been seen for 25 years, and no living Miss Waldron red colobus has been recorded since 1978.

The authors of the primate Red List did consider downlisting mountain gorillas to Endangered from Critically Endangered because the great apes had recorded a population increase.

But they decided to delay reclassification as a result of five of the gorillas being killed in July 2007 by gunmen in the DR Congo's Virunga National Park, which is still at the centre of a conflict between rebel forces and government troops.

During 2007, wildlife rangers in the park recorded a total of 10 gorilla killings. The rangers have been documenting their struggles in a regular diary on the BBC News website over the past year.

"If you kill seven, 10 or 20 mountain gorillas, it has a devastating impact on the entire population," Dr Vie explained.

"Within the Red List criteria, you are allowed to anticipate what will happen in the future as well as look at what has happened in the past.

"So it was decided not to change the mountain gorillas' listing because of the sudden deaths, and we do not know when it is going to stop."



Golden glimmer of hope

Despite the gloomy outlook, the Red List did record a number of conservation successes.

Brazil's populations of golden lion tamarins and black lion tamarins were downlisted from Critically Endangered to Endangered.

"It is the result of decades of effort," said Dr Vie. "The lion tamarins were almost extinct in the wild, but they were very popular in zoos so there was a large captive population.

"So zoos around the world decided to join forces to introduce a captive breeding programme to reintroduce the tamarins in Brazil."

However the first attempts were not successful and the released population quickly crashed because the animals were ill-prepared for life in the wild, he recalled.

"They were not exposed to eagles or snakes and they did not know how to find food, so a lot of them died. But some did survive and, slowly, the numbers began to increase."

Ultimately, the success was a combination of ex-situ conservation in zoos and in-situ conservation by protecting and reforesting small areas around Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

"It took time, money and effort at all levels, from the politicians to scientists and volunteers on the ground, for just two species."

The findings, issued at the International Primatological Society Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland, will be included in a survey described as an "unprecedented examination of the state of the world's mammals", which will be presented at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in October.


Back to Menu

_________________________________________________________________

Reuters: Ontario strikes deal to join climate group: report



Mon Aug 4, 12:10 PM ET

TORONTO (Reuters) - Ontario will join a climate-change initiative led by California without adopting that state's tough pollution standards for cars, a newspaper said on Monday.

Premier Dalton McGuinty last week reassured auto industry officials his province won't impose stringent emissions standards championed by a coalition of 10 U.S. states and Canadian provinces even though Ontario planned to join the group, sources familiar with the talks told the Globe and Mail.

In a compromise negotiated by McGuinty, the Western Climate Initiative will allow Ontario to join because it valued the backing of Canada's largest province for its carbon trading policy that would allow industry to buy and sell pollution credits, the sources said.

Embracing California's tailpipe emissions would hurt the auto industry, a big concern for McGuinty at a time when automakers are cutting jobs and closing plants in the province.

Even so, in a letter to the group, McGuinty applauded its members for adopting the California standards, which would require automakers to make their car more fuel-efficient. The Globe and Mail said it had obtained a copy of the letter.

Sources said Ontario was invited to join the group, formed last year, after agreeing to fight climate change in other ways, such as developing less polluting sources of electricity.

Ontario's auto industry, a pillar of the province's economy, has suffered a series of setbacks in recent months. General Motors Corp said it would close its Oshawa, Ontario, truck plant next year, eliminating about 2,400 jobs, while Ford Motor Co has put a hold on plans to start a third shift at its Oakville, Ontario, assembly plant.

(Reporting by Frank McGurty, editing by Dave Zimmerman)

Back to Menu

_________________________________________________________________
Forbes: EU asks for views on post-2012 climate change agreement
08.04.08, 7:33 AM ET

BRUSSELS (Thomson Financial) - The European Commission is asking for views from stakeholders and the general public on the European Union's approach to a post-2012 global climate change agreement.

By launching a public consultation, the commission said views will help shape the EU's position on an agreement after the Kyoto Protocol targets end.

Stakeholders are being asked for their views on the different building blocks of the Bali Road Map. These include a shared vision guiding commitments to mid-term targets by developed countries and greater collaboration on emission reduction and adaptation to climate change with the support of technology and finance.

The commission said it welcomes comments from all interested parties, including individual citizens, industry, trade unions and consumer representatives, interest groups, non-governmental organisations and other organisations. A conference for stakeholders is planned for autumn this year.

The consultation runs until Sept 29.

nina.chestney@thomsonreuters.com

nc/cmr


COPYRIGHT

Copyright Thomson Financial News Limited 2008. All rights reserved.

The copying, republication or redistribution of Thomson Financial News Content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Financial News.
Back to Menu

_________________________________________________________________
Time Magazine: Climate Change in Action in Greenland

Monday, Aug. 04, 2008

By BRYAN WALSH
Rivers of melting ice form on the Sermeq Kujalleq Glacier in Ilulissat, Greenland, pictured in October 2007

Patrick Robert / Corbis


You can't see climate change in action, much to the disappointment of photographers and magazine art directors. Warming is a function of time, and we see it only as time passes. Years go by, we add more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, temperatures rise, glaciers retreat and deserts expand. One of the essential facts about climate science is that unlike, say, weather forecasting, the farther ahead we look into the future, the more confident we can be of our predictions. So we know that burning enough fossil fuel to raise the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere to 550 parts per million — twice preindustrial levels — will virtually guarantee a temperature increase of at least 3? F, with all the consequences that will carry. By contrast, we can't look at a hurricane, or at an iceberg melting, and say, "Yes, this is global warming, and we did this." Climate change is change, and change happens over time.
Bottom of Form

In some places of the world, that change is happening more quickly than in others, so quickly that our "fast-thinking human mind," as the University of Copenhagen geologist Minik Rosing says, can almost catch it. One of those places is the coastal town of Ilulissat, the last stop on our climate tour of Greenland. It's home to the Ilulissat ice fjord, a basin-shaped wound in the rocky coast, through which the massive Sermeq Kujalleq glacier churns toward the sea. As the glacier moves — at the hardly glacial speed of over 100 ft. a day — the ice melts and cracks into cathedrals of blue and white that bob in the harbor beyond the isfledsbanken, or iceberg bank. Sermeq Kujalleq, which is fed by the 1.8 million cubic miles of solid ice that cover central Greenland, is the most productive glacier on the island, calving icebergs with dramatic regularity. The iceberg that sank the Titanic may well have come from Sermeq, and looking upon Ilulissat's harbor, choked with sheer cliffs of ice that dwarf even the stately cruise liners, I can believe it.


We take a boat out for a tour amid the ice. In the Arctic summer Ilulissat is cool but not cold, maybe 65? F, but as we near the ice fjord, the temperature drops, as if cold is emanating from the icebergs themselves. As we leave the port, at first we encounter a slurry of ice in the water, which is sapphire blue because of the cold. But soon we near the giants, and they are easily over 100 ft. tall — and that's just above the water. (More than 80% of an iceberg's mass is beneath the surface, and the water in Ilulissat's port is more than a mile deep.) We can't get too close to the big icebergs — as they melt all the time in the salty sea, without warning, they can crack and cave in, loosing waves big enough to topple or even crush small boats. But even from a distance, they are breathtaking: natural cathedrals of white, lined by unmappable crevices, leaking pure glacial meltwater that pours into the sea as if from a fountain. It's easy to see why UNESCO made Ilulissat a World Heritage site and why tourist numbers have been growing steadily.
But we're not here as tourists. After the boat docks, our group boards a helicopter piloted by a sprite of a Greenlandic woman for a tour of the fjord and glacier, which is retreating fast. Before we leave, we are shown a map of the glacier. As pressure from the central ice cap builds up behind the glacier, it pushes its way to the sea through the ice fjord. The glacier ends where melting causes icebergs to calve off, and we see that each year the glacier has retreated farther and farther away from the sea. Sermeq Kujalleq is shrinking so fast (on a geological scale) that we can almost see it. This is global warming — as close as we can get to it — in action. There's no doubt here, no room for skeptics: temperatures have warmed in Greenland, and as they have warmed, the ice has melted. It is as simple as that.
The helicopter dances over the ice fjord toward the tongue of the glacier, the spot where it begins to shard off. The icebergs here are still floating, but save for puddles of melt, you can't see the water; the ice itself is packed as tightly as commuters on a Tokyo subway car. Seen from the helicopter, the ice is dusted black and brown with the remnants of soil and rock the glacier scraped away on its trip to the sea. The ice fjord is bordered by tall walls of rock that rise on either side of the ice floe, carved, like much else in Greenland, by the glaciers.

We land on one flat ridge for a closer look, 35 km from the tongue of the glacier. (You can't land on the unstable glacier itself.) We can just see the glacier on the horizon. It looks immobile and invulnerable, but we know it is vanishing. Kim Kielsen, the Greenlandic minister for the environment, who is traveling with the group, tells us he visited this same spot in 1992 and could see the glacier before him. "Now," he says, "gone."


It's easy to misunderstand all of this. Climate change itself isn't a bad thing; it isn't even unusual. Take a geologic step back, and you can see that our climate has always changed, alternating just within the past several hundred thousand years between ice ages, when glaciers covered much of the Northern Hemisphere, to eras warmer than our own. Change is the nature of the planet, just as every winter and summer Sermeq Kujalleq advanced and retreated, long before we were here to give the greenhouse effect an added push. Our own human period has been one of unusual climatic stability — a fact that has been essential to our own species' success.
What matters is not that change is happening but that it is happening so fast. In Ilulissat, the ice that once covered much of the sea in the winter and allowed hunting, fishing and travel by dogsled comes no longer. In less than a human lifetime — barely the blink of an eye in geologic time — a way of life millenniums old will be lost here. Elsewhere we may see temperate and fertile areas turn dry and barren in the same time period. What we've known and lived with may no longer exist — and we may not be able to adapt in time for what is coming. Change is painful, even if we can't see it happening.
And then, looking over the ice fjord, we do see it. A stadium-size iceberg gives way, shattering first and crumbling like a collapsing skyscraper. The sound is of deep artillery fire, thundering between the walls of the ice fjord. It is spectacular, this sudden death and the energy released. I simply watch, entranced. I don't think of the conditions that led to its breaking or when its own tipping point was passed. I don't wonder whether we did this. As the helicopter flies back to Ilulissat, we pass by the remnant of the decimated iceberg. The carving away of the eroded, melting surface ice has revealed its pure, crystalline, blue heart, what remains. It is beautiful.
Back to Menu

_________________________________________________________________
New York Times: Editorial Death in the Gulf of Mexico

Published: August 4, 2008


Every year for the past couple of decades, scientists have tried to estimate the size of the dead zone that forms where the Mississippi River enters the Gulf of Mexico. Some years it is several times as large as Lake Pontchartrain. Last year it was the size of New Jersey. This year, it may well be as large as Massachusetts, possibly even exceeding the size it was in 2002 — nearly 8,500 square miles where almost nothing lives.
The dead zone is technically an area of hypoxia, or low oxygen content, first detected in the early 1970s. A decade later scientists realized it was caused largely by agricultural nitrogen — and some urban effluent — washed downstream from farms throughout the Mississippi watershed. That feeds algae, which consume the oxygen in the water as they decompose and lower oxygen levels to a point where life cannot be sustained.
The mechanisms that create the dead zone are entirely natural — algae feeding and dying — but there is nothing natural about the zone itself. It is almost entirely an artifact of modern agriculture, accompanied by treated and untreated sewage and industrial runoff. Most years the hypoxic zone dissipates in winter and re-forms in spring. At depth, the water is simply vacant of life and has the characteristic rotten-egg smell of hydrogen sulfide. The size of the zone depends on many different conditions. But this spring was extraordinary. There were widespread floods across the Midwest, mostly after the fields had already been fertilized. The result is a plume of fertility washing out into the Gulf of Mexico, where it fertilizes only death.
The dead zone at the mouth of the Mississippi is not the only one. There are dozens of smaller hypoxic zones around the American coastline where rivers spill into the sea. The same is true at river deltas around the globe, where the nitrogen load from fertilizer may be lower but the load of urban runoff — including partially treated and untreated sewage — is much higher. There could be no starker reminder of the tragic human tendency to treat the oceans as dumping grounds. And there is no better symbol of the paradox of American agriculture — the very richness applied to the fields is the source of ecological death hundreds of miles away.
Back to Menu

_________________________________________________________________
Cyberpresse.ca : Les changements climatiques forcent l'évacuation d'un parc national

Martin Croteau

La Presse

La fonte accélérée d'un vaste glacier et la crainte des inondations a provoqué l'évacuation de 21 touristes dans un parc national de l'île de Baffin et causé la fermeture de plusieurs de ses plus beaux sentiers, la semaine dernière.

Façonné par les glaces, le paysage du parc national Auyittuq est unique. On y trouve des roches parmi les plus anciennes au monde, vieilles de 2,8 milliards d'années. Des pics vertigineux se dressent autour de vallées sinueuses où des glaciers continuent de sculpter le sol.

Mais cette année, ce vestige de la dernière glaciation sue à grosses gouttes.

Les autorités de Parcs Canada ont constaté des chaleurs records dans cette région nordique et des pluies anormalement abondantes. Déjà, en juin, une inondation causée par les averses et la fonte de glaces a forcé la fermeture d'un pont, ce qui a isolé une communauté établie non loin du parc.

Voilà maintenant que l'un des principaux attraits du parc, un imposant glacier appelé la calotte Penny, commence à couler comme jamais auparavant. Et des fontes sans précédent érodent les rives du lac Crater, un plan d'eau circulaire connu pour sa couleur turquoise.

La situation est telle que les administrateurs du parc craignent que les rives ne cèdent complètement, provoquant un torrent qui viderait le lac dans une vallée voisine. Ils ont donc envoyé un hélicoptère pour cueillir les 21 touristes qui campaient dans le secteur, en plus de fermer 60 des 97 kilomètres de sentiers.

«Les phénomènes de cet été dépassent tout ce que nous avions vu, a expliqué la porte-parole de Parcs Canada au journal Ottawa Citizen. C'est sans aucun doute le résultat des changements climatiques.»
Dernier service pour le happy hour
Dernier service pour les chasseurs d'aubaines de l'Alberta. Depuis vendredi, une nouvelle loi impose de strictes restrictions au traditionnel happy hour, cette heure pendant laquelle les bars offrent bières et cocktails au rabais.Il est désormais interdit d'offrir des rabais sur le prix des boissons après 20h.

La province impose aussi un prix minimum pour les consommations et interdit aux clients d'acheter plus de deux verres après 1h du matin. La mesure a été mal accueillie par les propriétaires de bars, qui craignent de perdre leur clientèle. Mais la police de Calgary se réjouit de la nouvelle loi car, depuis quelque temps, des dizaines de fêtards éméchés en venaient aux coups chaque soir à la sortie des bars.


Vive la fin du télémarketing!
Pour la plupart des Canadiens, la création d'un registre national anti-télémarketing signifie moins de téléphones inopportuns.

Mais pour les commerçants de Whitehorse, au Yukon, c'est peut-être le début d'une nouvelle ère de prospérité.

C'est en tout cas ce qu'espère le président de la chambre de commerce, Rick Karp, qui estime que les habitants de la province pourraient enfin revenir dans les magasins plutôt que d'acheter à l'extérieur. Le commerce par téléphone et en ligne est une industrie importante dans ce territoire isolé, situé à 2400 km au nord de Vancouver.

Tellement que plusieurs entreprises battent de l'aile depuis des années.



Sources: Ottawa Citizen, Calgary Herald et Whitehorse Star


Back to Menu

_________________________________________________________________

=============================================================
ROAP MEDIA UPDATE

THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS

Tuesday, 05 August, 2008



UNEP or UN in the news


  • UNEP chief to support green Olympics in Beijing - Xinhua

  • Head Of UNEP To Attend Opening Of Olympic Games - Scoop

  • Head of UN environment agency to attend opening of Olympic Games - APP





General environment news


  • Australia - Trees to cut into emission targets – The Australian

  • India - Lead pollution scare in WB before puja – The Times of India

  • Indonesia fires spark haze fears in Malaysia - Antara

  • Thailand - Apirak outlines 12-year plan for Bangkok – The Nation


  1   2   3   4   5   6


The database is protected by copyright ©ininet.org 2016
send message

    Main page