Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care
Evidence for a diversified sea-based economy among North American inhabitants dating from 12,200 to 11,400 years ago is emerging from three sites on California’s Channel Islands…
Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care
Evidence for a diversified sea-based economy among North American inhabitants dating from 12,200 to 11,400 years ago is emerging from three sites on California’s Channel Islands…
“The melt has to go somewhere”. In Vanuatu, rising sea levels have forced the relocation of entire villages. Caption and Photo Source: Meredith james-Johnstone
By Leigh Phillips
Pacific island states on the frontline of climate change are to receive €90m (£76m) in EU cash for climate-related projects in return for siding with the European bloc at international climate negotiations.
The European Union’s development commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, headed to Vanuatu Wednesday to unveil funding for climate-related projects.
The funding comprises redirected resources, according to the European Commission, and will back projects such as mangrove replanting, watershed reforestation, rainwater harvesting, soil retention, raising of infrastructure, disaster preparedness and moving hospitals to higher ground.
The cash may appear small in EU terms, but represents as much as 19.5% of the nominal GDP of Vanuatu, and more than 12 times the GDP of the Pacific Islands Forum’s poorest member, Niue.
Such an injection of cash does not come without strings attached however. Piebalgs is to make the funding announcement at a high-level climate conference on Vanuatu organised by the European commission where the he will present an EU-Pacific action plan for the island states to sign.
The document requires the states to embrace “joint positions on the international stage” as part of a “stronger Pacific-EU political dialogue on climate change”.
Climate negotiations have been at a stalemate with only moderate advances made since the global UN conference in Copenhagen in 2009, as Western countries try to convince the developing world to commit to binding emissions reductions.
Since 2009, the EU has revamped its climate diplomacy strategy, with France and the UK dispatched to try to pry some African states away from what Brussels officials describe as an “awkward squad” of refusenik nations. Germany has been tasked with the Pacific.
Isaac Valero-Ladron, the EU’s climate spokesman, said that the bloc has had a lot of success in the region, which contains countries with some of the lowest GDP per capita in the world. “If we put money on the table, it really creates a constructive atmosphere and good policies.”
“The Pacific islands are a very helpful, positive partner on the international level. Our positions are very close.”
The funds, which according to the commission are redeployments of existing development funds rather than new sources of climate financing as many development groups also demand – support projects that include mangrove replanting, watershed reforestation, rainwater harvesting, soil retention and the raising of infrastructure.
In advance of the meeting, the commissioner called on EU member states to increase their funds to the region.
Excerpt from Europa, EU Calendar
Between 3 and 4 March, 2011, European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, will participate in Conference on Climate Change in Vanuatu and sign an Action Plan to enhance Pacific-EU cooperation on climate change.
Some of the small Pacific islands are under the threat to disappear. They dramatically need increased aid.which, Commissioner Piebalgs will call EU member states and other international partners and donors to engage politically and financially in addressing climate change challenges faced by Pacific Countries and Territories.
The Commissioner will also sign four programmes which show EU determination to combat climate change and poverty in the Pacific for €50.4 million in total. Two of them cover specifically Vanuatu and Solomon Islands climate resilience specific needs. One will support strategic actions on adaptation in 9 Pacific Small Island states and prepare those countries to absorb efficiently the expected international climate fast start funds. The second regional project, to be implemented by the University of South Pacific, seeks to strengthen capacity building, community engagement and adaptive actions along with applied research.
Pacific islands are very isolated developing countries which have already suffered from regular natural disasters. In the worse case scenario, some islands could disappear due to rising sea levels and increasing erosion occurring from intense storms. All these changes infringe on hunting, fishing and the quality water resources therefore contribute to increased poverty in the region. In order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals on time the poverty must be also addressed in the Pacific region.
The European Commission provides development aid to the Pacific, which amounts €600 million for 2008-2013. It has reached a 60% increase between the 9th European Development Fund (2002-2007) and the 10th EDF (2007-2013).. A specific support needed to be devoted to address the negative impact of climate change in the Pacific. The Commission is politically and financially leading this EU effort. Together with Pacific partners, the Commission is actively engaged in financial terms, with €90 million in ongoing and already planned development cooperation projects and programmes at country and regional level for the period 2008-2013.
Building on the Cancun Climate Change Conference, the High Level conference on Climate Change in the Pacific will be hosted by Vanuatu on 4 March and is organised by the European Commission. Commissioner Piebalgs will make the introductory speech and Prime Minister of Vanuatu will do the closing remarks. An action plan will be presented for endorsement by the Conference.
A press conference will be organised on site.
Commissioner Piebalgs will visit a first wind farm implemented in the Vanuatu archipelago, designed to help meet the country’s growing energy needs. He will also visit the National Disaster Centre and Meteorological Services to assess local capacities deployed at the forefront of disaster risk management.
A film documentary by Juriaan Booij
Tuvalu is one of the smallest and most remote countries on earth. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it can barely be seen on most maps. The country is in danger of disappearing beneath the waves. Not an Atlantis myth but the reality of this century. Plans for evacuation are being made right now. Tuvalu is destined to become one of earth’s first nations to be washed away due to the effect of global warming, making the Tuvaluans the first complete nation of climate refugees, banned from their home-islands, their culture and identity taken away.
Beyond the appearance of an easygoing life, the threat to Tuvalu’s future is an obvious danger that everyone has been forced to recognize. The highest point of Tuvalu is only four and a half meters above sea level. The average elevation is not even two.
But still, in spite of the evidence, many people in Tuvalu don’t believe they will be forced to leave, and point to their bibles for proof. In the deeply Christian country, great faith is placed in the words of Genesis, which says that rainbows are proof God is keeping his covenant made with Noah to never again flood the earth. What is going to happen to a nation without their home islands to anchor what is left of their culture?
Tuvalu struggles to hold back tide, BBC
The fragile strips of green that make up the small islands of Tuvalu are incredibly beautiful but also incredibly vulnerable.The group of nine tiny islands in the South Pacific only just break the surface of the ocean, but for how much longer?
A young girl watches waves crash over a sea-wall during a king tide in Kiribati. Photo Source: Reuters/Greenpeace
The floods can be fun for children, but what does the future hold? Photo Source: Greenpeace
While waters around south Baffin Island and Nunavik remained ice-free this past January, people who live more than 5,000 kilometres away to the south on the island of Barbados grappled with another problem generated by climate change: too much water.
Baffin Island in the Canadian territory of Nunavut is the largest member of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. It is the largest island in Canada and the fifth largest island in the world, with an area of 507,451 km2.
No wonder “you melt, we sink” is the nightmare that unites 43 small developing island nations of the world and Arctic organizations in their fight against climate change through a coalition called Many Strong Voices.
Its common goal is to keep temperature increases in check, so the North stays frozen and the islands stay above sea level.
Although some could see this alliance between the Arctic and tropics as strange, the connection makes sense to Kirt Ejetsiak of Iqaluit, vice-president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, who spoke at an MSV event at last December’s United Nations climate change conference in Cancun.
“I believe that it’s only by working together to lobby the various governments and UN agencies that we can get our message across. It’s an unusual alliance but one that fits naturally in my view,” Ejetsiak told Nunatsiaq News. “We must find our similarities and connections rather than our differences and work together.”
Like the Arctic, small island nations account for a tiny percentage of world energy consumption and produce low levels of climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions.
Yet they’re already threatened by the same kind of unpredictable weather, storms and erosion due to the changing climate that has some Alaskan villages relocating inland.
You can see these environmental impacts happening now in Barbados, the most easterly of the Caribbean islands, with 97 km of coastline and a population of about 280,000, mainly the descendants of slaves brought from Africa in the 17th and 18th centuries to work in sugar plantations…
Eroding Beach, Mullins Bay. Photo Source: Barbados Free Press
By Peter J. Frank
Most islands in the Caribbean suffer erosion to a certain degree, much of it from natural causes. Barbados, a country dependent on tourism, knows it needs to protect its beaches, but some of its attempts to do so end up making matters worse. Local environmental activists contend that in several places along Barbados’s west shore—the famed Platinum Coast, lined with luxury hotels, condos, and expensive homes—erosion has been exacerbated by the construction of seawalls and groins.
On the island’s northwest coast, sunbathers used to be able to walk from the popular beach bar on Mullins Beach north for several miles up the sandy shore. Now, there are only impassable boulders, sea walls, and crashing surf. The author of the local Mullins Bay blog blames the construction of three stone groins at St. Peter’s Bay, a new condominium development a quarter mile north of Mullins Beach. Installed ostensibly to help build up the beach there, the structures have sapped the adjacent shoreline of sand. Surprisingly, Barbados’s Coastal Zone Management Unit, a government agency charged with controlling erosion, approved the groins. It maintains that global warming is the main culprit in the island’s erosion problem. Rising sea levels and severe storms certainly play a role, but to protect its shoreline, Barbados also needs to balance the demands of development and preservation.
Clinketts Beach, Barbados North Coast. Photo Source: Green Antilles
As surely as the coastline draws people and development, it brings on its own destruction.
On the island nation of Barbados, particularly on its developed west coast, the major problem is beach erosion. This is a serious concern anywhere, but particularly so when tourism is the country’s number one industry. The causes are complex. Tourist hotels themselves are partly to blame because over the years their owners have built structures to trap sand, which prevents its migration further down the coast to other areas.
But the most serious threat to the beaches is the loss of offshore coral reefs through pollution, primarily caused by domestic sewage. As the reefs die, they lose their ability to reduce the energy and erosive force of incoming waves.
Into this complex scenario of cause and effect stepped the IDB-financed Barbados Coastal Conservation Program. Drawing on previous studies and surveys, the program has put in place a genuinely integrated approach that over the years has combined research, pollution control and anti-erosion measures with institutional and legal mechanisms to control coastal development and prepare a national coastal zone management plan. Meanwhile, the country has made significant progress in reducing pollution with a series of sewage treatment systems and solid waste disposal plants.
Barbados, Bathsheba Surf Beach. Photo Source: Barbados Free Press
Photo Source: 44-D, Flick’r
Excerpt from the WWF
One of the world’s largest tiger populations could disappear by the end of this century as rising sea levels caused by climate change destroy their habitat along the coast of Bangladesh in an area known as the Sundarbans, according to a 2010 WWF-led study, published in the journal Climatic Change.
Tigers are among the world’s most threatened species, with only an estimated 3,200 remaining in the wild. WWF officials said the threats facing these Royal Bengal tigers and other iconic species around the world highlight the need for urgent international action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“If we don’t take steps to address the impacts of climate change on the Sundarbans, the only way its tigers will survive this century is with scuba gear,” said Colby Loucks, WWF-US deputy director of conservation science and the lead author of the study Sea Level Rise and Tigers: Predicted Impacts to Bangladesh’s Sundarbans Mangroves. “Tigers are a highly adaptable species, thriving from the snowy forests of Russia to the tropical forests of Indonesia.
“The projected sea level rise in the Sundarbans will likely outpace the tiger’s ability to adapt.”
An expected sea level rise of 28 cm above 2000 levels may cause the remaining tiger habitat in the Sundarbans to decline by 96 percent, pushing the total population to fewer than 20 breeding tigers, according to the study.
Unless immediate action is taken, the Sundarbans, its wildlife and the natural resources that sustain millions of people may disappear within 50 to 90 years, the study states.
“The mangrove forest of the Bengal tiger now joins the sea-ice of the polar bear as one of the habitats most immediately threatened as global temperatures rise during the course of this century,” said Keya Chatterjee, acting director of the WWF-US climate change program. “To avert an ecological catastrophe on a much larger scale, we must sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change we failed to avoid.”
The Sundarbans, a UNESCO World Heritage Site shared by India and Bangladesh at the mouth of the Ganges River, is the world’s largest single block of mangrove forest. Mangroves are found at the inter-tidal region between land and sea, and not only serve as breeding grounds for fish but help protect coastal regions from natural disasters such as cyclones, storm surges and wind damage.
Providing the habitat for between 250 and 400 tigers, the Sundarbans is also home to more than 50 reptile species, 120 commercial fish species, 300 bird species and 45 mammal species. While their exact numbers are unclear, the tigers living in the Sundarbans of India and Bangladesh may represent as many as 10 percent of all the remaining wild tigers worldwide.
Using the rates of sea level rise projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its Fourth Assessment Report (2007), the study’s authors wrote that a 28 cm sea level rise may be realized around 2070, at which point tigers will be unlikely to survive in the Sundarbans. However, recent research suggests that the seas may rise even more swiftly than what was predicted in the 2007 IPCC assessment.
This satellite image shows the forest in the protected area. The Sundarbans appears deep green, surrounded to the north by a landscape of agricultural lands, which appear lighter green, towns, which appear tan, and streams, which are blue. Ponds for shrimp aquaculture, especially in Bangladesh, sit right at the edge of the protected area, a potential problem for the water quality and biodiversity of the area. The forest may also be under stress from environmental disturbance occurring thousands of kilometers away, such as deforestation in the Himalaya Mountains far to the north. Image and caption: Wikipedia.
In addition to climate change, the Sundarbans tigers, like other tiger populations around the world already face tremendous threats from poaching and habitat loss. Tiger ranges have decreased by 40 percent over the past decade, and tigers today occupy less than seven percent of their original range. Scientists fear that accelerating deforestation and rampant poaching could push some tiger populations to the same fate as their now-extinct Javan and Balinese relatives in other parts of Asia.
Tigers are poached for their highly prized skins and body parts, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. The 2010 Year of the Tiger marked an important year for conservation efforts to save wild tigers, with WWF continuing to play a vital role in implementing bold new strategies to save this magnificent Asian big cat.
Recommendations in the study include:
· Locally, governments and natural resource managers should take immediate steps to conserve and expand mangroves while preventing poaching and retaliatory killing of tigers.
· Regionally, neighboring countries should increase sediment delivery and freshwater flows to the coastal region to support agriculture and replenishment of the land;
· Globally, governments should take stronger action to limit greenhouse gas emissions;
“It’s disheartening to imagine that the Sundarbans, which means ‘beautiful forest’ in Bengali, could be gone this century, along with its tigers,” Loucks said. “We very much hope that in this, the Year of the Tiger, the world will focus on curtailing the immediate threats to these magnificent creatures and preparing for the long-term impacts of climate change.”
Excerpt from The Financial Express, Dredging Today
Bangladesh’s coastal area covers about 20% of the country and over thirty percent of the net cultivable area. It extends inside up to 150 km from the coast. Out of 2.85 million hectares of the coastal and offshore areas about 0.83 millions hectares are arable lands, which cover over 30% of the total cultivable lands of Bangladesh. A part of the coastal area, the Sundarbans, is a reserve natural mangrove forest covering about 4,500 km2. The remaining part of the coastal area is used in agriculture. The cultivable areas in coastal districts are affected with varying degrees of soil salinity. The coastal and offshore area of Bangladesh includes tidal, estuaries and river floodplains in the south along the Bay of Bengal.
Barisal division, Khulna division, and some districtsin the Patuakhali and Noakhali areas, form the southern region of Bangladesh. The greater part of this region that roughly is equally to one fourth of the country spatially, is coastal in nature or relatively closer to the sea than other regions. It shares common economic prospects and challenges. The vast region is expected to be affected by the worldwide climate change. The southern region of Bangladesh is already undergoing the adverse effects of interventions in the free-flow of waters.
Structures built on the other side across the border have adversely affected the free flow of river waters into lower riparian Bangladesh. Already, there is an alarming fall in such flows, impacting very unfavourably the environment, ecology, habitat and people’s livelihood, particularly in the district of Khulna. The saline sea waters have been pushing up inland because of the poor flow in the rivers that cannot adequately flush out the sea waters. Big areas near the coasts have been affected by salinity and progressively more and more areas are meeting a similar fate.
Not only salinity, the leaner flow in the rivers of the southern region has also meant faster deposition of silt and the raising of their beds. Thus, the rivers across the region needs comprehensive dredging. Two consequences can be expected from such dredging. The flows in them could improve having a better effect in reducing salinity. Flood protection to some extent may also be achieved from the same. Government in Bangladesh appears to have firmed up a plan to engage in thorough river dredging in this area.
Salinity is not only threatening agriculture in the area, it is also posing as a serious threat to various flora and fauna in the Sunderbans forest which Bangladesh is otherwise proud of, as one of its great possessions.
Salinity has been such a problem for the region that in large tracts of what had been once cultivable lands, nothing of much value grows nowadays. People on a large scale were pushed to the brink and migrated to other areas of the country. The saline taste of even the underground tubewell water is a risk to public health. Thus, apart from river dredging, it should be planned whether fresh water from other areas of the country can be diverted to this region. Preservation and use of rain water need to be promoted here. Success was achieved in recent years in developing new and study varieties of rice plants that can grow well even under saline conditions. These varieties of rice and their cultivation will have to be popularized in this region. Storms and surges from the sea also pose big threats. Clearly, any overall plan for the development of the southern region, must incorporate the building of coastal embankments, sea walls, etc., both to hedge people against storms like the devastating storm, Alia and also from the looming threat of sea-level rise. Bangladesh is expected to be a major recipient of funds from donors to protect itself from climate change. A big part of such funds should be spent in the southern area considering its special vulnerabilities.
In this context, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina spoke about an integrated plan for the development of the southern region. For any plan for development of the southern region cannot be isolated in its parts. All segments under a comprehensive plan must be simultaneously attempted or integrated to get the best results. All concerned would now expect the government to firm up actions for such an area-focused comprehensive plan of action in an integrated way in order to help reverse the present situation in the region of the country and to provide a strong base for its steady and sustained growth.
Considerable beach erosion at Surf City, New Jersey. Photo Source: Jim Phillips
By Cheryl Hapke, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
An assessment of coastal change over the past 150 years has found 68 percent of beaches in the New England and Mid-Atlantic region are eroding, according to a U.S. Geological Survey report released February 23rd.
Scientists studied more than 650 miles of the New England and Mid-Atlantic coasts and found the average rate of coastal change, taking into account beaches that are both eroding and prograding, was negative 1.6 feet per year.
Of those beaches eroding, the most extreme case exceeded 60 feet per year.
The past 25 to 30 years saw a small reduction in the percentage of beaches eroding, dropping to 60 percent, possibly as a result of beach restoration activities such as adding sand to beaches.
“This report provides invaluable objective data to help scientists and managers better understand natural changes to and human impacts on the New England and Mid-Atlantic coasts,” said Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science. “The information gathered can inform decisions about future land use, transportation corridors, and restoration projects.”
Beaches change in response to a variety of factors, including changes in the amount of available sand, storms, sea-level rise and human activities. How much a beach is eroding or prograding in any given location is due to some combination of these factors, which vary from place to place.
The Mid-Atlantic coast, from Long Island, N.Y. to the Virginia-North Carolina border, is eroding at higher average rates than the New England coast. The difference in the type of coastline, with sandy areas being more vulnerable to erosion than areas with a greater concentration of rocky coasts, was the primary factor.
The researchers found that, although coastal change is highly variable, the majority of the coast is eroding throughout both regions, indicating erosion hazards are widespread.
“There is increasing need for this kind of comprehensive assessment in all coastal environments to guide managed response to sea-level rise,” said Dr. Cheryl Hapke of the USGS, lead author of the new report.”It is very difficult to predict what may happen in the future without a solid understanding of what has happened in the past.”
The researchers used historical data sources such as maps and aerial photographs, as well as modern data like lidar, or “light detection and ranging,” to measure shoreline change at more than 21,000 locations.
This analysis of past and present trends of shoreline movement is designed to allow for future repeatable analyses of shoreline movement, coastal erosion, and land loss. The results of the study provide a baseline for coastal change information that can be used to inform a wide variety of coastal management decisions, Hapke said.
The report, titled “National Assessment of Shoreline Change: Historical Shoreline Change along the New England and Mid-Atlantic Coasts,” is the fifth report produced as part of the USGS’s National Assessment of Shoreline Change project. An accompanying report that provides the geographic information system (GIS) data used to conduct the coastal change analysis is being released simultaneously.
Fifty million environmental refugees will flood into the global north by 2020, fleeing sparked by climate change, experts warned at a major science conference that ended Monday.
“In 2020, the UN has projected that we will have 50 million environmental refugees,” University of California, Los Angeles professor Cristina Tirado said at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).