Category Archives: Features

No sand mining in fishing areas, India

Fishing Boat India

Excerpt from The Decan Herald

The State government on Monday told the High Court that it had cancelled all the sand mining leases in fishing territories and would not be giving out new licences.

The Court was hearing two separate petitions, in which the petitioners had contended that rampant sand mining in coastal areas was affecting the livelihood of fishermen and destroying the fragile biodiversity.

The State submitted that a new sand mining policy would come into effect in April 2011.

Under this, only the government, under the Public Works Department, would be authorised to conduct sand mining. To this submission, the court suggested that the State revert to its earlier policy.

The High Court has refused to stay proceedings against JD(S) MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan in a dacoity case.

The Court however directed the police not to take any action against Zameer as he had submitted that he would appear at the lower court on all the trial dates.

The Chamarajpet MLA had sought an interim order to stay all proceedings against him before the ACMM.

Meanwhile, the complainant in the dacoity case, Ziyaulla Khan Gori, has filed an application stating that he had not named Zameer in his complaint and his inclusion in the list of 13 was politically motivated.

Original Article

Raised Awareness on Illegal Sand Mining, St Kitts

St Kitts Illegal Sand Mining
St Kitts Illegal Sand Mining.

Excerpts;

The Department of Physical Planning and Environment has embarked on a campaign to raise awareness on the issue of illegal sand mining across St. Kitts.

The Observer spoke with Andy Blanchette, a Conservation Officer within the Department, who informed that of late, illegal sand mining has become more pronounced with the boom in the construction industry. As a result, several problems have arisen and it became necessary, as a means of deterrence, to educate the general public on the negative effects of the unlawful activity. He said that both at the coastal level and deep inland at the rivers around the island, the drastic changes in the amount of soil can be seen, and adverse effects are already being felt.

“We can recall what has been taking place when there are heavy rains in the mountainside connecting to the College Street Ghaut. Over the years, we have realized that a significant amount of sand and silt comes through the ghaut and at times flooding is eminent, and this is one of the effects of unsustainable mining of ghaut sand…

Read Full Article, By Teshell Samuel, The Observer St. Kitts-Nevis

St Kitts: $10,000 Fine or One Year in Prison for Illegal Sand Mining

Global Sand Mining: Learn More, Coastal Care

Federal report suggests Gulf oil spill beach cleanup is about over

tar-sand-deep
Buried oil patty on Pensacola Beach, Florida, found even after cleanups. Photo Source: Chris Combs/National Geographic

By Ben Raines, Press-Register

Friday the Gulf Coast Incident Management Team released a report from its interagency Operational Science Advisory Team 2 about oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill that remains on or near sandy beaches along the Gulf Coast. Titled “Summary Report for Fate and Effects of Remnant Oil in the Beach Environment,” the report examines data sampled from four representative beaches at Grand Isle, La., Petit Bois Island, Miss., Bon Secour, Ala., and Fort Pickens, Fla.

Federal officials released a report Friday that suggests cleanup operations have removed as much oil as is practical from most shorelines in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana.

Further cleanup in many areas, the report argues, will do more harm to the environment than leaving the remaining oil in place.

Titled, “Summary Report for Fate and Effects of Remnant Oil in the Beach Environment” the report was drafted by the federal science advisory team studying the BP PLC oil spill in the Gulf.

Its conclusions mirror comments the science group made when drafting the “no further treatment” standards for the cleanup several months ago.

Submerged mats of oil still being discovered just off the beaches in Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida are considered an exception to the rule that further cleanup will do more damage, according to the report. The submerged oil still contains many of the more-toxic compounds present in crude, while the tarballs on the beaches are more weathered and less dangerous, according to the report.

Aside from the mats, the remaining oil, which the report suggests is either buried under a few inches of sand or present in small tarballs on the beach, poses little threat to humans or wildlife, the report concludes. It documents some areas where the “no further treatment” standard has been reached, including parts of Petit Bois Island and parts of the Fort Morgan peninsula.

“Environmental impacts of remnant oil found on or near beaches after cleanup operations are relatively minor,” reads the report. “Cleanup operations beyond established standards may disturb sensitive habitats and wildlife, posing a greater environmental risk than leaving the residue in place. In these instances, further cleaning will likely do more harm than good to the ecosystem.”

The report is supposed to guide federal and state officials as they decide when to end cleanup efforts. Scientists suggest cleanup efforts could interfere with the breeding activities of birds, sea turtles and mammals such as the Alabama beach mouse.

Original Article


Coast Guard: Oil cleanup should be scaled back

By Cain Burdeau, AP

oil-pollution-plastic

The cleanup of oiled beaches along the Gulf of Mexico has reached a point where crews, heavy equipment and thorough scrubbing can cause more damage to the ecosystem than good, the Coast Guard said Friday.

Birds, sea turtles, fish and other species are more likely to be harmed by an aggressive cleanup than by simply leaving remnants of oil and letting it slowly degrade, the Coast Guard said.

The report was designed to guide the cleanup of the BP PLC spill from the April 20 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion. There are 4,265 people still involved in the cleanup and response on 544 miles of coast.

Recent oil samples show weathered oil found along beaches has lost the majority of the toxic compounds in it and the oil left on shores meets federal safety thresholds for people, the Coast Guard said.

At least one researcher questioned the Coast Guard’s report.

Wilma Subra, a Louisiana chemist and consultant for environmental groups, said the toxic elements could last for decades and warned the report could let BP abandon cleanup before its complete.

“The real concern is if they walk away and it’s not clean enough,” said Subra, who has been doing her own testing along the coast. If it’s not clean enough, people and animals could still be exposed to harmful toxins, she said.

The study focused on beaches in Grand Isle, La., Petit Bois Island, Miss., Bon Secour, Ala., and Fort Pickens, Fla.

“Beach cleanup is invasive,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kenneth Boda of the Coast Guard. “If we were to go in and remove the small bit of oil you’d have to wash the sand, and you’d kill everything else in there.”

He said that could include removing plants, shells and other sources of food for birds, as well as damaging sea turtle eggs.

“We can sterilize the sand, but then there aren’t any nutrients left,” said Edward H. Owens, a cleanup technical adviser for BP. “Just cleaning and sterilizing is not necessarily in the short term of high value.”

Since the spill, BP has been cleaning up oil and teams have established guidelines to determine what is clean enough. The cleanup varies from beach to beach. For example, recreational and manmade beaches are getting washed and cleaned much more thoroughly than sand abundant in wildlife and plants.

The report signaled the cleanup was nearing an end.

BP has cleanup crews on the Gulf Coast and they will stay around to clean up when oil shows up on shores, Owens said. Oil remains buried in sand and as submerged mats along the coast and still washes ashore occasionally.

“We’re finding in some isolated places new oil because it was buried,” Owens said. “We’re getting down to a smaller length of shoreline that has to be cleaned up and smaller amounts of oil.”

Original Article

Summary Report for Fate and Effects of Remnant Oil in the Beach Environment
Federal Science Report Analyzes Environmental Risks and Benefits of Additional Clean Up for Sensitive Beaches in the Gulf.
Today the Gulf Coast Incident Management Team released a report from its interagency Operational Science Advisory Team 2 about oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill that remains on or near sandy beaches along the Gulf Coast.

Oil Found In Beach Sand, Even After Cleanups, in Coastal Care

Whole coastline of Namibia is designated a national park

skeleton-coast
Skeleton Coast. Photo Source: Alamy

By Mark Rowe, The Telegraph UK

Namibia designates its entire 976-mile coastline a national park, consolidating several existing preserves into the 26.6 million-acre Namib-Skeleton Coast National Park.

With the declaration of the Dorob National Park on December 1, 2010, the last piece of the puzzle has finally been put in place, thus converting the total Namibian coast into the eighth largest protected area in the world and the largest park in Africa, called the Namib-Skeleton Coast National Park.

The Namib-Skeleton Coast National Park covers 26.6 million acres, making it larger than Portugal.

It stretches for 976 miles (1,570km), from the Kunene River, at the northern border with Angola, to the Orange River, on the border with South Africa, and is expected to be promoted as a unified destination. The protected coastline consolidates three national parks: Skeleton Coast, Namib-Naukluft and Sperrgebiet. The last is the site of Namibia’s diamond mines, which have long been closed to the public.

The national park does not stop at the national borders – at the southern end it connects with South Africa’s Richetersveld National Park, while in the north it is linked to Angola’s Iona National Park. Some coastal roads are good, particularly in Dorob National Park, but there is no pan-Namibian highway.

Historically, Namibia has been a trailblazer in using tourism to fund conservation, and has encouraged tribal communities to set up conservation areas, which they manage sustainably in order to keep poaching at bay and to attract tourism. “The aim of the new park is to rein in environmentally damaging activities and encourage tourism,” said Chris McIntyre, MD of the travel company Expert Africa.

Namibia is the driest country in southern Africa and its national parks are desert and savannah. In the desert wilderness of the Skeleton Coast, wildlife includes hyenas and abundant birds. Black rhino and desert elephants follow the area’s water courses, while small prides of lions have recently returned. Other highlights include African penguins and a vast colony of Cape fur seals.

Namibia Coastline
Photo Source: Evelyn Hockstein / The New York Times

Original Article

All Africa Article

The New York Times

Uncontrolled Sand Mining Days Numbered in Namibia, in Coastal Care

North Australia set to face more weather extremes, corals show

Porites Coral
A large fossil Porites coral. Photo Source: Georgia Tech

By David Fogarty, Reuters

Flood and storm-battered northern Australia is likely to suffer more frequent weather extremes, according to a study of coral cores that reveal a centuries-old climate record for the region.

Like pages in a book, corals can help scientists go back in time by revealing years that were unusually wet or dry. The annual changes or variations in weather are recorded in growth rings that can be studied by drilling and extracting long cores.

“The corals are providing another piece of evidence that maybe suggests that we are seeing some consequences already of global warming,” Janice Lough, a senior scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Queensland state, told Reuters from Townsville on Thursday.

Lough, in a study to be published in Paleoceanography, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, examined 17 coral cores taken from reefs off Queensland’s northeast coast. The rings in the cores date from the 17th century until 1981 when they were collected, yielding a 300-year climate record.

Northern Queensland typically gets most of its rain during the summer monsoon and is at the mercy of the El Nino and La Nina weather patterns that normally bring drought or floods.

The current strong La Nina is blamed for record floods that have inundated large areas of Queensland in recent months, killing dozens of people, crippling coal mines, swamping thousands of homes and damaging crops.

Lough said her study found that the frequency of weather extremes seems to increase in recent centuries.

“It can be difficult to detect whether any changes are happening just because of that high natural variability,” she said, but added that the long-term record suggested some sort of change had occurred. “That tropical rainfall variability will become more extreme.”

The cores come from Porites coral domes that can grow up to 8 meters (26 feet) high and be centuries old, growing between 1 and 1.5 cms a year, she said.

In her research, Lough looked into slices of the coral under ultraviolet light to study the growth bands.

During wet years, rivers flush a lot of plant matter and a mix of compounds called humic acids into the ocean and these acids are absorbed by the coral and stored in its skeleton. Under UV light, growth bands with more humic acid show up more brightly than bands from drier years.

Lough said the coral records were another piece of the climate jigsaw, given the lack of long-term historical weather data, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere and the tropics.

“Corals are natural history books,” she added, revealing growth rates, changes through time and the amount of freshwater run-off from land.

Original Article

Read More, Excerpt from AGU

UK’s Prince Charles blasts climate-change skeptics

climate-change

By the Associated Press

Prince Charles lashed out Wednesday at climate change skeptics, saying they are playing “a reckless game of roulette” with the planet’s future.

Skeptics are having a “corrosive effect” on public opinion, the British heir to the throne added.

“Their suggestion, that hundreds of scientists around the world … are somehow unconsciously biased, creates the implication that many of us are secretly conspiring to undermine and deliberately destroy the entire market-based capitalist system,” he said.

Many doubters, particularly in the United States, have dismissed scientific evidence supporting warming of the earth due to human activity, arguing that the large majority of scientists are wrong, or the consequences of warming overstated.

Charles asked: “How are these people going to face their grandchildren and admit to them that they failed their future?”

Along with top officials of the European Union, Charles was addressing the Low Carbon Prosperity Summit, a conference devoted to engaging more European businesses in promoting a low-carbon economy.

In a speech to a packed European Parliament chamber, Charles touched on topics ranging from the need to protect fisheries and the Amazon rain forest, to making low-carbon emissions affordable and competitive.

Charles, who has been active in promoting environmental issues, was asked to participate in the conference in order to raise public awareness throughout Europe.

“Your presence brings added value and attention to this important issue,” EU President Herman Van Rompuy said.

The prince is a patron of the Cambridge Program for Sustainability Leadership, which works with business, government and civil society to promote a sustainable economic future.

climate-change

Original Article

Is Climate Change Disinformation a Crime Against Humanity? in Coastal Care

The Human Faces Of Climate Change, in Coastal Care

Economic Model And Environmental Threat, in Coastal Care

That Snow Outside Is What Global Warming Looks Like, in Coastal Care

Drilling May Kill Mediterranean Ecosystem: WWF

nile-delta
Egyptian Coast, Nile Delta. Photo Source:NASA

By the AFP

A rush to drill in the gas-rich Mediterranean may do permanent damage to the sea’s wildlife as it takes at least a millennium for an ecosystem to grow, the World Wildlife Fund warned Wednesday.

Drilling in the Mediterranean’s eastern region shared by Turkey, Israel and Egypt, “could cause irreversible damage” to its biodiversity, said Sergi Tudela, head of WWF’s Mediterranean Fisheries Programme.

The area hosts rare and millennia-old species such as deep-sea sponges, worms, mollusks and cold water corals, and therefore are “particularly fragile and vulnerable to external interference,” he added in a statement.

Once a deep-sea floor has been drilled, “it can take a millennium or more before the unique micro-ecosystem grows again, so the most fragile and valuable species and under-sea areas must be left untouched by gas development.”

The recently discovered Leviathan gas field, 135 kilometres off the Israeli coast, is the world’s biggest deep-water gas discovery in a decade, with an estimated volume of 16 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Earlier this year the West Nile Delta gas field was discovered, lying in Egyptian waters 80 kilometres off Alexandria.

The green group called on a handful of Mediterranean countries and the European Union to ban industrial development and drilling in deep-sea areas where the biodiversity is rich.

Original Article

New Light on Polynesian Migration

Tahiti
Teahupoʻo, on the south-west coast of the island of Tahiti, French Polynesia, southern Pacific Ocean. A surf break known as Chopes off the shore is known for its heavy, glassy waves, often reaching 2 to 3 m (7 to 10 ft) and higher. Photo Source: Flick’r

By Sindhya N. Bhanoo, The New York Times

New genetic research reveals that the migratory story of the Polynesians may be more ancient and complicated than previously thought.

The original migration from the mainland may have had to do with sea level rises occurring at the time, and the formation of an archipelago.

For years, it was generally accepted that Polynesians originated in modern-day Taiwan and began moving south and east about 4,000 years ago. This migration account is based on the research of linguists, the findings of archeologists and some genetic analysis.

But a new study in The American Journal of Human Genetics reports that Polynesians began migrating thousands of years earlier, not from Taiwan, but from mainland Southeast Asia.

The study looked at mitochondrial DNA, which gives information about maternal ancestry. The researchers compared DNA samples from more than 4,700 people in Southeast Asia and Polynesia.

Based on this, they determined that Polynesians arrived in the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua New Guinea at least 6,000 to 8,000 years ago, via Indonesia, and presumably left the mainland about 10,000 years ago.

Linguists believe that Polynesian languages belong to the Austronesian language family, which originated in Taiwan.

Sea Level Rise Polynesia
Sea Level Rise, Palmyra Atoll. Photo Source: Randy Olson / National Geographic

Though the new research seems to leave the linguists in the lurch, Martin Richards, an archaeogeneticist at the University of Leeds in Britain and one of the study’s authors, believes there might be a reasonable explanation.

“It’s still possible there was the elite movement from Taiwan much later that transferred the language,” he said. “The idea would be that we do have very minor lineages that look like they came to Bismarck about 3,500 years ago and may have caused a language shift.”

The original migration from the mainland may have had to do with natural climate change.

“They may have just ended up there because of sea level rises occurring at the time, and the formation of an archipelago,” Dr. Richards said.

Pirogue Polynesie

Original Article

Iran oil spill hits Gulf coast

Oil Spill

By the AFP

An aging oil pipeline has ruptured in southern Iran, contaminating vast patches of the coast and farmland near the town of Deylam on the Gulf, the official IRNA news agency reported.

“Over 20 kilometres (12 miles) of Deylam coast and 500 hectares (1,200 acres) of farmland have been contaminated by the oil spill,” said Behrouz Atabakzadeh, the environmental protection chief in Bushehr province.

Atabakzadeh said the breakage in the pipeline between Aghajari and Deylam had happened last week, and described the damage caused by the oil spill as “irreversible.”

Mohammad Baqer Nabavi, a deputy head of the Environmental Protection Organisation, said an operation to clean up the coast was under way but admitted that it could take at least two months to be completed.

“If weather conditions are favourable, it will take at least two months to clean up the contaminated areas,” Nabavi was quoted by ISNA news agency as saying.

A storm has hampered the operation, a senior environmental official told Mehr news agency. “All equipment is ready to clean up the spill but the work is being slowed down by the storm,” Omid Sadighi said.

Iran is the second largest crude producer in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Original Article