Department of Interior explores climate change adaptation options at Bone Yard Beach, South Carolina. Skip to 2:09.
Losing Ground (3 minute version) (by EnvironmentalWG)
This Environmental Working Group video explains how many Midwestern industrial farms are contributing to the loss of top soil, as well as polluting precious water supplies with fertilizer and toxic pesticide pollution.
Or rather, the world is running out of topsoil, the nutrient-rich soil in which we grow most of our food.
A rough calculation of current rates of soil degradation suggests we have about 60 years of topsoil left. Some 40% of soil used for agriculture around the world is classed as either degraded or seriously degraded — the latter means that 70% of the topsoil, the layer allowing plants to grow, is gone. Because of various farming methods that strip the soil of carbon and make it less robust as well as weaker in nutrients, soil is being lost at between 10 and 40 times the rate at which it can be naturally replenished. Even the well-maintained farming land in Europe, which may look idyllic, is being lost at unsustainable rates.
Global Risks 2013 explores catastrophes that are too big and unknown to hedge, even if many of them are already coming to pass. Its portfolio is fifty risk factors thick, with water shortages, liquidity crises and orbital debris, each precisely weighted by likelihood and potential impact and charted like commodities. Backlash against globalization is up. Extreme weather is up. Nothing is down. It’s never been clear exactly whose nightmares these risks are, and the lack of attribution is part of the point. They are supposed to rise up out of the data, objective and urgent, the voice of the planet demanding to be heard.
The data visualizations in Global Risks 2013, network charts and scatter plots of drifting risk points, look like graphic notation from the avant-garde wing of jazz. Simultaneously abstracting and reconstituting survey data into swarms of color, the graphics go for impact over legibility, sketching impressions of an intricate score that, if played as music, would carry a clear, smooth, rising melody.
-“The Slopes of Davos” by T. Paul Cox
Online mapping emerges as key tool for the UN and Red Cross in getting aid to areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.
Hundreds of online map-makers around the world have pooled their talents to help relief agencies make critical decisions in the Typhoon Haiyan-stricken Philippines.
Thousands of social media images have been tagged, while citizen map-makers - dubbed “digital humanitarians” - have traced roads and rated typhoon damage for the UN and aid agencies.
Online mapping has become a key tool in Philippines relief efforts and disaster response drives around the world, with US space agency NASA issuing satellite maps showing typhoon damage in the Asia-Pacific region.
Volunteers shared more than 7,000 images on the MicroMappers Image Clicker, which were collated by the online crowdsourcing organisation the Standby Volunteer Task Force, the global humanitarian relief group GISCorps and the database organisation ESRI into online maps.
I am seriously considering stringing for Al Jazeera after my USAID adaptation contract is up. They are, by far in my opinion, leading the world in media, journalism, investigations, and “tone.”
Climate Change Shifts Bird Migration—One Generation at a Time
Biologists unravel how warming weather causes some birds to migrate earlier.
In the last few decades birders and biologists alike have noticed that spring migration is changing. Species are arriving on their breeding grounds earlier each year. It’s clear there’s a link between climate change and shifting travel dates, but a new study reveals that individual black-tailed godwits are very consistent in their migratory timing, challenging assumptions about how warmer weather shifts behavior.
These leggy, reddish shorebirds winter in Spain and Portugal. They return to their Icelandic breeding grounds each spring, between mid-May and mid-April, often nesting a month after arrival. A team of biologists who closely track their movements have noted that the birds arrive two weeks earlier today than they did twenty years ago.
To figure out why, they first tackled the long-held assumption that balmier weather might trigger individual birds to take flight sooner each season. Poring over 14 years of records for 54 individual godwits, they discovered something curious: Each bird returned year after year on roughly the same day.What did change was the birds’ nesting date.
Huffington Post (yes, HuffPo) published an excellent article on how U.S. cities are not even closely prepared for hurricanes, sea-level rise, or strong storms.
They point out that these vulnerabilities are our own doing. NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg admits to assisting businesses and people build in harms way.
Bloomberg has in general been skeptical about actually limiting development on the water. “People like to live in low-lying areas, on the beach; it’s attractive,” he told a reporter after Sandy. “People pay more, generally, to be closer to the water, even though you could argue they should pay less because it’s more dangerous. But people are willing to run the risk.”
The city’s progress on adapting to storm surge risk has so far consisted mainly of smaller steps, like working with private and public players to harden the electrical grid and seal off the subway system against the threat of flooding.
In other words, city officials are too scared, too weak, or just too ignorant to warn citizens that their lives, investments, or families are at high risk from obliteration. This is not an exaggeration. Even local officials shrug their shoulders when it comes to developing along risky ocean fronts:
Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, argued that development along the Jersey Shore has been ongoing for decades, even before there was a coastal permitting program. He said it is not the state’s role to dictate how redevelopment should occur.
“People who live along the shore always live with a risk, and they know that. That’s understood,” he said. “We at the state are not going to tell these towns you can or cannot rebuild, but we will work with them to make sure that whatever comes back will be done in as smart or protective a fashion as possible.”
What’s worse is that these cities and towns claim they are “vital” pieces of the U.S. economy. Yet, they’re not willing (or capable) to pay for clean up and rebuilding after a storm hits - that’s forced upon the American tax payer…
A rare, great read at HuffPo: Hurricane Sandy Damage Amplified By Breakneck Development Of Coast
An oil pipeline snaked across Dalian, Liaoning Province, China.
The Chinese probably eat the world''s greatest diversity of wild beasts. As their national appetite grows, American biologists are wondering, where have all the turtles gone? ›
The Chinese probably eat the world’s greatest diversity of wild beasts. As their national appetite grows, American biologists are wondering, where have all the turtles gone?
Six tons of elephant ivory crushed to dust by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A must see.
Turtles may have been a victim of dynamite used to fish illegally.
At least 70 dead turtles were spotted on beaches and in shallow waters in northern Guanacaste on Tuesday, but reports from fishermen indicate that the death toll may be much higher.
“We have reports from fishermen whose boats are surrounded by hundreds of dead turtles,” Roger Blanco, the lead investigator for the Guanacaste Conservation Area with SINAC, told The Tico Times. “They say they are headed for shore.”
With its black shell and dark body, the rare Eastern Pacific green sea turtle sub-population is considered a separate species from the green sea turtle by some scientists. The sub-population is critically endangered both in Costa Rica and worldwide.
Via TicoTimes (!: graphic image)
1) The Philippines has become increasingly vulnerable to typhoons for lots of reasons — and climate change is only one angle here.
Thanks to basic geography, the Philippines has long been one of the most storm-ravaged places on Earth, with about 8 to 9 typhoons making landfall each year, on average. The warm waters surrounding the island nation help fuel strong tropical cyclones, and there are few natural barriers to slow the storms down or break them up. …
2) Typhoons aren’t the only natural disaster the Philippines has to worry about. … But the precise risks are often difficult to pinpoint — and that makes preparation even harder. Many climate models still have trouble making predictions at a very fine-grained, regional level. And typhoons are especially difficult to forecast: While the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change thinks it’s “likely” that tropical cyclones will get stronger as the oceans warm, it’s less clear how the frequency of storms will change in the years ahead (they may even become less frequent).
3) Adaptation can help, but it’s not always enough. Many countries have managed to reduce their exposure to natural disasters over the years by implementing detailed adaptation plans. If climate change does increase the risk of natural disasters in the years ahead, then those plans will become increasingly important. …
Bangladesh, for instance, has steadily reduced the number of deaths from tropical cyclones since the 1970s through early-warning systems, shelters and evacuation plans, and building coastal embankments.
4) Where will the money come from for adaptation? There are two key questions that always come up at international climate talks like the one now going on in Warsaw. First, how will the world cut its carbon emissions to slow global warming? And second, where will the money come from to help poorer states prepare for its effects? The second question is likely to get more attention in the wake of Haiyan. …
"We have received no climate finance to adapt or to prepare ourselves for typhoons and other extreme weather we are now experiencing," Saño told the Guardian. “It cannot be a way of life that we end up running always from storms.”
It covers how environmental law can integrate climate adaptation theory. Fun stuff!