Triple cyclones pound Asia. Via
Posts tagged asia.
The best case against funding climate change policy?
India’s National Action Plan for Climate Change, a hugely ambitious programme requiring billions of dollars, is being starved of funds, officials say, as a new law aimed at giving food to the needy threatens to eat up a large chunk of government spending.
In 2009, the government set up eight national missions to tackle climate change: the Solar Mission, Energy Mission, Sustainable Habitat Mission, Water Mission, Himalayan Mission, Sustainable Agriculture Mission, Green India Mission and Strategic Knowledge Mission.
The funding allocated for these missions during the 12th Five Year Plan, which ends in 2017, was just over $40 billion. The largest amount was earmarked for the agriculture mission at $17.6 billion, followed by $8.36 billion for the Green India Mission, which aims to expand forests.
But officials and experts warn that these spending plans are now at risk due to the arrival of the National Food Security Act, which was passed last month.
The controversial new law commits the government to providing heavily subsidised food to around 819 million poor people in urban and rural areas. The legislation mandates the state public distribution system to provide 5 kg of rice per person per month at not more than 3 rupees (Rs) per kg, wheat at not more than Rs 2 per kg, and coarse grain at not more than Rs 1 per kg.
According to the act, the cheap food will be extended to 75 percent of rural dwellers and 50 percent of those living in urban areas, which amounts to roughly two thirds of the South Asian nation’s population of over 1.2 billion people.
Map: More than half of humanity lives within this circle
In yet another illustration of China’s and India’s enormous populations, Reddit recently surfaced the above population map, which claims more than half the world’s people live within a circle superimposed over a section of Asia.
Amazingly, the numbers check out.
Video (couldn’t embed). Economist says impacts will cost $60 Trillion USD.
Free weather data from aWeather. Covers West and East Africa and South Asia. US and Canada available for purchase. Extent is high resolution (9km x 9km) for past 10 years. It’s web-based, so no software needed. Good tool if you’re into climate data and modeling.
A 12-year plan to move hundreds of millions of rural residents into cities is intended to spur economic growth, but could have unintended consequences, skeptics warn.
Hundreds of heat related deaths since May.
Recent extreme temperatures that are commonly followed by floods can largely be attributed to climatic warming.
In 2010, the May temperature in Mohenjo-daro, a semi-ruined city in Sindh province, reached 53.5C (128F), the fourth highest temperature ever recorded in the world and the highest ever in Asia.
Heartbreaking and absolutely infuriating. Click through for article and video.
This occurred shortly after 178 countries, including the US, rejected an agreement to protect elephants from ivory poaching. The demand for ivory is driven by Asia’s fast economic growth, lack of education, the Catholic church (yes), and corruption.
Poachers have killed 28 endangered forest elephants in the Nki and Lobeke national parks in southeast Cameroon in recent weeks, the conservation organization WWF said on Wednesday.
With demand for ivory rising from Asia, poachers have reduced the population of Africa’s forest elephants by 62 percent over the last decade, putting the species on track for extinction, conservationists say.
The parks of southeast Cameroon, along with parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon, have some of the last significant populations of forest elephants.
"Elephants in these two protected areas in the Congo Basin are facing a threat to their existence," said Zacharie Nzooh, WWF Cameroon representative in the East Region.
Nzooh said that between February 10 and March 1, WWF found the carcasses of 23 elephants, stripped of their tusks, deep in the Nki national park. A further five were found without their tusks in the Lobeke national park, further to the east.
"The poachers used automatic weapons, such as AK-47s, reflecting the violent character of elephant poaching," he said, adding that park wardens lacked good weapons.
Vicious, invasive gallinipper mosquitoes are coming to eat you. They were brought to America by tropical storms, which deposited eggs in Florida. (Can’t wait for the headlines out of Florida this summer.)
Super-sized mosquitoes as big as quarters which can bite through clothing are headed to Florida ‘in large numbers’ this summerMega-mosquitoes which are the size of quarters are expected to take over areas of Florida ‘in large numbers’ this summer, scientists have warned. The hurricanes of last year brought large numbers of the insects to the Central and South Florida area which laid dormant eggs in the soil near ponds and streams. Now scientists are predicting heavy rainfall will come again and cause the eggs to hatch, releasing the super-sized bugs in large numbers.
The special breed of the nuisance bug, which can be 20 times bigger than common menacing Asian tiger mosquitoes, are described as ‘notoriously aggressive’. They were handed the perfect breeding ground by last year’s tropical storms, according to scientists at the University of Florida, so are coming to a town near you.
Psorophora ciliata, or Gallinipper mosquitoes as they are commonly known, have half inch long bodies and the same black-white color pattern of the more common Asian Tiger Mosquito with a wingspan of 6-7 millimeters.
They have a ‘Persistent biting behavior’ and their bite is much more painful. ‘The bite really hurts, I can attest to that,’ said Kaufman. They can also bite through light material, and like other mosquitoes only the females bite, the males Gallinippers feed on flower nectar. They also feed on other mosquito larvae and even tadpoles and are most active at dusk and dawn.
It seems that Gabon’s elephants are getting squeezed in a deadly vise between a seemingly insatiable lust for ivory in Asia, where some people pay as much as $1,000 a pound, and desperate hunters and traffickers in central Africa. It is a story of temptation — and exploitation — and it shows that the problem is not just about demand, but about supply as well. Poverty, as well as greed, is killing Africa’s elephants.
See also NatGeo’s blockbuster report exposing how the Catholic Church in the Philippines is responsible for a lot of ivory poaching.
IS CENTRAL ASIA ON THE VERGE OF A WATER WAR?
Whether it’s Israel maybe pre-emptively striking Iran, Afghanistan spiralling into sectarian violence, Libya becoming home base for Al-Qaeda, or Syria continuing to be the site of a government-led genocide, there’s no shortage of potential dirty wars and ominous harbingers in the Middle East and Central Asia. While everyone is focusing on the recent turmoil in Benghazi, a new kind of conflict is rising in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan that could eventually lead to the first water war of the 21st century.
It’s fair to say that when Louise Arbour, the hard-ass former UN prosecutor of war criminal Slobodan Milošević, lists her bets on future wars, the rest of us should take her seriously. In December 2011, writing for Foreign Policy, Arbour predicted Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, two obscure Central Asian countries to most westerners, as potential combatants in a war over quickly depleting water resources. Judging bycurrent tensions between the two, she might be right.
Basically the Tajiks, who are already plagued by an Islamic insurgency, plan to build the Rogun dam on the Vakhsh River. The river is a major tributary to the Amudarya—the main water vein for downstream Uzbekistan. While the hydroelectric power from the proposed dam would make the Tajiks rich, it’ll make the Uzbeks thirsty. This has been a problem for Uzbekistan since Stalin’s failed plan for the Transformation of Nature during the 1940s drained the Aral Sea (Uzbekistan’s main water reserve) to irrigate cotton fields.
Pissing off the Uzbeks, however, may not be what the Tajiks want to do. Besides being geopolitical wildcards, Uzbek President Islam Karimov is widely considered a tyrant, ruling over his country’s oil reserves and national wealth since a questionable 1991 election. He’s also a cheap imitation Saddam. And like any delusional dictator, he’s known for his outlandish behavior: like rewriting history books to make himself the spiritual descendant of the warlord Tamerlane, owning a soccer team in the national league (who are conveniently champions nearly every year), and allegedly ordering the assassination of a political dissident hiding in Sweden. Human Rights Watch even accused his regime of systematic torture, including boiling rebels alive.
Nearly 750 villages suddenly flooded in Myanmar (aka Burma). Over 30,000 people evacuated. Hundreds feared missing, including children. 500,000+ acres of farms flooded.
More, including donations, at Global Voices.
Siberian Salamander can freeze for years down to -50 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Remarkable Freezing Salamander
Found mainly in the Arctic Circle, Russia and Northeast Asia, the Siberian Salamander (Salamandrella keyserlingii) is a unique creature that can survive long periods of time frozen. The adult salamander is able to adapt to temperatures as low as –45 degrees Celsius by replacing the water in its blood and cells with ‘antifreeze’ chemicals, thereby protecting its tissues from damage. Other animals are known to use glucose or glycerol for protection in a similar fashion, but the exact mechanism the Siberian salamandar uses to produce its chemicals is so far unknown—but it’s highly effective. They can survive frozen for years, metres under the permafrost, and then they just casually thaw out and walk off again. Local legends claim that salamanders have revived after being frozen alongside mammoths of the Pleistocene age, but although they’ve been found 4–14 m deep in ice, it’s more likely that they just fell down cracks in more recent years. If we could discover how these creatures manage to produce antifreeze chemicals, the process could have useful applications in food storage, medical supplies, and protection of people who live or explore in the snow.
Finned and left to drown.
Another critically endangered grey nurse shark has washed up on an eastern Australian beach, with its fins removed. The first shark washed up in early August and was a rare young breeding female with both dorsal fins removed - a huge blow.
“The shark was still alive when it was found on the beach and suffered a slow, cruel death.” said MP Cate Faehrmann.
An investigation is under way but the fact of the matter is that current rules and regulations are simply not enough…