Sunday Environment and Climate Change RoundUp: July 3, 2016

I started this series last week, and plan to continue with my selection of ten interesting and important articles on the topic that is dear to my heart. And It’s not all bad news! Do browse through, and let me know if I missed something important to you!

Jamaica and the Caribbean:

Do you know what a cenote is? It's a natural sinkhole (where you can swim!) resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock, exposing many underwater caves underneath. Here is one in Mexico. (Photo: Klaus Thymann/Guardian)
Do you know what a cenote is? It’s a natural sinkhole (where you can swim!) resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes many underwater caves underneath. Here is one in Mexico. (Photo: Klaus Thymann/Guardian)

Unique underwater caves link Mexico’s Caribbean coast to the Yucatán Peninsula: Enjoy these beautiful photos from the Guardian. The Mexican government is planning a marine reserve extending 200 miles, but a network of caves connecting the sea to the jungle will remain outside of the reserve. Environmentalists are calling for this unique ecosystem to be protected too. See more here.

The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) launched a major initiative to encourage the use of re-usable bags, instead of plastic at its office on Friday, July 1. It has got the support of a number of supermarket chains that will provide alternatives to the ubiquitous “scandal bag.” Yes, today is International Plastic Bag Free Day. Plastic bags account for 80 per cent of marine litter generated globally, resulting in the death of over 100,000 marine animals annually. Read more on their website: http://www.plasticbagfreeday.org

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz (centre), looks at an environmental publication on display at the launch of the Youth Environmental Advocacy Programme (YEAP) at the Holy Childhood High School on June 30. He is joined by Treasurer of the National Secondary Student Council (NSSC), Daniel Jarrett (left); and student of the Holy Childhood High School, Seana-Kaye Wright. (Photo: JIS)
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz (centre), looks at an environmental publication on display at the launch of the Youth Environmental Advocacy Programme (YEAP) at the Holy Childhood High School on June 30. He is joined by Treasurer of the National Secondary Student Council (NSSC), Daniel Jarrett (left); and student of the Holy Childhood High School, Seana-Kaye Wright. (Photo: JIS)

Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz made his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in Parliament on June 28, 2016. One of the new initiatives he mentioned involves youth. The Minister launched the Youth Environmental Advocacy Programme (YEAP) two days later at Holy Childhood High School in Kingston. Remember that the Rio+20 Declaration highlights the need for the youth to be more involved in creating the future – this is so critical. The YEAP initiative is targeted at high-school students, ages 11 to 19.

Solid waste has been a major health and environmental issue on the Pedro Cays for many years. This is an aerial image of Middle Cay — one of the three islands. (Inset) Fisherman Winston ‘Shucksman’ Kerr points to the pileup of garbage on the cay, which has caused rat and fly infestation. (Photos: Garfield Robinson/Jamaica Observer)
Solid waste has been a major health and environmental issue on the Pedro Cays for many years. This is an aerial image of Middle Cay — one of the three islands. (Inset) Fisherman Winston ‘Shucksman’ Kerr points to the pileup of garbage on the cay, which has caused rat and fly infestation. (Photos: Garfield Robinson/Jamaica Observer)

Help for Pedro Cays: The Pedro Cays are far-flung banks of sand and coral located some eighty kilometers south/south east of Jamaica. They are constantly in use by fishermen, creating major sanitation and solid waste issues that are very harmful to the fragile environment. The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries says it is starting more regular clean-ups, collecting waste on a monthly basis, and installing twenty toilets. The Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (C-CAM) administers a fish sanctuary at the cays, which are also nesting sites for seabirds such as the Masked Booby and Roseate Tern, and marine turtle species like the Hawksbill and Loggerhead turtle. Read more here. I do hope this effort will be sustained!

Magnificent Frigatebirds, Portland Bight Protected Area. (Photo: Ted Lee Eubanks)
Magnificent Frigatebirds, Portland Bight Protected Area. If you go to Old Harbour Bay, near Goat Islands, you will see them nesting in the mangroves and coastal shrubs. (Photo: Ted Lee Eubanks)

Introducing the amazing frigatebird: This bird is a familiar sight around Jamaica’s coastline. It’s a bird built for gliding. This article (focusing on the Great Frigatebird, which lives in the Pacific, Indian and South Atlantic Oceans) tells us more about this fascinating creature. By the way, our Caribbean species is the Magnificent Frigatebird (a fitting name). It doesn’t have waterproof plumage, so cannot land on the water. It can often travel long distances, for up to two months at a time, without landing; it is also well known for stealing fish from other seabirds. Read more and watch the video here.

World:

A Look at Carbon Pricing and Competitiveness: This week the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition published a paper on carbon pricing, which it says is one of the most effective and efficient ways for governments and corporations to respond to climate change. The paper concludes that putting a price on carbon does not stifle economic growth and competitiveness; in fact, in British Columbia for example, a carbon tax sparked an increase in clean technology companies generating billions of dollars. Here’s a quick overview of the issue and a link to the study from the World Bank: http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2016/06/29/a-look-at-carbon-pricing-and-competitiveness

Sidonie Asseme, a park ranger in Cameroon. (Photo: World Wildlife Fund)
Women in conservation: Meet Sidonie Asseme, a park ranger in Cameroon, who fights poaching and wildlife crime. It’s a difficult and often dangerous job. (Photo: World Wildlife Fund)

Why conservation needs women: Although science and conservation are still to a large extent male-dominated professions, it’s so important to include women at the community level. This article explores the issue of gender equity and inclusion, focusing on The Nature Conservancy’s work in Melanesia and the Kawaki Women’s Group of the Solomon Islands. Wonderful photos! Read more here.

Thwaites Glacier, west Antarctica. A recent article in the Washington Post, co-authored by NASA Sea Level Change Team leader Steve Nerem, outlines the impending hazards of sea level rise. Image credit: NASA.
Thwaites Glacier, west Antarctica. A recent article in the Washington Post, co-authored by NASA Sea Level Change Team leader Steve Nerem, outlines the impending hazards of sea level rise. (Photo: NASA).

Ten things you should know about sea level rise: For some time now, NASA has been conducting a study of sea level rise from space. How will it really affect us? Like many aspects of climate change, the problem is accelerating. Our seas are rising faster and it’s even possible that, if all the water stored as ice on the planet melted, we would see a 230-foot rise! Imagine – Portmore would be under water, wouldn’t it! The collapse of West Antarctic Ice Sheet would create an eleven-foot sea level rise. If all of this doesn’t make you too nervous, read more here! Time to build our arks, perhaps? For more facts, figures and images go to NASA’s fantastic climate change website here: https://sealevel.nasa.gov

Since 2008, the Fishing for Energy partnership has removed and diverted 3 million pounds of fishing gear from the ocean. (Credit: National Fish and Wildlife Foundation)
Since 2008, the Fishing for Energy partnership has removed and diverted 3 million pounds of fishing gear from the ocean. (Credit: National Fish and Wildlife Foundation)

Innovative Solutions to Tackling Plastic Pollution in the Ocean: Here are some brilliant and creative ideas from the Office of Response and Restoration at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). From using marine debris to create amazing art (Washed Ashore) to the Fishing for Energy Partnership, which retrieves and recycles old fishing gear from the ocean, to the ReThink Disposable campaign, which seeks to replace plastics in the restaurant industry. There are lots of ideas and useful links here.

Artisenal fishermen on the Niger River at sunset near Mopti, Mali. (Photo: Wetlands International)
Artisanal fishermen on the Niger River at sunset near Mopti, Mali. (Photo: Wetlands International)

An environmental flow for the Inner Niger Delta: Here’s an example of the importance of water and our wetlands for human survival. A recent international conference in Mali highlighted an important wetlands area on the edge of the Sahara Desert and discussed threats to its existence (irrigation dams, for example). What is an environmental flow? It “provides a picture of the quantity, quality and timing of water required to sustain ecosystems and the human well-being that depends on them,” notes this report from Wetlands International. Mali is in serious need of more food, water and energy; sustainable solutions must be found.

This apparently recent photo of a gully in Cassia Park, Kingston shows we have a lot of work to do in cleaning up our urban AND rural areas. Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica! (Photo: Twitter)
This apparently recent photo of a gully in Cassia Park, Kingston shows we have a lot of work to do in cleaning up our urban AND rural areas. Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica! (Photo: Twitter)

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