Mountain Chickens, Solar Radiation, Watersheds and More: Environment/Climate Change Roundup, July 10, 2016


I hope you find something of interest here… Feedback is always welcome! Here are my Top Ten articles…

Jamaica and the Caribbean:

There are less than 100 mountain chicken frogs left in the wild on the two Caribbean islands of Montserrat and Dominica. Photograph: Jeff Dawson/Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
There are less than 100 mountain chicken frogs left in the wild on the two Caribbean islands of Montserrat and Dominica. Photograph: Jeff Dawson/Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

Caribbean Island’s Last Two Rare Frogs are Reunited: What is a Mountain Chicken? It’s a frog! The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust is coordinating a Mountain Chicken Recovery Programme, and recently brought together a male and a female, in hopes that they will breed. They are apparently the last two remaining on Montserrat!  It’s a touching love story (the male was calling for weeks) and hopefully it will have a happy ending. Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/04/caribbean-islands-last-two-rare-frogs-are-reunited-mountain-chicken-frogs

A man was arrested and charged after being caught chopping down Blue Mahoe trees - Jamaica's National Tree, by the way - as well as Sweetwood. (Photo: diG Jamaica)
A man was arrested and charged after being caught chopping down Blue Mahoe trees – Jamaica’s National Tree, by the way – as well as Sweetwood. (Photo: diG Jamaica)

Please protect our watersheds! The National Water Commission is urging the public NOT to cut down trees! Especially in our protected watersheds. A man was arrested and charged recently after being caught cutting down dozens of fully grown Blue Mahoe and Sweetwood trees in the Hermitage watershed, near the dam. You are not allowed to be in possession of a chainsaw in these areas. Chopping down trees not only affects our water supply; it also causes soil erosion and landslides. This document is a draft National Watershed Policy (2003). I am trying to find the final one and whether it was tabled in Parliament.

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International Coastal Cleanup Day: Registration is now open for International Coastal Cleanup Day Jamaica 2016. Register to become an ICC site coordinator and host your own cleanup on September 17 – find out more information here. The deadline for registering your project is August 12!

New supercomputer will help with climate change research: Fujitsu has signed a contract with the University of the West Indies for a supercomputer through a grant from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Climate Investment Fund. The supercomputer will provide relevant data on water, food security, sea level rise and other issues resulting from climate change.

Parrotfish on sale in a St. Catherine fish market.
Parrotfish on sale in a St. Catherine fish market.

Save the Parrotfish, Save Our Islands: Sandals Resorts International has started a regional public education campaign, Save the Parrotfish, Save Our Islands. The resorts had already stopped purchasing and preparing parrotfish in their restaurants. Yes, I know parrotfish are very tasty – we just have to stop eating them. Eat lion fish instead. Here’s my take: http://gleanerblogs.com/socialimpact/?p=3261

Professor Ishen Kumba Kahwa (seated right), deputy principal, University of the West Indies (UWI), exchanges documents with Mervyn Eyre (seated left), head, Fujitsu, Caribbean, Central America and Mexico, shortly after signing a contract for the acquisition of a supercomputer. Looking on are (from left) Simone Whilby, deputy client executive, Fujitsu; Ainsley Henry, programme manager, UWI; Dr Georgiana Gordon-Strachan, director, Mona Office for Research and Innovation; and Gerard Allenz, climate change senior specialist, IDB, Washington. (Photo: Gleaner)
Professor Ishenkumba Kahwa (seated right), deputy principal, University of the West Indies (UWI), exchanges documents with Mervyn Eyre (seated left), head, Fujitsu, Caribbean, Central America and Mexico, shortly after signing a contract for the acquisition of a supercomputer. Looking on are (from left) Simone Whilby, deputy client executive, Fujitsu; Ainsley Henry, programme manager, UWI; Dr Georgiana Gordon-Strachan, director, Mona Office for Research and Innovation; and Gerard Allenz, climate change senior specialist, IDB, Washington. (Photo: Gleaner)

World:

That bad stuff called Styrofoam:  The city of San Francisco recently banned the use of Styrofoam, something we are struggling with. This short article  from the Pacific island of Guam explains why it is so bad; it literally takes centuries to biodegrade and often ends up in the stomachs of marine life.

High levels of benzene and other cancer-causing chemicals were detected during the Riverton City fire in March 2015. However, air pollution is a persistent problem in Kingston and across the island. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)
High levels of benzene and other cancer-causing chemicals were detected during the Riverton City fire in March 2015. Quite apart from such extreme events, air pollution is a persistent problem in Kingston and across the island. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)

6.5 million deaths per year due to air pollution: The recently published World Energy Outlook Special Report 2016 on Energy and Air Pollution (you can download it here) notes that air pollution is a global health crisis. Around 6.5 million premature deaths each year can be attributed to air pollution, with energy production and use by far the biggest man-made source of air pollution. The report suggests ways to resolve this problem while still achieving sustainable development goals.

Smoke curls up from the Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano part of the volcanic system of the Great Rift Valley in northern Tanzania. Intense volcanic heat in the area has trapped helium gas in large amounts in shallow fields. (Joseph Eid / AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke curls up from the Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano part of the volcanic system of the Great Rift Valley in northern Tanzania. Intense volcanic heat in the area has trapped helium gas in large amounts in shallow fields. (Joseph Eid / AFP/Getty Images)

Scientists say a rare, recently discovered Tanzanian helium field is a global “game changer”: Scientists from the UK’s Durham and Oxford Universities have discovered a major field of the rare element called helium in Tanzania’s Rift Valley. Helium (first discovered in 1868) is used in MRI scanners, space exploration and nuclear energy (and hot air balloons). It is rare on Earth but it’s the second most abundant element in the known Universe. Read more: http://qz.com/719362/a-rare-huge-helium-gas-field-has-been-discovered-in-tanzania/

The wetlands area of La Cienaga Conchal in Colombia.
The wetlands area of La Cienaga Conchal in Colombia.

Why Waterbirds Count: Did you know about the International Waterbirds Census? It is now in its 50th year! Colombia is a country of tremendous bird diversity, with over three times the number of bird species found in the whole of Europe (I just learned this – amazing). So it’s an important place to count waterbirds, especially the migratory species. Here’s a beautiful celebration of the work of the Colombian environmental NGO La Asociación Calidris on the page of Wetlands International: https://www.wetlands.org/blog/why-waterbirdscount-june/

Climate scientists face legal challenges: This article points to yet another challenge to scientists researching climate change, especially in the United States: legal harassment and lawsuits from climate change deniers, fossil fuel companies and the like, that cost them vast amounts of money and time. The Energy & Environment Legal Institute is one of the main offenders. Read more: http://www.planetexperts.com/climate-change-scientists-lawsuits-try-stop/

Here’s a final word from my hero, environmental advocate and Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who never fails to speak out and who also puts his money where his mouth is:

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