Here’s my latest “Top Ten” collection. There’s a lot going on, at home and abroad… Please click on the links (underlining words) to read the full articles.
Jamaica and the Caribbean
People power! Dr. David Smith of the University of the West Indies’ Institute for Sustainable Development says the Government’s decision not to go ahead with the breakwater project in Negril shows that citizens can successfully advocate and lobby on such issues. At the same time, he says, it demonstrates how important it is for stakeholders to be fully informed of the scientific facts, so they know what all the options and possibilities are. Very true! Negril business owners and residents kept up a steady campaign for over two years on the issue.
North-South Highway’s environmental damage: Property owners in Old Fort Bay in St. Ann, near where the North-South Highway ends on the north coast, have written to the Public Defender regarding the unusually high levels of silt and mud dumped into the sea (and onto the coral reef) by construction work on the highway. “What was once one of the most beautiful beaches and bays in Jamaica is now a virtual mud hole and garbage dump,” says one resident, who says marl sludge has been washing continuously into the bay for over a year. God help them if there is a major storm. Efforts to rectify the problem by China Harbour Engineering Company have been inadequate, it’s reported.
Garbage caused flooding in Montego Bay: The second city seems to be overwhelmed with garbage. After heavy rains earlier this week there was major flooding when the North Gully overflowed and drains were blocked. Jamaica Environment Trust highlighted this problem very recently during a tour of the South Gully; its report cited condoms and human waste among the major pollutants that were being dumped in the gully and swept into the sea. Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie has pledged to push the anti-litter bill through Parliament by year-end, making penalties much higher. The Montego Bay Marine Park Trust (which has been around since 1992 and has faced many challenges) wants its members to be given powers of arrest; their wardens see breaches but are unable to take action.
Just as concerns mount over the possible construction of a coal-fired power plant in Nain, St. Elizabeth, the first shipment of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) arrived in Jamaica with little fanfare. The Jamaica Public Service Company is importing the LNG to run its 120 MW power plant in Bogue, Montego Bay from the U.S.-based New Fortress Energy, which is finishing construction of the terminal in Montego Bay.
Under-reporting of fish catches in the Turks and Caicos Islands over decades has become a problem, says a new report published in Frontiers in Marine Science – which notes that “the total local consumption of conch equates to almost the entire total allowable catch, before exported amounts are even factored.”
The Rest of the World
Everyone loved the “green” theme of the Rio Olympics during the Opening Ceremony, but is it really so eco-friendly? I have come across several articles suggesting this is not the case. The cute mascots representing “a mixture of all the Brazilian animals” seem to make a mockery of the fact that part of a nature reserve, a piece of the biologically diverse Atlantic Forest, was destroyed to create an 18-hole golf course. A chained endangered Jaguar was used as part of a torch-lighting ceremony in Manaus (WHY?) and shot dead when she escaped. And we know all about the water pollution in the city already.
Roach invasion! Record summer temperatures are having all kinds of impacts on humans. In Baghdad, rocketing temperatures have brought on an invasion of cockroaches. Eeek! A Professor says they are “field cockroaches,” which are coming into people’s homes to escape the unusual heat (it was 53.9 degrees Celsius (129.02 Fahrenheit) in the southern city of Basra the other day). Have you noticed more insects this summer? I have.
Coal waste overflow pours into river: Investigations continue into the coal pollution spill at Rogers Energy Complex (formerly Cliffside power plant), when at least 50,000 gallons of stormwater runoff spilled from a coal-fired power plant in Rutherford County and into the Broad River in North Carolina. The Waterkeeper Alliance and Broad River Alliance say they saw leaks near a coal ash dump. “This spill is the latest in a long history of uncontrolled releases of coal-related water pollution at the Cliffside plant,” they say. This incident demonstrates the problems associated with the toxic waste from coal-fired power plants, which has to be very carefully stored.
1.5 is under threat: This is THE most important article in this collection today: Scientists are warning that we humans are going to miss a key climate target if we continue this way. We will not be able to keep within the limit of 1.5º over pre-industrial levels discussed in Paris last December, which the Caribbean and other small islands campaigned heavily on. “Atmospheric heating has been partly triggered by a major El Niño event in the Pacific, with 2016 expected to be the hottest year on record,” says this report. Please read carefully, and try not to be too frightened. We must act quickly to reduce emissions from fossil fuels!
Mobile journalists share climate change stories: Team MoJo Velo (mobile journalists on bicycles) are now in Lusaka, Zambia, having cycled over 3500km along their journey from Cape Town to Addis Ababa. You can find the intrepid cyclists here and on social media – they have uploaded nine stories on sustainability on their YouTube channel. Take a look at these brilliant videos!