Negril Beach Discussions, Bird Shooting Season Opens, Desertification in Africa: Environment News: August 16, 2016


I have been a little under the weather, and so rather late in posting my weekly stories. However, much has been happening in Jamaica and further afield – including numerous stories about the harmful effects of coal power plants, largely in the United States, in the past week. Please click on the links (underlined words) for the full articles:

Jamaica and the Caribbean:

Dr Alexander van Oudenhoven (left) and Senior Coastal Engineer at the Deltares Institute, Arjen Luijendijk.
Dr Alexander van Oudenhoven (left) and Senior Coastal Engineer at the Deltares Institute, Arjen Luijendijk speaking at the Negril Chamber of Commerce last week.

Possible solutions for Negril beachOn August 10 the Negril Chamber of Commerce hosted a presentation by Senior Coastal Engineer at the Deltares Institute, Arjen Luijendijk and environmental scientist Dr Alexander van Oudenhoven of Leiden University in the Netherlands on alternative ways of stemming erosion on Negril beach. They pointed out that beach erosion is a natural occurrence and suggested “small scale” beach nourishment – but also emphasized the need for further study and proper monitoring of the way the sands and tides move. The meeting entitled Building with Nature – Environmentally Sound Solutions to Beach Erosion was chaired by CEO of the Jamaica Environment Trust Diana McCaulay, who urged hotels not to remove seagrass beds. Jamaican-born Dr. Thomas Goreau, President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance, also spoke at the meeting about Biorock, described as “a revolutionary regenerative technology that provides the most cost-effective solution to a wide range of marine resource management problems.” Meanwhile, what will happen to the funds allocated for the now-abandoned breakwater project in Negril?

The North-South Highway, built by China Harbour Engineering Company. (Photo: Joseph Wellington/Jamaica Observer)
The North-South Highway, built by China Harbour Engineering Company. (Photo: Joseph Wellington/Jamaica Observer)

Old Fort Bay: China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and the property owners now suffering from the carelessness of both entities, are now reportedly in “out of court” discussions over the pollution of the beautiful Old Fort Bay and its beach, in St. Ann. Residents are insisting that CHEC must put measures in place to prevent silt and garbage from flowing down into the bay from the North-South Highway. It is to be noted that the Chinese themselves are planning to build a 2,000-room hotel on land right next to the bay; presumably this is the land that was given to them by the previous Jamaican Government. First it was the huge Spanish hotels, now the Chinese developments. Will there be anything left of our once beautiful north coast by the time it’s finished with? The Highway is causing problems in a less affluent part of St. Ann too – up in Chalky Hill and Steer Town there are all kinds of problems, including an unfenced cliff that is highly dangerous. Sadly (but not surprisingly) CHEC seems unable to respond to media enquiries; do they have a public relations department, I wonder?

An explosion at a coal-fired power plant in central China last week that killed at least 21 people should serve as a warning to Jamaica, says local engineer Howard Chin, who noted the shoddy work on the above-mentioned highway as an example of Chinese poor construction standards. He also mentioned the issue of growing piles of toxic waste at coal power plants, as well as the demand for water.

I personally cannot understand why anyone would want to kill this beautiful bird (the White-Crowned Pigeon, or Baldpate) and I wish it could be crossed off the list of game birds that are allowed during bird-shooting season. No more than 20 birds can be shot in a session, and of these, no more than 15 can be the Baldpate.
I personally cannot understand why anyone would want to kill this beautiful bird (the White-Crowned Pigeon, or Baldpate) and I wish it could be crossed off the list of game birds that are allowed to be killed during bird-shooting season. By law, no more than 20 birds can be shot in a session, and of these, no more than 15 can be the Baldpate.

Bird-shooting season is here again: NEPA says the bird-shooting season in Jamaica will begin on August 20 and will close on September 25, 2016. The Game Bird Shooting Season is regulated under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1945 and anyone caught in breach of the Act can be fined up to $100,000 or imprisoned for one year. For more information or to report any illegal shooting, contact NEPA at 754-7540, toll free 1-888-991-5005.

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Are you a CARICOM national? Then why not apply to the LaunchIT program, organized by the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre? Over US$15,000 in investments are available for Caribbean cleantech startups. Apply at http://www.caribbeancic.org/launchit  Deadline is September 9, 2016!

The Rest of the World:

Sawmills that process illegally logged trees from the Amazon rainforest are seen near Rio Pardo, in the district of Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil, September 3, 2015. The town of Rio Pardo, a settlement of about 4,000 people in the Amazon rainforest, rises where only jungle stood less than a quarter of a century ago. Loggers first cleared the forest followed by ranchers and farmers, then small merchants and prospectors. Brazil's government has stated a goal of eliminating illegal deforestation, but enforcing the law in remote corners like Rio Pardo is far from easy. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
Sawmills that process illegally logged trees from the Amazon rainforest are seen near Rio Pardo, in the district of Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil, September 3, 2015. The town of Rio Pardo, a settlement of about 4,000 people in the Amazon rainforest, rises where only jungle stood less than a quarter of a century ago. Loggers first cleared the forest followed by ranchers and farmers, then small merchants and prospectors. Brazil’s government has stated a goal of eliminating illegal deforestation, but enforcing the law in remote corners like Rio Pardo is far from easy. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

What is threatening Earth’s biodiversity the most, right now? Many might say it’s climate change. James Watson, an Australian scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, and Sean Maxwell, a doctoral student at the University of Queensland, identified and ranked threats to 9,000 species. Their observations were published in Nature magazine last week, and they reached an interesting conclusion: The immediate threat is actually human activities such as fishing, agriculture, logging, poaching and so on. Less than twenty per cent were actually threatened by climate change – drought, extreme temperatures, and so on. That is not to say that climate change will not become a growing threat to species, in the future… But right now, we can stop these destructive activities!

There's a bit of chemistry in this infographic, but it clearly shows the impact of carbon emissions that fall into water (for example, from a coal-fired power plant) sometimes as acid rain. Ocean acidification eventually affects coral reefs and shellfish.
There’s a bit of chemistry in this infographic, but it clearly shows the impact of carbon emissions that fall into water (for example, from a coal-fired power plant) sometimes as acid rain. Ocean acidification eventually affects coral reefs and shellfish. (Credit: Wes Holing)

Do you know what ocean acidification is? Here’s a helpful article by The Climate Reality Project that explains what it is, why it is so harmful. Did you know that oceans absorb about 25 percent of the carbon dioxide humans produce every year? And with global warming, the level of carbonic acid is rising, with serious impacts on coral reefs and marine life.

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Deserts overwhelming Africa: The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), in a report titled Addressing desertification, land degradation and drought in Africa,  points out that two thirds of the continent consists of desert or drylands and three quarters of the land is degraded to some extent. The UNCCD and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are extremely worried about food security; Eastern and Southern Africa are suffering from their worst recorded drought in fifty years. The African Union, UNCCD and others are organizing the African Drought Conference in Windhoek, Namibia (August 15-19), which will focus on ways to halt and continue to prevent rapid desertification in Africa.

Professional tree climbers gathered samples for the study. (Photo: Mongabay)
Professional tree climbers gathered samples for the study. (Photo: Mongabay)

Yes, carbon-trading trees: Dr. Tamir Klein of the University of Basel recently published a study in Science magazine that says tall, healthy trees in almost all the world’s forests actually share carbon and nutrients with trees of different species, through a complicated system of underground roots and fungi. This might save their lives in a world that is heating up.

Wind turbines outside Stirling Castle in Scotland. (Getty Images)
Wind turbines outside Stirling Castle in Scotland. (Getty Images)

Scotland on 100% wind power: On August 6, wind turbines produced 106% of the electricity required for every home and business in the country. It was an unusually windy day. Renewable energy normally produces more than half of Scotland’s electricity.


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