Environment Stories: BirdsCaribbean Meeting in Cuba, Parrotfish, Coastal Cleanup Day, More: Sunday, August 28, 2016


Here’s this week’s roundup of stories on the environment and climate change, with links you can click on! Enjoy…

JAMAICA AND THE CARIBBEAN

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Join Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) and 96 other groups at 142 beach cleanup sites across Jamaica for International Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, September 17. Here is the complete site list for the entire island. If you want to register your group online to participate in JET’s cleanup at Fort Rocky/Palisadoes Beach (7:30 to 10:30 am), go to this link. Note: The registration deadline is Thursday, September 8, 2016 at 12 NOON. JET reserves the right to close registration without notice if capacity is reached before the deadline. Late submissions will not be accepted!

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith signing the Paris Agreement on behalf of Jamaica at UN Headquarters in New York. (Photo: Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade)
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith signing the Paris Agreement on behalf of Jamaica at UN Headquarters in New York. (Photo: Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade)

Update on the coal-fired power plant issue: International voices are joining the concerned voices of Jamaicans regarding the possibility of a 1000 MW coal-fired power plant to be built in our already fragile ecosystem. On the climate change aspects of the proposed project, a spokesman for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) told the Gleaner this week that Jamaica had submitted an ambitious national climate action plan to the United Nations aimed at achieving a 7.8 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. Director of the CoalSwarm Project Ted Nace pointed out that a 1000 MW plant would produce 5.6-5.8 million tonnes of CO2 annually. Jamaica produced 7.1 million tonnes of CO2 in 2012; at this rate the plant would almost double our emissions. Greenpeace spokesperson Lauri Myllyvirta adds that constructing such a plant would run counter to the fundamental goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which Jamaica signed in April but has not yet ratified. By the way, if you would like to see a list of signatories and ratifications go hereIn the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have all ratified the Paris Agreement, which is not yet in force (awaiting a minimum 55 ratifications).

Cuba’s beautiful endemic Bee Hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world. (photo by Aslam Ibrahim)
Cuba’s beautiful endemic Bee Hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world. (photo by Aslam Ibrahim)

BirdsCaribbean will hold its 21st International Meeting in Cuba from July 13 – 17, 2017. Last year’s meeting was in Kingston, and it was quite amazing – attended by 250 ornithologists, conservationists, scientists and simple bird fanatics like me! Next year we will be in Topes de Collantes Nature Reserve Park in Cuba and it promises to be an excellent, exciting and information-packed week.  Mark your diaries and stay tuned for more details on the meeting website here. Also, do like their great Facebook page (Birds Caribbean) and follow @BirdsCaribbean.

Mount Nevis may well be a good source of geothermal energy for the island. (Photo: Desmond Brown/IPS)
Mount Nevis may well be a good source of geothermal energy for the island. (Photo: Desmond Brown/IPS)

Greening Nevis through renewables: Nevis is a small island with a population of 12,000 (plus tourists) and the little sister of St. Kitts. Nevertheless, it’s heading in the direction of renewables, with a new wind farm and is exploring the potential of geothermal energy. Read this article by Courtney Powell, founder of XenogyRE.

Saving the ParrotfishDo read this article by the Jamaica Institute of Environment Professionals, subtitled An opportunity for science to guide policy. The authors argue against a complete ban on parrotfish and present alternative strategies. The introduction is telling: “It is no secret that Jamaica has one of the most overexploited fisheries in the Caribbean — indeed in the world. In fact, it is not unusual at international scientific conferences to see Jamaica’s fisheries and degraded coral reefs used as the example of a worst-case scenario when compared to other tropical countries. The fact is Jamaica has a long history of overfishing as far back as the 1970s.”

the rest of the world

 male Hawaiian monk seal, an endangered species, races after a potential mate near an undersea pinnacle at French Frigate Shoals. PHOTOGRAPH BY BILL CURTSINGER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE
A male Hawaiian monk seal, an endangered species, races after a potential mate near an undersea pinnacle at French Frigate Shoals.
PHOTOGRAPH BY BILL CURTSINGER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE

President Obama signs off on largest marine park in the world: At the end of a week of celebrations of the centenary of the National Park Service in the United States, President Barack Obama last Friday created the largest protected area anywhere on Earth: half a million square miles of the Pacific Ocean that is home to remarkable marine life. It is also of great importance to the native Hawaiian culture. The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, established in 2006 by President George W. Bush, already covered 140,000 square miles; now it is four times the size.  The area is a sanctuary for endangered species, including blue whales, short-tailed albatrosses, sea turtles, and the last Hawaiian monk seals, among thousands of other species (including ancient black corals).

Climate justice and gender justice, hand in hand.
Climate justice and gender justice, hand in hand.

A feminist view of climate and environmental justice:  Women are often in the vanguard of the struggle for environmental rights globally. Here’s a summary of the e-discussion on the topic, hosted by the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), and the University of Sussex-based Institute of Development Studies (IDS) from April 5th to 7th 2016, in preparation for the 13th AWID International Forum, which will take place in Brazil (September 8 – 11).

The Republic of Maldives consists of 1,190 islands in 20 atolls spread over 900 km in the Indian Ocean. Only 199 of these islands are inhabited with a population of slightly over 300,000 people. The islands highest elevation is 2 meters or about 6 feet above sea level. This is the capital, Male.
The Republic of Maldives consists of 1,190 islands in 20 atolls spread over 900 km in the Indian Ocean. Only 199 of these islands are inhabited with a population of just over 300,000 people. The islands’ highest elevation is 2 meters above sea level. This is the capital, Male.

At the Paris Climate Change Conference last December, Jamaican negotiators worked as a member of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) in the campaign to keep global temperatures at 1.5 degrees Celsius above industrial era levels. In this article the Environment Minister of the Maldives and AOSIS Chairman Thoriq Ibrahim says the issue is as urgent as ever. The Maldives were the fourth island state to ratify the Paris Agreement, after the Marshall Islands, Fiji and Palau.

Joan B. Rose, Homer Nowlin Endowed Chair in Water Research, Michigan State University.
Joan B. Rose, Homer Nowlin Endowed Chair in Water Research, Michigan State University.

26th World Water Week: Every year, the Stockholm International Water Institute organizes World Water Week, and this year it opens on August 29. This year’s theme is Water for Sustainable Growth. On August 31 H.M. Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden will present the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize to Professor Joan B. Rose of Michigan State University, for her tireless contributions to global public health; by assessing risks to human health in water and creating guidelines and tools for decision-makers and communities to improve global wellbeing. Some 3,000 participants from more than 120 countries will participate this year – representing governments, the private sector, multilateral organizations, civil society and academia.

This photo is not what you think. In some cases, strategic de-horning can be a poaching deterrent. Data show that de-horned rhinos survive as well as rhinos with horns, and can still defend themselves. (Photo: International Rhino Foundation, from the Zimbabwe Lowveld Rhino Program).
This photo is not what you think. In some cases, strategic de-horning can be a poaching deterrent. Data show that de-horned rhinos survive as well as rhinos with horns, and can still defend themselves. (Photo: International Rhino Foundation, from the Zimbabwe Lowveld Rhino Program).

The slaughter of wildlife in Zimbabwe: There are repeated reports that the Government of Zimbabwe is complicit in the poaching of large animals such as the rhinoceros (in 2014, twenty rhinos were killed; in 2015 the figure was 51). The state Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) is allegedly involved in supplying poachers with weapons and trading in rhino horns and elephant tusks. You can read more of this depressing story of exploitation, corruption and greed here, and the details of organized poaching across the continent on the Global Initiative Against Organized Transnational Crime’s website, here.

This is a kind of sea urchin that lives deep in the mud in temperate climates. (Photo: Daily Mail)
This is a kind of sea urchin that lives deep in the mud in temperate climates. (Photo: Daily Mail)

Answer to last week’s “What Is This?” picture: It’s a common species of urchin known as a “sea potato” (Echinocardium cordatum). They live buried deep in mud and sand offshore in temperate seas, but have turned up in their hundreds on the Cornish coast in the United Kingdom. It’s quite spiny but only its shell washes up on the shore.

Here's a Jamaican version of a sea urchin shell, minus the spines.
Here’s a Jamaican version of a sea urchin shell, minus the spines.

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