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Jun 22, 2018, 03:52 AM
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 41 
 on: Jun 20, 2018, 04:31 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Cat travels up to 80 miles stuck in air vent of Ford Focus

Male tabby was spotted by family in Clacton-on-Sea and could have been stuck for days

Press Association
Guardian
20 Jun 2018 13.17 BST

A cat is thought to have travelled up to 80 miles while wedged in the air vent of a family car.

The male tabby, who was finally spotted when the family arrived in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, having travelled from Stevenage, could have been inside the grille of the Ford Focus for up to two days.

Steven Kane, the owner of the car, said: “We’d pulled up at the seafront and I was playing on the green with my brother’s little girl when I looked up and spotted him. He is lucky that I saw him. I have no idea where we picked up our little hitchhiker, it could have been anywhere.”

Lucy Brennan, an RSPCA inspector, attended the scene and contacted the AA to free the animal.

“The cat was trapped in the grille of the car and the driver was unsure how long he had been there or where he had come from,” she said, revealing the cat had been named Ford by the charity.

“As the family had been driving around quite a lot on their holidays, from Stevenage to Clacton, he wasn’t sure where the cat may have hitched a ride during the last couple of days but the car had driven around 80 miles.

“Luckily, the cat didn’t appear to be injured but he was well and truly trapped. We contacted the AA who came out to carefully dismantle the car by taking out the headlights and bumper and freeing the poor moggy.

“He was very smelly and very hungry ... Luckily the area he was in has no moving parts and doesn’t get hot when the engine is on. Having said that, it must have been quite an ordeal for poor Ford.”

Ford was checked over by staff at the Danaher branch of the RSPCA where an existing problem with his tail was spotted, which will require amputation.

If Ford is not claimed, he will eventually be put up for adoption.

“I think we were all relieved he was rescued and my brother really wants to adopt him now,” said Kane.

 42 
 on: Jun 20, 2018, 04:29 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Scientists collect interstellar dust that formed the Earth and solar system

ZME
6/20/2018

Researchers have discovered an enormous body of interstellar dust that predates the formation of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago. The findings might revolutionize our understanding of how the solar system came to be, as well as all other planetary bodies.

It sounds unbelievable, but some of the original interstellar dust that went to form the sun, Earth, and all the other planets in the solar system can be still be found floating around in our neighborhood, even hitting our atmosphere from time to time. Presolar dust particles can no longer be found in the inner solar system, as it was long ago destroyed, reformed, and reaggregated in multiple phases. However, presolar dust can still be found in the outer solar system, specifically in some comets.

When these comets pass close enough to the sun, they release presolar dust that can reach Earth’s orbit and settle through the atmosphere, where it can be collected and later studied. Dr. Hope Ishii of the University of Hawai’i at Manoa and her colleagues used electron microscopy to study such dust particles, as well as data gathered from the Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) aboard the Cassini Saturn orbiter during its two-decade mission.

The presolar dust particles in question are actually called GEMS – or ‘glass embedded with metal and sulfide’. They’re less than one hundredth the width of a human hair in diameter and contain a variety of carbon known to decompose when exposed to even relatively gentle heating.

An electron micrograph of an interplanetary dust particle of likely cometary origin. Credit: Hope Ishii

Ishii and colleagues write that the GEMS likely formed in the interstellar medium due to grain shattering, amorphization, and erosion from supernovae shocks, then later went through subsequent periods of aggregation. Irradiation likely provided enough energy for the amorphous silicates which comprise the dust to absorb small amounts of metal atoms, the authors reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    “With repeated cycling in and out of cold molecular clouds, mantled dust and any aggregates were repeatedly and progressively partially destroyed and reformed. Cassini mission data suggest the presence of iron metal in contemporary interstellar dust,” the researchers wrote in their study.

This first generation of GEMS aggregated with crystalline grains that were likely transported from the hot inner-solar nebula, creating second-generation aggregates. Later this 2nd generation of aggregates was likely incorporated into small, icy cometary bodies.

The researchers concluded that the grains they studied represent surviving pre-solar interstellar dust that formed the very building blocks of planets and stars. As such, they provide unique insight into a pre-solar system environment, ultimately telling us how our planet and others like it came to be. We only have a rough picture of how our solar system formed from a huge disk of dust and gas, and these little grains could be the missing pieces that complete the puzzle. In the future, the researchers plan on collecting more comet dust, particularly that sourced from more well-protected comets that pass by the sun.

 43 
 on: Jun 20, 2018, 04:26 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Are we running out of water?

As the world’s water needs grow so is concern that we’re rapidly using up supplies. How worried should we be?

by Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent
Guardian
20 Jun 2018 06.00 BST

Water seems the most renewable of all the Earth’s resources. It falls from the sky as rain, it surrounds us in the oceans that cover nearly three-quarters of the planet’s surface, and in the polar ice caps and mountain glaciers. It is the source of life on Earth and quite possibly beyond – the discovery of traces of water on Mars aroused excitement because it was the first indication that life may have existed there.

The problem is that most of the Earth’s water resources are as inaccessible as if they were on Mars, and those that are accessible are unevenly distributed across the planet. Water is hard to transport over long distances, and our needs are growing, both for food and industry. Everything we do requires water, for drinking, washing, growing food, and for industry, construction and manufacturing. With more than 7.5 billion people on the planet, and the population projected to top 10 billion by 2050, the situation is set to grow more urgent.

Currently, 844 million people – about one in nine of the planet’s population – lack access to clean, affordable water within half an hour of their homes, and every year nearly 300,000 children under five die of diarrhoea, linked to dirty water and poor sanitation. Providing water to those who need it is not only vital to human safety and security, but has huge social and economic benefits too. Children lose out on education and adults on work when they are sick from easily preventable diseases. Girls in developing countries are worst off, as they frequently stop going to school at puberty because of a lack of sanitation, and girls and women travelling miles to fetch water or forced to defecate in the open are vulnerable to violence. Providing affordable water saves lives and reduces the burden on healthcare, as well as freeing up economic resources. Every £1 invested in clean water yields at least £4 in economic returns, according to the charity WaterAid.

It would cost just over £21bn a year to 2030, or 0.1% of global GDP, to provide water and hygiene to all those who need it, but the World Bank estimates that the economic benefits would be $60bn a year.
Is climate change making things worse?

Climate change is bringing droughts and heatwaves across the globe, as well as floods and sea level rises. Pollution is growing, both of freshwater supplies and underground aquifers. The depletion of those aquifers can also make the remaining water more saline. Fertilisers leaching nitrates into the supplies can also make water unsuitable for drinking or irrigation.

Cape Town in South Africa provided a stark example of what can happen when water supplies come under threat. For years the city was using more water than it could sustainably supply, and attempts to curb wastage and distribute water supplies more equitably to rich and poor had fallen short of what was needed. By late last year, a crisis point had been reached. The city’s government warned of an imminent day zero, when the water supply would simply run out. Taps would run dry. There would be no more water.

In the event, day zero was narrowly averted, in part by public exhortations to use water more efficiently, rationing, changes in practices such as irrigating by night and reusing “grey” water from washing machines or showers, and eventually a new desalination plant.

Who is most at risk?

The poor are worst hit. Jonathan Farr, senior policy analyst at WaterAid, says: “Competing demands for water means that those who are poorer or marginalised find it more difficult to get water than the rich and powerful.” Many governments and privatised water companies concentrate their provision on wealthy districts, and prioritise agriculture and industry over poorer people, while turning a blind eye to polluters and those who over-extract water from underground sources. Sharing access to water equitably requires good governance, tight regulation, investment and enforcement, all qualities in short supply in some of the world’s poorest and most water-scarce areas.

The number of water-scarce areas is increasing: Cape Town is just the beginning. A ground-breaking new study based on data from the Nasa Grace – Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment – satellites over a 14-year period discovered 19 hotspots around the world where water resources are being rapidly depleted, with potentially disastrous results. They include areas of California, north-western China, northern and eastern India, and the Middle East. Overall, as climate change scientists had predicted, areas of the world already prone to drought were found to be getting drier, and areas that were already wet getting wetter.

The authors were uncompromising: the results showed that “water is the key environmental issue of the century,” they said.

Who controls water?

There is no global governance system for water. Water is managed at a local level, and often poorly managed. The technology needed to help us use water efficiently and equitably exists, but often is not implemented. “In many instances, proper management of known technology [such as pumps, rainwater collectors, storage cisterns and latrines] rather than new technological solutions is sufficient to ensure users receive adequate services,” says Farr. “We have been solving the problem of getting access to water resources since civilisation began. We know how to do it. We just need to manage it.”

For instance, he notes, in many remote parts of sub-Saharan Africa, “there may be sufficient supplies of groundwater but there has not been enough investment in service delivery and service management to ensure that people can access this water”.

How can freshwater resources be better managed?

Some of the most effective ways of managing water resources are also the simplest. Plugging leaks in pipes is a good example – ageing or poorly maintained infrastructure wastes vast quantities of water. A dripping tap can leak 300 litres a year. In the UK, the Environment Agency has warned of water shortages across the south-east of the country within a few years, if the 3bn litres a day wasted through leaks – enough for the needs of 20 million people – continues.

Water meters for domestic users in developed countries have been controversial, because they can penalise large families which have greater needs. But they provide a readily recognisable gauge to give households more information on their usage, and encourage them not to waste water, particularly as there are readily available technical fixes, from short flush toilets to spray taps and shower heads.

Irrigation has enabled farmers even in arid regions to grow a wider variety of crops. Some methods of irrigation are highly inefficient – in hot countries, water sprayed on crops evaporates before it can reach the roots. An alternative is drip irrigation, a system of pipes that delivers water directly to the roots of each plant, but this is also prone to wastage.

Traditional methods can also be usefully restored in many regions, adds Marc Stutter, of the James Hutton Institute. He notes that in Rajasthan, in India, restoring traditional small dams called johads enabled the periodic rains to be held before they dissipated across the land. The johads led to “the miraculous revitalisation to a green landscape and the surface water returning”.

Advances in sensor technology offer a new way forward. Field sensors, available for as little as $2 a year, can monitor the moisture content in soil, letting farmers know whether irrigation is needed and allowing them to calibrate the irrigation more finely than has previously been possible.

Science is also being brought to bear on the crops themselves. Plant biologists are breeding varieties less prone to drought, through natural selection, and in some cases using genetic modification.

But science and technology can only go so far. As with most water issues, the biggest problem is still governance and equity. Farmers will grow what they can to turn a profit, and many have little alternative than to use scarce groundwater resources. Without strong governance, this can lead to disaster as the depletion has a widespread effect on the whole local community.

What about floods?

Climate change will not only mean more droughts, but also more frequent floods. These can be devastating to agriculture and cities, especially coastal cities already under threat from rising sea levels and stronger storm surges.

The World Bank estimates that the damage to cities from flooding will top $1tn by 2050 if strong action is not taken to equip cities to cope with the consequences.

Making the world more resilient to flooding involves more than just building walls and barriers such as London’s Thames Barrier, though these are still used. Increasingly, planners are finding ways to “make space for water”, and return to natural protections.

For instance, in tropical areas more than a fifth of the mangrove swamps that used to cling to the coastline have been destroyed, cut down to make way for agriculture and aquaculture. Restoring mangroves yields many benefits: they protect inland areas from sea level rises and storm flooding, and provide nurseries for fish, increasing fishing yields. Mangrove restoration projects are now operating in countries from Bangladesh and Indonesia, to Cote d’Ivoire and Suriname.

Flood plains and water meadows also provide natural water storage, with land that acts like a sponge to soak up water, releasing it gradually over time. This can prove unpopular with farmers who want to grow crops on such land, but payments from the public purse can offset the cost to them. In the UK, for instance, projects are under way from Historic England and the National Trust.

Floating houses are another idea that is taking off, from the Netherlands to south-east Asia. The houses are built on floating platforms instead of foundations, but anchored to the sea or river bed, and a wide variety of modern designs are now available. Projects are already under way as far afield as Lagos and London’s Docklands.

What next?

Sustainable development goal six from the UN concerns water, stating that safe water and sanitation should be provided to all by 2030. But WaterAid’s Farr notes that at current rates, some countries will miss the deadline by centuries. World governments will meet at the UN this summer to discuss the progress.

According to James Famiglietti, co-author of the Nasa Grace study, some of the areas most vulnerable are “already past sustainability tipping points” as their major aquifers are being rapidly depleted, in particular the Arabian peninsula, the north China plain, the Ogallala aquifer under the great plains of the US, the Guarani aquifer in south America, the north-west Sahara aquifer system and others. “When those aquifers can no longer supply water – and some, like the southern half of the Ogallala, may run out by 2050 – where will we be producing our food and where will the water come from?” he asks.
Further reading

    Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind by Brian Fagan, emeritus professor of anthropology, University of California Santa Barbara
    Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis by Cynthia Barnett
    Virtual Water by Tony Allan, emeritus professor of geography at King’s College London
    Sustainable Development Goal 6, water and sanitation, the UN, and WaterAid reports on progress
    World Health Organisation reports on water and sanitation (WASH)
    WHO and Unicef joint 2017 update report on water and sanitation
    TED talks on sanitation

 44 
 on: Jun 20, 2018, 04:22 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
4 Ways You Can Make a Difference on Climate

By Jaime Nack
Ecowatch
6/20/2018

"Where do I start?"

Whatever the forum, whatever the audience, it's always the first question I hear when I talk to people about sustainability and personal impact.

We all want to make a difference on climate change, but many of us don't know how we can or where to begin. It can seem overwhelming.

The good news is that even on a challenge as huge as global climate change, everyday people can make a real difference in their everyday lives. We'll be talking a lot about this at the upcoming Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Los Angeles from Aug. 28—30 and you should be there.

Join Climate Reality for the training in LA and learn more about all the ways you can have a real impact on your local and global community with the decisions you make daily. As a preview, here are four ways to start.

Individual Impact: Start the Conversation

Do you ever think about how many decisions you make on a daily basis? Research shows that the average person makes around 35,000 decisions every single day.

For all of us, these decisions are opportunities to have a powerful impact on our climate. Some may be inconsequential (like which shoe to put on first or what to listen to on your way to work). However, the majority can have a tremendous positive impact if we're intentional about them. Decisions like:

    What should I eat for lunch?

    How should I commute to work today?

    Should I work for an organization aligned with my values?

    Should I work for a large company where I can help drive change from the inside out?

Your individual decisions as a consumer not only signal demand for certain products to companies, they show your friends, family members and colleagues what kind of world you support. And your example goes a long way.

Community Impact: Your Neighborhood

What communities do to fight climate change comes down to the people who live there. So whether you're living in a town already committed to renewable electricity or a city yet to start recycling, you can help push your hometown forward.

If your community is already moving in the right direction, show your support. Use social media and write a letter to the editor of the local paper to show that people in the neighborhood are behind climate action.

Plus, many communities have advisory groups where residents can give feedback and advice on initiatives from electric vehicle charging stations to restaurant composting programs to green home educational programs for residents. It's your chance to help shape local policies that directly affect you and the planet.

If your community is still just getting started, you can push for sustainability programs that encourage broad participation and buy-in across sectors. One example would be the creation of an environmental task force or advisory committee to help develop local environmental policies and programs.

The business community can be a powerful ally. In some cases, including the chamber of commerce or leaders in the local business community may be an easier lift than working directly with city departments. Chambers across the globe have seen the benefits of creating "Green Business Programs," which educate businesses about how to go green and promote those that have sustainable practices.

Industry Impact: Your Workplace

No matter where you work, from corporations to nonprofits to government agencies to universities, there are lots of ways to help create change within your workplace.

As a first step, research whether there are environmental standards, certifications or industry organizations for your field. If you found some, great! Start talking to decision-makers at your organization to find out how you can engage them. If not, find others in your field who are passionate about sustainability and develop your own.

For instance, the events industry has developed green event standards (ISO 20121 and APEX/ASTM), green event certifications, and industry organizations (Green Meeting Industry Council, Sustainable Event Alliance, Green Sports Alliance).

These standards have pushed all industry stakeholders, like venues, event producers, caterers and suppliers of event products, to up their sustainability game—with huge results.

Why are industry standards such a big deal? Consider that the Olympics is essentially one large $5 billion event. The importance of the International Olympic Committee embracing the ISO 20121 standard as a requirement for all Olympic Games from 2012 onward is massive in terms of the carbon emissions, pollutants and waste it prevents.

Global Impact: Your World

Yes, the climate crisis is a global challenge. Yes, it's big. Too big for any one person to solve on their own. But together with thousands and thousands of other committed activists spread across every time zone? Now that's a different story.

That story is the Climate Reality Leadership Corps, nearly 14,500 (and growing) everyday people of all ages who all decided that our climate and our planet are too important to leave in the hands of others.

They all believed they had to do something themselves. So they came to train with former Vice President Al Gore and others. They learned how to organize their communities and create pressure for action that policymakers couldn't ignore.

Together, they've become a powerful force for change, helping push cities and universities to go 100 percent renewable and making business more sustainable all around the world.

You can train as a Climate Reality Leader and join them. You can be part of this global movement that is reshaping the world we live in. After all, these Leaders are working for solutions in ways that ripple across the planet, but they all started off as someone just like you. Someone asking, "What can I do?"

Ready for Action?

If you're ready to learn how you can make a difference in your community and for the planet, join a host of incredible speakers like former Vice President Al Gore at the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in LA Aug. 28—30.

It's three days of inspiring sessions on climate science and solutions. Three days of conversations with other world-changers just like you. Three days that point the way forward to a sustainable future. Three days that will change your life.

Applications are open and the training is free to attend, so apply today: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/training

 45 
 on: Jun 20, 2018, 04:20 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Mount Everest, the high-altitude rubbish dump

Agence France-Presse
20 Jun 2018 at 06:11 ET

Decades of commercial mountaineering have turned Mount Everest into the world’s highest rubbish dump as an increasing number of big-spending climbers pay little attention to the ugly footprint they leave behind.

Fluorescent tents, discarded climbing equipment, empty gas canisters and even human excrement litter the well-trodden route to the summit of the 8,848-metre (29,029-foot) peak.

“It is disgusting, an eyesore,” Pemba Dorje Sherpa, who has summited Everest 18 times, told AFP. “The mountain is carrying tonnes of waste.”

As the number of climbers on the mountain has soared — at least 600 people have scaled the world’s highest peak so far this year alone — the problem has worsened.

Meanwhile, melting glaciers caused by global warming are exposing trash that has accumulated on the mountain since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made the first successful summit 65 years ago.
Damian Benegas/AFP / Damian BenegasFluorescent tents, discarded climbing equipment, empty gas canisters and even human excrement litter the well-trodden route to the summit of the 8,848-metre (29,029 foot) peak

Efforts have been made. Five years ago Nepal implemented a $4,000 rubbish deposit per team that would be refunded if each climber brought down at least eight kilogrammes (18 pounds) of waste.

On the Tibet side of the Himalayan mountain, they are required to bring down the same amount and are fined $100 per kilogramme if they don’t.

In 2017 climbers in Nepal brought down nearly 25 tonnes of trash and 15 tonnes of human waste — the equivalent of three double-decker buses — according to the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC).

This season even more was carried down but this is just a fraction of the rubbish dumped each year, with only half of climbers lugging down the required amounts, the SPCC says.

Instead many climbers opt to forfeit the deposit, a drop in the ocean compared to the $20,000-$100,000 they will have forked out for the experience.

Pemba shrugs that many just don’t care. Compounding the problem, some officials accept small bribes to turn a blind eye, he said.

“There is just not enough monitoring at the high camps to ensure the mountain stays clean,” he said.

– Inexperience –

The Everest industry has boomed in the last two decades.

This has sparked concerns of overcrowding as well as fears that ever more inexperienced mountaineers are being drawn by low-cost expedition operators desperate for customers.

This inexperience is exacerbating the rubbish problem, warns Damian Benegas, who has been climbing Everest for over two decades with twin brother Willie.

Sherpas, high altitude guides and workers drawn from the indigenous local ethnic group, carry heavier items including tents, extra oxygen cylinders and ropes up the mountain — and then down again.

Previously most climbers would take their own personal kit like extra clothes, food, a sleeping bag as well as supplemental oxygen.

But now, many climbers can’t manage, leaving the Sherpas to carry everything.

“They have to carry the client’s gear so they are unable to carry down rubbish,” Benegas said.

He added that operators need to employ more high-altitude workers to ensure all clients, their kit and rubbish get safely up and down the mountain.

– Raw sewage –

Environmentalists are concerned that the pollution on Everest is also affecting water sources down in the valley.

At the moment the raw sewage from base camp is carried to the next village — a one-hour walk — and dumped into trenches.

This then “gets flushed downhill during the monsoon into the river”, said Garry Porter, a US engineer who together with his team might have the answer.

They are considering installing a biogas plant near Everest base camp that would turn climber poo into a useful fertiliser.

Another solution, believes Ang Tsering Sherpa, former president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, would be a dedicated rubbish collection team.

His expedition operator Asian Trekking, which has been running “Eco Everest Expeditions” for the last decade, has brought down over 18 tonnes of trash during that time in addition to the eight-kilo climber quota.

And last month a 30-strong cleanup team retrieved 8.5 tonnes of waste from the northern slopes, China’s state-run Global Times reported.

“It is not an easy job. The government needs to motivate groups to clean up and enforce rules more strictly,” Ang said.

 46 
 on: Jun 20, 2018, 04:17 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

'Fish Fights' Could Erupt as Climate Change Drives Species Across Borders

Ecowatch
6/20/2018

A study published in Science on Friday warned that climate change could spark global conflict over an unexpected resource: fish.

As waters warm, fish and other animals are already moving into new territory at a rate of 70 kilometers (approximately 43.5 miles) per decade, and that pace could accelerate in the future. If we do not act to lower greenhouse gas emissions, new fish species will enter the waters of at least 70 countries by 2100, challenging the regulatory framework for managing fishing rights, according to a University of British Columbia (UBC) press release.

This could lead both to overfishing and international conflict as countries compete for moving species.

"I've got a three-year-old son, and sometimes it seems like he's better at sharing than countries are with fisheries," lead author and Rutgers University assistant biology professor Malin Pinsky told National Geographic.

The research team included marine ecologists, fisheries scientists, social scientists and lawyers and used models to predict the movement of 892 different fish stocks, according to the UBC press release. Climate change tends to urge marine life towards the poles. By 2100, at least a third of many countries' national catch could come from species that didn't live in their waters decades before. In East Asia, where there are already tensions over fishing rights due to illegal fishing and disputed boundaries, some countries could find at least 10 new species in their waters that were managed by other countries before, National Geographic reported.

"Marine fishes do not have passports and are not aware of political boundaries; they will follow their future optimal habitat," study co-author and UBC postdoctoral fellow Gabriel Reygondeau said in the press release. "Unfortunately, the potential change of distribution of highly-valuable species between two neighbouring countries will represent a challenge for fisheries management that will require new treaties to deal with transboundary fish stocks."

The paper cited two examples of past disputes that hint at what's to come.

In the 1990s, Pacific salmon moved from British Columbia to U.S. waters as the ocean warmed, igniting a "salmon war," according to the Huffington Post. The UBC release explained that U.S. fishermen caught fish heading to Canada, while Canadian fishermen caught fish migrating to the U.S. At one point, Canadian fishermen even blockaded an Alaskan ferry, and British Columbia sued the U.S. In 2000, the two countries finally came to a new agreement and the suit was dropped, the Huffington Post reported.

In another example, conflict escalated in 2007 when mackerel migrated en masse into Iceland's waters, leading to a "mackerel war" between Iceland and the Faroe Islands and the EU over the two countries' rapidly increased mackerel takes. The war also escalated to a blockade when Scottish fisherman prevented a Faroese ship from unloading. Scientists said the dispute led to unsustainable fishing of the silvery fish, according to National Geographic, and the Huffington Post reported that the conflict scuttled Iceland's entry into the EU.

"Even in the countries with the best of governments, those disputes are difficult to manage," study co-author and sustainability researcher with the Stockholm Resilience Center Jessica Spijkers told National Geographic.

The paper urged governments to forestall future conflict by implementing policies that allow nations to trade fishing permits and quotas.

"Examples of such flexible arrangements already exist, such as the agreement for U.S.-Canada Pacific salmon and Norway-Russia Atlantic herring," senior study author and UBC Institute for Oceans and Fisheries associate professor William Cheung said in the press release. "Fisheries management organizations can draw from these experiences to proactively make existing international fisheries arrangements adaptable to changing stock distributions."

 47 
 on: Jun 20, 2018, 04:16 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

There’s Now an App for Mapping Seagrass, the Oceans’ Great Carbon Sink

Ecowatch
6/20/208

The launch of an online crowdsourcing database for seagrass hopes to breathe new life into efforts to conserve the underwater flowering plants, which act as both important habitats for marine species and a major store of carbon dioxide.

Patchy mapping of seagrass meadows has hampered efforts to protect the plants (which are distinct from seaweed) from threats such as coastal development, sedimentation, coral farming and sand mining, according to Richard Unsworth, a marine biologist at Swansea University in the UK and co-founder of environmental charity Project Seagrass.

The group on June 4 launched SeagrassSpotter, a collaborative initiative that allows anyone with a camera to upload images of seagrass sightings and tagged locations from anywhere in the world. The online tool also provides species information to help ordinary users identify the seagrass they find. The platform is accessible via website or mobile app for Android and iOS.

"We're asking people visiting the coast or going out to sea—for diving, fishing, kayaking—to keep their eyes out for seagrass so that they can take a picture [to] upload to our website," Unsworth told Mongabay. "The more people that get involved the more likely we are to develop a better understanding of the world's seagrass."

Seagrasses grow in shallow coastal regions, providing a crucial nursery habitat for young fish of many species. Previous reports suggest that more than 600 species of fish in Southeast Asia alone rely on these meadows for their growth and development. Seagrass beds are also an important home for marine invertebrates, such as sea cucumbers, prawns and crabs.

Some seagrass meadows also serve to store large quantities of so-called blue carbon, the carbon dioxide absorbed by the world's oceans and coastal ecosystems. It's been estimated that seagrass meadows may be able to store more CO2 in their roots than all the world's rainforests.

Seagrasses are disappearing at rates that rival those of coral reefs and tropical rainforests, losing as much as 7 percent of their area each year, according to the IUCN. More than 70 species of seagrass worldwide cover a global area estimated at up to 600,000 square kilometers (about 232,000 square miles)—an area larger than the island of Madagascar.

"We increasingly know how seagrasses support biodiverse fauna but we know little about how to manage them to be resilient into the future and how to restore these systems once they've been lost," Unsworth said.

He pointed to Indonesia as an example of a seagrass hotspot, where the dearth of knowledge about the plants could potentially lead to the extinction of these underwater gardens across the archipelago.

Indonesia is widely considered an important country for seagrass conservation. In 1994, researchers estimated the country was home to 30,000 square kilometers (11,600 square miles) of seagrass, perhaps the world's largest concentration of the plant. But in June 2017, the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), a government-funded research agency, put the country's seagrass cover at just 1,507 square kilometers (582 square miles).

"Having worked extensively on seagrass in Indonesia since 2003, I see that seagrass is largely not on the conservation radar," Unsworth said.

"When you visit marine parks and places with seagrass, its conservation is commonly not included or just there as a token inclusion. The focus is always on coral reefs, even though often the majority of the fishing effort is on nearshore shallow seagrass."

At least two studies by researchers in Indonesia have attempted to map seagrass meadows in certain locations, but both noted that nationwide mapping efforts were practically non-existent.

A handful of seagrass meadow sightings in Indonesia have been submitted to SeagrassSpotter.
Image courtesy of SeagrassSpotter

According to Unsworth, LIPI now runs a seagrass monitoring program, but it's only on seagrass meadows in marine parks where threats aren't as prevalent and widespread as in other, unprotected, coastal regions in Indonesia.

"Funding for projects by NGOs largely ignores seagrass or when budgets are stretched, they always pull the seagrass component first," he said. "Having met with fisheries officers, park managers and local government officials over many years, my overwhelming opinion is that seagrass is not considered to be of much importance."

A search of the academic literature on coral reefs versus seagrass in Indonesia reveals that five times as many studies were published about the former in the period between 1970 and 2018, Unsworth said.

He also pointed to dataset compiled by the U.N. Environment Programme's World Conservation Monitoring Centre showing huge gaps where seagrass has been mapped.

"The gaps are places where the environmental conditions suggest seagrass should be prevalent," Unsworth said. "This includes many areas where I personally have observed extensive seagrass, such as Buton, Selayar, Central Sulawesi."

The latest figures from LIPI indicate that only 40 percent of seagrass in Indonesia is considered in healthy condition. Coastal land development, sedimentation, waste pollution, coral aquaculture and sand mining are the top threats to Indonesia's seagrass.

Unsworth and his team of researchers published a report in April that indicates 90 percent of the seagrass meadows they examined in Indonesia had been extensively damaged and degraded over the past five years.

"Seagrasses in some parts of Indonesia are very well mapped, but across the nation knowledge is very poor and this comes at an important time given what we know about the losses of seagrass," he said.

Other countries, like Australia, have also reported findings of extensive seagrass meadows in seabeds deeper than 20 meters (66 feet), but "next to no deepwater seagrass has ever been documented in Indonesia," Unsworth said.

"This is probably because no one has ever looked for it," he said.

To date, SeagrassSpotter has collected more than 1,000 records of seagrass around the UK and northern Europe. Globally, the group hopes to obtain at least 100,000 records by engaging people from around the world to collect data about seagrass in their locality. All collected data will be freely available to the public.

"If people don't know where seagrass is and why it's of value," Unsworth said, "then they won't take action to preserve it."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.

 48 
 on: Jun 20, 2018, 04:13 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

'Historic First': Nebraska Farmers Return Land to Ponca Tribe in Effort to Block Keystone XL

By Jessica Corbett
Ecowatch
6/20/2018

In a move that could challenge the proposed path of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline—and acknowledges the U.S. government's long history of abusing Native Americans and forcing them off their lands—a Nebraska farm couple has returned a portion of ancestral land to the Ponca Tribe.

At a deed-signing ceremony earlier this week, farmers Art and Helen Tanderup transferred to the tribe a 1.6-acre plot of land that falls on Ponca "Trail of Tears."

Now, as the Omaha World-Herald explained, rather than battling the farmers, "TransCanada will have to negotiate with a new landowner, one that has special legal status as a tribe."

The transfer was celebrated by members of the Ponca Tribe as well as environmental advocates who oppose the construction of the pipeline and continue to demand a total transition to renewable energy.

"We want to protect this land," Larry Wright Jr., the chairman of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, told the World-Herald. "We don't want to see a pipeline go through."

"While TransCanada is trampling on Indigenous rights to fatten their bottom line, Native leaders are resisting by building renewable energy solutions like solar panels in the path of the pipeline," said 350.org executive director May Boeve.

"Repatriating this land to the Ponca Tribe raises new challenges for the Keystone XL pipeline and respects the leadership of Native nations in the fight against the fossil fuel industry," she added. "Tribal sovereignty is central to the movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground and build a more just society for all."

Author and 350.org cofounder Bill McKibben called the land transfer an "important strategic move," while also noting that "it's sacred ground."

In recent years, the Tanderups have worked with Ponca leaders to grow the tribe's sacred corn on the land that's now been returned. The signing ceremony featured the fifth planting of the corn and a performance by Ponca singers and grass dancers.

"It's an honor to be here today to celebrate this gracious and generous donation nation to the Ponca Nation," Wright said at the ceremony. "This event is another step to healing old wounds and bringing our people together again to a land once ours."

The Tanderups—who have joined with Indigenous and environmental advocates to protest Keystone XL—said the possibility of blocking the pipeline was only one of the factors that contributed to their decision.

"The Ponca and people of this community continue to build strong relationships as they work in collaborative efforts," Art Tanderup told the Norfolk Daily News. "It is only fitting that out of the tragedy of the Ponca Trail of Tears that a small piece of this historic trail be transferred to them."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

 49 
 on: Jun 20, 2018, 04:12 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

A Ghanaian Chef Feeding His Country and Combating Food Waste

Ghanaian chef Elijah Amoo Addo is on a mission to feed his nation on the excesses the food industry creates. Since 2012, he has been collecting unwanted stock or food nearing its use-by date from suppliers, farmers and restaurants in Ghana to redistribute to orphanages, hospitals, schools and vulnerable communities through his not-for-profit organization Food for All Africa. They provide meals through a Share Your Breakfast program in addition to donating stock to be used later. The organization supports and encourages communities to farm and works with stakeholders within Ghana's food industry on ways to combat waste.

The idea was born in 2009 when Amoo Addo was on his way to work at a top restaurant in Ghana's capital Accra, when he came across a mentally challenged man collecting leftover food from street vendors to hand out to other vulnerable people. The young chef asked what the man was doing.

He told him that if he didn't help others who needed it, who would?

Making sure everyone had access to nutritious food was a "shared responsibility," Amoo Addo decided.

With support from public and private organizations, Food for All Africa studied food waste in Ghana, estimating that around 45 percent of all food goes to waste. A 2016 U.N. International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) report found 3.5 million children (28.3 percent) live in poverty in Ghana, with 1.2 million of those living in households unable to provide adequate food. The National Development Planning Commission also found that 24 percent of all child mortality cases in Ghana are associated with undernutrition, and the annual costs associated with child undernourishment are estimated at around US$1 billion.

Amoo Addo sees reducing food loss as a way to provide food to those in need throughout the nation, helping Ghana reach the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal Number 2—eradicating hunger.

Along with still doing the work of going out to feed those in need his organization is now looking for nationwide, policy change. Over the past year, Food for All Africa has been working on a National Food Donors Encouragement Bill to help simplify the process for businesses within Ghana's food supply chain to donate their excesses.

While Amoo Addo found France's 2016 decision to ban some forms of food waste inspiring, it was a bit too extreme to work in Ghana, he said. Regulating the system and making it easier for suppliers to donate is a better place to start, he found.

"We realized it's not as if they don't want to donate. The willingness is there—they want to give. It's more the stress they have to go through in giving," Amoo Addo said. The bill will make it easier and straightforward to get the tax breaks on donations, he added.

Currently, it takes weeks and a lot of back and forward between different government departments to get tax benefits on the donations, according to Amoo Addo.

Despite the challenges, there are more and more people and companies willing to help feed those in feed. The charity's biggest donor, the food distribution company Kwatsons, gave close to US$91,000 worth of products in 2017. It saw a 48 percent increase in food donations from the previous year.

Around the 2017 Christmas holiday season in Ghana, Amoo Addo noticed a lot more organizations and community groups focused on combating waste and hunger than in previous years, by doing either direct donations to those in need or organizing free meals through the nation. "It gave me a source of encouragement. People are now thinking more and caring more—most especially the youth. A lot of the youth are now focusing more on combating hunger," Amoo Addo noted.

Never one to sit back on his plans, Amoo Addo and his Food for All Africa have also developed an app intended to make it easier for those who have food to donate to connect with those who are in need.

Smartphone use and penetration in Ghana is high, from cheap models to the latest iPhone, more people are likely to have a smartphone than a laptop—in 2016, 65.74 percent of the population had mobile data access. The organization hopes to harness this usage and launch the app in 2018. Amoo Addo wants to see the National Food Donors Encouragement Bill passed this year, as well. He is also expanding a new venture: community food centers where vulnerable people are able to collect food donations, much like a food bank in developed nations.

 50 
 on: Jun 20, 2018, 04:09 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
What is the summer solstice? An astronomer explains

The Conversation
18 Jun 2018 at 07:45 ET                   

The summer solstice marks the official start of summer. It brings the longest day and shortest night of the year for the 88 percent of Earth’s people who live in the Northern Hemisphere. People around the world observe the change of seasons with bonfires and festivals and Fête de la Musique celebrations.
The solstice is the 24-hour period during the year when the most daylight hits the Northern Hemisphere.
Przemyslaw ‘Blueshade’ Idzkiewicz, CC BY-SA

Astronomers can calculate an exact moment for the solstice, when Earth reaches the point in its orbit where the North Pole is angled closest to the sun. That moment will be at 6:07 a.m. Eastern Time on June 21 this year. From Earth, the sun will appear farthest north relative to the stars. People living on the Tropic of Cancer, 23.5 degrees north of the Equator, will see the sun pass straight overhead at noon. Six months from now the sun will reach its southern extreme and pass overhead for people on the Tropic of Capricorn, and northerners will experience their shortest days of the year, at the winter solstice.

The sun’s angle relative to Earth’s equator changes so gradually close to the solstices that, without instruments, the shift is difficult to perceive for about 10 days. This is the origin of the word solstice, which means “solar standstill.”

This slow shift means that June 21 is only about 1 second longer than June 20 at mid-northern latitudes. It will be about a week before there’s more than a minute change to the calculated amount of daylight. Even that’s an approximation – Earth’s atmosphere bends light over the horizon by different amounts depending on weather, which can introduce changes of more than a minute to sunrise and sunset times.
Even today, visitors flock to see the solstice at Stonehenge.
Stonehenge Stone Circle, CC BY

The ConversationMonuments at Stonehenge in England, Karnak in Egypt, and Chankillo in Peru reveal that people around the world have taken note of the sun’s northern and southern travels for more than 5,000 years. From Stonehenge’s circle of standing stones, the sun will rise directly over an ancient avenue leading away to the northeast on the solstice. We know little about the people who built Stonehenge, or why they went to such great effort to construct it – moving multi-ton stones from rock outcrops as far as 140 miles away. All this to mark the spot on the horizon where the sun returns each year to rest for a while before moving south again. Perhaps they, like us, celebrated this signal of the coming change of seasons.

Stephen Schneider, Professor of Astronomy, University of Massachusetts Amherst

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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