Tag Archives: Environment

Mystery: No one knows what’s causing the big bee die-off

Every third bite of food we consume depends on pollination by bees. But the bees are disappearing and no-one seems to know why.

News of a mass die-off of bees first broke in 2006. By the spring of 2007 it was clear that the newly dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder was widespread. A quarter of all U.S. beekeepers had suffered losses and more than 30 percent of all bee colonies in the country were wiped out. Huge die-offs also came in Australia, Canada, Brazil, China, Europe and other regions. In Britain, losses averaged more than 30 per cent over 2007-08.

Is Globalization to blame?

Read more in The New Internationalist


Brazil’s politicians blamed for floods that killed 105

RIO DE JANEIRO — As the torrential rains began to recede over Rio de Janeiro today, following the state’s worst floods since 1966, one question was stamped onto every newspaper front-page in Brazil: Why?

Why was Rio de Janeiro – Brazil’s second largest city and one with a history of tropical rainstorms and flooding – not better prepared for the catastrophe that struck on late Monday and Tuesday this week, when an estimated 11 inches of rain crashed down onto the iconic city and and its neighboring towns in just 24 hours?

With rescue attempts continuing in several of Rio’s hillside slums, the city’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, tried to duck questions about why the floods, which have officially claimed at least 105 lives and which brought much of the city to a standstill on Monday night and Tuesday, caused such havoc.

But urban planning specialists and environmentalists have been quick to react – blaming Rio’s politicians for decades of poor spending, confused housing policy, and even outright corruption.

“This was an tragedy foretold,” says Sergio Ricardo, a leading Rio environmentalist. “To this day, the city does not have any kind of alert or prevention system – something that is common in other cities that are as vulnerable as Rio.” Read more from the Christian Science Monitor.

Vandana Shiva: Green Revolution brought ‘water famine’ to India

Since 1966 – and as a consequence of the introduction of the Green Revolution model of water-intensive, chemical farming – India has over-exploited her groundwater, creating a water famine, Vandana Shiva writes.

Intensification of drought, floods and cyclones is one of the predictable impacts of climate change and climate instability. The failure of monsoon in India, and the consequent drought, has impacted two-thirds of the country, especially the breadbasket of India’s fertile Gangetic plains. Bihar, for example, has had a 43 percent rainfall deficit, and the story is the same in many other parts of India.

In the final analysis, India’s food security rests on the monsoon. Monsoon failure and widespread drought imply a deepening of the already severe food crisis triggered by trade-liberalisation policies, which have made India the capital of hunger. Read more in Resurgence.

Krugman: Environmental Econ 101

If you listen to climate scientists — and despite the relentless campaign to discredit their work, you should — it is long past time to do something about emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, economist Paul Krugman writes. If we continue with business as usual, they say, we are facing a rise in global temperatures that will be little short of apocalyptic. And to avoid that apocalypse, we have to wean our economy from the use of fossil fuels, coal above all.

But is it possible to make drastic cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions without destroying our economy?

In what follows, Nobel Prize-winner Krugman will offer a brief survey of the economics of climate change or, more precisely, the economics of lessening climate change. I’ll try to lay out the areas of broad agreement as well as those that remain in major dispute. Read more in The New York Times.

Did American conservationists go too far in Africa?

Then, as they say, things went horribly wrong.
” ‘ ‘The Owenses earned a reputation in the valley for their intolerance of local people. “Their whole attitude was ‘Nice continent. Pity about the Africans,’ ” said another European who knew them.
P. J. Fouche, a professional hunter who manages a hunting concession in a game-management area near where the Owens couple lived, said that Mark Owens developed a proprietary feeling about the park’s wildlife. “He didn’t want them”—the Africans—“to be anywhere near his animals. That’s how he saw the animals, as his.’ ” Read more in The New Yorker.

Shell gets offshore drilling permit for NW Alaska

The Associated Press reports that the U.S. government has approved clean air permits for Shell Oil to drill exploratory wells in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska’s northwest coast.  U.S. Sen. Mark Begich made the announcement Thursday.

Shell wants to drill three exploratory wells on the Arctic Ocean acreage leased offshore in a 2008 sale.

The clean air permit issued by the Environmental Protection Agency clears a regulatory hurdle for Shell.  But the company faces others before drilling can begin off Alaska’s northwest coast.

The announcement came one day after President Barack Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a revised outer continental shelf leasing program that affects four areas off Alaska.

Scientist says only earth can save itself

Professor James Lovelock, the scientist who developed Gaia theory, says it is too late to try and save the planet, BBC News reports.

The man who achieved global fame for his theory that the whole earth is a single organism now believes that we can only hope that the earth will take care of itself in the face of completely unpredictable climate change.

He said that while the earth’s future was utterly uncertain, mankind was not aware it had “pulled the trigger” on global warming as it built its civilizations.  At the age of 90, Professor Lovelock is resigned to his own fate and the fate of the planet. Whether the planet saves itself or not, he argues, all we can do is to “enjoy life while you can”. Watch the videos.