Archive for March, 2011

Environment: Study finds billion-plus people to lack water in 2050


Posted on 05:08 PM, March 31, 2011

WASHINGTON — More than one billion urban residents will face serious water shortages by 2050 as climate change worsens effects of urbanization, with Indian cities among the worst hit, a study said Monday.

The shortage threatens sanitation in some of the world’s fastest-growing cities but also poses risks for wildlife if cities pump in water from outside, said the article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study found that under current urbanization trends, by mid-century some 993 million city dwellers will live with less than 100 liters (26 gallons) each day of water each — roughly the amount that fills a personal bathtub — which authors considered the daily minimum.

Adding on the impact of climate change, an additional 100 million people will lack what they need for drinking, cooking, cleaning, bathing and toilet use.

“Don’t take the numbers as destiny. They’re a sign of a challenge,” said lead author Rob McDonald of The Nature Conservancy, a private environmental group based near Washington.

“There are solutions to getting those billion people water. It’s just a sign that a lot more investment is going to be needed, either in infrastructure or in water use efficiency,” he said.

Currently, around 150 million people fall below the 100-liter threshold for daily water use. The average American has 376 liters delivered a day, although actual use varies widely depending on region, Mr. McDonald said.

But the world is undergoing an unprecedented urban shift as rural people in India, China and other growing nations flock to cities.

India’s six biggest cities — Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad — are among those most affected by water shortages. The study forecast that 119 million people would face water shortages in 2050 in the Ganges River delta and plain alone.

With an annual monsoon, India does not lack water. But it struggles to preserve the water from the wet season to the dry season, Mr. McDonald said.

West Africa, which sees some of the world’s heaviest rainfall, will also face water shortages in cities such as Lagos, Nigeria, and Cotonou in Benin, the study found.

The study warned of threats to ecosystems if developing nations take water from elsewhere. India’s Western Ghats region, a potential source for thirsty cities, is home to nearly 300 fish species, 29% of which are found nowhere else, it said.

“If cities are essentially drinking rivers dry, that has really bad effects on the fish and the reptiles and everything else in the river,” Mr. McDonald said.

Instead, the study recommended reforms to agriculture — usually the top consumer of water — and improved efficiency, as nearly half of the water in some poor countries is wasted due to leaks.

“There is a lot of potential for increase in water-use efficiency in the agriculture sector, or indeed in the residential sector, to solve most of this challenge,” Mr. McDonald said.

The study said there would be a need for international funding to help poorer nations “to ensure that urban residents can enjoy their fundamental right to adequate drinking water.”

UN-led talks last year on climate change agreed on practicalities to set up a global fund to assist poor nations most hit by climate change, with a target of $100 billion a year starting in 2020.

Other cities forecast by the study to face a water crunch include Manila, Beijing, Lahore and Tehran. — AFP

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Environmentalists up in arms over plans for Šumava National Park

Jan Stráský
“Mr. Stráský absolutely ignores any advice from scientists and has
decided to abolish the scientific advisory board of the Šumava National
Park in order to prevent scientists telling him things that he doesn’t
want to hear. He is clearly following the advice of logging companies and
has decided to increase the sale of timber from the national park.”

What alternative are you suggesting – how should the management
this problem?

“The new director and the minister of environment should simply follow
the common practice of all European national parks. They should leave
substantial parts of the park to nature so that we can see what happens
when mountain spruce forests are left to nature and what the natural
development is of this kind of eco-system.”

So what are environment activists doing about it at this point? Have
challenged the management’s policy and voiced a protest?

“We are negotiating with the Environment Ministry and have called on the
ministry to intervene in the situation and to force the director of the
national park to follow the common European practice. At the same time we
are mobilizing people to put pressure on the government and call for a
proper national park in Šumava. Thousands of people have already signed a
web petition calling on the prime minister and the leaders of the other
coalition parties to intervene in the situation and to secure nature
conservation both in the Šumava National park and in other public forests
in the Czech Republic.”

And what kind of response have you had –are they listening to what
are saying?

“There has been no specific reaction yet. It is probably too soon for
that. We will continue negotiating with the government and we hope that
environment minister and party leaders will intervene in this matter
because it is not only about the Šumava National Park, you have a very
similar situation in other public forests in the Czech Republic where
logging and timber sales are being given preference over tourism and
landscape management.”

Do you feel that this is a trend that will be hard to reverse?

Vojtěch Kotecký, photo: Hnutí Duha
“I actually think that it might be defeated relatively easily, because
it will definitely lead to massive public opposition. People in the Czech
Republic love their forests, thousands of people hike there, pick
and take long walks and we believe that massive public opposition to these
plans will force the government to make a major U-turn and will persuade
to support protection of the environment and preserve our forests and
national parks for tourists rather than securing it for the logging

You know Jan Stráský’s views on this matter were fairly well
known even
before he was appointed to this post – do you feel that he was selected
with this in mind?

“I think that it was, to a large extent, a mistake on the part of the
new environment minister who had no experience with Mr. Stráský and he
genuinely believed that he might, as a former politician, be able to
negotiate this matter well. Unfortunately it turned out that Mr. Stráský
is one of the most extreme supporters of massive logging in the national

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Nature’s elements in Earth Hour, Nottingham Launch

Thursday, March 31, 2011

CAMELLA Communities Davao joined the millions of people all over the globe as they switched off for the Earth Hour last Saturday evening, in a dovetail event of the grand launch of Camella Northpoint’s third green building, Nottingham.

Camella’s commemoration of the Earth Hour was equally memorable with the grand launch, as Nottingham will be the first 10-storey condo building in Davao.

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Like Northpoint’s first two buildings, Manchester and Birmingham, Nottingham is another green building. As such, it pays homage to the Earth Hour as its launch opens Camella’s commemoration of this global event.

The evening started with the unveiling of Nottingham in a lavish program that invoked the four elements of nature: wind, water, fire, and earth. Each element was presented through dance and music, in a nature-themed presentation in line with the Earth Hour.

Guests were regaled by a tribal dance to represent Earth, synchronized swimming for Water, fire dance for Fire, and a ballet dance for Air. Each performance was beautiful and entertaining on its own, and set the nature-inspired tone of the night as the event segued to the Earth Hour.

Camella invoked the stability, permanence, and resilience of Earth, likening its strength and dependability to Northpoint as it stands firm on solid ground of undulating land — stable, strong and offering a safe haven for its residents.

Water’s serenity and stillness are adopted in Northpoint’s serene environment amidst the hustle and bustle of city life, providing its residents a green oasis for rest and relaxation in the middle of the concrete jungle.

A ballet performance represented Air, manifesting the grace, intellect and dynamism of this element that exists without form. Northpoint symbolizes the intellect and dynamism of Air with its green architecture that is a testament to Camella’s extensive planning combined with creativity and artistry.

The fourth element, Fire, was symbolized by a fire dance. Its energy, passion, and power inspired the vision that became the cornerstone of Northpoint’s development. Fired up by the vision of fulfilling people’s dreams for the ideal home, Camella develops Northpoint as a masterplan creation that offers a new landmark in prime urban living.

After the presentation of all four elements, a ball of fire lit the bonfire to signal the unveiling of Nottingham, followed by a speech on green architecture by Marlon B. Escalicas, general manager of Camella Communities Davao, and a video presentation.

Camella’s Head of Planning, Architect Art Secuya, led the countdown to the Earth Hour, and as the clock struck 8:30 p.m., Camella turned off all lights and halted the ongoing construction on the site. An acoustic band serenaded the guests as the Earth Hour takes its hour-long commemoration all over the world.

Guests enjoyed the good food, dancing, and music, as well as the spectacular view of the clubhouse, Wakefield Manor, and its salinated water swimming pool. Lighted colorful lanterns offered muted lighting to add to the cool, pleasant ambiance of the evening’s affair.

Camella’s Nottingham launch and Earth Hour commemoration is another successful, memorable event that puts another feather on Northpoint‘s cap as an upcoming events destination in Davao. Camella Northpoint is the landmark condominium development in Davao of Camella Communities, a subsidiary of the country’s largest homebuilder, Vista Land Lifescapes.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on April 01, 2011.

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Tourism has huge stake in healthy environment

Tourism is a $1.8-billion industry in Nova Scotia, providing over 35,000 jobs across the province, and contributing over $225 million in taxes. The success of the tourism sector is very dependent on a healthy and sustainable environment. Nature- based, experiential tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of tourism and Nova Scotia has been blessed with an abundance of natural assets.

Tourism’s reliance on a healthy environment is directly linked to its economic success. Cultural, historical and natural landscapes are rapidly disappearing worldwide. As they become more precious, destinations with healthy and sustainable environments will become increasingly desirable.

Over the past few decades, Nova Scotia has seen its natural heritage damaged by outdated forestry practices, marine pollution, and shrinking public coastal access. The need for strong public policy around the area of our natural resources has never been greater.

In 2007, the government announced a new strategy would be developed for managing natural resources in Nova Scotia by 2010. This was welcome news to many stakeholders. Although significant public consultation has occurred, and the recommendations from this process have called for significant changes, the final strategy has still not been released. The sooner an approach is finalized, the better, and then a decision can be made in the context of a broad provincial plan that serves the best interests of all of Nova Scotia.

The positive announcement by government in late 2010 to reduce clear-cutting by 50 per cent, ban whole-tree harvesting and eliminate public funding of herbicide-spraying has been overshadowed by recent announcements of additional biomass projects — before the natural resource strategy has been released and the environmental impact to this energy approach is truly understood.

Without the context of a broad strategy around our natural resources, decisions like this appear to be contrary to the spirit of a sustainable and progressive plan for Nova Scotia.

Tourism is one of many stakeholders interested in seeing a more progressive and sustainable approach on issues related to our natural environment. We believe this could be government’s most important legacy, because a healthy environment is at the core of a healthy economy — no longer can these be looked at in isolation.

Darlene Grant Fiander is president of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS).

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What is Earth Day?

Earth Day is a day that is intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s natural environment. Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970. While this first Earth Day was focused on the United States, an organization launched by Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations.
Earth Day, April 22nd 1970 marked the beginning of the modern environmental movement. Approximately 20 million Americans participated. Two thousand colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, Freeway and expressway revolts, the loss of wilderness, and air pollution suddenly realized they shared common values. Senator Nelson stated that Earth Day “worked” because of the response at the grassroots level.
It is now observed in 175 countries, and coordinated by the nonprofit Earth Day Network, according to whom Earth Day is now “the largest secular holiday in the world, celebrated by more than a half billion people every year.” Environmental groups have sought to make Earth Day into a day of action which changes human behavior and provokes policy changes (for detail go to

Earth Day, Nagaland
A wise man I recently met quip, “We are now literally living in a garbage dump.” It’s true; you cannot site an area without seeing litter strewn around. We are so use to living in litter and dirt that we are conditioned to it. Does it matter to me if someone spits anywhere except the dustbin? Does it matter to me if someone throws waste anywhere except in their common room? No, because it’s not my business, right? Besides the government don’t pay me to be an Environment Police!! Hey, I cannot fight the majority, let me just join them! Here it goes, my sweet wrapper, off to the streets… How sad it is to live a life of individualism, not to think of a life beyond the self. Can I go beyond the “I, Me, and Myself” syndrome and do something for others, or for the community, for the society, for the earth, for our future, and the future of our children?
If we look deep within us human nature, there is in each one of us an indwelt nature that longs for something good, for purity and for a hope of a better tomorrow. Let us seek this quality in us, rediscover our potential to do good deeds and apply it while we are still capable of doing it. We can do it, if we are determined, if we have the desire. We can achieve a model clean society. Why not? God has given us the same sense, as he has given a Singaporean and Japanese! All we need is an attitude change, and move beyond the Self.
Earth Day 2011 is challenging you, every member of a conscious society to be involved in a drive to keep our environment clean and to protect it. Earth Day isn’t the only day when the world can and should celebrate the planet we all share. In fact it should be the way to live.
Earth Day Network and Resource Centre
For the first time in Nagaland Earth Day Network is going to work in collaboration with Resource Centre, Dimapur in an effort to sensitize the people of Nagaland about environmental issues. It has targeted some schools in Dimapur area who will be involved in a one month long project, from 1st to 20th April. During the period the selected schools will be contributing articles, poems, captions, slogans, drawings, putting up bulletin boards, planting trees etc. as a part of their activity. We are also very gracious to the media partners who have understood their role in creating public awareness through their papers. The students’ contributions will be highlighted in the major dailies for the same period. Certain programs will also be taken up with the Nagaland Pollution Control Board and various other organizations. The programme will culminate on 20th April. However, we hope that through this effort the citizens of Nagaland will take up personal responsibility to create a clean, safe environment even in days and years to come.
Now let me go pick up the sweet wrapper I threw and put it in the dustbin!

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European settlers not the first to alter american landscape


Credit: NPS / George Ratliff

One of the great American myths claims that before Europeans colonists settled in North America, Native Americans existed in total harmony with nature, surviving on the renewable bounty that the continent’s natural environment provided and altering little of the surrounding landscapes. They were America’s first environmentalists and the land they lived in remained unspoiled. But that is not entirely true.

Research by scientists at Baylor University, the Smithsonian Institution, and Temple University has found that the Native Americans who lived in the Delaware Valley, the river valley that separates New Jersey from Pennsylvania, dramatically altered its terrain with their farming. They cleared forests and increased the number of floods.

“From the period 1000-1600 A.D., a few hundred years before European colonization, there was this episode of strong, more frequent flooding that coincides with increase in prehistoric land use,” said Gary Stinchcomb, a doctoral student at Baylor and lead author of the study. “We also find increasing [numbers of] maize kernels and we also find more grasses at the site.”

While the alteration in the was hardly in the league with what the colonists did later — the pre-colonial population was never very large — the impact was not insignificant and the alterations continued until the Native Americans left the valley in the early 18th century.

Another myth is that the Eastern part of , particularly the mid-Atlantic states and the Northeast, were completely forested. That is also likely not true as the Native Americans had to clear the forest to make way for their crops, and corn was grown almost everywhere along the East Coast.

The paper appears on-line in the journal Geology.

The Native Americans in the area were called Delawares by , called them-selves Lenni Lenape and are now virtually extinct. They moved out of the area before the American Revolution, leaving behind only place names. The few remaining Le-nape have gone to Canada or been absorbed into the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, and the last native speaker died decades ago.

Stinchcomb said the researchers analyzed a range of material as part of their study, including: maize kernels deposited by the floods at archeological sites in the area, carbon dating, geochemical signatures of carbon, artifacts and bodies called phytoliths or plant stones which are small silica bodies found in many plants, especially grass and maize. The phytoliths give researchers a picture of what types of plants were in the area.

The researchers found that during the period archeologists call the Late Woodland, the 500 or so years before the European colonization, the number of agricultural sites in the valley grew dramatically as the Native Americans greatly increased land use.

While a population increase could account for some of the expansion, a more likely scenario is increased agriculture.

According to Dean Snow, professor of archeological anthropology at Pennsylvania State University, the Lenape depended on deer hides for clothing, which motivated hunters to follow the wanderings of deer throughout the valley. They always returned to their villages, where the crops were being raised. If the deer moved, the Lenape and their farms and villages moved with them.

The researchers also looked at sedimentation rates or flooding in the river valley and flood plain. They found an increase in the same time period, Stinchcomb said, and that appeared to be true all along the river valley.

Correlation does not equal causation, but Stinchcomb said that “this data suggests that as Native Americans practiced more intensive farming, they increased the magnitude and frequency of flooding in the river valleys.”

That the Lenape affected the environment was known before — did not always act as good stewards of the land as asserted by mythology — but the discovery of the increased flooding was new, Snow said.

To plant their crops, the Lenape had to chop down trees, and anecdotal evidence supports that conclusion. Early colonists reported finding huge tracts of land in the river valleys that had apparently been cleared. They, of course, then proceeded to clear the rest.

The finding also helps resolve an old debate among anthropologists — now somewhat muted — over just how agricultural the Lenape were. According to this finding, agriculture was a major factor in their lives, Snow said.

The impact of the Lenape’s farming however has a broader, semantic result.

“Our streams prior to European colonization are not, by definition, natural. They probably have been tampered with,” Stinchcomb said.

More information: Pre-colonial (A.D. 1100–1600) sedimentation related to prehistoric maize agriculture and climate change in eastern North America, doi:10.1130/G31596.1

Provided by Inside Science News Service (news : web)


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Students join nature camp and explore wonders of Niah National Park, Niah Cave

Posted on March 31, 2011, Thursday

NATURE AND US: A collage of photos shows students and teachers get closer with nature during Kem Mesra Alam at Niah National Park recently.

MIRI: A total of 60 students from selected secondary schools here participated in Kem Mesra Alam (KMA), a programme that bring students closer to nature, held at Niah National Park over the weekend.

The nine secondary schools selected were SMK Sains Miri, Kolej Tun Datuk Tuanku Haji Bujang, SMK Luak, SMK St Joseph, SMK St Columba, SMK Chung Hua Miri, SMK Riam, SMK Baru Miri and SMK Dato Permaisuri and twelve teacher acted as facilitators.

KMA was a partnership programme between Sarawak Shell Bhd and various government agencies as well as non-governmental organisations namely Sarawak Forestry Department, Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC), Education Department, Department of Environment (DOE), Miri City Council (MCC), Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) and Northern Sarawak Journalist Association (NSJA).

According to Sarawak Forestry Department’s forest officer Abdullah Ahmad, the camp was a success as students were very keen to learn about the environment and its components.

“They are very interested in environment-related subjects, especially those related to environmental protection and recycling,” commended Abdullah.

Among the activities organised during the camp were group work where students were divided into six groups and each group was given a task based on standard modules.

The modules’ contents covered identifying various species of flora and fauna, understanding environment components, observing characteristics of plants, creating awareness on animals care and classifying biodegradable wastes as well as recyclable materials.

Apart from that, quizzes were also conducted to test the students’ knowledge on environmental subjects.

The students also toured Niah Cave where they spent one hour exploring one of the wonders of the world.

Sarawak Shell Bhd HSE Environment advisor Elizabeth James, said the nature camp was initiated ten years ago and had been held at various locations throughout the state, mostly at national parks.

She added that another KMA will be held at Limbang, later in July this year.

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