Monthly Archives: November 2017

Wood Buffalo National Park is in peril.

This park which is located in Canada straddles the Alberta-Northwest Territories and is a vast stretch of grassland, forest, wetland and lakes. With 45,000 square kilometers it contains one of the world’s largest freshwater delta. Flocks of waterfowl and songbirds are often found on its shores. According to UNESCO it has an outstanding and universal value and therefore was designated a World Heritage Site.

According to experts the area is now in danger more than ever, especially since 2014. The main threats stem from the possible development of hydro dams. With less water flowing in the park birds will be affected as well bison’s and muskrats. Even people will get stuck on mudflats as water levels will not be high enough. Oil development upstream of the park could also endanger it. The Frontier oil sands mine proposed would be the closest to the park yet.

Parks Canada has responded that the focus of various reports were too narrow, pointing out that the challenges come mostly from outside the boundaries of the park such as climate change. It has also said that the reports did not take into account the future management actions that it intends to take to correct the problems. In other words, we have to trust Parks Canada that it will do the right thing for the management of the park.


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Island nations at risk!

A conference was recently held in Germany discussing the plight of island nations and climate change. Islands nations are the most vulnerable countries to global warming, essentially from rising seas and the loss of fresh water. Hopes that their plight at the German conference would take center-stage did not happen.

As climate change increases it will also increase the power of hurricanes and this summer Caribbean island nations have been pummeled. Barbuda has been hit as well as Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands. These have still to recover.

Small islands believe that the industrialized world who are largely responsible for climate change owe some money to offset the disasters that will affect island nations in the future. They argue that as small island nations they are a small contributor to the problem, less than 1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2010 wealthy countries set up the Green Climate Fund to compensate nations more vulnerable to climate change but the fund has been slow to start. The Maldives were one of the first to apply and yet it waited two years to get some money.

Other island nations, seeing the slowness of the process, have decided to go another route, that of the debt swap program. In the Seychelles for example, investors have decided to restructure a 30 million dollar debt if the country agrees to protect 30% of its ocean habitat. Money would be spent in protecting coral reefs that can shield the island from storm surges. Most now believe that too much bureaucracy is a major problem and that perhaps island nations should deal one on one with smaller groups or organization. At least it would be quicker.

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Delhi and the toxic haze.

What attracted my attention this week was the haze problem in Delhi. More and more people in cities are suffering due to air pollution levels that are too high. Nowhere are these problems more serious than in Asia. While we in the West have gotten better in giving clean air to our citizens things have deteriorated in poorer countries and especially in developing ones.

The problem of Delhi is a familiar one; vehicle emissions have gone higher and smoke from burning crops have affected the people. At the level that emissions are in the city it is similar to smoking two pack of cigarettes every day according to specialists. In 2015 it was found that pollution levels in India were responsible for 2.5 million deaths, more than any other country.

Naturally the solutions to the problem are simple but hard to implement; control car emissions, perhaps by a system of alternate-day for people using cars and reduce the burning in agriculture. But the best way to curb pollution is for the people themselves to pressure politicians in making good air quality a priority. It has to become a political movement, the right to clean air.

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The Totten glacier is melting.

For many years scientists thought that the Totten glacier was stable. Scientists thought that the glacier was in an area where warmer currents in the ocean would not affect it. No longer is this believed. They have discovered that the waters around the glacier were warmer than expected and thus, the glacier would melt the area that was underwater. The glacier is 75 miles in length and 19 miles wide.

Totten is the biggest glacier in the eastern part of Antarctica and its melting has the potential to contribute to the elevation of sea levels worldwide.

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