Monthly Archives: March 2018

Conflicts with water.

A new study has concluded that by 2050 5 billion people could suffer from water shortages due to climate change and increased demands for water. What is worse, conflicts could erupt if stresses to rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water are not addressed.

The report says that change is possible, especially in the agricultural sector, but only if the change is towards nature-based solutions. In other words, more trees and soil and less concrete and steel whenever possible.

Global demand for water has increased six fold over the past 100 years and continues to grow at a rate of 1% per year. As more people are added to the world population the strains on water will continue to grow.

Naturally, demand for water will grow more quickly in developing countries. When one adds climate change to the mix the stress on the world climate will make some areas of the globe wetter and other drier.

Droughts and soil degradation will continue to increase in the future and water scarcity will increase in such areas. Cape Town residents are already facing challenges in that regard as well as in Brasilia where people see their taps turned off once very five days due to the dryness of the climate.

The water quality as also declined. Pollution has increased in every river of Africa, Asia and Latin America and will continue to decline in the future. Agriculture is the main culprit with industrial and municipal wastes a close second.

Clearly agriculture has to change in these areas. Greater use of rainwater could help as well as regular crop rotation to maintain soil cover. The study concludes that practices for saving water exceed the projected increases in demand for water over the years. There is a real need to change practices in the management of water as not changing could lead to war and civil unrest in countries hit by droughts and poor quality of water.


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The hawk and the chipmunk.

As a photographer there is nothing that I like more than being surprised by the animal world. Last Monday I was very surprised. It was one of those days when you feel Spring is in the air but Winter is still present. It was a cloudy day with very little light and yet as I was about to exit the garden it had been a good day; I had seen hawks everywhere, hunting for birds and chipmunks. One such chipmunk had escaped the clutches of death when the hawk swooped down on it and missed it. A close call for that one.

Here I was, entering a small wooded area just before exiting when my eye was attracted to something moving to the right of me on the ground. I slowly advanced and could not believe my good fortune; it was a hawk eating what looked like a chipmunk. I approached cautiously, not wanting to scare away the bird and taking several pictures at the same time. I was trying to get in a better position when abruptly the hawk flew away and behind me. I thought that I had lost it but still attempted to find it in the small wooded area. I did not want to lose a good subject.

As I was looking into the area I spotted the bird and its prey, squarely in front of me, on a branch and still eating the chipmunk. I knew that it was a chipmunk by the long black line on its back and the short tail. I did not try to get too close but was finally able to get into a good position. I took many pictures and could not believe my good luck as it was the first time that I had seen a hawk eat a chipmunk. Not much there to eat I thought. The hawk was very thorough as it first ate the head, always nutritious I hear, and then embarked on eating the organs of the squirrel. I did not stay till the end, knowing that the bird would not waste anything. I left it in peace and exited the garden after reviewing my pictures and knowing that I could not do any better. A fitting end to my day.

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The browning of lakes.

A new study seems to show that as the permafrost is melting more northern freshwater lakes are turning brown due to an increase in organic carbon into the water. This phenomenon is a global thing but the rate in the North is extreme.

Organic carbon is very good at absorbing sunlight but it is not a good thing for aquatic systems because sunlight cannot penetrate the water and thus phytoplankton can’t propagate as it needs sunlight. And that means as well that insects and fish will not have anything to eat.

The local people will be affected as there will be less fish of a lesser quality and the quality of the water to drink will be diminished. More money would have to be spent to have drinkable water.

The study ends by saying that with increased rainfall and extreme weather events the browning of northern lakes will only further increase.


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Warming seas are endangering King Penguins.

A new study published in a magazine seems to show that King Penguins are in peril as it warns that 70% of the 1.6 million breeding pairs could be affected in this century. The stark warning is that either they will move from where they are or they will disappear.

It seems that the largest colonies of these birds will be too far away from their sources of food. Researchers used models to predict which islands that harbor the penguins will be able to sustain them and which will not be able to.

By 2100, half the King penguins on the Crozet and Prince Edward islands in the Indian Ocean will lose their habitat. The 21% that presently rest on the Kerguelen Islands as well as those on the Falkland and Tierra del Fuego islands would see their nesting grounds altered and would have to find food further away or relocate.

The scientists admit that some islands will become more habitable for the penguins but these King penguins do not nest on ice and so their choices will be more limited.

A 70% loss may be a conservative estimate as the fish and krill that the penguins feed on will also be affected by the warming seas, and so this will mean less food in the years to come for the penguins. As the models indicate which islands will be better for the penguins conservation measures can be taken to limit tourism in those areas as will as reduce fishing.

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