Monthly Archives: May 2018

Coastal erosion in Senegal.

One of the effects of climate change is that the sea is eroding more and more the land around the coast where cities are located. In Saint-Louis, a city in Senegal, the effects of the sea battering the coast are very visible. People’s houses are crumbling in some areas, but nowhere more evidently than in the poor areas of Saint-Louis.

In this poor area where 80,000 people live coastal erosion is an immediate threat and this threat has increased in the past decade. The stretch of land that they live on is barely 600 feet wide in some places. People in the area have had to be re-settled elsewhere and more than 250 families have lost their homes to erosion. These people who are fishermen now are further away from the coast and they now have to pay for transportation to the ocean. People did receive a lump sum payment of 900 dollars but nothing else and few can move away from the area due to lack of money.

The government is paying a French company to build embankments that would shield houses from the ocean swell. Giant five-ton bags filled with rocks are put for two miles along the coast but this is only a short-term solution.

Other solutions exist, such as plating mangroves and pine trees to halt erosion and reclaim land. A new sea wall and resanding beaches area are also proposals that have been made. As always, money will be needed to fund these long-term projects. The French government has made a grant of 18 million dollars to further study the problem.

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Drilling in the Great Australian Bight.

Called Australia’s answer to the Galapagos, the Great Australian Bight as it is called is a stretch of pristine ocean facing the Antarctic home to teeming fisheries. A new industry is now appearing on the horizon; the oil industry.

The Norwegian oil giant Statoil plans to drill in the Bight as the area is considered the last great remaining natural gas reserve. People now fear that this area will be damaged from a spill and that the marine world will be damaged. Several industries depend on a pristine coastline.

The coast around the Bight is one that has seen jobs disappear as it is a struggling post-industrial area. New jobs in the area would therefore be important. Local politicians support drilling but the support is far from unanimous. After all, the fishing and tourism industry is worth more than 1 billion dollars.

Should an accident like the Deepwater Horizon blow-out occur it would damage the coastline along a wide stretch. Furthermore, the equipment to contain a blow-out by capping the flow of oil is in Singapore and it would require 35 days to put in place.

All the people opposed to drilling look naturally at worst-case scenarios and these are horrifying. From tuna to oysters, the marine life could be decimated by a spill. People are naturally wondering if it is worth it.

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The White House kills a NASA program.

The White House has secretly killed a NASA program that was destined to monitor carbon dioxide gases and methane gases in the atmosphere. These two gases contribute to global warming.

NASA has said that a lack of funding was the reason for the demise of the program and that in the last budget that was adopted the funding for the program was not there.

Analysts have said that without a monitoring system there was no way of knowing if a country can respect the Paris Accords in combating global change. Naturally as the Trump administration has pulled out of the agreement, why spend money on something that is not needed anymore….

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Methane emissions to double from northern lakes.

It seems that freshwater lakes in the northern hemisphere could see the methane that they emit double in the next fifty years. Methane as a gas is 25 times more warmer than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

It appears that when cattail plants decay and fall in the water they trigger a major increase in the amount of methane that is produced. Microbes in the sediment at the bottom of lakes produce the gas but how much is produced varies from lake to lake.

When tests were made on cattails and conifers the cattails produced over 400 times the level of methane produced by the conifers. It seems that coniferous and deciduous trees prevent the production of methane gas.

It is possible that as the number of cattails colonizing northern lakes in the future increase and double this would elevate the production of methane by 73% between 2014 and 2070. This new method of methane production was underestimated in the past in climate models. Scientists will now be able to incorporate these new measurements into future models of global warming and will better be able to predict what the future climate will look like.

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The Great Barrier Reef under threat.

The Australian government has decided to spent hundreds of million of dollars to rescue the Great Barrier Reef as the reef has been under attack from warming waters caused by climate change. Some believe that it will be a waste of money.

The reef is very popular with tourists and the government hopes that the money will improve the water quality as well as invest in coral restoration. But environmentalists have said that the plan is not enough. The reef supports 64000 jobs.

The prospects for the survival of the reef are grim; huge sections have died over the past two years killed by seawater that is overheated and more acidic, all caused by climate change. Most scientists believe that the damage already done is irreversible and that the only solution is a global one; to reduce fossil fuels and control climate change. Most think that the money is too little too late.

In spite of giving money to save the reef the Turnbull government is still subsidizing the gas and coal industry. One plan that is waiting approval concerns the Adani coal mine. It would push coal on boats near the reef. Clearly we have a case here of governments trying to do two things that are opposites; either we give money to save the reef or to the fossil fuel industry, not both. Governments must be more green and commit to being green, not when it suits them or when elections are around the corner.

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