Facebook Twitter



Articles by Category for ‘Environment’

With too many mouths to feed, Kenya headed for trouble

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

With too many mouths to feed, Kenya headed for trouble 

See: http://www.nation.co.ke/lifestyle/DN2/Kenya-Population-Management-Vision-2030-Resources/-/957860/2391356/-/hxm0dw/-/index.html

At 34 years, Teresia Kananu is a mother of six; five girls and one boy. Her first born is 19 years old while her last born just turned four. When she got pregnant with her first child, she had just fallen in love; the breathy, reckless kind of first love that makes an impressionable 15-year-old leave her parents’ home and move in with her boyfriend.

She had dreams for her young family, dreams that she would see her two children grow up strong and healthy and educated.

Yes, she wanted just two children, and she was determined to give them the education she never had, having dropped out of school at Standard Two after, she says, her father refused to continue paying her school fees.

Nineteen years down the line, Teresia finds herself the mother of six children, none of whom she has managed to educate beyond primary school. They all live in a two-room tin-house which looks like it can collapse at the slightest hint of a stiff wind.

Her first husband and the father of her first three children died under mysterious circumstances while in prison. She remarried, and then three more children came.

See: http://www.nation.co.ke/lifestyle/DN2/Kenya-Population-Management-Vision-2030-Resources/-/957860/2391356/-/hxm0dw/-/index.html

Invertebrate numbers nearly halve as human population doubles

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Invertebrate numbers nearly halve as human population doubles 

See: http://phys.org/news/2014-07-invertebrate-halve-human-population.html

Invertebrate numbers have decreased by 45% on average over a 35 year period in which the human population doubled, reports a study on the impact of humans on declining animal numbers. This decline matters because of the enormous benefits invertebrates such as insects, spiders, crustaceans, slugs and worms bring to our day-to-day lives, including pollination and pest control for crops, decomposition for nutrient cycling, water filtration and human health.

The study, published in Science and led by UCL, Stanford and UCSB, focused on the demise of invertebrates in particular, as large vertebrates have been extensively studied. They found similar widespread changes in both, with an on-going decline in invertebrates surprising scientists, as they had previously been viewed as nature’s survivors.

The decrease in invertebrate numbers is due to two main factors – habitat loss and climate disruption on a global scale. In the UK alone, scientists noted the areas inhabited by common insects such as beetles, butterflies, bees and wasps saw a 30-60% decline over the last 40 years.

See: http://phys.org/news/2014-07-invertebrate-halve-human-population.html

 

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense on the immediate future of global demography

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Excerpt: Demography

See: Here (PDF)

The global population is likely to grow to between 8.3 and 10.4 billion by 2045, largely because of increasing life-expectancy, declining levels of child mortality and continuing high birth rates in many developing countries. Growth is not likely to be evenly distributed and will probably be slower in developed countries. Some, including Japan and a number of European countries, are likely to experience a decline in population.

In developing countries, rapid population increase and urbanisation will probably challenge stability. Age and gender imbalances may exacerbate existing political and social tensions while a growing youth population, especially in the Middle East, Central Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, could provide a reservoir of disaffected young people.

Conversely, if harnessed, they could provide a boost to their economies. Migration is likely to increase, with people moving within, and outside, their country of origin to seek work or to escape the effects of climate change.

Two Realities

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Two Realities

See: http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-07-22/two-realities

Our contemporary world is host to two coexisting but fundamentally different-and, in at least one crucial respect, contradictory-realities. One of these might be termed Political Reality, though it extends far beyond formal politics and pervades conventional economic thinking. It is the bounded universe of what is acceptable in public economic-social-political discourse. The other is Physical Reality: i.e., what exists in terms of energy and materials, and what is possible given the laws of thermodynamics.

For decades these two realities have developed along separate lines. They overlap from time to time: politicians and economists use data tied to measureable physical parameters, while physical scientists often frame their research and findings in socially meaningful ways. But in intent and effect, they diverge to an ever-greater extent.

The issue at which they differ to the point of outright contradiction is economic growth. And climate change forces the question.

See: http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-07-22/two-realities

Two out of three countries ‘ecologically overshot’

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Two out of three countries ‘ecologically overshot’ 

See: http://populationmatters.org/2014/population-matters-news/countries-ecologically-overshot/

Two out of three countries are already consuming more individually than each can produce sustainably from its own resources, i.e. relying only on renewables, as we eventually must. This position can only worsen as population and consumption rise.

For World Population Day 2014 on 11 July Population Matters has released its updated Overshoot Index. Based on Blue Planet Prize-winning Global Footprint Network data, the Index relates each country’s biocapacity – the ability to provide renewable ecological services like water collection, food production and waste absorption – to the country’s population size and current per capita resource consumption. The Index shows that 96 out of the 146 countries listed, including all but seven or eight of the OECD nations, are already in overshoot, i.e. living beyond their ecological means. The Index in addition gives the biophysically sustainable population for each country, given current productivity and consumption levels. The UK ranks as the 26th most overshot nation, with a sustainable population of 20.6 million people. England alone would be much higher up on the list.

“This puts the scale of the challenge facing the Sustainable Development Goals process into stark relief”, said Population Matters Chair Roger Martin. “Countries in overshoot are unsustainable from their own resources in the long-term unless they reduce their populations, or their consumption per head, or some combination of both. An increase in either worsens a country’s long-term position.

See: http://populationmatters.org/2014/population-matters-news/countries-ecologically-overshot/

California Farms Are Sucking Up Enough Groundwater to Put Rhode Island 17 Feet Under

Monday, July 21st, 2014

California Farms Are Sucking Up Enough Groundwater to Put Rhode Island 17 Feet Under 

See: http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/07/california-drought-report-economy-groundwater

California, the producer of nearly half of the nation’s fruits, veggies, and nuts, plus export crops-four-fifths of the world’s almonds, for example-is entering its third driest year on record. Nearly 80 percent of the state is experiencing “extreme” or “exceptional” drought. In addition to affecting agricultural production the drought will cost the state billions of dollars, thousands of jobs, and a whole lot of groundwater, according to a new report prepared for the California Department of Food and Agriculture by scientists at UC-Davis. The authors used current water data, agricultural models, satellite data, and other methods to predict the economic and environmental toll of the drought through 2016.

Here are four key takeaways:

  • The drought will cost the state $2.2 billion this year: Of these losses, $810 million will come from lower crop revenues, $203 million will come from livestock and dairy losses, and $454 million will come from the cost of pumping additional groundwater. Up to 17,100 seasonal and part-time jobs will be lost.
  • California is experiencing the “greatest absolute reduction in water availability” ever seen: In a normal year, about one-third of California’s irrigation water is drawn from wells that tap into the groundwater supply. The rest is “surface water” from streams, rivers, and reservoirs. This year, the state is losing about one-third of its surface water supply. The hardest hit area is the Central Valley, a normally fertile inland region. Because groundwater isn’t as easily pumped in the Valley as it is on the coasts, and the Colorado River supplies aren’t as accessible as they are in the south, the Valley has lost 410,000 acres to fallowing, an area about 10 times the size of Washington, DC.

See: http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/07/california-drought-report-economy-groundwater

A Practical Guide to Population and Development

Monday, July 21st, 2014

A Practical Guide to Population and Development

See: http://www.prb.org/Publications/Reports/2014/population-development-guide.aspx

(July 2014) Throughout human history, the world’s population had grown slowly and by the beginning of the 20th century was only 1.6 billion people. Today, after only 110 years, the world’s population has surpassed 7.1 billion people.

During this time, the world has witnessed tremendous development-including innovations in health care, education, infrastructure, and technology-but more than 2 billion people still live in poverty and remain left out of this progress. The great challenge leaders of the world face today is to reduce poverty and inequity, and improve people’s lives without compromising the environment and the well-being of future generations.

At the same time, world population continues to increase by more than 80 million people a year, with most of the growth occurring in the world’s least developed countries. By 2050, according to the United Nation’s medium projection, the world’s population will increase to 9.6 billion people and will continue to grow through 2100. This continued growth has strong implications for health, well-being, and economic development. Leaders of nations everywhere must ask themselves: How does population growth affect national development and what must be done to manage the challenges of population growth?

See: http://www.prb.org/Publications/Reports/2014/population-development-guide.aspx

 

Shocking Photographs of People Lying in Seven Days Worth of Their Trash

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Shocking Photographs of People Lying in Seven Days Worth of Their Trash

See: http://www.boredpanda.com/7-days-of-garbage-trash-pollution-photography-gregg-segal/

gp1

Get Over the Growth Fetish

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Get Over the Growth Fetish

See: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/get-over-the-growth-fetish/article6182959.ece

Perpetual growth is a piece of nonsense. The focus should be on protecting livelihoods through sustainable means

Construct a building, demolish it, reconstruct, break it down again, and go on repeating this meaningless exercise. You will have economic growth, as currently measured. But no net gain in employment during the endless cycle of construction and demolition, no net increase in productive capacity, and no appreciable change in poverty levels.

Add to this the ecological cost of mining materials and using energy for the construction. And when the owners of the building decide it is more profitable to employ machines instead of people, you’ll have net loss of livelihoods.

India’s growth story is, of course, not as caricaturish, but it is not far off. Despite many years of a cracking pace of growth, net increase in employment in the formal sector has been insignificant in the last two decades.

See: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/get-over-the-growth-fetish/article6182959.ece

Booming populations, rising economies, threatened biodiversity: the tropics will never be the same

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Booming populations, rising economies, threatened biodiversity: the tropics will never be the same 

See: http://news.mongabay.com/2014/0707-hance-the-tropics-changes.html

For those living either north or south of the tropics, images of this green ring around the Earth’s equator often include verdant rainforests, exotic animals, and unchanging weather; but they may also be of entrenched poverty, unstable governments, and appalling environmental destruction. A massive new report, The State of the Tropics, however, finds that the truth is far more complicated-and much more interesting.

Starting with Aristotle’s misguided belief that no civilization could thrive in the tropics, the region-which covers around 40 percent of the world’s surface-has long been defined by views from the outside. But, according to the report’s co-author Sandra Harding, that must change.

“At a time of increasing concern about social, environmental and economic sustainability, a different approach is long overdue,” writes Harding, Vice-Chancellor and President of James Cook University. “It is time to recognize and acknowledge the tropics as a region defined from within, rather than without, to embrace the wisdom and experience of its peoples.”

Compiled by 12 institutions, the 400-plus page report attempts to explore the full region of the tropics, including demographics, health, science, economics, biodiversity, and climate change, among other issues. It finds that major changes are afoot in the region, including incredible population growth, rising economic importance, clashes over land-use, imperiled biodiversity, and worsening impacts of climate change.

See: http://news.mongabay.com/2014/0707-hance-the-tropics-changes.html