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Global Environmental Roundup

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For whatever reason, I have a lot of small stories about global environmental issues in my blog list so let’s do them at all at once.

Between poor governance and drought, Zimbabwe’s wildlife refuge are evidently overpopulated with large mammals the nation can’t provide for and so the nation is going to sell off a bunch of elephants to other nations. Given that they sold a bunch to China last year, a nation that routinely violated CITES in order to turn rare animals into consumer products, this probably will not go well.

In Nicaragua, drought and climate change are adding to discomfort over the Chinese building a shipping canal across the nation and have led to large-scale protests against the project. This is one way where we see climate change interact with other social and political problems to create higher tensions. That the center of these protests is in the heavily indigenous Atlantic side of the country is also important here, given the Sandinistas war with the Misquitos in the 1980s and the long-standing tensions between the Pacific and Atlantic sides of the nation.

Myanmar is banning logging. The military government used the nation’s vast forests to fund itself, mostly selling the wood to China. Deforestation is rapidly becoming a major issue in the nation. The new government banning logging is a real challenge to the military’s still significant power. We’ll see if the government can enforce this.

Today is African World Heritage Day. This is an interesting piece on how climate change could impact Africa’s cultural heritage:

The threat posed to Africa’s world heritage sites by climate change was the subject of a recent story by the Voice of America’s Africa Service. A full audio clip of the story can be found by clicking the link below. In the story, reporter Adam Phillips looked at the threat and what’s being done to address it — including interviews with several US-based professionals who are working with African colleagues to safeguard the continent’s heritage.

Coastal Africa is obviously affected by rising sea levels said WMF’s Ackerman, impacting places like Cape Coast in Ghana, another fortification on the water. Ackerman adds that many of Africa’s cultural and historic sites are threatened by lack of water due to human-caused climate change, not too much water. The result is drought or creeping desertification that threatens sites like Mauritania’s Chinguetto Mosque, where the World Monuments Fund is at work. The site was a great medieval center of Islamic learning that sits on a landscape that has become so dry it can no longer grow food.

US/ICOMOS member Adam Markham, deputy director of the climate and energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists and a co-author of UCS’s Landmarks at Risk report, was also interviewed for the story. According to Markham, rising sea level causes increased flooding for cities on or near the coasts where most people live. And the storm surges that result from increasingly frequent “super-storms” and other extreme weather events make severe floods extremely likely.

Climate change impacts know no national boundaries, with otherwise-unconnected communities facing common climate change risk profiles. Desertification threatens places as divergent as Africa and the United States while coastal communities across the globe face a common threat from sea level rise. This dynamic places an enormous premium on cultural heritage professionals who can share learned experiences internationally.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi is urging India’s prime minister Narendra Modi to crack down on the human trafficking in children, which has increased because of India’s worst drought in decades.

“Owing to this drought and the on-going water crisis, children are becoming increasingly vulnerable. In the coming months, there is an increased risk of lakhs (hundreds of thousands) of children becoming victims of these circumstances.”

The government estimates more than 330 million people – almost a quarter of India’s population – have been hit by the scarcity of water in states such as Maharashtra in the west and Karnataka in the south.

As crops wither and livestock perish, ten of thousands of people are migrating in search of food, water and jobs, leaving behind women, children and older family members who are vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers.

Figures given by Satyarthi’s office showed the number of children dropping out of school in the ten drought-affected states had risen by 22 percent, while child trafficking cases had increased by 24 percent.

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  • J. Otto Pohl

    It does seem to be getting hotter here every year.

  • Bla, bla, bla…God’s will! Happens all the time! Sunspots and volcanoes! Third world problem!

    We’re screwed.

  • Interesting piece on the proposed canal in Nicaragua.

    When you look at the high standard of living in Panama, how can anyone be against it?

    • I think there are plenty of reasons–you don’t want your life to change, you don’t believe that you will see any of the benefits, you are concerned about water and environmental impact, etc.

    • Also, Nicaraguans are fiercely independent people with a long history of standing up to foreign control, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some of this wasn’t also opposition to so much Chinese control, although this is just speculation on my part.

    • shah8

      This is your usual public work scam build around seizing other people’s land. Much more comparable to oil farms expansion or hydroelectric dam building…

      This is also a scam in the sense that the project is flat out not a viable one, so it’s a particularly wasteful and destructive “bridge to nowhere” type program.

      Lastly, it’s basically a scam to get money converted from RMB to dollars for the insiders running this project from China.

  • shah8

    An added note about the Indian story, particularly for the Maratha area.

    The drought is a major consequence of sugar farming and industry that’s been gobbling up all the groundwater, and is not entirely a weather thing. Well, the heat is, but not quite the water.

  • Brett

    Unless they can get the poaching and Chinese demand under control, the east African elephant population is going to be much reduced and almost entirely tuskless within a decade or two. That started happening in the last poaching wave – something like 10-15% of the elephants in one of Uganda’s national parks were born tuskless by 1998.

    That canal is just a rolling disaster. Even aside from the environmental and land rights issues, the Chinese financing side of it has mostly collapsed. I’m betting it never gets completed, especially since the Panama Canal would be improved in response (and of course climate change is eventually going to open up the northwest passage and the Arctic to summer-time shipping in a decade or two).

    • AMK

      That’s incredible how quickly the evolution is happening, especially in a species with a reproductive cycle so slow. Tusks to no tusks in a few decades……life finds a way.

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