The Massachusetts Institute of Technology asking Why the Mediterranean is a climate change hotspot came up with A new analysis uncovers the basis of the severe rainfall declines predicted by many models.
17 June 2020
Although global climate models vary in many ways, they agree on this: The Mediterranean region will be significantly drier in coming decades, potentially seeing 40 percent less precipitation during the winter rainy season.
An analysis by researchers at MIT has now found the underlying mechanisms that explain the anomalous effects in this region, especially in the Middle East and in northwest Africa. The analysis could help refine the models and add certainty to their projections, which have significant implications for the management of water resources and agriculture in the region.
The study, published last week in the Journal of Climate, was carried out by MIT graduate student Alexandre Tuel and professor of civil and environmental engineering Elfatih Eltahir.
The different global circulation models of the Earth’s changing climate agree that temperatures virtually everywhere will increase, and in most places so will rainfall, in part because warmer air can carry more water vapor. However, “There is one major exception, and that is the Mediterranean area,” Eltahir says, which shows the greatest decline of projected rainfall of any landmass on Earth.
“With all their differences, the models all seem to agree that this is going to happen,” he says, although they differ on the amount of the decline, ranging from 10 percent to 60 percent. But nobody had previously been able to explain why.
Tuel and Eltahir found that this projected drying of the Mediterranean region is a result of the confluence of two different effects of a warming climate: a change in the dynamics of upper atmosphere circulation and a reduction in the temperature difference between land and sea. Neither factor by itself would be sufficient to account for the anomalous reduction in rainfall, but in combination the two phenomena can fully account for the unique drying trend seen in the models.
The first effect is a large-scale phenomenon, related to powerful high-altitude winds called the midlatitude jet stream, which drive a strong, steady west-to-east weather pattern across Europe, Asia, and North America. Tuel says the models show that “one of the robust things that happens with climate change is that as you increase the global temperature, you’re going to increase the strength of these midlatitude jets.”
But in the Northern Hemisphere, those winds run into obstacles, with mountain ranges including the Rockies, Alps, and Himalayas, and these collectively impart a kind of wave pattern onto this steady circulation, resulting in alternating zones of higher and lower air pressure. High pressure is associated with clear, dry air, and low pressure with wetter air and storm systems. But as the air gets warmer, this wave pattern gets altered.
“It just happened that the geography of where the Mediterranean is, and where the mountains are, impacts the pattern of air flow high in the atmosphere in a way that creates a high pressure area over the Mediterranean,” Tuel explains. That high-pressure area creates a dry zone with little precipitation.
However, that effect alone can’t account for the projected Mediterranean drying. That requires the addition of a second mechanism, the reduction of the temperature difference between land and sea. That difference, which helps to drive winds, will also be greatly reduced by climate change, because the land is warming up much faster than the seas.
“What’s really different about the Mediterranean compared to other regions is the geography,” Tuel says. “Basically, you have a big sea enclosed by continents, which doesn’t really occur anywhere else in the world.” While models show the surrounding landmasses warming by 3 to 4 degrees Celsius over the coming century, the sea itself will only warm by about 2 degrees or so. “Basically, the difference between the water and the land becomes a smaller with time,” he says.
That, in turn, amplifies the pressure differential, adding to the high-pressure area that drives a clockwise circulation pattern of winds surrounding the Mediterranean basin. And because of the specifics of local topography, projections show the two areas hardest hit by the drying trend will be the northwest Africa, including Morocco, and the eastern Mediterranean region, including Turkey and the Levant.
That trend is not just a projection, but has already become apparent in recent climate trends across the Middle East and western North Africa, the researchers say. “These are areas where we already detect declines in precipitation,” Eltahir says. It’s possible that these rainfall declines in an already parched region may even have contributed to the political unrest in the region, he says.
“We document from the observed record of precipitation that this eastern part has already experienced a significant decline of precipitation,” Eltahir says. The fact that the underlying physical processes are now understood will help to ensure that these projections should be taken seriously by planners in the region, he says. It will provide much greater confidence, he says, by enabling them “to understand the exact mechanisms by which that change is going to happen.”
Eltahir has been working with government agencies in Morocco to help them translate this information into concrete planning. “We are trying to take these projections and see what would be the impacts on availability of water,” he says. “That potentially will have a lot of impact on how Morocco plans its water resources, and also how they could develop technologies that could help them alleviate those impacts through better management of water at the field scale, or maybe through precision agriculture using higher technology.”
The work was supported by the collaborative research program between Université Mohamed VI Polytechnique in Morocco and MIT.
In AFRICATECH of August 22, 2019; More deals, less conflict? Wondered Laurie Goering, Thomson Reuters Foundation whilst Cross-border water planning key, report warns.
LONDON, Aug 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Efforts to share rivers, lakes, and aquifers that cross national boundaries are falling short, raising a growing risk of conflict as global water supplies run low, researchers warned on Thursday.
Fewer than one in three of the world’s transboundary rivers and lake basins and just nine of the 350 aquifers that straddle more than one country have cross-border management systems in place, according to a new index by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
With more than half the world’s population likely to live in water-scarce areas by 2050 and 40 percent dependent on transboundary water, that is a growing threat, said Matus Samel, a public policy consultant with the Economist Intelligence Unit.
“Most transboundary basins are peaceful, but the trend is that we are seeing more and more tensions and conflict arising,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
When work began on the index, which looks at five key river basins around the world from the Mekong to the Amazon, researchers thought they would see hints of future problems rather than current ones, Samel said.
Instead, they found water scarcity was becoming a “very urgent” issue, he said. “It surprised me personally the urgency of some of the situation some of these basins are facing.”
Population growth, climate change, economic and agricultural expansion and deforestation are all placing greater pressures on the world’s limited supplies of water, scientists say.
As competition grows, some regions have put in place relatively effective bodies to try to share water fairly, the Economist Intelligence Unit report said.
Despite worsening drought, the Senegal River basin, shared by West African nations including Senegal, Mali, and Mauritania, has held together a regional water-governance body that has attracted investment and support, Samel said.
Efforts to jointly govern the Sava River basin, which crosses many of the once warring nations of the former Yugoslavia in southeast Europe, have also been largely successful, he said.
But replicating that is likely to be “a huge challenge” in conflict-hit basins, such as along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq and Syria, Samel said.
Still, even in tough political situations, “there are ways … countries and local governments and others can work together to make sure conflicts do not emerge and do not escalate,” he said.
“The benefits of cooperation go way beyond direct access to drinking water,” he said. “It’s about creating trust and channels for communication that might not otherwise exist.”
‘NO EASY SOLUTIONS’
The report suggests national leaders make water security a priority now, link water policy to other national policies, from agriculture to trade, and put in place water-sharing institutions early.
“There are no easy solutions or universal solutions,” Samel warned. “But there are lessons regions and basins can learn and share.”
The index has yet to examine many hotspots, from the Nile River and Lake Chad in Africa to the Indus river system in India and Pakistan, but Samel said it would be expanded in coming years.
Working toward better shared water management is particularly crucial as climate change brings more drought, floods, and other water extremes, said Alan Nicol, who is based in Ethiopia for the International Water Management Institute.
“Knowing how a system works effectively helps you know what to do in the face of a massive drought or flood event – and we should expect more extreme weather,” he said.
While efforts to coordinate water policy with other national and regional policies and priorities are crucial, the key missing element in shoring up water security is political will, he said.
“We’ve been talking about this kind of integrated water management for 30 years,” he said. “The problem is practicing it. And that’s essentially a political problem.”
Reporting by Laurie Goering @lauriegoering; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, resilience, women’s rights, trafficking, and property rights. Visit news.trust.org/climate
The word “climate” makes most of us look up to the sky – however, the IPCC’s new special report on climate change and land should make us all look under our feet. This is how Anna Krzywoszynska, Research Fellow and Associate Director of the Institute for Sustainable Food, University of Sheffield introduced her article published on The Conversation of last week before adding that ‘Land, the report shows, is intimately linked to the climate. Changes in land use result in changes to the climate and vice versa. In other words, what we do to our soils, we do to our climate – and ourselves.’ So, keeping Global Warming to well below 2°C is the hurdle that all humans need to get over in order to achieve the Paris Agreement requirements.
Land is already under growing human pressure and climate change is adding to these pressures. At the same time, keeping global warming to well below 2C can be achieved only by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors including land and food, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in its latest report.
“Governments challenged the IPCC to take the first ever comprehensive look at the whole land-climate system. We did this through many contributions from experts and governments worldwide. This is the first time in IPCC report history that a majority of authors – 53 per cent – are from developing countries,” said Hoesung Lee, chair of the IPCC.
This report shows that better land management can contribute to tackling climate change, but is not the only solution. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors is essential if global warming is to be kept to well below 2C, if not 1.5C.
In 2015, governments backed the Paris Agreement goal of strengthening the global response to climate change by holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5C.
Land must remain productive to maintain food security as the population increases and the negative impacts of climate change on vegetation increase. This means there are limits to the contribution of land to addressing climate change, for instance through the cultivation of energy crops and afforestation. It also takes time for trees and soils to store carbon effectively.
Bioenergy needs to be carefully managed to avoid risks to food security, biodiversity and land degradation. Desirable outcomes will depend on locally appropriate policies and governance systems.
Climate Change and Land finds that the world is best placed to tackle climate change when there is an overall focus on sustainability. “Land plays an important role in the climate system,” said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.
“Agriculture, forestry and other types of land use account for 23 per cent of human greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time natural land processes absorb carbon dioxide equivalent to almost a third of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry,” he said.
The report shows how managing land resources sustainably can help address climate change, said Hans-Otto Pörtner, co-chair of IPCC Working Group II.
“Land already in use could feed the world in a changing climate and provide biomass for renewable energy, but early, far-reaching action across several areas is required. Also for the conservation and restoration of ecosystems and biodiversity,” he added.
Desertification and land degradation
When land is degraded, it becomes less productive, restricting what can be grown and reducing the soil’s ability to absorb carbon. This exacerbates climate change, while climate change, in turn, exacerbates land degradation in many different ways.
“The choices we make about sustainable land management can help reduce and in some cases reverse these adverse impacts,” said Kiyoto Tanabe, co-chair of the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories.
“In a future with more intensive rainfall the risk of soil erosion on croplands increases, and sustainable land management is a way to protect communities from the detrimental impacts of this soil erosion and landslides. However there are limits to what can be done, so in other cases degradation might be irreversible,” he said.
Roughly 500 million people live in areas that experience desertification. Drylands and areas that experience desertification are also more vulnerable to climate change and extreme events including drought, heatwaves, and dust storms, with an increasing global population providing further pressure.
The report sets out options to tackle land degradation and prevent or adapt to further climate change. It also examines potential impacts from different levels of global warming. “New knowledge shows an increase in risks from dryland water scarcity, fire damage, permafrost degradation and food system instability, even for global warming of around 1.5C,” said Valérie Masson-Delmotte, co-chair of IPCC Working Group I.
“Very high risks related to permafrost degradation and food system instability are identified at 2°C of global warming,” she said.
IPS Newsin theirCombating Desertification and Droughtin a post reproduced here holds that the issue of land degradation impacting all countries in all continents would require governments, land users and all different communities of a country to be part of the solution.
ANKARA, Jun 17 2019 (IPS) – The coming decades will be crucial in shaping and implementing a transformative land agenda, according to a scientist at the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) framework for Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN).
UNCCD-Science Policy Interface co-chair Dr. Mariam Akhtar-Schuster, who spoke with IPS ahead of the start of activities to mark World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) on Monday, Jun. 17, said this was one of the key messages emerging for policy- and other decision-makers.
“The main message is: things are not improving. The issue of desertification is becoming clearer to different communities, but we now have to start implementing the knowledge that we already have to combat desertification,” Akhtar-Schuster told IPS.
“It’s not only technology that we have to implement, it is the policy level that has to develop a governance structure which supports sustainable land management practices.”
IPBES Science and Policy for People and Nature found that the biosphere and atmosphere, upon which humanity as a whole depends, have been deeply reconfigured by people.
The report shows that 75 percent of the land area is very significantly altered, 66 percent of the ocean area is experiencing increasing cumulative impacts, and 85 percent of the wetland area has been lost.
“There are of course areas which are harder hit; these are areas which are experiencing extreme drought which makes it even more difficult to sustainably use land resources,” Akhtar-Schuster said.
“On all continents you have the issue of land degradation, so there’s no continent, there’s no country which can just lean back and say this is not our issue. Everybody has to do something.”
Akhtar-Schuster said there is sufficient knowledge out there which already can support evidence-based implementation of technology so that at least land degradation does not continue.
While the information is available, Akhtar-Schuster said it requires governments, land users and all different communities in a country to be part of the solution.
“There is no top-down approach. You need the people on the ground, you need the people who generate knowledge and you need the policy makers to implement that knowledge. You need everybody,” the UNCCD-SPI co-chair said.
“Nobody in a community, in a social environment, can say this has nothing to do with me. We are all consumers of products which are generated from land. So, we in our daily lives – the way we eat, the way we dress ourselves – whatever we do has something to do with land, and we can take decisions which are more friendly to land than what we’re doing at the moment.”
UNCCD-Science Policy Interface co-chair Dr. Mariam Akhtar-Schuster says things are not improving and that the issue of desertification is becoming clearer to different communities. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS
UNCCD Lead Scientist Dr. Barron Joseph Orr said it’s important to note that while the four major assessments were all done for different reasons, using different methodologies, they are all converging on very similar messages.
He said while in the past land degradation was seen as a problem in a place where there is overgrazing or poor management practices on agricultural lands, the reality is, that’s not influencing the change in land.
“What’s very different from the past is the rate of land transformation. The pace of that change is considerable, both in terms of conversion to farm land and conversion to built-up areas,” Orr told IPS.
“We’ve got a situation where 75 percent of the land surface of the earth has been transformed, and the demand for food is only going to go up between now and 2050 with the population growth expected to increase one to two billion people.”
That’s a significant jump. Our demand for energy that’s drawn from land, bio energy, or the need for land for solar and wind energy is only going to increase but these studies are making it clear that we are not optimising our use,” Orr added.
Like Akhtar-Schuster, Orr said it’s now public knowledge what tools are necessary to sustainably manage agricultural land, and to restore or rehabilitate land that has been degraded.
“We need better incentives for our farmers and ranchers to do the right thing on the landscape, we have to have stronger safeguards for tenures so that future generations can continue that stewardship of the land,” he added.
The international community adopted the Convention to Combat Desertification in Paris on Jun. 17, 1994.
At the same time, they will look at the broad picture of the next 25 years where they will achieve land degradation neutrality.
The anniversary campaign runs under the slogan “Let’s grow the future together,” with the global observance of WDCD and the 25th anniversary of the Convention on Jun. 17, hosted by the government of Turkey.
The Journal of Biodiversity and Environmental SciencesJBES on September 26, 2018 posted an enlightening article on herbal medicine as practiced in North-Africa. This story is about Ethnobotany of medicinal plants as practised in Mascara, a large agricultural region, 400 kilometers west of the capital city Algiers. An abstract and introduction of the study are proposed as Ethnobotany of medicinal plants in Mascara, Algeria..
Ethnobotany of medicinal plants in the region Béni Chougrane, Mascara, Algeria
By: Marouf Baghdad
This herbal study was conducted in the Mascara region (Beni Chougrane), whose population is closely linked to the various natural resources. our study is to provide a floristic inventory of medicinal plants and to collect information concerning the uses Therapeutic made in said region. The results of our study have identified 72 medicinal species used by local people in traditional medicine, owned 38 families, the most common used: Lamiaceae, Apiaceae and Asteraceae, and we established a herbarium sheets for each plant. Thus, it had been found the modes used in the form of decoction and infusion. The results also showed that medicinal plants are used in the following diseases: hypertension and diabetes.
Search Laboratory Biological Systems and Geomatics. University of Mascara, Algeria
Geomatics laboratory and sustainable development (LGEO2D), University of Ibn Khaldoun, Tiaret, Algeria
University of Abdelhamid Ben Badis, Mostaganem, Algeria
The use of medicinal plants in therapy knows notable interest, and it is through scientific studies based on analytical methods, and the new experiments, the medical world discovers more, the well-founded empirical prescriptions of medicinal plants. These last constitute an inexhaustible source of drugs for men (Handa et al., 2006).
Algeria, by the richness and diversity of its flora, constitutes a real phylogenetic tank, with about 4000 species and sub-species of vascular plants, which allows it to occupy a privileged square among the Mediterranean countries that have a long medical tradition and traditional know-how in herbal medicine (Righi, 2008).
The importance of medicinal plants in Algeria is so undeniable that is why, high request national and international medicinal plants, the use and lawless harvesting constitute a real danger for the future of medicinal plants if any species plantation policy is not applied. However, the Algerian medicinal flora remains unknown until today, because of some thousands of plant species, counted medicinal species do not exceed a few tens.
Analysis of the Algerian medicinal bibliography shows that data relating to regional medicinal plants are very partial and dispersed. Similarly, knowledge making is held currently by few people. Also, the expedited destruction especially by natural drought and human activities, makes it more difficult to discover, the exploitation and backup of the potentialities of this type.
Indeed, traditional medicine has always occupied an important place in the traditions of medications in Algeria especially in mountainous and Saharan areas. The study conducted in the municipalities of Mascara, responds to this concern by bringing documentation for medicinal plants.
Through a series of surveys in ethnobotany, radiotherapists in the Mascara region were interviewed, the information sought on the used plants focused on their local name, their therapies virtues and all related medical practice.
Thus, a floristic inventory was performed on four protected sites. It is very important to translate and reflect knowledge in scientific knowledge to revalue it, keep and use rationally our ethnobotanical study as a contribution to the identification of medicinal plants used by the local population in the Mascara region and the identification of ways of use in traditional Algerian pharmacopoeia.
Materiel and methods
The mountains of Beni Chougrane are one of the links of the western Tell oriented South-West/ North-East, bounded as the east valley of Mina separates them from the mountain of Ouarsenis. West, they are extended by the mountains of Tessala et Ouled Ali. North, they are bordered by the plain of the Habra-Sig and South, by Ghriss-Mascara. In most part of the valley of Mina which marks the limit is valley of Mebtouh, which marks the western limit, the Beni Chougrane mountains are crossed by valley El Hammam, which are built 3 large dams-tanks. The total acreage of the Bneder in 1981 was 2,860 km². The agricultural acreage represents 35% of this total area, course and forests account for 27% and 20 % (heavy degraded) unproductive lands.
The intervention is to identify plants of a region and to realize an herbarium, also from well know its distribution and ecological conditions of this vegetation.
Our objective is to know the traditional use of plants used by the population of semiarid as a remedy so to traditional knowledge. It is also to know the traditional use of our inventory mostly at the time of survey, the lack of means of transport.
“In the Middle East there has been a significant increase in the frequency and the intensity of sand and dust storms in the past 15 years or so,” said Enric Terradellas a meteorologist with the World Meteorology Organisation’s sand and dust storm prediction centre for the region.
“One of the main sources of sand and dust storms is Iraq, where the flow of rivers has decreased because of a race in dam constructions in upstream countries.
“That has led to the disappearance of marshes and drying up of lakes both in Iraq and Iran, and the sediments left behind are very important sources of dust in the region.”
Deserts have always been the source of sand storms in the region, but scientists say unsustainable mining, oil extraction and agriculture as well as intensive military conflicts are worsening the situation.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has predicted that Iraq could witness 300 dust events in a year within 10 years, up from around 120 per year now.
“A dust storm consists of massive amount of particulates in the air and when people breathe it, these can get down their lungs and cause respiratory illness and heart disease and so on,” said Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, a health and climate change expert with the World Health Organisation.
The WHO has said dust storms contribute to poor air quality that is blamed for the death of 7 million people every year.
For more BBC broadcasted programs on this story, click on the story’s title below.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Health had yet another meeting this week on the issue and concluded that :
From higher morbidity and mortality rates to reduced economic growth, the impact of sand and dust storms can be major, especially for lower-income nations and vulnerable communities. However, with stronger collaboration and improved information-sharing, much of the risk could be managed and mitigated, a UN meeting heard on Monday.
Children run from an approaching sand storm in Gao, Mali. UN Photo/Marco Dormino
The high-level General Assembly meeting examined the risks posed by sand and dust storms, known by the acronym SDS, and the various opportunities available to mitigate those risks and fill the existing knowledge gaps.
“For people, the stakes of inaction on this issue are high,” said Miroslav Lajčák, President of the UN General Assembly. “Human well-being is at risk.”
Various studies have revealed the severe effects that sand and dust storms can have on health, including respiratory, cardiovascular, skin and eye diseases.
The panel also highlighted the major economic impact that these meteorological events can have: “One sand or dust storm can cost hundreds of millions of dollars,” explained Mr. Lajčák. “The losses are really felt in the agriculture, transportation and infrastructure sectors. These are resources that could have been channelled towards sustainable development at a time when we need to mobilize more for the 2030 Agenda”.
As this is a phenomenon that affects more than 45 countries – principally in the Sahel, Central and East Asia, the Middle East as well as North America and the Caribbean – Governments and experts have sought solutions to mitigate the risk, build resilience and strengthen the amount of information on the subject globally. The UN World Meteorological Organization‘s Warning Advisory and Assessment System is now capable of issuing forecasts as far as three days in advance. However, ensuring that this information reaches the most vulnerable to reduce death rates as well as negative impacts to their livelihoods, is a challenge that remains to be tackled.
“It is unconscionable that information that can help the health of people affected…is not available to them,” said Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, in a video played at the event.
Among the solutions proposed, the panellists cited: greening areas where SDS events tend to be borne by planting more trees; improving information channels so even the most vulnerable communities can adequately prepare and protect themselves; and enhancing cross-border collaboration so countries can share lessons learned and implement holistic disaster risk reduction measures.
“For the last three years, the General Assembly has pledged to take action on sand and dust storms. But we cannot do this alone,” said Mr. Lajčák, calling for “more Member States to work in tandem with the Rio Conventions, on climate change, biodiversity, and importantly, combatting desertification” and address the issue in a durable and lasting fashion.
The UNCCD published on June 17th 2018, day to combat desertification , this article that started with this: A wise investment in land supports you and your future. Your choices determine future scenarios for sustainable growth.
The MENA region being undoubtedly at the fore front, should combat as a matter of survival not only for themselves but also for the rest of the world. It is also not a matter of one day but of everyday of the year.
The 2018 World Day to Combat Desertification (#2018WDCD) urges you to move away from unsustainable land use and make a difference by investing in the future of land under the slogan, “Land has true value – invest in it.”
We often use land as if it were a limitless resource, ignoring its role in our everyday lives. This negligence threatens food and water supply, biodiversity and even human security itself.
Short-sighted economic gains such as land grabbing, unplanned urban sprawl, unsustainable agriculture and over-consumption lead to unsustainable land use, which eventually causes degradation and loss of critical ecosystem services.
As a result, consumption of the Earth´s natural reserves has doubled in the last 30 years, with a third of the planet´s land already severely degraded.
By turning land degradation into land restoration, we can realize the land´s full potential. Healthy and productive land can bring not only environmental, but also significant economic gains. For example, case studies from the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative(2015) indicate that:
·The annual loss of 75 billon tons of soil from arable land leads a missing opportunity for economic benefits of USD 400 billion per year globally
·Taking action against soil erosion over 105 million hectares would save up to USD 62.4 billion in net present value over the next 15 years
·Enhancing carbon stocks through agricultural soils alone can create potential value on the carbon market from USD 96-480 billion annually
Sustainable land management (SLM) is a wise investment for economic growth that does not compromise resilient livelihoods. It is key to safeguarding and managing the quality of the land by balancing its biological and economic potential.
Moreover, land can play a vital role in linking multiple Sustainable Development Goals by harnessing synergies while minimizing potential conflicts and trade-offs. SLM can give tremendous momentum to positive change. By safeguarding life on land, we deliver for all life on Earth.
This is the true value of land.
Every one of us has a role to play. Farmers can invest in smart agriculture that leads to higher yields despite a reduction in inputs like pesticides. Policy makers and land managers can support bio-economy by investing in new SLM technologies and processes.
Consumers can spend their money on organic and fairly traded products to avoid land degradation. There are many more ways to invest in land wisely.
We can all contribute to and benefit from investing in SLM – whether we act as consumers, producers, corporations, or governments.
Changes in behavior and adoption of more efficient planning and practices can guarantee that sufficient land resources are available long-term to meet our ambitions for and to provide sustainable livelihoods.
The choice is ours. Know the true value of land and invest in it.
Human Wrongs Watch posted this article of the United Nations on the International Diversity Day that was celebrated yesterday May 22nd, 2018 quoting Secretary-General António Guterres’s message that highlighted that the welfare and prosperity of people now and in the future, depends on a “rich variety of life on earth”. For that to happen, would it not be a good idea if similarly, all linguistic and cultural differences were to be respected, hence our proposed featured image above.
Kadir van Lohuizen/NOOR/UNEP | Coral reef ecosystems house 25 per cent of all marine life, feeding hundreds of millions of people. A healthy reef at Molinere Bay, Marine Protected Area in Grenada.
Since December 1993, when the Convention on Biological Diversity entered into force, its parties have acted to conserve the earth’s flora and fauna, in a sustainable and fair way, said the UN chief.
“Achieving these objectives is integral to meet our goals for sustainable development,” Guterres stressed, underscoring the importance of protecting, restoring and ensuring access to ecosystems to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger: Goals 1 and 2 of what are known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
To mitigate climate change, he notes that deforestation and land degradation must be reduced while at the same time, enhancing carbon stocks in forests, drylands, rangelands and croplands.
He said it was also critical to protect the biodiversity of forests and watersheds to support clean and plentiful water supplies.
Yet, despite these and other benefits, biodiversity continues to decline globally.
“The answer is to intensify efforts and build on successes,” stated Gutteres. He explained that in 2018, Parties to the Convention will begin work on a new action plan to ensure that, by 2050, biodiversity is preserved to the best of our abilities.
“The entire world needs to join this effort,” he emphasized: “I urge governments, businesses and people everywhere to act to protect the nature that sustains us. Our collective future depends on it,” concluded the Secretary-General.
In her message, Cristiana Paşca Palmer, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), noted that biodiversity is at the heart of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
Its decline compounds other challenges, including climate change, water and food security, and public health, which “can potentially lead to catastrophic outcomesfor human existence on this planet,” she warned.
“It is therefore, imperative to do everything in our power to halt the destruction of nature,” she emphasized.
“We have two more years to go to redouble our efforts, […] to design a new deal for nature that will take us from 2020 to the middle of this century,” she said, adding: “We don’t have much time. But we have a lot of power if we work together, in a collaborative manner to change the way we use nature and biodiversity.
Martha Rojas-Urrego, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, drew attention to wetlands as being among the most biodiverse ecosystems on earth – from which almost all freshwater supplies are drawn.
“Given the increasing human population and its dependence on water and wetlands, we must work together in a collective, concerted and sustained effort to conserve wetlands for the planet’s biodiversity and human wellbeing,” she said.
For his part, David Morgan, from the UN-administered Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), reiterated that “biodiversity loss has an enormous impacton our planet, for both the natural environment and human beings.”
“Safeguarding biodiversity is among the key elements of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he said.
“While we are still facing tremendous challenges, with the political will of the world’s governments, we can protect the world’s biological diversity,” he asserted, affirming CITES’ continued collaboration with CBD “to save our common heritage for this and future generations.” (SOURCE: UN).
Farida Belkhiri in Sud Horizons wrote in French about how 3000 plant and animal species are threatened with extinction due to fires, global warming and worst of all poaching. So, In Algeria, it’s Red alert to Poaching and Illegal Trading of wild animals.
The cry of distress has launched, this Tuesday, March 14, by the Director general of the General Directorate of Forestry of Algeria (DGF), Abdelmalek Abdelfattah, a workshop to raise awareness against poaching and illegal trade of wild animals, held in Zeralda hunting reserve.
The workshop should also lead to an action plan whose implementation will be carried out in collaboration with the National Gendarmerie for the protection of these species. “We signed an agreement with the Police for combating forest fires in 2013.
Today, given the big threat looming on especially protected species, we decided to expand the fight against poaching. The recommendations will serve as road map for the implementation of concrete actions”, he explains.
Despite the enactment of laws for the protection of the heritage of fauna in Algeria, DGF needs support of the National Gendarmerie and civil society for its application. The Director as to the protection of wild animals and hunting, Ouahida Boucekkine, called illicit traders, especially of birds, to integrate into a legal framework in order to “participate in the reproduction of the ‘Goldfinch’, that suffered a big threat and to protect the citizens of certain contagious diseases to humans.
She said that that poaching of these species is not for ‘commercial reasons or for the simple pleasure of hunting’ but rather for “medicinal purposes.” and for witchcraft
According to her, 1600 ‘Goldfinch’ birds were seized in 2016, “not sighted anymore in their natural habitats. Barbary Deer undergoes, according to her, a large poaching at the level of algero-tunisian border.
Between 2011 and 2016, according to Nafissa Mahieddine, a DGF Official, 15,774 individual animals were caught, divided into 15 species, birds, mainly, the ‘Goldfinch’ at the top. “They were seized in a dozen governorates in the West especially, by the Algerian-Moroccan border as marked by the smuggling of ‘Goldfinch’, Falcon, and “even some species of monkeys”, she says.
For his part, Commander Mdjahed, representative of the National Gendarmerie, reported that between 2012 and 2016, there were about a dozen of foreign nationalities and 30 Algerian accomplice poachers’ arrests.
“Foreign poachers are Kuwaiti, Saudi and Emirati nationals”. They were brought to court and received heavy fines before being transferred to their countries where they will also be punished”, he revealed.
He said that these latter were illegally hunting the wild Falcon and the Bustard, within protected areas of El Bayedh, Laghouat, Béchar, Adrar and Tindouf.
In 2016, he added, more than 96 court cases related to illicit hunting have been transferred to justice by the National Gendarmerie units engaged in the protection of the environment. This led to the arrest of 163 people.
This article written by Nina Jensen, CEO of WWF-Norway was published on 30 November 2016 on the WEF website. We republish it here for its good meaning of possibly the ultimate cause of all humanity that is to salvage what remains of the earth’s to date. It has been denied for years but more and more evidence is showing that climate change is definitely upon us. Climate change may refer to a change in average weather conditions, or in the time variation of weather around longer-term average conditions (i.e., more or fewer extreme weather events). Climate change is caused by factors such as biotic processes, variations in solar radiation received by Earth, plate tectonics, and volcanic eruptions. Certain human activities have also been identified as significant causes of recent climate change, often referred to as global warming: Wikipedia. Here are therefore these proposed 5 Reasons we should all be climate optimists . . .
2016 was a year of great progress in the fight against climate change Image: REUTERS/Michaela Rehle
The world is changing rapidly, and there are endless opportunities for losing sleep at night: increasing conflict, inequality, loss of biodiversity, escalating climate change. At times, it may seem difficult to remain an optimist, but I am happy to convince you otherwise.
Here are five main reasons why global climate optimism is still in place – and why what we have seen so far is only the beginning.
1. The Paris agreement has entered into force
In record time, countries around the world have ratified the climate agreement from Paris 2015, which has now entered into force.
The agreement is a game changer: no trade deals, no geopolitics, no national or international infrastructure planning, no big businesses can any longer avoid the premise of decarbonizing. Yes, the commitments made by the nations in Paris are insufficient, but the ambitions will increase over time. There is no turning back on the direction.
During COP22 in Marrakech, it was obvious that no other countries intend to follow US President-Elect Donald Trump and withdraw from the Paris Agreement. If some countries or businesses step down, others will step up. The examples are plenty: in the last weeks, while the world was discussing a possible coal revival under a Trump administration in the USA, both France and Canada declared that their coal energy facilities will be phased out. In addition, during COP22, 47 developing countries announced through the Climate Vulnerable Forum that they will strive to meet 100% domestic renewable energy production as rapidly as possible.
Global investments in renewable generation hit a new world record, with $286 billion invested in 2015, more than double dollar allocations to new coal and gas generation. Since 2013, more renewable power capacity has been installed annually around the world than fossil and nuclear together. In 2014, the ratio was 50/50. In 2015 it was 90 to 10 in favour of renewables.
You do not have to be an environmentalist – or an economist – to conclude that investors will increasingly be seeking out objects that are more promising. In addition, there are many reasons to believe that many of those objects are in industries providing climate solutions. This development is unstoppable, even in the US. We will be seeing growing renewable industries and closing of coal plantsalso during the coming presidency.
Generally, renewable energy creates more jobs and more distributed jobs than fossil energy. In contrast to other depressed labour markets, the number of jobs in renewables worldwide continues to rise, with the top five with jobs in renewables being in China, the EU, Brazil, the US and India.
4. Markets are changing
The growing markets for renewable energy and other new technologies and business solutions are rapidly disrupting existing markets. Electric cars, buses and ferries are currently being introduced at record speed, causing large oil companies like Shell and Statoil to admit that their markets will be shrinking very soon.
However, the green transition is not only happening in the energy sector. 3D printing will drastically reduce the need for costly and energy-intensive transportation and be a disruptive factor for industry production. Self-driving cars and car-sharing services will change the idea that everyone is better off owning a car or two.
Generally we are seeing a rapid growth in solutions where user-friendly IT and tech provides us with access to the services we need, without all the hassle that material stuff requires. The potential for increased resource effectivity is immense. As LSE professor Carlota Perez has pointed out: green lifestyles are information- rather than materials-intensive.
5. The biggest emitter is now biggest on solutions
A wind turbine is seen near a gate of the ancient city of Wushu in Diaobingshan, Liaoning province January 18, 2011. Image: REUTERS/Sheng Li
Investments, investments, investments
We are entering an era where international society will protect our biggest common interest: the global climate. We have united against common enemies before. This is the time to unite against the biggest threat to the human race. Those who will not lead will have to follow.
Climate policies, and particularly the energy shift, will be increasingly important for all aspects of business – but also for all aspects of geopolitics, as there are clear links between environmental degradation and conflicts, unrest and migration. There can be no security in a world of galloping climate change.
On the other hand, renewable energy solutions like solar and wind will reduce the reasons for fighting over fossil energy resources, while reducing energy poverty and providing development opportunities and jobs.
We really have all the reasons in the world for investing in the green solutions: climate, jobs, economy, security. What we have to do is to dedicate our investments – whether it be in infrastructure or product development – to the solutions that will stand the test of the green time. It is happening, it is happening fast, and it will change the world quicker than you can spell landline.
An article titled Trees are much better at Creating Clouds on The Conversation of October 10th, 2016, written by Hamish Gordon, Research Fellow in Amospheric Science and Cat Scott, Research Fellow in Atmospheric Science, both of University of Leeds covers a very interesting topic of how to alleviate Man made impact on the Earth’s climate. We republish it on this website with all due thanks and compliments to the authors as well as to original publishers.
and Cooling the Climate than we thought!
The pre-industrial atmosphere contained more particles, and so brighter clouds, than we previously thought. This is the latest finding of the CLOUD experiment, a collaboration between around 80 scientists at the CERN particle physics lab near Geneva. It changes our understanding of what was in the atmosphere before humans began adding pollution – and what it might be like again in the future.
Most cloud droplets need tiny airborne particles to act as “seeds” for their formation and growth. If a cloud has more of these seeds, and therefore more droplets, it will appear brighter and reflect away more sunlight from the Earth’s surface. This in turn can cool the climate. Therefore understanding the number and size of particles in the atmosphere is vital to predicting not only how bright and reflective the planet’s clouds are, but what global temperatures will be.
Today, around half of these particles come from natural sources. That includes dust from the ground, volcanoes, wildfires that make soot, or sea spray that evaporates midair leaving behind tiny specs of salt in the atmosphere.
Many airborne particles also result from us burning fossil fuels. This produces soot, but also sulphur dioxide gas which is made into sulphuric acid in the atmosphere. As well as causing acid rain, sulphuric acid molecules can stick together and grow into particles . Other molecules like ammonia full often help glue the sulphuric acid molecules together, and overall this process forms around half of the cloud seeding particles in today’s atmosphere.
The CLOUD experiment simulates a ‘mini climate’. Antti Onnela / CERN, Author provided
The CLOUD experiment at CERN also recently discovered that gases emitted by trees can stick together to make new seeds for clouds in the atmosphere – without needing any help from other pollutants as was previously thought. Scientists had thought that the cloud seeds needed sulphuric acid (often mixed with other compounds) or iodine molecules to stick together to initiate the process.
In our new follow-up study, published in PNAS, we worked with other CLOUD scientists to simulate this process in the atmosphere. Our work suggests that even today trees produce a large fraction of cloud seeds over the cleanest forested parts of the world.
Simulations of the atmosphere before fossil fuel burning started in earnest and the industrial revolution began (in climate science defined as the year 1750) predict fewer particles than are present today. With fewer particles the cleaner clouds would have reflected less of the sun’s energy and, perhaps counter-intuitively, they would have looked a bit greyer.
The Blue Mountains to the west of Sydney, Australia, are named after their characteristic haze. ian woolcock / shutterstock
Much of the more recent progress in this area is thanks to the CLOUD experiment: a stainless steel cylinder, about three metres in diameter and three metres high. Gases are injected into the cylinder, where they react much as they would in the atmosphere and then stick together to make particles. State-of-the-art instruments count the gas molecules and particles in the chamber. We study how the number of new particles formed every second changes when we increase the amount of the sticky gases in the cylinder.
What does this mean for the atmosphere?
In today’s atmosphere, there is so much sulphuric acid around that it is difficult to measure how much anything else contributes to forming new particles, and so to the clouds. However our new simulation using the CLOUD results shows that terpenes were very important in the cleaner atmosphere of a few hundred years ago. Computer modelling suggests that estimates of particle concentrations in the cleaner pre-industrial atmosphere should be increased, while our estimates of today’s concentrations are mostly unchanged.
It’s hard to make accurate predictions at this early stage as not all of the complicated chemical processes are understood. However, the new results may be important because more particles in the atmosphere mean more reflective clouds and a cooler climate.
Pollution masking climate change
Over the past century, cooling due to increasing numbers of particles in the atmosphere has offset, or masked, some of the warming due to increasing carbon dioxide levels. Our simulations suggest that this extra cooling might not have been as strong as previously thought.
There have recently been concerns that as we collectively improve air quality across the world, by emitting fewer particles into the atmosphere, we will also be reducing the capacity of particles to act as cloud seeds and have a cooling effect.
While our simulations remain quite uncertain, the potential importance of this new process suggests that as we reduce pollution from combustion and other sources, natural compounds could once again become more important. By helping to replace cloud seeds from air pollution, trees may be able to help us limit global temperature rises.
Medium.com published this admirable article on India’s showing the rural way successful programme thought once to be a “policy barrier” whereas it is` a fully fledged economic development and poverty alleviation programme that could inspire many in the MENA region countries without exception, now that oil prices are deemed either low for some time or ‘obsolescent’ for good.
In fact, India’s rural employments guarantee scheme was put into action years back and has come to be praised by all and by notably the World Bank, five years after it started being implemented. The World Development Report 2014 has described the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act as a “stellar example of rural development”.
In India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu, I met young ex-farmers who had moved out of farm jobs and were now working in factories and government offices. Their day to day circumstances weren’t all that different from millions of others around the world.
But yet, the people I met were remarkable. There was the disabled young man who, with skills training, found an IT job and a life outside his home, and is now supporting his mother. There were also women Self Help Group (SHG) members who, with support from their female Panchayat Leader, Pushpa, were helping to better the lives of their communities. They worked to improve water supply, build toilets and boost sanitation, and also found jobs in agro-processing.
My time in India made it clear to me that opportunity can change lives — especially in rural areas, where 78% of the country’s poor people live.
Opportunity can come in various forms. It can come in the form of social empowerment — by giving voice to groups that are often marginalized, such as women, youth and disabled people.
It can also come in the form of jobs — through skills training, job placement programs and other services that help people secure formal employment.
Jobs and social empowerment are two different opportunities. But they can be related: They both share transformative effects that are positive, and can multiply in unexpected directions.
For example, as women gain more confidence, their voices are listened to on a variety of matters within the home — such as on family planning and how to spend family incomes — improving the lives of their children and their families. Collectively, the power of their voices expressed through SHGs and other groups can bring about change on a larger scale, impacting the wider community as a whole.
Jobs, too, are known to have transformative effects. They give people the economic resources to improve their quality of life, open up new opportunities and enable them to engage with the outside world.
In the last 15 years, the Indian government has worked assiduously to create opportunities for poor rural people both within and outside farming. They began by empowering millions of people through organized groups like SHGs, and have since expanded into creating jobs both on and off the farm for hundreds of thousands of people. Through the years, the World Bank has aided the Indian government’s work in this area by supporting many of its rural programs, in addition to helping empower women and other vulnerable groups.
Altogether, India’s rural programs have helped organize 22 million women into SHGs. To put that number in perspective, the women who have been so organized make up a slightly larger group than the combined populations of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Total SHG membership in India stands at 30 million, which means that 72% of India’s total SHG membership was enabled in part with support from Bank rural projects that have empowered women to find their voice and advocate for their communities. Bank-supported empowerment programs also focus on other vulnerable groups, including unskilled youth and disabled people.
The numbers on the jobs front are also worth highlighting. Nearly 745,000 young Indians — which is nearly equivalent to the total population of Port-au-Prince — have found jobs with the help of rural programs. Women and handicapped people have also been placed in factory jobs, government jobs, and agribusinesses. For instance, a partnership with a garment factory in Tamil Nadu has employed thousands of young women who would otherwise have stayed at home, dependent on their families for everything.
It was clear from my visit that India has made great strides in the rural arena, and is prepared to take this agenda even further. On our part, India’s successes, as well as our experiences in other countries, have taught us what makes for effective programs that empower rural people and enable them to find jobs. First, rural programs should prioritize building community institutions for rural poor people.. In India, self-help groups were particularly effective in involving women in community decision-making and project planning and implementation. Indian SHGs have also facilitated access to credit, learning and other resources and organized producers to aggregate production and boost their bargaining power with banks and agriculture product suppliers. In Palayanur Village, Tamil Nadu, one SHG provided tribal communities with school buses to bring children to school and even taught its members how to feed their families nutritiously. In other countries, the Bank has built institutions that make local governments and markets more accessible, and accountable, to smallholders and rural communities.
Second, effective rural programs should focus on developing the job ecosystem by expanding entrepreneurship and job opportunities off the farm. Today, as India’s long-time partner in creating opportunities for poor rural people, the World Bank remains committed to supporting India as it takes it rural agenda into the future. Equipping rural people with the right skills to qualify for jobs and providing business development know-how so that they can grow their enterprises is an important first step. Through the Palayanur Village SHG, more than 100 people were able to parlay their training in nursing, cheese-making driving and computer skills into jobs and income-generating livelihoods. Hundreds more across India’s countryside have had similar opportunities. It’s important to note that the Bank’s commitment doesn’t end with training — several programs have partnered with the private sector to place people in jobs.
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