Climate Change Affects A Ten-Year Contract of Fruit Supply.

When a British shop recently proposed signing a 10-year contract with a fruit supplier from South Africa – a move aimed at providing predictability for both partners – company officials got back a completely unexpected response: We’re not interested.

Climate change, the producer said, is making it harder to guarantee a consistent-enough crop to meet such a long-term contract, particularly when Britain has exacting standards for the quality it needs. South Africa’s own growing population needs more food these days, it added – and China is always willing to buy whatever’s on offer, regardless of quality, no questions asked.

As climate change creates new pressures on farmers, markets, trade and supply chains, old ways of doing things are shifting – a reality that might help create the right kind of pressure to drive action to curb global warming, some experts say.

“If we can’t make the business case (for action), we’re going to fail,” noted Will Day, a sustainability adviser for consultancy giant PwC.

Despite having achieved the colossal task of putting in place the Paris Agreement on climate change, the world is still moving far too slowly to deal with a fast-moving problem, experts said at a meeting of the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) this week.

Promises made under the Paris deal will get the world 30 percent of the way to achieving its aim to try to hold onto a relatively stable global climate – and “the remaining 70 percent is going to be much harder than the first 30 percent”, warned Simon Maxwell, the executive chair of CDKN.

Right now, the Paris Agreement “does not yet add up to anything close to the emissions reductions needed”, he said.

A big part of the problem, Maxwell said, is that putting plans into action is harder than making them, particularly when that involves tricky issues of regulatory changes, finding the needed cash, making sure things happen in the right order and negotiating ever-complicated politics.

“Every single thing we do in this space is political and if we do not think about politics we will fail – and we cannot afford to fail,” he said.

But there are some hopeful signs emerging – and a clear view of areas where important progress could be made, experts said at the two-day meeting. For example:

--Increasingly it is ministries of finance – not the less-powerful environmental ministries – that are driving action on climate change in many countries, they said.

--Pressure from investors – including investment management group BlackRock – is forcing more big companies to look at and publicly state the risks they face from climate change impacts, a move likely to help create action to deal with those risks. If the trillions of dollars invested by pension funds come under similar scrutiny – or if those trillions can be directed into more climate-friendly investments – then the stage is set for major change, they said.

--The leadership void on climate change created by U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement that he will withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change is creating opportunities to rebuild and reshape climate leadership – including by driving a surge of action by cities, states and businesses. What could happen if people at all levels – from community and citizen action groups to cities and national policymakers – all begin pushing together on climate-related issues people care about, such as air pollution?

--Infrastructure roadblocks in the way of a fast expansion of clean energy – from battery storage to transmission lines – are fast being resolved. If the right incentives can be put in place – such as removing fossil fuel subsidies and putting the money instead to health, education and other social goals that help politicians win elections – progress could be even faster, the experts said.

One of the most effective ways of pushing ahead climate action, they said, may actually be to talk a lot less about the need for it, and instead begin listening to what people do care most about, and finding the links.

Families worried about job losses or air pollution or the rising cost of flood insurance or the lengthening allergy season don’t want to hear that they need to put climate change first. But if clean power can create jobs, and swapping polluting vehicles for clean ones on the streets makes children healthier, many more people will see the point of climate action and potentially throw their support behind it, the experts said.

“The transformation is underway and we now know we can, with that, deliver all sorts of other public goods and reward people for having invested in that change,” said James Cameron, the chairman of the Overseas Development Institute.

“We need an equal dose of fear and excitement about the transition ... so we create demand for the policy changes and other interventions we know we need to do.”

Source : Laurie Goering via

Squirrels Have Long Memory for Solving Problems

University of Exeter scientists found grey squirrels quickly remembered how to solve a problem they had not seen for almost two years.

The squirrels also quickly worked out how to use those skills in a redesigned version of the test.

"This might be why grey squirrels can survive very well in towns and cities," said Dr Pizza Ka Yee Chow, of Exeter's Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour.

"For example, they're very good at getting food from bird feeders.

"People may try different types of bird feeders to keep the squirrels away, but this research shows grey squirrels can not only remember tricks for getting food but can apply those skills in new situations."

In the study, five squirrels were given a task identical to one they had tried 22 months earlier, in which they had to press levers to get hazelnuts.

In that first experience, the squirrels improved with practice -- taking an average of eight seconds on their first attempt and just two seconds by the final time they tried it.

Trying again for the first time in 22 months, they took an average of just three seconds to get a hazelnut.

Grey squirrels are known to have good long-term memory -- they are "scatter-hoarders," collecting and hiding thousands of nuts every autumn.

"Previous research at Exeter has shown that their memory for the locations of hidden nuts is excellent," said co-author Professor Stephen Lea, of the University of Exeter.

But the new research demonstrates a "very different form of memory," said co-author Dr Théo Robert, also of the University of Exeter.

"This is not just remembering where things have been left, it shows they can recall techniques which they have not used for a long time," he said.

"It's also different from what we see in the wild because they're remembering things for longer than the few months of memory needed to find hidden food."

When presented with a version of the task that looked different but required the same technique to get hazelnuts, the squirrels showed a "neophobic" (fear of news things) response -- hesitating for more than 20 seconds on average before starting the task.

But once they started it took them just two seconds on average to get a hazelnut, showing that they were able to recall and apply the technique they learned in the previous form of the challenge.

 Read more Animal Cognition

Source: Dr Pizza Ka Yee Chow via University of Exeter


Prelude to Global Extinction : Human Impact on Earth Animals

No bells tolled when the last Catarina pupfish on Earth died. Newspapers didn't carry the story when the Christmas Island pipistrelle vanished forever.

Two vertebrate species go extinct every year on average, but few people notice, perhaps because the rate seems relatively slow -- not a clear and present threat to the natural systems we depend on. This view overlooks trends of extreme decline in animal populations, which tell a more dire story with cascading consequences, according to a new study that provides the first global evaluation of these population trends.

"This is the case of a biological annihilation occurring globally, even if the species these populations belong to are still present somewhere on Earth," said co-author Rodolfo Dirzo, a professor of biology.

Mapping loss

A 2015 study co-authored by Paul Ehrlich, professor emeritus of biology, and colleagues showed that Earth has entered an era of mass extinction unparalleled since the dinosaurs died out 66 million years ago. The specter of extinction hangs over about 41 percent of all amphibian species and 26 percent of all mammals, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which maintains a list of threatened and extinct species. This global disaster scene has the fingerprints of habitat loss, overexploitation, invasive organisms, pollution, toxification and climate change.

The new analysis, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looks beyond species extinctions to provide a clear picture of dwindling populations and ranges. The researchers mapped the ranges of 27,600 species of birds, amphibians, mammals and reptiles -- a sample representing nearly half of known terrestrial vertebrate species -- and analyzed population losses in a sample of 177 well-studied mammal species between 1990 and 2015.

Using range reduction as a proxy for population loss, the study finds more than 30 percent of vertebrate species are declining in population size and range. Of the 177 mammals for which the researchers had detailed data, all have lost 30 percent or more of their geographic ranges and more than 40 percent have lost more than 80 percent of their ranges. Tropical regions have had the greatest number of decreasing species while temperate regions have seen similar or higher proportions of decreasing species. Particularly hard hit have been the mammals of south and southeast Asia, where all the large-bodied species of mammals analyzed have lost more than 80 percent of their geographic ranges.

The study's maps suggest that as much as 50 percent of the number of animal individuals that once shared Earth have disappeared, as have billions of animal populations. This amounts to "a massive erosion of the greatest biological diversity in the history of Earth," the authors write.

"The massive loss of populations and species reflects our lack of empathy to all the wild species that have been our companions since our origins," said the new study's lead author, Gerardo Ceballos of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. "It is a prelude to the disappearance of many more species and the decline of natural systems that make civilization possible."

Cascading effects

Why does the loss of populations and biological diversity matter? Aside from being what the scientists call a prelude to species extinction, the losses rob us of crucial ecosystem services such as honeybees' crop pollination, pest control and wetlands' water purification. We also lose intricate ecological networks involving animals, plants and microorganisms -- leading to less resilient ecosystems and pools of genetic information that may prove vital to species' survival in a rapidly changing global environment.

"Sadly, our descendants will also have to do without the aesthetic pleasures and sources of imagination provided by our only known living counterparts in the universe," said Ehrlich.

In the meantime, the overall scope of population losses makes clear the world cannot wait to address biodiversity damage, according to the authors. They call for curbs on the basic drivers of extinction -- human overpopulation and overconsumption -- and challenge society to move away from "the fiction that perpetual growth can occur on a finite planet."

Dirzo is also the Bing Professor in Environmental Science. Dirzo and Ehrlich are senior fellows at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

For more information click here

Source : Materials provided by Stanford Univeristy


Largest Canned Tuna Company Tackles Overfishing And Labour Abuse

The world's largest canned tuna company, Thai Union Group PCL, on Tuesday announced a deal with environmentalists to tackle overfishing and potential labour abuse, in the latest bid to clean up the beleaguered Thai seafood industry.

Thailand's multibillion-dollar seafood sector has come under fire in recent years after investigations showed widespread slavery, trafficking and violence on fishing boats and in onshore food processing factories.

The industry, under pressure from decades of overfishing and demand for cheap seafood, turned to slave labour, according to rights groups.

Under an agreement with environmental group Greenpeace, Thai Union said it would take steps towards sustainably caught tuna in its supply chain while ensuring all workers are "safe".

"Thai Union recognises that as a leader in the seafood sector, the operational changes and policies we introduce have a positive impact across the entire industry," its global director of sustainability Darian McBain told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Among its measures, Thai Union pledged to have human or electronic observers on the vessels it sources from, to allow for inspection and reporting of labour abuse.

Greenpeace said the company also agreed to introduce a code of conduct to ensure workers are treated "humanely and fairly", while reducing the use of the "fish aggregating devices" - floating objects used to increase catch but that also harm ocean life.

Greenpeace and Thai Union will meet every six months to assess progress.

Greenpeace, which had confronted vessels supplying Thai Union in protest previously, said it hoped other industry players will follow suit.

It said conditions for labourers on more than 400 vessels supplying Thai Union will improve if the reforms are implemented.

"This marks huge progress for our oceans and marine life, and for the rights of people working in the seafood industry," Greenpeace international executive director Bunny McDiarmid said.

Thai Union - with brands such as Chicken of the Sea, John West and Petit Navire - has invested $90 million in initiatives to ensure 100 percent of its tuna is sustainably sourced, with a commitment to achieving a minimum of 75 percent by 2020.

The company last year said it would eliminate recruitment fees for its workers, a move aimed at preventing labourers from racking up debts to job brokers and from being exploited and abused.

Credit: Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience

For more information click here

Source: Beh Lih Yi via newstrust


Plastic Made From Sugar And Carbondioxide

Some biodegradable plastics could in the future be made using sugar and carbon dioxide, replacing unsustainable plastics made from crude oil.

  • Polycarbonate is used to make drinks bottles, lenses for glasses and in scratch-resistant coatings for phones, CDs and DVDs
  • Current manufacture processes for polycarbonate use BPA (banned from use in baby bottles) and highly toxic phosgene, used as a chemical weapon in World War One
  • Bath scientists have made alternative polycarbonates from sugars and carbon dioxide in a new process that also uses low pressures and room temperature, making it cheaper and safer to produce
  • This new type of polycarbonate can be biodegraded back into carbon dioxide and sugar using enzymes from soil bacteria
  • This new plastic is bio-compatible so could in the future be used for medical implants or as scaffolds for growing replacement organs for transplant

Polycarbonates from sugars offer a more sustainable alternative to traditional polycarbonate from BPA, however the process uses a highly toxic chemical called phosgene. Now scientists at Bath have developed a much safer, even more sustainable alternative which adds carbon dioxide to the sugar at low pressures and at room temperature.

The resulting plastic has similar physical properties to those derived from petrochemicals, being strong, transparent and scratch-resistant. The crucial difference is that they can be degraded back into carbon dioxide and sugar using the enzymes found in soil bacteria.

plastic process

The new BPA-free plastic could potentially replace current polycarbonates in items such as baby bottles and food containers, and since the plastic is bio-compatible, it could also be used for medical implants or as scaffolds for growing tissues or organs for transplant.

Dr Antoine Buchard, Whorrod Research Fellow in the University's Department of Chemistry, said: "With an ever-growing population, there is an increasing demand for plastics. This new plastic is a renewable alternative to fossil-fuel based polymers, potentially inexpensive, and, because it is biodegradable, will not contribute to growing ocean and landfill waste.

"Our process uses carbon dioxide instead of the highly toxic chemical phosgene, and produces a plastic that is free from BPA, so not only is the plastic safer, but the manufacture process is cleaner too."

Dr Buchard and his team at the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies, published their work in a series of articles in the journals Polymer Chemistry and Macromolecules.

In particular, they used nature as inspiration for the process, using the sugar found in DNA called thymidine as a building block to make a novel polycarbonate plastic with a lot of potential.

PhD student and first author of the articles, Georgina Gregory, explained: "Thymidine is one of the units that makes up DNA. Because it is already present in the body, it means this plastic will be bio-compatible and can be used safely for tissue engineering applications.

"The properties of this new plastic can be fine-tuned by tweaking the chemical structure -- for example we can make the plastic positively charged so that cells can stick to it, making it useful as a scaffold for tissue engineering." Such tissue engineering work has already started in collaboration with Dr Ram Sharma from Chemical Engineering, also part of the CSCT.

The researchers have also looked at using other sugars such as ribose and mannose. Dr Buchard added: "Chemists have 100 years' experience with using petrochemicals as a raw material so we need to start again using renewable feedstocks like sugars as a base for synthetic but sustainable materials. It's early days, but the future looks promising."

This work was supported by Roger and Sue Whorrod (Fellowship to Dr Buchard), EPSRC (Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Chemical Technologies), and a Royal Society research Grant.

For more information, click here

Source :  University of Bath

Suleja Flood Claims Lives.

The Chairman of Suleja Local Government Area, Abdullahi Maje, explained that a heavy rain started around 12 midnight and went on for hours, leaving more than 100 houses flooded in Suleja Local Government Area of the state.

“There are about 10 missing persons within Suleja. Three bodies have been found, we are still searching for the remaining persons dead or alive. We have made a call to the Federal Government through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA); they responded quickly and came to Suleja,” Mr Maje said.

The worst affected areas included Kaduna Road through Bakin-Iku, Checheniya, Yaro College area, Kantoma area, Kuspa, Anguwan Gwari and Anguwan Juma.

Narrating their plights to Channels TV crew who visited the scene, residents said some who had attempted to leave their submerged homes for safety were swept away by the flood.They added that cars and vehicles parked along the roads were also moved from their original positions due to the heavy downpour.

A resident said: “I know of nine persons who were carried away by the flood and likely dead in (my) community alone”.

A Search and Rescue Officer of NEMA, Egrigba Micheal, told Channels Television that the agency was able to rescue a victim who has been rushed to the Suleja General Hospital. The rain caused lots of devastations. Many of the houses were submerged while some were completely rooted out. Many properties worth millions of naira were also destroyed.

For more information click here

Source : Michael via channelsnews


Global Innovation Challenge Opens For Students to Fight Marine Plastics

Entries open today for the world’s first student competition to find the next generation of solutions to the global problem of marine litter. Organized by UN Environment and Think Beyond Plastic, the Marine Plastics Innovation Challenge invites university students worldwide to submit fresh ideas in the fields of engineering, communications, economics and data modelling.

Each year, 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans: the equivalent of a full garbage truck every minute. This pollution threatens the survival of fish and other sea creatures, destroys marine and coastal ecosystems that support over three billion people worldwide, and endangers human health by entering the food chain. If no action is taken, by 2050 there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans.

Deadline for entries is 6 October 2017. To participate, students need to be enrolled in a graduate or postgraduate programme as of June 2017, be supported by a faculty member, and submit an entry in one or more of the following categories:

  1. Engineering and Design:  including innovations in materials, manufacturing processes, packaging design and related fields that result in a measurable reduction in marine plastic.
  2. Communication: including multimedia products, mobile apps, and innovative storytelling that raise awareness and inspire public action against marine plastics.
  3. Economics: including innovative methodologies to assess the economic impact of plastic pollution and/or develop new financial and business models to address market failures.
  4. Prediction and Recovery: including the development of analytical tools (algorithms, models, hotspot identification) to better capture and monitor data about plastic pollution and propose solutions.

One winner in each category will be announced at the Sixth International Marine Debris Conference in San Diego, California, which will run from March 12 to 16, 2018. Winners will have the chance to present their ideas at the conference and gain entry into the Think Beyond Plastic annual acceleration programme, which provides mentoring and support to help make the winning ideas commercially viable.

For detailed instructions on how to enter and judging criteria, click here

Source:  Climate Action

Seven (7) Countries that Run 100% on Clean Energy

The dream for a world that is free from fossil fuels is not really an impossibility. There are a number of countries that can convincingly prove that foregoing climate-altering traditional energy sources can be done. There's just no reason to be enslaved by the idea that you need oil or other fossil fuels to sustain the energy needs of a country.

Costa Rica, Bonaire, Tokelau, El Hierro, Samso, Denmark, and Portugal are seven places in different parts of the world that demonstrate the viability of clean energy sources. These are <a href="">countries that have gladly abandoned fossil fuels</a>. If these countries were able to do it, there&rsquo;s no reason for other countries to be unable to follow their lead. It may be expensive at first and may bring about some inconveniences but in the long run the benefits are just beyond favorable.</p>

<p>Geothermal, wind, solar, and hydroelectric power are the most popular clean energy technologies that are already being used in many places worldwide. These sustainable energy technologies have played major roles in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that significantly contribute to global warming and climate change. These clean energy technologies have likewise made countries like Costa Rica become attractive options for retirement or for those who seek a new place to call home.</p>

<p>Here is the image for you to carefully look at:</p>

<p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="" style="width: 458px; height: 2048px;" /></p>

<p>Fancy owning a property in or moving to Costa Rica? There are many reasons why you should consider this beautiful sunny country as your vacation or retirement destination. Learn more about this wonderful Latin American republic through <a href="">