Showing posts with label environment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label environment. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

More on How a Single Spot in the Sahara Desert Creates the Amazon Jungle

In case you missed it, a 2006 paper titled "The Bodélé depression: a single spot in the Sahara that provides most of the mineral dust to the Amazon forest" was recently dug up by science writer Colin Schultz. Listen below to Schultz's talk with Niagara Falls' News Talk 610 CKTB about the paper's findings:

As the title of the paper suggests, and as Boing Boing's Maggie Koerth-Baker helps us visualize, what "we're talking about is a patch of desert only a third the size of Florida supplying the nutrient needs of a jungle that is roughly the same size as all 48 contiguous United States." Maggie Koerth-Baker pulled this quote from the paper:
A total of 140 (± 40) Tg is deposited in the Atlantic ocean and 50 (± 15) Tg
[1 Tg = 1 million tons] reach and fertilize the Amazon basin. This is four times an older estimate, explaining a paradox regarding the source of nutrients to the Amazon forest. Swap et al suggested that while the source for minerals and nutrients in the Amazon is the dust from Africa, it was estimated that only 13 Tg of dust per year actually arrive in the Amazon. However, they pointed out that 50 Tg are needed to balance the Amazon nutrient budget. Here we show a remarkable arrangement in nature in which the mineral dust arriving at the Amazon basin from the Sahara actually originates from a single source of only ~ 0.5% of the size of the Amazon: the Bodélé depression. Located northeast of Lake Chad (17°N, 18°E) near the northern border of the Sahel, it is known to be the most vigorous source for dust over the entire globe.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Nigeria: Two Looks at a Petro-State

Over at the Atlantic, 31 larger than life photos of some scenes from Nigeria's long, disastrous relationship with the crude oil industry:

Fortunately, for more insight as well as context, Naijablog just posted recent UC Berkley lecture on by Michael Watt ("Curse of Black Gold" editor) on the challenges facing Nigeria and other Petro-States.

Watts frames the lecture with David Harvey's take on Neo-Liberalism (blogged here or Harvey's "neo-liberalism and city" which traces IMF predatory lending and SAP conditionalities to banking measures taken during New York fiscal crisis in the early '70s). Watts insists other takes like Paul Collier's idea of a "Resource Curse" lumps these states together and blinds us to the local politics and problems of resource revenue allocation unique to each petro-state.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

West Africa: Legend of Mami Wata - Photographing a Changing Intimacy with Nature

An exhibition held last year at the Chapel Méjan Place Massillon, Arles, featuring photographs by Jean-Francois and Nicolas Van Ingen Hellio Van Ingen for the book (published by Actes Sud in November 2010) titled "Mami Wata, mother of waters". Whoever wrote the book's synopsis, makes plain the intersection between myths, balance between man and nature, sustainable development, and migration to Europe :
This book comes in the form of a naturalistic journey along the coast of West Africa, the desert of Mauritania to the dense forests of Sierra Leone. Until recently, the indigenous peoples of these regions have used the space and resources in an intimate relationship with their land based on their knowledge and traditions. This intimacy with nature myths and superstitions are born as the legend of Mami Wata, female spirit of the sea from the transformation of a young woman into a Manatee. In recent decades, opening the world's resource for business and the availability of new technologies are profoundly changing the balance of nature, culture and society. Several initiatives have been developed by individuals and associations who seek, with the communities concerned, to maintain a dynamic equilibrium in a context of profound change. The few examples presented here are all hopeful signs that mark the paths of the future. The alternative, referred to succinctly in the slogan of illegal migrants "or barsack Barca" (Barcelona or death), is clear: either give themselves the means of a real sustainable and equitable development at the local level, or continue to feed the desperation of the migrant, which no walls, laws or policies in Europe will ever halt.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Zimbabwe: Tacky Thrill Seeking CEO

Huff po gathers the backlash to CEO Bob Parson's tasteless video about his elephant shoot in rural Zimbabwe.

If, as he says, he was only there to help the "poor" rural people get rid of problem elephants, why then make a thrill seeking video about it, especially a video as cross-culturally tone deaf on so many levels as this one

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tanzania: Serengeti Highway Eden

NY Times article and video look at both sides of the economics surrounding the govt of Tanzania's decision to build a highway that cuts right through Serengeti and, some argue, will disrupt the great animal migration. Those who want the highway should like these.... ads:

H/T: Inspiration Room

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Nigeria: Nigeria's 50th and Soynika's 76th, Cont'd

The lecture is titled "Nigeria @ 50: The Crisis of Nationhood" and is it fitting --or ironic-- that it is being held in that particular hall?

More Nigeria's 50th and Soynika's 76th celebrations - here.

H/T: nairobinotes

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Morocco/Kenya: Building Africa's Largest Wind Farm

Kenya was planning to build 365 giant wind turbines in the desert around Lake Turkana in northern Kenya (backdrop for the film The Constant Gardener (2005), creating the biggest windfarm in Africa. But it seems Morocco's  $250 million Melloussa wind farm, inaugurated by King Mohammed VI a few days ago, beat the Kenyans to it. Below, Morocco's National Office of Electricity (NEB) talking of plans back in '08 to develop renewable energies -- 25 billion dirhams to be invested over a period of five years.

And it is also worth noting,  as this report from MoroccoBoard reminds us, that "Morocco is the only North African country without oil" thus the added motivation "... to reduce its dependence on imported oil and coal, by generating energy from renewables."

It's kind of inspiring picturing Ralph Fiennes, in the final scene from Constant Gardner below, walking through the future desert around Lake Turkana, but now populated by thousands of wind mills. And maybe William Kamkwamba even passes by and says, "hi."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Nigeria/ Egypt/ Ghana: Old Oil Spills. New Oil Spills

A reader noticed NYT's Adam Nossiter was finally parachuted into the Niger Delta's 50 year old on going collection of oil spills. Nossiter shakes his head:
The Niger Delta, where the wealth underground is out of all proportion with the poverty on the surface, has endured the equivalent of the Exxon Valdez spill every year for 50 years by some estimates. The oil pours out nearly every week, and some swamps are long since lifeless. The Niger Delta region contains fragile wetlands.... Perhaps no place on earth has been as battered by oil, experts say, leaving residents here astonished at the nonstop attention paid to the gusher half a world away in the Gulf of Mexico. It was only a few weeks ago, they say, that a burst pipe belonging to Royal Dutch Shell in the mangroves was finally shut after flowing for two months: now nothing living moves in a black-and-brown world once teeming with shrimp and crab.
And in Egypt, Zenoibia at Egyptian Chronicles parses through the recent report of oil leaks and spills at Hurghada, a sea side resort on Egypt's Red Sea Coast, and asks:
I followed the newspapers coverage and I noticed that there was an important piece of detail that was forgotten : Who or which company is or companies are responsible for this leak in the first place !?? Which company is our BP !!??
Meanwhile, Ghana's yet to officially begin oil production, but already...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Nigeria: 1.5 Million Tons of Oil Spilled. 300 Oil Spills A Year

Loomnie flagged this Aljazeera report citing 1.5 million tons of oil has been spilled in the Niger Delta.

Below, Friends of the Earth Int' Nnimmo Bassey tells Aljazeera that there are 300 oil spills in the Niger Delta a day...

... looking at the fish pond and those farms you get a stark reminder of the underlying injustice that fuels MEND

Friday, May 21, 2010


At Berkeley, writers Harryette Mullen, Ed Roberson, Evie Shockley, Natasha Tretheway, and Al Young discuss their poems which appear in Black Nature, the First Anthology of Nature Writing by African-American Poets, edited by Camille Dungy. African-American nature writing, of course, goes against the common assumption that the African-American experience is an urban one, and that interesting counter intuition lends to the uniqueness of the writing I would presume. For the background, Robert Hass' intro bears repeating here:
92% of all African-Americans in 1900 were living in the country. And over the course of 2 massive migrations, one between 1910 and 1930 and the other between 1940 and 1970, 80% of African-Americans came to be urban dwellers. And that also happened at the moment of this first great explosion of consciousness of African-American writing in the heart of renaissance and of the explosion of music and art that made African-American that made African-American experience quintessentially an urban experience...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Swaziland: Thuli Brilliance Makama - The Goldman Prize, 2010

Two reports on the winner of the Goldman Environment Prize for 2010, Thuli Brilliance Makama. The prize, announced on the 19th, cites Makema's grueling three-year legal battle reinforcing the right to public participation in environmental decision making in Swaziland, but prize furthermore sheds light on wildlife preservation and game industry, whom Makama says aren't just killing poachers, but are killing poor people.

Conservatives with license to kill poachers reminds us, again, of Jefferey Goldberg's much talked about piece in last month's New Yorker. One of the winners of the 2009 Goldman prize was Marc Ona Essangui from Gabon.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Morocco: The 20th Edition of Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles 13-27th March 2010

Videos from the ongoing Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles - a grueling off road race for women drivers and navigators in the desert outside Morocco:

The Gazelles have to reach the predefined check points along their course in the least number of kilometers, rather than in the least amount of time - that's where navigation comes in and they are given only historical maps and a compass, no GPS.

Madagascar: This Revolution Will Be Embedded

Ny Alantsika by Razia Said. Album: Zebu Nation. Performed at St.Johns the Divine NYC New Years Eve Concert for Peace 31/12/09

Interview (February 24, 2010):

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Burkina Faso: The Architecture of Francis Kéré

pic: BBC/ Francis Kere

Bukinabe architect Diebedo Francis Kéré, who is in London to take part in lectures on climate change and design, speaks with the BBC's Mark Coles about sustainable buildings. Click below:

Yep, they talk about the primary school he built in his home village of Gando, Burkina Faso, which won him the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture and The Global Award For Sustainable Architecture. The Global Award Doc on his work below:

Another look, this time in German:

Monday, February 1, 2010

South Africa: Robben Off the Bunnies

 from Timothy B Hurst/ Green Options

NYT's Barry Bearak throws some spotlight on Robben Island's "Bunny Problem" and the authorities' resort to culling. But contrary to this BBC report from last year, Bearak notes that South Africans aren't exactly queuing up for rabbit meat":
To make the killing appear less ruthless, the island’s management recently announced that meat from the skinned animals would be donated to the poor. But while South Africa has an overabundance of the destitute, few seem accustomed to the taste of rabbit. For now, the meat remains in a walk-in freezer in the island’s slaughterhouse. The unwelcome rabbits of Robben Island will most likely re-enter the food chain during mealtimes at the nation’s cheetah reserves.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Burkina Faso: The Green Brigade

In Ouagadougou, taxpayers funds go to pay for a green brigade that employs single mothers and widowed women:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Egypt/ Zambia: Bio Warfare

IPS Lewis Mwanangombe' reports on a pilot program that's building bio-digesters in the Kabushi township in Ndola, Zambia:
A bio-digester is a reservoir - typically round - built out of burnt bricks and mortar or plain concrete with two vents fitted with valves. Through one vent, raw human waste flows in, which is hungrily fed on by bacteria, until out of the other flows an odorless, biodegraded slurry that can safely be used as manure in a vegetable garden. Methane gas released by the bacteria collects at the top of the structure's convex roof, and is piped away to feed stoves in the nearby homes. Five hundred forty-seven toilets were constructed by Kafubu in Kabushi. "These are pour flush toilets with an integrated shower. The water supply is metered and the effluent from 156 households feeds the two biogas digesters that have already been constructed.
Meanwhile in Egypt, AFP reports on an American engineer working with locals to turn Cairo's well known problem of overflowing public garbage into 'biogas' for cooking and heating homes:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Africa: Haggling Carbon

Agricultural and land-use projects are not eligible for carbon credits under the CDM (the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism) carbon trading strategy to combat global warming. While quotas on green house emissions have been put in place, carbon trading allows big time polluters in developed countries to exceed their quotas by buying carbon credits generated by funding projects that reduce green gas emissions, especially in developing countries.

IPS' Kristin Palitza writes that critics of the CDM in its present form, like the permanent secretary of national resources management of the Zimbabwean Department of Environment, Margaret Mukahanana, allude:
There are no big CDM projects in Africa, because, apart from in South Africa, countries' emissions are so low. So what are you going to reduce? The only thing you can do is avoid future emissions." Critics like Mukahanana believe that the scheme is not actually reducing emissions, but rather providing a smokescreen for industry to continue polluting - but with a cleaner conscience.
But rather than having the rules changed to favor Africa or other developing countries, CDM Executive Board chair Lex de Jonge insists in the article that African countries can become players in the global carbon trading market but, first, they have to stop
... playing the victims ... To make it easier for Africa to enter the global carbon trading market, de Jonge recommended African countries should not try to reinvent the wheel by asking for agricultural carbon trading projects but rather duplicate profitable initiatives elsewhere. "Don't start from scratch. Learn from well-working, existing projects," he said.
On the one hand, Africa and its green revolution drive could do with the CDM capital flows. But on the other hand CDM insists on its rules so as to force and fuel innovative ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Lots of bitcing and pragmatics will either pull the CDM down, or innovative African entreprenuers will pull the continent up.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bangladesh: "Waterworld"

Emily Wax wrote in WaPo back in 2007, "The boats plying the rivers and canals here in northeastern Bangladesh are school bus and schoolhouse in one, part of a 45-vessel fleet that includes library boats. There are plans for floating villages, floating gardens and floating hospitals as well, in case more of this region finds itself under water. Like a scene out of the 1995 post-apocalyptic movie "Waterworld," in which the continents are submerged after the polar ice caps melt and the survivors live out at sea, the boat schools and libraries are a creative response to flooding that scientists largely agree has been worsened by global warming." IRIN shows us how:

By 2050, 17% of Bangladesh land will be under seawater. So it is better for us to adapt to the situation -- Abul Hasanat Mohammed Rezwan


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