Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Jakarta 01

Jakarta, the capitol city of Indonesia.

Climate change is having more and more dramatic and direct effects on life on earth. One of these effects that climate change is having on humans that I read about just recently is the plan by the Indonesian government to move their capitol, Jakarta.

Jakarta 04

Flooding in central Jakarta.

It turns out that Jakarta is one of the fastest sinking cities in the world. A significant portion of the city already lays below sea-level, and with a predicted sea-level rise of between 20 inches and 5 feet in the next century, it is likely that Jakarta will be flooded by 2050.

In order to move the capitol, a new city will have to be built. It is not yet clear if the new city will be somewhere else on Java (the same island that Jakarta is on and the most populous island in Indonesia), or if it will be built on a different island (Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of Borneo has been suggested).

A move such as this is a huge and historic example of managed retreat (which I have written about previously here).

This process will take a while. Not only will new government buildings need to be created, but all the people who work in those buildings,, and their families, will need homes to live in, stores to shop in, schools to go to, police and fire departments to protect them, hospitals to care for them, parks to play in, etc., etc. Building a city is a daunting proposition.

But it is a very good thing for the Indonesian government to be thinking about. Very forward thinking, indeed. Just about every country on earth is going to have to consider how it is going to change in response to sea-level rise and other effects of climate change. Doing so before disaster strikes is a much wiser strategy than waiting to scramble after the disaster has already occurred.

Jakarta 02

Jakarta at night.

Read Full Post »

WalletHub is a personal finance website based in Washington D.C. They specialize in helping individuals decide how to finance large purchases, choose credit cards, and about various types of bank accounts. One of the things that WalletHub produced a few months ago is a ranking of the greenest cities in the USA. While the report, called Greenest Cities in America, was written in October 2018, it is still getting a lot of attention now.

Green Cities 01

This report ranked the 100 most populous cities in the USA according to how they scored across four dimensions 1) Environment, 2) Transportation, 3) Energy Sources, and 4) Lifestyle and Policy. Each of these dimensions have many criteria that contribute to them, and the total scores of all four are combined to form a cities score.

The top ten greenest cities are:

  1. San Diego, CA
  2. San Francisco, CA
  3. Washington, D.C.
  4. Irvine, CA
  5. San Jose, CA
  6. Honolulu, HI
  7. Fremont, CA
  8. Seattle, WA
  9. Sacramento, CA
  10. Portland, OR

The bottom ten greenest cities are:

90. Jacksonvile, FL, 91. Gilbert, AZ, 92. Cleveland, OH, 93. Mesa AZ, 94. Lexington-Fayette, KY, 95. Detroit, MI, 96. Memphis, TN, 97. Toledo, OH, 98. St. Louis, MO, 99. Corpus Cristi, TX, 100. Baton Rouge, LA.

Some of the note worthy findings are that of the top ten greenest cities in this analysis, 6 are in California and 8 are on the west coast, but only one is on the east of the Mississippi. Also of note is that no west coast states appear in the bottom ten cities, and the only eastern seaboard state in the bottom ten is in Florida.

Other than the strait ranking, the report also highlights some other interesting facets. One such facet is the percentage of each cities that is devoted to green space. This criteria had a three-way tie between Honolulu, HI, Anchorage, AK, and Fremont, CA. The cities with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions, per capita, were Virginia Beach, VA, Reno, NV, Hialeah, FL, San Bernardino, CA, and Honolulu, HI which is a pretty wide geographical spread of cities. A criteria that I was a bit surprised to see included was the number of farmers markets, per captia, in a city. This criterion jumped out at me because it does not seem like a particularly important aspect of the greenness of a city, but I suppose this may stand as measure of how environmentally conscious the population of a city might be.

All in all, it is an interesting report and generally fun to look over and think about. Enjoy!

Read Full Post »

Climate Risk 02From the Office of the Director of of National Intelligence of the United States of America comes a new Worldwide Threat Assessment by the US intelligence community.

Worldwide Threat Assessments represent the collective insights of the bulk of the US intelligence community on matters that threaten USA lives and interests around the world.

This most recent Worldwide Threat Assessment points out in several places that climate change is a growing national security threat. One way that global climate change poses a threat to US national security is because of how it influences and encourages infectious diseases. The reports finds that the US and world will likely remain vulnerable to outbreaks of infectious diseases such as the flu and other pandemics. Such outbreaks will cause increases in “death and disability, severely impact the world economy, strain international resources, and increase calls on the United States for support.” It also finds that the work that has been done to control infectious diseases has very much improved the situation, but that these improvements may still be inadequate for addressing more frequent outbreaks of diseases due to rapid and unplanned urbanization, prolonged humanitarian crises, human intrusion into unsettled lands, expansion of international trade and travel, and climate change.

Climate Risk 01

A second way that global climate change poses a threat to US national security is because of extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, heat waves, wildfires, sea level rise, etc. One particular area highlighted in the report is the worsening effects of sea level rise on urban areas of Southeast Asia. These effects take the form of damage to infrastructure that is likely to impact military bases, inflict economic costs, and lead to human displacement and loss of life. Another area highlighted in the report are the increasing food insecurities around the world, social injustice, human migration, and interstate tensions in countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, and Jordan that all result from increasing droughts, heat waves, and floods caused by climate change.

 

Climate change is real. It is having effects on the entire world now. Many of those effects are dramatically impacting the way humans around the world live, and those impacts are being felt by US citizens now and will only get more drastic as time goes on.

Read Full Post »

A partnership between the World Wildlife Fund and Knorr Foods has just released a list of 50 foods that we can all utilize to diversify our diets and reduce our impacts on the planet.

Future50FoodsThe report, called Future 50 Foods, is a compilation of foods of many different types (grains, root vegetables, fruit, etc.). These foods were selected because each one strikes a healthy balance of being high in nutrition, have a low environmental impact, good availability and price, and tasty!

At present, a huge portion of the human population of the world (including developed and undeveloped countries) gets about 60% of all our calories from just 3 plant species (rice, corn, wheat). That means that a huge amount of effort goes into growing all that rice, corn, and wheat. That effort often results in monocultures where a single crop is grown and covers an enormous track of land.

Instead of continuing to grow just these small numbers of species, and to start relying on a broader suite of food sources, we all can start eating more diversely. And that is where this list of foods to eat to improve the future of the planet comes in. It is a guide to the foods that we can all branch out to start eating.

Personally, I am pretty curious about the foods on this list. Some of them I have never heard of before such as Marama Beans from the Kalahari Desert or Moringa from Asia. Many others I have eaten and enjoyed such as Wakame Seaweed and Black Salsify but they certainly do not make up any significant part of my diet.

It is worth noting that there are no animals on the list of 50 foods. Eating animals is very costly, in terms of environmental impact, and so none make the list of high priority food that humans around the world should start eating more of.

So, go out and diversify your palette, explore some new foods, and help to change our food industry for a healthier planet!

Let me know if you try any of the foods on this list in the comments below. What did you try? How did you prepare it? where did you buy it? What did you think?

Read Full Post »

The management of wild horses and burros is a topic that I have felt strongly about for a long time. I can sympathize with those who see the horse as a symbol of the American West, of independence, and of strength and beauty. However, that sympathy does not last very long or go very far.

Image result for wild horses of nevada

A group of wild horses in Nevada.

The wild horse and the wild burro in North America are invasive species. Plain and simple. As such, it is my opinion that those invasive populations should be controlled so as not to negatively impact native species or the overall health of the ecosystem.

The Wildlife Society has recently produced a short documentary called “Horse Rich & Dirt Poor” that lays out some of the issues surrounding horse management in the USA.

One of the points that the film makes is that under current policies and procedures, everyone (native mammals, native birds, native fish, native plants, the land itself, and even the wild horses and burros) is loosing.

Give this 15 minute video a watch, and think about where we are. Where do you think we should go? How do you think we should get there?

 

Read Full Post »

A study was published earlier this month in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment on the effects that invasive species have on other species around the globe. The study is by Tim M. Blackburn, Celine Bellard, and Anthony Ricciardi, and it can be found here.

The main thrust of the paper is that invasive species of plants and animals have been found to have a significant impact on the extinction of other plants and animals all around the world. Specifically, 25% of the plant species that have gone extinct in recent years have been the result, at least in part, of invasive species. Additionally, 33% of the animal species that have gone extinct in recent years have been the result, at least in part, of invasive species.

These numbers are pretty compelling components to the story of just how damaging invasive species can be. It is part of the reason I find working on invasive species control in California to be rewarding.

I am currently working on the control of Arundo (which is a large invasive reed), water primrose (an invasive aquatic plant), Phragmites (which is another invasive reed that is a bit smaller than Arundo), and Nutria (which is a 20 pound semi-aquatic rodent). Each of these species pose unique threats to the native species of California and to many other aspects of the ecosystem as well.

Hopefully, protocols can be developed to stop invasive species before they contribute even more extinctions!

Read Full Post »

For the few years, one of the projects I have been working on at the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy has been helping a team of dedicated individuals and organizations to cleanup a slough just south of the city of West Sacramento, where I live. The slough is named Babel Slough and it runs for about 3.5 miles through agricultural lands in the Clarksberg area.

img_20190111_072034

Tires and other debris freshly removed from Babel Slough

For well over 50 years, people have been driving past Babel Slough and dumping trash is it. All kinds of stuff has ended up in the waterway, with tires being a particularly big problem.

After getting through many hurdles, the first phase of the cleanup took place last winter, and the second phase is going on right now. The third, and final, phase will hopefully take place this coming winter.

As the phase 2 efforts are being made, a reporter from the Daily Democrat came to visit, see the site and the work being done, and to talk with the team. The piece she wrote can be read here.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »