Monday, May 21, 2012

The Vital Chain: Connecting The Ecosystems Of Land And Sea

A new study from a Pacific atoll reveals the links between native trees, bird guano, and the giant manta rays that live off the coast. In unraveling this intricate web, the researchers point to the often little-understood interconnectedness between terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

For the past few years, Douglas McCauley has been tracking Pacific manta rays that live around a chain of remote islands called Palmyra Atoll. McCauley, a marine biologist at the University of California at Berkeley, and his colleagues tag the giant fishes with “pingers” — acoustic devices that emit pulses — and then follow the sound. “You’re in a boat, following the animal night and day,” says McCauley.

The scientists embarked on this study to learn more about the ecology of these majestic animals. “There’s remarkably little known about manta rays,” McCauley says. Pacific manta rays are among the biggest fishes in the world, with wing-like fins that can stretch as far as nine meters across. To feed their massive bodies, they suck water into their mouth and out of their gills, trapping tiny animals in a filter-like mesh of bones. Any changes to the ocean food web — a rise in temperature or a drop in nutrient levels, for example — can influence the size of the manta ray population.

As the scientists followed the manta rays, they noticed something peculiar. Off in the distance, they could see Palmyra’s island chain. Much of Palmyra is still covered by forests of native trees. But there are also stretches of the island dominated by coconut palms — first brought by Polynesians centuries ago and increasingly planted today as a cash crop. As McCauley gazed off at the islands, it occurred to him that he was spending all his time off the coast of the native forests.

“We were puzzled that we kept being brought back to these coastlines with abundant native forests,” says McCauley. “We realized that maybe to understand the manta rays, we had to follow this message they were giving us.” More

Destroying mangrove forests is adversly affecting the nutrient balance in the Cayman Islanda. Editor

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Apocalyptic island of waste in the Maldives: Is this in store for Cayman?

The Cayman Islands needs to move urgently to stop this situation developing here. These islands must also embrace recycling. Cut down the volume of your waste stream and there is much less to go into a landfill. Food waste can be made into compost, metals can be sold, paper can be sold, glass can be added to the asphalt that is put on our roads, plastic bottles can be used for greenhouse construction in which we utilize the compost we made from food waste to grow much of our (organic) foodstuff. We do not have to reinvest the wheel, we just,need to use our imagination.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Seychelles Pavilion opens at Yeosu Expo 2012

Seychelles President James Michel has commended the Yeosu Expo 2012 as an outstanding exhibition of marine biodiversity, as well as an opportunity for all nations to gather ideas and technology to preserve and protect the marine environment.

“As low-lying small island developing states, we are not only vulnerable to sea level rise but also aware of the importance of sustainable coastal tourism, responsible management of marine resources, and the protection of ecosystems and biodiversity. I am very proud of Seychelles’ presence at this international exposition, as our islands are at the forefront of the fight against climate change, as well as advocates for the development of a sustainable blue economy,” said President Michel.

The President attended the opening of the Seychelles pavilion at the Expo, which is found in the Joint Pavilion of the Indian Ocean, where Seychelles and the Maldives are the only island states represented, together with other African, Middle Eastern, and Asian coastal nations. Seychelles Ambassador to China, Philippe Le Gall, and staff of the Seychelles Embassy and Seychelles Tourism Board office in Beijing, showed the President and the Minister for Environment and Energy, Dr. Rolph Payet, around the pavilion. Also present was Seychelles Honorary Consul General in Korea, Mr. Dong Chang Jeong, who was thanked by the President for having helped Seychelles to be represented at Yeosu Expo in such a dynamic and convincing way. More



Thursday, May 17, 2012

Learning lessons from Fukushima, Red Cross Red Crescent moves to step up nuclear preparedness - IFRC

17 May 2012, Tokyo/Geneva — The Fukushima nuclear accident has shown that people cannot depend entirely on governments and the nuclear industry to ensure their safety, the Red Cross Red Crescent said as it set out plans to step up its work on nuclear disaster preparedness worldwide.

“People need to have more information and be better prepared in case the unthinkable happens and the Red Cross Red Crescent has a vital role to play,” said Tadataderu Konoe, President of the Japanese Red Cross and of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

“They cannot rely solely on governments and on the nuclear industry, which has a vested interest in telling them that everything is safe and nothing can go wrong. It has and it could again, anywhere and at any time.”

After a consultation meeting in Tokyo, the humanitarian organisation, which is the world’s largest, grouping 187 national societies said it would move to set up a resource centre offering specialist advice on nuclear disasaster preparedness, along with chemical and biological hazards.

It will look at how national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies can be active in helping to protect communities, by raising awareness, helping to manage evacuation if needed and providing psyschosocial support and health monitoring in the event of a nuclear disaster.

“We are putting into action our commitment to extend t our well known and respected disaster preparedness work into the nuclear disaster sphere and to tap into our extensive experience from operations like Chernobyl and Three Mile Island,” said Matthias Schmale, IFRC Undersecretary General.

In the operation following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, the Red Cross Red Crescent has for example reached more than 1.6 million people with health and psychosocial services, while the 1979 nuclear accident in the United States triggered a long-term engagement with nuclear preparedness issues. More

The IFRC and ICRC also need to work with international organizations such as the IAEA and States Parties to ensure that much more risk analysis and disaster planning is undertaken prior to the siting and building of nuclear plants. Unfortunately, the private sector being motivated solely by profit is inclined to try and save on costs which can have negative impacts on the population. Furthermore, given the possible consequences of a nuclear leak, as happened at Fukushima and Chernobyl, there needs to be international legislation making those in command of the corporations personally liable. Such legislation should be applicable to the Board of Directors and the CEO. Editor.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spotlight: Many Strong Voices

Ilan Kelman is a sharp and dedicated researcher, his native tongue unmistakeably academic. But behind the carefully constructed sentences lies a character of distinctly moral motivation. I’d call him an activist but I’m not sure he’d identify with such a subjective term. The Co-Director of Many Strong Voices – a joint initiative to strengthen collaboration between Arctic and Small Island States on climate change, I first met Ilan a year ago. During a predictable Question and Answer session at a conference, he rose from his seat and with a brief remark, broke through the silent controversy that so often punctuates policy events of this kind.

‘Overall, the theory behind so-called ‘climate (change) refugees’ has major critiques which have never been fully addressed,’ Kelman says. Ilan is resolutely adverse to easy generalisations on this issue. What then, in the words of Sheila Watt-Cloutier[1], unites people from balmy archipelagos and cold expanses of the northern tundra? According to the MSV’s website although the natural and human environments differ greatly, the existential questions climate change raises for both are comparable. In the Arctic and in Small Island Developing States climate change poses a serious threat to the social and cultural fabric of society. True for us all in the long term but most immediately clear in these regions. SIDS view themselves as the ‘barometer’ for climate change.

Although climate change undoubtedly plays a role in determining migration decisions it is one factor among many. For Kelman, the situation faced in the Arctic and SIDS is the exception to the rule. ‘There is little doubt that some Arctic and SIDS communities have been pushed towards migration due to climate change.’ Despite popular perception sea-level rise is rarely the issue of first concern for SIDS communities. Likewise in the Arctic concerns today are about less sea ice and warmer temperatures on land. ‘Less sea ice means more waves – increasing coastal erosion, warmer temperatures mean that overland winter routes, such as ice and snow roads, are too dangerous to traverse.’ Irrespective of the future impact of sea level rise the impacts felt today may be more complex but are already affecting livelihoods and social structures. ‘The main way of reducing the risks is to recognise how the environment is changing and to adjust (adapt) livelihoods and cultures to those changes. That can render traditional knowledge and traditional social structures untenable.’ But Kelman questions whether this is truly reducing risk. ‘It might simply substitute climate change risks for social and cultural change risks… we do not know.’

What MSV do know is that communities are already trying to address these challenges, often with little support. Kelman is adamant that people should to be able to make choices regarding their own futures, migration or otherwise, on their own terms. And that they should be able to do so ‘without worrying about also fighting to have their decisions and decision-making processes accepted by others.’ Part of MSV’s mandate is to support better representation of Arctic and SIDS people at the international level. When I ask Ilan whether he’s ever attended a Conference of the Parties (COP) he’s quick to point out that there are people better qualified to represent MSV. Spokespeople from the Arctic and SIDS themselves. The small size of many SIDS means that the international negotiator is often also a legitimate local voice. More


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hurricane season starts June 01: Are You Prepared?

History teaches that a lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. Are you ready? Cayman Prepared -Cayman's National Emergency Management Agency More

National Hurrucane Center -Miama More


Hurricane Planning And Preparedness

Tropical Cyclone Preparedness Guide (PDF)

Hazard Management Plan For The Cayman Islands


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sea Level Rise In The Caribbean

Modeling the Transformational Impacts and Cost of Sea Level Rise in the Caribbean

This study provides the most detailed analysis to date of the damages and costs associated with SLR for the CARICOM nations, and builds on work completed in Phase I in 2009, previous economic studies as well as recent developments identified in the Economics of Climate Change Working Group (ECA) study in estimating impacts due to climate change.

The methodology incorporates top-down and bottom-up approaches (i.e., macro, meso- and micro-scales analyses) to model impacts on the economies of each CARICOM country individually. A unique strength of this economic study is that it is based on the most detailed geographic reality of coastal geomorphology and development that determine vulnerability to SLR.

The economic implications of the impacts of climate change and required adaptation are being increasingly quantified to better inform international negotiations regarding adaptation assistance.

Such in-depth information is essential for the Caribbean States, SIDS and LDCs to strategically reduce vulnerability through investment, insurance, planning, and policy decisions, and inform negotiations regarding adaptation assistance under the Copenhagen Accord that was agreed at COP15 in Copenhagen. More

Key Points Document - Download

Summary Document - Download

Final Document - Download

An Efficient, Effective Alternative to Water Privatization

Throughout history water has been one of the most universally recognized commons that nearly everyone would agree is a resource to be shared. But recent decades witnessed the rise of water privatization, in which profit-seeking companies take over public water and sewage utilities with often disastrous effects. Despite their poor track record, international water companies are still tapped to run municipal water systems in the belief that they can increase efficiency and quality while expanding service to those without safe access to water

A new report from from the Washington, D.C.-based organizationFood & Water Watch points to Public-Public partnerships as a better alternative that brings the strengths of efficiency and partnership without selling off our stake in a precious shares resource. To see the full report, click here — Jay Walljasper.

Clean drinking water and wastewater treatment are basic services that societies and governments provide. Water is a necessity for life, and safe water and sanitation are crucial for public health.In July 2010, the United Nations declared access to clean water and sanitation to be a human right. But recognizing the human right to water does not explain how to deliver this right to households. Even with this historic commitment to enhance water delivery and safety, an estimated 884 million people worldwide lack access to safe water, and 2.6 billion lack access to improved sanitation.Meeting the needs of these people will require significant investments in infrastructure and expertise. Over the past 20 years, major multinational efforts to provide people water have relied on private sector strategies in both developed and developing countries. These approaches have included numerous public-private partnerships (PPPs) between public water utilities and private water companies.

Proponents of water privatization promised increased investment and efficiency leading to improved and expanded service, but privatization has failed to meet these expectations. Instead, it often has led to deteriorating infrastructure, service disruptions and higher prices for poorer service. A different model, called public-public partnerships (PUPs), can be a more effective method for providing services. In contrast to privatization, which puts public needs into the hands of profit-seeking corporations, PUPs bring together public officials, workers and communities to provide better, more efficient service for all users. More


Friday, May 4, 2012

Morgan Stanley Backs $300 Million Fund To Install Residential Solar

Morgan Stanley is backing a $300 million fund to finance installation of residential photovoltaic systems – yet another sign that the turmoil roiling solar panel manufacturers has been a boon for installers.

Plummeting costs for solar panels have driven several solar manufacturers and developers into bankruptcy in recent months but the 75% price plunge of photovoltaic modules in the past three years have made rooftop solar increasingly attractive to homeowners and financiers like Morgan Stanley.

On Monday, SolarCity, a Silicon Valley solar installer backed by Tesla Motors chief Elon Musk, said it plans to file for an initial public offering. And two weeks ago, Sungevity, SolarCity’s cross-Bay rival, revealed plans to expand into the Australian solar market.

In the deal announced Thursday, Clean Power Finance – a San Francisco startup that offers software tools and financing to solar installers – Morgan Stanley’s MS Solar Solutions Corp, Zions Bancorporation and solar installer Main Street will create MySolar, a lease program to finance up to $300 million of rooftop solar arrays for homeowners in California and Arizona.

“The MySolar lease gives Clean Power Finance’s qualified network of solar professionals another affordable option to help homeowners immediately save money on their electricity bills,” Nat Kreamer, Clean Power Finance’s chief executive, said in a statement. More


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Winners and Losers in a Superpower-less World

What will the world look like without a single superpower setting the rules? That's the question that Ian Bremmer, the political risk expert, tries to answer in his new book, "Every Nation for Itself". Bremmer's focus is as much on politics as economics, but I think he has some useful insights about our future prosperity.

For starters, he has excellent timing for a book about the global power vacuum. One of the biggest lessons from the recent financial crisis was that no country had the economic formula exactly right. Attempts at unfettered capitalism ran into problems just as attempts at pure socialism did. That the world knows this is already a big change from the Cold War, where the two economic systems competed to prove their superiority. It's even a big change from the immediate post-Cold-War era, when capitalism's victory seemed complete.

In Bremmer's previous book, "The End of the Free Market", he identified state capitalism of the kind practiced in China, Saudi Arabia, and many other countries as the next great competitor among economic systems. But in "Every Nation for Itself", Bremmer sees an absence of global leadership as the balance of political power and economic might diffuses around the world. Now, nations are freer to choose their own way, mixing and matching pieces of economic systems to fit their interests - or at least their leaders' interests.

This flattening of the global power structure, paired with the disappearance of superpowers pushing economic systems backed by opposing ideologies, truly has left every nation to fight for itself. As a result, Bremmer says, forming coalitions to address problems such as climate change will be especially difficult. When these problems get out of hand, new conflicts may occur, raising the cost of doing business around the world. More