Who was Wangari Maathai?

Wangari Maathai was a leading light in African conservation and social enterprise, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts. She was critical in showing people around the world how positive actions could change the environment and people.

More here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15056502

And here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gallery/2011/sep/26/wangari-maathai-kenya?CMP=twt_fd

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How does climate change cause migration?

Climate change, whether anthropogenic (man made), natural or both can accelerate processes such as desertification, coastal erosion and flooding. Here are some pictoral examples of where this is happening around the world:

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/earthpulse/enviro-migration-gallery?source=email_photo_20090917

Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) in Peru: should we expect more in the future?

Glaciers often have lakes in front of them, known as proglacial lakes. These are usually formed by water building up behind a dam of moraine and/or ice. Sometimes these dams collapse, leading to violent flooding. These events are known as Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs for short).

The Cordillera Blanca in Peru has many glacial lakes which threaten to break their dams, either by the water levels rising or by ice falling into the lake and displacing a large wave. In Peru dozens of dams have been strengthened and have had overflow channels cut into them to try to manage the risk. However this did not prevent catastrophic flooding occuring in April 2010 when a glacier partly collapsed into a lake near Carhuaz:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/apr/13/peru-glacier-ice-lake-tsunami

Footage here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8617101.stm

These phenomena are possible wherever there are mountain glaciers, although it is thought that those in warmer areas may be most at risk of melting. There is also a feeling that the rates of collapse could increase as the climate warms. See the link below for information about GLOFs in the Himalayas and the UN’s response to the problem:

https://dlgb.wordpress.com/2009/10/08/how-are-glaciers-in-the-himalayas-changing/

How are glaciers in the Himalayas changing?

It’s no surprise that glaciers in the Himalayas are being monitored closely, their seasonal melting provides hundreds of millions of people with water throughout northern India and beyond. If the glaciers melt the supply of water they generate could become unstable, threatening the livelihoods of those who rely on it.

Beyond water supply issues, there are other problems. Lakes are now building up behind the natural moraine dams left by the retreating glaciers. The growth of these proglacial lakes is putting increasing pressure on the dams, sometimes leading to potentially catastrophic collapses, known as Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs for short).

Recent research has tried to identify the scale of the problem:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8109389.stm

The UN is also involved in the monitoring of potential GLOFs:

http://www.rrcap.unep.org/issues/glof/

A bit more background here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glacial_lake_outburst_flood

Here is the UNDP’s assessment of the risk in Nepal:

http://www.undp.org.np/energy/projects/GLOF/index.php?ProgramID=73

How does carbon capture work?

Ideas to trap the harmful gasses produced by burning fossil fuels in power stations are not new, but the technology to trap greenhouse gases is relatively young. If it works, it would allow for relatively cheap and available sources of energy, such as coal to be used without the fear of adding to global warming. This would buy the world time to develop other alternatives before the fossil fuels run out.

An explanation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) can be found here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8015676.stm

Do cancelled timber contracts mean a better future for the forests of DR Congo?

An attempt to root out corruption from the logging industry in DR Congo means that there should be more control over which areas are logged and which are protected. Can a sustainable future for these important forests be found?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7838659.stm

Why do poorer people pay more for water?

The installation of advanced water infrastructure in more economically developed countries (MEDCs) means that water is often cheaper there than in LEDCs, where there are more labour costs involved. In some places, particularly urban areas, buying water takes up a large part of a family’s budget:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7867202.stm