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Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate change

This is where you can talk about every subject (previously it was called shout room)

Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Feb 23, 2021 9:09 am

The Environmental Threat
You’ve Never Heard Of


The process of water darkening is well-studied in fresh water, but scientists are keying into the effects it may be having in coastal environments, It’s called coastal darkening, and scientists are just beginning to explore it

Click on photo enlarge:
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Coastal waters around the world are steadily growing darker. This darkening—a change in the color and clarity of the water—has the potential to cause huge problems for the ocean and its inhabitants.

“It’s affecting the quality of the sea we know,” says Oliver Zielinski, who runs the Coastal Ocean Darkening project at the University of Oldenburg in Germany. These “changes in the physics will lead to biological changes,” he adds.

Some of the causes behind ocean darkening are well understood: fertilizer enters the water and causes an algal bloom, or boats stir up light-blocking silt as they move. But other causes are murkier. During heavy rains, for instance, organic matter—primarily from decaying plants and loose soil—can enter the ocean as a brown, light-blocking slurry. This process is well documented in rivers and lakes, but has largely been overlooked in coastal areas.

Maren Striebel, an aquatic ecologist also with the Coastal Ocean Darkening project, showed in a large-scale experiment the power of this phenomenon.

In the study, Striebel and her team filled huge metal vats with water, phytoplankton, and silt. From peat, the team extracted a brown liquid as an approximation of the dissolved organic matter found in coastal waters. They put low, medium, and high concentrations of the liquid in the vats, and hung lamps above them to mimic the sun’s rays.

Over the first few weeks, the peat extract decreased the light’s ability to penetrate the water by 27 percent, 62 percent, and 86 percent, respectively, for the low, medium, and high concentrations. The phytoplankton suffered from the lack of light—primarily in the medium- and high-concentration vats.

However, and perhaps more importantly, the organic matter not only caused the raw biomass of phytoplankton to drop, it also favored some species over others. As phytoplankton form the base of the ocean’s food web, this could have stark implications. Some species of zooplankton, for instance, have adapted to eat one kind of phytoplankton. Any change in phytoplankton composition could result in winners and losers throughout the ecosystem.

Over time, Zielinski says, coastal darkening could have widespread effects beyond those on microorganisms. Decreased light availability, he says, would benefit creatures that don’t rely on sight to hunt, such as jellyfish, and hinder species such as fish that hunt better when they can see.

As the experiment progressed, Striebel says that the murkiness dissipated as light and microscopic life forms in the water began to degrade the dissolved organic matter, allowing the phytoplankton to fully recover. However, she says that in the real world, this relief may be unlikely. In the experiment, the water was contaminated with a singular addition of the peat extract. But under normal circumstances, rain would continue to push new dissolved organic matter into the ocean.

Click on photo enlarge:
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A range of processes can cause water to become darker, from the runoff of fertilizer and dissolved organic matter, to boats churning up seafloor sediments.

There were some other quirks of the experiment, too, that might have mitigated the effects of coastal darkening.

The organisms that lived on the bottom of the tank, for example, were largely unaffected. The vats had chambers that changed the water level to mimic the rise and fall of the tides. Striebel suspects the decrease in water depth at low tide meant more light could reach the life on this artificial seafloor. This wouldn’t necessarily be the case in some places that do not receive much natural light even at low tide.

According to research by Amanda Poste, an aquatic ecologist at the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, darkening could also have a pronounced chemical effect.

Along with various microorganisms, sunlight breaks down some toxic chemicals, including methyl mercury, that end up in some waterways. Poste’s study showed that if light is less able to penetrate the water, methyl mercury sticks around longer, potentially giving the pollutant enough time to transfer through the food web to fish and, eventually, humans.

Though researchers are only beginning to study its effects in detail, there’s strong evidence that coastal darkening is happening—and has been for a long time.

Over the past 100 years, the North Sea has been growing markedly darker, according to a 2019 study by biologist Anders Frugård Opdal at the University of Bergen in Norway.

This darkening, Opdal shows, may have already caused up to a three-week delay in the usual “bloom” of phytoplankton in the North Sea, when lengthening daylight and an influx of nutrients cause rapid population growth. The timing of these blooms is essential to some species, such as fish that rely on phytoplankton for food when they spawn.

All in all, it’s difficult to pin down any specific consequences of coastal darkening, says Opdal. The darker water may even be having some benefits, such as sheltering some species from predators. Somewhat ironically, while global warming is expected to push plankton to bloom earlier in the year, in the North Sea that change may have been somewhat mitigated by the darker water. It’s a tricky thing to study with many moving parts, Opdal says.

Environmental regulations around fertilizer use, and efforts to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, mean that in some places—such as the North Sea, parts of North America, and the Mediterranean Sea—the situation is already improving. There, the water is either staying at the same level of murkiness or even getting clearer. But such improvements are not the case everywhere, Zielinski says: more data is needed from around the world to really understand the breadth of the phenomenon.

https://www.hakaimagazine.com/news/the- ... obal-en-GB
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Mar 03, 2021 1:21 am

Stop the Illegal Wildlife Trade

We rangers are risking our lives every day to stop poachers

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Julius Miyengo is Commander of a Special Anti Poaching Unit (SAPU) established by Game Rangers International, protecting wildlife in Zambia’s Kafue National Park. To mark World Rangers Day today we are celebrating the anti-poaching frontline, as part of the Evening Standard’s Stop The Illegal Wildlife Trade campaign. Funds raised will to pay for vital wildlife protection projects implemented by the campaign’s partner charity Space for Giants. This will work to help stop the poaching and illegal trafficking of animals

By Julius Miyengo
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Mar 04, 2021 12:11 am

Rangers in DR Congo's Virunga National Park:

Protecting the forests of Virunga National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo - home to endangered mountain gorillas - could be described as one of the toughest jobs on the planet. Park rangers also take care of orphaned mountain gorillas at Virunga

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In the past 12 months, more than 20 of the park's staff have been murdered - and last week rebels were accused of killing the Italian ambassador to DR Congo, his security guard and driver in an attack within the park.

"The level of sacrifice that's involved in keeping this work going will always be the hardest thing to deal with," says Emmanuel de Merode, who is in charge of more than 800 rangers at Virunga, Africa's oldest and largest national park.

It spans 7,800 sq km (3,000 sq miles) and is home to an astonishingly diverse landscape - from active volcanoes and vast lakes to rainforest and mountains.

The park was set up nearly 100 years ago to protect mountain gorillas, whose numbers have increased over the past decade, though there are still only 1,000 left in the world.

Mr De Merode has lived in DR Congo for nearly 30 years, but he still remembers the day he first arrived.

"I bought a motorbike in Kampala and drove through Uganda into Congo, and as you cross the border you're immediately struck by the enormity of the park and the incredibly beautiful landscapes."

Born in North Africa and raised in Kenya, Mr De Merode is a Belgian prince, but he does not use his title.

He is softly spoken and calm, despite the challenges he and his team face daily.

Two deadly attacks in the last 12 months have been harrowing for them all:

    Last April, 13 rangers were murdered in what park officials described as a "ferociously violent and sustained" attack by another armed group

    In January, six rangers, patrolling the park's boundary on foot, were killed in an ambush by militias. All of those who died were aged between 25 and 30.
"Believe me, it is truly a very painful experience to lose so many young people all at once," says ranger Gracien Muyisa Sivanza, who is responsible for the park's lakes.

"My fellow rangers who have passed away loved their work very much and went so far as to make the ultimate sacrifice for our cause of conservation."

But he says it makes them all feel more determined to "continue the fight we started together... to honour their memories.

"I think they are proud of us wherever they are."

"You have to accept that [there's risk]. It's a national park which is part of the Congolese state which has been affected by civil war for the most of its recent history," he says.

'We have kept the park alive'

But he also points to the park's achievements in the face of ongoing adversity.

"It's had enormous ups and downs… we've suffered enormously, but alongside that is an incredible achievement of keeping this park alive."

More than 800 rangers put their lives on the line to protect the park

The attack on Mr De Merode came at a turbulent time when the heavily armed and notorious M23 militia were advancing in the region. At the same time, a British oil company formerly called Soco had been granted permission from the government in Kinshasa to extract oil by drilling on the park's land.

Tensions were at breaking point - and captured on film in the 2014 Oscar-nominated documentary, Virunga.

"We were fighting against a British oil company… We were in confrontation with a number of people. On that day, I had submitted a substantial investigation report into the activities of the oil company."

Driving back alone through the forest he was ambushed: "I was shot in the chest and the stomach."

The company condemned the attack and denied any involvement in it. It has since changed its name and withdrawn from DR Congo.

Mr De Merode says he was "lucky". "People from a village pulled me away, so my efforts continue thanks to them. Many of our staff weren't so lucky."

When people die carrying out his orders in the park, he says "it leaves a level of agony I can't describe for their families".

It's estimated that a dozen or so armed militia groups survive off the park's resources - poaching or chopping down wood to sell for fuel.

DR Congo's natural resources have been fought over for decades. The country - which is the size of mainland western Europe - has more mineral wealth, with diamonds, oil, cobalt and copper, than anywhere else on the planet.

A soldier in front of Mount Nyiragongo, DR Congo - archiveimage copyrightAFP
image captionVirunga's Mount Nyiragongo is an active volcano - seen here in the distance - last erupting in 2002

These are some of the elements essential to modern technology, making up key components in electric cars and smartphones.

Virunga is no different. It's rich in resources underground as well as in nature and wildlife. But the two million people living in the region of the park mainly live on under $1.50 (£1.08) a day.

Tourism dollars

This tussle for survival is not lost on Mr De Merode who sees protecting the park as essentially a social justice issue.

"It's not a simple problem of protecting gorillas and elephants; it is overcoming an economic problem at the heart of one of the most horrific civil wars in history," he says.

"Over seven million Congolese are believed to have died over 30 years and at the heart of it is an economic issue.

"We passionately believe for Virunga to survive, we have to first consider the local population. We have to make this park an asset… A net benefit."

He looks to neighbouring Rwanda and its pre-pandemic success in attracting tourism worth over $500m a year. In Kenya it is an industry worth around $3.5bn.

"That's more than the national budget of DR Congo," he says, adding: "Tourism isn't a game we are playing, it's a strategic industry. We need to look at ways of generating wealth without damaging the park."

Swapping guns for jobs

The strategy is starting to pay off in unexpected ways. Increased tourism in Virunga has helped the park attract investment for other projects.

One scheme takes advantage of the park's high rainfall and fast-flowing rivers to produce hydroelectricity - allowing some rebels to swap their guns for a steady income.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-55829330
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Mar 04, 2021 11:05 pm

Food waste:

More than 900 million tonnes of food is thrown away every year

The UN Environment Programme's Food Waste Index revealed that 17% of the food available to consumers - in shops, households and restaurants - goes directly into the bin.

Some 60% of that waste is in the home.

The lockdown appears to have had a surprising impact - at least in the UK - by reducing domestic food waste.

NTV cook, Bake Off winner and food writer Nadiya Hussain has joined the campaign against kitchen waste

Sustainability charity Wrap, the UN's partner organisation on this report, says people have been planning their shopping and their meals more carefully.

And in an effort to build on that, well-known chefs have been enlisted to inspire less wasteful kitchen habits.

23 million trucks of food

The report has highlighted a global problem that is "much bigger than previously estimated," Richard Swannell from Wrap told BBC News.

"The 923 million tonnes of food being wasted each year would fill 23 million 40-tonne trucks. Bumper-to-bumper, enough to circle the Earth seven times."

It is an issue previously considered to be a problem almost exclusive to richer countries - with consumers simply buying more than they could eat - but this research found "substantial" food waste "everywhere it looked".

There are gaps in the findings that could reveal how the scale of the problem varies in low- and high-income countries. The report, for example, could not distinguish between "involuntary" and "voluntary" waste.

"We haven't looked deeper [at this issue] but in low-income countries, the cold chain is not fully assured because of lack of access to energy," Martina Otto from Unep told BBC News.

The data to distinguish between the waste of edible food and inedible parts - like bones and shells - was only available for high-income countries. Lower-income countries, Ms Otto pointed out, were likely to be wasting much less edible food.

There is likely to be far less voluntary food waste in low-income countries

But the end result, she said, was that the world was "just throwing away all the resources used to make that food".

Ahead of major global climate and biodiversity summits later this year, Unep executive director Inger Andersen is pushing for countries to commit to combatting waste - halving it by 2030.

"If we want to get serious about tackling climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste, businesses, governments and citizens around the world have to do their part to reduce food waste," she said.

Richard Swannell pointed out: "Wasted food is responsible for 8-10% of greenhouse gas emissions, so if food waste was a country, it would be the third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet."

Tips to reduce food waste:

    Plan your portions and buy the right amount: a mug should hold the right amount of uncooked rice for four adults, and you can measure a single portion of spaghetti using a 1p or £1 coin;

    Cool your fridge down: the average UK fridge temperature is almost 7°C. It should be lower than 5°C;

    Understand date labels: a "use by" date is about food safety. If the use by date has passed, you should not eat or serve it, even if it looks and smells okay.

    If something is getting close to the use by date, you can freeze it. A "best before" date is about quality.
In the UK, the average household could save £700 per year, according to Wrap research, by buying only the food they ate.

The lockdown effect

Throwing away food can also mean that resources used to grow it have been wasted

Where food waste is voluntary, the Covid-19 lockdown appears to have had the surprising effect of revealing precisely how it can be remedied.

According to research by Wrap, planning, careful storage and batch-cooking during the lockdown reduced people's reported levels of food waste by 22% compared with 2019.

"Being confined to our homes has resulted in an increase in behaviours such as batch cooking and meal planning," the charity said. "But the latest insights suggest that food waste levels are likely to rise again as we emerge from lockdown."

In an effort to avoid that, well-known cooks and chefs have lent their names and social media profiles to the campaign against kitchen waste.

British TV cook Nadiya Hussain is working with Wrap and offering tips and leftovers recipes via Instagram. And Italian restaurateur Massimo Bottura, chef patron of Modena eatery Osteria Francescana, which has three Michelin stars, has been appointed Unep goodwill ambassador "in the fight against food waste and loss".

Throughout the lockdown in Italy, his family produced an online cooking show called Kitchen Quarantine, encouraging people to "see the invisible potential" in every ingredient.

What's causing Britain's food waste?

While millions of tonnes of food was thrown away, an estimated 690 million people were affected by hunger in 2019. That number is expected to rise sharply in the wake of the pandemic.

Ms Andersen pointed out that tackling waste "would cut greenhouse gas emissions, slow the destruction of nature through land conversion and pollution, enhance the availability of food and thus reduce hunger and save money at a time of global recession".

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-56271385

This report fails to mention the fact that a large portion of food waste was in fact living and breathing beings such as fish, cows, chickens, pigs and little fluffy lambs, all barbarically slaughtered for man's greed and those lives were destroyed for nothing as their bodies are thrown away
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Mar 30, 2021 3:24 am

Scientists turning desert green

Van der Hoeven is a co-founder of the Weather Makers, a Dutch firm of “holistic engineers” with a plan to regreen the Sinai peninsula – the small triangle of land that connects Egypt to Asia

Within a couple of decades, the Weather Makers believe, the Sinai could be transformed from a hot, dry, barren desert into a green haven teeming with life: forests, wetlands, farming land, wild flora and fauna. A regreened Sinai would alter local weather patterns and even change the direction of the winds, bringing more rain, the Weather Makers believe – hence their name.

“If anybody doubts that the Sinai can be regreened,” Van der Hoeven told the Egyptian delegates, an assortment of academics, representatives of ministers and military top brass, “then you have to understand that landing on the moon was once thought unrealistic. They didn’t lay out a full, detailed roadmap when they started, but they had the vision. And step by step they made it happen.”

Van der Hoeven is nothing if not persuasive. Voluble, energetic and down-to-earth, the 40-year-old engineer’s train of thought runs through disciplines from morphology to esoteric mysticism, often threatening to jump the tracks. But he is keenly focused on the future. “This world is ready for regenerative change,” he says. “It’s going to be a complete change of our behaviour as a species in the longer term. It is going to be a step as big as fire was for humanity.”

It sounds impossibly far-fetched, but not only is the Weather Makers’ plan perfectly feasible, they insist, it is precisely the type of project humanity should be getting its head around right now. In recent years, discussion about the climate crisis has predominantly focused on fossil fuels and greenhouse gases; now, we’re coming to realise that the other side of that coin is protecting and replenishing the natural world.

There is no better mechanism for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than nature, but in the past 5,000 years, human activity has reduced the Earth’s total biomass by an estimated 50%, and destroyed or degraded 70% of the world’s forests. As UN secretary general António Guterres put it last year: “Human activities are at the root of our descent toward chaos. But that means human action can help to solve it.”

The Weather Makers know this very well: their origins are in dredging, one of the heaviest industries there is. Over the past few centuries, dredging has helped humans alter the face of the planet on ever-greater scales. Trained as a morphological engineer, Van der Hoeven has spent the past decade in the industry, working on projects across the world, including the artificial islands of Dubai, whose creation involved large-scale dredging and land reclamation.

He got sucked into the expat lifestyle there, he admits: drinking, eating, partying, “I lost a little bit of my soul.” Returning to the Netherlands in 2008, he began to reexamine his own profession: “What I could see is that the dredging industry had so much potential; we were just misusing it.”

Working for the Belgian company Deme, he devised a new method of dredging that was both more eco-friendly and more efficient. He used inexpensive sensors to model maritime conditions in real time – waves, currents, tides – so as to determine more precisely where and when it was safe to work. Trialling the system, he won over sceptical colleagues by living on the vessel with them, even cooking meals. Head office was also convinced when his technique saved a small fortune.

In January 2016, Van der Hoeven was contacted by Deme’s Egyptian representative, Malik Boukebbous, who had been asked by the Egyptian government to look into restoring Lake Bardawil, a lagoon on the north coast of the Sinai. The lake was once 20 to 40 metres deep, but today is just a few metres deep. Dredging the lake and cutting channels to allow more water in from the Mediterranean would make it deeper, cooler and less salty – all of which would boost fish stocks.

But Van der Hoeven did not want to stop there. “If I feel I’m on the right track, it’s difficult for people to distract me,” he says. He began looking at the Sinai peninsula in more detail: its history, weather patterns, geology, tides, plant and animal life, even religious texts. He took himself off other projects and spent long hours in his apartment surrounded by charts, maps, books, sketched diagrams. “People were afraid for me because I was forgetting myself. My friends were cooking for me.” The deeper he looked, the more potential he saw.

There is evidence that the Sinai once was green – as recently as 4,500 to 8,000 years ago. Cave paintings found there depict trees and plants. Records in the 1,500-year-old Saint Catherine’s monastery, near Mount Sinai, tally harvests of wood. Satellite images reveal a network of rivers flowing from the mountains in the south towards the Mediterranean.

Image
The Sinai peninsula today, and how it could look after regreening

What turned the Sinai into a desert was, most likely, human activity. Wherever they settle, humans tend to chop down trees and clear land. This loss of vegetation affects the land’s ability to retain moisture. Grazing animals trample and consume plants when they try to grow back. The soil loses its structure and is washed away – hence the silt in Lake Bardawil.

Van der Hoeven calculated the lake contained about 2.5bn cubic metres of silt. If one were to restore the Sinai, this vast reserve of nutrient-rich material was exactly what would be needed. “It became clear we had a massive opportunity,” he says. “It wasn’t the solution to a single problem; it was the solution to all the problems.”

By this stage, Van der Hoeven and Deme agreed that he would be best off working as a separate entity, so in 2017 he founded the Weather Makers with two friends: Gijs Bosman and Maddie Akkermans. Both appear to be steadying influences. Bosman, a project manager at Dutch engineering firm Royal HaskoningDHV and a friend since student days, had the ability to translate Van der Hoeven’s grand vision into actionable technical detail.

Akkermans has a background in finance and economics. “Ties said, ‘I’m too chaotic. So I can’t do this alone,’” she says. “Having someone like me who could tell him the truth and keep him on track gave him the confidence to start a company.”

They consulted with experts across disciplines, in particular a handful of veterans who have been ploughing the eco-restoration furrow for decades. Van der Hoeven calls them his “Jedi”. The first of these is John D Liu, a Chinese-American ecologist with a background in broadcasting. Restoring a landscape as large and as degraded as the Sinai sounds like science fiction, but it has been done before.

While Van der Hoeven was immersed in his research, a friend implored him to watch a documentary called Green Gold, which Liu had made for Dutch television in 2012. It chronicles the story of the Loess plateau, an area of northern China almost the size of France. In 1994, Liu, who was working as a television journalist in Beijing, was asked by the World Bank to film the start of an ambitious restoration project, led by a pioneering Chinese scientist, Li Rui.

At that time, the Loess plateau was much like the Sinai: a dry, barren, heavily eroded landscape. The soil was washing away and silting up the Yellow river. Farmers could barely grow any crops. The plan to restore it was huge in scale but relatively low tech: planting trees on the hilltops; terracing the steep slopes (by hand); adding organic material to the soil; controlling grazing animals; retaining water.

The transformation has been astonishing. Within 20 years, the deserts of the Loess plateau became green valleys and productive farmland, as Green Gold documents. “I watched it 35 times in a row,” says Van der Hoeven. “Seeing that, I thought, ‘Let’s go for it!’”

The Loess plateau project was also a turning point for Liu, he says – away from broadcasting and towards ecosystem restoration: “You start to see that everything is connected. It’s almost like you’re in the Matrix.” Despite his Jedi status, 68-year-old Liu is easygoing and conversational, more midwestern ex-hippy than cryptic Zen master. Since 2009, he has been an ambassador for Commonland, a Dutch nonprofit, and an adviser to Ecosystem Restoration Camps – a global network of hands-on, volunteer communities.

After watching Green Gold, the Weather Makers practically burst into Commonland’s Amsterdam headquarters to share their plans. “They were not going to be denied!” Liu recalls. “I said, ‘We have to work with these people, because this is the most audacious thesis I’ve ever seen.’”

Liu brought Van der Hoeven to China to see the Loess plateau first-hand. “To be in a place that had been essentially a desert where now it’s raining cats and dogs, and it’s not flooding, because it’s being infiltrated and retained in the system – it was all just so impressive to him.”

Through Liu, Van der Hoeven met another Jedi: Prof Millán Millán, a Spanish meteorologist. In the 1990s, Millán began investigating the disappearance of summer storms in eastern Spain for the European commission. “What I found is that the loss is directly linked to the building up of coastal areas,” he says. Rainfall in the region comes almost entirely from Mediterranean sea breezes.

However, the breeze alone doesn’t carry enough water vapour to create a storm inland; it needs to pick up extra moisture, which it used to do from the marshes and wetlands along the coast. Over the past two centuries, however, these wetlands have been built on or converted to farming land. No additional moisture; no more storms. “Once you take too much vegetation out, it leads to desertification very quickly,” says Millán.

Such changes do not just affect the weather at a local level, Millán discovered: “The water vapour that doesn’t precipitate over the mountains goes back to the Mediterranean and accumulates in layers for about four or five days, and then it goes somewhere else: central Europe.” In other words, building on the Spanish coast was creating floods in Germany. Millán’s findings have gone largely unheeded by the European commission, he says. Now 79 and retired, he speaks with the gentle weariness of a long-ignored expert: “My criticism to them was: the old township barber would pull your teeth with pliers. It hurt, but it was effective. You’re still using those procedures, but you could save all your teeth.”

Millán’s research and Liu’s experience in the Loess plateau arrived at essentially the same conclusion. Chop down the trees, destroy the ecosystem, and the rains disappear; restore the ecosystem, make a wetter landscape, and the rains come back. Millán distilled his work down to a simple maxim: “Water begets water, soil is the womb, vegetation is the midwife.”

Regreening the Sinai is to some extent a question of restarting that “water begets water” feedback loop. After restoring Lake Bardawil, the second phase is to expand and restore the wetlands around it so as to evaporate more moisture and increase biodiversity. The Sinai coast is already a major global crossing point for migratory birds; restored wetlands would encourage more birds, which would add fertility and new plant species.

When it comes to restoring inland areas of the Sinai, there is another challenge: fresh water. This is where another Jedi came into play: John Todd, a mild-mannered marine biologist and a pioneer in ecological design. In the 1970s, frustrated by the narrowness of academia, Todd established the New Alchemy Institute, an alternative research community in Massachusetts dedicated to sustainable living. One of his innovations was the “eco machine” – a low-tech installation consisting of clear-sided water barrels covered by a greenhouse.

“An eco machine is basically a living technology,” Todd explains. The principle is that water flows from one barrel to the next, and each barrel contains a mini ecosystem: algae, plants, bacteria, fungi, worms, insects, fish; like a series of manmade ponds. As the water flows, it becomes cleaner and cleaner. “You could design one that would treat toxic waste or sewage, or you could design one to grow food. They are solar-driven, and have within them a very large amount of biodiversity – in a sense, they reflect the aggregate experience of life on Earth over the last 3.5bn years.” In the Sinai, eco machines would be used to grow plants and to produce fresh water.

Last autumn, the Weather Makers built their own eco machine on a pig farm on the outskirts of the Dutch city of s’-Hertogenbosch, where they are based. For the first step in a plan to change the world, it is not exactly prepossessing. It looks like a standard agricultural polytunnel. On a cold, drizzly day, Weather Maker Pieter van Hout gives me a virtual tour.

Inside the greenhouse are six clear-sided barrels filled with water of various shades of green and brown. In some of the tanks is leaf litter and dead plant material. Van Hout points out the brown algae growing on the sides: phytoplankton, the basis of the food web, which feeds life further up the chain: insects, snails and, in one tank, fish (in the Sinai these would be edible tilapia).

Some water evaporates from the barrels and condenses on the inside skin of the greenhouse, where it is collected by a system of gutters. Even on a cold day in the Netherlands, there is a constant trickle into a container on the ground. In the heat of the Sinai, the cycle would run much faster, says Van Hout.

The water feeding the eco machine would be salt water, but the water that condenses inside would be fresh water, which can then be used to irrigate plants. If the structure is designed correctly, one would only need to drum on the outside to create an artificial “rain” inside. When the plants and the soil inside the greenhouse reach a certain maturity, they become self-sustaining. The greenhouse can then be removed and the process repeated in a different spot. “The idea is that you may have 100 of these structures,” says John Todd. “And they’re spending five years in one site and then they’re moved, so these little ecologies are left behind.”

In the Sinai, the sediment from Lake Bardawil would be pumped up to the hills, 50km inland, where it would then trickle back down through a network of eco machines. The saltiness of the sediment is actually an asset, says Van Hout, in that it has preserved all the nutrients. Flushing them through the eco machines will “reactivate” them. Around the water tanks, they are now testing to see which salt-tolerant plant species, or halophytes, grow best. Van Hout proudly points out a stack of white plastic tubs containing silt freshly scooped from the bottom of Lake Bardawil. “This is what ecosystem restoration looks like in real life,” he laughs, “buckets of very expensive mud.”

Estimates of how much difference a regreened Sinai could make are hard to quantify. In terms of carbon sequestration, it would doubtless be “billions of tons”, says Van der Hoeven. But such metrics are not always helpful: if you convert atmospheric carbon into, say, phytoplankton, what happens when a fish eats that phytoplankton? Or when a bigger fish eats that fish?

Another useful measure could be global temperature. In addition to sequestering carbon, green areas also help cool the planet. Deserts are heat producers, reflecting around 60% to 70% of the solar energy that falls on them straight back into the atmosphere. In areas covered by vegetation, much of that solar energy is instead used in evapotranspiration: the process of condensation and evaporation by which water moves between plants and the atmosphere. “If vegetation comes back, you increase cover, you reduce temperature, you reduce solar reflection, you start creating a stable climate,” says Van der Hoeven. “If we want to do something about global warming, we have to do something about deserts.”

At present, the hot Sinai acts as a “vacuum cleaner”, drawing moist air from the Mediterranean and funnelling it towards the Indian Ocean. A cooler Sinai would mean less of that moisture being “lost”. Instead, it would fall as rain across the Middle East and north Africa, thus boosting the entire region’s natural potential. Van der Hoeven describes the Sinai peninsula as an “acupuncture point”: “There are certain points in this world where, if we accumulate our joint energy, we can make a big difference.”

The Sinai is also an acupuncture point geopolitically, however. Post-Arab spring, the region has become a battle zone between Egyptian security forces and Islamist insurgents. There have been numerous terrorist incidents: the bombing of a Russian airliner in 2015 killed 224 people; an attack on a Sufi mosque in 2017 killed more than 300 worshippers. Northern Sinai is currently a no-go area to outsiders, controlled by the military, and plagued by poverty, terrorism and human rights abuses.

Since 2018 the military has restricted access to Lake Bardawil for local fishermen to just a few months a year, says Ahmed Salem, founder of the UK-based Sinai Foundation for Human Rights. “There’s a lot of suffering,” he says, “because they don’t have any other way to earn money and feed their families.” A restored landscape would bring tangible benefits to locals, says Salem, but it all depends on the president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. “If Sisi really wants to help them [the Weather Makers], it will be OK for them because he’s like a god in Egypt. But if he doesn’t, they will fail.”

But the Sisi government seems to have recognised that ecosystem regeneration could fix many problems at once: food security, poverty, political stability, climate goals, as well as the potential for a green project of international renown. The government is close to signing contracts for the first phase of the restoration plan, which covers the dredging of Lake Bardawil. Subsequent phases may well require financial support from external bodies such as the EU.

As outsiders, the Weather Makers are aware their plan will require local support, cooperation and labour. Because of the military restrictions, none of them has visited Lake Bardawil, although they have forged links with an organic farm in southern Sinai named Habiba. Habiba was established in 1994, by Maged El Said, a charismatic, Cairo-born tour operator who fell in love with the region. Originally it was a beach resort, but in 2007 El Said branched into organic farming, and Habiba now connects other farms, local Bedouin tribes and academic institutions.
Habiba organic farm in southern Sinai.

El Said has some reservations about the Weather Makers’ plan: “It’s a big shiny project, but also you’re drastically changing the environment, the flora and fauna. I don’t know if there will be side-effects.” But in terms of the larger mission, they are very much aligned: “We are all in the same boat. Desertification and climate change is happening so fast, so we need action on the ground. Enough of workshops, enough seminars, talks, talks, talks.”

On a global level, the tide is turning in the Weather Makers’ direction. Discussions about regreening, reforestation and rewilding have been growing in volume and urgency, boosted by high-profile advocates such as Greta Thunberg, David Attenborough and British ecologist Thomas Crowther, who made headlines in 2019 with research suggesting the climate crisis could be solved by planting 1tn trees (he later acknowledged it was not quite that simple).

This year marks the beginning of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, “a rallying call for the protection and revival of ecosystems around the world”. The UN hopes to restore 350m hectares of land by 2030, which could remove an additional 13 to 26 gigatons of carbon from the atmosphere. After decades of compartmentalising environmental issues and missing its own targets, the UN, too, has come to realise that the only viable solution is to do it all at once. It particularly wants to rally younger people to the cause; its social media campaigns carry a “generation restoration” hashtag. “Ecosystem restoration is not a technical challenge; it’s a social challenge,” says Tim Christophersen, head of the Nature for Climate branch at the UN Environment Programme.

Nations and corporations are also making ever more ambitious commitments to regreening, even if they are struggling to live up to them. The UK, for example, plans to create 30,000 hectares of woodland a year by 2025. India has pledged to restore 26m hectares of degraded land by 2030.

Africa’s Great Green Wall, “the world’s largest ecosystem restoration project”, aims to plant an 8,000km line of trees across the Sahara Desert, from Senegal to Djibouti (14 years on, it is only around 15% complete). Meanwhile, green companies are taking root, such as Ecosia, the Berlin-based search engine, which to date has planted more than 120m trees around the world.

“The main challenge,” Christophersen says, “is the lack of human imagination; our inability to see a different future because we’re staring down this dystopian path of pandemic, climate change, biodiversity loss. But the collective awareness that we are in this together is a huge opportunity. People don’t have a problem imagining what a four-lane highway would look like. But to imagine a restored landscape of over a million hectares – nobody knows what that would look like because it hasn’t really been done before.”

Van der Hoeven would agree. He cites Yuval Noah Hariri’s book Sapiens, which argues that humans prevailed because of our ability to share information, ideas, stories: “We were able to believe in a myth – in something which was not there yet.”

Regreening the Sinai is presently little more than a myth, just as the Apollo missions once were; but it now exists in the imagination, as a signpost for the future we aspire to. The more it is shared, the more likely it is to happen. It could come to be a turning point – an acupuncture point: “We’re not going to change humanity by saying, ‘Everything has to be less,’” says Van der Hoeven. “No, we have to do more of the good things. Why don’t we come together and do something in a positive way?”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... obal-en-GB
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Mar 31, 2021 11:59 pm

Man arrested for felling trees

A man in Duhok province was arrested by Peshmerga forces two weeks ago for cutting down 1,000 oak trees, including some over 100 years old

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"This is no longer a forest, it has become a graveyard," said Dr Hassan Najman, a forestry professor from the University of Duhok. "There are only 70 to 80 kinds of oak trees in Duhok and the Kurdistan Region, it’s not much. If they are cut down, there will be none left in the near future."

The man, who is said to have sold the wood at markets, was arrested by the Peshmerga Environment Command.

"We arrested a man here who used to cut down trees using a chainsaw. He left them here for two to three weeks and used to come and ask for permission to collect the wood. He used to trick the all the authorities," said Commander Ramazan Siyari.

According to studies by Duhok University, there are two million dunams of forests in Duhok.

However, they are under serious threat of deforestation.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/31032021
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:38 am

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Kurdistan Region in water crisis

The Kurdistan Region is in the midst of a water crisis due to a lack of rain, government funds, and the dams being built in neighbouring Iran

“The government has five years to take action," he added, saying it takes five years to build the largest dams needed in the Region.

Ahmed previously warned of a potential water crisis after Iran inaugurated a number of important water projects in 2020.

Hussein Hamakarim, spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources told Rudaw’s Snwr Majid on Tuesday that this is the third drought the Kurdistan Region has faced in 20 years.

A meeting will be held next week on the current drought and the data needed for a “comprehensive report” to be sent to the council of ministers on the issue.

Iraq is the world's fifth-most vulnerable nation to the effects of climate change, including water and food insecurity, according to the UN.

Farmers in Garmiyan have abandoned their traditional farming areas amid a lack of rain, seeking greener pastures elsewhere.

Faisal Nuri, director of Duhok dam said that water levels have decreased 8 meters this year, with the director of Darbandikhan dam Rahman Khani saying water flow has also decreased at the site.

Kochar Jamal, director of Dukan dam says water levels have decreased by 14 meters, “mostly due to the lack of rain … another reason is the dams that Iran has built.”

Tehran is building a network of dams and canals and Ankara has constructed a mega-dam on the Tigris River at the cost of the ancient city of Hasankeyf that is now under water. The governments in Erbil and Baghdad are not addressing the issue with the seriousness that the threat demands.

Kurdish farmers have previously warned of “catastrophe” as Iran blocks the water supply into the Region.

Turkey and Iran last month said they would cooperate with Iraq on water availability issues, despite being widely accused of hoarding the essential resource during Iraq’s first international water conference on March 13.

The water crisis in the Kurdistan Region is also blamed on poor water management and a lack of funds.

“After the [1991] uprising, we built small and medium sized reservoirs. Now 17 are works in progress, but have unfortunately put on hold because we are waiting for funds,” Ahmed said on March 13, adding that four of them are dams.

“There isn’t a good water management in the Kurdistan Region, that’s one problem. Another problem is there is not enough budget funds in the Kurdistan Region,” Mohammed Amin Faris, deputy director of the Iraqi parliament’s agriculture and water resources committee told Sangawi.

“We can’t just focus on building surface dams. We have to also focus on building new technology; we have to think about building sub-surface dams, building dams underground," Jihan Mohammad, head of the Department of Water Resources at Salahuddin University said.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/060420212
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Apr 08, 2021 10:07 pm

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Plans to deal with water scarcity

Iraq’s Ministry of Water Resources has announced plans to confront the country’s water shortages, state media reported on Thursday

"The ministry has prepared a plan to confront the challenges that climate change may impose from low water levels in the coming years, as well as the maintenance of storage facilities and the irrigation system in general," ministry spokesperson Ali Radi told the Iraqi News Agency (INA) on Thursday.

Experts and a high ministerial committee “held a meeting to study the possibility of constructing a dam on the Tigris River north of the Mosul Dam, specifically in the area close to the Turkish-Syrian border," Radi added.

Officials have warned that dams built by Turkey and Iran have contributed to a growing water crisis in the southern and central provinces of Iraq, as well as in the Kurdistan Region.

Despite being widely accused of hoarding the essential resource, Turkey and Iran said they would cooperate with Iraq on water availability issues during an international water conference held last month in Baghdad, the first to be held in Iraq.

Minister of Water Resources Mahdi Rashid Al-Hamdani has announced construction on Makhoul Dam will begin on May 1, saying the project is “one of the largest strategic projects since 2003” in the realm of water and economic insecurity in Iraq.

Iraq is the world’s fifth most vulnerable nation to the effects of climate change, including water and food insecurity, according to the United Nations. After years of conflict and mired in political and economic crises, it is also one of the least prepared to deal with the emergency.

Drought has wreaked havoc on farming in the plains near the city of Kalha in Iraq’s southern province of Maysan, but Maysan is not the only province to suffer from water shortages.

According to a 2020 report by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and a number of other non-governmental organizations, water shortages have triggered almost 15,000 new displacements in Dhi-Qar, Maysan and Basra provinces as of January 2019.

The Kurdistan Region is not immune to the problem. Officials warned this week that the region is in the midst of a “water crisis.”

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/080420215
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Apr 10, 2021 11:43 pm

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Death by Garbage

Garbage left behind by picnickers is being eaten by livestock and killing the animals

“Our livestock is all dead. Our goats die when they eat plastic bags,” said shepherd Wasman Asaad, who keeps animals in the Soran area and has lost at least three goats this year. Plastic bags and garbage were found in the dead goats’ stomachs.

The Kurdistan Region has beautiful countryside with mountains and fresh streams that attract holidaymakers and day trippers keen to enjoy the fresh air, but they too often leave their trash behind. Roadsides, rivers, and fields are frequently strewn with garbage.

“The picnickers should come here to enjoy themselves, not to harm me,” said Asaad.

In the nearby Soran slaughterhouse, butchers find all kinds of indigestible items in the stomachs of animals. “When we open any cow’s stomach, it’s full of nylon, rope, and bags,” said Riyadh Mamand.

It’s not just plastic that is the problem, according to veterinarian Saidawan Omar. Some animals also eat bits of metal like screws or nails that cut up their internal organs.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) staged a ‘Keep Kurdistan Clean’ campaign in 2019 and environmentalists frequently organize events to collect garbage, but the problem persists every year, especially around the Newroz holiday when thousands of families go out for picnics.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/lifestyle/10042021
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Apr 11, 2021 11:36 pm

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Bees can remember human faces

Most people know bees for two things: their sweetness (in the form of honey) or their stings. But they’re so much more than that. Honeybees, for example, live in highly structured social groups where each bee has a role to play. Some bees are solitary and can chew holes in wood. Others can be blue or white or green. In fact, there are more than 20,000 species of bees worldwide

Importantly for humans, bees are crucial to our planetary health and survival — as pollinators, they are responsible for about a third of the food we eat. Yet bee populations worldwide are declining, largely due to climate change. Carbon emissions are resulting in temperature extremes that are causing habitat loss, a rise in parasitic mites and predators that thrive in warmer temperatures, and increased pesticide use to deal with these new pests. All of these factors impact bees in both big ways (colony collapse disorder) and small (shifting winds make bees less efficient).

Here are 8 surprising facts you didn’t know about these amazing insects, and how you can help protect them.

Bees put the honey in honeymoon

There may be more than 20,000 bee species, but only members of the genus Apis (11 known species) make honey. We may owe bees — and ancient Norse drinking habits — for the term “honeymoon.” The syrupy sweetener was an ingredient in the earliest known alcoholic beverages, including mead, a fermented honey drink. Mead played an important role in Nordic marriage rites as early as the 5th century. It’s believed that it was a tradition for newlywed couples to consume copious amounts of mead during the first full moon cycle, or month, of marriage. The practice is one of several proposed origins of the honeymoon’s etymology.

Some bee species defend their hives with giant balls of heat

Like all insects, bees are cold-blooded, which means their body temperature is typically similar to their surrounding environment. But within the hive, where the developing brood lives, bees maintain a steady temperature of around 92-93 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Using their wings, bees can fan hot air out of the hive to cool an area or vibrate their flight muscles to heat it.

As a changing climate brings new predators their way, some bee species have taken their thermoregulation abilities to the next level. Scientists have observed Japanese honeybees pounce on the hive-invading, bee-eating Asian giant hornets (also known as murder hornets) that cross their threshold. Together they create a giant ball around the hornet and use the same hive-heating techniques to cook the invader alive.

Bees help farmers grow better food and keep food prices down

Bees are highly efficient pollinators and are essential to plant diversity. When bees are employed to pollinate crops such as avocados, blueberries and cucumbers, fruit yields and weight increase dramatically compared to crops grown in the absence of bees or other pollinators.

But climate change could threaten our food systems.

As weather patterns continue to shift, many animal species will move to more ideal climate conditions when their previous habitats become less favorable. But experts fear that bees aren’t adapting to shifting temperatures like some other species, which could lead to rapid population decline. In some areas, flowers are also starting to bloom earlier with warming temperatures, and it’s unclear how bees will adapt to these seasonal changes. This could spell big trouble for both wild and farmed crops. “With the declining numbers of bees, the cost of over 130 fruit and vegetable plants that we rely on for food is going up in price,” says Noah Wilson-Rich, biologist and CEO of Best Bees, in his TEDxBoston Talk.

There are bees that can age backwards — really

Some honeybees have the remarkable ability to age in reverse. When there’s a lack of young worker bees, older bees can revert to their more energetic, younger selves to take on the task. In fact, these bees end up living longer to pick up the slack. This incredible phenomenon is currently under investigation by researchers to better understand the underlying mechanisms and potential applications for age-related dementia in humans.

Scientists use bees to study serial killers

Criminologists developed a statistical technique called geographic profiling (GP) in order to study repeat-offense crimes, like serial killings and burglaries. Based on the locations of the crimes, police can make educated guesses about where a suspect might live or visit regularly. That’s because in general, repeat offenders avoid committing crimes close to where they live so they can avoid detection — but they remain close enough to home for convenience. It turns out bees’ feeding patterns are similar.

Bees avoid detection by predators and parasites by creating a distraction zone — they leave flowers closest to their nest entrance untouched and feed further away from the hive. In 2008, a team of researchers observed bees visiting different flowers, and attempted to locate their hive based on existing GP techniques. They found that bees’ foraging patterns were as reliable and predictable as humans. Criminology experts can now use insights from bee patterns to refine geographic profiling methods.

Honeybees live according to a strict hierarchy

There are three types of honeybees: queens, workers and drones. There’s only one queen, and she’s typically the largest and longest-living individual within a hive. Worker bees are all female and the only bees with stingers. When a bee stings, it dies, leaving behind a banana-like scent that warns the other worker bees of danger. And while workers are genetically identical to the queen, only the crown can lay eggs. In fact, queen bees can release over 1,000 eggs each day for years. These eggs are fertilized with sperm from dozens of male drones whose only function is to fertilize the queen during a once-in-a-lifetime mating flight (the drones die after mating.)

Bees can remember human faces

Bees may have brains the size of poppy seeds, but they’re able to pick out individual features on human faces and recognize them during repeat interactions. In one study, scientists paired images of human faces with sugar-laced water and found that bees recognized and remembered faces associated with the sweet reward — even when the reward was absent. This keen perception not only helps these highly social creatures recognize each other, but it also helps them recognize and return to flowers that produce more pollen.

It’s not too late to save bees — and YOU can help

Fortunately, you can take action to help bees where you live. With just a smartphone and a willingness to learn, you can contribute to various citizen science projects. A citizen science effort in Michigan, for example, helped researchers discover that special ground-dwelling bees that pollinate squash and pumpkin fare better on farms where the soil is not trampled or tilled — this finding has real implications for our food systems. Other ongoing programs help researchers collect baseline data on wild bee populations, including North America-based BeeBlitzes, the University of Illinois’ BeeSpotter, Australia’s Wild Pollinator Count and Canada’s Bumble Bee Watch.

Your own backyard is another place to start. Plant more wildflowers, don’t use pesticides that harm bees and apply them before flowering begins. If you live in the city, set up or join a community rooftop garden. Interestingly, bees can have higher survival rates and produce more honey in the city compared to the crop-dotted countryside, Wilson-Rich says. And, if you want to really get in on the buzz, consider keeping your own honeybee hive — you’ll bolster your local bee population and reap some sweet rewards.

https://ideas.ted.com/bees-can-remember ... obal-en-GB
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Apr 11, 2021 11:56 pm

23 million animals tortured in Turkey

The Animal Rights Monitoring Committee (HAKİM) has released its annual report on animal rights violations in Turkey in 2020

The findings of the report were shared with the public in an online meeting held yesterday with the participation of Fatma Biltekin from the HAKİM, lawyer Zeynep Betül Koçaklı from the Association of Animal Rights and Ethics, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Zonguldak MP Deniz Yavuzyılmaz and Dr. Lecturer Barika Göncü.

Speaking at the online conference, Biltekin underlined that the main aim behind their efforts to report and document animal rights violations is "to make it visible what the animals who are deprived of their rights and whose pains and sorrows are made invisible are going through."

Fatma Biltekin also raised concerns that even though one and a half year has passed since the release of the Investigative Commission Report, the law on animal rights has not yet been passed and the content of the draft law does not satisfy life defenders, either.

She then shared the following findings from the report:

    At least 1,211,375,950 cases where animals' right to life was denied,

    At least 22,735,267 cases where animals were tortured,

    At least 3,36,175 cases where animals were subjected to sexual violence,

    At least 1,280,153,923 cases where animals' freedom was restricted.
HAKİM's Fatma Biltekin emphasized that the figures shared in the above table show a small portion of the real picture.

Efforts of political parties

Taking the floor afterwards, lawyer Koçaklı shared information as to the political parties' engagement in the issues concerning animal rights.

According to the figures shared by her, the main opposition CHP submitted six bills, the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) submitted one bill and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) submitted one bill on animal rights in 2020, which makes a total of nine bills about the issue in a year.

As for the Parliamentary questions submitted about animal rights in 2020, Koçaklı said that a total of 39 Parliamentary questions were submitted. While 18 questions were submitted by the CHP, 10 were submitted by the HDP, six by the İYİ Party, four by the MHP and one by the SP.

While 12 of these Parliamentary questions were answered within the legal period, 17 were answered after the expiry of this period. 10 questions were not answered at all. In most of the answers to these questions, the majority of the MPs' questions were left unanswered.

The Parliamentary questions submitted by the opposition MPs were about a wide range of subjects, including the mountain goats killed as part of hunting activities and hunting tourism, the protection of animals living on the streets, the animals imported during the pandemic, the animals who lost their lives in mine explosions and abandoned animals.

'Report can be passed into law'

Speaking at the online conference, CHP Zonguldak MP Deniz Yavuzyılmaz, a member of the Parliamentary Animal Rights Investigation Commission, touched upon the important points of the report previously issued by the parliamentary commission, underlining that this report, which has been approved by all five parties, can be directly passed into law.

However, the law has not yet been made, he noted.

Addressing several problems faced in the field of animal rights within this context, Yavuzyılmaz said that they would dedicate the future law on animal rights to late animal rights defender Burak Özgüner, the Coordinator of HAKİM, due to his contributions to the legislative process.

'Families should be taught as much as children'

Taking the floor after CHP's Yavuzyılmaz, Dr. Lecturer Göncü, who has been giving a class on "Human-Animal Interaction" at İstanbul Bilgi University for seven years, said, "In that class, I am trying to share with the students the points ignored or made invisible about animal rights."

She added, "I - of course - think that families should undergo a training period as much as children. It is difficult to change it on an individual level; but I believe that changes will occur if it is made a part of the education system."
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Apr 16, 2021 12:39 am

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Over 2,000 trees cut down in Sanandaj

Over two thousand trees were cut down in an orchard in the Kurdish west of Iran earlier this month, leaving the orchard’s owner devastated

The fruit trees were cut down on the outskirts of the village of Gazna, near the city of Sanandaj provoked outrage, especially from local environmentalists and civil activists. It is not yet known who is responsible for felling the trees, which were planted eight years ago.

Orchard owner Murad Zarayi, 51, told Rudaw English of the sacrifices he made to acquire the land he planted the trees on.

“I got this land from Sanandaj’s agriculture [directorate] 11 years ago. This area used to be a desert. I sold my house in the rural part of Sanandaj and my vehicle to invest in this orchard.”

“I loved each tree as one of my children and cared for them around the clock.”

Zarayi and his family travelled to Sanandaj to buy some goods, but when they returned home they were shocked to see that 2,300 trees had been cut down and the orchard water pipe damaged.

“I went to the city with my children to buy some goods, and returned. I saw from far that the trees had fallen,” Zarayi said. At first I thought it had been caused by wind, but when I approached them I found out that they had been cut down. I lost consciousness.”

“I planted the trees one by one with my own hands… I have no issues with anyone and I don’t know who caused this catastrophe.”

Zarayi is a father of three. He has also been raising two of his grandchildren since his daughter-in-law passed away. He is a survivor of a chemical attack during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s.

Murad Zarayi inspects the damage in his orchard in Sanandaj on April 14, 2021. Photo: Jabar Dastbaz / Rudaw

The police have not yet detained anyone in connection with his trees being cut down, but they have questioned a number of people.

Deforestation is a problem across Kurdistan. Trees are often cut down to illegally produce charcoal, or are lost because of fires caused by artillery fire and airstrikes, arson, or smouldering coals left behind after picnics.

The police have not yet detained anyone, but they have questioned a number of people.

Zarayi has not eaten anything in recent days. Instead, he chain smokes and walks among what is left of the trees with a heavy heart.

His neighbors fear that their orchards could have the same fate.

Ahmed Saadi, 45, is a neighbor of Zarayi.

“I have been neighbors with Mr. Murad for more than 10 years. All I have seen from him has been good deeds. He hasn't had any issues with anyone," Saadi said. "This is also a threat to other orchards... I call on the relevant authorities to find the perpetrators and publish them.”

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/15042021
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Apr 17, 2021 12:10 am

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US funds Duhok renovation

United States Consul General Rob Waller announced on Thursday a half-a-million-dollar grant for the renovation and preservation of the Badinan Gate, an archeological site in Amedi, Duhok province

“I am here to announce $500,000 to renovate and preserve this archeological treasure. This is part of a series of funds that the US government is providing to preserve and protect the rich archeological and cultural heritage of the region,” Waller said in a video message from Amedi, shared by the consulate on Thursday.

He added that they have previously provided funds to protect other archaeological sites in the Kurdistan Region and Mosul. Work on the Badinan Gate will be carried out by Columbia University.

“We are proud to be partnering with Columbia University which is working closely with one of the most knowledgeable archeologists in the region, Dr. Hassan,” said Waller.

Dr. Hassan Qasim is the former head of Duhok’s heritage directorate.

The funding was the result of “two years of constant efforts,” Amedi mayor’s office said in a statement on Thursday, asking for the US to consider providing grants for other historical sites in the area.

The gate was built during the Kurdish Badinan Emirate (1376-1843) when Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived side-by-side in the mountains of what is now northern Duhok province. This gate was the only entrance to Amedi at the time.

Previously, Amedi had been part of the Assyrian Empire.

The site will be open to visitors after the renovation, because “we want tourists to visit it and know about the history of Amedi,” Mayor Ismail Mustafa told Rudaw English.

"The US government is determined to help the IKR [Iraqi Kurdistan Region] preserve and restore its remarkable cultural heritage, and is thrilled to work with our Kurdish friends to achieve that goal,” the American consulate said in a statement on Friday.

"We hope this grant will be a new bridge to further strengthen the ties between the American people and the people of the IKR. Badinan Gate will be preserved for all of humanity, while helping to economically revitalize the community."

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/16042021
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Apr 19, 2021 1:01 am

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New bill limits plastic

An independent environmental organization on Sunday announced that it is introducing a bill to the Kurdistan Region’s parliament on limiting and reducing plastic use and imports.

“7,000 tons of waste are being dumped into the environment daily. 35 percent of the waste is plastic waste. We, as an organization, felt the need to have a bill to limit this,” Sarwar Qaradaghi, co-chair of Kurdistan Nature Organization (KNO), said at a press conference on Sunday.

The bill is to “limit importing and producing plastic goods in southern Kurdistan [the Kurdistan Region],” Qaradaghi said, which includes “banning the use of plastic bags … banning all kinds of plastic goods.”

This is in addition to a 100 percent tax on importing plastic goods into the Kurdistan Region and 75 percent on plastic producing companies.

Those who violate the bill will receive prison sentences of between one month and two years, and a fine of two to ten million dinars, according to Qaradaghi.

He added that the types of plastic being imported into the Kurdistan Region “are banned in most countries.”

Littering and the overuse of plastic is a common issue in the Kurdistan Region, much of which ends up in rivers as it rains. Toxic material consequently leaks into river water, which is used for drinking, irrigation and fish farming.

Plastic water bottles in the Kurdistan Region can be “severely intoxicated by the sun” as they are not protected at the stores and factories, Omed Qadir, head of Charmo Center for Research and Training, told Rudaw’s Ranj Sangawi on April 12.

According to research Qadir has conducted, “the quality is very low … the toxic materials are too much, much more than the standard.” Some of the plastic water bottles are “a million times more” toxic than the standard, from water bottles to children’s toys.

The lack of a national standard or quality control for plastics is a huge issue, the scientist said.

“The plastic bottles' essential material is imported from abroad, but imported at the businessman’s preference. The companies abroad can make it clean like they do for a European country or according to the businessman’s preference for the money you’re willing to pay.”

In other research conducted by Qadir on children’s toys, in which 100 plastics toys were sampled, “the ones from Europe have zero toxic material, but the ones in the Middle East, because they are not being investigated are very high. Thousands of times higher than the world standard.”

Qadir added that the plastic bottles imported from Iran are significantly more toxic than the ones Iranians use domestically.

“Quality control should prepare it [as a bill], send it to parliament. It has to be passed as a law in parliament, and implement it on all the four official border crossings of the Kurdistan Region,” he said.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/180420212
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