Wake up, America, it would seem. Yet this is not quite fair, because the vast number of Americans on the ground are well aware of, and preparing to protect - their habitats for the future. And while the very term "Climate Change" is being air-brushed away from American history, there is an extremely strong commitment to the protection of the environment. Added to this, the research carried out by N.A.T.O. and others, into causes, effects and cures for natural disasters, is arguably an essential part of the battle against climate change. What do you think?
The Society makes many awards in recognition of significant contributions in the field of geology, and the Wollaston Medal is the highest of these awards. In 2006 this award was granted to James Lovelock, originator of the Gaia theory.
In essence, this theory states that "living organisms and their inorganic surroundings have evolved together as a single living system that greatly affects the chemistry and conditions of Earth’s surface".
Many scientists do not agree with the view that our planet is a large organism in space, finding that available evidence is too sparse to confirm the theory.
With the countries of the Paris Agreement carrying out their own projects to reduce carbon emissions, the complexity of solving the transfer from fossil fuel to renewable energy is continuing to occupy government and industry alike. Looking only at the automotive industry, one can be excused for thinking that here are a large number of stakeholders, interconnected companies with their own links to external suppliers and consumers - all of whom will be affected in some way by the inevitable decisions of governments to regulate, and even discontinue, road vehicles which are harmful to the environment.
Not from any altruistic point of view will these decisions be made - no, but it seems evident that partner countries take their responsibilities very seriously, and will meet their carbon targets by whatever means they have at their disposal. The automotive industry possibly stands alone as the example of a 'patient in dire straits'. To find out a little of what industry has in mind, check out this recent article. In a separate development the U.K. government makes an investment of £20 million to help the development of electric vehicles which are capable of their own input to the grid. Other countries are also taking steps to encourage electric plug in vehicles. Not before time.
Covering an area of 1500 square kilometres, the Bialoweza Forest is home to several rare species of birds, and is also the last place to find the European bison in its natural habitat. Thousands of people visit the forest each year, and it is notably a UNESCO biosphere reserve, as well as a world heritage site. How then can commercial logging be used to destroy one of Poland's places of unique interest to the world, the last remaining primeval forest on the European continent?
The Amazon depends on the dust of the Sahara for its continued wellbeing. Each year rain and flooding causes the phosphorous in the Amazon to be washed away - what is amazing is that the dust from the Sahara makes up for this loss each year.
While interest groups in Europe and America fight for the continued use of coal in domestic and industrial settings, scientists agree that massive solar plants in the Sahara could potentially meet the world's energy needs. Oil dollars could become solar dollars, and more people in the world would breathe clean air. According to Professor Moalem, an expert on Nuclear Materials and the Nuclear Fuel Cycle, "we could power the entire world by harnessing solar energy from 1% of the Sahara". And there lies the big question - who is going to protect the communities affected by the production of solar energy which will largely be for export? No-one wants to see a re-run of scenarios where most of the profits disappear into a few well-placed coffers, while local people continue to suffer in poverty. A careful examination of any such future schemes will be needed to ensure benefits not just for investors, but for ordinary people living in the areas which provide such rich and essential product.
A recent Arctic study by Dutch scientists has helped identify about 12% of waste as being connected to the fishing industry - pointing to sources which can help stop this dumping. As one scientist acknowledged, to do something about the litter - you need to know the source. A difficult problem, because half of the waste found had become unidentifiable. Marine pollution is a pressing and urgent problem, one which MARPOL constantly seeks to alleviate. Hopefully it is not too late for the Arctic and its marine life.
Each year, Brazilian beef producers incur large fines from government prosecutors (around $300 million in 2013) - for buying cattle which has been illegally raised on Amazon rainforest land. Still this continues. The president of Brazil in June this year has blocked the deregulation of part of the Amazon rainforest - but this is a small step, which needs to be followed by more positive action to protect what is a third of the world's rainforests, just under 3 million square kilometres, and one of the most beautiful lands on earth. These rainforests are also home to about half of the species of plants and wildlife on earth.
Greenland and Antarctica are the two major areas affected by the melting of ice sheets. As sea levels rise, and other parts of the world become threatened - in Greenland there is a concerted effort to adapt to the environmental changes caused by higher temperatures. Hunting is a major occupation, yet losing three months of sea ice means that hunters are getting rid of their dog teams, because they are expensive to feed and maintain. Hunters become fishermen. But there is a long, dark winter in Greenland - where it is easier to hunt with dogs than to fish. To solve some of these problems, Greenland is looking to mining, fishing and tourism to adapt to climate change. Melting ice sheets and disappearing icebergs remain a problem.
A Sweet Potato crop, safe from the ravages of excess nitrogen in the soil.
This blog was started by the Monday Group - which was set up in April 2016. Each item contains a link back to its source, where more information can be found. Comments are welcome