Hurricane Matthew’s Aftermath

A week after Hurricane Matthew (Oct 2016) hit Haiti, the death toll had climbed to 1,000 people, and United Nations agencies struggled to bring aid to devastated communities. The scope of the destruction on the Caribbean island nation is so dramatic it can be seen from space.

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One of the most obvious changes is vegetation loss – this includes the loss of farmland that Haitian’s require for food (many farmers are subsistence farmers)

Another obvious change: the amount of sediment coursing out of the rivers and streams. This is seen from the visible change of the waters in the bay seen above, as exposed soil is washed to rivers and eventually the sea without the protection of roots of vegetation.

Source: http://landsat.visibleearth.nasa.gov/

 

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Threats to Singapore Coast – oil Spills

Oil spills cause not only enviromental damages to coastlines but also economic impacts and potentially threats to food security especially in coast countries like Singapore, where fish farms are found out at sea.

A day after two ships collided in Johor waters, oil patches were found along coastlines in the north-eastern part of Singapore, while an 800m stretch of Changi Beach was closed on Thursday (Jan 5) to clean up the oil spill.

A second fish farm in the affected area also reported fish deaths from the spill, although the authorities said most farms were spared and impact on supply was “minimal”. Nonetheless, some farms have been told to suspend sales, until food safety tests are completed.

When TODAY visited Mr Timothy Ng from 2 Jays Pte Ltd at his farm off the north-western coast of Pulau Ubin, cleaning personnel could be seen working to remove swathes of black oil.

This was “the largest such incident” to hit his 12-year-old farm, which is among those hit with a suspension. A visibly-disappointed Mr Ng said he could not do much with his fish stock now, except to put aerators into the fish cages to pump in fresh air.

“We cannot feed any fish now, since the food will be contaminated, so for now, we will just have to wait and see,” said Mr Ng, adding that “no more than 10kg” of fish had already died due to the oil spill.

His farm has around 10 tonnes of fish and seafood, and four employees.

Source: Todayonline

 

Land grabs in Myanmar

In rural northern Myanmar, land is everything.

From the villagers who ply the fields, to the nation’s vast military, every inch of soil has its purpose for someone – a means to feed a family, make a fortune or weaken an enemy.

Yet in Kachin, there is little balance between the meagre and the mighty.

Over decades of civil conflict and military rule, the rights of farmers have withered away. Land grabbing was, and remains, rife and the state government’s Ministry of Agriculture has admitted it is nearly powerless to solve many of the resulting disputes.

Chinese-backed plantations for rubber and bananas are well established across the landscape near Naung Chain. That has not resulted in any influx of local jobs, however.

Most of the workers have migrated here from other states; locals say the hours are long, the pay is low and they prefer not to be tied to labouring for Chinese bosses.

In fact, Chinese land acquisition and control is a point of concern for not just farmers, but the state government as well. There are no exact figures for how much farmland is currently being used by Chinese businesses, but it is estimated by observer groups to be thousands of acres, where mainland workers are hired and produce is sent across the border to be sold.

Land grabs aren’t new, see the post on land grabs in Zimbabwe in an earlier post. Similar in both cases, local farmers suffer:

“At that time, we just did hillside cultivation. We grew plants like rice, yams and sesame,” the 64-year-old said in her home in the dusty village.

But the land her family tended sat adjacent to an emerging rubber plantation and six years ago, she said, it was confiscated and sold to a tycoon businessman by a corrupt local administrator. She received no compensation and it is now being rented to a Chinese company.

“We only do farming so we didn’t have any income. We had a lack of food supplies. We had to rent cows and buffaloes because we didn’t own any. We struggled a lot,” she said.

Source: Channelnewsasia

Will snow rescue Swiss Alps after dry start to winter?

Challenges of seasonal tourism. This lack of ice is not clearly attributable to global warming since we have taken for granted in recent years that Dec = snow when this may not be the case all the time in the past.

In a bid to maintain the ski season, operators may result to the use of artificial means to recreate the needed conditions, however, how sustainable is this?

So most resorts across the Alps are turning to artificial snow. Snow cannons have been used for many years to patch up vulnerable sections of a slope, but in the last decade their use has increased dramatically.

Fifty percent of Swiss slopes can now be snowed artificially. In neighbouring Austria the figure is 70%. It is, as Christoph Marty points out, an expensive business.

“We need a lot of water for artificial snow, and there is a lot of consumption of power,” he says. “This is one reason why lift tickets are not cheap.”

Source: http://www.bbc.com/