Information Environment, Pictures and Opinions

 

Sámara, 16.12.2016

Atlantis 2.0 or the sea where it shouldn’t be

There is hardly another incident caused by mankind that could end as badly as could climate change and the melting of the glaciers. The most important thing is not the global rise in temperature itself, but rather the horrendous consequences that this increase brings. The sea level is rising, places that were bursting with water in the past are now almost completely dried up and the sea is where it has never been before.

Time to wake up now, climate change is not a conspiracy theory, it is a fact. It is no coincidence that the different seasons of a year are not the way they used to be, that in Germany the temperature is around 20 degrees Celsius even in October and that snow on Christmas is getting pretty rare. Climate is changing and it is our fault. But what exactly did we start there? The one thing that is sure is that we started a chain reaction, that can’t be stopped anymore, but hopefully can be slowed down.

What global warming means
Due to the global population growth and industrialization the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere continually increases. This is what leads to a warming of the atmosphere close to earth, that is more distinctive and happening a lot faster (because of human influence) than it would if it was still a natural process. This increased temperature average leads to changes within the environment: It is getting warmer. When the temperature of the atmosphere close to earth rises as drastically as it does right now, it is a devastating interference with the natural climate cycle and the rotation of the warm phases and ice ages of our planet. Particularly affected by this interference is Antarctica, as well as Greenland. When talking about an increase of the sea-level or the melting of the glaciers, those two are the places that are referred to. Because of the increased temperature average the melting process proceeds a lot faster, and, above all a lot stronger than within its natural process. That is why there is a clear rise of the sea-level: The meltwater generating in Greenland leads to an increase of about 0.5 millimetres, Antarctica adds another 0.2 millimetres per year. Alright, those numbers indeed do not sound as dangerous as they might will be for us in the end. But if the amount of emitted greenhouse gases continues to rise unchecked, the situation cannot be handled by raising the dikes. In addition to the melting of the glaciers there is the so called “thermal expansion”, describing the phenomenon of the expansion of substances – including sea water – in a warm surrounding. Summoning these processes the sea level could rise by 82 centimetres until the end of this century – and that is one of the lower estimated results.

What is going to happen, if the sea level rises?
In a simplified way: the earth loses parts of land. But of course it is not that easy. Everything depends on how climate change as a chain reaction can be moderated and what consequences we have to face eventually. Predicting in what extend the glaciers of Antarctica and Greenland are going to melt is quite difficult, as well as guessing a final increase of the sea level. But there is definitely no lack of speculation, research approaches and complicated theories. Looking at the values of the past years you can see a drastic increase, promising nothing good for the future. In the 18th century for example, the rise of the sea level only was around 2 centimetres. The next century showed an increase of approximately 6 centimetres. In comparison, in the 19th century the sea level had a pretty drastic increase of about 19 centimetres. Based on these numbers you can probably imagine how devastating the numbers of the future could be, if the sea level continues rising as drastically as it does right now.

Affected Regions
For a lot of island countries and maritime provinces an additional increase of the sea-level could lead to a catastrophe. Especially in those regions a lot of people have their homes, to be more specific with 630 million people almost 10% of the world population does. Several areas could soon be engulfed by the sea. And if that was not enough, the affected areas are mostly metropolitan areas. Among them are places like the Netherlands, Bangladesh and big parts of the east coast of the USA, including cities like New York.
Another Country that won’t be spared by an increase of the sea-level is the popular vacation destination Costa Rica. In this country you can already see the consequences of climate change; The beach areas are getting smaller and smaller due to the strong increase of the sea-level. And that’s not only harming the countries landscape but also its economy, because those maritime provinces are of vital importance for tourism, what makes up an essential source of income. In some areas, there already have been dangerous floods leaving nothing but destruction and chaos. So, in what extend the sea-level is going to rise in the next years is an important question to ask for the affected regions, so that they can take suitable measures. An important lead for research and estimation are, as said before, the Glaciers of Greenland.

Discovery in Greenland indicates the complete melting of the glaciers
If the glacial ice of Greenland melts completely, the sea-level would rise by several devastating metres. Recent measuring at the ice indicates the possibility that this indeed could happen. There are clues leading to the assumption that the glacier ice of Greenland is not as steady as it was supposed to be. It is said that in the last natural warm phase the ice vanished completely and that there was no ice in Greenland for 280 000 years in the past 1,4 million years. That would mean that the glacial ice could melt completely as a consequence of human interference as well. Decisive for this Theory is the discovery of the radioactive elements Beryllium-10 and Aluminium-26 at the bottom of the glacial ice in Greenland. Those substances are formed when radiation reaches rock. Due to the discovery of these substances experts suppose that rock has not been covered with ice, because if it would have been covered, those substances wouldn’t form. Because of the decay rate of these radioactive elements it is thought, that the ice has been melted for a long period of time, because the values of the elements were a lot higher than they would have been, if the ground was covered. These discoveries are quite alarming because the consequences of an accelerated melting by the hand of man would be catastrophic.
But there are, as usual, other discoveries that shall provide counterevidence. In front of the east coast of Greenland another research team hardly found any trace of Beryllium-10 and Aluminium-26, what leads to the assumption that the ground at this place has not been exposed to radiation for a long time. Therefore, the ice of Greenland must have been covered with ice for at least 7.5 million years – That would mean, that even in a warm phase the ground was covered with ice. Both discoveries are probably accurate if you consider the possibility of the rocks not always having been at the place where they were found.

There is no certainty for what is going to happen with the glacial ice of Greenland or in what extend this has an influence on the sea level because of these observations. But what is certain is that these recent discoveries prove that we need more scientific research. Because trusting on estimates and assumptions only would be far too dangerous. What is sure is that the sea-level has clearly increased in the last years and still rises with increased speed. The effects of climate change can definitely be seen in several regions. To prevent the worst and to safe different regions from drowning it is important to put an end to the thoughtless way in which we are treating the environment. Cause if we stop trying to slow down global warming we might be all living at the sea, even if we didn’t plan to.

By Esther Feustel

 

 

San Jose, 25.11.2015

President Luis Guillermo Solís – shark enemy of the year

Luis Guillermo SolĂ­s was nominated for the dishonorable negative-price "Shark Enemy of the Year". This is due to animal welfare organizations, who believe that the protection of sharks in Costa Rica has suffered heavy losses since the inauguration of the president last year.

In the newspaper “La Nación” it said, for example, that among other things, re-export permits for hammerhead shark fins were granted. Furthermore, the government reported that they would not promote the expansion of shark protection in international fora in the future.

Costa Rica is actually known for its far-reaching environmental protection and benefits greatly from eco-tourism. Previously the country was, according to the Germany-based organization “Shark Project”, a pioneer in shark protection.

In December, the jury of the negative-price will come together and fry. Who has to bear the shameful title of "Shark Enemy of 2016" ultimately, is to be announced in January.

You can find more information about environmental protection on the blog for relaxing traveling advices in Costa Rica.

 

 

Costa Rica, 18.11.2015

The year of extremes: El Niño

At first experts thought, that the El Niño phenomenon would turn out this year quite weak. The associated weather changes were considered low. Unfortunately, these predictions were too optimistic because slowly but surely it turns out that the opposite will be the case. It could come to the strongest El Niño since 1998.

What say official voices?

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) pointed out that El Niño could even amplify at the end of the year and trigger extreme weather conditions in the South Pacific. “This El Niño is the strongest for more than 15 years,” warns Michel Jarraud WMO Director General. "The tropical and subtropical zones are already experiencing severe droughts and destructive floods caused by El Niño.”

What are the reasons for the extreme?

Blamed for amplifying the climate phenomenon is, according to Jarraud, inter alia, global warming, which is caused mainly by emissions of greenhouse gases. "The global average temperatures have reached record levels and El Niño fomented this further on."

How devastating will the consequences be?

According to humanitarian agencies, crop failures, famine and pestilence are looming because of the extreme El Niño. Jarraud said, however, that the world is now "better prepared than ever before" to occur the several years recurring climate phenomenon.

What causes El Niño?

Origin of El Niño are the change of water and air currents near the equator in and over the Pacific. Winds do not drive moist air to Australia and Southeast Asia like bevor, but much more to the east in the direction of the American West Coast. There, the water is heated.

What is also feared?

In the WMO report, it is stated that the sea temperature in the tropical Pacific has exceeded the normal brand more than two degrees Celsius. This is a threat, because it has contributed, for example, to significantly reinforce the usual seasonal storms in the west and east of the Pacific.

Ganz anders sieht es in Südostasien aus. Dort sind Trockenperioden die Folge des Phänomens. In Indonesien kam es bereits zu schweren Waldbränden. In anderen Gebieten, beispielsweise in Südasien und in Teilen Afrikas, sorgt man sich um durch den ausbleibenden Regen verursachte Ernteeinbußen.

The situation in Southeast Asia is quite different. There, droughts are the consequence of the phenomenon. In Indonesia, it already came to severe forest fires. In other areas, for example in South Asia and parts of Africa, they worry about crop losses caused by the lack of rain.

Here you can get more information about weather and climate in Costa Rica.

 

 

San José, 02.11.2015

Volcano Turrialba provides Halloween horror

This year there were more trick than treat for Halloween in Costa Rica.

For the country, the day began with a few weak earthquakes. According to the Volcano and Earthquake Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI) there was a 4.7 earthquake at 9:10 clock near San Isidro de Heredia. The quake was followed by two aftershocks with magnitudes of 3.0 and 3.9, at 9:17 clock and 09.20 clock.

Nevertheless, that is not all: In the afternoon, there was a massive ash eruption of Turrialba. The volcano threw the ash approximately 1,000 meters into the sky.

The experts claim that the volcano currently shows increased activity after it has been completely calm for the last few months.

Nevertheless, there are also good news:  Nobody was injured in the whole hullabaloo and there was no material damage.

More horror news can be found here.

 

 

Costa Rica, 24.10.2015

A life surrounded by filth and poison - OUR life

We live with big contradictions. For example, we are for environmental protection but we buy plastic every day without thinking about what happens to the plastic waste.

Some contradictions in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has very good conservation programs and nearly 30% of the area is under protection. Nevertheless, even here there is strong contamination of soil, transgenic seeds, production of cotton and soybeans with resistance to the herbicide glyphosate broadband.

With the cultivation of oil palms, the ecological disadvantages are becoming more visible. There remain species-poor crops and the destruction of valuable habitats of plants and animals is inevitable.

1991 Costa Rica opened the gene production. Bayer GM got in big. The Free Trade Agreement of 2003 of the Central American countries with the United States should give the multinationals more privileges.

Plastic waste instead of plain water

It is incredible. Actually, a team of researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research recently only wanted travel in Arctic for wildlife observation. Even they did not expect what they found there. Instead of clear water, they saw plastic debris in all sizes floating on the surface. Until now it has been assumed that the Arctic is still largely unaffected by pollution.

In the deep ocean, the researchers found an average of 2.2 to 18.4 parts of trash per kilometre on the route of their ship. This pollution could lead to a further Garbage Patch, suggest the scientists. So far, five of this kind are known.

From the seagull to fish, from fish to humans

The drifting garbage is especially dangerous for seabirds that are thinking that the trash would be food. However, man is also affected. Even if the plastic waste decompose gradually, micro plastic can release toxins that accumulate in marine organisms and then bit by bit get to the top of the food chain.

Large range of pollutants         

Micro plastic is invisible to the human eye just like the danger of environmental toxins á la lead, mercury or pesticides. However, particular here caution should be offered.

The recently published environmental toxin report 2015 stated that particularly mercury, hexavalent chromium, radionuclides, pesticides and cadmium are harmful and these pollutants directly affect about 95 people.

Environmental toxins in everyday life

According to the study, one of the most dangerous environmental toxins is lead. Lead is supported, for example, while mining activities or created in the recycling of tires.

That pesticides are used mainly in agriculture, is probably most known. Cadmium is produced for example in the production of fertilizers.

Attention, poisen!

In 2012, about eight million people have died in developing and emerging countries, as they came into touch with the environmental toxins. Polluted air, contaminated water or contaminated earth are a real danger. In contrast to other infectious diseases, the problem is still under-estimated.

 

If you need more Information on environmental protection, visit the Costa Rica Blog for relaxing traveling tips.
Furthermore, you find an interesting article about wale protection on the Costa Rica travelnews Blog.

 

 

Enhanced measures to prevent illegal animal trade (Costa Rica, 12.04.13)

During Holy Week, officials of the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) have conducted extensive observations on the streets across the country to avoid extraction, hunting, illegal transportation or trade of species of flora and fauna.

These missions should protect endangered species from being snatched by travelers of their natural habitat when most Ticos take time to visit tourist destinations.

After Costa Rica's new Wildlife Act-which was approved in October of last year, people who are caught in the purchase or sale of wildlife could face sanctions that include a term of imprisonment of one to three years, fines and confiscation of species.

Furthermore the law sets fines for sport hunters up to 1,500,000 colones ($ 3,000) and up to 900,000 colones ($ 1,800) for people who guilty of trading of wildlife species.

Those who kill the animals or destroy their nests or natural habitats can expect the same consequences.

 

How climate change will affect our food supply (2012-10-10)

More is demanded, less crops are yielded

The world population is growing, according to estimations by scientists an increase of about 3 billion people up to 10.1 billion is expected until 2100. All these people need to be fed, according to statistics of the UN about 1 billion people are undernourished already.

Further problems come in addition. Booming Asian countries such as China adapt more and more to western standards of living and that in terms of food, too. The demand for meat and dairy products has increased significantly.

A general increase in demand, which in recent years already has been higher than the yielded crops, leads to the fact that global inventories slowly empty.

 

Drought in the U.S., hunger crisis in developing countries and rising prices worldwide

In recent years there repeatedly have been drastic price increases; in 2008 and 2010 there was a massive famine, in 2008 for example rice prices tripled.

This year in India and especially in the U.S. there are major droughts. In the United States temperatures well above 38 degrees were measured during the summer. Therefore it was the hottest year since the beginning of records in 1895. The drought leads to large harvest losses. The prices of wheat and corn are already much higher, which naturally results in higher prices for consumers. Due to rising feeding costs, the price of eggs, meat and dairy products will increase, as well.

For this year, a decrease of 17% is forecast for the corn and soybean harvest, the price of soybeans has already increased by 30%, corn prices have doubled.

Another problem to be mentioned is that in the U.S. approximately 40% of the corn crop does not go into food industry, but is burned as biofuel.

 

Rising temperatures = less harvest? 

Caused by climate change, the temperature in the atmosphere increases, depending on the assessment it is spoken about up to 4 degrees. As a result of the temperature rise climate zones and the associated ecosystems on earth will relocate.

Studies have concluded that a small increase in temperature will lead to rich harvests. But assuming a larger temperature increase, the curves show a clear tendency to fall.<br>

Moreover, it is estimated that the surface of the so-called arid areas, areas that can not be used without irrigation because they are too dry, will rise by 2.5%.

 

The gap between north and south 

But one has to differentiate more precisely. A small increase in temperature causes a higher yield in general. However, drawing a distinction between northern and southern hemispheres, it is shown that this only holds true for the north. Here a better growth and even more rainfall are anticipated.

In the south, it is expected that the arid area which is expected to shrink by about 2.5% worldwide will diminish by size by 11%, particularly the sub-Saharan countries will be affected greatly. The Sahelian zone for example is already regularly plagued by great aridity.

Especially in the tropics the rise in temperature might also causes that the plants due to heat stress will not continue to grow, poor crops need to be taken into account. An increase of varmints might be another effect of higher temperature, which also influences on the return.

In the south it is likely that less rain and more drought occur, large areas will be needed to be irrigated, thus the ground-water level will decrease and drinking water supplies become a growing problem.

The southern hemisphere of the earth already is more exposed to extreme conditions; hurricanes, floods and droughts are just a few examples. A further change in climate will lead to an increase of such extreme phenomena and the south mostly including emerging and developing countries will have to struggle with unforeseen crop failures.<br>

No money for expensive new technologies, developments or measures to adapt, that could help in dealing with the situation is available here.

 

Creativity needed

Wise heads will be needed if it is to cope with this new challenge of feeding more people.

Researcher scientists are already developing greenhouses which because of the fact that they include multiple floors are expected to yield large crops. As the greenhouses are artificially lighted and irrigated, bringing in harvest is possible all year. Some pilot projects already exist, the biggest challenge is that these greenhouses have an incredible high energy demand.

 

But southern countries will not be able to afford such projects on their own.

In a situation in which we are more and more people with an ever-increasing demand for food, but reducing yields, it is very likely that the differences between the rich nations which already live in abundance, will probably not be that strongly affected by bad crops and are able to invest in new technologies, and the developing countries in the South that will be confronted more often with extreme situations, will expand dramatically. The gap will continue to grow.

Worldwide a rise of prices is to be expected.