Jamaica Observer http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/ JamaicaObserver.com, the most concise and in-depth website for news coverage on Jamaica and the Caribbean. Updated daily 7 days a week, 24 hours a day en-us copyright Jamaica Observer, 2011 Dredging of Kingston Harbour begins http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Dredging-of-Kingston-Harbour-begins_90328 Seven weeks into the dredging of Port Bustamante in the Kingston Harbour to facilitate larger ships coming through the Panama Canal, the company contracted to do the excavation is reporting that there are &ldquo;no visible impacts&rdquo; on fishing beaches in proximity to the operation sites.<br /> <br /> Using a trailing suction hopper dredger with a capacity of 14,000 cubic metres, Sodraco has so far been removing soft material &mdash; clay, silt and some sand &mdash; and dumping it some 15 miles south-west of the terminal where the waters are about 600 metres deep. It makes eight trips per 24-hour day and should remove a total volume of seven million cubic metres. Once the soft material is completely removed, a cutter suction dredger will tackle the rock-based material.<br /> <br /> The dredging is part of the Kingston Container Terminal (KCT) Expansion Project which is being marshalled by concessionaire Kingston Freeport Terminal Ltd (KFTL). It is being completed in phases, the first of which is scheduled to end late in 2018. <br /> <br /> Speaking with journalists on a tour of the dredging vessel yesterday, environment and social manager at Sodraco Jan Van Den Bogaert said all potential impacts of the dredging were laid out in an environmental impact assessment and subsequently defined in a permit issued by the National Environment and Planning Agency. Among the stipulations the permit makes are:<br /> <br /> &bull; The stationary dredger can&rsquo;t anchor in coral or among sea grasses; <br /> <br /> &bull; Sensitive areas &mdash; including mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs &mdash; have to be monitored for sedimentation;<br /> <br /> &bull; 500 metres of a heavy duty silt curtain must be installed between the dredge area and the protected site of the Sunken City in Port Royal;<br /> <br /> &bull; 1,500 metres of turbidity curtain will be kept at the ready to be deployed adjacent to dredging locations to protect sensitive areas; and<br /> <br /> &bull; Dredging must stop if turbidity levels reach 29 NTU<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The alarm is triggered at 20 NTU, and we stop at 29 NTU. That&rsquo;s stricter than even Florida, because we want to do the best we can,&rdquo; Project Manager Eric Fernagu added.<br /> <br /> Bogaert said further that the company is mandated to maintain a channel of communication with fishers in 14 beach communities, including those in Port Royal, Greenwich Farm, Portmore, and Old Harbour Bay. He said representatives of seven of them have already visited the dredger and met with the team.<br /> <br /> KFTL assumed operations of KCT &mdash; Jamaica&rsquo;s main trans-shipment port &mdash; by way of a 30-year concession agreement between itself and the Port Authority of Jamaica, allowing it to finance, develop, expand, and operate the facility over the period. The agreement took effect in July last year.<br /> <br /> The project is being completed in phases, the first of which comes in at US$452 million, with dredging and quay wall reinforcement eating up US$150 million of the sum.<br /> <br /> &mdash; Kimone Thompson http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13660856/260144_86529_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13660857/260140_86533_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13660854/260145_86528_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13660858/260143_86530_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13660855/260141_86532_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13660853/260139_86534_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13660860/260142_86531_repro_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, February 22, 2017 12:00 AM Wisynco launches biodegradable foam http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Wisynco-launches-biodegradable-foam_89690 BY KIMONE THOMPSON Associate editor — features thompsonk@jamaicaobserver.com IT has been said that polystyrene foam, better known as styrofoam, cannot biodegrade.<br /> <br /> Well, apparently that&rsquo;s old technology. Faced with overflowing landfills and growing criticisms about poor solid waste management, business interests and governments worldwide have been trying to find ways to make the material &mdash; a durable, lightweight, and cheaply produced option widely used as disposable food containers &mdash; more environmentally friendly. Substitute material ranging from milk protein and clay, to plant-based matter utilising rice, corn, potatoes, bamboo, and mushrooms, are among the solutions that have been put forward. <br /> <br /> Jamaican manufacturer Wisynco has, however, found it&rsquo;s own solution &mdash; a chemical additive called masterbatch pellets made by ECM BioFilms.<br /> <br /> The company announced at its Lakes Pen compound yesterday that adding one per cent of the pellets to its regular foam-making ingredients, results in a product that looks and behaves in the traditional way, but which is &ldquo;fully biodegradable&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> The new product has been branded eco-foam and should break down within nine months to five years. Partial poduction started last year, Wisynco said, but the product will now be fully rolled out. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;One per cent of our additive takes it from something that would be in a landfill essentially forever, to something that will biodegrade within a reasonably short period of time,&rdquo; ECM BioFilm President Robert Sinclair said yesterday.<br /> <br /> He explained that the breaking down can occur whether with or without oxygen, and in a variety of environments &mdash; in landfills, compost bins, buried, or littered.<br /> <br /> Government Senator Matthew Samuda, who last year tabled a Bill in Parliament calling for a ban on the importation and use of styrofoam and single-use plastic bags into the country, called eco-foam a step in the right direction for environmental sustainability. The Government, he said, was pushing for a greater move towards biodegradability of waste and to reducing the amount that enters the waste stream.<br /> <br /> Jamaica Environment Trust, while also calling the product a step in the right direction, had reservations about the claims of biodegradability.<br /> <br /> Speaking with the Jamaica Observer after the launch, deputy CEO Suzanne Stanley said the organisation will be carrying out its own experiments to see if the claims hold true.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I think the definition of &lsquo;biodegrade&rsquo; needs to be examined,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re interested to see if there will be real biodegradation or just disintegration into small pieces. And even if it does biodegrade in nine months, that is still a long time for something to be in the environment. In that time it could block drains, etc.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Big up to Wisynco for pioneering this in Jamaica, but we still have a really long way to go because we still have a solid waste management problem. It is important for us to think about the amount of waste we&rsquo;re producing in the first place, as well as the type of waste.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> Other than plastic bottles, styrofoam is the most commonly found item among litter strewn by the side of the street, in gullies, and along coastlines.<br /> <br /> Wisynco said it is under no illusion that its introduction of eco-foam will solve the country&rsquo;s solid waste management problem, but it maintained that it is doing its part. It pointed to several initiatives it has undertaken, including a recycling partnership with Government and bottle producers, and the installation of solar and wastewater treatment plants.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I am one of the biggest environmentalists in Jamaica,&rdquo; chairman William Mahfood said yesterday. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s hard to imagine, being the chairman of a company that produces so much of the things that harm the environment, but at the end of the day, personally, I have a real desire to see a significant improvement in the waste stream and in the environment of our country.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Wisynco supplies the local market with 70 per cent of all polystyrene foam products. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13647129/258694_85293_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13647127/258695_85294_repro_w300.jpg Local News Thursday, February 16, 2017 12:00 AM PHOTO: Faking death? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Faking-death-_89665 It was not clear if this reptile, spotted yesterday afloat on its back in a swamp near the St Thomas main road, which leads into Hector&rsquo;s River, Portland, was dead or just faking it. (Photo: Kenyon Hemans) http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13647135/258613_85232_repro_w300.jpg Local News Thursday, February 16, 2017 12:00 AM Rescuers form human chain to save whales http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Rescuers-form-human-chain-to-save-whales_89516 GOLDEN BAY, New Zealand (AFP) &mdash; It was a scene of both tragedy and triumph in New Zealand Saturday as rescuers defied a shark threat and formed a human chain in a bay in a bid to keep another 200 whales from becoming stranded a day after hundreds died in a mass beaching.<br /> <br /> About 150 people waded out up to their necks at Farewell Spit in the north-west of the South Island to form the human wall as they also guided some 100 survivors from Friday&rsquo;s beaching away from the shore.<br /> <br /> Environmental group Project Jonah, which assisted with the rescue mission, described the new arrivals as &ldquo;a super pod&rdquo; which &ldquo;swam into the bay and within 20 metres of the human chain&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;This pod joined up with the refloated whales of which almost 100 joined the larger pod,&rdquo; the organisation said in a statement.<br /> <br /> Andrew Lamason, regional operations manager for the Department of Conservation (DOC) told AFP the focus was on preventing the whales from reaching a beach already littered with more than 300 dead whales.<br /> <br /> The pod was trying to access the area where 416 pilot whales were stranded overnight on Thursday, with about 70 per cent already dead when they were found on Friday morning.<br /> <br /> Lamason said they needed to have the survivors far away from the shore before the evening low tide.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;They are moving along the spit. They are still in shallow water and we have three boats out there trying to turn them,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We have 100 who&rsquo;ve gone out and they&rsquo;ve been joined by another 200, so that&rsquo;s a total of 300 whales out there.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> By mid-afternoon, the whales had moved offshore and were being monitored by boat as the tide dropped.<br /> <br /> DOC ranger Mike Ogle told Radio New Zealand the whales could have been frightened into the shallows by a shark.<br /> <br /> One whale had been found with bite wounds and great white sharks were known to be in the area off Farewell Spit, he said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;There&rsquo;s one carcass out there with some shark bites in it &ndash; but not a big one, just a small one, but quite fresh bites so yeah, there&rsquo;s something out there.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Hundreds of volunteers mobilised to help the rescue operation, with many working to comfort the stranded animals and keep them cool in the morning heat while they waited to refloat them on the high tide.<br /> <br /> Tim Cuff, a marine mammal medic with Project Jonah, told The New Zealand Herald of emotional scenes over the mass deaths.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a pretty sad scene up on the beach where there&rsquo;s a long line of dead whales,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;One German girl didn&rsquo;t really want to leave her whale. She was crying and had her hand on it.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> DOC officials said the carcasses would either be tethered and towed out to sea, or left to decompose in the sand dunes.<br /> <br /> Farewell Spit, about 150 kilometres west of the tourist town of Nelson, is notorious for whale strandings and has witnessed at least nine mass beachings in the past decade. According to the DOC, however, this latest incident was the third-largest since data collection began in the 1800s, and the largest ever since 1985. Officials declared almost 350 whales dead.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;If you designed something to catch whales then Golden Bay is probably the perfect design,&rdquo; Lamason said.<br /> <br /> Pilot whales grow up to six metres (20 feet) long and are the most common species of whale in New Zealand waters.<br /> <br />  <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13644189/258307_85044_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13644186/258308_85045_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13644184/258309_85046_repro_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, February 15, 2017 12:00 AM Wisynco to introduce biodegradable foam product today http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Wisynco-to-introduce-biodegradable-foam-product-today_89587 Local manufacturers of the Sweet line of synthetic packaging products, Wisynco Limited, is today expected to announce a major shift in its operations &mdash; a move away from polystyrene-only food containers to a biodegradable alternative it has branded eco-foam.<br /> <br /> The new product, the company said, should break down into non-toxic derivatives of the input within nine months to five years. <br /> <br /> CEO William Mahfood told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that eco-foam is produced by putting a chemical additive in polystyrene, the main component of styrofoam, which is not biodegradable. He, however, declined to name the additive, fearing he would give too much away ahead of today&rsquo;s launch which is scheduled for the company&rsquo;s Lakes Pen head office at 10:00 am.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;After about two years of research, we identified a company that had a chemical additive which makes the finished product biodegradable. It allows for the product to go into the environment and, through natural degradation, turn into its natural, non-toxic elements &mdash; water, co2, methane, oxygen, and some humus material, which is like dirt,&rdquo; he explained.<br /> <br /> The move is the latest in a string of environmentally conscious initiatives the company has implemented over the years. Just last year, in the wake of a fire which razed its warehouses and amidst talk of a ban on plastics and styrofoam, Wisynco began decreasing the amount of polystyrene it used to make each styrofoam product. <br /> <br /> Also, the manufacturing and distributorship is a partner in Recycling Partners of Jamaica, and it launched Wisynco Eco, a group-wide committee that promotes sustainable practices such as recycling and tree planting.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;When we first started manufacturing plastic bottles, we started a recycling company &mdash; Recycle for Life &mdash; and then subsequently, when the Government introduced environment levies, we discontinued the recycling. Today, we have gone back into recycling with a joint venture with the Government and have also done a number of other things to not only minimise our environmental footprint, but our carbon footprint as well, through solar installations, a major wastewater treatment plant..., and more recently, about four years ago, we took a decision at the board level to implement an environmental commitee in the group to look at ways that we could be as environmentally friendly as we could be as a company,&rdquo; Mahfood said.<br /> <br /> That, according to the Wisynco CEO, led the company to reduce the volume of plastics it uses in its production. For one thing, it discontinued the manufacturing of plastic bags, and reduced the volume of plastic that goes into the Wata brand of beverage bottles. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;But we still had the styrofoam and these are not biodegradable either, so we had to look at alternative materials or find ways to minimise the damage to the environment,&rdquo; he told the Observer.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We identified plant-based materials which would allow us to produce a biodegradable and compostable type of plastic, but when we did the analysis, we realised that it was very expensive and was not something that would be readily accepted in the local market,&rdquo; he continued.<br /> <br /> Wisynco turned its sights instead to a chemical process that would give the required effect.<br /> <br /> Mahfood said production of its lunch boxes and disposable plates using the new technology has already begun, with 100 per cent conversion expected by March or April of this year.<br /> <br />   http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13340767/225605__w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, February 15, 2017 12:00 AM Montego Bay Marine Park, Sandals Foundation plant mangroves for World Wetlands Day http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Montego-Bay-Marine-Park--Sandals-Foundation-plant-mangroves-for-World-Wetlands-Day_88882 MONTEGO BAY, St James &mdash; In recognition of World Wetlands Day last Thursday, February 2, Sandals Foundatioon launched an awareness campaign across the Caribbean to educate students and community members on the importance of preserving wetlands. Sandals Foundation team members in the islands of Antigua, The Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, St Lucia, Jamaica, and the Turks & Caicos organised school field trips to give students a hands-on opportunity to observe the wetlands. They also hosted competitions and expositions within the schools to educate students on the multiple roles of wetlands in the Caribbean.<br /> <br /> Wetlands, often referred to as &lsquo;the cradle of life&rsquo;, are saturated areas that prevent flooding, the erosion of coastlines, and serve as a habitat and haven for fish and other marine life. The absence of wetlands usually equates to a significant reduction in fish stock, which is not only detrimental to marine species but to fishermen who rely on them as a source of income.<br /> <br /> On Saturday February 4, in the Montego Bay region, Sandals Foundation partnered with the Marine Park Trust to plant over 50 mangrove saplings. The initiative was an effort to bolster the ecosystem, which will in turn protect the marine life and the community of fishermen whose livelihood depend on it.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We (Sandals) have been working closely with the Whitehouse community over the years to protect estuary-coastal wetland systems and the income of the fishermen in general,&rdquo; said environmental health and safety manager at Sandals Montego Bay, Haniff Richards.<br /> <br /> Sandals Foundation is engaged in several projects and initiatives to ensure that fishing villages remain a viable resource for income generation for the fishermen, to include the management of two marine sanctuaries, coral planting and environmental education in schools. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13627560/257107_83793_repro_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, February 08, 2017 12:00 AM Forestry Department urges protection http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Forestry-Department-urges-protection_88857 The Forestry Department has given a frightening report on the state of the island&rsquo;s swamps &mdash; low-lying forested areas that are flooded either seasonally or permanently with freshwater &mdash; announcing last week that only 4.5 per cent of them remain in tact.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Data from the latest Land Use Assessment Survey, which was conducted by the agency, shows that over the last 15 years Jamaica has lost 2,124.1 hectares of swamp forest, leaving this forest type at only 122.9 hectares, which accounts for less than 0.1 per cent of the 40 per cent of the island&rsquo;s total forest cover,&rdquo; the department said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The decline is as a result of the construction of hotels and other infrastructure,&rdquo; the agency added, referencing the survey.<br /> <br /> The announcement was made in time for the observance of World Wetlands Day last Thursday, February 2, under the theme: &lsquo;Wetlands for disaster risk reduction&rsquo;.<br /> <br /> In light of the figures, CEO and Conservator of Forests Marilyn Headley has urged that balance be struck between development and the conservation of wetlands, and has called upon Jamaicans to learn more about wetlands &mdash; which includes lakes and rivers, underground aquifers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands, peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, mangroves and other coastal areas, coral reefs, and human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs and salt pans.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It is said that the environment and the economy are two sides of the same coin, and if we fail to sustain our environment, we will fail to sustain the economy. Development is necessary,&rdquo; she argued. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s one way we grow as a country and as a people, but when we do it at the expense of our natural environment, we are in big trouble,&rdquo; Headley warned.<br /> <br /> The conservator of forests argued that swamp forests are greatly undervalued and underappreciated when compared to mangrove forests, for example, which have seen an increase of 1.4 per cent over the last 15 years. She pointed out, however, that they both play a critical role in forest cover, water supply, and fish production.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Wetlands are important for maintaining freshwater supplies as they catch and store rain water, refill underground reserves, and protect them from salty water. Our wetlands also act as sponges that hold flood waters, preventing the likelihood of flooding,&rdquo; Headley said.<br /> <br /> Referencing a 2008 Planning Institute of Jamaica study, she revealed that, between 2002 and 2007, Jamaica experienced three major hurricanes and several flood events that caused over $73 billion in losses. The damage could have been contained, she argued, if there were more wetlands.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Jamaica is a hazard-prone country and one of the main purposes our wetlands serve is to lessen the impacts of storm events, thus reducing the amount of money to repair damage, so we have to play our part in reducing the threats to our country by protecting and conserving our wetland resources,&rdquo; she said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The issue of caring for and protecting our wetland forests is not Forestry Department business or government business. It is a Jamaica business and it will take each citizen, playing his or her part, to stop the destruction of this valuable resource,&rdquo; Headley stressed.<br /> <br /> The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, which coordinates the annual World Wetlands Day observance, has described wetlands as &ldquo;vital for human survival&rdquo; as &ldquo;the world&rsquo;s most productive environments&rdquo;, and as &ldquo;cradles of biological diversity that provide the water and productivity upon which countless species of plants and animals depend for survival&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> There are four wetlands of international importance, or Ramsar sites, in Jamaica. They are:<br /> <br /> &bull; Black River Lower Morass in St Elizabeth (5,700 hectares);<br /> <br /> &bull; Mason River Protected Area, Bird Sanctuary and Ramsar Site in Clarendon and St Ann (82 hectares);<br /> <br /> &bull; Palisadoes &mdash; Port Royal in Kingston (7,523 hectares); and<br /> <br /> &bull; Portland Bight Wetlands and Cays in St Catherine and Clarendon (24,542 hectares). http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13627394/257067_83731_repro_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, February 08, 2017 12:00 AM 4 irrefutable truths about climate change science http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/4-irrefutable-truths-about-climate-change-science_88211 During the recent confirmation hearings of President Trump&rsquo;s Cabinet nominees, a familiar pattern has emerged. Many of them have acknowledged that climate change is happening, but each has sowed doubt by either understating the connection between human activity and climate change or by suggesting that there&rsquo;s too much uncertainty to act. The overall effect of these statements is to confuse or stall progress.<br /> <br /> The reality is that we know plenty about the role of people as primary driverS of climate change, and government officials certainly know more than enough to act.<br /> <br /> Well-established science from leading national and international scientific institutions, including Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, National Climate Assessment, World Meteorological Organisation, National Academy of Sciences and UK Meteorology Office, shows the connection between increasing CO2 concentrations and a warming planet was established more than 150 years ago. <br /> <br /> Here&rsquo;s a brief reminder about some fundamental truths of climate science:<br /> <br /> 1Global temperatures are rising at unprecedented levels<br /> <br /> &bull; 2016 was the third consecutive year of record-warm global average temperatures.<br /> <br /> &bull; 16 of the 17 warmest years on record have occurred this century.<br /> <br /> &bull; Average global temperatures have been above the 20th-century average for the past 40 consecutive years.<br /> <br /> &bull; Since 1880, global temperatures have risen by more than 1°C (1.8°F), while levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have increased from 280 parts per million (ppm) to more than 400ppm.<br /> <br /> 2 Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and more severe<br /> <br /> As the atmosphere and ocean warm, they provide additional energy for extreme weather to tap into. For example, warmer temperatures allow the atmosphere to hold more moisture, which can drive heavier downpours. Melting land-based ice combined with warming oceans fuels global sea level rise, which amplifies storm surge and coastal flooding:<br /> <br /> &bull; Coastal flooding from high tides has increased by 364 per cent to 925 per cent in locations on all three US coasts over the last 50 years.<br /> <br /> &bull; Heavy precipitation events have increased in every region of the contiguous United States since the late 1950s.<br /> <br /> &bull; The record rainfall that devastated Louisiana last August was one of six 1-in-1,000 year rainfall events that occurred in the US last year. The deluge caused $10 billion in damages while inundating the state with more than seven trillion gallons of water (three times as much rain as the state received during Hurricane Katrina). Scientists found it to be 40 per cent more likely to occur today than in 1900 as a result of climate change.<br /> <br /> &bull; 15 extreme weather events each costing $1 billion or more occurred in the US in 2016, causing $46 billion in aggregate damages. Even when adjusting for inflation, four of the five years with the most billion-dollar extreme weather events in the US have occurred since 2010.<br /> <br /> 3Human activity is the main cause of climate change<br /> <br /> Scientists have determined that it is extremely likely that the increase in greenhouse gas emissions from human activity has caused more than half of the observed increase in temperature over the last 60 years, making it the largest driver of climate change.<br /> <br /> When models only include natural drivers of climate change, such as natural variability and volcanic eruptions, they cannot reproduce the recent increase in temperature. Only when models include the increase in greenhouse gas emissions due to human activities can they replicate the observed changes.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, observations over the last 40 years indicate with high confidence that increased heat in the oceans, as well as glacier loss in areas such as Greenland, account for the overwhelming majority of sea level rise. Indeed, the impact of human-driven warming is widespread &mdash; in the ocean, in changes to the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in sea level rise and in many extreme weather events.<br /> <br /> 4 Without action, things are poised to worsen<br /> <br /> What we have witnessed to date is only a small taste of what is in store if emissions continue unabated. Scientists have found:<br /> <br /> &bull; It is virtually certain there will be more frequent hot and fewer cold extremes in temperature over the majority of land areas.<br /> <br /> &bull; Heat waves will very likely occur with higher frequency and last longer.<br /> <br /> &bull; The western United States, and especially the Southwest, is expected to become drier.<br /> <br /> &bull; The ocean is becoming so acidic so quickly, it is unclear whether and how ocean life can adapt. <br /> <br /> &bull; Livestock and fish production are expected to decline, as are many crop yields as a result of altered rainfall, extreme weather and increased pests.<br /> <br /> &mdash; World Resources Institute http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13609878/trump-4_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, February 01, 2017 12:00 AM EFJ awards $85 million for climate change projects http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/EFJ-awards--85-million-for-climate-change-projects_88205 Eighteen civil society organisations on Monday received a combined total of $85 million to implement climate change adaptation and resilience-building projects in communities across the island.<br /> <br /> The grant funds were provided under the Special Climate Change Adaptation Fund (SCCAF), which is supported by the Adaptation Programme and Financing Mechanisms project of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience. They are administered by the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ).<br /> <br /> The beneficiary groups &mdash; the first under the SCCAF grant facility &mdash; each received up to $5 million and will undertake projects focusing on soil conservation, climate smart agriculture and tourism, water management, disaster preparedness and climate smart construction.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The first call for project proposals took place between October 3 and November 11, 2016,&rdquo; the EFJ said. &ldquo;A total of 83 proposals were received, and from this number 46 were shortlisted. All the shortlisted proposals were then reviewed and 18 were recommended for approval. Another 12 proposals have been provided with the opportunity for further development and the resubmitted documents are being reviewed.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> The decision on the 12 is expected this month. Also expected this month is a second call for proposals.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The EFJ will again be providing guidance in proposal writing through a series of workshops and all documents related to the call will be posted on the organisation&rsquo;s website. NGOs non-governmental organisations), CBOs (community-based organisations), other civil society groups and government agencies working with these groups are all eligible to submit proposals,&rdquo; the EFJ said.<br /> <br /> The SCCAF is a financing mechanism to build climate resilience and support livelihoods and income generation. The project is being implemented by the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation and is financed by the Inter-American Development Bank through the PPCR. Local Environment Wednesday, February 01, 2017 12:00 AM 165 people trained as environmental wardens http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/165-people-trained-as-environmental-wardens_87687 SOME 165 people from 30 underserved communities across the island have been trained as environmental wardens under the solid waste management initiative being implemented by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF).<br /> <br /> The environmental wardens have been gazetted under the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) Act and are responsible for enforcing environmental laws across the country, but particularly in their communities.<br /> <br /> Speaking with<br /> <br /> JIS News, systems operation and environment manager at JSIF, Dr Milton Clarke, explained that the wardens will be primarily responsible for enforcing the NSWMA Act and regulations; educating the residents of their respective communities about sustainable waste management practices and solid waste laws; and coordinating and monitoring the daily cleaning-up of their surroundings.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The training was a multi-agency approach involving JSIF, NSWMA, Ministry of Health, Jamaica Fire Brigade, National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), and Dispute Resolution Foundation. It covered several areas and gave participants the opportunity to go out and practise what they have learnt; observe persons on the streets who may be littering and consider the best way to approach them,&rdquo; Dr Clarke outlined.<br /> <br /> For her part, general manager for Technical Services at JSIF, Loy Malcolm, said the training initiative will last for three years and affords community members the opportunity to be employed and learn various skills and techniques.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;These wardens are trained, engaged and employed on one-year contracts which are renewable based on performance. We set them on a development path by investing in them as wardens, or anything else that they wish to be,&rdquo; Miss Malcolm told<br /> <br /> JIS News.<br /> <br /> She added that these persons are also exposed to other training and development programmes offered by the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning and other entities.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;An important part of the process for these wardens is not only the signing of a contract for employment, but also the opening of a bank account to facilitate and allow them to interact with the financial institutions, which may present other possibilities,&rdquo; the general manager pointed out.<br /> <br /> The wardens will be required to take a leading role in the implementation of other JSIF solid waste management interventions, such as community recycling, composting, and school environmental programmes. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13600322/254651_w300.jpg Local News Friday, January 27, 2017 3:00 AM NEPA satisfied with Black River oil spill clean-up http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/NEPA-satisfied-with-Black-River-oil-spill-clean-up_87602 The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) says it is satisfied with the clean-up and remediation efforts undertaken by J Wray and Nephew following this week&rsquo;s oil spill into the Black River in St Elizabeth.<br /> <br /> On Monday, J Wray and Nephew notified NEPA that a defective oil cooler had leaked approximately 30 gallons of oil into the Black River. <br /> <br /> NEPA said in a news release yesterday that officers from its Pollution Monitoring and Assessment Branch as well as its Enforcement Branch visited the site where they observed an oil sheen in a section of the river. J Wray and Nephew was served with a warning notice for the unlawful release of oil into a body of water containing fish, contrary to Section 11 of the Wildlife Protection Act, and warned for prosecution. <br /> <br /> NEPA said the notice instructed J Wray and Nephew to remove the oil from the river with absorbent material and conduct remediation. <br /> <br /> The agency said it revisited the location yesterday to assess the results of the clean-up and is satisfied with the action taken. The agency also reported that the negative impact of the spill has been mitigated.<br /> <br /> NEPA said it will continue to monitor the situation. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10782364/nepa-logo_w300.jpg Local News Thursday, January 26, 2017 12:00 AM Energy efficiency training workshop for hospitality sector http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Energy-efficiency-training-workshop-for-hospitality-sector_87521 The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Caribbean Clean Energy Program (CARCEP) will deliver its first energy efficiency training workshop in Montego Bay, tomorrow and Friday.<br /> <br /> The two-day event, set for Half Moon Resort, is specially designed for the hospitality sector and is aimed at educating a cross section of hotel personnel from across the island &mdash; including hotel, environment and maintenance managers and chief financial officers &mdash; about the value of energy conservation. The exercise will also assist them in implementing Energy Efficiency (EE) & Renewable Energy (EE) measures on their hotel properties.<br /> <br /> Among the topics to be explored are &lsquo;The Value of Energy Efficient (EE) Investments in the Hotel Sector&rsquo;; &lsquo;Best-practices in EE-Technical Solutions meets Financial Benefits&rsquo;; &lsquo;Renewable Energy (RE) and the Bottom line &ndash; Exploring Challenges & Budget Decision-making&rsquo; and &lsquo;Renewable Energy Solutions for the Hotel Sector &ndash; First Steps in the Process&rsquo;.<br /> <br /> A practical demonstration scheduled for the first day should expose participants to USAID CARCEP&rsquo;s energy efficiency benchmarking tool which can indicate abnormal energy and water demands and unearth opportunities for savings and investments.<br /> <br /> The Web-based tool teaches how to track electricity, fossil fuel and water usage; gives insight into how consumption data compares with similar hotels in the area; identifies no-cost, low-cost and equipment upgrades that can save energy, water, fuel and money; and identifies and quantifies the value of the energy efficiency investments.<br /> <br /> Potential funding options for implementing renewable technologies, as well as the USAID CARCEP funding proposal for Energy Savings Company, and a grant programme will also be presented.<br /> <br /> CARCEP is a five-year development activity funded by USAID. It assists beneficiary countries &mdash; Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines &mdash; to establish effective policy, legislative and regulatory environments, as well as incentives for energy efficiency and low-emission growth in the energy sector.<br /> <br /> The Jamaica event is the first in a series of eight training workshop scheduled across the region. The next is scheduled to take place in St Lucia. <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13595732/filename_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, January 25, 2017 12:00 AM Climate Change Division trains focal point personnel http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Climate-Change-Division-trains-focal-point-personnel_87522 The Climate Change Division of the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation has begun a five-day training of its point people across all government ministries, agencies and departments, with a view to mainstreaming climate change considerations in development planning.<br /> <br /> The training started on Monday and is being implemented in collaboration with the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation. <br /> <br /> Daryl Vaz, minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, where the economic growth ministry is housed, declared the workshop open.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Jamaica&rsquo;s climate change agenda and climate change initiatives must be placed front and centre in all our development planning,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We must invest in gathering the kind of baseline data that will improve our planning process for mitigation and adaptation actions,&rdquo; Vaz added.<br /> <br /> The workshop is addressing areas such as the essentials of adaptation to climate change, assessing climate risk and vulnerability, identifying adaptation options, and selecting adaptation measures.<br /> <br /> Trainers include Alfred Eberhard from Germany, Leon Charles from Grenada and Martin Bursik from the Czech Republic.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13595736/Vaz_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, January 25, 2017 12:00 AM Trump blocks Environment Protection Agency communication http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Trump-blocks-Environment-Protection-Agency-communication-_87524 Global research outfit The World Resources Institute (WRI) has spoken out against several actions the Trump administration has taken since being inaugurated last Friday. Among the actions are the removal from the White House website of references to climate change, and a gag placed on staff of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday.<br /> <br /> The Trump team circulated a memo to the EPA requiring scientists and other staff to immediately stop communicating with the public through any means, including press releases, social media, blog posts or new website content, the WRI explained.<br /> <br /> Other agencies, including the US Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services received similar orders, but it&rsquo;s the one to the EPA which Sam Adams, US director at WRI, finds especially troubling.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Curtailing communications from these agencies will hinder their ability to provide clean air and water and protect people&rsquo;s health across the country. The administration should lift these bans as soon as possible and ensure that the role of science is respected within our government agencies,&rdquo; he said in a statement on the institute&rsquo;s website.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;These actions will stem the free flow of information and have a chilling effect on staff in these agencies. This flies in the face of effective policymaking which requires an open exchange of ideas, supported by the best science and evidence available,&rdquo; Adams said.<br /> <br /> On the matter of scrubbing the website of nearly all references to climate change, Adams said: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s truly disturbing that one of the first actions by the Trump administration is to remove nearly all references to climate change from the White House website. This puts the new administration at odds with the vast majority of America&rsquo;s scientists, military community and business leaders on this issue.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The website&rsquo;s lone climate reference is to eliminate the Climate Action Plan, which is a wholesale attack that flies in the face of common sense and would do harm to all Americans.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Smart climate action, including support for the renewable energy industry, will create good jobs and new opportunities for people across the country. By expanding the renewable energy sector, the administration can help replace the shuttered factories that President Trump referred to in his inaugural speech.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> &ldquo;If President Trump wants to make America safer and stronger, he would do well to look into the science, data and other evidence that clearly shows that human-caused climate change is happening and poses a significant threat to American families, businesses and the economy.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Trump previously described climate change as a hoax made up by the Chinese. Members of his team have also previously denied the phenomenon but they appeared to have been softening their approach during the confirmation hearings.<br /> <br /> Former Exxon boss Rex Tillerson, for example, who was confirmed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the post of US Secretary of State, failed to make it clear that he would continue US leadership on climate. He however, repeatedly called for the US to keep a &lsquo;seat at the table&rsquo; on the subject.<br /> <br /> But WRI&rsquo;s Paula Caballero, Global Director, Climate Program, said that&rsquo;s not good enough.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;As the nation&rsquo;s top diplomat, Tillerson has a responsibility to do what is best for the American people. While he repeatedly called for the US to keep a &lsquo;seat at the table&rsquo; on climate change, this response is insufficient&hellip; He drastically understated the certainty scientists have about the severity of climate change and the urgency to address it. You don&rsquo;t wait for a house fire to buy insurance &mdash; and in this case the house is already smoking.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;As Secretary of State, Tillerson will be confronted by overwhelming support from America&rsquo;s most steadfast allies behind the historic Paris Agreement. Whether at the G7 or G20, Arctic Council or United Nations, climate change has become a core issue for international relations. The United States must do more than keep a &lsquo;seat at the table&rsquo;, it must continue to be a constructive player. This is a key opportunity for the Trump administration to build trust and demonstrate global leadership.<br /> <br /> Also, Caballero said: &ldquo;Continued action on climate will create jobs and drive growth at home, and it will reduce both the flow of refugees and greater instability around the world.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Tillerson then, she added, now has a choice: &ldquo;He can push forward guided by common sense and clear science, or he can turn his back on one of the defining issues of our time &mdash; in which case the United States and entire world loses.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The Centres for Disease Control, meanwhile, cancelled a climate change conference it had scheduled for February. <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13595532/254292_81098_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13581537/253142_79940_repro_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, January 25, 2017 12:00 AM What a waste! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/What-a-waste-_86195 If you have been using East Avenue, Maxfield Avenue, and Waltham Park Road over the last two months or so, you would have noticed sets of green, blue and lavender bins at different points along the road. <br /> <br /> They are intended for the separation of garbage &mdash; green for plastic bottles, lavender for organic material, and blue for everything else &mdash; but if you look closely, you&rsquo;ll realise that they are not being used as directed. Those residents who do use them consider them as general garbage receptacles and pay no attention to the categories of waste they put in. <br /> <br /> There are others, too, who continue to either dump on empty lots or in gullies, or burn their rubbish in their yard. We saw evidence first-hand while conducting interviews in the Gem Road area when a woman threw a large black garbage bag into the gully. We also visited dump sites in close proximity to the coloured bins. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;In the garrison yuh nah go find dem a separate. Ghetto people n&rsquo;have nuh time fi dat,&rdquo; a young man on Maxfield Avenue told us.<br /> <br /> Across the street we watched as a woman threw a diaper soiled with faeces into one of the bins.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Nobody nuh tell us what is to go where,&rdquo; she said when we asked her which colour bin she used. &ldquo;People been following the rules [putting garbage in bins instead of littering], but they don&rsquo;t separate.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> As Alicia Dicks from Fitzgerald Avenue explained garbage collection trucks don&rsquo;t routinely go onto the avenues that lead off the aforementioned thoroughfares, so as far as she is concerned, the bins provide a central collection point.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s good &rsquo;cause usually people throw the rubbish on the ground and it look bad,&rdquo; she told the Jamaica Observer.<br /> <br /> An elderly woman, Lurline Galloway, was also pleased with the installation of the new bins, but she too was unaware of the meaning of the colour coding.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Mi neva look pon dem. A wha day somebody tell me say fi look pon it and read it, but mi just put mi rubbish in deh,&rdquo; she said.<br /> <br /> The bins are among 2,281 distributed across 30 communities in Kingston, St Andrew, St Catherine, Clarendon, St Ann, St James, and Westmoreland. They were procured under the World Bank-funded Integrated Community Development Project (ICDP) at a cost of $13 million, and are a means of &ldquo;improv(ing) solid waste management in these select underserved communities by providing communities with the necessary equipment to enable waste separation and further conversion of waste into income generation&rdquo;, according to project implementers, Jamaica Social Investment Fund.<br /> <br /> The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) and Recycling Partners of Jamaica are partner implementers with JSIF. But it seems their goals of enabling waste separation is some way off, as a trio of young men on Crescent Road told us. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;A nuh everybody can read fi know wha fi go inna what. Di greatest ting is dat dem still deh yah and nobody nuh tief dem out. Dem a use dem fi keep di place clean, &ldquo; said Marlon Simmonds.<br /> <br /> His brother, Richard, who runs a cook shop in the area, reported that he was associated with the Rose Town Foundation, which charged him with installing nine bins in his area.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It good for the community because they normally litter the open land, but nuh care how mi tell dem [about the different bins], dem nah hear. Dem just throw anything in any one,&rdquo; he reported.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We use dem, but wi nuh really watch di colour,&rdquo; said Phillip Wright, whom we met at a shop in Greenwich Farm.<br /> <br /> The shopkeeper said she doesn&rsquo;t use the JSIF bins because they are too small for the quantities of garbage her establishment produces. And she wasn&rsquo;t the only one.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Dem nuh ready!&rdquo; McMillan Stewartson exclaimed. &ldquo;Look how dem likkle. How dat fi serve fi everybody rubbish? A burn mi burn mine or wait pon di truck. Nuff people haffi still have dem drum inna dem yaad &rsquo;cause dem three likkle bin yah nuh good enough.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> On the matter of separating the rubbish, Stewartson said he was never informed about that objective and said signs to that end should be displayed on the bins. When we told him there were signs, he said: &ldquo;Listen, if yuh waan hide tings from people or yuh waan trick people, write it dung. Ninety-nine per cent a wi illiterate. Somebody shoulda come talk to wi &rsquo;bout it so wi know wha gwaan.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> For Trevor Murphy, the waste separation project is useful in theory, but is being mishandled. He called it &ldquo;a typical example of Government at work&rdquo; and maintained that his community was not consulted nor informed about the project or its objectives.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Is afta dem put in dem plan dem tell yuh &rsquo;bout it. But I&rsquo;m wondering how dem reach people gate? Nobody was consulted.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The separation is not being practised. People are just putting things wherever they feel. Mark you, they have useful value, but you have to educate the people first; you can&rsquo;t start from the back and work your way to the front. I&rsquo;m not complaining about the collection. We have a pretty good system where that&rsquo;s concerned. But this particular venture was not well planned,&rdquo; Murphy said.<br /> <br /> In response to the criticisms, environmental specialist at JSIF, Dr Milton Clarke, said he was not surprised that separation was not taking place at the level required, and conceded that &ldquo;it will take a very long time for residents to buy into an initiative of this nature [because] people are accustomed to managing their waste in a certain way from birth, which becomes engrained, and therefore it will take significant effort and time, perhaps years, to effect the desirable change in knowledge, attitude, perception and behaviour with respect to solid waste management and environmental sustainability in general&rdquo;. <br /> <br /> He maintained, however, that JSIF and the NSWMA did engage community groups prior to installing the bins, through meetings &mdash; which he said only a few residents attended &mdash; the distribution of flyers, and the training of 165 environmental wardens. Dr Clarke noted that the team is in the process of developing a social marketing programme based on strategic recommendations from a recently conducted social marketing consultancy in several of the project communities.<br /> <br /> With respect to the placement of the bins, the environmental specialist explained that effectiveness in at-source waste separation schemes depend heavily on close proximity to the source of waste generation, as well as a reliable waste collection system.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The bins were not arbitrarily placed by JSIF or the NSWMA. A walk-through was conducted in each community with the CBOs (community-based organisations) and the sites selected. Bins were not placed in areas where persons objected. I am aware that some individuals would prefer not to have the bins close to their homes because of the fear that persons might place dead animals in the receptacles, as well as because of concerns with infrequent collection by the NSWMA,&rdquo; he told the Observer via email yesterday.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;At this point, the NSWMA is having some challenges, which provide added motivation for residents to dispose of the waste in the bins with available space, even though they may be aware of the waste separation initiative,&rdquo; Dr Clarke said. <br /> <br /> Criticisms aside, Dr Clarke reported that the agency has had mostly positive feedback regarding the installation of the bins.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Importantly, there are reports of improvements in the cleanliness of the communities because of the increased storage capacity provided by the bins. Waste which would have been otherwise disposed of inappropriately, for example, in the drains, along the streets and in gullies are now being placed in a suitable receptacle for collection by the NSWMA,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> The project is said to be first of its kind in Jamaica in terms of structure and magnitude. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13562450/251947_78590_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13562444/251941_78587_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13562449/251942_78588_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13562443/251953_78593_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13562446/251944_78589_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13562447/251951_78592_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13562448/251948_78591_repro_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, January 11, 2017 12:00 AM Study: Climate change will lead to annual coral bleaching in the Caribbean http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Study--Climate-change-will-lead-to-annual-coral-bleaching-in-the-Caribbean_85841 UNITED NATIONS (CMC) &mdash; A new study has predicted that if current trends continue and the world fails to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, nearly all of the world&rsquo;s coral reefs, including many in the Caribbean, will suffer severe bleaching &mdash; the gravest threat to one of the Earth&rsquo;s most important ecosystems &mdash; on annual basis.<br /> <br /> The finding is part of a study funded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners, which reviewed new climate change projections to predict which corals will be affected first and at what rate.<br /> <br /> The report is published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. Researchers found that the reefs in Taiwan and the Turks and Caicos archipelago will be among the first to experience annual bleaching, followed by reefs off the coast of Bahrain, in Chile and in French Polynesia.<br /> <br /> Calling the predictions &ldquo;a treasure trove&rdquo; for environmentalists, the head of the UN agency, Erik Solheim, said the projects allow conservationists and governments to prioritise reef protection.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The projections show us where we still have time to act before it&rsquo;s too late,&rdquo; Solheim said.<br /> <br /> On average, the reefs started undergoing annual bleaching from 2014, according to the study.<br /> <br /> Without the required minimum of five years to regenerate, the annual occurrences will have a deadly effect on the corals and disrupt the ecosystems which they support, UNEP said.<br /> <br /> However, it said that if governments act on emission reduction pledges made in the Paris Agreement, which calls on countries to combat climate change and limit global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius, the corals would have another 11 years to adapt to the warming seas.<br /> <br /> Between 2014 and 2016, UNEP said the world witnessed the longest global bleaching event recorded.<br /> <br /> Among the casualties, it said, was the Great Barrier Reef, with 90 per cent of it bleached and 20 per cent of the reef&rsquo;s coral killed. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13553563/251294__w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13553561/251295__w300.jpg Local News Saturday, January 07, 2017 12:00 AM Regional group welcomes conclusion of regulatory project for CARIFORUM countries http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Regional-group-welcomes-conclusion-of-regulatory-project-for-CARIFORUM-countries_85836 BELMOPAN, Belize (CMC) &mdash;The Belize-based Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) says it has successfully completed a project aimed at helping Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) countries to improve the safety of fish and fishery products for consumers in national and export markets, and several activities.<br /> <br /> The CRFM said the &ldquo;capacity building of regulatory and industry stakeholders in aquaculture and fisheries health and food safety to meet the requirements of international trade&rdquo; project was undertaken in collaboration with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture.<br /> <br /> The project, which started in September 2016, was funded under the EU&rsquo;s 10th European Development Fund Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Project.<br /> <br /> CRFM said that the project prepared six new manuals to help fish inspectors apply the best international practices to the inspection of fishing vessels, processing establishments, and aquaculture facilities.<br /> <br /> In addition, the project has prepared two manuals for laboratories &mdash; testing of fishery products to make sure they are safe, and ensuring that laboratory test results are accurate. The manuals will be distributed by the CRFM and will soon be available in the Spanish, French and Dutch languages and online in English.<br /> <br /> CRFM&rsquo;s project coordinator, Dr Susan Singh-Renton, deputy executive director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism Secretariat, welcomed the successful completion of the project, saying that &ldquo;capacity to achieve international standards in safety of fishery products has been a major area of weakness impacting the full realisation of economic benefits for fishing industries in CARIFORUM States, particularly the earnings from exports.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;In this regard, the project&rsquo;s contribution has been a crucial one, through development of two training courses and eight operational manuals suitable for use by food safety laboratory experts and fish product inspectors within the CARIFORUM region.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Though the project has ended, the manuals, course video, and impact assessment tools will continue to be useful reference products for all industry stakeholders striving for the same goals in fisheries food safety,&rdquo; she added. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13552918/190590_78018_repro_w300.jpg Local News Saturday, January 07, 2017 12:00 AM Huge Antarctic ice block set to break off &mdash; scientists http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Huge-Antarctic-ice-block-set-to-break-off---scientists_85860 PARIS, France (AFP) &mdash; A massive ice block nearly 100 times the area of Manhattan is poised to break off Antarctica&rsquo;s Larsen C ice shelf, scientists reported yesterday.<br /> <br /> A slow-progressing rift suddenly grew by 18 kilometres (11 miles) at the end of December, leaving the finger-shaped chunk &mdash; 350 metres thick &mdash; connected along only a small fraction of its length.<br /> <br /> The rift has also widened, from less than 50 metres (160 feet) in 2011 to nearly 500 metres today.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;If it doesn&rsquo;t go in the next few months, I&rsquo;ll be amazed,&rdquo; said Adrian Luckman, a professor at Swansea University in Wales, and leader of Britain&rsquo;s Project Midas, which tracks changes in West Antarctic ice formations. <br /> <br /> By itself, the soon-to-be iceberg will not add to sea levels, the likely consequence of ice sheet disintegration that most worries scientists.<br /> <br /> The real danger is from inland glaciers, held in place by the floating, cliff-like ice shelves that straddle land and sea.<br /> <br /> The fragile West Antarctic ice sheet &mdash; where Larsen C is located &mdash; holds enough frozen water to raise global oceans by at least four metres (13 feet). <br /> <br /> Recent studies have suggested that climate change may already have condemned large chunks of it to disintegration, though whether on a time scale of centuries or millennia is not known.<br /> <br /> The breaking off, or calving, of ice shelves is a natural process, but global warming is thought to have accelerated the process.<br /> <br /> Warming ocean water erodes their underbelly, while rising air temperatures weaken them from above.<br /> <br /> The nearby Larsen A ice shelf collapsed in 1995, and Larsen B dramatically broke up seven years later.<br /> <br /> The ice block currently separating from Larsen C contains about 10 per cent of its mass, and would be among the 10 largest break-offs ever recorded, Luckman said. <br /> <br /> If all the ice held back by Larsen C entered the sea, it would lift global oceans by about 10 centimetres (four inches). <br /> <br /> &ldquo;We are convinced &mdash; although others are not &mdash; that the remaining ice shelf will be less stable than the present one,&rdquo; Luckman said in a statement.<br /> <br /> Oceans in recent decades have absorbed much of the excess heat generated by climate change, which has lifted average global air temperatures by one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit).<br /> <br /> The world&rsquo;s nations have undertaken in the Paris Agreement, inked in the French capital in December 2015, to cap global warming at &ldquo;well under&rdquo; two degrees Celsius (3.5 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial era levels. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13553615/251329_w300.jpg Local News Saturday, January 07, 2017 12:00 AM 17 ways to be good to Mother Earth (and yourself) in 2017 http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/17-ways-to-be-good-to-Mother-Earth--and-yourself--in-2017_85505 What better commitment to make at the start of the year than taking better care of the planet we call home, and in turn taking care of ourselves?<br /> <br /> The best and most fundamental way to do that is to stick to all things natural or stay as close to it as possible. Otherwise, reducing how much we consume, reusing everything that lends itself to that, and recycling such things as plastics, aluminium and paper products, has to be the order of the day.<br /> <br /> Here are 17 things you can do this year to be good to Mother Earth:<br /> <br /> 1)<br /> <br /> Grow insect-repelling herbs in your garden<br /> <br /> Rather than light fires or coils to ward off mosquitoes and other insects, grow plants with natural insect-repelling abilities like lemon grass, marigold, rosemary, basil, lemon thyme, and horsemint.<br /> <br /> 2)<br /> <br /> Redeem glass bottles for cash<br /> <br /> Ever noticed that when you buy certain (especially alcohol) brands of glass bottle beverages you pay a bottle deposit? That&rsquo;s because the beverage company remits the amount to you once you turn in the empty bottle, which they then recycle and/or reuse. Each bottle has a value of about $10 or $15, but it adds up, especially if you entertain a lot. <br /> <br /> 3) Don&rsquo;t release balloons into the air<br /> <br /> It might seem a cool way to celebrate an event, but when balloons pop and the pieces fall, it adds to litter. When it pops over the sea, it often ends up in the stomachs of marine animals such as sea turtles, fish, and some birds which mistake it for food and pay a fatal price. <br /> <br /> 4)<br /> <br /> Don&rsquo;t buy exotic and/or endangered animals<br /> <br /> This includes things like Hawksbill, Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles, spider monkeys, tigers, iguanas, scissor-tailed hummingbird, cockatoos, parakeets and parrots. They are intended to be in the wild, not pets or additions to your home d&Atilde;&copy;cor. <br /> <br /> 5) Dispose of garbage properly<br /> <br /> Tie your household garbage in a bag and put it in a bin. The garbage truck will collect it and take it to the landfill. Also, try to separate your garbage as best as possible. National Solid Waste Management Authority and Jamaica Social Investment Fund are currently testing waste separation pilots in a few communities in Kingston & St Andrew and St Catherine. With any luck, they should soon spread across the country.<br /> <br /> 6) Plant more trees<br /> <br /> Trees, as you know, purify the air, help produce rain, and trap heating gases like carbon and methane, thus keeping us cool. <br /> <br /> 7)<br /> <br /> Switch to green power<br /> <br /> Installing solar panels, wind turbines or a tankless hot water heater might sound daunting to the construction-impaired. But it might be easier than you think since suppliers of alternative energy equipment do installations. On the issue of cost, the purchasing sums are relatively high, but energy experts say costs are expected to keep trending down, and since both solar and wind are cheaper than petroleum-generated electricity, the systems will pay for themselves in about three to five years.<br /> <br /> 8) Conserve electrical energy <br /> <br /> Nobody should still be using the orange-hued incandescent bulbs. But even with fluorescent, the energy requirement is significant. Swap them out for LEDs. They do cost more than the prior technologies, but they use much less energy and still give a bright, sharp, clean glow.<br /> <br /> 9) Conserve water<br /> <br /> Repair leaking pipes immediately or suffer increased bills. You can also install a rain barrel which you can use to water your garden and do sundry projects around the house, thereby saving water from the main.<br /> <br /> 10) Use organic fertilisers/compost<br /> <br /> Chemical fertilisers have shown to produce greater crop yields, but they have been proven to contaminate water sources and are potentially harmful to humans. Using organic waste from your kitchen and your garden to create compost, which gardeners call black gold, is a much healthier option.<br /> <br /> 11) Use products made from recycled material<br /> <br /> Last year the Jamaica Observer featured the work of eco-conscious visual artist Scheed Cole who uses plastic beverage bottles, styrofoam, cardboard and other waste products to create sculptures, playground equipment, flower pots, table and bench sets, even a building. <br /> <br /> We&rsquo;ve also featured writing pens made by Pilot from 80 per cent recycled plastic bottles. There are also recycled notebooks and other paper products on the market.<br /> <br /> 12) Use reusable shopping bag<br /> <br /> A strong, natural-fibre bag that you can use multiple times, and looks trendy on top of it, is sure to give you way more mileage than single-use bags which are choking the landfills or worse, being thrown into drains and gullies and ultimately washing into the sea.<br /> <br /> 13) Stop chewing gum<br /> <br /> Gum was originally made from tree sap called chicle, a natural rubber, that freezes and thaws within a short range. When scientists created synthetic rubber, they replaced chicle with polyethylene and polyvinyl acetate, aka plastic. What&rsquo;s worse, the chemical which makes polyvinyl acetate &mdash; vinyl acetate &mdash; has been shown to cause tumours in lab rats.<br /> <br /> 14) Don&rsquo;t buy single-use water bottles, refill a reusable bottle<br /> <br /> Bottled water produces 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year in the US, and these bottles require 47 million gallons of oil to produce, according to Food & Water Watch. By simply refilling a reusable bottle, you&rsquo;ll prevent some of these bottles from ending up in landfills and oceans. So, bring a reusable cup to coffee shops and ask the barista to fill it up, and keep a mug at your desk instead of using plastic, paper or Styrofoam cups. <br /> <br /> 15) Clean green<br /> <br /> There&rsquo;s no need for multiple plastic bottles of tile cleaner, toilet cleaner and window cleaner if you have a few basics on hand like baking soda and vinegar. So free up some space, save some cash, and avoid those toxic chemicals by making your own cleaning products. <br /> <br /> 16) Say no to straws<br /> <br /> One of the easiest ways to keep plastic out of the landfill is to refuse plastic straws, but if you can&rsquo;t fathom giving up the convenience, purchase a reusable stainless steel or glass one and take it with you even when eating out.<br /> <br /> 17)<br /> <br /> Go an entire day without driving your car <br /> <br /> Vehicles are among the major contributors of air pollution. To help reduce the level, try car pooling, riding your bicycle, taking public transportation, or walking wherever you can.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13545613/250732_77436_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13545620/250746_77439_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13545615/250731_77435_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13545612/250733_77437_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13545619/250734_77438_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13545618/250758_77441_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13545616/250753_77440_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13545610/250759_77442_repro_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, January 04, 2017 12:00 AM &lsquo;Wattway&rsquo; opens http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/-Wattway--opens-_84596 France on Thursday inaugurated the world&rsquo;s first &ldquo;solar highway&rdquo; in the small Normandy town of Tourouvre.<br /> <br /> The one-kilometre (half-mile) &ldquo;Wattway&rdquo; covered with 2,800 square metres (30,000 square feet) of resin-coated solar panels cost &euro;5 million (&Acirc;&pound;4.2m) to construct and will be used by about 2,000 motorists a day during a two-year test period to see if it can generate enough energy to power street lighting in the village of 3,400 residents.<br /> <br /> It was hooked up to the local power grid as sustainable development minister S&Atilde;&copy;gol&Atilde;&uml;ne Royal looked on.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;This new use of solar energy takes advantage of large swathes of road infrastructure already in use... to produce electricity without taking up new real estate,&rdquo; Royal said in a statement.<br /> <br /> The minister announced a four-year &ldquo;plan for the national deployment of solar highways&rdquo; with initial projects in western Brittany and southern Marseille.<br /> <br /> An average of 2,000 cars use the road in Tourouvre each day, testing the resistance of the panels for the project carried out by French civil engineering firm Colas, a subsidiary of construction giant Bouygues.<br /> <br /> The idea, which is also under exploration in Germany, the Netherlands and the United States, is that roadways are occupied by cars only around 20 per cent of the time, providing vast expanses of surface to soak up the sun&rsquo;s rays.<br /> <br /> Colas says that in theory France could become energy independent by paving only a quarter of its million kilometres of roads with solar panels.<br /> <br /> Sceptics are waiting to see whether the panels can withstand the ravages of time and weather, as well as the beating they will take from big trucks.<br /> <br /> Solar panels installed on a 70-metre stretch of a cycling lane north of Amsterdam experienced some damage last winter but the problem has been resolved, the project&rsquo;s company TNO said.<br /> <br /> The Wattway project began with four pilot sites around France, in parking lots or in front of public buildings, on much smaller surfaces of between 50 and 100 square metres each. <br /> <br /> One drawback of the system is that solar panels are more effective when angled towards the sun, typically on slanted rooftops, than when they are laid flat. And the cost question is far from being resolved. Each kilowatt-peak &mdash; the unit of measure for solar energy &mdash; generated by Wattway currently costs &euro;17, compared with &euro;1.30 for a major rooftop installation.<br /> <br /> But Colas hopes to make the cost competitive by 2020, noting that the cost of producing solar energy decreased by 60 per cent between 2009 and 2015, according to French renewable energy association Syndicat des Energies Renouvelables.<br /> <br /> Another issue is that Normandy is not known for being particularly sunny; the region&rsquo;s political capital Caen has just 44 days of strong sunshine a year.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13530741/249677_76272_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13530742/249678_76271_repro_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, December 28, 2016 12:00 AM 66-lb turtle returned to ocean after rehab in Florida http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/66-lb-turtle-returned-to-ocean-after-rehab-in-Florida_84882 JUNO BEACH, Florida (AP) &mdash; Dozens of animal lovers gathered on Juno Beach yesterday morning to watch Nicklen, a 66-pound loggerhead sea turtle, being released into the Atlantic Ocean<br /> <br /> .<br /> <br /> Nicklen was found in the Jupiter Inlet just outside Dubois Park in October. It had barnacles &mdash; sticky crustaceans related to crabs, lobsters, and shrimps&mdash; covering its shell and flippers and suffered from an intestinal infection that made it difficult to float. Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach treated it with antibiotics.<br /> <br /> It was named in honour of a globally acclaimed photographer, marine biologist and conservationist, Paul Nicklen.<br /> <br /> Beachgoers snapped photos of Nicklen with their smartphones as the reptile was hauled out in a stretcher and through the sand.<br /> <br /> The Loggerhead Marinelife Center treats about 100 turtles at its hospital each year and released 49 in 2015.<br /> <br /> Juno Beach is north of West Palm Beach. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13530760/249649_76232_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13530763/249650_76231_repro_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, December 28, 2016 12:00 AM Energy companies plan to boost wind generation in New Mexico http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Energy-companies-plan-to-boost-wind-generation-in-New-Mexico_84883 ALBUQUERQUE, NM (AP) &mdash; Energy companies are expected to double the generating capacity of wind farms in eastern New Mexico over the next few years, thanks in part to federal subsidies and improvements in technology.<br /> <br /> More than a gigawatt of wind capacity is now under construction or planned in New Mexico, said Jeremy Lewis, head of the energy, conservation and management division at the State Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department.<br /> <br /> If all of that comes on line, that would be enough to potentially supply nearly 700,000 homes every year.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The costs for wind and solar have dropped precipitously, allowing a lot more renewable energy to move onto the grid,&rdquo; Lewis told The Albuquerque Journal. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ll see a lot more wind energy connected to our economy moving forward.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Still, some question whether the uptick will be temporary since subsidies will be phased out by 2020 and President-elect Donald Trump&rsquo;s incoming Administration is expected to pursue fossil-fuel development over renewables.<br /> <br /> In New Mexico the other challenge is the need for more transmission lines, which can add to the cost of new projects.<br /> <br /> But, at least for the next few years, wind energy will be booming.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Today&rsquo;s tax credits have brought down the costs to make wind energy very economical,&rdquo; said David Hudson, president of Xcel Energy New Mexico, which serves eastern New Mexico and West Texas through its subsidiary, Southwestern Public Service Co. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s an opportune time to acquire wind-generated electricity.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The federal production tax credit, which currently pays 2.3 cents for every kilowatt-hour of electricity from wind farms, has contributed to rapid deployment of new wind facilities across the nation in the past decade. Developers installed a total of nearly 75 gigawatts of electricity nationwide as of 2015, or enough to power about 20 million homes, according to the Wind Energy Association.<br /> <br /> As of last summer, the association reported 20 gigawatts of wind projects in advanced construction or planning nationwide, nearly three times the level in 2015.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We&rsquo;re seeing near-record development,&rdquo; said John Hensley, association manager for industry data and analysis. &ldquo;Many companies want to increase their holdings to lock in low, stable wind prices now.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Massive wind farms are either planned or under construction in Torrance and Curry counties. That includes two interrelated projects near Clovis, totalling 497 megawatts of generating capacity.<br /> <br /> The 298-megawatt El Cabo Wind Farm near Moriarty will open next year, and three other projects ranging from 30 to 250 megawatts are in the planning stages.<br /> <br /> Together, those projects would double New Mexico&rsquo;s wind generation to nearly 20 wind farms, with more than 2 gigawatts of installed capacity.<br /> <br /> The US$500-million El Cabo project will be the state&rsquo;s largest wind farm.<br /> <br /> New Mexico&rsquo;s eastern plains have enough wind energy potential to generate 11 gigawatts of electricity, or about 75 times more than the state needs, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado. As a result, most newly planned wind farms will supply customers in other states.<br /> <br /> To do that, New Mexico needs more transmission, since current lines operated by the state&rsquo;s largest utility, Public Service Company of New Mexico, can only accommodate another 1 gigawatt of capacity, said Jeff Mechenbier, PNM director of transmission, distribution and planning contracts.<br /> <br /> Five large-scale transmission projects are currently in different stages of development, including the 515-mile SunZia line that will carry wind-generated electricity from central New Mexico to Arizona.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13530761/249654_76234_repro_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, December 28, 2016 12:00 AM