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Climate Change

From iconic species to iconic case studies

Iconic species – the panda, the tiger, the bald eagle, and even the small but spectacular corroboree frog – have been the vehicle for spreading the environment message.  That message can change and become more subtle. 

 Photo © Ryan Rayburn/World Bank

Mr Zoellick’s message at the launch of the Tiger Initiative in 2008 focused on integrating “environmental concerns ...  into the mainstream of development and operational plans”.   His statement in relation to the National Geographic’s “Vanishing Icons” photo exhibit (in the World Bank headquarter's atrium in DC) advanced the discussion to the tiger’s “largely untapped potential to spur balanced development”.  The conditions and actions needed to improve the habitat of the tiger are closely related to those needed to improve the livelihoods of local communities and vice versa.

Some plant communities are emerging as iconic ecosystems.  The mangroves are the best example.  Their role as a habitat and breeding ground for so many species, as a resource for local people and in coastal protection are listed again and again.  They feature in the recent WRI publication “Banking on Nature’s Assets” which forcefully makes the case that Multilateral Development Banks can strengthen development by using ecosystem services and describes some of the case studies and tools we have to help do this.

But we are also seeing the emergence of “iconic case studies” and this is a concern to me. 

Iceland’s Volcano and Climate Science: Will there be a Silver Lining to the Ash Cloud?

Michael Levitsky's picture

The eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland could mean some good news for those of us concerned with understanding the science of climate change.

As volcanoes go, this is small stuff.  The last volcano to have a substantial effect on global climate was Mount Pinatubo which erupted in the Philippines in 1991. Volcanoes affect global climate largely because the sulfur gases that they emit oxidize in the atmosphere to form sulfate aerosols (fine particulate matter), which stay around in the stratosphere for at least 12 months, and act as a strong cooling agent. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Mt. Pinatubo caused global temperatures to dip by about 0.5 degrees Centigrade for a year. The ash, which has been of concern to airline passengers in Europe and many others across the globe recently, generally has only a small and local effect on climate –it tends to fall to earth in a matter of weeks.

A matter of degrees

Marianne Fay's picture

 

For economists interested in climate change, some news.  The long awaited regional version of Bill Nordhaus'  DICE model is now out. (Actually it’s been out since February, but I just got to it...) It’s called RICE with the ‘R’ standing for Regional.  A quick overview of some of the key results can be downloaded here.

Nordhaus is one of the earliest and most prominent climate modelers in the economics profession.  He and Nicholas Stern are often set up as the two book ends of the climate change economists’ spectrum.  I believe their differences are not that great.

Climate Projects Can Win Big Bonuses in 'Green' Fund-Raising Challenge

Tom Grubisich's picture

Innovative climate change projects that succeed in raising at least $4,000 will be eligible for bonuses that could win the top performer up to $13,000 extra in the Green Open Challenge sponsored by "online marketplace" GlobalGiving.

In particular, the Challenge is a perfect fit for DM2009 finalists -- whose  projects are built around climate adaptation -- and DM2008 finalists -- whose agriculture projects almost always include climate adaptation.  Other nonprofit climate projects that emphasize innovation and are locally based -- like the DM ones -- are also prime candidates.  Fund-seeking projects can find out how to join the Challenge here.  The deadline for applying is April 25.

Participating projects that meet the $4,000 threshold in donations from at least 50 donors during the Challenge period from July 5 to July 30 will be showcased by GlobalGiving on its website and have ongoing access to the organization's considerable, and proven, fund-raising know-how. Since 2002, 96,147 donors have given $27,596,968 to 2,538 projects promoted by GlobalGiving.  The nonprofit organization's specialty is matching givers to specific development causes around the globe. On top of that, GlobalGiving keeps donors up to date on what their targeted money achieves in results.

Green Open Challenge is just one of a series of challenges that GlobalGiving sponsors annually to build and energize relationships between givers -- anyone anywhere who contributes at least $10 -- and nonprofit causes and developing countries.  Targeted donations can be made quickly on GlobalGiving's website.

Community Connections -- How One DM2009 Winner Develops Them

Tom Grubisich's picture

One of the cardinal rules of development aid -- the new cardinal rule -- is, Don't just “deliver” assistance, but instead make sure it's "accepted.”  DM2009 competition winner Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) has been following that not-always-embraced rule since the community-based nonprofit indigenous environmental organization was formed in southern Belize in 1997.

SATIIM’s mission is "to safeguard the ecological integrity of the Sarstoon-Temash region and employ its resources in an environmentally sound manner for the economic, social, cultural, and spiritual well-being of its indigenous people.”  For SATIIM, this isn't just window-dressing verbiage.

The Q’eqchi Maya Indigenous People of Crique Sarco in southern Belize have been active participants in SATIIM programs to rescue the region's rich but endangered 13 forest ecosystems while collaborating with the Q’eqchi to reduce poverty by creating jobs and also delivering a range of social, health, educational, cultural, and civic benefits.

As SATIIM awaits the arrival of its DM2009 grant of US$200,000, it is already involving the Q’eqchi in the forest-management/community betterment project that will be financed.  With its long history of working with the Q’eqchi in Crique Sarco, SATIIM knows the total tapestry of the community –- as shown in this richly informative report to the DM Blog by SATIIM technical coordinator Lynette Gomez (photo at left), with the help of SATIIM Executive Director, DM project leader, and Maya activist Gregory Ch'oc:

Do we still need REDD if deforestation is decreasing in the Amazon?

Carlos A. Nobre's picture
Amazon birds -- iStockphoto
Two macaws in the Amazon.
Photo © istockphoto.com

Although the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen badly failed to achieve legally binding agreements, including on the specific mechanism of REDD (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), there was nevertheless a general sense that this mechanism is something worth pursuing. Meetings and discussions continued to take place after the conference was over, and a fund of US$ 10 billion is being set up to promote initial steps for tropical developing countries to prepare for REDD.

What lessons can be learned from the Brazilian Amazon, where deforestation rates have been steadily declining for 5 years?

Compared to estimates of land-cover change emissions from elsewhere in the tropics, estimates in the Brazilian Amazon tend to be relatively more certain because they are calculated from annual, satellite-based monitoring of land cover change for over two decades for the Brazilian portion of the Amazon. That is the work of the PRODES Project carried out by the National Institute of Space Research (INPE) of Brazil. 

Deforestation in the Amazon changes a lot from year to year. The proximate causes are not totally known. They have to do with economic drivers such as prices of commodities (beef, soy, etc.), the opening of roads, but they are also influenced by the effectiveness of law enforcement to curb illegal deforestation.

The latter may have played a key role in reducing deforestation in the last 5 years. During that period, annual deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon plummeted from over 27 thousand km2 (August 2003-July 2004) to around 7 thousand km2 (August 2008-July 2009), an amazing 74% reduction over 5 years!

Innovation in water, part 3: necessity is the mother of invention

Julia Bucknall's picture

 Futuristic water design that would provide water for food in the desert, featured in The Guardian in 2008. Photograph: Exploration Architecture.

“What are the new developments in water? Are there new technologies that developing countries could use to bypass expensive and cumbersome systems?  What’s the next big thing that could solve the water crisis?”  Politicians and the media often ask experts for new ideas to make water “interesting”.  Yet, on the whole, water systems constructed today use much of the same technology they did 100 years ago. 


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