Posts Tagged 'Earth'

Let’s save Punta de Choros

Chile is in front of one of the most important challenges in the next years: to deal with an increased demand of energy. Naturally, many options are proposed by different “players”. But two big forces are in the final battle. By one hand, one consortium is a big defender of hydroelectric power, installing several dams. In second place, another group is claiming that nuclear energy is the only option for satisfy chile’s demand of energy.

In the meanwhile, many small thermoelectric (gas, oil, or coal) power plants are being installed. One of them is placed near to a region known as “Punta de Choros”. The international audience is not aware of the upcoming damages that this power plant could do to this region. The following video (in spanish and with english subtitles) explain some of the probable damages. It is enough to say that Punta de Choros is an extremely important region for biologists and ecologists. It harbors important species and is a natural Marine reserve.

The big problem here also is that, as in many other issues, Chilean scientists are not being listened at all. Many scientists are claiming that wind energy is the best option for our country: it is clean, affordable for a country with economic stability, suitable to increase the energy’s demands, and also feasible considering the abundance of wind in several places in our country. Enemies state that the costs of wind energy are very high (without serious studies), and that this energy is not suitable. Well… let’s see. The following figure shows the energy produced in our country, in the context of wind energy:

A recent article in Science (Vol. 329, pp. 382-385) also reviews the proposed alternative to thermal and nuclear plants: flooding of valleys and rivers in the Patagonia, losing precious ecosystems and biodiversity. It is very dissapointing to see how chilean authorities don’t want to listen to scientists and engineering, and to see wind energy and other clean energies (such as solar) as a real option.

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Global Biodiversity Indicators at-a-glance

ResearchBlogging.orgI really wanted to talk about this article before. A few weeks ago, it was published in Science a work by an extensive work by a high number of researchers, focused in the review and discussion of indicators of global indicators of biodiversity. Citing the article, in 2002 world leaders committed, through the Convention on Biological Diversity, “to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss”.

Now, 2010 has been named the International Year of Biodiversity. And a team reported in this article, numbers and trends showing the current state of several indicators of biodiversity, grouped into four main categories: indicators of state, pressure, response and benefits.

The indicators of state are related with the state of biodiversity in terms of species and ecosystems. Eight indicators show a decline. For example, the Living Planet Index (mean population trends of vertebrates) show a continuous decline since 1970. The Red List Index, indicating the risk of extinction of mammals, birds, amphibians and corals, also show a decline. Other indicators are Forest Extent, Coral Reef Condition and Water Quality Index.

Indicators of pressure on biodiversity are more related with difficulties upon the improvement of biodiversity. One example is the Exploitation of Fish Stocks, which exhibits a great increase. All the indicators of pressure (Ecological Footprint, Nitrogen Deposition Rate, Alien Species in Europe, and Climate Impact Indicator) show an increase.

Although the numbers are discouraging, some hope arises when we look at the positive numbers. Indicators of response are increasing, and the authors show some data related with improvements in biodiversity. For example, at least 16 bird species extinctions were prevented by conservation actions during 1994-2004. Also, deforestation in Amazonia decreased, protected areas increased and several countries have policies and agreements related with the prevention of spread of alien species.

This post is not intended to be a review of the article. Instead, it offers a view at-a-glance, a general commentary of the article. I advice to all the readers of this post to read the article and to visit the webpage of the Convention on Biological Diversity, where you can download more information about the mission and goals for this year and for the future.

In words of the authors of the article, “our results show that, despite a few encouraging achievements, efforts to address the loss of biodiversity need to be substantially strengthened”.

References

Butchart, S., Walpole, M., Collen, B., van Strien, A., Scharlemann, J., Almond, R., Baillie, J., Bomhard, B., Brown, C., Bruno, J., Carpenter, K., Carr, G., Chanson, J., Chenery, A., Csirke, J., Davidson, N., Dentener, F., Foster, M., Galli, A., Galloway, J., Genovesi, P., Gregory, R., Hockings, M., Kapos, V., Lamarque, J., Leverington, F., Loh, J., McGeoch, M., McRae, L., Minasyan, A., Morcillo, M., Oldfield, T., Pauly, D., Quader, S., Revenga, C., Sauer, J., Skolnik, B., Spear, D., Stanwell-Smith, D., Stuart, S., Symes, A., Tierney, M., Tyrrell, T., Vie, J., & Watson, R. (2010). Global Biodiversity: Indicators of Recent Declines Science, 328 (5982), 1164-1168 DOI: 10.1126/science.1187512

Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (2010) Global Biodiversity Outlook 3., & Montréal, 94 pages. (2010). Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 Convention on Biological Diversity


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