Saturday, July 29, 2017

The seas are warming and more

According to an article in the Guardian:
"Although there’s some uncertainty in the distribution among Earth’s ocean basins, there’s no question that the ocean is heating rapidly."

And from Nature:
"Revised tallies confirm that the rate of sea-level rise is accelerating as the Earth warms and ice sheets thaw."
And from the BBC:
"Scientists are "very worried" that the melting of the Greenland ice sheet could accelerate and raise sea levels more than expected.
They say warmer conditions are encouraging algae to grow and darken the surface.
Dark ice absorbs more solar radiation than clean white ice so warms up and melts more rapidly.
Currently the Greenland ice sheet is adding up to 1mm a year to the rise in the global average level of the oceans."
Note - this darkening of the ice is not a major problem as yet.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

And a quick word on climate change

From trust.org:
"Nearly nine in 10 people say they are ready to make changes to their standard of living if it would prevent future climate catastrophe, a survey on global threats found Wednesday.
The survey of more than 8,000 people in eight countries – the United States, China, India, Britain, Australia, Brazil, South Africa and Germany – found that 84 percent of people now consider climate change a "global catastrophic risk"."
From the Guardian:
"New study confirms the oceans are warming rapidly"

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Guyana's vulnerability to sea-level rise

This post gives a brief overview of Guyana's vulnerability to sea-level rise.

According to Wikipedia:
The chief majority (about 90%) of Guyana's 0.74 million population lives along a narrow coastal strip in which ranges from a width of 16 to 64 kilometres (10 to 40 mi) inland and which makes up approximately only 10% of the nation's total land area.
and
Drainage throughout most of Guyana is poor and river flow sluggish because the average gradient of the main rivers is only one meter every five kilometers. ... Georgetown is below sea level and must depend on dikes for protection from the Demerara River and the Atlantic Ocean.
And from Climate Hot Map:
Guyana's capital city of Georgetown relies on seawalls for protection. When flooding occurs after large waves top the seawalls or heavy rains, sluice gates open for drainage. However, these gravity-fed gates can do so only when the tide is low enough.
The coastal plain is home to almost all the country's agricultural production — critical for both food and export. The main crops are sugar and rice.
Sea level along the Guyana coastline is rising faster than the global average which will exacerbate future increases from further global warming.
The sea wall

According to Wikipedia:
The Sea Wall is a 280-mile seawall that runs along much of Guyana's coastline, and all of the coastline in the capital city of Georgetown. It protects settlements in the coastal areas of Guyana, most of which are below sea level at high tide.


Currently over topping and minor breaches at high tide are not uncommon and cause local flooding. Breaches are repaired usually in a few days. Much of the costs of building and maintaining the sea walls have been met by overseas aid. The system of dykes, drainage canals and sluice gates was begun by the Dutch in colonial times to protect sugar plantations and not as effective as it used to be. Away from Georgetown the seawall is often earth and stone.

The 2005 flood

In 2005 there was a severe flood due to intense rain which caused from two to five feet of flooding in Georgetown and large parts of the coast for weeks. According to a PAHO report "Almost 200.000 people in Guyana were affected by the floods that hit Guyana" - which is more than a quarter of the population.

The future

And from Climate Hot Map again:
Without improved sea and river defenses and drainage systems, the coastal plains of coastal Guyana face serious flooding—if not complete inundation—owing to higher sea levels possible under worst case scenarios. Such flooding would devastate most of the population and have consequences for a large percentage of the gross domestic product.
It is difficult to imagine increasing the height of the sea wall more than a few centimeters. It would probably require complete rebuilding and the cost would be very, very high.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Plastic roads

Several countries such as India, Netherlands and Scotland, are experimenting with using recycled plastic to construct roads. One such approach is described in this BBC report.

Guyana - Earth Day 2017

A national programme gave an opportunity for President Granger to emphasis the government position on environmental issues. According to an article in the Guyana Chronicle:

“We feel that the Green State is an extension of our moral commitment to ensuring that mother earth is protected and preserved. The Green State will ensure the promotion of harmony between humanity and between humanity and the habitat of our rich fauna. Guyana contributes to ensuring that the shield’s rich flora and fauna that its abundant water supplies and diverse ecosystems remain intact for the benefit of all humanity, and of course present and future generations.”

“Guyana’s forestry store nature’s delicate balance,” President Granger told the gathering, and said the country’s forests which cover 85% of its lands provide essential environmental services.

“Guyana is a net carbon sink… Guyana’s intact forests also reduce land degradation, enhance soil nutrients and promote water retention. Guyana therefore is a protector of mother earth, because these vital environmental services are provided by our forests,” President Granger further said.

It is expected that the government will soon release its plans for moving away from almost complete dependence on fossil fuels for energy and transportation.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

New Survey Report on the South Rupununi Savannahs

The WWF has released an important new survey report on the savannahs. According to the web site:
"The publication represents the most recent (and potentially, the first) broad-based documentation of floral and faunal diversity in Guyana’s southern Rupununi region, is based on work undertaken in the Kusad Mountain and Parabara areas. "

It can be downloaded from the same web page shown above. It is full of amazing pictures, maps and introduces the biodiversity idea using local examples. Just what is needed in schools.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

What is a green economy?

The government is aiming for a green economy (see this report) but what is a green economy? It would seem that it is difficult to define easily in practical terms.

According to Wikipedia:
'The green economy is defined as an economy that aims at reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities, and that aims for sustainable development without degrading the environment. It is closely related with ecological economics, but has a more politically applied focus.'
It is said to include:
Renewable energy
Green buildings
Sustainable transport
Water management
Waste management
Land management
And regarding energy (and of special interest to us in Guyana):
"Green economies require green energy generation based on renewable energy to replace fossil fuels as well as energy conservation and efficient energy use."
So we have a long way to go in the energy sector.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Guyana and climate change - Jan 2017

Some recent developments reported locally:

Integrated approach to tackle climate change (Guyana Chronicle)
"The need for closer collaboration between agencies here in addressing climate change was raised on Thursday as the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) commenced a two-day stakeholder engagement in Georgetown.
..provision will be made through the Climate Change Adaptation Programme (CCAP), which will be implemented in several Caribbean countries, including Guyana."

Guyana to participate in Climate Change & ACTO Meetings (GINA)
"Guyana will participate in fourth board meeting of Japan Caribbean Climate Change Partnership Project (JCCCP) at the invitation of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which will be held in Jamaica from February 1- 2 2017."

So why is climate change so important to Guyana? We need to pay more attention to this issue so here are a few things which come to mind:
- it is causing sea-level rise which will become a critical issue for obvious reasons, eventually much of our best farm land will be lost plus our capital
- the slowly rising temperature will have very serious effects in the future, agriculture will have to adapt
- there is a global shift away from using oil which has important implications
- we need to shift our energy sector (and transportation) away from fossil fuels to hydro and solar.