greening it up - koeberg scare, manuel joins UN climate panel, spider enzymes and more

Submitted by MichaelE on Thu, 2010-03-11 14:16

No fishingNo fishingMarthinus 'not the man for climate job'
Xolani Mbanjwa – Cape Argus

Environmental lobby groups and civil society bodies are not convinced that South Africa's nomination of Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwayk for the top UN climate-change post is a good thing, with some questioning his track record.

Director of the Center for Civil society Professor Patrick Bond questioned van Schalkwyk's “integrity”, saying quality was required to head the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).

“The UNFCC post must be headed by someone of integrity, and that's not a characteristic associated with van Schalkwyk, thanks to his checkered career as an apartheid student spy and a man who sold out his political party for a junior cabinet seat,” said Bond.

He added the nomination “doesn't make sense, because if van Schalkwyk was a world class climate diplomat, why did (President Jacob) Zuma demote him by removing his environmental duties last year?”

Groundwork, an environmental lobby group, said it would not support the appointment of a South African to the post because the country had undermined the UNFCC by signing the Copenhagen Accord.

Spokesmen for Earthlife Africa Tristen Taylor said Van Schalkwyk did not have a good record in cutting carbon emissions while environmental affairs minister.

Greenpeace climate campaigner Nkopane Maphiri, however, was rooting for Van Schalkwyk.

“We think that if he is appointed, developing countries, in particular, will have better access to him because he is coming from a developing country.”

Ivory trade to be opened up again?

In 5 days, 2 African governments will try to pry open the worldwide ban on ivory trading -- a decision that could wipe out whole elephant populations and bring these magnificent animals closer to extinction.

Tanzania and Zambia are lobbying the UN for special exemptions from the ban, but this would send a clear signal to the ivory crime syndicates that international protection is weakening and it's open-season on elephants. Another group of African states have countered by calling to extend the trade ban for 20 years.

Our best chance to save the continent's remaining elephants is to support African conservationists. We only have 5 days left and the UN Endangered Species body only meets every 3 years. Click below to sign our urgent petition to protect elephants, and forward this email widely -- the petition will be delivered to the UN meeting in Doha:

Over 20 years ago, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) passed a worldwide ban on ivory trading. Poaching fell, and ivory prices slumped. But poor enforcement coupled with'experimental one-off sales', like the one Tanzania and Zambia are seeking, drove poaching up and turned illegal trade into a lucrative business -- poachers can launder their illegal ivory with the legal stockpiles.

Now, despite the worldwide ban, each year over 30,000 elephants are gunned down and their tusks hacked off by poachers with axes and chainsaws. If Tanzania and Zambia are successful in exploiting the loophole, this awful trade could get much worse.

We have a one off chance this week to extend the worldwide ban and repress poaching and trade prices before we lose even more elephant populations -- sign the petition now and then forward it widely:

Across the world's cultures and throughout our history elephants have been revered in religions and have captured our imagination -- Babar, Dumbo, Ganesh, Airavata, Erawan. But today these beautiful and highly intelligent creatures are being annihilated. As long as there is demand for ivory, poaching and smuggling will happen, but this week we have a chance to protect them and crush the ivory criminals' profits -- sign the petition now:

As long as there is demand for ivory, elephants are at risk from poaching and smuggling -- but this week we have a chance to protect them and crush the ivory criminals' profits -- sign the petition now

Cloud of dust sparks Koeberg scare
Murray Williams

Koeberg nuclear power station was put on alert a couple of nights ago after reports of an oil slick drifting north from Cape Town.

The City of Cape Town's disaster management spokesman, Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, confirmed today that the city's environmental resource management unit and officers of the province's Marine and Coastal Management team were deployed after a suspected oil slick emanated from the wrecked Seli 1.

The bulk carrier ran aground off Blouberg shortly before midnight on September 7 last year.

Fuel oil was pumped off the vessel as soon as pounding seas subsided, but efforts have been under way to remove other fuel products from the vessel. More

“Little ice age sun” won't stop global warming
Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent Yahoo News

A dimming of the sun to match conditions in the "Little Ice Age" of the 17th century would only slightly slow global warming, a study indicated on Wednesday.
A weakening of solar activity in recent years, linked to fewer sunspots, would cut at most 0.3 degree Celsius (0.5 F) from a projected rise in temperatures by 2100 if it becomes a long-lasting "Grand Minimum" of brightness, they said.
"The notion that we are heading for a new Little Ice Age if the sun actually entered a Grand Minimum is wrong," Georg Feulner, lead author of the study at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said in a statement.
World temperatures are likely to rise by between 3.7 and 4.5 degrees Celsius by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions keep building up -- far more than the impact of known shifts in solar output, the study showed.
The sun has gone through four Grand Minima since the 13th century, including the Maunder Minimum from 1645-1715 that overlapped with the Little Ice Age. The Thames River froze in London, for instance, during a "Great Frost" of 1683-84. More

Minister defends fishing hikes
By Thandanani Mhlanga

The Minister of Water and Environmental affairs says proposed fishing permit fee increases will not increase illegal fishing nor affect competition and employment in sectors within the fishing industry.

The DA's shadow minister for water and environmental affairs, Gareth Morgan, questioned minister Buyelwa Sonjica on the method used to calculate the proposed increases advertised in the Government Gazette in January.

Morgan said should Sonjica fail to give satisfactory answers, the proposal which has outraged the fishing community should be scrapped. More than 70 percent increases were proposed.

The proposed hike for recreational fishermen wanting to catch lobster is up from R85 to R500, while angling licenses are set to increase to R200 from R65 and spearfishing licences from R75 to R300. Fishermen responded saying the increases would lead to more poaching. More

Public awareness of climate change is low: Minister
Port Elizabeth - There is a worrying lack of public awareness of climate change and solutions for it, Environmental Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said on Wednesday.
"It is long overdue that partnerships need to be formed with government to provide the knowledge that might guide planners and managers in urban, rural and coastal areas... as well as promote public awareness and inspire actions for sustainability among everyone," she said at a gathering of the newly launched South East African (SEA) Climate Consortium in Port Elizabeth.
The consortium consists of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Rhodes University, University of Fort Hare, the Sustainable Seas Trust and the Wilderness Foundation, which aims to build an intellectual and practical capability to tackle problems of climate change. More
Manuel appointed to UN climate group
Trevor Manuel has been appointed as a member of the High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing.
Minister in the Presidency responsible for national Planning, Trevor Manuel, has been appointed as a member of the High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing established by United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
The group was launched in February this year to mobilize financing for assisting developing countries in combating climate change.
The Group of 19 experts will be co-chaired by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
Manuel joins other high-level officials from Ministries and Central Banks as well as experts on public finance, development and related issues. Members include Guyanan President Bharrat Jagdeo Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. More

Independent body to review controversial UN climate panel
A respected international scientific body will review the United Nations's Nobel prize-winning climate panel, under fire for errors in a key report on global warming, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday.

Ban told reporters that the Amsterdam-based InterAcademy Council (IAC), which groups presidents of 15 leading science academies, will carry out the task "completely independently of the United Nations".

Ban, however, defended the work of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whose chairperson, Rajendra Pachauri, has been criticized for his stewardship of the body.

Last month, the UN announced it would launch an independent review of the IPCC's work.

Ban said on Wednesday that the IAC would undertake "a comprehensive, independent review of the IPCC's procedures and processes" and would make recommendations to improve its future reports. More

Political Ads: new weapon in US climate change wars
Big business is now free to blitz the airwaves to attack politicians who support action against climate change, which could smother messages from environmentalists.
But it is not yet clear whether corporations have the will or the budgets to use the advertising weapon the climate change wars that emerged in January when the US Supreme Court ruled that corporations have the same right as individuals to free political speech, including spending on advertising.
The decision could affect every issue and every political race in this congressional election year, but those pushing for a federal law to limit greenhouse gas emissions say it will hit them harder because business interests have much more money to spend on these campaigns.
“Environmental voices are already far outspent by voices of all sorts of polluting interests, but the Supreme Court decision has really now opened the floodgates for big oil and dirty coal to spend ... much, much more money in the electoral arena,” said Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters. More

French president Nicolas Sarkozy to open conference on deforestation
French President Nicolas Sarkozy will open a day-long conference of some 40 nations to start turning plans into action to save the world's forests and help rein in the noxious gases blamed for climate change.
Forests are a planetary asset and no longer the concern of individual countries ... this is the business of all humanity Ministers from countries of the Amazon and Congo river basins and Indonesia - whose massive forests, most at risk, are at the heart of efforts to end deforestation - were among those attending the one-day conference. A follow-up meeting is scheduled for May in Oslo, Norway.
"The forest in danger. Massive planet-wide destruction continues," France's influential environment minister Jean-Louis Borloo said to reporters ahead of the conference.
The conference, with closed-door working groups, is looking to translate measures adopted at the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen in December into concrete mechanisms - and funds. More

Danisco turns to snakes, spiders for potent enzymes
Danish food ingredients and enzymes maker Danisco said on Wednesday it would investigate whether snakes, spiders and carnivorous plants could provide new powerful enzymes to improve consumer goods. Skip related content
Danisco said such overlooked species could be key to discovering new potent enzymes for use in everyday products such as laundry detergents and food.
"When a spider catches a fly in its web, it injects digestive enzymes into its prey to liquefy it," Danisco said in a statement. "This makes it easy for the spider to devour the fly."
"The digestive enzymes are highly effective and we are very keen on looking into the dynamics of these enzymes," the company said, adding that similar mechanisms occur in snakes and carnivorous plants. More