greening it up - sewage, drivers, cats, forests, plants and the ice caps

Submitted by MichaelE on Mon, 2010-05-03 10:28

cats reducing biodiversity?cats reducing biodiversity?Sewage the next Eskom
By Sapa and Moleboheng Tladi
The Green Drop report has found that more than 75% of South Africa's sewage treatment plants are not up to standard.

Of 852 waste water treatment plants, 403 weren’t even in good enough nick to be assessed. Of the remainder, only 203 scored better than 50%.

Of the 403 that weren’t assessed, the report highlighted municipal managers not feeling competent enough, and municipalities not adhering to the call to be assessed.
Those that managed to get more than 50% on the standards set by the Green Drop report were mostly based around Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria.

Only 3.8% of the total plants actually got the Green Drop status, which is broadly equivalent to international standards.

The report implies that millions of litres of untreated or inadequately treated sewage are being pumped into South Africa’s rivers and streams, mainly by small towns.

"It was found that most facilities in the rural areas and smaller towns are not adequately equipped with staff of appropriate skills and this constrained the performance of these systems... ," the report states. More

Entrepreneur outlines vision for school electrification project
By: Petronel Smit

Alternative-energy enterprise Surplus South Africa says it is working on a plan to provide the 3 120 South African schools currently without electricity with sustainable energy solutions over the next decade.

Owner Ben Sassman reports that the first phase of the project will provide 826 schools, located along the wind-swept coastlines of KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, the Western Cape and the Northern Cape, with wind turbines. During the second phase, schools further inland will be targeted for wind and solar hybrid systems.

It is estimated that it could take between seven and ten years to complete the project at all the schools, depending on the frequency of the installations and the funding raised.
“It only takes seven working days to complete such an installation at a school once the concrete base has been laid. After that, the mast must be erected and the wind turbine attached. The electricians then come to connect the turbine to the inverters, the backup battery system and the distribution box,” he notes.

Sassman asserts that the cost to install a 1-kW wind turbine for a school is R173 000. This includes the civil works, a 12-m-high mast, the wind turbine, inverters, a backup battery system, transportation to the site and project management fees. His business plan aims to give local corporations the opportunity to cover the costs of the project through corporate social investment budgets in an Adopt-A-School system. More

Moggies making a meal of Cape Towns Wildlife
By John Yeld
Environment and Science Writer

Cape Town's moggies are having a significant effect on the city's wildlife, killing - at a conservative estimate - somewhere between 3.9 million and 5.9 million animals each year.

This prey probably comprises about 2.3-million small mammals, 1.3-million reptiles, and 7307 000 birds, according to the findings of MSc student Sharon George.

George has researched the effect of Cape Town's cats on wildlife in and around Table Mountain in working towards her conservation biology post-graduate degree at UCT's Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology.

Although cats appear to lie around snoozing much of the day, they are efficient hunters, particularly at night, and take a wide range of prey. More

Polluting drivers face jail
By Babalo Ndenze
Metro Writer

Vehicle owners whose cars emit smoke and pollute the air now face imprisonment and a fine under the city's newly amended Air Pollution Management by-law, under which city officials will carry out random roadblocks to test vehicles.

In its effort to have the cleanest air in Africa, the City of Cape Town has upped the ante in its fight against vehicle emissions, especially from diesel vehicles, which contribute the most to the city's air pollution.

The so-called "brown haze", a common sight across the Cape Flats, especially during winter, is mostly caused by diesel vehicles, according to city health authorities. More

Thousands of SA plants face extinction
By Weekend Argus Reporter

Thirteen percent of South Africa's plants are in danger of extinction - and most of them are native to the Western Cape.

This was found in a comprehensive project to assess the state of flora in South Africa - believed to be the first country in the world to have done such a study.

The collaborative conservation project assessed the country's 20 456 plant species, and found that 2 577 - or 13 percent - were at risk of extinction. Of these, 67 percent were in the Western Cape, more than any other province.

More were listed under other categories of conservation concern. This means that, in total, nearly a quarter (24 percent) of the country's flora species need urgent conservation measures. More

'Illogical' whaling proposal slammed
By John Yeld
Environment and Science Writer

A compromise proposal that will legitimise limited whaling for the next 10 years in terms of a "peace plan" has been criticised by international conservation organisation WWF, which called it an illogical political bargain without scientific foundation.

And another global group, Greenpeace, says it is whales that must be saved, and not the whaling industry.

They were responding to the recently released draft proposal by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) that, if adopted, will sanction commercial whaling by Japan, Iceland and Norway, although under a controlled regime that will reduce the number of whales currently being killed each year. More

Global forest cover is shrinking - study
Washington - The world's forest cover shrank by 3.1 percent between 2000 and 2005, according to satellite observations detailed in a study released on Monday.

Hardest-hit were boreal forests - the world's far northern sub-arctic forests - which account for about one-third of this loss, said the report, published in the April 26-30 issue of the Annals of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

There are several causes of forest destruction, including human cutting and natural phenomena such as fires ignited by lightning, the report said.

Data on changes in the world's forest cover are needed to estimate the impact of carbon dioxide emissions, one of the main greenhouse gases, and to set parameters for "global-scale biogeochemical, hydrological, biodiversity and climate models", read the report.
The total forest loss between 2000 and 2005 was estimated to be 1 011 000 square kilometres, the researchers said. More

Sea ice loss driving Arctic warming cycle, scientists confirm

Study identifies cycle of ice loss and temperature rise that could see Arctic's icy cover disappear sooner than expected
David Adam, environment correspondent UK Guradian

The Arctic is locked into a destructive cycle that could see its icy cover rapidly disappear, scientists have confirmed. A new analysis shows that dwindling levels of sea ice are responsible for unusual levels of global warming in the region. The findings reinforce suggestions that a positive feedback between ice loss and temperature rise has emerged in the Arctic, which increases the chances of further rapid ice loss and warming.

The study could re-ignite claims that the Arctic has passed a key tipping point, which could see ice disappear much sooner than expected. While most estimates say the summertime Arctic will not be ice-free until the middle of the century, some models suggest it could vanish within a decade.

James Screen, a researcher at the University of Melbourne, Australia, who led the study, said: "The concept of Arctic sea ice having a tipping point is still hotly debated. Our results cannot prove whether we have passed a tipping point or not. What we can say is that the emergence of these strong ice-temperature feedbacks can only increase the likelihood of further rapid warming and sea ice loss." More