Wednesday 11 December 2019

Amazon Rainforest, The Italian city of Venice, Victoria Falls, the Great Barrier Reef, Florida's marine shoreline, the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, all these wonders are in desperate trouble

It was claimed by many to be the most beautiful place in the world, Victoria Falls which border Zambia and Zimbabwe is the largest waterfall in the world by total area. The falls transport an astonishing 1,088 cubic meters per second of water down a 350-foot high cliff and has brought millions of people worldwide to experience its stunning beauty.

What used to be a kilometre long stunning, beautiful cascading waterfall is now just bare brown rock, it should look like the picture below.

The pictures above are yet another example of a world in trouble. The recent onslaught of deadly heatwaves, unprecedented wildfires, devastating flooding, aberrant cyclones made more destructive by rising seas, crippeling droughts, devastated crops, massive deforestation, record-breaking ice melt on both poles and a 70% decline of wildlife, it is safe to say our planet is stressed out.

The effects of severe drought and climate change are having an impact on one of the world's great natural wonders, but recently other wonders of the world are under threat. Wildfires in the Amazon rainforest hit a record number this year, according to research carried out by Brazil's space research centre (INPE). It cites 72,843, the number of fires up to August this year, marking an increase of 83% compared to the whole year of 2018, The Amazon Rain Forest is the lungs of the world and scientists are now worried a tipping point may have been breached where the Amazon will no longer be able to soak and store up Carbon: The Amazon absorbs carbon dioxide and puts oxygen back into the air. Full story

Australians are desperately searching for solutions to combat the death of another wonder, the Great Barrier Reef. According to Sarah Gibbens of National Geographic, a report was published at the beginning of2018 by Journal Science who claimed the window to save the Great Barrier Reef was rapidly closing. The analysis confirmed that bleaching events were happening more frequently, giving corals less time to recover from a stressful episode. Full story

The Italian city of Venice has not received tides like this autumn in more than 50 years. The Venice Mayor called a state of emergency after the second-highest tide recorded flooded its historic basilica and left many of its squares and alleyways inundated with water for more than a week. Mayor Luigi Brugnaro warned of severe damage caused by the "disastrous" tide, which peaked at 187 centimetres (74 inches). In Matera, this year's European Capital of Culture, rainwater inundated the city's famous cave-dwelling district. Full story

Our beautiful trees are dying in record numbers, nearly one in every 14 standing trees in Colorado forests is dead, according to the latest report on the health of the state's wooded areas. The study, by Colorado State Forest Service out of Colorado State University, calculated an estimated one billion dead trees, many of them succumbing to two beetle epidemics. That's a tree casualty increase of 30 per cent in the last nine years. An estimated 300 million trees are dead in California and Pine Beetles are fuelling the deaths and it's not just the U.S., This summer Reuters claimed the problem is causing chaos in Europe too. Hot, dry summers are fanning an unprecedented outbreak of bark beetles that are destroying vast swathes of central Europe’s spruce forests which define the region’s landscape.
The drought brought on by climate change has weakened trees’ natural defences and helped spawn the insects, creating an infestation that has forced landowners to chop down broad patches of forest across the Czech Republic, northern Austria, Bavaria and Slovakia.

The Czech Republic has been the worst hit. Last year, the beetle, infested 18 million cubic meters of spruce, more than 10 times amounts seen in most previous years, according to Agriculture Ministry estimates. This year, forecasts range from 20 to 30 million cubic meters, out of 480 million cubic meters of spruce timber in total, as the situation is expected to deteriorate across the region, especially given a lack of rainfall so far this spring. “Eighty per cent of Czech spruce forests are at high risk of dying,” said Jaromir Blaha, forest expert at Hnuti Duha, an environmental NGO. Full story

It's long been known our oceans are in trouble, an endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh completed a 330-mile swim along the length of the English Channel from Land's End to Dover last year but it wasn't his wonderful accomplishment which made the news but the fact during his week-long swim along the south coast of the UK he hardly saw any marine life. After completing his swim Mr Pugh took to Twitter to call on the government to urgently strengthen marine protected areas around the UK and its Overseas Territories. In a seven-part tweet the environmental campaigner and UN Patron of the Oceans wrote: 'During this swim, I've seen virtually no wildlife-aside from a few birds, a few dolphins and one turtle. I have also seen plastic on every beach from Land's End to Dover. 'We have taken the fish out of the ocean and replaced them with plastic.'

Florida’s marine shoreline totals more than 8,400 miles of paradise but from 2016 to 2018 less than 200 miles of the Florida coast was free from an unprecedented red tide algae bloom. The algae bloom stretched from Pensacola on the Alabama border in the Gulf of Mexico all the way down the west coast around the southern tip and up the eastern coast to Sebastian. It was an unprecedented horror for Florida's beaches, thousands of tons of marine life died due to the toxic algae and it has never fully gone away. Full story Dead fish wash up on Fort Myers beaches in 2018

A group of islands in the Pacific is now considered to be the most toxic area in the world with radiation much higher in some areas than Chernobyl and Fukushima, decades after nuclear testing.
According to the Weather Channel, more than 60 years after the last blast in the Marshall Islands, scientists say radiation levels are still dangerously high. 
67 nuclear tests were conducted in the area from 1946 to 1958. Researchers claim that radiation in the area is up to 1,000 times higher than Chernobyl and Fukushima. To make matters even worse, high levels of radiation have been monitored in giant clams close to the Central Pacific site where the United States entombed waste from nuclear testing almost four decades ago, raising concerns the contamination is spreading from the dump site’s tainted groundwater into the ocean and the food chain. Full story

The silence surrounding the Fukushima disaster recently has been deafening. Last year, Tokyo Electric Power Co, the owners of the stricken plant, said a system meant to purify contaminated water had failed to remove dangerous radioactive contaminants. A report from Reuters this summer claims most of that water - stored in 1,000s of tanks around the plant - will need to be reprocessed before it is released into the ocean, the most likely scenario for disposal. Reprocessing could take nearly two years and divert personnel and energy from dismantling the tsunami-wrecked reactors, a project that will take up to 40 years, (which is only an estimate as Tepco still haven't invented the technology to fix the problem). Tepco is already running out of space to store treated water. And should another big quake strike, (which is a question of when and NOT if), experts say tanks could crack, unleashing tainted liquid and washing highly radioactive debris into the ocean. The Big Wobble released an article, claiming during the summer of 2017, 50,000 trillion Becquerel’s of radiation leaked into the Pacific, however, Tepco continue to claim tritium poses little risk to human health and is quickly diluted by the ocean. 300 tons of radioactive water is leaking daily into the Pacific and there is no known technology to fix it. Eight years on, water woes threaten Fukushima cleanup with fish found around the waters of Hawaii and Alaska contaminated with caesium 134 the radioactive finger-print of Fukushima. Full story
Bags of radioactive waste are seen piled up at a temporary storage site in Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture| KYODO

Two-thirds of all animal and insect species since 1980 will be extinct by 2020, which as I write this post, is just two weeks away. Imagine if the human population fell by two-thirds in just forty years?  Our oceans are dying at a similar rate, in the not too distant future our oceans will be too warm for life. One in five of the world’s plant species is threatened with extinction. Full story  


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