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Planned Amazonian Dams to Bring Doom for Many Tropical Species

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Rampant dam-building across Amazonia will cause countless species extinctions – according to new research involving the University of East Anglia.The nine countries that share the Amazonian biome have already built 191 dams across the basin and plans are in place to develop a further 243. But a study published today by an international research team reveals that dam-building will have severe impacts on wildlife in one of the most biodiverse freshwater ecosystems on the planet.

Fish, freshwater turtles, frogs, bats, birds, primates, rodents and marsupials would all be affected – along with trees and plants.

Ironically, many of the species threatened by dams in Amazonian Brazil are strictly protected by law from being hunted and traded. However there are no legal provisions to protect them from dam-building projects.

Prof Carlos Peres, from UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, said: “The watersheds of the Amazon River and adjacent Tocantins River are an attractive prospect to dam builders as these basins account for 6 per cent of total global hydropower potential.

“The rivers that run across these tropical forest landscapes are home to many endemic species – species that are found nowhere else. Some of them are restricted to isolated sections of rapids only a few tens of kilometres in length.

“Our research shows that an expansion of the dam network will result in huge changes to these Amazonian rivers by obstructing movement of aquatic fauna both upstream and downstream, by submerging rapids under huge lakes, by flooding adjacent forests and by creating forest islands that cannot sustain viable animal and plant populations.

“These changes to the habitat will also be followed by indirect effects on the region’s fauna and flora because the influx of people and money attracted by cheap hydropower are expected to result in higher deforestation rates in the areas affected by dams.”

Lead researcher Dr Alexander Lees of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, said: “The change from fast-flowing to still waters after river impoundment likely favours generalist or invasive species over the specialist and often micro-endemic species that require fast-flowing rivers and exposed rocky islets.”

“This loss, degradation and fragmentation of habitats will eventually lead to a large loss of regional biodiversity and a simplification of the community of species.”

Prof Carlos Peres added: “Even terrestrial wildlife and woody plants in forest areas well above the water-level of hydroelectric reservoirs are not safe, as these populations typically become stranded in artificial archipelagos whose biodiversity is committed to extinctions and rapidly eroded over time through the ravages of habitat isolation and edge effects.”

Dr Philip Fearnside of Brazil’s National Institute for Research in Amazonia (INPA) said: “The planned dams are not an inevitable part of Brazil’s future development because they are not necessary. Brazil has many better options, including investing in energy efficiency, ceasing to export electricity in the form of aluminium and other electro-intensive commodities, and tapping the country’s vast potential wind and solar resources. The severe impacts of Amazonian dams make pursuing other options very much in Brazil’s best interest.”

‘Hydropower and the future of Amazonian biodiversity’ is published in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation.

Environment

Consumers Investing in Eco-Friendly Cars with the UK Green Revolution

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Eco-Friendly Cars

The UK public appears to be embracing the electric car UK Green Revolution, as recent statistics reveal that more and more consumers are making the switch from petrol and diesel to electric or alternatively fuelled vehicles. The demand for diesel fell by almost a third in October compared to last year, whilst hybrid and electric cars rose by a staggering 36.9%.

Time for UK Green Revolution Change

So, what is the reason for this sudden change? This comes down to the current situation in the UK, which has led to people embracing eco-friendly technologies and automobiles. One of the main reasons is the Government’s clean air plans, which includes the impending 2040 ban on petrol and diesel automobiles. There is then the rollout of the T-Charge in London, the city of Oxford announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel from the city centre by 2020 and various other big announcements which take up a lot of space and time in the UK press.

h2>Diesel’s Reputation

In addition to this, the negative publicity against diesel has had a huge impact on the UK public. This has led to a lot of confusion over emissions, but actually, the newest low emission diesel automobiles will not face restrictions and are not as bad to drive as many believe. Most notably, German brand Volkswagen has been affected due to the emissions scandal in recent times. It was discovered that some emissions controls for VW’s turbocharged direct injection diesel engines were only activated during laboratory testing, so these automobiles were emitting 40 times more NO in real-world driving. As a result of this and all the negative publicity, the manufacturer has made adaptations and amended their vehicles in Europe. Additionally, they have made movements to improve the emissions from their cars, meaning that they are now one of the cleaner manufacturers. Their impressive range includes the Polo, Golf and Up, all of which can be found for affordable prices from places like Unbeatable Car.

The Current Market

The confusion over the Government’s current stance on diesel has clearly had a huge impact on the public. So much so that the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has called on the Government to use the Autumn Budget to restore stability in the market and encourage the public to invest in the latest low emission automobiles. SMMT believes that this is the fastest and most effective way to address the serious air quality concerns in this country.

Incentives

One way that the Government has encouraged the public to make the switch is by making incentives. Motorists can benefit from a grant when they purchase a new plug-in vehicle, plus there are benefits like no road tax for electric vehicles and no congestion charge. When these are combined with the low running costs, it makes owning an electric automobile an appealing prospect and especially because there are so many great models available and a type to suit every motorist. One of the main reasons holding motorists back is the perceived lack of charging points. However, there are currently over 13,000 up and down the country with this number rapidly increasing each month. It is thought that the amount of charging points will outnumber petrol stations by 2020, so it is easy to see more and more motorists start to invest in electric cars way ahead of the 2040 ban.

It is an interesting time in the UK as people are now embracing the electric car revolution. The Government’s clean air plans seem to have accelerated this revolution, plus the poor publicity that diesel has received has only strengthened the case for making the switch sooner rather than later.

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Environment

How To Make The Shipping Industry Greener

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green shipping industry

Each and every year more damage is done to our planet. When businesses are arranging pallet delivery or any other kind of shipping, the environment usually isn’t their number one concern. However, there’s an increasing pressure for the shipping industry to go greener, particularly as our oceans are filling with plastic and climate change is occurring. Fortunately, there’s plenty of technology out there to help with this. Here’s how the freight industry is going greener.

Make Ship Scrapping Cleaner

There are approximately 51,400 merchant ships trading around the world at the moment. Although the act of transporting tonnes of cargo across the ocean every year is very damaging to the environment, the scrapping of container ships is also very harmful. Large container ships contain asbestos, heavy metals and oils which are toxic to both people and the environment during demolition. The EU has regulations in place which ensure that all European ships are disposed of in an appropriate manner at licenced yards and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) introduced guidelines to make recycling of ships safe and environmentally friendly back in 2009, but since then only Norway, Congo and France have agreed to the policy. The IMO needs to ensure that more countries are on board with the scheme, especially India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which are some of the worst culprits for scrapping, which may mean enforcing the regulations in the near future.

Reduce Emissions

A single large container ship can produce the same amount of emissions as 50 million cars, making international shipping one of the major contributors towards global warming. Stricter emissions regulations are needed to reduce the amount of emissions entering our atmosphere. The sulphur content within ship fuel is largely responsible for the amount of emissions being produced; studies have shown that a reduction in the sulphur content in fuel oil from 35,000 p.p.m to 1,000 p.p.m could reduce the SOx emissions by as much as 97%! The IMO has already begun to ensure that ships with the Emission Control Areas of the globe, such as the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel, are using this lower sulphur content fuel, but it needs to be enforced around the world to make a significant difference.

As it’s not currently practical or possible to completely phase-out heavy, conventional fuels around the world, a sulphur scrubber system can be added to the exhaust system of ships to help reduce the amount of sulphur being emitted.

Better Port Management

As more and more ships are travelling around the world, congestion and large volumes of cargo can leave ports in developing countries overwhelmed. Rapidly expanding ports can be very damaging to the surrounding environment, take Shenzhen for example, it’s a collection of some of the busiest ports in China and there has been a 75% reduction in the number of mangroves along the coastline. Destroying valuable ecosystems has a knock-on effect on the rest of the country’s wildlife. Port authorities need to take responsibility for the environmental impact of construction and ensure that further expansion is carried out sustainably.

Some have suggested that instead of expansion, improved port management is needed. If port authorities can work with transport-planning bureaus, they will be able to establish more efficient ways of unloading cargo to reduce the impact on the environment caused by shipping congestion.

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