As climate chaos escalates in Indian Country, feds abandon tribes

first_imgSouth Dakota’s Pine Ridge Oglalla Sioux Indian Reservation is one of the most impoverished places in the U.S. But in 2018 and 2019, the reservation was struck by two horrific storms — with economic harm to their homes and livelihoods that the community’s low income residents have found it extraordinarily difficult to absorb.High Plains weather has been getting more variable, erratic and destructive: in 2011 came severe drought and wildfires, followed in 2012 by severe flooding. Sometimes these oscillations take the form of high-powered storms, with a rash of tornadoes in 2016, a destructive ice storm in 2018, and a bomb cyclone in 2019.According to the National Climate Assessment issued at the end of 2018, “Climate change is expected to exacerbate these [extreme weather] challenges.” But starting with Bill Clinton and continuing under Donald Trump, the federal government has severely slashed federal aid to Indian reservations and their low income residents.As a result, Pine Ridge is increasingly forced to rely on its own resources and on creative solutions, including crowdfunded local and national volunteer teams who have risen to the challenge and helped the communities repair storm damage. But as extreme weather intensifies on the High Plains, surviving there will get tougher. Violent storms known as bomb cyclones usually appear over oceans or coastal areas, not over the U.S. High Plains, but one struck there in March 2019 causing major wind and flood damage. Image courtesy of NASA.Late last March, an unseasonably hot column of air shot suddenly upward from the U.S. Great Plains and collided with the frigid high atmosphere above South Dakota, sending barometric pressure plummeting. In just seconds, the sky erupted like an exploding pressure cooker, bringing devastating wind, storm and flooding. At the bottom of that madly swirling air column were the homes and ranches of South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.The bomb cyclone hit the communities’ mobile homes like a missile. Such meteorological events (fierce storms that form with incredible speed when an extratropical surface cyclone undergoes “bombogenesis,” with a pressure drop of 24 millibars in 24 hours or less), are usually features of the coast, not the continent’s deep interior.But then, as the residents of Pine Ridge know from tragic experience, these were not normal times.This was their second weather disaster in eight months. When a fierce late July ice storm slammed into the Sioux reservation in 2018, Chase Iron Eyes and his kids had been on their way out for dinner. “It was dark, foreboding, swirling clouds,” remembered the Lakota attorney and tribal government spokesperson.Then the hail hit with the force of a shrapnel blast, “so strong it wasn’t coming from heaven to earth but sideways,” ripping through the reservation’s rural settlements, slashing holes in the vinyl and aluminum siding and roofs of their mobile homes, shattering house and car windows, while also pulverizing cottonwood leaves, filling the air with the powerful scent of fresh shredded greenery.When the July storm passed, Pine Ridge residents surveyed the damage: more than 500 homes were left uninhabitable, a severe blow to a reservation whose impoverished families have little capacity to absorb such a disaster. The March 2019 bomb cyclone would only add to the damage and despair. The reservation is home to the descendants of the Oglalla Sioux who, under the great war leader Red Cloud, made peace with the United States in 1873. Its communities remain desperately poor; Oglala Lakota County is one of the most impoverished counties in the nation.Chase Iron Eyes was a witness to the July 2018 hail storm when the wind and hail was “so strong it wasn’t coming from heaven to earth but sideways,” ripping through the reservation’s homes and wrecking vehicles. Image courtesy of the Lakota People’s Law Project.Like a Third World nationFor Iron Eyes, a grassroots activist who spent most of his life on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and who moved to Pine Ridge not long ago to campaign for the current tribal president, Julian Bear Runner, the dire conditions at Pine Ridge were eye opening: “It’s Ground Zero here,” he said. “During the campaign, we knocked on hundreds of doors, man. And the way a lot of people were living… I thought [such places] only existed in Third World countries.”Life on Pine Ridge, Iron Eyes said, “has all the outward manifestations of a slow genocide.”But behind the economic depression loomed something much larger and more frightening: the violent swings of a changing climate have come to the Northern Plains, threatening not only agriculture but the very habitability of a region once dubbed by whites as the “Great American Desert.”Poverty has long made adaptation difficult here. And that was before the March bomb cyclone, which damaged 75 houses, or last July’s hail storm, which damaged hundreds more.After the summer event, many houses perforated by the hail, were left exposed to the South Dakota elements. And as every Oglala knew then, time was fast running out. Soon the harsh Plains winter rolled in — a brutal season even in a house with intact windows and walls.Time is against the Oglala long-term as well: the Northern Plains, with their arid climate and long distance from temperate oceans, have always been a place noted for temperature and weather extremes — an unpredictability, the recent National Climate Assessment notes, that has always made it difficult for cities, suburbs and the tribes to cooperate in reliably managing resources. “Climate change,” the report warned, “is expected to exacerbate these challenges.”Over recent decades, the escalating climate crisis has steadily turned up the chaos meter, battering reservations. Creeping behind the more theatrical plagues of tornadoes and ice storms is an even greater threat: a dizzying dance of deluge, followed by drought, followed by flood, as regional weather systems swing ever more wildly. And as these extremes intensify, the tribes of the Plains — American citizens, like the Hurricane Maria-battered people of Puerto Rico — are being left to face the rising chaos alone.In addition to the powerful winds, the March 2019 bomb cyclone dumped rain on Pine Ridge, flooding this downtown park. Image courtesy of the Lakota People’s Law Project.Indian Country’s changing climateAccording to studies by NASA and NOAA, 2018 marked the fourth warmest year on record since 1880, “an extremely warm year on top of a long-term global warming trend,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Science.But for the Northern Plains and the communities there, the danger is less rising temperature per se than a tremendous increase in anarchic, unpredictable and extreme weather, particularly centered around water. According to the 2018 National Climate Assessment, weather on the Plains has been getting more variable, erratic and destructive, with sometimes surreal oscillations: in 2011, for example, the Northern Plains faced a rash of wildfires and drought, followed in 2012, by severe flooding. Occasionally, these oscillations take the form of high-powered storms, as in the rash of tornadoes that ravaged South Dakota reservations in 2016, or the ice storm of 2018, or the bomb cyclone of 2019.With its frigid winters and baking summers, and its lack of mountains or forests to break up violent weather systems, the Northern Plains have always been characterized by wild weather swings. But now those fluctuations are increasing, endangering infrastructure and water supplies that have made the semi-arid Plains habitable. For example, as winter drought and earlier spring melt reduce the High Country snowpack that feeds the Missouri River and other streams, agriculture is becoming more constricted, narrowing the region’s economic base. However, larger and more powerful storms dump far more rain all at once, causing Biblical floods, found the 2018 National Climate Assessment.Water woes were at the root of the region’s re-entry into the national consciousness in 2016. Early that year, as a Houston-based pipeline company proposed drilling the Dakota Access Pipeline beneath the Missouri River, Bobby Jean Three Legs, a young mother and long distance runner, woke up in her home on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation to her three-year old daughter asking her for water. Three Legs had a sudden, heart-stopping vision of a coming world in which there would be no water to give.The rebellion at Standing Rock, which grew out of a movement that Three Legs and a group of Lakota teens started, became a meeting-place for utopians and dissidents of all stripes who turned out to fight, as they said, “for the water.” But for the Lakota this was no metaphor: in 2002, when Three Legs was 9, a severe drought had caused Standing Rock to run out of water entirely; though that disaster was little noticed outside of South Dakota.By 2016 they were getting their water from the Missouri River and “water protectors” feared that a single pipeline oil spill could make Three Legs’ prophecy come true. Now that the pipeline is complete, that’s still a concern — and ironically, the National Climate Assessment notes, the source of that breach could be increased flooding brought by escalating climate change.The March 2019 floods put a serious strain on the reservation’s infrastructure, much of which consists of dirt roads. Steve and Lacey Pourier and their nine kids were unable to access their home because their road had been so damaged by the storm. Image courtesy of the Lakota People’s Law Project.The federal help that doesn’t comeThe surge in extreme weather has been exacerbated by tribal reliance on federal disaster relief — aid which has become more difficult to get. Indigenous people on reservations generally lack ready capital as a buffer against bad weather, and they also — because they are technically residents of sovereign nations — are often disqualified from receiving aid from state disaster agencies and county extension offices. Many Pine Ridge residents, for example, hit by the 2018 hail storm, were still living in FEMA trailers brought in after a 1999 tornado that destroyed 150 homes.As the winter of 2018-19 came on in the wake of the hail storm, the Oglala expected the federal government would step in again. But FEMA had weathered a harsh recent period of climate chaos too: 2017 had seen Houston inundated by Hurricane Harvey; the Gulf Coast and Caribbean utterly trashed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria; and a nearly-continuous season of wildfires across the West.Amidst all these disasters, the Trump Administration — ignoring both the reality of climate change and the need to adapt to it — had ransacked agency, taking from FEMA to fund other “national security” priorities. In late June 2018, as Hurricane Florence barreled toward Georgia and the Carolinas, Trump reallocated nearly $10 million from FEMA’s budget slated for operations, mitigation and recovery, and transferred it to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which was running a $200 million shortfall due to its larger-than-expected expenses for incarceration of undocumented immigrants.This matters more, to be clear, for rhetorical reasons than practical ones. The FEMA budget is about $16 billion a year, far larger than the amount shifted to ICE. Jeff Byard, a FEMA associate administrator, told reporters that the loss of a mere $10 million had “not impacted [FEMA’s disaster relief] situation whatsoever.” But the optics were extraordinarily bad: the news of FEMA’s funding loss broke as hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans languished without power; deprived of much-needed supplies that FEMA had reallocated just before the storm. One study later found that a poor disaster response by FEMA had likely helped lead to the exodus of half a million American refugees from the beleaguered island.Meanwhile, President Trump told Puerto Rico it was too well-off to need support, treating the Commonwealth, David Dayen wrote in The Intercept, “like a welfare recipient found to have too much money in its bank account.” Several months later, in January 2019, Trump would threaten to cut FEMA aid from California counties ravaged by wildfires “unless they get their act together,” citing alleged wasted “billions of dollars.”The President didn’t follow through on the threat, but in this era of disaster-relief means-testing, the Pine Ridge request to the federal government for post-disaster assistance was quietly turned down.Flooded fields in the Wounded Knee district of Pine Ridge. Because Indian reservations are officially seen as sovereign nations, they often can’t get state aid, while the federal government has heavily cut back on, and delayed, its disaster relief. Image by Derek Janis.FEMA sent a couple of agents to assess the 2018 hail storm damage, and then, to the shock of Steve Wilson, tribal emergency management officer, the agency refused to help. The reason, it said, was because the total financial damage hadn’t been high enough to warrant assistance.Ironically: Pine Ridge property values were found to be so depressed that the extensive damage resulting from the hail storm — though catastrophic to the low income people living through it — wasn’t sufficiently high to warrant any aid.To Chas Jewett, a Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation organizer in South Dakota, the Trump administration response was symptomatic of the double bind that much of Indian Country finds itself caught in again and again. “If that ice storm had hit Rapid City,” she said, “that same [destruction] would have been [totaled in] millions of dollars in damages, easy.” The lack of disaster relief, she added, felt like a tax on poverty: “You don’t know what the real cost of poverty is until you have to spend hundreds of dollars a month on propane because your house isn’t insulated, and you’re not hooked up to a grid.”The Ghost Dance as seen at the Pine Ridge Agency in 1890 — an indigenous religious revival intended to dance a new world into being, bringing peace and prosperity. By 1890, the Oglala had been forced onto the arid High Plains reservation, land they were expected to farm, but that year’s intense heat and drought showed the region to be unsuitable for high yield agriculture. Still, the U.S. cut rations to the reservation that year in half. Now, as the climate crisis intensifies, the government has slashed aid to Pine Ridge and other reservations. Image by Harper’s Weekly, December 1890, as drawn by Frederic Remington, Public Domain.Extreme weather and a shrinking federal safety netOther Indian reservations are being shut out from federal aid as well, including South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Reservation last winter. The federal government shutdown in December 2018 and January 2019 cut funding to, and shut down, most of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, an agency that pays for tribal police as well as other support offices and services.During the shutdown, the Cheyenne River Indians endured almost three weeks of subzero temperatures, which took a heavy toll on roads, bridges, tribal vehicles, maintenance buildings and other infrastructure. With federal funding withheld, and budgets already thin, Jewett said, every additional bit of asset depreciation due to worsening extreme weather is more money taken out of largely depleted coffers.“Climate change brings in so much more volatility,” said Zach Ducheneaux, a Cheyenne River resident who provides technical assistance for Indian farmers through the Intertribal Agricultural Council. “Even where our trend line is staying the same, the highs and lows are so much farther from what’s normal.”Extreme storms and droughts, once considered outlier events, have gotten gradually worse, and have become the new normal on the reservation. In early October 2012, Winter Storm Atlas hit South Dakota with record setting blizzards and cold. “I knew tribal [cattle] producers who lost their whole herd,” Ducheneaux recalled. According to NOAA, this is part of a national trend — 2018 saw 14 one billion-dollar disaster events nationwide, the fourth highest ever. (The three higher years were all since 2011.)Because Indian Country is generally rural and agricultural its economic base is particularly susceptible to natural disasters and freak weather. Likewise, recent alterations in US Department of Agriculture policy have disproportionately impacted Native farmers and ranchers.Up until the late 1990s, the federal government maintained a standing disaster relief fund. Known as the Indian Acute Disaster Program, it was specifically earmarked for Indian Country and even included emergency money designated for hay deliveries to Native ranchers whose livestock feed had been snowed under, and guaranteed relief for herds assaulted by blizzards.Since Indian Country largely lives by ranching, the loss of grazing land and herds to floods or to hail can be a serious economic blow. This truckload of hay was donated by farmers in Emmetsburg, Iowa. Image by Steve Wedeking.But toward the end of the Clinton Administration, the rules changed: the standard Indian allotment was dropped in favor of a system where tribes and ranchers had to apply for relief after individual disasters.This new system was especially bad for Indian farmers, for reasons that mostly, like so much in farm country across the US, come back to credit.The new rule required lots of time-consuming paperwork, and then, following a written tribal appeal for disaster relief, USDA would send officials to “ground-proof” claims, all of which could take days or weeks. Most counties have extension agents whose job it is to coordinate between federal aid programs and farmers, but the reservation system often has to make do with whatever extension agents their non-native neighbors can spare — adding more delay.And finally, when aid does become available, records can be a problem. “Our Native American producers aren’t as accustomed to the [detailed] recordkeeping that non-Indian producers do on a regular basis,” Ducheneaux said, “because we don’t have the access to capital in the same way, which would require reporting your livestock.”Because Indians are less able to get loans, Ducheneaux explained, they are also less likely to carry through on the sort of recordkeeping that becomes vital once disaster strikes. Not that records are necessarily any salve: “A whole bunch of cows got burnt up in the big wildfires on the Colville Reservation a few years ago,” Ducheneaux recalled. “How do you document your cow got burnt up?”Pine Ridge was pummeled with baseball-sized hail in 2018, leaving over 500 houses damaged and inflicting an estimated $5-10 million in damage. FEMA declined aid, on the logic that the damage was largely “cosmetic.” Image courtesy of the Lakota People’s Law Project.The credit problemIt isn’t, Ducheneaux emphasized, that Indians always get aid significantly later than non-Indians. But with, for example, Winter Storm Atlas, no federal money came through till the following autumn, forcing any farmers who lost their herds to get by for many months without credit or relief. Indian farmers, he noted, are resilient and well-networked with their neighbors — but they don’t generally have banked cash or equity to float them through a disaster until the federal relief money shows up. “The non-Indian is up there with a bunch of farm [assets],” Ducheneaux said. “He has his CAFO, he’s diversified. He’s had 45-50 years to build equity. So if he knows there’s federal disaster assistance coming [eventually], he can go to the bank, borrow against this collateral for now, pay you back later.”By contrast, Ducheneaux described a Cheyenne River rancher who had just taken out a loan for his cows when Winter Storm Atlas froze them all to death. “That Indian producer was tapped out borrowing to secure the cows [in the first place]. So there’s no real ability for him to go to the bank and say, ‘Well, I got federal assistance coming at some point, how about we work together [and you give me a loan to tide me over]?’.”Ducheneaux sees a broader economic problem as well: if Indians could capture more of the wealth currently being extracted from their reservations in the form of cattle — say, by building their own meatpacking plants, their own credit instruments — then they would have more resilience in terms of disasters too. A partial solution may be on the way: the Intertribal Agricultural Council currently has $2.5 million out in loans to small producers, which it hopes to parlay into a new-model sustainability fund available to all of Indian Country, in which the bank helps Native farmers win, rather than simply taking the house when they lose.But losing rather than winning could be the order of things in the near and far future. A grab bag of predictions from the recent National Climate Assessment for the Great Plains suggests harder times ahead: the number of days over 100 Fahrenheit is likely to double by 2050, with average temperatures up by 2-4 degrees Fahrenheit, in addition to that increased variability. Winter and spring precipitation is expected to irise up to 30 percent by the end of the century — likely bringing increases in flooding. There could be half again as many serious two-day floods by 2050. And as rainfall increases, snowfall will decrease, becoming more concentrated in dramatic hail storms, which will be, the federal report projected, 40 percent more damaging.Despite predicted rainfall increases (mostly coming all at once, in extreme events), higher temperatures (which force plants, like people, to transpire more water), could lead to greater drought and groundwater depletion, which is already a serious creeping threat for the huge section of the United States that draws from the Oglala Aquifer.These big changes, Ducheneaux pointed out, won’t only impact the reservations. The Great Plains have become a breadbasket to the world; dramtic shifts in historical weather patterns and far greater climate extremes could pose a serious threat to U.S. and world food security.Prayer ties blow in the wind in the aftermath of the destructive July 2018 hail storm. Image courtesy of the Lakota People’s Law Project.Helping those who help themselvesFor Pine Ridge, where the FEMA desk in the tribal headquarters has stood empty for more than a year, help after the 2018 hail storm came not from faraway Washington, but from the reservation’s own people, and from the kindness of strangers.Jacquelyn Cordoba, a Taos Pueblo woman who had fallen in with the Oglalla Lakota via her involvement in the International Indigenous Youth Council at the Standing Rock pipeline protest encampments, showed up in December 2018 on a different project. She was shocked to see the conditions following the July storm: “I heard it had happened, but I never knew how bad it was. Because you never hear how bad it is. Because the mainstream [media] doesn’t talk about what’s happening there [on the reservation].”Her new organization, the Sacred Healing Circle, had passed their elders’ lore on to the young people at Pine Ridge, who were fired up on traditional religion after the Standing Rock protests. The previous summer, those young people had installed water quality monitors in a number of sensitive sites.Now Cordoba walked through the Pine Ridge neighborhoods that had suffered the worst. “There were windows, doors, all stove in; cars smashed up,” she said. Church groups from Rapid City had already spent weekends volunteering, using plywood to cover gaping holes, but that was far from sufficient. “It was still cold and dark inside the houses, and people’s pipes were breaking” as winter temperatures fell. She crowdfunded $50,000 dollars, enough to put together a small work detail of locals and outside volunteers.“A team came [to make repairs]. There would be a whole [street] of 20 busted up houses — and you just started knocking on doors, ‘Hey, we’re helping repair windows with Plexiglas. Would you like help?’ We would put five people on this house, five on that one, and you would just go for it,” Cordoba recalled.It was slow going; few of the volunteers were professional construction workers, and there was “so much damage. We found out: some houses, it was [just] a window had to be fixed, but then [for others] the whole [trailer home] frame was damaged. Or, that person’s door has holes in it, so you go to Loews, and you buy them a new door — but then you realize the [door] frame was never set right, so the whole door is crooked,” and then both door and frame may need replacing to seal up the house again.With the climate crisis now escalating, and the federal government withdrawing, help from local muscle and outside charities is about all the disaster relief that Pine Ridge can expect for the foreseeable future.Speaking of FEMA’s 2018 hail storm aid denial, Cordoba said her team remains upbeat: “Sure, it shouldn’t have happened like that, but it did happen like that. And who was gonna keep people warm if not us?”Originally, she expected volunteers to begin recovery work with great enthusiasm but then fade away. Instead, the building crews were indomitable: “They’d say, ‘These are our people.’ So we would do one more house. One more window. Keep one more family warm tonight.” So they hammered and drilled, house-by-house, until the last of the money was gone. Eight months later, the bomb cyclone hit.BANNER IMAGE: A supercell over Kansas. Climate change is intensifying storms over the High Plains, making this already difficult arid environment with its extremes of hot and cold, more challenging to inhabit. Image by The Archive Team licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by Glenn Scherercenter_img Adaptation To Climate Change, Climate, Climate Change, Climate Change And Extreme Weather, Climate Change Policy, Climate Change Politics, Climate Politics, Controversial, Drought, Environment, Environmental Activism, Environmental Ethics, Featured, Global Environmental Crisis, Green, Impact Of Climate Change, Indigenous Groups, Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Reserves, Indigenous Rights, Poverty, Poverty Alleviation, Storms, Temperatures, Water Crisis, Water Scarcity last_img read more

Madagascar: What’s good for the forest is good for the native silk industry

first_imgLandibe: Madagascar’s landibe silkworms (Borocera cajani) often form cocoons under leaves or branches, top left, or down in the grass. The female is three times the size of the male, bottom left. The cocoons look different from the pure white cocoons of the more commonly known mulberry silkworms, both types at bottom right. (Click to enlarge.) Images by Edward Carver. Article published by Rebecca Kessler People in the highlands of central Madagascar have long buried their loved ones in shrouds of thick wild silk, typically from the endemic silkworm known as landibe (Borocera cajani).With support from NGOs, traditional silk workers have widened their offerings to include scarves made of wild silk for sale to tourists and the country’s elites.In recent years, the price of raw materials has shot up as the forests the landibe grows in succumb to fire and other threats, making it difficult for silk workers to continue their craft.However, where there are forest-management challenges, there is also opportunity: the silk business provides an incentive for local people to protect their trees. Some well-organized and well-supported community groups are cashing in on conservation, in spite of the broader silkworm recession. AMORON’I MANIA REGION, Madagascar — People in the highlands of central Madagascar have long buried their loved ones in shrouds of thick wild silk. After several years, they exhume the dead in a turning-of-the-bones ceremony and wrap them in an additional layer. Older people often have a shroud ready when they die, but these days not everyone can afford one. The price of raw materials has shot up as the forests they come from succumb to fire and other threats, making it difficult for weavers and other silk workers to continue their craft.“I’m still eager to work, but the cocoons are too expensive,” Ramaly Razafidrasoa, a 70-year-old weaver in the village of Anjoma, told Mongabay. She now works a roadside stand selling peanuts and other food.Since the early 2000s, her silk work has involved more than just making shrouds. Like many weavers across the highlands, she received technical and business training from a nonprofit group and began selling silk scarves to urban and overseas markets. But in the last few years, the supply of silk has declined, partly because the tapia woodlands where the silkworm moths grow keep getting ravaged by fires.Ramaly Razafidrasoa, a silk weaver in the village of Anjoma, shown spinning silk in 2011, left. She’s currently not doing any silk work because the raw materials have become too expensive due to a shortage of silkworm moth cocoons. She now sells peanuts and other foods at a roadside stand. Images by Edward Carver.“The problem is the doro tanety in Ambatofinandrahana,” Razafidrasoa said, referring to bandits who burn the woodlands in one of the districts where tapia trees and silkworms are most common.However, where there are forest-management challenges, there is also opportunity: the silk business provides an incentive for local people to protect their trees. Some well-organized and well-supported community groups are cashing in on conservation, in spite of the broader silkworm recession.A landibe silkworm (Borocera cajani) in the larval or caterpillar stage. Image by Tsiresy Razafimanantsoa.Malagasy silk vs. Asian silkMadagascar has several endemic silkworm species, most notably landibe (Borocera cajani). The species produces much thicker silk than that from Asia; U.S. customs officials have been known to misidentify landibe silk as cotton. In the West, it has a small following, and landibe scarves are a hip accessory among Madagascar’s urban elites.Ny Tanintsika, a local group affiliated with the U.K.-based nonprofit Feedback Madagascar, helped to commercialize Madagascar’s silk in the 2000s. In an effort to connect business and conservation outcomes, Ny Tanintsika (“our land” in Malagasy) helped start silk workers’ cooperatives and forest management groups. Some villages specialize in one or the other, as silk-making and weaving skills don’t necessarily occur in the same place as tapia trees (Uapaca bojeri).A young tapia tree (Uapaca bojeri) resprouts after burning. The leaves of the tree are the preferred food of Madagascar’s native silkworm moth, landibe (Borocera cajani). Image by Chris Birkinshaw/Missouri Botanical Garden.The village of Ambohimanjaka, surrounded by tapia-covered hills, is key to the local silk business even though it isn’t home to many weavers. Weaving, after all, is only the final stage in the long process of transforming an insect cocoon into a shroud or scarf. People in Ambohimanjaka collect cocoons from the local tapia woodlands and often do the initial work of turning it into thread, using spindles and basic wooden tools. Their forest management group has several hundred members and protects about 1,200 hectares (about 3,000 acres) of land.Healthy woodlands are the foundation of the silk business, said André Razafimahatratra, Ny Tanintsika’s technician in Ambohimanjaka. “Tapia is what the silkworms really want,” he told Mongabay. “They can eat other leaves but it’s not the same. It’s like the Malagasy people with rice. We can eat cassava or corn, but it’s not what we really want.”André Razafimahatratra, a silkworm technician with the nonprofit group Ny Tanintsika (“Our Land”), in front of a sign in his village of Ambohimanjaka. Miaro tapia means to “protect the tapia.” Image by Edward Carver for Mongabay.When the silkworms eat tapia instead of other leaves, their reproductive cycle quickens and their cocoons grow bigger, said Tsiresy Razafimanantsoa, an animal biologist at the Superior Institute of Technology of Ambositra, who did her doctoral research on Madagascar’s silkworm moths. This ultimately helps strengthen the shrouds and scarves, which last for decades notwithstanding their delicate appearance.Despite its good qualities, landibe silk has competition in Madagascar. Domesticated mulberry silkworm moths (Bombyx mori), a species native to China that Malagasy silk workers raise in their homes, produce the thin, lustrous silk that most international consumers are familiar with. Some people in Madagascar consider it to be of a higher quality than their own native silk.If Madagascar’s native silkworms were domesticated, they would lose much of their power as an incentive to conserve the tapia woodlands. So it’s perhaps fortunate, from a conservation standpoint, that landibe worms are difficult to raise indoors. They require too much food and space for easy domestication. With great effort, it’s possible to raise them in boxes, but landibe do best in the woodlands, Razafimanantsoa said.Richard Randrianjatovo, the president of a silk-weaving cooperative in a village near Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital. He made the white scarf from mulberry silkworm moths (Bombyx mori), which are common in Asia. In the past, mulberry silkworm cocoons cost more than cocoons from Madagascar’s endemic silkworm, landibe (Borocera cajani), but due to the increasing difficulty of sourcing landibe, the two types are now about the same price, Randrianjatovo said. This particular scarf would sell for about 80,000 ariary (roughly $20) in Antananarivo. Image by Edward Carver for Mongabay.Conserving worm and treeLocal people say wild silkworms have become harder to find, and the limited scientific research that’s been done on the subject supports this conclusion. Landibe does not yet have a listing on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, but Razafimanantsoa and researchers at the University of Antananarivo in Madagascar called it “critically endangered” in a 2012 study in the journal Biotechnology, Agronomy, Society, and Environment.The decline in silkworm numbers has become more pronounced in recent years, but it may have started decades ago. Madagascar’s total silk cocoon harvest was estimated at more than 100 tons in 1902, but dropped to about 43 tons in 2009, according to information cited in Razafimanantsoa’s study. About 10,000 families worked in the industry as of 2009, but that number has likely dropped in the past decade, with obvious implications for local economies.An approximation of the location of tapia forests and woodlands in Madagascar, from Rakotondrasoa et al, 2012. (Click to enlarge.) Image courtesy of Olivia Lovanirina Rakotondrasoa.Nevertheless, silk still provides significant income not just in tapia-rich areas like Ambohimanjaka but also in villages with relatively strong silk-working cooperatives, such as Soatanana and Sandradahy, both near the town of Ambositra in the central highlands. A Sandradahy cooperative exhibited its silk at the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in July. (The International Folk Art Alliance, which runs the market, previously made a documentary about the Sandradahy silk workers.) Another silk group from northeast Madagascar also participated in the Sante Fe event, selling non-traditional wares made from Malagasy silkworms other than landibe.The reasons for the decline in wild silkworm populations are complex. Habitat destruction is often cited, but scientists disagree as to whether tapia forests are receding or not. They do agree that bush fires have played a role in directly killing silkworms, but it’s not clear whether the fires have reduced tapia forest coverage.Tapia has a thick protective bark that confers fire resistance, which is how it has endured in Madagascar’s highlands for so long. “With the colonization of the highlands by people, the frequency of fire increased, so the vegetation we see now is dominated by species such as tapia that are resistant to fire,” Chris Birkinshaw, a technical adviser at Missouri Botanical Garden, a research and conservation group that has a large presence in Madagascar, told Mongabay.Irina Biason, a member of a local forest management group in the village of Ambohimanjaka, standing in front of the tapia woodlands he helps to protect. A local forest management group has hundreds of members and protects about 1,200 hectares (about 3,000 acres) of land. Image by Edward Carver for Mongabay.However, the fires do kill off tapia seedlings and saplings (less than 8 or 9 years old). They also kill off many of the other trees and surrounding brush, reducing the biodiversity of the woodlands.Lack of security is a major part of the problem: many of the fires are caused by bandits called dahalo or doro tanety. They raid villages to steal cattle or other high-value items and then retreat, burning the forest behind them to cover their tracks. Some also burn the forest before or after a raid in order to distract villagers. There are no fire departments in rural areas, so villagers are compelled to stop defending their possessions from bandits and instead focus on preventing the fire from reaching their houses.However, the alteration of tapia habitats and silkworm populations is not due to fires alone. People also simply cut trees down for firewood or charcoal. The Ambohimanjaka group has prosecuted several offenders, but needs more help from the local branch of the environment ministry in order to fight deforestation, said Eugenie Raharisoa, Ny Tanintsika’s national coordinator. The ministry did not respond to a request for comment for this article.Eugenie Raharisoa, Ny Tanintsika’s national coordinator, at the group’s office in Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital. The landibe items behind her include scarves and cushion covers from various highland villages.Moreover, in some woodlands, invasive pine and eucalyptus trees have begun outcompeting tapia for resources and caused changes in soil composition. Conservation groups have made efforts to stop the march of such invasive species. Missouri Botanical Garden has, for example, helped cut down some 2,000 pine trees in the tapia woodlands near Ibity, a village in the central highlands.The silkworms also face diseases and predators — not least human beings. The worms have likely been overharvested due to demand for silk and food. In their chrysalis stage, the worms are considered a delicacy and have value at food markets. People fry them up as a snack or mix them with chicken and rice at mealtime.Viviane Rasoarimanana, a member of a local forest management group in the village of Ambohimanjaka, learned the early stages of the silk-making process at trainings by the nonprofit group Ny Tanintsika. “I’m very happy to have these skills and contribute to the group,” she said. “Hopefully by the time I’m old, the group will be rich.” Image by Edward Carver for Mongabay.A safer, silkier futureVillage groups with well-established markets for their cocoons or silk products continue to earn money from the silk business. But in other villages, such as Anjoma (often called Anjoman’Ankona, the name of the entire county), the scarcity and high price of landibe cocoons has caused most silk workers to close up shop. The prices vary depending on whether the silk is purchased as raw cocoons or at some intermediate thread stage, but many people in the business told Mongabay that they have tripled or quadrupled in the past five years.There is, however, some cause for optimism. Earlier this year, Madagascar’s government placed more army personnel in Ambatofinandrahana, the district that’s home to an abundance of tapia, where Anjoma’s silk workers usually get their cocoons. If security and forest management improves there, silk workers in Anjoma and across Madagascar’s highlands might have reason to celebrate.Ramaly Razafidrasoa would like this to happen while she’s still young enough to weave. She raised 14 children, 11 of whom are still alive, and has 98 total descendants. Many of them, thanks to her teaching, were once part of the silk trade. “I hope there will be enough silk left for us all to be buried in it,” she said.Photos: Landibe weaving, from silkworm to silk scarfTapia: Landibe silkworms eat the leaves of tapia (Uapaca bojeri), a tree found only in the highlands of Madagascar. Sometimes newly planted tapia is kept in cages to deter predators, including humans, from eating the silkworms. Like the worms themselves, the tapia fruit, bottom right, is a popular local food. (Click to enlarge.) Images by Edward Carver. Dyeing: Silk workers wash the silk thoroughly before and after the dyeing process. To obtain bright colors, they often use chemical dyes, but they still practice traditional dyeing as well. The dyeing process often involves cooking the silk for several hours. Mushrooms from a nearby forest, top middle, on the left, turn he silk a rich brown color. The bark of the local nonto tree, top middle, in the center, produces a crimson red; saffron, top middle, on the right, produces a yellow; eucalyptus leaves produce a light, yellowish green; and mud from the rice fields produces black. (Click to enlarge.) Images by Edward Carver. Second steps: The silk workers spin the fabric around a spindle into a single thin, uniform thread, top middle. If the thin string breaks the weavers carefully tie it back together with an imperceptible knot. After dyeing and a couple of other steps, they wrap the spool of silk thread into a figure 8 around two poles, creating the crisscross pattern needed to place the string on the loom for weaving, bottom right. (Click to enlarge.) Images by Edward Carver. First steps: Making landibe silk involves a lot of work before weaving can even begin. Silk workers start by turning several cocoons inside out atop a small wooden rod, sticking five or six together in a clump, top middle. The clumped cocoons are then boiled overnight in a pot of soapy water to bind them together and soften them. The silk workers then bury the softened cocoons in a pile of manure, bottom left, for one week to “ripen” the fibers so they will be easier to spin into a uniform thread. To rid the cocoons of the odor and dirt and ensure the silk will keep a pure color when dyed, they wash them against rocks in a creek. Thick piles of softened cocoons are set out to dry in the sun for about three days, bottom right. (Click to enlarge.) Images by Edward Carver. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Mulberry silkworms: Mulberry silkworm moths (Bombyx mori), originally from China, produce the fine silk familiar to most international consumers. Madagascar’s silk workers raise them in small spaces, feeding them mulberry leaves. The worms form a protective cocoon by emitting strands of silk — a process the silk workers effectively reverse by turning the cocoons back into thread. The chrysalises, bottom right, are commonly sold at food markets in Madagascar. Like landibe and other endemic Malagasy silkworms, the mulberry silkworms are popular to fry up as a snack or eat as part of a meal with chicken and rice. (Click to enlarge.) Images by Edward Carver. Banner image: Niry, a weaver in Soatanana, a village well known for its silk production, at work on a traditional loom. Image courtesy of Feedback Madagascar.Citations:Razafimanantsoa, T. M., Rajoelison, G., Ramamonjisoa, B., Raminosoa, N., Poncelet, M., Bogaert, J., … & Verheggen, F. J. (2012). Silk moths in Madagascar: A review of the biology, uses, and challenges related to Borocera cajani (Vinson, 1863)(Lepidoptera: Lasiocampidae). Biotechnol. Agron. Soc. Environ, 16(2), 269-276.Rakotondrasoa, O. L., Malaisse, F., Rajoelison, G. L., Razafimanantsoa, T. M., Rabearisoa, M. R., Ramamonjisoa, B. S., … & Bogaert, J. (2012). La forêt de tapia, écosystème endémique de Madagascar: écologie, fonctions, causes de dégradation et de transformation (synthèse bibliographique). Biotechnol. Agron. Soc. Environ, 16(4), 541-552.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Weaving: After weeks of preparation, the weaving can begin. It’s a painstaking process that some weavers do by candlelight. (Click to enlarge.) Images by Edward Carver. Animals, Conservation, Conservation And Poverty, Development, Ecology, Environment, Farming, Featured, Forests, Governance, Insects, Poverty, Sustainable Development, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation last_img read more

‘The tipping point is here, it is now,’ top Amazon scientists warn

first_imgAgriculture, Amazon Agriculture, Amazon Conservation, Amazon Destruction, Carbon Conservation, Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Emissions, Carbon Sequestration, Climate, Climate Change, Climate Change And Extreme Weather, Climate Change And Forests, Climate Change Policy, Climate Modeling, Climate Science, Conservation, Controversial, Deforestation, Drought, Environment, Forest Carbon, Forests, Global Environmental Crisis, Global Warming, Global Warming Mitigation, Green, Impact Of Climate Change, Industrial Agriculture, Land Use Change, Rainforest Deforestation, Rainforest Destruction, Saving The Amazon, Temperatures, Threats To The Amazon, Tropical Deforestation Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by Glenn Scherercenter_img In the past, climate modelling has indicated an approaching Amazon tipping point when global climate change, combined with increasing deforestation, could result in a rapid Amazon shift from rainforest to degraded savanna and shrubland, releasing massive amounts of carbon to the atmosphere when the world can least afford it.Now, scientists Carlos Nobre and Thomas Lovejoy report that researchers are seeing evidence in both the atmosphere and on the ground that this tipping point has been reached and will worsen if no action is taken immediately to reverse the situation.They reference a NASA satellite study revealing an increasingly dry Amazon over time, which space agency scientists say is one of “the first indications of positive climate feedback mechanisms.” A 2018 study found that Amazon tree species adapted to wet climates were dying at record rates while dry-adapted trees thrived.It is urgent, the scientists say, that Brazil move away from unsustainable agribusiness monocultures of cattle, soy, and sugarcane, while launching a major reforestation project on already degraded lands in the southern and eastern Amazon, actions that could help Brazil keep its Paris Climate Agreement commitment. A healthy intact portion of the Amazon rainforest in Pará state, Brazil. Image courtesy of Ideflor-Bio/Fotos Públicas.The Amazon Tipping Point is here, say leading climate scientist Carlos Nobre and renowned conservation biologist Thomas Lovejoy in a new science policy editorial published today, December 20. The tipping point’s arrival could mean a rapid rainforest die-off — releasing massive amounts of carbon to the atmosphere at a time when the world most needs carbon reductions.For more than a half century, write the researchers, scientists have known that the Amazon creates its own hydrological cycle: rainforest trees regulate the region’s evaporation, transpiration and rainfall. However, the more tree cover loss there is, the more droughts are intensified. And when the rainforest no longer receives enough rain to sustain itself, trees begin to die back into a form of degraded savanna or shrubland.It’s the Amazon on self-destruct mode, and an event whose arrival has been quickened not only by rising deforestation rates over recent years, but by global climate change as well.Researchers Nobre and Lovejoy have been alerting the scientific community about the Amazon tipping point for years, but now they’ve upgraded that warning: “Current deforestation is substantial and frightening: 17% across the entire Amazon basin and approaching 20% in the Brazilian Amazon,” they wrote in Science Advances. “We are scientists who have been studying the Amazon and all its wondrous assets for many decades. Today, we stand exactly in a moment of destiny: The tipping point is here, it is now.”Ambitious reforestation, raising the quality of life in Amazonian cities, and developing a bioeconomy based on a standing forest, they say, hold the key to barring these permanent changes. That and moving away from unsustainable agribusiness monocultures of cattle, soybeans, and sugarcane.NASA satellite image of smoke rising from Amazon fires on August 24, 2019. As the Amazon becomes dryer over time, fires are becoming more common and intense. Image by astronaut Luca Parmitano courtesy of ESA / NASA / Fotos Públicas.In the past, Amazon tipping point predictions were based on mathematical climate models. But the real-life manifestations of the shifting Amazon biome are beginning to show. Recent scientific research has detected signs of the tipping point happening on the ground and in the atmosphere.“What we predicted is now being observed in real life. It’s no longer a theoretical forecast about the future.” Carlos Nobre, one of Brazil’s top climate scientists and a researcher at the University of São Paulo, told Mongabay.In October, NASA Scientists led by Armineh Barhordarian recorded an increasingly dry Amazon via satellite, calling it one of “the first indications of positive climate feedback mechanisms.”Another study from 2018 combined the findings of 103 scientists, revealing that tree species adapted to wet climates were dying at record rates while dry-adapted trees thrived. “A slow shift to a more dry-affiliated Amazonia is underway,” the report stated. Fire-resistant trees with thicker bark were among the more successful species seen under current conditions, as compared to an intact Amazon in the past where trees were resistant to the spread of flames because of the region’s natural high humidity. “The forest’s vulnerability to fire is increasing. Undisturbed, it is almost impenetrable,” says Nobre.“The periodic droughts. The longer dry season. Higher temperatures in the dry season — it’s all unprecedented,” says Lovejoy, an ecologist who has studied the Amazon since 1965 and who coined the term biodiversity, “Once there is more dry area, you get more fire, and it begins to be cumulative. Now is the time to do something, not later.”A year ago, the pair published an update on their 2007 study, halving their previously predicted 40% deforestation estimate at which the Amazon Tipping Point would occur, reducing that to 20-25% deforestation.The consequences of the rainforest-to-degraded-savanna shift, Lovejoy and Nobre told Mongabay, are grave: a sudden crash in biodiversity, the release of huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere due to tree death (making the Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees impossible), and a drastic regional upset in the natural water cycle — likely heavily impacting Brazilian aquifers, agribusiness, and the water supply of major urban areas.Biomes have changed in the past, says Lovejoy, but changes historically happen on a lengthier timescale, occurring over hundreds of thousands, to millions of years. Species, therefore, have time to adapt as the climatic paradigm shifts. But under this tipping point scenario, if nothing is done, the shift is likely to occur over a few decades — it will be like the snap of a finger in geological time, he concludes.As Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro launches repeated assaults on environmental protections, hopes for the future of the Amazon are on the line. Experts now agree that Brazil is unlikely to achieve its Paris Agreement goals under this administration.“Bolsonaro isn’t giving this any attention and is completely aligned with climate change deniers,“ says Monica deBolle, an economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.According to the Climate Observatory, “the worst is yet to come” under Brazil’s current president. The NGO points to the country’s deforestation rate between 2018-19, the highest in a decade — totaling 9,762 square kilometers (3,769 square miles), with a 65% deforestation increase seen within indigenous territories.Conserved Amazon rainforest in Pará state, Brazil. Scientists argue that better management of the Amazon could potentially prevent the forest-to-savanna tipping point from occurring. Image courtesy of Ideflor-Bio/Fotos Públicas.Nobre and Lovejoy offer solutions: “The good news is we can build back a margin of safety through immediate, active, and ambitious reforestation particularly in the deforested regions that are largely abandoned cattle ranches and croplands, about 23% of destroyed forest territory.” They add that, “The only sensible way forward is to launch a major reforestation project especially in the southern and eastern Amazon, actions that could be part of Brazil’s implementing its commitments under the Paris Agreement.”Other scientists too are calling urgently for a reversal in government policy. “We really have to ramp down [forest] clearing, start fighting fires and ramp up recovery,” says Daniel Nepstad, president of the Earth Innovation Institute. “We have everything we need to know to act now, urgently, to prevent a large-scale fire and drought driven dieback.” With fires now often going undetected beneath the Amazon tree canopy, monitoring and detection systems for Amazon fires need to improve immediately, he says.Nepstad does worry that the tipping point forecast may send “the wrong message,” causing people to believe there is no turning back. “I don’t think there’s a point beyond which the whole Amazon collapses,” he told Mongabay. “It is all a question of how frequent and intense those really severe droughts are. And when [fires] hit, are there sources of ignition” that can be quickly located and combatted. He stressed the importance of effective firefighting in the Amazon. Under Bolsonaro and previous president Michel Temer, funding to IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental agency charged with fighting forest fires, was drastically reduced.Having declared arrival at the tipping point, both Nobre and Lovejoy note that the future is not carved in stone: “The peoples and leaders of the Amazon countries together have the power, the science, and the tools to avoid a continental-scale, indeed, a global environmental disaster. Together, we need the will and imagination to tip the direction of change in favor of a sustainable Amazon,” they wrote.Does the world have time enough to successfully respond? No one knows how rapidly things can change when a critical point is tipped, says Lovejoy: “Will it be a long slide, or will the kinds of changes that are already being seen start happening with greater magnitude?” he asks. “Let’s not find out by tipping it.”Banner image caption: The Brazilian Amazon on fire in August 2019 in Candeiras do Jamari municipality, Rondônia state. Image by Victor Moriyama / Greenpeace.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.last_img read more

Deforestation for potential rubber plantation raises concerns in Papua New Guinea

first_imgThe project, ostensibly for a 125-square-kilometer (48-square-mile) rubber plantation, began in mid-2018.Satellite imagery shows that Maxland, working with a local landowner company, has built logging roads and deforested patches of the Great Central Forest on Manus Island.Like Papua New Guinea as a whole, Manus is home to a wide variety of unique wildlife — just one aspect of the forest on which human communities have depended for thousands of years.Government forestry and environment officials were aware of the importance of the forest and a local forest management committee protested the project before it began, but it’s been allowed to continue anyway. PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea — The upstart deforestation over the past year and a half that’s sidling up to Pochon Lili’s land has him worried.“As a landowner, I’m concerned about the environment in which my land is located and has been affected,” Lili said.The 67-year-old environmental science professor’s property sits just to the southwest of a new “so-called agroforestry project” on Manus Island, part of Papua New Guinea and sitting in the South Pacific’s Bismarck Sea around 320 kilometers (200 miles) from the country’s mainland. The project has already begun to cut into the 700-square-kilometer (270-square-mile) Great Central Forest, one of the last remaining blocks of high-quality forest on Papua New Guinea’s outlying islands.As a leader of the Machom clan, Lili feels obligated to look out for the interests of his fellow community members. His clan did not sign on in support of the project spearheaded by a local landowner company called Pohowa Agriculture Ltd. and its partner, a Malaysian timber outfit called Maxland Ltd. The project is called the Pohowa Integrated Agro-forestry Project, though there are few indications that the “agroforestry” the project intends is the sort that aims to grow a mix of trees and crops in a way that maintains vital ecosystem services.Instead, the loss of forest and replacement with a monoculture of rubber could spell trouble for the communities living nearby, Lili said.“I wanted to see that the project does not end up in all sorts of problems for us,” he said.A mother with her children on Manus Island. Image by Elodie Van Lierde.Crews began clearing the way for a 125-km2 (48-mi2) rubber plantation in mid-2018, an area equal to nearly one-fifth of the Great Central Forest. But since that time, questions have swirled around whether the benefits to the communities that are part of the Pohowa company, such as timber royalty payments, road construction and a lasting source of employment in the form of nursery and plantation jobs, would materialize.The deforestation so far has left behind a patchwork of bare land and splintering logging roads cutting into the Great Central Forest. Though small in comparison to the forests that blanket Papua New Guinea’s mainland, Manus’ forests host a dizzying array of species, many of which live only on the island. They’ve also sustained local communities, like the Machom clan, for generations. The story of how the project has been able to proceed follows a murky trail from Manus’ highlands out to the Topol log pond on the island’s southern coast and through the government offices in the capital city of Port Moresby hundreds of kilometers away.The story’s end? It hasn’t been written yet, as three more years of the project remain. But skeptics remain concerned that the tale will follow a familiar pattern in Papua New Guinea, one in which foreign companies extract and export wholesale the country’s valuable hardwood timber, leaving once-forest-rich communities without the purported economic engine of an agriculture plantation as a replacement. And along the way, opaque legal processes involving the national and provincial governments seem to ease the process for the companies involved.last_img read more

In other news: Environmental stories from around the web, Jan. 10, 2020

first_imgConservation, Environment, Weekly environmental news update Article published by John Cannon There are many important conservation and environmental stories Mongabay isn’t able to cover.Here’s a digest of some of the significant developments from the week.If you think we’ve missed something, feel free to add it in the comments.Mongabay does not vet the news sources below, nor does the inclusion of a story on this list imply an endorsement of its content. Tropical forestsForest countries and food companies must build “trust,” one commentator says (Ethical Corporation).Chocolate producers see regulations as a possible solution to a long struggle with child labor in the industry (The Morning Call).New research ties deforestation to Ebola outbreaks (CIFOR Forests News).Indigenous groups in India cry foul about a rule requiring reforestation for any forest loss (Undark).Lemurs in Madagascar need a more organized reforestation effort to save them, a scientist says (The Washington Post) …… While a new paper has found that Madagascar could lose all of its forest by 2070 (UPI).Communities in the Solomon Islands are working to stave off illegal logging (National Geographic).Police investigate whether illegal logging played a role in floods in Indonesia (The Jakarta Post).Other newsAlmonds depend on pollination by bees, and it turns out it’s a deadly task (The Guardian).A gray whale joined surfers for a session in San Diego (Men’s Journal).Here are some ways to help out Australia as the country has lost more than a billion animals to wildfires (CNET) …… While its leader has drawn criticism for his handling of the crisis and his pro-fossil fuels stance (The Washington Post).The fires aside, Australia sits on the front line of climate change (The Atlantic).Global temperatures during 2019 were the second-highest on record, just behind 2016 (The New York Times).A second coyote attack on humans has occurred in Chicago (The New York Times).The great auk went from thriving to extinct in less than four centuries (Hakai Magazine).Climate change is threatening new targets: the marine labs poised at the sea’s edge (The New York Times).More acidic marine environments could hamper the U.S. economy (Scientific American).The 2004 tsunami relief efforts brought in aid to help fishing communities rebound, but now there’s evidence that the surge may be leading to damaged ecosystems (Devex).How much does that carbon offset fee on your airline ticket help? (YES Magazine).Traditions may help protect hunted birds in Lebanon (The New York Times).Banner image of a female crowned lemur (Eulemur coronatus) by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Half-time: Chelsea 1 Aston Villa 0

first_imgOscar’s third Premier League goal of 2014 has put Chelsea halfway towards victory on Jose Mourinho’s 250th game in charge of the Blues. The Brazilian was on hand to slide home from close range in the seventh minute after being set up by compatriot Willian.Chelsea dominated territory and possession, happy to patiently probe, while Villa were limited to counter-attacks.The visitors’ best chance of the first half came on 15 minutes when Chelsea failed to clear a corner and Aly Cissokho hooked just wide of the post.But the rest of the half belonged to Chelsea.Oscar teed up Cesc Fabregas on the edge of the box but he dragged his shot well wide, while Willian picked out Diego Costa with a cross but his header was claimed by a diving Brad Guzan in the Villa goal.Branislav Ivanovic headed over from a corner while Costa curled an effort just over the top as the hosts continued to dominate.Villa applied pressure late on in the half but all they could show for it was a Fabian Delph shot which went well wide.Chelsea ended the first half on top but Willian twice fired into the top tier of the Shed End. Chelsea: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Matic, Fabregas; Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Costa.Subs: Cech, Zouma, Filipe Luis, Mikel, Schurrle, Remy, Drogba.Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

#MeToo Cycle Diaries

first_imgFor model Priyanka Kochhar, it was a bad break-up. For Pakistan’s Zenith Irfan, it was the quest to realise her late father’s dream. For Sarah Kashyap, it was a challenge thrown at her by her brother. But these biker girls also had one common reason to take up motorcycling: There’s,For model Priyanka Kochhar, it was a bad break-up. For Pakistan’s Zenith Irfan, it was the quest to realise her late father’s dream. For Sarah Kashyap, it was a challenge thrown at her by her brother. But these biker girls also had one common reason to take up motorcycling: There’s no glass ceiling to their sense of adventure. Known as #bikewithgirl on Instagram, Kochhar straddled three different superbikes for a cruise across Croatia in the Harley-Davidson Triple Threat event in April. Zenith’s journeys culminated in a critically acclaimed documentary, Motorcycle Girl, released in Pakistan this year. And Kashyap is set to hit the international rally circuit after becoming the first woman to finish the prestigious Raid De Himalaya and Desert Storm rally in the Xtreme Moto Category. Another thing they share: they all hope to ride into a day when pepper spray and body alarms are things of the past.Priyanka Kochhar, 32MumbaiOnly Indian woman participant in Harley Davidson Triple Treat Press Event, CroatiaDaily Ride: KTM Duke-200The Essentials: Hydration pack, pepper spray if riding in India, energy bars, day and night visorsWhat was the highlight of your ride through Croatia?Riding the Iron 1200 bike (256 kg), which is seven times my weight! But everything went smooth, thanks to the brilliant instructors. It was great to ride the Harley on Croatia’s cities and mountains. We toured and raced. It was a complete experience.When did you start motorcycling and how did it happen to you?Around four years ago, I had a bad break-up and was left with no friends. I just didn’t know how to get out of the gloomy mindscape. A friend of mine owned a Royal Enfield. I borrowed it from him and crammed up a lot of tutorials. A few falls, and the bike accepted me.advertisementDo you think things have changed for women riders since you first started?When I started, there were hardly any women on these machines. Now we see a ratio of 88:12 in many events. What we need are more exclusive motor­sport events for women in order to encourage them to participate.Dudes are always talking about women drivers. Unfortunately, the moment [guys] realise that it’s a woman riding, they start following and racing.Zenith Irfan, 23PakistanHas travelled to the dangerous northern areas of Pakistan on her bike. Zenith IrfanDaily Ride: Suzuki GS 150The Essentials: Two pairs of clothing (winter/ summer), rain gear, mini toolkit, camping gearHow does it feel now that there’s a film on you?It is a wonderful feeling. The movie has been received well and hailed by critics as “the film that has changed Pakistani cinema”.How did you start?I turned 18 in 2013 and decided to fulfil my late father’s wish to travel round the world on a motorcycle. I have clocked 20,000 km and visited more than 200 cities in provinces like Gilgit Baltistian, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. I hope that one day relations with India would improve so that I am able to ride to Kerala.How do men in Pakistan react seeing you ride a motorcycle?In the mountains, men are proud to see a woman rider exploring the valleys. I get mixed reactions from city men. Pakistanis are not used to seeing a woman on a bike.Sarah Kashyap, 32ChandigarhShe is the first Indian woman to have completed the Raid and Desert storm Sarah KashyapDaily Ride: KTM EXC 250, but soon a Honda CRF 450The Essentials: A US Army body alarm. A loud sound in case of an emergency can give you enough time to escape. Torch, puncture kit, repair kit, medicines, basic spare partsHow were you introduced to motorcycling?It started at the age of 16 when my brother challenged me to ride a bike.What’s your next goal?I want to be the first Asian woman to complete the Dubai International Baja & Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. I want to participate in the toughest offroad race in the world-The Dakar Rally.What’s it like to be a woman biker in India?I get thumbs ups all the time from people but men try to race me as their egos get bruised when a woman overtakes.last_img read more