Friday, July 29, 2022

Climate change is killing more elephants than poaching, Kenyan officials say

What nonsense! Africa has always been prone to punishing droughts. Why does this one have to be caused by climate change? Sadly, I have been seeing images of starving African children as far back as I can remember

Illegal ivory poaching once posed a significant threat to Kenya’s elephants. But now the giants of the animal kingdom are facing an even bigger risk: climate change.

As Kenya battles its worst drought in four decades, the crisis is killing 20 times more elephants than poaching, according to officials. They cite desiccated carcasses found in Tsavo National Park, where much wildlife has fled in recent years in search of water.

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To survive, elephants require vast landscapes for foraging. Adults can consume 300 pounds of food and more than 50 gallons of water a day. But rivers, soil and grassland are drying up, resulting in a barren and deadly environment.

In the last year, at least 179 elephants have died of thirst, whereas poaching has claimed the lives of fewer than 10, Kenyan Tourism and Wildlife Secretary Najib Balala told the BBC. “It is a red alarm,” he said of the crisis.

Balala suggested that so much time and effort has been spent tackling the issue of poaching that environmental issues have been neglected.

“We have forgotten to invest into biodiversity management and ecosystems,” he said. “We have invested only in illegal wildlife trade and poaching.”

In recent years, Kenyan officials have clamped down on poaching, which has targeted giraffes for their meat, bones and hair and elephants for their ivory tusks.

Heftier penalties for poachers, traders and financiers were introduced under an updated wildlife and conservation management act that took effect in 2014. It was hailed for deterring criminals as wildlife populations rebounded.

49 million people face famine as Ukraine war, climate disasters intensify

In September, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the drought sweeping parts of the country a national disaster, with millions facing food instability and malnutrition.

Last week, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said it would provide almost $255 million in aid to Kenya, including emergency food and support for farmers. They say they have lost up to the 70 percent of their crops, along with their livestock.

The agency said it would assist communities in Kenya’s arid and semiarid counties, which are experiencing the worst effects of the drought.

More than 4 million people in Kenya are facing acute food shortages. In recent months, child malnutrition cases have surged by half, to 942,000, Reuters reported.

And it’s not just elephants that are dying as a result of human-caused climate change.

Seven million livestock in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia have died since last fall, according to a recent report by USAID’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network.

The carcasses of giraffes, goats, camels and droves of cattle have also been found in villages after starving to death in northern Kenya. Such losses can be ruinous for families, which face food insecurity as a result, The Washington Post reported last year.

Rangers and hunters have tried to help the animals by supplying water and planting drought-resistant trees, but the dry spell has been relentless. Exacerbating the food crisis has been Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has driven up the prices of wheat and maize.

And while Kenya continues to face a punishing drought, the United States and Britain are also battling rising temperatures and scorched landscapes amid record heat.

In the United States, several states including California, which is enduring its third consecutive year of drought, have introduced water restrictions. In Britain, officials have warned of a drought and more wildfires in August following the hottest temperatures ever recorded in the country this month.


China orders 300 million more tonnes of coal to be mined a year

China is stepping up construction of coal-fired power stations and has ordered an extra 300 million tonnes of the fossil fuel to be mined every year as it apparently contradicts its own climate change commitments.

Beijing approved the construction of 8.63 gigawatts (GW) of coal power in the first quarter of this year, nearly half the amount seen in all last year, according to a report from Greenpeace East Asia.

President Xi last year committed to phase down coal use from 2026 to tackle China’s position as the world’s biggest emitter by volume of greenhouse gases. However, climate experts are concerned those targets are undermined with a government focused on economic challenges.

The approval for coal-fired power gathered momentum in the fourth quarter of last year after China began suffering nationwide power shortages, Greenpeace said. As a result, 11GW of capacity was approved in the last quarter, from a total of 18.55GW last year. That momentum has continued into this year, the group said.

China relies on coal for about 60 per cent of its electricity and has asked domestic miners to increase capacity by 300 million tonnes this year. Electricity consumption has surged this summer as China suffers an intense heatwave, with air conditioning cranked up at homes and businesses.

The State Council, China’s cabinet, announced 10 billion yuan (£1.2 billion) of investment in coal power generation in May, as coal producers were pressed to ramp up output.


Electric bus failure

Just one day after officials promoted the passage of the Connecticut Clean Air Act, CTtransit, the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s bus service, has pulled its entire fleet of electric buses due to one bursting into flames. The electric vehicles have been replaced with traditional diesel-powered buses.

The New Haven Register reports that one day after officials promoted the passage of the Connecticut Clean Air Act, one of the state-run electric buses burst into a massive inferno. The CTtransit bus caught on fire in a Hamden parking lot on Saturday morning and resulted in two workers and a firefighter being sent to the hospital.

Hamden fire officials said: “Lithium ion battery fires are difficult to extinguish due to the thermal chemical process that produces great heat and continually reignites.” Two transit workers were hospitalized as a precaution after being exposed to the smoke and a firefighter was taken to the hospital for heat exhaustion.

The bus was delivered in December and began service in January according to CTtransit spokesperson Josh Rickman. “The bus, last operated on July 20, on routes 243 and 265, and was not in service at the time of the incident,” Rickman said. “Bus fires are rare, but can occur similar to cars. This is CTtransit’s first fire incident with a battery electric bus. Bus operators, maintenance staff and others undergo extensive training and safety protocols are in place.”

Due to the fire, the entire electric bus fleet has been pulled from service as a precaution. “The importance of rider safety is demonstrated by taking these buses out of service and ensuring a thorough investigation is completed prior to any redeployment of the fleet,” Rickman said. “We have deployed diesel buses to make sure people get to where they need to be.”


Greenie lunacy in Australia

Power grids transitioning to renewable energy generates great debate, but no one is discussing the Australian government’s transition into madness, marked by bouts of delusion and dissociation from reality on any issue involving climate.

An obvious area of denial is the chaos in power grids, with wholesale electricity prices spiking and major users being paid to stay off the grid to balance supply. Yet in the midst of it all, as if nothing was happening, a minster or official will declare that the switch to renewables must be accelerated.

Another is the declaration by defence minister Richard Marles that climate change – specifically rising sea levels – is a greater threat to the Pacific than Chinese military aggression. Made during a visit to the US in mid-July the minister’s comments may have had more to do with maintaining harmony at the Pacific Island Forum then being held in Fiji and attended by Prime Minister Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong, or cosying up to Beijing, but it was a strange statement for a defence minister to make.

As part of the forum the federal government followed the fad of declaring climate emergencies signing a joint forum declaration including the phrase. Now all they have to do is to produce an emergency, although they will probably settle for another State of the Climate report declaring that eco-systems are on the point of collapse, as they have for more than 30 years.

For island nations the declaration makes complete sense. Tuvalu, for example, sits on the peak of a submerged mountain top with poor soils, half way between Australia and Hawaii, where it is regularly visited by cyclones. So climate has always been a problem. But if the developed countries can be persuaded that the nation’s troubles are somehow their fault, they may contribute billions to a climate fund long promised during the endless series of international summits. Some of that climate money would be funnelled to the Pacific nations.

From the point of view of the minister of defence however, his declaration is madness. Satellites have tracked sea level increases world-wide for decades with the results publicly available on a site run by Columbia university. Since the early 1990s, when satellite monitoring began, sea levels have been increasing at an average rate of 3.3 millimetres a year. Such an increase, if extended over a whole century, adds up to an undramatic one third of a metre.

In addition, in a paper in the journal Nature Communications in February 2018 three New Zealand academics point out that there is growing evidence that islands are geologically dynamic, with features that adjust to changing sea level and climatic conditions. As a result, Tuvalu’s overall area has been increasing, not decreasing, although the island’s government strongly disputes that any of the additional surface area is usable land. Storms are another, obvious problem in the Pacific, but a paper in the journal Nature Climate Change in June, authored by 12 mostly Australian academics, states that the frequency of tropical cyclones has been declining due to climate change. The paper was reported straight-faced by the mainstream media without acknowledging that it contradicted decades of green propaganda.

Then there is the ongoing power crisis which has affected most Western countries. In Australia, the lack of a power capacity market, which pays generators simply to be ready to produce power, combined with relentless green propaganda against coal-fired power plants means no new plants have been built for years, there are fewer coal-fired generators capable of delivering on-demand power, and those still operating are increasingly unreliable due to age and lack of maintenance.

Those problems, combined with massive increase in energy prices, have resulted in spikes in wholesale power prices, particularly in Queensland, with advisor Energy Edge noting that wholesale power prices in the state more than doubled to an unheard-of average of $323 a megawatt-hour in the June quarter. When coal-fired power stations ruled the old state grids 20 years ago, wholesale power cost about $40 a megawatt hour. A few years ago, it was $80 a megawatt hour.

The chaos, and revelations that the government may pay some $1.7 billion to major power users who agree to stay off the grid during the crisis, has not affected the worldview of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. In a recent conference in Sydney, as the crisis was unfolding, he talked of the shift to net zero and ‘the transformative role of clean energy technologies’.

Activists claim a big part of the problem is the increase in prices for gas and coal, but they bear the blame, having repeatedly attacked new coal mines and gas projects, and their financiers, using propaganda, protests and legal actions designed to deter or delay projects.

Thanks to their efforts, no one should be surprised that developed countries are dependent for energy supplies on the likes of Russia, where green activists trying to shut fossil fuel projects get into serious trouble. In 2013, for example, the Russian government charged Greenpeace activists who tried to interfere with an oil platform above the Arctic circle with piracy. The charges were dropped after two months but activists have stayed away from Russian oil platforms.

Threatening to throw activists in jail for up to 12 years is unlikely to happen in the West but any government serious about energy security must recognise that the grid will require base-load fossil fuel power for many years to come, and do more to stand up to climate trouble-makers. Along the way they could try to regain their sanity.




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