Posts Tagged With: Climate Change

Vulture Reintroduction in Europe

Europe has recently seen a rise in  healthy population of different vulture species. Griffon Vulture, one of the old world vultures, has been reintroduced successfully in France. Like all other family members of its kind, Griffon Vultures are  scavengers. During the mid-twentieth century, the vulture population in entire Europe declined drastically and was affecting some of the major ecosystems. Out of four major vultures found in Europe, Eurasian Griffon (Gyps fulvus), Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus) and Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus), France, Italy, Bulgaria, Turkey and Former Yugoslavia had lost most of their populations (Schenk 1972). At that time, only Spain had noteworthy vulture population (estimated 2000 pairs of Griffon and 200 pairs of Black vultures) within its territory with insignificant movement in neighboring countries (Bernis 1966, 1974). Besides Griffon, Bearded Vulture was reintroduced in France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria through a 20 year conservation project (1972-1992). There was a critical time in the middle of last century, vulture species (Griffon, Bearded, Turkey, Black and others) were becoming critically endangered all over Europe. Different long-term and short-term initiatives were taken by France, Germany, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Spain and Turkey which helped improve the vulture  population.

In France, Bulgaria and Italy, the vulture populations declined largely due to unprecedented development activities after World War 2. It was widely acknowledged that, poisoning, shooting, starvation, wire collision, electrocution, injury, old age and imprinting are common reasons behind endangering vulture populations, not only in Europe but also in Asia (India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China). According to SAVE (Saving Asia’s Vulture From Extinction – a consortium of international organizations), 97% of vulture population have declined in Asian Sub-continent, which is quicker than that of any other species. In Europe, other causes of non-predatory death includes malnutrition, disease, and catastrophic events (Whelan 2008). Vultures are exceptionally dependent on carcasses of wild and domestic animals. They are also known as cleaners of nature. Domestic animals are frequently treated with NSAID (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug), which is one of the major threats for the vulture population. RSC’s (Royal Society of Chemistry) study shows that, Veterinary painkiller like NSAID has caused for 99% of India’s vulture death between 1992 and 2007. This deadly drug is still being widely used in different countries in Europe and threatening the vulture.

The most important task vulture does for the ecosystem is consume carcasses. Dead bodies of wild animals and farm animals are primary food source of these gregarious bird species. All the vulture soars in the sky for whole day surveying the earth’s surface for food. To maintain ecological balance, the vulture plays an important role in environmental health. They are important spiritually, economically and environmentally. As scavenger, vultures are able to consume carcasses more effectively and efficiently than any others (Whelan 2008). Before the disappearance of Griffon Vulture from Massif Central and the Alps in France, (also known as  of ‘raptor war’) most of the carcasses were cleaned through natural process. Water bodies in France and other neighboring countries along the Alps were contaminated with carrion, which was effecting entire ecosystem, starting from human being to small cats and birds. Tons of abandoned wild remains were polluting air, water and soil across Alps. Though there is limited information about adverse consequences before introducing ‘vulture restaurants[1]’ in France, in 1960s, national level conservation activities began. Vulture restaurants were the first such initiative to restore Griffon Vulture population by delivering safe food (Terrasse & Terrasse 1970).

[1] Open place where safe and uncontaminated food is provided for vultures.

Vultures, importantly stop spreading diseases from carrions in wild. Scavengers are capable of digesting almost all harmful pathogens found in carcasses. They break down dead bodies and help decomposers to further break them into chemical elements. Decomposition and the recycling process of dead biomass are heavily depended on vulture species.

To strengthen conservation efforts, some legal actions facilitated restore vulture population in European countries. Since 1970s, bird shooting was legally prohibited in France. Announcing protecting areas across counties (France, Spain, Italy, Turkey and others) to protect natural resources also assisted to grow vulture population. To protect birds, in Europe, Bird Directive was developed in 1979. Spain has banned using NSAID in the beginning of twenty first century. Whereas, other European countries are still in the political process to regulate veterinary medicines.

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European communities are well-known for their environmental friendliness. Vulture reintroduction projects were widely accepted by the community. Since vultures hardly show up into urban or semi-urban areas or highly populated areas, their wolf-like misconceptions are discounted. A number of Non-government Organizations (e.g. Vulture Conservation Foundation) along with government agencies are working together to resolute unexpected issues. The Alps and the Grands Causses are free zones for vultures. Another inventiveness, ‘Farmer Feeding Places’ within the Griffon Vulture foraging areas (mainly in Grands Causses), involving community into the process made the path easier. Remarkably, reintroduced Black Vultures followed Griffon’s feeding zones and were able to uphold their distinctive characteristics.

Photo: (@ Naimul Islam_2012) Bearded Vulture soaring over the Alps (Valais, Switzerland)

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Categories: Avifauna, Natureholic | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Clean Power Plan

If we do not act now, the expense will be manifolds for our future generation. The effects are nowadays clearly noticeable – weather condition is shifting faster than any time in the human history. To administer the current scenario, having extensive evidence in hand, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considering regulate GHG (CO2) emission from the energy sector. In line with international communities, e.g. IPCC and EU, to meet the standard of air quality EPA has been developing the Clean Power Plan (CPP) aimed on 30% CO2 reduction by 2030. And, more than three and a half million Americans sent comments in support of the Clean Power Plan to the EPA.

“Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems. Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which, together with adaptation, can limit climate change risks.” – IPCC on November 2, 2014.

“While this progress is encouraging, climate change is no longer a distant threat – we are already feeling its impacts across the country and the world. Last year was the warmest year ever in the contiguous United States and about one-third of all Americans experienced 10 days or more of 100-degree heat.” – The Presidents Climate Action Plan (2013)

“We see the Clean Power Plan as dramatic overstepping of EPA’s legal authority under the Clean Air Act,” John Pippy, CEO of the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance.

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Source: Google

Carbon Dioxide

Source: LinkedIn

There are apparent disagreements from state and energy industries. And, there are supporters too. “CPP will lead to climate and health benefits worth an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion in 2030, including avoiding 2700 to 6600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in Children” – American Lung Association.

Periodical assessment and progress monitoring of the state implementation plan (SIP), in line with the CPP and Clean Air Act (CWA), will further broaden the scopes for energy sector across the country. In the process of CPP finalization, implementation and follow-up, local stakeholders need to be engaged through Public Hearing, Group Discussion and survey. Continuous monitoring-evaluation-modification of CPP and SIP will reduce uncertainty regarding electricity pricing, heat rate improvement, reliability and other relevant concerns. There are obvious challenges to achieve some of the targets e.g. heat rate improvement. With reasonable flexibility for the industry, CPP will create opportunity to shift to more efficient and cleaner technology using as much as renewable energy sources as possible. Simultaneously, there would be greater opportunities for scientist and/or experts to innovate technologies which may improve the heat rate and diminish dependency on fossil fuel-run industries.

There certainly would be difficulties to achieve articulated targets, nonetheless, the initiative has to be taken. Our actions taking place here within the US territory not only adversely impacting on Population within US territory but also doing the same for rest of the world. An accountable and successful implementation of CPP can be exemplary for international communities and useful to reduce climate related vulnerabilities.

References

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report. November 1, 2014. Accessed at     http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/SYR_AR5_SPM.pdf.

Melillo JM, Richmond TC, and Yohe GW, Eds. 2014. Climate Change Impacts in the United States. The Third National Climate Assessment. U.S. Global Change Research Program. Available at http://www.nca2014.globalchange.gov

Executive Office of the President The president’s climate action plan June 2013. Washington DC, USA: The White House. Accessed at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/image/president27sclimateactionplan.pdf

Categories: Clean Air Act, Clean Power Plan | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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