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Ed Webb

New Study Shows Negev Solar Farm is a Death Knell for Wildlife | Green Prophet - 0 views

  • I don’t think the NP:A is as much concerned with solar panels, which absorb sunlight, as they are with the “Brightsource” type of technology of using mirrors to reflect the sunlight towards a central collector that will power a generator or steam powered generator to create electricity.
    Comment section illuminating (pun intended)
Ed Webb

Free Internet Press :: Iraq's Garden Of Eden - Restoring The Paradise That Saddam Destr... - 0 views

  • Alwash, 52, a citizen of Iraq and the United States, is a hydraulic engineer and the director of Nature Iraq, the country's first and only environmental organization. He founded the organization in 2004 together with his wife Suzanne, an American geologist, with financial support from the United States, Canada, Japan and Italy. His goal is to save a largely dried-up marsh in southern Iraq. In return for giving up his job in California, Alwash is now putting his safety and health at risk.
  • Only 20 years ago, an amazing aquatic world thrived in the area, which is in the middle of the desert. Larger than the Everglades, it extended across the southern end of Iraq, where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers divide into hundreds of channels before they come together again near Basra and flow into the Persian Gulf. For environmentalists, this marshland was a unique oasis of life, until the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, had it drained in the early 1990s after a Shiite uprising.
  • Within a few years, the marshland had shrunk to less than 10 percent of its original size. In a place that was once teeming with wildlife - wild boar, hyenas, foxes, otters, water snakes and even lions - the former reed beds had been turned into barren salt flats, poisoned and full of land mines. In a 2001 report, the United Nations characterized the destruction of the marshes as one of the world's greatest environmental disasters.
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  • "Azzam is fighting a courageous battle, but he needs help," says Richardson. The United States has canceled its financial support for the project, and now most of its funding and scientific advice comes from Italy. Richardson estimates that no more than 30 to 40 percent of the former marshland can be transformed into a functioning ecosystem in the long term. But even that would represent an enormous improvement, not just for nature but also for Iraq's future.
  • Alwash and his collaborators are developing a plan for the country's first national park: a protected zone of about 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles) where the water supply will be regulated with a large number of floodgates. "We are in the process of drafting guidelines for nature reserves," says Giorgio Galli of Studio Galli Ingegneria Spa, an engineering firm in Padua, Italy. "This sort of thing has not existed in Iraq until now." The scientists hope that if the project materializes, it could be declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • it is far from certain that the water will remain in the marshes. Turkey, where the Tigris and the Euphrates originate, is building dams and gradually reducing the flow of water southward. There are no agreements between the two countries over joint use of the rivers. And Turkey is only one of three countries, along with China and Burundi, that have not signed the 1997 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses.

    Much would be gained if Iraq's farmers would learn to be economical with their use of water. They are not familiar with the principle of drip irrigation. Instead, they still flood their fields, a method that was practiced in times when there was a surplus of water.

    There are also other ways to save water. Iraq treats hardly any of its sewage, and recycling water is practically unheard of. As a result, the water that is being fed out of the canals and back into the marshes contains high concentrations of fertilizer, environmental toxins and pathogens. The Environment Ministry and Nature Iraq are jointly monitoring the situation to gauge the effects on the ecosystem and the health of human beings and animals.

  • Can conservation even function in a country like this?
  • "The oil companies can't wait to start drilling for oil in the marshes," he says. "And when that gets going, without regulations, research and monitoring, you can forget about the marshes once and for all."
  • the US Iraqi doesn't share his German colleague's pessimism. In fact, he sees the oil boom as an opportunity. "Maybe we can create incentives for the oil companies to contribute to the establishment of a nature reserve in return," says Alwash.
  • "The first people to come will be the ornithologists," Alwash continues. "Then the people who are interested in archaeology, in the ancient cities of Ur and Uruk. And then the eco-tourists.
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