Weather, Climate and Climate Change 2017 Quiz Competition

ESL served as judges and quiz-master for “Weather, Climate and Climate Change 2017 Quiz Competition." We also sponsored the second place prize which is a 1,000 gallon water tank.

The Weather, Climate and Climate Change Quiz targets primary and preparatory school students in grades four and five, who competed for prizes including a renewable energy solution.

Main sponsors included:
The Improving Climate Data and Information Management Project (under the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience, PPCR), Jamaica Public Service Company Limited, Climate Change Division, University of the West Indies, Sole Distributors and the Forestry Department.

Partners included:
Environmental Solutions Ltd., National Environment and Planning Agency, Water Resources Authority and the Heart Trust-NTA Youth Services Division

Youth need to be in the know where climate change is concerned. Though climate change information is more readily available, not many children are exposed to or see the need to access this information. Hence, the Meteorological Service saw the need to bring this information to the forefront of the minds of these children, our future generation. In doing this the Meteorological Service will play a pivotal role in equipping this generation with the tools that will aid them in dealing with the challenges that will arise from climate change. Thus, the Weather, Climate and Climate Change competition was conceptualized and implemented to meet these needs.

The first event of this kind was held in May 2015 and was deemed a success. The Meteorological Service saw that competitions of this nature could play a key role in keeping the youth informed and equipping them with the tools to survive in an ever changing climate. These tools, including knowledge, will result in our children being empowered to become environmental stewards and will enable them to make better environmental decisions. Additionally, this will result in the transfer of knowledge to parents and members of the communities, culminating in an increased awareness of future climate risks which would enable all stakeholders to account for environmental/climate risks in their decision making.

Eleanor Jones, MD – Receives Musgrave Award

ON May 25, six Jamaicans will be recognised with Musgrave medals by the downtown Kingston-based Institute of Jamaica for their contribution to the arts, science and literature.For the arts, reggae singer Freddie McGregor is the lone recipient. He is set to receive the silver Musgrave medal. There will be two recipients for literature: Tanya Shirley will receive a silver medal, while Dr Basil K Bryan will be awarded the bronze award.

In a statement McGregor said he is moved by the gesture, which, for him, is even more significant considering it is coming from the local arts community.

“To be given an award is really heart-warming for various reasons, as it a testament to the fact that reggae music is appreciated among all classes of Jamaicans, whether uptown, downtown, political or academic,” he said.

With more than 50 years in the music industry, McGregor is encouraging the new generation of artistes not become fixated on the glamourous side of the business, but place value on a authenticity, professionalism, dedication, and hard work.

The honour is also not lost on Shirley.

The writer and poet recalled how she felt when contacted by the Institute of Jamaica.

“I came home and saw the letter, and like all letters these days, I just thought it was a bill and tossed it aside to be opened the next day. I however did open it that night and when I read it I was shocked. I called my mother immediately and that's when it sank in. My fiancé Googled and when he saw that I was in the same category as Marlon James, we realised it was a really big deal,” she recounted.
For Shirley, meeting outgoing Poet Laureate Mervyn Morris and incoming Poet Laureate Lorna Goodison during her years at The University of The West Indies, Mona, sealed the deal for her that she could become a writer.

“I was always an avid reader. As a young girl, I competed with a friend to see if we could read a Nancy Drew a day. In high school I was introduced to creative writing, but never knew I could make a career out of this. So I spent my first year at university as a business major and only transferred to the Department of English in second year. I met like-minded people who showed me that it could be done. So I did my research, found postgraduate programmes, fellowships and workshops in a bid to strengthen my craft,” she said.

Shirley is currently working on a third book to complement her two previous works — She Who Sleeps With Bones and The Merchant of Feathers.

“My work is rooted in Jamaica with branches that extend to the world. So in my last collections I explored dancehall culture, for example, and had offered a look at issues from an urban experience. For the upcoming work I will deal with the idea of 'fluffy' through what is referred to as body poetics. I just want to continue sharing my work with people all over the world,” she added.

The other recipients are Professor Herbert Ho Ping Kong, who will receive the gold medal. Professor Daniel Coore, the silver medal; and Eleanor Jones, bronze. All are being awarded for science.

The Musgrave award was established in 1889 as a memorial to Sir Anthony Musgrave, governor of Jamaica, who founded the Institute of Jamaica in 1879.

Source: Richard Johnson, Jamaica Observer

ESL – Career Development, Environment & Climate Change

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

Mrs. Rashidah Khan Haqq (Manager of Technical Services) and Ms. Nalini Jagnarine (Environmental Analyst) presented at Belmont Park Primary School in Portmore for Career Day. They spoke on various aspects of the Environment, Career opportunities and Climate Change.

The students ranged from 4th to 6th graders and were extremely enthused on becoming Environmental Ambassadors for their country.

While we develop our families and communities, as parents and elders it is our duty to teach and lead, and just as important, to live our lives as if we are borrowing the earth from our children.

Let's strive to return a better world to its rightful owners.

Click any image below to enlarge:

ESL Educates on Climate Change

Mrs Jones (Managing Director) and Mrs. Rashidah Khan-Haqq (Manager of Technical Services) presented at the Kiwanis Club, New Kingston on Wednesday March 29, 2017. The topic of discussion was Climate Change and Health with particular focus on Indoor Air Quality. The presentation was well received and it paved a way for fruitful and engaging discussions.

Click any image below to enlarge.

ESL Staff Leadership Training

The ESL staff were delighted to take part in the "Discussion on Leadership - Realizing Potential" which was led by Floria Aghdeimer a personal development professional on a Trade Mission from Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Floria is a coach, trainer, keynote and motivational speaker for Professional Development events, with experience in topics re. Leadership, Corporate Culture, Stress Management, Difficult Conversations Simplified, Diversity, and Work/Life Balance for improved Productivity, Creativity, and Innovation.

Her portfolio includes:
  • Dalhousie university: "Work Well" initiative; Personal Leadership; Being a caring colleague- asking the right questions; Effective Interpersonal Communication Skills
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP): PTSD; Stress Management
  • Trade Centre Limited: Diversity & Inclusion with senior management team
  • ScotiaBank Centre: Diversity & Inclusion with front line ushers
  • Correctional Services Canada: Managing Stress I, II, III
  • Teachers Professional Development Conferences: Managing Change; Diversity & Inclusion; Managing Stress; ‘Filling Your Cup so You Can Pour More’
  • Halifax Chamber of Commerce: Difficult Conversations Simplified
  • TeamWork Cooperative: Interpersonal Communication; Confidence building series; Wellness; Assertive Communication at the Workplace
  • Halifax Libraries: Mindfulness series of 7 sessions
  • Nova Scotia Career Development Association: Managing Change & Stress for Productivity
  • Mount Saint Vincent University: Assertive Communication at the Workplace
  • Dalhousie Medical School (NB): Trust & Respect at the Workplace

ESL Staff Highlights Mario Christie

Environmental Solutions Ltd. congratulates Technical Manager for ESL’s QEHL Lab, Mr. Mario Christie and his team for placing 1st in "Exploring the Chemistry of Caribbean Cuisine."

The unique competition, "Communicating Chemistry: Caribbean Cuisine" was staged at the 251st American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition in San Diego, California in March 2016.

The goal of the contest was to increase literacy in science-related topics among the general public, as well as to demonstrate how Chemistry, in particular, relates to food and culture.

The team members were Mario Christie, Nadine Whyte and Rajeve Brooks. Their advisor was Dr. Andrea Goldson-Barnaby.
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Happy World Water Day

World Water Day, held every March 22, is taking place around the world on Wednesday, aiming at attracting attention to the water crisis with this year's theme: "Waste Water."

The day was originally launched in 1993 by the U.N. To coincide with the 2017 date, reports have been published warning of severe water scarcity in parts of Africa and Iran. As drought conditions are reported throughout East Africa, World Water Day feels more timely than ever.

Here's five facts about water consumption around the world.

Over 80% of all waste water is not used again

Yes, it sounds a little strange, but recycling water, according to the U.N., could partly help with shortages. The waste water instead goes back into ecosystems which it sometimes pollutes.

With the correct treatment and technology, this "waste water" that flows away, could be recycled into "new" water.

70% of water withdrawals are due to agriculture

Agriculture takes up the most water, worldwide. The U.N. said irrigation systems are responsible for most water withdrawals worldwide. That statistic gets worse when countries are not as developed, with irrigation responsible for over 90% of water withdrawal, the U.N. reports.

This is particularly problematic as these countries are often those where access to water is already flawed. More efficient methods of farming and of providing crops with water need to be developed and used if the current situation is to be improved.

Leaking taps waste around 5,500 liters of water a year

Dripping taps, according to the British NGO Waterwise, waste a huge amount of water.

To try and encourage us all to do our bit, the EPA have helped to run a 'Fix a Leak' week for close to a decade. The organization's Watersense program, said that over 10,000 gallons of water are wasted due to household leaks.

Less than 3% of the world's water is drinkable

And most of that is trapped in Antarctica and the Arctic, National Geographic reports, and therefore inaccessible for humans to use.

Over 20% of freshwater fish species are now endangered or extinct

Freshwater use has a significant impact on the environment. According to the U.N., these species have been hit because of human water consumption. So reducing water waste won't just help reduce bills— it will also do good for nature.

Source: Click Here

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4 Mind-Blowing Facts About Trees!

Hello everyone! Today is International Day of Forests — a day for celebrating all the ways in which forests and trees protect and sustain us.

 

Forests generate oxygen, store water and regulate climate — yet we cut down an area of forest the size of Portugal every year.

Here are four incredible facts about forests:

  1. About 36 football fields' worth of trees are lost every minute due to deforestation.
  2. When forests are cleared, they emit carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. In fact, 11 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans are from deforestation — equivalent to the emissions from all of the cars and trucks on the planet.
  3. In 50 years, a single tree can release about 6,000 pounds of breathable oxygen, enough for about four people per year.
  4. The Amazon region alone accounts for 20 percent of the world's fresh water and 10 percent of the world's known species.

Impress your friends, co-workers and loved ones with some more mind-blowing facts about trees: Watch and share this video in honor of International Day Forests.

Now go hug a tree, literally!

Jamaica’s Fisheries and Climate Change – Moving in a Positive Direction

 

Jamaica’s fisheries sector collapsed in the 1960s, in what is often viewed as the most dramatic decline in the Caribbean region. It is a particularly vulnerable sector for a number of reasons.

Direct human induced impacts include unsustainable fishing practices e.g. dynamiting, use of poison, ‘hookah’ diving, and not throwing back undersized fish, as well as coastal habitat destruction (for development). It also suffers from indirect human induced impacts such as poor water quality from polluted inland run-off, and the introduction of diseases (e.g. decimation of the black sea urchin, Diadema). Additionally the marine environment that fishing depends on has been severely impacted by extreme events (of particular note are Hurricanes Allen and Gilbert in the 1980s).

These impacts in conjunction with each other have an exacerbating effect, and to complicate matters further, the impacts of climate change have been, and will continue to play a major role in Jamaica’s fisheries sector. The figure (Badjeck, 2010) below outlines potential impacts to the fishing sector as a result of climate change.
 

For Jamaica, these impacts and effects could be significant. For example Jamaica’s catch composition has already shifted to being mostly of low value, “trash” fish, and particularly parrotfish – a species that has been shown to play an important role in coral reef health. Low-value catches (in quantity and quality) tend to force fishers to spend longer at sea and catch more fish (leading to over-exploitation) to make their income. Another example is that Jamaica’s fishery is primarily reef fishery, and if there is migration of fish species to cooler waters, the majority of Jamaica’s fishermen are not equipped (with the gear or the skills) to fish in the deeper, cooler waters. Calcification can also potentially cause significant damage to Jamaica’s Queen Conch industry, which is a profitable economic export activity.

These impacts to the fisheries sector, and to the broader coastal zone have been recognized by the Government of Jamaica, and a number of climate change adaptation efforts have taken place over the past couple years from a variety of different organizations.

Legislation and Policies

In Jamaica there are 52 statutes that have direct or indirect jurisdiction over matters of the environment. In particular, the Natural Resources Conservation Authority Act (1991) provides for the management, conservation and protection of the natural resources of Jamaica. This Act plays an integral role in Jamaica’s environmental regulatory requirements (prescribed by the Environmental Permit and License System (1997)), which ensures that all Jamaican facilities and development projects meet the relevant standards and procedures to minimize adverse environmental impacts as it relates to, for example, the handling effluents discharged into the environment, or the removal or sensitive coastal ecosystems.

Jamaica also has a well-developed Climate Change Framework, although it does not specifically mention Fisheries, but rather groups it under the Agricultural sector.  The fisheries sector has it’s own section in Jamaica’s 2nd and 3rd National Communications to the United Nations Framework for Climate Change, and has its own National Adaptation Strategy plan (albeit in its initial stages). Additionally, the latest draft of the national Fisheries Policy makes an effort to mainstream climate change into the document.

Protected Areas

Protecting parcels of ecosystems are commonly used as a way to conserve or increase an ecosystem’s health and thereby resilience to climate change. Furthermore, healthy ecosystems generate more ecosystem services to surrounding communities, also making them more resilient to changing environmental and economic climates. There are 6 protected areas that encompass marine zones - Negril, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio, and Montego Bay Marine Parks, as well as the Palisadoes-Port Royal and Portland Bight Protected Area. In addition to these protected areas the Government of Jamaica has, to date, established 17 Special Fishery Conservation Areas (SFCAs) around the island, including one on the Pedro Bank. Unlike the marine protected areas above, SFCAs prohibit fishing alone and offer no direct protection to marine ecosystems. However, indirectly they are preserved, as they are not inadvertently damaged from fishing practices such as damage from nets dragging. These SFCAs operate under a wide variety of management styles, effectiveness, funding, and ecosystem availability. As such, the success of each is also very varied, but many are showing good results. The most iconic to date is the Oracabessa SFCA which demonstrated approximately 1500% increase in fish biomass over 3 years. The success of these SFCAs and protected areas is also demonstrated in a non-quantifiable manner. For example, many of these protected areas are the sites of local and internationally funded interventions that provide capacity building and alternative livelihoods for the community. Whether it is these benefits, or that fishers are genuinely seeing increases in fishing resources, many communities nearby existing SFCAs have expressed interest in establishing their own.
 

Photo: The location of Jamaica’s Special Fishery Conservation Areas (SFCAs). Note, the 3 most recently established, i.e. Boscobel East, Boscobel West (in St. Mary) and Alligator Head (in Portland) are not shown here.

‘Grey’ Adaptation

Historically, physical changes to beaches triggered the installment of engineered, hard structures (‘grey’ structures) such as groynes, to prevent further erosion, or to help the beach accrete. One such example in Jamaica is the installment of several Wave Attenuating Devices© in Old Harbour Bay – a popular fishing village in Jamaica - to help prevent further erosion. Anecdotal evidence suggests there has been some success on this front.
 

Photo: The Wave Attenuating Devices (WADs) in Old Harbour Bay, installed to help mitigate the severe erosion being experienced by the fishing users of the beach.

In another south coast location, several EcoReef© units were installed underwater within the SFCA boundaries to act as an artificial reef habitat for an otherwise habitat-limited environment (the SFCA is comprised mostly of seagrass beds). Another structure, serving a similar aggregative purpose to the EcoReefs, is the experimental lobster condominiums (sometimes referred to as ‘casitas’) by the Fisheries Division. These too provide a safe haven for juvenile lobsters prior to their migration reef areas.
 

Photo: The EcoReefs provide a complex environment for young fish to shelter prior to their migration to larger reef areas. They also have the potential to act as substrate for coral restoration.

 

‘Green’ Adaptation

Much debate surrounds the use of ‘grey’ infrastructure versus ‘green’ infrastructure, which more typically involves enhancement of the protective services that ecosystems provide. For example, a healthy mangrove forest can help prevent storm damage by reducing wave height and power, reduce erosion and can even help counter sea level rise. ‘Grey’ adaptation measures are typically frowned upon when the structure in question is something large and permanent e.g. groyne. There are numerous examples of engineered structures causing the wrong impacts or inadvertently causing negative side effects (e.g. creating ‘dead zones’ in bays).  Additionally the capital investment needed for these structures is high, particularly for fishing communities. In reality, a combined ‘grey’ and ‘green’ approach is probably most suited for adaptation efforts when considering costs, timeframes and side benefits.

Jamaica has undergone several pilot programs in ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change, focusing on coral and mangrove restoration. Coral restoration has typically used the Acropora species as being fast growing, reef building species. So far, the majority of the coral restoration work has been done in protected areas, namely Negril, Discovery Bay, Boscobel, Oracabessa, Whitehouse and Bluefields Bay. Different approaches have been used by different agencies, but typically require the hiring of ‘coral gardeners’ to help, thereby providing a form of secondary income to a community member. Results have been mixed, particularly given the short time frame, but they are showing good initial results.
 

Photo: Coral gardeners string fragments of Acropora palmata onto a tree style nursery.

Restoration of mangrove forests has also been explored in, for example, the Portland Cottage area which is typically savaged when storms or hurricanes pass through Jamaica. In this area, hydrology was examined and altered and significantly improved growth of existing mangrove stands, as well as having a positive effect on recruitment of seedlings. The University of the West Indies has also undergone a mangrove nursery program, offering seedlings for restoration activities.
 

Photo: An experimental mangrove restoration activity in the Portland Bight Protected Area using natural fibre cells to retain sediment.

In conclusion, although faced with numerous challenges, Jamaica’s fisheries sector has been making strides in the right direction to making it more resilient to climate change. Many of these efforts are pilot projects that if successful, should be replicated on larger scales. In other instances there is opportunity to take lessons learned, not only from national projects, but other international ones, that can guide future adaptation and mitigation activities.

Some of the main priority activities for improving climate change adaptation in fisheries includes the provision of supplementary livelihood options for fishing villages, increasing the ecosystem approach to adaptation, capacity building for fisheries management at the governmental and local levels, and the collection of data specific to the impacts of climate change on Jamaican fisheries, to help guide future management decisions. Although the road is long, the sector has support from numerous governmental, non-governmental, private sector, national and international agencies. With assistance from these, it is hopeful that the fisheries sector in Jamaica will recover and improve over the coming years.
 

References:

Badjeck et al., 2010 – Impacts of climate variability and change on fishery-based livelihoods. Marine Policy 34: 375-383

Climate Change Policy Framework, Jamaica (2012). Ministry of Water, Environment, Land and Climate Change.

Draft Fisheries Policy (2008). Ministry of Agriculture And Lands Fisheries Division. Retrieved from http://www.moa.gov.jm/Fisheries/data/DRAFT%20FISHERIES%20POLICY%202008.pdf

Hardt, M.J. (2009). Lessons from the past: the collapse of Jamaican coral reefs. Fish and Fisheries 10:143-158.

Murray, A. and Aiken, K. (2006) Artisinal fishing in Jamaica today: A study of a large fishing site. Proceedings of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute 57: 215-234

NEPA, 2014 – Results of Coral and Fish Surveys at Oracabessa Bay fish sanctuary.

Spalding M, McIvor A, Tonneijck FH, Tol S and van Eijk P (2014) Mangroves for coastal defence. Guidelines for coastal managers & policy makers. Published by Wetlands International and The Nature Conservancy. 42 p

Photo credits: S. Lee, D. Campbell, D. Hughes, O. Day, M. McNaught

 

Author: Simone Lee
Acting Manager, Environmental Consultancy

Air Quality

The issue of air quality has been a hot topic in the media recently especially as it relates to the frequent burning of municipal waste either at ones premises or at the local municipal dump. Recent news have highlighted the advice given by doctors to Portmore residents to relocate due to the poor air quality and the more recent 'noxious fumes' at the Cornwall Regional Hospital which has caused a reduction in the critical services offered at the tertiary health care facility due to health care workers being negatively affected. However, in all of this we must understand that issues of air quality are usually never isolated and we must understand their provenance. In order for us to do so, we need to understand what exactly is air quality and what influences it. We need to appreciate how air quality affects us. And we also must appreciate our role in maintaining, improving as well as deteriorating the quality of air around us.

Air quality as defined by the Collins Dictionary ‘is the degree by which air is suitable or clean enough for humans, animals and plants to remain healthy.’

A polluted atmosphere is one in which substances are present at concentrations that disturb the physical and chemical properties of the atmosphere in a way that causes harm to living organisms and property.[i] Pollutants may be classified as either primary or secondary pollutants according to their source. These sources can be natural or manmade (anthropogenic). Primary pollutants are those emitted usually from identifiable sources such as the burning of fossil fuels in the production of energy; these include inter alia: particulate matter (PM10 & PM2.5), oxides of sulphur, nitrogen and carbon and volatile organic compounds (VOC). Secondary pollutants, however - such as ozone - are formed from chemical reactions in the atmosphere involving primary pollutants. i

Exposure to air pollutants can occur indoor and outdoor. The concentrations of indoor air pollutants tend to be higher due to indoor spaces being more confined with restricted or controlled air flow as oppose to outdoor (the ambient environment) which is innately open with unrestricted air flow. Considering these, it is absolutely imperative to understand that how the indoor space is ventilated as well as how the ventilation system is maintained (if the space is mechanically ventilated) will also determine the source(s), concentration of and fate of indoor air pollutants.

The effects of air pollutants on human health varies depending on the type of pollutant, the concentration and length of exposure to these pollutants and health of individual.  Persons with pre-existing health conditions particularly those with respiratory illnesses tend to be more sensitive to the presence of air pollutants than other individuals.

The effects of air pollutants on the wider environment also varies depending on the pollutant present and its   concentration.  These effects may include the formation of acid rain which affects water and soil quality (longer term impacts on the agricultural sector), aquatic/terrestrial animals and plants (ecosystem diversity), building material etc. Another significant impact of ambient air pollution is Photochemical smog. This affects visibility, buildings (infrastructure) and other materials, which leads to the formation of ozone. This is toxic to both animals and plants at ground level and elevated particulate matter  concentration in the atmosphere, which is a normal occurrence is places like Beijing China.[ii]

Solutions to air pollution problems require an integrated approach amongst citizens, private sector and government. Some steps which can be considered are:

  1. The practice of burning municipal solid waste releases a myriad of air pollutants; this should be curtailed and eventually stopped. Where it is not practical, mechanisms should be put in place to clean the exhaust produced from burning, prior to release to the atmosphere.
  2. Alternative practices to burning such as recycling, reusing and composting of garbage must eventually become national policy.
  3. Sensitization of the public to harmful waste management practices followed closely by the effective implementation and monitoring of legislation by the government appointed officials must also become a priority.
  4. Increase and improve the capacity of regulatory agencies to be more effective in monitoring the release of pollutants (from industries, vehicles and other users of fossil fuels).
  5. Develop and implement a national monitoring network for criteria pollutants such as particulate matter, oxides of sulphur, nitrogen and carbon, ozone and volatile organic compounds. The use of passive samplers for this network should be considered due to the simplicity, size, accuracy and cost. This information from these samplers can be used to revise our existing standards, revise existing and implement new legislation.
  6. Government should work with private sector to ensure that industries which emit air pollutants use industry best practices inclusive of improve technologies in their operations. This will ensure the use of technologies such scrubbers in exhaust systems and alternative sources of energies in their operations.
  7. The implementation of legislation for occupational safety and health will ensure that employers provide a safe environment for employees. Ensuring the ventilation systems within buildings are according to industry best practices should also come under this legislation.

The issues surrounding air quality should never be underplayed as poor air quality can pose serious negative environmental and health risks. As citizens, parents and care givers we all have a part to play in ensuring that the environment we live, work and play is safe for all.

 

[i]. Alloway, B.J.; Ayres, D.C; Chemical Principles of Environmental Pollution; 2nd Edition ; Chapman & Hall: UK; 1997

[ii] Chen, W; Wang, F; Xiao, G; Wu K; Zhang; Air Quality of Beijing and Impacts of the New Ambient Air Quality Standards; Atmosphere; 2015, 6, 1243-1258.

Author: Rashidah Khan-Haqq, M.Phil
Manager, QEHL