Khakassky wetlands Siberia

Once again about wetlands

Every February the “Khakassky” Reserve tells about wetlands – the unusual places for common people. Actually, in the word “wetland” our beautiful Khakass lakes and steppe rivers are implied. The wetlands are the habitats of natatorial and semi-aquatic birds. However, except them, a large quantity of other kinds of plants and animals lives and breeds in these territories. Wetlands concentrate various kinds of life, both water and land.

Traditionally by February 2, the “Khakassky” Reserve opens a series of actions devoted to the World Wetlands Day. This year we have prepared an Internet quiz, intellectual game and have opened a small photo-exhibition dedicated to the wetlands of the world.

The Internet quiz, devoted to this important ecological day, was held from the 19th to 27th of January. It was the first time, when the “Khakassky” Reserve decided to involve Internet audience in such competition, and this attempt appeared to be successful. During the week, more than 150 letters from participants of our quiz had been arriving to the reserve’s e-mail. People from different regions of Russia took part in the competition. Except local participants, the quiz attracted the attention of people from such republics as Buryatia and Tyva, the Moscow, Smolensk, Volgograd, Tula, Voronezh, Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Kemerovo, Pskov oblasts, the Altai and Krasnoyarsk and some others regions. The age of participants was from 10 to 52 years. They were schoolboys, students, housewives and so on. 49 participants gave the right answers. All of them were given the memorable prizes. Six winners of the Internet quiz became participants of the intellectual game, which was held in a conference hall of the “Khakassky” Reserve. On February 2, in the World Wetlands Day, they fought the intellectual duel with a command of students from the Khakass State University, where they won one more victory.

The photo-exhibition, which was opened also on February 2, acquaints visitors with various wetlands of the whole world. We have tried to present all continents. Visitors of photo-exhibition can get acquainted with landscapes of the London Wetland Centre – the reserve located on 40 hectares of marshland in the center of capital of Great Britain, London. The Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre is located in Malaysia, Borneo and covers 24 hectares mangrove, and Lake Naivasha – fresh-water lake in Kenya in semidroughty area of the East African zone. The wetlands of Southeast Asia, Canada, Finland, Switzerland open their beauties before our visitors.

The World Wetlands Day is especially notable in a calendar of ecological dates of the “Khakassky” Reserve. Various kinds of world wetlands are present in the Republic of Khakasia. Khakasia is rich of high-mountainous lakes, bogs, marshes and river gulfs, fresh and salty lakes. Many kinds of grounds are protected by the “Khakassky” Reserve. The most well-known protected grounds are the lakesides of Bele and Shira lakes, and also such reserved lakes as Itkul and Ulug-Kol. In order to keep these known and unknown natural sites safe and not to let them disappear from the interconnected and interdependent wetlands system, the “Khakassky” Reserve will continue the educational and nature protection work.

Elena Kim

So can’t we just pipe the oil to where we need it?

 

You can do whatever you want but you might want to step back and make sure it’s a good idea.

The US is probably going to build a pipeline from Canada down to the gulf of mexico.  As you can imagine this is a source of concern for people living anywhere near this pipe.  This seems reasonable because transporting large amounts of toxic liquid great distances is inherently dangerous.  Trucks crash, boats sink, rigs explode, and pipes leak.  It is included in the cost of doing business.

Proponents argue that the project will create jobs and decrease our reliance on foreign oil.  How many and how permanent these jobs will be is still under debate.  Also we will be relying on foreign oil until it runs out or we find a cheaper alternative so I wish people would stop using that phrase.

The pipeline will be the equivalent of building a giant highway across the country that no one can drive on and poisons the drinking water.  So as of right now we will have to wait for the 2012 elections because god knows politicians can’t do ANYTHING while they are trying trick people into voting for them.

Update from the Republic of Khakassia Abakan Siberia

The first session of working group concerning the lands protection and restoration

The Republican Development Council at the Head of the Republic of Khakassia was established in 2010 in order to assist the development of social and economic potential of our republic and to improve the well-being of citizens. The Head of the Republic of Khakassia is the Chairman of the Development Council. The pressing issues of various spheres of Khakass economy, industry, ecology and public life are being submitted for the Council Presidium’s consideration. The special working groups are created for studying these questions and developing the mechanisms of their solving. They consist of the representatives of various Khakass organizations and departments, public figures of our republic.

The problem of lands protection and restoration is one of the most serious problems, worrying not only the citizens of Khakassia, but also the heads of various levels. The research of this issue was entrusted to the Khakass Ecological “Live planet” Fund. The representatives of the Legacy Committee of the Republic of Khakasia, the Ministry of Agriculture, the State Committee on the Khakass Fauna and Environment Protection, the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance of Khakasia, the “Khakassky” State Natural Reserve and the Institute of Agrarian Problems of Khakasia were included in the working group on the question of lands protection and restoration.

The general questions of lands protection were discussed at the first session of working group; that is, the problems of ownerless lands, farmlands salification and desertification. The question of farmlands pollution with solid domestic wastes was raised on the proposal of the State Committee on the Khakass Fauna and Environment Protection. There is a large quantity of illegal dumps on the territory of farmlands. The size of them continues to increase as inhabitants of Khakasia have no place to throw out their garbage. There is only one legal refuse dump in Khakasia, while the area of the republic is 61 900 km2.

The low level of proficiency and ecological competence of farmland owners was also discussed. This problem caused a great concern of all the members of the working group. Since the ancient times the land was the main wealth of any state and a basis of the economic stability. In modern Russia farmlands are distributed to everyone who wants to be engaged in farming. Everyone has to pass the examination to obtain a driver’s license, but it is not necessary to take any examinations to obtain a license to rule the land. It means that everybody can be engaged in agriculture. Such management can result in the fertility decrease, soil exhaustion and desertification.

As a result of active discussions the working group defined three questions in order to search for the solution of them:

  1. The illegal dumps liquidation of the Khakass farmlands;

  2. The inventory and certification of the Khakass farmlands;

  3. The low skill level of Khakass farmland owners.

A great work on solving these problems should be carried out, as well-being of each person in his own hands. We shouldn’t forget – nothing exists by itself. The ecology of farmlands is inseparably connected with the ecology of the territories surrounding them, and the other way round. If any territory turns into a fruitless desert or a dead salty bog, the adjoining safe and protected territories will be under threat. Farming his own land, a person should raise his head and look around. Near by the farmlands, gardens and pastures the habitats of not only plants and animals, but also settlements of human beings are situated.

Elena Kim

Khakass Ecofund “Live Planet”

Circa 1940

The first great depression


Greenwashing

Everywhere we go recently it seems as though there is a brand new eco-friendly “green” versions of old products.  I have mentioned a few of these silly things like the 57 watt light bulb as a new energy efficient version of the 60 watt.

I have been coming across even more ludicrous examples, many of them outright lies.  Often you can see the absurdity just by looking at the contradictions in the advertising.  Phrases like “eco-friendly” and “contains mercury and lead” should not be on the same product.

I came across a good example the other day with a can of lithium grease.  The can is green of course and is pitched as a bio-based biodegradable lubricant.  If the warnings about calling poison control if ingested aren’t enough there is always the fact that Lithium is a metal and thus can not bio-degrade…ever.

This trend is a problem because in addition to claiming dangerous products are safe, overall the public believes things are changing for the better when in reality the packaging is just different. Consumers look around and things look like companies are being less wasteful but in the end it is just a marketing illusion.

Natural Gas to hydrates for transport and back to gas

A while back I wrote a post HERE and HERE on collecting natural gas hydrates from the sea floor.  I was not really in favor of the idea because of the possible/probable dangers.  For good or bad like drilling at 5000ft for oil, extracting these frozen naturals gasses is going to happen so might as well examine the effects..

One of the often cited problems with natural gas as an energy source is that they are hard to safety transport over long distances because of the volatile and hazardous properties of the fuels.  A proposed solution is to turn the fuel back into a solid by freezing and applying pressure like at the bottom of the ocean where fuels like methane are in a solid and thus more stable state.

My concern in using this method of freezing and unfreezing is how much energy will be needed to convert a gas like methane into a solid.  The melting point of methane is about -297 F(162.5C) so an extremely cold environment would be need to convert and keep methane as a solid.  The other problem is that natural gas is another limited resource so putting lots of energy into collecting it is not a good long term energy strategy.

However, just like coal and oil, we will take natural gas as long as we can get it and so having a viable fuel transportation strategy is an important development.

Savor your shrimp as it may be your last, Oil is the new seaweed

I have been wanting to write about the disaster in the Gulf Of Mexico but whenever I tried to learn about the impacts of the oil, the more irritated I got.

So now that I am in a more objective emotional state of mind I will try to asses the future term impacts.  This is just the start as ridiculous amounts of poison gasses liquid, and solids will be pumping into the ocean for several more months.

The oil we see washing ashore and being burnt up on top of the water is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak. What is coming out of the bottom of the gulf is a diverse mixture of petroleum with different densities and thus buoyancy.  The vast majority is under the surface mingling with the fishes and shrimp.

Dispersants makes even more oil go underwater but is necessary to protect the coastlines. Either way most of the oil will collect in The Gulf and then the ocean currants will take it around the world, first the North Atlantic, then the South Atlantic, and then on to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Pacific.

The politics surrounding this event are also very disconcerting. This was not a completely unanticipated event.  There has always been the possibility that offshore rigs can be compromised. It is unfortunate that is takes a real disaster to wake people up.

The best shrimp came from the Bayou but I believe those days may already be over.

The Mississippi Meets the oil

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