PHOTO: Sarah Buthmann
For years, Maya Bay on the island of Koh Phi Phi Leh in Krabi province, has been overrun with visitors. Every day, thousands of tourists competed for space on Thailand’s most famous beach.
Having been made famous by the 2000 Leonardo di Caprio movie, The Beach, tourists arrived by the boatload every hour, every day of the year. It’s estimated that at its height, the tiny island was receiving 5,000 visitors a day.
Something had to give.
Last summer, authorities finally decided to close the island to visitors, in order to give the coral and fragile marine eco system time to recover. In what was widely criticised for being too short a period, the closure was originally for three months only, from June to September.
However, the director of Thailand’s National Parks Department, Songtam Suksawang, now confirms the bay will remain closed until June 2021, at which point it will be reviewed again.
“We will review again then if it is ready to open to tourists. We need more time to allow nature to fully recover. Our team will reassess the situation every three months.”
Coral has now been replanted around Maya Bay and was apparently doing well until the recent hot spell, which led to some coral bleaching. It’s hoped the longer closure will allow it time to recover.
It’s understood that National Park authorities are also planning an expansion of visitor facilities, including a floating dock, environmentally friendly boardwalk, and new washrooms.
Plans are also afoot for an electronic ticketing system that will limit visitors to 1,200 a day, a significant decrease on the numbers visiting prior to the closure.
SOURCE: Chiang Rai TimesKeep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Our oceans are key to fighting climate change
“There are at least three types of actions humans can take to help repair the damage and ensure that oceans don’t turn from friend to foe.”
Humanity must heal oceans made sick by climate change and pollution to protect marine life and to save itself, experts warned days before the release of a major UN report.
By absorbing a quarter of manmade CO2 and soaking up more than 90% of the heat generated by greenhouse gases, oceans keep the population alive – but at a terrible cost, according to a draft of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) assessment.
Our seas have grown acidic, potentially undermining their capacity to draw down CO2. Warmer surface water has expanded the force and range of deadly tropical storms. Marine heatwaves are wiping out coral reefs, and accelerating the melt-off of glaciers and ice sheets driving sea level rise.
Dan Laffoley, strategic lead for ocean protection at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, quoted fire and brimstone from The Bible.
“The last book of the Bible talks about the four horseman of the Apocalypse.”
“For the oceans, the lead horseman is surface warming. The three others are ocean heating, loss of oxygen and acidification.”
There are at least three types of actions humans can take to help repair the damage and ensure that oceans don’t turn from friend to foe, scientists say.
1. Restoration, protection
Less than seven percent of oceans, which cover 70%t of Earth’s surface, benefit from some form of regional or national protection, often with minimal enforcement. Ocean advocates and experts say the area safeguarded must be vastly expanded.
“We need to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030,” said Lisa Speer, director of the international oceans program at the National Resources Defense Council in Washington D.C.
“This cannot be achieved without a high seas agreement.”
UN negotiations for a treaty to regulate exploitation of the high seas – waters beyond national jurisdiction covering nearly half the planet – began last fall, and could take years to complete.
At the same time, regions not included in marine parks or conservation areas “must be managed in a cautious and durable way,” Tom Dillon, Vice President of Pew Charitable Trust, told AFP.
Restoring coastal mangroves and seagrass meadows, meanwhile, would draw down CO2 emissions, and shield coastal communities from storm surges as a bonus.
These “blue carbon” ecosystems could potentially stock just under a billion tonnes of CO2 per year, about two percent of current emissions, according to the UN report.
2. Renewable engird
Off-shore and ocean-based renewable energy – including wind, wave, tidal, currents and solar – could meet a significant slice of future energy demand, numerous studies have shown. Such schemes are mostly experimental and thus costly per unit of energy generated, but economies-of-scale are possible.
Floating wind farms, for example, fuelled by high wind speed over the open ocean could eventually generate more electricity than those on land, Carnegie Institution for Science researchers reported in PNAS.
In winter, North Atlantic wind farms “could provide sufficient energy to meet all of civilisation’s current needs,” the authors said.
“That’s a bit of fantasy, but it makes the point that these technologies have not been sufficiently developed,” said Jean-Pierre Gattuso, a senior scientist at France’s National Centre for Scientific Research.
There are several ready to be scaled up, he said.
The failure of humanity to draw down planet-warming greenhouse gases, which continue to rise year-on-year, has opened the door to other ideas once thought risky or far-fetched, such as injecting particles into the upper atmosphere to deflect the Sun’s radiation.
Some geoengineering schemes to cool Earth’s surface or reduce CO2 are ocean-based.
One that has been tested with inconclusive results involves sowing the open ocean with iron to create phytoplankton colonies that absorb CO2 as they photosynthesise. When the tiny creatures die, they drag the CO2 into the inky depths.
Another scheme would brighten mirror-like marine clouds to reflect sunlight back into space. Spreading long-lasting white foam across vast expanses of open water would, in theory, have the same effect.
Scientists from Princeton and Beijing Normal University recently costed a plan to build an underwater barrier in front of an Antarctic glacier the size of England to help prevent warm ocean water from eroding its underbelly, thus preventing the glacier from slipping into the sea.
The price tag was several hundred billion dollars.
SOURCE: Agence France-PresseKeep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Ban of 3 herbicides agreed, with conditions
Thai PBS World reports that Thailand’s National Hazardous Substances Committee says it will agree to banning paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos, provided that the alternatives proposed are effective, affordable for farmers, and less hazardous.
Committee chairman Apijin Chotikasathien gave the undertaking yesterday, while giving the Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives 60 days to come up with alternatives.
Mr Apijin says the Agricultural Technique Department has always said there are no alternatives that meet the requirements outlined by the committee.
The committee also notes the need to build understanding between the state and those who currently import the hazardous herbicides, as well as farmers and other consumers about the dangers of the 3 weed killers.
Prior to the committee meeting, it’s understood that members of the Rak Mae Khlong voluntary network offered moral support to committee members, in the hope that use of the herbicides would continue to be allowed.
SOURCE: Thai PBS WorldKeep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Thai Minister Manunya a lone voice to have 3 herbicides banned
PHOTO: The Thaiger
Deputy Agriculture Minister Manunya Thaiseth (the OTHER deputy, not the embattled Thannamat Prompeo) is complaining that she appears to be a lone voice amongst the bureaucrats and politicians to have three toxic agricultural chemicals – paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos – banned within this year, as promised.
She says that she’s not receiving any cooperation from the Agricultural Chemicals Control Office of the Agricultural Technique Department. They’re not providing information about the inventories of the three herbicides held in warehouses throughout the country and has had to research the information by other means.
Asked about the conspicuous silence from Industry Minister Suriya Juangroongruangkit on the matter, Ms. Manunya said “Don’t you have pity for me for having to work alone? Even some documents (about inventories of the three chemicals), I have to find them myself despite being a minister,” according to the Thai PBS World article.
The decision to ban the three herbicides rests with the 29 member Toxic Substances Committee under the jurisdiction of the Industry Ministry.
The deputy agriculture minister from the Bhumjaithai party says it was her job to submit her proposal for the ban to the Toxic Substances Committee, adding that it was beyond her authority to make the decision.
She said that she would like the vote by the committee to be held in the open, not behind closed doors, because this is an important issue that affects a lot of people.
“For the people who make the decision, if they want to keep the three toxic chemicals, they should know why and must be ready to explain why. We must be ready to accept the consequences of their decision.”
In the last meeting of the Toxic Substances Committee, the committee voted by 16to 5 in favour of continued use of the three herbicides, with the rest of the committee members being absent or abstaining from the vote.
Consumer groups, social media and the broader community have been putting pressure on the government to ban the herbicides, citing numerous studies reporting the health hazards posed by them. They also accused the committee of siding with big business by refusing to ban the substances.
SOURCE: Thai PBS WorldKeep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
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