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Posted on on July 3rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

What does the number 350 mean?

350 is the most important number in the world—it’s what scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Two years ago, after leading climatologists observed rapid ice melt in the Arctic and other frightening signs of climate change, they issued a series of studies showing that the planet faced both human and natural disaster if atmospheric concentrations of CO2 remained above 350 parts per million.

Everyone from Al Gore to the U.N.’s top climate scientist has now embraced this goal as necessary for stabilizing the planet and preventing complete disaster. Now the trick is getting our leaders to pay attention and craft policies that will put the world on track to get to 350.

Is 350 scientifically possible?

Right now, mostly because we’ve burned so much fossil fuel, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is 390 ppm—that’s way too high, and it’s why ice is melting, drought is spreading, forests are dying. To bring that number down, the first task is to stop putting more carbon into the atmosphere. That means a very fast transition to sun and wind and other renewable forms of power. If we can stop pouring more carbon into the atmosphere, then forests and oceans will slowly suck some of it out of the air and return us to safe levels.

Is 350 politically possible?

It’s very hard. It means switching off fossil fuel much more quickly than governments and corporations have been planning. But we can change that–if we mobilize the world to swift and bold climate action, and shift the world to a clean energy future.

What was the day of action in 2009?

On October 24, the International Day of Climate Action covered almost every country on earth, the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet’s history.

There were be big rallies in big cities, and incredible creative actions across the globe: mountain climbers on our highest peaks with banners, underwater demonstrations in island nations threatened by sea level rise, churches and mosques and synagogues and ashrams engaged in symbolic action, star athletes organizing mass bike rides–and hundreds upon hundreds of community events to raise awareness of the need for urgent action.

Every event highlighted the number 350–and people gathered at some point for a big group photo depicting that all important message. At, we assembled all the photos for a gigantic, global, visual petition.

The thousands of events on October 24 will drive 350 and all that it represents into the human imagination, and helped shift the political climate around climate change. Countries on the front lines of climate change are no longer willing to settle for weak efforts and half-measures. All the actions on October 24 will help our leaders realize we need a real solution that pays attention to the science.

How did this make a difference?

October 24 has finally put the focus where it needs to be: on the science and the citizens, not the special interests and the backroom deals.

People have sent in thousands of images of citizens gathering at important places around the world—from the melting peaks of Mt. Everest to the sinking beaches of the Maldives—displaying the number 350 in a creative way. staff will display these photos on the big screens in Times Square and projecting them at the UN headquarters. Those photos are appearing in newspapers large and small—the same newspapers that politicians all over the world use as a barometer of public opinion. We’re also delivering copies of the images—and the stories that go with them—to national delegates, environment ministers, and heads of state the world over.

Grassroots global action will be useful to put pressure on world leaders. Together we can remind our leaders that they need to take physical reality—and not political expediency—into account when they’re making decisions about our collective future. 350 is a clear and specific goal (unlike vague demands to “stop global warming”) that helps move politics n the direction science and justice demand. At, we make sure your voice is heard, and this debate is re-framed in time to make a difference. is an international grassroots campaign that aims to mobilize a global climate movement united by a common call to action. By spreading an understanding of the science and a shared vision for a fair policy, we will ensure that the world creates bold and equitable solutions to the climate crisis. is an independent and not-for-profit project.

What is 350?
350 is the number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Scientists measure carbon dioxide in “parts per million” (ppm), so 350ppm is the number humanity needs to get below as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change. To get there, we need a different kind of PPM-a “people powered movement” that is made of people like you in every corner of the planet.


10/10/10 Global Work Party

Dear World,

It’s been a tough year: in North America, oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico; in Asia some of the highest temperatures ever recorded; in the Arctic, the fastest melting of sea ice ever seen; in Latin America, record rainfalls washing away whole mountainsides.

So we’re having a party.

Circle 10/10/10 on your calendar. That’s the date. The place is wherever you live. And the point is to do something that will help deal with global warming in your city or community. We’re calling it a Global Work Party.


Posted on on June 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

World Day to Combat Desertification: Message from UN Secretary General’s Message and Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja.

from Andrea Perez <>
date Wed, Jun 16, 2010
subject World Day to Combat Desertification: Message from UN Secretary General’s Message and Executive Secretar Luc Gnacadja
World Day to Combat Desertification, Thursday, 17 June 2010

Please find below the messages of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, on the occasion of the World Day to Combat Desertification.

Background information on the Day is available online at:

For interviews or more information, contact:
Ms. Wagaki Mwangi
Bonn, Germany
Email: or
Tel: +49-228-815 2820


17 June 2010

More than one billion poor and vulnerable people living in the world’s drylands, where efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals face particular challenges and thus have lagged behind.

Almost three-quarters of rangelands show symptoms of desertification. Over the past 40 years, nearly one third of the world’s cropland has become unproductive, often ending up abandoned.  The unremitting stress of drought, famine and deepening poverty threatens to create social strains, in turn creating the potential for involuntary migration, the breakdown of communities, political instability and armed conflict.  Indeed, human, environmental and social vulnerability come together with unusual force and symmetry in the world’s drylands.  Climate change will only exacerbate such pressures.

In this International Year of Biodiversity, we must remember that drylands are areas of enormous biological diversity and productivity. Thirty per cent of the crops that are cultivated and consumed in every corner of the world originate in drylands. The biodiversity of dryland soil also plays a critical role in transforming atmospheric carbon into organic carbon – the earth’s largest pool of organic carbon.

When we protect and restore drylands, we advance on many fronts at once: we strengthen food security, we address climate change, we help the poor gain control over their destiny, and we accelerate progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  On this Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to combating desertification and land degradation and mitigating the effects of drought; and let us recognize that enhancing soils enhances life.


Message from Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary, The UN Convention to Combat Desertification.

World Day to Combat Desertification, June 17, 2010

Six to ten inches (18-25 cm) of topsoil are all that stand between us and extinction. There’s far more to this than food. The things that live in and grow from this irreplaceable and finite resource also keep us clothed, the air and water clean, the land green and pleasant and the human soul refreshed. Only now are we starting to comprehend how the tiny life forms in soil sustain productivity and the greater environmental balance.

Already, we know that the species that live in soil are far more abundant than first thought. Microbes in the soil make up most of the biomass of life on earth. They may lack the charisma of the tiger or the orangutan, but the sheer prevalence of soil-dwelling fungi, archaea, bacteria, rotifers and nematodes alone puts all other species in the shade. If we placed all the microbes found in soil on one side of a scale and all surface-dwelling animals on the other, the soil microbes would quite literally outweigh them. Understanding just what their function is thus vital to our broader grasp of environmental management, climate change and human development.

Rain-making bacteria Soil microbes and the tiny animals in earth provide a wide array of ecosystem services, including nutrient cycling, nitrogen fixation, decomposition and pest control, pollination, soil moisture retention, drainage, carbon sequestration, waste recycling and more. They even play little-known but major roles in climate regulation. Research provides growing evidence that, along with dust and other particles, certain bacteria from the soil are swept up by wind to high altitudes, where ice crystals form around them to make rain. Thus, healthy, bacteria-rich soils might well encourage rainfall.

Land degradation and desertification spell the gradual death of soil’s complex web of biota. The disappearance of just a single species from this web can be devastating. Among soil’s “free services” is the harbouring of the larvae of pollinating wasps, beetles, flies and bees. Their contribution to farming alone is extraordinary. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimated in 2005 that of the slightly more than 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of the food for 146 countries, 71 are bee-pollinated. If we lose these “keystone” species, whole edifices will collapse.

Soil biota worth “trillions” Knowing all this, we should attribute proper economic value to soil and to the work of those who tend it. A European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) report in 2009 determined soil biodiversity to be “of immense economic importance.” The report claims that “the monetary value of ecosystem goods and services provided by soils and their associated terrestrial systems … was estimated in 1997 to be 13 trillion US dollars. The soil biota underwrites much of this value.”

We sometimes forget that biodiversity includes us, too. We have long seen ourselves both as part of nature and as nature’s keepers. Some call for a shift from the old paradigm of human domination of the earth and its animals to a less greedy, less invasive coexistence with them. But that does not relieve us of a capital duty. Because we are an all-powerful species, soil’s health – and thus our own – depends in large part on how well we sustain it. And the front-line agents of this sustainability are those who live in the areas most vulnerable to degradation: the drylands.

The people in the drylands The UNCCD’s first strategic objective is to support them in this crucial task. More than one-half of these 2 billion people subsist on less than two dollars a day. By alleviating their poverty, improving the science of sustainable land management, generating sustainable rural incomes from land-based ecosystems and building partnerships with governments, business and civil society, the UNCCD and its 193 Parties are helping them not only to inhabit, farm and use the land sustainably, but also to safeguard topsoil and its benefits for people in distant lands and for generations far into the future.

World Day to Combat Desertification 2010 takes place, as always, on June 17. This year, it also coincides with the International Year of Biodiversity. There is no better time to remind the world of the immense value of soil’s biodiversity and of the work by farmers, rich and poor, to nurture it. “Enhancing soils anywhere enhances life everywhere” is this year’s motto for World Day. It places soil health where it needs to be: at the very foundation of our survival and well-being.


Established in 1994, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development issues to the land agenda. It focuses on drylands, which cover 41% of the Earth and are inhabited by over 2 billion people. Drylands account for 44% of the world’s cultivated ecosystems and have provided 30% of all the world’s cultivated plants. However, eight of the world’s 25 biodiversity ‘hotspots’ are in the drylands and up to one fifth of the drylands have been steadily degraded since the 1980s. The Convention’s 193 Parties are dedicated to improving the living conditions of the world’s poorest 1.2 billion resident in the drylands, to maintaining and restoring the land’s productivity, and to mitigating the effects of drought.


from Wagaki Mwangi <>
date Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 11:36 AM
subject Coming to the Third Global Media Forum of Deutsche Welle?

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification welcomes you to an exciting exchange on how the media has covered the climate change debate. Specifically, the workshop will focus on how and why land-based emissions are a significant part of the sources of green house gases, but soil carbon sequestration and land-based strategies for adaptation are barely on the agenda of the talks. Moderated by a highly-reputed journalist in Germany, this is not your typical media workshop. If you want to gain a new perspective on climate change come to:

Tuesday, 22 June, 2:00-3:30pm, Trincomalee/Antigua Room , Bonn

Panelists will examine
a) the land issue – agriculture, land degradation, and REDD+ by Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary, UN Convention to Combat Desertification
b) soil carbon sequestration by Ralph Ashton, Chair, Terrestrial Carbon Group and visiting scholar at Columbia University, New York
c) climate change adaptation by Johan Schaar, Director, Commission on Climate Change and Development and Sweden
d) reporting by the media and the emerging biases by Prof. Maxwell Boykoff of University of Colorado at Boulder and Visiting Senior Research Associate at Oxford University

A media training pack will is available for participants to the Workshop.

Wagaki Mwangi


Wagaki Mwangi
Public Information Specialist
Tel: +49 228 815 2820
Fax: +49 228 815 2898/99
53113 Bonn, Germany


UNCCD. World Day to Combat Desertification 17 June 2010.

Theme: Enhancing soils anywhere enhances life everywhere.



Posted on on February 26th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

from:   CPA <>
date    Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 5:26 AM
subject    High-Level Task Force for Climate Services Starts Work at WMO

The first meeting of the High-Level Taskforce for climate services selected Jan Egeland of Norway and Mahmoud Abu-Zeid of Egypt as co-chairs.  The High Level Taskforce of independent advisers, which the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Michel Jarraud, was requested by a decision of the World Climate Conference-3 to establish a Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), is meeting on 25-26 February, at the WMO Headquarters in Geneva.

Please find attached the press release “High-Level Task Force for Climate Services Starts Work at WMO”.

More information:

Best regards,

Communications and Public Affairs
Tel: + 41 22 730 83 14
Fax: + 41 22 730 80 27


Jan Egeland is an excellent choice – we know him from the UN where he had many past involvements and we know for shure that he was one of those that when in Sudan on efforts regarding Darfur, was ready to look at climate change impact on the evolving atrocities.   was the United Nations Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator from June 2003 to December 2006 under UN  Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He traveled extensively, drawing attention to humanitarian emergencies.

In UN fashion – he was balanced out with a representative of the Arab world who has a background in water engineering – so at least there will be a link of climate change and growing water shortage in arid and semi-arid lands. Abu-Zeid is Egyptian Water Minister active on global water problems and has Saudi Arabian support.


Posted on on November 28th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

Geothermal Power: Chinese Lead African Geothermal Exploration.

By Sam Hopkins
Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

China built its Great Wall to keep foreigners out…
But Chinese company Great Wall Drilling is now making itself a foreign force in Africa, where a dire need to develop domestic energy resources means companies from the Middle Kingdom are moving in steadily.
Kenya’s state-run Geothermal Development Company (GDC) recently committed $240 million per year to the expansion of the national geothermal power resource.

Kenya is reliant on hydropower for most of its electricity, and droughts consistently threaten that resource and subsequent power delivery.

With its landscape cut across by the Great Rift Valley, which is in the process of splitting two parts of the tectonic African Plate, Kenya holds a geothermal output potential of 7000 megawatts (7 GW). Currently, only 167 MW of that has been tapped.
By 2030, the Kenyan government has set the goal of bringing 4000 MW of geothermal power online to serve one of Africa’s most promising developing nations.

Great Wall Drilling is furthering the recent trend of Chinese companies moving into African resource markets by launching a massive exploration and production campaign. Great Wall Drilling has 47 wells in Kenya either planned or already dug.
Those pilot wells will serve to give Kenyan officials in the capital Nairobi and throughout the country more of an idea of how to maximize official funds and draw investment from global geothermal leaders like Ormat Technologies (NYSE:ORA).
Great Wall Drilling will be just one of many international companies Kenya needs to get 72 wells drilled per year to reach 4 GW by 2030.

Stay with Green Chip Stocks to learn more about how the development of alternative energy resources in developing countries like Kenya could help them “leapfrog” fossil fuel. The same has already happened with telecoms, as Kenya bypassed fixed-line infrastructure for wireless communication.
-Sam Hopkins of


Posted on on October 30th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (


Climate Change Adaptation: It’s about Water! 
— Global Water Partnership’s contribution to the climate change dialogue

Water is central to the world’s development challenges. Whether it is food security, poverty reduction, economic growth, human health—water is the nexus. Climate change is the spoiler. No matter how successful mitigation efforts might be, people will experience the impacts of climate change through water.

The Global Water Partnership is participating in ‘Water Day’ at the climate change negotiations in Barcelona. GWP Executive Secretary Dr Ania Grobicki will be the lead speaker on water and transboundary issues on Tuesday, November 3. The venue is the Fira Congress Hotel, opposite the conference centre. The opening session starts at 9 am and lunch will be provided.

Recently, the GWP’s Technical Committee released its 14th Background Paper: “Water Management, Water Security and Climate Change Adaptation.” It argues that investments in water are investments in adaptation. The paper can be downloaded on or ordered free at

Climate Change: How can we Adapt? – a one-pager about GWP’s key messages on this subject – is available here:

GWP has been accepted as an Inter-Governmental Organisation with Observer Status at  COP 15 in Copenhagen in December and has submitted an article to the delegate publication. But more information on that will follow later. 

More resources about climate change and water and more information on GWP’s involvement in the global dialogue on climate change is available on this page:


——————————————————–Steven DowneyHead of CommunicationsGlobal Water Partnership (GWP)Drottninggatan 33SE-111 51 Stockholm, SWEDENPhone:   +46 8 522 126 52Fax:      + 46 8 522 126 31E-mail: steven.downey@gwpforum.orgWebsite:
A water secure world  the mission of the Global Water Partnership is to support the sustainable development and management of water resources at all levels.


Posted on on June 7th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

What Does Climate Change Do to Our Heads?        

by Sanjay Khanna
14 May 2009,
A small yet growing body of evidence suggests that how people think and feel is being influenced strongly by ecosystem transformation related to climate change and industry-related displacement from the land. These powerful stressors are occurring more frequently around the world.

A case in point: When researchers from the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health at the University of Newcastle in Australia conducted interviews in drought-affected communities in New South Wales in 2005, the responses suggested some of their subjects may have been suffering from a recently described psychological condition called solastalgia (pronounced so-la-stal-juh).

Solastalgia describes a palpable sense of dislocation and loss that people feel when they perceive changes to their local environment as harmful. It’s a neologism that Glenn Albrecht, an environmental philosopher at the University of Newcastle’s School of Environmental and Life Sciences, created in 2003.

Albrecht’s work among communities distraught by black-coal strip mining in New South Wales’ Upper Hunter Region convinced him that the English language needed a new term to connect the experience of ecosystem loss to mental health concerns.

“The sense of a home landscape being violated [by strip mining-related environmental damage] seemed to have disturbed the region’s social ecology so much that the psychic or mental health of many people living in the zone of high impact was being affected,” he says.

Albrecht’s stunning insight? That there might be a wide variety of shifts in the health of an ecosystem—from subtle landscape changes related to global warming to desolate wastelands created by large-scale strip mining—that diminish people’s mental health.

In Eastern Australian communities, where the toll of a six-year-long drought has been devastating, interviews with farmers provided additional momentum for the solastalgia concept.

In one such interview, a female farmer poignantly described the loss of her garden oasis. “Our gardens have had to die,” she said, “because our house dam has been dry…. So it’s very depressing for a woman because a garden is an oasis out here with this dust…you know, to come home to a nice green lawn is just… that’s all gone, so you’ve got dust at your back door.”

While persistent drought and open-pit coal mining may be extreme cases, if the environmental degradation of the past hundred years is any indication, our contemporary lifestyles, built on a dwindling resource base, have failed to acknowledge how much the mental health of people and ecosystems is interrelated.

This may imply that the unrelenting media focus on weather-related and economic aspects of climate change does not adequately take into consideration the challenge of mitigating the psychological impact of global warming. How might we feel when the heat is relentless and our surrounding environment changes irrevocably? How might our mental health be affected?

In a recent Wired magazine article on Albrecht and the concept of solastalgia, Global Mourning: How the next victim of climate change will be our minds, writer Clive Thompson sensitively characterized as “global mourning” the potential impact of overwhelming environmental transformation caused by climate change. Thompson cogently summed up Albrecht’s view of what solastalgia might look like were it to become an epidemic of emotional and psychic instability causally linked to changing climates and ecosystems.

Albrecht also emphasizes that feelings of melancholia and homesickness have previously been recorded among Aboriginal peoples in the Americas and Australia who were forcibly moved from their home territories by U.S., Canadian and Australian governments in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Sanjay Khanna: You speak of psychoterratic and somaterratic illnesses. What are they?

Glenn Albrecht: Psychoterratic illness involves the psyche or mind and terra or earth. So a psychoterratic illness would be an earth-related mental illness, where both nostalgia and solastalgia are examples of people being made “mentally ill” by the severing of “healthy” links between themselves and their home or territory.

Somaterratic illness, on the other hand, involves soma or the body and relates to damage done to the human body, its physiology and/or genetics, as a result of the loss of ecosystem health by, for example, toxic pollution in any given area of land.

SK: You note on your blog that there are antecedents to solastalgia.

GA: Yes, David Rapport, a past professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, is a pioneer in the study of the health of natural ecosystems and their relationship with humans. In the 1970s, he described “ecosystem distress syndrome,” which was what happened when an ecosystem couldn’t restore its balance after an external disturbance.

Once I fully appreciated this concept, I realized there must be a human equivalent to ecosystem distress syndrome, that is, a home environment so profoundly disturbed that it affected the balance of well being or the mental health of people within their social ecology.

The interviews of affected people I conducted along with Nick Higginbotham and Linda Connor in strip-mined areas of the Upper Hunter Valley showed that people’s sense of place was being violated and that this was profoundly disturbing them. Their home environment was being desolated and it seemed to us that the vital link between ecosystem health and human health, both physical and mental, was being severed.

SK: Can you tell us a little bit more about the origins of solastalgia?

GA: Solastalgia’s Latin roots combine three ideas: The solace that one’s environment provides, the desolation caused by that environment’s degradation and the pain or distress that occurs inside a person as a result.

Solastalgia brings into English a much-needed word that links a mental state to a state of the biophysical environment. The need for new concepts in the face of what is happening under climate change has seen other cultures develop new terms that have affinities with solastalgia.

The Inuit, for example, have a new word, uggianaqtuq (pronounced OOG-gi-a-nak-took), which relates to climate change and has connotations of the weather as a once reliable and trusted friend that is now acting strangely or unpredictably. And the Portuguese use the word saudade to describe a feeling one has for a loved one who is absent or has disappeared. The upshot is that under the pressure of climate change, your preferred climate and ecosystem might well be thought of as a lover gone missing or turned bad.

SK: How might your research impact on psychiatry and the diagnosis of psychoterratic illnesses such as solastalgia?

GA: Alongside five other researchers, our four-person team co-wrote a summary of our research on the mental health impacts of mining and drought for psychological and psychiatric professionals. The paper, Solastalgia: the distress caused by climate change, was published in Australasian Psychiatry, a publication of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, in November 2007.

Our team has mused that people badly affected by solastalgia would benefit from a set of professionally developed diagnostic tools so that solastalgia could be listed as a condition that required diagnosis and professional attention.

We’re happy for other people to take that challenge up and there are some academic psychiatrists who are interested in exploring these ideas further. However, given that key aspects of solastalgia are existential, the traditions of environmental philosophy and medical psychiatry may not come together so harmoniously. The melancholia of solastalgia is not the same as clinical depression, but it may well be a precursor to serious psychic disturbance.

That said, it’s worth remembering that up until the mid-twentieth century, the medical profession viewed nostalgia as a diagnosable psycho-physiological illness in which, for example, soldiers fighting in foreign lands became so homesick and melancholic it could kill them.

Today psychiatrists would see the condition of rapid and unwelcome severing from home as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an outcome of an acute stressor such as warfare or a Hurricane Katrina.

Solastalgia on the other hand is most often the result of chronic environmental stress; it is the lived experience of gradually losing the solace a once stable home environment provided. It is therefore appropriate to diagnose solastalgia in the face of slow and insidious forces such as climate change or mining.

SK: Would you tell us a little bit about the transdisciplinary team that you participate on?

GA: Nick Higginbotham, a social psychologist colleague who specializes in epidemiology and health matters, is working to gather empirical data for our solastalgia research. He has developed a much-needed environmental distress scale (EDS) that teases out the specific environmental components of distress from all the other things that go on in a person’s life. We will be using this scale in the new AUS$430K grant the team has received from the Australian Research Council to extend our earlier work by addressing “the lived experience (ethnography) of climate change” among people in the Hunter Valley.

Linda Connor, an ethnographer and social and medical anthropologist, handles the ethnography or cultural experience of all this. So collectively we have empirical (Higginbotham), cultural (Connor) and philosophical (me) interpretations of health and climate change. Finally, Sonia Freeman, our research assistant, has co-authored a number of papers.

SK: What implications might the recent apology by Kevin Rudd, the new Prime Minister of Australia, to the “stolen generations” of Australian Aborigines have in relation to solastalgia?

GA: The apology by Kevin Rudd to the stolen generations is about seeking forgiveness for the government-sanctioned taking of Indigenous children from their families and from their home territories (their “country”) from 1909 until 1969. There have been profound mental and physical health impacts from this process and many of the remaining stolen generations are now ageing but with a 17-year shorter life expectancy on average than non-indigenous Australians. Those who are alive today may be experiencing genuine nostalgia for a once-sustainable past and solastalgia within contemporary pathological and depressed home environments.

SK: Do you see a relationship between the conquest of Indigenous peoples of the Americas and Australasia, the state of environmental degradation and the experience of loss that we are seeing today? If so, what is that relationship from your perspective and research?

GA: The answer is, yes, there is a relationship between the two colonial cultures: the two continents were colonized only by the systematic dispossession of complex and formerly sustainable Indigenous societies.

Traditional Indigenous cultures in the Americas and Australasia displayed a profound appreciation of the relationship between human and ecosystem health, something global culture is trying to rediscover under the label of sustainability.

Remnant aboriginal cultures are still being pushed aside by the dominant global model of economic growth and progress. Even today, their chronic health problems are likely related to social and political issues that are connected to ongoing dispossession.

I’ve had recent firsthand experience of the lives of Indigenous people leading semi-traditional lives in Northern Australia to see the importance of the connections between human health and ecosystem health. In Arnhem Land, Aborigines who live on what are called “outstations” have been able to maintain much stronger and healthier links to their traditional land. Their physical and mental health status is, as a consequence, much better than those whose links to their own land have been severed and who now live in crowded, dysfunctional communities.

SK: Some of the solastalgia symptoms you describe are similar to the loss of cultural identity, including the loss of language and ancestral memory. Loss of place seems an extension of this new global experience of weakened cultural identities and Earth-based ethical moorings.

GA: I have written on this topic in a professional academic journal and expressed the idea of having an Earth-based ethical framework that could contribute to maximizing the creative potential of human cultural and technological complexity and diversity without destroying the foundational complexity and diversity of natural systems in the process.

Our history shows that some people and cultures have a tendency to create pathological ways of thinking, but if we want to support a life-affirming ethic in the twenty-first century, we are in need of reform and change.

SK: In the context of accelerating environmental change, what would you say to young people about the planet they are inheriting? What does sustainability mean in the context of the overwhelming pace of environmental and economic change that we’re seeing today?

GA: This is a tough one because the children of today face the double whammy of the escalating pace and scale of changes under the global forces of development and those of climate chaos. I’ve suggested to my own teenagers that what is happening is unacceptable ethically and practically and they should be in a state of advanced revolt about the whole deal.

From my perspective, supporting and maintaining the status quo is no longer a reasonable response to these big picture issues. At every point, we must challenge and refute this kind of thinking in a society that is clearly on a non-sustainable pathway.

Unfortunately, the lot in life of the youth today is to undo much of what has been done in the name of growth and progress in the last two hundred years. However, this does not mean a return to the past: As Herman Daly (the ecological economist) once said, you can have an economy that develops without growing.

On a personal level, I’m an optimistic, energetic philosopher and I believe that we must get our values more life orientated. I’m not willing to give up on encouraging change towards sustainability even in the face of what look like overwhelming negative forces.

The four-year grant recently awarded to our team will allow us to study the lived experience of climate change at a regional level. We’re happy that we’ll be able to start contributing data on how climate change is shifting culture, values and attitudes.

The next four years are critical. As a member of a research team, I believe that we’re right at the leading edge of change research and we are very committed to supporting the network of ecological and social relationships that promote human health. There’s hope in recognizing solastalgia and defeating it by creating ways to reconnect with our local environment and communities.


Sanjay Khanna is a writer and foresight researcher based in Vancouver, Canada. He can be reached at sk AT khannaresearch DOT com. His blog is at More articles are available at


Posted on on June 6th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

 As we know that many of our readers are interested in the nexus of climate change and desertification, we thought that there might be interest in participatingin the following review studies and decided to post this e-mail.


Dear Scientific Colleagues and Stakeholders of the UNCCD. This is an invitation to review the first drafts of scientific analysis papers contributing to the world’s fight against desertification and land degradation.

To begin the review, please go to the website

(or dsd and click the button on the left entitled ‘Online Consultation’.

You can download and read the papers in PDF format there if you prefer, but all comments must be received via the web feedback system that is accessed through the above path.



The Committee on Science and Technology (CST) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has called for a Scientific Conference on the topic of “Bio-physical and socio-economic monitoring and assessment of desertification and land degradation, to support decision-making in land and water management.”   The Conference, popularly known under the shorter title ‘Understanding Desertification and Land Degradation Trends’, will take place at the UNCCD Conference of Parties in Buenos Aires, Argentina during 22-24 September 2009.

In preparation for that Conference, three Working Groups have drafted ‘white papers’ summarizing leading scientific knowledge relevant to the topic assigned by the Convention that leads towards recommendations that can support decision-making in land and water management by the Convention and its Parties. Each of the three Working Group white papers is about 80-100 pages long consisting of several chapters. In addition, there is a cross-cutting topic that the Working Groups collectively address (denoted ‘S1′).

For one month, from 28 May to 28 June 2009, the first drafts of the white papers will be open for review by scientists and stakeholders worldwide.

We look forward to your valuable contributions. Please visit the web link mentioned above to participate in the review process. Thank you for helping to enrich these papers with your knowledge, comments and suggestions.

The Dryland Science for Development Consortium (DSD)

Dr. Christopher Martius

Head, Program Facilitation Unit (PFU), CGIAR Program for Central Asia and the Caucasus (CAC)

Coordinator, Regional Program of the International Center For Agricultural Research In The Dry Areas (ICARDA) for the CAC Region
Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Mail Address: Program Facilitation Unit, P.O. Box 4564, Tashkent, 100000, Uzbekistan
Street Address: 6, Osiyo Street, Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Phones: +99871 2372130, +99871 2372169, +99871 2372104
Fax: +99871 1207125


Posted on on November 28th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

The UNU on Arid Aquaculture.
11 November, 2008

The UNU researchers issued a report “Arid Aquaculture Among Alternative Livelihoods Promoted to Relieve Worsening Pressure on World’s Drylands” as a result of the four-year study in cooperation with the International Centre on Agricultural Research in Dryland Areas (ICARDA), and UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program.

“Arid aquaculture” using ponds filled with salty, undrinkable water for fish production is one of several options experts have proven to be an effective potential alternative livelihood for people living in desertified parts of the world’s expanding drylands.

While it may sound far-fetched, researchers say using briny water to establish aquaculture in a dry, degraded part of Pakistan not only introduced a new source of income, it helped improve nutrition through diet diversification. The researchers also showed it possible to cultivate some varieties of vegetables with the same type of brackish water.

The project based on the results of the research will be launched by the project partners in Istanbul, Turkey, at 1:00 pm local time Nov. 12 at meetings of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.

A policy brief based on the Sustainable Management of Marginal Drylands (SUMAMAD) project and News Release on “Arid Aquaculture Report” are available on-line.

People in Marginal Drylands. Managing Natural Resources to Improve Human Well-being. A policy brief based on the Sustainable Management of Marginal Drylands (SUMAMAD) project Drylands_policy_brief.pdf

Arid Aquaculture Among Alternative Livelihoods Promoted to Relieve Worsening Pressure on World’s Drylands. Four-year Study Calls for Urgent Reforms to Avert Further Desertification That Threatens Millions of “the Poorest of the Poor” Worldwide.

Dryland policy brie new release.doc


Posted on on November 20th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

From:      press at
Subject: Africa must get on board the Bali Road Map or face greater potential threats in the face of climatic change
Date:       November 19, 2008

Africa must get on board the Bali Road Map or face greater potential
threats in the face of climatic change.

(Algiers, Algeria 19 November 2008) – Less than two weeks before a major
climate change conference in Poland, the Executive Secretary of the United
Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) raised a warning flag
that African nations faced the greatest threat to global warming.

Addressing high-level policy makers at the African Conference of Ministers
in Charge of Environment on Climate Change For Post 2012 in Algiers,
Algeria, UNCCD Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja underscored the urgency of
incorporating land and soil into the broad-level dialogue of effectively
combating climate change. That, said Mr. Gnacadja, must start in Africa,
the continent that has been hardest hit by the consequences of climate

The two-day Algiers conference, which concludes on Thursday, 20 November,
is of particular importance for Africa as the world continues deliberations
on the necessary actions against climate changes after the expiration of
the Kyoto Protocol in 2012. African ministers are now striving to build an
African platform on implementing the Bali Road Map, the plan that will lead
the world to climate change negotiations in Copenhagen in late 2009.

“The Bali Plan of Action explicitly provides to take into account the
future needs of African countries affected by desertification, drought and
floods.”,Mr. Gnacadja reminded conference delegates.

According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the desertification of
arid soils releases almost 300 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere
each year, resulting in almost four percent of total emissions from all
sources combined.

The UNCCD Executive Secretary said that Africa must mobilize to create tool
and platforms to take on the challenge.

One area of great potential is carbon sequestration, which can further
mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. The productivity of terrestrial
ecosystems could also be improved. Indeed, carbon sequestration is a
win-win context to simultaneously address other global issues such as
biodiversity conservation, food security and poverty alleviation. So far,
though, no large-scale mechanisms have been implemented nor fully taken
into account in existing mechanisms, said Mr. Gnacadja.

Indeed in tackling climate change soil can make a difference. With the
science and technology now available, agreeing on measurable reportable and
verifiable concepts to sequester carbon into soils is possible, doable, and
should therefore not be delayed.

For further information, please contact Marcos Montoiro +49-228-815-2806 or
press(at) Also see


Posted on on November 18th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Drylands, Deserts, and Desertification – 2008 Conference. December 14-17, 2008, Sede Boqer Campus, The Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Israel.

THE PROGRAM As Available on November 18, 2008. There might be still Changes and Additions, as well –   further Poster Sessions.

Download this schedule: detailed_program_sessions_1611_publish.doc

Drylands, Deserts and Desertification – 2008
December 14-17, 2008

Please note that the list of presentations is still not final. Furthermore, the breakdown into sessions may change. Abstracts for the Poster Sessions will be listed separately during the conference

Pre Registration will begin on the evening of December 13, 2008
8:00-9:00 Registration
9:00 – 9:30 Welcome
9:30 – 10:15 Plenary Address: Cutting through the Confusion: An Old Problem (Desertification) Viewed through the Lens of a New Framework (the DDP, Drylands Development Paradigm) – James Reynolds, Duke University (U.S.A)
10:15 – 10:30 Respondents: Thomas Schaaf,, Chief, Ecological Sciences & Biodiversity Section, UNESCO, Ingrid Hartman, Amoud University, Borama, Somaliland, Godfrey Olukoye Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Uriel Safriel, Hebrew University, Israel
Moderator: Alon Tal
10:30-11:00 Coffee Break
11:00-12:30 Parallel Sessions I
1. Soil Degradation and the Drylands
Chair: Professor Yonah Chen, Hebrew University Agricultural Faculty, HYPERLINK “
Causes and Consequences of Soil Damages in Bosnia and Herzegovinia: Some Experiences in Soil Conservation, Markovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Soil Decomposition in a Tropical Semi-arid Region in Central Mexico, Maria Hernandez Cerda, Enrique Romero, Gonzalo Madero, (Mexico)
Soil Communities in the Arava Valley Desert System, Stanislav Pen-Mouratov, Tamir Mayblat, and Yosef Steinberger (Israel)

Effect of plant patchiness on soil microbial community structure

Ali Nejidat, Eric A. Ben-David, Yonatan Sher, Regina Golden, Eli Zaady (Israel)
2. Desert Ecology (A)
Chair: Professor Tamar Dayan, Tel Aviv University, HYPERLINK “,
Water and Carbon Balances of Tamarix Desert Vegetation Under Variation in Precipitation and Groundwater Table,Hao Xu, Yan Li, (China)
Periodic and Scale-free Patterns: Reconciling the Dichotomy of Dryland Vegetation, Jost von Hardenberg, Assaf Kletter, Hezi Yizhaq, Ehud Meron (Israel)
Water Balance in Desert Mammals and in Flying Birds: Different Evolutionary Paths with Similar Physiological Outcomes, Berry Pinshow (Israel)
Desertification In the Grasslands Of Central Australia: Effects Of Fire And Climate Change, C. R. Dickman, G. M. Wardle, A. C. Greenville and B. Tamayo (Australia)
3. Benchmarks and Indicators of Desertification
Chair: Professor Moshe Shachak, Ben Gurion University,
Spatial Vegetation Patterns Indicating Imminent Desertification Max Rietkerk (Netherlands)
Do Vegetation Indices Reliably Assess Vegetation Degradation? A Case Study in the Mongolian Pastures, Arnon Karnieli Y. Bayarjargal, M. Bayasgalan, B. Mandakh, J. Burgheimer, S. Khudulmur, and P.D. Gunin (Israel)
Results On Changes Of Vegetation Structure And Composition In Semi-Desert Steppe,B.Mandakh Ph.D, Ganchimeg Wingard, (Mongolia)
Restoration of Pasture Vegetation and Assessment of Desertification in Kazakhstan Mirzadinov R.А., Baisartova А.Y., Bayazitova Z.Е., Torgaev А.А., Makhamedzhanov N.Т., Usen К., Karnieli A., Mirzadinov (Kazakhstan)
4. Pastoralism and the Drylands (A)
Chair: Dr. Eli Zaady, Gilat Research Station, Volcani Institute
Complex Interactions Between Climate and Pastoralists in Desert Grasslands, Curtin, charles (U.S.A)
Sustainable Grazing Strategies for Semi-arid Rangelands of Central Argentina, Roberto Distel (Argentina)

Trophic interactions and the ecology of habitat degradation in grasslands, Yoram Ayal(Israel)

12:30 – 14:30Short Field Trips and Lunch Break
14:30-16:00 Parallel Sessions II
5. Remote Sensing and Assessment of Desertification Processes (A)
Chair: Professor Danny Blumberg, Ben Gurion University,
Progress in mapping global desertification, S. D. Prince (U.S.A)
Desertification Risk Assessment in Northeastern Nigeria Using Remote Sensing and GIS Techniques, Taiwo Qudus, S.O. Mohammed, (Nigeria)
Integrating Remotely-sensed Vegetation Phenology and Rainfall Metrics to Characterize Changes in Dryland Vegetation Cover: Example from Burkina Faso Stefanie Herrmann, Thomas Hopson, (U.S.A)
On the Definition of Desertification through the Case Study of the Egyptian-Israeli Borderline, Arnon Karnieli, Christine Hanisch, Zehava Siegal and Haim Tsoar (Israel)

Evaluation of optimal time-of-day for detecting water stress in olive trees by thermal remote sensing, Nurit Agam, Alon Ben-Gal, Yafit Cohen, Victor Alchanatis, Uri Yermiyahu, and Arnon Dag, (Israel)

6. Drought and Salt Resistant Plants for Sustainable Dryland Development (A)
Chair: Dr. Gozal Ben Hayyim, The Volcani Institute HYPERLINK “
Potentials for Utilizing the Mulberry (Morus Alba) and the Neem (Azadirachta Indica) For Desertification Control In Northern Ghana: the Experience of the Sericulture Promotion And Development Association, Ghana. Paul Kwasi Ntaanu (Ghana)
Phenology, Floral and Reproductive Biolgy Studies of Genus Zizipus in Negev Desert Conditions, Manoj Kulkarni, Bert Schneider and Noemi Tel-Zur (Israel)
Dissecting the Molecular control of Stomatal Movement in CAM plant: A Potential Source for Genes Conferring Drought Tolerance in C3 Plants, Yaron Sitrit (Israel)
Comparison of Germination Strategies of Four Artemisia Species (Asteraceae) in Horqin Sandy Land, China, Li Xuehua, Liu Zhimin and Jiang Demning (China)
Role of Hydrophilins in Water-stressed and Salt-stressed Environments, Dudy Bar-Zvi, (Israel)
7. Water Management Strategies in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Alfred Abed- Rabbo, Bethlehem University,
Water Management in a Semi-arid Region: An Integrated Water Resources Allocation Modeling for Tanzania, Shija Kazumba (Tanzania/Israel)
Towards Sustainable Management of Wadis in Semi-Arid Environments- IWRM Approach, Walid Saleh, Amjad Aliewi, Anan Jayyousi (Dubai)
Is Desalination Right for Sydney? Phoenix Lawhon Isler(Australia)
16:00-16:15 Coffee Break
16:15-17:15 Parallel Sessions III
8. Remote Sensing and Assessment of Desertification Processes (B)
Chair: HYPERLINK “” Prof. Hanoch Lavee, Bar Ilan University , HYPERLINK “
Assessing Land Cover Change and Degradation in the Central Asian Deserts Using Satellite Image Processing and Geostatistical Methods, Arnon Karnieli, Tal Svoray, Uri Gilad, (Israel)
A Dynamic Model of Dryland Hydrology Using Remote Sensing, Elene Tarvansky, (United Kingdom)
The Effect of Wildfires on Vegetation Cover and Dune Activity in Australia’s Desert Dunes: A Multi-Sensor Analysis, Noam Levin, Simcha Levental, Hagar Morag (Israel)
9. Desert Ecology (B)
Chair: Dr. Yehoshua Shkedy, Chief Scientist, Israel Nature and Parks Authorit, HYPERLINK “
Is Grass Scarcity in the Chihuahuan Desert A Result of Shrub-Grass Competition or Soil Moisture Limitation? Giora Kidron and Vincent Gutschick (Israel/U.S.A)
Short-term responses of small vertebrates to vegetation removal as a management tool in Nizzanim dunes, Boaz Shacham and Amos Bouskila (Israel)

Microbial diversity of Mediterranean and Arid soil ecosystem. Ami Bachar, Ashraf Ashhab, Roey Angel, M. Ines M. Soares and Osnat Gillor, (Israel)

Effects of woody vegetation and anthropogenic disturbances on herbaceous vegetation in the northern Negev, Moran Segoli, Eugene David Ungar, Moshe Shahack (Israel)
10. Land Restoration Strategies
Chair: Dr. Avi Gafni, Director of Research, Keren Kayemeth L’Yisrael,
Role of Wetlands in Sustainable Drylands D. Mutekanga (Uganda)
Restoration of Abandoned Lands, Gabrielyan Bardukh, (Armenia)

Desertification in the Sahel: causes, prevention and reclamation Dov Pasternak (Israel)

11. Strategies for Living in the Drylands
Chair: Prof. Avigad Vonshak, Director Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research,

Micro-Climatic Effect of a Manmade Oasis During Different Season in an Extremly Hot, Dry Climate, Oded Potchter (Israel)

Ecological sanitation (ECOSAN) as an alternative approach for sustainable dry-land development, Amit Gross (Israel)
Has dependence on runoff agriculture on the dryland environment of the central Negev mountains changed significantly in the last few thousand years? Testing the contribution of the geological substrate, Wieler Nimrod. Avni Y. Benjamini C. (Israel)
12. Pastoralism and the Drylands (B)
Chair: Mr. Shmulik Friedman Head of Israel Grazing Authority HYPERLINK “
Normative Carrying Capacity of an Isralei Forest for Domesticated Grazers. David Evlagon, Samuel Komisarchik, Yehuda Nissan, No’am Seligman (Israel)
Herd No More: Livestock Husbandry Policies and the Environment in Israel: from 1900 Until Today, Liz Wachs, Alon Tal (U.S.A)
17:15-19:00 Poster Session (including contest) and Cocktail
19:00-20:00 Dinner
20:00 Evening Activities (optional)
Moonlit Hike in Nahal Haverim (Please come w/ walking shoes and warm clothes)
OR Films from the Desert Nights Film Festival (sponsored by the Italian Embassy, Tel Aviv)

8:00-8:30 Registration
8:30 – 10:15Plenary Addresses
Professor Pinhas Alpert, Director, Porter School of the Environment, Tel Aviv University,
“Climate Change’s Impact on Desertification in the Mediterranean Region”
Rattan Lal,Director, Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, Ohio State University. “Carbon Sequestration in the Drylands: Where we Are? Where we might go?”
Dan Yakir, Head, Department of Environmental Sciences & Energy Research, Weitzman Institute, “Israel Forestry, Carbon and the Drylands: Recent Findings from Israel”
Moderator: Mark Windslow, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, Germany
9:45-10:00 Coffee Break
10:00-11:30 Parallel Sessions IV
13. The Role Vegetation in Combating Desertification (A)
Chair: Dr. Elli Groner, Arava Institute for desert studies/BIDR,
Use of Indicator Species in Enhancing the Conservation of Drylands of Kenya J. Aucha, V. Palapala, and J. Shiundu (Kenya)
Green Spots as a Tool to Combat Desertification in the Aral Sea Region, Lilya Dimeyeva, (Kazakhstan)
Vegetation Change in Response to Grazing and Water Level Decline in the Enot Zukim Nature Reserve (en Fescha) Israel, Linda Whittaker, Margareta Walczak, Amos Sabach and Eli Dror (Israel)
Improving sustainability and productivity of rainfed field crops in the Negev regions
David J. Bonfil (Israel)
14. Drought and Salt Resistant Plants for Sustainable Dryland Development (B)
Chair: Professor Micha Guy, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, HYPERLINK “
The chemical induction of Polyploidy Mutan in Zizphus Mauritiana, Noemi Tel Zur and Mohmmad A.Taher (Israel / Jordan)
Using the Model Plant Arabidopsis Thaliana and Extremophile Arabidopsis Relatives to Identify Genes that Can Confer Plant Tolerance to Arid Conditions, Simon Barak (Israel)
Recently Domesticated Native Desert Herbs for Sustainable Planting in Arid and Saline Areas, Elaine Solowey (Israel)
Pattern Formation, State Changes and Catastrophic Shifts in Poa bulbosa Production as Responses to Simulated Grazing, Hadeel Majeed, Yaakov Garb, Moshe Shachak (Israel)
Germination and seedling survival in NaCl solutions after desiccation of some halophytes-used in pasture and fodder production in the solonchak salinities of the Kyzylkum desert, in Uzbekistan, Tanya Gendler, Japakova Ulbosun, Nicolai Orlovsky and Yitzchak Gutterman (Israel)
15. Afforestation in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Gabriel Shiller, The Volcani Institute, HYPERLINK “
Dryland Afforestation, Bill Hollingworth, (Australia)
Soil and Water Management along with Afforestation for Rehabilitation of Desertified Areas of the Israeli Negev, Yitzak Moshe (Israel)
Land Restoration in the Mediterranean, V. Ramon Vallejo, (Spain)
The Impact of Tree Shelters on Forest Survival of Eight Native Broadleaf Species in Forest Plantations in Israel, Omri Boneh (Israel)
16. Irrigation in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Alon Ben-Gal, Gilat Research Station, Volcani Institute,
Combating Land Degradation in Irrigated Agriculture Through Systematic Characterization of Saline-Sodic Soils for Improved Irrigation Efficiency in Kenya – E.M. Muya, (Kenya)
Adaption of Drip Irrigation in Sub-Saharan Africa, Towards a Strategy for Technology Transfer, Lonia Friedlander (U.S.A)
Managing salt, nutrient and soil structure in reclaimed water irrigated vineyards of South Australia, Biswas and McCarthy (AU)
Future strategies for drainage problems in the desert area (IGNP) of Western Rajasthan in India, Kiran Soni Gupta (India)
Root zone salinity management strategy for the Australian drought, Schrale (AU)
17. Climate Change in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Yeshayahu Bar-Or, Chief Scientist, Ministry of Environmntal Protection, HYPERLINK “
Climate Change Trends in an Extreme Arid Zone, Southern Arava (Israel and Jordan) Hanan Ginat, Yanai Shlomi, Danny Blumberg (Israel)

Climate change and its effect on Mediterranean Basin ecosystems, Pua Bar (Kutiel) (Israel)

Climatic Change and Desertification Predictive Modeling In The Northeastern Nigeria.
Dr. Ojonigu Ati And Taiwo Qudus (Nigeria)
11:30-13:30 Open Campus Lunch Break
13:30-15:00 Parallel Sessions V
18. The Role of Vegetation in Combating Desertification (B)
Chair: Mr. Tauber Israel, KKL, HYPERLINK “javascript:addSender(”
Desertification not at all costs – a matter of temporal and spatial scales and policies
Pua Bar (Kutiel) (Israel)
Cropping systems in the Indian arid zone and long-term effects of continuous cropping
N.L. Joshi (India)
Establishing the Relationships between Soils, Vegetation and Ecosystem Dynamics: A Strategy for Land Degradation Control in Nurunit Marsabit District, Kenya, E.M. Muya, (Kenya)
19. Indigenous Knowledge in the Combating of Desertification
Chair: Prof. Aref Abu Rabia, Ben Gurion University, HYPERLINK “
Ethnobotanical Approach to the Conservation of Dryland Vegetation James Aucha (Kenya)
Environmental and Economic Potential of Bedouin Dryland Agriculture, Khalil Abu Rabia, Elaine Solowey and Stefan Leu (Israel)
Traditional Knowledge and Technologies: Administration of Common Goods from the Perspective of Goat Producers in the Lavalle Desert, Laura Maria Torres (Argentina)


20. Managing Drought in the Drylands

Chair, Mr. Yaakov Lomas, Israel Metereological Institute, HYPERLINK “

Drought Risk Reduction in Rajasthan, India Madhukar Gupta (India)
Merits and Limitations in Assessing Droughts by Remote Sensing, Arnon Karnieli and Nurit Agam (Israel)
The Impact of Long Term Drought Periods in Northern Israel, Moshe Inbar (Israel)
Hydric Characterization of the Sinaloa State (Mexico), Through the Aridity and Aridity Régime Indices, Israel Velasco, (Mexico)
Economic Sustainable rainfed wheat production under Semi-Arid climatic conditions – Agrometeorological criteria for planning purposes, Lomas (Israel)
21. Carbon Sequestration
Chair: Dr. Noam Gressel, Assif Strategies, HYPERLINK “
Semi-arid Afforestation and its Effect on Land-atmosphere Interactions,
Eyal Rotenberg et. al., (Israel)
Capacity of the forest ecosystems to sequester carbon (Case of the watershed basin of Rheraya- area of Marrakech) ) Rachid Ilmen (Morocco)
Halting Land Degradation and Desertification: A Win-Win Mitigation Strategy Neglected by the Climate Establishment, Stefan Leu (Israel)
Special Round Table discussion: Mid-east Regional Cooperation to Research Desertification with Arab and Israeli Desertification Experts
Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli experts meeting and discussing common concerns and solutions to address desertification in the Middle East region.
Moderator: Prof. Avigad Vonshak
Jeffrey Cook Workshop in Desert Architecture and Planning
Architecture and Urban Planning in the Drylands
Dryland Urban Expansion: Environmental Problems and Urban Planning, the Case of Urmuqi China S. Liu (UK)
Towards a Comprehensive Methodology for Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE): A Hot Dry Climate Case Study, Isaac Meir, Eduoardo Kruger, Lusi Morhayim, Shiri Fundaminsky, Liat Frenkel, (Israel)
Sick Building Syndrome in a University Building – an Educational Survey, Lusi Morhayim, Issac Meir (Israel)
Urban Sustainability in Desert and Dryland Areas – a First Exploration, Yodan Rofe and Gabriela Feierstein (Israel/Argentina)
Microclimatic Issues in the Planning of a Modern City in a Desert Environment, Evyatar Erell (Israel)
Sustainable Architecture in the Outback/Desert Regions of Australia: The Paradigm in Theory and Practice, Terence Williamson (Australia)
Arch. Suhasini Ayer-Guigan (India)
Arch. Mary Hancock (UK)
Arch. Laureano Pietro (Italy)
15:30 Bus Ride to Mitzpe-Ramon
16:00-17:00 Sunset Overlooking the Ramon Crater, Visit to Ramon Visitor’s Center
17:30 PLENARY LECTURE: Professor Uri Shani, Director, Israel Water Authority,
“Addressing Scarcity in the Drylands: Israel’s New Water Management Strategy”,
Moderator, Ms. Hila Ackerman, Director of Environmental Department, Ramat Negev Regional Council
19:00 Dinner
20:00 Evening Activity: Music & Dancing OR Astronomy Lecture
DAY 3, December 16, 2008: FIELD TRIPS

A detailed plan will be provided separately


8:00-8:30 Registration
8:30 – 10:15Plenary Addresses/ PanelReconsidering the Axiom of “Bottom Up” Desertification Programs: Lessons Learned about Partnerships and International Assistance
Chris Braeuel UNCCD Focal Point, Canada,
Christian Mersmann, Director, The Global Mechanism of the UNCCD, Rome
Alon Tal, Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research
DelphineOuedraogo, Ministry of Environment, Focal Point to UNCCD, Burkina Faso

Moderator: TBA

10:00-10:15 Coffee Break
10:15-11:50 Parallel Sessions VI


22. The Contradictions of “Gender Equality” in Development Discourses in Desert Regions (Panel A)

Chair: Prof. Rivka Carmi, President Ben Gurion University,

Rethinking modern education among indigenous Negev Bedouin, Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder (Israel)

Looking Ahead: Bedouin Women, Higher Education, Identity and Belonging,Ronnie Halevi (Israel/U.S.A.)

The nation and its natures: Depictions of women Environmental Educators in the Israeli Negev Desert, Miri Lavi-Neeman, (Israel/USA)

“My Life? What is there to tell?” : Interpreting the life stories of multiply marginalized women in an Israeli ‘Development Town” Sigal Ron (Israel)
23. Public Policy, Economics and Desertification
Chair: Dr. Moshe Schwartz, Ben Gurion University,
Economic Instruments for Mitigation of Desertification Problems in Armenia Gevorgyan Suren, (Armenia)
Land Degradation, Subsidies Dependency and Market Vulnerability of Stock –breeding Households in Central Crete Hugues Lorent, et. al., (Belgium)
The Value of Israel’s Forests and Desertification, Tzipi Eshet, Dafna Disegni and Mordehcai Shechter (Israel)
Current Status and Issues for Combating Desertification In Western Rajasthan, Kiran Soni Gupta, (India)
How To Put Desertification and Water Management in The Political Agenda: The South Italy Development Policies, Carlo Donolo (Italy)
24. Food Security in the Drylands
Chair: TBA
Livelihood Strategies: Indigenous Practices and Knowledge Systems in the Attainment of Food Security in Botswana, Maitseo Bolaane (Botswana)
Drought and food insecurity: a rationale for national grain reserves, Hendrik Bruins (Israel)
Drought Management Planning in Water Supply System, Enrique Cabrera (Spain)
The Impact of Drought on Agriculture in Jordan, Sawsan Batarseh and Hendrik J. Bruins (Jordan)
25. Case Studies – Projects that Combat Desertification
Chair: Beth-Eden Kite, Deputy Director, Mashav, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Combating Desertification: An Attempt at Wasteland Development in Rajasthan, India, Kusum Bhawani Shanker, (India)
Valuing the Successes of combating desertification – Experience of Burkina Faso in the rehabilitation of the productive capacity of the village territories, Ouedraogo Delphine (Burkina Faso)
Development of Drylands of Kenya Using the Jatropha Curcas Value Chain J.A. Aucha, V. Palapla, and J. Shinundu, (Kenya)
Production Diversification for Expanding the Economic Foundations of Argentinean Monte Desert Communities, Elena Maria Abraham, Giuseppe Enne (Argentina)
11:50-12:00 Coffee Break
12:00-13:00 Parallel Sessions VI
26. Bottom Up: Community Participation in Programs to Combat Desertification
Chair: Dr. Haim Divon, Deputy Director, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Man, Desert and Environment, Hanan Ginat, Noa Avriel-Avni (Israel)
People and institutional participation in forest management for sustainable development: options for drylands based on experiences from Sudan. Edinam K. Glover (Finland)
Dryland Gardening: A Sustainable Solution to Desertification? Southern Africa as a Case Study, Adam Abramson (U.S.A)

27. Culturing Desertification: Gender and the Politics of Development (Panel B)

Chair: Dr. Pnina Motzafi-Haller, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research,
Development and the Role of Women in Pakistan, Masooda Bano, (UK)

Domestic Water Provision and Gender Roles in Drylands, Anne Coles (UK)

Women’s Work: Gender and the Politics of Trash Labor in Dakar,Rosalind Fredericks, (USA)

28. The Negev Desert – Development and Conservation
Chair: Dr. Yodan Rofeh, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research,
The Israeli Negev Desert: From Frontier to Periphery, Yehuda Gradus (Israel)
The National-Strategic Plan for Developing the Negev – Negev 2015: An Old Prospect or a New Future, Na’ama Theshner (Israel)
The potential of TOD for development of the Northern Negev, Prof. Dani Gat (Israel)
Sense of place and naming in Hura as an example of the changing spatial consciousness of Beduoin in the Negev, Arnon Ben Israel and Avinoam Meir (Israel)
29. The Political Ecology of Deserts and Desertification
Chair: Dr. Yaakov Garb, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research,
Rebuilding the Land: Political Ecology of Land Degradation in Somaliland Ingrid Hartman (Germany)
Desertification Narratives (and Their Uses) in the Middle East and North Africa, Diana Davis (U.S.A)
Desertification or Greening in the Sahel? Case study of Inadvertent Greening in the Oued Kowb, Mauritania, Stefanie Herrmann, Mamadou Baro, Aminata Niang (U.S.A)
Political Ecology: Wind Erosion on the U.S. Southern High Plains
R. E Zartman and A.C. Correa (U.S.A)
30. Assessing International Efforts to Combat Desertification
Chair: Professor Uriel Safriel, Hebrew University,
Follow the Money: Navigating the International Aid Maze for Dryland Development Pamela Chasek (U.S.A)
The Global Mechanism – Lessons Learned C. Mersmann, (Italy)
Research Priorities of the UNESCO Chair on Eremology Gabriels (Belgium)
An Analytic Review for International Collaborations for Drylands Research and Sustainable Development, J. Scott Hauger (U.S.A)
A Conference to Improve the Flow of Science into the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Mark Winslow (Germany)
13:00-14:30 Lunch and Concluding Session

e-mail:  desertification at
tel:   972-8-659-6997
fax: 972-8-659-6772


See also:

Posted on on May 17th, 2008


Posted on on November 17th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

 DLDD = Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought.

The high-level policy dialogue (the “Dialogue”) on the theme “Coping with today’s global challenges in the context of the Strategy of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification” (UNCCD), took place on Tuesday, 27 May 2008, in Bonn, Germany. The Dialogue was intended to facilitate a targeted exchange from a number of stakeholders on the ten-year strategic plan (“the Strategy”) and to foster awareness of and buy-in among relevant policy and decision makers. There were over 120 participants, including ambassadors, ministers, country representatives, intergovernmental organizations, UN agencies, NGOs and the private sector. The Dialogue consisted of three segments, each of which comprised presentations and discussion among participants.

Above as reported by IISD from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) –                               UNCCD HIGH-LEVEL POLICY DIALOGUE in Linkages:

Now We have a new PRESS RELEASE FROM A UNCCD Conference:
UN Desertification conference, Istanbul: “Without proper action, both in developing and developed countries, some 50 million people could be displaced by desertification and land degradation within the next ten years,” warns the Executive Secretary of the UNCCD.

Istanbul, Turkey, 14 November 2008 – A major United Nations conference ended today with significant steps taken to combat desertification and land degradation as well as to mitigate the effects of drought, known as DLDD. Delegates from the 193 countries who are the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) took significant actions to resolve   difficult scientific problems within the Convention process. By drawing in the scientific and technological community more intensively to create indicators that can be used at national levels and beyond, the Convention will win more confidence of the stakeholders. In addition, the reporting process from the Parties is to be mainstreamed so that both affected countries and development partners can see where the Convention reaps large benefits and retain them, while eliminating less effective ones.

“The delegates here in Istanbul took a big stride to guide the next year’s ninth Conference of the Parties (COP9) [the decision making body of the Convention]. We are all on the same page. But it has to be remembered that without proper action by stakeholders, both in developing and developed countries, some 50 million people could be displaced by desertification and land degradation within the next ten years,” said Mr. Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD.

The Seventh Session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 7) and the first special session of the Committee on Science and Technology (CST-S1) were held in Istanbul from 3 to 14 November.

At the first special session of the Committee for Science and Technology (CST-S1), the scientific advisory body of the Convention, delegates confirmed that promoting the participation of the national science and technology correspondents (STC) in the activities of the committee would enhance its work. The Committee, in consultation with STCs, is now moving forward to select a minimum set of indicators to measure the impact of the implementation of the Convention.

Mr. Gnacadja said that these indicators would be applicable to all countries so that a common standard can make analysis at the national, sub-regional, regional, and the global level feasible. It will also increase the effectiveness of the implementation of the Convention. The set of indicators will be finalized during regional scientific meetings next year towards the submission to COP9.

The ninth session of the CST (CST9) scientific conference will be held next year to ensure peer scientific review with which a Scientific Policy Dialogue is planned.


At the seventh session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 7), which followed the CST-S1, the delegates agreed on reporting principles which measures the Convention’s implementation progress. Through the reporting process, affected countries and development partners would understand “what works, what doesn’t” in implementing the Convention. Assessment of national capacity to implement the Convention will be conducted in all regions in order to design a comprehensive capacity building approach.

The new reporting format will provide opportunities for affected country Parties to address their success and constraints in implementing the Convention in its 10-year strategic plan. For developed country Parties, future reporting should focus on providing information about how the Convention has been mainstreamed into their development cooperation strategies.

Another significant step was the concrete proposal to strengthen the involvement of integration civil society organizations in the review process.

“Recommendations made at the conference have several significant implications. First, the reporting guidelines will increase credibility of the Convention. Secondly, by Parties agreeing to the establishment of the workprogramme, taking a result-based management approach, the Convention will increase accountability. Further, the cooperation among the Convention institutions will increase efficiency of the implementation process of the Convention.” commented Mr. Gnacadja.   “This is a certain step-forward for making the Convention a systemic and worldwide response to global environmental issues affecting land and its ecosystems.”
The 10-year strategic plan, adopted at the eighth Conference of the Parties (COP8) in Madrid last year, is the response of the member Parties to change in the Convention’s environment. In response to the change, there is a need to restructure the UNCCD institutions for their institutional coherence; to strengthen the Committee on Science and Technology (CST); and to improve the review process of the implementation of the Convention with new and standardized reporting guidelines. Mr. Gnacadja hopes that, by taking these actions, Parties could agree and monitor qualitative and quantitative targets to be achieved towards the goals set out in the 10-year strategic plan. “Setting, achieving and monitoring targets on land improvement with incentive mechanisms could redefine the concept and the content of international development cooperation,” Mr. Gnacadja said, “that could be achieved from strong partnerships of all the stakeholders involved.”

The new recommendations would entail a wider use of the information generated by countries and would achieve a higher level of accountability as desired by the Parties, according to the UNCCD Executive Secretary. These will be addressed at the next Conference of the Parties in autumn 2009.

“The pieces have fallen together here in Istanbul to fight DLDD. Now is the time to act,” concluded Mr. Gnacadja.

Media interested in more information about the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification can call Marcos Montoiro at +49-228-815-2806 or send an e-mail to  press at

Developed as a result of the Rio Summit, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is a unique instrument that has brought attention to land degradation to some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and people in the world. Twelve years after coming into force, the UNCCD benefits from the largest membership of the three Rio Conventions and is increasingly recognized as an instrument that can make an important contribution to the achievement of sustainable development and poverty reduction.


Posted on on September 22nd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Israeli city first to aim for water independence.
By Michael Green
September 16, 2008…

Israel may be in a severe water crisis, but in the city of Rishon LeZion the drought isn’t causing any alarm. Summer temperatures regularly soar to the upper 80s and 90s, there’s no rain for six months of the year, and the country’s key source of drinking water, the Sea of Galilee reached the critical “Red Line” in July, but still city residents remain relaxed.

That’s because Rishon LeZion, 20 kilometers south of Tel Aviv, is well on its way to becoming the “first independent municipal water economy in Israel.” It’s a groundbreaking initiative that is attracting interest from countries all over the world searching for solutions to their own water problems.

Currently, Rishon LeZion provides 70 percent of its own water from local sources such as wells, with the remainder being supplied by Mekorot, Israel’s national water company. But the city’s municipal water company, Meniv Rishon, has set itself an ambitious goal: to turn Rishon LeZion into the first city in the country to be 100% water self-sufficient.

“We want to supply all of our water needs ourselves, for industry, agriculture and for households too,” says Daniel Low, general manager of Meniv Rishon, a corporation owned by the Rishon LeZion Municipality.

A pioneer in water conservation:

Saving water may have become a hot topic in 2008, but Rishon has been pioneering water conservation since 2001 when the city’s mayor, Meir Nitzan, announced his bold new vision for the city’s water policy.

So how does one company plan to turn such an unprecedented scheme into reality? Over the coming years, Meniv intends to phase out the rest of its supply from Mekorot and replace it with a combination of locally harvested water, primarily rainwater collection and building a new desalination plant, as well as replenishing the aquifer’s underground water resources.

Since it began collecting rainwater in 1999 in a lake located between the Rishon’s western city limits and the beach, 11 million cubic meters have been filtered into the aquifer below, helping to reverse the pollution and depletion it has suffered over the years.

Thanks to a newly built 16km pipe, water collected in the lake is also being used in the northwest of the city for sprinklers and irrigation in public gardens and other open spaces, providing a vital breath of fresh air in Israel’s highly urbanized coastal plain.

Low says that this has already saved over 1 million cubic meters of water in the last year, not to mention the tidy sum of NIS 4.5 million, a figure which will rise significantly when plans for two more reservoirs in the east of the city come to fruition in the next four or five years. “But we are still losing millions of cubic meters each year from run-off,” explains Low. “We want to collect water across the entire city, not just in the northwest.”

Transforming salty water into sweet:

The next major stage is to build a desalination plant to transform salty water from four wells near the Mediterranean Sea into water for drinking or agriculture. Construction is due to get underway in the next year and once completed in 2010, it is anticipated the plant will supply 3.7 million cubic meters of water a year.

Such an ambitious scheme comes with a price tag: nearly $23 million for the desalination plant, as well as $11 to 14 million for the two new reservoirs. But Low is confident that the consumer will be the winner in the end, as the price of water in Israel, like many other countries, is due to rise sharply in the future.

“The cost of water in Rishon LeZion will go down. That’s one of the principal targets in the long-run: to make water cheaper for people,” he says, adding that water will cost between 40 to 45 cents per cubic meter when the desalination plant is operational, compared to the current cost of around 80 cents per cubic meter for water from Mekorot, a price which is predicted to rise even further in 2009.

Now the vision of Rishon LeZion is catching the imagination of other parts of Israel, such as the Arab city of Nazareth, as well as countries elsewhere around the world keen to learn a thing-or-two about water conservation, including Italy, the Ukraine and Australia, which are all coping with water crises of their own.

Even tropical Brazil, where rain is hardly in short supply, has been seeking advice from Meniv Rishon to explore innovative new systems of making additional sources of water available for the country’s citizens.


Posted on on June 11th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

The 12th African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) June 7-12, 2008 Johannesburgh, South Africa.…

Africa Atlas of our Changing Environment from Global Resource Information Database – Sioux Falls

Global Resource Information Database – Sioux Falls

Tejaswi Giri (Ms.)
UNEP/GRID Sioux Falls
USGS/EROS Data Center
47914 252nd Street
Sioux Falls, SD, 57198, USA
Tel: 1 (605) 594-2782
Fax: 1 (605) 594-6119
Email:  tgiri at


Posted on on May 27th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Climate Destruction Will Produce Millions of ‘Envirogees’
By Scott Thill, AlterNet. Posted May 27, 2008.

The rise of environmental disasters from climate change and destruction of ecosystems will create a surge of refugees across the planet. Chew on this word, jargon lovers. Envirogee.

It carries more 21st century buzz than its semi-official designation climate refugee, which is a displaced individual who has been forced to migrate because of environmental devastation. Maybe the buzzword will catch on faster and shed some much-needed light on what will become a serious problem, probably by the end of this or the next decade. That light is crucial, because so far envirogees haven’t been fully recognized by those who certify the civil liberties of Earth’s various populations, whether that is the United Nations or local and national governments whose people are increasingly on the move for a whole new set of devastating reasons.

In short, immigration is about to enter a new phase, which resembles an old one with a 21st century twist. For thousands of years, humanity has fled across Earth’s surface fearing instability and in search of sustainability. But that resource war has kicked into overdrive thanks to our current climate crisis — a manufactured war with its own clock. And the clock is ticking.

From earthquakes in China to cyclones in Myanmar to water rationing in Los Angeles, societies are shifting like their borders. And all the outcry over so-called illegal immigration neglects to answer one time-honored question: If the borders aren’t standing still, why should the people who live in their outlines do so? Especially when they’re under attack from catastrophic floods, fires, droughts and any number of other environmental dangers?

Right now, the 1951 Geneva Convention does not recognize the envirogee phenomenon, instead focusing on immigration as a result of political persecution. But then again, it was established over five decades ago when Earth’s climate was anything but a terrorist. But the Geneva Convention, like everything that must adapt or die, needs to mutate in time with the rest of the world and its hyperconsuming inhabitants in order to remain relevant in our still-new millennium.

Here are some startling envirogee numbers to crunch: According to the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Earth’s fracturing communities will have 150 million envirogees by 2050. According to Australian climatologist Dr. Graeme Pearman, coastal flooding resulting from a mere two-degree rise in temperature would kick 100 million people out of their danger-zone homes by 2100.

Here’s more scary data. Desertification is claiming land from China to Morocco to Tunisia and beyond at an increasing rate. New Orleans and parts of Alaska are slowly sliding into the sea, while the former, as Hurricane Katrina ably illustrated, is becoming a reliable target for intensifying weather events, human corruption and half-assed infrastructure. Aquifers around the world are shrinking, while acidification is claiming cropland in Egypt and beyond. Hypoxia has claimed portions of the ocean itself with alarming speed, as stretches of the Atlantic and Pacific lose oxygen and, by extension, the marine life that not only feeds millions but establishes the continuity of the food chain.

No food chain, no food. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

But numbers are fallible, which is another way of saying the above figures are most likely best-case scenarios. In other words, the future is now. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the IPCC might have taken home a Nobel for their statistics and bleeding hearts, but their math was significantly off. Worse, the rate at which these things happen is rising exponentially.

“The rate of increase in carbon dioxide concentrations accelerated over recent decades along with fossil fuel emissions,” explained a report on methane and CO2 rises by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Organization for Atmospheric Administration. “Since 2000, annual increases of two ppm or more have been common, compared with 1.5 ppm per year in the 1980s and less than one ppm per year during the 1960s.” As for methane, in 2007 it exploded by 27 million tons after a decade with relatively no rise at all. Think about that next time you eat that Happy Meal.

So what’s an envirogee to do, other than opt out of wasted fantasies like Happy Meals, factory farming, bottled water and Hummers? What else? Move.

Which is what envirogees worldwide are already doing right now, by choice or by gunpoint, and will do more often than not as situations on the ground and in the air deteriorate.

The conflict raging in Darfur is a sobering example of the complexity of the situation. It has so far displaced 2-3 million people, and for all the talk of political or religious persecution, the fact remains that it is at its root an environmental crisis. An arid desert whose water is drying up by the day, Darfur is one of the first flashpoints of our new phase of climate conflict, a conflict that U.N. Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon explained in the Washington Post as one “that grew at least in part from desertification, ecological degradation and a scarcity of resources, foremost among them water.” But this too should have been foreseen: According to remote sensing, Darfur sits atop of an underground lake that once used to hold over 600 cubic miles of water and dried up thousands of years ago.

And like Darfur, we are numbly sitting atop our climatological past while it races to catch up with us. Parched by thirst and hungry for fossil fuels which, in turn, only exacerbate that thirst and the wars it engenders, envirogees are streaming out of these hot zones into less murderous ones, whose inhabitants are circling their wagons on the outsiders. Civil wars are breaking out. Outsiders, in turn, are becoming invaders. The irony is rich.

It gets richer, or poorer, depending on where you stand on peak oil. The planet’s shrinking petroleum reserves are now more valuable than ever, and the prices for its capture and capitalization show zero sign of returning to normal. That expense is also beginning to be measured in lives, as carbon concentration exponentially increases and weather events become more extreme.

And you all know what they say about extreme times calling for extreme measures.

We’ve been here before, which is to say on the brink of extinction. In one instance, drought shrunk our numbers to about 2,000 scattered in a diaspora across Africa, a fearsome thought for a 21st century superpower that may be entering its own permanent drought. But the wrinkle is different this time around the tightrope: We built this coming dystopia with our own hands.

And that’s going to reshape not just immigration policy, but the concept of immigration altogether. And that’s where the envirogee comes in. The envirogee, you see, is on the run from himself.

In other words, and no matter how much blowhards like CNN’s Lou Dobbs bitch and whine, the inconvenient truth of climate change, and its rampant resource wars for what’s left of the planet’s stores, remains a reality. Beneath genocide in Darfur lies a desert that used to be a lake. There probably isn’t a better metaphor for our current hyperhighway to hell in existence, if one could argue that it was a metaphor to begin with. But one can’t, because it is reality, pure and simple. And so are envirogees, regardless of the outdated assertions of the Geneva Convention or the staid refusals of the insurance industry to wake up and smell the hurricanes.

“If we keep going down this path,” French prime minister Nicholas Sarkozy argued to the superpowers gathered at the Major Economics Meeting in Paris last month, “climate change will encourage the immigration of people with nothing towards areas where the population do have something, and the Darfur crisis will be only one crisis among dozens of others,” he stressed.

That is, we won’t be worried about Mexicans coming to the U.S. for economic reasons, or Africans doing the same in France and England. We will be worried about hyperviolent cyclones, floods and droughts destroying what’s left of our jobs and the people who want them, as we all pack our crap and move northward, where temperate weather and more bountiful supplies of water, gas and food lie. We will be the ones enduring the hard stares and perhaps bullets fired from locals who are circling their wagons against victims of their own consumption and apathy.

Whether or not we can settle, literally, with that solution, time will tell. But according to the continually underperforming science of climate crisis, we won’t settle for long. Barring any meaningful sociopolitical or economic engagement, to say nothing of much-needed technological revolution, on the issue, we’ll have turned from territorial citizens into climate nomads, all in a cosmological eyeblink.

Scott Thill runs the online mag His writing has appeared on Salon, XLR8R, All Music Guide, Wired and others.


Posted on on April 20th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Women and environment experts have raised concern over the absence of women in the discourse and debate on climate change, a global mainstream issue that is currently impacting the entire world. The involvement of women in areas of environmental management and governance should not be perceived as an afterthought. Women’s roles are of considerable importance in the promotion of environmental ethics.
The current imperative is for women to understand the phenomenon of climate change and its impacts and implications at the individual, household, community and national levels. Studies show that women have a definite information deficit on climate politics and climate protection. Only with this information can women take their proper, significant and strategic role in the issue of climate change.

Invited to this congress are women parliamentarians, women in decision – making and governance, environment organizations, youth Leaders and Media Practitioners.

The Congress will have the following objectives:
Overall Purpose: To provide a forum for women legislators, and women in decision making and environment organizations at all levels, in formulating gender-responsive legislation and policies.

Specific Objectives:
a) To understand the phenomenon of climate change, its impacts and implications;
b). to review and examine the gender aspects of climate change and formulate appropriate actions to address such;
c). to define the roles women can play in addressing the issues of climate change at the global, national and sub-national levels; and
d). to identify and define the action agenda for parliamentarians, policy advocates and women leaders to support global and national actions to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Congress Proceedings:
The discussion on gender and climate change will be organized around identifying the challenges to action as well as defining the appropriate responses to effectively address the impacts of climate change. Inputs to the discussion will be collected and organized around: 1) geographic location and 2) types of actions: i.e. preparedness, risk reduction: building community resilience; adaptation; and mitigation. Cross cutting these discussions will be the identification of technologies in aid of responding to climate change.
The focus of the discussions will revolve around defining and elaborating actions (i.e. preparedness, disaster risk reduction, adaptation, and mitigation) to cope with climate change and its impacts.
Preparedness and disaster risk reduction is about building individual and community capacities to position themselves and their communities so that the likelihood of climate change-induced disasters is reduced; the intensity or adverse impacts of disasters are cushioned and that inhabitants are able to respond promptly, expeditiously and effectively. Adaptation entails actions that moderate harm, or exploit benefits, of climate change. Mitigation entails actions that minimizes or cushions the adverse impacts of climate change.
In all of these actions, special attention will be given to defining how women and gender could be mainstreamed. In other words, the Congress should define how women can be given the social space to participate, influence, and benefit from global and local responses to climate change.
The registration fee for the four day congress is one hundred eight thousand Philippine Pesos (P108, 000). per person for single room accommodations and Eighty eight thousand Philippine Pesos (P88, 000). per person for twin room sharing accommodations (two persons in one room).
The training will be held on Oct 19-22, 2008. However, the participants will be requested to be in Manila the day before, October 18, 2008 and leave Manila only on October 23, 2008. The overnight hotel accommodation on October 18, 2008 is already included in the fee. Participants will be billeted in the Dusit Hotel, the venue of the congress and hotels near the Dusit Hotel, accessible within walking distance. Room accommodations in the Dusit Hotel, the venue of the Congress will be on a first come – first served basis.

You can also download the full information sheet and registration form for this Third Global Congress of Women in Politics and Governance from our website, <;
Importance of the Congress:

Today, on the average, 1 person out of 19 in a developing country will be hit by a climate disaster, compared to 1 out of 1,500 in an OECD country.

Climate change creates life time traps: in Niger, a child born during a drought is 72 percent more likely to be stunted than a child born during a normal season.

The Theme of “Gender and Climate Change” is the first time this will be discussed in a forum whose objective is to formulate gender responsive legislation and policies for national governments and parliaments.

We hope that environment organizations will find this forum a good opportunity to advocate gender and climate change policies and programs through gender responsive legislation to the women parliamentarians, decision makers, the youth leaders, media and the funding agencies/organizations.

Dr. Jung Sook Kim, President
The theme of the congress is “Gender and Climate Change”.
Center for Asia Pacific Women in Politics (CAPWIP)
YSTAPHIL Building, 4227-4229 Tomas Claudio Street, Baclaran,
Parañaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel. (632) 8516934 (632) 8516954; Tele Fax: mobile phone +639184596603
E-mail:  globalcongress2008 at;  globalcongress2008 at <;  globalcongress2008 at>;  capwip at <> Web: <;; <;


Posted on on March 31st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS) and the IPCC Technical Support Unit are jointly organising a regional outreach workshop on the findings of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. The workshop, which is aimed at African researchers, will take place on 29-30 April 2008 in Marrakech, Morocco. To be considered for participation, please submit your application no later than 5 April 2008.The objective of the workshop is to disseminate the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report findings to African researchers and scientists, in particular those of the circum-Saharan region.

The various presentations and discussions will cover the following topics:

·     The physical science basis of climate change;

·     Vulnerability, impacts and adaptation;

·     Mitigation of climate change;

·     The research needs for Africa.

To apply please visit the OSS website (link provided below) and download the workshop’s flyer. Only successful applicants will be contacted by 10 April 2008.…

Jihed Ghannem
Communications Officer
The Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS)
Boulevard du Leader Yasser Arafat
BP 31, 1080 Tunis, Tunisia
T: +216 71 20 66 33       F: +216 71 20 66 36
Visit our new website at


Posted on on March 8th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Sunday, March 9, 2008, Kyodo News on Japan Times online.

Yellow sand forecasts get longer.

The Meteorological Agency is increasing its forecasts for yellow sand to three days instead of one, agency officials said Saturday.

The agency will also supplement the forecasts by posting details about sand density on a map on the agency’s home page, they said.

The sand, which has stirred concerns about health and the environment, was observed in Japan for 34 days last year. It originates from the deserts of East Asia.

Forecasts for the sand began in 2004 by analyzing wind conditions, temperature and humidity in the desert areas.


Posted on on March 3rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

The highlighted part in the title is ours – but the policy implications are their! The problem is real and the EU knows it!

Climate change, because of future water shortage, a security risk for EU, say bloc’s foreign policy chiefs.

03.03.2008 Climate change is not merely an environmental concern, it could also present “serious security risks”, according to the European Union’s foreign policy chiefs as reported by Leigh Phillips for Euobserver.
Tackling climate change is central to Europe’s preventive security policy, says Ms Ferrero-Waldner (Photo: © European Community, 2007 )  

Tackling climate change is central to Europe’s preventive security policy, says a paper drafted by the bloc’s High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

Battles over water supplies and instability arising from diminished
harvests, particularly in the Middle East, are likely to cause “serious
security risks” for Europe, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and
external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner have warned.

UK business daily the Financial Times and its German sister paper, FT Deutschland obtained a copy of the paper’s contents in advance of an EU leaders summit later this month where the issue is to be discussed.

The paper highlights seven key concerns: diminishing water supplies, falling harvests, increased migration, expanding energy resource competition, tussles over newly opened up opportunities in the Arctic as the ice there melts, disappearing coastlines and islands that sink beneath the waves as sea levels rise.

Of particular concern is the growing threat of so-called water wars in the Middle East.

“Water supply in Israel might fall by 60 per cent over this century,” reads the paper, which argues that battles over access to water in the region in turn affect the EU’s energy security.

The paper also points to concerns that reduced harvests in the Middle East and Turkey will also add to the region’s instability.


Posted on on February 22nd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Climate Change Driving Mongolians From Steppe to Cities.

Stefan Lövgren in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia for National Geographic News.
February 21, 2008
Photo: Lifelong herder Namdag lives in a traditional felt tent home—or “ger”—among some half dozen cars in various states of disrepair, an informal junkyard against the towering, snow-capped mountains that surround the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar (Ulan Bator). “I miss my old life,” said the 71-year-old, now a world removed from the sweeping steppes he once called home. “But life out there is too difficult.”

Namdag, who like many Mongolians uses only one name, is one of the hundreds of thousands who in recent years have abandoned their nomadic herding lives for an urban existence.

The former herders crowd into sprawling townships on the periphery of Ulaanbaatar, which has doubled its population in the past two decades. (See a video of Mongolian nomads and their fading lifestyles.)

While there are many reasons for the migration, observers say climate change is increasingly a driving force behind Mongolians’ move toward the cities.

Landlocked between Siberia (Russia) and China, Mongolia is feeling the impact of global warming more than most regions in the world.

Over the past 60 years the average temperature in Mongolia has risen by 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit (1.9 degrees Celsius). In contrast, the average temperature around the world has climbed only about 1 degree Fahrenheit (about 0.6 degree Celsius) in the past century.

The warmer temperatures are drying up Mongolia’s grasslands, which provide food for the country’s livestock.

“The Mongolian herding way of life is under threat from global warming,” said Azzaya, director of the Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology in Ulaanbaatar.

Soil Moisture – With its hot summers and cold winters, Mongolia has one of the most extreme climates anywhere on Earth. It also ranks as the world’s least densely populated nation. On the vast steppes that stretch across northern Mongolia, miles often separate individual gers, which are moved by their nomadic inhabitants up to four times a year according to the seasons.


Posted on on February 8th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Geneva – Addressing the Impact on Human Security of Environment and Migration Issues – Ensuring human security in a world challenged by the three pressing issues of the day – climate change, environmental degradation and migration – will be the focus of an international conference in Geneva on 19 February.

Jointly organized by Greece under its chairmanship of the Human Security Network and IOM, the conference will examine both the impact of environmental degradation and climate change on human security and migration as well as the impact of migration on the environment and how interaction on these two phenomena can lead to potential conflict.

While there has been increasing international focus on climate change, environmental degradation and migration as separate subjects, the impact of both on human security and the potential for conflict, has not received the same level of attention from policy makers and researchers.

Although data on the number of existing environmental migrants – those “persons or groups of persons who, for compelling reasons of sudden or progressive changes in the environment that adversely affect their lives or living conditions, are obliged to leave their habitual homes, or choose to do so, either temporarily or permanently, and who move either within their country or abroad” – and projections on future numbers are unclear with the latter varying enormously from an estimated 25 million to one billion by 2050, people across the world are having to leave their homes or countries because of rising sea levels, scarcity of water, inability to farm sustainably as well as vulnerability to an increasing number of weather phenomena that destroy lives and livelihoods.

Human displacement caused by natural disasters both sudden and slow on-set, in addition to political conflicts, also play a critical role in environmental degradation and tensions over decreasing resources especially water and land.

The conference, which will have keynote presentations by Theodoros Skylakakis, Secretary General for International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation at the Greek Foreign Ministry, IOM Director General Brunson McKinley, the Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Michel Jarraud and Kyung-wha Kang, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights will not only identify key issues surrounding climate, environmental degradation, migration and human security, but will also explore ways of mitigating the impact of migration on the environment as well as using migration strategies to help limit environmental damage and potential human crises.

Panellists include E.Angus Friday, Grenada’s Ambassador to the UN in New York with Grenada chairing the Alliance of Small Island States, as well as prominent representatives of the academic and NGO community.

“Early planning and action on this complex and multi-dimensional issue can go a long way in lessening the impact of climate change, environmental degradation and migration on human security. We have an opportunity here of taking a step forward in addressing this issue,” says Brunson McKinley.

“Greece, presiding now the Human Security Network felt that people’s migration due to worsening climate and environment constitutes a challenge for human security. Geneva, where many of those who understand this serious and complex issue work and live, seems the right place to tackle this issue,” says Greece’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Franciscos Verros.

The Human Security Network is a group of 13 countries from various regions of the world which maintains dialogue at Foreign Ministers level on questions pertaining to human security and as an informal, flexible mechanism, identifies concrete areas for collective action.

The conference, which is being held at the headquarters of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) in Geneva, is open to the media.

For background papers and the agenda, please go to and