Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Environment changes so fast now, in different directions as well. For example, Namibia is attacking the "plague" problem of "invader bush" encroaching on the country's southwest African savanna pasturelands.

Government officials hope to harvest the woody biomass as fuel for power generation, potentially restoring the savanna ecosystem and providing for all of Namibia's electricity needs in one masterstroke.

[A] 250-page study of the problem of Namibian "bush encroachment," funded by the Finnish government [contains] an astonishing amount of detail about Namibia's savanna ecosystems and the nasty, thorny, water-hungry bushes and trees that are sucking the lifeblood from the land.

But we people are invader species as well, right? Why else the same bushes were not a problem before?

A double whammy of over-grazing by cattle farmers in conjunction with the suppression of naturally occurring fires gave the invaders their opening. Typically, invasive species like the acacia varieties black thorn, blue thorn and (my favorite) false umbrella thorn make inroads on the savanna during drought years, capitalizing on the superior ability of their root systems to extract water from semi-arid land. But until midway through the last century, periodic high-intensity fires, whether started by lightning or indigenous peoples, cleared out the brush and allowed savanna grasses to reestablish themselves. But shortly after WWII, the government began aggressively engaging in fire suppression. Cattle farmers then responded by overstocking the land with livestock.

The upcoming problem is, of course, that the next "sharp" economic solutions would destabilize the savanna further, if anybody would care. As I vaguely try to respect copyright issues, I will just refer to Salon.com's website (with a short intro add) for some facets of complicated economic-environmental interactions. Here is just a conclusion:

The good news, as one can discern from reading the bush encroachment study, is that we now know an amazing amount about how the savanna works. Scientists are unlocking the secrets of how different plant and animal species interact, their varying thirst for water and nutrients, and the mysteries of how climate, vegetation and humans interact (oh, and guess what, thorny invader bushes love greenhouse gases). In a perfect world, careful scientists working together with responsible government officials might be able to figure out just how much human commercial activity the savanna could bear, and put into effect policy recommendations that kept everything hanging together.

[We] can do it. We have the data. But can we be trusted to act accordingly?

Once you entered Salon.com, you may read quite a few interesting entries in the How the World Works blog. Say, about the season of yellow dust storms that come from Chinese deserts to Korea and Western Japan.

by das monde on Sun Apr 8th, 2007 at 02:59:04 AM EST
das monde, thanks for the post.
Every time I start to write a response post I realize that I need to delve into this further, I doubt that I will read that 260 page or even the 164 page pdf reports but still I need to read more about the issues you brought up.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2007 at 02:35:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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