Sunday, May 1, 2016

Great news about Japanese Crested Ibis chicks born in the wild

The captive breeding and release program of Japanese Crested Ibis on Sado Island, in Japan, written about in the last chapter of our book, is celebrating several chicks that were just hatched in the wild .  That is great news.  The similar program in China is having even greater success.  See the news story at:
Japanese Crested Ibis chicks born in the wild news story

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Water Tensions Between Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Islamic State

 The Ilisu Dam, which will inundate Hasankeyf on the Tigris River inside Turkey, is also part of the water tensions between Turkey and the water users downstream, as Turkey holds back releases to the Tigris and Euphrates.

See Bloomberg article, July 2015, about water tensions between Turkey, Iraq, and Islamic State

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

An update on Lake Urmia in Iran, shrinking salt lake due to river diversions

www.circleofblue.org/waternews/2015/world/infographic-lake-urmia-drained-by-water-diversions/Circle of Blue has posted an infographic blog about the status of shrinking Lake Urmia, in northwest Iran on the 38th Parallel,  It has shrunk by 88% due to river diversions for agriculture and development.  Tourism, natural values, and human health impacts due to dust of the salty lakebed are described with striking changes shown in satellite imagery at:  circleofblue.org Lake Urmia information


Sunday, November 23, 2014

4 Rivers Restoration Project remains controversial in South Korea

The Four Rivers "Restoration" Project in South Korea that we described in our book, Traveling the 38th Parallel: a Water Line Around the World, remains controversial.  A new administration is now the ruling party and, "ruling and opposition parties failed to reach an agreement Tuesday over the budgets for river related projects. The key issue was whether the government has to pay 317 billion won ($283.7 million) in interest for debts of the Korea Water Resources Corporation incurred from the project.  Some in the ruling Saenuri Party are now agreeing with the opposition party’s demand to hold a National Assembly probe into the project. 'The government invested 24 trillion won and it has brought about environmental problems, so an investigation is necessary,' said Rhee In-je, a senior leader of the party."
 Follow this link to the original story:
Korean news article about former President's anger over attacks on his legacy

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pink Floyd YouTube video features Aral Sea

We explored the Turkmenistan diversions of the Amu Darya that play a major part in the decline of the Aral Sea, once the 4th largest lake in the world.  This video goes to the lakebed and the Kazakh people whose fishing boats are stranded far from any water today:  Louder Than Words video features Aral Sea

Saturday, June 7, 2014

500 square miles of mountains being leveled near Lanzhou, China

We visited Lanzhou, on the Yellow River, in the interior of China during our 38th parallel travels.  A new project to level mountains and then build on them to serve the growing population and development pressure is underway, with concern being raised by Chinese scientists as the effort continues.    See: Chinese Scientists Question Plan to Bulldoze 700 Mountains in Lanzhou
lanzhou
The objective is different than mountaintop removal coal mining, which we also described, in the Appalachian Mountains of the U.S.   This Chinese effort is a way to flatten mountains for construction purposes.  Whether the land will be stable enough is one question.  Dust issues are occurring.  Water quality in the Yellow River watershed is another big question.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Human Face of Hasankeyf

An intriguing article about Hasankeyf, the ancient town on the Tigris River, threatened with inundation as Turkey completes the Ilisu Dam, was published at Today's Zaman:  http://www.todayszaman.com/news-349056-human-face-of-the-ilisu-dam-project.html
Since we visited Hasankeyf during our travels around the world on the 38th parallel, the Ilisu Dam has nearly been completed, despite the archaeological values of the ancient town.  This new article includes an interview with a Hasankeyf lodgekeeper and family man named Firat, who firmly believes the town will not be flooded, because the very idea is so wrong.  But the author's concluding words reveal his skepticism about Firat's optimism:  " I nodded and said farewell to Fırat, his family and the ancient town of Hasankeyf.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Iran aiming to save Lake Oroumieh on the 38th Parallel

Iran's Lake Oroumieh, once one of the world's largest salt lakes (at 37.75 degrees North) has been rapidly declining due to watershed diversions and agricultural water use.  This week (late February 2014) experts gathered in northwestern Iran to develop plans for saving the lake, which now holds just 20 percent of the water it contained only a decade ago.  The nation's new president, Hassad Arani, made this effort an urgent priority.  As this article from ABC news reported, ""Rouhani stands by his campaign promise to revive the lake," [according to] Isa Kalantari, a popular scholar appointed by Rouhani to lead the rescue team."  Kalantari added: ""Don't blame nature and drought. Human beings, not climate change, are responsible for this situation. We dried up the lake because of our excessive demands and wrong methods. Now, we have to revive it ourselves. Five million people have to leave this region if the lake dies."
    As we traveled the 38th Parallel investigating such water issues, we had to skip over that section west of the Caspian Sea, because travel to Iran was not feasible.  Now the administration change and international effort to protect the lake have changed things, so perhaps we can visit that site someday and report back on this effort in this blog.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

38th Parallel authors compared to famous travelers of the 1930s

After our 38th parallel book slide talk at the Alpine County library (Markleeville, CA), this notice ran in Tom Sweeney's local newsletter:
"The program... TRAVELING THE 38th PARALLEL, A WATER LINE AROUND THE WORLD, last Saturday was an enjoyable time for all the armchair adventurers in attendance; it was a full house. Modern day Martin and Osa Johnsons*, David and Janet Carle shared their travels and the book they wrote about them. If you missed it and ever get another chance be sure to take advantage of it."
**stars of the great 1950s "I Married Adventure" series

So we looked up the Johnsons, who traveled in the 1920s and '30s, wrote about, and filmed their adventures. Osa's book "I Married Adventure" is still available at online book stores.    

Monday, November 18, 2013

News from China about better environmental protection...maybe.

A Reuters article about new China policies on the environment sounds like good news regarding the tension between economic growth and environmental degradation. The government of China has announced reforms to beef up the Ministry of the Environment's oversight and reduce focus on uncontrolled economic growth.  During our travels across the nation on the 38th parallel, we saw some of the serious pollution problems generated by the nation's recent push to grow, grow, grow.
   The article also mentions the tendency we observed to build grandiose national park structures instead of addressing underlying issues with impacts of development (see our blog from April 28, 2011, "National Parks of Yinchuan, Playgrounds or Preserves?"

   We also interviewed an environmental NGO, "Green Camel Bell" in Lanzhou, where staff struggle to address such issues.  University professor, Zhang Songlin, at Northwest Normal University told us, "In old times, the belief was that if you harm the environment, you would be punished.  Now, increased GDP is the belief."  Professor Songlin was not very hopeful, at that time, but perhaps these 2013 reforms are going to help.
See our blog from May 1, 2011:  "Up the Yellow River to Lanzhou's Green Camel Bell."