Category Archives: Environment

Bridgetown Careenage and Harbour beautiful… but deadly to Sea Turtles

Honey Bea Fishing Barbados

Honey Bea III refuses to answer accusation of fishing for turtles

Contributed by BFP reader CJB

The Careenage and Harbour used to be a garbage strewn muddy dump. They have spent years cleaning it up and landscaping the surrounds. They have even restored the lift bridge to working order. However now that the area has been cleaned up and the water is far less murky (polluted?) turtles have started to appear, largely attracted by the free food from the deep-sea fishing boats moored there.

Unfortunately some of the deep-sea fishing vessels are now also trying to catch the turtles with rod, line and hook. The boat we saw was Honey Bee III. (Editor’s note: I think he means Honey Bea III)

They had a rope over the side with what looked like the entrails of a large fish at the end of it – two Hawksbill turtles were attempting to get bits off it. One was an adult, another a juvenile. However there was another conventional fishing rod and line with hook also dangling in the water. It was baited with fish – quite why it was there is a moot point. It was this that the adult turtle got caught on – obviously attracted to the bait on the hook. There was quite a struggle by one of the guys to ‘land’ it and the rod bent right down. Eventually the turtle surfaced and its head broke the water – my photo in hi-res clearly shows the line from the rod to the hook in its beak.

Then the line snapped and the turtles (both) swam off. The two staff carried on gutting a barracuda as though nothing had happened. The whole incident also witnessed by a number of tourists.  Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Environment, Nature, Wildlife

Daughters of the Niger Delta “The oil has spoiled everything for us…”

BFP has been invited to see this documentary on Saturday March 8th. We’ll let you know what we think. Here is a description from the film’s website:

Daughters of the Niger Delta
Documentary (55:30 min)

Daughters of the Niger Delta is an intimate film portrait of three everyday heroines who manage to make ends meet against all odds. As their personal stories unfold, we come to see that the widely ignored environmental pollution in their backyard is not the only human rights issue affecting their lives.

The Stories

The film radically differs from the usual media reports about oil outputs, conflict, and kidnapping. It gives a taste of everyday life in the Niger Delta through the eyes of three ordinary women: Hannah, Naomi & Rebecca. Their struggle to survive in the delta’s beautiful but pollution-marred wetlands confronts us with the human impact of corporate irresponsibility, gender injustice, and failing government service delivery.

The stories of Hannah, Naomi, and Rebecca are sobering as well as uplifting. They shed light on day-to-day injustices that we rarely hear about in the news. But they also highlight women’s strength and resilience. Despite the hardship affecting their lives, the filmed women are determined to give their children a better future. Women may be the best captains to navigate the Niger Delta out of its troubled waters – if only they were given the chance.

Women’s Voices

It’s time to listen to women’s voices. Their priorities are relevant not only for the Niger Delta, but also for other parts of Nigeria that currently are marred by violence and social unrest. Women’s experiences can enrich the policy discourse – if only we are willing to listen.

Film website: Daughters of the Niger Delta

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Filed under Africa, Disaster, Environment, Human Rights

Life is hard for Sea Turtle hatchlings

Barbados Sea Turtle Release

We love to see the hatchling releases by the UWI Sea Turtle Project, but a photo of a Dolphin (Mahi Mahi) being cleaned reminds us that only a few turtles survive the first few days in the sea. The lucky or smart ones are few.

Sea turtle hatchling Barbados

All the more reason to immediately report anyone you see killing an adult turtle. There was a time when sea turtles were like the stars in the sky around Bim. Not anymore.

Each one of us has a responsibility to protect and grow our sea turtle population.

Thanks to Skip to Malou and the Barbados Sea Turtle Project for the photos and links.

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McGill University’s Bellairs Research Institute excels at Caribbean reef and sea studies

Barbados Reef Research

“Bellairs Research Institute is Canada’s only teaching and research facility in the tropics. The Institute was founded and endowed in 1954 by the late Commander Carlyon W. Bellairs to provide a facility through which staff at McGill might develop a scholarly interest in the tropics. Located in Holetown, Barbados, it plays host to students and scientists from around the world for field courses, workshops and research projects involving both marine and terrestrial environments.”

You see many folks from Bellairs in Holetown and Friday nights at Oistins. If I ever knew that the place has been around since 1954 I had forgotten. It must be a plum assignment for Canadian university students especially in the middle of winter!

Google news alerts sent us the latest article by a Bellairs researcher, so I thought I’d post the link. It’s actually quite interesting about how the reefs are little communities where the interactions between the different life forms aren’t always as they seem.

Live Science Article: Reef Parasites: Predator or Scapegoat

Bellairs Research Institute website

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Bajan Dreamers heading for the Antarctic! (with a little help from their friends)

Bajan Dreamers Antarctic

Bajan 17 year-olds Mickell Als and Shanice Holder have a dream: visit the Antarctic in 2015 while working to protect the environment.

Both have already been hard at work for years with various environmental and community projects on the rock – and now that they have been selected to be team members on the International Antarctic Expedition (IAE) 2015, all they need is a little help along the way. Cash, that is.

World Electronics in the Bridge Street Mall signed on as their first corporate sponsor, but Mickell and Shanice know it’s going to take more work to raise their mission profile and convince fellow Bajans that theirs is a worthwhile project. We at BFP are convinced that the project will benefit the environment, Barbados and the two young people so we’re on board to help them as we can.

BFP pledges to do regular stories about their project and progress and we’ll also publish some articles from their BajanDreamers blog. And yes, we’ll also do what we can to publicize their other sponsors like World Electronics (who are selling the new BlackBerrys Q10 & Z10 unlocked, for the lowest price we could find.)

Good luck to these two fine young people and… Keep working hard at your goal!

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Future Centre Trust – Green Noise forum about solid waste management

Barbados Future Centre Trust

Future Centre Trust

Green Noise (A public forum which will inform our advocacy on solid waste management)

When: Wednesday June 26, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Where: Guardian General Insurance Recreational Room

Facilitated by Kammie Holder, FCT Board member and the FCT team.

Facebook event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/291541624316003/

Our focus:

If “green” is the new buzzword…what does that really mean in Barbados?

Littering….air,water, soil quality….What do we in Barbados see as the most pressing environmental and therefore economical problems?

What “green” solutions do we need to focus on in Barbados?

Should we be “mekkin noise” individually about an issue rather than collectively voicing, documenting AND acting towards solutions?

Really though…we are asking YOU!

The Future Centre Trust wants to hear from you about how we should move forward as an organization as we ALL “Step Towards a Greener Barbados”.

This listening session will inform our advocacy for the pending Solid Waste Management Act.

We look forward to hearing from you! If you can’t make it, please be sure to email us your comments beforehand.

Kind Regards,

Future Centre Trust

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Barbadians should shake and fold!

The popular adoption of small ideas can lead to big changes. Here’s one from the TED Talks.

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Boyan Slat’s plan to have the oceans clean themselves of plastic – Reality or Idiocy?

“Every year, we produce about three hundred million tons of plastic…”

Stone Age, Bronze Age, Industrial Age – Now the Plastic Age is killing our oceans. 19 year old Dutch engineering student Boyan Slat has a plan, but some say they’ve heard it all before and it won’t work. Who is correct?

After watching Slat’s talk at TED, visiting his website and then reading a piece by Stiv Wilson, I’m less excited about Slat’s idea but more determined that we have to find something, some technology or natural process to clean up the mess. Even if we could stop making the mess, that alone won’t be enough.

The sea is cruel and it’s really really really big

The nonprofit I work for, as part of its mission, takes people other than scientists on expeditions to the gyres. Why? It’s simple; we want regular people, like Slat, to understand the scale of the problem and the vectors that contribute to the difficulty of solving it by being informed by a firsthand vantage. So far, we’ve taken one gyre cleanup advocate across the South Atlantic, from Brazil to South Africa. We had 22 days of storms with seas in excess of 30 feet at times. By the time we got to the other side, some 30+ days later, he’d abandoned his hope of cleaning the gyres once he realized how big a ‘place’ we’re talking about. What I find astonishing is that out of all the gyre cleanup proponents I’ve met, none of them have ever been to the gyres.

Read Stiv Wilson’s article The Fallacy of Cleaning the Gyres of Plastic With a Floating “Ocean Cleanup Array”

Thanks to an old friend for telling us about Boyan Slat: “Not sure how effective this young man’s ideas are but I love the enthusiasm of one who is willing to lead and inspire!”

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Free market and science drive Apes Hill Club’s choice of grass

apeshill_Barbados

Barbados Free Press has been kicking ’bout hey for over seven years and that is a long time in the blog world to post every day and build credibility with the search engines like Google and Yahoo!. Readership goes up and down with the news stories and when a big event happens we receive tens of thousands of visitors a day. Our best day ever was 44,087 visitors and just last week we did alright when some discussion about Harlequin was flying and 33,669 visitors stopped by.

Those numbers aren’t much compared with the big blogs that drive that kind of traffic and better every day, but we still do 3 million visitors a year at BFP and that’s not bad for a little nothing blog run by a bunch of drunks and the occasional unemployed aircraft riveter. (Anybody want to buy the world’s best set of bucking bars and dimplers – give me a shout! And when I say “the world’s best set” I mean it. It includes some wildly customized bucking bars and cutters that you didn’t even know you needed until you use them. I shoulda patented them a long time ago but it’s too late now.)

Some press release agents think Barbados Free Press is a real newspaper. Huh?

Some people mistake us for a real newspaper (or maybe they don’t) and we receive a couple of dozen press releases a week about anything and everything. Most are boring product announcements but today we see one about a type of grass that does exceptionally well in the Barbados and similar climes. I never considered it before but the press release has me thinking about how a good drought-resistant grass could save big money for a golf course over a few years. Water is scarce and expensive in Bim, so the choice of grass for any type of space should be a carefully considered decision.

Apes Hill Club Nursery is the licensed producer of this Zoysia sod in Barbados. That probably means it’s expensive… but how much water will you save over the years by using this type?

Robert

BARBADOS — Bladerunner Farms, the world’s largest privately owned zoysiagrass research and development facility, is proud to announce that Apes Hill Club Nursery, a licensed producer of JaMur Zoysia on the Caribbean Island of Barbados, now has this environmentally friendly turfgrass available for harvest.

The wholesale Apes Hill Club Nursery grows 15-acres of JaMur Zoysia for harvest as sod, along with some 50,000 plants, that are sold to commercial landscapers, land developers and homeowners on the island of Barbados. Ed Paskins, CGCS, is the golf course superintendent at the neighboring Apes Hill Club golf club and was instrumental in developing the Apes Hill Club Nursery.

Before planting the sod farm at Apes Hill Club Nursery, Paskins visited the Poteet, Texas, research facility of Bladerunner Farms to see JaMur Zoysiagrass in a real-world situation. That visit helped him decide to license JaMur Zoysia for use in Barbados.

“You need to know that you’re getting quality and that the person is going to stand beside it. I think that because Bladerunner Farms is a family business and the owner, David Doguet, was willing to put his reputation on the line for the grass was extremely important,” Paskins said.

…continue reading this article at WorldGolf

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Filed under Agriculture, Barbados, Environment

Travel + Leisure Magazine does undeserved hack job on Barbados

Travel Leisure Magazine

by Happy Visitor

You have to wonder about the reasoning behind the Travel + Leisure magazine article about the 2013 World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index.

The WEF rated Barbados at a very respectable 27 out of 140 countries rated and near the very top in a number of categories: Sanitary (1), Hospital beds per population (12), Regulatory framework (13), Prioritization of Travel & Tourism (8), Ground transport infrastructure (9), Affinity for Travel & Tourism (2), Education quality (7) and so on.

But what does Travel + Leisure magazine focus upon? We did poorly for Natural Resources (133). That’s no surprise given our population density, lack of natural resources, water shortage and frankly, successive governments and a population that don’t seem bothered by trash or paving over natural habitats. Yes, we could use some big improvements in that sector, but with all we have to offer and how well we did overall, it is unfair for the magazine to mention one of our few faults without commenting on our overall standing or successes featured in the WEF’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index.

Further Reading

2013 World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (PDF 6mb)

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Environment

Energy & Environment: We cannot continue on the way we have been…

“At best, the age of cheap energy is over…”

Former energy Minister of Denmark

“You need to think of energy in a fifty-year timeframe, and our elected officials are thinking of energy in two year election cycles. That’s ridiculous!”

John Hofmeister, former Head U.S. Shell

One of our old friends sent us a link to the PBS video Earth: The Operators Manual / Powering the Planet – and what an interesting and well-done documentary it is. You can disagree with some of the program or with some of the technologies that are presented as solutions (as I disagree about large scale wind farms) – but you cannot disagree with the theme that we cannot continue on the way we have been. We cannot continue what we are doing. We must find better ways.

Where I disagree with some of the experts is in the area of self generation vs large scale energy generation. The current societal model is to have large central generating facilities – whatever the technology – and accept that over 50% of power generated will be lost during transmission. I say that smaller individual and local community power generation is not only viable, but cheaper and less prone to interruption.

This 1 hour program is well worth your time.

Thanks friend!

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Electricity from ordinary sewage waste: Microbial Fuel Factory Cells

microbial fuel cell

Barbados should give MFC’s a look!

by Robert D. Lucas, Ph.D.
Food biotechnologist.

Recently there has been much talk about the diverse means available of obtaining energy from renewable sources (solar, wave, wind as-well-as bio-diesel/gas). However, no mention has been made locally of the use of microbial fuel/factory cells (MFC’s). MFC’s are devices that convert chemical energy into electrical energy as do batteries, via the use of micro-organisms.

Unlike batteries, MFC’s can sustain their output of electricity as long as the chemical input is maintained. Most bacteria are electrochemically inactive and cannot be used in MFC’s. Those bacteria which are capable of producing an electric current are called exoelectrogens. Exoelectrogens, when placed into a suitable medium, transfer electrons (negatively charged particles) to an electrode which has been inserted into the medium. This flow of electrons is facilitated by an active electron transport system, which carries electrons directly from the microbe’s respiratory system to the anode ((negatively charged electrode).

“MFC’s do not depend on sunlight to be able to function. There is no need to have storage facilities for storing electricity as is the case with solar energy.”

Continue reading

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Future Centre Trust looking for help with booth at UWI’s ‘Going Green Day’

Barbados Future Centre Trust

The Future Centre Trust has been invited to participate in the Going Green Expo being organised by the Science and Technology Student Committee of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus, on Monday March 4, 2013.

“The Going Green Day is one of the events organised by the Student Committee during the Faculty’s Week of Activities under the theme “Science and Technology – Endless Possibilities” which run from 3rd – 9th March 2013. The main objective of the Going Green day is to heighten awareness on campus of Energy Efficiency.”

The expo runs from 11:30 til 3:00 pm and the Future Centre Trust needs help setting up and running their booth.

How about it, folks? Come and give FCT a hand and you’ll have a chance to meet BFP’s co-editor, Cliverton – who will be hanging about the campus as usual.

So give the Future Centre Trust a call and a few hours help…

T: +1 246 625 2020  |  C: +1 246 836 6188  |  F: +1 246 620 2021
E: volunteer@futurecentretrust.org | info@futurecentretrust.org
http://www.futurecentretrust.org

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Canadian alternative power expert tells Barbados: Free yourselves from the monopolists!

Wind-turbines-water

by Graham Findlay of 3G Energy

(left as a comment on BFP’s Wind Turbines at Lamberts, Barbados – How close is too close?)

I build wind farms in Canada, small community scale wind farms. We try to keep set-back distances above the provincial minimum of 550 meters. At 750 meters a resident nearby has to strain to hear the devices, no matter what the weather conditions. At 550 meters, only under certain weather conditions will the noise be heard and even then it’s at a very low decibel level. At 550 meters the noisiest turbines can achieve 40 db or less of sound pressure outside a residence.

Noise from gear-boxes? Ever heard of gearless turbines? Ultra-low sound pressure? The energy from these devices at that frequency cannot travel far. The main issue from low frequency sound is the extent to which a person is experiencing it in his/her normal surroundings. In an urban environment, it’s all around and nobody complains. It comes from traffic, restaurant ventilation, cooling fans, wind flow through and around building structures. It’s there and yet people don’t notice it. It seems disingenuous to attack wind turbines for this effect when the physics of the experience show it to be below known harmful thresholds.

The wind resource on Barbados is amazing. It’s too bad that community organizations are not yet organized to step forward and become energy activists, and therefore owners of power generation equipment. It’s very satisfying to members of an energy co-op when they see revenue flowing in every month. It’s a shame to leave energy generation to the monopolists. Wind and solar energy generation opportunities should be owned by anybody who is interested.

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Chunk of glacier becomes an iceberg the size of Manhattan

Thanks to an old friend for this interesting short. Aside from the astounding and beautiful photography and the scale of the ice ‘calved’ from the ice fields, I did not know that the ice fields have retreated more in the last 10 years than in the last 100 years.

Those who say that human activities don’t alter the earth’s climate are living in some sort of reality warp. Any pilot who has flown into New York City on a winter’s day will tell you about micro-climate: about how the heat, thermal mass and exhaust from this great city causes local climate changes including temperature inversions and dangerous wind shears, local icing, and restricted visibility – depending upon the prevailing winds and other factors.

If that’s what we can do on a purely local basis, imagine what humans do around the globe! When they burn the fields in Brazil, it’s Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) for hours when there is no real need of it. It’s the same in the Philippines – only there crop burning usually makes big and violent rainstorms. You can see them forming over the smoke if you’re sober!  :-)

Have a look at this short for the visuals and for the message. Visit the website too: Chasing Ice

Robert

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Barbados should be into Butanol, not Ethanol, to power autos – but we lack the vision and leadership

distillery butanol

“It would appear that, only certain persons in this society are founts of knowledge and that their opinions and ideas are adhered to, even when they are talking on subjects outside their area of technical competence.”

by Robert D. Lucas, PH.D.

There was an article entitled “Deal to turn whisky ‘leftovers’ into bio-fuels for cars”, in a local newspaper of Wednesday 26th September 2012. The same news item was aired on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Monday 24th September 2012. It was reported in paragraph five of the article that, ninety percent of the stuff which comes out of the distillery is not whisky. It is leftovers like daff and pot ales which are high in sugars. It is planned, as reported in the article, to utilize these leftovers for the manufacture of butanol (an alcohol) for use as a bio-fuel. I have some points and observations which I will now make.

In the past (letters to Advocate: 7th June, 1998; 31st July, 2002; 3rd August, 2004 and 18th May 2006) I have advocated that yeast by-products (which are a high quality source of protein) from rum manufacturing, be utilized in the manufacture of rations for livestock locally. As I pointed out then, alcohol is a toxic by-product of the metabolism of molasses by various strains of yeast Saccharomyces cervisisiae. Once a threshold level of alcohol is reached, the yeast die off; but considerable amounts of free molasses remain. The yeast can be separated and used as a source of high-protein input for animal rations. The cell-free extract can then be distilled to remove ethanol. The residual liquid can be fermented to obtain more alcohol. Alternatively, selective pressure can be used on S.cervisisiae, to obtain strains of yeasts with increased tolerance to ethanol. The same trait can be obtained using genetic engineering techniques, to obtain improve alcohol tolerance of yeasts.

Butanol beats Ethanol for vehicles!

In 2006, in a letter (“Ethanol not the only manufacturing solution”), I proposed that the alcohol of choice for use as a bio-fuel be butanol. Continue reading

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Eat your water bottle? Barbados scientist develops edible degradable plastic!

Barbados plastic molecule

Robert D. Lucas, Ph.D.

I have been doing some research on the development of degradable plastics locally. I have been able to develop an edible degradable plastic using glucose which is stable under certain conditions.  There are certain challenges which have to be over come when using glucose. It is necessary to give some background on the status of degradable packaging and on how I became involved in the present research.

At present, there are four other methods of making degradable packaging.  One of the methods, uses gelatinized starch which is molded under pressure with cellulose. In the second method, starch is extracted from maize, fermented to give lactic acid, which is then polymerized. Thirdly, there is the use of genetically modified bacteria, which are fed sugars. The latter process is complex and expensive. In the third method, use is made of methanotrophic (bacteria which utilize methane), in an aerated medium obtained from waste-water from plants (food, sewers etc.), to which has been added certain salts. Methane is then pumped through the system, and is polymerized by the bacteria.

I became involved in the research, as a result of a proposal of mine, which was entered in the National Council for Science and Technology (NCST’s) innovative competition. As a result, the Barbados Industrial Development Corporation (BIDC) became interested in my proposal. BIDC purchased some basic pieces of scientific equipment and the NCST allowed me the use of their forty-foot container which had previously been converted into a laboratory, located in the Ministry of Commerce’s yard. Apart from the BIDC’s equipment, I have funded all of the chemicals and other bits of equipment myself. I am not paid for doing the research; I want to make that absolutely clear. Continue reading

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If Hurricane Sandy hit Barbados instead of New York…

Are You Ready?

by Amit Uttamchandani

As the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season enters its winter years, I find myself being very thankful once again and somewhat reflective on related matters.

Thankful that as an individual, my friends, families and co-workers (in Barbados) were spared. Thankful that as a citizen of a country that is still largely dependent upon tourism and foreign exchange to pay for its imports, that once again our little rock has again escaped without major incident (knock wood).

Proof that once again God is a Bajan (or at the very least, holds some special status in Barbados). However, there are those of us who were not as fortunate. In particular, our brothers and sisters in Jamaica and our northern neighbours in the U.S. of A re: Hurricane Sandy. Lives have been lost and devastated and billions of dollars of damages have been incurred (with recovery efforts still ongoing).

Reflective about the fact that despite all of the things that Man (and Woman) has accomplished, Mother Nature proves time and time again that she is still driving the bus and that we are just along for the ride (despite the fact that some of us behave in an unruly fashion on occasion). Continue reading

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