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Global warming raises tensions in Boko Haram region

Climate change makes Lake Chad fertile territory for extremism, experts say after Boko Haram massacre of up to 2,000 people. As more evidence of destruction wrought by Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria emerged on Thursday, experts highlighted the role of climate change in fomenting extremism. Satellite images obtained by Amnesty International showed 3,700 buildings had been destroyed...
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Farmers, Drought and Gas Development in Australia

The impact on farmers of drought exacerbated by climate change can be mitigated by aspects of certain forms of resource extraction. However, the Australian experience suggests that such measures involve trade-offs. These trade-offs illustrate how our energy choices are becoming increasingly complex...
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ECC Newsletter Edition 3/2014

We have published the third Edition of the Environment, Conflict, and Cooperation Newsletter in 2014. It features e.g. an article by Tony de Brum, Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, about how his country approaches climate diplomacy on the way towards ambitious climate action. We also take a closer look at local governance and climate resilience with perspectives from Latin America and from Southeast Asia...
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Quote of the Month

“In today’s world, we see how the lack of access to water can fuel conflict and even threaten peace and stability. That is why in the coming year I would like to see more attention on what I call hydro-diplomacy.” - Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, in an article for the international science journal ‘Nature’, 1 January 2015.
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Articles

Demand for gold pushing deforestation in Peruvian Amazon

Source: Mongabay

19 April 2011 - Deforestation is on the rise in Peru's Madre de Dios region from illegal, small-scale, and dangerous gold mining. In some areas forest loss has increased up to six times. But the loss of forest is only the beginning; the unregulated mining is likely leaching mercury into the air, soil, and water, contaminating the region and imperiling its people.

Using satellite imagery from NASA, researchers were able to follow rising deforestation due to artisanal gold mining in Peru. According the study, published in PLoS ONE, Two large mining sites saw the loss of 7,000 hectares of forest (15,200 acres)—an area larger than Bermuda—between 2003 and 2009.

"We present recent evidence of the global demand for a single commodity and the ecosystem destruction resulting from commodity extraction, recorded by satellites for one of the most biodiverse areas of the world," the researchers write.

Jennifer Swenson, lead author from Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment, says in a press release that such mining is "plainly visible from space." There are also "many scattered, small but expanding areas of mining activity across Madre de Dios that are more difficult to monitor but could develop rapidly like the sites we've tracked over time," adds Swenson.

Swenson and her colleagues clearly link the rise in unregulated mining to rising gold prices.

"Over the last decade, the price of gold has increased 360% with a constant rate of increase of [around] 18% per year. The price continues to set new records, rising to over $1400/oz at the time of this article's publication. As a response, nonindustrial informal gold mining has risen in developing countries along with grave environmental and health consequences," the authors write.

Beyond forest loss, the mining also impacts wildlife and people in the region due to mercury pollution. Miners use mercury to amalgamate with the metal, but unregulated the dangerous toxin also poison the ecosystem. According to Peru's Environment Minister fish in the area have mercury levels that are three times higher than the amount approved by the World Health Organization. These toxins make their way up the food chain. People dependent on fish, game animals, and river water in the region are likely to be impacted as well. The miners, who are often poor, uneducated, and marginalized, are most at risk given their direct handling of mercury. After fossil fuel burning, small-scale gold mining is the world's second largest source of mercury pollution contributing around 1/3 of the world's mercury pollution.

For the complete article, please see Mongabay.