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The scientific and policy worlds have different goals, which can lead to different standards for what constitutes “proof” of a change or phenomena, and different approaches for characterizing and conveying uncertainty and risk. These differences can compromise effective communication among scientists, policymakers, and the public, and constrain the types of socially compelling questions scientists are willing to address. In this paper, we review a set of approaches for dealing with uncertainty, and illustrate some of the errors that arise when science and policy fail to coordinate correctly. We offer a set of recommendations, including restructuring of science curricula and establishment of science-policy forums populated by leaders in both arenas, and specifically constituted to address problems of uncertainty.
In this paper, the processes that affect mercury (Hg) cycling in the Amazonian environment were reviewed, criticized and new directions of research are proposed. The discussion of the origin of the mercury contamination, whether natural or anthropogenic is marked by a lack of fundamented arguments from both sides. Undoubtedly mercury inputs from gold mining have locally increased environmental concentrations, but in the whole Amazon, these loads would be insignificant, considering the high concentrations observed by some authors in remote soils. A reasonable process that should explain these elevated concentrations in soil is that B horizons function as a mercury “sponge” that have been accumulating mercury over a geological time scale, releasing it back to cycling during erosion and forest fires. The environmental degradation of the Amazonian forest due to human activities is probably enhancing the release of that mercury to the cycle. Mercury transformations in reduced, anoxic environments—sediments and waters—are also a key problem for the understanding of the environmental methylation. The studies that have been carried out in the Amazonian environment are too restricted and results permit only circumstantial conclusions. Large efforts must be directed to monitoring programs considering time and space variability.
Controlling deforestation in Brazil's Amazon region has long been illusive despite repeated efforts of government authorities to slow the process. From 1997 to 2000, deforestation rates in Brazil's 9-state “Legal Amazon” region continually crept upward. Now, a licensing and enforcement program for clearing by large farmers and ranchers in the state of Mato Grosso appears to be having an effect. The deforestation rate in Mato Grosso was already beginning to slacken before initiation of the program in 1999, but examination of county-level data suggests that deforestation in already heavily cleared areas was falling due to lack of suitable uncleared land, while little-cleared areas were experiencing rapid deforestation. Following initiation of the program, the clearing rates declined in the recent frontiers. Areas with greater enforcement effort also appear to have experienced greater declines. Demonstration of government ability to enforce regulations and influence trends is important to domestic and international debates regarding use of avoided deforestation to mitigate global warming.
On the basis of a Solomon Islands case study, we report that tropical rainforests hitherto perceived as untouched, pristine, virgin, etc., are actually sites of former settlement, extensive forest clearance, and irrigated/swidden agriculture. An unusually wide range of sources—rainforest ecology, forest classification and mapping, ethnobotany, land-use history, oral traditions, ethnographic and archaeological observations—supports our conclusions. These observations have bearings for contemporary perspectives on scenarios for rainforest regeneration after logging. They also force a revision of certain assumptions concerning Melanesian prehistory and historical demography, and indicate that interdisciplinary links between botany, archaeology and social anthropology are needed to achieve a better appreciation of rainforest dynamics.
This study examines domestic and international travel to the Great Barrier Reef in order to estimate the benefits the reef provides to the 2 million visitors each year. The study explores the problems of functional form and of measuring travel cost for international visits: comparing actual costs, distance, and lowest price fares. The best estimates of the annual recreational benefits of the Great Barrier Reef range between USD 700 million to 1.6 billion. The domestic value to Australia is about USD 400 million, but the estimated value to more distant countries depends on the definition of travel cost and the functional form. The study conclusively demonstrates that there are very high benefits associated with protecting high quality coral reefs.
Wastewaters of private household septic tanks and cesspools have been treated with peracetic acid (1–2 g L−1). Adding 1 g L−1 peracetic acid to wastewaters was easy and has been found to be effective in destroying enteric indicator microorganisms. The careful mixing of peracetic acid and wastewater was found to be important. Winter periods with frozen soil, ice and snow did not constitute extra problems. The bad smell of these wastewaters almost totally disappeared during the treatment. When wastewaters treated with peracetic acid were emptied into animal slurry tanks, hygienization still continued in the mixture of animal slurry and the wastewaters. These wastewaters could thus be released into agricultural soil without risk of microbiological pollution to groundwaters.
Qatar has serious water resource problems, following rapid socioeconomic development and massive population increase. Municipal water provision depends on costly and unsustainable desalination. There is little regulation. Native Qataris do not pay a water tariff and migrants pay a subsidized price—approximately one third of the cost of production—so there is little awareness of the true cost of water and use is profligate. This paper discusses trends in water use and identifies issues underlying sustainable water use in Qatar. A questionnaire of respondents chosen to represent Qatari social groups measured awareness and attitudes to water. The results show that previous efforts to control water demand in Qatar, using awareness campaigns, legal restrictions and tariffs, have been ineffectual. The questionnaire evaluated reactions to possible measures to limit uses by raising awareness, using legal restrictions and raising tariffs. From this, a number of policy changes can be suggested, to bring Qatar's water industry towards sustainability.
Compared to other continents, the economic growth performance of Sub-Saharan Africa has been poor over the last four decades. Likewise, progress in agricultural development has been limited and the Green Revolution left Africa almost untouched. The question raised in the literature is whether the poor performance is a question of poor policies or of an unfavorable biophysical environment (policy versus destiny). This paper, with a broad perspective, analyzes adaptation of current land use to environmental conditions in Africa and compares the physical resource base of Africa with Asia. In doing so, we search for unifying principles that can have operational consequences for agricultural development. We argue that some specificities of the natural resource base, namely local homogeneity and spatial diversity of the predominant Basement Complex soils, imply that simple fertilizer strategies may not produce the yield increases obtained elsewhere.
Along the Swedish Skagerrak coast eelgrass (Zostera marina) is a dominant phanerogam on shallow soft bottoms. Eelgrass meadows are important biotopes for many crustacean and fish species being either migratory or stationary. During the 1980s, inventories of the shallow coastal areas with eelgrass have been carried out along the Swedish west coast as a basis for coastal zone management. In the present study we revisited 2000 ha of eelgrass meadows in 5 coastal regions along 200 km of the Skagerrak coast. The inventory was made with the same methods (aquascope) as during the 1980s, but increasing the mapping accuracy by using a Global Positioning System (GPS). The results from this study show that the areal extension of Zostera marina has decreased 58% in 10–15 years with great regional variations. The decline was mainly restricted to the shallow parts of the meadow. The causes and ecological consequences are discussed.