Tag Archives: protection

Study shows 2 dangerous chemicals released at Iowa plant

A federally mandated study has concluded that Pella Corp. inadvertently released two dangerous chemicals into the ground at its plant in Pella, Iowa.

The study said pentachlorophenol and dioxin have reached the groundwater.

Only those two chemicals were found at higher than acceptable levels, according to the Des Moines Register.

Pella officials said the contaminants do not threaten the city’s drinking water, which comes from the Des Moines River and the Jordan aquifer.

“There’s very limited exposure to human health for this,” Pella engineering manager Jim Nieboer said. “And really, it’s limited to people who work in our buildings and grounds crew who may be digging in our soil periodically planting flowers and tulips.”

Pella used pentachlorophenol to treat wood, and was stored in above-ground tanks and drums. Although the chemical was widely barred in the 1980s, it is still used as a preservative for telephone poles and railroad ties. Dioxins, a byproduct of pentachlorophenol manufacturing, are described by the World Health Organization as “highly toxic.”

The study was a result of a 2010 settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency, which required the company to test for 30 different possible sources of contamination. Nieboer said Pella will wait for guidance from the EPA on whether Pella must remove the chemicals from the ground.

“It’s primarily underneath our manufacturing buildings,” Nieboer said. “There are ways we can intercept and remove groundwater. Given the clay soils in Iowa, it could be a very long-term process of removal and treatment.”

Pella spokeswoman Heidi Farmer said the company does not know of any employees who became ill from the soil, but still continue to monitor and test the facility to ensure the health and safety of Pella’s team members.

7 Hawaii bee species listed as endangered, a 1st in U.S.

Federal authorities have added seven yellow-faced bee species — Hawaii’s only native bees — for protection under the Endangered Species Act. This is a first for any bees in the United States.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the listing after years of study by the conservation group Xerces Society, state government officials and independent researchers.

The Xerces Society says its goal is to protect nature’s pollinators and invertebrates, which play a vital role in the health of the overall ecosystem.

The nonprofit organization was involved in the initial petitions to protect the bee species, said Sarina Jepson, director of endangered species and aquatic programs for the Portland, Oregon-based group.

Jepson said yellow-faced bees can be found elsewhere in the world, but these particular species are native only to Hawaii and pollinate plant species indigenous to the islands.

The bees face a variety of threats including “feral pigs, invasive ants, loss of native habitat due to invasive plants, fire, as well as development, especially in some for the coastal areas,” Jepson told The Associated Press.

The bees can be found in a wide variety of habitats in Hawaii, from coastal environments to high-elevation shrub lands, she said. The yellow-faced bees pollinate some of Hawaii’s endangered native plant species. While other bees could potentially pollinate those species, many could become extinct if these bees were to die off entirely.

Hawaii-based entomologist Karl Magnacca worked with Xerces on much of the initial research. It has taken almost 10 years to get to this point, he told the AP. “It’s good to see it to finally come to fruition,” he said.

The bees “tend to favor the more dominant trees and shrubs we have here,” he said. “People tend to focus on the rare plants, and those are important, that’s a big part of the diversity. But the other side is maintaining the common ones as common. (The bees) help maintain the structure of the whole forest.”

Magnacca added that there are a lot more rare insects that deserve protection. “It may not necessarily be appropriate to list them as endangered, but we have this huge diversity that we need to work on and protect here in Hawaii,” he said. “There’s a huge amount of work that needs to be done.”

The bees are critical for maintaining the health of plants and other animals across the islands, said Gregory Koob, conservation and restoration team manager for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Honolulu.

There is no designated critical habitat attached to the listing, he said, but the protection will allow authorities to implement recovery programs, access funding and limit their harm from outside sources. All federal agencies must consult with the Fish and Wildlife service when interacting with endangered species.

“As an animal, it can’t be taken or harmed or killed by individuals,” Koob said. “Any research that is done needs a permit from Fish and Wildlife Service unless it’s done by a state agency.”

Koob said that if the bees were removed from ecosystem, the plants that they pollinate would likely not survive.

“Those plants are not only food and nesting habitat for the bees, but they also provide habitat for other animals,” he said. “It’s the web of life.”

Friday’s listing finalized the protection of 10 animal species in Hawaii, the seven bees along with the band-rumped storm-petrel, the orangeblack Hawaiian damselfly and the anchialine pool shrimp. It also added 39 species of plants native to Hawaii.

The rusty-patched bumble bee, found widely across the continental United States, is also being considered for protection.

On the Web

Documents from FWS.

Some police unions push boycott of Beyonce concerts, music

Police unions are criticizing Beyonce in the wake of her Super Bowl halftime act and new video, calling for a boycott because they think her work contains “anti-police” messages.

Unions in Miami and Tampa in Florida and also in Nashville, Tennessee, are either calling for officers to boycott her music or urging them not volunteer to work at her shows.

Javier Ortiz, president of the Miami union, said this week that “Beyonce used this year’s Super Bowl to divide Americans by promoting the Black Panthers and her anti-police message shows how she does not support law enforcement.”

The Super Bowl halftime show — seen by an estimated 112 million people — drew praise from her fans and consternation from some critics.

It was a display of unapologetic blackness and political activism. Beyonce’s dancers donned berets, sported Afros and wore all black, similar to the style of the Black Panther party that was founded 50 years ago in the Bay area —  the location of the Super Bowl. At one point during their routine, the dancers formed an “X” on the field, which some people took as a tribute to slain black activist Malcolm X.

Tampa Police Benevolent Association President Vincent Gericitano posted a statement on the group’s website saying it was “disgusted” with the Super Bowl show and “equally disgusted” with her new music video.

The video for “Formation” invokes the Hurricane Katrina tragedy in New Orleans and includes a shot of the singer lying atop a police cruiser overtaken by floodwater. It also references the Black Lives Matter movement with police standing in riot gear and the words “stop shooting us” spray-painted on a wall.

The tour kicks off with a sold-out show in Miami on April 27. Two days later, the tour arrives in Tampa.

Tampa Police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said there is no indication that officers are not taking the extra-duty, voluntary shifts to provide security for the concert.

“This has been blown way out of proportion,” she said.

Tampa Police tweeted a GIF of Beyonce with the statement: “What?! (at)TampaPD officers have been in (hash)formation for days signing up to keep the (hash)Beehive safe! (hash)Truth (hash)Fact”

Miami Police spokesman Lt. Freddie Cruz said the extra-duty shifts for the concert will be “open for officers to sign up. Whether they sign up, it’s up to them.”

In Nashville, that chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police asked members to not volunteer for Beyonce’s concert there in May.

Wisconsin high court deadlocks on blacked-out police reports

A Wisconsin Supreme Court left deadlocked by the death of Justice Patrick Crooks in September delayed a decision in a closely watched case about whether police must censor personal information on accident or crime reports.

Crooks died days after the court heard arguments in the case. The justices who heard the case deadlocked 3-3 on whether to affirm a lower court judge’s ruling in favor of open records, so the Supreme Court vacated its decision to accept the case directly and sent it back to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Last year a St. Croix County judge ruled in favor of the New Richmond News. The newspaper sued the City of New Richmond alleging police were redacting — or blacking out — too much information, a violation of Wisconsin’s open records law.

Judge Howard Cameron found that censoring agencies were misconstruing a federal law.

An increasing number of Wisconsin agencies are redacting personal information on reports after a federal appeals court ruling in an Illinois case. But Cameron ruled the 1994 Driver’s Privacy Protection Act does not require that information to be redacted.

The agencies’ stances have upset open government advocates and made it more difficult for reporters to add details in news stories and for crime and accident victims to submit insurance claims.

According to the opinion, three members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court _ Chief Justice Patience Roggensack and Justices Michael Gableman and Annette Ziegler _ would have reversed the trial court ruling, siding with those who argue that Congress intended the act to pre-empt the state’s open records laws.

Three others — Justices Shirley Abrahamson, Ann Bradley and David Prosser — would have affirmed the decision that the traditionally open records remain open. Justice Rebecca Bradley, who was appointed to the court on Oct. 9 by Gov. Scott Walker to replace Crooks, did not take part in the case. 

Education groups opposing campus conceal-and-carry legislation

Four national groups representing college educators and trustees said on Nov. 12 they would fight a growing push in state legislatures to allow people to carry concealed guns on campuses.

The groups also called for the repeal of measures in several states that already allow for so-called campus carry, arguing that academic institutions should remain “as safe and weapon-free as possible for students, faculty, staff, parents and community members.”

“Colleges and universities closely control firearms and prohibit concealed guns on their campuses because they regard the presence of weapons as incompatible with their educational missions,” said the statement, signed by the American Association of University Professors, the American Federation of Teachers, the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

The groups said students and professors wouldn’t be comfortable discussing controversial subjects if they thought there might be a gun in the room. “College campuses are marketplaces of ideas, and a rigorous academic exchange of ideas may be chilled by the presence of weapons,” they said.

Supporters such as the National Rifle Association argue that lawful gun owners should be allowed to carry on campuses for self-protection. They argue that having more law-abiding citizens with guns could potentially deter mass shootings or allow bystanders to intervene to limit the deadly consequences.

The statement from the four groups comes amid intensifying debate over how to prevent gun violence on campuses, following last month’s shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. Lawmakers in Florida are considering plans to allow concealed permit owners to bring their guns onto campus, and several other states are expected to consider similar legislation next year.

Texas recently became the eighth state to allow the carrying of concealed weapons on campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The change goes into effect next year, and colleges are considering how to implement it. The law contains a key concession for opponents, giving administrators the ability to mark off certain areas as gun-free.

Seven other states — Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin — now have laws or court rulings allowing the carrying of concealed weapons on some campuses, according to the NCSL.

The higher education groups rejected the argument that more guns could deter mass shootings. They called on colleges and universities to plan for critical incidents, and “rely on trained and equipped professional law-enforcement personnel to respond to emergency incidents.”

Students for Concealed Carry, a group that is pushing for campus carry laws in several states, said the laws don’t have as much of an impact as critics claim. Few students can qualify to carry weapons because they aren’t 21, and those who do have obtained licenses and undergone background checks, spokesman Zachary Zalneraitis said.

“The people in charge, the administrators and professors, are always resistant to it,” he said. “But after it gets passed, it just becomes a non-issue.”

Cruz joins chorus of Republicans opposed to birthright citizenship

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said this week that the United States shouldn’t automatically grant citizenship to children of immigrants in the country illegally.

The Texas senator is the latest White House hopeful to weigh in the debate that has divided the GOP 2016 presidential class since billionaire businessman Donald Trump outlined his opposition to “birthright citizenship” as part of his immigration plan earlier in the week.

Cruz said he “absolutely” favors ending automatic citizenship to those born in the country, as guaranteed in the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“We should end granting automatic birthright citizenship to the children of those who are here illegally,” Cruz said in a radio interview with the Michael Medved Show.

“That has been my position from my very first days of my running for the Senate,” he continued. “I welcome Donald Trump articulating this this view. It’s a view I have long held.”

The “birthright citizenship” debate has exposed a new rift among the GOP’s large presidential field, highlighting the eagerness of some conservatives to tap into Trump’s share of the electorate.

Several candidates have spoken in favor of leaving the constitutional protection in place since Trump outlined his immigration plan earlier in the week, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former technology executive Carly Fiorina, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Another group of Republicans, like Cruz and Trump, are calling for the Constitution to be changed to remove the incentive for immigrants who enter the country illegally to have children. Those opposed include Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who reversed his position in April on allowing a chance for legal status for those in the country illegally, gave mixed answers this week when asked about ending birthright citizenship.

USDA announces Great Lakes program to help imperiled golden-winged warbler

The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week announced improvements on about 64,000 acres of key habitat in the Great Lakes states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota to help protect the imperiled golden-winged warbler.

This project is part of a new regional conservation program that includes 100 projects involving all 50 states. The program will provide more than $370 million for targeted conservation efforts in the states through the Natural Resources Conservation Service, according to a news release from the USDA.

The Great Lakes project is scheduled to begin this year with funding for the program available through 2019. The project will be managed in partnership between NRCS and American Bird Conservancy.

The warbler, which depends on the conservation of key habitat in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota for breeding, has suffered one of the steepest population declines of any songbird species, with a decline of more than three percent annually over the last 40 years across its range.

That decline is due primarily to habitat loss, particularly the loss of early successional, or young forest habitat. Other factors contributing to the decline are habitat loss due to suburban sprawl, competition from and hybridization with Blue-winged Warblers, cowbird parasitism, and loss of non-breeding period (winter) habitat in Central and South America.

“This is the poster-bird for recovery of early successional forest habitat and one that we are proud to contribute to saving for generations of Americans to come.”

“Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have the largest remaining breeding population of the GWWA, and habitat management actions there are considered critical to rebuilding populations rapidly,” said Dr. George Fenwick, president of American Bird Conservancy. “This is the poster-bird for recovery of early successional forest habitat and one that we are proud to contribute to saving for generations of Americans to come.”

Across its breeding cycle, the warbler needs forested landscapes varying in age from young regenerating stands to those with mature forest characteristics. Core habitat for the warbler has been identified through a consortium of partners and the project is expected to create new breeding habitat for 1,180 pairs of warblers, which would result in an increase of 16,000 birds within four years.

White House proposes 5-year blueprint for Great Lakes protection

The Obama administration has proposed an updated five-year blueprint for Great Lakes environmental protection that would put greater emphasis on climate change and using science to choose cleanup projects.

Congress has appropriated $1.6 billion since 2009 for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which targets what experts consider the most pressing threats to the freshwater seas: toxic contamination, invasive species, loss of wildlife habitat and runoff that causes noxious algae blooms. The administration is proposing a second phase that would continue work in those areas while addressing concerns about how well the program is meeting its objectives.

“Protecting communities around the Great Lakes and restoring this important ecosystem is a national and binational imperative,” said Gina McCarthy, chief of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which coordinates the program with support from 10 other federal departments.

They have awarded more than 2,100 grants to universities, nonprofits, tribes and government agencies across the eight-state region for projects including removal of sediments laced with toxic chemicals, rebuilding wetlands and uprooting invasive plants. The program also has supported the fight to prevent aggressive Asian carp from reaching the lakes.

A federal task force developed the new installment in consultation with regional stakeholder groups, said Cameron Davis, a senior adviser to McCarthy. A final version is to be adopted by Oct. 1, allowing time for public comment.

In addition to redoubling efforts in the four problem areas, it calls for taking climate change into account in new projects. Wetland plants and trees would be selected for suitability to warmer temperatures. Watershed restorations would be designed to cope with more frequent and intense storms, which could cause heavier erosion and runoff. The task force would produce climate resilience criteria and update it yearly.

Another new feature seeks to strengthen the scientific basis for choosing restoration projects and determining how well they’re meeting the program’s goals. While the Great Lakes initiative is popular with many advocacy groups and government officials in the region, some complain that too little money has gone to research and many projects have lacked a clear scientific rationale.

“For the first time, we’ll articulate a methodical way by which we use the best available science to continue to make the best possible investments,” Davis said.

Allen Burton, director of a University of Michigan program that seeks long-term, systemwide solutions to Great Lakes problems, said the proposal is an improvement but doesn’t go far enough. In addition to using data from existing and completed projects to select new ones, the program should weave scientific measurements into projects from the beginning so their performance can be evaluated along the way, he said.

The plan’s approach is “after-the-fact and project-specific,” Burton said. “You’re not learning as much about what worked and didn’t work. You’re not adapting your process to make it better, because the project’s already done.”

The Great Lakes Advisory Board, a group representing a variety of interests in the region, is mostly pleased with the blueprint, said its chairman, David Ullrich. But he also said the plan relies too much on simply listing the number of projects dealing with particular issues to measure progress.

Todd Ambs, director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, said the new plan “sets the stage to make a strong program even better, including mechanisms to clearly measure the success of these investments.”

AFL-CIO adds gender identity to constitution

The AFL-CIO amended its governing constitution on Sept. 9 to include gender identity.

Amendment 9 adopted at the organization’s convention is about “welcoming all workers to our movement.” The amendment was proposed by the Communications Workers of America and recommended by the AFL-CIO Constitution Committee.

The amendment amends the AFL-CIO article regarding “objectives and “principles.” The revised article reads, “To encourage all workers without regard to race, creed, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability, (or) sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression to share equally in the full benefits of union organization.”

The convention is taking place in Los Angeles through Sept. 11.

The AFL-CIO is governed by a quadrennial convention at which all federation members are represented by elected delegates of our unions. Convention delegates set broad policies and goals for the union movement and every four years elect the AFL-CIO officers – the president, secretary-treasurer, executive vice president and vice presidents.

President Barack Obama sent the convention a message on Sept. 9.

Beyond NYC: Other places adapting to climate, too

From Bangkok to Miami, cities and coastal areas across the globe are already building or planning defenses to protect millions of people and key infrastructure from more powerful storm surges and other effects of global warming.

Some are planning cities that will simply adapt to more water.

But climate-proofing a city or coastline is expensive, as shown by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s $20 billion plan to build floodwalls, levees and other defenses against rising seas.

The most vulnerable places are those with the fewest resources to build such defenses, secure their water supplies or move people to higher ground. How to pay for such measures is a burning issue in U.N. climate talks, which just wrapped up a session in the German city of Bonn.

A sampling of cities around the world and what they are doing to prepare for the climatic forces that scientists say are being unleashed by global warming:

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands. In a country where two-thirds of the population lives below sea level, the battle against the sea has been a matter of life and death for centuries.

The Dutch government devotes roughly 1 percent of its annual budget to its intricate system of dikes, dunes and sea walls. Improvements to cope just with the effects of climate change have been carried out since 2003 – though planning began well before that.

The focus in the 20th century was on a spectacular series of sea defenses, including massive steel and concrete barriers that can be quickly moved to protect against storm surges.

But current techniques embrace a philosophy of “living with water:” Floods are inevitable, and it’s better to prepare for them than to build ever-higher dikes that may fail catastrophically.

Thousands of waterways are being connected so the country can essentially act as one big sponge and absorb sudden influxes of water. Some areas have been designated as flood zones. Houses that can float have been a building sensation.

Along the coast, the country has been spouting huge amounts of sand in strategic locations offshore and allowing the natural motion of waves to strengthen defensive dunes.

VENICE, Italy. Sea level rise is a particular concern for this flood-prone city. It’s in the process of realizing an expensive and oft-delayed system of underwater barriers that would be raised in the event of flooding over 43 inches (110 centimeters), higher than the 31-inch (80-centimeter) level that floods the famed St. Mark’s Square.

Venice, a system of islands built into a shallow lagoon, is extremely vulnerable to rising seas because the sea floor is also sinking.

The constant flooding puts the city’s considerable architectural treasures at risk. Venice has experienced 10 events over 4 feet 7 inches (140 centimeters) since 1950, including a devastating 1966 flood. Plans for the new so-called Moses barriers will cost more than 4 billion euros. The first of these have been moved into place in recent days. Many Venetians remain skeptical of the project due to the high costs and concerns over environmental risks.

LONDON. The low-lying capital of a perpetually soggy country, London has long been vulnerable to flooding – particularly when powerful storms send seawater racing up the River Thames.

But Londoners already have a powerful flood defense: the 570-yard-long (half-a-kilometer-long) Thames Barrier, composed of 10 massive steel gates, each five stories high when raised against high water.

Some have called for Thames Barrier – in operation since 1982 – to be replaced or supplemented by an even more ambitious flood defense system farther down the river. But Britain’s Environment Agency says the defenses should hold until 2070.

Meanwhile, environmentally conscious Londoners have made plans to battle some of the other predicted effects of global warming by promoting better water management, expanding the city’s Victorian sewage network, and “urban greening” – the  planting of trees and rooftop gardens to help manage the urban heat island effect.

MIAMI. Southern Florida is one of those places that show up as partially under water in many sea level projections for this century. So it’s no surprise local leaders are seeking ways to adapt. Four counties of South Florida, including Miami-Dade, have collaborated on a regional plan to respond to climate change. Their overarching goal: keeping fresh water inland and salt water away.

The first action plan calls for more public transportation, stemming the flow of seawater into freshwater, and managing the region’s unique ecosystems so they can adapt.

Before writing the plan, the counties reviewed regional sea level data and projected a rise of 9 to 24 inches (23 to 61 cm) in the next 50 years along a coastline that already has documented a rise of 9 inches over the last 100 years.

“The rate’s doubled. It would be disingenuous and sloppy and irresponsible not to respond to it,” said Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi, who oversees the Florida Keys.

NEW YORK CITY. Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week announced one of the most ambitious plans for defending a major U.S. city from climate change. Recommendations range from installing removable flood walls in lower Manhattan to restoring marshes in Jamaica Bay in Queens, and from flood-proofing homes to setting repair timeframe standards for phone and Internet service providers.

In lower Manhattan, a removable system of posts and slats could be deployed to form temporary flood walls. The height would depend on the ground elevation and potential surge. The approach is used along some Midwestern rivers and in the Netherlands, city officials said.

Projects also include a 15-to-20-foot levee to guard part of Staten Island, building dunes in the Rockaways, building barrier systems of levees and gates to bar one creek from carrying floodwaters inland, and possibly creating a levee and a sizeable new “Seaport City” development in lower Manhattan. 

BANGLADESH. A low-lying delta nation of 153 million people, Bangladesh is one of Asia’s poorest countries, and one that faces extreme risks from rising sea levels. Its capital, Dhaka, is at the top of a list of world cities deemed most vulnerable to climate change, according to a recent survey by risk analysis company Maplecroft. The World Bank says a sea level rise of 5 inches (14 centimeters) would affect 20 million people living along the country’s 440-mile (710-kilometer) coast. Many of these people would be homeless.

Bangladesh is implementing two major projects worth $470 million that involve growing forests on the coastal belt and building more multistory shelters to house people after cyclones and tidal surges. Developed nations have so far provided $170 million to the fund.

“Bangladesh is opting for adapting to the climate change impacts as the world’s developed nations are not doing enough to cut down carbon emissions,” said Forest and Environment Minister Hasan Mahmud in a recent speech in Dhaka. “We want the donors to contribute more to our efforts.”

MALDIVES. The Maldives, an upmarket beach paradise for tourists, has also become a symbol of the dangers of climate change.

Made up of hundreds of islands in the Indian Ocean, it’s one of the most low-lying nations in the world, and exceptionally vulnerable to rising seas.

Some scientists have said the Maldives could disappear within decades, and former President Mohamed Nasheed even proposed relocating all 350,000 inhabitants to other countries.

While other researchers say those fears may have been overblown, the country is taking measures to protect itself.

A seawall was built around the capital, Male, after flooding in the 1980s. That wall protected the city from the worst effects of the devastating 2004 tsunami, which temporarily put large swaths of the country under water.

The country’s climate adaptation plans call for relocating residents from small vulnerable islands to bigger, better protected ones.

It’s also creating new land through land reclamation, expanding existing islands or building new ones, to ease overcrowding. The reclaimed land is being elevated to better withstand rising seas.

BANGKOK, Thailand. Even before the consequences of climate change became evident, scientists were well aware that Bangkok – whose southern suburbs border the Gulf of Thailand – was under serious threat from land subsidence.

Sea level rise projections show Bangkok could be at risk of inundation in 100 years unless preventive measures are taken. But when the capital and its outskirts were affected in 2011 by the worst flooding in half a century, the immediate trigger was water runoff from the north, where dams failed to hold very heavy rains.

Industrial areas in the capital’s suburbs, housing important businesses, were devastated. So the focus was put on a short-term solution for that area.

The government recently announced winning bids totaling 290.9 billion baht ($9.38 million) by Chinese, South Korean and Thai firms to run the flood and water management schemes, including the construction of reservoirs, floodways and barriers.

Solutions to the problem of rising seas are still being studied.

“Construction alone is not sustainable,” says Seree Supratid, director of a climate and disaster center at Rangsit University. “People have to adapt to nature. For example, you know Bangkok will be flooded by the rising seas in the next 100 years, then you have to learn to build your houses in a way the floodwater cannot reach it, putting it up high or something.”

CUBA. Officials recently finished a study of the effects of climate change on this island’s 3,500 miles (5,630 kilometers) of coastline, and their discoveries were so alarming they didn’t immediately share the results with the public to avoid causing panic.

According to the report, which The Associated Press obtained exclusively, rising sea levels would seriously damage 122 Cuban towns or even wipe them off the map by 2100. Scientists found that miles of beaches would be submerged while freshwater sources would be tainted and croplands rendered infertile. In all, seawater would penetrate up to 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) inland in low-lying areas, as oceans rose nearly 3 feet (85 centimeters).

Those frightening calculations have spurred systemic action in Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean and one that is heavily dependent on beach-loving European and Canadian tourists. In recent months, inspectors and demolition crews have begun fanning out across the island with plans to raze thousands of houses, restaurants, hotels and improvised docks in a race to restore much of the coast to something approaching its natural state.

In the tourist resort of Varadero, the country faces a dilemma: Tearing down seaside restaurants and hotels threatens millions of dollars in yearly tourism revenue, while allowing them to stay puts at risk the very beaches that are the main draw.

MBEERE, Kenya. While sea level rise threatens some coastal communities in Africa, the continent faces even bigger climate-related problems inland. Climate scientists have projected shifts in rainfall patterns leading to extended droughts in some areas and increased flooding in other parts. To small-scale farming communities, these shifts could be disastrous, adding further stress to scarce water supplies.

Adaptation therefore is focused on learning to cope with the climatic changes, adjusting farming practices and improving water conservation efforts.

In Kenya’s Mbeere district, where people say they’re noticing longer dry spells, U.K.-based charity group Christian Aid is teaching farmers to help them predict the seasons and know better what to grow and when to plant.

A text messaging system helps farmers get up-to-date weather reports specific to their locations.

“We are supporting them to access and interpret climate information and help them make forward-looking decisions so that their farming is better suited to the predicted changing conditions,” said Mohamed Adow, of Christian Aid. “Farmers live off the land and the weather, and small changes to weather patterns can be a big disaster to small-scale farmers in Africa whose entire livelihoods and well-being depend on farming.”

Associated Press writers Raphael Satter in London, Jennifer Kay in Miami, Toby Sterling in Amsterdam, Farid Hossain in Dhaka, Bangladesh; Thanyarat Doksone in Bangkok, Paul Haven in Havana and Colleen Barry in Milan, Italy, contributed to this report.