Syrians face toxic time-bomb of radiation, poison and pollution

This article was published by Middle East Eye on February 21, 2017

Syria faces public health catastrophes that will linger for decades due to toxic rubble dust, oil fire pollution and the US-led coalition’s use of depleted uranium weapons on Islamic State targets, campaigners have warned.

The US last week admitted it had fired armour-piercing DU ammunition in its war against IS, and had hit not only military targets but also un-armoured civilian targets such as oil trucks, and despite promising otherwise.

Meanwhile, health and environment experts say rubble and dust produced by years of bombing and fighting in built-up areas could have huge health impacts, as fine particles thrown into the atmosphere cause numerous respiratory illnesses, and add to pollution caused by the bombing of oil infrastructure.

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Resurrected Jeypore ground gecko faces second death sentence

This article was published by Mongabay and Scroll.in

In India — a land that’s home to the regal tiger, the majestic elephant and the flamboyant peacock — gaining the Endangered Species spotlight can be difficult. Equally challenging in a land with 1.3 billion mouths to feed, is the conservation of habitat that is vital to threatened species.

The Jeypore ground gecko (Geckoella jeyporensis) was first noted in India’s Eastern Ghats in 1877, then not seen again and presumed extinct. Rediscovered by scientists in 2010, it exists in just two known areas covering a mere 20km2 of degraded habitat threatened by development.

Conservationists are working with the public and private sectors, and with local communities, urging the creation of “gecko reserves” to protect G. jeyporensis as well as the golden gecko (Calodactylodes aureus). But whether these little reptiles will inspire enough public enthusiasm is anyone’s guess.

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Beirut’s last public beach has become a battleground in the city’s fight for public space

This article was published by CityMetric on December 14, 2016

Beirut’s last public beach has become a battleground in the fight to expose Lebanon’s disappearing public spaces, privilege and rampant development. Protesters have been taking to Ramlet al Baida beach to oppose construction of the private Eden Bay Resort, which describes itself as having, “A privileged sense of style”.

Lebanon’s coastline is being swallowed up – and activists fear this project could be the death knell for Beirut’s only remaining public beach.

“These spaces are being threatened by real estate developments, suffocating the city even more,” says urbanist Nadine Bekdache. Already, the city only has 0.8m2 of green space per person, when the minimum according to the World Health Organization should be 9m2.

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