Today’s ruling in the Netherlands which found the Nigerian subsidiary of the Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell guilty of causing pollution, is a historic legal victory for oil producing communities in Nigeria and probably across Africa.
72 year old fish farmer Friday Akpan, from Akwa Ibom State, one of Nigeria’s richest oil producing states, was one of four fish farmers who was able to prove that Shell Nigeria, the subsidiary of one of the world’s most profitable companies Royal Dutch Shell, which made more than $30 billion dollars in profit in 2011, failed to properly maintain oil pipelines and other installations in Ikot Ada Udo community. Shell Nigeria’s negligence led to oil spills that devastated Friday Akpan’s 47 fishponds.
Friday is waiting to find out exactly how much compensation Shell Nigeria will have to pay, and when the company will conduct a clean-up of the environmental damage its caused.
Wednesday’s ruling is the culmination of years of legal struggles for oil producing communities in Nigeria to get Shell Nigeria to take responsibility for pollution it causes on their land. Shell has been mining oil in Nigeria for close to 40 years, and is responsible for thousands of oil spills, the environmental non-governmental organisation Friends of the Earth says. It may also set a legal precedent and may have far reaching implications for the subsidiaries of many multinational companies operating in Nigeria. The ruling could also lead to more compensation claims from oil producing communities against Shell and other oil companies operating in Nigeria.
And though the ruling did not find Shell Nigeria’s parent company Royal Dutch Shell responsible, lawyers from Friends of the Earth representing the farmers say they will not give up the fight to prove that RDS is held responsible for the activities of its subsdiary Shell Nigeria. They explain that RDS was exonerated from responsibility for causing oil pollution was because Friends of the Earth’s legal team were denied access to internal RDS documents showing that RDS determines the daily affairs of its Nigerian subsidiary – which would prove responsibility. RDS owns 100% of Shell Nigeria and the estimated profits of 1.8 billion euros of profit the company turns over annually.
The ruling also will be a relief for oil producing communities who have failed to get their cases of oil pollution against oil companies adjudicated within the Nigerian legal framework.
It was necessary for the Nigerian farmers to take the case to the Netherlands, where Shell is headquartered, with the help of the environmental non-governmental organisation, Friends of the Earth, following years of failure to get the case heard in Nigerian courts. Oil producing communities say multinational oil companies operating in Nigeria yield tremendous political power and influence. Continue reading
Coffee berry borer damage is resulting in diminished quality that could jeopardize the region’s position in the global coffee market, a grower and processor said Friday.
Before the pest, identified in West Hawaii in September 2010, green bean coffee dropped off at the company’s processing station was of higher quality with about 22 percent graded extra fancy; 30 percent fancy; 24 percent No. 1; 13 percent prime; 4 percent peaberry; and the remainder, lower H-3 and off grades, said Tom Greenwell, with Greenwell Farms Inc. About 93 percent of the coffee bought was graded Kona.
This harvest, the 2012-13 season, Greenwell said, none of the green bean coffee could be graded as extra fancy, fancy or even No. 1. Instead, more than 75 percent of the coffee was graded within the prime categories with the remainder comprising 4 percent peaberry and lower and off grades.
He also noted the percentage of prime coffee this season will likely decrease because as the season is winding down, coffee berry borer damage rates appear to be increasing placing more coffee in the lower H-3 grade. The current harvest has thus far resulted in about 86 percent graded Kona.
Despite the dismal news, the market for green bean coffee remains strong, he said.
“The market is great and prices are good,” said Greenwell, “but, eventually quality is going to catch up with the price of coffee out there, and, they’re (the consumers) going to go, ‘nah,’ because there’s better quality coffee out there.”
Growers can take steps to reap the benefits of a strong market by making changes to battle the pest and turn out high-quality green bean coffee, Greenwell said. To do this, growers must work together to combat the beetle, as well as deter processors from purchasing highly infested cherry. Continue reading
No known predators for Lobate Lac Scale
The young Lobate Lac Scale looks like a tiny red dot to the naked eye. That tiny red dot comes with a big appetite.
“It was immediately identified as a potential serious problem,” said Darcy Oishi, Biological Control Section chief for the Department of Agriculture’s Plant Pest Control Branch.
He said the Lobate Lac Scale creates a protective dome over itself, sometimes two, and then hunkers down for a feast.
“As it feeds it sucks on the juices of the plant,” he said.
It then spits out what is called a “honey dew,” which then turns into black mold.
“Actually this whole branch is covered with sooty mold,” he told KITV reporter Lara Yamada, as they looked at an Ulei bush, covered with the black stuff.
Oishi equated it to a layer of soot covering the solar panels on a house, which of course, doesn’t work well without sunlight.
“So, you have multiple problems and that reduces the plant’s overall health, he said.
Groundskeepers told Oishi an 80-year-old banyan tree that was cut down over the weekend was healthy in August.
But by October there were whole big branches that were dead, and the tree was removed.
Right next to the banyan tree sits the famous Hitachi Tree, featured in commercials around the world.
Oishi said it appears the famous monkey pod tree has not been infected so far. Continue reading
Even during the coldest time of the year, gardener Suky Sung Lee enjoys her taro, the “potato of the tropics.” She doesn’t eat the tennis-ball-size tubers, but rather the strips of the fibrous stems, which she peeled and dried in the sun last summer to make torandae, dried taro strips. She also uses them for yukgaejang, a spicy beef and vegetable soup.
She could harvest her taro roots as well, but those are already available in ethnic markets. Dried taro strips for soup are much harder to find. In the summer she also harvests the outside leaves every few weeks, being careful not to deplete any one plant too much, thereby starving the root.
“If you want to get good roots, you also cut the flowers before they bloom,” said Lee, who gardens at Ocean View Farms, the community garden in Mar Vista. “I take out all the flowers so the nutrition doesn’t go to the flowers for seeds.”
Taro (Colocasia esculenta) is also known as “elephant ears” for the shape and size of the leaves, but the Korean name, “egg from the earth,” is perhaps more to the point. Thought to be one of the earliest cultivated crops, taro originated 10,000 years ago in what is now India and Malaysia, but it has spread worldwide. Although it performs best in tropical locations with high rainfall, such as Hawaii (where it is the basis for poi), it’s also grown in the hills of Nepal. In Japan, taro was once more commonly eaten than rice. Continue reading
Water Conservation in Maui Landscapes
with Doug Carmichael
Date: Tuesday January 29, 2013
Place:: Maui Community Service Bldg next to CTHAR Extension Services (Map) on the UH Maui campus.
Time:: Pupus will be served at 6:30 pm and the talk will begin at 7:00.
Are you trying to save money on irrigation water? Are you working on a LEED certified property? With continuing droughts and ongoing increases in cost, water conservation has become one of the hottest topics in Maui landscapes. Doug will cover his experience with Rain Bird and California’s strict water use regulations. He will be discussing the use of Smart Controllers to calculate ‘ET’ (evapo-transpiration) to regulate water use. He will be showing how pressure regulation, proper nozzle selection and drip irrigation can be adapted into your existing landscapes. Doug will also address the incorporation of these methods on LEED certified projects. These water saving methods can be adapted for use on golf courses, plant nurseries, farms, resorts and private homes.
The Kauai County Department of Water said it has received $6,693 from a Swiss pesticide manufacturer as part of a class-action lawsuit regarding the pesticide atrazine.
The money will help the county pay for testing the water supply for the common weedkiller.
The Water Department said it has conducted tests for atrazine since the 1990s and has found the level of the pesticide in Kauai’s water systems to be either well below the EPA maximum contaminant level of 3 pbb or nondetectable.
Syngenta of Switzerland agreed to a $105 million settlement with 1,085 water systems, including Kauai County’s.
QANTAS had its own dramatic “snakes on a plane” episode when a three-metre python joined passengers on an early morning flight to Papua New Guinea.
But unlike Samuel L. Jackson’s 2006 fictional Hollywood blockbuster in which a nest of vipers causes death and destruction on a jet, this reptile was concerned only with self-preservation.
QF191 was about 20 minutes into its 6.15am flight from Cairns to Port Moresby on Thursday when a woman pointed outside the plane and told cabin crew: “There’s a snake on the wing There’s its head and if you look closely you can see a fraction of its body.”
While some passengers scoffed in disbelief, she was correct.
Rick Shine, a snake expert at the University of Sydney, said the specimen was a “very uncomfortable” scrub python, the longest snake in Australia.
“There’s no way it could be anything else,” he said. “They’re common in north Queensland. They’re ambush predators and if there are rodents anywhere nearby, they’ll most likely be in the vicinity. They often find their way into tight ceiling spaces in houses, although I’ve never heard of one on a plane until now.”
One passenger, Robert Weber, a website designer in Cairns, said: “The people at the front were oblivious to what was going on but the passengers at the back were all totally focused on the snake and how it might have got onto the aircraft.
“There was no panic. At no time did anyone stop to consider that there might be others on board.” Continue reading