About Whale of a Time
Whale of a Time is riding the wave of change, promoting successful stewardship of our planet to create a peaceful, morally just, humane and sustainable culture, while ensuring survival of all species and their natural habitats. Whale of a Time organises creative and fun, inspiring and empowering events on environmental issues to encourage active participation living a sustainable lifestyle inspired by a positive attitude. We engage young and old from all walks of life through the Whale of a Time Community, the Whale of a Time Festival and the Whale of a Time Workshop. Our work has been recognised by many national and community and environmental awards schemes.
Whale of a Time Tweats
Wednesday, 3 July 2013
COME TO THE UK PREMIERE OF THE LAST OCEAN! Tomorrow (4th July) is the UK premiere of the award winning film The Last Ocean at the Royal Geographical Society in London. This is an extraordinary film, made over 7 years by some extraordinary people. Everyone should see it because of its amazing imagery and its very important message. Doors open from 6.00pm and the screening will begin at 7pm. Just make a £10 donation at the door. Free seating, no bookings, no RSVP, cash bar. Hope to see a few of you there! For more info see: http://www.thelastoceanfilm.com/
Wednesday, 8 May 2013
In the United States the number is better. Though in the US the study only looked at one fish, Alaskan Halibut (which I’ve had, it’s yummy). 43% of Alaskan Halibut was only safe to eat once a month because of its mercury levels.
And in Japan and Uruguay, the study found that “Mercury concentrations in fish from sites in Japan and Uruguay were so high that no consumption is recommended.”
The study comes from the Bioresearch Diversity Institute, and was released in January, but I’d missed it. This chart shows the percent of fish tested in each country that is not safe to eat more than once per month. While in the US they only tested one fish, Alaskan Halibut, in other countries they tested 15-20 fish per country, I was told by Dr. David Evers of the Bioresearch Diversity Institute, one of those behind the study.
As the chart above shows, in Italy and Japan, 100% of the fish tested was only safe to eat once per month.
Evers pointed me to a handy chart they have up showing how much fish you can eat per month and safely avoid mercury poisoning – but keep in mind, this is just mercury. You also have to research PCB limits on eating fish as well:
Interestingly, the federal guidelines say to only eat two servings of salmon per week, whereas the chart says not to worry about it.
I have to say, the more I read about this kind of thing, the less I want to eat fish all together. If you have to check multiple tables to find out whether it’s even safe at all to eat fish, then why eat it? I get that it’s good for you (if it doesn’t kill you), but damn, this is the point we’ve come to – having to check tables in the grocery store to see if particular foods are going to eventually poison us.
Not to mention, what the hell are we doing to the world?
Here’s more on this from CBS:
... even more reasons to become vegetarian...
Friday, 3 May 2013
As CELDF explains: NEW MEXICO: The County Commission of Mora County, located in Northeastern New Mexico, became the first county in the United States to pass an ordinance banning all oil and gas extraction. Drafted with assistance from CELDF, the Mora County Community Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance establishes a local Bill of Rights - including a right to clean air and water, a right to a healthy environment, and the rights of nature - while prohibiting activities which would interfere with those rights, including oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," for shale gas. Read more here: http://www.celdf.org/celdf-press-release---first-county-in-us-bans-fracking-and-all-hydrocarbon-extraction---mora-county-nm
Monday, 15 April 2013
North Pole, April 15, 2013 — Four young people on a mission with Greenpeace have planted a flag on the seabed beneath the North Pole, at the same spot where a submarine planted a Russian flag claiming the Arctic for Moscow. (1) The young people planted their ‘flag for the future’ four kilometers beneath the ice at the top of the world and called for the region to be declared a global sanctuary.
The campaigners (2) held a ceremony this weekend at the geographic North Pole, led by two Arctic Indigenous ambassadors. There they cut a hole in the ice and lowered a flag designed by a child (3) from Malaysia, through the freezing waters to the seabed.
The flag is attached to a glass and titanium time capsule (4) containing the signatures of nearly three million people, including actors, musicians, artists and business leaders (5) who asked for their names to be taken to the Pole when they joined Greenpeace’s campaign calling for the Arctic to be protected from exploitation.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu this weekend joined the call for a global sanctuary, saying: "I offer my full support to these young people who travelled to the North Pole on behalf of those whose lives are being turned upside down by climate change." (6)
Hollywood actor Ezra Miller — star of We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Perks of Being a Wallflower — is one of the youth ambassadors who planted the flag and the names. Another is 26-year-old Josefina Skerk, an Indigenous activist and Sami Parliament member in Sweden.
"By coming to the top of the world and planting this flag, we’re hoping to inspire young people everywhere. We’re here to say this special area of the Arctic belongs to no person or nation, but is the common heritage of everyone on Earth," Skerk said. "Our names and those of millions more are now planted on the seabed beneath the Pole. Together we're asking that this area be declared a global sanctuary, off-limits to oil companies and political posturing. We stand in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples, in the whole of the Arctic, whose way of life is now being threatened by the unchecked greed of industry."
The expedition coincided with the first ever meeting at the North Pole of the Arctic Council, the governing body comprised of foreign ministers and senior officials from Arctic states. As the expedition started, Skerk requested a meeting with the group, but was refused.
The week-long expedition to the Pole is part of a global campaign to protect the Arctic, under threat from climate change, oil companies, industrial fishing and shipping. As global warming melts the sea ice, companies such as Shell, Gazprom and Statoil are moving in to exploit the region's oil as nation states lay claim to areas previously covered by ice.
The youth ambassadors and Greenpeace campaigners have challenged the companies and nations seeking to profit from climate change. By planting the time capsule and flag, they have drawn a line in the ice, telling the polluters and oil companies: you come no further.
The young people are part of a Greenpeace team that trekked for one week across the frozen ocean in freezing winds and temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius. They traveled around 10 km a day, each dragging heavy sleighs weighing 80kg behind them. In a remote and dangerous environment their supplies dwindled as the shifting ice took them further from the Pole. The team then hitched a ride with a helicopter that was flying in from the nearby Barneo Base, to put them within striking distance of the Pole, allowing them to ski and drift a shorter final distance and complete their journey to the top of the world.
ADDITIONAL QUOTES FROM THE YOUTH AMBASSADORS – USE AS APPROPRIATE:
Kiera-Dawn Kolson, youth ambassador and outreach campaigner for Greenpeace Canada:
"The Arctic Ocean is one of the great wonders of the world and its purity and beauty has struck me deeply this past week. We must keep reckless industry away from this purity, when these people have no idea how to clean up spills under the ice or protect this incredibly fragile place. This week I’ve realised that regardless of where we live in the world, we all rely on each other to survive, and it is this unity and respect that we need to protect our earth for future generations. As an Indigenous person, I absolutely oppose those industries that seek to exploit nature for profit against the subsistence needs of the community."
Renny Bijoux, youth ambassador, member of the Youth Parliament from the Seychelles:
"Though we are in the Arctic and I live in the Seychelles, on a global level it is my homeland too. Whatever happens here affects my people, from rising seas to growing storms. Sustainable development is the key. We must respect our environment and develop within its limits, because if we destroy our climate, we cannot sustain our development for future generations. The damage is clear and it is apparent. It’s time for those in power, like the Arctic Council, to realise this and to see that protecting the Arctic is a global necessity."
Ezra Miller, youth ambassador, actor and musician from New York:
"I can’t feel the tips of my fingers or toes but my head and heart are filled with a newfound determination. Melting ice is a catastrophe, not a profit-making opportunity. To see it as such is utter madness. Three million people have now joined this movement to declare their commitment to save this vital part of our earth; I feel honoured to be a part of this team, which was chosen to represent all of them at this critical moment in history. This is a collective responsibility. It’s up to all of us, and especially the youth, to change the way that humanity treats this amazing planet we love and rely on so completely."
For more information or to speak with one of the team, please call:
Jessica Wilson, Greenpeace International Arctic campaign, +44 7896 893118
Anna Jones, Greenpeace International Arctic campaign, +44 7717 311103
Aaron Gray-Block, Greenpeace International media relations, +31 6 4616 2026
 A Russian submarine, piloted by explorer Artur Chilligarov, planted the Russian flag beneath the Pole in 2007. Before embarking on his expedition Chilligarov said: "The Arctic is Russian. We must prove the North Pole is an extension of the Russian landmass." Wikileaks cables later revealed he was acting on the instructions of the Kremlin.
 The Team Aurora youth ambassadors include 20-year-old musician and Hollywood actor Ezra Miller, star of We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Perks of Being a Wallflower; Renny Bijoux, member of the Youth Parliament from the Seychelles; Kiera-Dawn Kolson of the Tso’Tine-Gwich’in nations in Northern Canada, and Josefina Skerk, an Indigenous activist and member of the Sami Parliament in Sweden.
 The ‘flag for the future’ was designed by 13-year-old Sarah Batrisyia from Malaysia, who won a global competition run by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and Greenpeace. The contest was judged by fashion icon Dame Vivienne Westwood
 The time capsule was designed and made in Amsterdam by Joris Laarman Labs. More information on the construction of the time capsule can be found here.
 Among those who asked Greenpeace to take their names to the bottom of the ocean at the top of the world are boy band One Direction, Paul McCartney, Penelope Cruz and dozens of other actors, musicians, artists, and members of the business community such as Richard Branson.
 Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: "I offer my full support to these young people who travelled to the North Pole on behalf of those whose lives are being turned upside down by climate change. The melting of the Arctic matters to every person on earth, and I believe that we must work together to create a sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the North Pole. We owe it to future generations to protect the Arctic and keep destructive industry away from this fragile and beautiful place."
Images can be viewed at the link below and are available in high resolution from the Greenpeace picture desk. Please contact John Novis at +31 (0) 629001152 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Various video elements can be downloaded from our publicly accessible ftp server.
passw: 0utput (first digit is a zero)
For further assistance please contact Maarten Van Rouveroy at +31 646 197 322 or email@example.com
Sunday, 7 April 2013
UPDATE: Trekkers depart on North Pole expedition, aim for Arctic Council meeting Young campaigners will plant flag, declaration on sea bed beneath pole
London, April 7, 2013 — A group of young campaigners set off today on an expedition to help save the Arctic, aiming to also hold an unexpected meeting with a delegation of influential Arctic officials at the North Pole later this week.
Sixteen people, including four international youth ambassadors (1) — Hollywood actor Ezra Miller, two Arctic Indigenous representatives and a young man from the Seychelles — set off from Barneo Base on a ski trek across the sea ice with Greenpeace to the geographic North Pole.
Shortly before setting off, they learned that members of the Arctic Council — the governing body comprised of foreign ministers and senior officials from Arctic states — will also be at the North Pole this week.
One of the explorers, Josefina Skerk, a 26-year-old member of the Sami Parliament in Sweden, sent a letter to Gustaf Lind, Swedish chair of the Arctic Council’s Senior Arctic Officials, requesting a meeting with the Arctic officials. Mr. Lind accepted the invitation and the groups now hope to meet at the North Pole, weather permitting.
The trekkers are carrying with them a time capsule (2) that contains a declaration with 2.7 million signatures calling for the Arctic to be made a global sanctuary. They plan to lower the capsule and a 'Flag for the Future' through 4.3 km of freezing water to the seabed beneath the North Pole.
"I'm here with three young people from across the world who each have connections to the Arctic and it's a great honour to deliver our message to the council at the place we all wish to protect for future generations," Skerk said.
"This will be a really grueling expedition and we're all a little bit nervous right now. But this is a unique chance for us to talk with the people responsible for protecting the Arctic and we know our supporters around the world would want us to go for it."
The activists say no one nation should own the Arctic or be allowed to exploit the melting Arctic sea ice, a crisis created by climate change, for more of the fuels that caused the melt in the first place.
The campaigners now plan to use the unexpected meeting with the Arctic Council to challenge the council and put forward their demand that the uninhabited areas around the North Pole be declared a global sanctuary.
Contact / interview requests Jessica Wilson, Greenpeace International Arctic communications, +44 7896 893 118| Anna Jones, Greenpeace International Arctic campaigner, +44 7717 311 103
Saturday, 6 April 2013
Wednesday, 3 April 2013
Population disappearing fast
The population in the mainstream of the Yangtze River was less than half of what a similar survey found six years ago, with food shortages and human disturbance such as increased shipping traffic major threats to their survival. The study also found that the rare species annual rate of decline now stands at 13.7 percent, which means that the Yangtze finless porpoise could be extinct as early as the year 2025.
The report comes after a 44-day and 3,400-kilometre round-trip research expedition on the Yangtze River between Yichang in Hubei Province and Shanghai. Led by China's Ministry of Agriculture and organized by the Institute of Hydrobiology (IHB) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, WWF and the Wuhan Baiji Dolphin Conservation Fund, the expedition first set sail on 11 November 2012.
The crew visually identified 380 individual Yangtze finless porpoise in the river's mainstream during the 2012 survey. Based on this observation, scientists determined through analyses that the population in the Yangtze mainstream is about 500, down from 1,225 in 2006. In October 2012, research was carried out in two adjoining lakes, the Poyang and Dongting, where the population was about 450 and 90, respectively, according to the report. In a sharp contrast, 851 individuals of Yangtze finless porpoise were visually identified in the mainstream of the Yangtze during the 2006 survey. That research, however, did not cover the two lakes.
"The species is moving fast toward its extinction," said Wang Ding, head of the research expedition and a professor at the IHB. Attempts to find traces of the Baiji Dolphin, another rare cetacean and close relative of the finless porpoise, failed during the 2012 survey. The Baiji dolphin was declared "functionally extinct."
According to data captured by acoustic equipment onboard the observation ships, the largest numbers of finless porpoise were found in the river sections east of Wuhan, with 67 percent recorded between Hukou in Jiangxi Province and Nanjing in Jiangsu Province, the report shows.
There is a notable sign of scattered distribution pattern which could be the result of "shipping traffic that made migration harder, projects that altered hydrological conditions in the middle and lower reaches and habitat loss," said Wang with the IHB.
Wharf and port areas more popular
The report also cautions that small groups of Yangtze finless porpoise living in comparative isolation may have a negative impact on their ability to reproduce. There are fewer finless porpoise in the mainstream of the Yangtze while more discoveries were made in wharf and port areas, scientists found.
"They may risk their lives for rich fish bait resources there. But busy shipping traffic close to the port areas poses a threat to the survival of finless porpoise," said Wang.
"Lack of fishery resources and human disturbances including shipping traffic are among the key threats to the Yangtze finless porpoise survival," Lei Gang, director of freshwater programme at WWF-China, said.
Some hope and more threats
Researchers found dense distributions of finless porpoise in waters that are not open to navigation and attribute this to less human disturbance. Less optimistic was the discovery of illegal fishing practices in these areas, including traps that could affect finless porpoise.
A set of enhanced measures that include in-situ conservation and ex-situ conservation approaches are essential for efforts of saving the species from its distinction, said Lei. Given that, the report calls for all-year-round fishing ban for all river dolphin reserves, establishment of a national reserve in Poyang Lake and ex-situ conservation reserves along the Yangtze.
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There is a “plastic soup” of waste floating in the Pacific Ocean and it is growing at an alarming rate. Maybe you heard it was the size of Texas? Yes, it was at one point. But now scientists believe it covers an area twice the size of the continental United States, and is still growing. The vast expanse of debris – in effect the world’s largest rubbish dump – is held in place by swirling underwater currents. This drifting “soup” stretches from about 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, across the northern Pacific, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan.
Charles Moore, a former sailor, came across the sea of waste by chance in 1997, while taking a short cut home from a Los Angeles to Hawaii yacht race. He had steered his craft into the “North Pacific gyre” – a vortex where the ocean circulates slowly because of little wind and extreme high pressure systems. Usually sailors avoid it.
He was astonished to find himself surrounded by rubbish, day after day, thousands of miles from land. “Every time I came on deck, there was trash floating by,” he said in an interview. “How could we have fouled such a huge area?”
Mr Moore, the heir to a family fortune from the oil industry, subsequently sold his business interests and became an environmental activist. Back then he warned that unless consumers cut back on their use of disposable plastics, the plastic stew would double in size over the next decade. It’s far exceeded that prediction.
Most debris consists of small plastic particles suspended at or just below the surface, making it impossible to detect by aircraft or satellite. Instead, the size of the patch is determined by sampling. The “soup” is actually two linked areas, on either side of the islands of Hawaii, known as the Western and Eastern Pacific Garbage Patches.
The Garbage Patch formed gradually as a result of marine pollution gathered by oceanic currents. The gyre’s rotational pattern draws in waste material from across the North Pacific Ocean. As material is captured in the currents, wind-driven surface currents gradually move floating debris toward the center, trapping it in the region.
About 20% of the junk is thrown off ships or oil platforms. Ship-generated pollution is a source of concern, since a typical 3,000-passenger cruise ship produces over eight tons of waste weekly, a major amount of which ends up in the patch.
The other 80% of the garbage comes from land-based sources. Rivers carry garbage out to sea, which then makes its way into the patch. Currents carry debris from the west coast of North America to the gyre in about six years, and debris from the east coast of Asia in a year or less.
The biggest problem is our addiction to plastic. According to National Geographic, more than 200 million tones of plastic are produced each year, of which about 10% ends up in the oceans. And once plastic is made, it NEVER breaks down.
All of this plastic in the ocean is having a devastating effect on Marine life.
This statistic is grim—for marine animals, of course, but even more so for humans. Why? Because just like the marine life, we’re now ingesting plastic toxins constantly.
Plastic has made it’s way into the food chain. All sea creatures, from the largest to the microscopic organisms, are, at one point or another, swallowing the seawater soup instilled with toxic chemicals from plastic decomposition. The world population is eating fish that have eaten other fish, which have eaten toxin-saturated plastics. In essence, humans are eating their own waste.
267 marine species are affected by plastic garbage already. All sea creatures are threatened by floating plastic, from whales down to zooplankton. We are the last in the food chain, and we are definitely experiencing the consequences of our actions.
You could take your blood serum to a lab right now, and they’d find at least 100 industrial chemicals (INSIDE OF YOU) that did not exist in 1950.
If that doesn’t deeply disturb you, then you have your head buried in the plastic.
What we can do:
As sad as it is, this is such a monstrous problem that it will be very hard to stop and reverse the damage. Our world is addicted to plastic. But here is what you can do to try and help.
1) Although recycling makes only a small impact, everyone should do it, period. And more importantly, we need to push for and support more robust recycling programs, because right now they are pathetic.
2) Stop using plastic. That’s the only way we can eliminate all the toxic products that harm the animals and us human beings. This is clearly easier said than done. Not using plastic is currently impossible, but each person CAN reduce plastic use.
To make the biggest impact, minimize your consumption of bottled water, bottled soda, and plastic bags.
3) The BIGGEST thing we can do to help this problem is make the transition to biodegradable plastics. Biodegradable plastics will decompose in natural aerobic (composting) and anaerobic (landfill) environments.
The biggest challenge here will be getting the plastic companies like Dupont to transition to biodegradable plastics. That is about as challenging as trying to get the oil companies to pursue clean fuel alternatives.
As with many of the problems of our day, this one seems hopeless. I hate to leave a blog post in a pessimistic light, but to be honest with you, I am losing faith that enough people will evolve the consciousness required to fix these problems fast enough to make a difference.
Let’s hope I’m wrong.
Some interesting links:
Some good videos:
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Tuesday, 2 April 2013
In August 2011, scientists did a comprehensive examination of a 16-year-old male bottlenose dolphin. This dolphin — dubbed Y12 for research purposes — was found near Grand Isle, a Louisiana barrier island that was hit hard during the Gulf oil disaster.
Like many of the 31 other dolphins examined in a recent study, Y12 was found to be severely ill: underweight, anemic and with signs of liver and lung disease. The dolphins’ symptoms were consistent with those seen in other mammals exposed to oil; researchers feared many of the dolphins studied were so ill they would not survive.
Seven months later, Y12’s emaciated carcass washed up on the beach at Grand Isle.
More than 650 dolphins have been found stranded in the oil spill area since the Gulf oil disaster began. This is more than four times the historical average.
“Three years after the initial explosion, the impacts of the disaster continue to unfold,” said Doug Inkley, senior scientist for the National Wildlife Federation and lead report author. “Dolphins are still dying in high numbers in the areas affected by oil. These ongoing deaths — particularly in an apex predator like the dolphin — are a strong indication that there is something amiss with the Gulf ecosystem.”
Restoring a Degraded Gulf of Mexico: Wildlife and Wetlands Three Years into the Gulf Oil Disaster looks at how different species of wildlife across the northern Gulf are faring in the wake of the oil disaster.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) called the dolphin die-off “unprecedented” a year ago. More than 1,700 sea turtles were found stranded between May 2010 and November 2012 — the last date for which information is available. For comparison, on average about 240 sea turtles are stranded annually. A coral colony seven miles from the wellhead was badly damaged by oil. A recent laboratory study found that a mixture of oil and dispersant affected the ability of some coral species to build new parts of a reef.
Scientists found that the oil disaster affected the cellular function of the killifish, a common baitfish at the base of the food web. A recent laboratory study found that oil exposure can also harm the development of larger fish such as mahi mahi. “Despite the public reations blitz by BP, this spill is not over,” said David Muth, Director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Mississippi River Delta Restoration Program. “In 2012 six million pounds of tar mat and contaminated material from the BP spill were cleaned up from Louisiana’s coast. Justice will only be served when BP and its co-defendants pay to restore the wildlife and habitats of the Mississippi River Delta and the Gulf of Mexico.”
Two ways to help:
Take action: The high number of dolphin deaths is concerning, and wildlife across the Gulf continue to feel the effects of BP’s massive oil spill three years later. Residents of the Gulf and its wildlife need full restoration! Tell the Dept. of Justice to hold BP fully accountable for its actions>>
Donate now: You can also help NWF protect wildlife, like bottlenose dolphins in the Gulf, by donating today.
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The report, “Restoring a Degraded Gulf of Mexico: Wildlife and Wetlands Three Years into the Gulf Oil Disaster,” found that dolphins were among the hardest hit animals. As of just earlier this year, infant dolphins were dying six times faster than they did before the spill. Scientists aren’t even yet sure of the extent of the massive spill, given that it was impossible to fully clean up the chemical-laden, carcinogenic oil.
Photos: Devastating Oil Spill Disasters
“Three years after the initial explosion, the impacts of the disaster continue to unfold,” Doug Inkley, senior scientist for the National Wildlife Federation and lead author of the report, said in a press release. “Dolphins are still dying in high numbers in the areas affected by oil. These ongoing deaths — particularly in an apex predator like the dolphin — are a strong indication that there is something amiss with the Gulf ecosystem.”
An infographic summarizes some of the findings.
The NWF also highlighted these findings:
* Dolphin deaths in the area affected by oil have remained above average every month since just before the spill began. (The infant dolphin data was gathered in January and February of 2013.)
* NOAA called the dolphin die-off “unprecedented” — a year ago. While NOAA is keeping many elements of its dolphin research confidential pending the conclusion of the ongoing trial, the agency has ruled out the most common causes of previous dolphin die-offs.
* More than 1,700 sea turtles were found stranded between May 2010 and November 2012 — the last date for which information is available. For comparison, on average about 240 sea turtles are stranded annually.
* A coral colony seven miles from the wellhead was badly damaged by oil. A recent laboratory study found that the mixture of oil and dispersant affected the ability of some coral species to build new parts of a reef.
* Scientists found that the oil disaster affected the cellular function of the killifish, a common baitfish at the base of the food web. A recent laboratory study found that oil exposure can also harm the development of larger fish such as mahi mahi.
Gulf Hit with Dirty Blizzard After Oil Spill
“The oil disaster highlighted the gaps in our understanding of the Gulf of Mexico,” said Ian MacDonald, professor of Oceanography at Florida State University. “What frustrates me is how little has changed over the past three years. In many cases, funding for critical research has even been even been cut, limiting our understanding of the disaster’s impacts.”
BP and other companies responsible for the disaster are now on trial in federal court for violations of multiple environmental laws. BP on its website says it has a “commitment to sustainability worldwide” and that it has been meeting the challenges of the spill.
“Despite the public relations blitz by BP, this spill is not over,” said David Muth, director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Mississippi River Delta Restoration Program. “In 2012 six million pounds of tar mat and contaminated material from the BP spill were cleaned up from Louisiana’s coast.”
(The oil slick as seen from space by NASA’s Terra satellite on May 24, 2010; NASA image)
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Monday, 18 March 2013
Conservationist Damian Aspinall had brought up the gorilla Kwibi in England. When Kwibi was 5 years old, Damian returned him to the jungles of Gabon in order to live free in the wild. 5 years later, he has returned with hopes of meeting his old friend. Undeterred by reports of Kwibi's aggressive behavior, Damian seeks out the now 10 year old Kwibi How did this reunion go ? See for yourself!
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Saturday, 16 March 2013
Shark species won protections under CITES (Convention for International Trade of Endangered Species)
This is a major victory to save sharks from the cruel practice of shark finning, where sharks are captured by the millions to have their fins cut off and their live bodies discarded.
Friday, 15 March 2013
Damian Carrington guardian.co.uk, Friday 15 March 2013 12.37 GMT
A member of NGO Avaaz holds a placard next to a giant inflatable bee during a demonstration calling on the EU to adopt a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides. Photograph: Eric Vidal/Reuters
The world's most widely used insecticides, linked to serious harm in bees, will not be banned across Europe. The European commission proposed a two-year suspension after the European Food Safety Authority deemed the use of the neonicotinoids an unacceptable risk, but major nations – including UK and Germany – failed to back the plan in a vote on Friday.
The result leaves environmental campaigners, scientists and some politicians bitterly disappointed. "Britain and Germany have caved in to the industry lobby and refused to ban bee-killing pesticides," said Iain Keith, at campaign group Avaaz. "Today's vote flies in the face of science and public opinion and maintains the disastrous chemical armageddon on bees, which are critical for the future of our food." He said Avaaz and other groups would now consider a legal challenge.
The chemical companies that dominate the billion-dollar neonicotinoid market, Bayer and Syngenta, will be relieved, as will the UK government. Ministers had argued that more scientific evidence was needed and that a ban could have caused disproportionate damage to food production.
Conservationists argued that even greater harm results from the loss of bees and the vital pollination service they provide. Almost three-quarters of the UK public backed the proposed ban, according to a poll released on Wednesday, and Avaaz had amassed 2.5m signatures across Europe in support.
EC officials said: "The commission takes note of the member states' response to its proposal but remains committed to ambitious and proportionate legislative measures."
Suspensions have previously been put in place in France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia, but the EC proposal would have applied across all 27 member states. Friday's vote by member states' experts on the standing committee on the food chain and animal health failed to reach the required majority either in favour or against the suspension.
About three-quarters of global food crops rely on bees and other insects to fertilise their flowers, and so the decline of honeybee colonies due to disease, habitat loss and pesticide harm has prompted serious concern.
A series of high-profile scientific studies in the last year has increasingly linked neonicotinoids to harmful effects in bees, including huge losses in the number of queens produced, and big increases in "disappeared" bees – those that fail to return from foraging trips.
The UK's environment secretary, Owen Paterson, faced criticism from one of his Conservative predecessors. Lord Deben, who as John Gummer was environment secretary, said: "If ever there were an issue where the precautionary principle ought to guide our actions, it is in the use of neonicotinoids. Bees are too important to our crops to continue to take this risk."
Paterson had said in February: "I have asked the EC to wait for the results of our field trials, rather than rushing to a decision." However, the results were not available at Friday's meeting because the field trials have been seriously compromised by contamination from neonicotinoids, the world's most widely used insecticide. Prof Ian Boyd, Defra's chief scientist, said: "At the control site, there were residues of neonicotinoids in pollen and nectar."
Green MEPs across Europe had written to every nation's environment minister, including Paterson. "By spreading uncertainty via apparently 'science-based' arguments, the agrochemical companies are acting as 'merchants of doubt' and are therefore blocking effective action by European policymakers," said the letter.
The EC proposal was to ban the use of three neonicotinoids from use on corn, oil seed rape, apples, carrots, strawberries and many other flowering crops across the continent for two years, after which the situation would have been reviewed.
Evidence submitted to an ongoing parliamentary inquiry in the UK cites a long list of failings in the existing regulation of neonicotinoids. Currently, only the effects on honeybees are considered, despite 90% of pollination being performed by different species, such as solitary or bumblebees, hoverflies, butterflies, moths and others. Another failing is that the regime was set up for pesticide sprays, not systemic chemicals like neonicotinoids that are used to treat seeds and then spread through the growing plant.
Even the National Farmers Union, which argues that there is no need for change, admitted: "It is very well-known that the current pesticide risk assessment systems for bees were not developed to assess systemic pesticides."
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Monday, 11 March 2013
Marine biologists examine a sperm whale on the Spanish coast south of Granada. The animal died after swallowing 17kg of plastic dumped by greenhouses that supply UK supermarkets. Photograph: AFP/Getty
A dead sperm whale that washed up on Spain's south coast had swallowed 17kg of plastic waste dumped into the sea by farmers tending greenhouses that produce tomatoes and other vegetables for British supermarkets.
Scientists were amazed to find the 4.5 tonne whale had swallowed 59 different bits of plastic – most of it thick transparent sheeting used to build greenhouses in southern Almeria and Granada. A clothes hanger, an ice-cream tub and bits of mattress were also found.
The plastic had eventually blocked the animal's stomach and killed it, according to researchers from the Doñana national park research centre in Andalusia.
Researchers at first found it hard to believe that the 10-metre animal had swallowed the vast amount of plastic they found protruding through a tear in its stomach.
In all the whale's stomach contained two dozen pieces of transparent plastic, some plastic bags, nine metres of rope, two stretches of hosepipe, two small flower pots and a plastic spray canister.
All were typical of the closely packed Almeria greenhouses that cover about 40,000 hectares – and are clearly visible in satellite photographs taken from space.
Desert-like Almeria has transformed itself into Europe's winter market garden thanks to the plastic greenhouses where plants are grown in beds of perlite stones and drip-fed chemical fertilisers. Local farmers report that Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury's are all valued customers.
The greenhouses produce 2.4 tonnes of plastic waste per hectare each year – or more than 45,000 tonnes altogether.
Much is treated in special waste centres, but environmentalists complain that local riverbeds are often awash with plastic detritus and, with greenhouses built right up to the high-tide line, some also ends up in the sea.
"The problem of degraded plastics that are no longer recyclable still remains," Renaud de Stephanis, lead researcher at Doñana, and his team reported in the Marine Pollution Bulletin.
Only about 1,000 sperm whales – the world's biggest toothed whales – are thought to live in the Mediterranean. They live for up to 60 years and are often killed after getting caught in nets or being hit by ships.
Now another man-made danger has been detected. "These animals feed in waters near an area completely flooded by the greenhouse industry, making them vulnerable to its waste products if adequate treatment of this industry's debris is not in place," warned de Stephanis.
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Friday, 8 March 2013
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Increase vulnerability to infection at minute doses
The honeybee’s vulnerability to infection is increased by the presence of imidacloprid, even at the most microscopic doses. This new research result by Dr Jeffrey Pettis and his team at the US Department of Agriculture’s Bee Research Laboratory has remained unpublished for nearly two years, according to an ‘exclusive’ report in UK’s newspaper, The Independent . Increased disease infection happened even when the levels of the insecticide were so tiny that they could not be detected in the bees that the researchers had dosed.
The neonicotinoid insecticides, introduced since the early 1990s, are increasingly used on crops in the US, Britain and around the world. Bayer, the German chemicals giant that developed the insecticides insists that they are safe for bees if used properly, but they have already been widely linked to bee losses. Imidacloprid was Bayer's top-selling insecticide in 2009, earning the company £510 m.
That was the hypothesis first put forward by scientists Anastassia Makarieva and Victor Gorshkov in a 2006 paper published in Hydrology and Earth System Sciences. A follow-up study performed by the pair and three other scientists lends credence to the controversial theory they have developed.
If true, the atmospheric model the scientists have developed “could revolutionize the way we understand local climates, and their vulnerability, with many major implications,” according to the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), which participated in the new study.
“It suggests, for instance, that by strategically replanting forests we could attract rainfall into desert and arid regions like the African Sahel, where drought has for years ravaged crops and induced famine. Likewise, significant forest loss could transform lush tropical regions into arid landscapes.”
Forests and rainfall
According to Makarieva and Gorshkov’s theory, forests create rainfall by creating low atmospheric pressure and moving moist air inland, which helps produce rain.
Investigating further, the pair, along with CIFOR senior associate Douglas Sheil, A.D. Nobre from Brazil’s Centro de Ciencia do Sistema Terrestre INPE and B.L. Li of the XIEG-UCR International Center for Arid Land Ecology at University California, Riverside found evidence that “forests play a significant role in determining rainfall, creating atmospheric winds that pump moisture across continents.” The results of their latest research findings have been published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.
“This theory provides us with yet another reason to protect and conserve forest cover,” report co-author Sheil is quoted in a CIFOR blog post.
“Traditionally people have said areas like the Congo and the Amazon have high rainfall because they are located in parts of the world that experience high precipitation. But we are proposing the opposite: that the forests cause the rainfall and if they weren’t there the interior of these continental areas would be deserts.”
The biotic pump hypothesis
Dubbed the “biotic pump hypothesis,” in the new paper the scientists outline the details of the physics driving the process via which forests contribute significantly to creating rain, then go further by highlighting how evaporation and condensation in forests result in the creation of differences in atmospheric pressure.
The model they have come up with “explains why air rises over areas with more intensive evaporation, such as forests. The resulting low pressure draws in additional moist air, leading to a transfer of water vapor that then falls as rain in the areas with the highest evaporation,” CIFOR’s Ashlee Betterbridge explains.
Being contrary to generally accepted climate theory, the researchers have been conducting research and participating in scientific debate to substantiate their findings and the overall theory.
“This paper is really trying to bring the physics to formal attention of the climate scientists,” Sheil was quoted. “We are asking them to disprove this theory and so far no one has been able to do that.”
The implications of the Biotic Pump Hypothesis would be profound and the effects far-reaching should it prove valid and gain general acceptance among climate scientists and policy makers. “Once you accept this idea that forest cover determines rainfall, there would be a huge amount of policy that would need to created to recognize that value,” according to Sheil.
“It also opens up a lot of potential to improve rainfall in dry areas through reforestation. But we would need to invest a lot more effort in research to see the potential extent of the impact of this.” Added Makarieva and Gorshkov,
“A policy maker must react promptly to this new knowledge…You are managing one of the hearts of the planet that circulates a thing that is badly needed: water.
“If we consider an ideal forest policy maker, a long-sighted carer for human well-being, the message is quite unambiguous: spend your life working to completely stop deforestation. Start recovering what can still be recovered.”
Image credit: Lexe-I, courtesy flickr
View original article at - http://theenergycollective.com/globalwarmingisreal/195301/forests-rainmakers-new-study-lends-credence-controversial-theory
Thursday, 7 March 2013
Genetically engineered (GE) foods have never been safety tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), thanks to a 20-year-old policy that says it's up to the biotech companies to determine the safety of genetically engineered (GE) foods. So while all other developed countries require safety testing for GE plants, the government agency in charge of protecting U.S. citizens lets biotech companies, who stand to make billions in profits from GE foods, conduct their own "voluntary safety consultations."
2. No labeling
If the FDA isn't going to test GE foods for safety, the least it could do is require labeling, so people can choose to avoid GMOs if they want. But so far, the FDA has rejected labeling under the controversial argument that GE foods are "substantially equivalent" to their non-genetically engineered counterparts.
3. Revolving door policy
Is it any wonder the FDA gives the biotech industry free rein, when it allows Monsanto employees to revolve in and out of its doors?
Michael Taylor, the FDA's Deputy Commissioner of Food since January 2013, is the architect of the FDA's substantial equivalence policy, used to justify no safety testing and no labeling of GMOs. One look at Taylor's career trajectory and it's clear how he arrived at such a policy. He used to be the vice president for public policy at Monsanto.
GMO safety testing doesn't stand a chance, as long as Taylor bounces between the FDA and Monsanto - despite the fact that numerous FDA scientists, before and after creation of the FDA's substantial equivalence policy, had expressed concerns that genetic modification of the food supply was a potential threat to human health requiring more study before being approved for public consumption.
4. Pushing GE animals on consumers
The FDA did its best to sneak genetically engineered (GE) salmon by consumers in late December, when it quietly announced it was launching a 60-day public comment period. The announcement followed the release of the FDA's Environmental Assessment (EA) of GE salmon, which Michael Hansen, PhD, senior scientist with the Consumers Union, described as "flawed and inadequate."
An outraged public inundated the agency with thousands of comments. The FDA responded by extending the public comment period an additional 60 days. But given the agency's propensity to fast track GE crops, do we really think it will put the kibosh on what could become the first GE animal to enter the U.S. food supply?
5. Privatizing seeds
The FDA's love affair with Monsanto has led to the privatization, and patenting, of the very source of life: seeds. Monsanto is allowed to sell its patented genetically engineered (GE) "Roundup Ready" soybean seeds, and other patented seeds, to farmers under a contract that prohibits the farmers from saving the next-generation seeds and replanting them. Farmers who buy Monsanto's GE seeds are required to buy new seeds every year. Monsanto then sells the same farmers its proprietary pesticides, like Roundup, that can be sprayed in huge amounts on Monsanto's patented Roundup Ready crops, killing everything except the GE plants.
Using giant stickers, photos, projected images and nuclear scream masks, activists have already brought messages such as 'They profit, you pay' or 'Your Business, Our Risks' to the industry and the public. Activists are also demanding that GE, Hitachi and Toshiba should not be allowed to walk away from Fukushima.
Activists in Japan demonstrated in front of the country's parliament, while in Belgium giant stickers were attached to GE's European headquarters in Brussels. In Germany, activists unfurled a banner at Hitachi Power's European HQ, while a giant blimp with similar messaging will be seen flying across a North American city later today.
In response, Greenpeace International nuclear campaigner Dr. Rianne Teule said:
"Today's activities in three continents, in three time zones, highlight that the lack of accountability of the nuclear industry is not only a problem limited to Japan. Global nuclear regulations are seriously flawed.
"In the case of Japan, two years after the Fukushima disaster, the unfair system means hundreds of thousands of victims are still waiting for reasonable compensation for their pain, suffering and losses. They aren’t getting the help they need to rebuild their lives.
"It is shocking that big companies like GE, Hitachi and Toshiba, don’t feel they have a moral responsibility to help people who have suffered from the radioactive contamination caused by their products. They should be made accountable for the risks they create."
The Greenpeace activities are taking place in France, Germany, Belgium, Japan and North America, while a similar activity took place in Jordan and Switzerland earlier this week.
1. Serious flaws in regulations worldwide force the public rather than the industry to pay the vast majority of the costs of a nuclear accident. The latest estimate is that the Fukushima disaster will cost US$250 billion.
TEPCO, the operator of the Fukushima plant, is only required to pay a fraction of the disaster costs while supplier companies are not required to pay anything, effectively putting the burden on the tax payer.
For your reporting purposes, the following materials are available:
· Photos of the activities: http://photo.greenpeace.org/C.aspx?VP3=ViewBox&ALID=27MZIFV5VH94&IT=ThumbImage01_VForm&CT=Album
· Greenpeace International released Fukushima Fallout: Nuclear business makes people pay and suffer 19 Feb. 2013 to detail the flaws: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/Campaign-reports/Nuclear-reports/Fukushima-Fallout/
· Other materials on the campaign to make the entire nuclear industry fully liable for its disasters include:
· A video on the experiences of some of the victims from the Fukushima disaster: http://youtu.be/MxZlcmlVrHY
· Former Babcock-Hitachi engineer Mitsuhiko Tanaka discussing a flawed reactor vessel Hitachi made for the Fukushima plant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyUFf5Uspj4
· A preview of an interview with former GE engineer Dale Bridenbaugh discussing why he quit GE over his concerns about flaws in the containment of the Mark 1 reactor, a reactor GE, Hitachi and Toshiba all built at Fukushima, can be found here: http://youtu.be/sEM5E86yfuk
To download the broadcast quality video file and transcript document, please contact Julie Konop: firstname.lastname@example.org,+31 (0)6 4616 2024
· Greenpeace petition http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/getinvolved/they-profit-you-pay/
Wednesday, 27 February 2013
Ever wanted to go whale watching in a whaling country but wondered whether you should? Maybe you dream of seeing whales in the most inspiring and educational environment possible? Perhaps you would like to swim with dolphins but are unsure what constitutes responsible practice?
All these questions, and many more, are discussed in the first Report on Responsible Whale and Dolphin Watching ever produced by the very people that spend more time with these magnificent animals than anybody else. Together, they represent the very best of the whale and dolphin watching industry from around the world. In 2012 a coalition of these businesses formed a partnership committed to adopting new strategies that will prioritise the welfare of whales and dolphins and the long-term sustainability of the industry. This report describes just some of the ways in which they intend to do it. View and download the report here.
The demand to see whales and dolphins in the wild is increasing worldwide (attracting over 13 million people in 119 countries in 2008), and there are many positive aspects to watching cetaceans from commercial vessels, including improved opportunities for research and the potential to educate and inspire millions of people.
However, there is also growing evidence to show that watching whales and dolphins in the wild may be having a detrimental effect upon them. Although this is by no means universally true, it is widely accepted that the whale and dolphin watching industry remains poorly regulated in many areas and suffers from a lack of internal direction. The standard of tours on offer is also highly variable.
It is intended that by sharing the experience and knowledge they have picked up over many years, the companies in this report will underline the commercial benefit that sustainable operation has brought to their businesses. The report shows that the whale and dolphin watching industry has already developed viable solutions to many of the problems arising and is willing to discuss how these can be implemented across the industry. It takes an honest and in-depth look at how issues of sustainability and responsibility are being tackled by those who work closest with cetaceans each year - the whale and dolphin watch tour operators.
The 2012 Report on Responsible Whale and Dolphin Watching is the start of something new and exciting - the opportunity for those working in the industry to share ideas and work together to improve the standards of their businesses and guarantee long term financial stability and sustainability. Crucially, it also illustrates that efforts to conduct responsible whale watching tours also benefit operators financially in a number of ways - meaning that there is no reason why these ideas, and many more that the partnership hopes to incorporate in the future, should not be taken up across the industry and across the world.
This report was created by the following 12 whale and dolphin watch operators through their roles as 2012 Responsible Whale Watch Partners:
Arctic Whale Tours, Norway; Cape Ann Whale Watch, USA; Conscious Breath Adventures, Dominican Republic; Dolphin Encountours, Mozambique; Elding, Iceland; FIRMM, Spain; Hebridean Whale Cruises, UK; Marine Discovery Penzance, UK; Turmares Tarifa, Spain; Whale Watching Panama, Panama; and Whale Watch West Cork, Ireland.
The report was part-funded by Defra (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the UK), and launched at the World Whale Watch Conference, held in Brighton, UK, on 25th October 2012. It is now fully revised and available for free download. Click here.
For further information please contact: Dylan Walker. email@example.com. Tel: +44(0)1273 355011
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Saturday, 23 February 2013
Midway Atoll, one of the most remote islands on earth, is a kaleidoscope of geography, culture, human history, and natural wonder. It also serves as a lens into one of the most profound and symbolic environmental tragedies of our time: the deaths by starvation of thousands of albatrosses who mistake floating plastic trash for food.
The images are iconic. The horror, absolute. Our goal, however, is to look beyond the grief and the tragedy. It is here, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, that we have the opportunity to see our world in context. On Midway, we can not deny the impact we have on the planet. Yet at the same time, we are struck by beauty of the land and the soundscape of wildlife around us, and it is here that we can see the miracle that is life on this earth. So it is with the knowledge of our impact here that we must find a way forward.
Tuesday, 19 February 2013
Friday, 8 February 2013
Together we set out to achieve what seemed like an impossible challenge: to reform the infamous Common Fisheries Policy - the package of broken laws that have depleted our fish stocks and devastated fishing communities across Europe.
Previously, huge industrial interests have held our seas to ransom, emptying our waters for profit. But then thousands of us stepped in to help. Cooperation between campaign groups, fishermen, champion politicians, retailers, and celebrity chefs like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, all made sure that our MEPs could not ignore what we wanted: real change to protect our fragile seas.
So what's in the new measures? A ban on discards: the cynical practice of throwing dead fish back into the sea to meet fishing quotas. The changes also reward responsible fishing and set catch limits in line with the best scientific advice. Importantly, new rules to improve the behaviour of European boats wherever they fish, anywhere in the world. Now, we stand a real chance of achieving a fish-filled future.
There are more hurdles ahead. The next stage will require agreement from European fisheries ministers (and that could take months). But let’s take a moment to enjoy this, and reflect on how much we have achieved.
Let's keep going!