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
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/