Tag Archives | Conservation

Orangutans need more than your well-meaning clicktivism

Orangutan portrait ~ square frameOrangutans are often more popular on the internet than in their native forests. Online, their attractive faces, fluffy bodies and swinging abilities make them perhaps the most shareable of all the great apes. But back in Borneo and Sumatra, where local populations are more ambivalent about orangutans, the situation is less straightforward. The third annual International Orangutan Day was held in August: a celebration of all things orangutan which aimed to highlight their crisis and encourage public action. For 24 hours, orangutan conservation organisations filled Facebook and Twitter with images, trivia and calls to save the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra – their only home. People donated to charities, signed petitions, liked, tagged, shared and retweeted content, posted supportive selfies and even organised local gatherings to mark the day.

This was just one of many digital entry-points that has made orangutan conservation an increasingly accessible, everyday affair. Today, one doesn’t need to gain a PhD, spend months in the jungle or stage Greenpeace-style confrontations to help save orangutans.… Read the rest

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Armed With ‘Advanced Killing Technology,’ Humans Act as Planet’s ‘Super-Predators’

Brown bear eating salmon at Katmai National Park.   (Photo: Christoph Strässler/flickr/cc)

Brown bear eating salmon at Katmai National Park. (Photo: Christoph Strässler/flickr/cc)

This post originally appeared on Common Dreams. See more of Andrea Germanos’ articles here.

Humans are exceeding the bounds of natural systems and acting as “super-predators,” a new report finds.

The analysis by researchers from the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, University of Victoria (UVic), and the Hakai Institute, and published in the journal Science, looked at over 300 studies that compared human hunter predation and that of non-humans. Whereas other predators are largely able to hunt at sustainable rates, humans, equipped with “with advanced killing technology and fossil fuel subsidy,” are killing adult prey at a much higher—and unsustainable—rate.

“Our wickedly efficient killing technology, global economic systems, and resource management that prioritizes short-term benefits to humanity have given rise to the era of the human super predator,” stated Dr. Chris Darimont, science director for Raincoast and Hakai-Raincoast professor at the UVic.… Read the rest

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Weird Parallels: Helium Waste and 19th-Century Logging

Waste of invaluable resources

There is plenty of regret to go around about the wholescale waste of the immense virgin forests in pre-20th century America. These forests represented a cheap, high-quality building material to early Americans and a profitable export that only required rudimentary tools and a healthy portion of elbow grease to attain. Unfortunately, the citizens of 19th century America (a few of whom became very rich) did not exhibit the conscientiousness nor collective restraint to prevent from despoiling the vast majority of these invaluable and dignified forests. It simply did not occur to them (until Teddy Roosevelt spearheaded the conservation movement and hippies formed the environmental movement) that this timber resource is exhaustible, and once exhausted practically irreplaceable.

For example, during the early history of my home state of Michigan, it is said that a squirrel could traverse from Lake Huron to Lake Michigan without ever touching the ground.  Yet it took an incredibly small amount of time (mostly 1870-1890) for men with hand-drawn felling saws to systematically evacuate every virgin tree on the entire peninsula.… Read the rest

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‘The Bees Can’t Wait’: White House Plan to Save Pollinators Falls Short, Say Experts

Experts say that in order for bees and pollinators to survive and thrive, President Obama must order an immediate ban on neonicotinoids. (Photo: CrashSunRay2013/cc/flickr)

Experts say that in order for bees and pollinators to survive and thrive, President Obama must order an immediate ban on neonicotinoids. (Photo: CrashSunRay2013/cc/flickr)

This post was originally published on Common Dreams. You can read more of Lauren McCauley’s posts here.

Faced with the growing crisis of declining bee populations, the White House on Tuesday released its strategy for improving pollinator health. Almost immediately, experts decried the plan, saying it “misses the mark” by refusing to acknowledge the overwhelming role that pesticides play in driving bee deaths.

Under the strategy (pdf) put forth by the Pollinator Health Task Force, which falls under the leadership of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the federal government aims to:

  • Reduce honey bee colony losses to no more than 15% within 10 years, deemed “economically sustainable levels.”
  • Increase the Eastern population of the monarch butterfly to 225 million butterflies and protect its annual North American migration.
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American Forests Felled to Meet European Renewable Energy Targets


Visualization by Pitch Interactive. Data: Climate Analysis Indicators Tool 2.0, World Resources Institute; Earth Observatory, NASA; Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; Forest Legality Alliance; Global Canopy Programme; Global Forest Resources Assessment, 2010; Global Forest Watch; Greenpeace; Hansen et al., Science, 15 November 2013; Natural Resources Canada; United States Department of Agriculture; United States Forest Service; World Wildlife Fund.


So renewable energy is green?  Talk about the opposite.

T. Edward Nickens via Audubon:

It seems to defy common sense that trees from forests in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and other southern states could be cut, trucked to a mill, pulverized and pelletized, shipped to a seaport, sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, and delivered to a power plant in the Netherlands, all in the name of reducing global warming. Yet that’s what’s happening. And during the past five years, such an unlikely scenario has spawned an entirely new industry.

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Working Less for a Sustainable Future

sisyphus-1549Anders Hayden writes at Solutions:

Since the Industrial Revolution, two main motivations have driven the movement for work-time reduction. Free time away from the job improves individual well-being, while reducing work hours can cut unemployment by better distributing the available work. These historical motivations for work-time reduction have been joined by a new rationale: the need to reduce the impact of human societies on the environment.

The urgency of reducing humanity’s impacts on the earth is well documented. Estimates of our ecological footprint suggest that we need 1.5 planets to sustain current consumption practices, while studies of humanity’s “safe operating space” have concluded that we have already crossed some critical planetary boundaries, including safe levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Two dominant responses to this threat have emerged. One has been to carry on with business as usual, pursuing endless economic expansion while downplaying or denying the severity of environmental problems.

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A Sustainable Energy Future is Within Our Grasp



Susanne Wong and Peter Bosshard write about sustainable energy at International Rivers:

The staggering growth in renewable energy has the potential to fundamentally change the way we generate and use power. Previously dismissed as marginal technologies, renewables have become “increasingly mainstream and competitive with conventional energy sources.” This is the conclusion of a new report on the global status of renewable energies by the REN21 Network.

The new report finds that investment in renewable power (not including large hydropower projects) and fuels reached $244 billion last year. If only net investments (in projects which add rather than replace generating capacity) are considered, global investment in renewables surpassed investment in fossil fuels for the third year in a row.

Renewable energy technologies have also overtaken large hydropower projects as a source of new power generating capacity. In 2012, a whopping 45 gigawatts (GW) of new wind power plants came online.

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Western Black Rhinoceros Officially Extinct

Picture: Vassil (PD)

Picture: Vassil (PD)

I shouted out, “Who killed the [Black Rhino]?”
When after all, It was you and me..

Chalk another one up to humanity…

Via CNN:

Africa’s western black rhino is now officially extinct according the latest review of animals and plants by the world’s largest conservation network.

The subspecies of the black rhino — which is classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species — was last seen in western Africa in 2006.

The IUCN warns that other rhinos could follow saying Africa’s northern white rhino is “teetering on the brink of extinction” while Asia’s Javan rhino is “making its last stand” due to continued poaching and lack of conservation.

Keep reading.

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Man-Eating Wolves Return to Berlin? Let’s Celebrate!

Picture: National Park Service (PD)

Timothy Treadwell: [petting a fox] You can see the bond that has developed between this very wild animal, and this very, fairly, wild person.

– “Grizzly Man

A furious debate between the memories of the past and the beliefs of the present revolves around wolves. It’s not hard to find accounts of people being eaten alive by the wild animals from the pre-Industrial era but, once they were no longer living near populated areas, these accounts dramatically reduce in frequency. There is even a theory that over the years they have learned not to f–k with us[1]. In other words, some people think we live in a world so dominated by humans wild animals are being domesticated by proxy.

Those on the side which maintaining the animals are just misunderstood can celebrate the news that this endangered species appears to have returned to the outskirts of Berlin.… Read the rest

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The Growing Silence Of The Natural World

The rich, complex musical symphonies produced by nature are now being irrevocably destroyed. The Guardian writes:

When musician and naturalist Bernie Krause drops his microphones into the pristine coral reef waters of Fiji, he picks up a raucous mix of sighs, beats, glissandos, cries, groans, tones, grunts, beats and clicks. The water pulsates with the sound of creatures vying for acoustic bandwidth. He hears crustaceans, parrot fish, anemones, wrasses, sharks, shrimps, puffers and surgeonfish.

But half a mile away, where the same reef is badly damaged, he can only pick up the sound of waves and a few snapping shrimp. It is, he says, the desolate sound of extinction.

Krause, whose electronic music with Paul Beaver was used on classic films like Rosemary’s Baby and Apocalypse Now, has spent 40 years recording over 15,000 species, collecting 4,500 hours of sound from many of the world’s pristine habitats.

But such is the rate of species extinction and the deterioration of pristine habitat that he estimates half these recordings are now archives, impossible to repeat because the habitats no longer exist or because they have been so compromised by human noise.

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