Category: Environment

China to Fight Pollution…With World’s Largest Air Purifier

For most people, one of the first things that comes to mind when they think of some of China’s largest cities is the massive amounts of pollution. This September, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection is partnering with a Dutch engineer to send the world’s largest air purifier on a tour of some of the country’s cities most effected by air pollution.

Daan Roosegaarde came up with the idea after a visit to Beijing in 2014 when he couldn’t see any of the city out of his hotel window, over thirty floors above the ground. After the trip Roosegaarde had the idea for the ion air purifier (similar to the types used in hospitals and homes) to filter some of the smallest, most dangerous particles of pollution out of the air.

Alligator Fatal Attacks and Encounters With Humans: Historical Data and Research

Reports of a Florida alligator dragging a 2-year-old boy into a lagoon at a Disney Resort in June 2016 have left media organizations and the public questioning how such a tragedy could have occurred. Meanwhile, state wildlife officials and animal experts have tried to explain the habits and characteristics of these large, predatory creatures to help audiences understand both the rarity of such an encounter and the dangers of humans being in or near gator habitats at night and during the summer, when alligators are more active.

A 2014 primer from the University of Florida provides a research-based overview of alligator behavior and outlines safety-related information. Academic research can also help put attacks and related incidents into a broader context. A 2005 study published in the journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, “Alligator Attacks on Humans in the United States,” reviews data gathered from state wildlife offices and newspaper reports from 1948 to 2004. The author, Ricky L. Langley of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, notes the following about the nature of attacks:

Living Amazon Report 2016

The Amazon is under pressure from unsustainable economic activities and is undergoing unprecedented change, according to WWF’s Living Amazon Report 2016 released today. The report highlights the regional and global realities that are impacting the Amazon and demonstrates why cooperation is so critical to the area’s future.

The Amazon spans eight countries and one overseas territory. It is home to 34 million people, 350 indigenous groups and one-tenth of the world’s species. According to the WWF report, more than 2,000 new species of plants and vertebrates have been described in the Amazon since 1999.

Despite the diversity and critical importance of the world’s largest rainforest and river system, the report warns about the dramatic increase in legislative actions to downgrade, downsize or degazette protected areas in the Amazon.

​Will Outrage Over Recent Murders Help Honduran Environmental Activists Achieve Their Goal?

Recent murders are affecting indigenous people’s efforts to protect the environment.

When Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres was gunned down in her home last spring the international community and even activists in the notoriously violent country were shocked. Her death followed threats related to her support for indigenous people fighting the construction of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam along the Gualcarque River.

A few days after her death Nelson García, another leader of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (known as COPINH), which Cáceres founded in 1993 to advocate for the native Lenca peoples’ rights, was also murdered.

Have these recent deaths made a difference in indigenous efforts to protect the environment? Though change is slow, there is some indication that they are not going unheeded.

“Berta had such an amazing support network and she had done so much great work in reaching out to other organizations both domestically and internationally that there’s this enormous outrage when she was assassinated,” says Danielle DeLuca, project manager for the Cambridge-based nonprofit Cultural Survival, which advocates for indigenous groups around the world.

This World Environment Day, can the sum of our actions be ZERO?

Over the past 40 years, World Environment Day has inspired millions to take action to help protect our planet. This year, together with our partners, WWF is urging everyone to join the fight against illegal wildlife trade.

Poaching and illegal trade represent grave threats to the world’s wildlife and wild places. Increasingly driven by international organized crime, they also constitute a major danger to communities that depend on wildlife and natural resources for lives and livelihoods.

The situation is critical. A record number of rhinos were poached in Africa last year, while around a million pangolins have been trafficked over the last decade. Of the 110,000 elephants that roamed the savannahs, wetlands and forests of the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania less than half a century ago, a mere 15,000 remain today. If this historic trend continues, WWF estimates that the entire elephant population of one of Africa’s oldest reserves could disappear within six years.

From Russia, With Blood: The Impact of Coal Exports to Britain

In my home country of Russia, open-cast coalmining is expanding, leading to growing environmental devastation and countless human rights abuses affecting indigenous peoples. Coal consumption within Russia is dropping, but exports have grown tremendously in recent years, with Britain the second-biggest consumer of Russian coal, after China. A new report, the Cost of Coal produced by my organization, Ecodefense, establishes a direct link between increased extraction and expanded coal exports over the past decade.

Over 60 per cent of Russian coal is extracted in the Kuzbass region of Siberia. Part of it – 15.6 per cent of total exports – is then transported almost 6,000 kilometres to be burned in British power stations. The human and environmental costs of this coal are high.

Elephants Could Disappear From Tanzania World Heritage Site Within Six Years

One of Africa’s oldest reserves could see its elephant population decimated by 2022 if urgent measures are not taken to stem industrial-scale poaching, according to a new analysis by WWF.

Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania’s largest protected area, was home to one of the greatest concentrations of African elephants on the continent, but rampant ivory poaching has seen the population reduced by 90 per cent in fewer than 40 years. Nearly 110,000 elephants once roamed the savannahs, wetlands and forests of Selous, but now only about 15,000 remain in the ecosystem.

The analysis, produced for WWF by Dalberg Global Development Advisors, shows how the loss of Selous’ elephants would have a negative effect on Tanzania’s nature based economy, putting the livelihoods of 1.2 million people at risk. Travel and tourism in Selous generate US$6 million annually, and the industry represents a combined yearly contribution of US$5 billion to the GDP of Tanzania, which holds world renowned assets such as Mount Kilimanjaro and Serengeti National Park.

‘I Do Not Want Any Children to Develop Cancer Like Me’, a Fukushima Resident Says

Independent filmmaker Ian Thomas Ash has uploaded to YouTube a four-part interview with a young woman from Fukushima Prefecture who has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Now 20, the interviewee was 15 years old when, following theMarch 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex lost power and the ability to cool fuel in the reactors. The lack of cooling caused a series of hydrogen explosions that severely damaged four of the six reactors at the Daiichi complex.

As a result of the explosions and subsequent fires, nuclear contamination was spread over a large part of Japan’s northeast. The young woman interviewed in the documentary, who wishes to remain unidentified, is one of 166 Fukushima residents who were 18 or younger at the time of the nuclear disaster who have been diagnosed with or suspected of having thyroid cancer (as of February 2016).

While some attribute the rise in cases of thyroid cancer to more rigorous screening, Ash notes that 74.5% of young people aged 18-21 as of April 1, 2014 who were living in Fukushima at the time of the nuclear accident have not yet taken part in the official thyroid ultrasound examination.

Lack of Support Endangers Rangers and Global Wildlife

Battling a global poaching crisis, wildlife rangers believe they lack the necessary equipment, training and support from their governments to protect themselves and the world’s threatened wildlife from poachers, according to a new WWF study released today at the World Ranger Congress in Colorado, USA.

Ranger Perceptions: Africa surveyed 570 rangers across 12 African countries and found that 82 per cent had faced a life-threatening situation while on duty. But 59 per cent felt they were insufficiently equipped and 42 per cent felt they lacked sufficient training to do their jobs safely and effectively.

These results echo the findings of a similar survey of Asia’s rangers, the majority of whom had also risked their lives in the line of duty and felt equally ill-equipped to perform their critical frontline tasks. Preliminary results from a third survey suggest that rangers in Latin America face similar challenges.

Standing Up To Multinational Big-Ag: Nepal, Monsanto, & USAID

Throughout history, controlling India was the key to controlling Nepal. British control over the landlocked nation was an extension of its control over India itself. Today, imperialism is far from a distant memory. It did not go “extinct,” rather, it merely “evolved.” Today, imperialism looks like national and international “aid programs” which are used as fronts and vectors for corporate special interests.

USAID, the World Food Programme, and others, for instance, serve as fronts and vectors for corporations like Monsanto. In turn, Monsanto seeks a monopoly over world food production and the immense wealth and influence associated with such control. Just like the British East Indies Company did for centuries (1600’s-1800’s) the West is using a combination of corporations and foundations to project geopolitical power. And few other sectors engender such sought-after geopolitical power like control over a nation’s agriculture.

The story of corporate-financier interests attempting to conquer Nepal through this method is not new. In 2011, when “Maoist” rebels finally took control of the country and Western-style “democracy” foisted upon the Nepali people, Western corporations were already positioned to overrun the levers of power by controlling the nation’s infrastructure.

Monsanto Losing Ground: India Rethinks Rules Over Sale of GM Cotton Seeds

The Indian government has passed legislation capping royalties for new genetically-modified (GM) cotton varieties to be introduced by Monsanto, striking a blow at the company’s pricing structure in the heavily-populated country.
Earlier in March, in response to complaints that Monsanto’s Indian subsidiary Mahyaco Monsanto Biotech India Ltd (MMBL) was overcharging for a crop that produces its own pesticide, the agriculture ministry cut royalties paid by local seed firms by nearly 70 percent, substantially affecting MMBL’s revenue.

To ensure the welfare of farmers and eliminate the agrochemical giant’s monopoly in the market, the Indian government also fixed GM-cotton-seed maximum-sale price at 800 rupees for a 450-gram packet.

Yellowstone Park Euthanizes Bison Calf After Tourists Attempt to Rescue It

Visitors to America’s famous Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming attempted to ‘rescue’ a bison calf, causing its herd to abandon it; it was subsequently euthanized by park officials.

The Yellowstone National Park Service (NPS) released a statement Monday after a pair of tourists put a bison calf in an SUV. The NPS said they had to euthanize the animal because, after having interacted with humans, it was rejected by its herd.

Despite clearly-posted park regulations that require visitors to stay a minimum of 25 yards from all wildlife (and 100 yards from predators), a father and son decided to put an very young bison calf into their car over concerns that the animal was too cold.

World’s Smallest Porpoise Nears Extinction

Mexican authorities must immediately and indefinitely close all fisheries within the habitat of Mexico’s critically endangered vaquita porpoise – or we will lose the species forever.

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Mexico, referring to data from the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA), said on Friday that only around 60 vaquitas remained in the upper Gulf of California — the only place the species exists — as of December 2015. This is a nearly 40 per cent decline from the 97 vaquitas that remained in 2014.

“We can still save the vaquita, but this is our last chance,” said Omar Vidal, CEO of WWF-Mexico. “The Mexican government must ban all fishing within the vaquita’s habitat now and until the species shows signs of recovery. Anything else is just wishful thinking.”

The Lobby Firm That Works Both Sides of The Room

In Brussels, hundreds of lobby consultants make a (rather generous) living by running lobby campaigns on behalf of anyone who pays them. The borders between communication and PR strategies, law expertise and traditional lobbying are blurred. Demonstrating the problematic symbiosis between corporate interests and the EU institutions in Brussels, the same lobbying consultancies often get hired by both, bringing serious risks of conflicts of interest. A case in point: Germany-based lobby consultancy Genius and its work for the Glyphosate Task Force.

The European Commission – as shown again recently in The Guardian – seems hell bent on granting glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s toxic herbicide Roundup, re-approval for another ten years. This is despite the fact that the World Health Organisation’s cancer institute IARC declared the substance as “probably causing cancer to humans”, and that EU pesticides rules say such substances should be banned.

No Rhinos Poached in Nepal for Past Two Years

Nepal (WWF) – While Africa struggles to stem record-breaking rhino poaching, Nepal today marked two years since its last rhino was poached on May 2nd 2014 – as well as its 4th year of zero poaching of rhinos since 2011.

“This exceptional success is based on a combination of high-level political will, and the active involvement of the park authorities, Nepal Army, Nepal Police, conservation partners and local communities,” said Krishna P. Acharya, Chief-Planning Division and Spokesperson of the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation.

This is the first time that Nepal has achieved two consecutive years of zero poaching, which has helped to increase its population of greater one-horned rhinos to 645, the highest recorded number in the country so far.