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Are Frogs Rapidly Facing Extinction?

Are Frogs Rapidly Facing Extinction? | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Ecologists are increasingly warning that due to habitat destruction, widespread infectious disease and climate change, amphibians are facing "extinction in real time."

As many as 40 percent of amphibious species, which include frogs, salamanders and newts, could be facing "imminent extinction," according to David Wake, a researcher at the University of California Berkeley. ...

"It's not that climate change isn't going to have an effect, it's that the most acute things [habitat destruction and disease] are here right now, hitting amphibians hard," he says. "Climate change is a little more remote and more controversial." ...

Most likely, a combination of the three factors is to blame for amphibian decline. Wake says all three factors contribute to a "witches' brew" that spells almost certain doom for thousands of amphibious species.

 

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/03/02/are-frogs-rapidly-facing-extinction

 

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Why Bacteria Are More Threatening Than Ever ("the world is not ready for the next pandemic")

Why Bacteria Are More Threatening Than Ever ("the world is not ready for the next pandemic") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

More bacteria are resistant to existing antibiotics than ever. As a result, superbugs are popping up in hospitals and the outside world.

The stories are harrowing: people with simple cuts who get exposed to bacteria can end up with life-threatening, and sometimes even life-ending, infections. Antibiotics were supposed to prevent these infections and deaths. But in the U.S., about two million people become infected with bacteria that can’t be treated by antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die from those infections every year.

The bacteria behind these infections, once common. have mutated to become resistant to the dozens of antibiotics developed to wage war against them. (See exactly how that happens in the video above.) That's a problem of our own making. Public health experts say that the superbugs are the result of years of overusing and misusing antibiotics, either by dispensing them in too-high doses or using them against minor infections or inappropriate conditions like the flu, which doesn’t respond to antibiotics. Antibiotics are also overused in farming—not just to keep infections at bay, but also as a way to encourage animals like chickens, pigs and cattle to grow larger and produce more meat. With so many antibiotics circulating in people and in animals, bacteria mutate to find ever more clever ways of becoming resistant to the drugs.

The only way to get ahead of antibiotic-resistant superbugs is to outsmart them. In recent years, doctors have been cutting back on prescribing the drugs, and some hospitals require registries for antibiotics so they can keep track of how much are being used. Educational programs have sprung up designed to teach people about when antibiotics are appropriate, and when they aren’t. In order to fend off superbugs, we have to be as persistent as they are.

Bert Guevara's insight:
The world is not ready for the next pandemic.

"Antibiotics were supposed to prevent these infections and deaths. But in the U.S., about two million people become infected with bacteria that can’t be treated by antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die from those infections every year.
"The bacteria behind these infections, once common. have mutated to become resistant to the dozens of antibiotics developed to wage war against them."
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IUCN welcomes first-ever UN report acknowledging healthy ecosystems as human right ("it's about time")

IUCN welcomes first-ever UN report acknowledging healthy ecosystems as human right ("it's about time") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, welcomed a recent report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Environment and Human Rights, 

Prof. John Knox, which highlights how biodiversity and ecosystems are essential to human rights.

This is the first-ever UN report acknowledging that the loss of biodiversity undermines human rights, for example by reducing agricultural and fisheries outputs, negatively affecting health or removing filters from the water cycle. By conserving biodiversity, states therefore also contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on food security, health and water, among others.

IUCN has long been addressing the links between conserving biodiversity and achieving human rights. In 1994, the Union issued Caring for the Earth: A strategy for sustainable living, where it declared that “we have a right to the benefits of nature, but these will not be available unless we care for the systems that provide them.” 

Through its work, such as the development of guidelines and policy frameworks for government engagement with indigenous peoples and local communities, IUCN highlights the threats from environmental change and degradation to those directly dependent on ecosystems.

The UN report’s recognition of the link between human rights and biodiversity should promote collaboration between the conservation, human rights and development communities to achieve the objectives of sustainable development.

Bert Guevara's insight:
In the Philippines, the Commission on Human Rights will have its hands full. 

"The UN report’s recognition of the link between human rights and biodiversity should promote collaboration between the conservation, human rights and development communities to achieve the objectives of sustainable development. 
"The report also called on states to recognise defenders of biodiversity as defenders of human rights. IUCN has been calling for increased efforts to protect environmental activists from the growing threats and persecution they face."
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In race to curb climate change, cities outpace governments ("mayors more sensitive & more decisive")

In race to curb climate change, cities outpace governments ("mayors more sensitive & more decisive") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Cities from Oslo to Sydney are setting goals to curb climate change that exceed national targets, causing tensions with central governments about who controls policy over green energy and transport and construction.

More than 2,500 cities have issued plans to cut carbon emissions to the United Nations since late 2014, setting an example to almost 200 nations that reached a Paris Agreement in December 2015 to fight global warming. 

Although there are no officially collated statistics available, many city targets are more ambitious than those set by governments under the Paris accord, which imposes no obligations on cities, regions or companies to define goals. 

Just over half the world's population lives in urban areas, meaning municipalities will help to determine whether the historic shift from fossil fuels to cleaner energy agreed in Paris succeeds or fails. 

But as many cities become more assertive, governments are reluctant to cede control. 

"Cities are starting to encroach past their boundaries on policies at a national level," said Seth Schultz, director of research at the New York-based C40 climate group that includes most of the world's megacities, from Tokyo to Los Angeles.

The trend is clearest in rich cities, which are more able to cut emissions to meet the demands of affluent, environmentally-conscious voters than fast-expanding cities such as Bangkok, Nairobi or Buenos Aires.

In a sign of city power, a 2016 study projected that climate plans by cities and regions could cut an extra 500 million tonnes of annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 - equivalent to the emissions of France - beyond cuts pledged by governments.

Bert Guevara's insight:
While some nations are dragging their feet on climate action, the more affluent cities are leading the way and in many cases, overstepping their authorities.

"But as many cities become more assertive, governments are reluctant to cede control. 
"Cities are starting to encroach past their boundaries on policies at a national level," said Seth Schultz, director of research at the New York-based C40 climate group that includes most of the world's megacities, from Tokyo to Los Angeles.
"The trend is clearest in rich cities, which are more able to cut emissions to meet the demands of affluent, environmentally-conscious voters than fast-expanding cities such as Bangkok, Nairobi or Buenos Aires."
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9 Philippine Native Trees Better Than Cherry Blossoms ("philippine flora waiting to be rediscovered")

9 Philippine Native Trees Better Than Cherry Blossoms ("philippine flora waiting to be rediscovered") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Cherry blossoms in the Philippines? They may look great on photos, but we really don't need exotic trees. Our native ones are as beautiful, if not more.
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India planted 50 million trees in one day – smashing the world record ("my type of WR; amazing!!!")

India planted 50 million trees in one day – smashing the world record ("my type of WR; amazing!!!") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Volunteers in India planted 50 million trees in 24 hours in order to fight climate change.

As development in India has raced ahead, demand for firewood, pasture and land for building has destroyed vast tracts of forest. 

In fact, since 2013, more than 2,500 square kilometres of very dense and mid-dense forests have been wiped out, according to India Today. 

Despite this, the Indian government reports that the total area of forested land has increased and new efforts are being made to expand them even further. The ultimate aim is 33% forest cover.

As part of the reforestation initiative, 800,000 volunteers in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh set a new world record: they planted 50.4 million trees in just 24 hours. The previous world record, set by Pakistan in 2013, was 847,275 trees.

The mass planting was put in motion as part of a strategy by the Indian government to tackle climate change. The effort was part of India’s commitment to the Paris Climate Conference in 2015. In that agreement, India agreed to spend $6 billion to regrow forests on 12% of the country’s land and bring total forest cover up to 29%.

"The biggest contribution of this tree-planting project, apart from the tokenism, is that it focuses on the major issues," Anit Mukherjee, a policy fellow with the Center for Global Development, told the Telegraph. "It addresses many of the big issues for India: pollution, deforestation and land use."

Bert Guevara's insight:
Fantastic Effort!!! This is my type of world record.

"As part of the reforestation initiative, 800,000 volunteers in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh set a new world record: they planted 50.4 million trees in just 24 hours. The previous world record, set by Pakistan in 2013, was 847,275 trees."
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Environmental lawyer murdered in Philippines: police ("112 dead in 15 years; 12 under current admin")

Environmental lawyer murdered in Philippines: police ("112 dead in 15 years; 12 under current admin") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

A Philippine lawyer who specialised in investigating crimes against the environment has been ambushed and shot dead, police said Friday. The murder on Wednesday of Mia Manuelita Mascarinas-Green deepened concerns that the Philippines is one of the world's most dangerous places for environmental

Four motorcycle-riding gunmen opened fire after surrounding a van being driven by Mascarinas-Green -- with her children and nanny in the vehicle -- near her home on the central island of Bohol, the authorities said. 

Mascarinas-Green was pronounced dead at a hospital but her children were unharmed, regional police spokesman Senior Inspector Reslin Abella told AFP. 

"The victim is a known environmental lawyer. Investigators are checking whether the attack had any link to the cases she had handled in relation to environmental issues," Abella told AFP by telephone. 

"They now have the identity of at least one of the perpetrators and a hot pursuit operation is ongoing," she said without naming the suspect. 

Abella said police were at the moment unaware if Mascarinas-Green had been threatened previously in relation to her work. 

Her children are twins, aged two, and a 10-year-old daughter, according to local media reports. 

Her death brings to 112 the number of environmental campaigners murdered in the Philippines over the past 15 years, according to Filipino environment monitor Kalikasan. 

This includes 12 since President Rodrigo Duterte took office seven months ago, Kalikasan said. 

"Most of these cases remain unresolved as the government continues to ignore the threat against environmental defenders," Clemente Bautista, its national coordinator told AFP.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Defending the environment may mean staking one's life for the cause, when needed. It's a high price to pay but the cost of destruction is equally heavy.

"Those who cause environmental destruction are resorting to savage measures and deplorable acts to stop communities and people who are standing up to protect our imperilled environment," Sano said.
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Environmental Justice a Growing Concern Among Landscape Architects | Sustainable Cities Collective

Environmental Justice a Growing Concern Among Landscape Architects | Sustainable Cities Collective | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
The equitable growth of cities and the flow of displaced populations are issues that must be addressed, said Jordanian Senator Mahadin, who was a landscape architect before becoming a politician.
Senator Mahadin believes environmental justice must begin with education. Speaking passionately, he reminded us we all share the same ethics; that we need to be good to our neighbors and feed our poor. Plant trees and create a high quality of life for everyone. The small things landscape architects do can make a difference.
And going a step further, Senator Mahadin, perhaps unsurprisingly, made a pitch for more landscape architects to confront the issues environmental justice through politics. “Lead by example. Save and protect our water resources and national parks.”
“Landscape is a human right,” began Schjetnan, landscape has the ability to de-marginalize people and integrate them into society.
Environmental justice, and access to resources are especially critical to developing countries, which are “not developing, so much as developing too quickly through accelerated urban growth. Four-fifths of the world is like this,” he added, “neither developed nor undeveloped – just growing too quickly.”
In Schjetnan’s Mexico City, and many other exploding cities, there are major problems with inequality, congestion, natural resource depletion, water and waste management, all which present landscape architects and designers not only big challenges but also big opportunities.
Landscape architecture is a “medium to create well-being” through green public space, said Schjetnan. To rehabilitate unjust places, we must focus on environmental justice and make sure everyone has access to these spaces.
Bert Guevara's insight:
I am a Landscape Architect and this is our mission.

"Landscape architecture is a “medium to create well-being” through green public space, said Schjetnan. To rehabilitate unjust places, we must focus on environmental justice and make sure everyone has access to these spaces.
"The equitable growth of cities and the flow of displaced populations are issues that must be addressed, said Jordanian Senator Mahadin, who was a landscape architect before becoming a politician. ...
“Landscape is a human right,” began Schjetnan, landscape has the ability to de-marginalize people and integrate them into society. 
"Environmental justice, and access to resources are especially critical to developing countries, which are “not developing, so much as developing too quickly through accelerated urban growth. Four-fifths of the world is like this,” he added, “neither developed nor undeveloped – just growing too quickly.”
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Trial Begins: This Man Faces 30 Years in Prison for Shutting Down a Pipeline ("the price of truth")

Trial Begins: This Man Faces 30 Years in Prison for Shutting Down a Pipeline ("the price of truth") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

The trial began on Monday for Ken Ward, a climate activist and co-founder of the Climate Disobedience Center, who risks spending 30 years in prison for shutting down a pipeline carrying tar sands crude last October.

At the time, 59 year old Ward, who shut down the Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain Pipeline in Anacortes, Washington, said his actions were "to avert climate catastrophe and stand with the Standing Rock water protectors. We must stop the fossil fuel industry in its tracks."

Ward participated in the #Shutitdown action which targeted tar sands pipelines in different states, including Washington, Oregon, North Dakota, Montana and Minnesota.

The county judge made the comments last week when Ward's legal team were requesting to present a "necessity defense" in court. They wanted to argue that non-violent direct action was justified to stop climate change, after a legal precedent was set last year by a judge in Washington state in the trial of the Delta Five anti-oil train activists. 

Ward told the Guardian about Judge Rickert's refusal to allow such a defense to proceed to full trial: "I thought it was shocking and deeply worrisome for my case. We are in the late stages of global collapse and to have someone who is presumably as knowledgeable and aware as a judge should be blithely dismissing the biggest problem facing the world is chilling."

But that will not stop Ward making the case about climate change from the witness stand, no matter what the Judge has ruled. "I am going to talk a little bit about climate science," Ward told Reuters. "I spent 30-some-odd years following only legal approaches. It's only been in recent years that the scale of the problem and lack of a political solution leaves no choice but direct action."

Bert Guevara's insight:
There are times when your conviction requires a steep price. This man is showing us what that means.

"At the time, 59 year old Ward, who shut down the Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain Pipeline in Anacortes, Washington, said his actions were "to avert climate catastrophe and stand with the Standing Rock water protectors. We must stop the fossil fuel industry in its tracks."

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Time To Take The ‘Urban’ Out of Urban Design? | Sustainable Cities Collective ("changing designs")

Time To Take The ‘Urban’ Out of Urban Design? | Sustainable Cities Collective ("changing designs") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

For a while now I’ve had an issue with both the term and the definition of ‘urban design’.  What exactly is it?  Compare it to architecture or planning, which are professions that are easy to define and identify, even to a child’s mind.  At its most simple level, architects design buildings, while planners design cities.  We understand those roles because they have boundaries and actions that give them a clear identity. But not so for urban design.

We can all identify a well-designed space when we see it, but what part of this is due to good contemporary design? Did it come about due to robust planning policies that encouraged a vibrant mix of uses? Was it due to the active participation of community groups? For most projects, it is probably of all the above… and then some more. What we understand to be urban design involves a broad spectrum of disciplines, such as landscape architects, planners, architects, engineers, etc. In addition, there is the involvement of the public, government agencies, and developers. It’s clearly a ‘team effort’ to produce good urban design interventions.

There is a misnomer that urban design is limited to city environments or suburban schemes. However, the principles of urban design can and do operate in rural or natural settings. As we strive for sustainable cities and look at issues such as green space preservation, food production, flood mitigation, it is obvious that there is no urban exclusivity or defined boundary in the process of urban design. Everything is connected.


Bert Guevara's insight:
The dichotomy between urban and natural has become less distinct because of the changing environment. Design concepts are calling for greater proximity to nature.

"There is a misnomer that urban design is limited to city environments or suburban schemes. However, the principles of urban design can and do operate in rural or natural settings. As we strive for sustainable cities and look at issues such as green space preservation, food production, flood mitigation, it is obvious that there is no urban exclusivity or defined boundary in the process of urban design. Everything is connected."
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This plant-covered Singapore skyscraper is the tropical building of the future ("closer to nature")

This plant-covered Singapore skyscraper is the tropical building of the future ("closer to nature") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

WOHA Architects designed Oasia Hotel Downtown in Singapore, a plant-covered skyscraper that offers a new model for tropical buildings, for Far East Hospitality.

Steel and glass skyscrapers may work in the climates of New York City or San Francisco, but in tropical Singapore they heat up fast. So WOHA Architects designed the 30-story Oasia Hotel Downtown as a green vision for better tropical towers. Plants creeping across the facade and several sky gardens cool the structure naturally.

20 species of plants and flowering vines crawling across the aluminum mesh exterior afford the hotel located in Singapore’s Central Business District a lush appearance. Eventually the entire building should be covered with the plants. For now, guests can stay in one of 300 rooms and explore sky gardens in the tower.

The architects behind the project planted the greenery in a manner that wouldn’t require too much maintenance, as it’s hard to find “laborers who are both Spiderman and gardeners,” according to WOHA Architects co-founder Richard Hassell. And while the client’s goals weren’t necessarily sustainability or energy efficiency – they primarily wanted a stunning building – Hassell said he thinks the building design will offer significant energy savings.

He believes the Singapore hotel could offer a model for other tropical skyscrapers around the world, which could green up city skylines. He told Curbed, “What’s interesting is the emotional appeal it has for people all over the world…Examining the central business districts of so many cities is like looking at the moon from the Earth; one is filled with life, the other is just this collection of dead stone. With Oasia, we’ve seen so many birds and insects flying around the building. People respond so well to seeing a hummingbird flying right outside their office window.”

Bert Guevara's insight:
What if a city had all their buildings designed this way - eh di WOW!

“What’s interesting is the emotional appeal it has for people all over the world…Examining the central business districts of so many cities is like looking at the moon from the Earth; one is filled with life, the other is just this collection of dead stone. With Oasia, we’ve seen so many birds and insects flying around the building. People respond so well to seeing a hummingbird flying right outside their office window.”
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Turning cropland into forest ("big consequences of wrong policies reversed country policy on forests")

Turning cropland into forest ("big consequences of wrong policies reversed country policy on forests") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

First the land was baked dry, then the torrential rains came – sweeping away homes, crops, forests and human lives. 

In 1997, the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate event (among other factors) brought a 267-day drought to China’s Yellow River Basin, and the following year floods poured across vast swathes of the country as the Yangtze, Songhua and Pearl rivers broke their banks. As many as 3,600 people were killed, and 13.2 million were left homeless. 

The impacts didn’t stop there – the floodwaters swept a new way of thinking into Chinese policy, the effects of which are still being felt today. 

Logging in state forests and smallholder agriculture on steep hillsides were blamed for causing soil erosion and increasing the flood risk, and China’s government radically reoriented national forest policy away from a focus on timber production – and towards forest conservation and restoration. 

More recent research has questioned the role of forests in preventing large-scale floods – and forest loss and degradation has been widespread in both ancient and contemporary China. But the extreme weather events of the late ’90s, and the deteriorating environment, galvanized the government into action.

In 1998, logging in natural forests was banned in the upper reaches of the Yangzte and Yellow rivers, and in 1999 the government brought in the Conversion of Cropland to Forest Program (CCFP) – a massive afforestation scheme aimed at reducing both erosion and poverty by encouraging farmers to plant trees on sloping and ‘barren’ lands. 

They were given money to buy saplings and seeds, as well as a subsidy to compensate for lost agricultural income. The payments were conditional on the trees surviving – 70 to 85 percent of them, depending on local criteria.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Wrong government environment policies, like expanded timber production and increased agricultural lands, led to disastrous results. Now, the nation has repented and is going in the right direction of reforestation.
State-sponsored community nurseries and tree-planting efforts have a 70% success rate. The Philippines should not renege on its own National Greening Program, even if the initial results were a failure and a victim of corruption.

"The CCFP has been implemented in 25 Chinese provinces, at a cost of $US 50 billion – and almost 30 million hectares of land have been converted into forest. It’s now been running for 17 years. 
“Broadly speaking, land use changes brought about by the CCFP have been positive,” Gutiérrez Rodríguez says. “The forest cover has increased fast in all CCFP implementation areas.”
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These women protect the trees that protect Ecuador – Human Nature... ("women lead win-win setup")

These women protect the trees that protect Ecuador – Human Nature... ("women lead win-win setup") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Mangroves do more than protect coasts — they're also lifelines for nearby communities.

These are Ecuador’s mangrove forests, which cover about 157,000 hectares (388,000 acres) in the floodplain where the South American country’s coast meets the Pacific Ocean. Despite all the benefits mangroves provide to coastal communities, Ecuadorian mangroves have experienced huge losses in recent decades as many acres were converted to shrimp ponds. To reverse this trend, Ecuador started a mangrove concession program that grants communities exclusive rights to use nearby mangrove areas for fishing, tourism or other livelihood needs. The program has enabled thousands of traditional mangrove users to continue their way of life.

According to Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment, almost 67,000 hectares (166,000 acres) of Ecuador’s mangroves are protected through 68 community-based concessions. Conservation International (CI) Ecuador has worked closely with the Ministry of Environment to increase the number of agreements to ensure the effective conservation of these mangroves and sustainable use of their resources.

These concessions have mostly secured livelihood sources for men, who have traditionally been the ones extracting mangrove resources to make a living. However, a handful of women living in mangrove communities around the Gulf of Guayaquil are starting to challenge those gender roles, and their actions are helping to level the playing field between men and women. To encourage this shift, CI Ecuador is working to increase female participation in fishery associations and decision-making processes.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Sustainability successes in mangrove preservation show that this is replicable in many other parts of the world, including the Philippines.

"One hectare of them can store up to seven times as much carbon as a hectare of tropical forest. Standing strong on the muddy shores of the Gulf of Guayaquil, they can reduce the force of waves pounding the shore by 98 percent. Their trees provide habitat for many rare and threatened species, as well as more plentiful, lucrative ones like the red crab, an important source of sustenance and income for coastal communities.
"These concessions have mostly secured livelihood sources for men, who have traditionally been the ones extracting mangrove resources to make a living. However, a handful of women living in mangrove communities around the Gulf of Guayaquil are starting to challenge those gender roles, and their actions are helping to level the playing field between men and women. To encourage this shift, CI Ecuador is working to increase female participation in fishery associations and decision-making processes."
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Eleven Spectacular Birds From the 2016 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards ("natural art pics")

Eleven Spectacular Birds From the 2016 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards ("natural art pics") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

An owl in mourning, a parakeet in battle, and a mud-covered flamingo are among the winning images.

In 1965, a photograph of an owl clutching a songbird in its beak won CVR Dowdeswell the first-ever Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award, presented by a young David Attenborough. That year, only 500 photographers entered the contest, which the Natural History Museum in London, England has hosted since 1984. Fast forward to today when thousands of photographs, each displaying the beauty and fragility of the natural world, pour in from almost 100 countries to vie for the top prize: about $12,000 and the prestige that comes with winning one of the world's biggest wildlife media competitions. 

This week, the museum announced the winners and finalists from this year's contest, with 13 different categories for adults and youth. Field biologist and photojournalist Tim Laman took home the grand prize with an image of an orangutan clinging to the trunk of a fig tree high above the forest canopy in Indonesia's Gunung Palung National Park. Laman told USA Today that while he's thrilled to see his work shared internationally, he's more motivated by the chance "to try and make a difference for orangutan conservation." 

A gallery featuring about 100 of the top images opened at the museum today—a traveling exhibit will start touring internationally in 2017—with many of the masterpieces paying homage to birds. Scroll through our eleven picks for the best bird images, along with captions from the contest. And if you're a photographer, get ready: Next year's competition will accept entries from October 24 until December 15, 2016.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Feast your eyes to natural art.

A gallery featuring about 100 of the top images opened at the museum today—a traveling exhibit will start touring internationally in 2017—with many of the masterpieces paying homage to birds. Scroll through our eleven picks for the best bird images, along with captions from the contest. And if you're a photographer, get ready: Next year's competition will accept entries from October 24 until December 15, 2016.
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Look Back: The 1996 Marcopper mining disaster ("never again to reckless mining; ecology too important")

Look Back: The 1996 Marcopper mining disaster ("never again to reckless mining; ecology too important") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

(UPDATED) On March 24, 1996, the Philippines saw one of the biggest mining disasters in Philippine history, which led to a drastic change in the country's mining policy

On March 24, 1996, the drainage tunnels of Marcopper Mining Corporation’s open pit ruptured and spilled millions of tons of mine waste that smothered the Boac River in Marinduque, inundating villages and killing marine life. 

Let’s review the disaster that drastically changed the country’s mining policy.

As time passed by, the dam was being filled with mine tailings. This brought pressure to the tunnel, causing seepage of the mine waste. La Viña said Marcopper was aware of the leaks, and they had been trying to figure out what to do with them. 

Then, a minor earthquake happened. A week after, the tunnel was ruptured. 

Marcopper blamed the earthquake for the damage, saying that the rupture was caused by an “act of nature.”

The incident saw 2 to 3 million tons of mine waste spilling into the Boac River. 

It caused flash floods that buried villages. About a third or 20 out of 60 villages had to be evacuated with approximately 20,000 people affected.

As the agricultural and marine life got severely affected, the government declared Boac River dead. Nearby villages lost one of their major sources of livelihood. 

Despite glaring damages and reports of sickness, Marcopper claimed that the spills were non-toxic. 

Eventually, the company closed and the mining operations stopped.

Bert Guevara's insight:
21 years after and this mining disaster remains a disaster. Instead of owning up to the responsibility, this mining company blamed God by declaring it was an "act of nature".

"Some 98% of Philippine mineral production is exported for use by other countries’ steel industries while the country has none despite its being one of the world’s top producers of gold, copper and nickel," the statement said. 
“If the risks are great, you should not allow mining. If the risks are less than the benefits, then you can allow mining – but make sure that mining companies set aside money to pay for the risks,” he explained.
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The Nature Conservancy ("architects design a bat barn that even batman will be glad to live in")

The Nature Conservancy ("architects design a bat barn that even batman will be glad to live in") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

The Conservancy and Arch Nexus partner together to design a first-of-its-kind bat barn in Utah to provide vital habitat for bats at the Great Salt Lake.

In October of 2016, the Utah Chapter of the Conservancy announced the beginning of a unique and ambitious project: the construction of a first-of-its-kind bat barn at the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve. After a colony of bats were excluded from their roost in the attic of a local business, the Conservancy teamed up with Architectural Nexus to design a new home for these misunderstood creatures. 

But as it turned out, no ordinary bat box would do, especially for the large colonies of bats that migrate to the Great Salt Lake to feast on its bounty of insects. Some bat species, like the Mexican free-tailed bat, need ample fly space, plenty of baffles on which to perch, and a drop-off at least 20-feet high in order to gain enough momentum to take flight. 

With the specific needs of Utah’s bat species in mind, Architectural Nexus donated their time and expertise to the Conservancy to design a customized bat barn with enough space to comfortably hold large bat colonies and lure the evicted bats to better-suited habitat at the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve.

The “house” portion of the winning design is simple and modular, wrapped in marine-grade rope to screen sunlight and help regulate temperature. This component will be attached to the “exoskeleton,” a towering wooden log structure to designed hold the house high above the ground. 

This particular plan also complements the nature-inspired design of the boardwalk and existing pavilions at the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve, while also allowing the house to be easily modified in the future.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Welcome Batman! Check out your new bat barn!
Proud architects design out-of-the-box habitat for bats. Amazing.

"As the architects themselves learned, when it comes to bats, there is a lot to be thankful for. Every hour, bats are capable of consuming more than one thousand insects. Without their crucial ecological services, farmers would be evermore troubled by agricultural pests and more humans bitten by disease-carrying mosquitoes."
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DENR eyes 4,000 hectares for bamboo plantation ("just hope they get serious with the NGP this time")

DENR eyes 4,000 hectares for bamboo plantation ("just hope they get serious with the NGP this time") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

 The government is eyeing increased bamboo plantation as it targets nearly 4,000 hectares in Western Visayas.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau is beefing up bamboo plantation in Aklan, Antique Capiz, Iloilo and Guimaras. 

“Bamboo is considered to be the best conservation material because of its low maintenance compared to other plantations aside from the fact that there is a high return on investment and faster payback in bamboo,” ERDB executive director Henry Adornado said. 

This is in line with the DENR’s nationwide goal of planting bamboo on a total of one million hectares by 2022 as required under the National Greening Program.

The enhanced NGP will rehabilitate the remaining 7.1 million hectares of denuded areas in the country using bamboo. 

“This is also in line with the government’s goal of reducing poverty, mitigating climate change, rehabilitating watersheds, and conserving biodiversity,” Adornado said.

Bamboo is considered as high-value for mitigating climate change given its fast biomass production and renewability.

The ERDB is also partnering with the Department of Science and Technology and Department of Trade and Industry on value adding and marketing of bamboo products.

Bert Guevara's insight:
The new darling of the DENR.

“Bamboo is considered to be the best conservation material because of its low maintenance compared to other plantations aside from the fact that there is a high return on investment and faster payback in bamboo,”
"Bamboo is considered as high-value for mitigating climate change given its fast biomass production and renewability.
"Studies showed that bamboo has the capacity to sequester 400 percent more carbon per unit area and gives off 35 percent more oxygen than other trees. 
"Bamboos can also stabilize embankments and prevent erosion brought about by sea level rise, which is one of the identified impacts of climate change."
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Taliban leader urges Afghans to plant more trees ("while fighting a war, they want to plant trees")

Taliban leader urges Afghans to plant more trees ("while fighting a war, they want to plant trees") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Hibatullah Akhundzada says more trees are needed "for the beautification of Earth".

In a statement, he called on civilians and fighters to "plant one or several fruit or non-fruit trees for the beautification of Earth and the benefit of almighty Allah's creations". 

Afghanistan has a severe problem of deforestation. Trees are cut down for heating and illegal timber sales. 

Statements from the Taliban on environmental issues are rare. 

Akhundzada, who became leader of the Taliban last May, has a stronger reputation as a religious leader than a military chief. 

Sunday's "special message", carried on official Taliban outlets, was in stark contrast to the more familiar fiery rhetoric against the Afghan government and its Nato coalition backers.

"Tree plantation plays an important role in environmental protection, economic development and beautification of earth," the Taliban leader said, in a report carried by the Afghan Taliban Voice of Jihad website.

"Planting trees and agriculture are considered actions which hold both worldly good and benefit as well as immense rewards in the hereafter."

A spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Shah Hussain Murtazawi, described the statement as an attempt to deceive public opinion and to distract from the Taliban's "crimes and destruction".

The Taliban is more usually associated with Afghanistan's illicit production of opium, which it taxes in areas under its control.

The group ruled most of Afghanistan from 1996 until it was toppled by a US-led coalition in 2001.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Even the Taliban have not forgotten the value of trees, in the middle of a long-drawn war.

"In a statement, he called on civilians and fighters to "plant one or several fruit or non-fruit trees for the beautification of Earth and the benefit of almighty Allah's creations".

"Tree plantation plays an important role in environmental protection, economic development and beautification of earth," ...

"Planting trees and agriculture are considered actions which hold both worldly good and benefit as well as immense rewards in the hereafter."

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Heartless Poachers Attack Rhino ORPHANAGE. Rhinos Killed. Staff Beaten. ("true inhuman savagery")

Heartless Poachers Attack Rhino ORPHANAGE. Rhinos Killed. Staff Beaten. ("true inhuman savagery") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

As if it wasn’t enough that poachers brutally kill adult rhinos, they have now stooped even lower… attacking a rhino orphanage in South Africa. Allison Thomson, founder of Outraged South African Citizens Against Rhino Poaching, said she feels heartbroken. “Totally gutted #STOPTHEMADNESS #HEARTBROKEN #SENDINGLOVE. No words left �����.” It is increasingly difficult for those who care …

It is increasingly difficult for those who care and have been trying to fight the war against rhino poaching, to carry on under these circumstances. Conservationists, private rhino owners, rangers, anti-poaching staff and vets have all revealed the heartbreak and tears behind their struggle. 

Now more than ever before, the country and its wildlife need the South African government to truly step in – to adopt a zero tolerance policy, to employ the armed forces as has happened in other countries fighting poaching… and to root out alleged corruption within the court system. This is a plea to anybody reading this who can help – to please help. 

Allison said: “Last night one of our rhino orphanages was attacked by poachers. I cannot give you more info now except that some rhinos were killed. 

“One had to be euthanized this morning. The staff were apparently beaten. I cannot give you more info than this right now. 

“Please keep all of them in your thoughts.”

Bert Guevara's insight:
Poaching has reached the level of pure evil and heartlessness!

"As if it wasn’t enough that poachers brutally kill adult rhinos, they have now stooped even lower… attacking a rhino orphanage in South Africa."
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High resolution West Valley Fault maps launched ("be prepared and know where you are on the fault")

High resolution West Valley Fault maps launched ("be prepared and know where you are on the fault") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Disaster officials say detailed maps showing danger zones will help Metro Manila and surrounding provinces prepare for a 7.2-magnitude earthquake expected within our lifetime

Cities and towns traversed by the 100-kilometer West Valley Fault, may experience earthquakes of up to magnitude 7.2. On the other hand, areas traversed by the shorter 10-kilometer East Valley Fault are due for, at most, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake. (WATCH: #TalkThursday: Metro Manila earthquake scenarios) 

The affected cities and towns are as follows:  


West Valley Fault 

Quezon City 

Marikina 

Makati 

Pasig 

Taguig 

Muntinlupa 

Bulacan (Doña Remedios Trinidad, Norzgaray, San Jose Del Monte City) 

Rizal (Rodriguez) 

Laguna (San Pedro City, Biñan, Sta Rosa, Cabuyao, Calamba) 

Cavite (Carmona, General Mariano Alvarez, Silang) 


East Valley Fault 

Rodriguez, Rizal 

San Mateo, Rizal


Disaster and local government officials vowed to use the atlas to protect citizens. 

"The Valley Fault System Atlas will play a critical role in our programs for preparedness," said National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director Alexander Pama. 

He gave assurances that the atlas will be used by the NDRRMC and its regional offices as a tool for minimizing risk and casualties during an earthquake. 

The handbook will serve as a "solid reference" for the placement of evacuation centers, roads, and houses, he added.

Bert Guevara's insight:
If you live near the West Valley Fault, check out these latest detailed maps. It pays to know. I suggest that you download the maps for future reference.

"The atlas took 2 years to complete, said Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum Jr. 
Such a map is critical given that the Valley Fault System (VSF) is due for a big earthquake within the next 50 years."
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What DENR chief Lopez found in Surigao mining sites ("mining devastation is ghastly appalling!")

What DENR chief Lopez found in Surigao mining sites ("mining devastation is ghastly appalling!") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez inspects several mining sites in Surigao. 


Bert Guevara's insight:
How much is nature worth? When is the massacre of nature a crime?
I watched this aerial video and I can't believe my eyes at how blind the previous administrations (10 years+) have become!
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The Rare African Park Where Elephants Are Thriving ("just leave them alone and they will multiply")

The Rare African Park Where Elephants Are Thriving ("just leave them alone and they will multiply") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

The elephants in Chad’s Zakouma National Park were supposed to have been wiped out by now. Instead their numbers are growing.

Poaching has ravaged Africa’s elephants, largely to feed the appetite for ivory in China and elsewhere in Asia. Between 2007 and 2014 poaching contributed to a 30 percent decline in savanna elephant populations. In Zakouma the killing began earlier than in most places, and the losses were more terrible. In 2002 the park was home to more than 4,000 elephants, but by 2010 that figure had plummeted to a mere 400—a 90 percent drop. Experts predicted that Zakouma’s remaining elephants would be gone within two or three years if the situation stayed unchanged.

Desperate for a solution, in 2010 the Chadian government called in African Parks, a South Africa-based nonprofit that specializes in rehabilitating failing protected areas around the continent. Relying on a mix of expertise, luck, and trial and error, Rian and Lorna Labuschagne, the South African husband-and-wife team who took over management of the park, have turned things around. Under their watch poaching has been dramatically reduced, and the elephant population is growing for the first time in years.

The impact these changes made was almost immediate: In 2011 Zakouma lost just seven elephants. Government officials who previously opposed outside involvement began to come around, providing more support. “At first, I was not enthusiastic about this African Parks thing, especially their model of taking the responsibility of managing the park from the government,” says Dolmia Malachie, with Chad’s Ministry of Environment and Fisheries and the coordinator of the country’s National Elephant Action Plan. “But when Rian came, he did a fantastic job. I don’t know of any other park manager who has been able to do as great a job as he did.”

Bert Guevara's insight:
Mother Nature just has to be left alone and its citizens will multiply. God save the elephants!

"Desperate for a solution, in 2010 the Chadian government called in African Parks, a South Africa-based nonprofit that specializes in rehabilitating failing protected areas around the continent. Relying on a mix of expertise, luck, and trial and error, Rian and Lorna Labuschagne, the South African husband-and-wife team who took over management of the park, have turned things around. Under their watch poaching has been dramatically reduced, and the elephant population is growing for the first time in years.
“Zakouma’s recovery is extraordinary,” says Chris Thouless, a strategic advisor at Save the Elephants, a Kenya-based nonprofit. “The elephant population was definitely on the way out, and African Parks has saved it.”
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Why Doomsday Is Closer Than You Think ("too busy w/ self-preservation while blind on planet life")

Why Doomsday Is Closer Than You Think ("too busy w/ self-preservation while blind on planet life") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

The Doomsday Clock was moved 30 seconds closer to midnight, to reflect the growing threat of nuclear war, climate change—and Donald Trump

Two and a half minutes to midnight. That's the new setting of the Doomsday Clock, the iconic symbol that attempts to show just how close humanity is to inadvertently ending the world. In an announcement this morning, the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists—which runs the Doomsday Clock—moved the hands of the clock 30 seconds nearer to midnight, the closest it has been since 1953, when the Soviet Union and the U.S. exploded their first hydrogen bombs and the threat of worldwide nuclear annihilation seemed very real. And the decision was made in part because of the words of a man who has been President for less than a week: Donald Trump.

"Words matter a lot, especially when the risk of nuclear accidents is so high," said Thomas Pickering, the co-chair of the International Crisis Group and a veteran U.S. diplomat, at a Washington press conference this morning. "Nuclear rhetoric is now loose and destabilizing."

The Doomsday Clock was first unveiled 70 years ago, when the artist Martyl Langsdorf was asked to create the first ever magazine cover for the Bulletin, an academic journal that covers global security and technology. When it was published, less than two years after the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, atomic war was by far the biggest threat to the planet, and the Clock—with its ominous implication that humanity was in a race against time to save itself—reflected that.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Do we have time to bother asking why the "Doomsday Clock" moved 30 seconds closer to midnight? Do you want to know the complex answer?

"None of this is to say that climate change isn't an existential threat—just a very different one than a nuclear holocaust. While the nature of nuclear war makes it an either/or threat, climate change presents a range of outcomes that will depend on our actions today, tomorrow and every day after. It's a wickedly complex problem—even more so than nuclear game theory."
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Bandila: Pagkasira ng halos 1 ektaryang mangrove, nadiskubre sa Palawan ("dapat hulihin!")

Iniimbestigahan ngayon ang malawakang pagsira sa mangrove area sa Barangay San Manuel sa Puerto Princesa City. Hinala ng mga taga-barangay, may ilan
Bert Guevara's insight:
This is an example of the the mindless destruction of mangroves by people who are ignorant of the consequences. This has to stop!
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Built on stilts: Brick house rises on on jacks during floods

Built on stilts: Brick house rises on on jacks during floods | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Whatever happened to "form follows function"?

The great American architect Louis Sullivan wrote: 

It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.

Then there is this, discovered on Inhabitat; a boxy brick house weighing 71 US tons that rises up five feet above the ground when there is a flood. Being built by Larkfleet, a british builder, it theoretically could open up new development sites. 

Karl Hick, CEO of The Larkfleet Group of Companies, said: “The elevating house effectively eliminates the risk of flood damage to homes so that more land across the country can be approved for future home building. This will help to tackle the ‘housing crisis’ that is being caused by the demand for new housing far exceeding the supply.” 

The house will have flexible water and sewage connections and solar power so it could keep going for a while in a flood. However the builders expect that the owners would “pack up, lock up and jack up the home before taking refuge in temporary accommodation on higher ground elsewhere”. 

But it looks so odd, a big heavy brick house sitting up there on jacks. Why not have form follow function? Why not design a lighter house? Why not just build it on stilts five feet up in the first place? Look at what some of our best architects have built on stilts, on sites that can flood.


Bert Guevara's insight:
Climate resilient architecture, anyone?

"But it looks so odd, a big heavy brick house sitting up there on jacks. Why not have form follow function? Why not design a lighter house? Why not just build it on stilts five feet up in the first place? Look at what some of our best architects have built on stilts, on sites that can flood."
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World on track to lose two-thirds of wild animals by 2020, major report warns ("what have we done?")

World on track to lose two-thirds of wild animals by 2020, major report warns ("what have we done?") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Living Planet Index shows vertebrate populations are set to decline by 67% on 1970 levels unless urgent action is taken to reduce humanity’s impact.

The number of wild animals living on Earth is set to fall by two-thirds by 2020, according to a new report, part of a mass extinction that is destroying the natural world upon which humanity depends. 

The analysis, the most comprehensive to date, indicates that animal populations plummeted by 58% between 1970 and 2012, with losses on track to reach 67% by 2020. Researchers from WWF and the Zoological Society of London compiled the report from scientific data and found that the destruction of wild habitats, hunting and pollution were to blame.

The creatures being lost range from mountains to forests to rivers and the seas and include well-known endangered species such as elephants and gorillas and lesser known creatures such as vultures and salamanders. 

The collapse of wildlife is, with climate change, the most striking sign of the Anthropocene, a proposed new geological era in which humans dominate the planet. “We are no longer a small world on a big planet. We are now a big world on a small planet, where we have reached a saturation point,” said Prof Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, in a foreword for the report.

The biggest cause of tumbling animal numbers is the destruction of wild areas for farming and logging: the majority of the Earth’s land area has now been impacted by humans, with just 15% protected for nature. Poaching and exploitation for food is another major factor, due to unsustainable fishing and hunting: more than 300 mammal species are being eaten into extinction, according to recent research.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Who is defending animal rights against human abuse? Whether directly or indirectly, we have something to do with this carnage.

"The number of wild animals living on Earth is set to fall by two-thirds by 2020, according to a new report, part of a mass extinction that is destroying the natural world upon which humanity depends. The analysis, the most comprehensive to date, indicates that animal populations plummeted by 58% between 1970 and 2012, with losses on track to reach 67% by 2020. Researchers from WWF and the Zoological Society of London compiled the report from scientific data and found that the destruction of wild habitats, hunting and pollution were to blame."
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