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Environmental activists blocking coal company from clear-felling state forest

Environmental activists blocking coal company from clear-felling state forest | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Protesters claim Maules Creek mine in north-west NSW will destroy critically endangered woodland in the Leard state forest (RT @guardianeco: Environmental activists blocking coal company from clear-felling state forest

On Monday, scores of activists linked to Greenpeace and anti-coal and gas group Lock the Gate blockaded four entrances to the site to stop trucks and other vehicles from gaining access.

They argue the Maules Creek mine will destroy irreplaceable critically endangered woodland in the Leard State Forest, draw down the aquifer used by local farmers and release thousands of tonnes of coal dust onto surrounding farms.

"Our civilisation needs the mining industry but in this case, they are just going to destroy a forest for the coal that they want under it," he said. "The state forest out here is too precious to sacrifice – there's not much of it left."

"Protests at our project sites are a nuisance but they will not deter Whitehaven from getting on with the job of building Maules Creek and delivering the substantial economic benefits which we know the local community strongly supports," he said.

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60M people worldwide hit by El Niño – UN ("filipino farmer families starving & getting restless")

60M people worldwide hit by El Niño – UN ("filipino farmer families starving & getting restless") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

The 2015-2016 El Niño was one of the most powerful on record, and has caused significant damage across 13 countries across Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Pacific

The 2015-2016 El Niño was one of the most powerful on record, and has caused significant damage across 13 countries across Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Pacific, sending malnutrition levels spiraling and leading to greater spread of diseases. 

In addition to the some 60 million people directly affected by El Niño, "there will be millions more who are at risk," O'Brien said, following a meeting in Geneva with representatives of affected countries and aid organizations. 

Floods and failed rains caused by El Niño have sparked a dramatic rise in the number of people going hungry in large parts of Africa, with some 32 million people in the southern part of the continent alone in need of some form of assistance. 

Ethiopia, which is experiencing its worst drought in half a century, is considered "ground zero" in the crisis, with some 10 million people in need of aid, Care International Secretary General Wolfgang Jamann said. 

But getting aid to all those in need is no easy task.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Drought-stricken families have not yet even received any aid and the threat of La Niña is just around the corner.

"The UN estimates that at least $3.6 billion is required to meet critical needs for food and agricultural support, as well as health and emergency water and sanitation needs linked to El Niño, and O'Brien warned that figure was likely to rise. ...
"Making matters worse, the communities still reeling from the impact of El Niño are likely to get slammed again later this year by a return swing of the pendulum with its opposite number, La Niña.
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175 states sign landmark Paris deal on climate change ("let's go past the paperwork & start working")

175 states sign landmark Paris deal on climate change ("let's go past the paperwork & start working") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

UNITED NATIONS — The historic agreement on climate change marked a major milestone on Friday with a record 175 countries signing on to it on opening day. But world leaders made clear more action is needed, and quickly, to fight a relentless rise in global temperatures.

"The world is in a race against time," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his opening speech. "The era of consumption without consequences is over." 

"Today you are signing a new covenant with the future. This covenant must amount to more than promises," he said. 

The agreement will enter into force once 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global emissions have formally joined it, a process initially expected to take until 2020. 

But following a host of announcements at the signing event, observers now think it could happen later this year.

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry said the signing of the agreement had to be followed by a recommitment by world leaders to actually win the "war" against carbon emissions that are making the world hotter every year. 

Putting the deal into economic terms, he said, "the power of this agreement is what it is going to do to unleash the private sector" to define the new energy of the future and set the global economy on a new path to growth and development that preserves the environment. 

Academy Award-winning actor Leonardo Dicaprio, a U.N. messenger of peace and climate activist, captured the feelings of many when he said: "We can congratulate each other today, but it will mean absolutely nothing if the world's leaders gathered here go home and do nothing."

Bert Guevara's insight:
"The latest analysis by the Climate Interactive research group shows the Paris pledges put the world on track for 3.5 degrees Celsius of warming. A separate analysis by Climate Action Tracker, a European group, projected warming of 2.7 degrees Celsius. ....
"If we do get it right, we will launch a new wave of dynamic innovation and growth in the medium-term," Stern said. "The consequences of getting it wrong are unthinkable.
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SEAL COMEBACK VIDEO GOES VIRAL ("the seals' version of 'occupy wall street'; beach off-limits to man")

SEAL COMEBACK VIDEO GOES VIRAL ("the seals' version of 'occupy wall street'; beach off-limits to man") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Have you seen the video that’s gone viral of tens of thousands of seals who pulled out off Cape Cod on Monomoy Island, part of Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge? Even the National Wildlife Federation’s veteran wildlife experts were blown away. 

“What a fantastic reminder of how we share our coastline with beautiful animals like these,” says Curtis Fisher, regional executive director at the National Wildlife Federation’s Northeast Regional Center. “It’s also an amazing visual representation of how New England’s decades of work to restore wildlife and willingness to invest in protecting their habitat are paying off.”

Seals Have you seen the video that’s gone viral of tens of thousands of seals who pulled out off Cape Cod on Monomoy Island, part of Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge? Even the National Wildlife Federation’s veteran wildlife experts were blown away. “What a fantastic reminder of how we share our coastline with beautiful animals like these,” says Curtis Fisher, regional executive director at the National Wildlife Federation’s Northeast Regional Center. “It’s also an amazing visual representation of how New England’s decades of work to restore wildlife and willingness to invest in protecting their habitat are paying off.” 

As NOAA details: “The Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank shelf regions in particular are essential summer feeding grounds for large whales including humpback, fin, sei, minke, and North Atlantic right whales; smaller toothed whales including harbor porpoise, short-beaked common dolphin, Atlantic white-sided dolphin, offshore bottlenose dolphin, short-finned and long-finned pilot whales, and seal species including harbor and gray seals. 

The numbers of harbor and gray seals on the U.S. NES LME have increased in recent years where some seals are present year-round (Figure 7.2), though they migrate within and outside of the NES. These seal populations eat a wide variety of fish and invertebrates, and despite controversy over consumption of Atlantic cod, they tend to primarily consume small pelagic fish, hakes and flatfish.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Wow! Watching this video is like a watching a sci-fi flick where man is outnumbered by nature. These seals have made the coastline off-limits to man!
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America's Appetite For Organic Food Triggers Natural Farming Boom ("the trend will soon reach us")

America's Appetite For Organic Food Triggers Natural Farming Boom ("the trend will soon reach us") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

There's been a 300 percent increase in certified organic operations since 2002.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Monday that the number of certified organic producers jumped by almost 12 percent from 2014 to 2015 — the highest rate increase since 2008. “A powerful local and regional food movement is growing inside the United States,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack wrote in a lengthy post Monday on Medium, “a movement that directly connects consumers with how, where and by whom their food is grown.” Vilsack called organic food “one of the fasting growing segments of American agriculture.”

The U.S. has 21,781 certified organic growers — 300 percent more than in 2002, when the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service began keeping track, the federal agency said in a release. Worldwide, there are more than 31,000 certified organic operations. The United States’ organic retail market is worth more than $39 billion, up from $35 billion two years prior. In 2014, organic food represented about 5 percent of the nation’s total sales — up from 1 percent in 1997, according to a survey by the Organic Trade Association.

The agriculture debate today often pits organic products against those that have been genetically engineered. Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are often developed for their resistance to pesticides, allowing farmers to use more pesticides on their crops. But pesticides have come under increased scrutiny in recent years from those concerned about their safety and environmental impact.

Bert Guevara's insight:
The accelerating trend towards organic food only supports what the natural food movement has been saying all along. The current trend in chemical-based agriculture is unsustainable and unhealthy.

"The U.S. has 21,781 certified organic growers — 300 percent more than in 2002, when the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service began keeping track, the federal agency said in a release. Worldwide, there are more than 31,000 certified organic operations."
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France decrees new rooftops must be covered in plants or solar panels ("an attempt to green cities")

France decrees new rooftops must be covered in plants or solar panels ("an attempt to green cities") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

All new buildings in commercial zones across the country must comply with new environmental legislation

Rooftops on new buildings built in commercial zones in France must either be partially covered in plants or solar panels, under a law approved on Thursday. 

Green roofs have an isolating effect, helping reduce the amount of energy needed to heat a building in winter and cool it in summer.

They also retain rainwater, thus helping reduce problems with runoff, while favouring biodiversity and giving birds a place to nest in the urban jungle, ecologists say. 

The law approved by parliament was more limited in scope than initial calls by French environmental activists to make green roofs that cover the entire surface mandatory on all new buildings. 

The Socialist government convinced activists to limit the scope of the law to commercial buildings. 

The law was also made less onerous for businesses by requiring only part of the roof to be covered with plants, and giving them the choice of installing solar panels to generate electricity instead. 

Green roofs are popular in Germany and Australia, and Canada’s city of Toronto adopted a by-law in 2009 mandating them in industrial and residential buildings.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Let us convince our local and national leaders to try this legislation for urban areas, to make cities more habitable.
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Plants boost extreme temperatures by 5°C ("the choice of plant species affect climate impact")

Plants boost extreme temperatures by 5°C ("the choice of plant species affect climate impact") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
"We often underestimate the role of vegetation in extreme temperature events as it has not been included in enough detail in climate models up until this point," said lead author Dr Jatin Kala from Murdoch University. "These more detailed results are confronting but they help explain why many climate models have consistently underestimated the increase in the intensity of heatwaves and the rise in maximum temperatures when compared to observations." To get their results the researchers looked at data from 314 plant species across 56 field sites. In particular, they investigated stomata, small pores on plant leaves that take in carbon dioxide and lose water to the atmosphere. Previously, most climate models assumed all plants trade water for carbon in the exactly same way, ignoring experimental evidence showing considerable variation among plant types. By not accounting for these differences, models have likely over-estimated the amount of water lost to the atmosphere in some regions. If plants release less water there is more warming and a consequent increase in heat wave intensity. The study is unique because, for the first time, it used the best available observations to characterise different plants water-use strategies within a global climate model. "These world-first results will have significant impact on the development of climate models around the world," said one of the study's authors, Prof Andy Pitman, Director of the Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence for Climate Systems Science at UNSW.
Bert Guevara's insight:
"Previously, most climate models assumed all plants trade water for carbon in the exactly same way, ignoring experimental evidence showing considerable variation among plant types. By not accounting for these differences, models have likely over-estimated the amount of water lost to the atmosphere in some regions. 
" If plants release less water there is more warming and a consequent increase in heat wave intensity."
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March for trees set for March 21 ("international day of forests cries out for more trees for the planet")

March for trees set for March 21 ("international day of forests cries out for more trees for the planet") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Environmental protection advocates in and near Baguio City will paint their faces with colorful artworks depicting Mother Nature while they march through the entire stretch of the famous Session Road on March 21.

Environmental protection advocates in and near Baguio City will paint their faces with colorful artworks depicting Mother Nature while they march through the entire stretch of the famous Session Road on March 21. 

The parade will be in solidarity with all other environmental advocates around the world celebrating the International Day of Forests. 

In Baguio, it will be a walk for the trees in celebration of their contribution as well as to protest all forms of tree cutting, according to event organizer Michael Bengwayan. 

The parade, which is expected to be joined by local artists and officials, will end at the Malcolm Square where a program will be held to urge the public to respond to the 2015 Paris Agreement which intends to lower carbon emission by 2050. 

The March 21 parade is expected draw hundreds – the largest gathering in the city related to environmental protection and advocacy in almost four years. The last march related to environmental conservation was on April 2012, when over a thousand people marched along Session Road to protest the uprooting of trees by the SM City Baguio at the Luneta Hill. 

The Cordillera region has among the largest remaining forest covers in the country. Unfortunately, however, it is slowly diminishing due to urbanization and expansion of agricultural lands, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Bert Guevara's insight:
The call to save our forests is everyone's concern. What can you do on March 21 to sound the call?
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Bird poop on the lines causes nuclear power shutdown ("safety engineers not prepared for this one!")

Bird poop on the lines causes nuclear power shutdown ("safety engineers not prepared for this one!") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

An errant bird dropping appears to have caused the temporary shutdown of part of the Indian Point nuclear plant in upstate New York.

A report by Entergy, the site operator, pointed the finger at a bird "streamer" -- colorfully explained in the document as "long streams of excrement from large birds that are often expelled as a bird takes off from a perch" -- as the cause of the shutdown, which tripped a safety breaker and took a reactor at the site out of commission for three days in December.

There was no leak of radiation as a result of the accident, and at no time was public health and safety in jeopardy, the report to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission noted.

While, more commonly, the buildup of guano on the lines hampers operating efficiency, in this case the report said that it had caused an electrical arc between wires at a transmission tower. 

If a streamer contacts an energized conductor, the report says, the current can travel up the stream of poop back to the bird or its perch, resulting in "bird electrocution, power outage and/or line trip." 

Thankfully, the document reported that no bird carcasses were found in the vicinity of the transmission tower.

Bert Guevara's insight:
It wasn't ISIS nor Al-Qaeda; nor was it an anti-nuclear group. It was "Birdman" who caused a nuclear power shutdown, using his super poop!
... and I thought all the modern safety features were already in place.
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Beauty of Asean biodiversity captured on film ("capturing the glory before it's gone")

Beauty of Asean biodiversity captured on film ("capturing the glory before it's gone") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Winners of the third ASEAN Zooming in on Biodiversity photo contest unveiled.

Hansa Tangmanpoowadol of Thailand took the first prize while Kyaw Kyaw Winn of Myanmar took the second prize and Vietnam’s Ho Van Dien, the third. The winners shared the prize money amounting to US$3,000 (RM12,865).

With the theme “One Asean. One Biodiversity”, the contest organised by the Asean Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) aims to capture the beauty, richness and values of our biodiversity through vivid pictures of living creatures and their habitats.

Born and raised in Bangkok, Hansa has won more than 900 national and international photo competitions, and was named Thai Artist of the Year in 2012 by the Federation of Photographic Associations of Thailand.

Kyaw has been an avid photographer for more than two decades, and recently won grand prizes in the 9th and 10th International Photographic Contest of Prince Naris, Thailand.

Dien, a teacher, only became interested in photography in 2011, but has already won several national and international photo contests.

The winners were announced at ACB’s 10th anniversary celebration early last month in Laguna, the Philippines.

Bert Guevara's insight:

We have much to learn from nature's biodiversity - before man destroys it faster than we can learn from it.


“Biodiversity is everyone’s concern, and this photo contest served as an attempt to visually represent the region’s rich biological diversity that 600 million people depend on,” says ACB’s executive director Roberto V. Oliva in a press release."

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Could The Future Of Urban Farming Be Found Inside Of An Old Shipping Container? ("adapting to climate")

Could The Future Of Urban Farming Be Found Inside Of An Old Shipping Container? ("adapting to climate") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
A start-up out of Boston wants to change the local food system, one shipping container farm at a time.

Today, those ingredients could hardly be closer — Bissanti only needs to walk out the back door of his restaurant to pick all the fresh lettuce, arugula, mustard greens, and herbs he needs. Even in the cold Boston winters, Bissanti is merely feet away from fresh produce, in spite of the fact that his restaurant is located right in the middle of an urban thoroughfare between Harvard and MIT.

That’s because Bissanti is one of more than 50 farmers across the country growing produce in refrigerated shipping containers known as Leafy Green Machines, created by the Boston-based start-up Freight Farms. Outfitted with vertical hydroponics and LED light systems, the Leafy Green Machines are 320 square-foot self-contained farming units that can grow as much produce as two acres of farmland using less water per day than the average American needs for a single shower.

The traditional rooftop greenhouses are also expensive, costing between $1 million to $2 million to get started. A Freight Farms unit, by comparison, costs around $80,000.

All Freight Farms units are built in repurposed 40-foot insulated shipping containers. Everything from water to the LED lights in the units are digitally controlled, and each unit is also a Wifi hotspot, connected to the network of Freight Farm units across the country.

“Everything is fully contained within the module so that it lands as a turnkey product, ready to grow,” McNamara said. “From day one, people can start seeds and get going.”

“The insulated and refrigerated containers are a big part of the cold food supply chain that has made the global centralization of food production possible, and that’s a big problem,” he said. “But we are able to use them to make local food production possible in any location.”

 

Bert Guevara's insight:

A weather-proof farm in the city! With all the disasters and bad weather, these containers can weather them all.

 

“We are having heat waves and we’ve having droughts and we’re having flooding. That impacts the farmers greatly,” he said. “A system like this, because it’s so contained, because it grows 365-days a year regardless of the weather outside, you’ve created this perfect environment that is completely sheltered from all of that.”

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What You Need to Know About Zika And Climate Change ("CC will make matters worse")

What You Need to Know About Zika And Climate Change ("CC will make matters worse") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Zika virus has spread rapidly. This is what you need to know about the role of climate change.

A number of factors have had to line up for the Zika virus — a disease that’s been associated with birth defects — to spread so far and wide so quickly, but chief among them is heavy rain and heat. Climate change could play a future role in this virus’ — as well as other mosquito-borne illnesses — spread as it creates conditions more favorable to the mosquitoes that transmit it.

Heavy rain and warm temperatures have helped the mosquitoes carrying Zika thrive. There have been heavy rains in southern Brazil and Uruguay this winter (and really for much of the year). Those rains can translate to standing water on the ground, which is crucial mosquito breeding habitat. El Niño has a strong influence on that region and it’s likely playing a role in increased risk of the Zika virus there.

Research on other viruses can tell us what climate change could mean for Zika. Until now, the Zika virus has been a relatively little-studied disease (though that’s about to change). There’s not really a lot known about it, let alone how climate change could influence its spread in the future. However, there are other diseases that are comparable that provide a rough sketch of what lies ahead.

A switch to La Niña conditions next year could help the virus spread further. Models indicate that the current El Niño could be done by summer and the odds favor it being replaced by La Niña.

That wouldn’t be the end of the Zika virus, though. In fact, a La Niña could help the virus spread to other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.


Bert Guevara's insight:

How does climate contribute to the Zika pandemic?


"There could be up to 4 million cases right now, just eight months after the first case was reported in Brazil. There are 23 countries where the virus is active."

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BusinessWorld | Airport cop held for smuggling rare animals, including 11 tarsiers ("lock him up!")

BusinessWorld | Airport cop held for smuggling rare animals, including 11 tarsiers ("lock him up!") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
AUTHORITIES have taken possession of 47 rare animals or birds which an airport policeman was allegedly trying to smuggle to Japan, a senior wildlife official said on Sunday.

The wildlife included 11 tarsiers, 11 snakes, 11 monitor lizards, eight sailfin lizards, eagle owls, and scops owls.
They were found on Thursday, packed in styrofoam cases which were labeled as aquatic plants, said Theresa Mundita Lim, head of the country’s biodiversity bureau.
“We received a tip last January. That is when we began our surveillance. We already observed [the suspect] going back and forth to the airport, [transporting items for shipping],” Ms. Lim told AFP.
The suspect had previously used his position at the airport to send shipments of suspected indigenous animals to a partner in Japan before he was caught, she added.
He has been arrested for violating wildlife laws and could face four years in jail.
While birds like cockatoos had previously been found being smuggled through the airport, Ms. Lim noted this was the first time they had found tarsiers, one of the world’s smallest primates, hidden in an airport shipment.
The Philippine tarsier is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as “near-threatened.”
Other species like the sailfin lizard and the eagle owl are listed as “vulnerable,” meaning they are at risk of extinction in the wild.
It was the latest scandal affecting security personnel at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Bert Guevara's insight:

This is the case of an enforcer turned smuggler. 


"... The wildlife included 11 tarsiers, 11 snakes, 11 monitor lizards, eight sailfin lizards, eagle owls, and scops owls.
"They were found on Thursday, packed in styrofoam cases which were labeled as aquatic plants ..."

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Growing Power grows fish, veggies, and community with aquaponic farm ("this is my dream farm")

Growing Power grows fish, veggies, and community with aquaponic farm ("this is my dream farm") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Growing Power harnesses natural cycles to power a farm that produces over one million pounds of food every year.

Will Allen, the founder of Growing Power, created an aquaponics system that captures energy produced by natural systems. The greenhouses are heated by indoor compost piles, which generate heat as they break down organic matter. These compost pile heaters are also an excellent source of fertile soil for growing high-quality vegetables and fruits. In the greenhouse, vegetables are grown in an aquaponics system, which incorporates fish into the food production ecosystem. The fish are fed and then produce waste, which contains nitrogen that is absorbed by a plant’s roots.

Before waste water is applied directly to plants, it must first go through a gravel bed where bacteria breaks down impurities in the water. Watercress is also planted in this space for additional filtration. Filtered water not absorbed by vegetables crops in the subsequent levels is returned to the 25,000 gallon tank below, where thousand of tilapia live. The tank is calibrated to mimic the murky, warm waters of the Nile River, where tilapia school in the wild.

Growing Power founder Will Allen grew up on a small farm in Maryland, where his father worked as a sharecropper. Following early careers in professional basketball and corporate sales, Allen found his calling in farming and community organizing. In 1993, Allen founded a three acre farm in Milwaukee and was quickly approached by neighborhood youth who wanted to learn about growing. Allen obliged. Today, Growing Power’s Youth Corps continues to provide young people the opportunity to build skills and community through growing food.

Bert Guevara's insight:

This is my dream farm!

 

"Will Allen, the founder of Growing Power, created an aquaponics system that captures energy produced by natural systems. The greenhouses are heated by indoor compost piles, which generate heat as they break down organic matter. These compost pile heaters are also an excellent source of fertile soil for growing high-quality vegetables and fruits. In the greenhouse, vegetables are grown in an aquaponics system, which incorporates fish into the food production ecosystem. The fish are fed and then produce waste, which contains nitrogen that is absorbed by a plant’s roots."

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See Prize-Winning Photos from the 2016 Audubon Photography Awards ("be reminded of what is out there")

See Prize-Winning Photos from the 2016 Audubon Photography Awards ("be reminded of what is out there") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

The annual contest highlights some of the best works in bird photography.

Each year, Audubon magazine hosts the annual Audubon Photography Awards. The contest highlights some of the best works in bird photography, and pays tribute to the delicate winged creatures that grace the skies. 

For the 2016 Audubon Photography Awards, a panel of five judges—including last year’s Grand Prize winner, wildlife photographer Melissa Groo—evaluated nearly 7000 submissions from more than 1700 competitors. Today, the magazine announced its five top winners. 

The selected photographs will run in Audubon magazine and Nature’s Best Photography magazine, and will also be displayed within the 2016 Nature’s Best Photography Exhibition at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. In the meantime, check out the winning shots along with some honorable mentions below. For more information, visit Audubon’s website for full anecdotes from each photographer about their photo.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Magnificent photos of nature's beauty should remind us of what man is destroying everyday because of his disregard for the other species in the planet.
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Our Children's Trust Press Conference at Federal Court ("kids sue gov't to protect their rights")

http://world.350.org/eugene/ Twenty-one youth Plaintiffs attended a hearing on March 9, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon to advocate for their constitutional right

The plaintiffs’ sued the federal government for violating their fundamental constitutional rights to life, liberty and property by taking actions that permit, encourage and otherwise enable continued exploitation, production and combustion of fossil fuels.

Bert Guevara's insight:
These kids are sending an important message and are fighting for the “most important lawsuit on the planet right now.”

“We firmly believe the court will view this as an egregious instance where the federal government intensified the danger to our plaintiffs’ life, liberty and property,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Phil Gregory with Cotchett, Pitre, & McCarthy. “This case places indisputable climate science squarely in front of the federal courts, requesting an order forcing our government to cease jeopardizing the climate system for present and future generations.”
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500 Students Fall Ill at Posh Chinese School From Toxic Waste Dumped Nearby ("sounds familiar?")

500 Students Fall Ill at Posh Chinese School From Toxic Waste Dumped Nearby ("sounds familiar?") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Almost 500 teenagers at an affluent high school near Shanghai had been diagnosed with a litany of serious ailments caused by toxic waste

Late Sunday, China’s state broadcaster CCTV reported that almost 500 teenagers at an affluent high school near Shanghai had been diagnosed with a litany of serious ailments, with the institution’s new campus located close to three former chemical plants that produced pesticides the presumed culprit. Angry parents brandishing signs bearing skulls and “Save the Children” slogans gathered outside the local government offices in Jiangsu province to demand answers to the questions they had been asking for several months, ever since serious symptoms — such as rashes, coughs and headaches — were first reported. The outrage mushroomed online, where a forum on the scandal had garnered more than 40 million views and 100,000 comments on China’s Twitter-like microblog Weibo by time of publication. “Again and again I tell people our country is very good, and to grow to this level in just a few decades is not easy, and when there is a problem we should work together to overcome it,” wrote one Weibo user. “But now I feel it is too late to do anything. Those people have killed our country.”

According to the CCTV investigation, 641 of the 2,451 students at Changzhou Foreign Language School’s were examined by doctors, of whom 493 were diagnosed with myriad debilitating conditions. On Tuesday, though, school officials began to refute allegations of cancer and leukemia initially reported by the powerful state broadcaster — somewhat curiously, considering the high-profile exposé must at some level have been sanctioned by the Chinese Communist Party.

Bert Guevara's insight:
What can citizens do when the government has other economic priorities? Who is the government serving in this case?
Warning to the Philippine government: cases like this are not far fetched in many parts of our country, beginning with illegal garbage dump sites and illegal mining practices.

“Our children are born to be poisoned by tainted milk, the smell of excessive pollution in the air, eating we don’t know what in synthetic food,” posted one Weibo user. “Because our hearts are patriotic, we love every inch of land here, but [the government] does nothing.”
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The Sea Cucumber’s Vanishing Act | Hakai Magazine ("nothing can survive man's over-exploitation")

The Sea Cucumber’s Vanishing Act | Hakai Magazine ("nothing can survive man's over-exploitation") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Coastal communities don’t always realize their sea cucumbers are targets of a voracious, international fishery until it’s too late.

While much of the Western world forgets about them or regards them with disgust because of their slimy, squishy texture, sea cucumbers are a delicacy in many parts of Asia, often known as bêche-de-mer. They exist all over the world—from the poles to the tropics and from coastal shallows to the deep ocean floor—in a spectrum of sizes, textures, and colors. Of roughly 1,700 species, 66 are targeted for food.

Overfishing of sea cucumbers may be a modern problem, though the fishery itself is more than 1,200 years old. Sea cucumbers have been harvested since as early as 800 CE. In the 1700s, Indonesians traveled as far as Australia to harvest sea cucumbers for trade with Chinese merchants. Demand dropped off during the Second World War due to global unrest, but it rebounded with a vengeance in the late 20th century, explains Hampus Eriksson, a fisheries scientist for the international nonprofit research organization WorldFish. “With China opening up its doors to the global economy in the 1980s, it just took off.” Serving sea cucumbers at Chinese family celebrations and business banquets has become an almost expected show of prosperity, he says. For decades, the regional fishery was enough to meet consumers’ needs, but that’s no longer the case. Demand driven by China’s red-hot economy and growing wealthy class has forced the fishery out across the globe. Today, an international sourcing network has emerged. The fishery has grown from 35 countries in 1996 to 83 countries in 2011, shipping to Hong Kong and then on to China, Japan, and other parts of Asia.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Anything in nature cannot survive the onslaught of human over-exploitation. You can label it as GREED. Such is the plight of the sea cucumber.

"As officials and conservationists soon found out, Hawai‘i was only the latest in a long string of coastal communities hit hard by a global sea cucumber fishery that has grown into a voracious, fast-moving, highly organized—and, at times, devastating—industry."
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The World’s Largest Fish Are Missing ("where have all the large fishes gone? hiding? or overfished?")

The World’s Largest Fish Are Missing ("where have all the large fishes gone? hiding? or overfished?") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Researchers say the biggest whale sharks have disappeared over the past two decades, raising concerns about the long-lived giant fish.

In a new study published Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science, researchers at the University of Western Australia raised concerns about where the world’s largest whale sharks have gone, as the size of the biggest sharks observed in recent years pales in comparison with those recorded more than a decade ago. Whale sharks measuring between 43 and 49 feet were observed in oceans around the world in 1995, from India to Belize. In more recent years, reports have shown that aside from two populations of adult female sharks in the East Pacific, most locations consisted only of juvenile sharks measuring less than 23 feet in length.

“The majority of whale sharks seen at Ningaloo were juveniles with mean lengths of around six meters (20 feet),” Sequeira said in a statement. “Given the fact that the fish reach maturity when they are about nine meters long (29 feet), it prompts the question: Where are the adults?”

The answer remains a mystery, because researchers still don’t have a firm grasp on the species’ global populations or why they sometimes gather in groups close to shore. There are also knowledge gaps in understanding how often whale sharks breed and how many offspring they produce. Study coauthor Mark Meekan of the Australian Institute of Marine Science suggests tagging and satellite tracking some of the larger whale sharks left around Ningaloo to learn more about their population and where they roam.

Bert Guevara's insight:
"The answer remains a mystery, because researchers still don’t have a firm grasp on the species’ global populations or why they sometimes gather in groups close to shore. There are also knowledge gaps in understanding how often whale sharks breed and how many offspring they produce. ...
“Understanding the whereabouts of the biggest whale sharks will also help us understand how human activity, such as industrial developments, fisheries, and boat strikes, might impact the animals,” Meekan said.
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What Do the Birds and the Bees Have to Do With Global Food Supply? ("pollinators crucial to survival")

What Do the Birds and the Bees Have to Do With Global Food Supply? ("pollinators crucial to survival") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

A new report from the United Nations suggests that the loss of certain pollinating species could threaten the planet’s food supply.

Birds do a lot for us—beyond being easy on the eyes, their assistance in the pollination process helps ensure that we humans have enough food to eat. But more pollinating insects, birds, and other animals are going extinct today than ever before, according to a report released last week by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), an international conservation task force. And without immediate action to protect those species, it warns, the global food supply could be decimated. About 16.5 percent of bird and mammal pollinators (that includes bats, marsupials, monkeys, lemurs and rodents) are currently threatened with extinction, while more than 40 percent of pollinating insects—especially bees and butterflies—are similarly threatened, according to the task force of about 80 experts, which met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to release the report.

The loss of these creatures would have a reverberating effect on the Earth’s plant life—animals pollinate nearly 90 percent of the world’s plants and at least 75 percent of food crops, according to IPBES. Crops used for biofuels, fibers, craft and construction materials, medicine, and livestock feed are also dependent on pollinators to successfully reproduce. The decimation of these animals may limit the availability of crops that depend on pollination, such as apples, broccoli, and almonds, and make humans more dependent on crops that don’t require pollination, such as corn and carrots, or those that can be pollinated by wind and water, such as tomatoes and eggplant. “To maintain the wide variety

Bert Guevara's insight:
Pollinating birds are losing their habitats because of unbridled land development that has no concern for the birds and the bees. This trend will affect our food supply. Find out why.

"Worldwide, there are about 2,000 species of pollinating birds, according to the U.S. Forest Service, including honeycreepers, honeyeaters, sunbirds, and some parrots. The birds help fertilize plants in the same way as any other pollinator—by transferring pollen (via their bills) from one flower to another as they flit between plants feeding on nectar. Bird pollination mainly occurs in tropical regions, where they help pollinate a few food crops, including bananas, papaya and nutmeg."
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CineversityTV's curator insight, March 23, 3:12 PM
Pollinating birds are losing their habitats because of unbridled land development that has no concern for the birds and the bees. This trend will affect our food supply. Find out why.

"Worldwide, there are about 2,000 species of pollinating birds, according to the U.S. Forest Service, including honeycreepers, honeyeaters, sunbirds, and some parrots. The birds help fertilize plants in the same way as any other pollinator—by transferring pollen (via their bills) from one flower to another as they flit between plants feeding on nectar. Bird pollination mainly occurs in tropical regions, where they help pollinate a few food crops, including bananas, papaya and nutmeg."
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DENR launches app to monitor conservation areas ("outsmarting the outlaws via mobile apps")

DENR launches app to monitor conservation areas ("outsmarting the outlaws via mobile apps") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is now using a web-based mobile application  to monitor protected and conservation areas nationwide.

Called Lawin Forest and Biodiversity Protection System (LFBPS), the mobile app would enable park rangers and planners to access critical information in real time, and share information about what they find in the field. 

Wildlife authorities will have speedy access to information on hundreds of protected species and resources which they can use in identifying and prosecuting wildlife crime. 

Environment Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said technology and its applications, like the LFBPS, would allow the government to cope with the different challenges the environment faces. 

“We see it as a way for us to come up with better ways to reverse environmental degradation and biodiversity loss, and at a faster pace,” he said. 

It would provide accurate information about the status of protected areas covered by RA 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act. 

The system operates through a web-based, open-source software called “cybertracker” for the data collection interface and the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) for data analysis, mapping and report generation. 

Data can be transferred to Google maps and other tools for creation of actionable reports, which facilitate decision-making. Decision-makers at the regional and national level could easily access Lawin patrol reports generated at the field level.


Bert Guevara's insight:
It's the age of mobile apps and why not use it for protecting the environment? That's what the DENR is trying to do. We hope they succeed.

"Project Lawin was developed by the DENR and the Biodiversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience (B+WISER) program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). 
 “It aims to improve the response mechanisms to address observed threats and ensures the sustainability of conservation efforts inside the country’s protected areas over the long-term with active support from local communities in the monitoring and enforcement of wildlife laws, especially in areas that are considered hotspots for timber and wildlife poaching,” Paje said.
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Study: Organic Can Feed the World Sustainably ("don't believe the negative myth spawned by big-ag")

Study: Organic Can Feed the World Sustainably ("don't believe the negative myth spawned by big-ag") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Organic food can fulfill the world's food needs while providing huge environmental, social and health benefits, two researchers determined after reviewing 40 years of scientific study.

One of the major arguments of Big Agriculture companies like Monsanto is that organic is a niche industry, one that can only feed the select rich in a few developed countries, but, due to cost, it cannot scale to feed the world’s poor or those in developing countries. Their solution: monoculture, using a few crops and huge amounts of heavily-subsidized pesticides and fertilizers to create vast mega-farms that have huge environmental externalities.

“Conventional agriculture may produce more food, but it often comes at a cost to the environment. Biodiversity loss, environmental degradation and severe impacts on ecosystem services have not only accompanied conventional farming systems, but have often extended well beyond their field boundaries,” John Reganold, regents professor of soil science and agroecology at Washington State University, and doctoral candidate Jonathan Wachter wrote in a blog post about the study.

What is needed now, according to the report’s chief authors, are better policies globally that promote organic farming. That’s because, despite the rapid growth, organic still only accounts for a tiny percentage of global agriculture, due to the massive subsidies that go into conventional agriculture.

“Significant barriers to farmers adopting organic agriculture hinder its expansion. Such hurdles include existing policies, the costs of transitioning to organic certification, lack of access to labor and markets, and lack of appropriate infrastructure for storing and transporting food,” wrote Reganold and Wachter.

Bert Guevara's insight:

We need progressive-minded organic farmers who understand the negative macro implications of conventional farming, versus the sustainable benefits of organic agriculture. The incentives provided to conventional agriculture should be shifted to organic farming.


“Conventional agriculture may produce more food, but it often comes at a cost to the environment. Biodiversity loss, environmental degradation and severe impacts on ecosystem services have not only accompanied conventional farming systems, but have often extended well beyond their field boundaries,” 

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Coming Soon: A Mobile App for Detecting Deforestation as It Happens ("hi-tech used for environment")

Coming Soon: A Mobile App for Detecting Deforestation as It Happens ("hi-tech used for environment") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
A scientist develops technology that combines high-resolution satellite imagery and software to alert authorities of illegal logging in near real-time.

For the world’s forests, researchers have developed a satellite-based alert system that detects logging within a week of or just hours after trees start falling and, in some cases, before clear-cutting even begins. The new tool, developed by University of Maryland geographer Matthew Hansen, is a significant improvement on existing information-gathering tools that conservationists are already using to fight deforestation.

Hansen’s team is using images from NASA’s two active Landsat satellites, which send back high-resolution photos of every spot on Earth every eight days. These pictures contain 70 pixels for every one pixel the Terra satellite camera captured, meaning researchers would be able to determine land changes in areas the size of a baseball diamond, instead of across 10 football fields.

Scientists already use the high-resolution images to calculate annual tree losses, but Hansen and his team developed software that can break down the millions of images in just seconds, giving near real-time looks on small-scale deforestation.

The program can detect small disturbances such as a zigzagging road through untouched forests—often a precursor to clear-cutting—and small tree-cutting activity in parks, on privately owned property, or around indigenous communities.


Bert Guevara's insight:

I can't wait for this app to be in operation. Lack of manpower and equipment can no longer be an excuse for monitoring deforestation activities, especially in poor countries.

What next? A drone dropping a bomb on the illegal loggers?

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I wish for you... #showthelove ("dedicated to our children and to our planet")

www.showthelove.org.uk 'War Horse' author Michael Morpurgo and actors Jeremy Irons and Maxine Peake have joined forces to make a powerful new 5 minute film e...
Bert Guevara's insight:

Watch this video and consider forwarding it to your children and grandchildren, if you feel the same way about our planet.

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Energy Landscapes: An Aerial Vie Of Europe’s Carbon Footprint ("beautiful designs; love to live here")

Energy Landscapes: An Aerial Vie Of Europe’s Carbon Footprint ("beautiful designs; love to live here") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Europe and the United States have very similar standards of living, but significantly different carbon footprints. Aerial photographer Alex MacLean documents this phenomenon in images that show how Northern Europe uses smart design and planning to reduce the amount of carbon it emits.

Aerial photographer Alex MacLean decided to document this phenomenon in an attempt to understand how the highly developed nations of northern Europe are able to spew significantly less carbon into the atmosphere. Flying over Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Wales with camera in hand, MacLean came away with an appreciation for how a country’s carbon footprint is directly related to how efficiently it designs, moves through, and powers its built environment.
Over a series of months, MacLean documented historical design advantages that many European nations have inherited and now knowingly reinforce in their physical landscapes: dense urban centers with an emphasis on pedestrian and bike accessibility; compact rural and suburban communities with sharp growth boundaries; connectivity between public transport and human-powered transportation; the integration of commercial and retail space into the fabric of residential areas; and a dearth of sprawl. “How we organize ourselves on the ground is the key factor determining how much fossil fuel we burn,” MacLean says.


Bert Guevara's insight:

Check out these amazing aerial shots of green cities and low carbon footprint landscapes.

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Climate Change Could Tell Us Where the Zika Virus Will Spread Next ("mosquitoes like warmer weather")

Climate Change Could Tell Us Where the Zika Virus Will Spread Next ("mosquitoes like warmer weather") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Warming temperatures and extreme weather are making more of the world breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that carry the disease.

Global travel and climate change are creating conditions perfectly designed to increase that mosquito’s breeding potential and lengthen its biting season, leading scientists to use the term “pandemic” to describe the Zika virus’ potential for destruction. On Thursday, the director of the World Health Organization warned that the virus is “spreading explosively” in the Americas.

“There are two things most surprising about Zika,” said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor University in Houston. “First is the rapid spread—it’s alarming how quickly it’s going across all the Caribbean into Central America and Mexico.” There’s also concern about the virus’ potential spread to Southern Europe.

Second, said Hotez, is the “vertical transmission from mother to child—we haven’t seen that before with one of these arboviruses.” While scientists are still trying to pinpoint causality, there has been a shocking spike in cases of microcephaly—a central nervous system deformity causing an abnormally small head and brain—among babies born to mothers in Brazil, where Zika has infected as many as 1.5 million people in the past year.

It wasn’t until 2014 that Zika made it to the western hemisphere, appearing in Brazil shortly after the World Cup—an event most experts now think was the nexus for the virus’ introduction.

“This virus has crept up very quickly—there’s no question about that. We didn’t know it was in the hemisphere until last year; we didn’t know it caused encephalitis until last summer—this is moving at lightning speed,” said Hotez.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The spread of mosquito-borne diseases was already anticipated as one of the effects of climate change, so it not totally surprising that aside from dengue, we now have ZIKA.


“The role of climate change is still unclear, but I think it has to be looked at very seriously,” he added. “Flooding following periods of drought leads to collecting pools of water, allowing mosquitoes to breed, and warmer temperatures allow them to emerge less seasonally, so they can be coming out and feeding all year.”

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