San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s 44-year-old northern white rhino, Angalifu, passed away yesterday, December 15th, leaving only five northern white rhinos in the world. Northern white rhinos are the largest of the entire species, and are often prey to poaching gangs. In 1960, there were over 2,000 northern white rhinos in the wild, but that number dwindled down to only fifteen by 1984 due to poaching. There is one female still let at the Safari Park, three rhinos at a preserve in Kenya, and one still at a zoo in the Czech Republic.
Although the Safari Park and Kenyan preserve have attempted to conserve the white rhinos through their breeding efforts, they have been unsuccessful. One of the last efforts that will be attempted by the park is the use of artificial insemination with the sperm of a male white rhino. As Randy Rieches, curator of mammals at the Safari Park, positively says “We’re not willing to give up yet.”
Read the full story here.
Yes, you read that correctly. 5 trillion pieces of plastic. After 24 expeditions occurring from 2007 to 2013, 5 Gyres Institute has recently concluded and published a report that states that there are a total of 5 trillion pieces of plastic currently circulating in our oceans. These pieces, which equal 296,000 tons, can be found throughout the entire ocean, including many ecosystems; this contradicts the common assumptions that most of the plastic pieces are found mainly in gyres, which are large systems of rotating ocean currents.
But where does all of this trash come from? According to Anastasia Pantsios’ article, the plastic is “swept into the ocean from rivers, coastal activity and shipping lanes.” The plastic then becomes degraded into microplastics and travels throughout the ocean. It becomes very easy for marine animals to then accidentally ingest these pieces. With this report, 5 Gyres Institute hopes to spark companies into taking action to create better, more eco-friendly packaging that will eliminate many –single use packages. Fortunately, according to Michael Eriksen, 5 Gyres Institute’s director of research, “if we stop adding to the problem, the oceans will clean themselves.”
Read the full story here.
Meet Majuli, India native Jadav Payeng. For almost 45 years now he has been planting trees on the Island of Majuli, in North East India. Through his work, he has reintroduced vegetation to the barren, eroding island. Alone, he has now planted a dense forest larger than Central Park in New York City. His efforts have been recognized by the Former President of India A. P. J. Abdul Kamar, who has dubbed him the “Forest Man of India”! Check out the video below for more information on this amazing accomplishment and the man who saved his island!
Energy waste can take many different forms, such as failing to turn the lights off when leaving a room. Now, with Cactus, this is no longer an issue. Cactus is a power bar which connects to the household WiFi, and allows users to turn devices which are plugged into it on and off using a smartphone. It also has a sensor that turns the lights on when someone enters a room and then turns them off again when they leave. On average, “standby power” accounts for 10% of American energy bills, which can total over $100 a year. With Cactus this can be easily managed. The video posted below was made by the inventors to promote Cactus as a crowd sourcing project, but it also shows the device in action. They have since met their monetary goals and are developing their prototypes. These power strips can currently be ordered for about forty dollars, which is the least expensive of the smart power bars on the current market. Check out the article that creator Giuseppe Crosti wrote for the Huffington post about his journey to make Cactus an energy saving reality, and developer Paul Rolfe’s blog entry about the device!
Over the past year, events catalysed by a government seizure of dried cured meats from Harborside Farms have propelled Manitoba Food Policy unto uncertain waters. A burgeoning market for local foods, which Manitobans ensure is socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable, goes to battle against government food safety regulations. The regulations are claimed to be unclear, which makes them hard to follow. A coalition of fishers, processors, farmers and citizens have rallied in support of the local food market in Manitoba and are calling themselves FEAST (Farmers and Eaters Sharing the Table). They are demanding a say in policy-making, and from the FEAST report last month, it seems they are doing just that! The province is currently reformulating the regulations towards “outcome-based standards”. This means the process by which the food is produced is less important, provided that the resulting food passes safety standards. This works in the favour or small-scale growers and providers as it allows methods to be used outside of regulated mass growth projects, and does not require the purchase of expensive equipment. Issue still remains within the criteria for safe food though; the onus lies on the producer to create a safe product, but the judgement from regulators working within a guideline. Further work at defining the standards for safe food is needed, although the policy is moving in the right direction!
Meet Ann and Gord Baird! This family strives for a biocentric life, a way of living that utilises gardening and the earth’s many natural energy sources to allow them to live symbiotically with the land around them. Their life philosophy focuses on family, community, the environment, and on teaching others how to live in a sustainable way. Their home has been deemed the “World’s Greenest Modern House” by the Living Building rating system – the greenest rating system used worldwide. Their house features thermal hot water, passive solar power, rainwater harvesting, compostable toilets and a living roof! Their blog has information on workshops they do, good plants to plant in your garden, and a documentation of their life in a living building! Check out the page for inspiration, and witness the great work they are doing!
Birds exhibit some of the most elaborate and bizarre courtship rituals of any animals on earth. Here are a few of the more beautiful and zany examples:
The marvellous spatuletail hummingbird exhibits one of the most extreme courtship rituals (see video below). The male bird has two elongated tail feathers that end in a large violet-blue disc, or spatule. The male bird hovers in the air, waving his spatules in front of the female and making a snapping sound with his beak. To the hummingbird, which is the size of a ping-pong ball, this display costs a lot of energy. Spectators of this courtship ritual have reported that after he’s done dancing, the male will have to flop down on a branch, exhausted, and sit still for over an hour to regain his strength. This species of bird is rare and endangered, and lives in only a few…
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A Detroit native suggests gross and great do not need to be separate: he plans to bike from Wisconsin to New York City and only eat food that has been thrown out along the way! He acknowledges that although dumpster diving is unsanitary, yet he wants to do it anyway because it is “not about him”, but an important cause that people need to be aware of. He is hoping people will dine with him throughout his journey, and his efforts will help lessen the amount of food wasted daily! Read the full article via the link here!
This is some serious news!!! Bee attractive plants that gardeners use to promote Bee procreation, have been tested and found to contain neonicotinoids! In Canada!
The seeds of these plants are treated the same way as farmers crops – they are soaked in the pesticide so that as it grows, the pesticide is contained within each cell of the plant. It is more effective than spraying and reduces labour hours, however at what price? These neonics are the same that have polluted the water supply throughout the states, and has been banned from use in animal fodder and animal and plant refugee conservation sites.
About 50% of the bee-friendly plants have enough of the pesticide to kill bee’s outright, and 40% have two varieties of the neonics! Samples were taken from London, Ontario, Montreal and Vancouver, all with similarly disturbing results. How are we as consumers able to encourage growth in the bee population if the plants we buy to do just that, are actually detrimental to their numbers?
A new study released by Friends of the Earth Canada shows that over 60 per cent of “bee-friendly” home garden plants sold at garden centers have been pre-treated with neonicotinoids (neonics) pesticides shown to harm and kill bees. Of the samples collected from London, 100 per cent contained neonics, the highest amount in the Canadian tests.
The plants tested were: Calibrachoa, Gerbera Daisy, Shasta Daisy and Zonal Geranium. All but the Zonal Geranium showed two neonic pesticides, increasing its sub-lethal effects.
The Canadian data is part of a larger study, Gardeners Beware 2014, released by Friends of the Earth in Canada and Friends of the Earth U.S. with Pesticide Research Institute (PRI). Garden plant samples were collected from top garden retailers from 18 cities across Canada and the United States. Canadian samples were collected in London (Ontario), Montreal (Quebec) and Vancouver (British Columbia).
Gardeners Beware 2014 reported that 51 per…
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