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Northern White Rhinos on Brink of Extinction

Angalifu at the San Diego Safari Park

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.

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5 Trillion Pieces of Plastic Found in the Ocean

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.

The Future of Manitoba Food Policy is Up In the Air

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!

Real-Manitoba-Food-Fight-logo-pig-fistWatch this video for more information on Harborside Farms: http://bit.ly/1nGZY9N, and check out Sustain Ontario for a full article: http://bit.ly/WIznlJ

Bee-Killing Pesticides Found in “Bee-Friendly” Plants Sold in Ontario

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?

Otter Valley Naturalists

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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Finding Human Evidence in the Mystery of Climate Change

If you were ever in doubt about the ability of humans to cause real changes to the climate over time, this article will prove you wrong. From the writers at ClimateShift comes a well written article sourcing a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to squash any and all nay-sayers. The climate is truly changing due to humans, “the most important of these impacts […] include threats to ecosystems and organisms, increasing coastal erosion and inundation, decreasing crop yields, and intensifying flood frequency,” (Quote pulled from ClimateShift’s article). Read the full article on the effects of our oceans and what you can expect the work to look like in 60-80 years if we make serious reductions to green house gas emissions, or if we don’t…! Icebergs and Ice Bits Near Kangilerngata Sermia Glacier, Disko Bugt (Disko Bay), West Greenland

Your ecological footprint – what?!

Internationally Unrelated provides hard facts about the ecological footprint of our society. August 19th, Tania reports, was Earth Overshoot Day – the day which marks when we as a global society have used as much resources as the earth can replenish in one year. If this date was December 31st, then we would be a sustainable society. However, we still have four full months left on the calendar, and a part of August! This translates to a shorter life for the earth overall through harsher effects of harvesting resources, and land and habitat degradation. Read the article reblogged below for a fuller picture on Earth Overshoot Day! Thanks Internationally Unrelated!

 

 

Internationally Unrelated

green-footprint-shutterstock11I could start with the typical “save the earth, it is the only we have”, which is completely true, but I will start to tell you that we, as humans need to stop acting like the planet is infinite and it is never going to run out of resources, if not for the earth we share, for ourselves. It will. It is already… And still, it passes us by like it is nothing. Why? Because we don’t see it truly in front of us. If we see war, we see dead people, we see injured people, we know it is happening, we know we need to do something. We don’t see the impact of our actions in our planet, at least clearly. But it is happening.

Yesterday, according to the Global Footprint Network, was the Earth Overshoot Day. For those of you who are not familiar with this, the…

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Has Bottled Water Gone Too Far?

Bottled water, revealed by an article from Mother Jones, comes from either springs, or regular tap water. Companies then package it and ship it to stores, where consumers seem to prefer it over what they get from their own taps. The privitisation of a community resource, something that is required to be provided by the government, is my first issue with the product. Why should consumers pay for water that is bottled and moved around, if it is the same as what they already have? It boggles my mind to say the least.

What is even worse is that the springs and taps which provide water for these companies are centralized in California, which right now is experiencing their third driest summer on record! You’d think that the needless use of plastic, and commodification of a community resource would be enough to ruffle some feathers; yet the source of the water is continuing to degrade the Californian land! When will the issues with bottled water be enough to slow their sales? Nothing it seems compares with the taste of “real water” (quote taken from a comment on the source article! Can you believe it!?).

Look at the diagrams below show the concentration of water sources in California, in relation to the rest of the United States – or read the article for yourself here!

This diagram shows large bottled water corporations and their sources in California.

This diagram shows large bottled water corporations and their sources in California.

This is the total map of water sources for the four companies with a key for the level of drought in the area. Why are they all clustered in the driest areas?!

This is the total map of water sources for the four companies with a key for the level of drought in the area. Why are they all clustered in the driest areas?!

 

 

Another Oil Spill to Add to the Pile

On Monday, Duke Energy joined the growing list of corporations to grossly contaminate nearby waterways this month. 5000-8000 gallons of diesel was spilled into the Ohio River in the thirty odd minutes before the company noticed an overflow valve was accidentally open. The water is thankfully now clean to drink. Ohio-River-editRead the full article from Thought Progress here.

A Big Leap For Wind Power

AltaerosEnergies

A look at the BAT as it is being raised into the sky.

 

Altaeros Energy’s Buoyant Airborne Turbine, or BAT, is the beginnings of a new step for Wind Energy. This turbine is not on a tower, but a helium blimp housing a turbine which is tethered to the ground from about 300 meters in the air (making it the worlds highest wind turbine!). The air is not only more powerful as you climb higher into the atmosphere, but the technology is less prone to problem. Without the massive steel tower, and yaw mechanism which rotates the turbine to face the wind as it changes, the maintenance is much less significant. The turbine also is quieter, while producing more energy! Although this technology is only in prototype phase, tests have been positive. Now being tested over Alaska, CEO Ben Glass predicts to provide power at about $0.18 per kilowatt-hour, about half the price of off-grid electricity in Alaska.

It seems like this is a win for energy efficiency and standards of living! Kudos to Altaeros! Find a full article, from The Spirit Science here: Wind Turbines Take to the Skies to Generate a Magnificent Quanta of Energy VIDEO! , as well as from IEEE Spectrum here.

 

One Step Forward for Ford

Architectural-Solar-Canopy-Image

 

Yesterday CBS Detroit reported on Fords plans to build a large solar array in the Ford Headquarters with help from DTE. It will provide 360 parking spaces with 30 charging stations for electric vehicles underneath a solar canopy which will provide 1.038 megawatts of energy! That’s enough for 158 average sized homes! They intend to break ground in September and be functioning in early 2015. Read the full article here!