Australian government may ban environmental boycotts
Parliamentary secretary says there is ‘an appetite’ for removing environmental groups’ exemption from secondary boycotts ban
- theguardian.com, Thursday 3 April 2014 00.11 BST
Coalition MPs and industry groups are using a review of competition laws to push for a ban on campaigns against companies on the grounds that they are selling products that damage the environment, for example by using old-growth timber or overfished seafood.
The parliamentary secretary for agriculture, Richard Colbeck, said the backbench rural committee and “quite a number in the ministry” want to use the review to remove an exemption for environmental groups from the consumer law ban on so-called “secondary boycotts”….
EXTREME AUSDEHNUNG VON TODESZONEN IN DER OSTSEE
Die Todeszonen in der Ostsee haben sich einer Studie zufolge extrem ausgedehnt – von 5000 Quadratkilometern um 1900 auf inzwischen 60 000 Quadratkilometer. Schuld ist vor allem der starke Eintrag von Nährstoffen, aber auch der Temperaturanstieg.
In der Ostsee hat sich die Fläche der sauerstoffarmen Todeszonen im vergangenen Jahrhundert mehr als verzehnfacht. Insgesamt wuchsen die Areale mit extremem Sauerstoffmangel zwischen 1898 und 2012 von 5000 auf 60 000 Quadratkilometer an. Das berichtet ein dänisch-schwedisches Forscherteam um Jacob Carstensen von der Universität Aarhus in den «Proceedings» der US-Nationalen Akademie der Wissenschaften («PNAS»). Ursachen sind demnach die Erwärmung des Wassers, vor allem aber der Eintrag von Nährstoffen etwa durch die Landwirtschaft. Die Wissenschaftler untersuchten östlich der dänischen Insel Bornholm und um die schwedische Insel Gotland, wie sich Temperatur, Salzgehalt und Sauerstoffwerte in den vergangenen 115 Jahren entwickelt hatten. Dabei stellten sie fest, dass die Wassertemperatur in beiden Gebieten um etwa zwei Grad Celsius stieg. Die Folgen für den Sauerstoffgehalt: Je höher die Temperatur des Wassers, desto weniger Sauerstoff kann sich darin lösen.
Noch gravierender aber wirken sich Nährstoffe etwa aus der Landwirtschaft aus, die mit Flüssen in die Ostsee gespült werden. Sie lassen etwa Cyanobakterien sprießen, die sich stark vermehren und Sauerstoff verbrauchen. Die Forscher bezeichnen die Ostsee als die weltweit größte Sauerstoffmangelzone menschlichen Ursprungs.
Überraschend gut sah es im Untersuchungsgebiet 1993 aus: Damals waren die Todeszonen etwa auf das Maß von 1931 geschrumpft. Die Ostsee schien sich nach schwierigen Zeiten erholt zu haben. Doch die Studie zeigt, dass dies einem seltenen Ereignis geschuldet war: Zwischen 1982 und 1993 floss mehr Wasser aus der Ostsee in die Nordsee hinaus als auf umgekehrtem Weg hinein. Da die Nordsee mehr Salz enthält, sank in dieser Zeit der Salzgehalt der Ostsee. Die Schichten aus Wasser mit geringem und hohem Salzgehalt wurden durchlässiger. Tiefen- und Oberflächenwasser tauschten sich stärker aus, mehr Sauerstoff gelangte in die Tiefe.
Seit 1993 dehnten sich die sauerstoffarmen Zonen wieder aus und sind heute größer als je zuvor. Fische und andere Meeresbewohner haben dadurch einen kleineren Lebensraum, was etwa die Fangmengen schrumpfen lässt. Die Wissenschaftler sehen eine Möglichkeit, die Ostsee wieder gesünder zu machen: Die auf Felder ausgebrachten Düngemittel müssten verringert werden.
Rise in urban beekeeping a threat to bees
Well-meaning city types who put hives up in their gardens could actually be harming bees, according to a new study.
By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent
7:00AM BST 12 Aug 2013
The Unviersity of Sussex research said that more honey bees in the city just mean less nectar and flowers are available to the wild bee population.
The study, published by The Society of Biology, said people should be planting wild flowers instead.
In London alone, in the five years from 2008 to 2013 the number of hives doubled from 1,677 to more than 3,500.
But Professor Francis Ratnieks, from the Laboratory of Apiculture & Social Insects at Sussex, said the boom in urban beekeeping is not the answer to honeybee declines.
He said it could even be bad for honey bees and other flower-visiting insects as it risks overtaxing the available nectar and pollen supply, and potentially encourages the spread of diseases.
“Both honeybees and wild bees have been declining. Although the causes are complex the most important seems to be loss of flowers and habitat.
“If the problem is not enough flowers, increasing the number of hives risks making that problem worse. The honeybee is just one of many insect species which feed on nectar and pollen. Having a high density of honeybee hives is not only bad for honeybees, but may also affect bumblebees and other species feeding on the same flowers.
“If a game park was short of food for elephants, you wouldn’t introduce more, so why should we take this approach with bees?”
Dr Rebecca Nesbit, of the Society of Biology, said people who want to help bees should plant more wild flowers.
“We must remember that there are around 250 bee species native to the UK, along with many other insects which feed on flowers. By focusing our efforts on providing what these insects lack, we can help not only honeybees but all flower-visiting insects. Everyone can get involved, whether you have a garden, an allotment or a window box. Plant the right flowers and the bees will fly many miles to find them.”…
- by Laura Simpson
- August 13, 2013
- 7:00 pm
(PHOTO ABOVE: night vision photography reveals hippo grazing on trucked-in food)
Conservationist Karen Paolillo takes a deep breath and opens the screen door to her cottage nestled along the Turgwe River at the Save Valley Conservancy in Zimbabwe. She looks down to see that the screen has been ripped again, vandalized during the night by Bella the baboon who is constantly trying to get into the house which she and her husband Jean-Roger built with their own hands. It’s breakfast time here, not for Karen, but for the many animals she hopes to keep alive in a once-green landscape that is quickly turning to dust.
Very low rainfall has created a localized drought along this section of the river and essential grasses are nearly gone now. The vegetation isn’t expected to return until December, so Karen has two choices. She can either find a way to feed the herds of hippos and other grazers who live in this area or she can witness the starvation of the animals she’s spent decades trying to protect.
Through land invasions, violent uprisings, several bouts of malaria and times when she had little to eat herself, Karen has stood among the wildlife here as their sole champion in a land where animals are valued not for their beauty but for the price they can fetch by wealthy hunters who fly in, usually from America, to claim their ‘prize’. Wildlife is a commodity to so much of the human community here, but to Karen, they mean so much more.
“Since I first formed the Turgwe Hippo Trust nearly 20 years ago, 48 hippo calves have been born,” explains Karen, who can identify each individual and knows them by name. The land is also home to thousands of lions, wildebeest, buffalo, elephants and more in the 3,000 square kilometer refuge.
Karen remembers her early days here well, as she protected the herd during an extreme drought in which the river dried up entirely. By pounding on doors and begging for help to conservation groups worldwide, she was able to gather enough funds to excavate a large cement basin and to fill it with water to allow the hippos to submerge and all the animals to drink. And with a blend of hay and horse cubes, she fed the grazers here, and remarkably, hippo calves were even born during the drought.
Now here we are again, and there is a small question mark over this second mission. Though the water basin is still intact and ready to supply hydration to the animals here, the cost of hay and a broken down vehicle provide the recipe for their biggest test of faith yet.
“She has finally given up the ghost,” says Karen of the used Land Rover that was generously donated to the trust by the Summerlee Foundation 14 years ago. “She has helped us remove over 11,000 snares in our patrols in the bush to combat poaching. She has pulled the sand pump to the river in order for us to dig up silted pools and repair natural pools for the hippos. She has carted wood and rocks for building projects. She has transported children to the hippos as well as taken our volunteers around the bush for various jobs that they are involved in. But now at the crucial time when I begin feeding the animals, I have no vehicle. I can feed the hippos closest to home with wheel barrows but that will not be the case for the hippos further away.”
The Harmony Fund, a small charity devoted to helping ‘underdog’ animal rescue teams across the planet, has set up a platform for people to help keep the animals alive during this drought. To learn more or to get involved, click here.
Israel outlaws water Fluoridation
by seeker401 Thank You!
Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled that water fluoridation in the country must end by 2014, according to news reports. This landmark decision goes even further than legislation by the health minister Yael German earlier in the year that would have ended mandatory fluoridation nationwide, reports the Irish publication Hot Press.
Israel is one of the few countries that widely fluoridates, besides the United States, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia.Fluoridation, the addition of fluoride to public drinking water supplies to reduce cavities, is the subject of intense controversy, especially outside of the United States. But opposition to the practice, on the grounds that fluoride has adverse effects on the thyroid, brain and bones, and is an unethical form of mass-medication, appears to be growing.
Israel’s decision to ban fluoridation follows a vote to preclude the practice in Portland, Ore., and Wichita, Kan. It was also recently overturned in Hamilton, the fourth most populous city in New Zealand.
- Hamilton council’s fluoride leaflet slammed by dentists (nzherald.co.nz)
- Israel Will End Fluoridation in 2014, Citing Health Concerns (prnewswire.com)
- Israel Will End Fluoridation In 2014, Citing Health Concerns (antigmofoods.com)
- Israel to Completely Stop Water Fluoridation By 2014 (intellihub.com)
- Israel will end Fluoridation in 2014, citing Health Concerns (nsnbc.me)
- Israel Court Rules To Stop Water Fluoridation in 2014, Citing Health Concerns (philosophers-stone.co.uk)
- Israel Outlaws Water Fluoridation! (alternativenewsalert.com)
- Israel outlaws water Fluoridation (seeker401.wordpress.com)
- Israel Outlaws Water Fluoridation (livescience.com)
Delfine im Meer vor der japanischen Küste.
Alle Proteste helfen nichtJapan schlachtet Delfine ab
Alljährlich spielt sich in der japanischen Bucht von Taiji ein grausames Ritual ab. Dort werden dutzende Delfine abgeschlachtet, ein Teil der Tiere landet sogar im Handel. Tierschützer versuchen seit Jahren, das zu verhindern. Bislang ohne Erfolg.
Trotz weltweiter Proteste hat im japanischen Walfangdorf Taiji wieder das alljährliche Abschlachten von Delfinen begonnen. Zuerst wählen Tiertrainer dort die besten Exemplare für Delfinarien im In- und Ausland aus, dann werden die übrigen mit Speeren, Haken und Messern getötet.
Sechs Walfangboote verließen am frühen Morgen den Hafen von Taiji und orteten eine Gruppe von rund 20 Delfinen, wie die japanische Nachrichtenagentur Kyodo meldete. Durch Hämmern auf Metallstangen im Meer legen die Fischer den Orientierungssinn der Delfine lahm und treiben sie so in eine Lagune, die mit Netzen abgesperrt wird. Vor den Augen von Spaziergängern wählen Tiertrainer die besten Exemplare aus. Was der Besucher des Ortes jedoch nicht sehen darf, ist das Gemetzel an den übrigen Tieren, das sich in einer versteckt hinter Felsen gelegenen Nachbarlagune abspielt.
“Die Bucht” klärte auf
Tausende von Delfinen fallen auf diese Weise in Taiji, rund 700 Kilometer südlich von Tokio, sowie wenigen anderen Orten Japans der Treibjagd zum Opfer – mit Billigung der Regierung, die Fangquoten setzt. Die Jagd an der Küste unterliegt nicht der Kontrolle der Internationalen Walfangkommission. Ein Teil des laut Umweltschützern hochgradig mit Quecksilber verseuchten Fleisches der abgestochenen Kleinwale gelangt später in den Handel.
In seinem mit dem Oscar gekrönten Dokumentarfilm “Die Bucht” hat der US-amerikanische Taucher und Unterwasser-Fotograf Louie Psihoyos der Weltöffentlichkeit das Gemetzel mit Hilfe versteckter Kameras vor Augen geführt, das bis zum Frühjahr andauert.
Unterdessen überreichte der amerikanische Delfinschützer Richard O’Barry in Tokio der US- Botschaft eine Liste mit Unterschriften von 1,7 Millionen Menschen in aller Welt, die ein Ende der Delfinabschlachtung in Japan fordern.
Der US-Amerikaner war in den 60er Jahren Trainer der Delfine für die TV-Serie “Flipper”, seit 1970 kämpft er weltweit aktiv für den Schutz der Meeressäuger. Die Jagd auf die Delfine sei grausam und könne nicht als Teil der japanischen Kultur verklärt werden, sagte er zu Journalisten. O’Barry, der auch im Internet die Kampagne “Save Japan Dolphins” betreibt, hält sich in Japan mit rund 60 Unterstützern auf, um gegen die Delfinabschlachtung zu protestieren. Die Delfinariums-Industrie biete erst den finanziellen Anreiz, um die Treibjagd in Taiji in Gang zu halten, hatte O’Barry anlässlich einer früheren Jagdsaison gesagt.Trotz weltweiter Proteste haben im japanischen Walfangdorf Taiji wieder das alljährliche Abschlachten von Delfinen begonnen. Zuerst wählen Tiertrainer dort die besten Exemplare für Delfinarien im In- und Ausland aus, dann werden die übrigen mit Speeren, Haken und Messern getötet.
- Dolphins and Whales: The Cove and the Grind (ecofriendsmne.wordpress.com)
- There’s something about Bubi: Japan can’t get enough of water bottles that collapse to a third of their size (stufffound.wordpress.com)
- Business › Business leaders propose health policies to promote economic growth in Japan (japantoday.com)
- Taiji Cove: The Horror Behind the Curtain (conservationjournaljoannevere.wordpress.com)
- Stop the Slaughter of Dolphins in Japan (forcechange.com)
Posted: 25 May 2013 09:17 AM PDT
Here are a couple reposts from Bikocity. The first documents the rise of bike commuting in the US, especially in “Bicycle Friendly Communities” and 10 key cities. The second repost is about how Bicycle Friendly Communities are evaluated. Check them out:
Where Bike Commuting Grows Fastest (Infographics)
The League of American Bicyclists recently created some cool infographics about bicycle commuter growth across the country.
In general, bike commuting has skyrocketed, doubling from 1.7 billion in 2001 to 4 billion in 2009. However, the growth has occurred to a much greater degree in cities and towns that have been designated as Bicycle-Friendly Communities by the League.
“From 2000 to 2011, the bicycle commuting rate has risen 80% in the largest Bicycle Friendly Communities — far above the average growth of 47% nationwide and more than double the rate of 32% in the cities not designated as bicycle-friendly,” Carolyn Szczepanski the League writes.
Several cities have even seen growth of 100% to 450% [PDF]!
Want more data? Carolyn’s rounded some up for you:
How Bicycle Friendly Communities Are Evaluated (Infographic)
Several years ago, I was the director of an organization in the Charlottesville, Virginia region that got Charlottesville designated as a Bicycle Friendly Community (BFA). There were great guiding documents that the League of American Bicyclists supplied as part of the application process, but it certainly would have been nice to have this infographic* below that the League just created to delineate the differences between Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum awardees. Check it out. You can also download a PDF version here.
To make it clear that this isn’t a strict tool for measuring which category a community falls into, the League’s Carolyn Szczepanski adds:
“Now, the beauty of the BFA program is the fact that it’s not one-size-fits-all. We’re able to take into account the unique characteristics of each community — so it’s not a rigid rubric. But we love the way this distills some of the key benchmarks and metrics in an interesting and engaging way.”
*Note: the infographic was developed in coordination with the Language Dept for the League of American Bicyclists.
Bike Commuting Skyrocketing, Especially In “Bike Friendly Communities” was originally posted on: PlanetSave. To read more from Planetsave, join thousands of others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook (also free), follow us on Twitter, or just visit our homepage.
Posted: 25 May 2013 08:55 AM PDT
Holland — one of my favorite places in the world. More info in this Bikocity repost below.
Below is a fun (& funny) video about Holland. Of course, biking is highlighted a bit. Biking makes life so much cooler, easier, more relaxed and carefree. It is used in (non-car) advertisements of all kinds simply to stick a cooler and more positive image on the product being sold. With bicycling at the center of one’s transportation system, the quality of life rises tremendously.
At one point in the video, the narrator jokes, “They still drive cars. Haha.”
I actually lived in the Netherlands (Groningen) for 5 months. I’ve never been to a country or city with a higher quality of life. It’s a full level above anyplace I’ve been in the US. (Notably, I’ve lived in several “best cities” in the US — Charlottesville (VA), Chapel Hill (NC), Sarasota (FL), Sunnyvale (CA), Ithaca (NY).)
Frankly, the video really does nail the exceptional “original cool” of Holland (which, to be specific, is only a region of the Netherlands).
One note: the narrator highlights the country’s green energy. Sadly, the Netherlands is no longer a leader in green energy. Hopefully that will change sometime soon.
- Wyoming ranks No. 33 in bicycle friendly states (wyofile.com)
- Blog Post: Getting to TI on two wheels (e2e.ti.com)
- Santa Monica Ranked 5th Most Bikeable City In U.S. (smmirror.com)
- Group Designates Virginia Tech as Bicycle Friendly (newsplex.com)
- Bike Louisville – New Bike Lanes Old Louisville (beechmontky.wordpress.com)
- Iowa City’s ‘Bicycle Friendly’ status upgraded (thegazette.com)
- The Bike Boom Is Happening in Cities Making a Push to Improve Cycling (streetsblog.net)
- Infographic: Number of Bicycle Commuters Skyrockets (gas2.org)
- Bike Commuting Skyrocketing, Especially In “Bike Friendly Communities” (planetsave.com)
- May is National Bike Month! (ptny.wordpress.com)
Posted: 25 May 2013 02:29 PM PDT
Two important amphibian news items to report here…the first regards the spread of the lethal Chytrid fungus into Caecilians (a third major grouping of the Amphibia); the second item: a report on the recent USGS survey of US amphibian populations.
Rare Amphibian Group Now at Risk from Frog-killing Fungus
Frogs (and toads), salamanders, and Caecilians — a lesser known amphibian looking somewhere between a large worm or a smallish snake — represent the three major groups of amphibians.
For the past two decades at least, a lethal fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatista) — generally known as Chytrid fungus or Bd — has spread through frog and salamander populations around the world, decimating local populations, causing extinctions (almost 300 world wide), and threatening to wipe out an estimated one third of the world’s frog and salamander species in the coming years.
The caecilian (pronounced like “Sicilian”) amphibian group is fairly rare and rarely studied. There are about 190 known caecilian species with the largest reaching a length of almost 2 meters. It was once believed that the legless caecilians were not at risk for the chytrid infection — possibly due to their secretive life cycles in deep soils.
No more. In a global survey of caecilians conducted by the Natural History Museum and the Zoological Society of London, England, scientists captured more than 200 caecilian specimens comprising 29 species. Examination of the skin of the live specimens revealed 58 individuals infected with the Bd fungus many of which subsequently died from the infections.
The fungal disease — called chytridiomycosis — primarily infects the skin of amphibians, blocking the absorption of oxygen (which is how most Amphibia get their oxygen) and water and probably interfering with other critical, cellular functions. There is no known cure for the disease and the origins of the fungus are likewise unknown (but may be more than 40,000 years old). Its spread is believed to have been enabled by the global, commercial frog trade (note: frogs are sold for pets, food, dissection kits, and even for pregnancy tests) which emerged in the latter half of the 20th Century. The fungus can also travel on the legs of migrating birds and can survive in water for lengthy periods.
In a press release, museum zoologist and lead researcher David Gower stated:
“The fungus was known to infect and potentially kill both the other major groups of amphibians, but we did not know if it definitively could infect caecilians in the wild, and whether it could potentially also kill them. We now know both of these are the case, and so this potentially major threat needs to be taken into consideration in caecilian conservation biology.”
The results of the survey are detailed in the May 2013 issue of EcoHealth.
Source material for this post cam from the SciAm article: ‘Frog-Killing Chytrid Fungus Hits Rarely Seen, Wormlike Amphibians’ by John R. Platt
US Geological Survey of US Amphibians Finds Troubling Trend
US frog, toad and salamander populations are declining at a rate of 3.7 percent per year, according to the recent completed USGS Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative. At that rate, nearly one half of these amphibians will have disappeared from their native habitats 20 years out.
The “alarming” news holds true even for species thought to be “safe” — with a decline rate of 2.7 percent per year.
Dicamptodon tenebrosus a species of Pacific giant salamanders (Dicamptodontidae) is a coastal giant salamander ranging from California to Washington. It has croaking vocalizations the can resemble a dogs bark (image credit: Marjef07)
Amphibians have been facing a “quadruple threat” for many years now — a combination of chytrid infections, climate change, pollution and habitat destruction. This survey represents the first time that US amphibian declines have actually been measured.
“These are really ancient species that have been surviving a long time on earth through all kinds of changes. It’s just a concern to see,” said USGS ecologist Michael J. Adams, “They just disappear. Populations are going away.”
Worldwide, the news is worse. According to the “red list” compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the rate of decline amongst amphibian species, globally, is an astounding 11.6 per year, which means that in 6 years or so, half of known amphibian sites will be “unoccupied”. Currently, one third of all members of the Amphibia class are on the IUCN red list.
The survey initiative transpired over a nine year period and included 34 study areas (comprised of hundreds of ponds, streams, and other sites). Scientists returned to each site every two or three years to conduct inventories of amphibian species. Most of the sites were on public lands and under some form of state or federal protection — making the observed declines even more of a concern.
The USGS survey did not investigate the causes of the declines (which can involve many interacting factors operating over wide regions), only their trends during the study period. But efforts are underway to conserve many species and remove or mitigate some of the more local causes (while climate change impacts will be nearly impossible to stop).
Amphibians provide an important ecosystem service by feeding on many types of insects and helping to maintain rich soils; they are important links in their respective ecosystems; their declines — the loss of biodiversity — bode poorly for ecosystem stability in the long term.
USGS Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative was published Wednesday in the online journal PLOS One.
Some source material (and quote) for this post came from the AP/Yahoo news article: ‘Study: Amphibians disappearing at alarming rate‘ by Jeff Barnard
To learn more about what you can do to help survey and save amphibians wherever you live — check out this important Planetsave post and consider becoming a ‘citizen scientist’ and joining the Amphibian Blitz Project!
- Amphibian Populations Could Disappear From Half Of Their Habitats Over The Next 20 Years (hngn.com)
- Study: Number of frogs, toads declining at alarming rate (denverpost.com)
- America’s frogs and toads disappearing fast (worldbulletin.net)
- Amphibians declining in the US, report says – Los Angeles Times (latimes.com)
- U.S. Researchers Find Frogs Are Dropping Like Flies (latinospost.com)
- Frogs Disappearing Faster Than Thought (newser.com)
- Will U.S. amphibians become endangered species? (salon.com)
- Amphibians in U.S. Declining at ‘Alarming and Rapid Rate’ (blogs.scientificamerican.com)
- Frog-Killing Chytrid Fungus Hits Rarely Seen, Wormlike Amphibians (blogs.scientificamerican.com)
- Amphibian News: Killer Fungus Found In Third Major Amphibian Group, USGS Amphibian Survey Findings ‘Alarming’ (planetsave.com)