The Rights of Nature

“Just as human beings have human rights, all other beings also have rights which are specific to their species or kind and appropriate for their role and function within the communities within which they exist.”

The Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth

Nature has Rights! And not just in our wishful pipe dreams. Two countries hit the headlines recently with court rulings acknowledging the legal personhood of three rivers. In New Zealand the Wanganui River, and the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers in India now have rights. On 31st March India granted Himalayan glaciers the same status. They are legal persons.

A similar judgment has been made in Costa Rican law courts for the planet’s second largest reef which happens to lie in their waters.

Costa Rica’s not too distant neighbour Ecuador was already well ahead of the game – in 2008, the first country in the world to embed in the nation’s constitution itself, the Rights of Nature. The constitution was then put to a referendum of the people, and they voted yes. Ground-breakers indeed.

Not to be left behind, Bolivia was next to achieve a milestone for Nature’s Rights. Half a century after the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Bolivian President Evo Morales Ayma, drove forward the initiative to present the United Nations with a draft of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.

Since that time:

  • Nearly 40 municipalities in the US have adopted Nature’s Rights
  • The dignity of all beings is recognised in Switzerland’s constitution
  • Spain recognises the rights of apes
  • And Romania is in the process of doing the same for dolphins

The EU is lagging behind! But there is hope, as we will see. First, how law for Nature operates in most countries of the world now.

The law with reference to Nature at present stumbles along under one of three paradigms. All outdated, none holistic. Take your pick:
  • mechanistic – viewing the world as made up of separate unconnected objects interacting in a predicable way
  • anthropocentric – viewing the world as existing solely for the use of human beings – our own ‘natural resources’ or ‘natural capital’. Nature is judged only by its economic value to Man rather than on its own intrinsic value
  • adversarial – where one party wins at the expense of another. Guess who nearly always wins? It’s not Nature.
But we already have laws to protect wildlife and the environment – like our own UK Wildlife and Countryside Act. So why does Nature need legal Rights?

Generally speaking – though as we have seen there are exceptions – the law as it stands recognises only two kinds of ‘holders of rights’: humans and human-created entities such as corporations. Everything else – animals domesticated, farmed and wild, land and water, Nature itself – is ‘property’. Nature our thinking goes, belongs to us, is our possession. So laws of protection that come, can just as easily go, depending on the prevailing governmental winds.

The classic example is the USA’s iconic gray wolf, already extinct over most of its historic range. The wolf was listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1974, delisted in 2012, relisted in 2014, and now once again loses  protection in Alaska, in national wildlife refuges fgs, under Trump. The man is hell bent on sweeping aside just about every protection U.S. wildlife and wild places – so hard striven for over decades – now enjoy. If ever there was someone out of tune with Nature….

Rights on the other hand give the highest level of legal protection.

Rather than treating nature as property under the law, Rights for Nature… acknowledge that nature in all its life forms has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles.  And we – the people –  have the legal authority to enforce these rights on behalf of ecosystems. The ecosystem itself can be named as the defendant [and in courts of law we can be its advocate].

And so we come to the ECI – A European Citizens’ Initiative for the Rights of Nature

vII8ChdUxsdMEueu8GoGHUsKT6xziUJ5k45bQMJKNm07IeMjECZMyq0pleanp1K3ViJy7gVg9qoqwzJo0jtlRpmUrAvHLW_lnSsI7h0k0O34H1o5KH6D9wTTRj5NsMGkHrS_3IUQ.pngThe European Citizens Initiative scheme was established five years ago with the aim of increasing direct democracy by enabling “EU citizens to participate directly in the development of EU policies”. Now, a group of lawyers, environmentalists, academics and others from 13 EU countries have come together in a project to present the Rights of Nature to the EU Commission and get those rights enshrined in EU law.

Their Project Vision

Humanity flourishing in harmony with Nature.

Project Mission

To establish nature’s rights – legal personality and rights for ecosystems and other species – in law throughout Europe.

Project Aim

To launch a European Citizens’ Initiative to propose nature’s rights to the legislative agenda of the EU – see our Draft Directive.

Why This Initiative?

Ecosystems and other species are alive. Yet the law treats them as objects separate to us. This has wide reaching social and economic consequences that drive the environmental crisis. Rights of nature is a game changing solution that brings fundamental and systemic transformation to our legal and economic system by re-characterising nature – ecosystems and species – as a subject of the law with legal personality and tangible rights that can be defended in court by people. This ensures that economic activity operates to enhance rather than undermine the resilience of ecosystems so that humanity can thrive in harmony with nature. It forms a powerful counterbalance to corporate rights and a viable alternative to the financialisation of nature.  To find out more see this article – Rights of Nature – Why Do We Need It? and this TEDx Talk.

Nature needs us to create new legal systems that promote

  • respect for the profound inter-existence of all life
  • respect for the intrinsic value of all life
  • healthy relationships with all life
  • harmony with the universal laws that govern all life

Sadly, since the European Citizens’ Initiative first came into effect, only three ECIs have managed to collect the 1 million signatures required for a response from the EU Commission. And of those three, only one was approved for a follow-up proposal. (One of those rejected by the Commission was a proposal for the European Anthem to be sung in Esperanto!)

But with our support the chances for the ECI – Rights of Nature are hopeful. And here are ways you can help

If you have skills in the following areas and would like to be involved in co-creating this exciting history-making initiative, please get in touch with Mumta Ito, as representative of the organising committee, at mumtaito@gmail.com. The specific areas additional assistance is needed are:

  • Administration/administrative support; fundraising; accounting; research; IT/websites/social media; branding; education; advocacy; lobbying; project management.
  • Additional members to join the existing 13 country teams (UK, Spain, Portugal, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Ireland, Italy, Belgium and Latvia)
  • People who would like to lead the initiative in the EU countries where we still don’t have people (Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Malta, Lithuania, Estonia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Austria, Estonia, Bulgaria and Greece)
  • We also have places for self-funding internships in Findhorn and Andalucía.

Offers of skills support could be in a purely ‘advisory’ capacity or more hands-on – (no offer of assistance is too small). To be kept in the loop subscribe at the Being Nature Project.

We look forward to hearing from you and to creating together the legal frameworks needed to form a more resilient, thriving world for all of our future generations.

Of course here in the UK we have Brexit looming. But until the two years after the triggering of Article 50 is over, we can still have our say and make our contribution.

Follow European Citizens’ Inititative on Facebook here

Sign the Global Alliance’s Letter of Commitment to the Rights of Nature here

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It’s true UNESCO already has its own Earth Charter, approved at a meeting of the Earth Charter Commission in Paris in 2000. It lists four Principles. The problem for me lies in Principle Two :

a. Accept that with the right to own, manage, and use natural resources comes the duty to prevent environmental harm and protect the rights of people.

That strikes me as reinforcing the status quo, the rights of Man to treat Nature as property – more a denial of the Rights of Nature than part of a charter to protect them. I would like to see UNESCO replace the Earth Charter with the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth which places Man not bestriding the Earth, above Nature with the right to own it and use it, but as just one thread in the complex web of life, each part of which is every bit as entitled to rights as are we humans.

Read the full Universal Declaration here

And sign the petition to the UN for the Rights of Mother Earth here


Postscript

Two hugely important questions arise for me from discussion about the Rights of Nature.

The first, for those of us who are dedicated to Animal Rights: if we achieve legal Rights for Nature, what does that mean for nonhuman animals? Does it mean that animal advocates like the Nonhuman Rights Project should cease the legal battle to win personhood for individual chimpanzees like Tommy, and throw its weight instead behind the fight for Rights of Nature?

Does it also mean that if nonhuman animals have the right to live at liberty in their own natural environment without interference and exploitation from humans, that the farming of animals would cease?

That we would get the vegan world of which we dream? A sentence in the Declaration seems to say so:

‘Every being has the right to wellbeing and to live free from torture or cruel treatment by human beings”

Secondly, as the capitalist system is based on extracting Nature’s ‘commodities’ and exploiting animals, human and nonhuman in the pursuit of profit and ‘growth’, don’t we need a new paradigm not just for law, but for world economics too?

Maybe I can explore these questions further at a later date, but now I would greatly value your ideas and comments on this immense subject.

Related posts

Human Rights Are Animal Rights!

A Promising Way Forward for Animal Rights?

Busting the Myths of Human Superiority

Through Artist’s Eyes- The Wondrous Web of Life & Death

Sources

Being Nature – Extending Civil Rights to the Natural World – The Ecologist

Rights of Mother Earth

Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature

European Citizens Initiative – Wiki

ECI for the Rights of Nature – International Centre for Wholistic Law

ECI Project Summary – A European Citizens Initiative for the Rights of Nature

Revising the ECI: How to make it ‘fit for purpose’ – Euractiv

 

Good job Mr President – Your action plan for the environment is the best

President er, Trump,

(Apologies for stumbling a little over placing your name after the P word)
You are a guy true to your word. If we ever suspected those campaign promises were just empty political slogans, you sure proved us wrong. You really meant what you said. Wow!

So cool to have a strong hand at the tiller at last when it comes to the environment. If I can hold your attention for five minutes – a big ask I know – you might want to take a look when we’re getting near the end of this page at what those losers your predecessors had to say on the topic.

Jeez, their sappy ideas were never going to get us the American Dream. But now we have you in the Oval Office, we can go for broke!

Now who is it you’ve fingered for the Environment Protection Agency? Oh yeah, Scott Pruitt. Great choice. Mr Pruitt has an fine record on the environment. Isn’t he the same guy that took the EPA to court a dozen or so times in six years? I guess he took exception to the Clean Water Act being rolled out even further – who wouldn’t? And then there were those irritating rules about coal-fired power plants. He showed’em!

“Excessive regulation is killing jobs”, you say. Well Scottie’s right behind you, 110%, and now he has free rein, we’ll see some hatchet action at last. To quote another of your gems Sir, environmental protections are “out of control”.

I for one can’t wait to see Scottie light a match under all that crappy red tape. How can the hustlers keep lining their pockets, with tiresome stuff like that tying them in knots. Regulations regulations regulations – a nightmare getting in the way of the American Dream.

Now you Mr President are the Real Deal. Billionaire with fingers in multitudinous multinational pies, bestower of the noble name of Trump on real estate around the world, you Donald J Trump are the embodiment, there for all to see, of the American Dream we all aspire to.

(Your business acumen when you “bullied the small businesses that occupy the ground floor of [your] namesake Fifth Avenue skyscraper, jacking up rental prices and then suing tenants when they fought back. Court documents reveal a pattern of legal disputes within Trump Tower over the years, in which [you] the billionaire real-estate developer routinely deployed lawyers to harass the very people funding [your] extravagant and ostentatious lifestyle on the 66th floor.”¹ Wow and wow again. I am taking notes!

But let’s stick with the environment. I admit I’m a bit confused. If I understand it right, the EPA says its mission is “to protect human health and the environment — air, water and land.” Call me dumb but I can’t quite seem to square that with Mr Pruitt’s vision for it. Which is basically, to trash all that hooey getting in the way of jobs, business and ‘the marketplace’. Am I right?

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Well, maybe best to scrap the EPA altogether then? Ah, already there on your To Do List of Executive Orders. I should have known you’d be on top of it. As I see it, leaving a federal agency in charge of America’s land, air and water is asking for the bureaucrats to poke their noses in where they’re not wanted. They just put roadblocks in the way of a guy’s rightful pursuit of the almighty dollar -er, I mean happiness. (Isn’t it the same thing?)

Can we hope the ESA² will go the same way? Those wolves, bears and bison are just being allowed to run wild.

Good job freezing regulations that loser you kicked out the White House left still in the pipeline – that’s the bad kind of pipeline. Generally you favour them I know. We’ll get to that in a just a minute.

Love, just love your latest Executive Order pushing through the Regulatory Reform Agenda. Out with the old curbs on business, and in with as little as you can get away with of the new. Regulations regulations regulations. One new one in, two old ones out, just like you promised. Genius!

Those Greenpeace wusses can’t hack it. Wouldn’t you just expect them to say something dumb like, “This executive order will put Trump’s unvetted corporate minions above experts at our federal agencies in charge of protecting our water, our land and our climate.” But heck, who listens to them?

Take Standing Rock. That spineless ex-Pres. left those darn water protectors there for months.  But you had them out in days. That’s the way to do business. ‘Water-protectors’ – ha! More like Big-Oil-obstructors. If we start worrying about indigenous people’s rights and hysterical fears of pollution who knows where it will end. We totally need to stamp hard on anyone that gets in the way of our go-getters and our monolithic corporations making themselves richer and richer by the day. It’s plain anti-American to think any different.

And as for so-called ‘climate change’, I wouldn’t expect a man of your intellect to fall for that hogwash. It’s nothing but pseudo-science. Your nuggets of wisdom on that fake news deserve another airing:

“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” @realDonaldTrump

“It’s real cold outside, they are calling it a major freeze, weeks ahead of normal. Man, we could use a big fat dose of global warming!” @realDonaldTrump

One more thing Sir, can you please hurry up with that wall? It’s not just the foreigners. We need to keep out all that pesky wildlife as well.

So if you got this far Mr President – and I expect you will since I’ve said such a lot of nice things about you – have yourself a smirk at all this guff from former POTUSes (they are history now we have you, the genuine article) on the subject of the environment:


“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”

— Theodore Roosevelt


“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.”

— Franklin D. Roosevelt


“If we’ve learned any lessons during the past few decades, perhaps the most important is that preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge; it’s common sense. Our physical health, our social happiness, and our economic well-being will be sustained only by all of us working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources.”

— Ronald Reagan


“‘Environment’ is not an abstract concern, or simply a matter of aesthetics, or of personal taste — although it can and should involve these as well. Man is shaped to a great extent by his surroundings. Our physical nature, our mental health, our culture and institutions, our opportunities for challenge and fulfillment, our very survival — all of these are directly related to and affected by the environment in which we live. They depend upon the continued healthy functioning of the natural systems of the Earth.”

— Richard M. Nixon


“We must not only protect the countryside and save it from destruction, we must restore what has been destroyed and salvage the beauty and charm of our cities … Once our natural splendor is destroyed, it can never be recaptured. And once man can no longer walk with beauty or wonder at nature, his spirit will wither and his sustenance be wasted.”

— Lyndon B. Johnson


And THE most ridiculous of all from the ex-President

In the absence of sound oversight, responsible businesses are forced to compete against unscrupulous and underhanded businesses, who are unencumbered by any restrictions on activities that might harm the environment.

— Barack Obama

This guy clearly doesn’t know excessive regulation is killing jobs, does he? But then, he wasn’t even born in the USA. What do you expect from a foreigner.


Well blah blah blah. For crying out loud. Who needs forests? Who needs critters and flowers – they just take up good ranching and mining land. Who needs bees for heavens sake? Who the heck needs National Parks (more land there for ranching and mining). Who needs crap like romance and history, heritage, environment and nature?
Who needs beauty, wonder or spirit? Notions like that are nuts. What we need, and all we need, is evergrowing heaps of dollar bills. The rest is for the girls.

Postscript

For those of a less Trumpian mindset, the Center for a New American Dream may be of interest. The Center redefines the American Dream as “… a focus on more of what really matters, such as creating a meaningful life, contributing to community and society, valuing nature, and spending time with family and friends.” Not a dollar sign in sight.

Join the People’s Climate Movement & the March for Climate, Justice & Jobs April 29th 2017, Washington DC

More actions you can take for the environment here

Read more about the President’s plans for the EPA here

Read about the President’s climate-change-denying top energy aide here

Read about first lawsuit filed against head of EPA Scott Pruitt here

Read about the threats to the ESA here

Donate to Endangered Species Coalition Action Center here

Updates

27th February 2017 EPA may soon have 300 empty desks after Trump slashes budget

28th February 2017 This guy doesn’t let the grass grow under his feet. He tore off another leaf from his executive order pad to dismantle the Clean Water Rule


¹ Vanity Fair

²Endangered Species Act


Sources

6 memorable quotes about the environment from former U.S. presidents – MNN

Barack Obama Quotes About Environment – A-Z Quotes

What is the American Dream Today? – the balance

Could US endangered species rules go extinct under Trump? – Focusing on Wildlife


Related posts

Inauguration Day Special

What Trump’s Triumph Means for Wildlife

A Fragile Butterfly Joins the Face Off at Standing Rock

Through Artist’s Eyes – The Wondrous Web of Life & Death

Feast your eyes on a paradox. Self-taught American artist Tiffany Bozic’s vibrant paintings fuse together two incongruent poles. A high emotional charge / and rigorous scientific accuracy. Her own imaginative vision / and meticulous observation.

At first sight surreal. But look closer at what the surreal is unmasking. The ultimate reality, the ultimate truth, that we are all part of Planet Earth’s beautiful, inextricably-interwoven web of life and death.

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© Tiffany Bozic

Just as the image plays with our ideas of reality, the title of this painting plays with words, ‘Flora and Fawn’

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© Tiffany Bozic
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© Tiffany Bozic

Tiffany has spent most of her life “living with and observing the intricacies of nature.” If more of us could emulate her approach, what reverence for life would prevail.

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© Tiffany Bozic

Tiffany paints on boards of maple wood.

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© Tiffany Bozic
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© Tiffany Bozic

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In some of her work, we see Tiffany making the grain of the wood itself an integral part of the image.

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© Tiffany Bozic

Cover pic ©Tiffany Bozic

Discover more about this fascinating artist, her techniques and her art here

Visit Tiffany’s website Tiffany Bozic

Source

New Surreal Wildlife Paintings by Tiffany Bozic – Colossal

Related posts

Step into a Miniature World of Animated Paper Wildlife

Vegan Artist’s Surreal Vision of Animals & Our Planet

The Serious Intensity of Being in Animal Art

If Rembrandt Painted Farm Animals They’d Look Like This

Futurology Promises More Hopes than Fears for the Animals & the Planet

Futurology says you really can have too many bees!

Even the most indifferent to environmental issues and our native flora and fauna would have to be blind and deaf not to have registered the torrent of bad news about the dramatic and worrying decline in bee population numbers over the last few years.

So how could you possibly have too many bees?

We know of course that bee colonies are trucked all over the USA to pollinate crops as each comes into flower each year.

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But until I came to write this post, I for one was completely unaware that right now millions of bees are being shipped around the globe to work their pollination magic. Here in the UK it seems we import 40,000-50,000 colonies each year. And global bee commerce continues to expand.

This is a problem for at least two reasons:

  • The colonies – provided by a handful of global suppliers – are screened for diseases and parasites, but that screening is not foolproof. And the imported bees hosting pathogens can and do spread their unwanted ‘guests’ to the local populations with disastrous results. “The effects include killing bees outright, or harming their ability to learn, which is crucial in finding food. In Argentina, imported parasites are driving native species to extinction.”¹ As the trade exports the industrious little insects to ever more locations, the danger of harmful effects on native bees and food security increases.
  • As well as putting their local cousins at risk, the imported bees, by pollinating invasive non-native plant species, are likely to accelerate their dispersion with unknowable effects on local biodiversity.

So I guess the problem isn’t exactly having too many bees per se, but too many bees on the move carrying pathogens to all corners of the world. It’s ironic but perturbing that an industry that’s mushroomed in response to an ever-widening pollinator shortage, will likely itself exacerbate the downward trend.

A big conservation problem then. One of five recently identified as global environmental risks by an international team of experts in science communication, research and horizon scanning. Horizon scanning (otherwise known as Futurology or Future Studies) is a collaborative process of assembling all available data in a particular field to identify future trends, both positive and negative.

While in an ideal world the crystal ball would reveal zero future environmental risks, it’s good to know at least that this particular expert team – undertaking their horizon-scanning in the field of species and ecosystems pinpointed just 5 key risks, but twice as many hopeful opportunities. And as I’m keen to make this week a week of hope, I’ll list the remaining 4 risks in brief so we can get on to the good stuff.

1   Sand scarcity I don’t know about you, but this is one possible problem I wouldn’t have imagined. “Sand is used in a diverse range of industries and as the human population increases so does the demand for sand. Impacts of sand mining include loss of species, degradation of habitats and social conflict”.

2  Border fences affecting wild animals The impenetrable wall between the USA and Mexico promised by President Trump would adversely affect desert bighorn sheep, the endangered North American jaguar, the ocelot – now down to the last 50 in southern Texas and the cougar (pictured here).cougar-718092_960_720

In total it’s estimated that 111 endangered species could suffer as a result of Trump’s wall, as well as 108 species of migratory birds.” Sadly the trend is not confined to the USA. The increased use of border fencing in Europe and elsewhere will have similar detrimental effects on the movement, migration and survival of wild animal species.²

3  Changes in waste management affecting wild animals Another trend that wouldn’t spring immediately to mind – closing or covering rubbish dumps. That might sound like a positive, but will be bad news for wildlife scavengers habituated to this ready food supply.

4  Wind speeds at the sea surface are increasing data indicates, and so is the frequency of gales. The effect on seabirds and migrating marine animals is an unknown, but unlikely to be beneficial.

Bad news is always unwelcome I know. But even the bad can have its good side. If it throws the spotlight on to a problem, we can start looking for solutions. Take science’s revelation about the damage to marine life from plastic microbeads. The data that surfaced in 2010 was troubling to say the least, but bringing it to light did bring about quite speedy international action in the form of bans on their use.

Now that’s out the way we can, as promised, get to the good stuff – 10 new conservation opportunities opened up to us by advances in science and technology:

1  A new biological discovery: strains of Symbodinium (unicellular algae) found in coral reefs are resistant to heat and could hopefully be manipulated to protect reefs from the bleaching effect of rising temperatures in the ocean.

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2  An underwater robot called COTSbot has been very successful at controlling the crown-of-thorn starfish responsible for 40% of the damage to the Great Barrier Reef in the last 30 years. Robotics offer the prospect of more environmental wins. Watch COTSbot in action below.

3  The portable 3D-printed electronic ‘dogs’ nose, bizarre as it sounds, works even better than the real thing. It will provide a major new asset for sniffing out illegal wildlife goods, especially at border crossings, and offers the potential to disrupt major black market trade routes. That would be huge.

4  As a result of advances in genetic screening and engineering bacteria and fungi can now be used for biological pest control and growth stimulation treatments, averting the need to use artificial chemicals that harm biodiversity.

5  Ah, we’ve hit a snag. With this one it seems like risks and opportunities might be fairly equally balanced. We’re talking floating wind farms. Right now the biggest in the world is being constructed off the coast of Scotland. Though more efficient in supplying green energy than land-based, and good for fish seeking a refuge, they would be no better than their land-based counterparts at avoiding collateral damage to birds in flight. Plus there’s a chance they could entangle marine mammals.

6  The bionic leaf that makes fuel out of sunlight and water. Forget fitting solar panels to your roof. Just get your bionic leaf and make your own ready-to-use biomass. Watch the video to find out how.

7  Lithium-air batteries. Yet another technology entirely new to me. If produced commercially, these batteries could revolutionise the clean energy industry by enabling electric cars to run on a battery a fifth of the cost and a fifth of the weight of batteries currently on the market. This means you could travel from London to Edinburgh – just over 400 miles – on a single charge. Right now an electric car can only drive between 50 and 80 miles per charge. If you’re interested in the science, click here.

8  Reverse photosynthesis uses the sun’s energy to break down rather than build up plant material. It’s potential? To transform the production of biofuels and plastics and reduce fossil fuel use and carbon emissions.

9  Carbon capture involves dissolving the carbon dioxide in water and injecting it into basalt rock, which is plentiful all around the globe. Once in the rock it undergoes a natural process. The basalts (volcanic rock) react with the gas-in-solution to form carbonate minerals. Hey presto, limestone! In the Iceland Carbfix project it took just two years for the  solution to solidify. Compare that with the hundreds or even thousands of years that was predicted. Only the lack of political will is holding this one back. Grrr.

10  bitcoin-1813507__340Blockchain technologyBy allowing digital information to be distributed but not copied, blockchain technology created the backbone of a new type of internet. Originally devised for the digital currency, Bitcoin, the tech community is now finding other potential uses for the technology.”

In the environmental field, these could be: “establishing a currency market for trading carbon credits, improving supply chain traceability (e.g. for sustainable fish) and tracking illegal wildlife trade.”

Which all goes to prove there are few conservation issues for which science and technology cannot find an answer. Futurology is right to see the almost limitless opportunities they offer.

But it’s not human ingenuity that is ever in question. Humankind’s will to implement preventions and solutions most certainly is, both at political and individual level.

The good news is, we have the power in our hands to act at both levels. In politics we can use our vote for the planet. We can also throw your support behind organisations actively engaged in protecting nature and lobbying governments or challenging them in courts of law.

In the USA for example, we have the altogether wonderful Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club amongst others.

Here in the UK, we can support the Wildlife Trusts. We can be sure they will do all in their power to keep our government in line with the National Ecosystem Asessment. We can also join the Ecosystems Knowledge Network. They greatly value individuals’ input.

On a purely individual level Friends of the Earth has a wealth of ideas and tips for living an eco-friendly life which is well worth exploring.

It is so beyond time to stop ravaging the Earth in the pursuit of our own selfish interests. We are currently pursuing a path that is not only irresponsible and disrespectful, but ultimately self-defeating. The real interests of the human race lie not in the rape and pillage of our precious planet and all the life in it, but in due reverence, regaining a sense of wonder, and careful loving stewardship. We can do it.

After all, there is only one Earth.

“I will not dishonor my soul with hatred,
but offer myself humbly as a guardian of nature,
as a healer of misery,
as a messenger of wonder,
as an architect of peace.
I will honor all life,
wherever and in whatever form it may dwell,
on Earth my home,
and in the mansions of the stars.”

– Diane Ackerman

Read about last year’s projections here

¹Imported bees pose risk to UK’s wild and honeybee population – The Guardian

²Building Walls – Purr and Roar. Excellent post on this topic I would heartily recommend. Also Border Fences Aimed at Stopping Immigrants are Killing Wildlife – Take Part

 

Source

15 risks and opportunities to global conservation – Fauna & Flora International

Related posts

Hope for the Animals & the Planet?

There is Always Hope for the Animals & the Planet

Ten Fascinating Ways Technology is Saving Animals

How Drones Might Just Save Our Endangered Animals & the Planet

 

 

A Fragile Butterfly Joins The Face Off At Standing Rock Revisited

Cover pic from Willamette Weekly – Dakota skipper butterfly by artist Roger Peet

“The butterfly is a small thing. It’s not a very dramatic creature. It’s about an inch long, but it’s part of the great community of life that exists on the plains.”

Roger Peet

7th February 2017 was a black day for the protesters at Standing Rock.

It was way back in April 2016 that members of the Sioux and other Native American Nations established their camps of resistance in April 2016. And there they still stand, they and their supporters, braving the snow and winter storms, resolute to prevent the last remaining 1.5 miles of the Dakota Access Pipeline desecrating Native American sacred land, and polluting their water ways.

As the world watched with disbelief, President Trump’s first week in office spewed forth an unprecedented flood of executive orders, including one reinstating the work on both the Keystone pipeline and the DAPL.

The order runs contrary to the Army Corps of Engineer’s decision in December to initiate a complete environmental impact assessment. But it seems that under pressure from Washington, the ACE has not waited for the assessment report, instead clearing the way for Energy Transfer Partners to carry on with the completion of this last section of the 1,700 mile long pipeline. Though the Sioux vow to challenge Trump’s decision in court, their window of opportunity has been cut short, possibly too short to even lodge that challenge.

Now more than ever we need to show our support for the protesters, and Stand with Standing Rock. Another new petition to sign here

Other petitions to sign below.

Thursday 9th February

Everyday at Standing Rock brings new developments. Earlier in the week, police arrived in armored vehicles and in riot gear, some of them armed, to arrest 76 Water Protectors at their newly established ‘Last Child’ camp.

In response to this and the easement pushed through for DAPL thousands of Veterans who visited in December to support the protestors are planning their return to Standing Rock, to stand as a peaceful human shield between the Water Protectors and the ‘heavily militarised police’.

“We are committed to the people of Standing Rock, we are committed to nonviolence and we will do everything within our power to ensure that the environment and human life are respected. That pipeline will not get completed. Not on our watch,” Anthony Diggs, a spokesman for Veterans Stand, told CNBCCare2

Veterans Stand launched a new crowdfunding campaign to continue their commitment of protecting their “indigenous brothers and sisters”, and asked, “how can something be good for America when it disregards due process of law, risking our civil liberties and essential natural resources?”

An excellent question Mr Trump. Do you have an answer?

Friday 10th February

“Construction crews have resumed work on the final segment of the Dakota Access pipeline, and the developer of the long-delayed project said Thursday that the full system could be operational within three months.

Meanwhile, an American Indian tribe filed a legal challenge to block the work and protect its water supply.Chicago Tribune

Monday 13th February

Judge refuses to block work on Dakota Access pipeline. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said he would not grant a temporary restraining order against the project sought by the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe. It means that oil could potentially run through the pipeline within 45 days, if not sooner. The Hill

Wednesday 15th February

On February 15th, 2017, Pope John Francis joined the fray. The Pope met with representatives from the Standing Rock Sioux at a U.N. Agricultural meeting in Rome to discuss the issue. Afterward, he made this statement to the press,”The right to prior and informed consent [should always prevail especially] when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the Earth.” We salute the Pope for coming out against this gross violation of the Standing Rock Sioux’s rights.

You can also use the White House contact page to express your displeasure regarding this policy. Finally, you can send supplies to the protesters on the ground by contacting Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund and  Standing Rock Sioux Tribe DAPL Donation Fund. United we are stronger than any government or corporation. One Green Planet

Wednesday 22nd February

All but a 100 or so water protectors left Standing Rock before the deadline expired at 2pm. 10 who remained were arrested. Those left were given another chance to leave peacefully Thursday.

Thursday 23rd February

The protest finally ends. Standing Rock camps cleared by force. “In distressing scenes for anyone who has been involved fighting the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, highly militarized law enforcement—some carrying guns, riot gear and backed up by Humvees and bulldozers—moved into the Oceti Sakowin camp near the pipeline route.” Another 46 arrested. Oil could be flowing through the DAPL as soon as mid-March.

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Tuesday 7th March 2017

Native Nations take their protest to Washington

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Thursday 9th March 2017

 Original post 5th December 2016

This week we were shocked by news that in sub zero temperatures and snow, local police used water cannon, rubber bullets, mace and percussion grenades on the Native Americans camped out at Standing Rock in North Dakota.
The huge mural of a Dakota skipper butterfly now stands there as a symbol of support for the protestors, and a reminder of what wonders there are to lose if the Dakota Access pipeline is allowed to go through this sacred area.

And the butterfly is not the only species at risk. There are 18 others, including the whooping crane, the piping plover, and the northern long-eared bat. Does the Dakota Access LLC oil company care? It seems not.

The company’s pipeline is a multi-billion dollar project to transport crude oil through the land to a refinery in Illinois. But the stand off at Standing Rock is not just about wildlife. The Native American people claim it will run right through sacred native lands. And it threatens to contaminate their water which comes from the great Missouri river. They say the DAPL violates the United Nations’ declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, it violates federal law, and it violates native treaties with the federal government. And haven’t the Native American people suffered plenty of treachery like that in the last couple of hundred years!

The protest began in April. The Standing Rock Lakota and other Native American nations rode on horseback to Standing Rock and established a camp they named Sacred Stone. And so the peaceful protest began – peaceful on the protestors side at least. Their battle tactics have been setting up camps and prayer circles.

Now Standing Rock is home to 6,000 protestors. There are 3 camps:

  • the original Sacred Stone Camp close to the river among clusters of trees
  • the Oceti Sakowin Camp home to 4,000, talking quietly huddled around fires in the snow, or sheltering in tepees
  • and last but not least, the Red Warrior Camp, command centre from where disruptive actions are launched

The people have got themselves very well organised and have everything they need. There are tents full of donated sleeping bags, warm gloves and hats, kitchens cooking up mountains of rice and beans, and even traditional healers and doctors on hand.

And it wasn’t all bad this week. Film star Jane Fonda who is actively campaigning against DAPL visited Standing Rock with a delegation of 50 to serve a Wopila feast to the Native Americans, in thanks for their courage protecting Mother Earth.

And now the glorious big bold butterfly mural, the work of artist Roger Peet, leader of the  national Endangered Species Mural Project for the Center for Biological Diversity. This makes the tenth so far of different artists’ murals feasting the eyes of passersby on walls across the US, from Kentucky to Minnesota, California to Tennessee. The aim is to increase awareness and appreciation of the threatened species depicted.

“[Being at Standing Rock] is very humbling. It’s very intense. And it’s very cold. It’s a very rare space to be in in North America—to be in an environment where indigenous culture and voice is at the forefront of everything that’s happening,” says Peet. “The priorities of the settler culture that’s been imposed on this continent is very much requested to take a step back and not insert themselves. It’s a great learning experience opportunity to engage with people who are doing very intense serious work to defend their lives and environment.”

It’s more than sad that the attack on the protestors looks about to gain momentum. President-elect Trump it seems has a financial interest in the oil company – now there’s a surprise. Besides which he’s a self-declared champion of dirty energy. When he enters office in January, it’s expected that Day 1 will see him sweep aside any remaining legal obstacles to the Dakota Access Pipeline and deal strenuously with the protestors.

So what can a fragile butterfly do to bolster their chances against the most powerful man on Earth?

The time is surely coming when the very many of us who hold dear all that is sacred in life: art, spirituality, the rights of indigenous peoples, the rights of animals, the rights of Nature itself, will together gather enough impetus to overpower the crass materialism and corporate greed of those who hold sway today.

Sign here, here and  here to express your support for the Sioux people of Standing Rock

More Ways You Can Stand Up For Standing Rock

Contact the White House ASAP. Use the White House contact page, White House, Inc., Twitter, or Facebook to tell Donald Trump that YOU are complaining about DAPL.
Make a call. Voice your opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline and ask for the environmental assessment to be completed by calling the Army Corps of Engineers at 202-761-5903.
Join a protest. Protests at pipeline construction sites in North Dakota have been going on since spring 2016. Consider heading up there for a few days or weeks to show your support in person or attend a local protest in your community such as the one recently in Los Angeles.
Divest your money. Leave financial institutions funding DAPL. Write a message to these companies stating that you plan to divest because you oppose this destructive project. Use this tool to send a mass email.
Send donations and/or supplies. Thousands of people are based in the area to protest and need supplies and financial support to keep going. Send donations to Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund and  Standing Rock Sioux Tribe DAPL Donation Fund.
Educate others. Share updates on the DAPL situation with friends and family using social media (#DakotaAccessPipeline, #nodapl, #standingrock) to keep this issue top-of-mind.

Update

5th December 2016 US Army refuses N Dakota pipeline access – BBC News

6th December 2016 Pipeline company threatens to ignore US Army decision. Please sign petition here

Also on 6th,  Hero Veterinarian Takes 900 Mile Journey to Help Standing Rock Horses – Care2

17th January Standing Rock – We have work to do – Care2

24th January President’s executive order reopens door for controversial pipelines – MNN

It is not clear yet whether the order from the Oval Office supersedes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to alter the route of the pipeline and not send it under the Missouri River near tribal lands.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe said it would take legal action against Trump’s order.

7th February Trump’s executive order signed 24th January set in motion the Army Corps of Engineers’ clearing the way for Dakota Access Pipeline. This move negates ACE’s previous plan for a complete environmental assessment of land and water and cuts short the consultation period. It is now doubtful whether there will be time for the Sioux tribe to lodge a legal challenge to this decision.

Sources

The who, what and why of the Standing Rock protests – The Guardian

A Portland Artist Painted a Bold Mural at Standing Rock – Willamette Week

Standing Rock: Are pipeline protest camp days numbered? – BBC News

16 + 1 Dazzling facts about Hummingbirds

These little creatures are as fascinating as they are beautiful. In fact, they are SO amazing, they’re inspiring a futuristic design for harnessing green energy. Look out for the new fact I’ve added to this article, no. 17!

Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer (@MelissaBreyer)
Science / Animals
January 19, 2017 for Treehugger

These psychedelic pixies of the bird world are all magic and moxie.

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CC BY 2.0 Nortondefeis

There are a lot of magical creatures on this planet, but it’s really hard to outdo the hummingbird when it comes to enchantment. They are the nectar-fueled, jewel-hued fairies of the bird world – and they have the moxie to match. These teeny wee things display some of the most vivid colors in the animal kingdom and have prodigious talents unique to themselves – like, you know, they hover – all in a Lilliputian package that weighs as little as a paperclip. I’m not sure they could be anymore bewitching – but if you need convincing, start here.

1. They’re not called hummingbirds for nothing

While they could have been named purringbirds or whirringbirds, the fact remains that they create quite the buzz, befitting of their onomatopoetic name. A hummingbird beats its wings around 70 times per second in direct flight and over 200 times per second while diving.

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Francesco Veronesi/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

2. They are aerial acrobats

Hummingbirds can fly up, down and all around – forwards, backwards and even upside down. They can beat their wings in a figure-eight pattern, which makes them the only vertebrates capable of sustained hovering. They can fly 30 mph, and exceed 45 mph during courtship dives.

3. They put their flying to good use

Hummingbirds are found only in the New World, from southeastern Alaska to southern Chile – and of the 340 species of hummingbirds, many of them migrate at least 500 miles every year. The rufous hummingbird migrates 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) from Mexico to Alaska every year; ruby-throated hummingbirds can fly 18 to 20 straight hours to get across the Gulf of Mexico.

4. And of course, they are tiny

Much of the enchantment of these spectacular birds is that they pack so much magic into such a small creature. And in fact, the bee hummingbird of Cuba (pictured below), is around two inches long and weighs in at under 2 grams, is the smallest bird in the world. Theoretically, 16 of them could be mailed first class using a single stamp.

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charlesjsharp/Wikimedia/CC BY 2.0

5. They are remarkably flamboyant

Those of us east of the Mississippi only get to enjoy the ruby-throated hummingbird, and in all, only 17 species regularly nest in The States – but in the tropics? The place is humming with them. And like other creatures who live in the lush habitats of South America, many of them are vividly candy-colored with all kinds of frippery to add pizzazz – as can be seen in many of the photos here.

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Francesco Veronesi/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

6. The men are dandies

Purple cheek pompoms, exuberant crests, wildly burdensome-looking tails – along with some of the most beautiful colors known to nature, male hummingbirds come with all kinds of wild add-ons to woo the ladies. The tails of species like the long-tailed sylph (Aglaiocercus kingii) and the booted racket-tail (Ocreatus underwoodii) – who also sports some perfectly poofy pantaloons – are completely improbable. (Both pictured below.) Which is also the point; the males who can survive with such beautifully burdensome tails prove to the females how hearty they are and what splendid mates they would make.

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Joseph C Boone/CC BY 2.0
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Francesco Veronesi/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

7. Their nests could be the work of fairies

Hummingbird nests are the tiny homes of the bird world, usually not exceeding the size of half a walnut shell. They are velvety little cups formed from moss, leaves and plant bits, woven together with spider silk. And into the nests, mama birds deposit one to three tiny eggs the size of small pearls.

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Yerandy1990/CC BY 2.0

8. They have the quickest hearts in town

With heart rates exceeding 1,200 beats per minute, hummingbirds have the fastest beating hearts in the animal kingdom.

9. They are gluttons for nectar

To keep their exuberant metabolism fueled, these little guys and gals need a prodigious amount of food, mostly in the form of nectar. One study noted that a hummingbird of 3 grams can devour 43 grams of sugar water in a day; that’s 14 times its body weight. They also eat tree sap, as well as insects.

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Bill Bouton/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

10. Bill, please

One of the hummingbird’s hallmarks is its long crazy bill that is specialized to fit into tubular flowers to get the goods. Different species have differently shaped bills in accordance with the flowers they prefer. Some are dramatically curved, others are very long. In the case of the remarkable sword-billed hummingbird, pictured below, so long that they have to hold it upright in order to stay balanced when perching! In fact, it is the only species of bird with a bill longer than its body.

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Francesco Veronesi/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

11. Their tongues would demolish a lollipop

Hummingbirds have a long, split tongue that they use to vacuum nectar from flowers; it is such a fast-working tongue that it can flick at a rate of up to 13 licks per second.

12. They never forget

Believe it or not, those wee heads hold a lot of brainpower! One study found that the hummingbird’s hippocampus is significantly larger, relative to telencephalic volume, than any bird examined to date. Why? Because of their extraordinary nectar lust, they visit hundreds of flowers each day. “In order to feed efficiently,” notes the researchers, “they must remember what flowers they have visited, the locations of high nectar-rewarding flowers and a host of additional spatial–temporal information. A combination of field and laboratory studies demonstrate that hummingbirds can remember the nectar quality and content of individual flowers, nectar-refilling rates, spatial location and distribution of flowers, avoid revisiting recently sampled flowers and rely on ‘episodic-like’ memory for daily foraging.”

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Francesco Veronesi/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

13. They find walking passé

Have you ever seen a hummingbird walk or even hop? Probably not, since they don’t bother. Their feet are so small and their flying so adept that they have pretty much done away with using them for anything other than perching.

14. They have great eyes

While hummingbirds can’t smell very well, they can see a whole array of colors that we can not, thanks to their ability to process ultraviolet light.

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Francesco Veronesi/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

15. They have built-in flying goggles

Hummingbirds are one of the lucky animals that come complete with a third set of eyelids. These “nictitating membranes” are like a translucent curtain that can be drawn to protect the eyes during flight. They’d be all set for Burning Man.

16. Their collective name is a “charm”

Just like we have flocks of sheep and packs of dogs and gaggles of geese, we have charms of hummingbirds. Because, of course – few creatures are as charming as a hummingbird, let alone a group of them!

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Francesco Veronesi/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Epilogue: Amazingly, hummingbirds were almost rendered extinct in the 19th century thanks to the Victorian penchant for vibrant feathers and the fashionable collecting of specimens by nature connoisseurs. Thankfully we’ve come to recognize the folly in that, yet these most beautiful of birds, like so many of the planet’s species, now face other risks. Namely, habitat loss and destruction. We can only hope that future generations will be able to admire hummingbirds and look back feeling grateful that 21st century humankind wised up before it was too late.


My comment: How grateful future generations will be to us humans alive today remains to be seen. The best step we can take individually to ensure that there will be left of this wondrous planet something to be grateful for, is to move towards a more plant-based diet. Check out Take Extinction off Our Plates and Eat for the Planet. As lovers of wildlife, we do owe it to Planet Earth as a matter of urgency.

And here’s my no.17. Let’s hope this will help with a greener future for us all.

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Artist impression of a field packed with hummingbird-like wind turbines. Credit: TYER WIND

A design for wind turbines inspired by the world’s only bird capable of hovering and backwards flight — the gorgeous hummingbird.

It’s a world first in biomimicry says Tyer Wind, the company trialing this design. The hummingbird’s flight dynamics have never been reproduced in a mechanical device before.

How is this an improvement on the standard turbine model? “This design is a highly efficient wind converter. Million of years of natural selection have turned hummingbirds into some of the world’s most energetically efficient flyers.”

If you’re interested in the biodynamics of this remarkable little bird’s flight, you can see more in the video.

Sources

16 dazzling facts about hummingbirds – TreeHugger

Flapping wind turbine mimics hummingbird to produce electricity – ZME Science

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Inauguration Day Special – Animal TrumpAlikes & More

It’s a must-see. Has a life of its own!

Plus, in the pic below, discovered by biologist Vazrick Nazari the very first species to be named after the new president. How do you reckon the little moth’s coiffeur shapes up?

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“The new species is named in honor of Donald J. Trump,” Nazari wrote in a review of the species. “The specific epithet is selected because of the resemblance of the scales of the moth to Mr. Trump’s hairstyle.”

But jokes aside
Nazari continues:“The reason for this choice of name is to bring wider public attention to the need to continue protecting fragile habitats in the U.S. that still contain many undescribed species.”¹
From this day forward, environmental protections, animal welfare regulations, and the Endangered Species Act² are all under threat. Indeed the newly elected GOP majorities on Capitol Hill didn’t even wait for Inauguration Day to begin the dismantling process.
Time for all activists to take our cue from the incredible community at Standing Rock and come together in solidarity for the majestic lands and wildlife of America – and indeed of the world, for the new president’s environmental reach will extend far beyond the United States.

“Trump is a businessman, and that’s all he thinks about … what will make money”

On some of these crucial issues the new president may find himself out of step with his people, even those who shoehorned him into the White House. The results of a Reuters/Ipsos poll for instance, published on Tuesday indicate that 60% of Americans would like to see the Environmental Protection Agency’s powers preserved or strengthened, and the drilling of oil on public lands to hold steady or drop.

“Trump is a businessman, and that’s all he thinks about … what will make money,” said Terry Cox, a 61-year-old resident of Tennessee who voted for the New York real estate mogul in November’s election. “But I’m hopeful there’s a limit to what he can do when it comes to weakening protections for wildlife and the environment.”  Reuters

If you want to know exactly what we’re up against, check this out.

The minute the man was declared winner of the 2016 presidential election, ecowarriors and animalistas, not to mention anti-racists, anti-sexists and human rights activists, set to work devising strategies to thwart his bigoted and planet-unfriendly intentions.

Rebecca Leber for one, wasted no time. On November 22  she published  5 Ways to save the environment in the age of Donald Trump. Her recommendations include “Apply public pressure”, Win the States”, and “Sue the bastards”.

If you want to wo/man the barricades, as I hope you do, against the demolition of all the hard-won environmental,  farmed animal and wildlife successes activists have spent decades giving everything they’ve got to achieve, join forces with the Sierra Club and/or the Center for Biological Diversity. The Center is not going to be caught on the back foot. It’s all ready with a defiant and ambitious 23-point plan for the first 100 days of the new presidency.

You can help straightaway by signing the Center’s Pledge of Resistance to Donald Trump’s Assault on America’s Environment, Democracy and Civil Rights.

And if you are a US citizen make a quick phone call to your senator’s state office to express your opposition to the appointment of climate change denier Scott Pruitt to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. That would be funny if it weren’t so horribly worrying. Pruitt was, in his campaign for the post of Oklahoma’s Attorney General, sponsored by the fossil fuel industry . Details for the phone call here.

Also welcoming your support, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Humane Society of the United States, or any of the other many campaigning groups that are on the right side of history.

“No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” Edmund Burke

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the new President of the USA could take 63 seconds out of his busy schedule to inform himself of the great legacy for the environment and wildlife ex-President Obama has left behind from his years in office?

But sadly, there’s no doubt it would just provide Mr Trump with an aide-memoire of the stuff he’s already pledged to undo.

Video courtesy of NRDC.

EarthJustice thanks Mr Obama here.

We will miss you Barack.

¹ ZME Science

² GOP ready to scrap Endangered Species Protections – Care2

Why a President Trump Could Be a Threat to Animals Everywhere – Huffington Post

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9 Creatures Named After the Outgoing President. Obama Will Be Honored – Or Will He?

Two gruesome parasites, an extinct lizard, some blotchy lichen, a mean-looking fish – as well as two quite pretty ones. And a particularly hairy scary spider known to ambush unsuspecting snakes passing by its hidden trapdoors. (A political metaphor? We can but hope!)

What’s not for the President to love?
Seriously though, the discoverers of these new-to-science species have found some pretty cool reasons for honoring Mr Obama in this way. I’ve highlighted them because they are good.

 Jessica Boddy for Science magazine Dec. 29, 2016:

From the extinct Obamadon to the barackobamai spider, the outgoing U.S. president is a taxonomic inspiration.

Though U.S. President Barack Obama is leaving office soon, he will be forever immortalized in taxonomy thanks to scientists who have named species after him. Nine different species from extinct lizards to trapdoor spiders got their names from the 44th U.S. president, which is more than any of his predecessors. (Theodore Roosevelt comes in as a close second with seven.)

Here are the creatures that are saying “Thanks, Obama,” for their presidential names.

Aptostichus barackobamai (trapdoor spider)

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Jason E Bond/Wikimedia Commons

In 2012, biologist Jason Bond of Auburn University in Alabama declared the existence of 33 new trapdoor spider species in the journal ZooKeys. He named many of them after celebrities like Stephen Colbert (Aptostichus stephencolberti) and even one after the aggressive desert-burrowing menace from Star Wars called the sarlacc (A. sarlacc). But Bond named one spider A. barackobamai in appreciation for Obama.

“I feel like his presidency is noteworthy,” Bond told Wired. “He’s been a true statesman in the face of ridiculous opposition.”

You can find A. barackobamai among the redwoods in north-central California, ambushing countless dim-witted insects, frogs, and even snakes that venture past its hidden trapdoors.

Etheostoma Obama (spangled darter)

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Blake Markwell/Flickr

The longest river in Tennessee is home to the darter, a tiny fish named for its tendency to zip around cold, clear waters. When examining color variation in the common speckled darter, biologists Steve Layman from Geosyntec Consultants, an environmental consulting and engineering firm based in Atlanta, and Richard Mayden at Saint Louis University in Missouri realized they weren’t looking at just one species, but five. As they describe in their November 2012 paper in the Bulletin of the Alabama Museum of Natural History, the duo named one Etheostoma obama, or the spangled darter. Only about 45 millimeters long, the fish is wonderfully colored with iridescent blue and orange spots and stripes.

The biologists say they decided to name the darter after Obama because of his focus on clean energy and environmental protection.

Obamadon gracillis (extinct insectivorous lizard)

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Ben Hanelt, Matthew G. Bolek, Andreas Schmidt-Rhaesa/Wikimedia Commons

Five million years ago, a fearsome lizard roamed the land … well, fearsome to insects, anyway. The now extinct Obamadon gracilis, or just Obamadon, was only a third of a meter long and devoured insects using a set of impressively tall and straight teeth. Paleontologists discovered an Obamadon fossil in Hell Creek Formation in Montana and published their finding in the December 2012 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

They were fascinated by the lizard’s impeccable choppers, which they say reminded them of President Obama’s smile.

Paragordius obamai (hairworm)

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Ben Hanelt, Matthew G. Bolek, Andreas Schmidt-Rhaesa/Wikimedia Commons

Hairworms are gruesome parasites that grow up to 30 centimeters long inside the bodies of their hosts. Lucky for you, they only infect crickets. One particular hairworm species, the African hairworm, was discovered in Kenya in 2012. Biologist Ben Hanelt of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque was splitting open some crickets to check out their parasites, but was baffled when an entire population turned out to be female. Turns out he found the first species of parthenogenic hairworms—meaning the female parasites can reproduce without any male assistance, as noted in his PLOS ONE study published in April 2012.

Hanelt named the parasite Paragordius obamai in honor of Obama, as the president’s father and stepgrandmother are from a Kenyan town just 19 kilometers away from where he found the parasites.

Baracktrema obamai (turtle blood fluke)

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J. R. Roberts et. al. Journal of Parasitology 102, 4 (August 2016) © 2016 American Society of Parasitologists

Earlier this year, Obama had the honor of being named after a second parasite, this time one that lives in the blood of Malaysian freshwater turtles. As described in the August issue of the Journal of Parasitology, Baracktrema obamai are as thin as human hair and reside in the turtles’ lungs, where they lay their eggs. Thomas Platt, a biologist who retired from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, this year, assures the public this is meant as a compliment to Obama, not an insult.

He told the Associated Press B. obamai reminded him of the sitting president of the United States (POTUS) because of its resilience throughout its life cycle, in addition to the fact that “it’s long. It’s thin. And it’s cool as hell.”

Nystalus obamai (western striolated puffbird)

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Illustration by Hilary Burn from: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J. & Christie, D.A. eds. (2013). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Special Volume: New Species and Global Index. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

In 2008, biologist Bret Whitney at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge was doing field work in the Amazon when he heard a bird sing a song he’d never heard before. After analyzing its DNA, Whitney realized he’d found a new species of puffbird: stout, fluffy birds with exceptionally large heads that live mostly solitary lives in the Amazonian treetops.

Whitney named it Nystalus obamai in a June 2013 Handbook of the Birds of the World paper in honor of Obama’s impact on the development of green technology—particularly solar energy—that could help preserve ecosystems like N. obamai’s.

Teleogramma obamaorum (African cichlid species)

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Melanie L.J. SJassny

Along just 40 kilometers in a stream in the African Congo swims another Obama-monikered fish: Teleogramma obamaorum. The cichlid was discovered in 2011 when a drought caused water levels to dip down low, exposing the populations to researchers who were sampling the area. As noted in her April 2015 study in American Museum Novitates,

Melanie Stiassny, an ichthyologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, chose to name the fish the plural obamaorum in reference to both Michelle and Barack as a nod to their commitment to science education and environmental conservation in Africa.

Caloplaca obamae (firedot lichen)

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J. C. Lendemer

One species of orange-red lichen grows only on Santa Rosa Island off the coast of California: firedot lichen. Discovered during an ecological survey in 2007, Caloplaca obamae was the first organism to be named after the 44th president.

Researchers made their final collections of the lichen for research at the suspenseful tail end of Obama’s presidential campaign,so they chose C. obamae in support of Obama’s appreciation for science and science education.

They reported their discovery in the March 2009 issue of the journal Opuscula Philolichenum.

Tosanoides obama (coral reef basslet)

sn-obamalist
Richard L. Pyle

The newest organism to bear Obama’s name is a pink, blue, and yellow coral reef fish. Tosanoides obama was discovered in June of this year, and given its name in the journal ZooKeys.

Obama is the only fish to live exclusively in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, a protected reserve that President Obama expanded to 1,508,870 square kilometers this year in August. That decree made it the largest ecologically protected place on the planet, and it prohibits any commercial extraction like fishing or deep-sea mining within the monument.

Richard Pyle, a marine biologist at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, discovered and named the fish, and insists, like other biologists before him, that it’s meant as a compliment to honor POTUS’s respect and protection of the natural world.

Source: These nine different creatures have been named after Barack Obama | Science | AAAS

To find out more about President Obama’s environmental legacy by protecting sacred Navajo land at Bears Ears, click here

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Vegan Artist’s Surreal Vision of Animals & Our Planet

Art that speaks volumes

“Artist Amy Guidry uses dreamlike images to make a statement about the relationship between humans and the world.”

by Starre Vartan for MNN 19th December 2016

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‘Expatriate’, a comment on climate change

Fine artist Amy Guidry is a Louisiana-based painter who has been making art since she was 3 years old. Her surrealist art tackles the subjects that she’s interested in exploring — she has looked at depictions of women via fairy tale narratives, and the wide variety of human experience. In her newest series, “In Our Veins,” she delves into the human relationship with animals and the natural world.

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‘Shelter’ hints at Guidry’s promise: ‘What seems illogical can come to life through a painting

What was the impetus for your surrealist series about animals and environment, In Our Veins?

I’ve had an interest in animals and the environment since I was very young. I’ve been vegan for almost 18 years now. However, despite the fact that animals and the natural world were often present in my work, I felt the need to up the ante. I wanted to challenge myself both technically and conceptually. My paintings were becoming progressively more surreal, lending themselves to dreamlike backgrounds and unusual imagery. Surrealism allows me to delve into environmental issues and animal welfare issues, creating strange worlds that reflect the current state of our planet. What seems illogical can come to life through a painting. Though in many ways, I feel like what I paint is a mirror-image of our reality.

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The Pack,’ Guidry says when we ignore the threads that connect everything together in nature, we see animals in pieces and parts

How do you use psychology in your work?

This series focuses on our relationship to the natural world and our connection to every living thing. As humans, we often view nature as a means to an end. Animals are viewed as pieces and parts — head, rump, wing, and so on. They are no longer sentient beings but things we eat or wear or put on our walls. If they are food, animals are renamed: cow becomes beef, chicken becomes poultry, etc. It’s as if we’re distancing ourselves from nature. While I have depicted this common viewpoint through paintings of just the head or bust of an animal, I have endowed them with personalities or traits that would be considered more “human” to emphasize their importance and do away with the notion that animals are less than humans. So each animal, be it mammal, bird, etc., has been endowed with something we consider a “human quality.”

I’ve also explored what I consider the opposite approach to these paintings. While in some works, I rely on eyes and facial expressions to convey a sense of connection and relatability to animals, other paintings show animals without faces or covered faces. I wanted to explore the idea of anonymity vs. connection. Without seeing their faces, does that make them any less personable or meaningful? And how does this apply on a global scale? For me, even without seeing their faces, I still see so much life and personality in these animals. I still see them as sentient beings.

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‘Survival of the Fittest’ puts cows in an unusual role — both predator and prey.

‘In Our Vein’s is dominated by horses, deer, bears, wolves, rabbits, cows and humans. Why these animals?

I feel like a lot of these animals blur the line between what would be considered domestic and what would be considered wild. As more wild habitat is being encroached upon by new houses and shopping malls, these animals are being forced out of their homes and find themselves having to adapt to this new urban landscape. They are wild, yet at the same time, people either think of them as cute nomads or dangerous intruders, depending on the species.

I’ll use cows because I feel like they are the epitome of the agribusiness animal. They are used for meat, dairy, and leather, and it’s because of them that forests are cleared and “predatory” animals are killed — all for the sake of ranching.

As for incorporating humans, I do so to emphasize that we are all part of the animal kingdom. I’ll sometimes combine a human with another animal to illustrate that connection. Other times, I may just paint the human brain as a symbol of sentience and our moral obligation to the welfare of these animals.

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‘Untitled ‘Heads’

How do you find your images when you create a new painting?

The images I come up with are inspired by issues or events that I feel a need to cover through my work. I start out with thumbnail sketches of the basic concept behind a painting and I’ll do maybe 50 variations on that concept until I have the right one. Then I’ll draw out the piece to size. If I feel like it would work better a bit larger or even smaller, then I’ll draw it out again. Once I have that final composition worked out, I’ll then transfer that drawing to canvas, sometimes just tracing what I just did with tracing paper. I try to keep my drawing on canvas fairly basic, and work out the rest with paint. Then I do a rough layer of paint, just working out the basic image and getting the colors down. The subsequent layers of paint are to build the colors, and refine the details of everything, getting more detailed until the final layer of paint.

If I need a reference, I rely on my own pets, myself, or my husband as live models. I also have anatomical models and books, though I use that as a guide. I take a lot of artistic license because sometimes a literal translation just doesn’t suit what I’m going for.

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‘Crutch’ hints at the sacrifices animals make to make way for human development

How does your local environment (or another one) find its way into your paintings?

So far what I’ve been painting has been on more of a global scale, really, though I do plan on doing some pieces more specific to this area (Louisiana), especially because of our wetlands. I’ve been focused on climate change, so oceans have been a dominant theme as of late. I also incorporate desert scenes for not only an apocalyptic feel, but to also illustrate the change in landscape due to the clear-cutting of forests.

Your color palette is very specific; is this to make it easier to reproduce colors time and again or for some other reason?

The colors are really dictated by the subject matter, that being said, there are some choices I make regarding the background which are completely intuitive. I may use a more dramatic sky if I want the overall feel of the piece to be a bit dark.

All photos by Amy Guidry

amypic2013Visit Amy’s website and view more of her amazing work in her gallery

“Stunning work of tremendous depth, sublime imagination, tranquil visions, and an attention to detail that is second to none. It should be no surprise that Guidry’s work is garnering serious attention in the art world, and rightfully so”

Ryan Kittleman, Collector and Editor of Noble Row, San Francisco, CA

Source

See Animals & the Environment through a Surrealist’s Eyes – MNN

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Remembrance Day for Lost Species

Cover pic – Golden Toad Incilius Perigrenes Extinct Last seen 1989

All over the world on November 30th 2016, people will be gathering in small groups for rituals of grief to mourn species lost to extinction, and to reinvigorate their love for the natural world.

The age we are living in now is labelled by scientists the 6th Mass Extinction, or the Anthropocene. Anthropocene, because we humans are the ones responsible for wiping out animals, plants, their habitats, whole ecosystems, trashing the beautiful planet we share with them. Who knows how many species have been lost before they’ve even been discovered.

So how does it make us feel when the International Union for the Conservation of Nature publishes the latest additions to the Red List of species at threat of extinction?

Are those animals and plants meaningless names and numbers, easily swept to the furthest darkest recesses of the mind, and left there to gather dust? Are we living in denial?

“So much of the information we receive about extinctions and biodiversity decline today comes from science, not from personal experience in the wild. And while science is necessary, it is often represented in press releases that are bloodless, cold, even inhuman – a recitation of facts rather than a proper elegy for the lost.” Megan Hollingsworth

Or maybe the news does strike home and we feel helpless and hopeless, filled with sorrow, pain and frustration. Do we find ourselves suppressing our grief for fear it may overwhelm us?

Either way we are affected, the Remembrance Day for Lost Species on the 30th offers healing for ourselves, and a way to honour those earth-dwellers forever lost to the planet.

Find a grief ritual near you here

Read the rest of this fascinating and moving article here

 

Special thanks to Garry Rogers for sharing :Why don’t we grieve for extinct species? | GarryRogers Nature Conservation

 

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