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Monthly Archives: October 2012

   In January 2009, there was a helicopter crash in the Siberian region of Altai Krai. This crash killed seven people, including a few high-ranking civil servants. While cleaning up the wreckage, the corpses of Altai wild sheep and mountain sheep were found; all of them poached illegally. There were four survivors of the crash who were high-ranking  government officials and they were cleared of all charges.

Once the details of the crash was made known to the public, the media had a field day and several reports of poaching by top officials popped up. The head of the Federal Taxation Service department was detained on suspicion of poaching. A governor from Northwestern Russia was accused of shooting endangered bighorn rams. Other officials were also accused of poaching in Yakutia, Russia’s Far East.

 Poaching used to be extremely uncommon in Russia,but unfortunately now its become a big problem in the country. The main reason that the illegal hunting started was due to the social and political changes since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. State controlled farms stopped due to the fall of the system. The unemployment, poverty, inflation and shortage of food took it’s impact out on the wildlife, and there was no one there to stop it from happening. Between 1992 and 1996, law enforcement focused on drug and trafficking and money laundering. Environmental crimes were not treated as big security issues. The government experienced some major budget cuts, which hit environmental and wildlife protection agencies hard. There were many layoffs and pay reductions for rangers who could fight against poachers.

There are about 50,000 cases registered annually in Russia. The animals being poached are mainly bear, musk deer, leopards and tigers.

In August, a graveyard of brown bears was discovered in Siberia. The Siberian Times covered this story and said

“The fear is that poaching was undertaken as an order from the Chinese black market where bear product where bear products have a high value as delicacies and for medicinal purposes.”

In a separate case, customs officers on the Russian-Chinese border detained someone who had 115 bear claws in their possession. Customs was quoted as saying that they catch this kind of cargo once every 3 months. It is estimated that they black market price for a claw is roughly around $1,000. Russia has the largest brown bear population in the world.

In the early 1990’s, there was a decrease of the Siberian tiger due to poaching.There was around 371 tigers in the Russian Far East in 1996. There used to be 600 at the end of the 1980’s. But the collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in easing border controls  and gun laws, and tigers became a profitable cash crop when they were in high demand with none other than the Chinese.

 

Today there are only about 350 adult Siberian or Amur tigers left in the wild. There are institutes and groups who have put together a Siberian Tiger Project, which tries to track and save the tigers. Here is some information about it: Siberian Tiger Project details

The Amur Leopard is close to extinction. There are only about 30-40 left.

A number of Russian and international organizations are engaged in plans to increase the population. Here is some information: Amur Leopard details

There is also a petition that people can sign to help the leopards and tigers: PETITION

The Russians mean business when it comes to poaching. In July, a Russian border patrol opened fire on a Chinese vessel which was poaching in the water. The Chinese crew was unable to produce documentation showing they had permission to fish in the waters, or for the 22.5 tons of squid discovered on board.

This month Russia and the U.S agreed to strengthen cooperation in upholding security and fighting illegal fishing in the Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea. In the first few months of 2012, the Russian and U.S coastal guards seized 10 ships which had violated the border regime of either country.

 

By: Abigail Tackett

~By Asher Hudson

In April of 2010 a small volcano in Iceland caused the world’s first carbon-neutral volcanic eruption on record.

The Eyjafjallajökull volcano is located in southern Iceland, approximately 150 miles from  the capital, Reykjavík.  Upon erupting a large plumb of smoke, ash and water vapor rose to 30,000ft.  This is above the cruising altitude for most commercial airline flights.  The eruption caused the initial grounding of flights to and from Iceland, but as the ash plumb grew in size over the week to stretch from the east coast of Canada and the US, to as far west as Siberia and Mongolia.

By April 25th, the majority of flights to and from Europe were grounded for obvious safety reasons.  This is interesting in the fact that if planes are grounded they are not emitting carbon-dioxide from flying.  This started an interesting offset that not many had anticipated.  The start of a carbon-neutral volcanic eruption.

The above data visualization shows the breakdown of the estimated figures and how they offset each other.

Carbon-neutral does not mean that NO carbon was emitted, it means that no ADDITIONAL carbon was emitted.  If you take the total amount of carbon that would have been emitted and subtract the amount saved by grounding planes, and then add the emissions from the volcano … it equals the amount of emissions that would have been emitted had the volcano not erupted at all.

Many businesses lost money and many people were disrupted at the airports, but that fact that there were no additional emissions, shows that there is room for us to improve the way we impact our environment.

~by Asher Hudson

This is nothing new. It is a story that has been told time and time again. But rather than this being the story of an oil spill or the purposeful dumping of fracking water, this is a story of environmental destruction.

To many people the world’s key oil deposits are located in the lands of sand and princes, but few people know that the worlds second largest oil deposit is located in our our neighbor to the north–Canada.

Most of the world’s oil deposits are located deep in the ground but Canada’s deposits are located on the surface, but trapped by sand.  The industry refers to the fields as the Athabasca Oil Sands. They are located in the middle of the Alberta province.

The Oil Sands, in the so far discovered deposits, contain enough oil for Canada to fuel its own oil demand, at its current rate, for the next 266 years and that is if they stopped exporting today.

This sounds great for national security and decreased oil dependency on the middle east, but there is a catch.  In order to extract the oil from  the sand, you have to dig it up.  This means excavating and extracting huge chunks of earth and processing it.  It is process that is similar to strip mining but on a far more destructive scale.

Strip mining is localized to a single site that might be a few square miles.  The Athabasca Oil Sands covers 54,000 sq. mi. of boreal forest and muskegs (peat bogs).  In order to extract the oil, the forest is cut down, bogs and dug up and then the underlying earth is excavated, processed, and refined.

Is this cost of environmental destruction worth the oil that we use?  We talk about the deforestation of the Amazon for farm land, why does it not apply for Canada and for Oil production?

In Part 1 of this article I asked you to look up “hot-climate” and “cold-climate” cultures and figure out which you fit better into.  What does this have to do with Global Consciousness?

“One of the most important differences between the hot- and cold-climate cultures in the work setting is that the hot-climate culture is relationship based, while the cold is task-oriented … All hot-climate communication has one goal: to promote a ‘feel-good’ atmosphere, a friendly environment. The truth can take a backseat to the relationship (Lanier).”

By looking at the “hot-climate” culture of Costa Rica we can better grasp how characteristics of culture can effect feelings towards the environment.

Costa Rica is commonly known as “one of the happiest and greenest countries in the world,” and it holds true to that statement (Painter).  In Costa Rica the people are very much global citizens; they understand it is their duty to take care of the present and future environment.  What separates Costa Rica from other countries is that Costa Rican citizens truly care about the environment.  In example, Ricardo Ultate, a cattle farmer, stated in regard to giving up a car and planting trees in order to improve biodiversity on his farm, “Now I have a simpler, less materialistic life, more in tune with nature (Painter).”  Placing an emphasis on education and a relationship not only with family and friends but also with the surrounding environment, contributes to the “hot-climate” culture of Costa Rican citizens.

So what about “cold-climate” cultures like Europe?

“… the cold-climate person may be very friendly and warm, but when needing to get a job done or answer a question factually, he or she is completely focused on the task at hand. Rightly or wrongly, personal feelings are not considered to be part of the equation (Lanier).”

While cold-climate cultures may not feel emotional relationships with their surrounding environment, both their blunt society and ability to get things done have a way of benefitting their environment in the long run.  But what happens when a “cold-climate” culture is in fear they cannot handle a task at hand resulting from an environmental issue?

They hide it from their public and the media:

Europe’s Media Goes Completely Deaf & Dumb When It Comes To Record High Antarctic Sea Ice

By P Gosselin on 2. Oktober 2012

“When the Arctic set a record sea ice minimum back in August, the European mainstream media and government funded climate institutes howled in a deafening, days-long chorus of “global” climate Armageddon.

In late September, Antarctic sea ice hit an all-time high, reaching the highest level since modern data-recording began. Chart source: National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Now fast forward one month to late September 2012 with the sea ice peaking at the opposite end of the planet, i.e. Antarctica. Knowing that the media has grown particularly sensitive to weather extremes, you’d think this current weather extreme around Antarctica would have set off a similar reaction. Any extreme, we are told, is proof of global warming.

All that extra ice beyond the 70°S latitude will reflect the sun’s precious heat back out into space, thus cooling the water even further, which means more ice will eventually develop, and thus there’s a real risk of reaching a dangerous and irreversible tipping point into unstoppable warming-induced cooling.

So why haven’t the media reacted? Well, there’s a limit to just how far the public and politicians, as gullible as they are, can be fooled. The media know where that line is: in Antarctica. When a cold, bitter and snowy winter strikes, only absolute morons actually believe that it is induced by global warming, and the media know that there are enough of them making up their readership. But when it comes to believing that global warming causes 19.5 million sq km of ice to form around Antarctica, even the media do not expect its dimwit readers to believe that. So they are keeping completely deaf and dumb about it. Informed readers, after all, are the last thing they want.

So not a peep of this has been mentioned anywhere in the German mainstream media.

If we google “Rekordeis” and limit the search to the last 7 days, we get thousands of reports of the Arctic melting, although it’s old news, but no reports of Antarctic sea ice setting a new all-time maximum.

Except for stories at German skeptic blogs EIKE andScience Skeptical, there’s nothing about this extraordinary event occurring at the South Pole in the major media outlets like German public television and radio, Spiegel, Bild, and at the major dailies. Also the main German climate institutes like the PIK, AWI and MPI are completely silent about it. They have no way of explaining this one.

So what can we conclude from this? The media saying absolutely nothing about this says a lot!

This is one genie they are not going to be able to keep bottled up.”

I really hope that Europe doesn’t let their “cold-climate” culture be the cause of the next Chernobyl incident.

-Ashira

I have attempted at keeping my contribution to our Environmental blog pretty consistent, surrounding the theme of environmental consciousness.  I thought with this post I would try a put a little spin on our understanding of environmental consciousness.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had the opportunity to attend Envision Music, Art, and Sacred Movement Festival in Costa Rica, a gathering of globally conscious people gathered to share and grow further in consciousness.

What did I take from this experience?  Environmental consciousness and the bettering of our present and future world does not solely depend on knowledge of the ecology around our globe; it also depends on understanding the people and cultures that make up our globe in order to come together as one globe and truly make a difference.

Author of Foreign to Familiar: A Guide to Understanding Hot- and Cold-Climate Cultures, Sarah P. Lanier, separates the world into two cultures: “hot-climate” cultures, which are relationship-based, and “cold-climate” cultures which are task-oriented.

Before I continue, those who are reading, I challenge you to look up the difference between a “hot-climate” culture and a “cold-climate” culture and figure out which you fit into personally.

What does being in a hot-climate or cold-climate have to do with culture and the furthering of our global consciousness?

Stay tuned to see…:)

-Ashira

   

  A common denominator that seems to be popping up in every one of my blogs is China.

The demand for rhino horns, elephant tusks, tiger parts and much more is one of the main reasons for the slaughter of hundreds, if not thousands, of animals. Organized crime groups in these certain countries are linking up and moving their poached materials around until they finally rest in China. A vast majority of the illegal trade is ivory. Experts say that as much as 70% of ivory is flowing to China. The Chinese have coveted ivory for years but not many could afford it. China’s big economic boom over the last few years has created a large middle class. This has pushed the price of ivory to $1,000 per pound on the streets of Beijing. Officers in the Chinese army like to have ivory trinkets as gifts. They also use ivory to make chopsticks, bookmarks, rings, cups and combs.

“China is the epicenter of demand,” said Robert Hormats, a senior U.S State Department official. “Without the demand from China, this would all but dry up.”

He also stated that Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was pushing the ivory issue with the Chinese, and that she would spend a lot of time and effort to go after this issue in a bold and effective way.

A big reason tusks and ivory is in such a huge demand in China is because they use it for medication. In certain Asian countries, ground rhino horn is used to cure almost everything. Whether it really works or not has been a source of debate for some time. No matter if it does or does not, horns and tusks have been a medical component for thousands of years. In East Africa, the statistics of rhino poaching have been kept since 1926. During the 1930’s, it is estimated that around 3,520 pounds (555 rhinos) was sent to China. During War World II, the numbers soared to 5,500 pounds (860 rhinos). The 1950’s and 60’s saw a drop to around 3,960 pounds (600 rhinos), but the number climbed again in the 70’s with 7,480 pounds (1,180 rhinos).

   In the 1960’s and 70’s, Hong Kong was the world’s largest importer of rhino horn. Although it was banned in 1979, they still found a way to smuggle it in from Macao, Burma, Indonesia, India, Taiwan and South Africa. In 1987, government parties tried to shut down trade of rhino products completely. British Prime Minister at the time, Margret Thatcher promised the ban would take effect later on that year. This never happened of course.

Most of the Taiwanese millionaires today, are famous for their illegal trade of rare and exotic wildlife and most of it comes from South Africa. The scarcity of horns and tusks today is only driving the price higher. These millionaires are aware of this and are buying them solely for an investment.

But there are some Chinese who are trying to stop this. Here is an article on how former NBA star Yao Ming is helping to urge his fellow Chinese to put a stop to poaching. Star Power

It’s not just tusks and horns they are after either. Just a few days ago, the Korean Coast Guard are seeking out warrants for 11 Chinese crewmen and fishermen who were involved in illegal fishing. Warrants Out for Illegal Fishermen

  However; China has also been a victim of poaching. The Chinese giant panda is facing threats of extinction. In the 1980’s and 90’s, there were large cases of panda poaching, but this has declined due to strict laws and greater public awareness. The threat to pandas today are due to their living environments getting smaller due to logging, expansion of farming into forest areas, mining and road building. People poaching other animals cause a threat also. Traps set for others may accidentally kill a panda.

Before 1997, it was possible that if you were caught and convicted of killing a panda, you could receive the death penalty and some were actually executed. Today however, the most severe penalty is serving 10 years in prison.

There recently has been an outbreak of poaching some of China’s migratory birds. Here is an article that was written one day ago about it. Bird Poaching

Even though there are parts of China that participate in illegal trade of poached animals from other countries, some Chinese are still very passionate about poaching not happening on their land. 3 days ago, the Chinese police arrested 11 people  for allegedly poaching animals near the China virgin forest. They also seized a large amount of bear parts and antelope corpses. The police found 17 bear paws, 5 bear gall bladders and more than 300 kg of bear meat, as well as musk deer skin. Most bears are under protection, but their gall bladders and paws have been used as expensive ingredients in.. yet again.. Chinese medicine. Animal right activists are calling out for alternatives to bear parts.

China receives a lot of media attention.. good and bad.. due to poaching. Poaching has been a part of China for a while, but hopefully more press like the one with Yao Ming can help stop China from killing many precious and exotic animals, and help them think about the other environments they are hurting. They obviously don’t like it done to their environment so the media needs to show them that they can’t do it to others, especially those countries less fortunate than they are.

 

By: Abigail Tackett

Who are these guys?:

They’re M&M’s of course! You know that, I know that, and the majority of the rest of the human population knows that. The muti-billion dollar corporation has been advertising to you since you were a baby, and they have ingrained their M&M logo into your brain permanently.

America is a a country made up of brands, logos, and corporations. It’s part of our culture (unfortunately). But how does this way of life affect the earth which we build all these corporate offices on? In too many ways to ever cover in one sitting. One particular instance is going on right now in France.

Many beekeepers in France found this in their hives one morning and wondered what could possibly have caused the abnormal coloration of the honey. It turns out that these bees had been attracted to the bright colors of M&M shell remnants being thrown out at a nearby M&M production plant. They were feeding on this factory waste instead of flower nectar, producing multi-colored honey.

For a country that produces a thousand tons of honey a year, this is bad news for many people that depend on honey production to make a living. The honey is unsellable because did not meet France’s standards of honey production: It was not obtained from the nectar of plants and it deviates from the standard coloring of honey.

The M&M factory cleaned up their mess, but it’s not that easy of a cleanup for the bees and the beekeepers. You’re welcome, bees. Humans strike again.

By: Bridgette Potts