These three A-listers are coming together to shed Hollywood’s spotlight on poaching with not one but two movies.

Tom Hardy, who most recently was seen in The Dark Knight Rises, allegedly came up with the idea of a movie that will focus on the ground war on poachers in the African savanna. This reportedly was inspired by some of his friends who are former Special Forces, who now are anti-poaching fighters in multiple countries.

The star shared the idea with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire.

The trio will work on a film about animal poaching, which will be set in Africa. According to Deadline, Hardy will play a Special Forces soldier who trains rangers to fight off poachers who are wiping out the elephant and rhino populations in Zimbabwe.

The second film will cover the supply and demand issues of animals being poached and sold in places like… China of course!!! It is also suspected that this film will have a similar look and format to Steven Soderbergh’s 2000 crime drama Traffic, which is about a judge who is appointed by the United States President to fight the country’s war on drugs before finding out his own daughter is a drug addict.

DiCaprio will produce the film but all three of the actor’s production companies will be involved, Material Pictures (Maguire), Appian Way (DiCaprio) and Executive Options (Hardy).

This is just one of many of the eco-friendly projects that Leo has taken on. In 2010, he gave a $1 million donation to the World Wildlife Fund and was quoted as saying,

“Illegal poaching of tigers for their parts and massive habitat loss due to palm oil, timber and paper production are driving this species to extinction. If we don’t take action now, one of the most iconic animals on our planet could be gone in just a few decades. By saving tigers, we can also protect some of our last remaining ancient forests and improve the lives of indigenous communities.”

Maguire is also a Hollywood star who has done what he can to help the environment. He’s been a vegan for most of his life and it was reported that while filming in Australia it was reported that he sent back a Mercedes that had leather seats.

There have been very few films released that focus on anti-poaching.

There was a 3 minute, silent, black and white film called The Poachers made in 1903. It was about 3 hunters who surprised 2 poachers in the act. There is a gun fight and a couple of the hunters die. The cops and dogs show up and the chase continues but the poachers get away.

Here is one in Brazil which stars a jaguar who was actually rescued from poachers.   Brazil Anti-Poaching film

Recently on September 21, 2012, there was a movie called Snare that was released. This film is a dramatization of the genocide of the African Rhino. Here is the Facebook page with some information about the movie. Snare Facebook page

And watch the promo!!!!!!   

 

By: Abigail Tackett

One huge issue that’s being discussed in our country right now (always really, but more now with the election), is that of resources we use in our everyday life like gas and oil. We need these resources and they are limited… and destructive to our environment when we extract them from the ground they came from, and spill it into the sea… there’s a reason it wasn’t put there in the first place.
So why do we keep taking and taking what is impossible to give back? Because the world revolves around us and our needs, obviously.

We spend all of this time arguing about where we should and shouldn’t drill for oil, when the truth is WE SHOULDN’T BE DRILLING ANYWHERE! But unfortunately we’ve created a world that revolves around these resources which would cease to function if we ran out of them.

So, what’s the right thing to do? Think of  other options. What are our other options? Stop taking from what we know is going to run out so soon and let the earth catch back up.

The ocean is full of so many resources we could find new ways to use, like cobalt, copper, nickel and maganese.  We could stop taking oil from the ground to run our cars, boats, motorcycles, you name it. So much of the ocean is unexplored. The oceans account for 70% of the world surface and 60% of the floor of the ocean lies deeper than 2000 meters. The possibilities are endless, there are so many minerals in all this ocean… and we can find a way to use them for the things we so desperately “need”. It’s time to get creative here.

By: Bridgette Potts

It is happening all across America and now in Europe and Africa as well – rural landowners wake up one day to find a lucrative offer from a multinational energy conglomerate wanting to lease their property. The Reason? In America, the company hopes to tap into a huge natural gas reservoir dubbed the Saudi Arabia of natural gas. Halliburton developed a way to get the gas out of the ground—a hydraulic drilling process called fracking—and suddenly America finds itself on the edge of becoming a world energy superpower.



But what comes out of the ground with that natural gas? How does it affect our air and drinking water? GASLAND is a powerful personal documentary that confronts these questions with spirit, strength, and a sense of humor. When filmmaker Josh Fox receives his cash offer in the mail, he travels across 32 states to meet other rural residents on the front lines of fracking. He discovers toxic streams, ruined aquifers, dying livestock, brutal illnesses, and kitchen sinks that burst into flame. He learns that all water is connected and perhaps some things are more valuable than money.

~by Asher Hudson

 

 

 

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Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam happen to all be connected through the Mekong river and because of this they have the 1995 Mekong Agreement. This agreement says that:

“Under its terms, the countries that share the Mekong agree to prior consultations on the possible cross-border impact of any development on the river before deciding to proceed.”

What Laos doesn’t seem to understand is that consultation consists of in a way, asking for the others permission.  When Thailand approached Laos about building a dam over the Mekong at Xayaburi, they of course were okay with it.

“Landlocked Laos is one of South-east Asia’s poorest countries and its strategy for development is based on generating electricity from its rivers and selling the power to its neighbours,” says the BBC’s Jonah Fisher in Bangkok.  

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But the two other members of the Mekong Agreement did not feel the same. Cambodia and Vietnam felt that the dam should wait until proper research had been completed, and feared that the dam could pose danger to fish migration and the flow of sediment downstream.  Though Cambodia and Vietname voiced concerns, Laos not only gave a nod towards the dam but decided to announce it the first day of the Asia-Europe meeting that they were hosting!

“Bold, brave or perhaps a good way to bury the news? The Laos government chose to announce the dam would go ahead on the day it hosted one of the biggest summits in its history.”

The general consensus is that Laos thinks that they followed the 1995 Mekong Agreement because they heard what the others had to say and “brought in their own contractors” to fix any problems. But skeptics say the changes have not been tested and that it could cause problems.  Who knows if this will cause problems environmentally or if it will cause problems between the countries on the Mekong river…probably both.

-Ashira Alpren

 

   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?