09 October 2011

Open Up Your Eyes

Long time no post! Second year is almost over so things are starting to get chaotic. There hasn't been too much excitement of late... On campus, GCI (Green Campus Initiative) has just had its Green Week. Lots of things to say about that but I'll save it for the next post, I've got lots of big posts pending in my drafts. I've sort of chosen third year courses and I'm thinking I'm headed towards doing zoology honours. I'm EXTREMELY excited about COP17 which is just around the corner, though I'm still waiting for a secure internship. I finally watched all of HOME and good lord, it's the most depressing documentary I've seen in a while, possibly since The Cove. Because of all of Yann Arthus Bertrand's amazing aerial photography, it's a film that helps you see the big picture of humankind's place on Earth. Speaking of depressing documentaries, I saw Coldplay live earlier this week, hence the title of this post from the song Politik. If you haven't seen 11th Hour, watch that also. Really powerful film, not to mention an amazing soundtrack, with Politik in the end credits. Such a fitting song..even though I believe he actually wrote it about fair trade. 

I should be working but before I have any more build up of blog posts, I'll quickly share some amazing articles I've come across this week.

To start off, an update on Japanese whaling! I've become less vocal about the issue of late because it's become a bit too bureaucratic for my understanding, and also because I've toned down a little on my support for Sea Shepherd. I still love their dedication and the results they get, but I have serious issues with Paul Watson's love for propaganda. Anyway that's besides the point... I read a couple of articles by my favourite, BBC's environment correspondent Richard Black, about how Japan's getting ready to send their fleet down to the Southern Ocean again this summer.  I've gone through this before in Life, Times and Japanese Whaling, but I'm going to do it again quickly. There are so many things wrong with this, I don't know where to start (haha I used the same words in the that post too). I don't see how they can be so stubborn and insist on continuing their Antarctic hunt. NB: Hunt, NOT for scientific research. That's issue number one - as the case has been every year before this, what they're doing down there is illegal. Yes, the IWC says you can catch a certain quota of whales for scientific research (commerical whaling is illegal), but Japan uses this loophole to go ahead and catch almost a 1000 whales each year (because you really need that many for research). What's worse, it's been proven with DNA testing by some lovely Greenpeace activists that the whale meat from these whales does end up on the Japanese market. That, friends, is what you call commercial whaling. Ah, but on top of that, they're whaling in what has been declared a whale sanctuary so they shouldn't be there in the first place - issue number two. This year, on top of these already existing obstacles to their hunt, they've got even more odds stacked against them. Sea Shepherd are one of those - every year, Sea Shepherd have followed the Japanese to the Southern Ocean to interfere with the hunt, and each year they've been more successful, causing huge losses for the whaling fleet and significantly reducing the number of whales caught. Last year, Sea Shepherd did so well that the fleet had to cut their season short and go home early, claiming they couldn't carry on whaling due to Sea Shepherd's harassment = win. Let's not forget that last year, Japan suffered from a terrible earthquake and tsunami, so whaling should be low on their agenda. Plus, if I'm not mistaken, the fleet was a bit damaged by the tsunami. Opposition from anti-whaling nations like Australia and New Zealand has also increased, with Australia having taken them to the International Court of Justice on the issue. In terms of budget, the Antarctic hunt was starting to become extremely costly for Japan, and any profits from the whale meat were being cut by Sea Shepherd. In spite of this, the fleet is returning, this year with extra ships as escorts for security purposes. To add to this:
"From August this year, new International Maritime Organisation (IMO) rules mean ships cannot enter Antarctic waters carrying heavy fuel oil, which the Nisshin Maru has previously used. Japanese officials have repeatedly stressed that they will adhere to the regulations. So presumably the ship will be adapted to run on diesel, which is considerably more expensive"
Just as a bonus, I also have to say, in terms of emissions and fuel consumption - really unnecessary contributions by the Japanese whaling fleet. So there you have it. Absolutely everything is stacked up against them yet they want to go back and kill some more whales. I really don't understand why. I'm sure a big part of it is that they don't want to surrender to Sea Shepherd and other pressure. Disgusting.

Here's a couple more angering ones. One about how Spain is heavily subsidising its fishermen in spite of collapsing stocks, and one about how governments are continuing to subsidise fossil fuels. It's truly bizarre that when we know exactly what the problems are, governments carry on providing subsidies that will only move us in the opposite direction. If anything, cutting subsidies to fossil fuels and fishing and putting them into more sustainable practices should be one of the easier places for a government to start. We talk so much about individual action, but when your government is giving you incentive to carry on with the wrong thing, where the hell do you start?

Anyway, enough pessimism for one post. Here's some about conservation successes. For one, the rare African golden cat was caught on video for the first time thanks to camera trapping. It's amazing that we can use these to catch glimpses of animals that we would otherwise assume to be practically extinct.

Here's another one about the use of camera traps - http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0817-hance_cameratraps_mammals.html?newsmenu

 Central Suriname Nature Reserve, Suriname. A jaguar (Panthera Onca), a Near Threatened species. Of the sites researched, Suriname's site presented the highest number of species diversity. Photo courtesy of Conservation International Suriname, a member of the TEAM network.
Poacher caught on camera in Nam Kading in Laos. Of the sites researched, this one presented the lowest number of species diversity and the highest habitat fragmentation. Photo courtesy of Wildlife Conservation Society, a member of the TEAM network.
poacher caught on camera

Giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) a Vulnerable species in Manaus, Brazil. The study found that habitat loss hurt insectivore populations, such as this anteater, first. Courtesy of Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia, a member of the TEAM network.
giant anteater
Lowe's Servaline Genet  (Genetta servalina lowei), a small african carnivore in the Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania. Photo courtesy of Museo delle Scienze (Trento Museum of Science), a member of the TEAM network.
Lowe's Servaline Genet
Full body photo of an African golden cat – Gabon. Photo by: Laila Bahaa-el-din/Panthera.
African golden cat

I can't go into much detail about this article because it's quite technical, but have a read - a Revolutionary Technology is Unlocking the Secrets of the Forest - it's basically about how a team of scientists, led by Greg Asner have developed some amazing technology to scan rainforests from a plane and receive all sorts of data about the forest's composition, ecosystem services, etc.

And of course, I'll end with some more stunning pictures. Got lots of work in the coming weeks but will try post again soon!

ben canales sky photo

ben canales sky photo

ben canales sky photo

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1 comment:

  1. Interesting little article on ship emissions and COP17... 3% of global emissions is hectic!


    As for the whaling... I wouldn't be too concerned the writing is on the wall for the Japanese government. The decision to send the fleet again this year is probably one that they will regret. It's just sad that those majestic animals have to suffer because of dodgy politics...

    one more link for you!