Archive for March, 2011

Earth Hour Allows Clear View of Night Sky

On March 26th 2011, at exactly 8:30p.m., hundreds of people in cities around the world switched off their lights in honor of “Earth Hour,” allowing spectators to see the night sky clearly. In 2007, the World Wildlife Fund began this campaign as an international statement towards climate change.

According to WWF, participants send a powerful and visual message demanding action. Since its inception, Earth Hour has become a global movement including 4,000 cities in 87 countries.

In addition, according to National Geographic, this year’s record breaking Earth Hour had more participants than ever. However, despite efforts, light pollution continues to remain as a major form of pollution. Light pollution, or photopollution, is excessive artificial light.

From National Geographic. Hong Kong during Earth Hour, March 26th 2011, 8:30p.m.



View more photos of Earth Hour from National Geographic.

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Japan Quake Environmental Effects

The earthquake in Japan induced numerous environmental concerns and issues. According to an article by Los Angeles Times, officials are concerned about the dangerous levels radiation coming from the power plants. Attempts at dumping water on the power plants via helicopters were abandoned. Instead, police are using water cannons originally meant for dispersing riots.

In addition, it is feared that plutonium and uranium will leak into the environment because they are highly carcinogenic and can be detrimental to humans. Unfortunately, power plant workers are exposed to these dangers as they work to minimize damages. However, they are equipped with full protective gear and only work short shifts.

The tsunami, generated by the earthquake, is also at fault for having killed thousands of birds. According to the Associated Press, approximately 1,000 Layson albatross were drowned or buried by the onslaught of debris brought by the tsunami.

An 8.9 earthquake struck Japan on March 11, 2011. Short-term affects are being noticed. However, long term affects to the environment remain to be seen.

From Associated Press: A Laysan albatross chick washed ashore by the tsunami.

Find out what you can do to help Japan here.

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The Eastern Cougar is Now Extinct

U.S. officials said the eastern cougar is now extinct. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made this announcement on Wednesday. The cougar prowled around in 21 states and for many years its existence had been questioned. Researchers found that the eastern cougar which was on the protected species list since 1973 may have been extinct since the 1930s.

Researchers did not find evidence of the cougars existence.  Now members of FWS are working to remove the eastern cougar from the protected species list, since extinct animals are not eligible for protection by the U.S. Endangered Animals Act.  This move will not affect other animals on the list.

Another animal part of the cougar family is the Florida panther, which is not extinct but is in endangered status.  The MSNBC article explains the eastern cougar’s extinction.

In an article, Julia Whitty describes how we presently live in the sixth great extinction also known as the Holocene event and what that fate holds for our lives.  Whitty says that in different ways we all depend on the fragile membrane of organisms that are disappearing.

Biodiversity includes an area’s genes, species, and ecosystems.  The more biodiversity around us the tougher the earth’s immune system is.

Whitty describes animals and other life forms as the “body” of the desert, each species represents a different body part that functions to keep the whole body living.  She says that the loss of even one species changes that body of desert.

This clearly shows that we all are connected to each other and that conservation efforts as well as endangered animal protection does affect our lives.

Below is a video the organization Big Cat Rescue and some of the cougars they have in captivity.  Big Cat Rescue’s mission statement:

To provide the best home we can for the animals in our care and to reduce the number of cats that suffer the fate of  abuse,  abandonment or extinction by teaching people about the plight of the cats, both in the wild and in captivity, and how they can help through their behavior and support of better laws to protect the cats.

 

 

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Water Shortage From Local to Global

As global water supplies are diminishing, demand is rising in energy and agriculture production. However, scientists warn that demands for water will spike, while catastrophic floods and droughts will occur within the next 40 years.

In Michael Comte’s article, “Scientists Warn of Water Woes,” the amount of money spent on water consumption, flood damage, improvements in infrastructure and distribution, and water in agriculture is expected to rise to a trillion dollars annually by 2020.

This means that by 2020, approximately $10,000,000,000 will have been spent on water.

This year, water experts and stakeholders are meeting in Canada for the Canada Water Resources 2011 conference to share ideas and tools on how to help other countries face the uncertain future of water.

According to the Canada Water Network site, while water demand will exceed supply in many countries by 40%, one-third of humanity will only have half the water they need for life’s basics.

CWN director, Margaret Catley-Carlson warns that we need to brace for one of humanity’s greatest shortages.

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