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This year's letter from Bill and Melinda Gates focused on nine things that surprised them. For the Microsoft-cofounder, one thing he was surprised to learn was the massive amount of new buildings the planet should expect in the coming decades due to urban population growth.
"The number of buildings in the world is going to double by 2060. It's like we're going to build a new New York City every month for the next 40 years," he said.
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BMR Energy will take over the power purchase agreement and restoration efforts of the solar farm, the company said in a press release.
These slaughter-free products aren't available on the market yet, but the dream is so enticing that Bill Gates, Richard Branson and even Tyson Foods—one of the country's largest meat companies—have made big bets on it.
After surviving two Category 5 hurricanes this fall, the Caribbean resembled something of a war zone, according to Virgin Group founder Richard Branson.
And so what the island nations of the region need now is a post-war plan for redevelopment—a plan he's calling the "Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan," named after the Marshall Plan that helped rebuild Europe after World War II.
By Daniel Ross
The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report lays out a rather grim set of observations, predictions and warnings. Perhaps the biggest takeaway? That the world cannot warm more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (1.5°C) over pre-industrial levels without significant impacts.
Virgin Group founder and longtime environmentalist Richard Branson, who faced two damaging hurricanes in a row from his home in the British Virgin Islands, called out President Donald Trump's refusal to accept the science of climate change.
"Look, you can never be 100 percent sure about links," the British billionaire said Tuesday on CNN's "New Day" when asked about the correlation between global warming and the recent string of major hurricanes to hit the Carribean and the United States.
From Silicon Valley tech moguls to business executives and entrepreneurs, these people know that the future of food means not slaughtering animals.
One of the largest meat companies in the U.S. is ramping up its investment in lab-grown animal protein in response to growing demand for meat worldwide.
Tyson Foods, which supplies about one in five pounds of chicken, beef and pork produced in the U.S., announced Monday that their venture capital arm had purchased a minority stake in Memphis Meats, a San Francisco-based "clean" meat startup.
Just this Wednesday morning, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello sent out a tweet boasting about the island finally reaching a 50 percent power threshold after Hurricane Maria wiped out the electric grid 56 days ago.
"Then 'boom' (a witness reported) the lights went out," tweeted CBS News reporter David Begnaud, who has been extensively reporting on the U.S. territory's recovery efforts. "Timing could not be worse."
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Cali Nurseries grower Hector Santiago told Reuters that his $300,000 investment on 244 solar panels six years ago has allowed him to continue working.
"I have already completed a zero gravity flight which allowed me to float weightless, but my ultimate ambition is to fly into space," Hawking told host Piers Morgan of "Good Morning Britain" on Monday. "I thought no one would take me but Richard Branson has offered me a seat on Virgin Galactic and I said yes immediately."
On his trip to Asia, President Trump ate shark fin soup in Vietnam. While this meal is considered a status symbol, delicacy and a sign of wealth in Asian culture (it can sell for over $100 a serving in restaurants), the continued consumption of shark fin soup has a devastating effect on shark populations around the world.
Shark fin soup is believed by some to have medicinal healing properties and its proponents view its consumption as a cultural right. Sharks rely heavily on international and regional treaties for protections and management measures, and in some countries domestic regulations have been adopted.
Despite a worldwide ban on the transportation of shark fins by major shipping carriers, a three-month investigation by Sea Shepherd Global—as part of their global shark defense campaign Operation Apex Harmony—has verified that large shipments of shark fin are still arriving in Hong Kong on airlines and shipping lines that have made "No Shark Fin" carriage ban commitments.
Sharks are in big trouble around the world, with some populations crashing by more than 90 percent. Some species, such as the hammerhead shark, are facing a very real threat of extinction.
In the aftermath of surfer Mick Fanning's encounter with a shark last week, there has rightly been widespread acclaim for the way the three-time world champion handled the terrifying incident. Julian Wilson, Mick's mentee and competitor, also richly deserves admiration and respect for bravely swimming to his aid. The way they have handled themselves in the aftermath has shown them to be true role models.
However, the coverage of this highly unusual event should not be used as an excuse to mount further campaigns to kill even more sharks. An estimated 100 million sharks are killed each year in commercial fisheries, mainly for their fins to be used in making shark fin soup. Around 30 percent of sharks are threatened with extinction, with a further quarter of sharks close to becoming threatened in the near future.
Shark attacks on humans are extremely rare. I have swum with many species of sharks on many occasions, including tiger sharks and great white sharks. I have always found it a remarkable, peaceful experience, and I wholeheartedly believe they have no interest in humans as food.
Shark Attack Survivors for Shark Conservation
This view is shared by an extraordinary group called Shark Attack Survivors for Shark Conservation, which has joined forces with The Pew Charitable Trusts to support efforts to restore and conserve the world's shark populations. It is led by Pew's Debbie Salamone, who herself is a shark attack survivor. As she told The Humane Society: “If a group like us can see the value in saving sharks, everyone should."
The group's members range from a Wall Street banker to a South African Paralympic swimmer and Australian navy diver, and many of them have lost limbs to sharks. Surfer Mike Coots, who lost a leg to a shark, continues to surf and has become a notable underwater photographer. Others include: Achmat Hassiem, Krishna Thompson, Chuck Anderson, Laurie Boyett, Kent Bonde, Scott Curatolo-Wagemann, Paul de Gelder, Al Brenneka, Mike Beach, Michelle "Micki" Glenn, Jonathan Kathrein and Eric Larsen. They all agree that sharks are a beautiful, vital part of the ocean ecosystem.
By removing sharks from reef ecosystems, which have been swimming there for 440 million years, the natural food web is broken. Fewer sharks in the ocean results in less healthy coral, and therefore fewer fish, which damages food security, hurts the health of the ocean and reduces tourism dollars too.
Because sharks grow slowly, mature late and have few offspring, it is not sustainable to manage them like other commercially-sought fish. They need strong protections to stop numbers dropping past the point of no return. The largely unregulated shark fin trade is the key driver of shark declines worldwide, with very few shark species subject to catch and trade controls, which are needed to properly protect them.
There have been conservation successes for sharks in recent years in securing commitments to creating sharks sanctuaries. In March of this year, the Federated States of Micronesia created the world's 10th shark sanctuary, joining together a massive area of the western Pacific Ocean as a huge regional sanctuary. In the Caribbean, similar moves are afoot with the Bahamas, Honduras and The British Virgin Islands waters declared protected, and momentum for action being taken in the Caymans, St Eustatius, Bonaire, Saba and Grenada, Sint Maarten in the Caribbean, and Samoa in the Pacific. I had the pleasure of joining a number of officials working to protect the Caribbean's sharks in February of this year and was really encouraged by their commitment and enthusiasm. However, far more needs to be done.
We need to introduce more shark sanctuaries, establish stronger global protections and tackle the demand for shark fin soup and other shark products. We absolutely do not need to kill more sharks.
The 8-year-old rhino was named Ntombi, which translates to "girl" in Zimbabwe’s Ndebele language. The well-known rhino, who was reportedly featured in the 2012 Animal Planet series Karina Wild on Safari, was also the mother of a 13-month-old calf which was not harmed by poachers.
As mentioned in the video, the rare black rhino was part of a groundbreaking genome sequencing project to save the endangered species, which currently has a global population of less than 5,000.
The poachers had targeted Ntombi earlier this month, according to the Bhejane Trust, a Zimbabwe-based rhino and wildlife conservation nonprofit:
Tragic news from the Matopos where a well known young 8 year old rhino cow, Ntombi, was shot and wounded. The shots were heard on Tuesday last week but nothing was found after a search by parks. Only days later was the severely wounded Ntombi found, and had to be euthanised as the vet ruled there was no possibility of saving her - she had lived a week of indescribable agony! Ntombi had a 13 month calf ( her first) and we are following up on what has happened to this youngster. We have suspicions as to who the poachers were, and will be offering a substantial reward for any arrest in this case!
Eight-year-old Ntombi was found alive but seriously wounded several days after she was shot by suspected poachers. Photo credit: Aware Trust Zimbabwe Facebook
Caroline Washaya-Moyo, a spokeswoman for Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA), told Reuters Africa that the rhino had four bullet wounds in her legs and shoulder after being shot last week. Her horns had been sawn off but were later recovered.
She "endured unimaginable pain caused by broken legs and open wounds," Washaya-Moyo said.
"The animal was very immobile and was unable to walk to access food and water. Because of the seriousness of the wounds the authority had to put the animal to sleep," she added.
Veterinarians from animal conservation group Aware Trust carried out X-rays on Ntombi. On Facebook, the group said the situation was "gut wrenching" and "one of the most difficult things we've had to do."
"Now is the time to come forward and help Zimbabwe's National Parks," Aware Trust wrote. "If we don't stand united against poachers, we will lose our wildlife heritage forever. Please ... support Zimparks."
Reuters reported that ZPWMA is conducting an investigation into the poaching and wardens are now caring for Ntombi's young calf.
The population of Black Rhino has declined by an estimated 97.6% since 1960 with numbers bottoming out at 2,410 in 1995, mainly as a result of poaching. Since then, numbers have been steadily increasing at a continental level with numbers doubling to 4,880 by the end of 2010. Current numbers are however still 90% lower than three generations ago.
Survival of these species is at incredible risk. A record 1,305 rhinos were illegally killed in Africa last year, according to Reuters. Zimbabwe's black and white rhino population is estimated at just over 800, Washaya-Moyo said.
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Earth to Paris, a coalition of global partners driving awareness about the connection between people and planet, released a high impact video yesterday promoting the global #EarthToParis movement that took place Monday in Paris. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, the video serves as a crowdsourced love letter from Earth to Paris for world leaders to take action on climate change.
"Allegro Prestissimo,” performed by Yo-Yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment, plays as the vibrant video reveals several famous #EarthtoParis supporters such as Richard Branson, Gisele Bündchen, Kid President (Robby Novak), Pharrell Williams, Cameron Russell, Ram Dass, Jack Black and many more. The video also includes an assortment of people from around the world who have sent video messages to their world leaders.
In the video, Freeman (as the Earth) reads, “Dear Paris, there is no voice more beautiful than the voice of the world speaking as one and the world has spoken. This is about all of us—everything we know, everyone we love and our survival.”
A Love Letter from #EarthToParis video follows the first Earth To Paris anthem video, which received more than 1 billion impressions in its first week.
The Earth To Paris coalition invites people everywhere to unite their voices this week for bold climate action so that Earth’s voice is heard during the negotiations at the United Nations Climate Summit—COP21. Earth To Paris received more than 36-hours of global digital surge of Twitter chats, Google Hangouts, and locally hosted watch parties and digital events in at least 19 countries across all six inhabited continents.
The Earth To Paris coalition consists of more than 110 partners—including the City of Paris, Facebook, Swarovski and Twitter—with a social reach of more than 200 million individuals globally.
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