A plastic bag ban went into effect this month in Morocco, the second-largest plastic bag consumer after the U.S. But, officials say, its going to take some time for shops and retailers to get used to the new law.
Morocco bans the use of plastic bags https://t.co/S9512Yf1lU https://t.co/RWjTu61oLo— The Ocean Project (@The Ocean Project)1468696212.0
Morocco's ban on the production and use of plastic bags went into effect July 1 after the plastic ban bill was passed by parliament in October 2015. As the July 1 deadline approached, shop owners scrambled to find and collect reusable bags. Green campaigners, AlJazeera reported, say consumers may need years to fully comply with the ban.
"It's a big cultural shift with that type of broader law," Jennie Romer, a New York-based lawyer," told AlJazeera. "As long as the government has the motivation to really enforce that. There is a lot of potential. The government entity that is implementing it has to be completely on board in order to make that really happen in practice."
Morocco uses about 3 billion plastic bags a year, according to the Moroccan Industry Ministry. The U.S. uses about 100 billion a year, according to the Earth Policy Institute, and 1 trillion are used globally per year.
Morocco is currently using 3 billion plastic bags a year. That’s soon to be over, as Morocco is joining countries... https://t.co/G6tJF3OE5W— GEI (@GEI)1468683725.0
The North African country has been working on banning plastic bags for years. A ban of the production and use of black plastic bags was put in place in 2009, but the bags were still being produced.
This time around, officials hope to prevent that situation by providing alternate solutions. Moulay Hafid Elalamy, industry minister and initiator of the bill, tweeted that bags made of paper and fabric will be made widely available.
Yassine Zegzouti, president of Mawarid, said changing consumer habits will be the toughest part.
"The formal sector will need four to five years to comply with the new law," Zegzouti said. "But the use of plastic bags is anchored in [consumer] habit. All actors need to change these habits to not have any damage in the future."
Morocco is ranked one of the world's greenest countries, along with Costa Rica, Bhutan and Ethiopia. The country's biggest achievements come in cracking down on carbon emissions and production of solar power. It is considered a green leader among developing nations.
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To celebrate the birth of the first child of King Khesar and Queen Jetson, all 82,000 households in Bhutan planted a tree, while volunteers planted another 26,000 in various districts around the country, for a total of 108,000 trees.
Bhutan plants 108,000 trees to celebrate the birth of the new Prince. How inspiring! https://t.co/M7mZOJ7gCa— Yahoo India (@Yahoo India)1457976601.0
“Each sapling encapsulates a prayer and a wish from the person who planted it to His Royal Highness the Prince so that just like the bountiful tree, the Prince also grows up healthy, strong, wise and compassionate,” Tenzin Lekphell, whose organization, Tendrel, coordinated the initiative, told The Diplomat.
Trees hold special value in Bhutan, where Buddhism is the dominant religion.
“In Buddhism, a tree is the provider and nourisher of all life forms, symbolizing longevity, health, beauty and even compassion," Lekphell said, noting that it's not a coincidence the Buddha attained enlightenment under a banyan tree.
Planting trees with thousands of volunteers to celebrate the birth of HRH, our Gyalsey. Well done Tendrel Initiative https://t.co/i0hxFF9EHa— Tshering Tobgay (@Tshering Tobgay)1457258802.0
The number 108 is special in Buddhism, as well. It denotes "the cleansing of 108 defilements that impede beings from attaining enlightenment," Lekphell explained.
The Ministry of Tourism used the occasion to inaugurate a “Happiness Garden” in the capital city, Thimphu. Ministry officials are asking tourists to plant "happiness trees" in the garden, with the goal of having a tree that represents every country in the world.
Planting 5,000 trees today in dedication to our Crown Prince, Ecology and Happiness. A proud moment for #Bhutan https://t.co/UQAfHNpxH2— Tourism Bhutan (@Tourism Bhutan)1457243938.0
“Bhutan is known as a country of happiness. To have a happiness garden is therefore logical. With this garden, we hope to bring the peoples of the world closer,” Damchoe Rinzin, a spokesperson for the Tourism Council of Bhutan, said.
And this isn't the first time the country has planted an impressive number of trees. Last June, a team of 100 volunteers set a world record for planting 49,672 trees in just one hour.
Bhutan's monarchy is very popular among its people, according to The Diplomat. The nation only became a democratic monarchy in 2008, after King Singye abdicated the throne to his son Khesar, who introduced democratic reforms.
Many have credited Bhutan's "Gross National Happiness" Index, as part of the reason for the country's strong commitment to environmental stewardship. Rather than focusing solely on economic indicators, the index measures prosperity by giving equal importance to non-economic aspects of well being.
"Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Index gives the natural world a central place in the making of public policy, and environmental protection is a core guiding principle in Bhutan’s constitution," the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.
Bhutan has not only pledged to remain carbon neutral, it's currently a carbon sink, meaning its forests absorb more carbon dioxide than the country emits each year. That makes it one of the few countries in the world to have negative carbon emissions.
The country's constitution mandates at least 60 percent of its land remains forested. Currently, more than 70 percent is. Bhutan has even banned export logging. And its ambitions don't stop there. It's aiming for zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, while also going 100 percent organic by 2020 and zero-waste by 2030.
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Increased consumer interest in sustainability has largely driven the expansion of new organic product lines. It's this combination of consumer consciousness and evolved eco-friendly products that has people searching for the best organic mattress.
But there are many brands in this space. We wanted to take a closer look at the Avocado mattress and explore what makes it such a popular pick in the eco-market.
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Discovery Communications and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) announced Wednesday a partnership to conserve nearly 1 million acres of critical tiger habitat in India and Bhutan in hopes of doubling the world's population of tigers by 2022.
The big cats are known to have once roamed much of Asia. Poaching and habitat loss slashed the 100,000 tigers that existed just 100 years ago by 96 percent and led to the extinction of four subspecies. As top predators, they are crucial to the ecosystems where they live. The current tiger population is estimated at under 4,000.
"Not on our watch will we let these beautiful animals disappear from the world," David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery Communications, said when making the announcement.
The effort, dubbed Project C.A.T. (Conserving Acres for Tigers), will improve security measures for this protected habitat and maintain land corridors for better wildlife movement. To reduce conflict between tigers and people, the project will provide community education and engagement. More camera-trap installations will increase tiger monitoring and assessment.
Just recently, a camera trap in the Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary of Bhutan recorded a tiger in a forest where they have not been seen for almost two decades. "Tiger populations are rising for the first time in a century," said Carter Roberts, president and CEO of WWF. "We need even more of a movement to accomplish these goals."
WWF and Leonardo DiCaprio: Wild Tiger Populations Increase for First Time in 100 Years - EcoWatch https://t.co/Gab2UuIZBR— BigCats.com (@BigCats.com)1460398930.0
Discovery plans to use its worldwide media platforms to reach 3 billion cumulative viewers. The network has put into development a new documentary on tigers from the Academy Award nominated producers of Virunga. The documentary is set to air globally in 2018. Discovery will also produce public service announcements and in-program content tied to Project C.A.T.
In a Facebook Live presentation hosted on Dr. Jane Goodall's Facebook page, John Hoffman, Discovery Channel's EVP of documentaries and specials, said, "In our core, we understand that we are not apart from our fellow species. I think that at the end of the day we as humans will do the right thing."
Discovery and WWF will also provide ways for viewers and those who care about tigers to get involved. Discovery's Saving Species page enables people to show their support for legislation to combat illegal wildlife trafficking, and WWF's Adopt a Tiger program accepts donations in support of the organization's work.
"The global movement to protect tigers just got 1 million acres stronger," said Zaslav.
By Alexandra Rosenmann
Did you know that American companies are legally permitted to manufacture dangerous pesticides for export—even after the chemicals have been banned in the U.S.? There are policies that create a "circle of poison"; toxic chemicals traveling around the world, ironically imported back to the U.S. through foodstuffs we eat.
Circle of Poison, a groundbreaking documentary by Nick Capezzera, Evan Mascagni and Shannon Post, unveils the unrelenting corruption of this cycle. The film features interviews with Jimmy Carter, Vandana Shiva, Noam Chomsky, Patrick Leahy and the Dalai Lama, as well as footage from India, Mexico, Argentina, Bhutan and the U.S., in order to illustrate the global impact of the pesticide trade and how communities are fighting back.
"A standard argument against a healthy environment and other regulations in the country or for export is that it's harmful to business, which of course it is," Noam Chomsky said in the film. "If business can kill people freely, it's a lot more profitable than if you have to pay attention to what you're producing and look at the effects on people and so on."
Watch: Exclusive clip from Circle of Poison:
"Major industries in this country ... lead, asbestos, tobacco, have often succeeded for decades poisoning people quite consciously. They knew perfectly well that children are going to die of lead poisoning, but 'you gotta make profit,'" Chomsky continued.
"And they're right. It's a system where you're supposed to make profit ... Like a CEO of a corporation is actually required by law to increase profit so they're doing exactly what they have to do and, well, if the population suffers, that's the cost of doing business. Although, by the time you get to export ... the domestic population has become organized enough and active enough so they're saying 'you can't kill us,'" Chomsky said.
"We sought out to take on a political issue that people from all walks of life, regardless of political affiliation, could agree was an important one and that needs to be addressed," Director Evan Mascagni told AlterNet. "I was blown away by the fact that we would allow companies to continue to manufacture and export products that those companies could not safely and legally sell to customers within the United States."
Circle of Poison will be available for streaming and download this fall.
This article was reposted with permission from our media associate AlterNet.
On July 17, 130 million cubic yards of ice and rock suddenly let go from a glacier in Tibet, hurtling down six-tenths of a mile and killing nine herders along with 350 sheep and 110 yaks. Scientists were baffled. Now, by examining satellite images before and after the event, they think it is an example of a rare glacial surge, when a glacier moves at 10 to 100 times its normal speed. Some researchers believe that climate change at high elevations can trigger such surges.
"It doesn't make sense," said Tian Lide, a glaciologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research (ITPR) in Beijing, who runs a research station in Rutog. Most avalanches occur on slopes of 25 to 45 degrees, but the Rutog avalanche, as this event is known, started from a flat area some 17,000 to 20,000 feet above sea level. When it came to rest, it covered an area of nearly 3.8 square miles to a depth of almost 100 feet. The only other event of comparable size was the 2002 collapse of the Kolka Glacier in the Caucasus. That avalanche killed 140 people.
An entire tongue of the Rutog glacier in Northwest Tibet collapsed at once. Lide noted that the glacier came down with such force that it widened the gully it came to rest in. Two different satellites captured before-and-after pictures of the area. NASA's Operational Land Imager acquired an image on June 24, just about a month before the avalanche. The European Space Agency's Sentinel-2 satellite captured an image of the debris field on July 21, days after. The pre-collapse imagery revealed that the glacier was already showing signs of change.
Glacial surges can be caused by meltwater at the base of the glacier, which essentially lubricates the surface it flows over. These types of surges can have a sudden onset and a very high flow rate. Many surge-type glaciers are found in Western Tibet.
Researchers from Moscow State University and the University Center for Engineering Geodynamics and Monitoring in Moscow have investigated the Kolka avalanche on the ground. Glacial surges are not new there; events dating back to at least 1902 are known. They found striations in the moraine rocks, which they'd never seen before.
"Moraine rocks are not scraped by the glacier because they move with it," Dmitry Petrakov, a geologist at Moscow State University, said. "But at Kolka, the collapse happened so fast that the ice mass must have simply flown over the moraine, producing striations several millimeters deep in minutes."
They found that the avalanche moved with tremendous speed, perhaps up to 112 miles per hour. They concluded that it was a surge event.
A year after the Kolka collapse, the researchers still found the area unstable. In the days following the Rutog avalanche, cracks occurred in nearby glaciers. Temperatures in the Tibetan plateau have risen 0.4 degrees Celsius per decade, twice the global average. One-tenth of the permafrost has melted in just the past decade. Rapidly melting glaciers have added to the number of lakes by 14 percent since 1970 and 80 percent of existing lakes have grown, flooding towns and pastures. In addition, precipitation in the area has increased 12 percent since 1960.
EcoWatch reported Aug. 26 on the issues facing this area, known as the "Third Pole." The Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau hold the largest mass of ice on Earth after the polar regions. The loss of these glaciers threatens the water supply for 1 billion people in China, India and Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and Southeast Asia.
Mount Everest climbers may one day climb ice-free https://t.co/8rTp6XI25o via @EcoWatch #climatechange https://t.co/sMCOeuDREu— Climate Council (@Climate Council)1472691961.0
In response to the Rutog avalanche, China Radio International reported, "Experts believed that the icefall is a result of global warming, which has caused melting and cracking of the glaciers."
Those killed in the Rutog avalanche were residents of Dungru village in Rutog county in Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region.
A team of bird-watchers stumbled upon a bird that hasn't been seen in eastern Nepal for almost 200 years.
The red-faced liocichla (Liocichla phoenicea) hasn't been spotted for 178 years and was thought to be locally extinct, according to Australian Geographic. A group of ornithologists spotted the bird on a 10-day bird watching tour.
Photo credit: Paulo Coteriano, Flickr
“We were excited when we first spotted a pair of red-faced liocichla in the forest," Hem Sagar Baral, of the Zoological Society London and leader of the tour, told the Kathmandu Post. “The sighting of the bird after more than a century and a half has raised hopes of finding more such species that have not been sighted for a very long time."
The bird-watching group originally saw just two red-faced liocichlas, but when they returned to the spot the next day, they saw eight birds, including a male-female pair, Australian Geographic reported.
“When we confirmed it was the red-faced liocichla we all felt so happy—we were so excited," Tikaram Giri, a senior field ornithologist, said. “We never thought and never expected to see it so easily."
Photo credit: Jason Thompson, Flickr
The red-faced liocichla is widely distributed throughout Vietnam, Bhutan, Laos, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Discoveries of species previously thought to be extinct are not uncommon, Australian Geographic said. Several species of birds, mammals, insects, reptiles and plants have been rediscovered after years of no sightings.
Diana Fisher, University of Queensland fellow, said about a third of all mammals ever feared to be extinct have been rediscovered.
“There are large numbers of poorly known species around the world only known from a single museum specimen as well," Fisher told Australia Geographic. “So it is hard to know anything much about them or where they exist."
Photo credit: Bob Du, Flickr
But there is still reason for the bird-watching group in Nepal to celebrate.
Nepal is home to 878 species of birds, 8 percent of the world's known birds. Even with the abundance, a lot of the species are close to being labeled as threatened.
“Nearly 20 percent of Nepal's birds (167 species) are threatened with extinction in the country including 37 species which are threatened on a global scale," the Zoological Society London wrote.
Another 62 species are closing in on having a threatened status, the Weather Channel reported. Nine species are believed to be extinct in Nepal because they have not been spotted since the 19th century.
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Bhutan is often overlooked by the international community. The small nation lies deep within the Himalayas between China and India, two of the most populated countries in the world.
But the country of about 750,000 people has set some impressive environmental benchmarks. As we've written about in the past, Bhutan is not merely carbon neutral, it’s also a carbon sink—making it one of the few countries in the world to have negative carbon emissions.
This means the country's carbon sinks, such as its forests, absorb more carbon dioxide each year than its sources of pollution, such as factories, emit.
“According to recent figures, the country emits around 1.5 million tonnes of carbon annually, while its forests absorb over 6 million tonnes,” Proudly Carbon Neutral said.
To boot, Bhutan is aiming for zero net greenhouse gas emissions, zero-waste by 2030 and to grow 100 percent organic food by 2020. The Himalayan nation is currently 72 percent forested and the constitution requires that no less than 60 percent of it remains forested. It has even banned export logging.
Trees hold special value in Buddhism, the nation's dominant religion. Last June, a team of 100 volunteers set a world record for planting 49,672 trees in just one hour. And earlier this month, to celebrate the birth of the first child of King Khesar and Queen Jetson, all 82,000 households in Bhutan planted a tree, while volunteers planted another 26,000 in various districts around the country, for a total of 108,000 trees.
Planting trees with thousands of volunteers to celebrate the birth of HRH, our Gyalsey. Well done Tendrel Initiative https://t.co/i0hxFF9EHa— Tshering Tobgay (@Tshering Tobgay)1457258802.0
Bhutan also refuses to judge its success on Gross Domestic Product, instead using an index that measures Gross National Happiness.
Many have credited its Gross National Happiness index as part of the reason for the country’s strong commitment to environmental stewardship. Rather than focusing solely on economic indicators, the index measures prosperity by giving equal importance to non-economic aspects of well being.
“Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness index gives the natural world a central place in the making of public policy, and environmental protection is a core guiding principle in Bhutan’s constitution,” the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.
The country would also like to increase its share of renewables, while decreasing its reliance on hydropower and electricity imports in the winter. So, it's currently exploring wind, biogas and solar.
And the Bhutanese government has formed a partnership with Nissan to provide hundreds of electric cars to the country—with the promise of thousands soon after. Bhutan’s Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay wants to eventually convert all of the country's vehicles to electric power.
The nation is not without its problems of course, as Tobgay readily admitted in a TED Talk he gave last month. But the country is no doubt unique in a world that has too often valued economic growth above all else, often at the expense of the environment.
For more on how Bhutan emerged as an environmental leader, watch Tobgay share his country's mission to put happiness before economic growth and set a world standard for environmental preservation in his TED Talk:
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The calf, who has yet to be named, was born at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia’s Way Kambas National Park Thursday morning and is the second baby for her 14-year-old mother Ratu.
According to the International Rhino Foundation (IRF), the precious newcomer is healthy and active and began nursing shortly after she was born.
“Once again, Ratu is showing us that she is a very good mother,” Dr. Zulfi Arsan, head veterinarian at the sanctuary, said.
With fewer than 100 Sumatran rhinos left in the world, the birth is a huge deal. Unfortunately, they’ve continued to face the ongoing threats of poaching and habitat loss, which have pushed them into small, fragmented populations that are on the brink of extinction.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, these rhinos have already disappeared from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, India, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
Last year they were declared extinct in Malaysia and scientists warned that the remaining few would likely disappear forever if immediate action wasn’t taken.
Conservation efforts at the sanctuary and elsewhere are underway to help them make a comeback and the latest arrival has things looking up.
“We are overjoyed that Ratu delivered a healthy calf and are cautiously optimistic that the calf will continue to thrive,” Dr. Susie Ellis, executive director of the IRF, said. “She’s absolutely adorable and we haven’t stopped smiling since the moment we were sure she was alive and healthy. While one birth does not save the species, it’s one more Sumatran rhino on Earth.”
The father of the new calf is believed to be Andalas, who was the first Sumatran rhino born in captivity in 112 years. He was born at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2001 and was moved to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in 2007, where it was hoped he would breed and he has. So far he has successfully produced two calves with Ratu.
His brother, Harapan, also followed him from the Cincinnati Zoo to Indonesia last year in an effort to bring the last of these rhinos together. Hopefully he will also find a mate and more babies will be on their way. Meanwhile, we can cheer for this little baby girl who is bonding with her mother and getting her bearings.
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RT if you want to see Cambodia increase its commitment to wild tigers! → https://t.co/WOkYuad3n3 🐯 x 🐯 #doubletigers https://t.co/bq2nSk93RG— WWF Tigers (@WWF Tigers)1459842853.0
According to World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Cambodia, the last tiger seen in Cambodia's wild was in 2007 from a hidden camera set up in the Eastern Plains Dry Forest Landscape in Mondulkiri Protected Forest.
"Today, there are no longer any breeding populations of tigers left in Cambodia, and they are therefore considered functionally extinct," the conservation group said in a statement.
The AFP reported that Cambodia’s dry forests used to be home to scores of Indochinese tigers, but intensive poaching of both tigers and their prey has devastated the population.
But in a major effort to save the iconic species, on March 23 the Cambodian government approved its "Cambodia Tiger Action Plan" that would import tigers from abroad and introduce them to the Mondulkiri Protected Forest.
Keo Omaliss, a government official in charge of wildlife, told the Associated Press that Cambodia is considering negotiating with the governments of India, Malaysia and Thailand to bring at least seven to eight tigers to live in the forest to breed and repopulate.
"This would be the world's first transnational tiger reintroduction and will be based on best practices developed from successful tiger reintroductions within India," WWF-Cambodia said.
Un Chakrey, communications manager for WWF-Cambodia, told the New York Times that the tigers could be introduced as soon as 2020.
The AFP reported that the new habitat will be protected against poachers by strong law enforcement and action to protect the tigers’ prey. The entire project is estimated to cost $20-50 million.
The Cambodia Tiger Action Plan also follows the objective of 13 tiger range countries to double the number of wild tigers in the world to more than 6,000 by 2022, which is the next Year of the Tiger. The global aim is also known as "Tx2."
The 13 Tx2 countries are: Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Representatives from these countries will meet at the 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation in New Delhi next week to discuss the Tx2 plan.
"This conference comes at the critical halfway point in the Tx2 goal," the WWF says. "There have been great successes so far, with tiger numbers increasing in Nepal, India, Russia and Bhutan, however Southeast Asia is facing a tiger crisis with poaching at unprecedented levels. It is feared that some countries could lose their tigers if immediate action isn’t taken. With only six years left, decisions made at this meeting will determine whether the Tx2 goal of 6000+ tigers by 2022 is met."
The current global population of wild tigers is estimated to be less than 3,200, meaning they are nearly extinct worldwide.
Tigers are currently on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN's) Red List. According to the IUCN, the animals currently inhabit less than 6 percent of their historic range with a 42 percent decline since 2006.
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Desalinating seawater has been hailed as the solution to addressing freshwater scarcity, but the technology has yet to be scaled. Big Think, which bills itself as a "knowledge forum," hosts a series, Tuesdays With Bill Nye, where viewers ask Nye questions about a range of popular topics. This Tuesday, Nye answered a question from a young girl in Minnesota who wanted to know if we can desalinate water for human consumption on a massive scale.
"Desalination of water could be the key to the future for so many of us humans," Nye said, explaining how desalination plants utilize reverse osmosis to remove salt from seawater. Researchers are in the process of developing new technologies right now, he continued.
Many places around the world already use the technology, Nye noted. "This is done all the time. It's done in Australia at several industrial-scale, citywide installations ... Carlsbad, California has one. And cruise chips and I guess the U.S. Navy exploit this technology all the time," Nye said.
So, he's very optimistic that we "are living at a time where this breakthrough may be made on an industrial scale," and he believes it could even be powered by renewables.
"We could have all the clean water we wanted for everybody all over the world and we would power the pumps with solar power, regular old photovoltaic solar cells, and when the sun is not shining you don't pump the water," Nye explained.
"So you pump the water when the sun is shining and and you fill up reservoirs all over the world. And so humankind could—if this stuff works out—it could have access to clean water for the billions of us that need it."
Critics argue the technology is too expensive and too energy-intensive to be adopted on a massive scale. Take, for example, the Carlsbad, California desalination plant that Nye mentioned. The plant, which came online at the end of last year, is the largest in the Western Hemisphere.
But the water from the plant "costs 80 percent more than San Diego pays for water outside the county, and even though the plant is huge, it can only meet 10 percent of San Diego's needs," Julian Huguet from Discovery News explained. "And it will use a lot energy ... making it more a small puzzle piece than the ultimate solution to California's drought."
Still, California and other water-stressed regions of the world, particularly the Gulf region, are rushing to develop energy-efficient desalination plants. About a dozen desalination plants are being proposed in California.
Worldwide, there are already an estimated 15,000–20,000 desalination plants producing more than 20,000 cubic meters of water per day. Places as varied as Aruba, Chile and Algeria all use desalination.
Israel already supplies 40 percent of its drinking water from desalination. That number is projected to climb to 70 percent by 2050.
Forward-thinking companies are working on solar-powered desalination plants. French engineering company Mascara is developing a desalination plant that is powered by off-grid, rooftop solar in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
The plant is the fifth desalination demonstration project from Masdar, which is currently running a pilot program to test renewably powered desalination plants in the United Arab Emirates. The group hopes to have a facility at commercial scale by 2020.
Developers in Saudi Arabia are currently building the world’s first utility scale, solar-powered desalination plant, which is projected to be online by early 2017. And Monsson Group announced last week it will launch a fully automated and remote controlled desalination plant powered by renewables in Qatar.
Watch the Big Think video of Tuesdays With Bill Nye here:
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Danish consumers are the most pro-organic consumers in the world, according to Organic Denmark, an association of companies, organic farmers and consumers. Nearly 8 percent of all food sold in Denmark is organic, the highest percentage in Europe. And Danish organic export has risen by more than 200 percent since 2007.
The Danish government is working on drastically increasing the nation's supply of organic food. Last year, The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries released an ambitious plan to double the area under organic cultivation by 2020 from 2007 levels.
The government has committed a total of 400 million kroner ($60.8 million) to its action plan, The Local Denmark reported. The country aims to achieve a 60 percent goal for organic food served in public institutions—schools, day care centers, hospitals, etc.—which serve some 800,000 meals per day.
Denmark is on its way to becoming the world’s first 100% organic country https://t.co/V5vDdZnO5q https://t.co/0JmpzNicDV— Food Revolution Network (@Food Revolution Network)1454001096.0
“In order to achieve our goals, which are the most ambitious in the West, the public sector needs to lead the way," Food and Agriculture Minister Dan Jørgensen told The Local Denmark. "With Økologiplan Danmark [Organic Denmark], we will strengthen cooperation between municipalities, regions and ministries with a long line of new initiatives. We will commit ourselves to, among other things, have more organic items on the menu in canteens, hospitals and daycare institutions.”
To achieve its goals, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries is:
- Allocating more than 3.3 million Euros for sales promotion on the domestic market over the next few years
- Simplifying the country's organic regulations
- Requiring organic farming on public lands and subsidizing farmers transitioning to organic
- Allocating nearly 8 million Euros to help public institutions use more organic products
Other governmental agencies are taking part, too:
- The Defense Department is serving more organic food in its cafeterias
- The Ministry of the Environment is converting more areas it manages into organic farms
- The Ministry of Education is incorporating more lessons about organic farming and its nutritional benefits into the curriculum
Denmark wants to go completely organic "as soon as possible," LifeGate reported. But at least one country has an even more ambitious plan than Denmark. Five years ago, Bhutan pledged to go 100 percent organic by 2020. To be fair though, Bhutan's population (754,000) is dwarfed by Denmark's (5.6 million). Still, Bhutan has some impressive claims. It's not only carbon neutral, it’s also a carbon sink—making it one of the few countries in the world to have negative carbon emissions.
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The wild tiger population has increased for the first time after more than a century of constant decline.
A Bengal tiger resting in Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India. There are more than 2,500 Bengal tigers left in the wild, making them the most numerous tiger subspecies. Photo credit: Staffan Widstrand / WWF
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Global Tiger Forum (GTF) said there are now 3,890 tigers according to the latest global data. In 2010, the tiger population dipped to only 3,200 compared to 100,000 in 1900.
The increase in numbers can be attributed to multiple factors including increases in tiger populations in India, Russia, Nepal and Bhutan, improved surveys and enhanced protection, the WWF said.
Actor and noted animal conservationist Leonardo DiCaprio—whose philanthropic organization has donated more than $6.2 million to the WWF since 2010 to help boost tiger numbers—said he was "proud" of the work being done to save the iconic species.
“Tigers are some of the most vital and beloved animals on Earth,” the chairman of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and WWF board member said a statement. “With our partners at WWF, my Foundation has supported major efforts to double the number of tigers in the wild."
Leonardo DiCaprio setting up a tiger camera trap in Bardia National Park in Nepal in 2010. Photo Credit: WWF
"In Nepal, our efforts have produced one of the greatest areas of progress in tiger conservation, which is helping drive this global increase in population," DiCaprio continued. "I am so proud that our collective efforts have begun to make progress toward our goal, but there is still so much to be done."
"I am optimistic about what can be achieved when governments, communities, conservationists and private foundations like ours come together to tackle global challenges."
Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, said the latest figures "offers us great hope and shows that we can save species and their habitats when governments, local communities and conservationists work together.”
DiCaprio, the WWF and other animal conservation groups and all 13 tiger range countries have pledged to double the number of wild tigers in the world to more than 6,000 by 2022, which is the next Year of the Tiger. The global aim is also known as “Tx2.”
BREAKING NEWS: Wild tiger numbers have increased for the first time globally → https://t.co/yfUzNvl1qT #doubletigers https://t.co/ezXPIbhZFB— WWF Tigers (@WWF Tigers)1460313303.0
According to the WWF, the newest tiger figures were released ahead of the 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation in New Delhi this week. Over the course of the three-day summit, countries will report on their progress toward the Tx2 goal and commit to next steps.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi will open the conference on the essential role tigers play as a symbol of a country’s ecological well-being. The BBC noted that India alone has more than half the world's tigers, with an estimated 2,226 tigers.
“This is a critical meeting taking place at the halfway point in the Tx2 goal,” Dr Rajesh Gopal, secretary general of the GTF, said in a statement. “Tiger governments will decide the next steps towards achieving this goal and ensuring wild tigers have a place in Asia’s future.”
Due to years of illegal poaching and loss of habitat, tigers are now nearly extinct worldwide. In Indonesia, the world's insatiable demand for cheap palm oil—another DiCaprio pet cause—has destroyed forests and depleted wildlife populations.
Tigers Declared Extinct in Cambodia https://t.co/RKeZor17zS @WWFScotland @RSPBScotland— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1460063725.0
Last week, Cambodian conservationists conceded for the first time that tigers were “functionally extinct” in the country. Cambodia’s dry forests used to be home to scores of Indochinese tigers, but intensive poaching of both tigers and their prey has devastated the population, the AFP reported.
But in a major effort to save the iconic species, on March 23 the Cambodian government approved its “Cambodia Tiger Action Plan” that would import tigers from abroad and introduce them to the Mondulkiri Protected Forest.
Tigers are currently on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN’s) Red List. According to the IUCN, the animals currently inhabit less than 6 percent of their historic range with a 42 percent decline since 2006.
“A strong action plan for the next six years is vital,” Michael Baltzer, leader of WWF Tx2 Tiger Initiative, said in a statement. “The global decline has been halted but there is still no safe place for tigers. Southeast Asia, in particular, is at imminent risk of losing its tigers if these governments do not take action immediately.”
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