The incident was detailed in several Facebook posts from Equinac, a Spanish marine wildlife conservation group.
The organization said the dolphin was stranded on the beach when a mob of "curious" people quickly gathered to touch it and to take photos of it rather than seek help for it.
A concerned beachgoer eventually called for emergency services, but the dolphin died before rescuers got to the scene.
"Once again we note that the human being is the most irrational species that exists," Equinac wrote on Facebook.
"There are many [who are] incapable of empathy for a living being that is alone, scared, starved, without his mother and terrified ... All you want to do is to photograph and poke, even if the animal suffers from stress."
The dolphin might have been sick before it was spotted by humans. However, Equinac said that just the act of handling and photographing it might have caused "a very high stress state" and for it to go into shock.
Two similar incidents happened in Argentina last year. Last year, beachgoers pulled out a young Franciscana dolphin for photos. It happened again to another baby dolphin in January.
"While traveling, tourists must remember that their once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity with a wild animal can mean horrific suffering—and in this case, a tragic death for this poor animal," Neil D'Cruze, World Animal Protection's senior wildlife advisor, told EcoWatch in a statement about the latest dolphin death.
"Using wild animals for entertainment, including catching them to take selfies, is wrong, often illegal, and causes great distress to animals. Wild animals are not photo props. They should be left to live free in the wild where they belong."
World Animal Protection has issued a
travel guide on how to best interact with animals in their natural habitat.
By Jason Bittel
It's official: Animals around the world are sick of our sh . . . enanigans.
After looking at 62 mammal species on six continents, a recent study published in Science found that 83 percent of these species are doing more and more of their business in the dark rather than deal with humans and all of our accompanying guns, cars, noise and other forms of harassment.
"Human activity is creating a more nocturnal natural world," said lead author Kaitlyn Gaynor, an ecologist at the University of California at Berkeley. Gaynor said the trend is both powerful and striking.
Deer? Wild pigs? Coyotes? All of them are increasing their nocturnality in an effort to avoid spending time with us. Heck, even tigers—easily some of the planet's scariest predators—are turning into night owls to avoid the Homo sapiens.
And no wonder. Humans make insufferable metaphorical roommates.
For starters, we're loud.
The hum from our cars and airplanes numb South African dwarf mongooses to noises made by approaching predators. The 24/7 cacophony produced by oil and gas operations drives away grasshoppers, crickets and ants and causes bluebirds to have fewer chicks. And you can't even go underwater to get some peace and quiet. Our generators, propellers, engines, and military sonar drone so incessantly, they cause dolphins to lose their breath as they dive and make the hearts of narwhals go haywire. This aquatic ruckus may even overshadow the soft whispers shared between baby humpback whale calves and their mommies.
And we're prone to fits of violence.
In Colorado, the government is spending $4.5 million dollars to kill black bears and mountain lions on a hunch that it might increase deer numbers, because people there like to hunt deer. And in 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture killed 23,646 beavers—one every 22 minutes—because beavers modify the environment in ways that are inconvenient for us. (Felling trees and building dams―perhaps the beavers are too similar to us for their own good.)
Tough tamarins, you might say. If the beasts don't like it, they can move out. Well, no, they can't.
Because we don't share (the planet) well.
A lynx photographed at night.George Shiras
The habitat market is garbage these days. The forested mountaintops inhabited by woodland caribou have been carved up to extract tar sands. The creeks and streams that are home to the beaverpond marstonia snail have been sucked dry for irrigation and drinking water. The Ridgway's hawk's rainforests have been razed for livestock pastures and coffee plantations. And the polar bear's sea ice? It's being liquidated as we speak.
More and more species are having to figure out how to survive in a space shared with humans—even if that means altering behaviors that have evolved over millennia. According to the new paper, "In places where wild animals co-occur with humans, animals may minimize risk by separating themselves in time rather than in space." That wording kind of makes it sound like bonobos, binturongs, and springboks are cracking the code on interdimensional time travel, but really they're just waiting for us to call it a day, go indoors, and leave them alone.
Just look at the sable antelopes of Zimbabwe. Under normal conditions, these grazers venture down to water holes during the day because lions, hyenas, and other predators prowl such places at night. But a 2012 study found that when you apply a little pressure from trophy hunters during daylight hours, the antelopes suddenly start taking their chances with the lions creeping around in the black of night.
The leopards of Gabon use a similar tactic to avoid bushmeat hunters. In areas without many people, the cats split their waking hours between day and night almost equally (46 percent nocturnality). But in areas where hunting is prevalent, the leopards forsake the sun and spend 93 percent of their waking hours in the dark.
Our mere presence is intimidating.
It's not just the loud and lethal guns scaring them into hiding. Just having humans walk through the forest causes Sumatran sun bears to go dark (19 percent nocturnality in low disturbance, versus 90 percent when scientists come plodding along). The same is true for big, gnarly brown bears in Alaska, who choose the night life to avoid tourists during the day (33 percent nocturnality in low disturbance, versus 76 percent in high disturbance). To be fair, though, tourists are the worst.
Could this be a good thing? Have animals discovered a way to peacefully cohabit with us? After all, some urban dwellers—raccoons, pigeons, rats—are doing fabulously as our neighbors.
Sure, it's certainly possible for some animals to thrive in proximity to us as we slumber. "In Nepal, for example, tigers and people share the exact same trails in the forest at different times of day, reducing direct conflict between humans and these large carnivores," said Gaynor. In this case, both species benefit.
But some wildlife isn't equipped for such an adjustment. "Not all animals are willing or able to just switch to a nocturnal lifestyle around people," she said. For those, we'll need to set aside areas that remain relatively free from our influence, whether that means establishing no-hunting zones, combating climate change, or even just cutting down on human foot traffic.
Further, expecting animals to forgo thousands of years of tried-and-true survival strategies just so they can adapt to our various needs and whims is a bit selfish. It's sort of like saying, "Oh, I let Trudy do the dishes because she cares more about them getting done."
Just, no. Everyone should do the dishes. We need to stop asking every other living thing on earth to bend to us, to pick up our slack. Frankly, I think it's time for a house meeting.
Residential solar energy systems provide homeowners with a way to minimize their environmental impact and reduce their dependence on electric utilities. One of the biggest obstacles to going solar is the cost of installation, but thankfully, there are a number of solar financing options that homeowners can choose from.
In this article, we'll break down avenues for solar financing including paying in cash, taking out a loan and solar panel leasing. Read on to learn which option might be the best choice for you.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on for and is not intended to provide accounting, legal or tax advice.
Most Common Solar Financing Options to Choose From
When buying solar panels, there are generally three ways for homeowners to pay for their systems: cash, loan or lease. Here's a brief overview of these financing options:
- Pay in cash: The simplest way to purchase solar equipment is in cash. This way, you own the system outright and do not have to pay any kind of interest on it.
- Solar loan: A solar loan is similar to a home improvement loan — it's money you can borrow to cover the cost of solar panels, then pay back over an extended period of time (usually with interest).
- Solar lease: With a solar lease or power purchase agreement, you don't actually own the solar panels on your roof. Instead, you lease them from a solar installer and pay a fixed monthly amount to get electricity that is generated by your home's solar system.
Paying for Solar Panels in Cash
For homeowners who wish to maximize their savings, paying in cash is the optimal way to go. After all, by buying a residential solar system outright, you're essentially paying in advance for 25 to 30 years of electricity to use in your home. This means your energy rates are locked in for decades, and you don't have to worry about inflation or rising utility costs.
The big problem with paying in cash is that the upfront cost of solar equipment tends to be fairly high. Even when you take into account tax incentives and rebates, you're looking at an investment of at least $10,000 to $15,000. This isn't going to be feasible for every homeowner.
Solar Financing Through Loans
Another option is to borrow money from a solar lender, using it to finance your solar installation, then paying it back over time. The most common types of solar loans include unsecured personal loans, home equity loans or lines of credit, and in-house financing through your solar panel installation company.
If you choose a loan as your solar financing route, pay special attention to interest rates and loan terms. How much you pay in interest and your repayment period will often increase the overall cost of your renewable energy system. However, rest assured that homeowners who finance their systems with a loan are still eligible for the federal solar investment tax credit, which may make it a bit easier to pay off that loan.
Some states and local governments have low-interest loan programs for clean energy systems that homeowners can take advantage of. If you're interested in paying for a solar installation via a loan, make sure you research state or municipal programs that are available to you.
Leasing Solar Panels
Homeowners may also choose to either lease their solar panels or participate in a power purchase agreement (PPA), through which you buy the electricity the panels on your roof are producing.
Solar leases and PPAs are pretty similar, but with one significant difference: A solar lease means you're making fixed monthly payments to use solar panels and other solar equipment, whereas a PPA means you're making monthly payments simply for the electricity produced by solar panels. Naturally, the amount of electricity may fluctuate quite a bit from month to month.
Solar leases can seem attractive at first, but for most homeowners, they don't make much financial sense. One reason for this is that homeowners in PPAs or leases are not eligible for the federal solar tax credit. Another thing to note is that solar leases don't enhance your property values, which can be one of the big financial incentives of a residential solar system. Other financing options will allow you to save a lot more money in the long run.
Saving Money on Solar Power
While the initial solar investment can be steep, there are options available to homeowners who wish to save money on their solar installation.
- Federal solar tax credit: Currently, installing a solar system qualifies you for a tax credit that's worth 26% of the total equipment and installation cost. (This number is set to decline in the coming years, so to take full advantage of it, act soon.)
- Local utility rebates: Many municipal utility companies offer rebates to homeowners who go solar. Research your local utility providers to learn more.
- Net metering: Also see if there is a net metering program available in your area. Net metering gives you the opportunity to funnel any surplus energy you generate back into the electrical grid, in exchange for a credit from your utility company.
- Shopping around: Finally, remember that not all solar installers are created equal. Shop around and compare quotes to ensure you're getting the best value.
To start with a free, no-obligation quote from a top solar company near you, fill out our 30-second form below.
Which Solar Financing Option is Right for You?
Ultimately, the way you choose to pay for your solar panel system will depend on a number of factors, including your expendable income, your credit score and ability to get a good loan rate, and more.
Here's a breakdown of which type of solar panel financing may be right for which homeowners:
|Solar Financing Option||Who it May Be Right For|
|Solar lease or PPA||
Frequently Asked Questions: Solar Financing
What is the best way to finance solar?
If you have the funds, paying in cash is the most advantageous way to finance solar. For those without the funds, a solar loan is usually the best way to go. For most homeowners, leasing doesn't make as much financial sense.
Is financing available for solar?
Yes, there are plenty of ways to finance solar panels. Banks, credit unions and even some solar installers offer their own lines of credit, specifically to be used for installing solar equipment.
Is it smart to finance solar panels?
For those without the funds to buy solar equipment outright, financing solar panels can be a flexible and affordable way to lower monthly utility bills and reduce environmental impact.
Are solar loans worth it?
Taking out a solar loan delays your break-even point, but it still lets you cut your electric bills and enhance your property value. For many homeowners, solar loans are well worth it.
Can you rent solar panels?
Yes, leasing solar panels is an option. However, for most homeowners, it is not financially prudent to do so.
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- Solar Leasing Guide: Should You Lease or Buy? (2021) - EcoWatch ›
- Guide to Community Solar: What You Need to Know (2021) - EcoWatch ›
The movement encourages you to give up single-use plastics and replace them with reusable and sustainable alternatives. Participants are asked to announce their commitment on social media and tag their friends to help spread the message within 24 hours.
A growing number of celebrities and environmentalists are taking part in the challenge, including actor Adrian Grenier, who has vigorously campaigned against plastic straws as co-founder of Lonely Whale.
"We use 500 million of these suckers every single day in the U.S. alone," the UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador said in his video. "The good news is that people and businesses are making the switch. And it's so easy, all you have to do is switch to an environmentally friendly alternative."
Alice Eve I’m with you! If you can’t reuse, refuse it! I’ve been out to #BeatPlasticPollution for a while, thanks… https://t.co/glJ1YiMV0c— Adrian Grenier (@Adrian Grenier)1527367766.0
Star Trek Into Darkness actress Alice Eve, who gave up plastic tampon applicators for biodegradable alternatives, said in her post: "Plastic is very bad, it never goes away. A little fish eats it, and then a bigger fish eats it, and then we eat it, and it goes into us. By 2050, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish."
From Alice Eve: Thanks @AidanRGallagher and @UNEnvironment for this challenge! Here’s what I’m thinking @Tampax ...… https://t.co/bWKLyT7HYc— UN Environment Programme (@UN Environment Programme)1527272458.0
In his video, former California Governor and staunch environmentalist Arnold Schwarzenegger pledged to terminate plastic spoons in dramatic fashion.
"We all have to work very hard to make this a healthy environment, a great environment, and to save our oceans and save the planet," he said.
Thank you @PEspinosaC for tagging me in. We have already terminated the plastic bags, so to #BeatPlasticPollution,… https://t.co/jMK2VnGrS8— Arnold (@Arnold)1527689526.0
"Our Earth is in crisis because human activity is destroying the environment. We're addicted to fossil fuels," Cromwell said, adding that we are responsible for the planet's survival.
TAG-I'm it! Thanks for tagging me Leo @BsweetRT & thank you 4 the challenge @UNEnvironment & @footagefilmsinc - I’… https://t.co/NsqTSHsjj6— James Cromwell 🐷 (@James Cromwell 🐷)1527555743.0
Other high-profile participants enthusiastically pledged against using single-use items such as plastic bottles, supermarket bags and drink stirrers, including musician Moby, comedian Rachel Dratch, Harry Potter actor Tom Felton, Flint activist Mari Copeny, extreme swimmer Lewis Pugh, United Nations environment program director Erik Solheim and UN Climate Change executive secretary Patricia Espinosa.
To take part in the challenge, share a selfie or video on social media about the disposable plastic product you'll be giving up. You then "tag" three friends, businesses or high-profile people to challenge them to do the same within 24 hours. Remember to include the #BeatPlasticPollution hashtag and mention @UNEnvironment.
There a numerous ways to take part in this year's World Environment Day. UN Environment is calling on citizens, companies and civil society groups around the world to organize cleanups and has offered a toolkit and lesson plans on how to beat plastic pollution.
From June 2-4, at the inaugural Ocean Heroes Bootcamp in New Orleans, kids ages 11-18 will work together to come up with solutions to fight plastic in their own communities. Their plans will be shared with world leaders at the upcoming G7 Summit in Canada. Although signups for the bootcamp are closed, those interested can participate online.
"Our oceans supply up to 70 percent of earth's oxygen. If they die, so does everything and everyone that needs oxygen," said Nickelodeon star and bootcamp participant Aidan Gallagher, the youngest ever UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador. "Protecting our oceans' health should be our top priority."
Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger posted a selfie video Friday with French president Emmanuel Macron, in what some are reading as Schwarzenegger's latest jab at President Trump on climate change.
In the video, Macron promises to "make our planet great again," a slogan he first debuted after President Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris agreement.
Both leaders attended a meeting at Sorbonne University this weekend, where Macron pledged to support a campaign to establish a clean environment as a basic human right.
"I was truly honored to meet with President Emmanuel Macron about how we can work together for a clean energy future," Schwarzenegger said on his Facebook page. "He's a great leader."
For a deeper dive:
By Jillian Mackenzie
If you've visited the wilderness recently, you may have noticed something: people. People with walking sticks, people with selfie sticks, people with more people in tow. Surging numbers of visitors are hiking, camping, and all-around loving the outdoors. A whopping 330,882,751 of them spent 1.44 billion hours in our national parks in 2017—up 19 million hours from 2016. Great news, except that all this wilderness enthusiasm does come with a downside. "We're seeing record numbers of people connecting to nature, and that's a good thing," said Dana Watts, executive director of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. "But with that comes an increase in the impact to the land."
Still, soil erosion, loads of litter, and risky animal encounters are entirely preventable if you stick to a few simple guidelines.
Plan your trip.
Whether you're a newbie or a 2,000 miler, taking off for a quick hike or embarking on a weeklong backpacking trip, never head outdoors haphazardly. "Always know exactly where you're going and what the conditions and weather are," Watts said. "Having the right gear, food, and clothing means you won't have to make bad decisions in the name of safety." The National Park Service (NPS) has a handy trip-planning guide that includes a list of "Ten Essentials" to help you stay safe on the trail; the list includes a navigation system, sun protection, insulation, illumination, a first-aid kit, a repair kit, nutrition, hydration, emergency shelter, and a fire kit. And speaking of flames, the NPS also provides a useful guide on safely building and extinguishing campfires. You'll definitely want to consult this guide before you get started, since research shows that 84 percent of wildfires are caused by humans.
From left: Ruth Glacier, Denali National Park, Alaska; Great Sand Dunes National Monument and Preserve, ColoradoCarol M. Highsmith Archive / Library of Congress
Follow the posted rules.
Many hikers and campers head out into nature in pursuit of a rush of freedom, but this feeling of liberation doesn't mean that anything goes. "Most public lands have regulations that all visitors must abide by, like having campfires only in designated areas, safely storing food, and not flying drones," said Mark Wenzler, senior vice president of conservation programs at the National Parks Conservation Association. (As drones gain popularity, they bring certain risks to the landscape, as happened in 2014 when one crashed into a famous Yellowstone hot spring; the devices have since been banned in our parks.) To find out the rules for visiting a given park, be sure to check the "plan your visit" section of its website before heading out.
Yosemite National Park, CaliforniaCarol M. Highsmith Archive / Library of Congress
Stick to the trail.
Yes, it's the wilderness. But "the trail is there for a reason," Watts said. "Staying on durable surfaces helps protect vegetation." That's especially true on switchbacks. These paths are designed to prevent erosion, so never cut across. On any trail, you'll do less damage if you keep your group size small and always walk single file straight down the middle.
Handle your trash.
You know to pack up every last thing from your campsite and to use trash cans if they're available. But try to go a step further: Avoid bringing any disposable stuff like water bottles into a park. Right now, our national parks manage 100 million pounds of waste every year—including enough plastic bottles to motivate one well-known activewear company to create a line of upcycled T-shirts made from 160,000 pounds of the stuff, collected from just three parks. "None of us wants to see litter and overflowing trash bins in our parks," Wenzler said. "And we want our parks spending money on rangers and trails, not on trash disposal." (Some national parks are aiming for "zero landfill" status.)
From left: North Window, Arches National Park, Utah; Volcanoes National Park, HawaiiCarol M. Highsmith Archive / Library of Congress
Appreciate the animals from a reasonable distance.
"One of the great things about heading outdoors is experiencing the magic of the wildlife," said Matt Skoglund, director of NRDC's Northern Rockies office. While human‒animal conflicts are rare, you still have to be smart. If you see a bison, moose, or mountain lion at close range, for example, don't try to feed it, approach it, or, for Pete's sake, take a selfie with it. (Bison, one of the biggest attractions for the more than four million tourists who come to Yellowstone each year, have injured more people than any other animal in the park, according to the NPS.) "Give the animal some space, use common sense, and also use your senses," said Skoglund. In other words, stay vigilant while on the trail by carefully observing your surroundings, keeping your ears perked (and definitely earbud-free), and taking note of any whiff of wildlife along the way.
Of course, animals are able to sense you, too. For bears, smell is the sharpest sense, spanning miles, and this means that for the most part, they can (and will) easily avoid you. As a result, while bears (especially grizzlies) inspire particular fear, sightings are rare, Skoglund said. If you do encounter a grizzly at close range, he said, "stay calm and don't run away. Take a few slow steps back and talk calmly to it. It will most likely turn and walk the other way. If not, and it charges you, use your bear spray—the most effective method of deterring an attack."
If you do encounter an ursine, it'll much more likely be a black bear. "There are about 800,000 to 900,000 black bears in North America—that's 15 times the number of grizzly bears," said Stephen Matthew Herrero, professor emeritus of environmental science at the University of Calgary and the author of Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance. There are hundreds of thousands of encounters between bears and humans each year, but only one to three deaths. (Often the more violent encounters are triggered by dogs surprising or barking at bears; keeping Fido on a leash helps.) "In most cases, as soon as the bear senses you, it will leave," Herrero said. Otherwise, if it shows signs of stress—huffing loudly or swatting a paw at the ground—simply back away slowly. Don't run, or it may instinctively chase you.
Devils Tower National Monument, WyomingCarol M. Highsmith Archive / Library of Congress
If you're on the trail for more than a few hours, you're gonna need to go. For best pee and poop practices, you can check with the park's land manager. Or if you don't relish the thought of having that conversation in person, you can also look online. "Not all regulations will be posted at all places, but there will be site-specific and relevant information on most park websites," said Watts. The general rules of rules of thumb: "If there are facilities, use them," Watts said. If not, and you're in the woods, pee far away from water, campsites and the trail. (One exception: "If you are recreating around or in high-volume running or moving water, like river rafting with overnight camping in designated areas, peeing directly in the water is sometimes the most appropriate," she said.) As for solid waste, "in the backcountry, dig a cat hole the depth of a hand and a half in an organic soil environment," she said. "And don't bury or burn your toilet paper; pack it out in a Ziploc bag." (Sorry, wilderness lovers, but it's just one of the many sacrifices we must make to keep nature intact.)
From left: South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona; Bryce Canyon National Park, UtahCarol M. Highsmith Archive / Library of Congress
Wash responsibly, too.
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics recommends that when it's time to wash up, you should carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap (that goes for both your body and your dishes). Also, skip the hand sanitizers and antibacterial soaps—they may seem convenient, but many of these products contain triclosan, a hormone disruptor and a pesticide. Washing with antibacterial soap is no more effective than using regular soap and water to kill germs. Moreover, antibacterial products can contaminate a park's surface waters, as a study by the Great Lakes Network, working in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other monitoring groups, found after sampling waters from various parks in 2013 and 2014.
Speak out for our national monuments.
You can do even more for the parks you cherish by telling government officials waging an attack on our public lands that you oppose their actions and support our national monuments. President Trump and U.S. Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke want to open up America's national monuments to extractive industries that can exploit, privatize, and profit from our lands and waters. And that's far more dangerous than the effects of tourism. "While visitors can have a big impact, the worst impacts on our public lands are caused by industrial and commercial development like oil and gas drilling near park boundaries, or coal-fired power plants in their airsheds," Wenzler said. Raising your voice—and casting your vote—are powerful ways to strike back.
So now, thrill-seeking and rule-abiding outdoor adventurers—get out there!
Mesa Verde National Park, ColoradoCarol M. Highsmith Archive / Library of Congress
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- Cougar Follows Jogger for Nearly Six Minutes in Harrowing Video - EcoWatch ›
By Patrick Rogers
Famous for its turquoise waters and spectacularly diverse animal and plant life, the Maldives also bears the unwelcome distinction of being the country most vulnerable to rising sea levels. The island chain in the Indian Ocean is the flattest nation on earth, with most of its land lying less than five feet above average sea level―and large areas in imminent danger of flooding.
"It's obviously the main topic of conversation. They are already making contingency plans to relocate some communities," said British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, who is currently installing a new piece in one of the archipelago's 26 shallow atoll lagoons.
In a career that began more than a decade ago when he was working as a diving instructor, Taylor has become known for building underwater museums filled with his own sculptures. This latest one, The Coralarium, is as strikingly beautiful as it is eerie, an omen of the island nation's precarious environmental state. Its cube-shaped structure is made of marine-grade stainless steel that reflects the deep blue of the surrounding water. Ocean currents flow through the openings that pierce the structure's surface—openings that also allow marine plants and animals to find their way inside. The roof of the structure stands above the water and is visible from the shore, while the walls and floor are washed by the tides, inviting divers and snorkelers to explore an underwater realm.
"The Raft of Lampedusa" at the Museo Atlántico in Lanzarote, Spain.Jason deCaires Taylor
As did Taylor's submerged concrete VW Bug off the coast of Cancun and his Museo Atlántico in the waters surrounding the Canary Islands—which features sculptures depicting hundreds of selfie-taking tourists, people talking on their phones, and a raft full of marooned refugees—The Coralarium draws attention to the impact of human activity on the oceans. "I very much wanted to tell a story about rising sea levels and the threat it poses to low-lying islands, and obviously, a very clear way to do that is to work above and below the water," the artist explained. "The three tiers of the work connect the three worlds—the aerial, the terrestrial and the subaquatic world—to highlight how these are interconnected and equally dependent on one another."
Often placed in tourist zones, Taylor's sculptures serve to draw visitor traffic away from coral reefs and marine ecosystems that have been damaged by snorkelers and divers while attracting attention to their plight. And since The Coralarium is situated near the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi resort, it targets the sort of visitor who might be able to make a difference. "The people at the hotel are fairly wealthy, to be honest," said Taylor. And with an audience of influential consumers, he pointed out, "this is a good opportunity to bring important issues before people who have some power to change things."
This is a strategy Taylor has used before. The Rising Tide, his 2015 installation of four statues in the River Thames in central London, presented businessman-like figures mounted on horses. Only when the low tide revealed the base of two of the figures did it become apparent that the horses' heads were made up of pieces of oilfield machinery. All four of the provocative statues were clearly visible from Westminster's Houses of Parliament, a gathering place for the lawmakers too often behind policies that drive climate change.
"The Rising Tide," in the River Thames in London.Jason deCaires Taylor
For his next project, Taylor is working with the government of Queensland, Australia, to build an underwater park adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef to bring attention to the catastrophic coral bleaching that's currently threatening the ecosystem. While some of Taylor's previous projects have been works of art as well as artificial habitat for marine plants and animals, the objective of his art here will be more overtly political. "Australia is in huge conflict. It has one of the greatest underwater wonders of the world, but it also has one of the biggest fossil fuel energy industries."
As a debate rages over the proposed expansion of a coal-shipping port on the Queensland coast, Taylor plans to get in the water with sculptures that are "more activist" than his previous work, which he sees as a way of giving the silent seas a voice in the conversation. As he said in a TED talk delivered on a boat in the Solomon Islands in 2015, "I think there's a real danger that we never really see the sea. And if we don't really see it—if it doesn't have its own iconography, if we miss its majesty—then it's a big danger that we take it for granted."
Reposted with permission from our media associate onEarth.
By Brianna Acuesta
In an incident that's shockingly similar to what happened one year ago in Argentina, beachgoers pulled a stranded baby dolphin from the water to capture photos of him and take selfies. Unfortunately, the incident resulted in the baby's death, showing that Argentinians did not learning anything from the last time they pulled a baby dolphin from the ocean.
Baby Dolphin Dies After Being Passed Around by Tourists Taking Selfies https://t.co/rdcVwdeKhm @dpcarrington @Earthjustice— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1455920430.0
A video that was released this week shows the baby dolphin surrounded by a crowd of people taking photos and videos. The local newspaper, La Nacion, reported that fellow beachgoers said that people had pulled the dolphin from the shallows of the water.
A witness told C5N News, "They let him die. They could have returned him to the ocean, he was breathing, but everyone started taking photos and touching him, saying he was already dead."
A person's first instincts when seeing an animal in need, especially one so young, should be to help them rather than hurt them. Instead of checking to see if the baby had a chance to live, they immediately yanked him from his home and he died while extremely stressed from the situation.
It's unclear if the baby was sick before humans spotted him, which would explain why he found himself stranded, but what's indisputable is that the humans involved inadvertently participated in his death by not helping him.
Last year, beachgoers pulled two baby dolphins out of the water for selfies, resulting in the death of one and people everywhere were outraged. This outrage, apparently, had little to no effect on the people that repeated this sad act all over again.
Humans have the unique ability to feel empathy, but it is their selfish nature that causes them to often forget to help others. In this situation, the humans did not even think to save the allegedly dying dolphin because they were so absorbed in getting the perfect picture for social media. Meanwhile, dogs around the world have made news for spotting dolphins in need and springing into action to help.
Watch the video below to see the baby dolphin.
Reposted with permission from our media associate True Activist.
By Nathan Runkle
Hundreds of leaders from fast-food chains, marketing agencies and poultry production companies recently gathered in North Carolina for the 2017 Chicken Marketing Summit to play golf and figure out how to make you eat more animals.
One session focused on marketing chicken to millennials. Richard Kottmeyer, a senior managing partner at Fork to Farm Advisory Services, explained to the crowd that millennials are "lost" and need to be "inspired and coached." His reasoning? Because there are now "58 ways to gender identify on Facebook." Also, because most millennial women take nude selfies, the chicken industry needs to be just as "naked" and transparent.
These are some of the key takeaways outlined in an article on WATT AgNet, a leading animal agriculture website, which provides insight into the mentality of some of the people who raise and sell America's most abused and consumed land animal.
"Millennial consumers are self-experts making it difficult for producers to teach them fact-based information," the article begins. "Common sense has to replace [the] complexity of data and science."
Compared to their parents, millennials are more likely to believe in evolution and accept that climate change is occurring. Indeed, millennials seek out facts and science to better understand our complex world, but the poultry industry doesn't have any "fact-based information" to defend its cruel, unsanitary practices.
Here are the facts millennials are learning about chicken production through news reports and undercover investigations: The vast majority of chickens raised for meat have been bred to grow so large so quickly that many collapse under their own unnatural weight. Because factory farmers want to keep their net profits similarly hefty, they wait months—some more than a year—to change the chickens' litter. And since chickens live only six to seven weeks before they're slaughtered, they often live in the waste of several flocks that came before them. The waste can cause ammonia burns, and poor air quality can cause respiratory diseases and even eye lesions.
These conditions are so abysmal that according to one conservative estimate more than 139 million chickens don't even make it to the slaughterhouse each year because they literally suffer to death. That's more chickens than the entire human populations of California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania combined.
Chickens who do make it to slaughter are shackled upside down by their feet and shocked in an electrified water tank. Then their throats are slit, often while the birds are still fully conscious.
Such conditions and practices have driven away many millennial consumers, 12 percent of whom now identify as "faithful vegetarians." There's a reason some call them "generation nice." And thankfully, it's easier now than ever to eat more plant-based foods.
Since the poultry industry can't defend its practices, it instead condescends and insults its greatest skeptics: the millennials who take the time to research where their food comes from.
At the conference, Kottmeyer used Facebook's 58 options for gender identification as supposed evidence that millennials struggle with identity. He explained, "What this means is the millennial generation is trying to find themselves. If an individual feels lost, they don't know what to believe other than to follow the trend. Poultry and other meat producers must create that trend."
If anyone's lost, it's the poultry marketers who believe they can woo consumers by talking down to them and creating "trends" (what kind of trends, exactly, is unclear). Perhaps even worse than this condescension is the industry's lack of transparency, which only serves to stir doubt and erode consumer trust.
So far, the poultry industry's version of transparency is creating videos of white-gloved tours of chicken houses. But no amount of PR spin can conceal what whistleblowers expose when poultry farmers think the cameras are off. A quick YouTube search of "chicken cruelty" returns 123,000 results, including an undercover investigation into a North Carolina factory farm in which a worker was stomping birds to death. Another investigation in North Carolina uncovered workers slaughtering sick and injured chickens.
The response to such damning findings? Make it illegal to photograph or videotape abuse. Since 2011, more than 30 state legislatures have introduced "ag-gag" bills to criminalize documenting and sometimes even distributing factory farm and slaughterhouse footage. Few state legislatures have been brazen enough to pass an ag-gag bill into law, but North Carolina is one of them.
It's clear the industry knows it has a transparency problem, since it uses millennials' alleged openness as evidence that it should be open, too: "Nine out of 10 millennial women have taken and distributed nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves ... Is your brand as naked and vulnerable as what the statistic says the consumer is?" Kottmeyer told his audience, "If your brand isn't naked, it isn't going to last very long."
Hopefully, that's an omen.
Reposted with permission from our media associate AlterNet.
Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a vocal critic of President Donald Trump's anti-climate polices, helped launch a comprehensive online database today to help local and state lawmakers advance environmental legislation.
"I'm pumped to unveil the Environmental Digital Legislative Handbook today, a resource for legislators around the country to find the blueprints on policies for energy efficiency, reducing pollution, recycling—you name it," Schwarzenegger announced on Facebook.
According to POLITICO, the website contains an extensive collection of legal and legislative research, voting records, and bill language and data to assist legislators in preparing bills on a vast range of environmental issues.
"There's no reason why we shouldn't have a digital legislative handbook—and make it available to people who wanted to create environmental action now—because of the situation with Trump,'' Schwarzenegger told POLITICO. "With his decision on the Paris agreement, it is even more so important to make this information available because it shows the kinds of wonderful things states can do without waiting for the federal government."
"The message to legislators with the project is now 'you have the power to do it yourselves,''' he added. "The reality is each state now goes to work and passes great legislation that helps them ... make great decisions."
"We hope to assist legislators who are interested in advancing smart environmental policies by sharing best practices and actual legislation that is working successfully in a number of states already," the website states. "Governor Schwarzenegger has long insisted that voters aren't interested in Republican air or Democrat air but instead simply want clean air. That belief has guided our thought process when choosing the legislation to include in this database"
Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has emerged as a prominent environmentalist and renewable energy proponent. Last month, he threw his weight behind an extension of California's cap-and-trade program signed by his successor, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.
During remarks, the former action star criticized Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement.
"America is fully in the Paris agreement. There's only one man that dropped out," Schwarzenegger said of Trump on Tuesday. "America did not drop out."
In June, Schwarzenegger posted a selfie video with French president Emmanuel Macron, in an apparent jab at Trump's stance on climate change.
The clip shows Schwarzenegger saying the pair talked about "talking about environmental issues and a green future." Macron adds, "We will deliver together to make the planet great again."
By Andy Rowell
There is a growing feeling within European capitals that a quiet, but deeply positive, revolution is happening under Emmanuel Macron in France.
Macron's opinion poll rating is high, especially boosted in how the young French president has reacted to Donald Trump on the international stage.
On Friday, there was further evidence of Macron's anti-Trump stance, when former governor of California and star of the "Terminator" film, Arnold Schwarzenegger, posted a selfie video of himself with Macron, where they mocked Trump's withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris agreement.
The video shows Schwarzenegger saying the pair talked about "talking about environmental issues and a green future," before Macron adds: "We will deliver together to make the planet great again."
And in another sign that things are changing in Paris, France's new celebrity "Ecological Transitions" minister, Nicolas Hulot, has said the country will issue a moratorium on new oil and gas exploration licenses. "There will be no new exploration licenses for hydrocarbons, we will pass the law this autumn," Hulot told a French news channel.
A former TV host of nature documentaries, Hulot is a popular environmentalist, and his appointment was seen as a major "coup" by Macron's new administration.
As the France24 website noted, this is about preventing future oil and gas development, not curtailing current operations:
"The measure would essentially kill development of shale oil and gas in mainland France and in the country's overseas territories, but does nothing to curb ongoing exploration or extraction projects involving conventional oil and gas."
Hulot said that the French government would be hit by costly legal action if it tried to stop current oil and gas operations, which cover about 4,000 square kilometers (approx. 1544 square miles) of the country.
This stance disappointed France's environmental community, who thought Hulot could have gone further.
"There are at least 55 exploration licenses that were previously approved and will likely be extended, and 132 extraction permits awaiting approval," said Juliette Renaud, a fossil fuel industry expert with Friends of the Earth.
"If we continue to exploit conventional hydrocarbons, it will be impossible to keep global temperatures from rising above 2°C," Renaud added.
While France's announcement has to be welcomed as a first step and an encouragement for other countries to follow suit, it is not by any means a large oil and gas producer.
In February, production was 15,000 bpd, so the majority of its oil and gas which it consumes was imported.
But it is yet another sign that the days of unfettered fossil fuel extraction are over.
Wild animal selfies drive millions of digital clicks and shares, but these critter photos are not just entertainment for the online masses. They are scientific data collected by camera traps: cameras equipped with a sensor—motion, infrared or light beam—that triggers the shutter when it detects an animal moving by.
These devices let researchers observe wild animals in their natural habitats while largely staying out of their hair, feathers and scales.
In Candid Creatures: How Camera Traps Reveal the Mysteries of Nature, zoologist Roland Kays has collected 613 of the best images from 153 research groups around the world. It's a delightful photo album of wildlife ranging from aardvarks to zebras, with plenty of big cats, bears, primates, elephants and other charismatic critters in between, as well as a comprehensive overview of how camera trap technology is transforming our understanding of their lives.
Camera trapping has been around in some form for more than a century. To create his 1,878 images of a horse in full gallop, photographer Eadweard Muybridge connected strings to the shutters of a dozen cameras, which the horse triggered in sequence by breaking the strings as it ran by. In the late 1880s, Pennsylvania photographer (and one-term Congress member) George Shiras created a camera-and-flash system triggered when a wild animal touched a trip wire. His images won a gold medal at the universal exposition in Paris in 1900.
Fast-forward to 2006, the year photographer George Steinmetz touched off the field's modern era when he created the first digital camera trap while on assignment for National Geographic. In the decade since, cameras have become more durable, memory cards more capacious and batteries more powerful—a trifecta that has ushered in the golden age of the camera trap.
"Modern studies use dozens of camera traps over hundreds of locations to collect many thousands or millions of photographs," Kays wrote. "The camera trap photograph offers a way to measure biodiversity, a testament to life on earth similar to the traditional animal skins and skeletal specimens stored in the collections of our great natural history museums."
Scientists are learning things about even the most avidly observed species from camera trapping, Kays wrote, while generating the perfect means to engage the public on preserving biodiversity, "Data and images are the two most important results of any camera trap study, working together to help in the fight to conserve animals and their habitats.
Sunda Clouded Leopard
A Sunda clouded leopard pauses for his portrait in Borneo's Tawau Hills National Park. "Clouded leopards are forest animals and camera traps most often detect them in evergreen forests," wrote Kays. The species is "tolerant of some level of hunting, as camera traps showed that they continued to survive in an Indian preserve after the tigers, as well as much of the prey, had been overhunted by illegal poaching."
Photo credit: Sebastian Kennerknecht / Candid Creatures
A pair of pandas stop for a drink in a thicket of bamboo, the plant that makes up 99 percent of this species' diet. "With the panda's skid toward extinction apparently halted, conservationists are now looking for sustainable solutions," wrote Kays. "Camera traps are important tools for monitoring their populations within panda reserves … and hopefully will continue to capture cute photos of these animals long into the future."
Photo credit: Sheng Li / Candid Creatures
African Forest Elephant
An older adult male elephant comes up from a swim in the Echira River in Gabon's Loango National Park. "Camera traps have been more important for studying forest elephants than bush elephants because they are harder to find and watch in person," Kays noted. "Each elephant has a unique appearance, based on size, ear shape and scarring patterns. By placing camera traps in a regular grid across the forests of Loango National Park, Gabon, Josephine Head and colleagues were able to photograph and identify 139 unique individuals, estimating a density of 0.54 animals" per square mile.
Photo credit: Michael Nichols / Candid Creatures
The Malayan tapir has the longest snout of the five tapir species and is "Southeast Asia's least known species of megafauna," wrote Kays. To learn more about this species, which is endangered by loss of its preferred evergreen forest habitat, 37 biologists combined images and data representing "52,904 camera trap days of effort across 1,128 locations in 19 nature preserves."
Photo credit: Ruben Clements / Rimba / Candid Creatures
Giant Sable Antelope
A herd of female sable antelope congregates around a salt lick in Cangandala National Park in Angola, which makes the site a good location for a camera trap. "Unfortunately, poachers have also discovered these animal hot spots and are often caught on camera as they patrol by," Kays wrote. "They have seen and destroyed enough camera traps at this site that scientists now have to climb trees and mount them out of sight."
Photo credit: Pedro Vaz Pinto / Candid Creatures
A large adult black cod approaches a baited underwater video station in the rocky reefs of eastern Australia—a "big beautiful fish that also has the misfortune of being delicious," Kays wrote. Overfishing devastated populations of this Australia–New Zealand fish from the 1950s through the 1970s. Its numbers have not bounced back despite more than 30 years of protection. "Out in the deeper waters around rocky reefs some large adults are now seen by snorkelers and photographed by baited remote underwater video stations," Kays continued. "However, young fish are almost never seen, raising concerns over the next generation of black cod."
Photo credit: David Harasti / Candid Creatures
A Tasmanian devil runs away from a bird carcass that served as its recent meal. Found only on the Australian island of Tasmania, the devil population has plunged 90 percent since 1996 owing to a unique, transmissible facial cancer. But camera trapping at one location has buoyed hope for the species, Kays wrote. "[D]evils at Freycinet National Park suffered only a small initial population decline when the cancer first arrived," he wrote, "but the population has bounced back. The tumors can be identified in good camera trap photos, allowing officials to see that it was never common in the park, and that it has declined since 2006."
Photo credit: Heath Holden / Candid Creatures
A giant pangolin rears up, showing its fierce claws. Its heavy tail acts as a counterbalance, allowing it to run with very little weight on its front feet, keeping its claws sharp for digging into termite or ant mounds.
Rampant poaching of pangolins for their scales, which command large sums on China's black market, has threatened the species' survival. Along with campaigns to reduce public demand for pangolin parts and intensified policing of the illegal wildlife trade, Kays wrote, conservationists "on the ground in African and Asian forests [are] patrolling for poachers and using camera traps to try to determine where the pangolin populations persist."
Photo credit: Laila Bahaa-el-din/ Panthera / Candid Creatures
A baby orangutan crosses a gap in the forest to catch up with its mother. Conversion of forests to palm oil plantations has been a major factor in Bornean orangutan population declines. "The species is threatened by habitat destruction and by selective logging," Keys wrote. "Camera trap surveys can map where these monkeys still roam, helping to target conservation efforts."
Photo credit: Oliver Wearn / SAFE Project / Candid Creatures
The world's largest primate, weighing up to 600 pounds, the western gorilla is critically endangered thanks to poaching, Ebola epidemics and loss of its lowland rainforest habitat. This silverback male gorilla encountered a camera trap in Gabon. "Tracking the declines and recoveries of gorilla numbers over these remote areas is challenging and many traditional methods have since been found to be unreliable or too difficult to scale up," wrote Kays. "A few recent studies with camera traps suggest that they could be a useful tool to help count and protect gorillas," in part because "gorillas have unique faces and can often be identified from photos."
Photo credit: Laila Bahaa-el-din / Panthera/ Candid Creatures
All captions are adapted from Candid Creatures.
This article was reposted with permission from our media associate TakePart.
Naruto, a now-famous monkey known for taking a "selfie" that prompted an unprecedented copyright lawsuit, has another chance at claiming ownership over his image as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has filed an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
The images in question were taken in 2011 by Naruto, a then–6-year-old male, free-living crested macaque in Indonesia. Photographer David J. Slater had left his camera unattended in an Indonesian forest, which allowed Naruto to take several photos of himself. Slater and his company, Wildlife Personalities Ltd., which both claim copyright ownership, published the photos that Naruto indisputably took. PETA sued, claiming that Naruto was the author of the photos and that Slater had infringed on Naruto's copyright.
Disappointingly, in January, a federal judge dismissed the monkey selfie suit, finding that a non-human animal could not own a copyright.
"In every practical (and definitional) sense, he is the 'author' of the works," argued PETA, in the appeal brief. "Had the Monkey Selfies been made by a human using Slater's unattended camera, that human would undisputedly be declared the author and copyright owner of the photographs. Nothing in the Copyright Act limits its application to human authors. … [P]rotection under the Copyright Act does not depend on the humanity of the author, but on the originality of the work itself."
PETA's brief also emphasizes that the Copyright Act should be interpreted broadly and was intended to expand to include new forms of expression unknown at the time that it was enacted.
If this lawsuit succeeds, it will be the first time that a nonhuman animal has been declared the owner of property rather than a piece of property himself or herself. It will also be the first time that a right has been extended to a nonhuman animal beyond just the basic necessities of food, shelter, water and veterinary care. In our view, it is high time.
"The fact that copyright ownership by an animal has not been previously asserted does not mean that such rights cannot be asserted," PETA wrote. "[I]nsofar as the issue of non-human authorship has been considered by this court, it remains an open question. The only requirement articulated by this court so far is that the 'author' be of this world. And Naruto certainly meets that requirement."
PETA is seeking the court's permission to administer and protect Naruto's copyright in the "monkey selfies," without compensation, with all proceeds to be used for the benefit of Naruto and his community.