Right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has found a new person to blame for the record number of wildfires that have ravaged the Amazon rainforest this year: actor and environmental advocate Leonardo DiCaprio.
"Leonardo DiCaprio is a great guy, isn't he?" Bolsonaro said Friday, as CNN reported. "Donating money to set the Amazon on fire."
This is not the first time that Bolsonaro has blamed environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) for intentionally starting fires in order to raise money. While indigenous and environmental groups have blamed Bolsonaro's pro-development rhetoric and policies for the uptick in illegal burns in the Amazon, the president has pushed back by shifting blame. This August, as the news of the fires sparked international outrage, he claimed that "everything indicates" the fires were started by NGOs, though he did not provide any proof.
His accusations against DiCaprio come as four volunteer firefighters have been arrested for allegedly starting fires in Brazil's northern Pará state in order to attract NGO donations, BBC News reported. Specifically, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has been accused of paying the firefighters for photographs of burned forest. WWF denies these claims, and human rights and environmental organizations said the arrests were politically motivated and an attempt to harass environmental groups.
Bolsonaro first connected DiCaprio with the fires in a webcast Thursday discussing the accusations against WWF.
"So what did the NGO do? What is the easiest thing? Set fire to the forest. Take pictures, make a video. [WWF] makes a campaign against Brazil, it contacts Leonardo DiCaprio, he donates $500,000," Bolsonaro said, according to BBC News. "A part of that went to the people that were setting fires. Leonardo DiCaprio, you are contributing to the fire in the Amazon, that won't do."
DiCaprio responded with a statement posted on Instagram Saturday.
"At this time of crisis for the Amazon, I support the people of Brazil working to save their natural and cultural heritage," DiCaprio wrote. "They are an amazing, moving and humbling example of the commitment and passion needed to save the environment."
DiCaprio has a history of promoting environmental causes. He promised in December 2018 to match every donation made to the group Amazon Frontlines for all of 2019, The New York Times reported. His Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation works to protect vulnerable wildlife and ecosystems.
However, he said in his statement that he had not supported the groups currently being accused, though he said they were "worthy of support."
"I remain committed to supporting the Brazilian indigenous communities, local governments, scientists, educators and general public who are working tirelessly to secure the Amazon for the future of all Brazilians," DiCaprio said.
WWF also said in a statement that it had not received any money from DiCaprio, The New York Times reported.
Global Wildlife Conservation and IUCN Species Survival Commission, two of the largest environmental organizations currently working in the Amazon, also spoke out generally against the accusations, CNN reported.
"As an umbrella organization committed to biodiversity conservation, we are concerned that there are increasing and targeted attacks on people and groups working to protect nature in the Amazon," IUCN said. "Environmental defenders, whether in local communities, NGOs, or government agencies, should be afforded with the highest protection of the law in Brazil."
As a carbon sink, the Amazon rainforest is considered an essential part of the fight against the climate crisis, The New York Times pointed out. However, experts are concerned that if it continues to burn, it could reach a tipping point and transform from rainforest into grassland.
- 'There Will Be an Increase in Deforestation': Brazil's New President ... ›
- How Jair Bolsonaro Is Boosting Deforestation - EcoWatch ›
- Leonardo DiCaprio Pledges $5M to Fight Amazon Fires - EcoWatch ›
"The lungs of the Earth are in flames. The Brazilian Amazon — home to 1 million Indigenous people and 3 million species — has been burning for more than two weeks straight," DiCaprio wrote in an Instagram post announcing the donation, as The Guardian reported.
The funds come through Earth Alliance, a new charity formed by DiCaprio and philanthropists Laurene Powell Jobs and Brian Sheth in July to "help address the urgent threats to our planet's life support systems," CNN reported. The actor's previous Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation merged with the new organization.
Earth Alliance announced its Amazon Forest Fund on Twitter Sunday.
#EarthAlliance has formed an emergency Amazon Forest Fund with $5m to focus critical resources for indigenous communities and other local partners working to protect the biodiversity of the Amazon against the surge of fires. Learn more & donate: https://t.co/uG2WoEoKqx pic.twitter.com/IbcubQCO4v— Earth Alliance (@earthalliance) August 25, 2019
"These funds will be distributed directly to local partners and the indigenous communities protecting the Amazon, the incredible diversity of wildlife that lives there, and the health of the planet overall," the organization wrote.
Funds will be divided between five local organizations: Instituto Associação Floresta Protegida (Kayapo), Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), Instituto Kabu (Kayapo), Instituto Raoni (Kayapo) and Instituto Socioambiental (ISA).
The donation comes after a widespread outcry following the news last week that there are a record number of fires burning in the Amazon, which is an important sink for carbon dioxide. Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) said the number of fires had increased 83 percent compared with this time last year. Scientists and environmental advocates say that the fires were sparked by deforestation, as farmers clear trees for planting or cattle grazing. Such practices have been encouraged by right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has promised to open more of the Amazon to mining and agriculture.
The G7 countries also pledged $22 million to help Brazil fight the fires at a summit this weekend, as French President Emmanuel Macron announced Monday, but the Bolsonaro government rejected the funds, Al Jazeera reported.
"'[P]erhaps those resources are more relevant to reforest Europe," Bolsonaro's Chief of Staff Onyx Lorenzoni told Brazil's Globo news site Monday, according to Al Jazeera. "Macron cannot even avoid a predictable fire in a church that is part of the world's heritage, and he wants to give us lessons for our country?" Lorenzoni said.
In addition to the G7 pledge, the UK had promised $12 million to fight the fires and Canada had promised $11 million. It is not clear if Brazil also rejected those offers.
While Bolsonaro's government rejects international funding, it has also directed its own resources away from the environment.
"The funding for Brazil's environment agency has gone down by 95% this year, it [has] essentially gutted [a] large part of the actions that have been put in by the agricultural ministry," University of Oxford ecosystem science professor Yadvinder Malhi told the BBC's Today program, as BBC News reported. "So the real thing is to look at the political direction of governance in the Amazon that's changing under the new Brazilian government."
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
Climate change has been called the biggest challenge of our time. Last year, scientists with the United Nations said we basically have 12 years to limit global warming to 1.5ºC to avoid planetary catastrophe.
Amid a backdrop of rising global carbon emissions, there's a real case for pessimism. However, many scientists are hopeful of a way out.
Now, a new climate model shows that we can achieve and even beat the 1.5ºC threshold by transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 and implementing natural climate solutions.
The "One Earth Climate Model"—presented Monday at the World Economic Forum in Davos—is a compilation of two years of research by scientists at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), the German Aerospace Center and the University of Melbourne. The research was funded by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.
After 2 years supporting 17 scientists led by @UTSISF, we are proud to announce the release of the One Earth climat… https://t.co/qnkJQ0SkpI— Earth Alliance (@Earth Alliance)1548088210.0
"With the pace of urgent climate warnings now increasing, it's clear that our planet cannot wait for meaningful action," actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio said in a press release for the study. "This ambitious and necessary pathway shows that a transition to 100 percent renewable energy and strong measures to protect and restore our natural ecosystems, taken together, can deliver a more stable climate within a single generation."
Using state-of-the-art computer modeling, the researchers present a pathway of how each unique region in the world can stay below 1.5ºC using currently available resources and technologies.
One Earth Climate Model
Karl Burkart, the director of Innovation, Media & Technology at the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation delved deeper into the new study:
Some have doubted that a transition to 100 percent renewables is even possible. To explore the potential, the scientists at UTS created the most sophisticated computer model of the world's electrical grids to date—with 10 regional and 72 sub-regional energy grids modeled in hourly increments to the year 2050 along with a comprehensive assessment of available renewable resources like wind and solar, minerals required for manufacturing of components, and configurations for meeting projected energy demand and storage most efficiently for all sectors over the next 30 years.
The researchers focused their study on six major energy and conservation measures to limit global warming to 1.5ºC, including advancement in renewables and energy storage; improvements in energy efficiency; major global electrification; re-purposing the existing fossil fuels-based infrastructure; a just transition from fossil fuels jobs to ones in renewable energy; and forest reforestation.
University of Technology, Sydney
"The main barrier is neither technical nor economic—it's political," lead author Sven Teske, research director at the UTS's Sydney's Institute for Sustainable Futures, told The Sydney Morning Herald.
Teske added "it's not too late" to limit global warming to 1.5ºC, the lower target of the Paris climate agreement.
The estimated to cost of the proposal is approximately $1.7 trillion per year, which is quite the sum but "pales in comparison" to the $5 trillion a year that governments currently provide to the fossil fuels industry, the press release noted.
Musician Neil Young, who lost his Malibu home to the devastating Woolsey fire, is urging the world to come together to fight climate change—especially since the president of the U.S. seems "unfit" to take care of the problem, as the icon said.
On Sunday, the legendary rocker posted a letter on his website, the Neil Young Archives, blasting Donald Trump's infamous denial of climate science and his Saturday tweet that blamed California's wildfires on "gross mismanagement of the forests" even though most of the fires are burning on federal land.
Trump's tweet—which was particularly callous amid the deadly and overwhelming destruction—is also incorrect because the conflagrations in Southern California are urban interface fires, meaning they have nothing to do with forest management, as a local fire association pointed out.
"California is vulnerable-not because of poor forest management as DT (our so-called president) would have us think," Young wrote. "As a matter of fact this is not a forest fire that rages on as I write this. We are vulnerable because of Climate Change; the
extreme weather events and our extended [droughts are] part of it."
There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is… https://t.co/k5gzPlaT4E— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1541837332.0
"Our temperatures are higher than ever here in our hottest summer on record. That has not helped," Young continued. "DT seems to be the Denier. (I'm holding back and not using the word liar just because it rhymes with denier). It really is time for a reckoning with this unfit leader. Maybe our new Congress can help. I sure hope so."
Young, a Canadian citizen, cannot vote in our elections but is a
prominent environmentalist and is no fan of Trump. He was not happy when Trump used "Rockin' in the Free World" to launch his presidential bid in 2015.
"Hopefully we can come together as a people to take Climate Change on. We have the tools and could do it if we tried. There is no downside," Young wrote.
He concluded: "Imagine a leader who defies science, saying these solutions shouldn't be part of his decision-making on our behalf. Imagine a leader who cares more for his own, convenient opinion than he does for the people he leads. Imagine an unfit leader. Now imagine a fit one."
Actress Daryl Hannah, Young's wife, recently posted an Instagram photo of charred grounds and fire hoses and included the hashtag #ClimateChangeIsReal.
Other Californian celebrities have responded to Trump's tweet, including Katy Perry, John Legend and Leonardo DiCaprio, who also pointed out the fires are worsened by climate change and drought, and noted that "helping victims and fire relief efforts in our state should not be a partisan issue."
This is an absolutely heartless response. There aren’t even politics involved. Just good American families losing t… https://t.co/wHkmRRiKak— KATY PERRY (@KATY PERRY)1541839856.0
Our National Embarrassment can't bring himself to show some empathy to Californians dealing with a horrific disaste… https://t.co/1s5uy4vwqX— John Legend (@John Legend)1541867062.0
The reason these wildfires have worsened is because of climate change and a historic drought. Helping victims and f… https://t.co/Psw3mQqhFW— Leonardo DiCaprio (@Leonardo DiCaprio)1541892730.0
The world lost an important environmental icon on Monday with the passing of Paul G. Allen. He died from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in Seattle, according to his company Vulcan Inc. He was 65.
Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with his childhood friend Bill Gates and owned the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers, was also a major philanthropist devoted to making the world a better place.
In 1986, Allen founded the Seattle-based project and investment firm Vulcan Inc. to help oversee many philanthropic initiatives, which include conservation, preserving ocean health, transportation electrification and fighting climate change.
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio paid tribute to his fellow environmentalist on Monday.
"Sad to hear of the passing of Paul Allen, who was a strong advocate for environmental protection," DiCaprio tweeted. "He and the team at Vulcan played a pivotal role in developing the Shark Conservation Fund alongside [the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation]. His legacy lives on via his incredible work as a philanthropist and investor."
Sad to hear of the passing of Paul Allen, who was a strong advocate for environmental protection. He and the team a… https://t.co/vMVNQTeKgs— Leonardo DiCaprio (@Leonardo DiCaprio)1539650114.0
His Global FinPrint initiative was introduced in 2015 to assess the planet's diminishing number of sharks and rays and to aid management and conservation efforts for marine life.
Captain Paul Watson, the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, said Allen was a "great force for marine conservation" and noted that Vulcan co-produced their 2018 high-seas documentary Chasing The Thunder.
In 1997, Allen launched Vulcan Productions, an independent film production company.
Sadly Paul Allen died today at the young age of 65. Paul was a great force for marine conservation. His company… https://t.co/OVTfwIP6NZ— Captain Paul Watson (@Captain Paul Watson)1539658891.0
Erik Solheim, head of the United Nations Environment Programme, also said Allen will be sorely missed but his legacy will continue.
"We will remember Paul Allen as a champion and supporter of wildlife, conservation and the environment," Solheim tweeted on Tuesday. "He and Vulcan Inc. were instrumental in hugely impactful work on everything from elephants to sharks."
We will remember Paul Allen as a champion and supporter of wildlife, conservation and the environment. He and… https://t.co/K5exT2B7xc— Erik Solheim (@Erik Solheim)1539694282.0
Allen's lifetime of philanthropic giving to science, technology, education, conservation, the arts and community improvement totaled more than $2 billion, according to the Allen Institute.
He was among the list of the world's leading philanthropists who pledged to give away the bulk of their fortunes to charity.
"Those fortunate to achieve great wealth should put it to work for the good of humanity," Allen wrote several years ago after announcing that he was donating most of his fortune to charity, the Associated Press reported.
The pledge "reminds us all that our net worth is ultimately defined not by dollars but rather by how well we serve others."
Vulcan CEO Bill Hilf said in a press release that "millions of people were touched by his generosity, his persistence in pursuit of a better world, and his drive to accomplish as much as he could with the time and resources at his disposal."
Allen, his team and his conservation partners helped launch the Great Elephant Census in 2013 to count Africa's savanna elephants.
"Our goal was to learn how many remain and where, then use the information to help protect these iconic animals from the poachers that are driving them toward extinction," Allen wrote in 2016.
The census showed that elephant populations in 18 countries declined by 30 percent.
Paul Allen's 'Great #Elephant Census' Shows Catastrophic Decline in Africa https://t.co/4F5irXSX86 @CenterForBioDiv @LeoDiCaprio @PaulGAllen— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1472734306.0
Earlier this month, Allen announced that the non-Hodgkin's lymphoma he battled in 2009 had returned and he planned to fight it.
"I've begun treatment and my doctors are optimistic that I will see a good result. Appreciate the support I've received and count on it as I fight this challenge," he tweeted.
Some personal news: Recently, I learned the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma I battled in 2009 has returned. I’ve begun treat… https://t.co/5PTQa9y69C— Paul Allen (@Paul Allen)1538426879.0
Allen's family released the
"My brother was a remarkable individual on every level. While most knew Paul Allen as a technologist and philanthropist, for us he was a much loved brother and uncle, and an exceptional friend.
Paul's family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern. For all the demands on his schedule, there was always time for family and friends. At this time of loss and grief for us—and so many others—we are profoundly grateful for the care and concern he demonstrated every day."
Thailand's iconic Maya Bay, made popular by the Leonardo DiCaprio film The Beach, will be closed to tourists indefinitely, CNN Travel reported.
The beach had been closed temporarily since June 1 to restore the damage done by more than a million yearly visitors, but on Tuesday Thailand's Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) announced the closure would continue "until natural resources return to normal."
The announcement came in the form of a letter signed by DNP director-general Thanya Nethithammakul.
"The ecosystem and the beach's physical structure have [not] yet returned to its full condition," the letter said, in Thai.
The beach, visited for its golden sands and clear blue water surrounded by the dramatic cliffs of Ko Phi Phi Leh island, shot to prominence following the release of the 2000 DiCaprio film. It drew as many as 5,000 visitors and 200 boats daily and generated 400 million baht (approximately $12.4 million) a year, The Guardian reported.
But the beach's popularity was less profitable for its coral reefs. It is estimated that pollution from litter, boats and sunscreen destroyed 80 percent of the coral around the bay.
Because Maya Bay has no hotels and forbids overnight stays, all of that damage is caused by day-trippers, often boating in from nearby Phuket, CNN reported.
"It's very difficult to remedy and rehabilitate because its beach was completely destroyed as well [as] the plants which cover it," national parks director Songtam Suksawang told The Guardian.
He further said the original four-month recovery timeline was "impossible," a belief that was shared by environmental groups when that timeline was first announced, since coral only grows by half a centimeter a year.
"More than 1,000 corals are being installed at Maya Bay. Trees are also being planted on land nearby. Experts realize that it is too fast to open Maya Bay at this stage," Worapoj Lomlim, chief of the park that includes Maya Bay, told The Thaiger.
The Maya Bay closure also extends to Lo Sama Bay in the same Hat Nopparat Thara – Moo Koh Phi Phi national park.
The pollution that accompanies tourism has been a growing problem for beaches in the region. Indonesia declared a "garbage emergency" this year after a video of a diver encountering plastic off the coast of Bali went viral. Meanwhile, the Philippines closed its famous Boracay Bay for six months in April, and President Rodrigo Duterte called the resort area a "cesspool," The Guardian reported.
Unlike Maya Bay, Boracay is on schedule to reopen in stages starting this month, CNN reported.
Plastic Shreds, Rubber Bands and Balloon Pieces Found in Thai Turtle https://t.co/66MdIJDbvM @YEARSofLIVING… https://t.co/kAbqzWX722— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1528736311.0
Thanks to dedicated conservation efforts, Nepal now has an estimated 235 wild tigers in the country, a nearly twofold increase from its baseline of 121 individuals in 2009, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) announced Sunday on the occasion of Nepal's National Conservation Day.
The South Asian nation is now on track to become the first country to double its tiger population as part of WWF's "TX2" goal to double the world's wild tiger population by 2022—the next year of the tiger on the Chinese zodiac.
The news was celebrated by environmentalists including actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who is a WWF-US board member. His foundation has funded tiger conservation in Nepal's Bardia National Park and elsewhere since 2010.
"This significant increase in Nepal's tiger population is proof that when we work together, we can save the planet's wildlife—even species facing extinction," DiCaprio stated in a press release received by EcoWatch. "Nepal has been a leader in efforts to double tigers within its own borders and serves as a model for conservation for all of Asia and the world. I am proud of my foundation's partnership with WWF to support Nepal and local communities in doubling the population of wild tigers."
I am proud of @dicapriofdn’s partnership with @World_Wildlife to support Nepal and local communities in doubling th… https://t.co/2Qs8iRqkoV— Leonardo DiCaprio (@Leonardo DiCaprio)1537731033.0
Due to years of illegal poaching and habitat loss, there are roughly 3,890 of the iconic big cats roaming the planet today, a dramatic decline from the 100,000 about a century ago, according to WWF. As top predators, they are crucial to the ecosystems they inhabit.
"Every tiger counts, for Nepal and for the world," WWF-Nepal's Ghana S. Gurung stated in a press release received by EcoWatch. "While Nepal is but a few tigers away from our goal to double tiger numbers by 2022, it also underscores the continued need to ensure protection, and improved and contiguous habitats for the long-term survival of the species."
Under the TX2 goal set at the 2010 St. Petersburg summit, all 13 tiger range countries—Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam—pledged to increase the number of wild tigers in the world to more than 6,000 by 2022.
"With four more years to go, the TX2 goal of doubling tiger numbers globally can only be achieved if all the tiger range countries step up and commit to a similar level of [Nepal's] excellence," WWF said.
To estimate its tiger population, Nepal conducted surveys between November 2017 and April 2018 by using camera traps and other techniques. The last survey in 2013 counted 198 tigers.
Camera traps were used to survey Nepal's wild tiger numbers.DNPWC/WWF Nepal
Nepal's success story can be attributed to its political commitment towards tiger conservation. For one, Nepal was the first country to achieve global standards in managing tiger conservation areas, an accreditation scheme governed by the Conservation Assured Tiger Standards, according to WWF.
"Protecting tigers is a top priority of the government, and we are thankful for the able support of our partners, enforcement agencies, local communities and the international community for a common purpose," Bishwa Nath Oli, secretary of Nepal's Ministry of Forests and Environment, stated in the press release.
New Sightings of 'Putin's Tigers' Are Good News for Conservation in Russia https://t.co/kRv066FbyG @environmentca @ConservationOrg— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1517453405.0
Last year, an international vaquita recovery committee rang alarm bells after reporting that there were just 30 left on the planet, with more recent estimates pegging the tiny porpoise's population at only 12.
Now, the plight of the world's most endangered marine mammal—and the intense conservation efforts to save it—is the subject of a new documentary from Red Bull's Terra Mater Factual Studios, Variety reported Tuesday.
The new film, slated for completion this year, has the working title Vaquita—Sea of Ghosts. The name likely refers to the vaquita being driven to the brink of extinction due to unauthorized gillnet or "ghost net" fishing in the Gulf of California, the critically endangered species' only known habitat. Gillnets, which are used to catch totoaba bass sought by Chinese markets, can entangle and kill marine animals, including the vaquita that get trapped in them.
Terra Mater previously collaborated with actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio's production company Appian Way on 2016's The Ivory Game that was among the 15 finalists for the best feature documentary Oscar.
According to Variety, the film starts with a meeting between DiCaprio and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Last June, they signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at conserving marine ecosystems in the Gulf of California and saving the vaquita porpoise.
Vaquita—Sea of Ghosts also shows sometimes-heated conflict between Mexican drug cartels and Chinese crime gangs versus the Mexican government, the U.S. Navy, the FBI, Sea Shepherd and other wildlife activist groups, Variety reported.
The film is directed by award-winning Richard Ladkani, who was also behind The Ivory Game. It will premiere internationally in 2018.
First #Vaquita Rescued in Bid to Save the Porpoise From Extinction https://t.co/8gAYe00Pjm @Oceana @VaquitaCPR @WWF @NWF @seashepherd— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1509026587.0
Watch to find out the story behind the newly discovered G. leonardodicaprioi, found in the Maliau Basin of Malaysian Borneo.
- DiCaprio Backs Solar Firm Offering Low-Cost Clean Energy to Rural ... ›
- Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Awards $20M in Largest-Ever ... ›
- Leonardo DiCaprio ›
Actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio has joined Kingo—a Guatemala-based business that provides low-cost solar energy kits for off-grid communities—as an investor and member of its board of advisors.
"Solar power is key to a future without fossil fuels, and Kingo's technology will help enable broad use of clean energy across the developing world," DiCaprio said in a statement. "I am proud to invest in Kingo as they seek to eradicate energy poverty, and I look forward to serving as an advisor to the company."
Kingo offers a range of pay-as-you-go kits consisting of light bulbs, photovoltaic panels and a battery that can store electricity generated during the day.
Its prices are competitive compared with the cost of buying candles every day, and also eliminate the need for polluting alternatives such as kerosene and diesel. Users do not have to pay installation fees or maintenance costs.
Since its founding in 2013, Kingo has serviced more than 60,000 households around the world and has installed around 7,000 new systems each month, the company touts. Its mission is to help provide clean, affordable energy for the 1.2 billion people worldwide who do not have access to the power grid.
"Seventeen percent of the world's population still lacks access to power. Access to electricity represents one of the biggest restrictions for progress, as it is the base for all productive activity," Kingo founder and CEO Juan Fermín Rodriguez, who grew up in Guatemala, said in an interview last year.
"We aim not only to eradicate the lack of access to electricity, but also to play a spearheading role in the transition from the world's energy consumption in becoming 100 percent renewable."
To date, Kingo has raised $25 million in several equity and debt rounds led by prominent investors and institutions, including the largest utility in Europe (ENGIE Rassembleurs d'Energies), one of the largest utilities in Latin America (FCP), PeopleFund, the Dutch Development Bank, the French Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. DiCaprio's investment amount was not disclosed.
"We are honored to have
Leonardo DiCaprio, someone who is seriously committed to addressing climate and environment-related causes, invest in Kingo and join our board of advisors," said Rodriguez in a statement.
"Leo will help advise Kingo as we work to achieve growth through expanded R&D capabilities and new market entry strategies. We remain committed to developing innovative solutions to the 1.2 billion people who currently live in the dark."
Seychelles Creates Groundbreaking Marine Reserve With Help From Leonardo DiCaprio https://t.co/EdXlLrzu1X… https://t.co/mUAkj11OSl— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1519324409.0
The Seychelles has created two vast new marine protected areas in the Indian Ocean after a groundbreaking finance deal brokered by the Nature Conservancy and other stakeholders, including environmentalist and Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio.
In exchange for writing off a portion of its debt, the island nation agreed to protect a total of 81,000-square-miles of ocean—that's about the size of Great Britain.
Seychelles was able to pay off an outstanding sovereign debt with $21 million raised by the Nature Conservancy. Future debt payments will go into a new trust, the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust, to finance new marine protection and climate adaptation projects
The scheme is understood to be the world's first "debt-for-nature" finance plan designed to protect ocean environments. The agreement will also help the low-lying archipelago prepare for the effects of climate change, including warming and rising waters and ocean acidification, and to protect its vital tourism and $300-million-a-year fishing industry.
"This effort will help the people of Seychelles protect their ocean for future generations, and will serve as a model for future marine conservation projects worldwide," DiCaprio, whose foundation donated $1 million towards the debt, said. "These protections mean that all species living in these waters or migrating through them are now far better shielded from overfishing, pollution, and climate change."
Today, Seychelles announced two new marine protected areas that equal the size of Great Britain. Join me and… https://t.co/aszoTCLj7h— Leonardo DiCaprio (@Leonardo DiCaprio)1519227489.0
Seychelles Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change Didier Dogley announced the two new marine protected areas at an event on Wednesday in Victoria, the country's capital.
The first covers the waters around the remote Aldabra Atoll, home to seabirds, hawksbill turtles, giant tortoises and the endangered dugong. The area also includes the world's second-largest raised coral atoll. This area will be fully protected and bans all extractive uses, from fishing to oil exploitation. Only research and regulated tourism is allowed. The second area is centered around the Seychelles' main islands and will only allow limited fishing and tourism.
According to the Guardian, the two parks cover 15 percent of the Seychelles ocean and the government plans to double this by 2021.
New marine protections in Seychelles will further safeguard dugongs, sea turtles, and other endangered species! Hel… https://t.co/9LoArt1zxY— The Nature Conservancy (@The Nature Conservancy)1519244164.0
"Our large ocean brings development opportunities but also responsibility," said Seychelles President Danny Faure. "Our ocean is central to our development and for the future of generations to come."
Faure called the deal a "paradigm shift on how we manage and use our coastal and ocean resources, how we work together as a government and as communities."
Nature Conservancy president Mark Tercek said the Seychelles can be a model for the rest of the world.
"What you see today in Seychelles is what we expect to introduce in the Caribbean and other ocean regions facing the threats of climate change," he said.
To Succeed, Large Ocean Sanctuaries Need to Benefit Both Sea Life and People https://t.co/dptfvEnwg5 @savingoceans @OceanLeadership— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1511563811.0
"Don't touch California. If you want to drill, do it off Mar-a-Lago," the former California governor and vocal Trump critic tweeted Monday, referring to the president's resort in Palm Beach, Florida. "Or better yet, look to the future, follow California's lead and go green and we can all breathe easier. The U.S.'s largest economy is nearly 50 percent renewable. #ProtectThePacific."
Earlier this month, the Trump administration proposed to increase new offshore oil and gas drilling off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. The proposal drew criticism from liberals and conservatives alike, who warn that such operations at sea could expose coastal areas to the risks of blowouts, explosions, catastrophic spills and seismic blasting.
Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has emerged as a prominent environmentalist and renewable energy proponent. He has also thrown his weight behind an extension of California's cap-and-trade program signed by his successor, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.
"Our fishing, tourism, and recreation industries employ hundreds of thousands of great people," Schwarzenegger continued. "Our coasts are an economic gold mine. Do not put them at risk."
Our fishing, tourism, and recreation industries employ hundreds of thousands of great people. Our coasts are an eco… https://t.co/0jLJ0qFSSh— Arnold (@Arnold)1516664632.0
The Pacific Coast is too valuable to risk a devastating oil spill. With a $56 billion ocean economy, and hundreds o… https://t.co/174WkecDt2— Leonardo DiCaprio (@Leonardo DiCaprio)1516676688.0
Controversially, a week after the Trump administration's announcement was made, Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke said Florida is "obviously unique" and "off the table" from the list of states that could see increased offshore oil drilling after a plea from the state's Republican governor, Rick Scott.
The move immediately prompted politicians and environmentalists from coastal states around the country to call for their states to also be exempt. According to the New York Times, "at least 15 governors of coastal states, one-third of them Republican, have publicly opposed Mr. Trump's offshore drilling plan."
Schwarzenegger's tweet is akin to filmmaker and fellow Trump critic's Michael Moore threat to frack off the coast of the president's Florida vacation home after the drilling plan was announced.
"We'll be drilling right off the coast of Mar-a-Lago. God Bless You Donald Trump for making this possible! The oil we drill just off your beach will pay 4 our entire show! And any spills – we're going to let the ppl of Florida keep whatever they collect 4 free!"
Moore also responded to Florida's removal from the drilling proposal.
"WAIT! WHAT? Trump's removing Florida from the list of states to do offshore drilling after I've already rented my fracking equipment to drill off Mar-a-Lago? Three days after I announce, he does this? Bastard!"
Here’s our fracker! We’ll be drilling right off the coast of Mar-a-Lago. God Bless You Donald Trump for making this… https://t.co/R5Vfrku13l— Michael Moore (@Michael Moore)1515274372.0