A year ago, scientists reported that cheetahs had disappeared from across 91 percent of their historic range.
The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), the researchers recommended in their study, should be up-listed from Vulnerable to Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Doing this could afford the imperiled species greater attention and support, they said.
The cheetah, however, remains officially listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
Now, in a new study, scientists have called for up-listing the species to Endangered yet again.
By analyzing millions of cheetah observations, a team of researchers have concluded that only about 3,577 adult cheetahs remain in southern Africa–within an area of 789,800 square kilometers across Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe. More than 55 percent of these cheetahs live in Namibia alone, the researchers reported in the study published in the journal PeerJ.
"This is the area with the largest population of free-ranging cheetahs left on Earth," lead author of the study Varsha Vijay of Duke University said in a statement. "Knowing how many cheetahs there are and where they occur is crucial for developing suitable conservation management plans for the species."
The researchers also estimate that there could be an additional 3,250 cheetahs living in potential habitat areas, or places where cheetahs can possibly live but where they have not been observed recently. But the team has lower confidence in this estimate. "We know about three and a half thousand cheetahs. There could be twice as many, but we can't prove it," Florian Weise of the U.S.-based conservation group Claws Conservancy, also a lead author of the study, told National Geographic news.
Rhett A. Butler
Of the 3,577 known cheetahs, less than 50 percent live inside some form of protected area, such as Kruger National Park in South Africa, the study estimates. The rest live on unprotected lands, mostly allocated for livestock or game production. Many farmers who share their land with cheetahs, consider the animals to be a source of conflict, the researchers found. While only a few resort to actually killing or trapping the animals, the researchers say that persecution by even a few farmers can cause cheetah populations to decline.
"The future of the cheetah relies heavily on working with farmers who host these big cats on their lands, bearing the heaviest cost of coexistence," said Weise.
Given that the study's population estimate for the cheetah is 11 percent lower than the IUCN's current assessment for the same region, the authors write that the species should be urgently up-listed from Vulnerable to Endangered status. This revision of status could help conservationists create more awareness about the species and "open more avenues to fund conservation and population monitoring efforts," they said in the statement. This study was supported by the National Geographic Society's Big Cats Initiative.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.
By Julia Conley
A video of a starving polar bear led to calls for climate change denialists to confront the real-world effects of global warming this week. Taken by a Canadian conservationist and photographer and posted to social media, the video offered a stark visual of the drastic impacts of climate change that have already begun taking root.
Paul Nicklen was traveling with the conservation group Sea Legacy in Canada's Baffin Islands, located in the Arctic, when he spotted the emaciated animal struggling to walk across the dry land—historically covered with ice in December and home to seals that polar bears rely on for food. The bear searched in vain for sustenance in a trashcan before collapsing.
"When scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like," said Nicklen in an interview with National Geographic."Bears are going to starve to death. This is what a starving bear looks like."
Nicklen received some criticism for filming the bear instead of feeding it, but he argued that sharing the image of the impact of global warming with the largest audience possible would be more productive than intervening by ending the animal's life or feeding it a small amount of food.
"There is no band aid solution. There was no saving this individual bear," he wrote on Instagram where he originally posted the video.
In his interview with National Geographic, Nicklen added, "it's not like I walk around with a tranquilizer gun or 400 pounds of seal meat."
Polar bears have officially been considered a threatened species since 2008, under the Endangered Species Act, due to the ongoing loss of their icy habitats in Arctic regions.
The bears are accustomed to going without food in summer months when ice dries up, but unusually warm temperatures have caused them to fast for unhealthy periods of time and potentially starving to death.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported earlier this year that the increasingly rapid rate of melting sea ice in the Arctic is an existential threat to polar bears.
On social media, viewers of Nicklen's video called for political leaders like President Donald Trump, who has refused to take part in global efforts to minimize the warming of the Earth by reducing carbon emissions, to reconsider their climate-wrecking actions.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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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.
The colossal mass of throwaway plastic—from straws to bags to bottles—has grown much faster than recycling and disposal efforts can contain it. You might even say this is obvious, no matter where you look.
Check out this video from National Geographic to watch underwater photographer Huai Su film a diver collecting an endless amount of plastic bottles that litter the seafloor off Xiaoliuqiu Island, Taiwan.
By Katie O'Reilly
Two years ago—long before coal became one of the most dominant and controversial symbols of the 2016 presidential election—Bloomberg Philanthropies approached production company RadicalMedia with the idea of creating a documentary exploring the U.S. coal mining industry. Last spring, they brought on Emmy-nominated director Michael Bonfiglio, tasked with forging a compelling story out of the multitudes of facts, statistics and narratives underlying the declining industry.
The production team spent the next year traveling from Appalachia to the West's Powder River Basin, and beyond, to mine coal's effects on our economy, health and climate. They wrapped From the Ashes just one week before its April 26 world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, where it was introduced by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg—a longtime supporter of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign. The film depicts Americans across the country as they wrestle with the legacy of the coal industry, its future under the Trump administration, and the direction of U.S. energy policy.
Right before the film's June 2 premiere in New York and California, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate accord. So, the team tweaked the film accordingly. On June 25, at 9/8 p.m., the final version will air globally on National Geographic; audiences in 171 countries will be privy to this intimate glimpse into the cultural zeitgeist that is coal.
From the Ashes highlights the complexity of coal by shedding light on the lived experiences of those closest to it. Viewers meet the spouse of a laid-off coal worker in West Virginia who, while far from identifying as a leftie treehugger, knows that the drinking water in her home isn't safe, as mountaintop removal rages nearby. The film analyzes how, for more than a century, mining and energy companies have been privatizing coal's profits, while socializing its costs. It features economic development incubators in rural Appalachia, as well as the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign director Mary Anne Hitt, a West Virginian, discussing ways in which we as a society might chart a path forward. It also showcases beautiful American landscapes, underscored by original compositions from Mark Orton, known for scoring 2013's Nebraska.
"No matter where your political allegiances lie, or how much of an environmentalist you do or don't identify as, when you see real people being poisoned because of an outdated form of energy, most people, we hope, will come away, saying, 'We've got to do better—for our public health, our economy and our children,'" Bonfiglio said.
Sierra recently chatted with the director about exactly how we can do better, and also about the challenges of capturing such a divisive hot-button on film.
Sierra: Who was your target audience?
Bonfiglio: That was the big question. A lot of films that are issue-oriented tend to preach to the choir, which can be wonderful—you can galvanize your base and arm people with information, and just energize them. But, we decided to go for as broad of an audience as possible, because we were hoping to reach people who may not agree with the central premise of the film—which is that coal is a 19th-century technology that is now totally out of place. Regardless of where you as an audience member stand, we want you to see something that shifts your thinking a little bit—whether it reinforces things you already knew and felt, or else introduces you to the multitude of reasons why coal is a thing of the past.
Sierra: Until watching this film, I didn't realize the extent to which coal companies secured monopolies over Appalachian economies—leaving residents with virtually no other choice of employment.
Bonfiglio: Economic diversification in coal country is a really important conversation we wanted to address. One of the things that was really important to me was pointing out the fact that there are roughly 51,000 coal miners in the country—more people are employed by Whole Foods. One point of view is, "Tough luck guys, it's a small number; sorry, but you're out of work." The other way to look at it is, "Hey, that's not that many people that we as a nation can pay back for the sacrifice and contribution they've made to our economy for generations, by investing in these communities' economic diversification."
Nobody wants to be told that what they do for a living, how they put food on their table, is bad for the world. And if you're not given any other choice, it certainly affects the way you look at an issue. But it's not an impossible task to provide good employment for people by investing in initiatives like Coalfield Development, which creates opportunities for artisans, entrepreneurship, and tradespeople in West Virginia. It's not charity—it's about trying to build for-profit enterprises, and encouraging other industries to locate in Appalachia, and taking advantage of the incredible opportunities that renewable energy will and can provide for workers all across the country. We need to be encouraging the economic growth that transition can bring to the nation.
Sierra: Tell me about your research process into the coal industry and its surrounding issues.
Bonfiglio: I'm an environmentalist, and I'm passionate about all those issues, but I didn't know very much about coal itself when the idea was first presented to me. At first, I was all, "It's a rock; it's boring" [laughs], but as I became more educated about the issue, I realized that from this little rock, not only have economies and nations been built, but lives are being affected, because currently, people are dying because of this. This rock is the biggest contributor to climate change. Of all the things that are contributing to climate change, eliminating coal from our energy sector would have the most enormous impact. The chunk of CO2 emissions from coal, in comparison to how useful it is nowadays, was very surprising to me. If you're tackling a big problem, you go after the low-hanging fruit first, and that's what the coal industry is—the easiest thing to eliminate. In the same breath, however, we need to take care of the people who've been working in those industries, by diversifying the economies that have consistently been monopolized by the coal industry.
Sierra: Tell me about your on-screen approach to climate change.
Bonfiglio: We tried not to focus on the climate, because it's so polarizing. In the world of this film, it's fine if you don't believe what all the scientists are saying. We wanted to emphasize all the other reasons why we need to be looking at a future that's moved beyond coal. So, we focused on the public health issues, and the economic issues. We tried to present the issues and arguments from as many sides as we could, and explore as many points of view as possible.
Sierra: You started working on this film before the 2016 presidential election. Did the outcome change the course of the film?
Bonfiglio: Yes and no. Like almost everyone else in the country and on the planet, we anticipated a different outcome. Originally, I think the tone of the film, which we didn't abandon at all, was going to be a little more of a reassurance: "Hey, this is happening. Coal is going away naturally, primarily because of market forces, and for a plethora of other reasons; it needs to." So we'd initially envisioned our message as being, "Hey, it's gonna be okay—this is actually a great opportunity for a healthier, better, more prosperous society." And that's still very much present in the film, but the events of the election forced us to look at some of the negative things that are happening, such as the cancellation of the Stream Protection Ruleand our withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, and to really give the issue more urgency.
Bonfiglio: So I think the message that developed from there is that it doesn't matter what Trump and Pruitt and all these people do. Well, it certainly does in the short term—especially in terms of public health! But in terms of the larger climate, those decisions aren't being made by the federal government; they're being made by municipalities and corporations and other bodies that are saying, by and large, "We want to transition to renewable energy! We don't want to burn coal." Those are the forces that are going to allow us to avoid climate catastrophe. The idiocy of the federal government under this current administration is simply delaying the inevitable. And along the way, they're continuing to con people into thinking that coal is going to come back. It's not. The people in power need to level with the American people, and invest in alternatives, and provide incentives for this inevitable transition. Because we can either be left behind while the rest of the world passes us by, or we can be innovators, and embrace the fact that over the past 10 years, renewables have plummeted in cost. Municipalities are saying, "We don't care about the treehugger leftie element of this; we're doing this because it's cheaper. If the byproduct is that our air and water is no longer poisoning us—and even if we don't believe that climate change is caused by humans—we don't really care; we're getting cheaper energy. What's the downside?"
Sierra: On the spectrum between objectivity and advocacy, where do you see this film falling?
Bonfiglio: I don't think there's any such thing as a completely objective documentary. We tell ourselves there is, but any time you make an edit, or point a camera in a certain direction, a choice is being made. So, I don't want to pretend this film doesn't have an agenda. Its biggest agenda is to educate people about issues that I think most of us don't think about on a daily basis—like where, when you turn on a light switch, that electricity is coming from, or how it's generated. So we're hoping the film helps people to think about that a bit, and decide for themselves what we should be doing about our electricity, and where it comes from.
Above all, we hope this film can educate people about an issue they may know nothing about. Or, if they know a lot about it, we're hoping the film will encourage them to look at it a little differently. We couldn't have anticipated what a big deal coal would become in the course of the campaign and election, but since it has, we hope we can talk about the issue with some real, hard facts and information, with some human stories, to help audiences better understand the impact at local levels.
Sierra: What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?
Bonfiglio: Aside from our pretty insane production schedule—we were meeting with people all over the country—the challenge was in packing in as many facts as we could, while still keeping the information digestible and palatable, and the film entertaining. We constantly asked ourselves, "Why is this a film instead of a magazine article?" We tried to craft it in such a way that you could relate to and identify with the characters, and connect to stories that have a visual and atmospheric component. Because the film is packed with information and stats and facts and figures—it needed to not be a bunch of work to sit through. You've still gotta bring your brain, but hopefully we've made it as easy as we could.
Sierra: Did you encounter any challenges finding your sources?
Bonfiglio: A lot of people we approached said no. We couldn't even get anyone from the main trade organization that represents the coal industry. It was very difficult to get people to talk to us, but the ones who did, I think, were willing to do so because we said, "Regardless of what side you're on, we want to hear your voice." It's so important to talk to each other, and understand where we're coming from—this is not an issue that's going to get solved by one side steamrolling the other, as we're seeing right now. It doesn't work. So by showing multiple sides to the issue, I hope people can walk away with the understanding that we can do things differently, and that there's incredible opportunity in doing so. We can be a stronger, more economically robust, healthier, and cleaner nation if we can look at these things not only through our own point of view, but that of other people. Hopefully, the film will help contribute to that dialogue.
Sierra: What's audience reception been like? Are you experiencing any opposition?
Bonfiglio: No, people have been incredibly receptive. I think that by and large, people appreciate that we're not trying to denigrate legitimate points of view. It's one thing to be critical of someone like Trump, who is lying to people, and who doesn't have any skin in the game. It's another to be critical of an out-of-work coal miner just trying to do what we're all trying to do—live their life and provide for their families. I have no problem doing the former—criticizing a con artist fraud like Trump. But when you're talking to a regular person trying to do their best, you can't criticize that. You have to listen. So, I think people have responded positively to the fact we're giving multiple points of view their due, while also offering alternatives that don't leave people out in the cold. There's been a false narrative that we have to have either jobs and a healthy economy or a healthy planet. I think it's the opposite. In the film, West Virginian officials admit that even in coal's heyday, West Virginia was still in the bottom five percent of the U.S. economy.
Sierra: Are you hoping to inspire any direct action? What can concerned viewers do?
Bonfiglio: I hope it makes people empathize more, and also contact their representatives, and their local utilities, to figure out where their energy comes from, and if there's an alternative to sign up for. Here where I live in New York, it takes 30 seconds, through ComEd, to switch to a cleaner option. And if your utility doesn't provide an alternative to fossil fuels, I hope you tell them you want that! On our website, viewers can check out all kinds of information and things they can do. There's also a Crowdrise campaign that's been launched to benefit Coalfield Development and other economic diversification efforts in coal country—Bloomberg is matching all donations to that campaign, up to three million dollars. So, people can directly support the great work that these people are doing in coal country to provide alternative employment for those who are out of work, or seeking work outside of the coal industry.
Reposted with permission from Sierra Magazine.
I was shocked when I found out the travel industry generates nearly 10 percent of the world's GDP and rising each year. People are travelling and travelling more often. Tourism employs 1 of every 11 people in the world.
Along with economic impact, travel presents opportunities for growth, learning and the exchange of ideas. Travel and tourism are critical in maintaining our economy and this is especially true in developing countries. On global and local levels tourism is essential for sustainable development. As a result, the travel industry has become a sector where you can see shining examples of environmentally-conscious principles put into action that protect the planet and lift up the world's peoples.
What is sustainable tourism? As defined by the United Nations, it is that which takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.
The UN has declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism. According to the Secretary-General of the World Travel Organization, Taleb Rifai, this is "a unique opportunity to advance the contribution of the tourism sector to the three pillars of sustainability—economic, social and environmental, while raising awareness of the true dimensions of a sector which is often undervalued."
Tourism is directly associated with three of the 17 UN's 2030 Sustainable Development Goals:
Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
We have to alleviate poverty and provide people with basic healthcare, food to eat and fresh water. However, this becomes impossible if we continue to erode the natural systems that support all life. Thankfully, nature travel and learning about cultural heritage are among the world's fastest growing tourism sectors. In order to save the rhinos, elephants and tigers you have to help those that depend on the same land and resources. Tourism focused on wildlife ensures those animals become more valuable alive than dead. Fortunately, adventure tourism, which is focused on nature, wildlife and cultural experiences, has grown 65 percent year over year since 2009. Soon it will surpass $300 billion in annual revenues, reports George Washington University in their annual Adventure Tourism Market Report.
According to Booking.com's 2015 survey of more than 32,000 global travelers in 16 countries, 52 percent of adult travelers said they are more likely to choose travel based on destinations that reduce environmental impact or ensure that tourism has a positive impact on the local community. And Americans (53 percent) are among the world's top sustainable-minded travelers. With this sharply growing trend hospitality and travel companies that do not keep up with sustainable travel will lose out.
Since 2014, I have been participating as a judge for National Geographic's World Legacy Awards, which honors companies, organizations and destinations-ranging from airlines to hotels, from communities to countries driving the positive transformation of the tourism industry, showcasing leaders and visionaries in sustainable tourism best practices. Costas Christ, chairman of the awards, is credited with defining the term ecotourism which has now been standardized globally by the UN. Costas also serves as the director of sustainability for Virtuoso and moderated a panel I was on this year at the Virtuoso Travel Week conference. Virtuoso Travel Week is an intense five days where preferred luxury travel agents and providers come together to do hundreds of millions of dollars of business, as well as recognize industry leaders in sustainable tourism as the market continues to become more aware of the need to drive a sustainable strategy. It's about the triple bottom line—people, profit and planet.
You can stay at Ted Turner's formerly private residence on endless acres of pristine nature at Ladder Ranch with Ted Turner Expeditions.
Land and biodiversity conservation is one of my family's most beloved passions. My father launched Ted Turner Expeditions (TTX) in 2015 with three properties in New Mexico. My father, a well known leader in conservation, has worked to restore the overgrazed habitat of these grand ranches to their former pre-cattle glory. Having a passion for bison since his childhood, dad has made sure this iconic species is an important part of the restoration. There has also been a commitment to preserving and enhancing biodiversity.
Through the work of the Turner Endangered Species Fund biologists and other partner organizations have been working to increase the numbers of imperiled and endangered species, among them the Mexican Gray Wolf, Bolson Tortoise and Chiricahua Leopard Frog. Visitors can stay on one of a number of properties, including some of my father's formerly-private residences and immerse themselves in an incredible American landscape that has been dubbed by some as the American Serengeti. As visitors enjoy the beauty of these natural landscapes they are also becoming more aware of the importance of conserving the land and species for many generations to come. Two TTX ranches, the Armendaris Ranch and Ladder Ranch, are located in one of two of the most critically important biodiversity hotspots in North America. With TTX, my father has created a model for other private land and business owners that you can manage these landscapes for profit and conservation and the two are not mutually exclusive.
With my family as we explore Iceland and their green energy economy.
As you begin to plan your 2017 vacation, consider destinations and accommodations that employ environmentally sustainable best practices. You can not imagine how much good your visit can do for the local people and animals. My favorite trips have been transformative experiences in nature, topping the list are the Arctic circle, the Amazon river basin and the Galapagos. I always come away restored and more committed than ever to work to make sure these special places are available for our children and future generations. On my bucket list are the Antarctic, the awe-inspiring Sandhill crane migration along Nebraska's Platte River and central Mexico to see the wintering grounds of the imperiled Monarch butterflies.
10 Eco-Destinations in North America to Add to Your Bucket List https://t.co/fXak7JqLSv @earthship_HQ @ClayoquotResort— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1464123917.0
Here are 10 of the best ecolodges, according to National Geographic:
1. South Africa: Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve
2. Indonesia: Misool Eco Resort
3. Peru: Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica
4. Australia: Great Ocean Ecolodge
5. Greece: Milia Mountain Retreat
6. Nicaragua: Jicaro Island Ecolodge
7. China: Yangshuo Mountain Retreat
8. Sri Lanka: Jetwing Vil Uyana
9. Poland: Eco-Frontiers Ranch
10. Namibia: Damaraland Camp
Food poisoning cases linked to eating oysters and other shellfish from New England waters have jumped from five cases in 2000 to 147 in 2013. A study from the University of New Hampshire links this increase to warming ocean waters.
The culprit is a bacteria called Vibrio. It infects seafood and causes 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is most common when waters are warmer, typically from May to October. Now, as climate change is warming even the typically cool New England coastal seas, the bacteria is spreading.
Ocean Warming Is 'Greatest Hidden Challenge of Our Generation' - EcoWatch https://t.co/LbW76Egskk @ClimateDesk @EarthVitalSigns— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1473197430.0
''In the last 10 or 20 years, it's become very apparent that there is something going on,'' said one of the researchers, Stephen Jones, of the Northeast Center for Vibrio Disease and Ecology at the University of New Hampshire.
Vibriosis can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, fever and chills. A bout typically lasts three days, but those with weakened immune systems or certain medical conditions can experience more serious symptoms.
A separate study published in August in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looked at 50 years of data from water samples in the North Atlantic. They found a direct correlation between rising water temperatures and increased Vibrio infections in both the U.S. and Europe.
Rita Colwell, one of the study's authors, told National Geographic, "We were able to show a doubling, tripling—in some cases quadrupling—of the Vibrio over that 50-year period."
Similar reports have come from Alaska as well.
Vibrio first made its appearance there in 2004, when 62 cruise ship passengers were sickened after eating raw oysters from Prince William Sound. A year later, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study that linked the outbreak to increased water temperatures.
The threshold level of danger comes when water reaches 59 degrees Fahrenheit. The study showed that the water temperature at the oyster farm where the infected mollusks were harvested had increased from 1997 to 2004. The temperature exceeded the critical level for the first time in July and August of 2004.
Then, Vibrio began to spread. From Prince William Sound to the Gulf of Alaska and Cook Inlet, over the next nine years 22 marine animals known to eat shellfish—sea otters, a beluga whale and a porpoise—were found to be carrying the bacteria.
The cold waters off Maine and New Hampshire have made Vibrio rare in the region. But, the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99.9 percent of the world's oceans. That has already decimated the lobster industry in Southern New England.
Bad News for Lobster Lovers https://t.co/kcCuovtuob @savingoceans @SeafoodWatch— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1474927252.0
"In the North Atlantic, we are seeing a northern march of whole ecosystems toward the poles as the planet warms: predators, prey, and in the case of Vibrio, the parasites as well, moving with their hosts up the globe," said Andrew Pershing, chief scientific officer at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.
Vibriosis isn't the only concern coming from warming waters. In recent months, Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island have been forced to close many areas to shellfishing due to numerous toxic algae outbreaks. They have since been reopened.
As winter approaches, colder sea temperatures reduce the risk of Vibrio bacteria. Current sea temperatures along the coast of New England are in the upper 40s to about 50 degrees, according to NOAA data, well below the danger level. Alaskan waters range from 33 degrees in Cook Inlet along the Kenai Peninsula to 45 in Prince William Sound and 46 in the Gulf of Alaska.
The CDC recommends cooking shellfish, washing your hands after contact with raw shellfish and avoiding contaminating cooked foods with raw shellfish or its juices. For those who love raw oysters, though, it may be wise to ask where they came from and check the NOAA coastal water temperatures or another app for that location. Or you can follow this common lore, which states that we should only be eating shellfish, especially oysters, in months with the letter "R."
The actor is a longtime advocate of environmental causes, and his film is surely helping to increase awareness of global warming and the challenges we face with climate chaos. In it, DiCaprio journeys from the remote melting regions of Greenland to the burning forests of Sumatra to the halls of the Vatican, exploring the devastating impact of climate change on the planet.
Before the Flood discusses how climate change is moving us rapidly into an era in which life on Earth might be much, much different. It does a great job describing the pressing problems we face. Yet, sadly, the film has a serious omission. It makes only passing mention of the food issue and almost no mention of soils or ocean acidification.
Carbon farming is the solution to climate change. It's time for us to de-carbonize our energy and re-carbonize our soils.
Too few people know that Monsanto and industrial agriculture are contributing more to climate change than Exxon, Chevron and the entire transportation industry combined. Not many understand that a large animal feedlot is just as environmentally destructive as a coal-fired power plant—if not even more damaging.
The True Cost of Industrial Meat Production https://t.co/TAwvj2Cczq @SoilAssociation @RootsofChange— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1479422720.0
So why are so many concerned people not addressing the food-climate connection?
It's Time for a 100% Solution
As the planet surges toward an atmospheric 450 ppm, solar, wind and reducing extraction alone cannot slow the release of carbon emissions fast enough. Yet Before the Flood, along with most climate groups, preaches only half a game plan—a 50 percent solution that will, in fact, allow continued destruction.
The unfortunate reality is that the carbon-busting Congressional legislation that will be awaiting Trump's signature will make Exxon blush! Thus the need to sequester carbon into the soil using the power of plants and grazing animals is greater now than ever. Will those who are a part of the climate movement start spreading the word of this potential solution?
The oceans are dying from a massive carbon bomb. We need to balance the carbon cycle and reduce climate chaos without losing any more time. The scientific solution—carbon sequestration—is one already proven by 500 million years of R&D. The short film The Soil Story explains this process well in an easy-to-follow five-minute animated clip:
We can readily increase the scale of carbon farming—also known as regenerative agriculture. And the good news is that hundreds of millions of farmers on small plots the world over already know a thing or two about this beneficial farming methodology.
Regenerative Agriculture Will Feed the World and Cool the Planet https://t.co/qWmR0ZPF79 @SoilAssociation @RootsofChange— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1478818866.0
Growing sea kelp in the oceans is another innovative way to sequester carbon while producing food, feed and fuel. But for this to be possible into the future, we're going to have to help our seas.
A recent Huffington Post article, The Ocean Is Losing Its Breath—and Climate Change Is Making It Worse, states:
"From the waters off the Oregon coast, to the upwelling zones off Peru, to the Baltic and Black seas, Bay of Bengal, South China Sea, and Gulf of Mexico, to name but a few regions, so-called dead zones are on the increase. Low oxygen areas in the deep ocean are also expanding, primarily due to warming. ... For example, experiments have shown that reduced oxygen greatly limits the metabolic scope of fish, and their whole metabolism slows down. Feeding and growth can be greatly reduced."
Soil Health Equals Cleaner Air
It seems that many climate environmental groups have yet to understand the carbon cycle or to see the big picture of ecology, a situation I pointed out in a 2015 EcoWatch piece, Why Are Climate Groups Only Focused on 50% of the Solution? If they did, these organizations would be unfurling banners at Monsanto's giant pesticide factories and soil health would be discussed when talking about climate action.
A few weeks ago, I chatted with the founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben, in the green room before he went on to the main stage at the annual Bioneers conference. In the course of our exchange, I realized that McKibben is so focused on fighting big oil and big coal that the idea of carbon sequestration as a solution isn't a part of his message.
Many 350.org members I've met show interest in this proven solution, yet prior to our discussions they've never heard about it. Except for a few rare mentions, the media has a virtual blackout on the subject. However, the Sierra Club is working on a new food climate campaign. Several people from the Sierra Club attended the second annual Soil Not Oil conference in Richmond, California, that Miguel Robles of Biosafety Alliance and I helped produce.
It seems as if, DiCaprio's Before the Flood team never thought to include in the documentary this solution that can actually reverse climate change. Instead, a professor interviewed in the film suggests that we switch from eating beef to chicken—without mentioning that 99 percent of all chicken on the market today is produced in a toxic, industrial, climate-killing manner. Also, there's a major difference between beef raised in metal pens and beef raised by letting cattle graze holistically.
The Solution is Literally Under Our Feet
Carbon faming is the solution to climate change. It's time for us to de-carbonize our energy and re-carbonize our soils.
Britain's Prince Charles gets it. A longtime champion of organic farming, he's joining a UK-France governmental initiative to improve the condition of global soils. Both governments are meeting with the prince to discuss the need to improve the health of soils worldwide.
Prince Charles has praised the French government's signature project on soil health, the 4/1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate, which seeks to increase the health and organic content of soils worldwide. The Initiative aims to do this by demonstrating that agriculture, and agricultural soils in particular, can play a crucial role where food security and climate change are concerned. Those taking part in it will discuss how to restore degraded soils, improve the land's fertility and increase food security.
The Four per 1000 Initiative, launched by France at COP21 in Paris, is bringing together all willing contributors in the public and private sectors (national governments, local and regional governments, companies, trade organizations, NGOs, research facilities and others) under the framework of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda. Many countries have signed, yet sadly the U.S. was a no-show at the Paris COP 21 rollout. The U.S. Department of Agriculture could still champion this win-win solution for farmers, ranchers, eaters and—yes—earthworms.
Becoming a Carbon-Literate Society
It's time for humans to become more carbon-literate. The climate movement has done so much right, and its millions of participants would love to learn how they can be part of the solution by eating a diet that's regenerative and that returns carbon to the soil. It's a basic rule we learned in preschool: Put things back where they belong. We all have a huge opportunity to share this vital educational message.
Paul Hawken's Project Drawdown is showcasing one hundred of the best climate ideas, including planned animal grazing. His team's work demonstrates that land-based solutions give us the biggest bang for the buck in our climate fight. The organization's mission is to: reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere through efficiency and resource productivity; replace existing energy sources with low carbon renewable energy; and bio-sequester carbon dioxide through innovative farming, grazing and reforestation practices.
We can all make a difference, every day. Here is a list of seven positive options for human and planetary health:
1. Elect climate-aware leaders.
2. Educate climate leaders about soil's redeeming powers.
3. Avoid industrial meat and milk. Instead, choose pasture-raised meats while eating less meat and dairy overall ... or just go vegan.
4. Choose organic foods, which have a lower carbon footprint.
5. Plant more trees, shrubs and herbs, all of which help to sequester carbon.
6. De-invest in firms that promote industrial ag or coal and re-invest in green energy and organic farming.
7. Share this article!
Elon Musk doesn't just want to put solar tiles on top of your house, he also wants to put them on top of your car.
How @ElonMusk and @TeslaMotors Can Save the World https://t.co/K3VC2RSylq @solarcity @mzjacobson @billmckibben @NaomiAKlein @BillNye @NRDC— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1477923991.0
According to Futurism, shortly after the enigmatic Tesla CEO unveiled his company's latest twist on rooftop solar—glass tiles integrated with solar cells—he said on a Tuesday conference call that the technology will also be used for the Model 3, the company's mass market electric sedan.
"It is using a lot of techniques used in automotive glass business. In case it wasn't obvious with the announcement, Tesla has created a glass technology group—with some really phenomenal people," Musk said on the call, basically confirming Tesla's top secret glass division.
The Model 3's all-glass roof not only allows for more headroom, its integrated solar cells also generate heat and energy. Tesla
Electrek reported that Musk will be producing "Tesla Glass" in volume since it is fairly cheap, so it makes sense to it use extensively. The publication also noted that one member of the Tesla Glass group is director Mike Pilliod, a former materials engineer for Apple who was behind innovations like the glass touchscreen.
While Musk didn't give specific details about how the solar glass would work on a car, he later tweeted that the tiles would feature heating elements that can defrost a windshield or melt snow on the car roof all while generating energy at the same time.
Solar glass tiles can also incorporate heating elements, like rear defroster on a car, to clear roof of snow and keep generating energy— Elon Musk (@Elon Musk)1477714523.0
When asked by a Twitter user whether the tiles would be working overtime as a defroster and a generator, Musk replied that the process will be “strongly net positive," or that it will use minimal energy.
@BobaFaux strongly net positive— Elon Musk (@Elon Musk)1477715064.0
As if he wasn't already all over the place, Musk made an appearance in Leonardo DiCaprio's new climate change documentary Before The Flood, and told the actor and environmental activist how we must transition from dirty energy.
Watch @LeoDiCaprio’s #ClimateChange Doc Online for Free https://t.co/F85r0QENAj #BeforetheFlood @NatGeo— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1477407049.0
"The fossil fuel industry is the biggest industry in the world," Musk told DiCaprio on the floor of his Nevada Gigafactory.
"They have more money and more influence than any other sector. The more that there can be a sort of popular uprising against that, the better, but I think the scientific fact of the matter is we are unavoidably headed towards some level of harm."
The vision behind the massive battery factory is to help the world transition to sustainable energy. In a blog post on Tuesday, the Tesla team elaborated on its mission of creating "the world's only integrated sustainable energy company, from energy generation to storage to transportation."
"This is our vision for the future—one that is sustainable, less expensive and just better," the post states. "We hope you agree that this is a future we should all want."
Exclusive Clip: DiCaprio's Climate Doc Exposes Destruction of Rainforest for Palm Oil as Huge Driver of Global Carbon Emissions
A new documentary produced and starring actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio premieres in Los Angeles today and will be broadcast globally in 45 languages in 171 countries on the National Geographic Channel starting Oct. 30, timed to air in advance of the November elections.
The film highlights the critical role forest destruction plays in driving carbon pollution into Earth's atmosphere and focuses specifically on how the rapid spread of industrial palm oil plantations in Southeast Asia are at the heart of this crisis. The film It is directed by Fisher Stevens who, like DiCaprio, is an Academy Award winner.
Watch the exclusive clip here:
The film captures DiCaprio's visit to the Leuser Ecosystem in Aceh, Indonesia, where extremely high rates of forest clearance have exacerbated the climate change dilemma. Indonesia is now one of the world's top carbon emitting countries, primarily due to the massive deforestation in the region. Before the Flood notes that as it was being filmed in late 2015, man-made fires in Indonesia were spewing more carbon pollution on a daily basis than the entire U.S. economy combined. These illegal fires are an annual occurrence as a method of clearing land for palm-oil plantations. And just more than a week ago, the Indonesian government again declared a national state of emergency due to the severe impacts caused by the out of control fires.
Watch @LeoDiCaprio’s #ClimateChange Doc Online for Free https://t.co/F85r0QENAj #BeforetheFlood @NatGeo— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1477407049.0
"This important film brings much needed attention to the destruction of rainforests for palm oil, which is a huge driver of global climate change. We must aggressively address the deforestation crisis in places like Indonesia's Leuser Ecosystem," said Lindsey Allen, executive director of Rainforest Action Network. "With palm oil in roughly half of all packaged goods at the grocery store, it's up to all of us to demand major global brands like PepsiCo finally do the right thing and break the link between their products and tropical forest destruction."
DiCaprio met with Allen during the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21) to discuss the urgent situation facing the Leuser Ecosystem and the critical connection between deforestation and global carbon emissions.
Following his conversation with Allen, DiCaprio's trip to the Leuser Ecosystem caused an international uproar when the Indonesian government briefly threatened him with deportation following his social media posts that drew attention to the deforestation and destruction caused by palm oil expansion. The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation later committed three years of major funding for local and international efforts to save the Leuser Ecosystem.
Watch the trailer for Before the Flood here:
The Fisher Stevens-directed documentary will make its television debut on National Geographic's channel in 171 countries and 45 languages on Sunday, Oct. 30.
Additionally, in an unprecedented move, National Geographic also announced today that Before the Flood will premiere commercial free across digital and streaming platforms around the world as part of the network's commitment to covering climate change.
That means not only can you catch the critically acclaimed film on cable, from Oct. 30 through Nov. 6, you can also watch it on just about any website or device where you regularly stream online videos. The exhaustive list includes: Natgeotv.com, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, iTunes, Hulu, Sony PlayStation, GooglePlay, VOD/Video On Demand (through MVPD set-top boxes), MVPD Sites and Apps, Nat Geo TV Apps (iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, Roku, Android phones, Xbox One and 360, Samsung Connected TVs) and more.
Here's DiCaprio himself making the announcement:
The idea behind this historic premiere is to educate as many people around the world about climate change and to also bring the topic to the forefront before the Nov. 8. election where a number of candidates seeking public office—including a certain
orange-hued Republican—denies that climate change is even real.
"There is no greater threat to the future of our society than climate change, and it must be a top issue for voters this election season," said DiCaprio, an Oscar-winning actor-winning actor and prominent environmental activist. "Fisher and I set out to make a film to educate people around the planet on the urgent issues of climate change and to inspire them to be part of the solution. I applaud National Geographic for their commitment to bringing this film to as many people as possible at such a critical time."
"The level of support National Geographic is providing to create awareness about climate change is exactly what Leo and I were looking for when we made this film," Stevens added. "Climate change is real, and we are feeling its effects more and more every day; it's time we stop arguing its existence, and do everything we can to bring this issue to the forefront of people's minds so that real action is taken to combat climate change."
The documentary has already made its theatrical release in New York and Los Angeles on Oct. 21. It has also been shown at international film festivals, the United Nations and at the White House South By South Lawn event before President Obama.
The film is also screening at more 250 colleges and universities nationwide and being made available to churches and religious institutions via Interfaith Power and Light, National Geographic said. The network has partnered with Rock the Vote and theSkimm to allow people who attend screenings of Before The Flood to register to vote and to become informed on the issues.
"In our minds, there is no more important story to tell, no more important issue facing our planet than that of climate change," said Courteney Monroe, the CEO of National Geographic Global Networks. "At National Geographic, we believe in the power of storytelling to change the world, and this unprecedented release across digital and streaming platforms is not only a first for our network but also in our industry, underscoring how exceptional we think this film is and how passionate we are about it. We are committed to ensuring as many people as possible see this film as we head into U.S. elections."
Before The Flood, as well as the award-winning documentary series Years of Living Dangerously, will kick off the National Geographic Channel's "Earth Week"—a week of programming starting Oct. 30 dedicated to bringing awareness to issues surrounding climate change.
Before The Flood depicts how Earth is changing due to rising temperatures and how individuals and society-at-large can help preserve our precious environment. DiCaprio travels around the world to interview a number of world leaders and experts about climate change, including President Obama, former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State John Kerry, U.N. Secretary-General Ki-Moon, Pope Francis, Elon Musk as well as top NASA researchers, forest conservationists, scientists, community leaders and other environmental activists.
The film was produced by DiCaprio, Stevens, Brett Ratner and James Packer and executive produced by Martin Scorsese. Watch the trailer here:
Recent data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center revealed sea ice in the Arctic hit its summer low point, tying 2007 for the second lowest extent on record.
Watch 25 Years of #Arctic Sea Ice Melt in One Minute https://t.co/Bac4FmYyAG @NOAA @greenpeaceusa @ClimateReality https://t.co/9Nv9Y2FSA1— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1451233921.0
With global temperatures on the rise and already at levels not seen in 100,000 years, melting Arctic sea ice is only expected to get worse as temperatures there are warming at least twice as fast as the global average. Mark Serreze, the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, said he wouldn't be surprised if the Arctic were "essentially ice free" by 2030.
"Dramatic and unprecedented warming in the Arctic is driving sea level rise, affecting weather patterns around the world and may trigger even more changes in the climate system," according to the World Meteorological Organization.
9 breathtaking images show warming Arctic https://t.co/1G4J4SwYEs via @EcoWatch #climate #globalwarming #ActOnClimate— climatehawk1 (@climatehawk1)1470340897.0
As part of his climate change documentary, Before the Flood, Leonardo DiCaprio visited the Arctic with National Geographic explorer-in-residence Dr. Enric Sala to see for himself what is happening in the region.
While walking with DiCaprio on the edge of the sea ice in the high Canadian Arctic, Sala told him that "we will not be able to stand on the frozen sea anymore in about 25 years."
Scientific projections, he said, show that by 2040 there's going to be almost no sea ice left in the entire Arctic.
Sala sat down with National Geographic to answer five questions regarding the critical state of Earth's sea ice, and what it means for us. Watch here:
David Letterman is taking a break from retirement and is returning to TV to lend his voice to the important issues of climate change.
Letterman will lend his wry humor and interview skills to National Geographic Channel's Emmy-winning climate change documentary-series Years of Living Dangerously Sunday, Oct. 30, at 8 p.m. ET. It will be his first work on television since he left The Late Show a year-and-a-half ago.
Here's a clip from the episode:
The show's producers, Joel Bach and David Gelber, told Rolling Stone they reached out to Letterman after noticing his particular interest in the environment during interviews with scientists on The Late Show.
"He seemed to perk up when this issue came across his lap," Bach said. "We reached out to him to see if he'd want to be part of this, and he said, 'Absolutely.' He said [that climate change is] something he does think about a lot."
While walking through a field of solar panels, Letterman announces in the promo video below:
"Think about the coal-fired, dangerous, smoke-belching generating plants, and then you look at this and it's friendly. There's something very appealing about this, and it's smooth. Look at it: I can touch it and it's safe. I put my head right there on it."
In Letterman's episode, Into the Light, he traveled to India to interview Prime Minister Narendra Modi about how that nation provides energy to its people.
Season 2 of Years of Living Dangerously will include hosts Ty Burrell, Cecily Strong and Jack Black, as well as returning correspondents Don Cheadle, Olivia Munn, Ian Somerhalder, Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron.