The Boeing 747 took off from Orlando, Florida and landed in London's Gatwick airport on Wednesday morning.
Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson, who marshaled in the plane, celebrated the flight for making "aviation history."
[email protected] has completed the first ever commercial flight using @LanzaTech’s innovative new sustainable aviat… https://t.co/fGie4gMJcq— Richard Branson (@Richard Branson)1538568620.0
The plane was powered by a blend of conventional jet fuel and ethanol produced from waste emissions, a innovation developed by Chicago-based company LanzaTech in collaboration with the Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL), a U.S. Department of Energy laboratory.
"The LanzaTech process is so exciting because this fuel takes waste, carbon-rich gases that would otherwise go up the chimneys of steel and aluminium mills and gives them a second life—so that new fossil fuels don't have to be taken out of the ground," Branson said in a blog post. "It's incredible that the factories can make the steel for the planes and then the waste product can be used to power the plane. This is a great opportunity for UK industry as it supports our steel mills while also decarbonizing them."
Boeing is proud of our partnership with @VirginAtlantic and @LanzaTech on this historic 747 flight to use biofuel m… https://t.co/ExxMiqDfL6— Boeing Airplanes (@Boeing Airplanes)1538579766.0
The process is similar to traditional fermentation, but instead of using sugars and yeast to make alcohol, waste carbon-rich gases found at industrial manufacturing sites gets converted by bacteria to fuels and chemicals such as ethanol, according to a PNNL press release.
"This fuel exceeds the properties of petroleum-based jet fuel in terms of efficiency and burns much cleaner," said John Holladay, PNNL's deputy manager for energy efficiency and renewable energy, in the press release. "And by recycling carbon already in the environment—in this case waste gas streams—it lets the world keep more petroleum sequestered the ground. The technology not only provides a viable source of sustainable jet fuel but also reduces the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere."
The Virgin flight's blend consisted of 5 percent recycled waste gas, but could eventually form 50 percent of the blend, the Guardian reported.
Branson said LanzaTech has the potential to produce up to 125 million gallons per year in the UK, or enough to fuel 100 percent of Virgin Atlantic's flights departing Britain.
"This would result in nearly one million tonnes of CO2 savings per year, equivalent to 2,100 roundtrips flights between London Heathrow and JFK airports," he said.
BMR Energy will take over the power purchase agreement and restoration efforts of the solar farm, the company said in a press release.
We’re proud to announce our acquisition of a 4-MW #solar facility in St. Croix that experienced damage from… https://t.co/IalnpNQpJl— BMR Energy (@BMR Energy)1533652245.0
BMR Energy, which develops and operates clean energy projects in the Caribbean and Latin America, was purchased by Richard Branson's Virgin Group in 2016.
"The world needs to find ways to introduce more resilient clean energy," Branson said in the release. "The Caribbean has an abundance of clean energy sources, and BMR are taking great strides towards helping create zero-carbon energy supplies for years to come."
Rebuilding the storm-wrecked region is a cause that is close to the Virgin founder. The billionaire businessman owns a private island in British Virgin Islands where he rode out both hurricanes Irma and Maria in the space of two weeks.
"I've never experienced anything quite like Hurricane Irma," Branson said in an Instagram video in September. "It literally devastated the British Virgin Islands."
Branson, a longtime environmentalist, intends to bring a "green energy revolution" to the region. Last year, he met with government representatives from Britain and the U.S. to set up a green fund to rebuild the Caribbean.
"As part of that fund we want to make sure that the Caribbean moves from dirty energy to clean energy," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in September.
Hurricane Maria not only devastated the Caribbean, it also hampered the area's supply of renewable energy. The St. Croix solar farm is currently running at less than 45 percent capacity.
Restoring the plant to full generation capacity will generate power for approximately 1,600 homes, BMR Energy said.
"This acquisition is an opportunity to show how to build for stronger hurricane resiliency and offer greater value to the region," Bruce Levy, CEO of BMR Energy, said in the release. "As the prolonged restoration in these hurricane-devastated areas highlights—with Puerto Rico being the most extreme example—we must remain committed to rebuilding our infrastructure right and successfully maintaining projects through long-term ownership."
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.
From Silicon Valley tech moguls to business executives and entrepreneurs, these people know that the future of food means not slaughtering animals.
1. Bill Gates
JStone / Shutterstock
2. Sir Richard Branson
Prometheus72 / Shutterstock
Sir Richard Branson founded Virgin Group. Like Bill Gates, Branson has made significant investments in both plant-based and clean meats. Last year, he invested in the clean meat startup Memphis Meats.
In a blog post, Branson wrote, "I believe that in 30 years or so, we will no longer need to kill any animals and that all meat will either be clean or plant-based, taste the same and also be much healthier for everyone."
3. Lisa Feria
Frederic Legrand-COMEO / Shutterstock
Lisa Feria is the CEO of Stray Dog Capital, a firm that invests in early-stage startups, products and services that will replace the use of animals in the food supply chain. Under Feria's leadership, Stray Dog has made investments in Beyond Meat, Kite Hill, Memphis Meats and more.
4. Eric Schmidt
Frederic Legrand-COMEO / Shutterstock
Eric Schmidt served as executive chairman of Google's parent company, Alphabet, from 2011-2018. After Google attempted to buy the plant-protein startup Impossible Foods, Schmidt stated that a vegan revolution was coming.
5. Miyoko Schinner
6. Sergey Brin
Thomas Hawk / Flickr
Google co-founder Sergey Brin provided $330,000 to fund the world's first cultured hamburger. He describes clean meat as a technology with "the capability to transform how we view our world."
7. Liz Dee
Smarties co-owner Liz Dee is also the CEO of Baleine & Bjorn Capital. She's made investments in the clean meat company Memphis Meats, vegan clothing brand Vaute Couture and plant-based food companies Purple Carrot and Nutpods.
8. Li Ka-shing
Li Ka-shing is a Hong Kong business magnate, investor and philanthropist. He's committed to changing the way the world eats by investing in the plant-based meat company Impossible Foods.
Reposted with permission from our media associate AlterNet.
After surviving two Category 5 hurricanes this fall, the Caribbean resembled something of a war zone, according to Virgin Group founder Richard Branson.
And so what the island nations of the region need now is a post-war plan for redevelopment—a plan he's calling the "Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan," named after the Marshall Plan that helped rebuild Europe after World War II.
The plan will be focused on bringing a "green energy revolution" to the region, Branson told Reuters.
The Caribbean spans 2.8 million square miles and is home to 37 million people—many of whom live in poverty. While poverty levels on islands like Jamaica, Barbuda, Dominica, and the British and U.S. Virgin Islands vary widely, the region as a whole has struggled to build strong economies, according to the Caribbean Development Bank.
The billionaire inventor and businessman, who owns a private island in the Caribbean where he rode out Hurricane Irma with his staff, is working with global leaders including the International Monetary Fund to help rebuild the islands, according to the report.
Branson is insisting that the islands rebuild their energy grid on sustainable, renewable sources rather than fossil fuels.
"Another storm could strike within the coming weeks," Branson told a meeting of leaders in Washington earlier this month. "The Caribbean must seize the opportunity and take the leap from 20th-century technology to 21st-century innovation."
The Washington meeting was hosted by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery and the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, according to the Digital Journal.
Branson is the owner of a wind energy company that already operates in the Caribbean, according to the UN-backed website Climate Action, which noted that solar and wind energy is cheaper and easier for island nations to obtain than importing fossil fuels.
At the meeting in Washington, Branson said the destruction on his own Necker Island and neighboring islands was like that of a nuclear blast, according to Digital Journal.
Now, the inventor and CEO hopes to forge an international fund for the island nations by working with government and business leaders. Branson already met with the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, and together the pair are working on debt relief options for the islands, according to the Journal.
The Marshall Plan was a $13 billion plan—or about $132 billion in modern-day money—created by the U.S> to help rebuild Western European countries, the Digital Journal reported.
"We want to move the Caribbean countries into clean energy and make them more sustainable, which will make dealing with hurricanes much easier," he said. "The Caribbean Heads of State agree with one voice that this is a good idea."
Global Citizen campaigns on the United Nations Global Goals, including bringing sustainable energy to countries around the world. You can take action here.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Global Citizen.
Virgin Group founder and longtime environmentalist Richard Branson, who faced two damaging hurricanes in a row from his home in the British Virgin Islands, called out President Donald Trump's refusal to accept the science of climate change.
"Look, you can never be 100 percent sure about links," the British billionaire said Tuesday on CNN's "New Day" when asked about the correlation between global warming and the recent string of major hurricanes to hit the Carribean and the United States.
"But scientists have said the storms are going to get more and more and more intense and more and more often. We've had four storms within a month, all far greater than that have ever, ever, ever happened in history," he said. "Sadly, I think this is the start of things to come."
"Look," Branson insisted, "Climate change is real. Ninety-nine percent of scientists know it's real. The whole world knows it's real except for maybe one person in the White House."
Trump, who famously thinks global warming is a hoax, dismisses the link between climate change and extreme weather events. After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma wrecked Texas and Florida, the president told reporters last week, "We've had bigger storms than this."
Trump's comment seemingly contradicted a tweet that he posted earlier that stated, "Hurricane Irma is of epic proportion, perhaps bigger than we have ever seen," as well as another tweet, "Hurricane looks like largest ever recorded in the Atlantic!"
Branson was shaken after having to ride out Hurricane Irma in his wine cellar in Necker, his private island in the British Virgin Islands.
"I've never experienced anything quite like Hurricane Irma," he said in an Instagram video posted Tuesday. "It literally devastated the British Virgin Islands. The head of the Royal Marines ... said he's been to war zones and has never seen anything like it. There's not a tree left standing. There's very few houses left standing."
Branson pointed out during his CNN interview that the cost of rebuilding the British Virgin Islands and Houston will cost billions of dollars.
But, he noted, "If all that money could be invested in clean energy, in powering the world by the sun and by the wind, where we won't have to suffer these awful events in the future, how much better than having to patch up people's houses after they've been destroyed?"
Putting his money where his mouth is, the philanthropist said he has met with government representatives from Britain and the U.S. to set up a green fund to rebuild the hurricane-wrecked Caribbean, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported.
"As part of that fund we want to make sure that the Caribbean moves from dirty energy to clean energy," Branson said.
By Sabrina Imbler
The Kodiak Queen had a long, storied life. One of five vessels to survive the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, the ship later traveled up north to serve as an Alaska king crab vessel and salmon tender.
She was one of the largest crab vessels at the time, plus one of the only converted WWII ships to have changed careers to seafood. She spent years in commercial fishing, and a significant part of her life submerged partially underwater due to disuse.
At the turn of the 21st century, it seemed like the Kodiak Queen had lived out her best years and had no future, at least above the waves.
But then Project YOKO B.V.I. Art Reef came along. The multisyllabic project wanted to save coral reefs and give an honorific burial to a ship that had served her country time and time again.
And so the Kodiak Queen was given a new mission. Watch here:
The project is a collaboration between Sir Richard Branson, the artist collective Secret Samurai Productions, the social justice group Maverick1000, the ocean nonprofit Beneath the Waves and the British Virgin Islands nonprofit Unite BVI, the New York Times reported. In other words, there are a lot of hands on deck.
The project began when historian Mike Cochran found the ship rusting in a junkyard and created a website to try to save the Kodiak Queen. The site soon caught the eye of none other than Richard Branson, the famed British philanthropist, who approved a proposal to convert the ship into an artificial reef.
But it's not just the Kodiak Queen that sunk back beneath the waves. Secret Samurai Productions spent several months cleaning up the ship and designing a monstrous sea-monster kraken with 80-foot-long tentacles and a frame of pure steel.
And so the final product that sunk to the bottom of the sea comprised a noble ship past her glory days and a conservation-minded artificial reef shaped like a giant octopus.
In the months following the Kodiak Queen's sinking, scientists are monitoring the fish populations that have chosen the ship and its resultant reef as their new home.
They're particularly excited by the prospect of making a home for the goliath grouper, a titanic fish that's been disappearing from the water of the British Virgin Islands.
Recreational divers will soon be able to dive by the wreck and see the kraken up-close, as well as a healthy community of fish and corals.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Azula.
"I have already completed a zero gravity flight which allowed me to float weightless, but my ultimate ambition is to fly into space," Hawking told host Piers Morgan of "Good Morning Britain" on Monday. "I thought no one would take me but Richard Branson has offered me a seat on Virgin Galactic and I said yes immediately."
Branson's spaceflight company aims to provide suborbital spaceflights to space tourists. However, the venture has faced a number of delays, including a fatal explosion in 2007 during a ground test and test flight crash in 2014. (Might I suggest that if Branson cannot offer the stars to Hawking, maybe Elon Musk's SpaceX can?)
"My three children have brought me great joy—and I can tell you what will make me happy, to travel in space," Hawking said.
FULL INTERVIEW: Prof Stephen Hawking on Trump, climate change, feminism, Brexit, robots, space travel & Marilyn. https://t.co/sSQamLgrae— Piers Morgan (@Piers Morgan)1490013444.0
The 75-year-old theoretical physicist and cosmologist was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis lateral sclerosis (ALS) when he was 21.
Hawking actually wrote about Branson's offer in a 2016 article published in the Guardian:
"I believe in the possibility of commercial space travel—for exploration and for the preservation of humanity. I believe that life on Earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as a sudden nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus, or other dangers. I think the human race has no future if it doesn't go to space. We need to inspire the next generation to become engaged in space and in science in general, to ask questions: What will we find when we go to space? Is there alien life, or are we alone? What will a sunset on Mars look like?"
Stephen Hawking: One Thing Threatens Us More Than Donald Trump ... Climate Change https://t.co/SDpsKZL3MH @tcktcktck @globalgreen— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1464732310.0
The renowned scientist said that Trump's promise of the controversial border wall and the sanctioning of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines are designed to "satisfy [Trump's] electorate, who are neither liberal nor that well-informed."
Not only that, Hawking said that Trump should replace Scott Pruitt as the head of the U.S. Environment Protection Agency because he is "a man who does not believe that carbon dioxide causes climate change."
"Climate change is one of the great dangers we face, and it's one we can prevent," Hawking said. "It affects America badly, so tackling it should win votes for [Trump's] second term—God forbid."
EPA Chief Denies CO2 as Primary Driver of Climate Change https://t.co/gHj2KJDrQm @tcktcktck @OneWorld_News— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1489186508.0
Hawking commented that the current administration's seemingly anti-science agenda has made him feel unwelcome.
"I have many friends and colleagues [in the U.S.] and it is still a place I like and admire in many ways," he said, "but I fear that I may not be welcome."
Hawking has said similar remarks before. He called then-candidate Trump a "demagogue, who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator."
And during a lecture last year, he predicted that humanity has only 1,000 years left on Earth and we must find another planet to live on.
"[W]e must ... continue to go into space for the future of humanity," professor Hawking said. "I don't think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet."
As President-elect Donald Trump's climate-skeptic/pro-fossil fuels cabinet takes shape, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos, Alibaba founder Jack Ma and other very wealthy and very influential individuals have launched a $1 billion fund dedicated to clean energy innovation.
Launching $1 billion investment fund for next generation energy technologies https://t.co/eWGZrcflaZ @btenergy… https://t.co/2ktjMKByvG— Richard Branson (@Richard Branson)1481555720.0
"Our goal is to build companies that will help deliver the next generation of reliable, affordable and emissions-free energy to the world," Gates said in a statement.
The Breakthrough Energy Ventures Fund (BEV) will focus on five key areas that are the biggest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions: electricity, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing and buildings.
"Anything that leads to cheap, clean, reliable energy we're open-minded to," Gates, who serves as BEV chairman, told Quartz.
I discuss with @qz a major announcement for @btenergy and our vision for the future... https://t.co/VJMZypx0X3— Bill Gates (@Bill Gates)1481504460.0
The fund, which has a 20-year duration, seeks to answer some of the most pressing questions facing our warming planet:
- How can we deliver reliable, affordable zero-carbon electricity to the world?
- How can we get around our communities and the world without emitting carbon?
- How can we feed the planet without contributing to climate change?
- How can we make everything we use without emitting greenhouse gases?
- How can we eliminate emissions from our homes, offices, hospitals, and schools?
Gates and his BEV co-directors—Alibaba's Ma, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, venture capitalists John Doerr and Vinod Khosla, former energy hedge fund manager John Arnold and SAP cofounder Hasso Plattner—have a combined net worth of nearly $170 billion, according to estimates from Bloomberg and Forbes.
"Too often, we let what we think we know limit what is possible," Ma said in a statement. "When it comes to energy, people say you cannot make money, meet demand and also benefit the environment. But we can and we will."
Other BEV investors are some of the world's richest and most powerful, such as Richard Branson of Virgin Group Ltd., billionaire natural gas trader John Arnold, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal of Kingdom Holding, Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates, Patrice Motsepe of African Rainbow Minerals, Xavier Niel of Iliad Group, Masayoshi Son of SoftBank, and Zhang Xin and Pan Shiyi of SOHO China.
"The launch of the fund, a year after the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement, comes at an important time as we try to accelerate the uptake of clean energy throughout the world," Virgin's Branson wrote in a company blog post. "The sustainable energy revolution is well underway, but we need new tools and solutions to help us reduce our carbon output and continue moving in the right direction."
"Breakthrough Energy Ventures is a wonderful way to expand this effort," Branson added.
Quartz writes that the BEV will likely expand its war chest as more like-minded backers hop onboard:
"The fund, which won't charge investors management fees beyond its operating costs, will likely start with a temporary office in the heart of the US venture capital industry on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, California. It's expected that the size of the initial fund will increase, with more investors coming on board, and it's possible that Breakthrough Energy Ventures eventually launches additional funds."
BEV will likely focus on energy storage technology for the first wave of investments, since improvements in renewable energy storage, such as batteries, expedite a transition to sustainable energy.
Gates first announced his intention to launch the fund at the Paris climate talks last year. The world's richest man and renowned philanthropist told Quartz that he is surprised that clean-energy innovation is not often mentioned as an option to fight climate change.
"All of that takes place just as a normal market mechanism as you replace energy sources with other ways to do it," Gates explained.
This week, a group of top tech executives from Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and more will reportedly meet with the president-elect at the so-called " tech summit."
"The dialogue with the new administration as it comes in about how they see energy research will be important," Gates told Quartz. "The general idea that research is a good deal fortunately is not a partisan thing."
Watch Gates talk about the importance of energy innovation and investment here:
In legal tiger farms across China, some 6,000 caged cats are kept in filthy conditions and will be killed for dubious medicinal uses and as home decor for the country's newly-rich elite. The sordid business is mostly legal, but hides behind carefully-worded agreements and pretensions of conservation. The issue is expected to be addressed at this week's Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting in Johannesburg.
Tiger breeding cages at Guilin Tiger Farm in China.Belinda Wright / Wildlife Protection Society of India
It is estimated that 60 percent of China's 1.4 billion people use so-called traditional medicines made from tiger bones, rhinoceros horn, bear gall bladder and other exotic animal parts. As China has grown in recent decades, creating a larger middle class and many newly rich entrepreneurs, demand for tiger parts has grown.
[email protected] Speaks Out Against #Rhino Horn Trade https://t.co/wBuIuaGk7q @WildAid @Virgin @WWF @pamfoundation https://t.co/xNvkSkjS6u— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1452804120.0
China signed on to CITES, but maintains about 200 tiger farms, where tigers are bred to serve this growing market. Claiming that these tiger parts are for domestic consumption, and therefore not subject to the treaty on international trade, China also defends the tiger farms as a captive breeding program that actually helps the species.
However, in 1993, China banned trading in tiger bone, and a 1988 wildlife law that purports to protect endangered species sets forth a policy of "actively domesticating and breeding the species of wildlife."
"What we didn't understand until very recently is that ban in 1993 did not supersede China's wildlife protection law, which was crafted in the 1980s and actually mandates the farming and consumption of tigers and other endangered species," author and wildlife activist Judith Mills told Yale Environment 360 in an interview last year.
Small pens house tigers.Environmental Investigation Agency
Among the luxury products made from these farmed animals is tiger bone wine, which can sell for $257 per 500 ml (about 17 ounces). But almost every part of the tiger is alleged to have some medical use: the brain, whiskers, eyeballs, nose, penis, tail and feet. Tiger skins and whole stuffed tigers are a status symbol in wealthy Chinese homes.
Far from saving the species, tiger farms promote demand for these body parts that makes poaching wild tigers even more lucrative.
"The problem with tiger farming is that it stimulates demand for tiger products, which stimulates poaching of wild tigers because products from wild tigers are considered superior, more prestigious and they're exponentially more valuable," Mills said.
The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) counts the number of tigers in the wild at 3,890.
Historic and current range of tigers in Asia.World Wildlife Federation
A February 2013 report by the Environmental Investigation Agency concludes that "wild Asian cats are being poached to supply the market demand stimulated by China's legal domestic trade in skins of captive-bred tigers at a time when the international community has agreed that demand reduction is essential to save wild tigers."
The report also notes that tiger farming and trade has spread to other Southeast Asia countries including Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Recently, Laos announced its intention to phase out tiger farms.
In July, the Environmental Investigation Agency called on CITES to adopt concrete measures to end tiger farms. Even if adopted, it remains to be seen if China will abide by the regulations or find another loophole. The Guardian reports that a farm in northeast China is cross-breeding tigers with lions, thus creating a "liger" that the Chinese say is not covered by its own 1993 law.