It has been heartwarming to see the vast amounts of news coverage and public attention to address the thousands of unaccompanied children arriving at our Southwest border with Mexico. As thorny as immigration issues are, our American humanity is taking hold, trying to come up with a workable solution that protects these engendered kids and their futures.
And so that’s why I have just a bit of new hope about the most endangered child at our border right now that has gotten only a small fraction of news coverage and attention
This child is not human.
Meet the vaquita, which the Cousteau Society calls the most endangered marine mammal on the planet. The vaquita is a very small porpoise that lives in the upper reaches of the Gulf of California just below the U.S./Mexican border. In fact, back before the dams were built and the Colorado River still flowed into the Gulf, the vaquita may have actually swam up and over the border near Rio San Luis Colorado, Mexico and Yuma, Arizona.
But not anymore.
Due to gillnet fishing, illegal fishing of other species and the complete lack of freshwater flowing into the Gulf from the Colorado River, the International Union of Conservation of Nature has for years tracked the decline and endangerment of the vaquita. In 1997, the IUCN estimate there were just 567 vaquita living in the Gulf; just last week they estimated that only 97 vaquita are still alive. This new estimate has garnered some news attention, here in the Washington Post and here in the San Diego Union Tribune. This shy, unique creature could go completely extinct from our planet in the next two or three years.
Here’s what needs to happen:
- The U.S. government and the American public needs to increase the pressure on the Mexican government to ban gillnet fishing, switch to vaquita-safe trawling nets, patrol for illegal fishing in the Gulf and increase the protected habitat in the vaquita’s range.
- The U.S. government needs to better enforce the laws around trafficking in other endangered species, including the totoaba fish, which when it is illegally caught in the Gulf also ensnares and kills vaquita swimming nearby. Insanely, Chinese culture believes that body parts of the totoaba are an aphrodisiac, and the trafficking in totoaba body parts travels through the U.S. over to boats and airports on the West Coast towards China.
- The U.S. government and the American people need to better educate everyone about the consumption of fish that are gillnetted in the Gulf during which vaquita are accidentally snared and killed. Many of these gillnetted fish are sold to U.S. markets as seafood, and thus our consumption habits can help stop the destructive fishing in the Gulf that kills vaquita.
The children that are walking up to our border have eyes and voices for all of the American public to see, and our media is trained to feed that compelling story to us. The vaquita has neither—the only voice they have is what we give to them.
But America’s humanity will rise to this occasion too—I just know it will.
Help prevent the extinction of the vaquita by signing this petition.
You Might Also Like
A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
- Annual Whale Slaughter Still a Tradition on the Faroe Islands ... ›
- Hundreds of Pilot Whales Die in Devastating Mass Stranding in New ... ›
- Green Group Tests Facebook With Ad Claiming Conservatives Back ... ›
- Illegal Wildlife Trade Thrives on Facebook, Internet Forums ... ›
- Facebook Loophole Allows Climate Deniers to Spread Misinformation ›
- Facebook Hires Koch-Funded Climate Deniers for 'Fact-Checking ... ›
By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
- Sweden to Become One of World's First Fossil Fuel-Free Nation s ... ›
- These Countries Are Leading the Transition to Sustainable Energy ... ›
- Sweden Shuts Down Its Last Coal Plant Two Years Early - EcoWatch ›
By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
- Oxford Endowment Ditches Fossil Fuels in 'Historic' Decision ... ›
- Fossil Fuel Divestment Debates on Campus Spotlight Societal Role ... ›
- London and New York Mayors Call on Other World Cities to Divest ... ›