Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

By Amanda Froelich

Jane Goodall is one of the most iconic conservationists on planet Earth—and for good reason! At age 26, she left England with little more than a notebook, binoculars and a dream to live with wild chimpanzees in Africa.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The skyline of Ardrossan, North Ayrshire, Scotland, is dominated by an enormous wind farm. Vincent van Zeijst, CC BY

By Amanda Froelich

Slowly but surely, it is becoming fact that households and entire countries can run on clean, renewable energy. Costa Rica, for instance, ran on renewable energy sources for 285 days in 2015 and achieved similarly in 2016. Additionally, Denmark produced 160 percent of its energy needs in one day in July of 2015 via wind power.

Read More Show Less

As a result of South Africa's highest court rejecting a bid by the government to keep a ban on the sale of rhinoceros horn, it will soon be legal to buy and sell the land mammals' horns in the country.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch

Photo credit: Quadrum

By Amanda Froelich

From transforming shipping containers into homes to reassembling them into vivacious greenhouses, there is a lot one can do with the apparatuses. But construct a gorgeous hotel? Why not.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Photo credit: iStock

By Whitney Webb

The first photos of the wild boars that have come to dominate the abandoned streets of towns near the site of the 2011 Fukushima disaster have emerged as government-led teams begin to cull the boar population to make way for the expected return of the towns' former residents.

For the last six years, the streets of the towns abandoned in the wake of the Fukushima disaster have been walked, not by people, but by wild, radioactive boars. After the 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, exclusion zones were set up around the plant and the populations of the towns within were evacuated to a safer distance, giving rise to Fukushima "ghost towns." In the years since, hundreds upon hundreds of wild boars have come to roam the deserted streets, foraging for food.

The highly radioactive boars have been reported to attack people when provoked and have become a major problem in the Japanese government's efforts to prepare the towns for the eventual homecoming of its former, human residents. In the abandoned coastal town of Namie—just 2.5 miles from the site of the meltdown—residents are expected to return at the end of the month, meaning that the boars must be cleared. Tamotsu Baba, mayor of Namie, told the Mirror: "It is not really clear now which is the master of the town, people or wild boars."

The Japanese government has been sending in teams to "cull" the boars, which has also led the radioactive animals to be filmed and photographed for the first time. According to Baba, the need to eliminate the boars is urgent: "If we don't get rid of them and turn this into a human-led town, the situation will get even wilder and uninhabitable." The "culling" teams have been using cage traps and air rifles to reduce the boar population in Namie and three surrounding towns, including Tomioka where 800 boars have already been killed. Hundreds more boars have been captured since the program began and population control efforts are expected to continue well after residents return.

However, not all residents will be returning. For example, well over half of Namie's pre-disaster population of 21,500 have decided not to return home, according to a government survey conducted last year. These residents cited concerns over radiation and the on-going safety issues at the nuclear power plant as the main reason for their decision.

The Growroom

By Amanda Froelich

There's a lot to appreciate about the Swedish company IKEA. From its numerous projects which have helped raise awareness about the Syrian peoples' plight to its commitment to the environment by using mushroom-based packaging that decomposes within weeks, the furniture business is progressive, to say the least.

Now, IKEA has released open source plans for The Growroom, which is a large, multi-tiered spherical garden that was designed to sustainably grow enough food to feed a neighborhood. The plans were made free on Thursday with the hope that members of the public will invest their time and resources to create one in each neighborhood, if not in every person's backyard.

The tools required to create the spherical garden include plywood, rubber hammers, metal screws and diligence to follow the instructions comprised of 17 steps. The Huffington Post reports that The Growroom isn't shipped in a flat pack like most IKEA products. Instead, users are required to download the files needed to cut the plywood pieces to size and are encouraged to visit a local workshop where the wood can be professionally cut. The free instructions online walk the builder through the remaining steps.

The Growroom

According to a press release, there are already plans to build Growrooms in Taipei, Taiwan; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; San Francisco and Helsinki, Finland. You can add your city to the list by jumping on the opportunity and crafting a Growroom in your neighborhood.

The project is the brainchild of Space10, based in Denmark. The company wrote:

Local food represents a serious alternative to the global food model. It reduces food miles, our pressure on the environment and educates our children of where food actually comes from … The challenge is that traditional farming takes up a lot of space and space is a scarce resource in our urban environments.

The Growroom … is designed to support our everyday sense of well being in the cities by creating a small oasis or 'pause' architecture in our high paced societal scenery and enables people to connect with nature as we smell and taste the abundance of herbs and plants. The pavilion, built as a sphere, can stand freely in any context and points in a direction of expanding contemporary and shared architecture.

Here are images from the open source design:

The Growroom

The Growroom

The Growroom

Reposted with permission from our media associate True Activist.

Photo credit: Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

By Amanda Froelich

"Chick culling," as it's called, is something the egg industry doesn't like to talk about. And when one learns what the process entails, it's no wonder as to why. Also called "chick disposal," it involves shredding male baby chicks alive as they are deemed to be worthless to the industry because they will not produce eggs when mature. While most commercial chick producers continue to do this (in all countries except Germany) behind closed doors and in secrecy, it seems one producer decided an alternative solution would be more appropriate and left more than 1,000 chicks to die in a field.

Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Huffington Post reported that a mass amount of chicks were found dumped in a field in eastern England Friday, causing animal investigators to seek out the source. Inspector Justin Stubbs of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) said he'd "never seen anything like it" and was alerted to the "sea of yellow" birds after passersby contacted him.

Sadly, most were only a day old and had been affected by the frigid temperatures. Stubbs wrote in a statement: "The chicks are only about a day old and are really tiny and quite delicate."

Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

By the time of their discovery, some were either already dead or were in such poor condition that they had to be put down. Most, however, "did not appear to be suffering," according to Stubbs.

The chicks were quickly rounded up and put into boxes to keep warm. RSPCA officials are sure that the birds were dropped off by a "third party official" from a nearby commercial chick producer. The investigation is ongoing.

"These tiny birds wouldn't have survived long out on their own at such a young age and in such unpredictable weather conditions," Stubbs added. "For someone to dump these vulnerable chicks is unbelievable."

Watch the video below:

Reposted with permission from our media associate True Activist.

By Amanda Froelich

When Stefano Boeri Architetti presented the idea of installing a vertical forest in Milan, people were beyond thrilled with the idea. Following the success of that introduction, the architecture firm now seeks to construct something similar, but in Nanjing, China.

Stefano Boeri Architetti

Inhabitat reported that two towers which overlook the Nanjing Pukou District will be completed by the end of 2018. Overflowing with 1,100 trees from 23 local species, as well as 2,500 cascading shrubs and plants, the installation will clean the city's air by producing 132 pounds of oxygen every day. Additionally, passersby and tourists will be greeted with a breathtaking view.

Stefano Boeri Architetti

The buildings, of course, will include more than just plants. The taller tower (656 feet) will hold offices, a museum, a green architecture school and a rooftop club. And in the second tower (354 feet), a 247-room Hyatt hotel will be found, complete with a rooftop swimming pool. Shops, restaurants and a conference hall will also be included in the second building in a podium that will rise 65 feet.

Stefano Boeri Architetti

Because city air is notoriously dirty with pollution, those who stay in the hotel will have the unique opportunity to benefit from the oxygen produced by the plants as well as form a closer bond with nature.

According to Stefano Boeri Architetti, there will be approximately 600 tall trees and 500 medium-sized trees, in addition to the other foliage, that will help regenerate biodiversity in the area.

Stefano Boeri Architetti

The project is being celebrated because it will be the first green tower in all of Asia. Investors are also satisfied with the fact that the conceptualized idea will further modernization efforts in the south of China's Jiangsu province. Because of the potential economic boost the towers will provide, Nanjing Yang Zi State-owned Investment Group Company Limited is promoting the project.

Stefano Boeri Architetti

It may be the first-of-its-kind in China, but the architecture firm intends to build more green towers in Shanghai, Guizhou, Shijiazhuang, Liuzhou and Chongqing.

Reposted with permission from our media associate True Activist.

Trending

Nearly six years after the initial explosion caused a catastrophic meltdown at the Daiichi nuclear power plant in the Fukushima prefecture of Japan, the situation has suddenly taken a drastic turn for the worst.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the company which owns and operates the now defunct power plant, announced Thursday that radiation inside the containment vessel of one of the plant's failed reactors has now reached levels undetected since the disaster first occurred in 2011.

Radiation inside the reactor has reached 530 sieverts per hour, a drastic increase from the previously recorded 73 sieverts per hour recorded in the aftermath of the meltdown. The level of radiation is so high that an official of the National Institute of Radiological Sciences told the Japan Times that medical professionals have never considered dealing with this level of radiation in their work.

TEPCO has stated that the cause of the radiation spike is a 2 meter diameter hole inside the bottom grating of the containment vessel. The hole was likely caused by melted fuel.

Images from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant's No. 2 reactor revealed a hole thought to be made by fuel leaking out of the pressure vessel.Nikkei Asian Review

Plans have been made to send a robot into the area to survey the damage as the true extent of the structural damage remains unknown. However, previous attempts to use robots to gauge damage or seal breaches at Fukushima have failed. Several robots were deployed to seal a breach in another containment vessel, which continues to release 300 tons of radioactive water a day into the Pacific Ocean. Due to the high temperatures present, all of the robots were rendered nonfunctional and unable to complete the task.

While TEPCO previously claimed that most of the reactor's nuclear fuel remained contained in the pressure vessel, company spokesman Yuichi Okamura stated that "it's highly possible that melted fuel leaked through."

TEPCO has yet to state the expected impact of the radiation spike or the potential consequences of the nuclear fuel leak. The company is expected to detail its plan for containment and offer more details regarding the impacts of this latest development in the coming week. However, given that TEPCO admitted to "covering up" the impact of the initial disaster with the full complicity of the Japanese government, it remains to be seen if they can be taken at their word.

Reposted with permission from our media associate True Activist.

By Brianna Acuesta

In an incident that's shockingly similar to what happened one year ago in Argentina, beachgoers pulled a stranded baby dolphin from the water to capture photos of him and take selfies. Unfortunately, the incident resulted in the baby's death, showing that Argentinians did not learning anything from the last time they pulled a baby dolphin from the ocean.

A video that was released this week shows the baby dolphin surrounded by a crowd of people taking photos and videos. The local newspaper, La Nacion, reported that fellow beachgoers said that people had pulled the dolphin from the shallows of the water.

A witness told C5N News, "They let him die. They could have returned him to the ocean, he was breathing, but everyone started taking photos and touching him, saying he was already dead."

A person's first instincts when seeing an animal in need, especially one so young, should be to help them rather than hurt them. Instead of checking to see if the baby had a chance to live, they immediately yanked him from his home and he died while extremely stressed from the situation.

It's unclear if the baby was sick before humans spotted him, which would explain why he found himself stranded, but what's indisputable is that the humans involved inadvertently participated in his death by not helping him.

Last year, beachgoers pulled two baby dolphins out of the water for selfies, resulting in the death of one and people everywhere were outraged. This outrage, apparently, had little to no effect on the people that repeated this sad act all over again.

Humans have the unique ability to feel empathy, but it is their selfish nature that causes them to often forget to help others. In this situation, the humans did not even think to save the allegedly dying dolphin because they were so absorbed in getting the perfect picture for social media. Meanwhile, dogs around the world have made news for spotting dolphins in need and springing into action to help.

Watch the video below to see the baby dolphin.

Reposted with permission from our media associate True Activist.

Trending

Photo credit: Lloyd Fox

In an unforeseen move by the famous circus, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey owners have decided to shut down "The Greatest Show On Earth" forever after plummeting ticket sales no longer allowed the show to be viable.

Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, which owns Ringling Bros., announced the closure to performers on Saturday night before releasing a statement explaining the reason for their decision, which he has said is hard for him and his family.

Stockpiling Moms

When the group announced last year that they would be ending the use of elephants in their shows it seemed to be a great opportunity for growth again because animal advocates might no longer boycott the show. However, what the entertainment group found was quite the opposite. Juliette Feld, Kenneth's daughter and the company's chief operating officer, said:

"We know now that one of the major reasons people came to Ringling Bros. was getting to see elephants. We stand by that decision. We know it was the right decision. This was what audiences wanted to see and it definitely played a major role."

Ironically, getting rid of the elephants wound up being worse for the circus than anything else. Feld Entertainment did make the right decision with the elephants, but their existing animal "performers" continued to suffer, which may have caused animal advocates to steer clear even after the elephants left. Those remaining animals, including lions, tigers, camels, donkeys, alpacas, kangaroos and llamas, will apparently be sent to "suitable" homes while the elephants will stay at their Center for Elephants Conservation.

According to the company, they tried a number of methods to keep the show relevant and appealing to the modern public to no avail. An interactive app was developed, the first female ringmaster was hired and other popular elements of their successful shows, such as motorbike daredevils, were incorporated to keep the show fresh. Nothing significantly improved attendance or interest in the show, whose sales have been declining in the last 10 years.

The show will officially close in May after another 30 or so shows in major cities. The decision was based on a combination of issues, including high operating costs and changing public tastes. Approximately 500 people perform and work on both touring shows for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey and most will be out of a job after the show performs its last show. Some performers will be used in other profitable shows that the entertainment group manages, like Monster Jam and Disney on Ice. Thankfully, they will help with housing relocation for the workers that lived strictly on the rail cars that transported the performers and crew.

Reposted with permission from our media associate True Activist.

By Amanda Froelich

According to a new report by SeaWorld, Tilikum—the infamous killer whale involved in the deaths of three people—died today. The well-known orca, thought to be about 35-years-old, was the focus of the 2013 documentary "Blackfish," which criticizes the marine park for keeping killer whales and other aquatic wildlife in conditions deemed to be less-than-ideal.

Read More Show Less

In 2011, a powerful earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck the Fukushima prefecture in Japan, leading to a nuclear disaster whose impacts are still being felt globally. Now, a massive 7.4 earthquake hit Fukushima around 6 a.m. local time, and tsunami warnings and advisories are in effect.

It was first reported as a 7.3 earthquake but was later revised to 7.4 by the Japan Meteorological Agency. The epicenter of the quake was 67 km northeast of Iwaki, a city on the southern coast of the Fukushima prefecture.

Residents along Japan's Northeastern coast have been told to evacuate immediately and seek higher ground. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, tsunami waves are expected to hit repeatedly and make landfall imminently.

NHK News Japan

Their warning stated: "Damage due to tsunami waves is expected. Evacuate immediately from coastal regions and riverside areas to a safer place such as high ground or an evacuation building. Tsunami waves are expected to hit repeatedly. Do not leave safe ground until the warning is lifted." NHK News Japan warned those living on the coast to "hurry up and run away."

Though immediate concern was given to local residents and their safety, attention has quickly turned to TEPCO's nuclear power plant in Fukushima, the site of the 2011 catastrophic meltdown. Five years ago, three of the plant's six reactors melted down leading to the largest release of radiation into the ocean in world history. The damaged reactors were never sealed and continue to leak an astounding 300 tons of radioactive wastewater every day. As Japan braces for yet another tsunami, concern is growing regarding the potentially devastating effects that another tsunami could have on the cooling system's of the plant's three remaining, intact reactors.

According to reports, these fears are not unfounded. In the aftermath of the earthquake, TEPCO confirmed that the cooling system in one of the three intact reactors stopped working, but was successfully restarted 90 minutes after its abrupt shutdown. Though no "abnormalities" were reported, TEPCO has remained silent as to what caused the shutdown and if the cooling system suffered any damage that could lead to another unexpected shutdown. TEPCO said that the cooling system failure posed no "immediate danger" even though they admitted that there has been a "gradual" rise in reactor temperatures.

With the tsunami expected to arrive within hours, people around the world will be watching to see if the nuclear reactors will hold or if history will repeat itself in the worst way possible. However, TEPCO's credibility regarding its Fukushima plant is dubious as they lied about the true extent of the 2011 crisis with complicity from the Japanese government. Hopefully, this time they are telling the truth.

Reposted with permission from our media associate True Activist.