Saturday, 8 July 2017

Lynx may be reintroduced to the UK

Plans to reintroduce the Eurasian lynx 1,300 years after it became extinct in the UK will be submitted soon, campaigners have said.

The Lynx UK Trust hopes to obtain six lynx from Sweden to reintroduce into the Kielder Forest in Northumberland.

The five year plan plan may go to Natural England by September.

It has been criticised by some residents and sheep farmers.
The scheme would see four to six lynx wearing radio tracking devices introduced, with Kielder chosen due to its dense woodland and low number of roads.

The trust said the animals would help control deer numbers as well provide a tourism boost.

Although farmers will naturally protest, I can't see the Lynx making much of an indent in sheep numbers, and I'm pretty sure they would get more than adequate compensation for their losses. They usually do.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Mountain gorilla population bounces back

The largest population of mountain gorillas in the world has grown to four times the size of its once-dwindling number, as poaching has become virtually non-existent in the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The numbers have gradually increased from around 250 about 30 years ago to 1000 now, thanks to efforts to protect them from poachers. Only one has been poached since 2007.

The Viunga foundation a UK based charity, set up in 2005 has created a good atmosphere in the area by building schools and facilitating businesses and also run a $22 million hydroelectric project in the area which provides power and jobs. These investments have yielded tangible benefits to the people of North Kivu.

The foundation also boosted the salaries of park rangers to  $200 a month, which is eight times the average salary in DR Congo – to reduce the temptation for corruption.

Much credit must go to Chief Warden of Virunga National Park; Emmanuel de Merode.

Anthropologist, conservationist, pilot, Emmanuel worked to control the bushmeat trade and protect endangered wildlife in Central and Eastern Africa. His main focus has been support for African wildlife rangers in remote and difficult national parks and reserves. His work was primarily in the parks of eastern DRC, working to sustain the national parks through the DRC’s 15-year civil war.

In 2008 he was appointed by Congolese Government as Director for Virunga National Park. 360 rangers fall under his command and much of his work is focused on protecting the park’s exceptional wildlife, that include a critically important population of Mountain gorillas, elephants, okapis and chimpanzees.

Don't let them drill for oil in Virunga!

Friday, 2 June 2017

Donald Trump betrays all life on Earth

June 1st 2017 is a day to remember.

It's the day that Donald Trump sold out everyone, and I mean everyone, whether they support him or not, on the planet. 

He sold out you, he sold out your kids, and he sold out your grandkids, even the as yet unborn ones. 
He sold out the wildlife and he sold out the plants. Not one person or living form is unaffected.

He told us all - I don't give a toss about you, your future and the future of this planet. I just care about the here and now and I have no concern about wrecking this World for everyone.

How a supposedly intelligent human being can ignore the overwhelming evidence from all over the globe that the climate is changing, how he can ignore the melting glaciers, the rivers drying up, the encroaching deserts, the bleaching corals, the disappearing polar ice shelves the droughts and the storms, is beyond comprehension.

And how a supposedly intelligent population can be so blinkered and insular and self centred and ignorant in their view of the World and be taken in by him enough to vote him President of the United States of America simply beggars belief.

They have taken their country a giant step backwards, reverting to a mentality of 'I'm all right Jack so stuff you'. They have damaged the credibility and stature of the US and voted for all that is wrong in human nature.

I could weep for the blow he has delivered to this beautiful planet on this day.

I can only hope that sanity prevails soon and he is ousted before the damage is irreparable and catastrophe befalls us all. 

Take a look at Mars everyone.

 Ngorongoro Crater - Earth
 Gale Crater - Mars

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Climate change severely impacts endangered species

More than 700 currently Endangered species are being impacted by climate change, according to a major scientific review in Nature. Nearly half of the land mammals (47%) and 23% of birds on the IUCN Red list of endangerd species are negatively affected, particularly including some of our most iconic creatures like elephants and primates. The findings urge action to lessen the impact and safeguard the future of these important species by securing healthy and functioning environments.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Pangolin feast in China

An investigation will begin in China (where else)  after online images were found showing local officials enjoying a banquet of meat from pangolins – the most trafficked animal in the world.

Pangolin meat is regarded as a delicacy in China, and extravagant feasts are common to show great hospitality.

Pangolins are now very rare in Asia and are being wiped out in Africa to satisfy the demand in China for the meat as a luxury and the scales for Chinese medicine. Animals are often kept alive and have the scales ripped off them as needed.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

China announces a complete ban on its ivory trade by the end of 2017

On Friday December 30th China announced a complete ban on all ivory trade, and processing, to be implemented by the end of 2017.

The sale and processing of ivory by the first batch of traders will stop by 31st March 2017 and all registered traders will be phased out by the end of the year.

It is thought that 70%  of the trade in ivory takes place in China. Other big traders are Hong Kong and Japan, although the Japanese deny (wrongly) that there is any illegal ivory in their domestic market and state that they do not need to close it as it does not contribute to the poaching crisis.

International attention is now focusing on Japan, which voted against all CITES proposals to protect elephants. But a recent report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) found that the nation’s elephant tusk registration system is being subject to fraud and allows for poached tusks  from Africa to be sold legally in the domestic market.

Hong Kong has announced previously that it will also close its domestic market.

This is a massive step towards saving the elephant and for once I cannot praise the Chinese government enough for their decision.

However - let's hope that this does not simply mean that the trade will mushroom in other states such as Laos, Cambodia or Burma (Myanmar).

                                                                   "Thank you China"

Monday, 31 October 2016

We are in the sixth mass extinction

More than two thirds of the world's wildlife could be gone by the end of the decade if action isn't taken soon, a new report from the World Wildlife Fund revealed on Thursday.

Since 1970, there has already been a 58% overall decline in the numbers of fish, mammals, birds and reptiles worldwide, according to the WWF's latest bi-annual living planet index.
If accurate, that means wildlife across the globe is vanishing at a rate of 2% a year.
"This is definitely human impact, we're in the sixth mass extinction. There's only been five before this and we're definitely in the sixth," WWF conservation scientist Martin Taylor told CNN.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Africa's Environment Leaders and Experts Meet in Rwanda to Boost Global Forest Landscape Restoration

More than 50 environment leaders and experts are meeting in Kigali on July 26th and 27th to boost forest landscape restoration (FLR) across the region through two parallel events: the Africa High Level Bonn Challenge Roundtable, and the International Knowledge Sharing Workshop on FLR. New pledges that were made at the opening ceremony of the meeting have taken global FLR commitments to 100 million hectares.

Alongside the Roundtable, an additional 70 forestry experts from around the world will attend a workshop to exchange knowledge and experience in Forest Landscape Restoration. Topics to be discussed include participatory planning, landscape governance, institutional arrangements and regulatory frameworks, market mechanisms, funding and technical aspects of FLR operations on the ground.

As part of these efforts, the Government of Rwanda recently established one of Africa's newest national parks - the Gishwati-Mukura Forest, which is being rehabilitated under the principles of the Bonn Challenge commitment - restoring ecological integrity while also improving human wellbeing.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Scientists trying to grow human organs in pigs

Scientists in the United States are trying to grow human organs inside pigs.

They have injected human stem cells into pig embryos to produce human-pig embryos known as chimeras.

The embryos are part of research aimed at overcoming the worldwide shortage of transplant organs.

Creating the chimeric embryos takes two stages. First, a technique known as CRISPR gene editing is used to remove DNA from a newly fertilised pig embryo that would enable the resulting foetus to grow a pancreas.

This creates a genetic "niche" or void. Then, human induced pluripotent (iPS) stem cells are injected into the embryo. The iPS cells were derived from adult cells and "dialled back" to become stem cells capable of developing into any tissue in the body.

The team at UC Davis hopes the human stem cells will take advantage of the genetic niche in the pig embryo and the resulting foetus will grow a human pancreas.

I don't see any big ethical issues here as we slaughter thousands of pigs for food every day. The possibility of reducing the queues for transplants and massively improving quality of life for the recipients is fantastic.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

How fast are we putting greenhouse gas into the atmosphere?

We are now putting carbon into the atmosphere at a rate unprecedented since at least the age of the
dinosaurs, scientists say.

Researchers looked at ocean sediments laid down during the  Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum - a dramatic warming event which took place around 56 million years ago.

The amount of CO2 going into the air at its onset was four billion tonnes a year at most. The influence of humans on the amount of carbon being pumped into the air is far greater than this. We are pushing C02 and other greenhouse gases such as methane (CH4) into the air ten times as fast as the PETM.

During this time the Earth's temperature rose about 5 degrees in short time, geologically speaking. The C02 concentration was thought to reach over 1000ppm, compared to 400ppm today (and only 300ppm 50 years ago).

It could have been caused by high levels of volcanic activity, spewing out C02, or even the release of large amounts of Methyl Clathrates which are normally locked in the cold ocean floor, especially near the poles, but which are released as the sea warms up. Methane clathrate (CH4·5.75H2O) or (4CH4·23H2O), also called methane hydrate, hydromethane, methane ice, fire ice, natural gas hydrate, or gas hydrate, is a solid clathrate compound (more specifically, a clathrate hydrate) in which a large amount of methane is trapped within a crystal structure of water, forming a solid similar to ice. Originally it was thought to occur only in the outer regions of the Solar System, where temperatures are low and water ice is common  However, large deposits of methane clathrate have been found under sediments on the ocean floors of the Earth. Its been calculated that there are around  1000 Giga Tons  of methyl clathrate deposits in the East Siberian Arctic shelf alone. (That should do it).

 Today this release is happening all the time and could cause catastrophic amounts of methane to be released into the atmosphere. methane traps heat 20 times better than C02. Huge quantities of methane are erupting from the seafloor of the East Siberian Sea and entering the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean.

Back in the Palaeocene it was thought that between 0.6 and 1.1 billion tons of carbon was entering the atmosphere in one form or another per year.

At present, human emissions of CO2 are approaching 40 billion tonnes a year.

A lot of people in power need to pull their heads out of the sand and come out of denial before we all
suffer the results of runaway global warming.