We Californians have had five years to come to grips with the fact that we have a triple threat (body builder/actor/businessman) as our head of state. His unique background has made for some colorful and contradictory behaviors. For example: he donates his $175,000 salary to charity but spends $38 million of his own money on a GulfStream IV jet; he wins a European Voice award for his Californian Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, yet he flies his private jet back and forth between Los Angeles and Sacramento every day; he’s a Republican and yet his preferred method of transportation is private jet.
Going for the green, getting wasted, dropping out of college and collecting bottles is not the first thing you’d think of when you meet Tom Szaky, Princeton dropout. But the 25-year-old Hungarian born refugee, raised in Toronto, Canada, has done just that. The Ivy League freshman went home to visit friends who happened to be growing ganga plants. And they were doing really well. The secret wasn’t in the seed or the weed. It was in the soil. Vermicompost, the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter by earthworms — also called worm castings — is rich in nutrients and serves as nature’s soil conditioner and fertilization. And when Szaky saw worm poop, he saw dollar signs.
Szaky went greener by developing the first and only business built from beginning to end using waste: organic garbage, turned into worm castings, packaged in recycled soda bottles and shipped in other companies’ misprinted boxes. Ironically, all of this from New Jersey, which is referred to as both the “garden” state and the “garbage” state.
Los Angeles doesn’t have a great reputation when it comes to transport. Combine our lack of a reliable citywide bus or train system with our insistence on adhering to the California Car Pool (defined by Urban Dictionary as “when each member of a group uses their own car to go to the same destination [even when] the group is together at the start or close enough to share rides”) and you’ll see why our skies are so smoggy. Or not see, as the case may be.
Enter the newly launched eco-friendly taxi service, EcoNation, which offers LA a breath of fresh air — literally. EcoNation is committed to providing chauffeured luxury ground transportation services with new ecological standards. Their current fleet consists of a Compressed Natural Gas Lincoln Town Car, the Toyota Prius Hybrid (natch) and coming soon, a GM Yukon or Chevvy Tahoe Hybrid. A ride in the Prius will cost you a little more than a regular taxi in LA, but with internet access, digital entertainment programming and healthy treats on hand, who cares?
It sounds like the plot of a terrifying disaster movie. But, according to The Observer, it’s real. And it’s coming.
A classified report unearthed in 2004 suggested that in less than 20 years, global warming will sink major European cities under water and bring about nuclear wars, famine, droughts and global rioting as desperate people search (and fight for) what little food, water and energy remains Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
When sharks attack humans, it’s big news. But what about when it’s the other way around? Not so much. So let’s review the statistics: last year there were 71 “unprovoked attacks” made by sharks on humans which resulted in a single fatality. Compare that with the 100 million sharks killed by humans every year. Despite Spielberg’s best efforts, it seems sharks are the ones that should be afraid of us.
Research from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature reveals, “more than half the world’s ocean-going sharks face extinction in the near future.” And a lot of this boils down to…shark fin soup. Seriously. In Asia, shark fin soup is considered a delicacy and symbol of respect. That’s why a pound of shark fin fetches $300. Then there’s the superstition that shark cartilage cures arthritis and cancer, furthering the illegal poaching and price hikes.
There’s nothing like reaching the common man through the medium of…opera. Yeah right, all that black tie, high ticket prices and knowledge of Italian makes it a real crowd pleaser.
Well sound idea or not, the Associated Press reports that Italian composer Giorgio Battistelli has been assigned the task of turning Gore’s 2006 hit documentary into a 2011 Milan Opera House, full house. The composer is currently artistic director of Verona’s Arena.
“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things: Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—Of cabbages—and kings—And why the sea is boiling hot—And whether pigs have wings.” Although, Lewis Carroll’s famed Through the Looking-Glass may appear like hallucinogenic hurdy gurdy, there’s a line in there that’s most prophetic (and no, its not the shoes).
Although not quite “boiling hot,” the sea temperature is certainly rising causing the polar ice sheet to thin, and leaving its occupants including the walrus increasingly without a home. Although exact numbers aren’t known, “recent surveys by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and others put the number at roughly 190,000, with the vast majority of walruses in the Pacific half of the Arctic and sub-Arctic Circle.”
With all the natural disasters pummeling the planet over the past few years, you’d be forgiven for mistaking Roland Emmerich’s 2004 “The Day After Tomorrow” for a documentary rather than a blockbuster. The May 2nd cyclone in Myanmar proved particularly devastating: 133,000 dead or missing and a staggering 2.4 million homeless.
It’s saddening to learn that the destruction of coastal mangroves around the Irrawaddy River delta over the past few decades, “amplified the flooding and worsened devastation” caused by cyclone Nargis, according to a recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization. As people moved closer to the coast, “the combination of new settlements and deforestation for fish ponds and farmland set the stage for the disaster”, said Jan Heino, the F.A.O.’s assistant director general for forestry. Since 1975, the mangrove forests of the Irrawaddy Delta have halved while wood harvesting has reduced its density.
It’s a twist on the standard doomed love story: instead of two beings desperately wanting to be together who shouldn’t, we have two beings who desperately need to hook up but probably won’t. For ridiculous reasons.
For once, abstinence has dire consequences.
It’s bad enough that China had to say goodbye to the Yangtze River dolphin last year when the species was declared extinct. But without immediate action, the fate of the Yangtze giant soft-shell turtle will be the same.
The Yangtze giant soft-shell turtle is considered to be one of the largest freshwater turtles in the world. It is characterized by a wide, flat shape, leathery carapace (shell), and a deep head with a pig-like snout. Normally found in large river systems — specifically the Yangtze River in eastern China — they are, as of this writing, the rarest turtle in the world. The severity of their situation was first brought to light in the early 1990s, and in 2004 it was believed only six turtles remained.
Cuba’s Zapata Swamp sounds much more impressive in its native Spanish — Ciénaga de Zapata. And impressive it is. The largest and best preserved wetlands in the Caribbean, it’s estimated that “this marsh holds 65 percent of Cuba’s birdlife, including native species the Zapata wren, rail and sparrow, as well as 1,000 plant species.” However, the threat of climate change could result in these wetlands disappearing altogether — in less then 50 years.
Located 100 miles southwest of Havana with a latitude just 22 degrees north of the equator, these tropical wetlands are under siege. Humans live on the fringes of this UNESCO World Heritage site, bringing with them the inevitable by-product of civilization, pollution. Global warming is contributing to the mix by increasing the likelihood of hurricanes — the worst of which struck back in 2001, boasting wind speeds up to 210 km/h.
Once again, Europe is leading the way. This time in terms of having a coherent and active biodiversity protection program in place. It began in the late 1970s with a focus on protecting bird habitats and gained momentum in 1992 by expanding to sensitive areas (including seas) and including the term biodiversity, the immense variety of life that inhabits the earth.
The program recently gained the support of newer member nations to add an area roughly the size of the Netherlands as protected areas. New areas include 18 sites in Poland alone. Other areas set aside are located in Austria, Cyprus, Finland, France, Malta, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. In total, almost 20% of Europe’s land mass is protected under Futura 2000 as well as over 100,000 square kilometers of its seas.
There’s more grim news for fish and other marine life as scientists uncover oxygen deprived “dead zones” — also known as “hypoxic zones” — in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Once again, it appears that global warming is the main culprit.
A study by a team of scientists, led by Lothar Stramma of the University of Kiel in Germany, published in the journal Science, shows that oxygen depleted zones have been expanding over the past 50 years. They warn that the oxygen levels in these zones have reached critical levels and that the “continued expansion of these zones could have dramatic consequences for both sea life and coastal economies.” Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos