In the 1800s, Russia had the all the big celebrities — Alexander Pushkin, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Anton Chekhov, Pyotr Tchaikovsky — but today, not so much. Let’s see, there’s Anna Kournikova, Maria Sharapova and t.A.T.u. What’s that? A couple tennis stars and a couple of…um…singers. My point is, the last 200 years has seen a significant decline in the former Soviet Union star power and the Russians are clearly feeling the pinch.
Which is the only reason I can come up with for why they’d deem it “inappropriate” for George Clooney to deliver a message on his recent trip to Darfur in western Sudan, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo. What was the Oscar winner’s message? That something needs to be done about the “millions [who] are homeless, not from famine or disease or acts of God, but from a well armed militia intent on ridding the land of its people.” But instead of delivering it to a meeting of nations contributing peacekeeping troops, the star of “Syriana” and “Michael Clayton” had to wait until a news conference to make his point. “It seems as if at times celebrity can bring that focus,” Clooney added. “It can’t make the policies, it can’t change people’s minds really, but you can bring a camera where you go because they’ll follow you and you can shine a light on it. That seems to be my job.”
If you thought corn could save the world from the internal combustion engine’s appetite for destruction, you were wrong. Recent research out of Princeton University and other reputable institutions show that switching from dinosaur gas to corn ethanol could almost double CO2 emissions.
But we thought corn could save us! Although ethanol burns cleaner, a host of other petro-intensive costs belie its true benefit. In order to produce enough ethanol – and once again, the Bush administration is complicit in the problem, requiring a six-fold increase by 2022 – valuable crop and forest land would be replaced in the rush to make as much commodity as possible. For agriculture, this means monoculture in the form of either corn or switchgrass.
Founded in 1999 and based out of New York, the Waterkeeper Alliance is the fastest growing grassroots environment movement in the world. According to its site, the organization unites and co-ordinates all Waterkeeper organizations in the protection of “rivers, lakes, bays, sounds, and other waterbodies around the world.”
If she weren’t drop dead gorgeous, you’d almost forget that Angelina Jolie is most famous for being an Oscar-winning actress. Why? Because her role as a Goodwill Ambassador United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) dwarfs her contribution to the entertainment industry. I mean let’s face it, movies don’t save lives — they merely prolong them.
Jolie recently visited Iraq on a humanitarian mission, where she met with top U.S. officials and locals to discuss the crisis taking place on the ground. In an interview with CNN’s Arwa Damon she said, “In my research before I came here I looked at the numbers and there are 4 million people displaced. Of the two million internally displaced, it’s estimated 58 percent are under 12 years old. It’s a very high number of people in a very, very vulnerable situation and a lot of young kids.
The whales just can’t get a break. Only this time we can’t lay the blame on Japanese fishermen. It seems our Navy is set to start underwater sonar training off the coast of San Diego this week, despite a federal lawsuit filed in December by the California Coastal Commission and various environmental organizations. While the suit brought a small victory in the form of tight restrictions, President Bush threw a curve ball by declaring the navy exempt from the ruling.
Pundits are questioning whether the president’s action is legal, and furthermore, why initiate a Coastal Zone Management Act if the organization for which it was created is allowed to bypass it?
One of the most tragic outcomes of globalization is that currently-developing countries like India are adopting America’s love of the gas powered automobile and the independence associated with it. These countries are finding ways to replace current mass and people-powered transit with individual, motorized movement, just like the U.S. did in the early 20th Century. Have they learned nothing from our mistakes?
Enter the Tata Nano, India’s folks-wagon. Tato engineers dispensed with everything that makes a car a car in the U.S. — like a radio, air-conditioning, safety and at least four cylinders — in its pursuit of lowering costs as far as possible. But don’t look for this little car in the U.S. anytime soon. The Nano will not meet most pollution standards and it simply cannot pass safety tests.
The Nano runs on a 2-cylinder, .06-liter engine that tops out at 60 mph and gets 50 mpg. The fuel efficiency might get you excited, but consider this: India’s population stands at just over 1.1 billion souls and counting. If even half of those people start driving, it would amount to nearly twice as many cars as there are in the U.S. – hello, environmental catastrophe. This will ensure that by 2020, there will be over a billion oil dependent, air polluting cars on the planet.
Not to mention that roads in India are nearly in constant gridlock as it is.
For these reasons and more we must all ask the same question Tato’s engineers asked while designing the Nano: Do we really need that?
Not if it’s going to bring about the end of the world, we don’t.
With all the depressing news of species extinction, it’s wonderful to receive some good news — that two new species have been discovered in Indonesia. Especially when one of the species is none other than a… giant rat. (I know, I was hoping it was a new breed of polar bear too, but it is a new species, so let’s get excited, people.)
The other is more photo-op friendly — a tiny possum.
Both were discovered by scientists on a recent expedition to the virtually untouched Foja Mountains, which is located in an extremely remote part of western New Guinea. Vice President of Conservation International (CI) and expedition leader Bruce Beehler, says, “It’s comforting to know that there is a place on earth so isolated that it remains the absolute realm of wild nature. We were pleased to see that this little piece of Eden remains as pristine and enchanting as it was when we first visited”.
According to Webster’s, the Vendace is “a European lake whitefish (Coregonus Willughbii, or C. Vandesius), native of certain lakes in Scotland and England. It is regarded as a delicate food fish.” Seeing as how this entry comes from the 1913 edition, Webster is forgiven for not adding the fact that this fish dating back to the ice age could be on the brink of extinction.
The two remaining vendace populations are in Derwentwater and Bassethwaite, but it’s the latter where the fish could be facing extinction — according to Dr Ian Winfieldorf of Lancaster’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (via News & Star), who has recently embarked on “night-filming forays in freezing water conditions…to find evidence of Britain’s rarest fish”.
If you’re one of those who thinks climate change is for the birds, you’re wrong. At least in the metaphoric sense. As for real birds, researchers from Auburn University have discovered a curious behavior pattern that might turn out to be the result of global warming.
As part of the North American Breeding Bird Survey (begun in 1966) that studied the ranges of common birds from Mexico to Canada, Alan Hitch and Paul Leberg observed the breeding patterns of eastern arboreal and semi-arboreal birds (the kind you find in backyards – 56 species in all). Some names with which you might be familiar are the Common Ground-dove, Bachman’s Sparrow, Northern Mockingbird, Bewick’s Wren and the Golden-winged Warbler.
Just in case you thought it was okay to buy non-organic cotton, here’s a wakeup call: the workers sowing, picking, weeding, hoeing, cross-pollinating and carrying the heavy bundles of cotton are often… children. And I’m not talking about kids working their way through college. A report published by the Environmental Justice Foundation estimates that one million children are working 12-hour days earning $2 per day, if anything, to satiate demand for a global industry worth $40 billion.
“China, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Uzbekistan and Turkey – six of world’s top seven producers – have been reported to use child labor in cotton fields,” stated a recent press release. These children forgo their education and health to carry out the backbreaking work in extremes of temperature, many suffering physical, verbal and sexual abuse.
Woody Harrelson loves wild places. So he says in a compelling new video that supports the non-profit global warming educator, Focus the Nation. In addition to his other environmental efforts, Woody was kind enough to lend his name this short, which promotes the organization’s national teach-in, scheduled for January 31st. The project hopes to educate American teachers and students in the importance of climate control solutions.
“Americans get that Global Warming is real. And yet we are paralyzed, somehow buying the lie that we can’t do anything to stop it. Clean energy solutions — wind, solar, geothermal, biodiesel — can end our addiction to fossil fuels, stabilize the climate, create tens of millions of jobs, and lay the foundation for a just and sustainable future. Save half of the life of the planet.”
BPM + G = BPM / G Living—the definitive voice for the modern urban human
I’m not intertwining my fingers in some clichéd gesture of synergy, but the newly formed BPM / G Living alliance is about as sleek as you can get. Like water off a duck’s ass, really. BPM + G = BPM / G Living—the definitive voice for the modern urban human navigating through life with a conscience. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos