Category Archives: Nature

In win for nature & native rights Obama halts Dakota Access Pipeline construction

Standing Rock protest
Source: http://michaelawoodjr.net
This weekend, 11,000 veterans including Cong. Tulsi Gabbard began their journey to join the Standing Rock Sioux and offer both solidarity and protection to indigenous Americans and allies who have been protesting the scheduled construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through sacred native lands. On Sunday, Pres. Obama announced that a final construction permit for the pipeline would not be issued:

The Obama administration said Sunday that it would deny a permit needed to complete the last leg of an oil pipeline across the Midwest, prompting cheers and whoops from opponents who have camped in the cold here … (and) the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it would deny the company the easement it needs. The agency also called for a full environmental review and re-evaluating whether the route of the pipeline should be altered.

The Young Turks reports on the administration’s decision.

Overwhelmed protestor Katie Robinson writes with joy

This is the most amazing news!!! I’m up here in Standing Rock. Our front line is celebrating. Tears of joy are streaming down faces. It was just announced the easement for the Dakota Pipeline was denied, which basically means the Pipeline CAN’T go through their Native land!!!! The Pipeline construction has STOPPED. There’s over 4,500 veterans here currently in support of the Water Protectors and more have been arriving non-stop all night and day. I couldn’t be prouder to be standing here with my brothers and sisters.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii)

tulsi-gabbard
Source: WikiMedia

..took to the House floor Thursday in an impassioned plea to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline… (She) is one of the .. veterans planning to join the ongoing pipeline protests … (and) blasted the Army Corps of Engineers for granting permits for the pipeline’s construction without input from the communities most likely to suffer in the event of a spill or explosion.

The pipeline issue has been settled for now but other concerns will soon need to be addressed. Angel L. Matos writes,

If indeed the #NODAPL permit has been denied, we thank the administration for yet another better late than never action. The next order of business would seem to be identifying all those in law enforcement that abused their authority and bring their asses to justice. The amount of savagery they unleashed on these peaceful demonstrators makes me ashamed and angry. The least we can do is make sure some measure of dignity is served to those that suffered at their sadistic hands.

And the WSJ cautions that President-elect Trump supports the pipeline’s construction.

More:
CNN coverage

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White land terrorists get free pass while government attacks Native Americans on their own land

Stand Strong Against DAPL graphic
Source: IndigenousRising.com

This report is from an email sent out today by the Center for Biological Diversity. Its content highlights the disturbing, pervasive and systemic racism at the heart of government practices even today, after having a Black president at the helm of our country for a full eight years:

A Stunning, Dangerous Verdict After Oregon Standoff

Like almost everyone, we were stunned by last week’s “not guilty” verdicts for the Bundy brothers and other defendants following the 41-day armed takeover of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge earlier this year.

“This is an extremely disturbing verdict for anyone who cares about America’s public lands, the rights of native people and their heritage, and a political system that refuses to be bullied by violence and racism,” said Kierán Suckling, the Center’s executive director. “The Bundy clan and their followers peddle a dangerous brand of radicalism aimed at taking over lands owned by all of us. I worry this verdict only emboldens the kind of intimidation and right-wing violence that underpins their movement.”

Particularly galling was the juxtaposition of the Oregon verdicts, which involved armed militants, with the brutal treatment of unarmed activists fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.

Watch Kierán’s recent interview on DemocracyNow! and read Taylor’s McKinnon’s op-ed on the far-reaching implications of the Bundy verdicts.

Graphic from http://indigenousrising.org/yankton-siouxihanktonwan-to-host-government-to-government-consultation-with-us-army-corps-on-bakken-pipelinedapl/

Watch DiCaprio’s Before the Flood film on saving the planet from climate change for free via NatGeo

leonardo_dicraprio_before_the_flood_watch_full
Source: still from Before the Flood
Academy Award winner Leonardo DiCaprio is a UN Messenger of Peace and now a producer of the documentary Before The Flood. In this film, DiCaprio takes us on a journey to see how climate change is evolving due to human actions, and he reveals how we are empowered to act to prevent it from permanently and chaotically disrupting life on our planet for nature and people.

Before the Flood debuted on the NatGeo channel on 30 October 2016 and is available free for viewing on the National Geographic Channel and YouTube.

Talking about #BeforeTheFlood across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will earn donations to Pristine Seas and the Wildlife Conservation Society (up to $50K each)

Find your National Park & enjoy nature, Black History or general interest historical sites for free Aug 25-28

Great Falls Historical Park
Source: NPS

Find your National Park
Source: NPS
National Parks will celebrate 100 years of operation by opening their gates to visitors 25-28 August 2016 without an admission charge. National Parks aren’t just pretty places to commune with nature. They’re also sites of national historic interest or local significance, like Paterson’s Great Falls Historical Park and the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Kansas which offers tours and a study guide to honor this legendary amalgam of lawsuits which began in South Carolina but resulted in United States schools becoming segregated throughout the country.

African American Experience Fund
Source: AAEF of the NPS

The National Park Service (NPS) has a special fund set up to honor Black History in America, which supports 26 sites of historical significance:

The mission of the African American Experience Fund of the National Park Foundation is to preserve African American history by supporting education programs in National Parks that celebrate African American history and culture. There are 26 National Parks identified by the African American Experience Fund.

Military mandate to reduce pesticide use sparked the creation of a device that kills weeds with heat & light #p2

NatureZap wand at work
Source: Good Neighbor
Imagine a weedkiller as effective as Monsanto’s Roundup (aka glyphosate) which doesn’t introduce any chemicals into the environment and can be completely localized: enter NatureZap version 2, which kills weeds by zapping them with a heat-light combo.

TakePart says the tool was created by the, “412th Civil Engineering Group at Edwards Air Force Base—who developed the device with Global Neighbor,” to satisfy a mandate for the military “to reduce its use of toxic chemicals under the Sikes Act.”

Isn’t that great?

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EPA Quiz: Do you know how much climate change affects our health?

Climate change knowledge quiz
Source: EPA
Take the EPA’s quiz to find out how much you know about the health impacts of climate change.

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New US ivory law gives elephants stronger protection against poachers

Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) ranger stands guard next to illegal stockpile of elephant tusks and ivory figurines before their destruction
Source: Lawyer Herald
New ivory trafficking regulations issued on Thursday by the Obama Administration will make the import and sale of African elephant’s ivory much more difficult in the United States. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) reports:

It is clear that the status quo wasn’t doing enough to protect elephants from American trade: The US market has consistently ranked among the world’s largest – an (up until now) largely unregulated, multi-million-dollar black box where ivory could be bought and sold with almost no oversight, whether it was old or freshly poached. We believe that the new rules are a crucial step towards bringing the poaching crisis under control, though much still depends on the unglamorous next steps: implementation, enforcement, and diplomatic follow-through to ensure that this momentum doesn’t stop at America’s borders.

While the changes are a big improvement, they’re not perfect. The regulations still permit sales of documented antiques and certain older items with a small amount of ivory. But the documentation requirement is only loosely defined, putting pressure on FWS (and groups like IFAW) to ensure that ivory buyers and sellers uphold the spirit and the letter of the law. We also have to make sure that law enforcement agents get the tools and funding they need to keep illegal imports from slipping into the black market.

Additionally, the rule limits trophy hunters to importing “only” two dead elephants (per hunter) annually. IFAW lobbied hard to close this loophole even further and we will continue to press the issue, especially as new studies call the conventional wisdom on trophy hunting further into question. However, even this represents an improvement, as there had been no numeric limit on trophy imports at all prior to the change.

The third element I mentioned above – diplomatic follow-through – is just as important as what we do here at home. Other major ivory-consuming countries like China and Vietnam have begun to steer their ivory laws in the right direction; US/China negotiations have already resulted in a pledge from President Xi Jinping to shut down the Chinese ivory market, although tangible progress has been slow in coming and it remains vital that the US continue to set an example.

The New York Times reported on the rule-making process:

In accordance with the rule-making process under the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service opened the proposed changes for public comment, and it became the second-most-commented-on rule in the agency’s history. People wrote letters, children drew pictures and thousands of petition signatures rolled in — mostly in support of the more restrictive law.

The next phase of the fight against ivory poaching will happen next week, when a delegation from the United States goes to Beijing for a round of strategic and economic talks with Chinese officials, who have also agreed to further restrictions on the ivory trade.

if you buy ivory you kill people
Source: Elephant Advocacy League
Elephants are being slaughtered for their ivory at the rate of 96 per day. Do you know that the ivory trade is a people killer too?

Lead graphic from the Lawyer Herald.

 

Interactive Monarch Butterfly friendship map – take a look and feel free to add your story

Monarch map
Source: Environmental Defense Fund Monarch map
The Environmental Defense Fund has created a map of people and places all around the United States with a story of friendship to tell about Monarch Butterflies. Take a look at what others are doing to honor, help and protect Monarchs, and feel free to submit a story of your own.

The sound of tree talk is music

Years playing on phonograph
Source: Bartholomäus Traubeck
Since I became aware a few years ago that trees audibly mourn when a neighboring tree is cut down, I have wondered what is the sound that a tree makes. In the tree-cutting study I read, the tree’s sound was tracked only by vibration levels, but not sound. Now I’m one step closer to knowing.

In a project called “Years”, artist Bartholomäus Traubeck cut thin slices of tree trunk and assigned to each type of pattern in them, a sound. As a camera mounted on a phonograph machine in the position of needle plays over the patterns, they are translated into sound and my gosh, those sounds are marvellous. Listen …

Traubeck explains:

A tree’s year rings are analysed for their strength, thickness and rate of growth. This data serves as basis for a generative process that outputs piano music based on the year ring data. Those are analyzed for their thickness and growth rate and are then mapped to a scale which is again defined by the overall appeareance of the wood (ranging from dark to light and from strong texture to light texture). The foundation for the music is certainly found in the defined ruleset of programming and hardware setup, but the data acquired from every tree interprets this ruleset very differently.

Your own backyard is a great place to help butterflies and bees

Butterflies in field
Sourece: Judy Kesser via Monarch Joint Venture
Naturalist Don Torino suggests using your own backyard to help the butterflies and bees survive and thrive:

…There is still much more for us to do, especially in our own backyards.

This spring dig under some of that useless lawn, remove some non-natives and put aside some room in your flower beds for some milkweed and native wildflower nectar sources. Many local garden centers now carry multiple species of milkweed which will work in the backyard. Some better garden centers are now even setting aside spaces for native wildflowers like Milkweeds Goldenrod, Joe-pye weed and NY Ironweed to name a few.

Unlike many environmental issues which at times can seem overwhelming, this is an issue we can do something about. We don’t need to write to our Congressman or the Governor and hope that something gets done. Just plant some milkweed and other native wildflowers that provide nectar and you’ve just made our environment a better place.

Together we can turn our local communities into environments that are welcoming to the Monarch butterfly and that will give a fighting chance to a creature that can sure use our help.

If you have any questions on milkweed or other native plants feel free to contact me at Greatauk4@gmail.com

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