“Arise and Be All That You Dreamed”
“Worrying about your own happiness is much less important than concerning yourself with the well being of those around you.”
"No one can hurt us like we've hurt ourselves. We're all architects of our own private hell."
"All of us have scars and they make us who we are today"
About the Initiative
From lions in Kenya to snow leopards in the Himalaya, the big cats of the world need help. Lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards, jaguars, and other top felines are quickly disappearing, all victims of habitat loss and degradation as well as conflicts with humans.
To address this critical situation, the National Geographic Society and Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert, have launched the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program that supports on-the-ground conservation projects, education, and economic incentive efforts and a global public-awareness campaign. “We no longer have the luxury of time when it comes to big cats,” says Dereck Joubert. “They are in such a downward spiral that if we hesitate now, we will be responsible for extinctions across the globe. If there was ever a time to take action, it is now.” You can help us make a difference. Your donation can help save a big cat and ensure the Earth is not without these majestic creatures. Please donate today! You also can help by signing up for Big Cats Initiative updates with the Explorers Newsletter. To see how we use donations to BCI, read our 2011 Annual Donor Report.
First Step: Halting Decline of Lions and Cheetahs
Lions are dying off rapidly across Africa. These cats once ranged across the continent and into Syria, Israel, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, and even northwest India; 2,000 years ago more than a million lions roamed the Earth. Since the 1940s, when lions numbered an estimated 400,000, lion populations have blinked out across the continent. Now they may total as few as 20,000 animals. Scientists connect the drastic decreases in many cases to burgeoning human populations. The Big Cats Initiative aims to halt lion population declines by the year 2015 and to restore populations to sustainable levels.
The Big Cats Initiative is made up of conservationists led by National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert. Having lived and worked in some of Africa’s most remote areas for more than 25 years as authors and filmmakers, the Jouberts have embraced the cause of wildlife conservation, especially for big cats. They are active conservationists in Botswana, members of the IUCN Lion Working Group, and founding members of the Chobe Wildlife Trust and of Conservation International in Botswana. The Jouberts also work in ecotourism and on building community partnerships.
Partners and Funders Sought
National Geographic will collaborate with local and international NGOs, corporations, local community groups, and individuals to work with saving lions and ensuring the future of this multiyear initiative.
NOTE: Make sure to check out everything on this site! Sign petitions & post them to your social networking sites, watch the videos, read about what you can do! Please spread the word, this is a serious issue that is only rapidly growing more serious! Act now!
Under existing legislation shark finning itself had been banned in Costa Rica, but under a new executive order issued by President Laura Chinchilla loopholes allowing the transport and import of shark fins have been closed, fully banning the shark fin trade.
Huffington Post quotes Chinchilla:Costa Rica may set an example to the world when it comes to environmental protection, but it must be noted that we had a significant lag when it comes to protecting the oceans.
Towards enforcing the ban—always an issue—the President also announced a new $15 million investment in radar systems to target potential lawbreaking fishing boats.
The move on shark finning comes within days of legislation being put forward that outlaws sport hunting in Costa Rica.
As with the ban on sport hunting allowing subsistence hunting, the new law on shark finning still allows catching of entire sharks for food.
With all the recent moves by Costa Rica towards increasing conservation efforts, it does all make you think that all the legal action towards arresting and extraditing Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson really was entirely politically motivated, and had zero to do with the actual charges.
NEW DELHI (AP) — What is a sip of clean water worth? Is there economic value in the shade of a tree? And how much would you pay for a breath of fresh air?
Putting a price on a natural bounty long taken for granted as free may sound impossible, even ridiculous. But after three decades on the fringes of serious policymaking, the idea is gaining traction, from the vividly clear waters of the Maldives to the sober, suited reaches of the World Bank.
As traditional measures of economic progress like GDP are criticized for ignoring downsides including pollution or diminishment of resources such as fresh water or fossil fuels, there has been an increased urgency to arguments for a more balanced and accurate reckoning of costs. That is particularly so as fast-developing nations such as India and China jostle with rich nations for access to those resources and insist on their own right to pollute on a path toward growth.
Proponents of so-called “green accounting” — gathered in Rio de Janeiro this week for the Rio Earth Summit — hope that putting dollar values on resources will slam the brakes on unfettered development. A mentality of growth at any cost is already blamed for disasters like the chronic floods that hit deforested Haiti or the raging sand storms that have swept regions of China, worsening desertification.
Environmental economists argue that redefining nature in stark monetary terms would offer better information for making economic and development decisions. That, they say, would make governments and corporations less likely to jeopardize future stocks of natural assets or environmental systems that mostly unseen make the planet habitable, from forests filtering water to the frogs keeping swarming insects in check.
If the value of an asset like a machine is reduced as it wears out, proponents say, the same accounting principle should apply to a dwindling natural resource.
“Environmental arguments come from the heart. But in today’s world based on economics it’s hard for arguments of the heart to win,” said Pavan Sukhdev, a former banker now leading an ongoing project that was proposed by the Group of Eight industrialized nations to study monetary values for the environment.
That study, started in 2007, has estimated the world economy suffers roughly $2.5 trillion to $4 trillion in losses every year due to environmental degradation. That’s up to 7 percent of global GDP.
“We need to understand what we’re losing in order to save it,” Sukhdev said. “You cannot manage what you do not measure.”
Using the same accounting principles, some countries are already changing policy.
The Maldives recently banned fishing gray reef sharks after working out that each was worth $3,300 a year in tourism revenue, versus $32 paid per catch. Ugandans spared a Kampala wetland from agricultural development after calculating it would cost $2 million a year to run a sewage treatment facility — the same job the swamp does for free.
But environmental accounting still faces many detractors and obstacles. Among them is resistance from governments who might lack the resources and expertise to publish a “greened” set of national accounts alongside those measuring economic growth. Particularly in the developing world, many still struggle to produce even traditional statistics that are timely and credible.
And even practitioners are riven by debates on how to put a price on a vast range of natural resources and systems that encapsulate everything from pollination by bees to the erosion prevented by mangroves in an estuary. The single largest difficulty is that markets, which are the easiest way to value goods and services, don’t exist for ecosystems.
“Since many things don’t formally have a market price, how do you value them? Almost all the debate and discussion really hinges around valuation issues, and that is where it can get flakey,” said India’s former chief statistician Pronab Sen.
At one extreme, said Sen, are people who say natural resources should get a zero value since we don’t know how to value them. Others argue that the values for such resources should be infinite, meaning they can’t be touched since no one has an infinite amount of money.
Opposition is also expected from parts of the corporate world, since green accounting could make doing business or buying products more expensive.
A forest once valued by what its trees fetch on the timber exchange might instead be valued according to the carbon dioxide it absorbs, the animals it supports, the water it filters and the firewood it provides. Or it could be revalued with future generations in mind. That might lead to higher felling fees, pricey replanting requirements or more expensive wood. Some might rethink the economic benefit of cutting it down. Science would become a more important factor in economic decision-making.
Some businesses, however, are embracing the idea to appeal to consumers demanding more accountability. Supermarkets like Britain’s Tesco now offer carbon footprints on packaging alongside calorie counts.
At a national level, green accounting is already being embraced by some governments, even if still in piecemeal fashion.
India in April announced plans for green national accounts by 2015 though it’s unclear if the country’s chaotic bureaucracy can reach that target. Australia will soon begin taxing carbon dioxide emissions, which Costa Rica has been doing for a decade to fund forest preservation.
Late last century, a team of U.S., Dutch and Argentine researchers put a $33 trillion value a year on natural resources such as water, wood and fossil fuels and “services” such as a forest’s absorption of carbon dioxide. The estimate is more than double the value of the U.S. economy, the world’s largest. While admitting difficulties and uncertainties in their methods and calculations, the team’s report said the $33 trillion figure was conservative.
Carbon credits, perhaps the best known example of giving a value to an environmental good, also illustrate the difficulties. Experts thought the pricing of carbon credits might have been straightforward, since emissions are easily measured and every CO2 unit is the same. But the carbon market wobbled wildly for years over estimates ranging from $5 to $500 per unit.
Other resources open worlds of debate. Water — frozen, liquid or gas, it’s found just about everywhere from vast oceans or tropical mist to mountain glaciers and underground aquifers. It’s used for drinking, bathing, growing plants, processing sewage, powering hydroelectric plants, driving weather systems and more. So not all water is created equal.
But should one lake be worth more than another? Does it matter if people depend on it, or if it supports schools of tasty fish? Should it even matter what it’s used for now? Or is it more important to consider if it can be replenished?
Some argue such questions make it clear that subjecting the natural world to free market ideology is immoral and counterproductive.
“The result would be the further privatization of essential elements of our planet to which we all share rights and have responsibilities,” writes Hannah Griffiths from the World Development Movement, a UK-based anti-poverty campaigning organization, in a recent essay for the Guardian.
Still some experts in the field say the world is on track to having comprehensive green accounts within 10 to 15 years.
A crucial advance has been the United Nations’ quiet adoption in April of a framework of agreed concepts and definitions for green accounting that can be applied in any country. It took two decades to develop but stops short of valuing complex ecosystems.
“The accounting is not pie in the sky anymore,” said economist Peter Bartelmus, who led the original U.N. effort.
The World Bank, meanwhile, is backing projects in Botswana, Colombia, Costa Rica, Madagascar and the Philippines that are looking for ways for national accounts to include the value of natural resources.
“Doing something is better than doing nothing. We shouldn’t even aim for perfection, either,” said Sen, the former statistician.
“It is much more important to come up with a methodology that people find intuitively acceptable rather than looking for hard commercial truths. If at a gut level people find it fair, then I think we can run with the idea.”
Reclaiming Streets for Pedestrians and Cyclists, Creating New Public Spaces
This great video by our friends at Streetfilmsgives a great overview of what the city of San Francisco has been doing in the recent past to make the city more people-scaled, rather than car-centric, and thus greener.
The beauty here, and what excites me about most of these so-called ‘tactical’ initiatives, is that they can be done quickly and cheaply, which means that if other US cities wake up and decide to commit to more pedestrian, cyclist, and transit-friendly cities, they can make a lot of progress very quickly.
I also think that dynamic parking pricing, which is being pioneered in SF, should be the norm everywhere. It just makes more sense than the flat rates that we have now; why make people pay the same thing when there’s 100 empty spots as when there are 2? By making street-parking more expensive during peak time, you insure that those who really need a spot can find one, and that those who could have taken transit or walked rather than driven there will do so. The pricing mechanism allocates a scarce resource more efficiently and everybody wins.
For more details on how dynamic parking pricing works in SF, check out the official website of SFPark.