“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"
Frozen Bubbles on Abraham Lake by landscape photographer Emmanuel Coupe.
“This image was taken in winter time in a arid area of the Canadian Rockies. Temperatures where below -30 degrees Celsius yet because there was no snow fall the surface of the lake was uncovered allowing me to see and capture the bubbles (gas release from lake bed) that were trapped in the frozen waters.”
Illegal trade in wildlife is a billion-dollar black market costing the world untold losses as animals, many from endangered and/or threatened species, are hunted and killed. Tigers are hunted for their genitals and rhinoceroses for their horns for use in traditional Asian medicine; rare monkeys, bears, parrots and many other valuable and beautiful creatures are captured, drugged and smuggled around the world. Conservation organizations have sought to work with governments to increase law enforcement and criminal penalties for poaching wildlife but to say progress is slow is an understatement.
Certainly it is depressing, and can leave us with a sense of hopelessness, to hear one account after another about endangered wildlife cruelly killed. But three recent reports show that, while it is certainly an uphill battle, the fight to preserve wildlife is resulting in some small victories.
1) A narwhal tusk smuggling ring is busted in Maine.
Two Americans have been charged with smuggling narwhal tusks from the Canadian Arctic into Maine in what seems to be a “decades-long racket,” says the Smithsonian. Two Canadians have apparently been smuggling the tusks (which are actually an enlarged canine tooth found only in male narwhals) to two Americans, Andrew Zarauskas and Jay Conrad, who have allegedly sent some 150 narwhal tusks off via FedEx. Zarauskas and Conrad are to be arraigned this week.
While it not illegal to hunt narwhals in Canada (which lists them as “near-threatened”), it is against the law to ship their tusks to the U.S. and sell them.
Narwhals dwell “in the cracks of dense pack ice for much of the year,” says the Smithsonian. They are difficult for researchers to track and study as they hurry quickly away from motorboats and helicopters. All the more reason, says Grist, that it is “sort of infuriating that horn-smugglers managed to catch them when legitimate scientists can’t.”
2. Hong Kong makes the third mass seizure of ivory in three months.
At then end of last week, Hong Kong officials seized a $1.4 million cache of ivory. Authorities discovered 779 pieces of ivory weighing a total of 2,916 pounds in a shipping container that had passed through Malaysia after leaving Kenya. It’s a supply chain that has become all too common as the seemingly insatiable demand for ivory in China and Thailand (for sculptures and adornments) has led to the poaching of elephants at record levels including the recent killing of an entire family of eleven elephants in Kenya.
Hong Kong police have not yet arrested anyone after forty sacks of ivory were found inside five wooden crates in a container that was said to be carrying architectural stones.
A single pound of ivory can fetch prices of $1,000. In both October and November of last year, a total of three illegal shipments of ivory totaling in the millions were seized in Hong Kong.
3) Thousands of shark fins found drying on an industrial building roof in Hong Kong.
Gary Stokes, the coordinator for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in Hong Kong and a photographer, was recently able to take photographs of thousands and thousands of shark fins drying on the roof of an industrial building in Hong Kong over the course of three days. You can see more photos via Stokes’s blog, a truly sickening sight when you think about how many sharks were bloodoed and killed for their fins.
Soup made with shark fins is a traditional delicacy in Chinese cuisine and has been much in demand as the country’s middle class has grown. Serving bowls of shark fin soup at weddings and other events is a status symbol, though one that has fallen increasingly out of favor in Hong Kong and certainly among those of Chinese descent in the U.S.
Indeed, China itself announced last year that shark fin soup would no longer be served at state banquets. But this remains a window-dressing move so long as the Chinese and Hong Kong governments shy away from implementing aggressive policies to stop the eating, hunting and selling of shark fins.
It is probably too much to ask. But let’s work in this new year so that conservation effort victories can not only be about seizing animal parts bound for the black market but about saving the animals themselves.
Drakes Estero in Point Reyes National Seashore is a gorgeous place. An amazing variety of plants, birds, and wildlife call the seashore home. As a bonus, it’s one of those breath-taking areas not far at all from a major city — this one being about 25 miles northwest of San Francisco.
The Sierra Club campaigned to establish the national seashore in 1964, and successfully lobbied Congress to designate Drakes Estero as wilderness in 1977. But there was a catch. Much of the seashore was designated as the Phillip Burton Wilderness in that year, but Drakes Estero had a temporary non-wilderness commercial use present which was due to expire in 2012, so Congress declared the estuary potential wilderness and directed the Secretary of Interior to make it a fully protected wilderness as soon as possible. .
That event happened on December 1,when U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar allowed the lease for a commercial oyster farming operation to expire as scheduled and designated Drakes Estero as a marine wilderness area — the first of its kind on the West Coast. Wilderness is a rare and steadily shrinking resource in the continental United States, and marine wilderness is even less common.
In fact, Drakes Estero is the only large wild public estuary suitable for marine wilderness designation to be found between Mexico and Canada. We’re thankful for this move by Secretary Salazar and the Obama administration. Any action we can take to protect more of our nation’s wilderness is a significant addition to the wilderness legacy we’re leaving for future generations.
Although no one rejoices to see a local business close, this transition has been planned and promised for decades. Naturally, we are sympathetic to the workers affected by this decision and are therefore pleased that Secretary Salazar has allowed the company 90 days to wind down operations, and that he has also directed the National Park Service to use all legal tools, including financial and relocation assistance, to help transition the employees.
Meanwhile, we continue to encourage President Obama to expand his wilderness legacy and continue permanently protecting our land and water. One way to do that is by designating more national monuments across the U.S. so our kids and grandkids can enjoy these places in the years to come.
One potential national monument is only a two-hour drive from Drakes Estero, in Mendocino County. The Stornetta Public Lands are another beautiful area composed of coastal wetlands, dunes, tidepools, cypress groves, meadows and more. Visitors can see a variety of birds and other wildlife there as well.
Permanently protecting Stornetta would be a boon to the local economy. The area would continue to attract tourists who love recreational activities like hiking and fishing. According to one study, tourists drawn to Mendocino County in part because of places like Stornetta have helped create nearly 5,000 jobs and have generated more than $110 million in economic activity.
And this is just one example of an amazing U.S. landscape that would benefit from a national monument designation. I’m fortunate to have Drakes Estero and Stornetta so close to my home here in California — living near such natural splendor is something I don’t take for granted.
Everyone deserves the same opportunity to live near beautiful, protected lands and waterways. President Obama, we urge you to leave a lasting outdoors legacy by naming more national monuments. Protect these areas for future generations to cherish and enjoy.
#Silhouette of an #oak #tree at the #ranch #basic #edit with #canvas #fx #arborist #dusk #nature #cool #different #awesome #backlit #lighting #julian #sandiego #sd #California #word #party #oldschool
Proglaze ETA Engineered Transition Assemblies/Promo image
The BuildingGreen Top Ten Products awards remind me of the Oscars. Everybody watches them and talks about them, and pretty much ignores the Scientific and Technical awards given out two weeks earlier. The BuildingGreen awards are like that; they are scientific and technical, are generally not particularly photogenic. I mean, Proglaze ETA Engineered Transition Assemblies from Tremco are not exactly the George Clooney of green building, even if they reduce heating loads and prevent moisture or air quality problems. Others show better on the red carpet.
Much sexier is the Haiku Fan. BuildingGreen writes:
Most ceiling fans use low-cost, AC motors that offer poor energy efficiency; the fans themselves are often poorly made, loud, and unattractive. Haiku ceiling fans, manufactured by Big Ass Fans, have brushless, electronically commutated DC motors for increased energy efficiency. Designed for both residential and commercial applications, Haiku ceiling fans use 2-30 watts, significantly exceeding Energy Star requirements.
The Haiku is from Big Ass Fans. When I first wrote about them, I titled my post Great idea, Dumb Name and thought that architects wouldn’t specify a product with such a name. Everyone called me a prude and the company sent me a rubber donkey. Interestingly, two websites covering the BuildingGreen products of the year call it Big A** and the Haiku has its own website that downplays Big Ass. Is America getting even more prudish than it was six years ago?
Amorim expanded-cork boardstock insulation
Amorim expanded-cork boardstock insulation/Promo image
Perhaps these awards are sexier than I gave them credit for. We are big fans of cork for so many reasons; it’s a renewable resource (bark is harvested every nine years), maintaining cork production protects the natural habitat of the short-toed eagle and the Iberian lynx, it employs 62,000 workers in a country seriously hit by the Euro-recession and protects an area half the size of Switzerland from more mindless real estate development.
BuildingGreen also notes that cork insulation is made without harmful blowing agents or halogenated fire retardants.
Fridtjof Nansen lined the interior of the Fram with seven inches of cork; it kept him warm for years in the Arctic and kept Amundsen toasty in the south. 120 years later, it still insulates the boat on display in Oslo.
More on cork in TreeHugger:
Yes To Cork — Save Forests, Jobs and the Iberian Lynx
Cork vs Plastic: How Real Cork is Harvested and Why It Matters
Inside the Cork Wars
Corticeira Amorim, Portugese Cork Supplier’s Sustainability Report
Atlas CMU block with CarbonCure
Atlas Block/Promo image
Wait a second, this is getting sexier by the moment. I have spent years complaining about concrete and how 5% of CO2 emissions come from making the stuff. Now Canadian block manufacturer Atlas Block (which we wrote about earlier for their use of Poraver glass beads) is using CarbonCure technology to actually inject CO2 into the concrete.
[Atlas Block takes] CO2 supplied from local industrial sources and injects it directly into concrete masonry units (CMUs) during production using a specially designed mold. Atlas Block is using the CarbonCure system primarily to reduce the carbon footprint of its products, but injecting CO2 into CMUs during manufacture also improves their strength, reduces the amount of portland cement required, and speeds curing. Atlas Block also offers products with post-consumer recycled glass. Atlas Block / CarbonCure is the first product brought to market that sequesters CO2 without requiring a dramatic change in current manufacturing processes.
That’s a very big deal. I won’t get to the point where I call concrete green, but this is certainly better. See:
Concrete: Can it be Green?
BuildingGreen Tells You Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Concrete
Viridian reclaimed wood
Viridian Flooring/Promo image
Huge quantities of wooden pallets, crates, and packing materials used to ship goods to the U.S. are discarded daily, wasting a valuable resource and clogging our landfills. In its Oregon facility, Viridian Reclaimed Wood processes these materials from the Port of Portland and then creates flooring, tabletops, paneling, veneers, and other products for use in commercial and residential buildings.
Lets just hope that the flooring doesn’t include the Viridian principle of “Planned Evanescence”: “the product and all its physical traces should gracefully disintegrate and vanish entirely.”
GeoSpring hybrid electric water heater from GE
GeoSpring hybrid electric water heater from GE/Promo image
This isn’t just an efficient water heater (although it is that, being a heat pump that is twice as efficient as a conventional electrical resistance water heater) but it is also at the forefront of a manufacturing revolution in the USA. Charles Fishman wrote a terrific article in the Atlantic Monthly that discusses it:
This year, something curious and hopeful has begun to happen, something that cannot be explained merely by the ebbing of the Great Recession, and with it the cyclical return of recently laid-off workers. On February 10, Appliance Park opened an all-new assembly line in Building 2—largely dormant for 14 years—to make cutting-edge, low-energy water heaters. It was the first new assembly line at Appliance Park in 55 years—and the water heaters it began making had previously been made for GE in a Chinese contract factory.
BuildingGreen doesn’t explain why anyone would want a 50 US gallon water heater, that seems huge to me.
Other Best Products:
OK I take back my introduction. It may be hard to get excited about WUFI software from Fraunhofer IBP and Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Cyber Rain smart irrigation controllers, (who needs lawns, anyways?) but there are some seriously sexy products in this year’s list after all.