Eco-tour

Green Hotels in Singapore

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 23, 2007

Blog

Singapore’s government is encouraging the city-state’s hotels to go green. Under a new scheme run by the National Environment Agency (NEA), energy-efficient hotels can compete for an “Energy Smart” label. To gain this distinction, they must measure themselves against a set of energy benchmarks devised by the NEA and the National University of Singapore.

The NEA is also helping to fund the energy audits. The winners of the inaugural award in August were the Regent, the Shangri-La, the Intercontinental and Changi Village. But much work still needs doing: hotels currently account for a whopping 2% of Singapore’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate change and Global Warmimg

Weather in Singapore

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 23, 2007

Blog

Singapore is getting hotter and wetter. According to the National Environment Agency, average temperatures in the city-state have risen by between 1º and 1.5º Celsius over the past 50 years. The agency, which suggests that global warming may be the culprit, also reported an increase in rainfall, noting that December 2006 was the wettest on record.

The agency is expected to publish a larger study on Singapore’s future weather conditions sometime next year.

Wildlife

Bird watching

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 21, 2007

Blog

"Most of bird identification is based on a sort of subjective impression- the way a bird moves and little instantaneous appearances at different angles and sequences of different appearances, and as it turns its head and as it flies and as it turns around, you see sequences of different shapes and angles," David Sibley says.  "All that combines to create a unique impression of a bird that can’t really be taken apart and described in words.  When it comes down to being in the field and looking at a bird, you don’t take the time to analyze and say it shows this, this, and this; therefore it must be this species.  It is more natural andinstinctive.  After a lot of practice, you look at the bird, and it triggers little switches in your brain.  It looks right.  "You know what it is at a glance."

Quote From ’BLINK’ by Malcolm Gladwell

General

Monsanto - Why the company failed

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 19, 2007

Blog

 Robert Shapiro rose to the top of Monsanto Corp. with a powerful vision for transforming the company from a chemical manufacturer to a life sciences company using genetic engineering to produce "Food,Health and Hope." His logic seemed impeccable: use science, specifically genetics, to engineer plants that were resistant to disease, drought, and insects and that produced better yields per acre using less energy and pesticides.  Monsanto spent millions of dollars developing the technology and several billion to acquire the seed companies and distributors it needed to make Shapiro’s vision a reality.  Wall street applauded Monsanto’s pioneering efforts.  The stock price even rose after the company slashed its dividend to help cover its heavy spending. 

Monsanto’s genetically engineered products were a hit with big American agricultural companies.  The soybean, corn, cotton, and other seeds, while more expensive to purchase than unmodified seeds, fulfilled Monsanto’s promise of better yields.  Cultivation of genetically modified crops in the United States soared from 18 million acres in 1997 to 58 million acres in 1998. By the end of that year Monsanto was on a path to generate $10 billion in annual revenue from a pipeline of new products to be introduced over the next few years.


Then the problems began.  A farmer in Canada reported that some canola seeds, genetically modified to be pesticide resistant, had escaped and cross pollinated with a related type of weed on the fringes of his field, creating, in effect, a "super weed" that couldn’t be controlled by existing pesticides.  A rival seed company introduced genes from a from a Brazil nut into a soybean to make it more nutritious as animal feed.  But soybeans are a big source of protein for human consumption too, and some people are fatally allergic to Brazil nuts.  The product never made it to the market, but news accounts speculating that modified soybeans could kill people allergic to Brazil nuts got plenty of attention.  And then there was the Terminator gene.  Monsanto bought a seed company that had patented the technology to insert a gene in crops that effectively sterilized new seeds when the crop was harvested.  The idea was to prevent farmers from saving the seeds from a portion of their crop to plant the next year, in effect, protecting the seed company’s proprietary genetic modification technology.  Farmers would have to buy new seeds each year.

Everything came to a head when Monsanto applied to sell its genetically modified seed in Europe.   Europeans were already reeling from a decade of health scares related to food, including Britain’s terrifying encounter with "mad cow" disease.  Although the European Union’s regulators gave Monsanto permission to sell its modified products, consumer reaction on the Continent verged on hysteria.   Environmental groups and the media led the charge against Monsanto, labeling its products "Frankenstein Foods".  Prince Charles weighed in with the opinion that "I happen to believe that this kind of genetic modification takes mankind into realms that belong to God, and to God alone."  The German subsidiaries of both Nestle` and Unilever said they would not use Monsanto’s genetically modified soybeans.   Polls showed huge majorities of Europeans firmly against altered foods.  Monsanto’s efforts to counter the critics-a $5million advertising campaign that told Europeans that while they were new to biotechnology, Monsanto has been researching the subject for twenty years-instead inflamed public opinion as being condescending.

Shapiro wasn’t swayed by the furor.  "This is the single most successful introduction of technology in the history of agriculture, including the plow," he proclaimed.  He acknowledged the opposition, but contended that "eventually, scientific proof should win over reluctant and skeptical consumers."

But science had never been the real issue.  Public opinion was what counted.  A consultant whom Monsanto brought in to mediate with the company’s growing number of critics gave up, claiming that Monsanto just didn’t get it.  "There is a barrier to really listening to what people are saying." he said of the company.  In the United States, where small farmers were becoming increasingly incensed over Monsanto’s efforts to collect fees and put restrictions on their use of modified seeds, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman got straight to the point, warning Shapiro to keep quiet because" every time he opens his mouth, U.S. agriculture loses millions more bushels of agriculture exports." Monsanto’s stock price fell 35 percent even as the overall market rallied 30 percent in 1999. 

( Source Know-How by Ram Charan)

Interlinking of Rivers

River dried up by diversion-USA

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 17, 2007

Blog


 Judge declares river dried up by diversion to LA revived


   The city of Los Angeles has sufficiently restored
a stretch of river along the Sierra Nevada it siphoned off decades ago
by aqueduct and no longer has to pay fines of $5,000 a day, a judge
ruled Wednesday.

Inyo County Superior Court Judge Lee Cooper said the city has revived
a 62-mile section of the lower Owens River that was left essentially
dry in 1913 when its flows were diverted to the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

"I can now officially declare that the lower Owens River is a river,"
Cooper said.

Water was directed back to the riverbed in December, marking a
concession in an infamous water war between Los Angeles and the valley
200 miles north of the city.

Ecologists said the revived river was making a remarkable recovery and
reported seeing birds, fish, and plants in the channel.

The judge had imposed the $5,000 fine per day in July 2005 when he
grew frustrated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s
long-delayed plan to restore the river.

During a hearing Wednesday, Cooper also approved an agreement between
the DWP, Inyo County officials, residents and environmentalists that
spells out requirements for the city to keep the water flowing. The
judge warned he would impose fines under the deal if the city didn’t
meet its obligations.

"The restoration of the river has been a long-term goal of Inyo County
and we are heartened that river’s recovery is well under way," Jim
Bilyeu, chairman of the county’s board of supervisors, said in a
statement.

Source: U.S. Water News Online, July 2007

 

Man Animal Conflict

Indian National Snakebite Protocol

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 15, 2007

Blog

Indian National Snakebite Protocol

India has now become the first country to formally approve a National Snakebite Protocol. This 
includes both treatment and first aid.
In addition, the Government committed to nationwide training for each
State and a comprehensive programme of research with the Indian Council
for Medical Research. This will address many of the unanswered
questions on snakebite management and identify the ever growing list of
medically significant snakes in India.
The notion of ’the Big 4’ was abandoned as being inaccurate and dated. More medically significant snakes are emerging which has serious 
implications for the supply of effective anti venoms.
A significant amount of training has already taken place in 6 States
and more will follow. India has now taken major steps to remove itself from the top of the mortality list where snakebite is concerned.
Wild Goa Yahoo group  Posting by  ian.d.simpson@tinyworld.co.uk 

Eco-tour

Recreation vs Exploitation

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 14, 2007

Blog

In recent years many western communities have shifted their reliance from drilling, mining and logging to recreational activities like camping, fishing, hunting, skiing, climbing and boating on public lands for jobs, economic growth and vitality.

According to a report prepared by Sierra Club,  outdoor recreation across the American West generated more than $60 billion and over 600,000 new jobs in 2006 alone. Western communities situated closest to federally protected public lands showed the strongest economic growth in recent years. The Sierra Club says it is working to get traction for this information so that policymakers and the public can counter industry propaganda about the need to increase drilling, mining and logging on Western lands.

“Public lands drive the tourist-based economies in our western states,” says the Sierra Club’s Keren Murphy, who authored the report. “If we protect special places, they’ll provide a source of income and enjoyment for generations to come.”


Source: Sierra Club

http://www.sierraclub.org/wildlegacy/downloads/2007publicwildlandsreport.pdf

Wildlife Poaching

Mogiya poachers -Ranthambore

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 12, 2007

Blog

Mogiya poachers -Ranthambore

‘Tiger Watch’ is leading a highly successful anti-poaching campaign around Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, led by Dr. Dharmendra Khandal, Field Biologist.

Aditya Singh’s Blog on Ranthambore has more details of their recent raid.

All the pictures are by Dr. Khandal  and were taken when the raid was on. Dharmendra is second from right in the picture below. Read on..............

http://
www.ranthambhore.blogspot.com

Aditya Singh
The Ranthambhore Bagh

 

 

Climate change and Global Warmimg

Aiding Carbon Credit

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 09, 2007

Blog

State Bank of India (SBI) plans to create financial instruments to aid carbon credit trading and management and fund and advise clients in the eco-friendly business.

The business opportunity is linked to a growing global market in which industrial polluters in developed countries that cross administered emission limits of greenhouse gases fund clean technology projects in developing countries like India and China under a government-monitored trading regime.

SBI said in a statement that analysts peg the global carbon trading market at $100 billion by 2010 and the Indian carbon market has the potential to supply 30-50 per cent of the projected global market of 700 million CERs by 2012.

Source: Hindustan Times, Aug. 8, 2007

Engineers and Environment

Computer tools for conservation

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 05, 2007

Blog


Computer tools for conservation


This tool — known as the "SWAP model," short for State Wildlife Action Plan — is unique: It considers a habitat’s numerous species all at once and displays the results in maps that are intuitively easy to grasp.  A cutting-edge, customized computer tool that takes 150 years of information on at-risk animals across Tennessee and marries that data to the latest in mapping software — geographic information systems (GIS) has been in use in the U.S.A.

The SWAP model incorporates 150 years of information on:

Animal sightings in Tennessee; Their preferred habitats; Threats to these animals (such as road construction or dam building); and Conservation actions known to counteract these threats. The software tracks 664 at-risk animals across the state — on land, in water, and in caves — with data mathematically weighted toward most recent sightings, species most at risk, and other key factors.

Then it produces maps that display color areas where at-risk species are proven to live and thrive. The darker the color, the more viable the habitat.  Part of what makes the SWAP model so innovative is that it turns the longstanding conservation strategy of preserving a habitat for the sake of a single rare species  on its head.

“That’s the old, standard way of conservation thinking,” “The SWAP model allows us to see all the at-risk species in an area that will benefit by removing certain threats or restoring habitat."

Another intriguing aspect of the SWAP model is its ability to project hypothetical scenarios. What if the Conservancy were to restore a farmland pasture to wooded wetlands, for instance? Would that help the at-risk species in the area?

The SWAP model can predict the outcome.

Read the full article at http://www.nature.org

http://tinyurl.com/39mlfw
[Open in new window]




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