conservation

The Rubber Dodo Awards

This is the press release for this year’s Rubber Dodo Awards…
Center for Biological Diversity


Dear Michael,

Rubber Dodo Award
  Cast your vote by Oct. 30!

It’s time to pick the most outrageous eco-villain of 2013 — and we need your help. Click here to cast your vote!

The Center for Biological Diversity established the Rubber Dodo award in 2007 as a way to spotlight those who do their very best — that is, their worst — to destroy wild places and drive species to extinction. The award, named after the most famous extinct species on Earth, is given out every fall.

Previous recipients of this prestigious faux-accolade include climate denier Sen. James Inhofe (2012), BP CEO Tony Hayward (2010), polar bear foe Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (2008) and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne (2007), who set a record low in the number of plants and animals he placed on the endangered species list.

This year has brought many threats to imperiled species and wildlands and many deserving winners to choose from. Vote now and invite your friends. Voting closes at midnight Oct. 30.

 

Click here to find out more and take action.

Here are the Center’s top four 2013 nominations:

Doc HastingsRep. Doc Hastings: Hastings is the ringleader in a group of right-wing Republicans tearing into the Endangered Species Act to erode wildlife protection. The Washington state congressman has repeatedly called the Act a failure and has organized a series of fear-mongering hearings to give industry profiteers and anti-government idealogues a forum to complain bitterly about this landmark law — despite strong factual evidence showing it has been 99 percent successful at saving plants and animals from extinction and has put hundreds of species on the road to recovery.
Koch BrothersKoch Brothers: Where to start with the super-secretive, ultra-rich Koch brothers, Charles and David? Their profligate spending on campaigns to give polluters free rein? Their bankrolling of the Tea Party and other forces flailing to block any sane approach to the climate crisis? Their footing of the bill for anti-wolf demagoguery? The ultimate goal always seems to boil down to this: The Kochs will do whatever it takes to ease the path of big corporations — including those who mine and drill our public lands relentlessly for maximum private profit — to pollute more, fatten their bank accounts, destroy wild places and put the planet’s future at risk.
Russ GirlingKeystone XL Booster/TransCanada CEO Russ Girling: No single project in the United States poses more risk to our climate, endangered wildlife and environment than TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. If it’s built, the 1,700-mile pipeline will facilitate the burning of so much fossil fuel that a leading climate researcher says it will be “game over” for avoiding climate catastrophe. The pipeline will also put more than a dozen endangered species in harm’s way, including whooping cranes and northern swift foxes, and pose a danger to hundreds of rivers and streams. The State Department estimates the pipeline could spill up to 34,000 gallons of tar sands oil each year. For TransCanada, though, Keystone’s just a pipeline for more profits.
Wayne LaPierreNational Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre: When it comes throwing a tantrum over common-sense measures to save wildlife from lead poisoning (to say nothing of stopping high-powered guns from going into the hands of maniacs), no one does it better than NRA Grand Poobah Wayne Lapierre. LaPierre and Co. pitch a fit every time a serious conversation starts about phasing toxic lead out of hunting ammunition. Millions of birds and other animals — including highly endangered condors and iconic bald eagles — are poisoned yearly after scavenging on carcasses containing lead-bullet fragments. The NRA and its cronies in Congress, though, have time and again stepped in to stop any attempt to curb these totally preventable poisoning deaths. The NRA loves scare tactics. Wildlife? Not so much.

 

The 2013 Rubber Dodo Award winner will be chosen after voting closes at midnight on Oct. 30.

Make sure to cast your vote, share this on Facebook and invite your friends to vote, too. And don’t forget: You can also write in your own choice for the winner.

If you have trouble following the link, go to http://action.biologicaldiversity.org/p/salsa/web/questionnaire/public/?questionnaire_KEY=1644.


Please cast your electronic ballot by October 30, 2012.

Donate now to support our work.

Photo credits:  Rep. Hastings courtesy House.gov, Koch Brothers courtesy Senate.gov, Russ Girling courtesy U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Wayne LaPierre courtesy Flickr./Gage Skidmore.

Cray (or should it be KRAY?) fish

The BBC carried this story yesterday about something not so nice to be found in the River Nith.

Investigation work is planned following reports of a potentially devastating invasive species being discovered for the first time in the River Nith.

Scottish Natural Heritage is to carry out surveys to see if North American signal crayfish are established in the south of Scotland river.

The crayfish were first found in Scottish waters in 1995.

Escapes from fish farms or illegal releases are thought to be the reason for their spread through the UK.

The waters of Loch Ken in Dumfries and Galloway are already infested with the species.

Dr Colin Bean, a freshwater adviser with SNH, said the latest incident would be examined closely.

“The prospects of removing signal crayfish from any water body – particularly one the size of the Nith – is likely to be difficult if not impossible,” he said.

Now, I am sure the scientist mentioned knows far better than me that in these circumstances the word impossible is not actually a synonym for unachievable but rather a synonym of very very expensive and time-consuming, which is not the same thing.

The article itself tells people to leave them alone completely (pending studies).

However, another scientist, in fact the very one I spoke to in a recent podcast had a view about possible future strategies…

Eradication may be possible using biocides but trials in Scotland have found this to be very difficult (you have to get them all and prevent reinfestation). Releasing large amounts of pesticides into water courses brings with it its own environmental problems. 

These fish are also pretty tasty.

Show people the difference between them and native crayfish and you might find locals are up for a little gourmet conservation.

Thing is, I don’t know if people eating them would keep their numbers at a level where they could coexist with the native ones.

They’re just too aggressive!

Anglers are a potential  source of transmission too, accidentally carrying eggs on their boots and kit or even using adult crayfish as bait. Realistically biocides are the most cost-effective way of getting rid of them but these are very harmful to other wildlife. Manually eradicating them is next to impossible.

Any eradication programme would also have to be very well co-ordinated, covering large areas. The benefit of eradicating the pest would have to be balanced with damage to fish stocks and other aquatic wildlife.

So there you have it, and as she also said… “Time to be makin’ some gumbo“.

The general point is that people in general have to be more careful about stopping these things before they start. Invasive species are responsible for many extinctions of native species around the world.

 

 

Planet Green Interview

A while back I was interviewed by author Mickey Z for the website Planet Green about my other website Exit Stage Right.

Here is the interview…

Michael Greenwell Puts the Focus on Extinction with “Exit Stage Right” (Interview)

Only his DJ career should be extinct

Scotland’s Michael Greenwell has worked, at various times, as a university tutor, a barman, a DJ (“not a very good one,” he clarifies), an office lackey, supermarket worker, president of a small charity, a researcher, a librarian, a volunteer worker in Nepal during the civil war there, and “some other things that were too tedious to mention.” Nowadays, he explains, “I am always in the education sector in one way or another.”

Part of his role as educator is the creation of a blog called Exit Stage Right, where you’ll find this mission statement of sorts:

“We are in the early stages of what could easily become the biggest mass extinction the planet has ever seen. This site is a resource for anyone to use to keep track of what has just become extinct or what is in serious danger.”

Jeff Corwin, author of 100 Heartbeats, would likely agree: “Every 20 minutes we lose an animal species,” Corwin explains. “If this rate continues, by century’s end, 50% of all living species will be gone. It is a phenomenon known as the sixth extinction. The fifth extinction took place 65 million years ago when a meteor smashed into the Earth, killing off the dinosaurs and many other species and opening the door for the rise of mammals. Currently, the sixth extinction is on track to dwarf the fifth.”

Thus, promoting awareness and action on the crucial issue of extinction is part of Michael Greenwell’s activist life and spirit. “I used to be an inveterate marcher but have pretty much given up on it now and like everyone else am looking for a way to effect real change without precipitating disaster or inviting the imposition of further constraints upon the public,” he says.

To hear more of his thoughts, check out the interview below…

My Conversation With Michael Greenwell

Planet Green: How did you get started on the issue of extinction?

Michael Greenwell: A few years ago, I started to notice the increasing frequency of the “Only 200 of this thing left” or “__________ on verge of extinction” stories that pop up every couple of weeks on page 11. Like anyone else I thought “Oh, that’s terrible” but I started to wonder why these things were not front page news. It is an entirely different category of story to a story about some politician being an idiot in one way or another (don’t get me started on celebrities), because if a politician is sacked or voted out there is always another vainglorious clown waiting to take his or her place. Unlike politicians, in the animal extinction issue, “gone” means “gone forever and not coming back” which is a much more serious thing.

PG: How did that lead to the creation of your blog?

MG: I thought about just putting all the stories I could find on the issue on one site with no fear or favor about where it comes from—just a link to where the story comes from and then the info. I hoped maybe to get some general readers but also that maybe some activists and scientists that work in the field would take a look at it and use it as a resource. That has happily been the case. Aside from that you would be surprised at some of the abuse I have got for it.

PG: Is there a common thread in such abuse?

MG: Usually it is of the “animals will hurt you if they get a chance so why should we give a shit about them?” variety. This is so ridiculous I don’t even bother responding to it usually.

PG: Conversely, have you heard from readers who’ve thanked you for the blog and now see extinction as an urgent issue?

MG: Yes. Notwithstanding the abuse I get quite a lot of correspondence about it all. I often get emails from teenagers asking for help with a school project about something which is a positive sign. If i can I direct them to where they want to be looking for more information on the subject or groups they want to join. There are also a lot of people who tell me that they had never realised the problem was this serious and so on. A lot of conservationist groups send me their press releases too. Finally, I occasionally receive emails from people asking me to endorse their eco-product or enviro-tourism. I haven’t yet seen one of these that I would consider having anything to do with.

PG: If you could reach as wide an audience as possible with information about extinction and the human role in this maddening trend, what would you tell them?

MG: I was thinking the about it the other day when I was showing Supersize Me to a group of students. The doctor was telling Morgan Spurlock about how the human liver is resilient and can heal itself but that by doing his McDeaths experiment he was literally pickling his liver with toxic food like was done in Leaving in Las Vegas with alcohol. I thought that there was an analogy there. The ecosystem is resilient, it can take a lot of shit that you might throw at it. Even if it takes a temporary hit it can rebound and replenish itself…some individual cells will be gone of course but other ones are made. This is the natural way of it in normal times. However, if you just continually throw toxins at it day after day after day then there comes a point when it just breaks down and there are only 2 ways out…transplant or death. As there is no transplant to another planet available (and even if there was, should it make a difference?) we and everything else only have one way to go if we don’t stop our toxic diet. And the doctor has been telling us for a long long time that we need to start looking after ourselves better.

Another Video by Michael Greenwell

PG: Okay, what can we do to start looking after ourselves better?

MG: Ideal world or right here right now?

PG: A little of both?

MG: On these issues the public are way ahead of the politicians. We have to change first. We can’t wait for them because we don’t have enough time left. That isn’t to say we should let them off the hook either. Having said that, consumer choices sometimes seem like the difference with voting Tory or Labour or Democrat or Republican. Like coke and diet coke. Essentially it is like choosing to be shot in the head 5 times or shot in the head 4 times. So if there is something to be done in the field of consumption (did you know that that is what they used to call Tuberculosis?) then the choice is not really between this thing and another supposedly more ethical thing. It is rather between this thing and nothing or repairing the old thing instead of throwing it away. Use and buy LESS is the message…instead of use and buy different, even it is tougher than choosing one thing or the other to consume. Buy less stuff, use less power. LESS is a very difficult message to transmit because everywhere we look we see the message MORE on every billboard, TV screen and in every newspaper and magazine. This is at least something practical we can do to reduce the damage. Ideally, we could realize that we are a species that is capable of improving our surroundings and work out why we seem so often to do the exact opposite. Like what I am trying to do with Exit Stage Right…. the first step is seeing that you have a serious problem.

PG: Where can readers find your work on the Web?

MG: I am a conscientious objector to Facebook. You can get me on Twitter and there is Exit Stage Right and my home page.

IT’S WILLIAM MacGILLIVRAY’S BIRTHDAY TOO

Whilst there are people all around the world celebrating Burns Night, it is worth mentioning that today is the birthday of another Scot of note.

William MacGillivray was the illegitimate son of a soldier. He was brought up by his uncle in Harris and said “the solitude of Nature was my school”.

He was enrolled in Aberdeen university at only the age of 12 and used to walk home to Harris every summer. Furthermore, he wished to see the natural history collections in the British Museum and walked all the way to London to see them. He said of the trip…

‘I felt my love of natural history very much increased by the inspection of the museum. At the same time I felt convinced that to study Nature I must have recourse to Nature alone, pure and free from human interference. . . I am afraid that my vanity will be too much increased by this visit.’

This trip may have informed much of his later work as the Natural History museum in London state on their site that one of the reasons that he is not more famous may be because

Although adored by his students, MacGillivray did not endear himself to everybody. With an absolute conviction in his own abilities, he tended to be provocative and outspoken. He often condemned scientists who examined specimens without ever seeing the creature in its natural habitat.

They also quote a letter to a colleague…

‘To those really desirous of information respecting our native species, I would say, let us betake ourselves to the fields and woods; let us traverse the hills and valleys together; let us there study our favourites, pursue them from brake to bush.’

MacGillivray later became the curator at the museum of Natural History in Edinburgh and the Royal College of Surgeons. He later left this post to take up the post of Professor of Natural History at Aberdeen University. During this post he introduced the practice of taking students on field trips and according to one student he

‘he could walk the most active of us into limp helplessness’.In amongst all this he had been writing prodigiously as well as becoming a renowned natural artist.

There is definitely more than one notable Scot with a birthday today.

 

AH, SO NOW IT’S IMPORTANT?

The style of reporting in these stories tells you a lot about why we have some of the problems we do.

Today on the BBC there is this headline…. Nature loss ‘to damage economies’

This is followed by…

The Earth’s ongoing nature losses may soon begin to hit national economies, a major UN report is to say .

The third Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3) warns that some ecosystems may soon reach “tipping points” where they rapidly become less useful to humanity.

While the rest of the article gives some solid information, putting it all in these terms shows a mistake in thought that goes back to biblical ideas about the natural world being something that is simply there for the purposes of human exploitation. There is no suggestion that it might be a good idea to preserve the ecosystem for its own sake.

It is possible to extrapolate from the above statement the idea that as long as economies are fine then quite frankly flora and fauna can go and get f*cked.

Please have a look at this article I wrote for opednews in particular and my other site exit stage right if you want to see how dire things are really getting and why this is all way beyond economics.

Picture from http://www.schnews.org.uk

EARTH DAY

Whilst I am all in favour of the aims of Earth Day, I can’t help thinking it is another one of these things we have got back to front. You might as well have “oxygen day”.

It is like Christmas when people decide to all be nice for a day and then treat other badly the other 364 days. Turn the day allocation around and you have a better idea.

In this spirit, given our inability to live anywhere else for the moment, every day should be earth day.

Have another pleb cartoon

And here is a link to the film I made about the extinction crisis.

NATURE SPOTTING – ONE

I have to go about 10 miles on the bus to work every day through a little bit of country.

Yesterday I thought for a change instead of reading my book, I would just try to catalogue as many varieties of plant and animal life I could see and what they were up to, if anything. It turned out very interesting. It is amazing how much you miss every day that is right in front of your eyes.

However, after deciding to do this I then realised that I didn’t have a pen and decided to try and memorise as many things as I could see. Then I realised I am a complete ignorant when it comes to naming different kinds of plants and just settled on doing the animals.

So here is that article.

The first thing I saw was a horse on top of small hillock that stuck up from on top of a larger hill if you get what I mean. The horse was standing completely motionless and as it was steep-sided I wondered how it got up there. The scene reminded me a lot of the bit at the start of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency…

“High on a rocky promontory sat an Electric Monk on a bored horse.”

only without the electric monk*, of course.

A bit further along the road and I am sure I saw two pigeons in an amorous embrace which is a thing, despite the numbers of them you find anywhere in the world, I can’t remember seeing before.

200 metres later there was some kind of bird of prey circling up high and looking for something to catch. Was straining my neck to see back as we went around the corner but I didn’t see it dive.

In the middle was a field of cows. Eating and sh*tting at the same time was about the most I could see with them.

About two-thirds of the way along the road there was a field with 4 horses in it. They were plodding around without much purpose. However, I looked on the other side of the road and there was another (male) horse with a very clear purpose in mind and in a state of (very) obvious “excitement”.

Unfortunately for him and the female who was the object of his desires they were separated by a fence. Inspired by an old joke I imagined that there was a very obvious danger in a horse with an erection jumping a fence and assumed that was why he wasn’t trying it.

As we approached the other town there were birds of an indeterminate (to me) small black type (yellow beaks) fluttering around in a group of about 20.

That was what I saw in just a few minutes. It is amazing the little dramas you can miss.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

*The Electric Monk was a labour-saving device, like a dishwasher or a video recorder. Dishwashers washed tedious dishes for you, thus saving you the bother of washing them yourself, video recorders watched tedious television for you, thus saving you the bother of looking at it yourself; Electric Monks believed things for you, thus saving you what was becoming an increasingly onerous task, that of believing all the things the world expected you to believe.

…the Monks were built with an eye for originality of design and also for practical horse-riding ability. This was important. People, and indeed things, looked more sincere on a horse. So two legs were held to be both more suitable and cheaper than the more normal primes of seventeen, nineteen or twenty-three; the skin the Monks were given was pinkish-looking instead of purple, smooth and soft instead of crenellated. They were also restricted to just the one mouth and nose, but were given instead an additional eye, making for a grand total of two. A strange-looking creature indeed. But truly excellent at believing the most preposterous things.”