You are browsing the archive for nature and the environment.

Saturday Art: We Miss You and Landscapes: Volume Two

5:24 am in Uncategorized by Crane-Station

The first film is two minutes and the second is three minutes. If you see a blank screen or an error message, please refresh the page.

We Miss You won the following awards:

Special Jury Award – Young Director Award 2011, Cannes
Best European Branded Short – Young Director Award 2011, Cannes
Best European Filmschool – Young Director Award 2011, Cannes
Best Filmschool Film – German Commercial Award 2011
1st Prize – Kurzundschön Film Festival 2011
Silver Award – Porsche Advertising Award 2011
Winner G-Technology Driven Creativity Competition 2011
Winner Saatchi & Saatchi – New German Directors Showcase 2011
Winner Caligari Award 2010

The film is directed by Hanna Maria Heidrich.

For more information on We Miss You, go here.

Landscapes: Volume Two is one of the most beautiful films I have seen. It is well worth the three-minute watch.

Landscapes: Volume Two is by Dustin Farrell, who states:

Landscapes: Volume 2 is the second of a three part series (probably). Every frame of this video is a raw still from a Canon 5D2 DSLR and processed with Adobe software. In Volume 2 I again show off my beautiful home state of Arizona and I also made several trips to Utah. This video has some iconic landmarks that we have seen before. I felt that showing them again with motion controlled HDR and/or night timelapse would be a new way to see old landmarks.

More on this beautiful film is here.

The Most Anti-Environment House in the History of Congress

7:21 am in Uncategorized by Crane-Station

Smoke pours from smokestacks.

Pollution, by ribarnica on flickr, creative commons.

Voting 247 times in the last 18 months to undermine regulations that protect the environment, the “House of Representatives has become the most anti-environment House in the history of Congress,” according to a June 18, 2012 report (PDF) prepared for Congress members Henry Waxman and Edward Markey.

House Republicans have repeatedly voted to undermine basic environmental protections that have existed for decades. They have voted to block actions to prevent air pollution; to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of authority to enforce water pollution standards; to halt efforts to address climate change; to stop the Department of the Interior from identifying lands suitable for wilderness designations; to allow oil and gas development off the coasts of Florida, California, and other states opposed to offshore drilling; and to slash funding for the Department of Energy, including funding to support renewable energy and energy efficiency, by more than 80%. The House of Representatives averaged one anti-environmental vote for every day the House was in session in 2011 and the first half of 2012. Of the 1,100 legislative roll call votes taken in the House since the beginning of 2011, 19% – almost one out of every five – were votes to undermine environmental protection. During these roll calls, 94% of Republican members voted for the anti-environment position, while 87% of Democratic members voted for the pro-environment position.

The report explains that the oil and gas industry is the largest beneficiary of the numerous Republican votes to dismantle environmental protections. Perhaps the oil and gas industry stands to profit in the short term, but what about the cost of environmental destruction in the long term? House Republicans have voted to undermine The Clean Air Act that was signed into law in 1970 by President Nixon. According to an EPA full report, the benefits of the Clean Air Act outweigh the costs by a factor of four to one. In 2010, according to EPA, the Clean Air Act:

saved over 160,000 lives; avoided more than 100,000 hospital visits; prevented millions of cases of respiratory problems, including bronchitis and asthma; enhanced productivity by preventing 13 million lost workdays; and kept kids healthy and in school, avoiding 3.2 million lost school days due to respiratory illness and other diseases caused or exacerbated by air pollution.

In addition, House Republicans have voted to remove protections for public lands, fish and wildlife. These are areas that contain scenic wonders as well as endangered species.

America’s public lands and resources also supported two million jobs and generated $363 billion in revenue in 2010. Yet House Republicans voted 39 times to weaken environmental protections on public lands in 2011 and the first half of 2012.

Why would, and how could, anyone vote to destroy the national parks? The litany continues:

•77 votes to undermine Clean Air Act protections, including votes to repeal the health-based standards that are the heart of the Clean Air Act and to block EPA regulation of toxic mercury and other harmful emissions from power plants, incinerators, industrial boilers, cement plants, and mining operations. • 39 votes to weaken protection of public lands and wildlife, including votes to halt reviews of public lands for possible wilderness designations and to remove protections for salmon, wolves, sea turtles, and other species. • 37 votes to block action to address climate change, including votes to overturn EPA’s scientific findings that climate change endangers human health and welfare; to block EPA from regulating carbon pollution from power plants, oil refineries, and vehicles; to prevent the United States from participating in international climate negotiations; and even to cut funding for basic climate science. • 31 votes to undermine Clean Water Act protections, including votes to strip EPA of authority to set water quality standards and enforce limits on industrial discharges; to repeal EPA’s authority to stop mountaintop removal mining disposal; and to block EPA from protecting headwaters and wetlands that flow into navigable waters.

Is the current House of Representatives looking to win a world record for voting to put the environment on a fast track to destruction? The full report is here (PDF), if you can even stand to read it.

The Potentially Profitable New Arctic Zone

4:34 am in Uncategorized by Crane-Station

If you see a web page not available error message on the video, please refresh the page.

As countries surrounding the freshly exposed waters in the Arctic region are poised to claim the areas for commercial fishing and other exploits, more than 2000 scientists have signed an open letter begging for a moratorium on the use of natural resources in the area, until ecological studies are completed. The warming climate trend has melted a 2.8 million km square of ice in an international waters area, and raised policy concerns.

In a document titled Expanding the EU’s Institutional Capacities
in the Arctic Region
Policy Briefing and Key Recommendations
, Roderick Kefferpütz & Danila Bochkarev state:

According to the recent U.S. Geological Survey, the region holds significant oil and natural gas reserves. Melting ice cover would facilitate the exploitation of these resources and open up access to fish stocks and particularly new shipping routes, which promise shorter distances for trade between
Europe and East Asia. On the other hand, the melting of the Arctic’s ice cap, while increasing the region’s geopolitical and geo-economic importance, significantly exacerbates its environmental fragility, threatens the traditional way of life of the indigenous population and increases the potential for conflict in the region.

What countries stand to profit from Arctic ice melt? Kefferpütz and Bochkarev explain:

Besides the Arctic 5 countries (A5) that encircle the North Pole (United States, Canada, Russia, Norway, Denmark and Greenland), the European Union has signalled a clear interest in the region.
Commissioners Piebalgs and Borg have both stressed the need to tap the region’s natural resources while the EU’s High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, acknowledged the Arctic in his recent report on climate change and international security.

The authors point out that the mixture of power and resources could well result in militarization of the new Arctic zone, meaning that climate change and international security will likely be connected in the future. China and Japan are also involved, with Japan funding research for Arctic-class tankers. Legal issues, area governance and regulations are complex and will likely be the topic of concern and discussion among policymakers and international lawyers. Currently, no clear regulations are in place.

Meanwhile, the newly exposed area contains a new and fragile ecosystem. Scientists have insufficient data at this point on what is in the ecosystem, let alone the impact of removing what is there through commercial fishing, for example.

The authors note that the New Arctic zone has fish stocks, metals and likely the world’s largest untapped hydrocarbon (oil) reserves. They also predict “Heavy militarisation, a relic of the Cold War, remains an important challenge for the foreseeable future, particularly in the context of policies pursued by Russia, the U.S. and Canada.”

Will the scientists be kicked to the curb in the name of money? Will the Arctic be kicked to the curb in the name of money?

Sources:

http://www.oceansnorth.org/arctic-fisheries-letter

http://www.boell.ru/downloads/Arctic_Web-Version-3.pdf

http://blogs.nature.com/news/2012/04/scientists-call-for-no-fishin-zone-in-arctic-waters.html

Should Nature Photographers Intervene?

8:10 am in Uncategorized by Crane-Station

This is a video of desert elephants from BBC’s Planet Earth series:

Nature photographers observe and record nature events that can involve risk. I own the DVD series BBC Planet Earth and, in one of the segments, they explain a general hands-off no-intervention policy. This policy must make the photographer’s job painful at times. For example, in one of the elephant segments, an elephant becomes separated from the pack, and we see the elephant wander off, lost and thirsty.

I am unable to find the clip with the lost elephant on YouTube. While I understand and accept a no-intervention policy, I must say that this has got to be very difficult for the photographers. That said, I do believe that their policy is somewhat flexible, because they did rescue a penguin chick from a hole, while the distressed parent penguins watched. They may have also assisted the lost elephant. I would have, but I do not know if it would have been right or wrong to do so.

Question: Should nature photographers adopt a strict policy, or should they intervene sometimes?

The BBC Planet Earth series was one of the best gifts I have ever received. It is absolutely beautiful and, at times, heartbreaking.

Here is a lovely BBC clip about elephant calves learning to drink, posted eight months ago: