This is Professor Wangari Maathai. The first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The first Kenyan woman to earn a doctoral degree. An icon of Kenya’s democratic movement who repeatedly put not just her mind but also her body on the line in order to secure a better future for Kenyans and their natural environment. But Maathai’s standing in Kenya is definitely ambiguous. She is beloved by feminists and environmentalists, and tolerated by everyone else... Women are expected to look backwards on guidance on what it means to be “good” – where “good” is primarily defined by men – but not too good because that makes women less interesting to men. This was not Wangari Maathai.
California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth [New York Times]
A punishing drought is forcing a reconsideration of whether the aspiration of untrammeled growth that has for so long been the state’s engine has run against the limits of nature.California Water Use [New York Times] Are you affected? [New York Times] The Drought, explained. [New York Times Video] [more inside]
Some of the world’s most powerful conservationists are giving up on wilderness. They are making a big mistake [more inside]
On March 23, the floodgates of the Morelos Dam, near Yuma, Arizona opened, unleashing a three-day "pulse" into the dry Colorado River delta. The waters recently reached the Sea of Cortez, and a group of scientists and journalists were there to raft it. [more inside]
Accidental Rewilding - In places once thick with farms and cities, human dispossession and war has cleared the ground for nature to return
The forest had entered a cycle Tomaž had not seen before, in which many of the giants had perished. Some had died where they stood, and remained upright, reamed with beetle and woodpecker holes, sprouting hoof fungus and razor strop. They looked as if a whisper of wind could blow them down. Others now stretched across the rocks and craters, sometimes blocking our path, sometimes suspended above our heads. Among the trunks lying on the ground, some were so thick that I could scarcely see over them. Where they had fallen, thickets of saplings crowded into the light. Seeing the profusion of fungus and insect life the dead wood harboured, I was reminded of the old ecologists’ aphorism: there is more life in dead trees than there is in living trees. The tidy-minded forestry so many nations practise deprives many species of their habitats.by George Monbiot [more inside]
DNA analysis has confirmed the death, by poaching, of the last Javan rhino in Vietnam. This marks the official extinction of the Vietnamese subspecies of Javan rhinoceros. The entire species is now represented by just 35 individuals from the Indonesian subspecies, all of whom reside in Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia.
“One of the illusions of life is that the present hour is not the critical, decisive hour.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
On Saturday, March 29, 2008, at 8 pm in each time zone cities around the world will go dark: Sydney will follow Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra; In the Philippines, in Manila the lights will go out; Bangkok in Thailand; Tel Aviv in Israel; Suva in Fiji; Copenhagen in Denmark; In North America, Atlanta followed by Chicago, Toronto, Phoenix and San Francisco will be black. It’s Earth Hour. [more inside]
Joan Root, who spent most of her life in Kenya, was a noted naturalist and filmmaker (along with her (former) husband. She was murdered by gunmen at point-blank range in January, 2006 in her home on Lake Naivasha. Lake Naivasha is the only fresh water source in the Great Rift Valley, and has become increasingly endangered by pollution and overuse for irrigation, and Root spent considerable time fighting to protect it. Today, a Kenyan magistrate acquitted the four suspects in her murder, calling the testimony of 13 witnesses "defective".
During the 19th century, thousands of men took to the seas to hunt for whales. The indigenous peoples of the Arctic practiced whaling for several millennia before that. Technological change and changes in mores have reduced the whaling industry to a heavily regulated shadow of what it used to be. But it hasn’t disappeared altogether. Even now, at the dawn of the 21st century, ships prowl the seas in search of a spout or a gigantic fin. A few months ago, Outside magazine published an account of a whale hunt aboard the Norwegian ship Sofie.
Fun Friday link it is not. unless you like Rivers on Fire! Eco-devastation! "We Californians are really not very good conservationists - we're very good preservationists," he said. "Conservation means you use resources well and responsibly. Preservation means you are rich enough to set aside things you want and buy them from someone else." Ouch. I don't think environmental issues are ever as simple as some would like to believe. We live in a complex, interconnected world and this excellent--long--piece has given me a lot to think about. Ironic, in the beginning the author talks about finding a paper suitable to Print the article...i say, just Post it. Who needs paper for an article about resource conservation?
"There was only one giant golden spruce in the world, and, until a man named Grant Hadwin took a chainsaw to it,
"There was only one giant golden spruce in the world, and, until a man named Grant Hadwin took a chainsaw to it, in 1997, it had stood for more than three hundred years in a steadily shrinking patch of old-growth forest in Port Clements, on the banks of the Yakoun River, in the Queen Charlotte Islands." A fascinating read, from this week's New Yorker.
I hope you'll consider participating in the "Roll Your Own" Blackout tonight. Just shut off all the lights and appliances that you (reasonably and safely) can between seven and ten p.m. your time.