‘Scientists studying dolphin behavior have suggested they could be the most intelligent creatures on Earth after humans, saying the size of their brains in relation to body size is larger than that of our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, and their behaviors suggest complex intelligence. One scientist said they should therefore be treated as “non-human persons” and granted rights as individuals.
The behavioral studies showed dolphins (especially the bottlenose) have distinct personalities and self-awareness, and they can think about the future. The research also confirmed dolphins have complex social structures, with individuals co-operating to solve difficult problems or to round up shoals of fish to eat, and with new behaviors being passed from one dolphin to another.’
by ROD MINCHIN
‘A former RSPCA inspector who spoke out about working for the charity has been found dead at home.
Dawn Aubrey-Ward, 43, accused the RSPCA of unnecessarily killing animals during an interview with a newspaper last year.
Ms Aubrey-Ward, who by her own admission suffered from “severe depression”, had worked for the charity as an inspector for two years.
In an article in the Mail on Sunday last December she claimed she was forced to put down healthy pets because they could not be rehomed.
After the interview was published, the RSPCA issued a statement denying allegations that healthy animals were put to sleep “routinely” and described Ms Aubrey-Ward as a “disgruntled former employee”.’
‘Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) on Monday announced he would veto controversial legislation that would have made it harder to expose animal abuse.
[...] The so-called “ag gag” bill would have required that evidence of animal abuse be turned over to law enforcement within 48 hours or face criminal charges. The bill’s sponsors said the proposal would ensure animal cruelty was quickly investigated.
But groups like the Humane Society of the United States said the true purpose of the bill was to prevent undercover activists from exposing cruelty on factory farms’
by Cavan Sieczkowski
The Huffington Post
‘An elephant in Zimbabwe reportedly trampled a poacher who was attempting to kill the wild animal.
Solomon Manjoro, a suspected poacher, was trampled to death by an elephant in Charara National Park in Gatshe-Gatshe, Kariba, according to the state-run Zimbabwe newspaper The Sunday Mail. Manjoro and his friend Noluck Tafuruka are said to have visited the park between April 19 and 26, armed with two rifles, for the purpose of hunting. The deceased poacher is thought to have tried to shoot the elephant before he was trampled.’
‘The UN has been working on ways to end world hunger for decades, but their newest idea does not involve economics, politics, or even food: The organization is now advising people to eat more insects.
Insect farming is “one of the many ways to address food and feed security,” the agency said in a 200-page report released at a news conference at the UN’s Rome headquarters. The report said that insects are “extremely efficient” in converting feed into edible meat for humans. It added that insects are“particularly important as a food supplement for undernourished children.”
University biologists agree, claiming that certain types of beetles, ants, crickets, and grasshoppers offer nearly as much protein per gram as lean red meat or broiled fish. Crickets need 12 times less feed than cattle to produce the same amount of protein. Insects can also be rich in copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and zinc. They are also a source of fiber.’
‘Springfield, Colo., farmer Ryan Loflin on Monday planted the nation’s first industrial hemp crop in almost 60 years.
Loflin’s plans to grow hemp already have been chronicled, and Monday’s planting attracted the attention of more media in southeastern Colorado and a documentary film crew.
Hemp is genetically related to marijuana but contains little or no THC, the psychoactive substance in marijuana. Hemp has dozens of uses in food, cosmetics, clothing and industrial materials.
Its cultivation in small test plots became legal last year under a Colorado law. The passage of Amendment 64 in November allowed commercial growing, even though hemp, like marijuana, is illegal under federal law.’
by Doyle Rice
‘The USA in the past 12 months has seen the fewest number of tornadoes since at least 1954, and the death tolls from the dangerous storms have dropped dramatically since 2011.
Just two years after a ferocious series of tornado outbreaks killed hundreds of Americans, the USA so far this year is enjoying one of the calmest years on record for twisters. Through Thursday, tornadoes have killed only three Americans in 2013; by the end of May 2011, 543 Americans had died.
The seven people killed from May 2012 to April 2013 is the fewest in a 12-month period since five people died in September 1899-August 1900, according to Harold Brooks, research meteorologist with the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla.
The year-to-date count of tornadoes is probably approaching the lower 10% of all years on record, said Greg Carbin, warning coordination meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman.’
‘An 83-year-old nun who broke into a Tennessee depleted uranium storage facility in 2012, exposing a massive security hole at the nation’s only facility used to store radioactive conventional munitions, was convicted Wednesday and sentenced to a term of up to 20 years in prison.
Sister Megan Rice and two other peace activists were convicted of “invasion of a nuclear facility” in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, even though investigators admitted they did not get close to any actual nuclear material. The three activists are part of a group called “Transform Now Plowshares,” a reference to the book of Isaiah, which says, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares.”
As they invaded the Y-12 National Security Complex at Oak Ridge, a perimeter fence was cut, several surfaces were spray-painted, banners were hung and activists read from the Bible. They also spread human blood on several surfaces, saying its use was symbolic, meant to remind people “of the horrific spilling of blood by nuclear weapons.”
Depleted uranium munitions like the kind stored at the facility Sister Rice targeted are blamed for some of the worst birth defects and soaring cancer rates seen in post-war Iraq, particularly in the city of Fallujah following the siege of 2004, in which U.S. soldiers killed thousands of civilians.’
by Robert Kunzig
‘An instrument near the summit of Mauna Loa in Hawaii has recorded a long-awaited climate milestone: the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere there has exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 55 years of measurement—and probably more than 3 million years of Earth history.
The last time the concentration of Earth’s main greenhouse gas reached this mark, horses and camels lived in the high Arctic. Seas were at least 30 feet higher—at a level that today would inundate major cities around the world.
The planet was about 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer. But the Earth then was in the final stage of a prolonged greenhouse epoch, and CO2 concentrations were on their way down. This time, 400 ppm is a milepost on a far more rapid uphill climb toward an uncertain climate future.’
Abby Martin talks about BP’s license to pollute, highlighting irresponsible practices that have led to massive oil spill and resulted in only minor penalties against the company. All the while, BP receives new government contracts and is reporting record profits.
‘In apparent contradiction to its stated intention to protect pollinators and find solutions to the current pollinator crisis, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the unconditional registration of the new insecticide sulfoxaflor, which the agency classifies as highly toxic to honey bees. Despite warnings and concerns raised by beekeepers and environmental groups, sulfoxaflor will further endanger bees and beekeeping. The U.S. EPA continues to put industry interests first to exacerbate an already dire pollinator crisis.
In January, the agency proposed to impose conditional registration on sulfoxaflor due to inconclusive and outstanding data on long-term honey bee brood impacts. At that time, the agency requested two additional studies—a study on residue impacts, and a field test to assess impacts to honey bee colonies and brood development. This week, the EPA granted full unconditional registration to sulfoxaflor stating that there were no outstanding data, and that even though sulfoxaflor is highly toxic to bees it does not demonstrate substantial residual toxicity to exposed bees, nor are “catastrophic effects” on bees expected from its use. While sulfoxaflor exhibited behavioral and navigational abnormalities in honey bees, the EPA downplays these effects as “short-lived.” The agency says it has reviewed 400 studies in collaboration with its counterparts in Australia and Canada to support its decision. However, these studies do not seem to be currently available in the public scientific literature.’
by Fiona Harvey
‘The Prince of Wales has criticised “corporate lobbyists” and climate change sceptics for turning the earth into a “dying patient”, in his most outspoken attack yet on the world’s failure to tackle global warming.
He attacked businesses who failed to care for the environment, and compared the current generation to a doctor taking care of a critically ill patient.
“If you think about the impact of climate change, [it should be how] a doctor would deal with the problem,” he told an audience of government ministers, from the UK and abroad, as well as businesspeople and scientists. “A scientific hypothesis is tested to absolute destruction, but medicine can’t wait. If a doctor sees a child with a fever, he can’t wait for [endless] tests. He has to act on what is there.”
He added: “The risk of delay is so enormous that we can’t wait until we are absolutely sure the patient is dying.”’
by Valerie Brown
‘The most toxic and voluminous nuclear waste in the U.S.—208 million liters —sits in decaying underground tanks at the Hanford Site (a nuclear reservation) in southeastern Washington State. It accumulated there from the middle of World War II, when the Manhattan Project invented the first nuclear weapon, to 1987, when the last reactor shut down. The federal government’s current attempt at a permanent solution for safely storing that waste for centuries—the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant here—has hit a major snag in the form of potential chain reactions, hydrogen explosions and leaks from metal corrosion. And the revelation last February that six more of the storage tanks are currently leaking has further ramped up the pressure for resolution.’
by Damian Carrington
‘From the great yellow bumblebee in Scotland to the potter flower bee clinging on in a few sites on England’s south coast, many of Britain’s rarest wild bees are in deep trouble, according to a report published on Thursday. The study blames intensive farming and urban sprawl which have decimated the flowery meadows that bees feed in as the key factors.
“The way we farm and use land across the UK has pushed many rare bees into serious decline,” said bee expert Prof Simon Potts, at the University of Reading, who led the study commissioned by Friends of the Earth. “I’m calling on the government to act swiftly to save these iconic creatures which are essential to a thriving environment and our food supply”.
The report focused on12 key species across Britain. It found the great yellow bumblebee has disappeared from 80% of its historic UK range and now relies on the unique machair habitat in western Scotland, a flower-rich grassland. On the south coast of England, the range of the solitary potter flower bee, which digs burrows to lay eggs in, has also shrunk dramatically. Britain’s rarest solitary bee, the large mason bee, is on the brink of extinction in Wales, the report found.’
by EDWARD WONG
The New York Times
‘[...] Levels of deadly pollutants up to 40 times the recommended exposure limit in Beijing and other cities have struck fear into parents and led them to take steps that are radically altering the nature of urban life for their children.
Parents are confining sons and daughters to their homes, even if it means keeping them away from friends. Schools are canceling outdoor activities and field trips. Parents with means are choosing schools based on air-filtration systems, and some international schools have built gigantic, futuristic-looking domes over sports fields to ensure healthy breathing.
Face masks are now part of the urban dress code. Parents have scrambled to buy air purifiers. IQAir, a Swiss company, makes purifiers that cost up to $3,000 here and are displayed in shiny showrooms.’
West Coast Native News
‘A ship struck a barge fleet early Friday on the Mississippi River near Alton, setting off a
domino effect that broke more than a dozen barges loose and ruptured a hose that spilled 300 gallons of crude oil.
Lt. Colin Fogarty of the U.S. Coast Guard said the good news is that river traffic was halted for only about an hour Friday as river workers scrambled to round up the wayward barges.
“These things can result in day-long or week-long closures, but the river industry kept it from turning into a larger event,” Fogarty said. “It didn’t matter what company they worked for. They worked together and gathered those barges and secured them.”
In addition, a team from the Coast Guard is inspecting the shoreline and so far has seen no sign that the oil spill is causing problems, Fogarty said. He characterized 300 gallons as a “minor spill.”’
by John Vidal
‘The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached 399.72 parts per million (ppm) and is likely to pass the symbolically important 400ppm level for the first time in the next few days.
[...] CO2 atmospheric levels have been steadily rising for 200 years, registering around 280ppm at the start of the industrial revolution and 316ppm in 1958 when the Mauna Loa observatory started measurements. The increase in the global burning of fossil fuels is the primary cause of the increase.
[...] The last time CO2 levels were so high was probably in the Pliocene epoch, between 3.2m and 5m years ago, when Earth’s climate was much warmer than today.’
Editors Note: Dr Nafeez Ahmed is director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development and author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation: And How to Save It. There is also an accompanying documentary for Crisis of Civilisation which you can view HERE.
by Nafeez Ahmed
The meeting is bringing together Nasa’s acting chief scientist, Gale Allen, the director of the US National Science Foundation, Cora Marett, as well as representatives from the US Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon.
This is the latest indication that US officials are increasingly concerned about the international and domestic security implications of climate change.
Senior scientists advising the US government at the meeting include 10 Arctic specialists, including marine scientist Prof Carlos Duarte, director of the Oceans Institute at the University of Western Australia.’
by Claudia Assis
‘Norway’s ruling party gave its go-ahead to plans to open up oil exploration and drilling in an environmentally sensitive Arctic area, a move fiercely opposed for years by environmentalists and fishermen.
Norway’s Labor Party authorized an impact study for exploration in the waters around the Lofoten Islands just above the Arctic Circle. Environmental and tourism groups have said it threatens the postcard-perfect area that is also home to rich cod fishing grounds.
[...] the Labor Party said it would take another vote in 2015 before any actual drilling could begin.’
Nuclear Waste Storage Management Company Got Tens Of Millions In Govt Bonuses While Ignoring Leaks ~ K5
‘While questions over the severity of ExxonMobil’s March 29 oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas still remain, the same pipeline has now ruptured, this time to the north, in Missouri.
The 70-year-old Pegasus pipeline, which released thousands of barrels of tar sands oil in Arkansas, has now caused another, albeit far smaller incident in Ripley County, Missouri, 200 miles north of Mayflower, Arkansas.
A resident notified ExxonMobil after spotting a patch of oil and dead vegetation in their yard outside the town of Doniphan, according to Reuters.
Luckily, unlike the spill that is still ongoing in Mayflower, the latest breach seems so far to be minor, with an estimated one barrel of crude oil having been leaked. According to an Exxon spokeswoman the cleanup operation there was “close to completion.”’
by Aislinn Laing
‘The 15 threatened animals were shot dead for their horns last month in the Mozambican part of Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which also covers South Africa and Zimbabwe.
They were thought to be the last of an estimated 300 that roamed through the special conservation area when it was established as “the world’s greatest animal kingdom” in a treaty signed by the three countries’ then presidents in 2002.
The latest deaths, and Mozambique’s failure to tackle poaching, has prompted threats by South Africa to re-erect fences between their reserves.’
by SHAWN MCCARTHY
The Globe and Mail
‘After vowing to take on radical environmentalists determined to stop the Northern Gateway pipeline, the Harper government has released a new anti-terrorism strategy that targets eco-extremists as threats.
With his announcement this week, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has increased the concern among environmentalists that Ottawa regards them as implacable adversaries to be monitored and battled, rather than well-meaning advocates to be consulted.’
by Mitch Blacher
ABC 10 News (San Diego)
‘An inside source gave Team 10 a picture snapped inside the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) showing plastic bags, masking tape and broom sticks used to stem a massive leaky pipe.
San Onofre owner Southern California Edison (SCE), confirms the picture was taken inside Unit Three, but did not say when. The anonymous source said the picture was taken in December 2012.
Unit Three is the same unit that leaked radiation in January 2012. SONGS has been shutdown since then as a precaution.’
by George Monbiot
‘Every society has topics it does not discuss. These are the issues which challenge its comfortable assumptions. They are the ones that remind us of mortality, which threaten the continuity we anticipate, which expose our various beliefs as irreconcilable.
Among them are the facts which sink the cosy assertion, that (in David Cameron’s words) “there need not be a tension between green and growth”.
At a reception in London recently I met an extremely rich woman, who lives, as most people with similar levels of wealth do, in an almost comically unsustainable fashion: jetting between various homes and resorts in one long turbo-charged holiday. When I told her what I did, she responded: “Oh I agree, the environment is so important. I’m crazy about recycling.” But the real problem, she explained, was “people breeding too much”.
I agreed that population is an element of the problem, but argued that consumption is rising much faster and – unlike the growth in the number of people – is showing no signs of levelling off. She found this notion deeply offensive: I mean the notion that human population growth is slowing. When I told her that birth rates are dropping almost everywhere, and that the world is undergoing a slow demographic transition, she disagreed violently: she has seen, on her endless travels, how many children “all those people have”.
As so many in her position do, she was using population as a means of disavowing her own impacts. The issue allowed her to transfer responsibility to others: people at the opposite end of the economic spectrum. It allowed her to pretend that her shopping and flying and endless refurbishments of multiple homes are not a problem. Recycling and population: these are the amulets people clasp in order not to see the clash between protecting the environment and rising consumption.
In a similar way, we have managed, with the help of a misleading global accounting system, to overlook one of the gravest impacts of our consumption. This too has allowed us to blame foreigners – particularly poorer foreigners – for the problem.’