Scientists from WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society), the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), the Environment Society of Oman, and other organizations have made a fascinating discovery in the northern Indian Ocean: humpback whales inhabiting the Arabian Sea are the most genetically distinct humpback whales in the world and may be the most isolated whale population on earth. The results suggest they have remained separate from other humpback whale populations for perhaps 70,000 years, extremely unusual in a species famed for long distance migrations.
The tradition of the Capitol Christmas Tree, or The People’s Tree, began in 1964 when Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John W. McCormack (D-MA) placed a live Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn. This tree lived three years before succumbing to wind and root damage. In 1970, the Capitol Architect asked the U.S. Forest Service to provide a Christmas tree. Since then, a different national forest has been chosen each year to provide The People’s Tree. This national forest also works with state forests to provide companion trees that are smaller Christmas trees for offices in Washington, D.C.
This year, the 88-foot-tall white spruce tree was harvested from the Chippewa National Forest in northeastern Minnesota by Jim Scheff who won the Logger of the Year award from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI).
That begs the question how can a logger win an award from a sustainability group?
Earlier this year whales won a historic victory when the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan’s scientific whaling program in the Antarctic was illegal and ordered it be ended, but Japan is back at it with plans to continue under a new proposal. Despite a worldwide moratorium on commercial whaling that was put in place in 1986, Japan has continued with annual whale hunts that it claims are being conducted to collect scientific data. Whale advocates, however, have long argued that Japan has been abusing a loophole in the moratorium that allows for lethal scientific research whaling. Fortunately for whales, the court agreed, ruling that Japan’s program breached international law, had no justifications for the quotas it was setting and that it had failed to consider non-lethal alternatives under it’s JARPA II research program.
A comprehensive, 21-year analysis of the fastest-melting region of Antarctica has found that the melt rate of glaciers there has tripled during the last decade. The glaciers in the Amundsen Sea Embayment in West Antarctica are hemorrhaging ice faster than any other part of Antarctica and are the most significant Antarctic contributors to sea level rise. This study is the first to evaluate and reconcile observations from four different measurement techniques to produce an authoritative estimate of the amount and the rate of loss over the last two decades.
In 2009, China's estimated 300 million smokers consumed a staggering 2.3 trillion cigarettes: more than the number smoked in the next four top tobacco-consuming countries—Indonesia, Japan, Russia, and the United States—combined. The health toll is enormous as well: Tobacco causes roughly 1 million deaths in China each year, including 100,000 fatalities blamed on secondhand smoke, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). If tobacco use is not curtailed, WHO warns, China’s death toll could rise to 3 million each year by 2050.
The nation’s capital, Beijing, is taking that chilling message to heart. On 28 November, the Beijing Municipal Government adopted a ban on smoking in all indoor public places—"with no loopholes and no exemptions," crowed Bernhard Schwartländer, the WHO representative in China, in a press release. The new law will take effect on 1 June 2015.
Now that the organic marketing concept has been around for a few generations, you’d think it would be easier to win consumers over. According to a recent survey by BFG Consulting it is. With the plethora of stores that now handle everything from organic bananas to pesticide-free, organically made canned food, today’s shoppers have little problem tracking down that “back-to-basics” version in or around the produce isle.
The only thing is, do they really know what it is? Would they be able to explain what it is that makes it stand out from regularly grown food? According to BFG’s research, not necessarily.