tagged w/ World Heritage Site
Gorilla family in Virunga National Park https://www.rainforest-rescue.org/uploads/photos/teaser_small/kongo-virunga-np-gorilla-baby.jpg
The dense montane rainforest in the Virunga National Park is one of the last remaining habitats of the endangered mountain gorillas. Virunga is located in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is the oldest national park in Africa. The park, about twice the size of Rhode Island, and along the shores of Lake Edward, was designated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. In addition to the gorillas, it is home to other endangered species. Now the national park, the gorillas and the people living along the lake face an existential threat.
In late 2011, the UK-based oil company SOCO was granted exploitation rights for oil blocks in the eastern part of the Congo. Up until then, an exploitation moratorium had been in place for the country’s sensitive rainforest regions. Sixty percent of Block 5 covered by SOCO fall within the borders of Virunga. As Ephrem Balole of the park administration said: “The company has received a permission to start exploration in the park by presidential decree. However, law prohibits the exploitation of natural resources within the park.”
The park administration and the local population have joined forces in an attempt to prevent the drilling, which would destroy large parts of the Virunga rainforest and also threaten Lake Edward. The lake provides the livelihood of many people in the region. The UNESCO has issued a sharply worded note of protest to the Congolese government, declaring the oil drilling to be in violation of international law. The EU is providing funding for Virunga, but to date, only a small group of members of the European Parliament has issued a resolution against the drilling activities planned in the park.
Please write to the responsible institutions and demand the preservation of Virunga National Park *PLEASE READ, X-POST & SIGN*https://www.rainforest-rescue.org/mailalert/900/dr-congo-oil-company-threatens-gorilla-... more
Australia could let mining magnates build one of the world's largest coal ports on top of the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem -- opening access to 8 billion extra tonnes of planet-killing coal and risking the survival of this entire amazing world heritage site.
Activists in Australia are pressuring the government and UNESCO is speaking out, but a bank owned by the US public is key to the project. Global pressure on the US bank now could bring international shame and spotlight environmental issues in the middle of the US election season. If they pull out, the entire crazy plan could be shut down for good.
Let’s up the pressure on the bank’s chairman Fred Hochberg and demand he halt funding for Great Barrier Coal. We have only days to act -- he's in Australia for meetings right now. Click to join the call to save the reef and Avaaz will deliver our voices to Hochberg!
More at the linkAustralia could let mining magnates build one of the world's largest coal ports... more
In this Travel Bug Robert episode, Robert travels to Bruges in Belgium. An hour outside of Brussels can do wonders. The city center of Bruges is something out of a fairy tale. Well, if a fairy tale had hordes of tourists jamming the quaint, cobbled streets. The entire city center is a World Heritage Site, and with good reason. The 12th Century architecture is some of the best preserved in the world. Walking around, it feels like Williamsburg, Virginia or a World Showcase pavilion in Epcot. The only difference is Bruges isn't fake.
Get more travel tips and videos at www.travelbugrobert.comIn this Travel Bug Robert episode, Robert travels to Bruges in Belgium. An hour... more
A Chinese ship that spent nine days stranded on the Great Barrier Reef gouged a three-kilometre (two-mile) scar in the coral that could take decades to recover, a top expert said on Tuesday.
David Wachenfeld, chief scientist at the body overseeing the heritage-listed marine park, said the Shen Neng 1 coal carrier had been grinding against and crushing the reef after it veered off course and smashed into it on April 3.
Officials have expressed anger over the incident and accused the crew of the ship, which was refloated late on Monday and towed away, of taking an illegal route.
"This is by far the largest ship grounding scar we have seen on the Great Barrier Reef to date," Wachenfeld told public broadcaster ABC.
"This vessel did not make an impact in one place and rest there and then was pulled off. This scar is more in the region of three kilometres long and up to 250 metres (yards) wide."
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called the accident, which also leaked about two tonnes of fuel oil into the pristine seas, an "absolute outrage".
"It is still an absolute outrage that this vessel could've landed on the Great Barrier Reef," he said. "We will leave no stone unturned when it comes to finding out how that happened."
An approaching storm hurried authorities into refloating the 230-metre (750 feet) ship -- the length of two football pitches -- after nightfall on Monday. They pumped compressed air into its bunkers and pulled it free using tugboats.
Officials said the rescue had been carried out without adding to the initial oil spill, which created a three-kilometre slick.
Divers were due to assess damage to the ship, still carrying 68,000 tonnes of China-bound coal, which has been towed to a nearby island.
But concern on Tuesday focused on the plight of the reef, which was also left plastered with toxic anti-fouling paint from the ship's hull.
Divers "have found significant scarring and coral damage. They've also found quite a lot of anti-fouling (paint) spread across the reef," Russell Reichelt, chairman of the marine park authority, told ABC radio.
"It is a concern because it's designed to be toxic and stop things growing on ships. We've already seen observations where anti-fouling paint that's been scraped off onto the reef is killing corals in its vicinity."
Officials have promised to investigate allegations that ships have been taking short-cuts through the world's biggest reef, which covers 344,000 square kilometres (137,600 square miles) off the east coast and is a major tourist draw.A Chinese ship that spent nine days stranded on the Great Barrier Reef gouged a... more
In the year 1750, over 98 percent of coral reefs (magenta dots) grew in optimal conditions with aragonite saturation greater than 3.5 (blue colors). Such water is rapidly disappearing and will be gone in several decades if current carbon dioxide emission trends continue. Atmospheric CO2 levels are 280 ppm and 550 ppm for years 1750 and 2050, respectively.
As a child I never would have thought that the Great Barrier Reef of all places would have the possibility of becoming extinct. I truly do hope this report is wrong, but based on the fact that we humans will more than likely do nothing but continue to argue about this instead of really doing something, I'm beginning to think it is right. And yes, we can do something about it.In the year 1750, over 98 percent of coral reefs (magenta dots) grew in optimal... more
When are we going to hear the roar of the American people demanding Washington Dc wake the hell up and stop touting some bogus 80% by 2050 emissions reduction line when it is obvious that will be too late? However, the price of gas is supposedly going down now so conveniently before 'election' day and with the current global financial crisis so conveniently placed where it is I suppose dealing with climate change will now be an afterthought to governments that really weren't going to do much about it anyway.
To me this all seems surreal. It is like slowing down to watch a car wreck and then speeding up once you get by to continue on your way because the thrill of seeing it is gone because you really didn't care if anyone was hurt, it was just exciting to look at. 'Oh my, the Greenland ice caps are melting... how terrible... look at that video... oh boy, something to talk about today...then... nothing to see here, move on... let's look at pictures of Jamie Lynn Spears breastfeeding instead.' The Earth is speaking to us, crying out to us. The signs are everywhere. And we continue driving down the road turning our radios up so as not to be bothered, thinking someone will take care of that; or, it won't melt enough in my lifetime to make any difference; or, it is all natural or the will of God so why fight it. I just do not know what else can be said anymore.
We need to be scaling more chimneys and unfurling more banners, and standing around more fossil fuel plants, and shouting even louder, and writing relentlessly to newspapers and media and badgering representatives in Dc and elsewhere, and we need to be telling ALL presidential candidates that "clean coal' is not the answer. We need to pull over and get out of the car and do something besides gawking at the tragedy unfolding before our eyes.
From the article:
Flying low over the vast, white expanse of Greenland's Ilulissat glacier, one of the biggest and most active in the world, the effects of global warming in the Arctic are painfully visible as the ice melts at an alarming rate.
The helicopter lands on a granite cliff overlooking the Ilulissat ice fjord, or Kangia in Greenlandic, offering a magnificent, panoramic view of elaborate ice formations as they float towards the sea at a rate of two meters (yards) an hour, spilling massive icebergs into the open water.
Off in the distance, huge boulders of ice break off of the imposing Ilulissat glacier, more commonly known by its Greenlandic name Sermeq Kujalleq, creating a thunderous roar as the glacier recedes in one of the planet's most striking examples of global warming.
"The ice in some places on the coast is now melting four times faster than before," says Abbas Khan, a Dane who studies the movements of Greenland's glaciers at the Danish Space Centre.
The Ilulissat glacier and icefjord have been on UNESCO's world heritage list since 2004 and is the most visited site in Greenland, its ice and pools of emerald-blue water admired by tourists and studied by scientists and politicians around the world.
The glacier is the most active in the northern hemisphere, producing 10 percent of Greenland's icebergs, or some 20 million tonnes of ice per day.
But the glacier is in bad shape, experts warn.
Recent estimates by US scientists who study NASA's satellite images daily show that it is rapidly disintegrating.
It has shrunk more than 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) in the past five years, and is now smaller than it has ever been in the 150 years of observation and topographical data.
According to professor Jason Box and his team from the department of geography at Ohio State University, the Ilulissat glacier may not have been this small in 6,000 years.
more at the link
http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielheaf/1343411263/When are we going to hear the roar of the American people demanding Washington Dc wake... more
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) -- More than 1,000 soldiers have withdrawn from a national park that has been on the front lines of fighting in eastern Congo, but rebels still occupy a sector that is home to some of the world's last remaining mountain gorillas, officials said Wednesday.
The decision to move out the government troops and their families -- about 6,000 people in all -- came after negotiations between Virunga National Park Director Emmanuel de Merode and Gen. Vainqueur Mayala, the army's commanding officer, de Merode said in a statement.
The move aims to "reduce human presence in the area and preserve the flora and fauna of Africa's oldest national park," de Merode said.
The reserve -- home to endangered gorillas and hippos and also containing active volcanoes -- is located in a lawless swath of Congo adjacent to neighboring Rwanda and Uganda that the government has struggled to control for years. Established in 1925 as Africa's first national park, it was classified as a U.N. World Heritage Site in 1979.
Congolese and Rwandan rebels and militia have hidden in the park's dense forests for more than a decade and used parts of it as bases to launch attacks. Last week, the army and rebels led by Laurent Nkunda exchanged machine-gun and mortar fire outside the reserve in one of the fiercest clashes in the region this year.
"De-militarizing Virunga National Park remains our greatest and most difficult challenge. The Congolese National Army has taken the first step, which represents a major breakthrough at a time when the threats to the park have never been greater," de Merode said.
Congolese Col. David Kitenge said the army's occupation had been "strategic." The statement said the army had 10,000 soldiers in North Kivu province, about 10 percent of them in the park.
"We had to have a strong presence ... to safeguard the main road north of Goma," the regional capital, and prevent attacks by Rwandan and Congolese rebels, Kitenge said. "Today we wish to support the Congolese Wildlife Authority in their efforts."
Congo held its first democratic elections in more than four decades in 2006, and is still coping with the effects of a 1998-2002 war and Rwanda's 1994 genocide, which saw millions of hungry refugees -- including Rwandan militias who remain today -- spill across the border. Despite its vast mineral wealth, most people remain deeply poor and desperate.
Nkunda's rebels have been accused by wildlife officials of attacking gorillas in the past, but since last year they have taken tourists and some journalists on unauthorized visits to the rare animals.
Only about 700 mountain gorillas remain in the world, an estimated 380 of them in a range of volcanoes straddling Congo's borders with Uganda and Rwanda. Only 200 are believed to live on the Congo side of the border, about 72 of which have been used to contact with tourists or rangers. Ten of them were killed last year.
http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/09/03/congo.virungapark.ap/index.htmlDAKAR, Senegal (AP) -- More than 1,000 soldiers have withdrawn from a national park... more
Galapagos has recently been inscribed on the UNESCO's List of World Heritage in danger.
Many of the species on these islands are found nowhere else on Earth.
Pressure on the Galapagos' marine environment has become particularly intense. Export markets for sea cucumbers and lobster have led to an unsustainable increase in fishing.
Meet Macarron, the first fisherman in Galapagos who has hung up the nets and has become a diving instructor. This is one typical day in the life of Macarron.
Galapagos has recently been inscribed on the UNESCO's List of World Heritage in... more
4 years ago
The gardens of the Bahai faith - located in Haifa, Israel - have been added to the list of World Heritage Sites. Check out the photos of this beautiful place.The gardens of the Bahai faith - located in Haifa, Israel - have been added to the... more
Seen in cell-phone camera footage, handlers at the Wolong National Nature Reserve in China evacuated more than a dozen panda cubs just after the massive May 12 earthquake.Seen in cell-phone camera footage, handlers at the Wolong National Nature Reserve in... more
Washingtonians - and others with big egos - have a portrait fetish that is obscene especially when it involves taxpayers money.
Even half that nealry 50 grand could have been significant funding for the non-profit Native American and environment projects I volunteer for in northern Michigan.
More comment after a few sentences of the article and a look at this portrait:
Portrait Cost Indian Museum $48,500: Senators, Trustees Question Spending By Former Director
By James V. Grimaldi
Washington Post Staff Writer
W. Richard West Jr., the founding director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, spent $48,500 in museum funds to commission a portrait of himself.
The portrait of West by New York artist Burton Silverman hangs in the patrons' lounge on the fourth floor of the flagship museum, which is dedicated to the arts and culture of American Indians.
Silverman said West picked him after he saw a portrait Silverman had done of former Smithsonian secretary Robert McCormick Adams.
The Adams portrait, completed about a decade earlier, was smaller and cost about half as much.
Rest of the Washington Post story:
Native American on Native American crime - much like black on black crime - is especially insidious because so much good could have been done for First Nations peoples heritage with this wasted and misappropriated money.
It's also a crime against taxpayers and common decency.
Spending $48,500 on a self portrait is among the disgraceful financial crimes of W. Richard West Jr., the founding director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian.
For this crime to occur in the hallowed halls of the Smithsonian shows again thievery knows no class boundaries - and should be treated just as severely as the poor man who sticks a gun into the face of a 7-11 clerk.
The Smithsonian needs to be thoroughly audited from top to bottom as this is at least the second huge scandal to tarnish its once respected reputation.
No doubt it's only the tip of the fiduciary iceberg that's tearing through the Smithsonian's highbrow richly-protected hull.
I do volunteer work for several Native American related non-profits whose budgets are much smaller than even the cost of that disgraceful portrait.
And the suggestion that it could not have been painted by an American Indian artist is as laughable as it is sickening with a hint of racism against one's own culture.
Even the portrait stance is borrowed and unoriginal, as a buttoned-down Mr. West gazes thoughtfully off to the east, his coat hanging on a crooked forefinger and tossed over suspenders with his soft thumb and the remaining fingers forming the "OK" sign.
The Washington ego commands that a portrait much be painted to prove one's importance.
No doubt many law offices, banking institutions and the halls of officialdom are plastered with the self-aggrandizing crafty art.
Prior to the Polaroid, a self-portrait may have been necessary to preserve one's historic legacy but in today's world it's merely a measure of one's self-importance that is more often scoffed at than admired by those it's meant to impress. Perhaps, a modern definition of irony.
Maybe the next exhibit at the Smithsonian will be portraits of former executives doing the proverbial "perp walk" - cuffed and stuffed for perp-etuity. Washingtonians - and others with big egos - have a portrait fetish that is obscene... more