Greenpeace’s Efforts Lead to Fishing Changes in Nauru

The tiny nation of Nauru (which has one of my favourite flags) has changed its laws thanks to the work of Greenpeace. The environmental organization found that fishing trawlers were catching fish at sea then offloading them to essentially a larger factory boat. This practice has been banned in many places because of the severe damage it causes to the fish populations.

The NFMRA, which credited Greenpeace’s exposure of an “illegal operation” for prompting the Nauru government ban, said it regularly observed “longliners in the high seas acting suspiciously and intruding on our borders”.

“These seas act like a safe haven for pirate boats, and transhipment allows them to stay at sea even longer, and launder fish out of the area,” it said.


Nauru has become the third Pacific nation to issue a blanket ban on transhipments in its exclusive economic zone, after Marshall Islands and Tuvalu.

Read more.

Read More

Using Art to get People to Care About the Environment

We’ve all seen sad, depressing, and otherwise disturbing photos of animals or people suffering after a human made disaster. You know, like the ducks dying in the tar sands or photos from the Bhopal disaster. Photographers have long thought that by showing these disturbing and truth-capturing photos people will start to care about the damage we are doing to the environment. Years of neglect and a lack of change has proven this point wrong.

So what do we do?

Artist Chris Jordan examined this very question and has found new ways to use art to get people to acknowledge the natural world and what we’re doing to it.

Slowly, the way Jordan thought about his work on Midway changed. His job wasn’t to soak up what he calls the darkness of the world; he could face it, he realized, without taking it in. “You acknowledge the presence of the darkness,” he says, “and you shine your light into it.” And his job wasn’t to be transformed by fire or to find a hidden door to hope: “We have this cultural obsession with hope. I’m not sure how useful hope really is.” When he gives a talk and someone stands up—someone always does—to ask, “But what do I do about this? What’s the solution?” he no longer wants to answer them. “That person,” he says, “may be feeling something uncomfortable that they don’t want to feel. They’re feeling the enormity and the complexity of the problems of our world, and that makes them feel anxious.” To give them an easy answer, he says, would be “like pulling the plug in a bathtub: the feeling all drains out. My job is to help people connect with what they feel, even if it’s uncomfortable.”

Read more.

Read More

Why Urban Areas Are More Efficient Than Suburban Areas

It’s been known for years that urban centres have a lower carbon footprint than the lands of urban sprawl. This is a for a variety of reasons and it’s rather complex, sure most of it comes down to density, but the exact know how is still being figure out.

Over at Alternatives Journal they looked at how building sustainable cities makes better cities overall. This is how and why people make resilient cities.

FOR EXAMPLE, existing low-density suburban developments “actually increase the damage on the environment while also making that damage harder to see and to address,” wrote Green Metropolis author David Owen. Although Forbes ranked Vermont as the greenest US state in 2007, Owen’s 2009 article revealed that a typical Vermonter consumed 2,063 litres of gasoline per year – almost 400 hundred litres more than the US national average at that time. This vast consumption is primarily due to single-use zoning and the absence of a comprehensive public transit system. Contrary to popular belief, dense cities such as New York City typically have the lowest carbon footprints. NYC emits 7.1 tonnes of greenhouse gases per person per year, or less than 30 per cent of the US national average. This is due to its extreme compactness. Over 80 per cent of Manhattanites travel to work by public transit, by bicycle or on foot. Population density also lowers energy and water use, limits material consumption and decreases the production of solid waste. For example, Japan’s urban areas are five times denser than Canada’s, and the consumption of energy per capita in Japan is 40 per cent lower.

Read more.

Read More

Sucking Diesel Fuel From Thin Air

We’ve polluted so much that there are now companies that think there is profit to be made by sucking CO2 from the air. How they make money is by reselling the CO2 to make carbonation for soft drinks, or strangely, to make diesel fuel.

What a world!

German company Sunfire produced its first batches of so-called e-diesel in April. Federal Minister of Education and Research, Johanna Wanka, put a few litres in her car, to celebrate.
And the Canadian company Carbon Engineering has just built a pilot plant to suck one to two tonnes of carbon dioxide from the air daily, turning it into 500 litres of diesel.

The process requires electricity, but if the start-ups use renewable electricity they can produce diesel that is carbon neutral.

In other words, burning it in your car only returns to the atmosphere the CO2 removed in the first place.

Read more.

Read More

Read This Book: The Optimistic Environmentalist

The Optimistic Environmentalist is a new book by environmental lawyer Dr. David R. Boyd. Much like this website, the book is also about taking a positive look on the otherwise endless onslaught of bad news we get in the mainstream media.

David has worked in environmental law for many years, and he’s the first the admit that it can be very difficult not to get bogged down by all the bad news media we hear about the state of our planet. In fact, the inspiration for this book came from his 6-year old daughter. When she came home from school one day in tears because her well-meaning teacher had told her that we were melting ice caps and killing polar bears, he decided that it was time the innovations and successes of the environmental movement got their fair share of attention.

As David says, “The belief that something positive is possible is an essential step towards making it happen.”

The Optimistic Environmentalist tells a new story about the environment, one that’s hopeful and inspiring, but honest. Yes, the world faces substantial environmental challenges – climate change, pollution, and extinction. But the surprisingly good news is that we have solutions to these problems. A leading expert on environmental law and policy, David Boyd has been called one of the most important voices on climate change. He is hopeful about our future, and has filled a book with surprising statistics, entertaining anecdotes about different technological advances, and heart-warming stories about introducing his young daughter to our bright green planet.

Read More