Connect with us

Environment

Japan May Dump 1.1 Million Tons Of Radioactive Fukushima Water Into The Pacific Ocean

Published

on

Photo Credit: EcoWatch

Jordan Davidson, EcoWatch

The operator of the ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant may have to dump huge amounts of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean. The company no longer has room to store it, said Yoshiaki Harada, Japan’s environment minister, today, as Japan Today reported.

Eight years after an earthquake and tsunami triggered Japan’s worst nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which is 160 miles north of Tokyo, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) has continued to pump water in to cool fuel cores. Once it is used and contaminated, the water is put into storage, according to CNN.

TEPCO has collected more than 1 million metric tons of contaminated water used to cool the nuclear reactor. “The only option will be to drain it into the sea and dilute it,” said Harada at a news briefing in Tokyo, as Japan Today. “The whole of the government will discuss this, but I would like to offer my simple opinion.”

Harada did not say how much water would need to be released into the ocean.

However, in a separate press briefing, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, said Harada’s comments were “his personal opinion.”

“There is no fact that the method of disposal of contaminated water has been decided,” said Suga, as CNN reported. “The government would like to make a decision after making thorough discussion,” he said.

TEPCO is not able to say what will be done with the contaminated water, but will have to wait for a government decision, a spokesperson said, as Japan Today reported.

Besides releasing the water into the ocean, other options include storing it on land or vaporizing it, according to the Guardian.

Dumping the waste into the ocean will anger local fisherman and Japan’s neighbors.

Last month, South Korea’s government minister for environmental affairs, Kwon Se-jung, summoned Tomofumi Nishinaga, head of economic affairs at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, how the Fukushima water would be handled, according to CNN.

“The South Korean government is well aware of the impact of the treatment of the contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant on the health and safety of the people of both countries, and to the entire nation,” said a South Korean ministry press release. 

“We’re just hoping to hear more details of the discussions that are under way in Tokyo so that there won’t be a surprise announcement,” said a South Korean diplomat to Reuters. The diplomat requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of bilateral discussions.”

Six years ago, when Tokyo won the bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured the Olympic Committee that waste and contamination from Fukushima was under control. Now, the country is facing renewed pressure to address its contaminated water problems before next summer’s games, as the Guardian reported.

The Japanese government has spent over $320 million to an underground barrier to prevent groundwater from reaching the three damaged nuclear reactors. However, the wall has only reduced the flow of groundwater from about 500 metric tons to around 100 metric tons per day, as the Guardian reported.

By Jordan Davidson | Creative Commons | EcoWatch.com

Continue Reading

Animal World

Australia’s Iconic Platypus Has Been Pushed To The Brink Of Extinction, Scientists Warn

“In our region, they’re all dead, they’re gone—I can’t find them.”

Published

on

Australia’s Iconic Platypus Has Been Pushed To The Brink Of Extinction
Photo Credit: Plant Based News

Elias Marat, The Mind Unleashed

With Australia’s spiralling environmental catastrophe receiving world attention in recent weeks, ecologists have sounded the alarm on the dire threat faced by the country’s endemic wildlife populations.

Researchers are now warning that the platypus—the unusual duck-billed, egg-laying mammal native to eastern Australia whose existence was believed to be a hoax in the late 18th century—is one of the iconic species teetering on the brink of extinction.

According to a new study by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) that was published in the scientific journal Biological Conservation, platypus numbers have declined by half or more since the European colonization of the island continent with local extinctions occurring across 40% of the species natural habitat thanks to drought and human activity such as dam building, water harvesting, land clearances, the impacts of livestock and threats from feral species.

Along with other contemporary threats including the changing climate, scientists fear that platypus numbers will continue to decline between 47% and 66% by 2070.

However, when taking fast-heating climate projections into account the animal’s decline could rapidly fall by 51% to 73 over the next five decades—pushing the species once common in the country’s waterways toward all-out extinction.

The danger to platypuses has become alarming in recent consecutive years as brutal heat-waves and arid conditions made worse by the dearth of rainfall have had a devastating effect on local populations.

Platypus populations, like other aquatic species, are believed to have taken major damage from an intensifying drought and record heat, even prior to the bushfire crisis.

AFP reports that study co-author Gilad Bino, a researcher at the University of NSW’s Centre for Ecosystem Science, said:

“These dangers further expose the platypus to even worse local extinctions with no capacity to repopulate areas.”

The study recommended that national authorities give attention to the “urgent need” for a risk assessment that could downgrade the animal to “vulnerable” status and look at the steps necessary to conserve the species and “minimize any risk of extinction.

The government has taken few if any measures to protect the species despite the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently downgrading the nocturnal creature’s status to “near threatened.”

The study notes that such conservationist measures would include “increasing surveys, tracking trends, mitigating threats and improving management of platypus habitat in rivers.

Dr. Bino said:

“Under predicted climate change, the losses forecast were far greater because of increases in extreme drought frequencies and duration, such as the current dry spell.” 

The platypus, along with four species of echidnas, are the world’s only monotremes or egg-laying mammals that secrete milk from the female bellies.

Australia’s ABC reports that conservationists have seen a precipitous drop in platypus numbers in traditional habitats such as NSW’s Great Barrington region. Tim Faulkner, the president of conservationist group Aussie Ark, said:

“In our region, they’re all dead, they’re gone—I can’t find them … They don’t go into hibernation … They must have water to feed in.

Private landholder management, the management of riparian zones along creeks, water harvest as well as control on stock trampling [are all required].

And going to the toilet in the last fragments of water [must also be controlled].

Our own parks are full of pests like the feral fox and cats responsible for over 90% of all mainland mammal extinction.”

Continuing, Faulkner explained:

“The platypus that we did rescue, we had two die the next day … Their bellies are empty and they’re all riddled with E. coli and a greater diversity of bacteria than that.

Platypus are a Gondwanan dinosaur species—they are monotremes, egg-laying mammals, some of the oldest lineages of mammals on earth.

They’ve been in this constant east coast temperate environment, largely unchanged, for millions of years.

To see it now … a cesspit that’s bacteria ridden and lifeless … certainly in our area—and this must be so wide spread—they’re gone.”

With its unique set of physical features, early sketches of the duck-billed mammal shocked western scientists who stumbled on the existence of the platypus during the colonization of Australia. Even after the creature’s pelt was delivered to researchers in the U.K., the existence of the platypus was believed to be a hoax comprised of a duck’s bill sewn onto a beaver’s body. The species was then hunted for its fur until the last century.

Study co-author Prof. Richard Kingsford stressed that climate change and habit destruction must be reined in. He said:

“This animal is one of the most amazing animals that we have on the planet and it would be a very sad day if we were ever in the position of losing them.

I’m very much hopeful that we’ll never get there, but we do need to address it urgently.”

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

Continue Reading

Environment

Australia Fire-Fighters Save The Only Wild Prehistoric Wollemi Pines On Earth

Published

on

Australia Fire-fighters Save The Only Wild Prehistoric Wollemi Pines On Earth
Photo Credit: CNN

Olivia Rosane, EcoWatch

It looks as if fire-fighters in Australia have succeeded in saving a secret grove of prehistoric trees belonging to a species that dates back to the time of the dinosaurs.

The Wollemi pines once grew widely across Australia from more than 100 to 60 million years ago, The Washington Post reported. But now less than 200 remain in the wild, in a national park 125 miles northwest of Sydney.

“It’s something like the Opera House of the natural world,” Richard Kingsford, director of the Center for Ecosystem Science at the University of New South Wales (NSW), told The Sydney Morning Herald. “Losing it would have added to the catastrophe we have seen elsewhere.”

Historic wildfires in Australia this spring and summer have killed at least 28 people and more than a billion animals. Heavy rainfall in the last 24 hours has brought some relief to the hard-hit states of NSW and Victoria, CNN reported.

But during the worst of the crisis, the NSW government knew it had to protect the ancient trees growing in a ravine in Wollemi National Park, so the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) fire-fighters and the NSW Rural Fire Service worked together to carry out an “unprecedented environmental protection mission,” NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean said in a statement Wednesday.

“Wollemi National Park is the only place in the world where these trees are found in the wild and, with less than 200 left, we knew we needed to do everything we could to save them,” he said.

Fire retardant was first dropped over the area from air tankers, and fire-fighters were lowered from helicopters into the ravine to set up an irrigation system.

Fire-fighters returned when the flames approached the grove to operate the irrigation system. Helicopters also dropped water on the edges of the fire to protect the trees, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Much of Wollemi National Park was destroyed by the Gospers Mountain fire, and, for four days towards the end of 2019, officials feared the trees might have been destroyed too.

“We just waited with bated breath,” Kean told The Sydney Morning Herald.

But when smoke cleared, it became clear that most of the trees had survived.

Wollemi pines aren’t actually pines, The Washington Post explained. They are in fact a type of conifer that has bubbly-looking bark and can grow to be 130 feet.

They were thought to be extinct until 1994, when David Noble, an officer with the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, discovered an unfamiliar tree species when rappelling in the park, NPR reported.

Noble did not know what he’d found, and the samples he brought back stumped biologists and botanists. It was only when he returned with scientists a month later that the mystery was solved.

“When the pines were discovered in 1994, you might as well have found a living dinosaur,” Kean told The Sydney Morning Herald.

Their exact location has been kept a secret since then to protect them from contamination, and the fire-fighters’ efforts to save them were kept similarly secret to protect their location.

Kean expressed hope that what Australian fire-fighters had done for the trees, Australia as a whole could do for the planet.

“We’ll always have bush fires in this country. There’s no doubt about that. But there’s no doubt also that the severity of this year’s bush fires is not like anything we’ve ever seen. And that’s due to climate change,” Kean told NPR.

“There’s a huge opportunity for us to lead the way in terms of tackling climate change and help the rest of the world decarbonize. There’s no better country on the planet better placed to do that than Australia.”

About the Author

Olivia is a freelance reporter for EcoWatch.

Continue Reading

Animal World

This Australian Sniper Is Now Leading A Fight To Defend Endangered Wildlife From Slaughter

Damien Mander has saved huge populations of elephants and rhinos from being slaughtered.

Published

on

Photo Credit: Getty

Elias Marat, The Mind Unleashed

Australian combat veteran Damien Mander had a world of options before him after he returned from his tour of the Middle East.

But the former special ops war-fighter chose to devote his life to defending helpless wild animals from facing slaughter at the hands of illegal poachers.

Damien Mander had completed three years in Iraq where he trained and deployed paramilitary forces to the front lines of combat.

View this post on Instagram

The toughest journeys are the least pursued ones, but they are the most rewarding. A comfortable life is a dangerous life, and I highly advise against it. Out there, amongst it all, awaits an unbiased and blank canvas. A path that is yet to be carved. A life that is yet to be lived. A story waiting to be written. To walk a beaten track is to follow in familiar footsteps. At some point, if you want to search for something undiscovered, that safe, easy to follow path has to be abandoned. And then shit gets real. Then life really starts. – – Many grey hairs ago… In a galaxy far, far away, September 11 changed the world for a lot of people. It changed the world for me. As a response, the Australian government formed Tactical Assault Group-East (TAG-E). A special operations, direct action and hostage recovery unit. After enduring the mental torture of selection, I came across to TAG-E from the Navy into Water Platoon. I’d been there only two days before being told I was being sent to sniper school. Talk about a fish (Navy Diver) out of water. The Army lads beat me into shape pretty quickly in what I’d say would be the most extreme learning curve I’ve ever encountered.- – Special operations gave me the qualifications I needed to head to Iraq as a private contractor. Iraq gave me the money, life lessons and desperation needed to set up the IAPF. IAPF gave me the purpose I needed to be all I could dream to be in life. – – We all have a path waiting to be carved. And no one will do it for us. If they try – run. Only you can cut your own path. Anything handed to you is a disservice. – – #ClearanceDiver #IAPF #AntiPoaching #Purpose #Vegan #PlantBased #Nature #Sniper #SpecialOperations #Dream #Animals

A post shared by Damien Mander (@damien_mander) on

Before that, he had served as a special operations sniper in the Australian Army’s Special Forces 2nd Commando Regiment, as well as a Navy Clearance Diver—the Royal Australian Navy equivalent to the U.S. Navy SEALs.

The 40-year-old could well have transitioned into a life of leisure since he had an impressive property portfolio back home.

Instead, Mander visited Africa for a six-month tour where he was exposed to the bloody world of illegal animal poaching in a journey through South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The eye-opening experience changed his life forever and convinced the veteran to devote his life to protecting wild creatures with no means to protect themselves from those who would track, hunt, and slaughter them and their parts for any price.

He told LADBible:

After Iraq I was looking for the next adventure and [a trip to Africa] just seemed like it was going to be a six-month thing to do.

When I travelled around the continent, I was inspired by the work that the rangers were doing.

They have something really worthwhile fighting for: giving up everything, being away from their family for so long each year defending the natural world.

I had just come from Iraq where we were looking after dotted lines on a map and resources in the ground and it made me reflect on who I was as a person.

It was at that point when the animal-loving war vet decided to sell off all of his properties back home to fund his new passion project: International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF) and a ranger training academy in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

Just as he once trained militia forces in Iraq his foundation now teaches rangers how to covertly track poachers, remain cloaked and camouflaged, conduct ambushes, carry out arrests, and preserve crime scenes.

While the work clearly draws from Mander’s military skills as a fighter, one of the most essential tools was one he learned during his occupation duties in the war-torn Middle East: to win over the hearts and minds of an often-hostile local population, a problem his military “failed” to grasp during the war.

View this post on Instagram

Earlier this year, Matt Shapira's beautiful artwork and generosity helped raise many yearly salaries for new recruits! Matt's elephant painting on a vintage map made it all the way to Zimbabwe, thanks to Erin Haley. She attended a fundraising event in Colorado hosted by Next Wave Impact and was outbid on one of Matt’s paintings. Afterwards, she got in touch with us to ask if she could commission a painting with her donation. Matt agreed. When it was ready to be shipped, she decided to gift it to the rangers as a token of appreciation for doing one of the hardest jobs there is: saving the natural world. The painting will be hanging in the new ops center being built as we speak. One of our goals is to create a reality in which elephants are treated as carefully as one of these century year-old vintage maps. Elephants, like any species, should be allowed to live out their lives as they wish, to their fullest extent. IAPF is hard at work, making this a reality for more and more wildlife each day. Happy World Elephant Day! #IAPF #Akashinga #WorldElephantDay #talesleftunsaid #elephants #africanelephant #trunksup #elephantlovers #jointheherd #conservation #savetheelephants #saynotopoaching #elephantlove #wildlifeconservation #endwildlifecrime #thisisafrica #bekindtoelephants #saveelephants #worthmorealive #stoppoaching @roaming__elephant @africanveganonabudget @damien_mander @kellyhazelking

A post shared by IAPF (@int.anti.poaching.foundation) on

Mander explained:

Beyond the guns and ammo are the lessons I learned in Iraq that have really been the biggest benefit to what we do.

The ability to get the local population on side, get the hearts and minds, that’s more important than anything else and it’s something that we completely failed at in Iraq. We’re able to take those failures from Iraq and turn them into a positive.

So far his efforts have seen a 90% drop in rhino poaching activities in Kruger National Park—which lies along South Africa’s border with Mozambique—where the creatures are coveted by buyers and dealers for their valuable horns. Mander’s team was eventually able to drive out poachers entirely.

By 2016, rhino poaching had finally begun to drop for the first time in a decade. Mander said:

The rate of incursions of poachers into Kruger National Park, about 75 per cent of those were attributed as coming from Mozambique into Kruger and with the operations established on that side of the border that dropped to around 30 per cent.

We got a lot of credit for that, got a lot of kudos.

Further north in Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls all attacks on rhinos were put to a halt thanks to the IAPF. However, there was no shortage of friction between the Aussie adventurer and poor locals.

View this post on Instagram

FIELD REPORT: Recently the International Anti-Poaching Foundation’s (IAPF) Akashinga rangers intercepted a team of three suspected poachers entering Zimbabwe’s World Heritage Listed Mana Pools National Park armed with cyanide, axes and knives. Further information passed to the Akashinga team resulted in a joint operation with the Minerals Flora & Fauna Unit (MFFU) of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), netting the arrest of a fourth suspect who allegedly supplied the cyanide to the would be poachers. Cyanide is sometimes used to kill elephants and other wildlife without force as it is cheap and quiet to use. It is placed near watering holes, on oranges or rock salt where the unsuspecting animals will be baited. The suspect being implicated of supplying the cyanide works in Mberengwa’s mining industry. Miners use cyanide concentrate during the separation process of gold from bulk ores. It exists in two forms, gas and crystal (see small white ‘balloons’ confiscated in photo above). This inhumane method of poaching works quickly, as cyanide cuts off the oxygen supply. Cyanide use in poaching is an ongoing problem in Zimbabwe so these types of arrests are a significant ‘win’ for wildlife. Cyanide is easily obtained illegally, so monitoring and protecting these areas remains a vigilant task. The suspects will appear in Kariba Magistrates Court. Thank you to all those involved in this operation. To support our continued work, please follow link in bio. #IAPF #Akashinga #antipoaching #rangers #wildlife #conservation #zimparks #racingextinction #savetheelephants #elephants #womenempowerment #womenwholead #africa #socialmovements #illegalwildlifetrade #stopivorytrade

A post shared by IAPF (@int.anti.poaching.foundation) on

For Mander, the problems of prolonged conflict had begun to reveal themselves and it was necessary to change the strategic approach. He explained:

We had helicopters, drones, canine attack teams, military grade hardware [but] we had this ongoing conflict with the local population and while we might have won that battle overall, what we were doing was not sustainable.

We were saving rhinos and we were having a war with the local population on a continent that is going to have two billion people on it by 2040.

To get the support of the locals Mander decided to begin integrating female rangers into his team. Many of them are themselves victims of predatory attacks such as serious sexual assault, domestic violence, and gender violence in their communities.

The all-female units are now the most elite force within the foundation with 120 rangers having already carried out 140 arrests.

View this post on Instagram

Throwback Thursday alert! Remember when these amazing LEADRangers graduated? Here they are, celebrating right after the ceremony. We’re immensely proud that all participants persevered through to completion of the course. This is commendable, as there was a stringent selection process prior to attending—and the standards and pace remain high the whole time. After the graduation ceremony, they each returned to their own units across the continent as qualified instructors and leaders, ready to work with and train their fellow rangers with new lifesaving skills so they can more effectively end poaching and degradation of wild lands. Visit the link in our bio to learn more about their training, graduation, and a recap of what they've accomplished with their time at our LEADRanger facility. LEADRanger empowers the next generation of frontline conservation leaders⁣⁣. It is a collaborative initiative of @int.anti.poaching.foundation, the @thingreenlinefoundation, and @rangercampus⁣⁣. @lead_ranger @rangerboris @dominiquenoome ___________________ #IAPF #Akashinga #LEADRanger #TBT #throwbackthursday #standwithrangers #leadership #antipoaching #rangers #wildlife #conservation #racingextinction #elephants #wildlifeconservation #inspiration #animallove #protect #leadbyexample ⁣⁣#theresnoiinteam #wildlifeprotection ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣#lawenforcement⁣⁣ #humanrights⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣#savetheelephants #thisisafrica #illegalwildlifetrade #saynotoivory #defender #endwildlifecrime #myafrica #endangeredspecies

A post shared by IAPF (@int.anti.poaching.foundation) on

Mander has a sharp message and basic appeal to the humanity of the poachers. He said:

We are one of millions of species on this planet but we’re the only one that determines what level of suffering and destruction is acceptable for all others.

We sit here talking about different species going extinct but the reality is if we don’t look after this one beautiful backyard we’ve been given it’s not the elephant or the rhino that’s going extinct; it’ll be us.

We need to decide if we want to be part of the future and if we do, we need to make changes.

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

Continue Reading

Environment

Bees Absolutely Love Cannabis And It Could Help Restore Their Populations

That’s great news for the environment!

Published

on

Photo Credit: www.except.nl

Elias Marat, The Mind Unleashed

Bees are major fans of hemp and a recent study has found that the taller the hemp plants are the larger the number of bees that will flock to it.

The new research, spearheaded by researchers at Cornell University and published last month in Environmental Entomology, shows that humans aren’t the only fans of weed. The findings also reinforce a study published last year at Colorado State University that discovered the same thing.

The study shows how bees are highly attracted to cannabis due to the plant’s plentiful stores of pollen, and it could pave the way for scientists to figure out new ways to support their struggling population as well as floral populations.

According to the study, the greater the area covered by the hemp plant the greater the chance that bees will swarm to the area. Additionally, those hemp plants that are taller have a much greater likelihood of attracting bees with the tallest plants attracting a stunning 17 times more bees than the shortest plants.

The study also found that as time went on greater amounts of bees visited the hemp plots on a more frequent basis. It sounds almost like the word-of-mouth effect among humans who hear about great deals at a dispensary, no?

The researchers also discovered that hemp, a major cash crop with multiple applications, can support no less than 16 different varieties of bees in the north-eastern United States.

The findings may seem strange considering that cannabis doesn’t produce the sweet, sugary nectar that your typical floral varieties produce to attract insects. Nor does hemp flower come in the dazzling array of bright color that likewise attract bugs. However, the pollen produced by male flowers is highly attractive to the 16 bee subspecies in the study for reasons that remain unknown.

Female flowers—the kind that humans like to smoke for its intoxicating and soothing effects—are basically ignored by bees since they don’t produce any acutal flowers.

The study’s author’s wrote:

The rapid expansion of hemp production in the United States… may have significant implications for agroecosystem-wide pollination dynamics.

As a late-season crop flowering during a period of seasonal floral dearth, hemp may have a particularly strong potential to enhance pollinator populations and subsequent pollination services for crops in the following year by filling gaps in late-season resource scarcity.

What makes the findings so compelling is the crucial impact it could have on suffering bee populations across the United States.

Bee are perhaps one of the most important managed pollinators in U.S. agriculture. Spreading the male sex cells of flowers to their female counterparts in a natural process that is highly crucial to plant reproduction.

According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, pollinators are worth anywhere from $235 and $577 billion worldwide owing to their pivotal role in the production of global crops. In the U.S. alone this means that bees are responsible for $20 billion of domestic crop production. Without bees we can kiss almonds, blueberries, watermelon, and other crops goodbye.

The authors of the study made clear that the combination of bees plus hemp won’t mean that folks should worry about cannabinoid-rich pollen sneaking it into their diets nor will the bees start producing honey enriched with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—as nice as that sounds.

Likewise, the presence of cannabinoids like THC in hemp pollen is “not likely to have an impact on bee development due to the loss of cannabinoid receptors in insects.

So while we often like to focus on the recreational or medicinal use of marijuana—in its edible, smokeable, and vape-able forms—this new research shows that the plant can in fact help nature and agriculture in amazingly important ways.

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

Continue Reading

Our Facebook Page

Advertisement

Trending Now

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Censorship is hiding us from you.

Get breaking conscious news articles sent directly to your inbox!

You have Successfully Subscribed!