Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Should we mine the Moon?

It's a common saying, "look before you leap", encouraging someone to thoroughly consider an action before taking it. Will mankind take it's own advice with a new moral dilemma?

A new substance has been discovered on the Moon called Helium 3. When heated to high temperatures in reactors on Earth it produces massive amounts of energy that have the potential to replace nuclear and fossil fuel energy sources around the world. These samples were acquired during the Apollo missions who collected Moon dirt and rocks for scientists to conduct experiments on.

This has created a new era of the Space Race. Countries including the USA, China and Russia as well as private organisations are investing millions of dollars in getting back to the moon and establishing a cost effective way of getting Helium 3 back to Earth.

Many questions still seem unanswered before man leaps back on to the Moon. Firstly, who owns the Moon? Opinions vary and there isn't a set of total clear laws or treaties ratified by the UN as outlined in this National Geographic article: Secondly, should we start mining a land mass we know little about? On one hand it may offer the solution to Climate Change here on Earth. On the other hand, do we know enough to start mining a landscape with confidence that we will not do irreparable damage? Our track record on Earth isn't immaculate!

The documentary, Moon For Sale, gives an outline of the opportunities, challenges and issue. Taking both sides of the argument equally, does it help you decide....should we mine the Moon?

Monday, March 12, 2012

A global cheer for the Earth

On a gloomy night in March last year, I found myself winding through the cobbled slate-grey streets of Paris. As I rounded a corner, I found what I’d been searching for, where at Trocadero Square hundreds of candle-illuminated paper mache pandas, representing each of the remaining 1600 pandas left in the wild. Magnifique! My French is limited to a spattering of poorly executed phrases but as dignitaries gave speeches and hit a grandiose red button that plunged Eiffel Tower into darkness, I could not help but be touched at the symbolism of how when a group of people come together, so much can be achieved. It’s overwhelming to think that one of the world’s most iconic monuments in the “City of Lights” can be shut down because climate change is recognised collectively as of global importance.

The largest Earth Hour event I have been to was Sydney 2009. Sitting having a drink at a harbor-side bar waiting for the hour of darkness to fall upon us, masses of people started to congregate. As Earth Hour arrived, and the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge plummeted into darkness, accompanied by other buildings in the skyline, you heard a roar of the crowd cheering. That’s the feeling that reminds you why you catch a train rather than drive, why you turn off lights as you walk out of a room, why you send an email to the government to deter logging. You do it because like you, there are millions of people around the world making the same changes and sending the message they care about the Earth. That cheer reminds you, you are not alone.

Earth Hour has grown from a Sydney initiative in 2007 to encompass millions of people in over 5,000 cities across 135 countries who are to turning out their lights for one hour to take a stand against climate change. International landmarks powering down include Times Square and the Empire State Building in New York, and Dubai’s Burg Khalifa - the tallest building in the world. Even an Inuit igloo is taking part.

This year in Australia many totemic structures have already signed up to be part of Earth Hour 2012. The Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Art Gallery of NSW, the Victorian State Library, Victorian Parliament House, Melbourne’s Federation Square and Southern Cross Station , Brisbane’s Story Bridge Hotel, Adelaide Zoo and Aquatic Centre as well as Luna Park have all put their hands up to turn their lights down for the hour. Many of them will have gathering and events where you can join with other patrons of the Earth and experience the cause that unites us.

However, as in years past, others have opted for smaller events. These may be at home or as part of a community event. Events include sustainable food, acoustic performances, star gazing and other imaginative, Earth-friendly entertainment. WWF has created a great way for these events to be shared. It’s called Earth Hour Unplugged and you can find an event in your area. If you can’t find one, start one and post it on the site! Simply visit Here you can also add a fundraising element to your event to assist WWF, one of the world’s key players in ceasing Climate Change, with much needed funds.

Earth Hour is the perfect time for all individuals who love and care for our environment and are committed to tackling Climate Change to unite. Regardless of the measure you have taken, from in your own home to working with governments, this is your opportunity on one night to feel the power of what a gathering of people can accomplish.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Zero Waste Home

While doing some research online for an article I was writing about resourcefulness, I discovered a great blog called The Zero Waste Home. A few years ago a Bea Johnson became aware of just how wasteful her and her family's lifestyle, as well as the general person's, tends to be. She made the commitment to be a home that produces no rubbish. Her mantra is "Refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot (and only in that order)." Now here blog has a massive following. Today, she is involved in media and speaking engagements to share stories, tips and the benefits of Zero Waste living as well as running a home consulting services on decluttering, living simply and waste reduction.

Here are some of my favourite tips:
  1. Get your 4Rs right. Refuse-Reduce-Reuse… Recycle only as a last resort
  2. Shop at farmer's markets. There will be little packaging and they will take your egg cartons and berry containers back next week.
  3. Learn to love tap water rather than buying plastic bottled water all the time.
  4. Use the cold water coming out of your shower while it heats up to water the plants in your bathroom (you do have plants in your bathroom, don't you now?)
  5. Open a window instead of plugging in an air freshener (simple and obvious but how many people opt for the freshener)
  6. Recycle old mobile phones
  7. Do not use everyday antibacterial products, they make bad bacteria stronger.

Wasteful living has a very detrimental effect on us and on the Earth. As best described by Anup Shah, “Humans have been expanding, exploring, migrating, conquering, utilizing, evolving, civilizing, industrializing, and now, destroying the very land upon which we live.” We are using more resources than the Earth can supply and one day, sooner rather than later, they will run out. In fact some believe most of the wars in the future will be over the acquisition of resources.
Check out Zero Waste Home at and take up the challenge of applying all the tips she outlines.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Protecting the Great Bear region

One of the remaining beautiful temperate rain forests of the world exists on the north coast of British Columbia, Canada. This area is often called the Great Bear region and is teaming with a vast variety animals in plants including the majestic black bears and grizzly bears. Canada has done well to keep the populations constant in many areas of their natural habitat. However this has not been without the determination of some individuals. Two decades ago, almost every valley of the Great Bear Rainforest was slated for clear cutting. After 15 years of conflict and negotiation, First Nations, forest companies, environmental organizations, and governments created a world-leading model of ecosystem management for the region. By combining conservation with better logging practices, they found a way to protect the environment and the economy.

However these region is under threat again. The ongoing troublesome Alberta tar sands project has already had reported negative impacts on the local environment in Alberta. Now a 1170km pipeline is being proposed to transport the tar sands oil to oil tankers on the BC coast. This pipeline will bisect the Great Bear region, running through rainforest, across hundreds of salmon streams (a key food source for many bears) to the currently peaceful coast.

The risk of destruction during the building of the pipeline plus the possibility of leaks once complete threatens this highly sensitive area. Not only is the land at risk but with up to 220 supersized oil tankers coming to collect the tar sands oil, the oceans of the Great Bear region are too. This coastal area is a peaceful and protected habitat for many whales, dolphins and porpoises. These animals rely on sound to communicate, navigate, and find food. Quiet waters are important for their health and survival. Ships in the area could affect these animals by increasing underwater noise.

What can you do?

The WWF Canada is working to ensure the optimum well being of all animals, plants and habitats in the area. You can read more about their work and support them by visiting Once again it is time to ensure our environment does not suffer at the hands of the economy. With proper management these can both prosper and ensure the children of tomorrow will still have the bears roaming these forests.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Animal of the Week: Wedge Tailed Eagle

The wedge tailed eagle is the largest bird of prey in Australia. With a wingspan of up to 2.5 meters and a length of over one meter, the wedge tailed eagle is an amazing sight soaring through the air. Wedge tailed eagles can be found around Australia, including Tasmania as well as in southern New Guinea. They are comfortable in many habitats including forest, open plains or mountainous regions.

Adult males will hold the same territory throughout the year and one paired will help a female build a nest in the fork of a tree. A wedge tailed eagle pair will often have several nests around their territory. At mating time the pair will perch close together and preen each other. The male will also perform elaborate flying displays including diving downwards at great speeds towards his mate before changing direction and soaring off just a few meters above her. She will either ignore him or join him in flight where she will fly with him upside down or performing tricks such as a loop-the-loop.

Once the eggs are laid incubation lasts for about 45 days. A good season will produce two chicks although it is common for one chick to kill it's sibling. In arid, drought affected areas, pairs may hold off on breeding for several years. The young eagles depend on their parents for food for up to six months after hatching. They leave only when the next breeding season approaches.

Wedge tailed eagles will spend hours soaring around their territory without a wing beat or effort, regularly reaching 1,800 metres (5,900 ft) and sometimes considerably higher. Their keen eyesight extends into the infrared and ultraviolet bands. This helps them spot prey and allows them to see rising thermals, which they can use to gain altitude while expending little energy.

Increased human activity has increased the in some ways been beneficial to the wedge tailed eagle. A large portion of their diet is carrion and with increased amounts of roadkill you can often find wedge tailed eagles feeding on the side of the road. Some times they will congregate around carrion in numbers in their thirties. However it is uncommon for more than one to eat at once. While one is feeding the rest will stand around digesting and waiting their turn.

Since European settlement, the introduced rabbit and Brown Hare have become the primary items of the eagle's diet in many areas. They display considerable adaptability, and have sometimes been known to team up to hunt animals as large as the Red Kangaroo, to cause goats to fall off steep hillsides and injure themselves, or to drive flocks of sheep or kangaroos to isolate a weaker animal. Wedge-tailed Eagles may also kill young calves.

The IUCN conservation of the wedge tailed eagle is "Least Concern", however the Tasmanian subspecies is listed as endangered with fewer than 200 breeding pairs in the wild. One danger to them are wind turbines (click here for a news article). However the increase in road kill and the reduction of the number Tasmanian Devils, another carrion eater, is helping their plight.

Eagle Medicine
Eagle medicine is the connection to the Great Spirit. Eagle soars high above the land and thus is closer to the heavens that man can be. Send your prayers to Eagle, and he will rise above the chaos to meet Great Spirit and return, with a vision for you.

You too must take flight. It is time for you to soar to great heights. You must have a willingness to face the extremes, to push yourself to your limits. Through facing these challenges you will undergo a great spiritual initiation and reach a new zenith of your self growth. It is time to go beyond your dreams.

If eagle has come into your life it is a reminder that it is time to reconnect with the universe and your reasons for being here. What is your path and how are you contributing to the Greater Good? If you are not clear, connect with the eagle, ask him to aid your contact with the Great Spirit. He will bring you answers and then, like eagle, set your eyes on the target and take flight.

In your spiritual pursuits, you must still remember to stay grounded and connected to the Earth. Eagle's strong talons ensures he has a strong grasp wherever he lands. You too must not get lost up in your head with your spiritual pursuits.

Monday, February 13, 2012

An Insight into the Next Age

Do you think people living 100 years ago could have envisaged what life would be like in the 21st century? How many people would have been able to imagine the Internet, mobile phones, 3D movies and nuclear bombs? For us to imagine life 100 years from now, is almost as challenging. The rate at which technology changes and updates now, evolution of lifestyle happens quickly.

The year 2012 is set to be an interesting one. The Mayan calender and that of some other ancient cultures predicts an ending at some point soon. Will the world explode? Personally I don't think so. The Mayan's could have only conceptualised an end within their concept of reality. They would not have had any concept of world governments, massive trade, nuclear weapons, airplanes, modern communication infrastructure, etc. Maybe all they could imagine was an end would mean an explosion. However I see the end of the world could simply be the end of the world as we know it.

The global economies are looking less secure by the day. Large masses of people are starting to question the basic systems in which we have been accustomed to; consider the "Occupy" movement. One documentary has changed the way I view the possible future and I encourage you to explore the vision too.

Zeitgeist Addendum clearly explains the financial position the world is in today. In a simple way I have never seen before it shows where money comes from while exposes some interesting facts. Did you know that the World Bank is in many ways, simply a US Bank? All but one president of the bank has been American. It looks at how poor countries are lent money so they can pay US companies to come in and build infrastructure, thus giving the US more money rather than training their own countrymen.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel
Countless numbers of documentaries are available detailing the way life is today but rarely is a possible viable option also offered. This is not the case in Zeitgeist Addendum. The second part of the documentary introduces The Venus Project. This concept way of life, conceptualised by Jacque Fresco, tackles many of the issues prevalent in today's societies. A key component is the removal of money, since it is meant to be the root of all evil isn't it.

Here is a The Venus Project self description:
The Venus Project presents a bold, new direction for humanity that entails nothing less than the total redesign of our culture. There are many people today who are concerned with the serious problems that face our modern society: unemployment, violent crime, replacement of humans by technology, over-population and a decline in the Earth's ecosystems.

As you will see, The Venus Project is dedicated to confronting all of these problems by actively engaging in the research, development, and application of workable solutions. Through the use of innovative approaches to social awareness, educational incentives, and the consistent application of the best that science and technology can offer directly to the social system, The Venus Project offers a comprehensive plan for social reclamation in which human beings, technology, and nature will be able to coexist in a long-term, sustainable state of dynamic equilibrium.

You can find out more about all the Zeitgeist movies at and the Venus Project at

The watch Zeitgeist Addendum, simply click below:

Monday, February 6, 2012

2012 Year of the (Green) Farmer

Farmers are a key component of the Australian cultural fabric. Many of the country's great literature covers the outback Aussie men and women working with, on and against the land for survival. In today's economy the 136,000 farms around the country contribute more than $405 billion each year to the economy. That's 27% of the country's GDP. Without farmers industry would not have the materials needed to support the human population's basic needs such as food and clothing. These are just some of the reasons 2012 has been named "Year of the Farmer".

When it comes to being environmentally conscious, farming and being green may not be seen as going hand in hand. However WWF Australia has be working with farmers to protect our natural landscape. With the human population growing, demands for greater output from farmers is created. It could be assumed that this would require more clearing of land, having a negative effect on the country. WWF is working with farmers all over the country to help them adopt higher intensity ways of production,that require less land, less water and often are less expensive.

The south-west wheatbelt has long produced large quantities of Aussie grains but traditional clearing of land has threatened the temperate eucalypt woodlands of the area. Since 1998 WWF Australia has been working with local farmers to change their farming techniques and help them understand their important role as stewards of the land. Since this area is under represented under the National Reserve System, WWF Australia has played a direct role in brokering binding voluntary agreements with farmers that have resulted in more than 10,000 hectares of these precious woodlands being protected forever.

In Northern Queensland more than 70 sugar farmers are working in partnership with WWF Australia as well as  local natural resource management groups and Coca-Cola, one of the world's biggest buyers of sugar, to get more from their crops while using less. New intensive farming techniques have meant have meant farmers have not only saved money but they have been able to increase local water quality. New techniques require fewer pesticides, thus reducing run-off that eventually makes it's way through local streams and rivers to the Great Barrier Reef.

When humankind first discovered agriculture a long time ago, everyone had to work with the environment to ensure it's well being. These days as most of us have moved off the land, the responsibility of land stewardship has been left the just a select few. To find out more on how to support them please visit and

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Week 4: Santa's Naughty & Nice List

With just a few days left till Santa sets off on his annual journey around the world. Here is the final list check to see who has been naughty, and who has been nice.

Naughty List

1) Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Environment Minister Peter Kent - the two have been claiming to be unfairly targeted by environmental groups who exaggerate its impacts on nature and people. However their claims are looking a bit shaky since contamination of a major western Canadian river basin from oilsands operations is a "high-profile concern" for downstream communities and wildlife, says a newly-released "secret" presentation prepared last spring by Environment Canada that highlighted numerous warnings about the industry's growing footprint on land, air, water and the climate.

2) Yoshihiko Noda, Japan's Prime Minister - Japan has announced that they will use tax payers funds, originally earmarked to rebuild the country to increase resources of the Japanese whaling fleet heading to the Antarctic with a target of catching 900 Antarctic minke whales and 50 Endangered fin whales under the alleged purpose of conducting "scientific research."

3) Fred Nile, Christian Democrat leader - has expressed his disgust at the Australian Labour Party for changing their policy and now supporting gay marriage.

Nice List

1) Eugenio Lopez III - Chairman/CEO of ABS-CBN Corporation, Manila - The television network was named by WWF as their media partner of the year for their support since January in promoting local environmental issues.

Sidonie Asseme
2) Sidonie Asseme - This female anti-poaching ranger is breaking gender barriers working in Central Africa. She has been involved in many anti-poaching operations and like most other rangers has come into conflict with poachers. One time she and three other rangers were locked in a house and the poachers threatened to set the house on fire. “I was born in the forest and I feel it is a moral obligation to protect the forest and its wildlife,” she says. Asseme is not known as someone who complains, but she does have one request. “We need better arms and logistical support to enable us do our jobs. If I meet the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife this is the main message I will put to him.”

3) Jim Howe, executive director of the Central and Western Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, Rochester, NY - The Nature Conservancy has secured a $1million grant from North American Wetland Conservation Act through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and will buy 500 acres of land known as Shaker Heights which is vital for migratory birds, waterfowl and contains spawning areas for many fish.

Special Mention

Santa wants to thank  the 80 year old woman who was run over and died while trying to save a duckling on the road in New South Wales, Australia. Her name is yet to be released.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Get your own piece of real estate for $US5

The Coral Triangle is located in waters off the coasts of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste. The area spans over 1.6 billion acres which is about half the size of the USA. The area is home to 3,000 fish species including tunas that are common human food sources. The region also contain six of the seven species of sea turtle and  nearly 500 reef-building coral species – an amazing 75 percent of all known coral species.

This area is important to about 126 million people. It is a source of food for not only the coastal communities but the seafood is sent around the world. In the region around 200 languages are spoken and for many of the communities the ocean has a strong cultural significance. Each year the area also generates about $12 billion in eco-tourism.

Now unsustainable fishing, poorly planned development, pollution, a growing population and the effects of climate change are all contributing to the degradation of the Coral Triangle. The WWF is working to save the area with their three main objectives stated as:

WWF’s goal in the Coral TriangleWe plan to reach the following targets by 2020:

  1. Coral Reefs: 50 percent increase in area of priority coral reef habitats that is protected and sustainably managed with effective financing in place
  2. Species: Zero decline in the populations of 3 endangered marine turtle species (leatherback, hawksbill, green) from 2008 levels
  3. Transforming business: Halting and reversing the degradation of key marine resources - coral reef habitats, turtles, reef fish, and tuna
You can now help the WWF as little as $US5, where you have the opportunity to "purchase" a place within the Coral Triangle. On their site you can scan over the area and choose and exact location, then simply make your donation.

For more information, please visit and watch the video below:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Male Model appears in female lingerie campaign

One of the world's hottest models at the moment is the androgynous Andre Pedjic. He has appeared on the runway for many high end labels including Jean Paul Gaultier where he modelled a see-through wedding gown in the haute couture bridal show. Now he has appeared for Dutch retail chain HEMA promoting their push-up bras. Speaking to Frockwriter, Pejic’s agent Joseph Tenni said: “It's revolutionary. I've never known a man to do a womens' lingerie campaign before".

The Australian raised model continues to push people's perception of gender as when first shown the image people, most think it is a typical image of a beautiful blonde woman. In a world that still hasn't achieved full equality of the sexes, this goes a long way in making people question their perceptions of gender and the differences between the two. If the bra can make him look that good, it must be doing it's job!

Week 3: Santa's Naughty & Nice List

The big day is getting closer but some people are acting like they don't want any gifts from Santa this year.  Santa is disappointed with a few people not wanting to play nice in the sandbox. However thoughtfulness is getting others on the Nice List just in the St Nick of time.

The Naughty List

1) Jonathan Pershing, US delegation leader at the Durban Climate Summit - Greenpeace, WWF and Oxfam are all asking the USA to move aside and let the rest of the world move forward if you cannot get with the programme. The USA if fighting for voluntary pledges rather than binding agreements. After eight years of the US denying Climate Change as a issue with President Bush, there were hopes it would be better under Obama. This is yet to seem the case.

2) Matthew Gonshaw - Unfortunately for this poacher Santa doesn't deliver to jails where he will be spending the next six months after being sentenced for snatched hundreds of eggs from the nests of rare birds including ospreys, avocets and golden eagles in the UK. When police raided his London home they found over 700 eggs. This is his forth jail sentence for egg theft.

3) Executive Director, President, and CEO of Paper giant Asia Pulp & Paper (APP)Teguh Ganda Wijaya - promised to move to 100% plantation sourcing of timber for major pulp mills four times several times but has missed their self-imposed deadlines to stop using native forest timber in 2004, 2007 and 2009. Their new dead line is 2015 but Santa is getting impatient considering they are cutting down trees in vital tiger habitat.

The Nice List

1) Nine Greenpeace activists - The Nimble Nine were able to break into a nuclear power plant in risk highlighting the lack of security. This has put the nuclear power debate in France back in the spotlight. This will be a key issue in the next election.

2) Denise and Daniel Villefort - a Malibu couple who have donated $2000 to the reward fund for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the death of a mountain lion in the Santa Monica Mountains. The Malibu City Council had offered $5000. The total is now $18,700 worth of donated funds. The mountain lion in question was a 7-year-old known to the National Park Service researchers as P-15 who had been fitted with a GPS device to research the animal's movements.

3) Clark Bunting, President of the Discovery Channel - Last week he was on the Naughty List but Santa is overjoyed that Discovery has announced that they will now show the finale of Frozen Planet which deals exclusively with the effects of climate change. Santa lives in the Arctic and is affected by Climate Change too!

4) Datuk Sam Mannan, Sabah Forestry Department Director - the department has recently awarded reforestation contracts to four contractors to restore degraded forest areas in North Ulu Segama, within the Ulu Segama-Malua Forest Reserve in Lahad Datu. This means about 800 hectares of land will be replanted with indigenous tree species and wild fruit trees in the next 12 months to ensure the survival of orang utans.

How to get on the Nice List

Buy yourself some real estate - You can buy an area of the Coral Triangle for as low as $US5 and help save the area. See for all the details.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Animal of the Week: Lyrebird

The lyrebird is a native Australian bird famous for it's ability to mimic other bird's calls as well as other sounds it hears in the forest. Males will clear a space on the forest floor and then proceed to perform the most elaborate song they can to attract a female. They can imitate up to 20 other species of birds, sometimes fooling the species they are imitating. Not only can they imitate other birds but also man made sounds including humans talking, babies crying, camera shutters and car alarms. Females also have the ability to mimic but are less skilled than males. Check out this video to see a few of his talents:

The male lyre bird also possesses an impressive set of tail feathers which it will fan as part of the mating ritual. The tail has sixteen feathers, with the two outermost together forming the shape of a lyre. Next within are two guard plumes and then twelve long, lace-like feathers, known as filamentaries. This tail is fully developed by the age of seven which is generally when they reach sexual maturity.

Little is known about the lyrebird's behaviour as they are very shy and difficult to approach. When alerted they tend to freeze, give an alarm call and then hide or flee. However their diet has been noted as consisting mainly of insects with the occasional from or small reptile. Lyrebirds are ground dwelling birds and thus use their feet to scratch around the forest floor debris.

When it comes to bushfires, you'd think that these non-flying birds may be at a disadvantage. However in previous bushfires when firefighters have hid down mine shafts, they have also been accompanied by many lyrebirds. With such intelligence, maybe this is one of the reason's lyrebirds have found themselves on the Australian ten cent coin.

Lyrebird Medicine
The lyrebird is renowned for it's impressive vocal abilities. To be successful in finding a mate, each male lyrebird must be a skilled communicator. The lyrebird's message is to be articulate and creative in your communications. To be successful with a task, you must utilise your creativity to enthrall and engage others. Charisma and wit will be far more effective than force and argument.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Stop Procrastinating by Eating That Frog

Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Are you a procrastinator that puts undesirable jobs off over and over again? Maybe you should eat that frog. No, that doesn't mean go to a French restaurant....just watch the video at

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Week 2: Santa's Naughty & Nice List

The big day is getting closer and Santa's refining his list to find out who has been naughty and nice...with a little help from me. Here is who made the list this week:

The Naughty List

1) Clark Bunting - President of the Discovery Channel - Next year the Discovery Channel will air a series called Frozen Planet, created by the makers of Blue Planet and Planet Earth. However the USA will only see six of the seven episodes as Discovery Planet has opted to not show the finale which deals exclusively with the effects of climate change.

2) Australian Immigration Department - They have declined a visa to Chris Aultman, a former US Marine helicopter pilot, who finds the Japanese whaling fleet so Sea Shepherd protesters can stop the hunt. This hinders his ability to help the campaign for this summer.

3) Japan's Taiji Whale Museum, Dolphin Base and the dolphin hunters - On the weekend pod of 9 to 11 Risso’s Dolphins fairly where into a cove at Taiji, Japan by a group of hunters. Trainers from both the Taiji Whale Museum and Dolphin Base then arrived in the cove. Three dolphins were taken for a cruel life in captivity. We suspect the Whale Museum chose two dolphins that are currently held in the harbor pens. The trainers from Dolphin Base, accompanied by the owner of Dolphin Base, chose one young Risso’s Dolphin and immediately took it to their pens. The rest of the pod was brutally killed.

The Nice List

1) Hong Kong customs officers - who found and seized a batch of rhinoceros horns worth more than $2 million as well as elephant tusks and ivory bracelets worth $50,000.

2) Roger Gillespie, Executive Chairman of Baker's Delight - Australia's largest bakery chain has announced they will not use genetically modified wheat.

3) Betty White - this sweetheart could never get on Santa's bad side but her continued support of US zoos and campaigning to make them better plus her new book Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo has just been released. When asked what she prefers, animals or acting, she replied, "Animals. I stayed in show business to pay for my animal business."

How to get on the Nice List

Sign the petition asking Clark Bunting, the president of Discovery Channel to show all seven episodes of Frozen Planet. To sign the petition, click here.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My Simple Christmas List

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. ~Confucius

When you take a second to look at the world we live in, the messages constantly thrown at us seem to be the way to happiness and success is through acquiring. "He with the most toys wins" so to speak. If you can just get enough money to get those few things that will cheer you up. Think of the well used term "retail therapy". When I used to live in Toronto, I remember the busiest place on a public holiday as the sun was shining outside would be the city's largest shopping centre, the Eaton Centre. There would be crowds of people, like little ants, scurrying from shop to shop, collecting bag after bag of "goodies" with the profits of a week's hard work. The strange thing is, the next day on the train to work, these same worker ants didn't look happier. Perhaps they just needed a few more weeks' pay, to buy a few more things, and then they'd look happy....I'm still waiting to see those happy worker ants.

Take a look at the people you know and their socio-economic position. I am blessed to have a range of friends from staving artists to those with high paying roles for luxury companies. What stands out is that the more you earn doesn't equate to less stress and more happiness. Rather those earning more just have different stresses. Yes, my poorer friends are stressed about making ends meet, but my friends with a bigger pay packet are getting bosses calling them at 930pm at night, have higher expenses to maintain their larger car, house and set of gadgets and seem to have less time to spend with those they care about. More income seems to lead to more balancing of responsibilities.

So are the richer happier at all? It seems more of a case of the happiest people don't have the best of everything, they make the best of everything. Think about what makes you happy, truly happy, and often the answers are simple things; spending times with loved ones, being in nature, music. The ability to simplify our lives could have the ability to make us happier. A simpler life also often means a smaller carbon footprint too! Check out this talk by Graham Hill on less stuff equals more happiness.

Here are some gathered thoughts they may help you simplify your life.

  • Do the things you own take away from time you could spend with the people you love? Washing the car, cleaning the pool, working overtime to pay for the extra "mod cons" can all just begin to feel like you are on a hamster wheel while trying to keep up with the Joneses
  • When you go food shopping do you buy more than you need? I have seen fridges where friends purchased mushrooms a month ago and they are still sitting in the fridge. If you plan what you are going to eat for the week  you save on food wastage, money, time to clean out the fridge and this isn't just good for you, it's good for the environment.
  • When contemplating a purchase, a friend and I challenge each other, "Do you want it or need it?" If I was to contact you in a year would you be glad you purchased this item?
  • Planning a party? Often simple ideas are the best. The more you include, the more you have to worry about. You don't want to spend the whole party ensuring everything runs smoothly.
  • Unclutter your house. Feng shui 101 says an uncluttered house prevents the flow of positive energy and can increase feelings of stress and being overwhelmed. If doing the whole house seems like a mammoth task, do one room per weekend. If you can send excess to recyclers or charities you get double points!
  • Have a place for everything...and put it there.This saves you from your space being cluttered with piles everywhere. If it doesn't have a place, create one for it or get rid of it.
  • One concept that I'll keep from my days at McDonald's employee is "Clean-as -you-go". Not only does it keep your house clean and uncluttered, it frees up time later to have to tidy later. You may still have to spend an time sweeping the kitchen and cleaning the bathroom but it'll be a lot less time than if you have to put everything away first.
  • Add another decluttering weekend to your computer.
  • And the biggest thing to unclutter is your wardrobe. For a new way of thinking about clothes checkout this talk by Jessi Arrington:
Consumerism is at it's peak at this festive time of year. It seems to be a traditional tune amongst the Christmas carols as people moan, "Christmas is not what it used to be.It's all about gifts, purchases and debt". This is a key time to contemplate decluttering and making this Christmas a little more simple. Ask yourself for Christmas, "what do I need, rather than what do I want". I asked myself this question and the answer I came up with, "there's nothing I need for Christmas".

This causes a problem as family will start asking for suggestions and you start racking your brain to give them a list. Otherwise you could end up with a pile of things you neither want, nor need. So I came up with a list. I want a polar bear, a tiger, a panda, a bilby, an orangutan and a gorilla. Well actually I don't the real animals, rather to adopt them (life gets a little more complex when you have a zoo in your backyard I am sure!).

There are many organisations that offer symbolic adoptions that will benefit animals around the world.

Here are links to some of my favourites:

Jane Goodall Institute: - from $15/month

WWf Australia: - from $50

WWF Canada: - from $40

Toronto Zoo: - from $25

Melbourne Zoo: - from $15/month

Australia Zoo: - for $50

Perth Zoo: - from $50

Oceana: - from $30

Free The Bears: - from $200

Australian Orangutan Project: - from $55

Adopting an animal for Christmas still gives family and friends an opportunity to give at Christmas, it helps you keep your life simple, it contributes to a great cause and is a strong message to others about what you stand for. So this year for Christmas, keep your list simple, and give to those who truly need.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Animal of the Week: Panda

Having visited zoos around Australia, Europe and North America I feel like I have seen a lot of animals. I've seen the common place zoo standards like orang utans and giraffes to animals I hadn't heard of until I saw them such as the okapi and fossa. However there is still one well known animal I am yet to see. It seems this mysterious animal is just as hard to find in the wild. Recently an intrepid group of "seekers" dispatched by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) couldn't find a single animal on a five day campaign. The animal in question, the panda. The good news is panda seekers did find footprints and droppings, summarising that 33 pandas resided in the area. Click here to see the full story.

The panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca meaning black and white cat foot) is a bear native to central-western and south western. While some animals around the world have become really adaptive in their diet and will eat whatever is available, the panda's diet still consists of 99% bamboo. There are about 25 different species they will eat. Unfortunately bamboo is difficult to digest and obtain nutrients. This causes the panda to be slow moving in nature. They will tend to sit in one spot and eat all the bamboo within arms reach before moving again. Due to their diet they also have to defecate up to 40 times a day. In captivity they may receive honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves, oranges, or bananas along with specially prepared feed. Pandas have one more digit than humans, five fingers and a thumb. This thumb is actually a modified sesamoid bone, which helps the giant panda to hold bamboo while eating.

In the wild pandas are generally solitary and territorial animals. They use vocalisations and scent marking to mark their territory. Pandas can climb trees and take shelter in hollow trees and rock crevices. Thus, unlike some other bears they do not hibernate and will more often move up and down the mountain ranges to likable temperature regions throughout the year. Mating happens between March and May when the female comes in to esterous once for a days. Copulation with a male will last for 30 seconds to five minutes and the male will attempt several matings to ensure fertilisation. After 160 days a single cub is born. If twins are born in the wild the mother often will only nurture the strongest and allow the weaker to die. Part of the reason is she is unable to supply milk for two as pandas can't store fat.

Unlike many other endangered animals that are spread around the world to ensure genetic diversity, China keeps a firm grip on pandas in captivity. In the 1970s China would loan pandas to North American and Japanese zoos as a form of diplomacy. However in 1984 this ceased and pandas are now lent out on 10 year loans with a borrowing fee of about $US1 million a year with a provision of any pandas born overseas still belong to China. Since 1998, due to a WWF lawsuit, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service only allows a U.S. zoo to import a panda if the zoo can ensure that the PRC will channel more than half of its loan fee into conservation efforts for the giant panda and its habitat. A 2006 New York Times article outlined the economics of keeping pandas, which costs five times more than that of the next most expensive animal, an elephant.

The panda is listed as Vulnerable by IUCN. Their main threat is habitat destruction, and to a lesser extent poaching. Estimates range between 1,000 and 3,000 still remaining in the wild. Some believe that panda populations are starting to increase. This is largely due to the increase in panda reserves being established. In 2006, there were 40 panda reserves in China, compared to just 13 reserves two decades ago.

Panda Medicine
The panda teaches gentle strength. Although they have the power to attack a human, they rarely do unless they are provoked. You can be strong without flaunting or proving your abilities to the world. If a panda has presented itself before you now is the time to combine your gentleness with strength. Focus on the project with your full attention to avoid problems.

If the panda is bringing you a message about a particular event then know that the early stages will be difficult. When a panda cub is first born it is only three to four ounces, making it's mother nearly a thousand times larger. Initially the mother must help the newborn eat, stay warm and defecate. Life is not easy for a panda in the beginning. This message reflects the beginning of an event or task you have ahead of you. Know though that you can prevail. The panda, although often birthing twins will reject one, leaving it to die. The ability to focus will help you in this event. You too must focus on one path and not get distracted by another less important one.

For those whom panda is a totem, so too is bamboo. Like the panda, bamboo resembles strength but is extremely flexible. It is valued in many Asian countries where it is used for all sorts of things, from being a delicacy to scaffolding. Strength does not have to mean stubbornness. Show flexibility while not breaking from your core principles.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Who has been naughty and who has been nice on Santa's List?

With the population reaching seven billion earlier this year Santa has his work cut out for him determining who had been naughty and who had been nice. I am good friends with Santa (click here to listen to our chat a couple of year's ago on Christmas Eve in iTunes) so he has asked me to help. Each week he has asked me to compile a list of who has been naughty and who has been nice and it would be helpful if you could check it for us twice. Of course I am sure Santa will double check it to see if they really deserve a gift on Christmas.

The Naughty List

1) The Pemberton Poacher - Although Santa knows who it is, the Pemberton Wildlife Association is still looking for and have offered a $1,000 reward for the killer of a 317kg grizzly bear who was found shot to death, with body parts missing, in the Pemberton Meadows area near the turnoff to the Hurley Forest Service Road on 17th November. If you have any information you can contact the B.C. Conservation Officer Service on 1-877-952-7277.

2) Lakshmi N. Mittal of Steel industry giant Arcellor-Mittal, Dr. Hans Engel of chemicals industry leader BASF, Dr. Marius Kloppers of mining giant BHP Billiton, Charles G. Koch of the US energy industry’s Koch and Brian Dames of South Africa’s electric utility Eskom – these five individuals are leaders of giant multinational companies who, along with others, literally spend “the equivalent of the GDP of entire nations to block progress on climate legislation and ensure that fossil fuel and nuclear subsidies continue to give unfair advantage to dirty energy, above the safe, clean renewable energy future the public demands.” as according to Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo and a new report.

3) Vincent de Rivaz, CEO of EDF - The French utility company has been fined €1.5 million for hacking into the computer networks of Greenpeace. Pascal Durieux, EDF's head of nuclear production security in 2006, was handed a three-year sentence with two years suspended and a €10,000 fine (about $13,000) for commissioning the spying.

The Nice List

1) Clement Kwok, The Chief Executive of the Peninsula Hotel Group - The luxurious hotel chain with nine hotels in Asia has taken shark fin soup off all their menus in a bid to help save the depleting numbers of sharks in our oceans. 73 million sharks are currently killed each year for shark fin soup.

Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent
2) Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent - who at a recent talk at the Lory Student Center Grand Ballroom on the CSU campus shared his belief that sustainability is currently the world's greatest issue and that corporate partnerships to promote sustainability, such as Coca-Cola's new deal with Coca Cola need to become the norm.

3) Japanese tuna boat captain Kazuhiro Yamazaki - has designed new fishing gear, called the ‘Yamazaki Double-Weight Branchline,’ which causes hooks to sink deeper into the water, out of site of hungry birds. The new invention reduced seabird bycatch by up to 90% without reducing fishing catches. The invention won the World Wildlife Fund’s 2011 International Smart Gear Competition.

4) Zhang Junming, Guan Jianhong, Li Shiheibu and the other members of a group a "panda seeking" team - they spent five days surveying panda habitat in the mountains of southwest China's Sichuan province, looking for traces of the endangered animals. "This place is known as 'China's Bermuda Triangle,' as several people were reported missing here in the 1960s and 1970s," said Zhou Longlin, deputy chief of the reserve's administration. Although they saw no pandas, they found evidence via droppings and foot prints and concluded 33 pandas reside in the area.

How to get on the Nice List

Join WWF's Living Planet Community at It's a great way to get a whole bunch of green living tips and get a true measurement on your reduction green house gas emissions. Feel free to join my group Adam Barralet's Bloody Good Things To Do once you've open your account. I'll put in a good word for you with Santa.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Animal of the Week: Okapi

Part giraffe, part zebra, part antelope is what the "spare parts" animal the okapi look s like. Not discovered until 1901 the okapi lives in tropical rainforests of northeast region of Democratic Republic of Congo. At first sight the okapi may look like it is related to the zebra from it's black and white striped rear. However closer inspection shows how it is the only living relative of the giraffe with it's long, blue, prehensile tongue and the male's short, skin-covered horns called ossicones.

If the okapi is a living relative of the giraffe then why are they much shorter, standing at a height of about 5ft compared to a giraffe that can be up to 17-20ft tall? This is simply the result of evolutionary response to living in different habitats. In the rain forests, branches of leaves are lower so the okapi does not require the height, the giraffe does on the African plains.

Okapis are herbivores, eating tree leaves and buds, grass, ferns, fruit, and fungi. Many of the plant species fed upon by the okapi are poisonous to humans. Faeces analysis has also shown that okapis will eat charcoal from trees burnt by lightning strikes.

Finding an okapi is rather difficult to find in the wild. Living in dense rain forest with their water-proof, multi-coloured coat hides them well. They also have strong hearing and will run when they hear humans. Furthermore, they are generally solitary animals, so you are unlikely to find more than one within an area unless it is a mother with young (usually just one) or during breeding times. Males are territorial and will fight off intruders.

Although okapis are not classified as endangered, they are threatened by habitat destruction and poaching. The world population is estimated at 10,000–20,000. The changing politics of central Africa and the continued loss of habitat threaten the beautiful okapi. Fortunately, in 1952, one-fifth of okapi habitat in Africa’s Ituri Forest was set aside as a wildlife reserve. The Okapi Wildlife Reserve, with support from San Diego Zoo Global, other zoos and conservation organizations, and the local people, continues to protect and to support study of this rare and unusual forest dweller.

Okapi Medicine
Okapi medicine is that of silent truth. By listening and not reacting, okapi shows us truth without fear.
Okapi suggests we must learn to remove our self from rigid thinking. Okapi also encourages us to meditate more. It is a time to slip through life unseen and unheard.

Tuning into okapi can also give clairvoyant abilities, for they see both the present and the near future.
The okapi’s black and white stripes are associated with spirit and form, density and light and represent polarity on the earth plane. Those who hold this medicine often carry life lessons relating to polarity.

The okapi expresses the concepts of "being different, uniqueness and individuality". This is one of the okapi's greatest gifts. It can also draw on different energies as needed making.

If the okapi has appeared to you recently, it may be trying to pass on a message related to the above information. It may appear in reality, dreams, pictures, conversations or any other form.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ways to increase your Qi (Chi)

Qi (also called Chi) refers to the life-force or the life energy that flows through all living things. The literal translation of "qi" is breath, air, or gas. The earliest records of the concept of qi are from Chinese philosophy around 5BC. However this is not a concept only found in China. Although given other names it appears around the word as prana in Sanskrit, humours or vital energy in Western concepts, mana in Hawaiian culture and L√ľng in Tibetan Buddhism. It even appears in some form in popular culture such as "The Force" in the movie Star Wars.

Our level of qi depends on our lifestyle habits such as food quality, balance of emotions, physical exercise and so on. If you are low in qi you will few unwell and lethargic. Increase your qi and you will feel more vibrant and energetic. Here are some ways to increase you qi:

- Breathe deeply all day.
- Avoid qi robbing activities such as watching excessive TV, experiencing too many negative emotions, talking too much, and spending too much time in crowded places.
- Meditate.
- Eat a balanced diet of local, organic foods. Qi increasinj foods include lemon juice, brown rice, carrots, chicken, china root, eggs, fish, fox nut, ginseng, green beans, leeks, longan fruit, nutmeg, lamb, lotus seed, oats, onion, pearl barley, potatoes, pumpkin, soybeans, squash, string beans, tofu, turnips, and yams.
_ Stretch your muscles. Yoga is ideal for this.
- Take martial arts or qigong classes.
- See a Chinese medicine practitioner.
- Get decent sleep. Don't eat to close to bed time or drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks. Ideally go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Wear bright colours.
- Listen to uplifting music.
Unclutter your living and working spaces. Follow feng shui principles in these spaces.
- Surround yourself with the inspiring colors of beautiful flowers. A bouquet of flowers has a powerful influence on a person's mindset; they can uplift a less-than-lovely mood and even eliminate stress. In fact, one study showed that people who sat next to an arrangement of colorful flowers were better able to relax during a five-minute typing assignment than those who sat near foliage-only plants.
- Avoid judgment. Grudges and negative feelings only reduce our Qi. If you are holding hard feelings towards someone it is harming you more than them. As Nelson Madella's said, "“When you hold a grudge, it is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.”
- Have fun and be spontaneous. Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Great News from Guatemala

Researchers and conservationists from the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Guatemala Program, WCS’s Bronx Zoo, the National Park Service of Guatemala, and other groups have announced a major conservation victory from Central America. The breeding season for endangered scarlet macaws in the region has been the most successful to date. There have been 29 fledglings this year which higher than the goal of one fledgling for each of the 24 monitored nests.

The program focused on monitoring weak and at-risk chicks, who were removed from nests, hand reared and then returned to foster nests containing other chicks of similar age. Support was provided to the team in Guatemala by the Bronx Zoo’s Department of Ornithology and veterinarians from the Global Health Program.

This is great news for the scarlet macaw considering only 300 are believed to still be alive in the country. The results are also a far improvement from earlier years such as 2003 which only raised one fledgling from 15 monitored nests. “We believe the lessons learned can not only help save the scarlet macaw in Guatemala, but be extended to help other threatened species of parrots and cavity nesters across the globe.” said WCS Conservationist Rony Garcia. This work will continue until organisations are able to work with local government to protect scarlet macaws against the threats of habitat destruction and poaching for the pet trade.

Photo credits: WCS Guatemala Program.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Don't get taken for a ride in NYC

Just like the yellow taxis and the newspaper dispensers on every corner, horse drawn carriages are icons of the New York City streets. However after the events of the past few weeks many organisations including PETA, Rational Animal and NY Class are increasing pressure on the city to take the horses off the streets and put them back where they belong, away from crowded streets, polluted air and cramped conditions.

The news first hit the headlines in late October when a carriage horse named "Charlie" collapsed and died on the street (pictured). The autopsy report indicates that Charlie was not a healthy horse and was suffering from great pain. He specifically had "pronounced chronic ulceration of the stomach and a fractured tooth." Concerns were voiced about how many other horses were in similar conditions.

On October 28, a horse hitched to an empty carriage became spooked and bolted straight into traffic. One witness said that the horse just missed several taxis, then crashed into a curb and fell on his side before running off again, only to become tangled in the broken carriage and harness.

The most recent incident happened during Friday's rush hour when a horse fell down in the middle of the busy street. One person defending the horse's fall said it was due to the change in the weather causing the horse to be more frisky than usual and his leg became caught in the carriage when he bucked. Other witnesses claim the horse collapsed. Regardless of what happened in this incident, the horse was put in an environment where it was not safe.

Celebrities such as Pamela Anderson (click here) and Glee star Lea Michele (see video below) are also prompting NYC to ban horse carriages.  NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg believes that carriage horses should stay on the streets of New York stating, "[they] probably wouldn't be alive if they didn't have a job". New York State Senator Tony Avella has renewed his call to ban the barbaric carriage rides, which are a hazard to horses and to public safety. He is generating support for the Intro. Bill 86, which would replace horse-drawn carriages with eco-friendly (and horse-friendly) classic cars.

You can contact Mayor Bloomberg (click here) and other New York law makers (click here) to share your opinion.

You can also sign the petition at:

To see footage of the horses night stables, please watch the below video:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Animal of the Week: Redback Spider

The Redback spider is part of the widow family of spiders gaining their name from the female who is especially recognisable by a red stripe on her abdomen. Although widows are found around the world, Redback’s are endemic to Australia, found throughout the country. Small populations have been found in the U.K, U.A.E, Japan and New Zealand due probably being introduced by being transported by transport planes or ships.

They are considered one of the most dangerous spiders in Australia due to their neurotoxic venom. However less than 20 deaths have ever been reported, probably because the antivenom is commercially and readily available. Most bites are from females spiders which are larger than the males. Records show that most bites occur in the warmer months of December to April in the late afternoon or evening. As the female rarely leave their web it bites are usually due to someone getting too close to her web or placing their hand in a dark space such as a dark hole or wall cavity. Symptoms of a bite include pain and swelling at the bite site, chest and/or abdominal pain and excessive sweating. If bitten by a Redback, apply an ice pack to the bitten area to relieve pain. Do not apply a pressure bandage as venom movement is slow and pressure worsens pain. Seek medical attention and if possible collect the spider for positive identification.

The female is larger at 1cm, compared to the 3-4mm males. Males do not create a web but rather hang around the edges of a female’s web which is distinctly messy, often holding small, white egg sacks. He will make overtures to see if she is ready, but he must be careful as sometimes she mistakes him as prey. It has been found that in order to occupy the female's attention during mating, the male spider offers her his abdomen by standing on his head and 'somersaulting' his abdomen towards her mouthparts. The female begins to squirt digestive juices onto the male's abdomen while the first palp is inserted. If he is not too weak, he will manage to withdraw, and then insert the second palp. She will continue to 'digest' his abdomen. Most males do not survive this process.

Redback spiders will prey on king crickets, trapdoor spiders, and small lizards that get caught in their web. Their predators are two other species of spider, Daddy-long-legs Spiders and White-tailed Spiders. Redbacks can survive for up to 100 days without food. The average male lives for six to seven months while a female will live for two to three years.

Spider Medicine
Spiders are the weavers of the web of life. One myth involves deer one day asking spider why all the lines in her web looked like symbols. Spider replied that she was creating the first alphabet for humans so they could record and pass on knowledge. Deer rebutted and said humans already have pictures that they draw of their experiences. “Earth’s children are growing more complex and future generations will need to know more,” explained spider. Thus, spider has the ability to see the future and create your destiny.

Spider teaches us to do the same. Set up your life and weave your web to attract what you need. Spider also heeds a warning. Do not get distracted or caught up in the web, otherwise you may become the victim of another’s plan or simply the tangle of the web of life.

The spider’s body is the shape of the ∞ symbol, being made up of a prosoma (head part) and an abdomen. Thus spider also reminds us life offers us an infinite number of choices. Their eight legs also represent the four winds of change and the four directions in the medicine wheel OR the quarters and cross quarters of a magical circle.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Polar Bear update

The plight of Polar Bears and their link to climate change has become common knowledge in recent years. It's an exciting time as people and organisations create various ways to support these beautiful animals. Here are some of the latest updates:

Tracking Polar Bears
You can now follow five female polar bears who have been radio collared in northern Canada. By tracking the movements of polar bears, we can all learn more about how they use their natural habitat and how they are adapting to the changes in sea ice due to the effects of climate change. The five are all females and are accompanied by at least one cub each. The tracker site gives each bear's stats, exactly where they were last located, a map of where they have travelled and the distances they have covered. The page also includes regular updates about the bears on the left. To follow Aurora, Nanukic, Neige, Nita and the wanderer Callista (she gets around) simply go to

7-Eleven Stores join Coca Cola in protecting Polar Bear's Arctic home
In an earlier post (click here) I discussed Coca Cola changing their cans from red to white for the holiday season as well as making donations to the WWF. 7-Eleven is now running a campaign through out there 6,400 stores around the USA. The campaign involves downloading a iPhone app (see where you can challenge friends to snowball fights. You earn point this way, as well as visiting 7-Eleven stores, and go in the running to win an iPad and a trip for two to the Arctic.

The app helps raise funds for WWF's efforts by directing users to, where they can enter package codes from specially-marked Coca-Cola products to trigger an individual $1 donation. Coca-Cola will match all donations made with a package code by March 15, 2012, up to a total of $1 million.

New IUCN study still predicts decline in polar bear numbers
Although a lot is being done to increase awareness and raise funds a new report from the IUCN predicts a dramatic reduction in polar bear habitats in the next 10-50 years. The IUCN Red List has polar bears listed as vulnerable, as are many other animals around the world, but the polar bear is the first species protected under the Endangered Species Act because it is threatened due to global warming. "Climate change will be one of the major drivers of species extinctions in the 21st century," says Simon Stuart, Chair of IUCN's Species Survival Commission. In order to save the polar bears we must reduce out reliance on fossil fuels as well as campaign for leaders to make strong decisions on reducing emissions (just like Australia has just done - click here to see WWF Australia update). Other factors include toxic contaminants, shipping, recreational viewing and oil and gas exploration. For further information visit the Polar Bears International site at

Resources for educating children
If you work with children, Polar Bear International has some great resources to help you educate them about polar bears. You can find posters, videos, quizzes, PowerPoint presentations and more. To see the great selection visit

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Should you eat like a gorilla or a tiger?

While reading the book The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder I was introduced to a new idea. Simply put, it proposed the human digestive system is more like that of an herbivorous gorilla than that of a carnivorous tiger, thus we should be a vegetarian. This makes sense since we are so closely related to gorillas. We share about 95-98% of the same genes, depending on which scientist you talk to. However I wanted to explore this option more.

One of Kimberly Snyder’s points is both humans and gorillas cannot break down uric acid like tigers can. Uric acid is a by-product of digested animal protein and is easily broken down by the body via an enzyme it secretes called uricase. Many other animals from bacteria to mammals produces uricase but humans and other primates do not. Interestingly, humans do have a gene that encourages the production of uricase, but it is non functional which seems to be an early mutation in primate evolution.

Too much uric acid in the body, caused by a high meat diet can cause kidney problems and gout. Researchers have also found statistical links between high uric acid levels and high blood pressure, diabetes and senile dementia. It should be noted that uric acid can be advantageous as an antioxidant in our our bodies but the according to we produce a lot of uric acid simply from the breakdown of our own cells as part of day to day cell regeneration. Thus, we do not require to eat meat to get uric acid and eating too much meat can increase the amount of uric acid in our systems, leading to health issues

Gorillas and humans have a much longer intestines compared to a tiger in relation to body size. This is a second point Kimberly Snyder uses to support why we should imitate other primate diets. However there is a primary difference of the digestive system between other primates and humans found in the gastrointestinal tract. Other primates are able to break down cellulose. They have large colons and the large intestine is filled with microbes (bacterial) and enzymes for fermenting, detoxifying food, and breaking down cellulose. Humans can break down cellulose a little but not as effectively as our wild friends.

Susan Schenck on says, “when man split off from chimpanzees, he traded an energy-intense digestive tract with the ability to digest cellulose for an energy-intensive brain. The energy used for the brain had to be subtracted from elsewhere, and it came at the expense of the digestive tract”. She also states that DHA found in fatty rich meats was vital to brain evolution in humans.

DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid which although found in meat it is also available in ground flax seeds and flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybeans, walnuts, wheatgerm, pumpkin seeds, tuna, salmon and eggs. Research has found that we require omega-3 fatty acids along with a balanced intake of omega-6 fatty acids which are found in vegetable oil (sunflower, soybean, corn, sesame, cottonseed, grapeseed, walnut), walnuts, brazilnuts, almonds cashews, seeds (flax, hemp, sunflower, sesame, pine nuts, and pumpkin), shellfish and egg yolks. On the site it states, “A diet must be balanced with a ratio in the range of 2:1 to 4:1, Omega-6 to Omega-3. Western diets often contain a ratio of 10:1 to 30:1 and higher. People need to concentrate on eating more Omega-3 foods”.

It seems safe to say that although genetically we are very close to other primates including gorillas and chimpanzees we do require more fatty acids in our diet. However from the lists in the previous paragraph it is evident that there are many available vegetarian or vegan options. We may have evolved by eating meat as a primary source of fatty acids, but we now have the knowledge to substitute meat with other foods offering similar nutrients.

Another interesting argument supporting vegetarianism that I came across was that plant-eating creatures have the longest lifespan. Elephants, horses, and chimpanzees are at the top of the list while lions, tigers, and wolves are about half that. Since humans' lifespans are even are we meant to be herbivorous to live longer? Most scientific studies comparing vegetarians to non-vegetarians found vegetarians only live for about a year or two more on average. Some of this benefit could be attributable to non-dietary lifestyle factors such as the avoidance of smoking and a high socio-economic status.

If you are looking at living longer a great book to read is Blue Zones by Dan Buettner. He has identified areas within the world which has a higher rate of centenarians (people living to 100+y.o.), then finds factors each of these groups, scattered around the world all have in common. Nine common attributes were found. As well as being moderately active, having a good attitude and a healthy social life eating a diet with a “plant slant” is recommended. The book's website recommends, “Try to limit it (meat) to a portion the size of a deck of cards and only twice per week. Beans, including fava, black and soy and lentils are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets. Snacking on nuts–about a handful a day has been associated with and extra 2-3 years of life expectancy.” This evidence supports restricting our meat intake.

As well as examining whether we should be vegetarian from a biological point of view, there are other issues, becoming ever more important to consider. Environmentally there are advantages to becoming vegetarian. WWF Canada states that raising animals for food creates more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. Producing one calorie of animal protein requires more than 10 times as much fuel, creating 10 times the greenhouse gas emissions, than one calorie of plant protein. By not eating meat, you can prevent 1360 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere each year. A vegan who does not eat meat, fish or dairy foods, creates 1.3 fewer tonnes of CO2 than a meat eater every year. Furthermore meat production requires far more water usage than producing vegetable, fruits, etc.

In her book Eat Your Heart Out by Felicity Lawrence not only covers eating meat from an global environmental impact but also discusses local communities who have been destroyed by meat production due to contamination from animal excrement from nearby farms and large companies bullying and out competing local farmers. The world’s largest animal rights organisation PETA also encourages us to choose vegetarian to stop the cruel conditions in which animals are raised and slaughtered on many large scale meat farms.

There are very few animals (remembering we are animals) that can live fully with a limited diet. The exceptions are special animals which have very restricted feeding habits. Some examples are the Three-toed Sloth which feeds on only 2 species of tree, Koalas which feed on only a few species of eucalyptus , the Giant Panda which feeds almost exclusively on bamboo; American Anteaters, Aardvarks and Australian Banded Anteaters all of which exist only on ants and termites. Many animals which are classified as herbivores would still ingest some animal protein such as insects on the plants they eat. Our primate relatives do eat some animal protein. Orang utans, gorillas and chimps have all been observed eating insects, eggs and rodents. Some chimpanzees will hunt and eat other monkeys, much to the disappointment of vegetarian Jane Goodall.

It appears that we are not tigers, nor gorillas, but highly evolved and intelligent humans. We have unique dietary requirements which involve a variety of nutrients. Although some of these can be sourced from meats, and have done in the past, these nutrients are available from other, non-meat sources as well. Excessive meat eating has negative impacts on our health and well being, as seen in many Western nations. eating meat also has a negative impact on the environment and people involved in the production and supply of meat. So, should you be a vegetarian for health reasons? It seems to improve your well- being. Also as Nobel-prize winning author Isaac Bashevisy Singer states, "Yes, for the health of the chicken!" and we can probably add for the health of the planet too.