Category Archives: Extinction

Trump lifts ban on lion and elephant trophy imports

“We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with winning.”
Donald Trump

Would someone close to the president let him know that winning at “Racing Extinction” does not mean promoting species eradication?

The world is a horrible place. Lions kill for food, but people kill for sport.”
Donald Trump


Wall Street Journal video:


Jimmy Kimmel on Cecil the Lion:


Click to see why the Trumps are smiling:
Big game hunters


Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping choir attempt to STOP the Robobees

“Colony Collapse Disorder is the phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen…But hives cannot sustain themselves without worker bees and would eventually die.”— the Environmental Protection Agency.  

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-1-55-28-pm

https://www.epa.gov/pollinator-protection/colony-collapse-disorder

Beekeepers have been noticing decreases in bee populations since 2006, and the leading causes have been traced to

  • Pesticide poisoning through exposure to pesticides applied to crops or for in-hive insect or mite control.
  • Stress bees experience due to management practices such as transportation to multiple locations across the country for providing pollination services.
  • Changes to the habitat where bees forage.

Two years ago, Reverend Billy and The Stop Shopping Choir arrived at the doorsteps of Harvard with fruits from the Earth asking that the Wyss Institute redirect its research from creating Autonomous Flying Microrobots, or Robobees, to saving bees.

The Stop Shopping Choir is a New York based,  anti-consumerist gospel choir that focuses on the capitalist consumer’s environmental impact.  Please check out this hilarious video that I also take very seriously.  

Trees Need Lovin’ Too

 

beech-trees-forest-moss-sun_rays-nature-landscape-france-green-roots-ancient

Photo

As I am further looking into the importance of parks and trees within city areas, I  came across this Pinterest post covering an extreme problem called “deforestation.” Deforestation is the act or result of cutting down or burning all the trees in an area As defined in Merriam Webster Dictionary. Our country only makes up 5% of our world’s population, but we are responsible for using nearly half of the world’s industrial wood…This is a problem that we first need to recognize in order to stop it.

images-4

Photo

What Can Be Done?

 

50 Jobs For The Environment                      Education                         Tree Breath                     

Bark As Medicine                                   Air Quality                      Tree Food

 

Project for Green World

After numerous attempts, I have finally done something that could possible influence people.

I did heavy research on the wildlife trade, and what really goes on in the trade. I have figured out that the market is huge, and that it is a very popular market. tigers poached rhino without horns

The underground illegal market (including animal items such as rhino horns), according to ‘‘Invisible’’ wildlife trades: Southeast Asia’s undocumented illegal trade in wild ornamental plants by J. Phelps and Edward L. Webb, now has become nearly “invisible”, meaning it has been hard to detect evidence of trades without heavy researching (Phelps, Webb., 296). Phelps and Webb mention that there had been under-reporting and non-reporting of illegal products, which contributed to the “invisibility”. After third-party monitoring and research efforts, apparently there are illegal trades “such as the South Korean market-based trade of whale meat (Baker et al., 2007), and bushmeat trade from Africa into Europe via air” (297). The most surprising conclusion to come from this research, is that the market is alive and running. And also the size of the wildlife trade market is enormous. The article THE ORGANIZATION OF THE ILLEGAL TIGER PARTS TRADE IN CHINA by Rebecca W.Y. Wong, notifies the alarming numbers: “[t]he global illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth US$ 20 billion per annum, ranking second behind the illegal narcotics trade (Wyler and Sheikh 2008; 2013).” Agreeably, 20 billion is not a small number.

And the trade items include tiger heads, which is used for decoration and accessories. In China tigers are symbols of strength and power and it is crucial in China’s tradition (1). They are often used for aesthetic decorations, and also are used as “traditional medicine” (Leung and Cheng 2003; Maciocia 2004)” (1). This wildlife trade is embedded in their lifestyles, and the citizens that partake in the trade do not have any problems persisting slaughter of threatened animals.  Thus, by observing Leung, Cheng, and Wong’s research of China, it may be nearly improbable to put a halt to illegal wildlife trade. Now in China, “criminal networks” exist in order to be participants of the illegal trade (3). Criminals utilize reputation by having trust as a commodity, serving the adequate demand (4). And by analyzing these criminals who earn power by serving demands of wildlife, chances for reducing illegal trade become slimmer and slimmer.

Furthermore, there are consequences when these activities prolong. When China continues its wildlife trade in the industry, the number of wildlife animal dwindles. There are only 3,890 tigers in the wild today (World Wildlife Fund 2015), and they are in danger of extinction. Similarly, in Racing Extinction, (a documentary discussing the issues of the planet, environment damage) when it covered the black market in Hong Kong and other places in the world, there were tiger heads on the shelves, packed in rows. The recent coverage of this footage, proves the very fact that the trade of endangered animals takes place in the current.

What I decided to do, is create illustrations of endangered animals, but in the reverse. I have drawn human figures as animals. I wanted people to feel that killing an animal’s life, is still killing a life. They need to realize how serious the issue is, and people need to stop poaching.

I have made an instagram account to post my photos. It is called saveanimalsgg. Although this media can be very limiting, I think that social media can have a big impact.

polar bear panda

 

Racing extinction: a follow up

 

The villagers of Lamakera bringing in the mantas. Photo by: Shawn Heinrichs
The villagers of Lamakera bringing in the mantas. Photo by: Shawn Heinrichs

‘Racing Extinction’ was a powerful documentary about the mass extinction of various species.  Immediately after I watched the documentary, I was interested to follow up and see how Lamakera, Indonesia, the village known for manta fishing, had changed since the documentary was made in January 2015.   A complex issue such as the extinction of mantas is quite simply an economic problem.  There is a demand for manta, and it therefore follows that those seeking to profit from this demand will supply it.  This is not to say the villagers of Lamakera are heartless profiteers; for the villagers, manta fishing a way of making a living. As a result, there are two separate issues a solution to manta fishing would have to address:

  1. Addressing the demand of manta.  Without demand, fishers will no longer be incentivized to hunt mantas.
  2. Manta fishing is a major source of revenue for the village of Lamakera.  If the fishers should not fish manta, what should they do? We cannot simply expect them to stop fishing by appealing to their moral goodness.

In ‘Racing Extinction’, the proposed solution was simply tourism.  However, Lamakera is a tiny village that is hardly visible on a map (and does not even have an English Wikipedia page!).

What has happened in the past year since ‘Racing Extinction’ was released?

In 2013 (as shown in ‘Racing Extinction’), mantas were included in the 2013 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Mantas are now a protected species and Indonesia is now the world’s largest manta sanctuary (WildAid).

A map of Lamakera in Indonesia to give you an idea of where the village is.
A map of Lamakera in Indonesia to give you an idea of where the village is.

Many nonprofits, NGOs, and other interest groups have attempted to help with the protection of mantas and Lamakera’s transition away from hunting them.  Active groups in Lamakera include the MacArthur FoundationConservation InternationalWildAid, and Oceanic Preservation Society.  Together they form a formidable force necessary to tackle an issue like this.

Since the release of the documentary in early 2015, interest groups have worked hard to engage with the Lamakera community, educate it about the manta population, the state of the oceans, and the effects of overfishing both on the local ecosystem and economy (Conservation.org).

This is the Misool Eco Resort, located in Indonesia's Raja Ampat archipelago. Raja Ampat has successfully brought in revenues from ecotourism.
This is the Misool Eco Resort, located in Indonesia’s Raja Ampat archipelago. Raja Ampat has successfully brought in revenues from ecotourism.

There have also been efforts to push Lamakera as a tourist destination.  The details are not out yet on how this process is being achieved.  I suspect this process will take many years. The National Geographic points to Raja Amat, in the Papua region of Indonesia, as a good example of a village that transitioned into a marine eco-tourism hotspot.

Impact of racing extinction

Admittedly, a year is not very long, especially when we are talking about an economic transition for an impoverished village.  However, there have been notable efforts to help both the villagers of Lamakera and its wildlife by many influential interest groups.  They have started their mission with an educational campaign. This step is crucial but it is still necessary to find an alternative for the fishers.

After Watching Racing Extinction, and Thinking About Final Project

After watching Racing Extinction, I did some google research, and saw for myself if the world really performed harmful and hysterical actions, such as killing endangered animals and eating them.

Minke Whale 1WPmedium
Mink Whale

Quite recently, according to Lorraine Chow‘s article in EcoWatch, Japan killed 333 Minked Whales, and sadly 200 of them were pregnant. Japan’s whaling system in the Southern Ocean has been declared illegal and wrongful. International Court of Justice had said that such action was mostly for commercial activities, and not for research. On the website of the “research group” (I am not going to link it because it is so disgusting), there are photos of whales cut with blood, and explains the gruesome methods that the “research” group performed to kill whales.

Although members and involvers in the Racing Extinction team protected animals such as Manta Ray from being slaughtered, the world still suffers from stupid, disgusting human activities.

Originally I wanted to create a “eco-world” by illustration, but I think I may take a different approach. I, four years ago, had to compose music for a charity. The music focused on the experiences I dealt with in Liberia. Residents in Liberia lacked food, clean water, and even did not have toilets. I wrote my thoughts down on a piece of paper, and gathered some ideas. It took me one month to even get a grasp of how to compose music, but in the end, by the help of a composer, I was able to create an album called “Happiness”.

Manta Ray by J. Ralph and Anohi, is so powerful, that it made me highly consider composing music for a similar cause. Specifically, I want to focus on whale hunting. Whale meat should not be served at any place. As mentioned in Racing Extinction, art have a high emotional impact on its viewers.

The first step to this project would involve going to the Kimmel piano rooms few times a week. In two weeks I would have the whole piece written out. Then, I would request friends who is a singer (who is talented in singing) to sing the lyrics that I wrote.

I will write the lyrics starting from April 5th.

 

 

 

 

Documentary Activism and Formation

Idle Threat and Racing Extinction: Two passion driven documentaries about a group of people acknowledging issues that are a threat to our environment and our planet, and actively pursuing the goal of minimizing the damages that come from these issues.

On one hand you have Racing Extinction with a Hollywood production budget, dealing with global-scale issues in regards to animals that have been extinct and some that are on the verge of being extinct. The film takes us to several different countries across the world and introduces several different methodologies that these driven journalists, artists and scientists use to fight this battle.

On the other hand you have Idle Threat with a minimalistic production budget in comparison to Racing Extinction, dealing with a much more local issue of curbside engine idling in New York City. George Pakenham seeks help and support from the City of New York, rather than taking this issue to a global level. Pakenham uses humor to keep his audience engaged with the documentary, which is a tactic that Racing Extinction doesn’t use.

While Racing Extinction’s insane production budget makes the film a spectacle for larger groups of people across the globe, Idle Threat has a more relatable and conversational tone that allows us to connect with the subject easily.

Nonetheless, both documentaries were eye opening and reassuring that environmental activism can have satisfying results.

On that note, I would like to give some updates on my project.

As you all know, I am working on creating a performance art piece to raise awareness about the Flint Water Crisis.

I am currently finishing up my research on individuals who were/are effected by this tragic event. With the data I collect from my research, I am going to start writing monologues representing different characters. This is similar to the work that Anna Deavere Smith does.

I was also inspired to use this device of using character distinction as a way of sending a message from a TED talk that I watched last year by Sarah Jones, in which she portrays nearly six different characters from her own life to describe her diverse background and the benefits of diversity within a specific community.

Additionally, I started developing choreography to Beyonce‘s new controversial song “Formation“. The music video to the song is highly political and features tons of strong statements. However, I’m not sure if the lyrics of the song suggest the same. Beyonce released “Formation” during the height of the Flint Water Crisis, which is a curious action on her part. Therefore, I am interested in exploring ways in which the two might be related to one another.

Art For The Environment

I found both Racing Extinction and Idle Threat: Man on Emission to be perfect examples of using art for an environmental and humanitarian purpose.

The team in Racing Extinction chose to perform their piece on a larger and more poetic scale, while I found George Pakenham to use his humor on a more local scale.

I admire how both parties managed to create a work that corresponds to what they personally believe in whether it be the extinction of species, or the idling of cars.

Racing-Extinction.jpg.653x0_q80_crop-smart

It is true that such a monumental exhibition as the one found in Racing Extinction is quite breathtaking at first sight because it makes us immediately understand that we are part of a much larger world and that we must keep other Earth beings in mind even though we live in the urban city of New York. 

It also struck me that George Pakenham’s technique was equally as effective in helping the environment as it gave people in their cars an immediate solution on how to be more eco-friendly and considerate of their surroundings.

idling

I think that both documentaries demonstrate two very opposite ways to raise awareness for a cause but I do believe that George Pakenham’s idea is much more tangible and perhaps more applicable to students like us. I found myself becoming much more aware of my surroundings after seeing Idle Threat: Man on Emission. I started to pay attention to the idling vehicles parked on the street outside my window and became bothered by the smell they brought into my bedroom. It made me realize that pollution is not something that anyone can ignore at this point since it even penetrates into everyone’s personal homes.

Way of the Future (thoughts on global population growth)

Over the past 55 years, the global population has doubled. There were half the people there are now on this planet when my parents were born. At this rate, the population of earth will be over 11 billion by 2060. Terrifying statistics when one considers the strain on our planet’s resources with the population earth has now. In the documentary Climate Refugees  former US Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, states that “everything in nature is related, so overpopulation, competition for resources, food, water, energy; all have an impact on each other.”  The founder of Earthday, former  US Senator Gaylord Nelson, shared a similar sentiment, that addresses the severity of consequences :

“The link between population growth and environmental degradation is made often in retrospective studies, which is why they aren’t really considered valid, but clearly more people living better lives is the hallmark of progress.  Activists worried about the environment don’t want better lives unless it means fewer lives too.  More people means more cars, trucks and buses, more air pollution, more parking lots and less green spaces.  In their progressive dystopian future, there are more chemicals, more trash and more runoff cascading down super sewers into our streams, lakes and oceans means more damage to California’s biodiversity hot-spots.  Plus, more people means more pressure on declining water supplies”

-Gaylord Nelson

The current annual global energy consumption rates are only getting higher. We have surpassed the equivalent of 3 billion metric tonnes of oil in global energy needs every year. As we all know, fossil fuels are a finite resource. For our planet to achieve such a massive annual energy quota, it is necessary to switch to renewables. I feel it almost silly to make this argument, because the facts are simple. More people on our planet will require more energy.

As resources dwindle in areas most affected by climate change, large populations will have to move to survive. This is already happening in places like the Marshal Islands and Syria. The modern refugee crisis is only going to grow in the years ahead, as climate issues become more prevalent around the globe. And exacerbating the issue is the chaotic growth of the world’s population. The “refresh rate” of our planet’s resources is not fast enough to support our growing population and the demands of modern civilization.

This has been a hard week. Swallowing this information is very difficult. The mind begins to spiral out of control when trying to absorb the hard statistics. I’ve been depressed thinking about this grave dystopian future that the evidence suggests. Will  my children see the beauty I have seen in the world? Will I be able to SHARE the wonderment in nature I have found, or will it become a history lesson? Could our species’ future lay beyond the stars?

“they’ll be moving us to mars”