Last month, when over a billion dollars was donated for the restoration of the Notre Dame Cathedral, many people were asking why such large sums of money aren’t available for more pressing issues like homelessness or the environment. It is certainly rare for such a large contribution to go towards something that actually helps the planet, but it does happen every now and then.
Back in October, Billionaire philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss, CEO of the Wyss Foundation, pledged to donate a billion dollars towards environmental conservation efforts over the next ten years.
In an article for the New York Times, Wyss announced an incredible plan to buy large plots of land all over the world and turn them into parks that will be open to the public.
“It is the idea that wild lands and waters are best conserved not in private hands, locked behind gates, but as public national parks, wildlife refuges and marine reserves, forever open for everyone to experience and explore. The notion of holding these places in public trust was one I became deeply influenced by as a young man, when I first climbed and hiked on public lands in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains,” Wyss said.
“Every one of us – citizens, philanthropists, business and government leaders – should be troubled by the enormous gap between how little of our natural world is currently protected and how much should be protected. It is a gap that we must urgently narrow, before our human footprint consumes the earth’s remaining wild places,” he added.
Wyss hopes that his contribution will be able to protect 30% of the planet by the year 2030.
— Wyss Campaign for Nature (@WyssCampaign) October 31, 2018
According to Business Insider Wyss has already donated more than $66 million to at least nine different organizations in the two months after making his pledge.
Some of those donations included $750,000 to help the Dehcho First Nations in Canada create a management program for the Edéhzhíe National Wildlife Area in the Northwest Territories, which is part of a 3.5 million acre wetlands ecosystem and home to many animals. The foundation is also making a $5.8 million donation to Aves Argentinas, the oldest conservation group in Argentina. This donation will help create a 1.5 million acre national park. Wyss is also donating $22 million to Fundación Flora y Fauna, to establish a 178,000 acre national park in Argentina’s Tucumán Province.
Hansjörg Wyss may not be a household name, even for conservationists, but he has been silently donating his millions to the environment for the past twenty years. In fact, Wyss has given over $450 million to similar efforts prior to his recent pledge.
In his Op-Ed for the Times, Wyss said shared his optimism for the future.
“This money will support locally led conservation efforts around the world, push for increased global targets for land and ocean protection, seek to raise public awareness about the importance of this effort, and fund scientific studies to identify the best strategies to reach our target. I believe this ambitious goal is achievable because I’ve seen what can be accomplished. Indigenous peoples, local leaders and conservation groups around the world are already busy setting aside protected areas that reflect the conservation, economic and cultural values of nearby communities,” Wyss said.
“I’ve seen this unfold firsthand. Over the past two decades, my foundation has supported local efforts to protect wild places in Africa, South America, Europe, Canada, Mexico, and the United States, donating more than $450 million to help our partners conserve nearly 40 million acres of land and water,” he added.
Melted Remains of Hiroshima Litter Japans Beaches
If you take a close look at the beaches of Motoujina Peninsula in Japan, you’ll find the sand is littered with tiny glass beads strangely shaped like teardrops as if they’ve been blasted down from the skies.
It might come as no surprise that these unusual objects are the relics of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in the dying days of World War Two. As reported in the journal Anthropocene, these pieces of debris – dubbed “Hiroshimaites” – are essentially the remains of the city that were blasted into the skies, cooked in an atomic cloud, and later rained down.
While sifting through the sands of Hiroshima Bay and Miyajima Island, geologist Mario Wannier started to notice these glassy flecks and set out on a journey to discover how exactly they were created. In the samples of sand he and his team collected, they found the spheroids and other unusual particles accounted for up to 2.5 percent of all of the grains.
Although most unusual, the teeny structures did remind Wannier of other sediment samples he had analyzed that date to the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary, better known as that time an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million ago. Whatever forged the structures, it must have been an unbelievably epic amount of energy – and since they were found just miles outside the epicenter of nuclear explosions that occurred just 74 years ago, the source of that energy was obvious.
On the morning of August 6, 1945, the US dropped “Little Boy” on the city of Hiroshima, marking just the second ever detonation of an A-bomb and the first nuclear weapon ever used in warfare. Over 70 percent of the city was destroyed in the blink of an eye, along with at least 70,000 people who died instantly. An estimated 200,000+ more died in the following years due to injuries and radiation.
“This was the worst manmade event ever, by far,” Wannier said in a statement. “In the surprise of finding these particles, the big question for me was: You have a city, and a minute later you have no city. There was the question of: ‘Where is the city – where is the material?’ It is a trove to have discovered these particles. It is an incredible story.”
A deeper analysis of the Hiroshimaites showed a wide variety in the chemical composition, including concentrations of aluminum, silicon, and calcium. However, some were composed purely of just iron and steel, or even concrete, marble, stainless steel, and rubber.
“Some of these look similar to what we have from meteorite impacts, but the composition is quite different,” explained co-author Rudy Wenk, a professor of mineralogy at UC Berkeley. “There were quite unusual shapes. There was some pure iron and steel. Some of these had the composition of building materials.”
Understandably, the research team concluded that only an atomic explosion could have kicked up such a strange composition.
Next, the team hopes their research will encourage further tests on the samples to see if any samples carry radioactive elements. They’d also like to travel to Nagasaki, the Japanese city hit by the US’s Fat Man atomic bomb three days later, to see if similar structures can be found.
Despite International Ban, Iceland Plans to Kill 2,000 Whales by 2023
In February 2019, Icelandic authorities announced their plan to kill more than 2,000 whales over a five-year period. Because the global demand for whale meat is declining, the trade is considered to be inhumane, and the conservation argument has flaws, environmentalists are enraged by the development.
Every year until the year 2023, whalers will be authorized to harpoon 209 fin whales and 217 minke whales in Icelandic waters. The move was approved, despite falling public support for whaling in Iceland.
The nation’s fisheries minister, Kristjan Thor Juliusson, claims the numbers are sustainable and based on “the latest scientific research.” In a statement, the government cited the economic benefits of whaling, as well as official figures revealing how populations of the once endangered fin whale are reviving. “During the most recent count in 2015, their population in the central North Atlantic was estimated at 37,000, or triple the number from 1987,” the statement reads.
But activists and conservationists disagree. The Icelandic Environmental Association, specifically, criticized the research on which the Fisheries Ministry based its quotas. And, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), an organization dedicated to protecting whales around the world, said whaling is no longer beneficial to the country’s economy.
“This is a country that’s embraced whale watching and has a different relationship with whales now,” said WDC spokesman Chris Butler-Stroud. “The reality is, the whale meat that’s being consumed there is mostly by tourists, unfortunately. … If it was down to local consumption, this probably would be dead in the water.”
Last year, Iceland was the center of a controversy after two rare blue/fin whale hybrids and at least a dozen pregnant females were killed in its waters. Activists believed change would finally occur, as a result. But, no such luck. “The Icelandic government’s decision to continue to kill whales – amongst the most peaceful and intelligent beings on the planet – is morally repugnant as well as economically bankrupt,” said Vanessa Williams-Grey, a campaigner for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation.
In 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) placed a ban on commercial whaling. Despite being a member of the IWC, Iceland has continued to hunt whales with its own quotas. Japan also a loophole that allows killing whales for scientific purposes to bypass the International Whaling Commission ban.
“It is well known that overexploitation by the whaling industry led toserious declines in many of the world’s populations of whales. … Many are now in the process of recovering, although not all,” says the IWC website.
About the Author
Mandy Froelich is an RHN, plant-based chef, freelance writer with 6+ years of experience, Reiki master therapist, world traveler and enthusiast of everything to do with animal rights, sustainability, cannabis and conscious living. I share healthy recipes at Bloom for Life and cannabis-infused treats at My Stoned Kitchen.Read More stories by Amanda Froelich
**This article (Despite International Ban, Iceland Plans to Kill 2,000 Whales by 2023) was originally featured at Truth Theory and is re-posted here with permission.**
They discover plastic bags in the deepest place in the ocean
An underwater trip to the deepest place on the planet showed some unnatural results.
On board a bathyscaphe (submersible), the businessman Victor Vescovo descended 10,927 meters to reach the abysmal depth of the Marianas Trench, in the Pacific Ocean.
He managed to break the record of the deepest dive made by a human being by a few meters; surpassing that obtained by the oceanographer Don Walsh in 1960 (10,916 m) and the most recent by filmmaker James Cameron in 2012 (10,908 m).
After spending four hours making observations from the specially prepared submersible, Vescovo and his team found several species, from arthropods with long legs and antennae to translucent “sea pigs”, similar to a sea cucumber.
However, the most shocking was finding plastic objects such as bags and candy wrappers. “It was very disappointing to see the obvious human pollution in the deepest point of the ocean,” said the businessman when interviewed by Reuters.
Previous studies on samples collected in the Mariana Trench have shown that the amphipods called hirondellea gigas had microplastics in their entrails. But not only that, also radiocarbon.
The amphids that scan the dark depths feed on organic matter that rushes there. By eating the remains of animals that were exposed to the nuclear test activity of the Cold War, the bodies of the amphipods were infused with radiocarbon – the carbon-14 isotope or “carbon bomb” -.
Although it seems incredible, man’s pollution has reached more than 11,000 meters deep, where it also puts at risk the life that inhabits it.
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