Finally some good news for tigers – one of our most beautiful and most endangered species. Hunting and poaching (to feed the demands of chinese ‘medicine’) has decimated the tiger population across Asia, but now India has said that there has been a 30% increase in wild tiger numbers – up to 2,226 this year from 1,706 in 2010. Still woefully tiny, but better and India’s environment minister Prakash Javadekar called the rise a ‘huge success’ after intensifying efforts to stamp out poaching and re-introduce tigers to areas where they had been wiped out, and halt the steady destruction of their natural habitat.
And in South africa, 100 rhinos have been moved to new and secret locations in neighbouring states. South Africa has some 80% of the world’s remaining rhino population and is at the epicentre of the poaching crsis – it lost 1,215 animals last year, a 20% rise on 2013.
Climate change may be wiping out California’s famous big trees which are dying off faaster than ever. More than half of the state’s redwoods, ponerroas pines and other giant trees have died in less than a century. The trees are more susceptible to high temperatures and water shortages than smaller trees.
The symbolic doomsday clock moved to three minutes before midnight (11.57) because of the gathering dangers of climate change and nuclear proliferation, signalling the gravest threat to humanity since the throes of the cold war. It is the closest the clock has come to midnight since 1984, when arms-control negotiations stalled and virtually all channels of communication between the US and the former Soviet Union closed down. The scientists who set the clock say world leaders have failed to face up to the dangers of climate change and the risk of a ‘potential catastrophe’. US scientists say 2014 was the hottest on record. Nasa and Noaa scientists reported that 2014 was 0.07F (0.04C) higher than previous records and the 38th consecutive year of above-average temperatures. That didnt stop the US Senate from viting that climate changeis NOT caused by human activity. The Senate voted virtually unanimously that climate change is occurring and not, as some Republicans have said, a hoax – but it defeated two measures attributing its causes to human activity. Only one Senator, Roger Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi, voted against a resolution declaring climate change was real and not – as his fellow Republican, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma once famous declared – a hoax. That measure passed 98 to one. But the Senate voted down two measures that attributed climate change to human activity. “Climate is changing and climate has always changed and always will,” Inhofe told the Senate. “The hoax is that there are some people who are so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change climate. Man can’t change climate.” CLIMATE CHANGE IN PICTURES here.
The Guardian reports on illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean: “Staying hidden behind sea ice and large waves, sailors aboard a navy patrol boat from New Zealand sneaked up on three suspected poaching ships, then took photos and video of the fishermen hauling in prized fish in banned nets from the ocean near Antarctica. Seemingly caught red-handed, the crews of the rusting vessels just kept on fishing. Authorities say this month’s high-seas confrontations, and the detailed evidence collected, mark a first in Antarctic waters, where regulators have long suspected poaching activities but have found them difficult to police in an area that’s roughly the size of the continental United States. It is a huge illegal business. Each of the ships could hold more than $1m worth of Antarctic toothfish, marketed in North America as Chilean sea bass.” More here.
Fossil fuel companies have taken up majority positions in key renewables trade groups steering them towards a pro-gas stance that influenced Europe’s 2030 clean energy targets, industry insiders claim. Big energy firms such as Total, Iberdrola, E.On and Enel have together adopted a dominant position in trade bodies such as the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) and European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA). Their representatives now constitute a majority on both group’s boards. Officials in EPIA were told to argue for a renewable-gas alliance as the answer to Europe’s energy security concerns, while EWEA lowered its 2030 clean energy ambitions by a third, according to ex-staffers, renewables experts and policy insiders. They argue that the more pro-gas stance influenced the 2030 climate targets adopted by EU governments last year.
The former Tory environment secretary, Caroline Spelman, has called for a ban on fracking in the UK ahead of a report by an influential committee of MPs that is expected to conclude fracking could derail efforts to tackle climate change. The intervention by Spelman, a member of the Environmental Audit Committee, comes as the UK government’s drive for fracking came under heavy political attack.