How to be a responsible steward of Democracy, Human Rights Capitalism and Planet Earth.

How to be a responsible steward of Planet Earth.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

UN Urges a global shift towards a vegan diet

Lesser consumption of animal products is necessary to save the world from the worst impacts of climate change, UN report says

The UN says agriculture is on a par with fossil fuel consumption because both rise rapidly with increased economic growth. 

Meet the Super Cow


These gigantic cows resemble bovine body-builders. See how breeders have achieved such amazing results.

"Belgian Blue cattle are a beef breed from Belgium. Their sculpted, muscular appearance is known as 'double muscling' which is a trait shared by the Piedmontese breed. The natural mutation of the gene that codes for myostatin, a protein that counteracts muscle growth is found within the Belgian Blue. The truncated myostatin cannot function in this capacity, resulting in enhanced lean muscle growth. This defective myostatin gene is maintained through line breeding."


 Is this type of breeding any kind of solution to the problem? Doubtful...

A global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change, a UN report said today.

As the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products are unsustainable, says the report from United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) international panel of sustainable resource management.

It says: "Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth increasing consumption of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products."

Professor Edgar Hertwich, the lead author of the report, said: 

"Animal products cause more damage than [producing] construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. 

Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as [burning] fossil fuels."

The recommendation follows advice last year that a vegetarian diet was better for the planet from Lord Nicholas Stern, former adviser to the Labour government on the economics of climate change. 

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has also urged people to observe one meat-free day a week to curb carbon emissions.

The panel of experts ranked products, resources, economic activities and transport according to their environmental impacts. Agriculture was on a par with fossil fuel consumption because both rise rapidly with increased economic growth, they said.

Ernst von Weizsaecker, an environmental scientist who co-chaired the panel, said:
"Rising affluence is triggering a shift in diets towards meat and dairy products - livestock now consumes much of the world's crops and by inference a great deal of freshwater, fertilisers and pesticides."

Both energy and agriculture need to be "decoupled" from economic growth because environmental impacts rise roughly 80% with a doubling of income, the report found.

Achim Steiner, the UN under-secretary general and executive director of the UNEP, said: 

"Decoupling growth from environmental degradation 
is the number one challenge facing governments in a world of rising numbers of people, rising incomes, rising consumption demands and the persistent challenge of poverty alleviation."

The panel, which drew on numerous studies including the Millennium ecosystem assessment

- climate change, 

- habitat change, 

- wasteful use of nitrogen and phosphorus in fertilisers,

- over-exploitation of fisheries, forests and other resources, 

- invasive species, 

- unsafe drinking water and sanitation, 

- lead exposure, 

- urban air pollution and 

- occupational exposure to particulate matter.

Agriculture, particularly meat and dairy products, accounts for 

- 70% of global freshwater consumption, 

- 38% of the total land use and 

- 19% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, 

says the report, which has been launched to coincide with UN World Environment day on Saturday.

Last year the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation said that food production would have to increase globally by 70% by 2050 to feed the world's surging population. 

The panel says that efficiency gains in agriculture will be overwhelmed by the expected population growth.

Prof Hertwich, who is also the director of the industrial ecology programme at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, said that developing countries – where much of this population growth will take place – must not follow the western world's pattern of increasing consumption: 

"Developing countries should not follow our model. But it's up to us to develop the technologies in, say, renewable energy or irrigation methods."


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Audio recordings of humpback whales

June 06, 2013

In the Summer 2013 article "Whale song" Larry Pynn reveals that there is a growing network of hydrophones operating in British Columbia, from south of Vancouver Island all the way up the north coast. The underwater listening devices are, in part, giving scientists a better understanding of how marine noises might impact whales and other mammals.

Janie Wray and Hermann Meuter of Cetacealab on Gil Island are among those who dedicate their time to recording whale songs. They generously shared the following audio clips, recorded on three separate occasions.

The Whale song 1 audio clip is also available on YouTube

The Whale song 2 audio clip is also available on YouTube

The Whale song 3 audio clip is also available on YouTube
June 06, 2013


Vancouver Island Blue Slug

Photo: Kristiina Ovaska
There are four slugs in the province that can drop their tails when faced with a predator. The blue-grey taildropper is the most rare. 

Have You Seen The Blue-Grey Taildropper?

Jenny Manzer May 30, 2013

Only discovered on Vancouver Island in 2002, the blue-grey taildropper slug is as mysterious as it is beautiful. Hikers fortunate enough to glimpse the endangered slug might mistake it for a lost gemstone. Its colour ranges from pale seawater grey to striking topaz blue. Prophysaon coeruleum is also notable for dropping its tail when grabbed by a predator. The slug is less than three centimetres long, has tentacles, a mantle covering almost half its body, and a slit-like breathing pore.

The rare taildropper feeds on mycorrhizal fungi, which grow on roots and help trees and plants capture nutrients. Biologists also believe the slug spreads beneficial spores through its droppings. Recorded sightings suggest it favours moist forests, particularly endangered Garry Oak meadows and older Douglas-fir forests with arbutus trees.

Kristiina Ovaska, a biologist with the Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT ), was astonished by how little is known about the province’s native slugs. “People tend to focus on the bigger things,” she says. “Here you have to dig in the forest to find many of these species.”

The slug’s Canadian range is limited to southern Vancouver Island, and its numbers are unknown. Anyone who thinks they’ve spotted a blue-grey taildropper is urged to send photos to HAT for identification ( An identification guide is available online at