Category Archives: world

Mafia 'sank ships of toxic waste'

World issuesI’m not one of those people who pays no attention to the news because it’s all so depressing.  If you’re one of them, in my view you’re playing with fire and are likely to get burned.  Apart from anything else, while you’re skippididoodahing along and paying no attention, leaving everyone else to get on with it, your freedoms and rights could well be rapidly eroding.  It’s too late to wake up and complain after the fact.

There are, however, undoubtedly times when I wish I hadn’t read the news, especially when it pertains to things over which I really do have no control.  Take today.  The title of this post is taken from a headline on the BBC website, and with dread in my heart I started to read.  To precis what it says: A Calabrian mafia informant says that the mafia have gone into the highly lucrative business of toxic waste disposal, but in order to cut corners and save money have been sinking ships containing toxic waste, including ‘nuclear’ material, in the Med.  The Italian authorities are currently investigating a shipwreck off Italy’s SW coast in order to try and corroborate this claim.  They have already found yellow barrels lying close to the wreck which have labels saying that they contain toxic waste.  If proven, shipwrecks of 30 other sunken vessels off the coast of Italy and Greece would need to be investigated.

Please tell me it isn’t so.

…And now I need to go and bury my head in housework, shopping, photo editing and if there are any around, the odd little fluffy kitten or two.

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Filed under environment, Green issues, media, world

A question of ownership

SealThe city of San Diego as been given 72 hours to remove seals from a beach at the area of La Jolla so that children may use a concrete paddling pool there.  The pool was originally built and gifted to the city by a local philanthropist in the 1930s and nowadays contains such high levels of bacteria that there are signs advising people not to use it …. yet they still do.  (…??!…candidates for the Darwin Awards no doubt…)

As you might expect with one of these ‘man versus the environment’ issues, passions are running high.  City authorities are now at loggerheads with those who say that the seals are a valuable tourist attraction, the seals need a period of rest each day and that the area should instead be made into a sanctuary for the animals.

As the seals are a federally protected marine species, the only suggested solution is to employ someone to walk up and down the beach with a public address system loudly playing the sound of dogs barking .  (Torture for nearby human residents too I would have thought). Of course, passions are so inflamed that authorities feel that the person with the dog barking address system will need police protection – probably 2 officers will do.

I suspect the seals have always visited this beach and maybe back in the 1930s, when La Jolla was a quiet little seaside resort, shared use of the beach by man and animal wasn’t perceived to be a problem.  During the 1990s seal visitors increased and coincidentally, by that time there had also been an explosion of human visitors and residents.

LaJolla_Seals2I was at La Jolla a couple of times in the 1990s and my visits gave me magical memories that I treasure and make me want to visit again some day.  Forget the man-made attractions of cafes, restaurants and up-scale boutiques because I can find those around every corner.  What I can’t easily see in very many places, and therefore made my visit so special that I’d like to return some day, was the beautiful coastline and particularly the ability to get close to a large gathering of wild seals.  People had gathered too – some on the beach just yards away from the seals, some standing up on the little harbour wall.  All of us just quietly watching, all no doubt enjoying an all too rare opportunity to get so close to an aspect of nature that we rarely see.

In my opinion it would be a huge mistake to try to remove the seals.  Not only will it be costly to keep two policemen on ‘seal patrol’,  if the annoying public address system does the trick the seals may move on, but they may well take up residence on the very next beach along, causing a nuisance to swimmers, surfers and beachgoers there.  If they should sadly disappear entirely from the La Jolla area then I think that the town will notice a big drop in visitor numbers.  To me La Jolla without the wildlife is just another pretty coastal town and I (along with many others, I suspect) will have little reason to return.

Then there is the bigger moral question of who really owns this or any other piece of  coastline?  Is it ever ours to trade – to sell or to give away, imposing our will on all those who share it?  I’d argue that the marine life was there long before man and so we have a duty to be good new tenants, finding ways, wherever humanly possible, to discretely share the same space.  Besides which, is it really so difficult for us to find another place for a toddlers’ paddling pool?

La Jolla_Seal beach

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Filed under environment, Green issues, modern life, People watching, Photography, world

Could do better

Who is the biggest polluter in the world now?  China?  India?  Here’s a chart you may find interesting:

CO2 emissions

China, as a developing country, is not yet required to reduce its emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, but as it accounts for one fifth of the world’s population, its emissions could dwarf any cuts made by industrialised countries.

The U.S. withdrew from its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6%, preferring instead to support voluntary reductions through the development of cleaner technologies. (A strategy which, according to this chart, didn’t seem to be working).  Finding more recent figues has proved difficult but according to an April 2008 article China and the U.S. were still vying for the dubious title of being the world’s top carbon polluter.

If, like most people, you are a follower of the theory that greenhouse gases are responsible for global warming, then this all makes for depressing reading.

A breakdown of the countries on the above chart, together with their commitment and performance relating to the Kyoto Protocol can be seen here.

There is also a fascinating ‘live map’ of the earth, showing CO2 emissions, birth and death rates over at breathingearth.net.

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