[1THING] Blog: Archive for January, 2016

[ Save the Black Rhino ]

Save the Black Rhino

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5particle/Flickr

 

Guest post by Joe Baker, Vice President, Editorial and Advocacy for Care2.

The “butterfly effect”—the idea that a butterfly flapping its wings can set in motion a series of events that result in massive change halfway around the world—is an apt way to describe our increasingly global and connected world.

We could also call this the rhino effect. In the United States or China, the imminent disappearance of the African black rhino may not appear to have much impact, but like the wind generated from a butterfly’s wings, losing the black rhino can have an effect on everything from local ecosystems and economies to global politics and markets.

Close to Home

Perhaps the most obvious impact the loss of the black rhino will have is its effect on nature. Functioning ecosystems are carefully balanced such that species keep each other in check. Removing an entire species can dramatically change this calculus.

In the American West, many scientists link the extermination of wolves to a spike in the elk population, their main prey. This has cascading effects: More elk means more pressure on aspen trees and their other food sources. Fewer elk being killed by predators means fewer carcasses for scavenging species. While nature is often too complicated to draw direct links, it’s clear that change begets change, and species and ecosystems that cannot adapt suffer.

These ecosystem changes have a real human cost as well. The majority of black rhinos live in South Africa, Kenya, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Tourism is a significant contributor to the economies of all these countries. In South Africa—the lowest of the four—it accounts for nearly 10 percent. In Namibia on the other end of the spectrum, tourism comprises almost 15 percent of its GDP.

Tourism directly supports nearly 1 million jobs in these four countries. Indirectly, the industry supports double that, including 19 percent of all jobs in Namibia, according to data from the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Large fauna, including the black rhino, are a primary draw for the millions of tourists that visit these countries. Losing these animals could stem the flow of tourists, not only putting existing jobs at risk, but also potentially leaving these workers with less environmentally-friendly job options.

In 2014, the Financial Times asked if Namibia was “Africa’s next big oil frontier” after oil companies began exploring new offshore oil deposits. Without reliable tourism jobs, such industries become more appealing; As does poaching, a dangerous but lucrative way to support one’s family.

Global Effects

Just as the fate of the black rhino affects their local habitat, the rhinos themselves are not insulated from people who may never set foot in Africa.

Rhino horn is a purportedly powerful ingredient in traditional medicine from Malaysia to South Korea. Traditional Chinese medicine credits rhino horns with curing fevers and improving function. International efforts to reduce demand for rhino horn and curb poaching have worked to a degree in China, where the ingredient was removed from the oeuvre of traditional medicine.

Today, some of the largest demand for rhino horns comes from Vietnam, where it was rumored to have cured a politician of cancer in the 2000s. This rumor drove demand so high that in 2013, at $300,000 per horn, rhino horn was literally worth more than its weight in gold. Basic supply and demand tells us that the fewer rhinos there are, the higher the price will go until they’re poached into extinction.

Technically, international trade in rhino horns was banned in 1977 under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species. But the black market for rhino horns has flourished. This has prompted calls to lift the ban and find ways to simply regulate trade instead. In 2012, two large rhino breeders sued the South African government arguing that, since rhino poaching has increased under the country’s moratorium on rhino trade, it should be lifted.

In 2014, South Africa spent an additional $7 million to increase security at its national parks, but poaching continued. President Obama issued an executive order aimed at combatting illegal wildlife trafficking and, in 2015, released its implementation plan. But even before these added duties, U.S. post inspectors already admitted their inability to keep up with the illegal trade. To do so would require more personnel—and a lot more tax dollars to fund it.

We have serious challenges to protect the black rhinos we have left, but we don’t have much time. The International Union for the Conservation Nature’s (IUCN) most recent black rhino count in 2013 found just 5,055 left. Compare that to the astounding 2,400 that were poached in the previous seven years.

The scariest part is that the rate is increasing. IUCN estimated that in 2013 a rhino was killed every 11 hours. That leaves two choices: Either humans commit to serious action to protect black rhinos, or we start preparing for a world with fewer rhinos, fewer tourism jobs, higher demand for rare horns, and many more impacts we can’t even imagine.

To learn what you can do to protect the black rhino and other African wildlife, visit EarthShare member charity African Wildlife Foundation.

[ Meet The CSC! ]

Meet the Campaign Support Center

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An operational component of the Finance Department, the Columbus Ohio based Charity Support Center (CSC) provides cost-billed fiscal management services to 21 customers (4 EarthShare affiliated federations, the 7 ES Chapters federations, 5 customer-managed local campaigns, and 5 EarthShare managed regional campaigns). Last fiscal year, the CSC issued 121 payouts of $7.9M to 5,500+ payees.  To manage the customers, the CSC employs the Helix Andar software for its 5 databases – a donor relationship centric product that is utilized by more than 300 United Ways. 

Paul Bingle is Director of Fiscal Services and is supported fulltime by Donor Choice Analysts Kari Bradley and part-time by Brooke Roman-Hidas – who is also ES Ohio’s (ESOH) Managing Director. 

Paul shared that “Our goal is to quietly, professionally, and quickly process the pledges, receipts, payouts, and periodic accounting reporting for our customers.  We utilize the best industry-specific tool available and empower our customers with information while allowing them to focus on revenue production rather than revenue management.”

The CSC started with the 2006 campaign year when ESOH originated the former Affiliate Service Center as both an ESOH revenue enhancement project and to advance several goals of the ES Affiliation Agreement (AA) negotiations.  In 2011, EarthShare took on the project with its 9 customers when ESOH converted to being a Chapters federation.

In consideration of the future and the past, Paul said “As EarthShare considers shifting away from managing campaigns – the CSC will have additional customer capacity.  It would be thrilling to witness the fulfillment of the goal of having all of the EarthShare family workplace financial transactions being processed under one roof, using the same software product.  Equally exciting would be leveraging the information rich databases that we have to harness progressive customer management tools that are available within Andar.  In reflection of the service center’s existence, we have  brought uniformity and efficiency to how 11 federations manage their workplace campaign transactions,  helped empower federations to locally manage multi-federation campaign accounts as revenue generators,  have offset some of the CSC production costs by participating in the management of regional multi-federation campaigns, and have streamlined financial data information flow across the ES federation network.”

 

[ Record Breaking Turn-out for Tsuanami Sweepers Cleanup ]

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Volunteers picking up litter before it is swept away by the tide. We are passion in action.

San Diego’s Tsunami Sweepers were at it again last weekend for our first cleanup of 2016! I Love A Clean San Diego has been named the first responder in San Diego to assist in the cleanup of debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami that is expected to wash up on California’s shores in 2016.

While our volunteers were looking for tsunami debris, there was plenty of litter to pickup on our end, as well. Our coastline is the last stop for litter before it reaches the Pacific Ocean so ILACSD and an astounding crew of 305 volunteers set out to beautify one of San Diego’s most scenic and iconic natural spaces, Torrey Pines State Beach.

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Volunteers ready to cleanup with waivers and even reusable buckets in hand!

Even with a chance of rain in the forecast, hundreds of San Diegans turned-out to keep Torrey Pines State Beach clean and beautiful. Equipped with bags, buckets, trash grabbers and gloves, volunteers of all ages spread out across the sandy coastline and walkways. 

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Volunteers took to the walkways in addition to the sandy beach where they found more Styrofoam and cigarette butts.

Thanks to the full moon, the tide was unusually high, but that didn’t slow down our team of dedicated volunteers. Many of them took to the nearby walkways to capture trash before it reached the sand and tide, as well.

On the beach side of the cleanup, volunteers continued to find small pieces of trash including several pieces of fishing net.

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Rocks and boulders are the perfect hiding spots for litter.

In a matter of only two hours, volunteers collected mostly cigarette butts, bits of Styrofoam and food wrappers. Even though our volunteers didn’t find any tsunami specific debris, volunteers still collected over 500 pounds of litter! 

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Weighing the litter at the end of the event is one of the most rewarding parts of every cleanup we do.

If you weren’t able to make it to our first cleanup, don’t worry! We have monthly cleanups as well as two countywide cleanups, Creek to Bay and Coastal Cleanup Day. Find out how to get involved by visiting our upcoming events page!

[ The Human Right to Safe Water in Flint ]

The Human Right to Safe Water in Flint

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Sebastien Wiertz/Flickr

 

By Erica Flock

“Don’t worry,” my friend proactively reassured me as he handed me a glass of water. “Our filter gets everything.”

I was visiting with friends over the holidays in Flint, Michigan where the new mayor had just declared a state of emergency due to high levels of lead in the city’s water supply. The announcement thrust the struggling Rust Belt city, into the international spotlight.

While the rest of the world was just learning about the city’s water crisis, the people of Flint had been living with the problem for well over a year. When my friends moved into their home in 2014, they immediately installed an expensive filter for drinking water. Somehow they knew they couldn’t trust the water.

And they were right. Despite the state’s repeated assurances that the water was safe to drink, Flint residents suspected otherwise. Only after independent researchers discovered corroded city pipes and unusually high lead levels in children’s blood; only after advocates and the press began raising their voices, did state officials finally admit that the water was indeed poisoned.

As the second-poorest city in the nation, many Flint residents cannot afford the expensive filter my friends had installed. Significant portions of Flint’s population, many of them children, were exposed to lead, a metal that can cause permanent brain damage and other health problems when ingested.

How could this happen in a state surrounded by the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth? And how could it happen in a country with safe drinking water laws?

When the fateful decision to switch water from Lake Huron to the Flint River was made in 2013, the city government was under the authority of the state’s contentious “Emergency Manager” system. This system allowed state leaders to usurp local authority in cities that were struggling financially.

Switching from lake to river water was expected to save the city $50 million dollars, but no one considered what the engineering or health impacts might be, not even the state and federal agencies that were supposed to monitor those things.

As the truth came out and implicated parties began pointing fingers at one another, EarthShare member Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) stepped in to advocate on behalf of Flint residents. In November they joined the ACLU to announce their intent to sue the city and state governments for failing to protect residents under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

“Changes in leadership and public health proclamations are not enough,” said Anjali Waikar, staff attorney for NRDC's Environmental Justice Program. “Flint residents need answers, accountability, and changes in the way that our nation's safe drinking water laws are implemented in Michigan.”

While Flint stopped drawing from the Flint River in late 2015, the damage is already done: you can’t erase over a year of exposure or corroded infrastructure.

As it turns out, Flint isn’t the only city threatened by lead and other toxins. NRDC’s report What’s on Tap? warned about threats to Americans’ drinking water back in 2003. The report came on the heels of Washington DC’s own lead crisis starting in 2001, affecting hundreds of thousands of residents and leading to a spike in stillbirths.

Marc Edwards, the researcher who discovered lead corrosion in both Washington, DC and Flint, says that this is unlikely to be the last time a city is affected. Crumbling infrastructure and poor oversight by local, state, and federal officials create a toxic environment. Cities around the country use lead pipes to transport drinking water and chemical additives are the only things keeping them from leaching.

The banner hanging from a church near downtown Flint proclaims, “Water is a Human Right.” It’s not only a despairing appeal for this beleaguered city, but for all of us. Our basic rights to clean air and water are under threat even in a prosperous country like the US, and require constant vigilance.

 

Learn more about Flint’s water crisis from our member organizations:

Unleaded Please, NRDC

Michiganders Call on Feds for Help in Flint Water Crisis, Food & Water Watch

Key Considerations In Flint Water Situation, Clean Water Action

 

[ Congress “celebrates” national parks centennial with anti-parks measure ]

An amendment offered as part of a Senate energy bill on Jan. 27 would make it prohibitively difficult for presidents to protect national monuments and parks under the Antiquities Act—a shameful way to mark the National Park Service’s centennial year of 2016.

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[ Are Your Favorite Restaurants and Stores Going Green? ]

(StatePoint) Some of your favorite restaurant chains and major supermarkets are teaming up with conservation groups and interested citizens to help protect the environment and sustain fisheries long term.Shopping Cart (640x427)

Consumers and major chains like McDonalds and Costco are increasingly voicing their concerns about sustainability issues that impact the planet and what we put on our family’s plates.

You may not realize it, but the largest canyons in the world are not found on land, but actually deep in the ocean off the coast of Alaska. These areas are teeming with marine life significant to the ecosystem and the economy. While out of sight, experts say these important canyons should not be out of mind for families when they make decisions about where to shop and at which chain restaurants they choose to dine.

“The fragile corals and sponges in the Bering Sea canyons are valuable habitat, providing food, spawning and nursery zones, and shelter for commercially important fish and crab species and an array of marine life at the base of the food chain,” says Jackie Dragon, senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace. “When massive and heavy fishing gear comes in contact with slow-growing, fragile corals and sponges, the fishing gear wins, and the ecosystem loses.”

Fishery managers on the east coast have already taken measures to restrict bottom-contact fishing in areas that contain known deep-sea coral or sponge communities, a policy aligned with guidance from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. However, efforts to enact such measures in the highly productive, so-called “Green Belt” in the Bering Sea have proven controversial, and have been vocally opposed by fishing group lobbyists.

“The Bering Sea is America’s ‘fish basket’ and it makes sense to protect the ecosystem that puts food on our supermarket shelves,” says Dragon. “Alaska has a reputation for having the finest fisheries management, but on this issue they need to catch up with fisheries on the east coast.”

More than a dozen of the largest supermarket chains and seafood buyers, including Safeway, McDonalds and Costco have joined conservation groups and hundreds of thousands of citizens in urging fishing restrictions that scientists say would protect these ecosystems, helping to sustain the fisheries long term. More about these efforts can be found at www.BeringSeaCanyons.org.

Greenpeace recently released its 9th annual Carting Away the Oceans report, which gives consumers a look into how their local supermarkets are scoring on sustainable seafood. Learn where your supermarket stands on protecting the Bering Sea canyons here: www.greenpeace.org/usa/research/carting-away-the-oceans-2015.

“This is the first time that supermarkets and big buyers of fish fillets have ever brought their substantial weight to bear on these policy decisions” says Dragon. “Consumers can make an impact by shopping at stores and eating in restaurants that support sustainable fishing.”

[ Get to know Sam! ]

Today, we’d like to introduce I Love A Clean San Diego’s Contract Manager, Sam! Sam hit the ground running when he first joined our team in October. Now that he is more settled in his role, we’d like to take this opportunity for all of you to get to know him better. Read on to learn about Sam’s journey to ILACSD!

Sam DeCapua, I Love A Clean San Diego’s Contract Manager (right)

Q: What brought you to I Love A Clean San Diego?

Before coming to ILACSD, I really enjoyed politics, but since there was such a wide array of issues that needed to be addressed, I realized that this is my chance to hone in on a topic I could really contribute to.

There are so many problems which affect us all in the environmental sphere, so I felt I had a great opportunity to make a positive change in my new-found home (San Diego) and I could work towards something I was passionate about: curbing food waste, educating others on the importance of the world around them. The great office culture that exists at I Love A Clean San Diego is a plus, too.

IMG_1259Q: What environmental topic are you most passionate about?

Although I think they are all important, I think food waste is a BIG one. It is a stark reminder that we have this abundance of food, which if channeled properly, could be a large step forward in effectively ENDING hunger in the United States. What a change that would be! Not only that, but food waste creates methane, which is 25 times more dangerous than CO2 emissions, when disposed at landfills. I’m also very intrigued by the Zero Waste initiatives showing up around the country. I love that California has been so aggressive to reduce the waste we create. It’s a great goal to pursue, and I’m really looking forward to contributing to the implementation of those lofty goals.

Q: What is your most recent environmental goal?
Since joining I Love A Clean San Diego, I’ve seen what a noticeable difference the smallest habits and actions taken daily can make. Therefore, I’ve tried to reduce buying excess packaging which creates unnecessary trash, as well as making sure I plan my portions for food to avoid wasting valuable food by either spoilage or excess. Packing lunches goes a long way in saving the environment and your wallet!IMG_1513

Q: “When I’m not at a the office or a cleanup you can find me…”

I love going to the gym, it is a big part of my life. Additionally, I love doing outdoorsy stuff, and I really want to get into surfing soon! Apart from all of that, I really love reading and watching Netflix. I’m also getting into the local restaurants and breweries, and as a big burrito and beer fan San Diego has definitely exceeded my expectations!

[ New federal guidelines will help reduce natural gas waste on public lands ]

On Jan. 22, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced guidelines to significantly curtail natural gas waste from oil and gas operations on federal lands.

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[ New Federal Guidelines Will Help Reduce Natural Gas Waste on Public Lands ]

Wasting natural gas, a common practice for the oil and gas industry, has tremendous consequences for taxpayers.

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[ The Wilderness Society Statement on new BLM natural gas waste rule ]

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“The proposed guidelines from the Bureau of Land Management governing natural gas waste are a huge step forward toward ensuring public resources on federal lands are used for Americans’ benefit, and not wasted.