Most of us are aware of the Climate Change debate and the costly solutions being proposed in the government and media. What if there was a way to reduce global carbon emisssions that has proven results?
The top climate change scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said he has received $4 million from Congress and permission from his agency to study two emergency—and controversial—methods to cool the Earth if the U.S. and other nations fail to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
Yesterday the online Hamburg Abendblatt published an interview with Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt on the recent climate demonstrations and alarmism.
Lost amid the coverage of Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg at last week’s U.N. Global Climate Summit were the 500 international scientists, engineers and other stakeholders sounding a very different message: “There is no climate emergency.”
The European Climate Declaration, spearheaded by the Amsterdam-based Climate Intelligence Foundation [CLINTEL], described the leading climate models as “unfit” and urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to pursue a climate policy based on “sound science.”
"Current climate policies pointlessly and grievously undermine the economic system, putting lives at risk in countries denied access to affordable, reliable electrical energy,” said the Sept. 23 letter signed by professionals from 23 countries.
Most of the signers hailed from Europe, but there were also scientists from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South America.
"We urge you to follow a climate policy based on sound science, realistic economics and genuine concern for those harmed by costly but unnecessary attempts at mitigation,” the letter said.
The signers asked Mr. Guterres to place the declaration on the UN’s agenda for the meeting ending Monday—which hasn’t happened—and organize a meeting of scientists “on both sides of the climate debate early in 2020.”
The declaration was dismissed by Penn State climatologist Michael E. Mann, who called it “craven and stupid,” as well as the left-of-center [U.K.] Guardian, which said the document “repeats well-worn and long-debunked talking points on climate change that are contradicted by scientific institutions and academies around the world.”
At the same time, the sheer number of prominent signers with scientific and engineering credentials belied the contention that only a handful of fringe researchers and fossil-fuel shills oppose the climate-catastrophe “consensus.”
Today, on the eve of the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Summit, President Carlos Alvarado Quesada of Costa Rica, called for the formation of a High Ambition Coalition of nations to push for a Deal for Nature that will protect 30% of the planet by 2030. The goal will be to finalize the deal at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Kunming, China in 2020. The governments of the Seychelles, the UAE, Monaco, Gabon, and Mozambique have joined the initiative.
This urgent push stems from an accelerating awareness that the climate emergency and the extinction crisis are interconnected, and that protecting more nature could be our best chance to both sequester carbon and save threatened species. Scientists have concluded that at least one third of climate solutions lie in protecting and restoring our natural world.
President Alvarado of Costa Rica said:
"The fires, floods and ice melts are planetary alarm bells for us humans to act. Costa Rica has heard these wake up calls loud and clear and wants all nations to join us in launching a High Ambition Coalition at the UNFCCC Pre Cop In San Jose, committing to protect 30% of our planet by 2030. If we urgently unite now we can restore and conserve nature, feed our people, and build thriving economies."
His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment said:
“We must open our eyes to the cruel fact that climate change is progressing faster than we are, and we need to pick up the pace to win this fight. We realize the gravity of the task at hand, but are confident that together we can build the necessary global momentum to save the natural world we value and on which we depend so much. We are proud to join the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People. We share the coalition’s vision to chart an ambitious path toward protecting nature worldwide.”
Earlier this year the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ (IPBES) Global Assessment found 1,000,000 species are threatened with extinction and called for ‘Transformative changes’ to protect nature. At the same time, top scientists published A Global Deal for Nature as a “companion pact to the Paris Agreement” stating that 30% of Earth needs to be formally protected and an additional 20% designated as climate stabilization areas, by 2030, to stay below 1.5°C.
One of the authors and Explorer in Residence at National Geographic, Enric Sala said:
“We ought to stop the unplugging of our life support system. Without a healthy natural world the future of humanity will be grim. The good news is that we know what to do, and visionary countries are leading the way by committing to protect 30% of our planet by 2030.”
The proposal is a science based target that seeks to protect 30% of the planet in key biodiversity areas. Ninety countries have already protected more than 17% of their land, 27 have protected more than 30 percent, and a few are close to or even past protecting half of their land. The protected marine surface area has jumped from 0.7 percent of the total ocean in 2000 to about seven percent today — a near ten-fold increase.
A long-standing mystery among marine biologists is why otherwise healthy whales, dolphins, and porpoises — collectively known as cetaceans — end up getting stranded along coastal areas worldwide. Could severe solar storms, which affect Earth’s magnetic fields, be confusing their internal compasses and causing them to lose their way?
In a news release, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the shark fins were hidden in 18 boxes. It is believed the dried fins arrived from South America and were likely headed to Asia, the AP reported.
Shark fin soup is awell known Asian delicacy, especially in China. To meet the demand, smugglers kill tens of millions of sharks every year, cutting the fin from a live shark, according to conservation groups, as the AP reported.
The practice of shark finning is banned in several countries because it is extremely wasteful and cruel. After the fin is cut off from the live shark, the rest of the shark is discarded. The practice has been a federal crime in the U.S. since 2000, according to the Miami Herald.
"The goal of this seizure is to protect these species while deterring trackers from using US ports as viable routes in the illegal shark fin trade," Christina Meister, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said as the Miami Herald reported.
An international agreement between governments around the world is aimed to protect vulnerable animals and plants. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) protects only12 species of sharks, which are included in Appendix II of CITES, according to CNN.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
"The shipment violated the Lacey Act and included CITES listed species," Gavin Shire, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Chief of Public Affairs, told CNN. "We are limited to what we can say about this as it is an ongoing case."
While it is illegal in the U.S. to cut off a fin from a live shark and discard the rest of the animal, it is not illegal to traffic or trade shark fins in the U.S. Another issue is that shark fin imports may not be indicated on the import forms. Shark fins are often classified simply as dried seafood or frozen seafood, or as shark fins from one of the species not on the list of banned items.
"The recent seizure of more than 1,000 pounds of shark fins in Miami from potentially protected species demonstrates why we need a federal shark fin ban," said Ariana Spawn, an ocean advocate at the nonprofit advocacy group Oceana, as CNN reported. She urged the Senate to pass the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act (S.877), which would ban the trade of fins nationwide.
According to CREMA, the Rescue Center for Endangered Marine Species, since President Alvarado of Costa Rica took office in May 8, 2018, shark fin exporters have continued to purchase hammerhead shark fins from domestic fishers and stockpile them in Puntarenas with hopes of exporting the fins in the future.
So while many people around the world assume a country like Costa Rica supports a ban on such an inhumane practice as shark-fining, the truth is it is allowed to continue. What is not allowed is the export of Hammerhead shark fins.
Hammerhead shark fin exports were banned on March 1, 2015 by the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) of the Ministry of Environment (MINAE). This ban remains in effect until the CITES Scientific Council (an 8 to 16 member body established by the Wildlife Conservation Law and under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Environment) approves the resumption of exports at some future date, under criteria of biological sustainability. Fortunately the Scientific Council has since issued two biological opinions (August 2015 and again in February 2017) recommending that the export ban stay in effect, as the survival of the species is dependent on increasing the numbers of this species, not reducing them.
The current size of the stockpile in Puntarenas is unknown. From May 1 to December 31 of 2015, it is known with certainty that exporters managed to amass over 10 tons of hammerhead fins (15,000 hammerhead sharks are needed to amass a 10 ton stockpile).
According to CREMA, on August 2017, frustrated with the advice of the scientists disallowing hammerhead shark fin exports and urged by the shark fin industry, the former government of Luis Guillermo Solis stripped the MINAE of its jurisdiction over sharks, by listing them under INCOPESCA´s Commercial Species List (AJDIP 290-2017). As a result, the conservation and management of sharks was effectively made the sole responsibility of INCOPESCA, beyond the reach of the Wildlife Conservation Law and the jurisdiction of MINAE. According to agreements reached by the fishing sector and the Executive in August 29, 2018, last September 22 was assigned as the deadline for INCOPESCA to issue their own biological opinion regarding the convenience or not of resuming hammerhead shark fin exports.
“Sadly, hammerhead shark conservation has taken numerous steps backwards since Costa Rica boldly led the process to list them under Appendix II of CITES just 5 years ago,” regretted Isabel Naranjo of the Costa Rican Endangered Marine Species Rescue Center CREMA. “As of yet, no official actions have been taken to improve the conservation status of this Endangered Species,” said Naranjo.
President Carlos Alvarado inherited this issue from the previous administration, and now he must decide. Will his government allow the export of hammerhead shark fins obtained during an export ban?
Fortunately, President Alvarado has a valuable tool to change the situation for hammerhead sharks once and for all in Costa Rica. Last May 18, just two weeks into his Presidency, the Contentious Administrative and Civil Appeals Court (Carpeta N° 17-8322-1027-CA) ordered the removal of hammerhead sharks from INCOPESCA’ Commercial Species List.
“This ruling paves the way to return shark management and conservation responsibility to the Ministry of Environment where the Wildlife Conservation Law must be implemented to its full extent to save endangered hammerhead sharks,” said an optimistic Randall Arauz, representative in Costa Rica of the Colorado based Fins Attached Marine Research and Conservation. “Conserving the population of hammerhead sharks in Costa Rica will take nothing short of this action,” he warned.
While this is good news for those who support the ban on shark fining exports, it is not discouraging those that stockpile fins in the hopes of exporting them in the future.
CREMA calls on the general public to keep supporting their petition to President Alvarado for Costa Rica to NOT export that hammerhead shark fin stockpile, and for the protection and management of sharks to occur under the tutelage of MINAE and the implementation of the Wildlife Conservation Law to its full extent.
Click here to sign the petition
On May 4th an executive order was published modifying the procedures used to authorize shark fin exports from endangered and threatened species.
Humpback Whales are regular visitors to our part of the world.
Humpback whales are well known for their long "pectoral" fins, which can be up to 15 feet (4.6 m) in length. Their scientific name, Megaptera novaeangliae, means "big-winged New Englander" as the New England population was the one best known to Europeans. These long fins give them increased maneuverability; they can be used to slow down or even go backwards.
Similar to all baleen whales, adult females are larger than adult males, reaching lengths of up to 60 feet (18 m). Their body coloration is primarily dark grey, but individuals have a variable amount of white on their pectoral fins and belly. This variation is so distinctive that the pigmentation pattern on the undersides of their "flukes" is used to identify individual whales, similar to a human fingerprint.
In the summer, humpbacks are found in high latitude feeding grounds, such as the Gulf of Maine in the Atlantic and Gulf of Alaska in the Pacific. In the winter, they migrate to calving grounds in subtropical or tropical waters, such as the Dominican Republic in the Atlantic and the Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific. The Arabian Sea humpback does not migrate, remaining in tropical waters all year.
Humpback whales travel great distances during their seasonal migration, the farthest migration of any mammal. The longest recorded migration was 11,706 miles (18,840 km), with a trek from American Samoa to the Antarctic Peninsula. One of the more closely studied routes is between Alaska and Hawaii, where humpbacks have been observed making the 3,000 mile (4,830 km) trip in as few as 36 days.
During the summer months, humpbacks spend the majority of their time feeding and building up fat stores (blubber) that they will live off of during the winter. Humpbacks filter feed on tiny crustaceans (mostly krill), plankton, and small fish and can consume up to 3,000 pounds (1,360 kg) of food per day. Several hunting methods involve using air bubbles to herd, corral, or disorient fish. One highly complex variant, called "bubble netting," is unique to humpbacks. This technique is often performed in groups with defined roles for distracting, scaring, and herding before whales lunge at prey corralled near the surface.
In their wintering grounds, humpback whales congregate and engage in mating activities. Humpbacks are generally "polygynous" with males exhibiting competitive behavior on wintering grounds. Aggressive and antagonistic behaviors include chasing, vocal and bubble displays, horizontal tail thrashing, and rear body thrashing. Males within these groups also make physical contact, striking or surfacing on top of one another. These bouts can cause injuries ranging from bloody scrapes to, in one recorded instance, death. Also on wintering grounds, males sing complex songs that can last up to 20 minutes and be heard 20 miles (30 km) away. A male may sing for hours, repeating the song several times. All males in a population sing the same song, but that song continually evolves over time. Humpback whale singing has been studied for decades, but scientists still understand very little about its function.
Gestation lasts for about 11 months. Newborns are 13-16 feet (4-5 m) long and grow quickly from the highly nutritious milk of their mothers. Weaning occurs between 6-10 months after birth. Mothers are protective and affectionate towards their calves, swimming close and frequently touching them with their flippers. Males do not provide parental support for calves. Breeding usually occurs once every two years, but sometimes occurs twice in a three year span.
During migration, humpbacks stay near the surface of the ocean.
While feeding and calving, humpbacks prefer shallow waters. During calving, humpbacks are usually found in the warmest waters available at that latitude. Calving grounds are commonly near offshore reef systems, islands, or continental shores.
Humpback feeding grounds are in cold, productive coastal waters.
Humpback whales live in all major oceans from the equator to sub-polar latitudes.
In the North Pacific, there are at least three separate populations, and
- California/Oregon/Washington stock that winters in coastal Central America and Mexico and migrates to areas ranging from the coast of California to southern British Columbia in summer/fall;
- Central North Pacific stock that winters in the Hawaiian Islands and migrates to northern British Columbia/ Southeast Alaska and Prince William Sound west to Kodiak; and
- Western North Pacific stock that winters near Japan and probably migrates to waters west of the Kodiak Archipelago (the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands ) in summer/fall. There is some mixing between these populations, though they are still considered distinct stocks.
In the Southern Hemisphere, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has designated seven major breeding stocks linked to seven major feeding areas. In Costa Rica, there is overlap with Northern Hemisphere humpbacks geographically, but they are not there at the same time. All Southern Hemisphere humpbacks share feeding grounds in the Antarctic south of 40°S and between 120°E and 110°W.
Humpback whales face a series of threats including:
- entanglement in fishing gear (bycatch)
- ship strikes
- whale watch harassment
- habitat impacts
Humpbacks can become entangled in fishing gear, either swimming off with the gear or becoming anchored. We have observed incidental "take" of humpback whales in the California/ Oregon swordfish and thresher shark drift gillnet fishery. Potential entanglement from gear from several fisheries can occur on their long migration from Hawaii to Alaska. Humpbacks in Hawaii have been observed entangled in longline gear, crab pots, and other non-fishery-related lines.
Inadvertent ship strikes can injure or kill humpbacks. We have verified mortality related to ship strikes in the Gulf of Maine and in southeastern Alaska. Ship strikes have also been reported in Hawaii.
Whale watching vessels may stress or even strike whales. The Gulf of Maine stock is the focus of whale watching in New England from late spring to early fall, particularly within the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. The central North Pacific stock is the focus of a whale-watching industry on their wintering grounds in the Hawaiian Islands. The feeding aggregation in southeast Alaska is also the focus of a developing whale-watching industry that may impact whales in localized areas.
Shipping channels, fisheries, and aquaculture may occupy or destroy humpback whale aggregation areas. Recreational use of marine areas, including resort development and increased boat traffic, may displace whales that would normally use that area. In Hawaii, acoustic impacts from vessel operation, oceanographic research using active sonar, and military operations are also of increasing concern.
Japan has issued scientific permits in the Antarctic and in the western North Pacific in recent years. In 2009, the full JARPA II program commenced. Annual sample sizes for the full-scale research (lethal sampling) are set at 50 humpback whales. According the the IWC, Japan has refrained from taking humpback whales.
Efforts to conserve humpback whales include:
- Reduce bycatch in gillnet and trap/pot fisheries in the western North Atlantic through the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan.
- Implement marine mammal take reduction measures identified in the Pacific Offshore Cetacean Take Reduction Plan.
- Mitigate ship strikes and respond to humpback whales in distress (see Alaska and Hawaii regulations).
- Educate whale watch vessels and boat operators on practicing safe boating around whales, such as through the Whale SENSE and See A Spout programs.
- Monitor humpbacks in U.S. waters via shipboard surveys and mark recapture studies.
- Research humpback population structure and abundance, though studies like the Structure of Populations, Levels of Abundance, and Status of Humpbacks (SPLASH) and More North Atlantic Humpbacks (MoNAH) projects, as well as work done at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.
- Recover the species [pdf]
In 1946, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling regulated commercial whaling of humpback whales.
In 1966, the International Whaling Commission prohibited commercial whaling of humpbacks.
In June 1970, humpback whales were designated as "endangered" under the Endangered Species Conservation Act (ESCA). In 1973, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) replaced the ESCA, and continued to list humpback whales as endangered.
In April 2015, we proposed to revise the ESA listing of the humpback whale by identifying 14 DPSs and listing 2 DPSs as threatened and 2 as endangered (80 FR 22304). The other 10 identified DPSs were not proposed for listing.
In September 2016, we revised the ESA listing for the humpback whale to identify 14 Distinct Population Segments (DPS), list 1 as threatened, 4 as endangered, and identify 9 others as not warranted for listing. We also issued two final rules governing approach of humpback whales in Alaska and Hawaii. The first re-codifies existing approach regulations in Alaskan waters under the ESA so they apply to both threatened and endangered humpback whales, and adds similar approach regulations under the MMPA to protect all humpback whales found off Alaska. The other is an interim final rule for approach regulations under the MMPA in Hawaiian waters to replace the previous regulations under the ESA. While the regulations are effective 30 days after their publication in the Federal Register, NOAA Fisheries is accepting public comment for 60 days after their publication and will publish a final rule in the future.
|25-40 tons (50,000-80,000 pounds; 22,000-36,000 kg);
newborns weigh about 1 ton (2,000 pounds; 900 kg)
|up to 60 feet (18 m), with females larger than males;
newborns are about 15 feet (4.5 m) long
|primarily dark grey, with some areas of white|
|about 50 years|
|tiny crustaceans (mostly krill), plankton, and small fish; they can consume up to 3,000 pounds (1360 kg) of food per day|
|breaching (jumping out of the water), or slapping the surface|
(Sea Shepherd) – The Costa Rican Government is forcing Sea Shepherd to shut down Operation Jairo II, a campaign to protect endangered sea turtles.
Any Sea Shepherd volunteer found patrolling beaches or engaging in sea turtle conservation work will be detained and deported.