This video from Canada says about itself:
5 March 2011
Canada’s foremost naturalist recounts the impact of our culture on life in the Northwest Atlantic ocean, over the last 500 years, and explains what must be done now. This very important 2 part documentary was produced by CBC at the expense of Canadian taxpayers, including me. Farley Mowat’s book, Sea of Slaughter, which he considers his most important work, was the basis for this film.
Book and film are both brutally honest enough to make many people uncomfortable. Only now has science come to understand exactly how the former multitudes of large sea animals preserved their own food base, while conditioning both the marine environment and the atmosphere of the planet (via accelerated nutrient cycling/fertilization). This adds to the current urgent imperative that we face up now to the full consequences of what we have done to life in the sea. (both parts are posted here in sequence)
By John Green in Britain:
Farley Mowat: writer, socialist and environmentalist
Tuesday 20th May 2014
THE Canadian author Farley Mowat, who died on May 12, wrote with humour, keen perception and passionate social commitment, completing over 40 books and numerous articles.
He is sadly not so well known in Britain but deserves to be. His family came from Scottish immigrant stock and he retained a special fondness for Scotland.
His works were translated into 52 languages and his books sold more than 17 million copies. He achieved fame with his works on the Canadian North such as People Of The Deer (1952) and Never Cry Wolf (1963).
Mowat’s advocacy for environmental causes and his own claim to never let the facts get in the way of the truth earned him both praise and criticism, yet his influence is undeniable.
Never Cry Wolf, a fictional narrative of a man living among wolves in the sub-Arctic was made into a successful film.
His stories are fast-paced, gripping, personal and conversational and descriptions of Mowat refer to his commitment to ideals, poetic descriptions and vivid images.
His first non-fiction work People Of The Deer became a classic. In it he documented the disappearing communist way of life of Canada’s native Inuit people, among whom he lived while writing the book.
He showed how a colonial arrogance and an exploitative system had driven the Inuit and their culture to the edge. …
Mowat became a lifelong advocate of indigenous people’s rights, labelling Canada’s treatment of them abominable. Never one to shy away from controversy, Mowat was outspoken about many environmental and social issues.
During the second world war, Mowat was commissioned as a second lieutenant, rising to the rank of captain. After the war he returned to Canada, desperate to escape from what had been and seemed likely to remain a world run by maniacs. He fled north to live among the Inuit people.
Many of his works such as Owls In The Family about childhood and And No Birds Sang about his experience fighting in the second world war are autobiographical,
Mowat published a denunciation of the destruction of animal life in the north Atlantic entitled Sea of Slaughter in 1984. In 1985, as a part of the promotional tour for the book, Mowat was invited to speak at the university in Chico, California, but US officials denied him entry.
His security file indicated he should be denied entry for violating any one of 33 statutes. Reportedly, these statutes included being a member of a group considered radical by the US government.
The result was a media circus, which brought worldwide attention to Mowat. The negative publicity eventually forced the Reagan administration to allow Mowat to enter the US but he declined because to accept would be undignified as the permission was valid for only one visit [of] his book tour.
Mowat documented the reasons why he was refused entry to the United States in his 1985 book, My Discovery of America.
He won a number of prestigious awards for his books and environmental work and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship RV Farley Mowat was named in honour of him.
Mowat, a strong supporter of the Green Party of Canada, died less than a week before his 93rd birthday.
Farley Mowat, May 12 1921–May 6 2014.
From Wildlife Extra:
A study of the genes of polar bears reveals how quickly they evolved to handle the extremes of life in the high Arctic, and why, and how they cope with being profoundly obese. A comparison between polar and brown bears has found that the former is a much younger species than previously believed, having diverged from brown bears less than 500,000 years ago to spend life on sea ice. There, the bears subsist on a blubber-rich diet of marine mammals that would result in cardiovascular diseases in other species. The relatively short time that has passed in its evolution and how it evolved was what interested the scientists.
The study, published in the journal Cell, was a collaboration between Danish and Chinese researchers and a team from the University of California Berkeley, including Eline Lorenzen and Rasmus Nielsen.
Unlike other bears, fat comprises up to half the weight of a polar bear. “For polar bears, profound obesity is a benign state,” said Lorenzen. “We wanted to understand how they are able to cope with that. The life of a polar bear revolves around fat. Nursing cubs rely on milk that can be up to 30 per cent fat, and adults eat primarily blubber of marine mammal prey. Polar bears have large fat deposits under their skin and, because they essentially live in a polar desert and don’t have access to fresh water for most of the year, rely on metabolic water, which is a by product of the breakdown of fat.”
The genome analysis comes at a time when the polar bear population worldwide, estimated at between 20,000 and 25,000, is declining and its Arctic sea ice habitat is rapidly disappearing. As the northern latitudes warm, the polar bear’s distant cousin, the brown or grizzly bear is moving farther north and occasionally interbreeding with the polar bear to produce hybrids that have been called ‘pizzlies’. This is the possibly the same process that led to the emergence of polar bears in the first place.
The bears’ ability to interbreed is a result of a very close relationship, Nielsen said, which is one-tenth the evolutionary distance between chimpanzees and humans. “It’s really surprising that the divergence time is so short. All the unique adaptations polar bears have to the Arctic environment must have evolved in a very short amount of time.”
These adaptations include not only a change from brown to white fur and development of a sleeker body, but big physiological and metabolic changes as well. The genome comparison revealed that over several hundred thousand years, natural selection drove major changes in genes related to fat transport in the blood and fatty acid metabolism. One of the most strongly selected genes is APOB, which in mammals encodes the main protein in LDL (low density lipoprotein), known widely as “bad” cholesterol. Changes or mutations in this gene reflect the critical nature of fat in the polar bear diet and the animals’ need to deal with high blood levels of glucose and triglycerides, in particular cholesterol, which would be dangerous in humans.
What drove the evolution of polar bears is unclear, though the split from brown bears coincided with a particularly warm 50,000-year interglacial period known as Marine Isotope Stage 11. Environmental shifts following climate changes could have encouraged brown bears to extend their range much farther north. When the warm interlude ended and a glacial cold period set in, a pocket of brown bears may have become isolated and forced to adapt rapidly to new conditions.
There is potential for the polar bear research also to have applications in the study of human’s lifestyles. “Polar bears have adapted genetically to a high fat diet that many people now impose on themselves,” said Nielsen. “If we learn a bit about the genes that allows them to deal with that, perhaps that will give us tools to modulate human physiology down the line.”
See also here.
From daily The Morning Star in Britain, about the Netherlands:
31 Greenpeace activists detained in the Netherlands
Thursday 1st May 2014
Dutch police detained 31 Greenpeace activists today as they attempted to prevent a Russian tanker carrying oil from a new Arctic platform from mooring in Rotterdam.
Activists painted “No Arctic oil” in white letters on the hull of the ship and hung a banner sporting the slogan on one of their own ships.
But the Mikhail Ulyanov was able to dock safely after several hours.
Rotterdam police said Rainbow Warrior captain Peter Willcox had disobeyed police orders to move his ship.
Officers towed the vessel to a different part of the port and the ship was returned to Greenpeace after the action ended.
A further 30 activists were also detained, some for trespass and some for attempting to stop the tanker docking by blocking its mooring with rubber rafts.
No-one was injured, though one activist fell in the water and was treated for hypothermia.
Captain Willcox was one of a group of activists charged with piracy after a protest near Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya offshore Arctic platform last year.
They spent months in a Russian prison before being released earlier this year.
“Thirty of us went to prison for shining a light on this dangerous Arctic oil and we refuse to be intimidated,” said Dutch activist Faiza Oulahsen.
“This tanker is the first sign of a reckless new push to exploit the Arctic.”
UPDATE: Dutch police reports that they had arrested 44 Greenpeace activists. One of these is still in jail. The others were released after paying fines.
This video says about itself:
4 April 2014
This clip, taken from the presentation of Shell‘s Q4 2012 results in London on 31st January 2013, shows former CEO Peter Voser being blatantly ‘economical with the truth’ over the ‘tax avoidance reasons’ for the towing of Shell‘s Arctic drilling rig Kulluk.
Peter Voser was employed by Shell Switzerland until the end of March 2014 as adviser to the new Shell CEO Ben van Beurden. He likely received 635,000 Swiss Francs ($730,000) for three months’ work (source: http://reut.rs/1gtP1Ue).
From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Saturday 5th April 2014
Senator blasts ‘reckless’ tax-avoidance and ‘disregard’ for legal protections and calls for Shell to be held accountable
The US Coastguard said on Thursday that the grounding of a Shell oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Alaska in 2012 was in part driven by tax-dodging.
It said Alaska’s tax laws had influenced the decision to tow the drilling rig Kulluk to Seattle for maintenance.
Shell believed the rig would have qualified as taxable property on January 1 2013 if it was still in Alaskan waters.
The Kulluk broke away from its tow in late December 2012 after it ran into a vicious storm — a fairly routine winter event in Alaskan waters.
Multiple attempts to maintain tow lines failed and the vessel ran aground on New Year’s Eve just off Kodiak Island.
Several days before the tow initially broke, the master of the tow vessel Aiviq sent an email to the Kulluk’s towmaster expressing concerns about the conditions.
“To be blunt I believe that this length of tow, at this time of year, in this location, with our current routing, guarantees an ass kicking,” said the email.
The Aiviq’s master and towmaster asked Shell’s marine manager for permission to change course but the request was “not formally granted.”
The coastguard concluded that sufficient evidence existed for the relevant authorities to consider penalties.
“This report shows Shell ran through every single safety and common sense red light in moving this rig because of financial considerations,” Mr Markey said.
“This kind of behaviour should raise major red flags for any future Arctic drilling plans.”
Environmental groups said the oil industry and government were ill-prepared to deal with oil development in the Arctic Ocean.
“Today’s report again shows that Shell did not appreciate or plan for the risks of operating in Alaskan waters, prioritised financial considerations ahead of safety and precaution and simply disregarded important legal protections,” said conservation group Oceana staff lawyer Mike LeVine.
“The report again confirms what common sense dictates: companies and government agencies are not ready for the Arctic Ocean.”
See also here.
Randall Hyman writes about this video:
Return of the Terns
More about Randall Hyman in Norway: here.
More about Svalbard Arctic tern research: here.
New tracking technology reveals birds’ epic and amazing journeys. Smaller and lighter tracking devices are opening up whole new insights into behaviour, movements and migrations: here.
This video from Alaska says about itself:
5 Sep 2013
© 2013 Jared Hughey
All Rights Reserved
The Smith’s Longspur (Calcarius pictus), one of the least studied songbirds in North America, breeds on the arctic tundra and has become a species of conservation concern. I spent the summer working as a field technician for Heather Craig, a Master’s student at University of Alaska Fairbanks who is studying the breeding ecology of this polygynandrous species in the foothills of the Brooks Range in northern Alaska.
From eNature blog in the USA:
The Smith’s Longspur May Be Nature’s Champion Lover
Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 by eNature
Are you the type that has an insatiable appetite for lusty affairs?
Do you seek the same qualities in a partner?
Then you’ll probably enjoy the story of the Smith’s Longspur. This bird’s 70’s swinging style is enough to make even Hugh Hefner blush.
In terms of range, then, it’s a lot like some other species. What sets the Smith’s Longspur apart is its astonishing libido.
At the peak of the spring mating season, the typical Smith’s Longspur copulates more than 350 times a week. The females solicit these encounters, and the males cooperate roughly half the time. Otherwise the creatures are resting and refueling.
You can always plan eNature’s Mating Game to find what creature you most resemble in love.
John James Audubon named the Smith’s Longspur after his friend Gideon B. Smith.
More about the Smith’s Longspur is here.
From eNature blog:
Three Guys For Every Girl— Why Male Polar Bears Have A Tough Time Getting A Date
Posted on Wednesday, February 05, 2014 by eNature
So what’s the best place for a male Polar Bear to meet a potential mate?
The experts recommend going to a prime seal-hunting spot. But finding such a spot is only the beginning of the challenge.
Nature Doesn’t Make It Easy
One reason a male Polar Bear must work overtime for a date is that females of the species don’t breed every year or even every other year. A female Polar Bear usually breeds only once every three years, which means that males outnumber eligible females three-to-one at the start of breeding season in the spring.
So competition for female attention is fierce, and males must fight one another, sometimes viciously, for the privilege of mating.
The Girls Can Play Hard To Get
Further complicating matters is the fact that female Polar Bears enjoy a good chase and will lead pursuing males across the ice for miles and miles.
In some cases, a chase can cover more than sixty miles—not for the timid or the weak of heart.
And we all thought it was tough to get a date to the Prom!
Without the vibrant color of a cardinal or the sweet song of a sparrow, how does a seabird go about attracting its mate? Here.
St Valentine’s Day is traditionally the time when birds start to choose their mates, with egg-laying for most resident species commencing in March or April. For a handful of birds, including Tawny Owl, Mistle Thrush and Dipper, nesting may already be under way in February, but numbers of these three early breeders are falling rapidly, according to the British Trust for Ornithology’s (BTO) BirdTrends report, published on-line today: here.
The secret of how the polar bear copes with a high-fat diet without getting a heart attack can be found in the creature’s genetic makeup according to scientists who have analysed the genome of the world’s greatest living land predator: here.
From Upstream, oil and gas newspaper:
Shell faces Alaska ‘drilling hurdle’
Steve Marshall, News Wires
23 January 2014 08:22 GMT
Shell’s bid to restart its exploration drilling effort off Alaska this summer has reportedly run into a potential legal obstacle after a US court ruling has cast doubt on the legitimacy of lease awards in the Chukchi Sea.
A three-judge panel of the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals decided on Wednesday that the US’ Interior Department wrongly awarded the oil leases off Alaska without considering the full range of environmental risks from drilling in the Arctic, Reuters reported.
The ruling represents a victory for Native Alaska tribes and environmental groups in a dispute that pits them against the federal government and energy companies, with the matter now returned to a US district judge in Anchorage for review.
Shell is a major leaseholder in the Chukchi Sea after gaining acreage in a 2008 lease sale in which it stumped up nearly $2 billion out of $2.66 billion bid by oil companies, with other blocks picked up by ConocoPhillips and Statoil.
The Anglo-Dutch supermajor intends to resume drilling work in the area between July and November this year using the upgraded drillship Noble Discoverer to spud a well at the Burger prospect, with Transocean semi-submersible Polar Pioneer to be used as a back-unit.
It follows an earlier abortive bid in 2012 that was dogged by a number of technical issues and ended with the grounding of the drilling barge Kulluk.
The impact of the court decision on the planned drilling effort was not immediately clear, with a Shell spokeswoman saying: “We are reviewing the opinion.”
A spokeswoman for the Interior Department declined to comment, saying the agency does not discuss pending legal matters.
However, the plaintiffs’ Juneau-based attorney, Mike LeVine, said: “It’s unlikely that the government could authorise drilling activities on leases the court says were improperly awarded.”
He said the court ruling supports the plaintiffs’ argument that the leases should never have been granted six years ago because the federal government failed to consider the full scale of the project and associated risks.
The court determined that the Interior Department leases in question, opening nearly 30 million acres to exploration drilling, were based on a flawed estimate of 1 billion barrels of economically recoverable oil for the scope of production.
The appeals court called that estimate “arbitrary and capricious” and ruled the government had failed to base its analysis on the full range of likely potential oil production from the acreage, as required under the National Environmental Policy Act.
LeVine said: “This tells me that the time has come for the federal government to stop trying to provide justification for a poor decision that was made in 2008.”
Environmental group Greenpeace described the court ruling as another setback for Shell in its bid to exploit the eco-sensitive Arctic, calling it a “massive blow” for the company after newly installed chief executive Ben van Beurden issued a profit warning last week.
The group, which has staged a number of high-profile stunts to prevent Arctic drilling, claims Shell has now ploughed about $5 billion into Arctic exploitation “with not a single cent in return”.
Shell shelves plan to drill in Alaskan Arctic this summer: Guardian: here.