Whale remains left by the Arctic Alaskan town of Kaktovic after the annual hunt drew record numbers of polar bears to the small community last month. Researchers who use the town to monitor bear populations counted 80 bears in a single day, besting the previous record of 65, set in 2004. The sharp increase has been attributed in large part to the record retreat of Arctic sea ice, which reached an all-time low in August. The bears, who traditionally rely on fat reserves during the summer months, are being stretched to their limits by the increased period between the melting of the ice and its return.
Ramón Julian Puigblanque of Spain and Jain Kim of Korea took first place in the U.S.'s only lead climbing World Cup over the weekend, edging out Jakob Schubert and Maja Vidmar with strong performances in the semifinals. The victories come just a few days after the International Federation of Sport Climbing announced that it would focus its 2020 Olympic bid exclusively on lead climbing, leaving out the other two disciplines of bouldering and speed climbing. Puigblanque and Kim both currently sit in second place in the World Cup lead rankings.
Over the last 27 years, coral cover in the Great Barrier Reef has decreased by more than 50 percent due to a combination of beaching, increased storm activity, and a boom in coral-eating starfish. At the current rate, the amount over coral cover will halve again within 10 years, according to a collection of studies published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal. From 1985 to 2012, the amount of coral cover decreased from 28 to 13.8 percent. About two-thirds of the loss has occurred since 1998, with the decline increasing to about 1.45 percent per year from 2006 on. Researchers believe the coral loss can be halted if the starfish population is brought under control and worldwide carbon emissions are cut.
The remains of a Canadian man who disappeared outside a small Nevada town were found this week, bringing to a close an ordeal that began 18 months ago near the Nevada-Idaho state line. Albert and Rita Chretian were on their way to a Las Vegas trade show when their GPS led them astray, taking them through a dangerous pass and eventually stranding them on a deserted road six miles from Mountain City, Nevada. Albert left to search for help and never returned. Authorities believe Albert became caught in a snowstorm and succumbed to the cold. Rita was stranded for seven weeks, surviving on trail mix and snow, until she was found by a volunteer search-and-rescue team.
Joe Hale could spend his days lying on a beach, but he finds the prospect boring. “Retirement is a selfish act,” says the 63-year-old former Duke Energy executive and Nantucket, Massachusetts, resident. “We’ve spent years amassing skill, and that’s too valuable to spend the next 20 years on a golf course.” During a 2010 Colorado ski trip, Hale read a story about a Kenyan farmer who had no electricity and traveled six hours to reach a cell-phone charger. So, along with former colleagues, Hale, who ran seven marathons in 2005 to raise money for polio research, looked into it. He found that 1.4 billion people in rural areas have no electricity. Last year he established the Global BrightLight Foundation, which provides solar-powered combination lanterns and cell-phone chargers in off-grid areas. With help from groups like the Wildlife Conservation Society and local volunteers, Hale has run pilot programs in Rwanda and Argentina. Here, he reveals how to make a real impact—and have fun doing it.
KNOW YOUR PURPOSE: “The world doesn’t need another non-profit without a unique service. Unless you’ve got a different twist on an issue, throw your support behind somebody who’s already doing it well.”
BUILD A TEAM: “There are a lot of things to factor in—fundraising, distribution, travel—and many people know more about those things than you do. Consult with them. Also, local NGOs that provide other services can be very helpful. We team with Eletrobras, Brazil’s electricity provider, to help distribute our lanterns near the Amazon.”
DO YOUR HOMEWORK: “We conducted surveys to find out what these people use. How much are they spending on wood, candles, and kerosene? Then we had them test two different products. The solar lanterns with built-in cell-phone chargers were the most popular.”
CREATE VALUE: “If you’re providing something to people, make sure you’re selling it. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, but skin in the game is important. If a person is invested in something, they value it more. Our lanterns are priced differently in each area, but they generally cost people the amount they would spend on fuel to light their homes for three months.”
REMEMBER TO PLAY: “In Rwanda I hiked among gorillas. In Brazil I swam with pink dolphins and went piranha fishing. If you’re someplace helping out and there’s a great mountain to climb, go do it. Why not?”