January 23, 2013

"This is mine. This is all mine," the cat says.     Photo: Leanne Gowden/Flickr

NZ Activist Campaigns to Eliminate Cats

Facing claws-out backlash

An environmental advocate in New Zealand is leading a crusade against the ownership of domestic cats. Gareth Morgan's campaign, called Cats to Go, is asking that his fellow Kiwis neuter their feline friends and consider making their current pet their last.

For hundreds of thousands of years, New Zealand's native birds knew no predators except each other. This changed when humans arrived. The island's original colonizers, the Maori, overhunted the larger birds and drove them to extinction. The next wave of visitors, mostly Englishmen, brought rats, stoats, and cats. The rats and stoats ate bird eggs and the cats began hunting the birds themselves. Many more avians that had never faced large-scale predation went extinct.

Now Morgan is trying to fight back, but according to CBS News his request is not sitting well in the island nation that boasts one of the highest rates of cat ownership in the world.

"I say to Gareth Morgan, butt out of our lives," Bob Kerridge, the president of the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told the current affairs television show Campbell Live. "Don't deprive us of the beautiful companionship that a cat can provide individually and as a family."

Morgan does not recommend that owners euthanize their cats, though his website says "that is an option."

Scientist David Winter agreed with the idea on his blog "The Atavism." He said that cats are responsible for the extinction of six bird species in the country and one cat managed to kill 102 native short-tail bats in a week.

Via 3 News

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    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Mineral Seeding: The Answer to Climate Change?

Researchers plan ocean additive

A sprinkle of fairy dust may be all it takes to put the brakes on global warming. Researchers in Germany have found that seeding our oceans with olivine, a common Earth mineral named for its color, might speed up the absorption of carbon dioxide. Other upsides may include the tempering of ocean acidification, which has destroyed vast swaths of precious coral reefs and upset fish populations.

If only geo-engineering were so simple. As it turns out, there are a number of obstacles beyond the inherent risks involved in tampering with our ecosystem on a massive scale:  

To carry out such a project would require in the range of a 100 bulk tankers and shipping vessels to be used to distribute the minerals "10 times a year," requiring the frequent usage of ships needed for international business purposes. Further, the ocean-wide changes caused by the distribution of minerals could affect the species composition of plankton populations, which form a key component of essentially every marine ecosystem.

The plan would be far from the first attempt at ocean seeding. In October it was discovered that entrepreneur Russ George had dumped 100 tons of iron sulphate in the Pacific Ocean in an attempt to spawn an artificial plankton bloom. The experiment violated a number of international treaties and has so far had no discernable effect. But by all means, let’s keep at it.

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Bradley Wiggins

Bradley Wiggins at the 2012 Criterium du Dauphine     Photo: Peter Stevens/Flickr

Wiggins Will Focus on Giro

Plans to support Froome in Tour

Olympic time trial gold medalist and reigning Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins plans to focus on winning the Giro d'Italia this year. In an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, Wiggins said that he thought winning the Giro would be harder than winning the Tour in many ways. "In terms of cycling history, the Giro is just as important as the tour, but it has a more human aspect. The tour has maybe gotten too big," he said. While Wiggins will compete in this year's tour, he says he'll ride in support of his teammate Chris Froome rather than trying to repeat last year's victory. In 2012, Wiggins became the first cyclist to win both the Tour de France and an Olympic medal in the same year. He was knighted in the queen's 2013 New Year Honours for services to sport.

Via The Australian

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    Photo: Jetske19/Flickr

Smokies to Charge for Camping

Begins on February 13

Starting on February 13, it will cost $4 per person to camp in backcountry sites at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, officials announced. The move, which was approved last year by the National Park Service, will also include the implementation of an online reservation system.

So, why the switch?

Fees from the new reservation system will allow additional staff and expanded hours for the Backcountry Office to provide trip planning assistance in person and by phone. The fees will also expand the Backcountry Ranger presence to better protect visitors and the resources through enforcement of food storage and other regulations, and improved visitor education regarding Leave-No-Trace principles.

Reservations can be made here next month.

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