Archive for December, 2009

Do you like Dolphins? You should watch this film…

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

(Nadine Pedoe)

‘The Cove’ is an excellent documentary about the capture and slaughter of thousands of dolphins in Japan every year (est 23,000 murdered). Have you ever swum with dolphins in a captive environment or watched a dolphin show? I have, and had never really thought enough where the dolphins came from, or the scale at which they need to be captured to feed the markets. I had already come to the conclusion that it wasn’t the most pleasant way to witness them, so discourage people whenever possible. On our Turneffe trips we regularly see wild dolphins, who sometimes play around the boat. On many occasions we get in the water and swim with them – a totally amazing experience.

Seeing them in a captive environment is fun, but not the same, and once you see this, you will feel as sick as I do about partaking in something so heinous. Many people are already aware of the evil of Japan’s whaling program, but how many know about the dolphins? Of course they are not the only country that do this.

Watch this documentary to find out how the dolphin species pays for this human fun. I have never been through so many emotions in watching a film. It is a tale beautifully told, and will change the way you think of marine life forever. The people involved in bringing this to the world’s attention are inspirational. Please watch it! This trailer doesn’t really do it justice but here it is anyway…

http://thecovemovie.com/

They give some ideas of how to take action. One way that you can help is to help reduce the demand for captive dolphins.

Please spread the word!

Flight sale from AA extended – great time to come to Belize!

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

In case you missed it! Fares can be found as low as $149.00!

  • Travelers can lock-in the unbelievable rates for travel from January 1 – March 31, 2010.
  • In order to take advantage of the low fares, tickets must be purchased on AA.com by January 05, 2010.
  • Fares are each way, and based on a round-trip economy class purchase.

Very Happy Christmas to everyone from Red Mangrove

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

And wishing you everything you wish yourselves for 2010. Let’s hope it’s a better year for all of us.

Guardian News: How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? I was in the room

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Mark Lynas guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 22 December 2009 19.54 GMT

“Copenhagen was a disaster. That much is agreed. But the truth about what actually happened is in danger of being lost amid the spin and inevitable mutual recriminations. The truth is this: China wrecked the talks, intentionally humiliated Barack Obama, and insisted on an awful “deal” so western leaders would walk away carrying the blame. How do I know this? Because I was in the room and saw it happen.

China’s strategy was simple: block the open negotiations for two weeks, and then ensure that the closed-door deal made it look as if the west had failed the world’s poor once again. And sure enough, the aid agencies, civil society movements and environmental groups all took the bait. The failure was “the inevitable result of rich countries refusing adequately and fairly to shoulder their overwhelming responsibility”, said Christian Aid. “Rich countries have bullied developing nations,” fumed Friends of the Earth International.

All very predictable, but the complete opposite of the truth. Even George Monbiot, writing in yesterday’s Guardian, made the mistake of singly blaming Obama. But I saw Obama fighting desperately to salvage a deal, and the Chinese delegate saying “no”, over and over again. Monbiot even approvingly quoted the Sudanese delegate Lumumba Di-Aping, who denounced the Copenhagen accord as “a suicide pact, an incineration pact, in order to maintain the economic dominance of a few countries”.

Sudan behaves at the talks as a puppet of China; one of a number of countries that relieves the Chinese delegation of having to fight its battles in open sessions. It was a perfect stitch-up. China gutted the deal behind the scenes, and then left its proxies to savage it in public.

Here’s what actually went on late last Friday night, as heads of state from two dozen countries met behind closed doors. Obama was at the table for several hours, sitting between Gordon Brown and the Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi. The Danish prime minister chaired, and on his right sat Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the UN. Probably only about 50 or 60 people, including the heads of state, were in the room. I was attached to one of the delegations, whose head of state was also present for most of the time.

What I saw was profoundly shocking. The Chinese premier, Wen Jinbao, did not deign to attend the meetings personally, instead sending a second-tier official in the country’s foreign ministry to sit opposite Obama himself. The diplomatic snub was obvious and brutal, as was the practical implication: several times during the session, the world’s most powerful heads of state were forced to wait around as the Chinese delegate went off to make telephone calls to his “superiors”.

Shifting the blame

To those who would blame Obama and rich countries in general, know this: it was China’s representative who insisted that industrialised country targets, previously agreed as an 80% cut by 2050, be taken out of the deal. “Why can’t we even mention our own targets?” demanded a furious Angela Merkel. Australia’s prime minister, Kevin Rudd, was annoyed enough to bang his microphone. Brazil’s representative too pointed out the illogicality of China’s position. Why should rich countries not announce even this unilateral cut? The Chinese delegate said no, and I watched, aghast, as Merkel threw up her hands in despair and conceded the point. Now we know why – because China bet, correctly, that Obama would get the blame for the Copenhagen accord’s lack of ambition.

China, backed at times by India, then proceeded to take out all the numbers that mattered. A 2020 peaking year in global emissions, essential to restrain temperatures to 2C, was removed and replaced by woolly language suggesting that emissions should peak “as soon as possible”. The long-term target, of global 50% cuts by 2050, was also excised. No one else, perhaps with the exceptions of India and Saudi Arabia, wanted this to happen. I am certain that had the Chinese not been in the room, we would have left Copenhagen with a deal that had environmentalists popping champagne corks popping in every corner of the world.

Strong position

So how did China manage to pull off this coup? First, it was in an extremely strong negotiating position. China didn’t need a deal. As one developing country foreign minister said to me: “The Athenians had nothing to offer to the Spartans.” On the other hand, western leaders in particular – but also presidents Lula of Brazil, Zuma of South Africa, Calderón of Mexico and many others – were desperate for a positive outcome. Obama needed a strong deal perhaps more than anyone. The US had confirmed the offer of $100bn to developing countries for adaptation, put serious cuts on the table for the first time (17% below 2005 levels by 2020), and was obviously prepared to up its offer.

Above all, Obama needed to be able to demonstrate to the Senate that he could deliver China in any global climate regulation framework, so conservative senators could not argue that US carbon cuts would further advantage Chinese industry. With midterm elections looming, Obama and his staff also knew that Copenhagen would be probably their only opportunity to go to climate change talks with a strong mandate. This further strengthened China’s negotiating hand, as did the complete lack of civil society political pressure on either China or India. Campaign groups never blame developing countries for failure; this is an iron rule that is never broken. The Indians, in particular, have become past masters at co-opting the language of equity (“equal rights to the atmosphere”) in the service of planetary suicide – and leftish campaigners and commentators are hoist with their own petard.

With the deal gutted, the heads of state session concluded with a final battle as the Chinese delegate insisted on removing the 1.5C target so beloved of the small island states and low-lying nations who have most to lose from rising seas. President Nasheed of the Maldives, supported by Brown, fought valiantly to save this crucial number. “How can you ask my country to go extinct?” demanded Nasheed. The Chinese delegate feigned great offence – and the number stayed, but surrounded by language which makes it all but meaningless. The deed was done.

China’s game

All this raises the question: what is China’s game? Why did China, in the words of a UK-based analyst who also spent hours in heads of state meetings, “not only reject targets for itself, but also refuse to allow any other country to take on binding targets?” The analyst, who has attended climate conferences for more than 15 years, concludes that China wants to weaken the climate regulation regime now “in order to avoid the risk that it might be called on to be more ambitious in a few years’ time”.

This does not mean China is not serious about global warming. It is strong in both the wind and solar industries. But China’s growth, and growing global political and economic dominance, is based largely on cheap coal. China knows it is becoming an uncontested superpower; indeed its newfound muscular confidence was on striking display in Copenhagen. Its coal-based economy doubles every decade, and its power increases commensurately. Its leadership will not alter this magic formula unless they absolutely have to.

Copenhagen was much worse than just another bad deal, because it illustrated a profound shift in global geopolitics. This is fast becoming China’s century, yet its leadership has displayed that multilateral environmental governance is not only not a priority, but is viewed as a hindrance to the new superpower’s freedom of action. I left Copenhagen more despondent than I have felt in a long time. After all the hope and all the hype, the mobilisation of thousands, a wave of optimism crashed against the rock of global power politics, fell back, and drained away.”

Coral reefs and climate change

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Why weren’t they listening?

Discovery of the Jekyll-and-Hyde Factors in ‘Coral Bleaching’

Monday, December 21st, 2009

“ScienceDaily (Dec. 7, 2009) — Scientists are reporting the first identification of substances involved in the Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation that changes harmless marine bacteria into killers that cause “coral bleaching.”

Their study appears in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal.

Dan Bearden and colleagues note that bleaching already has destroyed up to 30 percent of the world’s coral reefs, and scientists are searching for ways to slow or stop the damage. One known culprit is an ocean-dwelling bacterium, Vibrio coralliilyticus, which chokes off corals’ energy supply and kills these shell-clad marine animals. At lower temperatures, the bacteria are harmless to coral. But at warmer temperatures (above 75 degrees Fahrenheit) the bacteria become virulent and can kill coral.

The white areas on this coral are a result of bleaching. Scientists are reporting progress toward understanding how this harmful process occurs. (Credit: National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration)

The new study reports identification of three chemicals — betaine, glutamate, and succinate — that V. coralliilyticus produces in warmer water and are involved in the transformation. The discovery opens the door to understanding the biology involved in the complex interactions between corals and bacteria and unraveling the mystery of coral bleaching, the scientists indicated.”

Belize is named as one of the most ethical destinations in the world

Monday, December 7th, 2009

“Ethical Traveler’s new report, “The World’s Best Ethical Destinations,” identifies the 10 countries in the developing world that are best protecting their natural environments, promoting responsible travel, and building a tourism industry which provides real benefits to local communities. “There’s no doubt that worldwide interest in mindful, responsible travel is growing – not only among travelers, but within the countries that host us,” says Jeff Greenwald, executive director of Ethical Traveler and co-author of the report. “Now is the perfect time for savvy travelers and well-intentioned governments to evolve together, each encouraging the other. This is especially true in the developing world, where travel and tourism can be developed as lucrative, low-impact alternatives to forestry, mining, and the destruction of ocean habitats.” In alphabetical order, the best ethical travel destinations for 2010 are:

  • Argentina
  • Belize
  • Chile
  • Ghana
  • Lithuania
  • Namibia
  • Poland
  • Seychelles
  • South Africa
  • Suriname

“In drafting our report, we use scores of information sources — including publicly available data — to rate each country’s genuine commitment to environmental protection, social welfare and human rights,” says Christy Hoover, co-author of the report. “Data sources include the United Nations Development Program, Human Rights Watch, Columbia University, Reporters Without Borders, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and many others. Private interviews with NGO leaders are part of the process, as well.” The full report can be viewed at http://www.ethicaltraveler.org/destinations Ethical Traveler is an international alliance of travelers who believe that travel is a powerful tool for international goodwill and cultural understanding. The group seeks to harness the political and economic clout of tourism to support human rights and the environment. Ethical Traveler is a project of the Earth Island Institute. For more information, please visit http://www.ethicaltraveler.org . Note to Editors: Stunning high-resolution photos and follow-up interviews available upon request. Media Hotline: Michael McColl +1 510 451 0267 This release was issued through eReleases(TM). For more information, visit http://www.ereleases.com. SOURCE Ethical Traveler © 2009 PR Newswire. All Rights Reserved”

Flight sale to Belize – get cheap flights while you can!

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

Anerican Airlines is holding a flight sale to Belize. Pick up flights from major hubs like Miami and New York from just $149USD.

http://www.aa.com/netsaaver/viewNetSAAverSpecialsDetails.do?fN=LatinSale.xml&locale=en_US

What a perfect time to come to Caye Caulker!