Prince William interviews Sir David at Davos 2019
I thought this sufficiently important to share with you.
Tomorrow back to our beloved dogs.
Prince William interviews Sir David at Davos 2019
I thought this sufficiently important to share with you.
Tomorrow back to our beloved dogs.
A difficult post!
I am going to publish a TomDispatch essay. Or rather, I am going to republish a piece written for Tom Engelhardt by Dahr Jamail. It doesn’t make for comfortable reading.
For a few days I agonised whether or not to republish it.
Then Tom wrote in an email to me: “Here’s what I think… or have, at least, thought these last 17 years… It’s better to plug on and do what you know should be done, say what you know should be said, no matter the state of the world, no matter whether anyone’s listening. That’s their problem, not ours. Better to do your best and hope that just one person notices and maybe just once that will be the person who makes all the difference.”
He is right.
Posted by Dahr Jamail, January 15, 2019.
Dahr Jamail, a TomDispatch regular, reported strikingly from Iraq in the years after the 2003 American invasion of that country. Since then, he’s refocused the skills he learned as a war reporter on covering a fossil-fuelized war against the planet (and humanity itself). It goes by the mild name of climate change or global warming and, while a Trump tirade about the border or just about anything else gets staggering attention, the true crisis this planet faces, the one that our children and grandchildren will have to grimly deal with, remains distinctly a secondary matter not just in the news but in American consciousness. Yes, opinions are slowly changing on the subject, but not nearly fast enough. Something about the time scale of this developing crisis — no less that it could, in the end, take out human civilization and so much else — makes it hard to absorb. It’s increasingly evident that we are already living on a climate-changed planet whose weather is grimly intensifying. If you doubt this, just ask the inhabitants of Puerto Rico, Houston, or Paradise (California, that is). Its most devastating consequences will, however, be left to a future that still seems remarkably hard to absorb in an era of the endless Trump Twitch and in a time when we’re becoming ever more oriented to the social media moment.
In 2013, as Dahr Jamail mentions in his piece today, he penned a dispatch for this website on climate change. In my introduction to it, I wrote, “Still, despite ever more powerful weather disruptions — what the news now likes to call ‘extreme weather’ events, including monster typhoons, hurricanes, and winter storms, wildfires, heat waves, drought, and global temperature records — disaster has still seemed far enough off. Despite a drumbeat of news about startling environmental changes — massive ice melts in Arctic waters, glaciers shrinking worldwide, the Greenland ice shield beginning to melt, as well as the growing acidification of ocean waters — none of this, not even Superstorm Sandy smashing into that iconic global capital, New York, and drowning part of its subway system, has broken through as a climate change 9/11. Not in the United States anyway. We’ve gone, that is, from no motion to slow motion to a kind of denial of motion.”
Sadly, with different and more severe examples of every one of the phenomena mentioned above — four of the years since have, for instance, set new heat highs — that paragraph could stand essentially unchanged. In those same years, however, Jamail did anything but stand still. He traveled the planet, producing a remarkable new book, The End of Ice, which is being published today. It holds within its pages the most dramatic (and well-reported) of stories about what both the present and future will mean for us in climate-change terms. If it were up to him, we would all feel the desperate immediacy of our situation as we face the single greatest crisis since that ancestor of ours, Lucy, walked the edge of a lake in Ethiopia so many millions of years ago. I only hope that the passion in his piece today (and in the book it describes) carries a few of us into the new world we now inhabit, whether we care to know about it or not. Tom
The Heat’s On Us
By Dahr Jamail
I’m standing atop Rush Hill on Alaska’s remote St. Paul Island. While only 665 feet high, it provides a 360-degree view of this tundra-covered, 13-mile-long, seven-mile-wide part of the Pribilof Islands. While the hood of my rain jacket flaps in the cold wind, I gaze in wonder at the silvery waters of the Bering Sea. The ever-present wind whips the surface into a chaos of whitecaps, scudding mist, and foam.
The ancient cinder cone I’m perched on reminds me that St. Paul, was, oh so long ago, one of the last places woolly mammoths could be found in North America. I’m here doing research for my book The End of Ice. And that, in turn, brings me back to the new reality in these far northern waters: as cold as they still are, human-caused climate disruption is warming them enough to threaten a possible collapse of the food web that sustains this island’s Unangan, its Aleut inhabitants, also known as “the people of the seal.” Given how deeply their culture is tied to a subsistence lifestyle coupled with the new reality that the numbers of fur seals, seabirds, and other marine life they hunt or fish are dwindling, how could this crisis not be affecting them?
While on St. Paul, I spoke with many tribal elders who told me stories about fewer fish and sea birds, harsher storms and warming temperatures, but what struck me most deeply were their accounts of plummeting fur seal populations. Seal mothers, they said, had to swim so much farther to find food for their pups that the babies were starving to death before they could make it back.
And the plight of those dramatically declining fur seals could well become the plight of the Unangan themselves, which in the decades to come, as climate turbulence increases, could very well become the plight of all of us.
Just before flying to St. Paul, I met with Bruce Wright in Anchorage, Alaska. He’s a senior scientist with the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, has worked for the National Marine Fisheries Service, and was a section chief for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for 11 years. “We’re not going to stop this train wreck,” he assures me grimly. “We are not even trying to slow down the production of CO2 [carbon dioxide], and there is already enough CO2 in the atmosphere.”
While describing the warming, ever more acidic waters around Alaska and the harm being caused to the marine food web, he recalled a moment approximately 250 million years ago when the oceans underwent similar changes and the planet experienced mass extinction events “driven by ocean acidity. The Permian mass extinction where 90% of the species were wiped out, that is what we are looking at now.”
I wrap up the interview with a heavy heart, place my laptop in my satchel, put on my jacket, and shake his hand. Knowing I’m about to fly to St. Paul, Wright has one final thing to tell me as he walks me out: “The Pribilofs were the last place mammoths survived because there weren’t any people out there to hunt them. We’ve never experienced this, where we are headed. Maybe the islands will become a refuge for a population of humans.”
The Loss Upon Us
For at least two decades, I’ve found my solace in the mountains. I lived in Alaska from 1996 to 2006 and more than a year of my life has been spent climbing on the glaciers of Denali and other peaks in the Alaska Range. Yet that was a bittersweet time for me as the dramatic impacts of climate change were quickly becoming apparent, including quickly receding glaciers and warmer winter temperatures.
After years of war and then climate-change reporting, I regularly withdrew to the mountains to catch my breath. As I filled my lungs with alpine air, my heart would settle down and I could feel myself root back into the Earth.
Later, my book research would take me back onto Denali’s fast-shrinking glaciers and also to Glacier National Park in Montana. There I met Dr. Dan Fagre, a U.S. Geological Survey research ecologist and director of the Climate Change in Mountain Ecosystems Project. “This is an explosion,” he assured me, “a nuclear explosion of geologic change. This… exceeds the ability for normal adaptation. We’ve shoved it into overdrive and taken our hands off the wheel.” Despite its name, the park he studies is essentially guaranteed not to have any active glaciers by 2030, only 11 years from now.
My research also took me to the University of Miami, Coral Gables, where I met the chair of the Department of Geological Science, Harold Wanless, an expert in sea-level rise.
I asked him what he would say to people who think we still have time to mitigate the impacts of runaway climate change. “We can’t undo this,” he replied. “How are you going to cool down the ocean? We’re already there.”
As if to underscore the point, Wanless told me that, in the past, carbon dioxide had varied from roughly 180 to 280 parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere as the Earth shifted from glacial to interglacial periods. Linked to this 100-ppm fluctuation was about a 100-foot change in sea level. “Every 100-ppm CO2 increase in the atmosphere gives us 100 feet of sea level rise,” he told me. “This happened when we went in and out of the Ice Age.”
As I knew, since the industrial revolution began, atmospheric CO2 has already increased from 280 to 410 ppm. “That’s 130 ppm in just the last 200 years,” I pointed out to him. “That’s 130 feet of sea level rise that’s already baked into Earth’s climate system.”
He looked at me and nodded grimly. I couldn’t help thinking of that as a nod goodbye to coastal cities from Miami to Shanghai.
In July 2017, I traveled to Camp 41 in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, part of a project founded four decades ago by Thomas Lovejoy, known to many as the “godfather of biodiversity.” While visiting him, I also met Vitek Jirinec, an ornithologist from the Czech Republic who had held 11 different wildlife positions from Alaska to Jamaica. In the process, he became all too well acquainted with the signs of biological collapse among the birds he was studying. He’d watched as some Amazon populations like that of the black-tailed leaftosser declined by 95%; he’d observed how mosquitoes in Hawaii were killing off native bird populations; he’d explored how saltwater intrusion into Alaska’s permafrost was changing bird habitats there.
His tone turned somber as we discussed his research and a note of anger slowly crept into his voice. “The problem of animal and plant populations left marooned within various fragments [of their habitat] under circumstances that are untenable for the long term has begun showing up all over the land surface of the planet. The familiar questions recur: How many mountain gorillas inhabit the forested slopes of the Virunga volcanoes, along the shared borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda? How many tigers live in the Sariska Tiger Reserve of northwestern India? How many are left? How long can they survive?”
As he continued, the anger in his voice became palpable, especially when he began discussing how “island biogeography” had come to the mainland and what was happening to animal populations marooned by human development on fragments of land in places like the Amazon. “How many grizzly bears occupy the North Cascades ecosystem, a discrete patch of mountain forest along the northern border of the state of Washington? Not enough. How many European brown bears are there in Italy’s Abruzzo National Park? Not enough. How many Florida panthers in Big Cypress Swamp? Not enough. How many Asiatic lions in the Forest of Gir? Not enough… The world is broken in pieces now.”
“A Terrifying 12 Years”
In October 2018, 15 months after Jirinec’s words brought me to tears in the Amazon, the world’s leading climate scientists authored a report for the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warning us that we have just a dozen years left to limit the catastrophic impacts of climate change. The gist of it is this: we’ve already warmed the planet one degree Celsius. If we fail to limit that warming process to 1.5 degrees, even a half-degree more than that will significantly worsen extreme heat, flooding, widespread droughts, and sea level increases, among other grim phenomena. The report has become a key talking point of political progressives in the U.S., who, likejournalist and activist Naomi Klein, are now speaking of “a terrifying 12 years” left in which to cut fossil fuel emissions.
There is, however, a problem with even this approach. It assumes that the scientific conclusions in the IPCC report are completely sound. It’s well known, however, that there’s been a political element built into the IPCC’s scientific process, based on the urge to get as many countries as possible on board the Paris climate agreement and other attempts to rein in climate change. To do that, such reports tend to use the lowest common denominatorin their projections, which makes their science overly conservative (that is, overly optimistic).
In addition, new data suggest that the possibility of political will coalescing across the planet to shift the global economy completely off fossil fuels in the reasonably near future is essentially a fantasy. And that’s even if we could remove enough of the hundreds of billions of tons of CO2 already in our overburdened atmosphere to make a difference (not to speak of the heat similarly already lodged in the oceans).
“It’s extraordinarily challenging to get to the 1.5 degree Celsius target and we are nowhere near on track to doing that,” Drew Shindell, a Duke University climate scientist and a co-author of the IPCC report, told the Guardian just weeks before it was released. “While it’s technically possible, it’s extremely improbable, absent a real sea change in the way we evaluate risk. We are nowhere near that.”
In fact, even best-case scenarios show us heading for at least a three-degree warming and, realistically speaking, we are undoubtedly on track for far worse than that by 2100, if not much sooner. Perhaps that’s why Shindell was so pessimistic.
For example, a study published in Nature magazine, also released in October, showed that over the last quarter-century, the oceans have absorbed 60% more heat annually than estimated in the 2014 IPCC report. The study underscored that the globe’s oceans have, in fact, already absorbed 93% of all the heat humans have added to the atmosphere, that the climate system’s sensitivity to greenhouse gases is far higher than thought and that planetary warming is far more advanced than had previously been grasped.
To give you an idea of how much heat the oceans have absorbed: if that heat had instead gone into the atmosphere, the global temperature would be 97 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than it is today. For those who think that there are still 12 years left to change things, the question posed by Wanless seems painfully apt: How do we remove all the heat that’s already been absorbed by the oceans?
Two weeks after that Nature article came out, a study in Scientific Reportswarned that the extinction of animal and plant species thanks to climate change could lead to a “domino effect” that might, in the end, annihilate life on the planet. It suggested that organisms will die out at increasingly rapid rates because they depend on other species that are also on their way out. It’s a process the study calls “co-extinction.” According to its authors, a five to six degree Celsius rise in average global temperatures might be enough to annihilate most of Earth’s living creatures.
To put this in perspective: just a two degree rise will leave dozens of the world’s coastal mega-cities flooded, thanks primarily to melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, as well as the thermal expansion of the oceans as they warm. There will be 32 times as many heat waves in India and nearly half a billion more people will suffer water scarcity. At three degrees, southern Europe will be in permanent drought and the area burned annually by wildfires in the U.S. will sextuple. These impacts, it’s worth noting, may already be baked into the system, even if every country that signed the Paris climate accord were to fully honor its commitments, which most of them arenot currently doing.
At four degrees, global grain yields could drop by half, most likely resulting in annual worldwide food crises (along with far more war, general conflict, and migration than at present).
The International Energy Agency has already shown that maintaining our current fossil-fueled economic system would virtually guarantee a six-degreerise in the Earth’s temperature before 2050. To add insult to injury, a 2017 analysis from oil giants BP and Shell indicated that they expected the planet to be five degrees warmer by mid-century.
In late 2013, I wrote a piece for TomDispatch titled “Are We Falling Off the Climate Precipice?” Even then, it was already clear enough that we were indeed heading off that cliff. More than five years later, a sober reading of the latest climate change science indicates that we are now genuinely in free fall.
The question is no longer whether or not we are going to fail, but how are we going to comport ourselves in the era of failure?
Listening While Saying Goodbye
It’s been estimated that between 150 and 200 plant, insect, bird, and mammal species are already going extinct every day. In other words, during the two and a half years I worked on my book 136,800 species may have gone extinct.
We have a finite amount of time left to coexist with significant parts of the biosphere, including glaciers, coral, and thousands of species of plants, animals, and insects. We’re going to have to learn how to say goodbye to them, part of which should involve doing everything we humanly can to save whatever is left, even knowing that the odds are stacked against us.
For me, my goodbyes will involve spending as much time as I can on the glaciers in Washington State’s Olympic National Park and North Cascades National Park near where I live, or far more modestly taking in the trees around my home on a daily basis. It’s unclear, after all, how much longer such forest areas are likely to remain fully intact. I often visit a small natural altar I’ve created amid a circle of cedar trees growing around a decomposing mother tree. In this magical spot, I grieve and express my gratitude for the life that is still here. I also go to listen.
Where do you go to listen? And what are you hearing?
For me, these days, it all begins and ends with doing my best to listen to the Earth, with trying my hardest to understand how best to serve, how to devote myself to doing everything possible for the planet, no matter the increasingly bleak prognosis for this time in human history.
Perhaps if we listen deeply enough and regularly enough, we ourselves will become the song this planet needs to hear.
Dahr Jamail, a TomDispatch regular, is a recipient of numerous honors, including the Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism for his work in Iraq and the Izzy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Independent Media in 2018. His newest book, The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption (The New Press), has just been published. He is also the author of Beyond the Green Zone and The Will to Resist. He is a staff reporter for Truthout.
[Note: This piece was co-published with Truthout.org.]
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel (the second in the Splinterlands series) Frostlands, Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt’s A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.
Copyright 2019 Dahr Jamail
How do you feel upon reading this?
Sad? Angry? Resigned? Hopeful?
I’m still too close to it to gauge my own reactions. So I will close with this:
TomDispatch author and naturalist William DeBuys has this to say about it: “In a sane world The End of Ice would be the end of lame excuses that climate change is too abstract to get worked up about. From the Arctic to the Amazon, from doomed Miami to the Great Barrier Reef, Dahr Jamail brings every frontier in our ongoing calamity into close focus. The losses are tangible. And so is the grief. This is more than a good book. It is a wise one.”
More photographs from Kristýna Kvapilová
As before taken from here.
Now all good things come to an end and next week will be the last of these gorgeous photographs of dogs.
I better start thinking of what else to share with you.
And guess what? Another Sunday, another set of photographs from Kristýna Kvapilová
As before the photographs were copies of those here.
They continue to be superb.
A timely article, again from the Beeb.
On the back of yesterday’s article about dogs obtaining protein from eating soldier ants comes another piece from the BBC about fibre. It has much information some of which I hadn’t come across before.
So it’s another share with you.
By James Gallagher, Health and science correspondent, BBC News
January 11th, 2019.
If I offered you a superfood that would make you live longer, would you be interested?
Naturally it reduces the chances of debilitating heart attacks and strokes as well as life-long diseases such as type-2 diabetes.
And it helps keep your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels down.
I should mention it’s cheap and widely available in the supermarket.
What is it?
Fibre – it’s not the sexiest thing in the world but a major study has been investigating how much fibre we really need to be eating and found there are huge health benefits.
“The evidence is now overwhelming and this is a game-changer that people have to start doing something about it,” one of the researchers, Prof John Cummings, tells BBC News.
It’s well known for stopping constipation – but its health benefits are much broader than that.
How much fibre do we need?
The researchers, at the University of Otago, in New Zealand, and the University of Dundee say people should be eating a minimum of 25g of fibre per day.
But they call this an “adequate” amount for improving health and say there are benefits for pushing past 30g (1oz).
Is that all?
Well, a banana on its own weighs about 120g but that’s not pure fibre. Strip out everything else including all the natural sugars and water, and you’re left with only about 3g of fibre.
Most people around the world are eating less than 20g of fibre a day.
And in the UK, fewer than one in 10 adults eats 30g of fibre daily.
On average, women consume about 17g, and men 21g, a day.
What other foods have more fibre in them?
You find it in fruit and vegetables, some breakfast cereals, breads and pasta that use whole-grains, pulses such as beans, lentils and chickpeas, as well as nuts and seeds.
What does 30g look like?
Elaine Rush, a professor of nutrition at Auckland University of Technology, has put together this example for getting into the 25-30g camp:
But she says: “It is not easy to increase fibre in the diet.”
Prof Cummings agrees. “It’s a big change for people,” he says. “It’s quite a challenge.”
Are there any quick and easy tips?
The UK’s National Health Service has a page full of them.
What will the benefit be?
Well, after analysing 185 studies and 58 clinical trials, the results are in and have been published in the Lancet medical journal.
It suggests if you shifted 1,000 people from a low fibre diet (less than 15g) to a high-fibre one (25-29g), then it would prevent 13 deaths and six cases of heart disease.
That’s during the course of these studies, which tended to follow people for one to two decades.
It also showed lower levels of type-2 diabetes and bowel cancer as well as lower weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
And the more fibre people ate, the better.
What is fibre doing in the body?
There used to be a view that fibre didn’t do much at all – that the human body could not digest it and it just sailed through.
But fibre makes us feel full and affects the way fat is absorbed in the small intestine – and things really become interesting in the large intestines, when your gut bacteria get to have their dinner.
The large intestines are home to billions of bacteria – and fibre is their food.
It’s a bit like a brewery down there, admittedly one you wouldn’t want a pint from, where bacteria are fermenting fibre to make a whole load of chemicals.
This includes short-chain fatty acids, which are absorbed and have effects throughout the body.
“We have this organ set up to digest fibre, which a lot of people just don’t use very much,” says Prof Cummings.
Why is this relevant now?
The fact fibre and whole-grains and fruit and vegetables are healthy should not come as a surprise.
But there is concern people are turning their back on fibre, with the popularity of low-carb diets.
Prof Nita Forouhi, from the University of Cambridge, says: “We need to take serious note of this study.
“Its findings do imply that, though increasingly popular in the community at large, any dietary regimes that recommend very low-carbohydrate diets should consider the opportunity cost of missing out on fibre from whole-grains.
“This research confirms that fibre and whole-grain intakes are clearly important for longer term health.”
The study has been done to help the World Health Organization come up with official guidelines for how much fibre people should be eating to boost health and they are expected next year.
Follow James on Twitter
Analysis from BBC Reality Check
One of the suggested ways of boosting the amount of fibre in your diet is to switch from white bread to brown or wholemeal.
This is what has been happening to sales of those products, based on a succession of government surveys of household spending since 1974.
From the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties, white bread fell while brown and wholemeal rose.
Since then, white bread sales have continued to fall, but brown and wholemeal bread sales have been falling for most of that period, although at a slower rate.
So it looks as if while overall demand for bread has been falling, a higher proportion of bread sold has been higher fibre.
Whole wheat pasta has made less of an impact on sales than higher fibre breads, with a survey for the British Journal of Nutrition finding that pasta accounted for less than 1% of the occasions on which people were consuming whole grains.
Well nothing much more to be said other than going vegan.
Dogs eating insects and helping climate change.
I had to look twice at this but it wasn’t April 1st and it appeared to be a serious article. It’s from the BBC website.
Will say no more. You have a read of it.
By Roger Harrabin, BBC environment analyst
10th January, 2019
Do you fret that your pet pooch is blamed by environmentalists for turning rainforests into poo in the park?
Have no fear – you can now fatten Fido on black soldier flies instead of Brazilian beef.
A pet food manufacturer now claims that 40% of its new product is made from soldier flies.
It’s one of many firms hoping to cash in on the backlash against beef by people concerned that the cattle are fed on soya.
These soya plantations are responsible for the release of greenhouse gases in significant quantities.
Is it good for the dog?
The key question is whether a diet of 40% soldier flies meets the nutritional needs of your beloved canine.
We put the question to a pet diet expert at the Royal Veterinary College, Aarti Kathrani. Her conclusion was a cautious “yes”.
“Insects can be a very useful source of protein,” she told us. “More studies are needed to show how much of these nutrients can actually be absorbed by a dog’s body – but some studies suggest that insects can provide nutrients for dogs.”
Does it help the climate if dogs eat flies?
At first sight it seems obvious that feeding your dog meaty food is bad for the environment. The link between humans eating meat and the allied emissions of CO2 and methane is well established – and pets are estimated to eat 20% of global meat.
It’s also true that flies produce protein much more efficiently than cows – using a small percentage of the water and land.
But actually the analysis is more subtle than that – because as societies become more wealthy, people often turn to muscle meat and reject the animal’s offal.
That offal is just as nutritious – and it gets made into pet food. That means that dog food is just as sustainable – or unsustainable – as humans eating meat.
In fact, if dogs were weaned off meat and on to insects, the industry would have to find another purpose for the offal. More sausage, perhaps? Or more humans eating insect protein. Or more going vegan?
Could cat food be made out of insects, too?
Dogs are omnivores – they eat more or less anything. Cats are much more choosy, because they can’t make an essential amino acid, taurine. They find it instead in meat and fish.
But Dr Kathrani says studies show that insects do contain taurine, so it’s possible that insects could also form a useful part of the moggie diet.
The new product is from Yora, a UK start-up. The insect grubs are fed on food waste in the Netherlands.
There are several competitors which also produce pet food incorporating fly protein. They include Insectdog, Entomapetfood, Chippin and Wilderharrier.
Now I have heard of some strange things but in essence this does make very good sense.
Feast your eyes on this.
By JACQUELINE GULLEDGE
January 1, 2019
When most people think of Finland, they likely imagine a country of sprawling forests and winter wonderlands where everyone is content and has a respectful relationship with wildlife.
Helsinki University student and photographer Ossi Saarinen has lived in Finland his whole life, and his work reveals his passion for nature and animals.
“I’ve always been interested in animals. Somehow I find their behavior all very interesting,” Saarinen, 22, tells MNN. “Even being in the nature without seeing any animals is very enjoyable for me.”
Saarinen has been interested in nature since he was a little boy, but it wasn’t until he started taking photos of a family of foxes in 2015 that he realized this love of animals could frame his life’s work.
“When I was just starting my photographing career I met a fox family with four tiny cubs. I managed to get some photos and in one of them, it looks like they’re all walking towards the camera. It’s my favorite not only because I like it as a photo but also because it was the day when my career really started and I felt like it was something I wanted to do in the future as well.”
Since then, Saarinen has honed his craft into a beautiful collection of photographs featuring different wild animals in their natural habitats. What sets his work apart is the sense you get of just how much he loves animals.
“I try to show the emotions and feelings of the animals and that way also make the people watching the photos to feel something.”
Not only is the raw beauty of animals captured in his images, but they also shine a spotlight on the gorgeous Finnish setting. Saarinen wants people to know how Finnish people take care of the land and respect it.
“Finnish nature looks almost like untouched, which is very rare thing in developed countries. It’s clean, full of different kinds of plants and animals. It has four beautiful seasons over the year. Even if you live in the center of our biggest city, Helsinki, you don’t have to go far away to see beautiful nature and animals. Actually most of my animal photos are taken less than 10 km from the center of Helsinki.”
“I like to tell and show people how clean and beautiful the nature here is. How it can look when people really take care of it.”
(Photo: Ossi Saarinen)
Are you a fan of all things Nordic? If so, join us at Nordic by Nature, a Facebook group dedicated to exploring the best of Nordic culture, nature and more.
Taken from here.
Guess what! More pictures from Kristýna Kvapilová
Once again, taken from here.
More of these gorgeous photographs in a week’s time.
And what a great story!
This article really demonstrates the power of love, good training and inspiration.
November 6th, 2018.
What happens to those dogs that are just too much dog for people to handle? “You know them — you go to your friend’s barbecue, their dog is so happy to see you that she pees on your feet, and she drops a slobbery ball in your lap,” says Megan Parker (TEDxJacksonHole talk: Dogs for Conservation), a wildlife biologist and dog expert based in Bozeman, Montana. “You throw it to get as much distance between you and the dog as possible, but she keeps coming back with the ball. By the 950th throw, you’re thinking, Why don’t they get rid of this dog?” All too often, their owners reach the same conclusion and leave their pet at a shelter.
Thanks to Parker and the team at Working Dogs for Conservation (WD4C), some of these dogs have found a new
leash lease on life. They’re using their olfactory abilities and unstoppable drive in a wide variety of earth-friendly ways, working with human handlers to sniff out illegal poachers and smugglers, track endangered species, and spot destructive invasive plants and animals.
Parker first considered using dogs in conservation when she worked on the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone Park and was asked how researchers could track wolves through their scat, or droppings. “I started thinking how best to detect their scat off a large landscape, and the idea came up for dogs,” she says. In 2000, she cofounded WD4C to train and use canines in conservation work. Most of their dogs are adopted from shelters or from organizations or work settings where they didn’t quite fit in.
While it’s fair to say almost all dogs love toys, wildlife-detection dogs are obsessed with them. “They’ll do anything to chase a ball or a tug toy,” says Parker. If their preferred plaything is thrown far into the brush or buried in a massive pile of leaves, no worries — they won’t stop looking until they find it. No food, obstacle or distractions can deter them, and WD4C staff have turned this single-minded focus into a powerful incentive. Their canine friends are rewarded with their favorite toy every time they locate a desired wildlife-related scent, anything from elephant ivory and poachers’ guns in Zambia and trafficked snow leopards in Tajikistan to predatory Rosy wolf snails in Hawaii and invasive Argentine ants on California’s Santa Cruz Islands. The dogs are careful not to disturb or touch any specimens they pinpoint; it’s all about the toy.
Lily, a yellow Lab, is one of the group’s many sad-start-happy-ending stories. When the then-three-year-old came to the attention of WD4C trainers, she’d already bounced her way in and out of five different homes. She couldn’t sit still and she never, ever wanted to stop playing. Oh, and she was a bit of a whiner. Since joining WD4C in 2011, she has been trained to recognize a dozen different conservation-related scents and been deployed to track grizzly bears and sniff out the eggs, beetles and larvae of emerald ash borers, an insect that has killed millions of trees in the US and Canada.
The three-dozen-strong WD4C pack also includes purebred working dogs who weren’t right for their intended occupations. Orbee, a border collie, had the enthusiasm and live-wire energy required of ranch dogs, but there was one problem: he had zero interest in herding sheep. He also barked a lot. Since joining WD4C in 2009, Orbee has had a globe-trotting career — he has spotted invasive quagga and zebra mussels on boats in Alberta and Montana, monitored the habitats of the endangered San Joaquin kit fox in California, and assisted scientists in northern Africa in counting up Cross River gorillas, the world’s rarest gorilla.
Jax is a Belgian malinois, a sturdy breed frequently used by the police and military. He was in training to serve with the US Army’s special unit, the Green Berets, until his handlers realized Jax doesn’t like to bite people — just toys. And, boy, does he loves toys; he’s even tried to climb trees to reach prized objects. Since 2017, Jax’s athleticism and high spirits have been used by the WD4C to perform tasks such as mapping the movements of bobcats in the western US.
“Different dogs have different strong suits,” says Parker. She and the WD4C team try to place their charges in environments that match their skillset, likes and dislikes. Unlike many dogs, Tule (above), a Belgian malinois who flunked out of a job with US Customs and Border Patrol, has absolutely no desire to chase small animals such as cats, squirrels and rabbits. This made her the perfect fit to help researchers monitor black-footed ferrets, which live in the same territory as a large, scampering prairie-dog population. The ferrets, once thought extinct in the US, were reintroduced in Wyoming in recent years. Tule alerts her handlers to the scent of live ferrets or their scat, information that allows state wildlife officials to map their distribution and see if the population is recovering. Without Tule and her pack, researchers would be forced to study the elusive creatures with cameras or live traps, undependable methods at best.
The dogs’ efforts have resulted in positive, substantial changes. The organization teamed up with the nonprofit Wildlife Conservation Society so their dogs could track the scat of four keystone carnivores (grizzly bears, black bears, mountain lions and wolves) through the Centennial Mountains in Idaho and Montana. Five years of doggie data showed that all four species depended on the mountains to move between the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem and central Idaho wilderness areas. Thanks to this information, activists were able to stop construction of a housing development that would have interrupted their migratory pathway.
Some dogs are searching for animals and plants that are most wanted for the opposite reason: they’re invasive species proliferating where they don’t belong and driving out native flora and fauna. There’s the previously mentioned zebra and quagga mussels, which spread by clinging to boats and watercraft, and which clog water and sewage pipes, foul up power plants, and destroy good algae. Tobias (above) is a specialist in finding them. In one test, WD4C dogs identified 100 percent of the boats with mussels aboard (human screeners spotted 75 percent). The dogs did the job more quickly, and they could also detect the mussels’ microscopic larvae.
Former shelter dog Seamus (shown at the top of the post), a border collie, is an expert in searching out dyer’s woad on Mount Sentinel in Montana. Humans have tried to eradicate the invasive weed by spotting its flowers and pulling out plants by hand, but these attempts barely made a dent. By the time it’s found, it’s often already seeded (and a single plant can produce up to 10,000 seeds). Seamus’s keen nose, along with those of three canine colleagues, learned to sniff out woad before it flowered, a time when it’s extremely hard for human eyes to see. They also found root remnants left in the ground. At a recent checkup, just 19 of the invasive plants were found on the mountain. “It will be a complete extermination,” says Parker. “It’s just going to take a long time because we don’t know how long their seeds last in the soil.”
The dogs’ hunting grounds even extend into the water. Although prized in their native habitat, brook trout are an invasive species elsewhere; in some places in the Western US, they are pushing out the native cutthroat trout. WD4C was brought to Montana by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Geological Survey and the Turner Endangered Species Fund to see whether their animals could learn to sniff out live fish in moving water. Reports Parker, “This project confirmed what we long suspected: that dogs can detect and discriminate scents in water.”
Pepin (above), who worked on the brook trout project, is part of an ambitious charge to train the dogs to detect infectious diseases in animals.“He’s done the first of a lot of things for us, because he’s so game,” says Parker. Some wildlife carry brucellosis, a bacterial disease that is particularly harmful to cattle. It’s difficult to tell when animals are first infected because they typically don’t display symptoms, so in areas where the disease is prevalent, ranchers tend to keep livestock and wildlife as far away from each other as possible — severely limiting the territory and movement of both kinds of animals. The hope is that dogs could provide a fast, reliable way to identify infected herds. So far, Pepin has shown he can discriminate infected elk scat with higher and lower concentrations of the bacteria, and WD4C is eager to explore this use of dog power. “We have proof of concept,” says Parker. “I’d like to move that work forward.”
There are so many other unexplored capacities and environments where dogs could help, Parker believes. To that end, WD4C started a program in 2015 called Rescues 2the Rescue, which aims to help shelters around the world identify would-be detection dogs and place them with wildlife and conservation organizations. What kind of dogs are they looking for? Ones that are, uh, crazy.
To clarify that adjective, we’ll close by telling you about Wicket, a black Lab mix who retired from WD4C in 2017 at the top of her game, having detected 32 different wildlife scents in 18 states and seven countries. Wicket languished in a Montana shelter for six months, barking up a storm and scaring away potential owners, until WD4C cofounder Aimee Hurt found her there in 2005. When she went to adopt her, the shelter director said, “You don’t want that dog — that dog’s crazy!” To which Hurt replied, “I think she might be the right kind of crazy.”
All photos courtesy of Working Dogs for Conservation.
Watch Megan Parker’s TEDxJacksonHole talk here:
Rebekah Barnett is the community speaker coordinator at TED, and knows a good flag when she sees one.
Dogs give us so much. They are inspiring, loving and happy creatures.
This was too good to ignore.
A puppy was saved from a frozen lake by a police diver in Turkey. The rescuer feared the worst but said it was miracle that she survived.
(Now try as I may I can’t embed the video but, please, follow the link to the page.)
It’s inspiring and beautiful what a human will do for a dog!
Last but not least Happy New Year to you.