Gone the Way of the DodoPosted by Lee Karalis, October 5, 2010
Former BP Boss Tony Hayward Wins 2010 Rubber Dodo Award
TUCSON, Ariz., Oct. 5, 2010— The Center for Biological Diversity today awarded former BP CEO Tony Hayward its 2010 Rubber Dodo Award. The award is given annually to the person who has done the most to drive endangered species extinct. Previous winners include massive land speculator Michael Winer (2009), Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (2008) and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne (2007).
Under Hayward’s leadership, BP secured the right to drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico by submitting documents to the U.S. government falsely claiming that a major spill could not happen. It also submitted a false and ludicrous spill-response plan claiming it could capture spilling oil before the oil caused any environmental or economic damage.
On April 20, BP’s risky Deepwater Horizon project exploded, pouring more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, fouling beaches and wetlands, coating the ocean floor with oil, killing endangered sea turtles and imperiled brown pelicans, and pushing the seriously declining bluefin tuna even closer to extinction.
“If there was ever a deserving Rubber Dodo Award recipient, it is Tony Hayward,” said Kierán Suckling, the Center’s executive director. “While famously whining that he ‘wanted his life back,’ Hayward showed no remorse for the thousands of rare and endangered animals BP killed in its spill.”
BP’s well spilled oil for 87 days, killing at least 6,104 birds, 593 sea turtles and 98 mammals, including dolphins. The huge number of bluefin tuna killed has not been quantified.
“History will remember Hayward as the man at the helm of BP when it unleashed the worst environmental disaster in American history,” said Suckling.
“Hayward not only pushed BP into causing the spill by creating a corporate culture of risk-taking and cutting corners, he failed to take responsibility after the spill and make all of BP’s resources available to contain it.”
Background on the Dodo
In 1598, Dutch sailors landing on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius discovered a flightless, three-foot-tall, extraordinarily friendly bird. Its original scientific name was Didus ineptus. (Contemporary scientists use the less defamatory Raphus cucullatus.) To the rest of the world, it’s the dodo — the most famous extinct species on Earth. It evolved over millions of years with no natural predators and eventually lost the ability to fly, becoming a land-based consumer of fruits, nuts and berries. Having never known predators, it showed no fear of humans or the menagerie of animals accompanying them to Mauritius.
Its trusting nature led to its rapid extinction. By 1681, the dodo was extinct, having been hunted and outcompeted by humans, dogs, cats, rats, macaques and pigs. Humans logged its forest cover and pigs uprooted and ate much of the understory vegetation.
The origin of the name dodo is unclear. It likely came from the Dutch word dodoor, meaning “sluggard,” the Portuguese word doudo, meaning “fool” or “crazy,” or the Dutch word dodaars meaning “plump-arse” (that nation’s name for the little grebe).
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The Charter for CompassionBy Lee Karalis, Post: June 10, 2010
Celebrate the World’s Oceans–and Keep Them SafeBy Lee Karalis, Post: June 8, 2010
Today is “World Oceans Day,” as declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008. Every year, June 8 is an opportunity to raise global awareness of the challenges faced by the international community regarding the oceans. This year’s theme, “Our oceans: Opportunities and Challenges,” emphasizes our individual and collective duty to protect the marine environment and carefully manage its resources.
The ongoing human and environmental tragedy of the Deep Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico last month is a poignant reminder of just how essential the oceans are to Earth’s food, security, and the health and survival of all life. As World Ocean Day highlights, safe, healthy, and productive seas and oceans are integral to human well-being, economic security, and sustainable development.
The oceans power and regulate our climate and are a critical part of the biosphere. They generate most of the oxygen we breathe and sustain nearly half of all the Earth’s species. Their riches and very being are tied to the world’s economy through transportation and recreation; yet we’ve only explored roughly 5% of the water that comprises over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface.
Human activities are taking a terrible toll on the world’s oceans and seas. Vulnerable marine ecosystems, such as corals, and important fisheries are being damaged by over-exploitation; illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; destructive fishing practices; invasive alien species; and marine pollution, especially from land-based sources. Increased sea temperatures, sea-level rise and ocean acidification caused by climate change pose a further threat to marine life, coastal and island communities and national economies.
Oceans are also affected by criminal activity. Piracy and armed robbery against ships threaten the lives of seafarers and the safety of international shipping, which transports 90 per cent of the world’s goods. Smuggling of illegal drugs and the trafficking of persons by sea are further examples of how criminal activities threaten lives and the peace and security of the oceans.
World Oceans Day reminds us that every day we are all responsible for the health and security of our oceans–our very existence depends upon it.
And the Children Shall LeadBy Lee Karalis, Post: June 7, 2010
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The Perfect HSP CarBy Lee Karalis, Post: June 6, 2010
Remember mood rings? Those rings from the 70s that changed color based on your body temperature and indicated your emotional state? In 2010, we’ve got something even better–the Muon, a new concept car that can…well…check out what the developer, Taeho Yoon, says:
It’s 7:30 a.m. Angela gets in Muon and grabs the steering wheel, which senses her pulse and checks her pupils to play a Bossa Nova music on the Internet sympathizing with her a bit depressive feeling. She has had the car optimally customized for her physical and psychological condition in the first place. Now the AI of the car has learned she loves Bossa Nova music when she feels under the weather like today.
The 100% personalized thermo sensor and heating wire in her seat warm her body in the freezing cold weather in a winter morning of New York. She was from a quiet countryside in South Carolina and followed the course of nature since birth. She would think of New York as a hell covered with concrete without any trace of earth. This most unfavourable environment has brought her atopic dermatitis and depression without her noticing.
Before she bought this car, the only place where she would feel spatially and temporally relaxed was her workplace, the botanic garden. A warm and fresh breeze of phytoncide is given off from the vent on the IP face as if it were comforting her depressed soul. Besides, the interior design is her favourite part as it is made of complete environment-friendly material that makes her feel as if she was in the greenhouse of the garden.
When she looks out of the emerald window, New York is no longer a hell to her….
This concept car is all the talk for, perhaps, helping to curb road rage. But HSPs may want to get take out a marriage license….
American Consumers Lack Sustainablity SavvyBy Lee Karalis, Post: June 6, 2010
Americans are dead last when it comes to environmentally-friendly consumer consumption, according to the 17 country “Greendex 2010: Consumer Choice and the Environment–A Worldwide Tracking Survey.” The National Geographic survey, in partnership with GlobeScan, is in its third year of monitoring and measuring 65 areas of consumer behavior in housing, transportation, food, and consumer goods–ranking countries according to their consumers’ environmental impact.
The top-scoring countries with sustainable-savvy consumers are India, Brazil, and China. Americans remain at the bottom, as they have since the survey began three years ago. We are in familiar company at the bottom, though, with Canada, France, and the U.K. right there with us.
Emerging countries, it seems, may have fewer bad habits than those in the industrialized countries in this survey.
Among the survey’s findings about American consumers:
• 55% reside in homes with seven or more rooms, similar to Australian, British, and Canadian consumers.
• 58% drive alone daily.
• 61% never use local public transportation.
• 26% walk or bike to their destinations regularly.
• 25% eat imported foods; only Chinese consumers eat imported foods less often.
Across all participating countries, it was found that two perceptions helped to suppress sustainable consumption: many were discouraged by “companies that make false claims about environmental impacts of their products” and by the many obstacles set up by governments and companies to prohibit action.
Consumers, says the survey, “want less talk and more action.”
Your Chance to WED the EnvironmentBy Lee Karalis, Post: June 5, 2010
June 5, 2010 is the 37th annual celebration of the United Nation’s World Environment Day. This year’s theme is “Many Species. One Planet. One Future.” and is an urgent call to conserve the diversity of life on our planet.
A total of 17,291 species are known to be threatened with extinction worldwide–from little-known plants and insects to charismatic birds and mammals. This is just the tip of the iceberg; many species disappear before they are even discovered.
Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972, World Environment Day is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action. With thousands of events in UNEP’s six global regions, namely, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, West Asia and Europe, World Environment Day is considered one of the largest environmental events of its kind.
World Environment Day is designed to give a human face to environmental issues; empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development; promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues; and advocate partnership which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.
On World Environment Day, heads of State, Prime Ministers and Ministers of Environment deliver statements and commit themselves to care for the Earth. But World Environment Day also is a people’s event. People around the globe celebrate with colorful activities such as street rallies, city-wide walks, scientific forums, bicycle parades, green concerts, essays and poster competitions in schools, tree plantings, as well as recycling and clean-up campaigns.
What the Octopus Told the ScientistBy Lee Karalis, Post: June 4, 2010
The octopus can teach us a thing or two about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, especially about the threat from IEDs, improvised explosive devices.
No, really. It’s all about decentralization in the natural world–the ability to quickly adapt to changing conditions and threats. Those in the natural world have learned to quickly change their structures, behaviors, and reactions–like the amazing ability of the octopus to camouflage. It can react to perceived danger and blend in, match the colors of its surrounding area, and vanish right under the eye of its predator.
A group of researchers from the University of Arizona’s Institute of the Environment is advising security and disaster management officials on how to more successfully and “naturally” react to and deal with threats from our predators–terrorists, hackers, and even mutating pathogens. The key to addressing threats, the researchers say in the May 20 edition of Nature, is to examine the natural world.
By examining the billions of years of evolution and adaptation in nature, researchers have concluded that large centralized bureaucracies do not allow for quick and effective reactions to serious threats. Just as the octopus utilizes its decentralized network of pigment cells to evade predators and conceal itself from its prey, ground troops can act like independent cells, assess the given situation, and act most appropriately and effectively.
“The individual soldiers in the war zone are the most adaptable unit out there,” says Rafe Sagarin, lead author of the Nature article. “They are in a better position to recognize and address an emerging threat in time than a centralized bureaucracy.”
The Open Deepwater Wound: Part 2By Lee Karalis, Post: June 1, 2010
NASA Earth Observatory–May 27, 2010–Two NASA satellites are capturing images of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which began April 20, 2010, with the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. This series of images reveals a space-based view of the burning oil rig and the ensuing oil spill, through May 24. The imagery comes from the MODIS instruments aboard NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites. The oil slick appears grayish-beige in these images. The shape of the spill changes due to weather conditions, currents and the use of oil-dispersing chemicals.
Watch the NASA video and then post a comment on the Tribe forum:
Credit: NASA/Goddard/Jen Shoemaker
The Open Deepwater WoundBy Lee Karalis, Post: May 25, 2010
On May 7, 2010, John Wathen and pilot Tom Hutchins flew out over the Gulf of Mexico and videoed the environmental effects of BP’s Deepwater Horizon explosion. From the video:
“At nine miles out, we began to smell the oil. At eleven miles out we saw a visable sheen on top of the water. Heavy streaking was evident at about mile fifteen. Mile twenty-six we began to see solid oil on top of the water with a heavy sheen and numerous streaks at mile thirty-four. Mile eighty-seven, ground zero…nothing but a red mass of floating goo…[so] many boats on the horizon….nobody seemed to be able to do anything about it…I find myself using the word “hopeless”…..There’s no way to prevent this from hitting our shorelines….[preventative] Safety measures were not in place….An environmental disaster…a social disaster, as well. Fishermen out of work; oyster shuckers, no work; people working the docks–all up and down the coast people are cancelling reservations, fishing boats are not going out….this event…will be felt for decades. This cannot happen again. The Gulf appears to be bleeding….Will the Gulf ever heal? As far as you can see on the horizon…mats of this reddish-pink sheen…a perfect line of it leading to the shoreline….On May the 8th they found tar balls.”
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Making a More Sensitive World (Man)By Lee Karalis, Post: May 1, 2010
Better living through chemistry. That old phrase may have a new meaning for a new time. What if men could use a nasal spray to increase their sense of empathy and gain a better awareness of social cues from others? Writing in the Journal of Neuroscience, a team of German, British, and American researchers examined the female hormone oxytocin’s affect on learning and empathy in men. They concluded that the drug may create better “socially reinforced learning and emotional empathy in men”—bringing them at least to the level of the average woman.
Learn more or Download the study or Post a comment on the Tribe forum.
Confirmation: Climate Change Affects Ecosystems and SocietyBy Lee Karalis, Post: April 30, 2010
The Environmental Protection Agency released its report, “Climate Change Indicators in the United States” this month. The multi-national report examined twenty-four indicators in the U.S. and globally in the areas of greenhouse gasses, weather and climate, the oceans, snow and ice, and society and ecosystems.
Among its findings, the report states that human caused greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. and worldwide have increased, with CO2 levels rising, as well. U.S. and global average temperatures have increased similarly, with the last ten five-year period the warmest on record. The world’s oceans temperatures have increased most sharply over the past thirty years; sea level rise has accelerated; and ocean acidity levels have risen, threatening coral reef ecosystems worldwide. U.S. lake ice is freezing later and thawing earlier; glaciers and arctic sea ice are shrinking along with North America’s snow pack and snow cover. In the past thirty years, human heat-related deaths have increased in the U.S., growing seasons here have lengthened, and migratory birds have shifted their wintering grounds more northward and even further from the coast.
The report concludes that “climate changes are affecting the environment in ways that are important for society and ecosystems….Considering that future warming projected for the 21st century is very likely to be greater than observed warming over the past century, indicators of climate change should only become more clear, numerous, and compelling.” Read the report or Post a comment on the Tribe forum.
The French, hypersensibles, and TribeBy Lee Karalis, Post: April 29, 2010
Highly sensitive people are coming to greater public awareness in France. Le Figaro, the nation’s second largest daily newspaper, and Alliance, the premiere French language Jewish e-zine, recently reported on the strengths and nature of HSPs in the article, “La force des hypersensibles.”
Through the HSP research and personal experiences of Dr. Elaine Aron, the article describes the sensitive’s need for “more time to carefully observe situations and especially to think carefully before acting.” The sensitive’s palme d^or, the article states, is an advanced intuition, an abundance of empathy, and an innate artistic ability. Also mentioned are the growing number of websites, including Tribe, where sensitives can congregate and share their experiences with “others fully like themselves.” Read Le Figaro article or Post a comment on the Tribe forum.
New Research Focuses on Us Sensitive FolkBy Lee Karalis, Post: April 17, 2010
Researchers Find Differences In How The Brains Of Some Individuals Process The World Around Them:
Highly sensitive persons react more cautiously and take longer to make decisions
STONY BROOK, N.Y., April 2, 2010 – People who are shy or introverted may actually process their world differently than others, leading to differences in how they respond to stimuli, according to Stony Brook researchers and collaborators in China.
Highly sensitive (compared to less highly sensitive) individuals show greater brain activation in visual attention areas of the brain when making judgments of subtle changes in scenes. About twenty percent of people are born with this “highly sensitive” trait, which may also manifest itself as inhibitedness, or even neuroticism. The trait can be seen in some children who are “slow to warm up” in a situation but eventually join in, need little punishment, cry easily, ask unusual questions or have especially deep thoughts.
While such traits are relatively familiar because they are easy to observe, the researchers, have found evidence that for those with this innate trait, the actual underlying difference is in the brain’s attention to details. The study was conducted by Jadzia Jagiellowicz, Xiaomeng Xu, Arthur Aron, and Elaine Aron at Stony Brook University, along with Guikang Cao and Tingyong Feng of Southwest University, China and Xuchu Weng of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China. This research, designed to validate the fundamental role of deeper processing of information, was published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (also available online with the date March 4, 2010).
Sensory perception sensitivity (SPS), a personality trait characterized by sensitivity to internal and external stimuli, including social and emotional ones, is found in over one hundred other species, from fruit flies and fish to canines and primates. Biologists are beginning to agree that within one species there can be two equally successful “personalities.” The sensitive type, always a minority, chooses to observe longer before acting, as if doing their exploring with their brains rather than their limbs. The other type “boldly goes where no one has gone before.” The sensitive’s strategy, sometimes called reactive or responsive, is better when danger is present, opportunities are similar and hard to choose between, or a clever approach is needed. It is not an advantage when resources are plentiful or quick, aggressive action is required.
Perhaps because those studying human personality have not focused on genetics and evolution until recently, these two fundamental innate styles in humans have been largely overlooked. Stony Brook researchers Elaine and Arthur Aron had already found that those with a highly sensitive temperament are, compared to others, more bothered by noise and crowds, more affected by caffeine, and more easily startled. That is, the trait is about sensitivity. Further, they proposed that this is all part of a “sensory processing sensitivity.” In other words, the simple sensory sensitivity to noise, pain, or caffeine is a side effect of an inborn preference to pay more attention to experiences.
Hints of this processing sensitivity were found in the observation that, compared to the majority of people, the sensitive ones among us tend to prefer to take longer to make decisions, are more conscientious, need more time to themselves in order to reflect, and are more easily bored with small talk. However, the theory that what created the difference was processing rather than mere sensitivity needed to be validated.
The research team used a questionnaire already known to separate the sensitive from the non-sensitive. Then the team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) methods to compare the activity of the brains of sensitive and non-sensitive participants while they were in the process of looking for small differences in pictures.
Neuroimaging has been increasingly used to investigate other individual differences, especially neuroticism and introversion, and how these affect emotion and cognition. The Stony Brook team proposed that differences in neuroticism and introversion are often due to something more fundamental, i.e. differences in the attention given to the processing of sensory information. For example, a number of researchers are finding that children who are highly sensitive and raised in a stressful environment are prone to anxiety and depression, which are the components of neuroticism, and to shyness, which is sometimes the cause of introversion. However, when raised in an enriched, supportive environment, those with this “differential susceptibility” are actually happier, healthier, and more socially skilled than others. In both outcomes, it seems that sensitive children are paying more attention to subtle cues indicating, for better or worse, what others are thinking and feeling.
Visual images are transformed into thoughts about those images when the brain associates the images with input from other senses, as well as with emotional reactions. This requires some attention, which is often motivated by emotions and is especially critical for noticing small changes. The investigators had 16 participants compare a photograph of a visual scene with a preceding scene, and asked them to indicate with a button press whether or not the scene had changed. Scenes differed in whether the changes were obvious or subtle, and in how quickly they were presented. Sensitive persons looked at the scenes that had the subtle differences for a longer time than did non-sensitive persons, and showed significantly greater activation in brain areas involved in associating visual input with other input to the brain and with visual attention (i.e., right claustrum; left occipito-temporal; bilateral temporal, medial, and posterior parietal regions). These areas are not simply used for vision itself, but for a deeper processing of input.
This difference that was observed between those who were highly sensitive and those who were not held up even when statistically adjusting for any differences in neuroticism and introversion, making these other traits by themselves unlikely reasons for the difference. Rather, it seems that what makes some people sensitive is a difference in what is going on at a deep level of processing, however happy or unhappy their external lives. Learn more or Post a comment on the Tribe forum.