How Climate Change Became A “Liberal Hoax”: Big Business vs. Science

Photograph of Noam Chomsky

Image via Wikipedia

The sixth video in the series “Peak Oil and a Changing Climate” from The Nation and On The Earth Productions.

Linguist, philosopher and political activist Noam Chomsky talks about the Chamber of Commerce, the American Petroleum Institute and other business lobbies enthusiastically carrying out campaigns “to try and convince the population that global warming is a liberal hoax.




Wildlife Conservation Society: Tigers in Peril

A Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) in ...

Image via Wikipedia

Wildlife Conservation Society: Tigers in Peril.

The link leads to an interactive map of 42 identified tiger-friendly habitats or “source sites” across 9 Asian countries.

Whereas tigers once roamed much of Asia, today they occupy just 6 percent of their available habitat.

Only 1,000 out of approximately 3,200 of the remaining population are breeding females.

Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Russia are the 9 out of 12 countries, where the tiger remains wild, that the Wildlife Conservation Society are working with.

Each source site is represented by a dot on the interactive map.  Each gives more detailed information on the conditions and circumstances in those areas.

Current threats to tigers can be put in two major categories:

Poaching and Retributive Killing

Illegal hunting and poaching are primarily to blame for the depleted population. Tigers are among the most sought-after victims of the wildlife trade. On the black market, a whole tiger is worth less than the sum of its parts. While its skin might sell for $10,000, its bones and body parts can fetch double or even triple that amount. Once sold, tiger parts often end up on pharmacy shelves as medicines and dining tables as delicacies across Asia.

“Once tigers are taken from the wild, they are smuggled across multiple borders through an elaborate illegal network en route to their final destination,” says Chantal Elkin, former director of the wildlife trade program at Conservation International. “There is a desperate need to strengthen political will to increase protection of tigers in their habitat and root out these trade networks.”

Tigers are prized for their distinctive striped skins and nearly every body part imaginable. Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine believe that consumption of tiger parts is good for a person’s health. For instance, joint pain and stiffness are treated with medicines containing tiger bones, and virility with tiger genitals. Tiger bone liquor is also available on the Chinese market, and tiger skin and fur are commonly used in decorative clothing and other luxury goods.

Habitat Loss and Fragmentation

Tigers that have been spared by the trade face yet another threat: loss of their home. In recent years, Asian countries have begun clearing entire forests to meet the needs of growing populations and economies. As a result, tigers now are forced to roam around landscapes that are too small and fragmented to support their prey.

What is especially worrisome about the decline of tigers is that it’s occurring despite the animal’s legal protection. In every country where tigers exist are laws that prohibit their hunting, poaching, and international trade. However, weak law enforcement and inadequate security at tiger sanctuaries is failing to safeguard the exquisite animal.

Domestic trade in tiger parts is banned in both India and China, yet tiger farms still operate in China, and some have expressed interest in seeing the ban lifted. CI is collaborating with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as TRAFFIC and Save the Tiger Fund, to protest lifting the ban. The joint NGO group aims to set the record straight about the pitfalls of reopening trade and its harmful impacts on farmed and wild tigers.

Trade bans have been extremely effective when properly enforced, as demonstrated by the recovery of Russia’s Siberian tiger population. An international effort by NGOs and Russian authorities to secure safe habitat for the tiger has succeeded in stabilizing its population for the last decade. Increased habitat and patrolling have also helped protect wild tigers in Indonesia through a program supported by the CI-administered Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.

These achievements show that education and targeted enforcement of laws and protected areas can save lives. And with so few tigers left in the wild, every animal counts.

A Garden For Ibrahim

Two years ago today, Israeli ground forces entered Gaza, killing scores – including Kamal and Wafaa Awajah’s son, Ibrahim. Jen Marlowe’s film tells the anguished, hopeful story of one family in Gaza.

5,000 Blackbirds Dropping From the Sky in Arkansas on New Year’s Eve

Roughly 5,000 red-winged blackbirds fell from the sky over a mile of land near Beebe, a small town in northwest Arkansas, and observers spotted the fish kill near the town of Ozark.








First the birds started dropping from the sky. Then thousands of fish began washing up on the riverbank. What’s next for Arkansas – 20 inches of snow?

It may sound apocalyptic, but scientists are eying perfectly natural causes for the death of 3,000 red-winged blackbirds on New Year’s Eve and the subsequent discovery of 100,000 dead freshwater drum in the Arkansas River.

Residents of the small town of Beebe were startled Saturday morning to find the dead birds littered over a 1.5-square-mile area.

“Every dog and cat in the neighborhood that night was able to get a fresh snack,” said Karen Rowe, an ornithologist with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Concerned cleanup crews took no chances and donned protective suits and gas masks to collect the carcasses – but it may be that nothing more nefarious than severe weather that night was the cause.

There are numerous past cases of birds becoming disoriented in storms and crashing en masse into the ground.

“This is a well-known phenomenon,” said John Fitzpatrick, director of Cornell University’s ornithology lab. “Given the violent storm in that area, it sounds consistent with the idea that they got swept up in a storm.”

He said it was a good bet the birds were torn from their nighttime roosts – where they can gather in groups as large as 20,000 – and driven into a “washing-machine type thunderstorm.”

Fitzpatrick said birds can quickly die of exposure if their feathers get excessively waterlogged.

Other explanations could be New Year’s fireworks causing birds to lose their way, or poisoning.

Many of the birds appeared to have injuries consistent with hitting the ground, although it is not clear if they were already dead when they landed, officials said.

As for the fish, investigators suspect illness.

“It appears that it could be a disease, because it just affected one species,” said Keith Stephens of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

“We don’t believe it’s environmental, because it would have killed a lot of other fish,” he said. “We have fishkills from time to time, it’s not unusual.”

Nearly 15 million baitfish washed up on the shores of Lake Elsinore in California in 2009 as the result of oxygen deprivation.

Stephens did not believe there was any connection between the fish and bird deaths.

The birds’ remains have been shipped to several labs in Arkansas, Georgia and Wisconsin, and test results are expected back in a week.

Samples of the fish were taken to a lab at the University of Arkansas, and results are expected in about a month, Stephens said.

Red-winged blackbirds are among the most abundant birds in North America, with a population of 100 million to 200 million.

The birds are generally loathed for leaving behind massive piles of droppings that sometimes reach knee high. Officials have tried to move them away from areas of the state using shotguns and cannons, but they always have returned.

With News Wire Services

Read more:

Videos from CNN and ABC News:

The CNN Report on Dead Blackbirds in Arkansas

ABC Report on Dead Blackbirds in Arkansas

Another ABC Report

Other Links:

Nightly News Report on the Dead Birds

Massive Fish Kill 125 Miles NW of Little Rock, Arkansas

“The fish kill only affected one species of fish,” he said. “If it was from a pollutant, it would have affected all of the fish, not just drum fish.”