Category: Environment

Killing Pioneer: Trophy Hunter Kills Iconic Elephant In Namibia

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YouTube (BBC) Screenshot

Voortrekker (“Pioneer”)  is arguably the world’s most photographed and famous living elephant.  Thousands of tourists would go to Namibia to see the massive elephant with its signature perfect ears and profile. One tourist however came not just to admire but to kill the famous elephant. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) agreed to allow the unnamed trophy hunter to shoot Pioneer for N$120 000. It was not hard.  Pioneer was famous in part because of his gentle and friendly demeanor.  It was like shooting a couch, but someone can now claim to have killed the most famous elephant in the world. The rest of us can look at pictures.

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Study: Carnival Cruise Ships Produce 10 Times The Sulphur Oxide As All 260 Million European Cars

We have previously discussed studies showing an astonishing number of deaths linked to the use of bunker fuel by container shipping — a cheap but remarkably dirty fuel source. The other industry that uses the intensely polluting fuel is the passenger cruise industry. Cruise ships have been routinely cited for poor environmental practices, particularly Carnival Corp which was hit recently with yet another massive fine. Now, a report by Transport & Environment has found that Carnival produced in 2017 nearly 10 times more sulphur oxide (SOx) around European coasts than all 260 million European cars.

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Three Men Arrested After Shooting Mountain Lion In Yellowstone And Then Bragging On Social Media

We have previously discussed trophy hunters who post images of their kills. That kill thrill is hard for many of us to understand but it is particularly bizarre when the kill is illegal. That is the case of three hunters who killed a mountain lion in Yellowstone National Park in Montana in violation of the Lacey Act. Yellowstone special agent Jake Olson and others took a year but it finally caught Austin Peterson, 20, Trey Juhnke, 20, and Corbin Simmons, 19. The three were sentenced in May.

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Macron’s Tree of Friendship To White House Dies In Quarantine

Voice of America

The visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Washington culminated in the planting of a French oak tree as a symbol of the long-standing friendship of the two nations. Unbeknownst to most watching, the tree was promptly dug back up after the ceremony and sent to quarantine. Regrettably, the tree (like relations with France) has died in quarantine.

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As many of you know, I often accept speeches in areas where I can pursue my love for hiking. For that reason, returning to Albuquerque, New Mexico was an offer to give the keynote at the Judicial Conclave that did not need to be repeated. New Mexico is an amazing state with some of the most challenging but spectacular trails in the world. I used my free day on Saturday to tackle the famed La Luz Trail that runs through both the Sandia Mountains and the Cibola National Forest & National Grasslands. This is a punishing trail that can be extended to 13 miles. It is not for the faint of heart. It is a steady and sharp climb for miles under the beating sun of New Mexico. You literally walk to toward the light on La Luz. Much like my Pino trail hike a few years ago, I was entirely spent by the end of this hike.

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South Koreans Arrested After Stripping National Parks Of Succulents For Illegal Export

As many of you know, I am a huge advocate of hiking and particularly our national parks. We have amazing parks and most of us take great efforts to avoid leaving traces or causing damage to our natural areas. That is why a recent arrest is so alarming. Recently, three South Korean nationals were  charged  after an arrest at Los Angeles International Airport with a van filled with more than 3,700 Dudleya succulents. The spiky blue-green plants are prized in Asia. The men were tracked as they stripped parks of the plants and stuffed them into backpacks.

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Icelandic Fishermen Under Fire After Posting Cruel Video of Mutilated Shark

Two crew members of an Icelandic fishing vessel have caused a global outrage after they filmed themselves hacking off the tail of a shark and then laughing as they threw it into the river. The disturbing video captures the utter cruelty of the men as they enjoy the scene of a suffering creature trying to swim without a tail.

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Dept. of Energy Official Passes Off Natural Gas as “Freedom Gas”

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Did Congress’ France disparagement campaign of renaming French Fries to Freedom Fries cause a butterfly effect that manifested sixteen years later? Apparently possibly.

The U.S. Department of Energy posted on May 28th an announcement of approving additional exports of domestically produced Liquid Natural Gas at the 10th Clean Energy Ministerial in Vancouver, BC. To spice up perhaps a rather bland news announcement, U.S. Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes decided to import some ill-considered political pontificating by renaming LNG as “Freedom Gas”.

Liberty and Freedom encompass many enlightened notions. But as a gas, that’s a new one for me.

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More Photos Along a Green Dot Road

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

A few days ago brought me another business trip comprising six hours of driving to facilitate one hour of actual work. It did nevertheless provide an opportunity to visit another green dot road within country I haven’t seen in nearly thirty-seven years.

For me it brought a few quick memories of places, memories that were occasional and fleeting as I drove past. It made for a convincing argument that we must as individuals return to what we found as hobbies during our teen years as something that can remind us of whom we were then–that was, in fact, the person from whom we evolved.

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China Found In Massive Violation Of Montreal Protocol

A study in Nature shows a massive violation by China in the release of ozone-depleting gases like chlorofluorocarbons. China agreed to the Montreal Protocol to stop such CFC pollution. However it now appears that the Chinese regime is violating the Protocol. A concentration of increased CFC pollution was traced to the northeastern provinces of Shandong and Hebei.

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A Few Photos Along a Green Dot Road

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

I was out of town on business and decided to go for a quick drive in the countryside. One of the many benefits to be had with an off-road capable vehicle is the ability to find in nature that which others are unwilling to go out of the way to seize.

In our state, many wilderness roads are closed to vehicular travel. Those having a green dot aspect on delineators signify an open road.  It is not to say that these roads are easy to navigate but they do add some interesting challenge at times to hone one’s driving ability.

Here are a few photos taken along the way. Click each to enlarge

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Hitting The Heights At Harper’s Ferry

On Monday, I went on my traditional birthday hike and decided to tackle Loudoun Heights trail at Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. I hiked around other Appalachian Trails and around Harper’s Ferry for a 16 mile trek. It was wonderful, though these old bones were rattling by the end of the day. I wanted to share some of the pictures with the blog.

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WA Appeals Court Allows Necessity Defense For Alleged Vandal In Shutting Down Pipeline As Environmental Protest

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

I have been critical of the notion that a defendant may not always be permitted the opportunity to present evidence in their defense, especially the affirmative defenses of necessity and self-defense.  Yet in a case recently before the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division One, The Court held that in a particular case, a defendant charged in shutting down an oil pipeline to draw attention to environmental hazards posed by such industry–he is entitled to argue before the court his actions were necessary to protect the environment and common good of the people. 

While this case received nearly no attention in the recent media, the effects of this ruling can be both of benefit to the defendant and the environmental protection cause, but could also open some doors to those seeking to excuse criminal behavior using specious necessity claims.

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Behold The Majesty Of The Arches

I am returning today from speeches in Texas and Utah. As many on the blog know, I tried to use such travel to do some hiking. Utah is one of my favorite places on Earth. You could spend a lifetime hiking this state and only scratch the surface of the natural beauty and wonders. I have hiked all part of this state and expect to do so for many years to come. This trip was tough however because a cold front came in the day I arrived (after 70 degree weather) that dumped more snow on an already heavy snow season. With the rain and snow, most of my selected hikes (and even my backup hikes) were no longer advisable due to slippery rocks and mud. I tried to find a trail on Friday with limited success so I decide to “go big or go home” on Saturday. I decided to drive over three hours to the Moab where snow and rain would not be an issue. While once covered by a prehistoric ocean, this area receives less than 10 inches of rain a year. It proved to be an awesome experience hiking Arches National Park, one of the great gifts of this state to the world. While many of us often hike deciduous forests, these desert hikes hold tremendous beauty and Western parks offer views that can go 100 miles or more.

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Trump: Windmills Cause Cancer

President Donald Trump left many scratching their heads again this week with the repeated claim that his father was born in Germany (he was born in the Bronx). However, the most curious moment came with this statement to the National Republican Congressional Committee’s annual spring dinner: “If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75 percent in value. And they say the noise causes cancer.” The basis for this claim remains a mystery.

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