AmeriScan: Apr. 8, 2014

Harvard University president, Drew Gilpin Faust, spoke at the Freshman Convocation ceremony for the Class of 2016, Sept. 2012 (Photo courtesy Harvard University)


Harvard’s $20 Million Climate Fund, U.S. Eats Pirate-Caught Seafood, Hawaii’s Big Palm, Seattle Mariners Named e-Stewards, Eco Comix, Jaguar Habitat Lawsuit, Idaho Trappers Take Lynx

Harvard Creates $20 Million Climate Fund … U.S. Eats Pirate-Caught Seafood … Hawaiian Coconut Palm Voted the 2014 Ultimate Big Tree … Seattle Mariners First Pro Sports Team Named e-Stewards … Eco Comics and Comixology Ink Digital Distribution Pact … Groups Sue Over Wildlife Killing in Jaguar Critical Habitat …Rare Lynx at Risk From Traps in Idaho

Harvard Creates $20 Million Climate Fund

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts, April 8, 2014 (ENS) – To catalyze research that could accelerate the transition to renewable sources of energy, Harvard President Drew Faust Monday challenged the university’s alumni and friends to contribute toward a $20 million Climate Change Solutions Fund that will “seed and spur” new approaches to confronting climate change.

The Climate Change Solutions Fund will be part of the Harvard Campaign’s broader ongoing efforts to raise funds for energy and environment research, which have already generated nearly $120 million in support.

Faust said that she will make available $1 million at the start of the 2014-15 academic year to launch the fund.

Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust at the Freshman Convocation ceremony for the Class of 2016, Sept. 2012 (Photo courtesy Harvard University)

The fund will invite grant proposals from faculty and students across Harvard who have innovative ideas for projects that could help enable the transition from carbon-based to renewable fuels.

“Our research across Harvard – in climate science, engineering, law, public health, policy, design, and business – has an unparalleled capacity to accelerate the progression from nonrenewable to renewable sources of energy,” Faust said.

In a letter to the Harvard community, Faust noted that universities have produced much of the research upon which the scientific consensus on the threat of climate change is based.

“Ideas, innovation, discovery, and rigorous independent thought will serve as indispensable elements in combating the climate threat; these are the special province of universities,” she said.

“Harvard has a vital leadership role to play in this work. As a university, it has a special obligation and accountability to the future, to the long view needed to anticipate and alter the trajectory and impact of climate change,” she said. “Already we support research at the vanguard of energy and climate science.”

Faust’s letter highlighted progress made toward meeting environmental sustainability goals on campus and Harvard’s commitment to sustainable investing.

Faust’s letter followed an October 2013 message to the community in which she outlined ways in which the University could most effectively address climate change, with special focus on research, on-campus sustainability initiatives, and sustainable investment practices.

On Monday, she released a report showing that the university had made substantial progress toward its goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by the year 2016. She highlighted Harvard’s decision to sign on with the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investing.

Harvard’s commitment to these principles is being put to the test this week on campus. On Saturday, April 5, two organizers from the communities in Argentina most affected by Harvard’s timber plantations arrived in Cambridge for a week of action sponsored by the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition, RI@H.

In spring 2013, RI@H launched its responsible ownership campaign, demanding that Harvard take responsibility for the ethical practices of the companies it owns fully as part of its endowment.

After learning of ecological, land rights, and labor rights violations in Corrientes, Argentina near the plantations of Harvard-owned companies EVASA and Las Misiones, RI@H published an investigative report and mini-documentary, delivered letters to Harvard administrators, and held demonstrations on campus.

Over the course of the week, the two delegates from Corrientes will speak to student groups, Harvard administrators, and student leaders about their experiences living in the shadow of Harvard’s plantations.

Across the university, more than 250 courses are offered that focus on aspects of environmental sustainability, and more than 225 faculty members are affiliated with the Harvard University Center for the Environment.

The new climate fund will be administered by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, Richard D. McCullough, who make recommendations on final grantees to Faust. Proposals will be ranked based on an evaluation of intellectual merit, interdisciplinary collaboration, innovation, and potential impact on the fields of energy and the environment.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2014. All rights reserved.


U.S. Eats Pirate-Caught Seafood

WASHINGTON, DC, April 8, 2014 (ENS) – Between 20 and 32 percent of wild-caught seafood imported into the United States comes from illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, often called pirate fishing, according to a new study by U.S. and Canadian scientists to be published in the journal “Marine Policy.”

Pirate fishers ignore domestic and international fishing laws, regulations and policies by fishing in closed areas or during prohibited times, often catching threatened species with illegal gear.

The new study finds that the amount of illegally caught seafood entering the U.S. market is worth between $1 and $2 billion annually.

This figure is in line with global estimates of pirate fishing, assessed at 13-31 percent of global catch and valued at between $10 to 23.5 billion each year.

The report finds that the “opaque supply chains foster illegal seafood, especially Chinese reprocessing.”

Oceana ocean advocate Beckie Zisser said, “This study unfortunately confirms what we have long suspected – that seafood from pirate fishing is getting into our markets. Illegal fishing undercuts honest fishermen and seafood businesses that play by the rules, and the U.S. should not be incentivizing pirate fishers by creating a legal market for their products.

The solution to this problem is requiring proof of legality and traceability as a condition to import into the United States, ensuring that all seafood sold in the country is safe, legally caught and honestly labeled.

“Before seafood crosses our borders and enters our markets, it needs to have documentation that verifies that it was legally caught, and that the fish traveled a transparent path from the fishing vessel to our dinner plates,” said Zisser.

As the United States is one of the largest importers of wild-caught seafood, the federal government has a responsibility to cut off the financial incentives for pirates by keeping illegal product out of U.S. markets, says Oceana, the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans.

Oceana is asking Congress to pass the Safety and Fraud Enforcement for Seafood Act (SAFE Seafood Act), a bill that would require traceability throughout the seafood supply chain, improve inspections and provide more information to consumers at the point of purchase.

“Without traceability,” says Zisser, “U.S consumers are inadvertently funding the profits of illegal fishing. We need to track our seafood from boat to plate to protect the oceans, consumers and public health.”

The study authors are Ganapathiraju Pramod and Tony Pitcher of the Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada; Katrina Nakamura with the Sustainability Incubator in Honolulu, Hawaii; and economist Leslie Delagran of Washington, DC.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2014. All rights reserved.

 Hawaiian Coconut Palm Voted the 2014 Ultimate Big Tree

HONOLULU, Hawaii, April 8, 2014 (ENS) – In the championship round of American Forests’ Big Tree Madness contest, “Coco” a towering coconut palm at the Hawea Heiau Complex in Hawaii Kai on the island of Oahu, beat out Missouri’s “Big Sassy Basswood.”

“Coco” towers over apartment buildings and other coconut palms in the Honolulu suburb of Hawaii Kai (Photo by Deborah Ward courtesy Hawaii DLNR)

Voting on Friday on the American Forests’ Facebook page resulted in “Coco” receiving 64 percent of the votes to “Big Sassy Basswood’s” 36 percent.

During the three-week long contest, thousands of people from around the country voted for their favorite big trees in this, the second year of the contest.

Since 1940, the National Big Tree Program has recognized the beauty and critical ecosystem services provided by America’s biggest and oldest trees.

More than 750 champions are crowned each year and documented in the biannual National Register of Big Trees.

For more than 70 years, the goal of the big tree program has remained the same – to preserve and promote the iconic stature of these remarkable trees and to educate people about the role that trees and forests play in sustaining a healthy environment.

“Coco” may not the biggest tree in overall girth, but to think at 112 feet high it has withstood winds and storms and remains so stately and upright, makes it a remarkable tree,” said William Aila, Jr., who chairs the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

“It appears like a guardian over the Hawea Heiau Complex,” Aila said. “It is an important historical and cultural site that was recently protected from any future development in a heavily urbanized area.”

Hawaii Kai, where “Coco” stands, is a suburb east of Honolulu developed by Henry J. Kaiser around the ancient Maunalua fishpond and wetlands.

“We really want to thank all of the people in Hawaii who voted for “Coco,” said Lisa Hadway administrator of the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife. “Our staff effectively utilized social media and with help from the news media were very successful in getting the Hawaii vote out. This is a testament to how Hawaii mobilizes behind a fun and good cause.”

“It has also become a great way to expose people to the importance of big trees in our overall ecosystem,” Hadway said.

Hawaii currently has 10 trees on the National Register of Big Trees.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2014. All rights reserved.


Seattle Mariners First Pro Sports Team Named e-Stewards

SEATTLE, Washington, April 8, 2014. For the first time, the environmental nonprofit group Basel Action Network has recognized a professional sports team, the Seattle Mariners, for responsible electronic waste management and designated them an e-Stewards® Enterprise.

e-Stewards Enterprises pledge to prevent the hazardous materials in e-waste from causing harm to people and the environment, particularly by not exporting them as toxic waste to developing countries.

“Through our comprehensive sustainability policy, the Mariners work to reduce our impact on the environment. This pledge is something we can do to ensure that the recyclers we work with are responsibly handling the waste we turn over to them,” said Scott Jenkins, Seattle Mariners vice president, ballpark operations.

“At this pivotal moment in the worldwide e-waste crisis, the Seattle Mariners join a growing number of business, academic and governmental leaders taking action to stem a toxic tide engulfing poorer communities in Africa and Asia,” said Jim Puckett, executive director of Basel Action Network, with offices in downtown Seattle within walking distance of the Mariners ballpark.

“We are very impressed by their act of leadership on this matter,” Puckett said.

As an e-Stewards Enterprise, the Seattle Mariners commit to using, whenever possible, e-Stewards certified electronics recyclers.

These recyclers undergo an independent audit each year to guarantee they will not export hazardous e-waste to developing countries, dump such waste into municipal landfills, nor use prison labor for managing such waste.

They use state-of-the-art data destruction technologies and practices to prevent loss of private data.

The e-Stewards® Initiative is a market-based solution to help individuals and organizations identify and promote those electronics recyclers that ensure that used electronics are managed with the highest standards of environmental and social responsibility.

Over 70 environmental groups and over 70 other enterprises endorse the e-Stewards program, which was developed by Basel Action Network.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2014. All rights reserved.


Eco Comics and Comixology Ink Digital Distribution Pact

NEW YORK, New York, April 8, 2014 (ENS) – Digital-only publisher Eco Comics announced today a digital distribution agreement with comiXology, the cloud-based digital comics platform available across the iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, Windows 8 and on

The free Green Apple Award celebration comic book is online at the Eco Comics online store.

Eco Comics will bring all its past, present and future titles – including flagship books “Green Man,” and “Dracula vs. Robin Hood vs. Jekyll & Hyde” directly to comiXology’s global digital comics platform.

“We’re excited to be offering Eco Comics’ great line of environmentally conscious comics that we’re sure that fans everywhere will love,” said comiXology VP of Communications & Marketing, Chip Mosher.

“We believe in the green message of Eco Comics and are happy to push their comics farther than ever before through comiXology’s global reach,” Mosher said.

“Eco Comics is proud to have been digital, green and paperless since we began, but joining forces with comiXology, which recently passed two hundred million downloads of comics and graphic novels, is the next big step in our evolution,” said Stuart Buckley, editor of the award-winning UK publisher Eco Comics.

Eco Comics has received two major environmental awards, including the gold standard Green Apple Award 2013-2014.

“It’s an exciting development and the perfect opportunity to provide our bold claim to represent the future of comic books,” said Buckley.

Comics fans worldwide can now buy and download Eco Comics through devices, including the iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, Windows 8 and on the web at

Individual issues are priced between 99 cents (60p) and $1.99 (£1.20). Graphic novels are priced $2.99 (£1.80). Preview issues will be distributed for free.

With over 45,000 comics and graphic novels from more than 75 publishers, comiXology offers the widest selection of digital comics in the world.

ComiXology’s unique Guided View transforms the comic book medium into what the company calls “an immersive and cinematic experience.” The Guided View has helped comiXology become one of iTunes top grossing iPad apps in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and the most popular digital platform for comic and graphic novel fans worldwide.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2014. All rights reserved.


Groups Sue Over Wildlife Killing in Jaguar Critical Habitat

TUCSON, Arizona, April 8, 2014 (ENS) – The Animal Welfare Institute and WildEarth Guardians have notified the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program of their intent to sue over the program’s failure to ensure that its activities do not harm rare and endangered jaguars or their critical habitat in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

The Western Environmental Law Center sent the required 60-day notice on behalf of the two groups.

Jaguars, the largest cat species in the Western Hemisphere, once inhabited California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and possibly as far east as Louisiana.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, they were extirpated from California and Texas, and nearly eradicated from Arizona and New Mexico. This resulted in an endangered species listing for the jaguar across a portion of their range in 1972 and across their entire range in 1997.

Between 1996 and 2011, either five or six individual jaguars were documented in the United States.

In March, after years of delay, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated critical habitat for jaguars in Hidalgo County, New Mexico, and the counties of Pima, Santa Cruz, and Cochise in Arizona.

Despite the designation, USDA’s Wildlife Services currently employs lethal wildlife management techniques and pesticide applications to eradicate the pink bollworm in designated jaguar critical habitat. These activities violate the Endangered Species Act requirement to consult with USFWS over potentially harmful activities in the designated habitat, the groups claim.

“The presence of rare jaguars in the Southwest is part of what makes it such a unique and special part of our country,” said John Mellgren, staff attorney at Western Environmental Law Center.

“The critical habitat designation will help ensure that the jaguar does not go extinct,” he said. “As such, it is important that we hold Wildlife Services accountable for actions that could harm jaguars.”

A little-known federal program, Wildlife Services is responsible for the deaths of millions of wild animals each year by using blind sets, baited and scented traps, draw stations, leg and foot snares, and M-44 cyanide capsule ejectors. Many of these techniques injure and kill non-target species.

“Wildlife Services can no longer blindly pretend that jaguars do not have a place in the American Southwest,” said Tara Zuardo, wildlife attorney with Animal Welfare Institute. “Employing indiscriminate, dangerous lethal control methods in occupied jaguar habitat is a severe threat to the species’ recovery and must end now.”

“For far too long, Wildlife Services has hidden the impacts of its lethal activities on endangered species like the jaguar,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director at WildEarth Guardians. “Wildlife Services must immediately cease its activities in jaguar habitat and comply with the Endangered Species Act.”

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2014. All rights reserved.


Rare Lynx at Risk From Traps in Idaho

BOISE, Idaho, April 8, 2014 (ENS) – The governor of Idaho and other state officials are on 60-day notice that they will be sued unless they halt trapping that kills one of the rarest cats in the United States, the Canada lynx.

Three environmental groups Monday notified Governor Butch Otter, Director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Virgil Moore, and members of the state Fish and Game Commission of the Endangered Species Act violations in permitting trapping that leads to incidental killing of lynx.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project and Friends of the Clearwater are demanding that Idaho develop a conservation plan with measures to avoid and reduce incidental trapping of lynx and receive an incidental take permit from the federal government.

The plan, which would require approval by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, includes restrictions on conibear, body-crushing traps and snares, reporting requirements, monitoring, and a daily trap check requirement throughout lynx habitat.

If the Idaho Department of Fish and Game does not address the violations outlined in Monday’s notice of intent to sue, a federal lawsuit can be filed in 60 days.

Lynx are medium-sized, long-legged cats, ranging up to 24 pounds. They are generally nocturnal and well-adapted to hunting snowshoe hare at high elevations.

The Canada lynx is a threatened species that numbers as few as 100 animals in the state of Idaho, where the groups say they are under unprecedented threat from recreational trapping.

Although the intentional trapping of lynx is not allowed under Idaho law, with increases in trapping licenses and fur prices, especially for bobcat, at least three lynx have been unintentionally caught by bobcat trappers in the last two years.

Under the Endangered Species Act, trapping of lynx is illegal, even if the animal is released alive. Any agency permitting such trapping is liable under the Endangered Species Act, the groups claim.

“Trapping permitted by the state of Idaho is directly helping to push these rare, beautiful animals toward extinction,” said Louisa Willcox, Northern Rockies representative of the Center for Biological Diversity. “This is a clear violation of the Endangered Species Act.”

Last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed more than 26 million acres of critical habitat across six states for the Canadian lynx, which faces ongoing threats from habitat destruction and reduced snowpacks from climate change.

“The lynx is a true Idaho mountain icon, and a healthy Idaho population is critical not just to lynx survival here, but across the western United States,” said Ken Cole of Western Watersheds Project. “Idaho is the crossroads for lynx, allowing a healthy mixing between Rockies and Canadian populations. If we lose the lynx in Idaho, the whole western U.S. population is at risk.”

“If trapping was the only problem, lynx might be able to handle it,” said Gary Macfarlane of Friends of the Clearwater. “But with the low snowpacks and early melting that we are seeing from global warming, lynx are facing a deadly one-two punch. If we don’t act now, these marvelous creatures might not even inhabit the Idaho of our children and grandchildren’s generations.”

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2014. All rights reserved.


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