Unlocking The Cage

GR:  Legal personhood for chimps is the subject of a New York Supreme Court trial underway now. The film described below provides background on the issue. Like Aldo Leopold, I believe that our acceptance of animal equality is as important as controlling human population and global warming if ever we hope to form a sustainable culture on this planet. Respecting chimpanzee rights is a step in the right direction. The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) is preparing other cases. I believe Elephant freedom will be next. Click this link for the Animal Bill of Rights and other legal information.

Here’s the film trailer. The film synopsis follows.

Synopsis, Unlocking the Cage

“Unlocking the Cage follows animal rights lawyer Steven Wise in his unprecedented challenge to break down the legal wall that separates animals from humans. After thirty years of struggling with ineffective animal welfare laws, Steve and his legal team, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), are making history by filing the first lawsuits that seek to transform an animal from a thing with no rights to a person with legal protections.

“Supported by affidavits from primatologists around the world, Steve maintains that, based on scientific evidence, cognitively complex animals such as chimpanzees, whales, dolphins, and elephants have the capacity for limited personhood rights (such as bodily liberty) that would protect them from physical abuse.  Using writs of habeas corpus (historically used to free humans from unlawful imprisonment), Wise argues on behalf of four captive chimpanzees in New York State.

“Unlocking the Cage captures a monumental shift in our culture, as the public and judicial system show increasing receptiveness to Steve’s impassioned arguments. It is an intimate look at a lawsuit that could forever transform our legal system, and one man’s lifelong quest to protect “nonhuman” animals.”  –Source: Unlocking The Cage.

Signals of Climate Change Visible as Record Fires Give Way to Massive Floods in Peru

GR:  Peru is suffering through a series of global warming weather extremes. It would be interesting to get Humboldt’s response to what is happening now, 215 years after he visited Peru.

“We’ve rarely seen this kind of rapid and quick change in climatic conditions.” — Juber Ruiz, Peru’s Civil Defense Institute

“During September through November, wildfires tore across parts of drought-stricken Peru.

“Peru’s Amazon was then experiencing its worst dry period in 20 years. And, at the time, over 100,000 acres of rainforest and farmland was consumed by flash fires. Rainforest species, ill-adapted to fires, were caught unawares. And a tragic tale of charred remains of protected species littering a once-lush, but now smoldering, wood spread in the wake of the odd blazes.

(Last November, wildfires burned through the Amazon rainforest in Peru as a record drought left the region bone-dry. From Drought Now Spans the Globe. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

“At the time, scientists noted that the after-effects of El Nino had combined with a warmer world to help spur the drought and the fires. And they warned Peru to prepare for more extreme weather in the future as Earth continued to heat up.

“Fast forward to 2017 and we find that the moisture regime has taken a hard turn in Peru as the droughts and fires of 2016 gave way to torrential rains. Since January, more than 62 souls have been lost and about 12,000 homes destroyed as flash floods ripped through Peru. Over the past three days, the rains have been particularly intense — turning streets into roaring rivers and causing streams to over-top — devouring roads, bridges and buildings. As of yesterday, 176 districts within the country have declared a state of emergency due to flooding.” –Robert Scribbler (Continue reading:  Signals of Climate Change Visible as Record Fires Give Way to Massive Floods in Peru | robertscribbler.)

(Flooding in Peru leaves tens of thousands homeless. Video source: TRT News.)

Floodplain Restoration – Defenders of Wildlife Blog

GR:  If you’ve ever wondered if we could get along without nature, if you’d like to know if the only plants we need are those we plant for food, and if you wonder if the only animals we need are those we ride or eat, you may find this article interesting. It’s concerned with maintaining and restoring one of nature’s essential functions and one of the richest types of ecosystems.

Restoring Floodplains: A Multi-Benefit Strategy in a Warming Climate

“The dramatic failure of the spillway at Oroville Dam and the evacuation of 188,000 downstream residents highlight the importance of effective flood management in California. After years of drought, Californians are suffering from water whiplash, with the current swing from drought to flood conditions.

“If you think something strange is happening here, you’re right. The last seven years have included a wet 2011, five years of drought (2012-2016) – four of which were the driest four-year period in state history – and now an extraordinarily wet 2017.

“This fluctuation from wet to dry – without anything approaching average conditions – is consistent with the projections of climate scientists. In 2011, the State of California warned “(a)s the climate warms, extreme events are expected to become more frequent, including wildfires, floods, droughts, and heat waves.”

“You don’t need to make a trek to the arctic to see on-the-ground impacts of climate change. Californians can simply look to their local rivers or the Sierra Nevada. The Sierra snowpack is now the largest in two decades – 177 percent of average. This comes just two years after a record low snowpack that was only 6 percent of average. Californians are already seeing more extreme weather events.

“The last five years taught Californians that we need to make conservation a way of life and that we must invest in tools like water recycling that are drought resilient. This year – and the weather patterns of the past seven years – teach us that California must prepare for floods as well.

How can we prepare for floods?

Floodplain:  The normal overflow zone that fills with water after rainfall. It must be large enough to handle the runoff from heavy rainfall, and it must be well vegetated with flood-tolerant shrubs and trees that slow the water. This is necessary to prevent erosion and the sudden arrival of too much water downstream. (Diagram from Wired.)

“One of the best ways is to restore portions of our historic floodplains to increase the ability of our rivers to handle high flows. We’ve seen the flood-protection benefits of floodplains this year. By opening gates to the Yolo Bypass floodplain, flood managers have lowered the risk to the cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento, and avoided potentially catastrophic flooding.” –Rachel Zwillinger (Continue reading:  Floodplain Restoration – Defenders of Wildlife Blog).

A Global Plan to Save Corals from Extinction

GR:  We certainly need to do something soon. This is the kind of large-scale conservation effort that we should have applied to all our ecosystems. But now, we must acknowledge that it is a treatment of symptoms not causes. This is a poor strategy. It’s not certain that we can save any reefs. Even with just the greenhouse gases we’ve already placed in the atmosphere, projections for increased ocean warming don’t look good for corals. Why not spend the money to buy back a few politicians from the fossil-fuel industry. If we could, we might be able to redirect fossil-fuel industry subsidies to research into atmospheric CO2 removal. This is where we need to spend our money now.

Coral bleaching on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Feb. 10, 2016 (Photo by Oregon State University)

“SYDNEY, Australia, March 12, 2017 (ENS) – Ninety percent of the world’s coral reefs are expected to disappear by 2050 due to climate change, pollution and poor fishing practices. Now, a unique philanthropic coalition has launched 50 Reefs, a plan to save the most critical reefs so once the climate stabilizes they can reseed the entire coral ecosystem.

Corals on the Mesoamerican Reef have experience widespread bleaching events in 1995, 1998, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2010. Corozal, Belize, Dec. 2016 (Photo by Viv Lynch)

“The initiative, launched at The Economist World Ocean Summit in February, brings together ocean, climate and marine scientists as well as conservationists from around the world to develop a list of the 50 most critical coral reefs in need of protection.

“The idea is to identify 50 high priority coral reefs that have the best chance of surviving climate change and can then help in the recovery of coral reef ecosystems once global temperatures have stabilized.

“As the project unfolds through 2017, a panel of world leading scientists will oversee a process to prioritize reefs worldwide deploying a transparent ‘decision algorithm’ developed at The Centre for Excellence in Environmental Decisions at The University of Queensland.

“The datasets used, such as reef biodiversity, climate vulnerability, current health and reef connectivity, will be agreed upon by the independent panel of scientific experts drawn from some of the world’s leading organizations.

“To be announced in late 2017, the list is expected to represent a diverse portfolio of reefs to maximize returns for biodiversity, ecosystems and people.

“Funding of this global effort is led by Bloomberg Philanthropies with The Tiffany & Co. Foundation and The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, who all aim to prevent the worst economic, social, and environmental impacts of the coral crisis.

“Bloomberg News founder and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change. “When people think of climate change, they often think of extreme heat, severe storms, and raging wildfires,” he said. “But some of the most disastrous effects of climate change are out of sight – on the ocean floor.”

“In fact, without coral reefs, we could lose up to a quarter of the world’s marine biodiversity and hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people would lose their primary source of food and livelihoods. We must not allow this to happen,” said Bloomberg.” –News Editor ENS (Continue reading:  50 Reefs: A Global Plan to Save Corals from Extinction | ENS.)