Photo: Sergey Gorshkov
It’s It was a walrus.
Photo: Sergey Gorshkov
It’s It was a walrus.
A primer on ocean acidification. What it is. How it works. And its impacts on the ocean. From the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme.
AMAP is one of five Working Groups of the Arctic Council.
The primary function of AMAP is to advise the governments of the eight Arctic countries (Canada, Denmark/Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States) on matters relating to threats to the Arctic region from pollution, and associated issues.
Boy it’s dusty around here…
Enormous grassland fires in Siberia/Mongolia this morning.
The Boston Bomber Brothers are from Chechnya (Update. NYTimes has more on where they’re from here.). So, where is Chechnya? The above maps zoom in to Chechnya and its small capital of Grozny.
Located in southeastern Europe, Chechnya is technically part of Russia. It’s war torn and in rough shape. It’s rich in oil and minerals, has a population of about 1 million people, and is an important crossroads between the Middle East, Russia, and Europe.
There is very little climate change research in the region. But, the area is vulnerable to water shortages, drought, agricultural mismanagement, and heavy pollution. More on the climate angle, here.
Video of a water main break in Russia. The explosion sends asphalt into the air to rain down on parked cars and pedestrians.
Aging infrastructure and deferred maintenance are the bane of cities around the world - especially America. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the United State’s bridges, dams, airports, drinking water, roads, and schools a D+ in a recent report. Embarrassing? Absolutely. But cities are struggling to deal with an aging population and a lowered tax base. Schools, libraries, and park services are being cut (and gutted) all around the country. This means that cities are less likely to invest or fix problems with infrastructure, such as water supply. They can only react and look to the Feds for emergency cash. This mess we’re in will harm citizens in the long-term.
Bid to ban international trade of Polar Bear parts fails
Today delegates at the CITES meeting in Thailand rejected the proposal to protect polar bears from the commercial trade of their body parts. The proposal was put forward by the US with support from Russia but was opposed by Canada, the only country to allow the exporting of polar bear parts.
Unfortunately the proposal failed to win the two-thirds needed to pass. The results ended with 38 countries voting in favour of the US proposal, 42 against and 46 refrained.
“Limiting commercial trade in this species would have addressed a source of non-climate stress to polar bear populations and contributed to long-term recovery,” said the statement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Each year, an average of 3,200 items made from polar bears - including skins, claws and teeth - are reported to be exported or re-exported from a range of countries. Polar bear hides sell for an average of $2,000 to $5,000, while maximum hide prices have topped $12,000.”
The rejection of the proposal means that the export of polar bear skins, teeth and paws from Canada will continue.
[Photo credit: Martin Lopatka]
In a confusing Press Release, the United Nations urges countries to protect AND develop the Arctic as glaciers and ice melt. On the one hand, the PR urges stronger legal and environmental regulations. On the other, it urges northern countries to cooperate as they exploit the Arctic’s vast resources of oil, gas, minerals, and fish: “the Arctic Council …is formed by Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the US has a crucial role to play in ensuring any resource exploitation is done responsibly.”
Confused? Yeah, me too…
Asteroid “2012 DA14” safely passed by Earth late Friday. NASA feed via NYTimes’s Andrew Revkin.
Interview With An Astrophysicist: “There Are No Plans to Save People From Asteroids. It’s a Waste of Money.”
GQ: What if there’s another one?! What are you going to do to save us?
Astrophysicist: Eh, there’s no plans to save people from asteroids. It’s a waste of money.
Astrophysicist: Yeah, mostly.
GQ: So we’re all left alone?
Astrophysicist:Global warming is a bigger deal. Worry about that.
Good read on why Russians use dashcams. Bottom line: To record evidence for courts.
The Russian courts don’t like verbal claims. They do, however, like to send people to jail for battery and property destruction if there’s definite video proof. That is why there’s a new, growing crop of dash-cam videos featuring would-be face-beaters backing away to the shouts of “You’re on camera, f@cker! I’m calling the cops!”
Dash-cam footage is the only real way to substantiate your claims in the court of law.
Forget witnesses. Hit and runs are very common and insurance companies notoriously specialize in denying claims. Two-way insurance coverage is very expensive and almost completely unavailable for vehicles over ten years old–the drivers can only get basic liability. Get into a minor or major accident and expect the other party to lie to the police or better yet, flee after rear-ending you. Since your insurance won’t pay unless the offender is found and sued, you’ll see dash-cam videos of post hit and run pursuits for plate numbers.
And sometimes drivers back up or bump their pre-dented car into yours. It used to be a mob thing, with the accident-staging specialists working in groups. After the “accident,” the offending driver–often an elderly lady–is confronted by a crowd of “witnesses,” psychologically pressured and intimidated to pay up cash on the spot. Since the Age of the Dash-cam, hustle has withered from a flourishing enterprise to a dying trade, mainly thriving in the provinces where dash-cams are less prevalent.
And then, sometimes, someone will jump under your car at a crossing, laying on the asphalt, simulating a badly hurt pedestrian waiting for that cop conveniently parked nearby. This dramatic extortion scheme was common, until the Age of the Dash-cam. Oh, and there are such juicy, triumphant tales about of would-be extortion victims turning the scheme around and telling the cast members to pay them money or they’re going to jail for this little performance! Don’t try it.
While those lucky enough to traverse the Russian roads with an American or other Western passport are hassled less, the Russian Highway Patrol is known throughout their land for brutality, corruption, extortion and making an income on bribes. Dash-cams won’t protect you from being extorted for cash, because your ass shouldn’t have been speeding. It will however keep you safer from drunks in uniform, false accusations and unreasonable bribe hikes.
More at Animal New York
Video of a meteorite exploding over the southern Ural Mountains, Russia.
Bangkok Post reports property damage, no casualties.
“A meteorite exploded above the Chelyabinsk region (of the Urals). The shock wave blew out windows in several places,” but no meteor fragments hit the ground, an emergencies ministry spokesman told the Interfax news agency.
“According to the preliminary information, four people were injured by flying glass,” the ministry added.
An agency report spoke of several injuries.
Witnesses cited by news agencies spoke of hearing loud explosions which led to panic among residents.
I’m so surprised by the depth of research and overall usefulness of the How Stuff Works website. This post on the North Pole covers how to prepare for an Arctic Expedition. It included this nice nugget:
From the 15th through the 20th century, the Doctrine of Discovery was recognized by European and American explorers as the go-to guideline for ownership of territory. The doctrine uses a basic “first-come, first-served” rule — a region belongs to whatever country got there first. Remember how the United States “won” the race to the moon in 1969 by planting a flag on the lunar surface?
Today, the United Nations has taken control of the issue. According to the U.N. Convention on the Laws of the Sea, claims to the North Pole are based on a country’s continental shelf (undersea extensions of land).
In 2007, Russian mini-submarines — on a mission to explore natural gas and oil deposits under the North Pole — planted Russian flags below the Arctic ice. The Canadians were not pleased, mostly because they claim that the North Pole is theirs. So do Denmark (via Greenland), Norway and the United States.
Rare View of Critically Endangered, Painfully Adorable Chicks Taking First Steps
“Every summer, endangered spoon-billed sandpipers meet in Russia’s far east. For two months, the small, russet-and white-colored birds breed and raise their young. Each chick is crucial. With around 100 breeding pairs, the species teeters on the edge of extinction.
Now, the unsteady first steps of tiny sandpiper chicks have been captured on video. The footage, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, shows the stumbling, fluffy chicks wandering around near their wind-blown nest near Meinypilgyno, Chukotka — an autonomous region in extreme eastern Russia.”
Beautiful birds, beautifully told. Only about 200 birds left alive…