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Winner of black rhino hunting auction states his $350,000 will help save the species. I note this is common practice outside the U.S., and animal reserves and refuges depend on trophy hunting as a major source of funding. The fees hunters pay goes towards breeding, land use/habitat protection, and education programs.

NatGeo summed-up this (very old) practice well

According to a recent study, in the 23 African countries that allow sport hunting, 18,500 tourists pay over $200 million (U.S.) a year to hunt lions, leopards, elephants, warthogs, water buffalo, impala, and rhinos.

Private hunting operations in these countries control more than 540,000 square miles (1.4 million square kilometers) of land, the study also found. That’s 22 percent more land than is protected by national parks.

As demand for land increases with swelling human populations, some conservationists are arguing that they can garner more effective results by working with hunters and taking a hand in regulating the industry.

Sport hunting can be sustainable if carefully managed, said Peter Lindsey, a conservation biologist with the University of Zimbabwe in Harare, who led the recent study.

"Trophy hunting is of key importance to conservation in Africa by creating [financial] incentives to promote and retain wildlife as a land use over vast areas," he said.

The more interesting angle, from my point of view, is why conservation efforts to save the black rhino (and many other species) has failed so miserably. In other words, despite the many millions funneled from traditional conservation groups, why is the black rhino still rare? Overall, untold billions have been spent towards conservation efforts and yet dozens of species fall down, extinct, every month. So, for me, I’d like to see a shift in conservation management towards better and more effective practices. This would begin with a bold admission that efforts to date have failed. 

1/5th of department lost. “Hotshots" are our nation’s most elite fire fighter. They work in teams of 20, and hike miles while carrying 40-50 pounds of equipment each into extreme terrains. They are very physically strong, train for many months, and are pridefully dedicated to protecting America’s lands. According to an official quoted in this article, Hotshots work long hours and will often sleep near the wildfires to help teams develop fire lines (a technique used to stop fires from spreading). I hate to say that more brave firefighters will be hurt and possibly die due to increasing droughts and extreme temperatures over the decades to come. 

They were part of an elite squad confronting wildfires on the front line, setting up barriers to stop the spreading destruction. But in their unpredictable world, it doesn’t take much to turn a situation deadly.

In this case, a wind shift and other factors caused a central Arizona fire, which now spans almost 9,000 acres, to become erratic, said Mike Reichling, Arizona State Forestry Division spokesman.

The inferno proved too much, even for the shelters the 19 firefighters carried as a last-ditch survival tool.

"The fuels were very dry, the relative humidity was low, the wind was coming out of the south. It turned around on us because of monsoon action," Reichling told CNN affiliate KNXV. "That’s what caused the deaths.

The firefighters from Prescott were killed Sunday while fighting the Yarnell Hill fire, northwest of Phoenix.

Possibly (uncorroborated) the worst floods in this region has seen. Video shows tall buildings and also cars being sucked into fast, flooded rivers.  Apparently - and unfortunately - there are two months left of heavy rains. Expect more destruction. 

The pine bark beetle has killed “hundreds of millions of trees.” There are upsides in using the wood, I suppose.

Super rare ice boulders form on secluded Lake Michigan beach. Video at CNN.

Coffin? Nailed. Way to go Elon Musk!


You Saw This Coming of the Day

Marines called in to help fight wildfires.

Wildfires roast western states

At least 70 large fires were burning across 13 states west of the Mississippi River, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center. California had the most with 13, followed by Nevada with 12 and Idaho with 10, the center said.

The Marines joined the fight on Wednesday, with helicopter units from California joining U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units from Colorado, Wyoming, North Carolina and California in fighting the fires by air. The Marine units will help fight fires around San Diego.


My dear son,
I am appalled, even horrified, that you have adopted Classics as a major. As a matter of fact, I almost puked on the way home today. I suppose that I am old-fashioned enough to believe that the purpose of an education is to enable one to develop a community of interest with his fellow men, to learn to know them, and to learn how to get along with them. In order to do this, of course, he must learn what motivates them, and how to impel them to be pleased with his objectives and desires.
I am a practical man, and for the life of me I cannot possibly understand why you should wish to speak Greek. With whom will you communicate in Greek? …
For the life of me I cannot understand why you should be vitally interested in informing yourself about the influences of the Classics on English literature. It is not necessary for you to know how to make a gun in order to know how to use it.

In 1957, at 18 years of age, future billionaire and founder of CNN, Ted Turner, informed his father that he would be majoring in Classics after being inspired by a professor at Brown University. His father was furious to say the least, and responded to his son’s announcement with the following despairing letter — a letter which Ted later sent to the college paper in retaliation, who then reprinted it in full.

The rest of the letter is epic.

Asker turnthrice Asks:
I have a random question. Bill Nye has been cited by some as an ill-informed advocate for climate adaptation. His recent interview on CNN made me aware of the controversy that exists regarding his authenticity as a scientist who may or may not be educated enough about climate change. Some people are saying that although Bill is a good scientist, he has no credentials in the actual topic of climate change and should not be expressing his opinion on national television. Thoughts?
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hey turnthrice,

Look, you meant to write, “advocate for climate change,” not adaptation. Second, “advocating for climate change” is nonsensical. You meant to write “advocate for climate change solutions.” 

Words matter. I get what you are asking, but know that, in life, sloppy inquiries waste people’s time, could land you in trouble, or cost you an opportunity, such as a dream job…

Regardless, I tersely covered the Bill Nye “interview” here.



CNN busts open child slavery and chocolate growers with “The bitter truth about the chocolate bunnies." 200,000 children are enslaved to work the cocoa trees, which provide 70% of the world’s beans.

I’m writing several chocolate and climate change pieces, which I hope to post in about a week. It’s crazy what’s happening in 2012. I’m not into solving problems by buying things. And I’m an utter cynic when it comes to the manic buffoonery called “recycling.”

But, with chocolate, I cannot think of a better reason to choose an organic product.

"Chocolate is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but for the children working in slavery conditions in cacao fields across West Africa’s Ivory Coast, the reality behind it is anything but sweet.

Some 70 to 75 percent of the world’s cocoa beans are grown on small farms in West Africa, including the Ivory Coast, according to the World Cocoa Foundation and the International Cocoa Initiative. The CNN Freedom Project reports that in the Ivory Coast alone, there are an estimated 200,000 children working the fields, many against their will, to satisfy the world’s hunger for chocolate.

The average American eats around 11 pounds of chocolate each year, and the weeks leading up to Easter show the second biggest United States sales spike of the year next to Halloween - 71 million pounds according to a 2009 Neilsen report. A recent press release from Kraft claims that worldwide, more consumers purchase chocolate during Easter than any other season.

So how does a chocolate lover ensure that the treats filling their family’s Easter baskets are not supporting a life of slavery for a child half a world away?

Opt for organic

Gene Tanski, a supply chain expert and CEO of Demand Foresight says that the most basic way to ensure that you don’t purchase chocolate that is made with slave labor is to insist on organic”

Read the rest at CNN’s Freedom Project, which aims to end child slavery.

Mind Blown: Big report shows GOP uses twitter more effectively than Dems. Their tweets have more substance, more followers and retweets, more bi-partisanship(!), more mentions of legislation their working on, and more invitations to the public to engage in town hall meetings. Really interesting video.

Good to see CNN pick up the green cities question.

"The United States is awash in gasoline. So much so, in fact, that the country is exporting a record amount of it.

The country exported 430,000 more barrels of gasoline a day than it imported in September, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That is about twice the amount at the start of the year, and experts and industry insiders say the trend is here to stay.

The United States began exporting gas in late 2008. For decades prior, starting in 1960, the country used all the gas it producedhere plus had to import gas from places in Europe.

But demand for gas has dropped nearly 10% in recent years. It went from a peak of 9.6 million barrels a day in 2007 to 8.8 million barrels today, according to the EIA.”

Read the rest at CNN Money