Mon, 24 Apr 2017 15:29:15 -0400
The annual migration of reindeer across Norway is a spectacle of nature. The majestic animals are currently moving from their southern winter grazing grounds to greener spring pastures.
This year you can watch it happen in real time — all of it.
The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) is following a herd of almost 1,500 reindeer on its Slow TV channel. Tune in and you’ll see reindeer, reindeer, and more reindeer.
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Slow TV got its start a couple years ago with a live broadcast of the eight-hour train ride from Bergen to Oslo. Other shows have featured the knitting of a wool sweater, stitch by stitch; salmon fishing; and firewood being chopped and burned.
Live-streaming the reindeer migration is a more ambitious undertaking. It’s a continuous, weeklong broadcast that makes use of cameras mounted on drones, snowmobiles, and one lucky reindeer's antlers. Special antennae had to be mobilized on mountains along the way to route the broadcast signal from remote northern settings.
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Guatemalan farmer and environmental activist Rodrigo Tot has won the prestigious Goldman prize.
Courtesy of the Goldman Environmental Prize
Fri, 14 Apr 2017 11:11:59 -0400Fredy Flores wears his black cowboy hat slung low over his forehead. His eyes, barely visible beneath the rim, are only open a slit, which may be a reaction to the glaring sun and pulsing heat — but more likely it's because he’s angry. Flores is an artisanal miner in San Sebastian, a remote El Salvadoran town, and a law passed recently has banned his means of survival. “Here there is no other source of work for all our families,” Flores says. “Here there is nothing.” El Salvador become the first country in the world to ban all metal mining in late March. It’s a victory for the majority of the population, which opposed the mining activities. The law came after years of activism from an unusual constellation of actors. Concerned mothers and social groups joined environmentalists, the Catholic Church and even legislators on both sides of the aisle to pass the historic legislation. Fredy Flores, president of UNADEC, as association of the artisanal miners, looks at part of the San Sebastian river. According to a study by the parliamentary committee that promoted a new law against mining, the river has high levels of iron, cyanide and mercury. The artisanal miners contest that the contamination is caused by mining activity, saying the levels are due to a natural concentration of sulphur. Credit: Nadège Mazars/Hans Lucas It's being hailed as a monumental victory for the environment over big business. Multinational companies conducting metal mining have been blamed for poisoning waterways from the Philippines to Guatemala. Small social movements in El Salvador, often led by concerned mothers, used the pollution in other countries to make a case for what might happen in El Salvador if big companies were allowed to operate metal mines. The strategy was successful, and they managed to win a moratorium on metal mining in 2008. Vidalina Morales was one of the activists who led that effort. The diminutive mother of five was alarmed when prospecting began in her municipality of Cabañas, and she joined other mothers to try to stop the mining activities. The moratorium was a good first step, she said, “but there was still always the possibility that transnational companies may be able to come to explore.” Now, with the new law, that option is “closed,” Morales said. Which for her is the right outcome. “Without doubt we’re thrilled because these projects bring more damage than benefits,” Morales says. It’s also the right outcome for legislators on both sides of the aisle. More than 80 percent support an end to metal mining; even the right-wing ARENA party voted overwhelmingly to support the new rules. Just about everyone celebrated the momentous law. Everyone, that is, except Fredy Flores and the 600 artisanal mining families in San Sebastian. Artisanal mining was allowed to continue when the moratorium on big mining was issued in 2008. Artisanal miners are like subsistence farmers. They carve their own mining shafts in the side of the mountain and work for themselves. Rudi Francisco Soza, 52, has been an artisanal miner since he was 19. “I like working here because I don’t have a boss, I work for myself,” he says. “We don’t have anyone ordering us around.” Soza and other artisanal miners spend their days excavating rocks from inside the mountain. It’s a tiny operation staffed by a dozen or so dusty, barefoot men. Soza chisels away at mountain innards and then wheels out a barrow of the rocks. He cracks them open and carefully crumbles each one into tiny pieces, washing them as he goes, looking for a hint of yellow — gold. An artisanal miner gathers stones that he will process to extract gold. Credit: Nadège Mazars/Hans Lucas Much like the early gold panners, there is no guarantee for artisanal miners that they will find the metal they are looking for. Some days they do, “but there are weeks we don’t find anything,” Soza says. When they find gold, artisanal miners sell it for a set pric[...]
Fri, 21 Apr 2017 15:57:00 -0400The March for Science, happening Saturday in Washington, DC, started as a reaction to the Trump administration’s attitudes toward science. But since it was dreamed up in late January, the movement has spread well beyond the Beltway. As of Friday afternoon, organizers say there are more than 600 demonstrations planned, including roughly 200 outside of the United States. Science events — not all of them actual marches — are happening from the North Pole to Cape Town, from Bhutan to Greenland. The international interest floored Kishore Hari, who’s coordinating the so-called satellite marches. “When we started, I expected there might be 50 marches, and I thought they would all be in the US,” Hari says. “Quickly we were proved wrong because there was this flood of requests, especially from communities abroad that wanted to hold science marches for different reasons.” In the US, scientists have long been wary of getting involved with politics. Since the November election, major science groups and high-profile scientists have urged the scientific community to get more involved with public policy. The March for Science is, so far, the biggest public sign of this shift. Organizers call the event “explicitly political” and are pushing for continued investment and promotion of science, and for science to play a greater role in policymaking. But around the world, motivations for the march vary and are tied to local issues. Renee Schroeder, a physicist at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories in Vienna says she’s marching against what she calls “anti-enlightenment” sentiments on the rise along with far-right and populist movements in Europe. “I am concerned, and many people are concerned, that we have to speak up again for science and for rational decision,” Schroeder says. “All of these things we have been fighting for these last 50, 60 years.” In France, organizers hope their events bring together science-minded voters and encourage them to head to the polls on Sunday in the country’s first-round presidential elections. In Malawi, PhD candidate Tumaini Malenga is helping organize a rally at the University of Malawi. She researches health behaviors among low-income people, and she wants the rally to raise awareness about the importance of international funding for Malawian doctors and researchers to help them fight disease. “I’m from a developing country, and we have a multitude of public health problems, and it’s diseases that could be cured very simply,” Malenga says. “And if you remove the funding, that reverses a lot of years of progress that we’ve made.” Nkechi Isaac, a journalist and fellow at the Nigeria Alliance for Science, is one of the organizers of the march in Nigeria’s capital Abuja. The event is being co-organized by the Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology and is largely focused on pushing for acceptance of genetically modified crops. “We need science, especially when it comes to food security,” Isaac says. “We need GMOs, we need biotechnology to be able to feed the nation [and] growing population. That’s essentially why we are marching.” And in Brazil, where the economy is struggling, physicist Tatiana Rappoport says the Rio demonstration she’s helping plan is just one recent public event orchestrated to protest huge cuts in the federal budget for science. “Brazil had a cut in the science and technology budget of almost 50 percent this year,” says Rappoport, a professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. “And we are marching to make the public aware of these cuts and the consequence for the development of the country.” Around the world, the demonstrations vary as much as the messages they hope to promote. The Rio protest includes a “scissors orchestra,” where participants will gather to “play” scissors as an allusion to budget cuts. The action in Singapore is not a march for science but a brunch for science, and in Accra, Ghana, organizers have a beach clea[...]