Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Some Interesting Stuff

The Giri Raja Chicken

Worsening food prices world wide have caused a hardship on everyone particularly the poor, the uneducated, the unemployed and others. India has started a new project for impoverished rural farmers using the Giri Raja chicken – a practically extinct chicken native to India. Giri Raja means “forest king.” The chicken is a particularly hardy breed that requires little care and little in the way of extra food when allowed to forage outside around the farmer’s home and fields.

With this bird, the government is trying to turn the tide against factory-farmed chickens which offers advantages to the poor farmer.

John Callahan of “Compassion in World Farming” is backing this project for its ingenuity and ability to raise the standard of living amongst the poor rural farmers of India. The chickens have a very hardy immune system and do well foraging outside all year round. The farmers don’t need any special or expensive food for these chickens as foraging is natural to them. If they require extra feeding, the farmers can use local, cheaper feed thereby drastically reducing the cost of both eggs and meat.

By raising these chickens, poor farming families can raise their standard of living twofold. First, they have the eggs produced by these chickens to either eat themselves, sell, or a combination of the two. Secondly, by allowing a certain percent of the eggs to be fertilized and develop into chicks, they can subsidize their income by selling some chickens for meat, not to mention the added bonus of chicken for their own meals.

The Indian government is having such great success with this program; they are considering suggesting it to other countries.

Whales Losing Blubber

Scientist in Japan have made a discovery regarding the condition of the earth’s whales. This discovery is a startling one and has impressed upon scientists the need to act now regarding global warming.

The Japanese are using this discovery to defend their controversial whaling program. They claim that the information could only be captured by killing the animals.

The Japanese have been collecting data on the thousands of Minke whales they have slaughtered since the late 1980’s. This data establishes that the animals have lost a significant amount of blubber. Forty-five thousand Minke whales show that the blubber is decreasing at a worrying rate of speed say researchers.

The researchers from the Institute of Cetacean Research located in Tokyo offers the first evidence that global warming could be harming the whale population by restricting food supplies.
Lars Walloe, a Norwegian whale expert at the University of Oslo, who helped the Japanese team analyze the data, and an author of the study, said: "This is a big change in blubber and if it continues it could make it more difficult for the whales to survive. It indicates there have been some big changes in their ecosystem."

Blubber is used by whales for energy and insulation. There is a possibility that this loss of blubber could make reproduction difficult.

The Lungs of the Earth to be Exploited Again

Energy companies have upped their land use for oil and gas explorations in the Western Amazon to around 180 zones. Combined this land covers an area of 688,000 sq. km., almost equivalent to the size of Texas.

Conservationists warn that this will put some of the planet’s most pristine and biodiverse forests at risk. The majority of the planned oil and gas projects are in the most species-rich areas of the Amazon.

Researchers used government information on land that has been leased to state or multinational energy companies over the past four years to create oil and gas exploration maps for western Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Colombia. The maps showed that in Peru and Ecuador, regions designated for oil and gas projects already cover more than two thirds of the Amazon. Of 64 oil and gas regions that cover 72% of the Peruvian Amazon, all but eight were approved since 2003. Major increases in activity are expected in Bolivia and western Brazil.

"We've been following oil and gas development in the Amazon since 2004 and the picture has changed before our eyes," said Matt Finer of Save America's Forests, a US-based environment group. "When you look at where the oil and gas blocks are, they overlap perfectly on top of the peak biodiversity spots, almost as if by design, and this is in one of the most, if not the most, biodiverse place on Earth."

"The real concern is when exploration is successful and a zone moves into the development phase, because that's when the roads, drilling and pipelines come in," said Finer.

However further research has proved that it is not just the plants and animals that are at risk in the Amazon. Many of the planned exploration and extraction projects are planned for land that is home to indigenous peoples. These people may be being consulted; but, they have no say in whether a project goes ahead or not.

At least 58 of the 64 regions in Peru are on land where isolated communities live, with a further 17 infringing areas that have existing or proposed reserves for indigenous groups.

"The way that oil development is being pursued in the western Amazon is a gross violation of the rights of the indigenous peoples of the region," said Brian Keane of Land is Life. "International agreements and inter-American human rights law recognize indigenous peoples have rights to their lands, and explicitly prohibit the granting of concessions to exploit natural resources in their territories without their free, prior and informed consent," he added.

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