TENDUA - Association for biodiversity conservation

Newsletter N°7

Dear Members and Friends,

We wish you a delightful Spring 2012! Such a beautiful season full of promises… and why not, beautiful resolutions? The winter frost melts as we ponder.
Let us try to understand what the so-called renewable energies are. Instead of “renewing” them, can we not economize them?
In the chapter of our beautiful resolutions, we can also look over how we eat. The WWF said it: the West always requests choices in our way of eating, why not use this privilege?
On the international front, unfortunately, we have to grieve the death of an Amur leopard. Like the forests, corals are threatened and their extinction will have surprising consequences. In Egypt, a baby dugong was seen; and in Norway, permafrost watches over the world’s seedbank.
Finally, our agenda: do not forget to turn off the light on March 31 for Earth Day; then in April, Anna Jeretic, an artist committed to environmental action and friend of TENDUA, has a show in Paris. And a needed reminder about shark products. To finish, our carnet rose will teach us a little more about the hippopotamus. Happy Reading!

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REPORT

Renewable energies

The Fukujima catastrophe in March 2011 shook up the planet. After this nuclear fiasco, the Japanese had to reexamine their energy consumption. And out of necessity, companies and Japanese households reduced their energy level to almost 40% between March and December 2011. As a consequence, renewable energies play a major role. In France, they are somewhat in the shadow of oil and nuclear power. But what does “renewable”and “clean” mean? Or inexhaustible? Does this really mean something or is it just a question of marketing and communication (once again) ? There are energy sources that seem inexhaustible, on a human scale, but should be in a very, very, very long time. Right or wrong, we do not feel very much concerned…
Provided by the sun (photovoltaic solar energy, and thermal solar), the wind, geothermal energy coming from the earth’s core, waterfalls, tides and streams (hydroelectricity), these energies are qualified as renewable.
Their exploitation generates little waste or polluting emissions. They do not let off CO2 into the atmosphere. They participate in the struggle against greenhouse effects and their exploitation locally fosters jobs. They are inexhaustible flow energies as opposed to “stock energies” taken from fossil fuel wells, which are becoming rarer: oil, coal, brown coal, natural gas


Geothermic installation
Geothermic installation
© M. Dupuis

Biomass and agrofuels
Two main agrofuel industries co-exist right now : oil and its derivatives, such as biodiesel, (or biogazole), which comes from oleaginous seeds, such as colza and sunflower, and the alcohol line (ethanol), which comes from sugars, starch, cellulose and hydrolyzed lignin. They can be used pure like in Brazil (ethanol) or in Germany (biodiesel), or as additives to classical fuels, like in France where ethanol is produced 70% from beets and 30% from cereals (which ones?)
The energy taken from biomass is considered renewable and sustainable as long as the resource is not over exploited, which would threaten soil fertility, and as long as there is not excessive competition in usage (arable lands and water), nor excessive impact on biodiversity. Very nice on paper, but who evaluates this criteria and how?

As for agrofuel, called improperly « biofuels », it is difficult to assure that this energy is « clean ». Certain countries of Latin America or Asia headed this direction a few years ago toward agrofuels and cut down their forests to plant palm trees (oil, them again) used for fuels and speculated on the considerable profits they could make in little time…


Green Electricity – EECS certificates®
For clients who wish to consume sustainable electricity, also called green electricity or clean electricity, that is, produced from renewable energy sources that respect the environment, it is possible to buy this from operators from renewable energy power stations who carry the EECS certificate. This guarantees the origin of this electricity that passes through the network. You will find details about renewable energies on the site Observ’ER, French observatory for renewable energies and organism of the certification of energy from renewable sources, in the framework of the European system EECS (European Energy Certificate System), of which 19 countries are members. For more information:
http://www.energies-renouvelables.o...

But the most important thing of all is to be careful of our daily energy consumption: to think about it and cut down on it when we can, with simple gestures: turn off the lights when we leave the room, pull out the plugs for machines when we don’t use them, optimize our trips…


Eating, both a pleasure and a commitment… for the rich countries

Source WWF – 2012 and le Monde 03/8/12
Although we shouldn’t live to eat, it is still true today that man needs to eat to stay alive. While one billion people go to sleep hungry (75% are peasants) and close to another billion suffer from sicknesses related to excess weight, 30% of food produced in the world is either wasted or lost.
This is one of the points underlined by the report for the right to eat, presented on the 6th of March at United Nations. Contrary to what is commonly heard, it should be possible to feed all the inhabitants of the planet without producing more than we do. And, as the United Nations report recommends, “we should reconsider the dominant model of productivist agriculture, and policies supporting the food industry and farm subsidies”. This would benefit local diversified agriculture, which is only in the hands of those “who believe in it” without much more encouragement than the fruit of their labor and convictions.

Apart from the social inequalities generated from this, our system of production and food consumption has negative impacts on the environment and health, and more generally, on our quality of life.
Would we be capable of reconsideration, if we take into account profits generated by the “superpowerful” food industry lobby? What is at stake is not to produce more but produce better and consume better.
To feed the planet of humans without damaging our environment and health more than we have already. Alternatives do exist. There is a way to allow our needs to be met in due respect to nature and men.
WWF France initiated a campaign with its partners, CFSI, Max Havelaar France, RES and Slow Food to create an internet website: :
: http://goutons-un-monde-meilleur.fr/,an exchange platform and a practical guide to learn how to consume better. Interested in becoming ACTIVE?? http://goutons-un-monde-meilleur....

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Russia : death of an Amur Leopard

At the end of December 2011, rangers in the reserve of the region of Primorye, found the body of an Amur panther.
At the beginning of the Fall in 2011, scientists from the Academy of Sciences in Russia equipped an adult male with a satellite collar, whom they baptized “Uzor” (“Pattern”). The animal weighed 62 kg and was in excellent health, about 5 or 6 years old.


Amur leopard at Parc des Félins, France
Amur leopard at Parc des Félins, France
© M. Dupuis

The photo-traps made several times during the Fall and the beginning of the winter showed shots of Uzor in good shape. This animal was found killed by poachers 4 or 5 weeks earlier. On December 31, 2011, the rangers and scientists who were called there found the remains of a sika deer, approximately 130-150 meters from there, killed and torn to pieces by poachers in the same time period. It was established the male leopard was killed around the 10th or 15th of November 2011, just before the snow settled in.

The poacher shot from above toward the bottom at a distance of 130-150 m. Given the vegetation in that area, he could have mistaken it for a deer, or not have seen its satelitte collar and shooted at it, then he decided to abandon Uzor’s body.


Coral reef and coral bleaching

Coral reefs occupy less than 1% of the earth’s surface. However, they are home to one fourth of marine fish species known today, and thousands of species belonging to other zoological groups such as marine invertebrates, mammals, etc. Indeed, the reef ecosystem, the structure of which is built by corals, is the richest in biodiversity of all ecosystems, along with tropical forests, as well as the most complex and the most productive of the planet.
Corals live primarily in shallow zones, quite close to the sea surface, in salty waters of tropical seas where the temperature is situated between 20 and 32°C and where the transparence of the water allows light to penetrate.
Living in symbiosis
Coral reefs are made up of billions of little animals, polyps, that live in symbiosis with microscopic algae called zooxanthellae. The two species are interdependent, offering each other shelter and nourishment. The zooxanthellae are plants which perform photosynthesis through sunlight, in drawing out the CO2 dissolved in the water and producing oxygen and the indispensable nourishment for the polyps. The polyps in turn protect the zooxanthellae, breathe in oxygen, emit CO2, and provide their hosts with nourishment coming from their own excrements.
Each polyp lives inside a shell of calcium carbonate. The polyps join together to form a complex structure characteristic of corals, while the zooxanthellae determine their color.


Coral nourishing itself , Egypt
Coral nourishing itself , Egypt
© M. Dupuis

The threats
In many parts of the planet, the environmental changes we know today have destructive effects on this ecosystem.
A modification of water temperature (the sea is warming faster than scientists have foreseen), its salt level, changes in the current, a strong storm or yet certain exceptional conditions such as a tsunami “disturb” the coral and create stress. A pH variation in the water, an acidification due to dissolved carbonic gas, a chemical modification of the water, nitrates and phosphates (agriculture) also generate stress.

In these cases, the coral weakens, receives less oxygen, and ends up expelling the zooxanthellae, without which they cannot survive. And this is when the discoloration or bleaching comes in. The zooxanthellae are able to reintegrate the coral but when the stress is too great, the zooxanthellae do not come back and the coral dies, invaded by algae (invasive algae of other species that live on the surface).


Dead coral, Rangiroa, Tuamotu, French Polynesia
Dead coral, Rangiroa, Tuamotu, French Polynesia
© M. Dupuis

The Acanthaster, an invasive starfish which covers the coral with its stomach before ingesting it, is another threat for the corals. This is a real problem, such as in Tahiti.

The first coral bleaching was observed in 1979. Since then, there has been regular talk of this. It is no longer a matter of isolated cases but entire zones of corals that whiten and then die. This phenomenon has been observed a little bit everywhere and notably in the Great Coral Reef.


World Chart of Coral Whitening
World Chart of Coral Whitening
© Internet

Apart from these natural phenomena, human activity is responsible for coral bleaching: of course, agriculture, as we have already mentioned, but also the construction of tourist complexes and the throwing away of the materials in the sea, the used waters having variable concentrations of toxic products. The “all–in-the-sewer” is often transformed into “all-in-the-sea”…

What would be the impact of coral extinction?
Corals reduce the quantity of carbonic gas in the planet’s atmosphere.

The coral skeleton is made of crystals of aragonite, that is, calcium carbonate. Calcium exists in great quantity in water and “carbonate” is nothing more than dissolved carbonic gas. This is proportional to carbonic gas in the air. Corals transform this CO2 into a firm skeleton, thereby taking part in their own way in the purification of the atmosphere.
An acidification of seawater will not only kills corals but the slow dissolving of their calcium skeletons allows the restitution of CO2, which will proportionally pass into the earth’s atmosphere …


Egypt : the dugongs in the Red Sea

A piece of good news! After a few fortunate divers spotted a coupling on the South coast of the Egyptian Red Sea, the birth of a baby dugong was reported, seen last November. To refresh our memory, gestation lasts between 12 and 13 months and the little one, by itself, remains next to its mother for 18 months to 2 years. Let’s hope the little one will grow up calmly within its group.


Norway: treasure chest on an archipelago

Source le Monde 03/7/12
On the island of Spitzberg in the archipelago of Svalbard, between the North of the country and the North pole, a world treasure vault, a warehouse built in the permafrost where hundreds of thousands of specimens from the whole world are kept since 2008. What is this bounty? Seeds of amaranth from the ancient Incas, rare wheat from Pamis, peas and other barley grains and seeds from Costa Rica. Tadjikistan, Armenia, Syria, United States…. 1400 world banks and gene collections can assure the preservation of their own store if they bring it there, at one of the 4 annual openings of the Norwegian treasure chest. And this is not necessarily a luxury: in February, the Philippine seed bank burned; at the end of 2011, the Tai seed banks drowned, and we know the threats surrounding the Vavilov institute; in Irak and Afghanistan, the seed banks were pillaged. There are 741,471 seeds lying dormant in Svalbard at -18°C.

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AGENDA

Saturday March 31 at 8:30 pm : let us all turn off the light to see the world differently !

The Earth Hour movement, one hour for the planet and against climate warming, asks everyone with electricity all over the world, to turn out their lights. Last year, 1.8 billion people turned out their lights for Earth Hour. Ready to beat the record?
http://earthhour.fr/

17-22 April 2012 : Anna Jeretic Art Show

« Nature will overcome » : paintings, sculptures, etchings, installations, texts from her book « The Waterfall : reflections on art at the time of environmental crisis”, in Paris, 27 rue Keller, 75011, metro Bastille. With a lecture on Thursday April 19 from 7 to 9 pm : “Visual Art at the Time of environmental Crisis” and a debate on Sunday April 22 from 4 to 7 pm :
“Earth Day Celebration”

TENDUA and squalene

People have asked us about the fight against cosmetic anti-aging creams using squalene from sharks (cf. our article on http://www.protection-requins.org/a...
Apart from these creams, on internet and in so-called “organic” stores, they sell “dietary supplements” using shark cartilage. This has more to do with placebo effect than scientific reality. Studies have shown that the ingested quantities are totally insufficient to take care of any type of rheumatism. Please tell people around you that the sharks are disappearing from the oceans, and an ecosystem that disappears will not be reconstituted. It will be replaced by an ecosystem where the old weaker links become dominant. More sharks means more fish, so more jellyfish and sea worms will appear…


 Pelagia noctulia in Mediterranean sea
Pelagia noctulia in Mediterranean sea
© M. Dupuis

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PINK NOTE

The hippopotamus is a herbivore mammal, very apt in the water, and capable of staying under for 10 minutes… even more!! It lives on land, generally at night, eating up to 50kg of grass. The baby hippopotamuses are born under water after a gestation of 8 months and weigh between 27 and 50 kg. They have to swim to the surface for their first breath.


 Hippo baby and its mum, Kenya
Hippo baby and its mum, Kenya
© M. Dupuis

The young ones stay often on their mothers’ backs when the water is too deep for them and they immerge to suckle. As an adult, the male doesn’t stop getting bigger and can weigh up to 3 or 4 tons; a female doesn’t get past 1500 kg and stops growing after 25 years.


And the little one will become big like its mother… or even bigger!
And the little one will become big like its mother… or even bigger!
© M. Dupuis

The young ones have to breathe every 2-3 minutes. The process of coming to the surface and breathing is automatic. And even a when a hippopotamus is sleeping it will go up and breathe without waking up. In this case, he closes his nostrils.
Our baby doesn’t have teeth yet, but will grow awesome canines 50 cm long in order to watch over its harem


 The hippopotamus is classed as Vulnerable by the IUCN
The hippopotamus is classed as Vulnerable by the IUCN
© M. Dupuis

Thank you for your attention and see you soon.

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