In taking a break from reading up on the history of whaling, I came across this short documentary on the Chukchi people who live in the village of Lorino, on the Chukotka Peninsula, Russia (see map below).
The Chukchi (pronounced 'Chuck-chee') are an indigenous group that live along the shores of the Bering and Chukchi Seas. They live off whatever they can hunt and collect from the sea, including seabird eggs, and marine mammals. The video follows the people of the small village of Lorino, as they hunt for gray whales, bearded seals, and walruses that travel up the coast. The video is short (<25 min) but gives a neat insight into the way of life of these people.
"Hidden Ocean 2016: The Chukchi Borderlands" - NOAA Ocean Explorer Research Cruise (2 July - 10 August)
On Friday, 1 July, I will flying to Anchorage for a ~ 6-week NOAA Ocean Explorer research cruise on the USCGC Ice Breaker Healy (USCGC Healy’s science mission HLY1601). The title of the cruise is "Hidden Ocean 2016: The Chukchi Borderlands" and you can read all about it here. On board the Healy, I will be working as a marine mammal observer, which basically entails counting and observing marine mammals from the bridge. The marine mammal team will consist of three members: my advisor Dr. Kate Stafford, the newest member of the Laidre Lab, Jenny Stern, and myself.
After we arrive in Anchorage, we will hitch a ride down to Seward where we will board the ship. We will then head west, through Unimak Pass, and then north through the Bering Strait, and to the Chukchi Sea beyond. If you'd like to follow along with the ship's progress, you can see the ship's track here.
Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately?) I will have limited internet access while on board the ship, so I will not be able to live blog the cruise, but will upload my entries once I get back. To view a blog by one of the ship crew members, click here.
"Let us not take this planet for granted" - Leonardo Dicaprio uses Oscar acceptance Speech to urge audience to act on Climate Change
Leonardo DiCaprio's long-awaited Oscar acceptance speech was right on point. He has obviously been planning this speech for a long time, and I can't think of a better film for him to tie his message on climate change to than "The Revenant".
During shooting of the film, the team struggled to find filming locations with enough snow to make the film seem realistic. Here is an excerpt from an interview with Wired magazine that was published in January 2016:
"I heard you had problems with snow.
We had a lot of complications while shooting, because it was the hottest year in recorded history. In Calgary there were all these extreme weather events. One day we were trying to do a scene and it turned out to be 40 below zero, so the gears of the camera didn’t work. Then twice during the movie we had 7 feet of snow melt in a day—all of it, within five hours—and we were stuck with two or three weeks of no snow in a film that’s all snow. So we had to shut down production multiple times. That’s what happens with climate change; the weather is more extreme on both ends.
You even had to wrap early and resume filming when you could find snow again, right?
We had to go to the South Pole!
We had to go to the southern tip of Argentina, to the southernmost town on the planet, to find snow."
You can read the full article here: "The nine lives of Leo DiCaprio" by Robert Capps
Climate change is a real and present danger, and arguably that most important issue our species will face in the coming years. You can view Leo's Oscar speech here (the important part starts at 1:47 if you want to skip ahead...)
Last night, I had the pleasure of attending a talk given by Naomi Oreskes, author of the book "Merchants of Doubt", a nonfiction account of how a small group of people have managed to spread doubt on the science on issues from tobacco, to ozone, to climate change. A few interesting notes that I took away from the talk is that the argument against climate change is not necessarily only an argument over science, although it may appear that way, it is an argument against government regulation. What this stance boils down to is the role of government and the role of the free market.
When the government tried to step in to prevent people from smoking cigarettes, the move was seen as an infraction on personal liberty from "Big Government." The underlying problem with climate change is that it is a market failure - as put in this article "When free markets do no maximize society's welfare, they are said to 'fail' and policy intervention may be needed to correct them." The same was true for tobacco, it was a market failure that required government intervention in order to protect the public's health. Government regulations on advertising, labeling requirements, smoking area restrictions, and other measures have had a positive effect. Smoking rates among adults dropped from 20.9% in 2005 to 16.8% in 2014 (CDC). There's a lot of similarity between tobacco smoke and climate change. For tobacco companies, they do not have to pay for the negative impacts their products have on their consumers. The same goes for oil and gas companies - the cost of emitting greenhouse gases won't be billed to Exxon and Chevron, the impacts will be felt by people living in developing countries, island countries whose coastlines are disappearing, and by future generations.
Since the adverse effects of emissions are 'external' to the free market, it requires an external body, such as the government, to regulate it and give an economic incentive for reducing emissions. This is not to say that the free market cannot play a role in climate change mitigation - we need alternative sources of energy and the free market is the best place for these solutions to be found. The free market can and must come up with viable alternatives to keep our economy pushing forward, and we must stop demonizing the government. After all, our country created our government to be for the people by the people, and its purpose is to protect its people. You cannot say the same about the corporations that are fighting to keep climate skepticism alive. We need to put a price on carbon emissions and create an economic incentive for polluting companies to curb their emissions, and switch to more sustainable forms of energy.
You can learn more about the book "Merchants of Doubt", including the documentary created from it here: http://www.merchantsofdoubt.org/
I've also posted a few clips from the documentary below:
"DDT, Asbestos, Tobacco, Global Warming - what do these things all have in common?"
"Hard pill to swallow"
"Merchants of Doubt" trailer