Grateful Whale Gives Thanks

Whales appear to be forgiving mammals.

Link: Inspiration Line Special Edition: A Whale Gives Thanks

A humpback whale freed by divers from a tangle of crab trap lines near the Farallon Islands nudged its rescuers and flapped around in what marine experts said was a rare and remarkable encounter. "It felt to me like it was thanking us, knowing that it was free and that we had helped it," James Moskito, one of the rescue divers, said Tuesday. "It stopped about a foot away from me, pushed me around a little bit and had some fun."

At about 8:30 AM on Sunday, 11 December 2005, a crab fisherman working the open waters east of the Farallon Islands, about 18 miles off the coast of San Francisco, spotted a whale that had become entangled in the nylon ropes that link crab pots. The whale was a female humpback, about 45 to 50 feet in length and weighing an estimated 50 tons, who had likely become snared while traversing the humpbacks’ usual migratory route between the Northern California coast and Baja California.

Read the whole story at this link: Whale Saved


via Joanne Starodub

Beautiful Images: Ashes and Snow

The TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Blog presents "Ashes and Snow" photographer Gregory Colbert. His images are amazing.

Link: TED Blog: "Ashes and Snow" photographer Gregory Colbert on TEDTalks

Photographer Gregory Colbert shares an astounding film from his exhibit, Ashes and Snow, and announces his new initiative, the Animal Copyright Foundation, which aims to collect royalties from companies using images of nature in their ad campaigns. For more than a decade, Gregory Colbert has traveled the world and collaborated with 40+ species to create "Ashes and Snow," the ground-breaking exhibition of more than 100 photographs and three films, housed in the Nomadic Museum. His remarkable sepia-toned images explore the relationship between people and animals, glimpsing a world in which humans live in profound harmony with the rest of the animal kingdom. (Recorded February 2006 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 18:42)

Download this talk: Video (MP4)

Ignorance Is Bliss — and Cancerous

The Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper describes how the state of Georgia will spend settlement money from a company that dumped PCBs into a stream for 20 years.

Link: Lake Hartwell: Anglers’ paradise or peril? |

The state [Georgia] plans to spend millions of dollars to make Lake Hartwell more fishing-friendly, but state officials won’t spend another dime telling anglers at the northeast Georgia reservoir that eating their catch could lead to cancer.

Toxic chemicals from a plant that once operated nearby still rest on the bottom of Lake Hartwell. They move up the food chain to the bass and catfish, posing a cancer risk to those who eat them on a regular basis.

Lake Hartwell’s changes will be funded by a $3.7 million settlement the state reached with Schlumberger Technology Corp., owner of the Pickens, S.C., manufacturing plant that for more than 20 years dumped carcinogenic polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, into a stream that flowed into the lake.

The state plans to use the money to build boat ramps and fishing piers to entice even more visitors to Hartwell, already one of the most popular federal lakes in the country. Georgia also is spending other state funds to add more hybrid and striped bass to the lake — fatty-fleshed game fish that absorb and retain the most PCBs.

That might give anglers pause if they knew about it. But the state no longer posts warning signs around Lake Hartwell, although officials in neighboring South Carolina have signs on their side of the water.

The Best Nuclear Power

Bill McDonough, visionary and practical at the same time, comments on nuclear power.

Link: Plenty Magazine – Environmental News and Commentary

From Bill McDonough’s keynote address at Greenbuild, the annual conference of the U.S. Green Building Council, taking place this week in Denver:

Recently I was asked to give a talk about sustainability at the White House to over 40 federal agencies. So I gave my talk and showed these slides, and afterwards I was asked, "Mr. McDonough, what do you think of nuclear power? A lot of environmentalists are now in favor of it because of concerns about global warming." And I said, oh, I like nuclear power. I’m a big fan of fusion. I think we should invest lots of money into nuclear power and consider using it for all our energy needs. And look—we’ve already got the perfect nuclear power plant. It’s 93 million miles away. It’s wireless. The construction costs are zero. Its operable lifetime is infinite. It’s right there. What are we waiting for?

Frank Lacy, Virginia Gentleman

Frank Lacy, a fine human being who was a good samaritan in my home town, recently passed away. I first knew Mr. Lacy as a neighbor who let the neighborhood kids play football in his yard. Later we played basketball in his driveway.

As a teenager I often saw him at the golf course. Not even the tortuous game of golf could anger him or affect his mild manner. He appeared to exist in a remarkably even state of being, neither pulled down by the setbacks in his life nor inflated by his considerable success in business and status in the community. Here’s a link to Virginia State SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 346, celebrating the life of Frank McCormick Lacy.

I last saw him at the Kings Grant Retirement community when I was visiting my father in 2001. Even though he was in his 90’s and hadn’t seen me in 20+ years, he remembered who I was.

The Frank Lacy that I knew did not seek attention or the bright lights of publicity. He was dedicated to doing the right thing quietly, nicely and politely. He was truly a Virginia Gentleman.

Creative Thinking: The Play Pump

I saw a documentary on PBS Frontline about the Play Pump. Trevor Field, a true creative thinker, saw a problem (poor water quality and availability in South African villages) and designed a solution (a pump that taps an aquifer far underground and fills a holding tank above ground) powered by an untapped energy source (kids wanting to play.) Excerpts and video from Frontline below.

Link: FRONTLINE/WORLD . Rough Cut . South Africa: The Play Pump | PBS

Trevor Field, a retired advertising executive, had done well in life and wanted to give back to his community. He noticed that in many rural villages around the eastern Cape, the burden of collecting water fell mainly to the women and girls of the household. Each morning, he’d see them set off to the nearest borehole to collect water. They used leaky and often contaminated hand-pumps to collect the water, then they carried it back through the bush in buckets weighing 40 pounds. It was exhausting and time-consuming work.

"The amount of time these women are burning up collecting water, they could be at home looking after their kids, teaching their kids, being loving mothers." He knew there had to be a better solution.

Field then teamed up with an inventor and came up with the "play pump" — a children’s merry-go-round that pumps clean, safe drinking water from a deep borehole every time the children start to spin. Soup to nuts, the whole operation takes a few hours to install and costs around $7,000. Field’s idea proved so inventive, so cost-efficient and so much fun for the kids that World Bank recognized it as one of the best new grassroots ideas.

In true ad-man style, Field’s next idea was to use the play pump’s water towers as makeshift billboards, selling ad space to help pay for the upkeep. He reserves a spot for the national loveLife campaign, which helps educate children about HIV and AIDS. "We’ve got to get the message through to them before they become sexually active," he says. "It seems to be working."

In the film, Costello and producer/photographer Cassandra Herrman drive out to a small village where the taps have been dry for a week. There, a crew sets to work installing a play pump near a children’s play area, boring 40 meters down until they hit the fresh water table below. As soon as the last colorful piece of the puzzle is in place, dozens of children show up to play — much to Field’s delight — pumping cool, clean water to the surface as they spin.

The indefatigable entrepreneur wants to build thousands of these pumps to help water-stressed communities across South Africa, then expand to other African countries. He says, "It would make a major difference to the children, and that’s where our passion lies."

Watch the Frontline Play Pump video