Art By Koko The Gorilla & Michael

Bird By Koko, her interpretation of a bluebirdLove By KokoToy Dinosaur By MichaelApply Chase By Michael. A painting of his dog by memory and a tribute to Chase, a game they used to play.
You have to love all the Coco‘s in the world. They are just too irresistible to deny. Today, we were introduced to another Koko, who paints. She along with Michael sell their paintings on the Gorilla Foundation’s website. What you will be surprised to find out is that Koko and Michael are both gorillas.

She and Michael are participants in The Gorilla Language Project, or Project Koko, the “longest continuous inter-species communications project of its kind in the world that studies gorilla intelligence and behaviour.” Koko has shown herself to be the most advanced in language as compared to other non-homosapiens as proven through her ability to sign over 1000 words and understanding of around 2,000 words of spoken English. She also possesses an IQ between 70 to 95 on a human scale, almost at the 100 that it would take to be considered “normal.”

Koko, born in 1971 and Michael, born in 1973, both female and male lowland gorillas were brought in to participate in the study in the effort to learn how to better cater to the species’ physical and psychological needs. Through this, humans will be able to determine how the lives of captive gorillas can be improved and how they can protect free-living gorillas from extinction.

These paintings document and colourfully illustrate Koko and Michael’s daily emotional journey. Something that has been strongly recognized is Koko’s empathy and range of emotions. Through buying the paintings, which range from $100-$350, you support the basic rights of Koko.

Feed Me LIGHT!

It doesn’t sound real, does it? However, the sea slug Elysia chlorotica is like a plant because it can photosynthesize and find energy in light to transform carbon dioxide into sugars.

CBC Radio’s Quirks & Quarks was told by Sidney Pierce of the University of South Florida that “If you shine light on these slugs, they fix carbon dioxide and make oxygen just like a plant.”

Learn something new and interesting everyday! Funny, we can’t help thinking about Dalton McGuinty and his little Windmills.

A Bitter Truth

Avatar is close to surpassing Titanic’s All-time Box Office record position at Number 1 and we can’t help thinking about how closely its message coincides with that of 1992’s Fern Gully. It was interesting that now 18 years later, we are plagued by the same issues of environmental abuse, overconsumption and an utter disregard for the planet and countries we live in.

Perhaps the popularity of Avatar is rooted from its exceptionally detailed 3-D imagery but as we mostly see beautiful landscapes and natural flora and fauna in the film, maybe we can also say that simultaneously, the film’s illustration of the wonderful complexity of nature allows us to realize that Earth’s natural beauty is rarely seen due to the abuse and mistreating of its resources. No one has to be an environmentalist to see the link between consumption and an increasing lack of resources.

Even if there are those who did not like Avatar, there should be an appreciation for the overall message in that on our own planet, the loss of natural beauty and increase of smog and thinning of the Ozone layer among many other environmental problems occur as a direct result of what we do or sometimes what we do not do.

Look up ways you can help. Try not to expend so much energy, carpool when you can, recycle, grow a tree, there are a multitude of ways we can save the Earth or at least try to preserve and protect it.

Canadian Governor General Michaelle Jean’s Haiti Statement

So sad!

Another Way To Make Earth Become Pandora

Informing yourself.

Yesterday, the TCA Winter Press Tour kicked off in Pasadena to promote PBS’ INDEPENDENT LENS documentary “DIRT! The Movie”. The film is meant to raise awareness about the unique world of dirt and its historical contribution to our lives. It also discusses how mistreating it can result in natural disasters. Jamie Lee Curtis takes on the role of narrator headed by filmmaker Bill Benenson, the TreePeople founder and president Andy Lipkis, filmmaker Gene Rosow and series producer Lois Vossen.

Natural disasters are a sad reality of our existence but dirt abuse is one contributing factor of a multitude of problems currently straining Earth’s resources.

It would be nice to create something like this one day but ”Earth Day” should be every day not one day.

If this documentary has piqued your interest, it will air April 10, 2010 on PBS.

Smoke Green

Electric cigarettes have just hit the market and are said to imitate cigarettes in appearance but with decreased health risks. The difference lies in the fact that they contain no ash, tar, or carbon monoxide that smokers are heavily exposed to with tobacco cigarettes but use Greensmoke where nicotine is vapourized into steam by an atomizer allowing the user to inhale a vapour that looks and feels just like smoke, also leaving no smell.

Green Smoke works by way of a 2 part technology that contains a lithium-ion battery, a microchip controller and a red LED light that ”lights up” when the e-cigarette is smoked. Its filter is unscrewable and also said to have an authentic feel.

Authenticity seems to be their selling point and noting the benefits, we think its innovative and fresh and most importantly green!

”The benefits of this new technology enable smokers to still receive the nicotine in a manner that the smoker is accustomed to, but with descending levels of nicotine, from 16mg all the way down to 0mg”, attests a representative, ”We even offer a variety of flavors including Tobacco, Tobacco Marl, Menthol, Chocolate, Vanilla, Coffee, Apple and Strawberry. The genius of this new product lies in the fact that smokers can address the hand and oral part of the addiction while lowering their nicotine level, if they so choose.”

Different flavours, good for loved ones and the environment, oral fixation.

We don’t think they missed anything! Hope it isn’t a gimmick

Lindsay Lohan?!?!

Unfortunately not.

It’s actually former girlfriend of DJ AM, model Jessica Stam with Chloë Sevigny attending Women’s Health Down To Earth Party last May.

We need to organize a Green/Women’s Health party one day

Erin Brockovich Still Doing Good In The World

Perhaps Julia Roberts presented us with a snapshot of Erin Brockovich‘s life in the film Erin Brockovich where we empathized with the single mother who struggled to support her 3 children and fought the ethical good fight against a corporation whose waste management skills caused illnesses and death to the surrounding populous.

But where is the woman who inspired the film?

From what the film showed us, we perceived a woman who was not taken seriously because of the way she dressed but who had much more to her than what she wore. What she appeared to have lacked in certain areas in her life [in the film], she made up for in integrity, courage and heart.  She has more than proved this in real life with the continuing efforts she makes in the work she continues to do today, something we are very happy to report.

As President of the consulting firm, Brockovich Research & Consulting, she is still involved in numerous major environmental cases and still concerned with the welfare of others.


Titanic 2: Avatar Edition Almost At A Billion

It has only been two weeks since the release of James Cameron’s secondary cinematic contribution and at $745 million (£460 million) it is close to breaking the 1 billion dollar mark following along the same path as Cameron’s first film Titanic, which made $1.8 billion. WOW! We believe it as we had the opportunity to see this film in 3-D, which we recommend all to do.

At the moment, the current top 5 films of all-time are:

1 Titanic (1997) $1.84bn

2 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) $1.13bn

3 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006) $1.06bn

4 The Dark Knight (2008) $1bn

5 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001) $969m

With Avatar however, we think that though the amazing graphics and digital cinematography exceeds probably even its own expectations, there were a few minor problems such as gun-toting war scenes that were extended a bit too long for our taste and the non-development of characters such as that of Michelle Rodrigues and others.

However, if you have been living under a rock don’t know about the movie yet, the story takes place on the planet Pandora (Box lol foreshadowing much?) populated with blue-skinned natives called the Na’vi. Humans called the Americans Sky people have destroyed their home planet of Earth and have now invaded Pandora with the intention of stealing the planet’s precious and expensive element Un-obtainium L O L.  It is Fern Gully meets Pocahontas meets GI Jane meets..other interesting films. And even though the alleged “political” and “religious” undertones in the film have previously been discussed, there were a few interesting ones we thought were…interesting.

Firstly, the Sky People versus the alien Na’vi seem to make reference to Americans versus Indigenous people. It is argued that the Marines in the film are actually ex-Marines employed by a private company and therefore, not los Americanos though at first glace, it would appear to imitate an American militant attitude.

Movieguide reviews critiqued the film as having a “New Age, pagan, anti-capitalist worldview that promotes goddess worship and the destruction of the human race” but it appears the owner of the site is a “hardcore rightwing christian fundamentalist” who “takes offence to everything”. We wouldn’t say that a pagan attitude or goddess worship towards life is a bad one. Nor do we think that Jesus would have ever excluded anyone demeaning their way of life. Personally, we perceived the film as a commentary on how we should take care of Earth in lieu of abusing it. And SERIOUSLY taking care of the Earth instead of treating it like a trashcan is not a bad message to send. It is valid.

Others allude the film to being a negative commentary on 9/11. Again, watch the film you’ll see what we’re talking about and it is rather silly.

Finally, the author of calls us to look at fiction as fiction. However, in Canadian newspaper’s the Globe and Mail’s interview with the director James Cameron did mark his intent to send a message, “The idea that governments and corporations were utterly corrupt, evil … systemically wrecking the planet through wars and environmental carnage was pretty much the mainstay of my thought process as a teenager. So you see I haven’t moved much”

It’s not just for the beautiful green world we see partially destroyed though that Cameron made the film, it was also made to bring a sense of wonder back to the theatre. “Watching a movie on an I-phone is not watching a movie”.

The film is unequivocally interesting but long. It is worth not only seeing the one time but maybe a couple more. There are so many details in the cinematography that the passion Cameron had for the concept of this film shines its’ luminous light through painting an idyllic intricate world with the kind of exquisite, animated ecosystem we could only dream of having.

The symmetry the flora and fauna have with living beings is awe-inspiring and breathtaking. Luckily for us, Cameron is planning an Avatar trilogy.

So in taking the film’s green message to heart, take care of the Earth. Grow a plant, shut off the lights, recycle, reduce, reuse, walk …somewhere but go see the film! but carpool!

Image Courtesy of IGN and 20th Century Fox

Yves Rocher Has Died

The beauty product industrialist Yves Rocher died in Paris this December 26th at age 79.

It was initially through small advertisements about a hemorroid ointment that the public caught wind of his now famed cosmetics brand. One of most defining aspects of his cosmetics products, founded in 1959, was the fact that he used “beauty from plants” avoiding the use synthetic products and preferring to sell to clients through correspondence.

“Green Book of Beauty” launched in 1965, translated today in more than 20 languages, opened its’ first store in 1969. After having left the reigns of his enterprise to his son Didier in 1992, he found himself having to take them back in January 1995 following Didier’s accidental death.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy paid tribute to Yves Rocher in a press release for “this large industrial Frenchman, inventor of a vegetable-based cosmetics line and pioneer of sales by mail order”.

Today, the Yves Rocher group is present in about thirty countries at a worth of 2 billion euros with more than 15 000 employees.

The cosmetics legend’s cause of death is unknown.

Supermodels Taking IT off for Climate Change

We think the title says it all

However, doesnt this look like it PROMOTES climate change? Just saying

Dust storms spread deadly diseases worldwide

As reported last week, Sydney suffered from red skies and dust filled air decreasing visibility and making millions choke from the pollution.
“Dust storms like the one that plagued Sydney are blowing bacteria to all corners of the globe, with viruses that will attack the human body. It is also said that these scourges can also help mitigate climate change

A dust storm blankets Sydney’s iconic Opera House at sunrise.
Huge dust storms, like the ones that blanketed Sydney twice last week, hit Queensland yesterday and turned the air red across much of eastern Australia, are spreading lethal epidemics around the world. However, they can also absorb climate change emissions, say researchers studying the little understood but growing phenomenon.

The Sydney storm was a consequence of the 10-year drought that has turned parts of Australia’s interior into a giant dust bowl, providing perfect conditions for high winds to whip loose soil into the air and carry it thousands of miles across the continent.

It followed major dust storms this year in northern China, Iraq and Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, east Africa, Arizona and other arid areas. Most of the storms are also linked to droughts, but are believed to have been exacerbated by deforestation, overgrazing of pastures and climate change.

As diplomats prepare to meet in Bangkok tomorrow for the next round of climate talks, meteorologists predict that more major dust storms can be expected, carrying minute particles of beneficial soil and nutrients as well as potentially harmful bacteria, viruses and fungal spores.

“The numbers of major dust storms go up and down over the years,” said Andrew Goudie, geography professor at Oxford University. “In Australia and China they tailed off from the 1970s then spiked in the 1990s and at the start of this decade. At the moment they are clearly on an upward trajectory.”

Laurence Barrie is chief researcher at the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) in Geneva, which is working with 40 countries to develop a dust storm warning system. He said: “I think the droughts [and dust storms] in Australia are a harbinger. Dust storms are a natural phenomenon, but are influenced by human activities and are now just as serious as traffic and industrial air pollution. The minute particles act like urban smog or acid rain. They can penetrate deep into the human body.”

Saharan storms are thought to be responsible for spreading lethal meningitis spores throughout semi-arid central Africa, where up to 250,000 people, particularly children, contract the disease each year and 25,000 die. “There is evidence that the dust can mobilise meningitis in the bloodstream,” said Barrie.

Higher temperatures and more intense storms are also linked to “valley fever”, a disease contracted from a fungus in the soil of the central valley of California. The American Academy of Microbiology estimates that about 200,000 Americans go down with valley fever each year, 200 of whom die. The number of cases in Arizona and California almost quadrupled in the decade to 2006.

Scientists who had thought diseases were mostly transmitted by people or animals now see dust clouds as possible transmitters of influenza, Sars and foot-and-mouth, and increasingly responsible for respiratory diseases. A rise in the number of cases of asthma in children on Caribbean islands has been linked to an increase in the dust blown across the Atlantic from Africa. The asthma rate in Barbados is 17 times greater than it was in 1973, when a major African drought began, according to one major study. Researchers have also documented more hospital admissions when the dust storms are at their worst.

“We are just beginning to accumulate the evidence of airborne dust implications on health,” said William Sprigg, a climate expert at Arizona University.

The scale and range of some recent dust storms has surprised scientists. Japanese academics reported in July that a giant dust storm in China’s Taklimakan desert in 2007 picked up nearly 800,000 tonnes of dust which winds carried twice around the world.

Dust from the Gobi and Taklimakan deserts is often present over the western United States in the spring and can lead to disastrous air quality in Korean, Japanese and Russian cities. It frequently contributes to the smogs over Los Angeles. Britain and northern Europe are not immune from dust storms. Dust blown from the Sahara is commonly found in Spain, Italy and Greece and the WMO says that storms deposit Saharan dust north of the Alps about once a month. Last year Britain’s Meteorological Office reported it in south Wales.

Some scientists sought to attribute the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak to a giant storm in north Africa that carried dust and possibly spores of the animal disease as far as northern Britain only a week before the first reported cases.

The scale and spread of the dust storms has also surprised researchers. Satellite photographs have shown some of the clouds coming out of Africa to be as big as the whole land mass of the US, with a major storm able to whip more than a million tonnes of soil into the atmosphere. Sydney was covered by an estimated 5,000 tonnes of dust last week, but the WMO says Beijing was enveloped by more than 300,000 tonnes in one storm in 2006.

“The 2-3 billion tonnes of fine soil particles that leave Africa each year in dust storms are slowly draining the continent of its fertility and biological productivity,” said Lester Brown, director of the Earth Policy Institute research group in Washington DC. “Those big storms take millions of tonnes of soil, which takes centuries to replace.”

Brown and Chinese scientists say the increased number of major dust storms in China is directly linked to deforestation and the massive increase in numbers of sheep and goats since the 1980s, when restrictions on herders were removed. “Goats will strip vegetation,” said Brown. “They ate everything and dust storms are now routine. If climate change leads to a reduction in rainfall, then the two trends reinforce themselves.” China is planting tens of millions of trees to act as a barrier to the advancing desert.

However, research increasingly suggests that the dust could be mitigating climate change, both by reflecting sunlight in the atmosphere and fertilising the oceans with nutrients. Iron-rich dust blown from Australia and from the Gobi and Sahara deserts is largely deposited in oceans, where it has been observed to feed phytoplankton, the microscopic marine plants that are the first link in the oceanic food chain and absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide. In addition, the upper layers of the rainforest in Brazil are thought to derive much of their nutrient supply from dust transported across the Atlantic from the Sahara.

Just as scientists struggle to understand how dust is affecting climate, evidence is growing that another airborne pollutant, soot, is potentially disastrous. Minute particles of carbon produced by diesel engines, forest fires and the inefficient burning of wood in stoves is being carried just like dust to the remotest regions of the world.

A study by the United Nations Environment Programme has just concluded that the pollutant has played a major part in shrinking the Himalayan glaciers and has helped to disrupt the south Asian monsoon.

“Soot accounts from 10% to more than 45% of the contribution to global warming,” said Achim Steiner, director of the UN’s environment programme. “It is linked to accelerated losses of glaciers in Asia because soot deposits darken ice, making it more vulnerable to melting.”

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