Ventura County wildfire to be extinguished by weekend

Ventura County, Calif. was engulfed in flames Friday night, but officials told the New York Times the fire will be under control thanks to favorable weather over the weekend.

Photo from www.latimes.com.

Firefighters are sure to extinguish every small ember to avoid an accidental additional fire. Photo from http://www.latimes.com.

While there have been evacuations and about 4,000 homes are still under threat, the fire has been diminished to 18,000 acres from 28,000. No homes have been destroyed, although 15 percent have been damaged. The only injuries reported were from a traffic accident.

Bill Nash, a spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department, said: “Right now we’re getting a coastal influence and humidity is rising, which is good for fire fighting, and temperatures are dropping, which is good for firefighting.”

It will take weeks for every ember to be completely extinguished, and once the blaze is completely out, the firefighters will have to look forward to the rest of the fire season. This fire was the first of the year and it was particularly severe, so they predict the season may be severe this year.

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Rhinos disappear from Mozambique, dwindle in South Africa

Rhinos have completely disappeared from Mozambique. Photo from http://www.treehugger.com.

Rhinos have completely disappeared from Mozambique. Photo from http://www.treehugger.com.

Treehugger.com reported  all of the rhinos that lived in Mozambique are gone due to excessive poaching. The nation had 15 rhinos left and all of them  were all found dead last month, butchered and without their horns, in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a reserve along the country’s southern border.

Just a few decades ago, rhinos roamed around the park in huge numbers. Authorities suspect some of the park rangers may have aided poachers in the park. Thirty rangers have already been arrested and will be in court later this month.

Mozambique is not alone in its struggle to keep rhino populations alive. The animals in South Africa are on the same track to disappear. About 180 have already been killed, leaving just 249 in the wild. More than 100 people have been arrested, but the deaths continue.

Poachers are starting to look in places that have never faced this danger before, something that is bothering authorities. For example, poachers recently killed a rhino for the first time in Swaziland in almost 20 years.

The high demand for rhino horns comes from the Asian Black Market, where rhino parts are valued higher than gold.

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BP to pay high millions for Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Three years after the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in 2010, BP had a lot of angry fingers pointing at them. According to Gov. Bobby Jindal, they agreed to finance $340 million to help restore the Gulf of Mexico.

The BP oil spill in 2010 spread 11,300 miles from the original spill. Photo from www.thedailygreen.com.

The BP oil spill in 2010 spread 11,300 miles from the original spill. Photo from http://www.thedailygreen.com.

Most of the money BP will pay, including the $340 million, will go restoring three barrier islands and establishing fish hatcheries and research centers.

On April 20, the state of Florida filed a lawsuit against BP. Florida will be the “fourth state to seek damages for 2010 disaster,” which also includes Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, according to the New York Times. The lawsuit focuses on how BP workers did not change the batteries on the rig’s blowout preventer. It also faults Halliburton, a cement contractor, for installing cement barriers that were faulty.

Rick Fahr, a writer for TheCabinNet.com, said people might be able to look at the BP spill in a positive light. He discussed in his article the possibility that this incident may have been a sign to move away from fossil fuels and towards “21st century energy sources.”

BP later said in a news release that these projects had been agreed to and accepted months ago, but “federal and state trustees held off the notice.”

The New York Times created an infographic showing how far and fast the oil spread.

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Pedaling for power: Los Angeles ice cream shop goes green

Peddler’s Creamery invites customers to “create” their own ice cream. Photo from http://www.peddlerscreamery.com.

Peddler’s Creamery, an ice cream shop in downtown Los Angeles, is taking “going green” to a whole new level.

Edward Belden united his love for cycling with his love for ice cream to create a biking machine that churns ice cream. It takes just about four minutes of pedaling to make five gallons of ice cream. So far, Belden said he has had no issues keeping his freezer stocked.

Aside from bicycle-powered televisions in a U.K. hotel and bicycle-powered blender for smoothies, this is one of newest bike-themed green technologies.

Peddler’s Creamery worked out of a mobile unit for its first year and in late April, it moved to a storefront outlet in Los Angeles. According to a TheAtlanticCities.com article: “(Belden’s) storefront, which has been built to LEED standards, incorporates a mixing room made out of recycled pallets and a kinetic bike sculpture. Customers can watch ice cream being made and sometimes get a chance to spin the pedals themselves.”

Peddler's Creamery uses organic ingredients along with their green methods of creating the ice cream. Photo from www.peddlerscreamery.com.

Peddler’s Creamery uses organic ingredients along with their green methods of creating the ice cream. Photo from http://www.peddlerscreamery.com.

The ingredients are not only “processed entirely by human power,” but the food is made from organic ingredients.

Belden has received positive feedback from the people in Los Angeles. Many like the idea of bicycle-churned ice cream.

“You can take a little step back from our modern ways,” Belden said. “It shows you what we can do with our own power.”

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Earth day tips for better living

Buying locally grown food can help reduce fossil fuels needed to create big-name products.

Buying locally grown food can help reduce fossil fuels needed to create big-name products.

Americans are becoming more mindful about the choices they make in terms of food choices and lifestyle habits. Cutting down on certain actions or products can help make a huge impact on the environment, especially when done by a large amount of people.

One of the best days to eliminate pollution of many sorts is by living in a walkable transit-oriented community. This doesn’t mean a compact city; there are many small American towns that “support a walkable lifestyle,” according to a TreeHugger.com blog post.

Biking can seriously reduce annual emissions. Photo from TreeHugger.com.

Biking can seriously reduce annual emissions. Photo from TreeHugger.com.

If public transportation is not an option, biking is a second solution. Not only is it faster and free, but it also provides a workout. A second blog post from TreeHugger.com explains how “cycling to work lowered the risk of death by 40 percent.” Annually, a biker how rides about four miles to and from work avoids over 900 kg of CO2 emissions.

Eating local foods can sometimes spark skeptic comments, it also reduces the amount of fossil fuels that go into making big-name products. Eating local foods also means eating seasonal foods because any food that is available that is not in season was usually created using fossil fuels.

TreeHugger.com lists many ways to practice healthy living that positively impacts the environment.

TreeHugger.com lists many ways to practice healthy living that positively impacts the environment.

According to Redondobeach.patch.com, The United States wastes about 55 million tons of food each year. Raising livestock for their meat accounts for 20 percent of the greenhouse gases each year. If Americans all cut one pound of meat a week from their diet, they would “reduce more harmful gas emissions than (a) car produces during a 750-mile roadtrip.”

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US Air Force keeps energy bills flying low

Since 2012, the U.S. Air Force has been cutting back on how much energy they use. Photo from usmilitary.about.com.

Since 2012, the U.S. Air Force has been cutting back on how much energy they use. Photo from usmilitary.about.com.

The largest energy user in the federal government, the U.S. Air Force, is reducing their energy usage. This group alone uses about 1 percent of the nation’s total energy.

Last year, the Air Force spent over $9 billion on energy and 85 percent of that went to aviation fuel, according to an Environmental News Network article.

Through investments and policy initiatives, the Air Force avoided $1.5 billion in energy bills compared to baseline years for its facility.

So far, the Air Force is on track to meet its goals of  “reducing facility energy intensity by 37.5 percent by 2020.” It is also well on its way to meet its goals of “increasing renewable energy use to 25 percent by 2025.”

A separate article in ENN said the Air Force is aiming to move away from foreign oil and to eliminate carbon dioxide output.

The Assistant Air Force Secretary William Anderson said the goal “was to reduce energy demand, look for cleaner power sources and to reuse captured carbon commercially, for instance to enhance the growth of biofuels or improve oil well production.”

Anderson said: “We believe that we have to find an environmentally friendly way to mine coal and to burn coal. We believe the technology is very close, and we believe that an organization with the market size and presence of the United States Air Force can help move technology forward to make coal a much cleaner and greener alternative across the board.”

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Chinese vessel runs into reef, illegal pangolin meat found onboard

On April 8, Chinese vessel F/N Min Long Yu rammed into a reef in the southwestern Philippines called the Tubbataha National Marine Park. The park is 239,700-acre marine sanctuary and a World Heritage Site.

However, the damage to the reef wasn’t the only threat to the environment, according to a NBC article.

On the second day of exploring the vessel, over 22,000 pounds of pangolin, a protected species, was found. A ban on hunting these creatures has been in place since 2002.

Pangolins, along with hundreds of other illegally hunted animals, yield around $19 billion a year worldwide.  Photo from www.wildlifesafari.info.

Pangolins, along with hundreds of other illegally hunted animals, yield around $19 billion a year worldwide. Photo from http://www.wildlifesafari.info.

Lt. Cmdr. Armand Balilo, a coast guard spokesman, said 400 boxes were found, each holding “25 to 30 kilograms of frozen pangolins.”

In total, the vessel could have been carrying 2,000 dead and de-scaled animals, said the World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines. The meat and scales go for hundreds of dollars because many Chinese believe they can cure sicknesses.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature said the demand for pangolins is on the rise and “lax laws are wiping out the toothless anteaters from their forest habitat in Southeast Asia.”

There are four species of pangolins and two are endangered. It is still unknown which species was found on the vessel.

WWF-Philippines Chief Executive Officer Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan said that it was “simply deplorable that they appear to be posing as fishermen to trade in illegal wildlife.”

The 12 crew members are detained on charges of poaching and attempted bribery. The men claimed to have wandered into the illegal waters by accident. They face a $300,000 fine – and that’s just for the poaching charges. For the animal meat, they could be fined and imprisoned for six years. On top of that, it is probable that the men will face charges on reef damage and violating the Philippines’ wildlife law.

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