Inspiring 2015 Environmental Stories

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It’s been and interesting year filled with exciting stories that will make you smile!

I was thrilled to report that the city of Montreal, Quebec — home to 1.7 million people — banned all bee- and soil-killing neonicotinoid poisons. We need healthy bees because they supply us with almost 40 percent of the food on our dinner plates every night.

Bees pollinate coffee and, according to The Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Nutrition, if you consume up to five cups of coffee per day, it may extend your life span. It’s not just millions of people who find their morning caffeine buzz irresistible, but also honeybees seek a morning buzz from flowers containing nectar laced with caffeine. That caffeine boosts bees’ memories, causing the buzzed forager bees that return to the hive to dance vigorously and communicate to other bees the precise location of the caffeinated flowers. Some plants are using caffeine as a drug to get the upper hand on the bees to pollinate their flowers first.

Honeybees are offering my colleagues in Australia and France a clue to crack the dreadful dementia disease, which is not a normal part of aging. Floral odors act to trigger the part of the bee brain associated with memory, which overrides the chemical response to aggression. The bees are providing researchers with insight into smells associated with memories that drive behavior. Loss of scent is one of the first symptoms of dementia. According to the World Health Organization there are over 47.5 million people afflicted with dementia and 7.7 million cases are added each year.

Mark Oct. 12, 2016 on your calendar because that’s when “The Monsanto Tribunal” begins in The Hague, Netherlands. It’s a crowd-funded group of environmentalists, activists, scientists and lawyers that will evaluate allegations of “ecocide” made against Monsanto causing irreparable damage to the environment and human health. 

Aspen, Colo. became the third U.S. city — next to Burlington, Vt. and Greensburg, Kan. — to walk away from powering itself from climate altering, subsidized fossil fuels. Aspen now sources wind, solar and geothermal energies — they are a ‘green’ community.

This year a critically endangered western North Pacific Gray whale named Varvara registered the longest mammalian migration. She swam from her feeding grounds off Sakhalin Island, Russia to the Sea of Cortez, Baja, California, Mexico and then five-and-a-half months later returned. This 50-foot, nine-year-old, 40-ton whale cruised an astounding 13,987 miles

Deep diving whales like sperms and Cuvier’s beaked possess specialized oxygen binding, ultra stable proteins within their muscles, which are helping doctors develop synthetic blood used for emergency transfusions. Whales hold the key to saving trauma patients.

We owe gratitude to former NBA Houston Rocket Yao Ming. Since 2011, he’s worked ceaselessly with Wild Aid to inform Chinese people of the death and consequences of killing 100 million sharks a year for shark fin soup laced with mercury poisoning. This year was the first time in 20 years that the insatiable demand for shark fins declined. We are missing 90 percent of most shark species that swam the oceans in 1995.

Sea Shepherd’s icefish campaign was a smashing success after 110 days and over 10,000 nautical miles across two seas and three oceans, the longest hot pursuit of a poaching vessel in maritime history, which ended with the captain of the ignoble, unflagged Thunder scuttling her off the coast of West Africa. 

The international group of “hacktivists” known as Anonymous punished Japan and Iceland for mercilessly massacring whales and dolphins and not abiding by the 1986 world moratorium on whaling. Since September over 100 government and commercial websites were forced offline thanks to what is known as “disturbed denial of service.”

We are missing 40 percent of oxygen-bearing oceanic plants called phytoplankton — the base of the entire marine food web — from overheating oceans as a direct consequence of the climate crisis, courtesy of the $5.6 trillion  annually subsidized fossil fuel industry.

Whales and dolphins are central to our survival and helping to heal the sick oceans. The filter-feeding whales are fertilizing the sea with their flocculent fecal plumes (their feces). It’s rich in iron and nitrogen — essential to grow oxygen-bearing phytoplankton, which provides almost three out of every four breaths of air we all breathe. The whales are helping us fight the climate crisis.

Love is the Solution — Happy New Year.

Earth Dr Reese Halter is the author of “The Insatiable Bark Beetle.”

Editor’s note: Minor edits have been made to improve clarity.