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Posts Tagged ‘Ecology’


For those of you are not familiar with the Isthmus of Panama in Central America, let me explain that Canajagua is the name of a hill in the Province of Los Santos located roughly in the middle of the country.  This area is known by meteorologists as the dry zone of Panama with scarce precipitation during the year.  In Spanish, this geographical zone in the Azuero Peninsula is known as the “arco seco”—the dry arc.

Canajagua Hill is located in the Province of Los Santos, the cradle of Panamanian folklore. Its maximum height is 830 meters (2,723 feet) which is why it’s known as the “Sentinel of Azuero”. From this high mound you can clearly see the Azuero coastline, from Isla Cañas, Iguana Island, the Rock of La Honda, to the blue waters of the Gulf of Parita.

In the mid-60′s, local authorities built a road to the top of the hill, which was opened to businessmen to promote agricultural projects.  The results were highly detrimental to the area, since large forests were destroyed due to excessive logging.  About 60 percent of the area around Cerro Canajagua was deforested and the land converted to grasslands which have since been used for cattle fincas.

However, local environmentalists and government authorities are currently spreading the word of ecological awareness in an effort to gradually reduce the cattle ranches on the slopes of the hill.  It is expected that  the area will again be covered by forests.   At its peak, you can also find about seventy radio and television antennas, given its strategic position.

Below is a photograph of a restaurant found at Casco Viejo which bears the name “Goodies of Canajagua Restaurant”. I thought it was a good idea to explain the meaning of Canajagua and why it is important to restore its surrounding forests.  We have to take care of our fragile planet.  I’m sure you will agree with me on this issue.

Photograph of a worker's restaurant at Casco Viejo which serves typical Panamanian dishes at very affordable prices. The name Canajagua means a lot to the people of Azuero, specially from the Province of Los Santos. Photo ©Omar Upegui R.

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The Exxon Valdez caused the greatest oil spill in U.S. history and one of the largest world ecological disasters.

On March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez, en route from Valdez, Alaska to Los Angeles, California, ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

The vessel was traveling outside normal shipping lanes in an attempt to avoid ice. Within six hours of the accident, the Exxon Valdez spilled approximately 10.9 million gallons of its 53 million gallon cargo of Prudhoe Bay crude oil. Eight of the eleven tanks on board were damaged. The oil would eventually impact over 1,200 miles of non-continuous coastline in Alaska, making the Exxon Valdez the largest oil spill to date in U.S. waters.

For the record, the oil spill ruined 1,200 miles of Alaskan shoreline and killed hundreds and thousands of animals which were indigenous to the region. This oil spill reflected what many people felt was a severe environmental insult to a relatively pristine, ecologically important area that was home to many species of wildlife endangered elsewhere. Even today, scientists continue to study the affected shorelines to understand how an ecosystem like Prince William Sound responds to, and recovers from, an incident like the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Who was responsible for this calamity? The National Transportation Safety Board investigated the accident and determined five probable causes of the grounding:

  1. The third mate failed to properly maneuver the vessel, possibly due to fatigue and excessive workload.
  2. The master failed to provide a proper navigation watch, possibly due to impairment from alcohol.
  3. Exxon Shipping Company failed to supervise the master and provide a rested and sufficient crew for the Exxon Valdez.
  4. The U.S. Coast Guard failed to provide an effective vessel traffic system.
  5. Effective pilot and escort services were lacking.

In 1994 a jury in Anchorage, Alaska awarded the victims of the incident $5 billion in punitive damages. In 2006, a federal appeals court cut that verdict in half. Following the court ruling, Exxon Mobil Corp. made a series of court appeals and the amount to be paid in damages has since been drastically cut.

On June 25, 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court decided to cut the punitive damages for the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster to $507.5 million. That translates to an average of $15,000 per victim. There are more than 33,000 victims of the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

The Supreme Court’s decision to reduce an amount equivalent to about four days worth of Exxon Mobil’s last quarter profits was hailed by the business community and decried by environmentalists and Alaskans. First-quarter profits at Exxon Mobil were $10.9 billion. The company’s 2007 profit was $40.7 billion.

“This turns America’s resources to the oil industry and only the U.S. Congress can do something about it,” said Jim Ayers, vice president of the advocacy group Oceana. “If the Congress doesn’t act, this means that America’s resources, including our marine life, are now in serious jeopardy and can be bought and destroyed for a mere pittance.”

Exxon Mobil maintained that many studies found the area healthy and thriving, countering findings of continuing damage. The company, which posted a $40.7 billion profit last year, had said punitive damages would be excessive punishment on top of the $3.4 billion in cleanup costs, compensatory payments and fines it already has paid.

Now, it turns out that $2.5 billion is too much for a company which made a profit of $40.7 billion in 2007 alone! Is it really so “unconstitutional” to ask Exxon Mobile to pay punitive damages which equates to a measly 6.1 percent of their annual profit? Is it cruel and unusual punishment to ask them to pay adequate punitive damages for a major accident which was their own fault? (Please look back at the probable causes of the accident.)

It’s really sad to witness how powerful oil conglomerates destroy the environment in many parts of the world to satisfy their insatiable greed and get away with murder.

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Today is Earth’s Day; therefore the Flock Team decided to join the green movement. Yesterday they announced Flock Eco-Edition 1.1.3, which is loaded with green information, media and opinion.

Flock’s My World collects a fresh daily dose of news, interviews, and media flowing in from a variety of top eco-minded content and opinion leaders.

You will be the first to know and easily share your discoveries with friends. Flock’s People sidebar loads your friends from Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and other social sites.

Flock has partnered with leading respected content and opinion leaders from around the web to bring you the latest breaking news on environmental issues. Here’s just a sampling of the sites that are preloaded into the Flock Eco-Edition browser.

  • Treehugger
  • National Geographic
  • Green Yahoo!
  • Planetgreen
  • Environmental News Network (ENN)

This eco-edition delivers the best environmentally conscious “green” content and media available from around the web in a tightly organized format, all available from a single download. Once the browser installs, it updates with fresh eco-content daily in the form of news feeds, media streams, and favorite sites, delivering an experience that is dynamic, connected and always fresh.

Flock devs included an extensive offering of content topics, and fully expect people to prune and further refine the experience to better serve their own preferences once they’ve gotten acquainted with Flock.

If the green movement is your cup of tea, please click here to download Flock 1.1.3. Happy Earth’s Day!

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