Pandodyssey™ Panda Blog

This is a blog devoted to Giant Panda enthusiasts, environmental wanna-bes and peace loving funimals, world-wide.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

hear ye hear ye!

Pandodyssey will be taking a 30-day hiatus, starting November 1 while several things attempt to happen:

1. I pursue a large-scale writing project, fail miserably, and consequently spend the rest of the month poutily consoling myself by refusing to write anything at all;

2. the VA mid-term ("mid-tacular!") election occurs and then enrages, and then I will be busy packing to move to a smarter state and/or commonwealth;

3. Knit a scarf for the homeless. Stop laughing! Remarkably, this is the least likely of the three to get accomplished in the month of November. I hope it's a warm month.

See you December 1, hopefully. If you want, you can watch "Tai Shan; A Pandodyssey" on YouTube now!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

King of all Conservationists

So it's just a Budweiser's poll. But it's in partnership with the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation. The winner of Budweiser's 2006 "Conservationist of the Year" receives a $50,000 grant.

There are four entrants, but only one of concern to this pandologist: Ray Scott, founder of B.A.S.S., the world's largest fishing organization at 600,000 members. Ray is founder and champion of the "catch and release" philosophy - prior to him, largemouth routinely died prior to weigh in at professional tournaments. Thanks to Ray Scott's conservation efforts, the sport of professional bass fishing evolved from a backwoods redneck sport into the conservationally conscious and responsible recreation it is today. He implemented strict policies and penalizations from the tournament level down, thereby protecting the very resource that anglers were destroying for mere sport. Through this effort, Scott also changed the image of the bass angler, transforming it into a sport for all ages and genders. Sport fishing and especially bass fisherman owe a huge debt to Ray, for the sport would not have survived today were it not for him.

To vote for Ray Scott as Conservationist of the Year, click here.

To read more about Ray Scott and B.A.S.S., click here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Maxed out

Humans living far beyond planet's means: WWF

BEIJING (Reuters) - Humans are stripping nature at an unprecedented rate and will need two planets' worth of natural resources every year by 2050 on current trends, the WWF conservation group said on Tuesday.

Populations of many species, from fish to mammals, had fallen by about a third from 1970 to 2003 largely because of human threats such as pollution, clearing of forests and overfishing, the group also said in a two-yearly report.

"For more than 20 years we have exceeded the earth's ability to support a consumptive lifestyle that is unsustainable and we cannot afford to continue down this path," WWF Director-General James Leape said, launching the WWF's 2006 Living Planet Report....

Insert hackneyed Mastercard joke here ---> .

This is exactly why we need environmental enforcement by the federal government and not simply rules and regulations of the self-monitoring type. Normally I'm a laissez-faire kinda panda (or perhaps simply just lay-zee) but I have come to the sad realization that when we humans think nobody's watching, we do bad things. I once thought that if we all recognized the same problem we'd be good at self-governance but I'm no longer quite so naive.

Unless some biotech firm out there is working on cloning the whole Earth, in which case I'll take two.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

the best laid plans of mice and men...

... often go awry.

In this case, one local man's dream of being the Guiness World Record holder for most t-shirts worn at one time - at least in the 2007 edition - was shattered. According to this video, Matt McAlister of CA broke the previous and short-lived world record of 121 t-shirts, with an astounding 155 t-shirts on September 15.

Sorry local guy - just goes to show you that for every man with a stroke of (bored) genius, there is a man who will steal his limelight and glory.

he's no creep, nor a loser

Radiohead's Thom Yorke recently spoke to the guardian against the recent slew of environmental incentives linked with musicians on tour-- not because he's against the environment (he isn't) but because he's not sure how much good these incentives actually do to offset the environmental damage created by these tours.

"He said: "The way that tours are structured now and the way it works is a ridiculous consumption of energy ... I would consider refusing to tour on environmental grounds, if nothing started happening to change the way the touring operates."

Unlike bands such as the Rolling Stones and Coldplay, Radiohead do not offset the carbon emissions caused by their tours, because they are not convinced of the environmental benefits of such schemes, which claim to make activities carbon-neutral by planting trees or investing in renewable energy projects.

Speaking to the Guardian yesterday as part of a climate change campaign by Friends of the Earth, Yorke said: "I think it's a necessary part of what I do, to tour or play live, but I find it unacceptable, what the consequences of that are.

"Some of our best ever shows have been in the US, but there's 80,000 people there and they've all been sitting in traffic jams for five or six hours with their engines running to get there, which is bollocks."

"bollocks" teehee.

Yorke makes an excellent point: in addition to offsetting the damage we create, we all also have a duty to fully explore any way we can prevent the damage from occurring in the first place. Sometimes we get all caught up in the media drama and fad culture of what's hot and now in environmental circles that we forget why we're here in the first place. Yorke voices what a lot of us feel -- while offsets are a vital and necessary part of incentivizing the world to start thinking environmentally, let's not forget that offsets are only a band-aid, and not a solution in and of itself.

PSA: Radiohead and/or reggae fans, if you've never heard easy star allstar's version of "Ok, Computer" you should.

Friday, October 13, 2006

where are they now? where do they go from here?

In researching a factoid stemming from a conversation (the concept of a "panda tracker" MAY have been briefly entertained until it dawned on me that the pandas we know and love don't need tracking since the zoos generally try to keep them contained. Most of the time.) I came across this cool map, care of our zoologist friends at the national zoo.

There are actually two maps at this page. The first one shows the approximate distribution of panda habitat across China. Many of these areas are now nature reserves and protected by the Chinese government.

The second map is the more interesting one. This animated map shows the approximate area of panda distribution across China prehistorically, historically (within the past 2000 years), and today.

That is one tough real estate market for the pandas over the centuries! Dang!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

better late than never

I knew it forever ago. Now everybody (or at least everybody in Central Pennsylvania) knows. California= right direction. Rest of country = wrong direction. I hate to just post-n-run, but there isn't much I can add to Mr. Bigler's thoughts except "Well said sir."

California, not Bush, has it right on environment
from the Centre Daily Times Opinion column, Tom Bigler

EVERYONE IN this nation owes thanks to the state of California for again attempting to rescue and restore our natural environment.

It was only two years ago when California led the way by enacting legislation that was designed to reduce the amount of tailpipe emissions in the state and resulted in a more economical miles per gallon (mpg) record and fuel consumption. One consequence has been the rising attraction of the hybrid motor vehicle to consumers all across the nation. This combination of an electric battery and the gas-driven motor alone resulted in significant advances in reducing tailpipe emissions and reducing our dependency on foreign oil.

In doing so California ran contrary to the federal leaders in Washington. There the president has been slow to believe that there is such a thing as global warming and loathe to act to protect against its consequences, such as more violent weather storms in this country as well as in others. For one small example, historically a five-inch rainfall was considered a deluge in America. But this summer a storm came upon the north coast of Mexico and dumped 18 inches of rain. Wow.

This year California has reinforced its efforts, in one case raising the mandatory fleet mpg level for all vehicles sold in that state. It also mandated a much greater reduction in tailpipe emissions than those permitted by the federal government. At the same time, California adopted tough new standards reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacturers of electric power. Also the same standards were set for the whole range of enterprises known as the “smokestack industries.”

In doing this, as was the case two years ago, California is running head-on against the administration in Washington. The Bush people have not only refused to toughen the standards for pollution in the air, land and water in their operations, but also reduced the taxes on those industries for merely complying to the existing rules. Worse, even where the existing regulations are maintained on the books, the administration has encouraged watered-down enforcement of anti-pollution efforts.

But, under California’s leadership what the federal government refuses to do, the state governments will do. Notably, five other states have adopted legislation that ties their state operations in this field to those of California. And it is also significant that as a consequence of California’s latest move, it is reported that an increasing number of states -- including Pennsylvania -- are considering following its lead on this issue.

I can remember walking along a stream that emptied into the Clarion River in Pennsylvania in around 1935. I was watching a few of the fish swim down the stream and try to enter the river. Some would just get a brush of the river and try to rush back upstream. Others who successfully entered the river quickly turned over with their bellies facing the surface of the water. They were dead. The reason was because the river was absolutely black, laden with poison. There was not a living thing in its waters. I learned that the black substance came from a tannery a couple of miles upstream. There, when a batch of hides had been converted into leather, the vats were emptied into the river and refilled with fresh chemicals for the next batch.

That blatant abuse of the environment has largely disappeared, thanks to federal laws that previous administrations actually enforced. But during the past five years, the Bush administration has successfully reversed this course.

Of course before we can utterly condemn all industrial operators, think of how many of us throw garbage out of the car window into the roadside or simply over the backyard fence.

Too few of us recognize or appreciate let alone seek to protect and strengthen our natural environment, and yet, it is the natural environment that more than anything else makes life on the planet not only possible but enjoyable.

There is every reason why Pennsylvania should join with all other states in supporting California for its leadership on this issue.

Thanks Mr. Bigler!

Gratuitous (aka FREE) panda cub e-cards are available right now at for taking part in their panda action campaign, going on right now. Get your WWF Action Passport here and support da bears.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Greedy Obfuscating Perverts!!!

I stole the post title from here. hysterical reading, at the expense of those who we don't mind laughing at cuz, really, they ought to know better.

Where It's At

here's what I actually came to post about: the latest and greatest in lean green home eco- machines: I present to you, the Ecopod! (TOOT!) This bad mamba cuts, no SLASHES the amount of space needed to store your recyclables until collection day. You pop your aluminum cans and plastic bottles inside the top of the Ecopod, step on the pedal and listen as your recycables are crrrrrrruuushed! into teeny recyclable wads!

It is true: you "need" an Ecopod about as much as you "need" your shredder. Sure you can live your life without it, but wouldn't it be way more fun to crrrrrrrrruuush! your bottles and cans ("oh just clap yer hands, oh just clap yer hands...")

The Ecopod people have teamed up with several big companies (BMW, Williams-Sonoma) in joint ventures and also with musician-activist Jack Johnson and the Kokua Foundation, providing outreach to school-age kids in Hawaii. Read more about their partnership here. And then go buy an Ecopod. Or at least go shred something and then recycle it.