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in the news Countdown to World Decision on Polar Bears Thumbs-Down for Sea Blasts The California Coastal Commission has voted down a proposal by Pacific Gas & Electric to blast air cannons in the ocean to help determine earthquake risk near its Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, which was built in a fault zone. The acoustic pulses would have occurred every 12 to 20 seconds, day and night, for almost two weeks in the first year alone, at 230 to 250 decibels at the source. How loud is that? Imagine a jet taking off in your living room and multiply that by 100,000. The resulting blasts would have threatened the entire pop­ulation of Morro Bay harbor porpoises and harmed endangered blue, fin and humpback whales. NRDC experts argued to the commission that key questions about the plant’s earthquake safety could be addressed in other ways that didn’t involve an assault on ocean life. Whales Get More Protection The Mexican government has granted unprecedented protection to 199,040 acres of federal land surrounding Baja’s Laguna San Ignacio, the last untouched birthing ground for California gray whales. Since 2000, when we stopped Mitsubishi from building a massive saltworks on the shores of the lagoon, NRDC and our partners have fought to permanently protect its 800-mile-long coastline from industrial development. To date, we have safeguarded nearly 500,000 acres of land and promoted sustainable economic development in local communities. Hundreds of bears are killed each year for global trade. O ur all-out campaign to stop the global trafficking of polar bear hides and other body parts got a huge boost recently when the Obama Admini­stration announced its support of a ban on the practice. The move came after the White House felt mounting public pressure, including more than 100,000 messages from NRDC Members and online activists. “Winning official U.S. support is a crucial step toward ending the hunting of polar bears for profit,” says Andrew Wetzler, codirector of NRDC’s Land and Wildlife Program. Wetzler and his team have been working for months to line up international support for a proposal that would outlaw the buying and selling of polar bear parts on the global market under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Canada is the only country in the world that still allows polar bears to be hunted for sport and inter­national sale, even as wildlife experts warn that the Canadian Arctic likely provides the best remaining habitat for the species to survive in the face of global warming. Canada continues to kill its polar bears at an unsustain­able rate, satisfying the global demand Russia has joined the United States in backing the trade ban, This Valentine’s Day, show your loved ones for the next full meeting of CITES member nations. “Now we’re focused on getting the European Union on board,” how much you care says Wetzler. “The number of polar bear skins sold at auction by sending a special has more than tripled since 2007. We can’t afford to wait gift from NRDC’s three more years until CITES meets again.” Green Gifts Collection. 2 and a delegation from NRDC will travel to Thailand in March Tell the EU to support the ban. Go to: Whale tail © Jim Peckarsky; polar bear skins © Paul Shoul for the bears’ skin, teeth and claws.

Nature's Voice Winter 2013

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