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Good Needs Better Distribution: We Already Have the Tools We Need to Solve Climate Change



“Despite all of the doom and gloom that surrounds climate change today, there has never been greater cause for optimism about the future of the environment. The reason why is that we already have the tools we need to meet this formidable challenge. But some tools are better than others, and if we get distracted by the wrong ones we could lose trillions while failing to solve the problem, so it is crucial that we stay focused and use the right tools for the job.”

Climate change represents a genuine existential threat to our civilization that is rivaled in magnitude only by global pandemics, nuclear war, or an astronomical event like an asteroid strike. Nevertheless, the end is not nigh. Climate change is a problem we can solve. And contrary to whatever else you might have heard, we can do so without torpedoing the global economy and dialing the clock back on modern civilization to the 1800s. Indeed, the only way we can solve climate change is with prosperity.

In a recent TEDx Talk that I presented in Glasgow ahead of COP26, I shared a story about my 8-year-old daughter, Misora. She has learned about climate change in the environment and sustainability curriculum in her school, and she understands it is a crisis that humanity now faces. Not long ago, she asked me, “Daddy, why do we have climate change?”

She wasn’t asking why greenhouse gases change the radiation balance of the atmosphere, or why a rise in mean global temperature increases the incidence of severe weather events. What she was really asking was, “what did we do to deserve this terrible thing that is happening to us?”

I told her, “it’s because some of the tools we use to make life nice for people hurt the Earth.” She frowned and thought about this for a moment. And then she asked, “Daddy, why don’t we just use better tools?”

I have spent the last ten years trying to do what my daughter did effortlessly in ten seconds: cut through all the noise to the very heart of the climate change challenge. I am still reeling at how profound her insight was.

The solution to climate change is better tools.


Laying down our tools is not the answer

OK, so what are tools? They are simply the practical knowledge we use to achieve goals and solve problems. We see the world is one way, we wish it were another, and so we transform it using our know-how. We have used our knowledge to solve countless problems, great and small, throughout history. The most pressing problems of our ancestors – where to find shelter, food, water, warmth, light – are now trivial to us. And future generations will of course look back on our problems the same way.

The key to my daughter’s insight is the word better. The solution is not no tools, not less tools, not different tools. It is not a return to traditional tools, nor is it more judicious use of today’s imperfect tools. The solution is better tools.

In principle, it should come as no surprise that the solution to any problem is more and better knowledge, not ignorance. But in the case of climate change, a strange inversion of reason has gained sway, and many people have come to believe that the best way to reduce our emissions is to use tools less or stop using them altogether. Even worse, many have come to believe that tools themselves are inherently bad. At first, this might seem silly – who in their right mind would demonize knowledge and tools? Yet, swap the term tools for technology, and it becomes instantly clear that this is no exaggeration.

Part of the explanation for widespread antipathy towards technology is simply cynicism. Clean tech has long been promised, and its failure to emerge as quickly as one would hope has jaded many observers. Safe nuclear power never became “too cheap to meter”, and nuclear fusion has been “20 years away” for over 70 years. Even affordable solar panels have been a long time in coming.

Another is that new technologies can create new problems that we must tackle in turn. The Internet, for example, disrupted information and communication in countless ways, and transformed civilization and the global economy so drastically that it is now difficult to imagine a world without it. But alongside the astounding social and economic benefits the Internet has delivered, new problems have emerged as well – from cybercrime and misinformation campaigns to cyber-bullying and political polarization.

There is no going back

But perhaps the most pernicious source of antipathy towards technology is a misguided romanticism about the past and the primitive. It may come as a surprise, for example, that automobiles were originally celebrated as a solution to urban environmental problems – namely, that the streets of densely populated cities like New York and London were often covered in several feet of horse manure which posed a grave threat to public health and killed hundreds of thousands worldwide each year in the absence of modern sanitation technology. If we tried to use horses to move the quantity of people and goods we routinely transport with vehicles today, the entire surface of the Earth would look like the streets of New York in 1894 – a noxious hellscape of knee-deep manure and corpses.

Manure on the Streets of New York City. Image source unknown, circa 1894.


Life wasn’t nearly so rosy in the past as nostalgia might tempt us to believe. Before the chlorination of water supplies, for example, waterborne diseases from natural sources of freshwater such as wells and rivers killed countless millions – mostly infants and children under 5 – and even today still cause over 2 million deaths each year. And before gas and electric stoves, the smoke from perfectly natural wood and biomass-fueled cookfires inside homes caused more disease and death than all other sources of air pollution combined – an environmental problem that still kills over 4 million people per year.

In a similar vein, it is all too easy to romanticize the traditional practices of indigenous cultures. There are certainly examples of such practices that are more sustainable than their modern counterparts, but the problem of selective memory applies here too because traditional practices were not always benign. Burning and clear-cutting forests is not a modern invention, nor is hunting species to extinction or allowing livestock to overgraze the landscape resulting in soil erosion and desertification, to take just a few examples.

Ultimately, we do both ourselves and the environment a disservice by indulging the illusion that there is a trouble-free Edenic past to which we might return if only we were willing to make the necessary sacrifices. There is no viable path to sustainability that involves using less knowledge or more primitive technology instead of more knowledge and better technology.

Just consuming less will not solve climate change

Alongside the notion that the past and the primitive are viable guides to sustainability, there is the even more misguided belief that humanity can solve climate change simply by reducing consumption. Now, of course, it goes without saying that we should be less wasteful. But thinking we can solve climate change by “cutting back” or otherwise embracing frugality and austerity is like thinking we can save a burning building by putting out some of the fire. It just won’t work.

Even if we were to extinguish the flames completely by magically cutting consumption to zero, that still wouldn’t solve the problem. You aren’t done saving a burning building when the fire is out, you’re only done once the building is fully repaired. For climate change, that means we must not only reach net-zero emissions, but we must go far below zero and actively withdraw carbon to restore the atmosphere and oceans to their healthy pre-industrial condition as well. Since no amount of belt-tightening will pull even a single gram of carbon out of the atmosphere or oceans, austerity is no real solution at all.

We already have the tools we need

Almost 90% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from just three things: energy, transportation, and food. So, the solution to climate change cannot be less energy, transportation, and food. It can only be clean energy, transportation, and food.

Better tools.

Thankfully, the news here is nothing short of spectacular. Our research at RethinkX has shown that all three of these foundational sectors of the global economy are poised for disruption by eight key technologies.

In energy, the disruptive clean technologies are solar power, wind power, and batteries (SWB). They have passed the tipping point and are now cheaper than fossil fuels in many instances. A decade from now, they will be overwhelmingly competitive almost everywhere – especially throughout much of the global south where solar resources are abundant year-round. Today, SWB is growing exponentially worldwide, following the same s-curve pattern of disruption that technologies of all kinds have followed throughout history. For the incumbents, the end is nigh. The weakest link in the incumbent energy technology chain – namely, coal in the advanced industrial economies – has now snapped, and the rest of the conventional energy sector worldwide will follow suit over the next 15 years.

In transportation, the technologies are electric vehicles, autonomous driving, and ridesharing. These are rapidly becoming cheaper, more capable, and are now on the exponential portion of the disruption s-curve as well. Like the disruption of horses by cars a century ago, combustion engine vehicles that cannot drive themselves will be wiped out by autonomous electric vehicles (AEVs) over the course of just 15 years or so.

In food, the technologies are precision fermentation and cellular agriculture. These methods of making animal products without killing animals are vastly more efficient than conventional farming and fisheries. The first commercial products have just reached the market. Despite predictable skepticism, early products such as the Impossible Burger have proven hugely popular. Following the same pattern of disruption, these technologies are growing exponentially on their s-curve and will wipe out traditional animal products from livestock and seafood products over the next two decades.

Our research at RethinkX has analyzed each of these three sector disruptions in detail, as well as their combined implications for climate change. What we have found is that, together, these disruptions have the potential to reduce net emissions 90% by 2035, on target to going below zero before 2040 – if we make sensible decisions and choose to embrace and accelerate the adoption of these new technologies, rather than resist them to prop up the incumbent industries they threaten to wipe out.

All eight of the disruptive technologies we analyze exist today and are already being deployed to market. They are science fact, not science fiction. Contrary to what is widely believed, we don’t need billions of dollars and decades of additional R&D. We don’t need nuclear fusion or warp drive or other science fiction technologies to get out of this mess. We can slash ongoing emissions with these eight clean technologies, and then go a step further by using the cheap, clean, superabundant energy and machines they provide to withdraw carbon from the atmosphere and oceans affordably. These disruptions, therefore, open the door to a truly complete solution to climate change – they will let us go beyond just mitigation, to repair the damage our past emissions as well.

Moreover, these technologies will not be expensive. Disruptions happen because the new technologies are so much cheaper, and their overwhelming economic competitiveness drives their adoption as well as the abandonment of the older, more expensive (and in this case dirtier) technologies that can no longer compete. Indeed, once these technologies pass the tipping point of cost parity, we will save money by adopting them.

What we don’t need: ineffective and unaffordable tools

These same dynamics of disruption imply that technologies like nuclear power, hydropower, geothermal power, tidal power, and hydrogen energy storage will not play a significant role in decarbonizing the energy sector. They are simply too expensive and lack a realistic pathway to ever become cheap enough to compete with solar, wind, and batteries. If policymakers don’t get technologically literate, they could end up sinking trillions of dollars into inferior tools that simply aren’t effective, and don’t provide real solutions.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and hybrid vehicles, for instance, lack a realistic pathway to becoming economically competitive against battery electric vehicles. They will not play a significant role in decarbonizing the transportation sector. Likewise, for the food sector, Band-Aid solutions like feeding cows seaweed and teaching them to use lavatories to reduce methane emissions will simply be too expensive to compete with precision fermentation and cellular agriculture products that use 10 times less water, 10 times less material inputs, up to 100 times less land, and that can be produced 20 times faster.

Across all three sectors we now see the familiar historical pattern of incumbent industries scrambling to promote compromises and half-measures that would allow them to repurpose some of their assets and expertise, and avoid complete destruction. It is important that societies don’t fall for the often very slick and well-funded propaganda advocating for these alternative “solutions”.

Focus, deploy, and scale

We already have the better tools we need to solve climate change. Our task now is to focus on deploying and scaling these eight key technologies as rapidly as possible to accelerate the disruption of energy, transportation, and food. This is a responsibility we all share – as individuals, as industries, as entire nations. We can end the zero-sum tradeoff between humanity and nature and build a brighter future where both people and planet prosper, but there is no time to lose. We must start building it today, and we must build it together.

Source: RethinkX

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The Hoodless Hoodie and No-Wax Floors



It seems like the signs are everywhere.  Yesterday, as I potato-couched my way through a myriad of mindless “entertainment” produced by the corporate giants with their fingers on the pulse of the American viewing audience, already aware that content is determined in reaction to what their audience wants and will tolerate, my somnambular  trance was interrupted with an offering by Sketchers for a product they were touting as the “hoodless hoodie.” WHAT?  Don’t they know a garment without a hood is not a hoodie?  Or rather, do they fully expect that we, their mindless captive audience, on a brisk autumn day care not? What’s in a name?  Honestly, apparently everything.

It’s 101 marketing, plain and simple.  I was immediately harkened back to a period in time, perhaps it was the seventies, when no-wax floors were introduced. What immediately followed was a product offered as wax for no-wax floors.  What were they thinking?  Why would anyone purchase a no-wax floor only to buy another product to wax it with?  Are we really that gullible?

The resounding answer is yes.

Take the news, for example.  “News” is a label applied to a reactionary product that is fashioned to deliver a story that coincides with the beliefs of a specific viewing audience.  When stories were generated by the source it was called “spin”, but if generated by the media it is propaganda tailored to fit and sold to believers. In so doing, they did not create the audience, but captured it. It’s all about the “Benjamins.” Find the weak and gullible, herd them into a defined area and then sell them the goods they crave.  It’s too easy.  Just give it a good label.

Any news of a different persuasion is regarded as “fake news.”  Lacking accurate data, it is no more news than a hoodless garment is a hoodie, but the application of labels is the defining argument that separates us into “us” and “them.”  There is no more “We the people.”  It’s “our people” and “their people.”

Conservatism is one such label, but what does it mean?  On its most basic level it is a political philosophy that embraces traditionalism—civility and the rules of fair play, law and order, family values and above all, the Constitution.  It does not take a genius to deconstruct the actions of so-called conservatives to realize they are no more conservative than the violent mobs that support them.  They are that wax for a no-wax floor, an unnecessary and useless product sold to wax over and put a deeper gloss on what were otherwise solid principles to live and govern by. Witness the GOP reaction to the events of January 6th.

The greatest impediment to knowledge is a belief system.  Knowledge is the fuel of a democracy.  Governing by consensus lacking true knowledge is impossible.  Let’s recognize that gloss for what it is. It’s not the floor.  It’s the reflection.

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The Decisive Role of Conscience: Clues for Non Violence



“Some clues for nonviolence”: 10 – The decisive role of conscience: “A clue to nonviolence

We transmit to you the study “Some clues for nonviolence” carried out by Philippe Moal, in the form of 12 chapters. The general table of contents is as follows:

1- Where are we going?
2- The difficult transition from violence to nonviolence.
3- Prejudices which perpetuate violence.
4- Is there more or less violence than yesterday?
5- Spirals of violence
6- Disconnection, flight and hyper-connection (a) Disconnection.
7- Disconnection, flight and hyper-connection (b- Flight).
8- Disconnection, flight and hyper-connection (c- hyper-connection).
9- The different ways of rejecting violence.
10- The decisive role of consciousness.
11- Transformation or immobilisation.
12- Integrating and overcoming duality and Conclusion.

In the essay dated September 2021, the author expresses his thanks: : Thanks to their accurate vision of the subject, Martine Sicard, Jean-Luc Guérard, Maria del Carmen Gómez Moreno and Alicia Barrachina have given me precious help in the realisation of this work, both in the precision of terms and ideas, and I thank them warmly.

Here is the tenth chapter:

The Decisive Role of Consciousness

Our inventions and creations, the progress of science and technology, but also our beliefs, our ideological choices, our values, our lifestyle, etc. are the fruit of the intentionality of the consciousness that is shaping the world in its image. If consciousness is altered, the resulting world is altered; a violent consciousness generates a violent world, a consciousness on the run produces a runaway world.

The question of consciousness therefore deserves to be addressed, but let us begin with the concept of the unconscious, which is omnipresent in today’s society.

It is true that psychoanalysis and developments on the unconscious have made it possible to unveil our inner world and reveal its meanderings: fear, anguish, resentment, contradiction, compulsions, the desire for revenge, and so on. We know that these inner contents have implications for life and that they are very active. However, today there is a new tendency to resort to the development of consciousness, as if we decided to move to another stage, to change the level of consciousness.

If psychoanalysis has allowed us to understand that the contents of consciousness are active, phenomenology has also allowed us to discover that consciousness is active. The subject of intentionality is arousing great interest. The image inculcated during education, in which consciousness was shown more as a critical judge than as an ally, is being questioned.

The presentation of the active role of the conscience is moving away from the classical theses on the subject. Indeed, the consciousness does not transmit its vision of the world to us according to the information it receives, like a simple mirror; it does not passively reflect the world, but, on the contrary, it does something with the world it perceives. It does not limit itself to evaluating whether what we do is good or bad, but integrates and interprets the data that reaches it and, above all, structures this data, uses it to elaborate responses in order to transform what it perceives, even to transform itself.

Being active, it is therefore mobile and therefore free in its essence, as it is not subject to determinism. We note that fixation on values, beliefs or prejudices immobilises it in conceptions that can cause it to close in on itself and become violent.

It is easy to notice this active aptitude of the conscience. “I ask myself about a particular situation or a problem to be solved without being able to give an immediate answer; sometimes, after several days and in an unusual situation, the answer suddenly appears to me”. The conscience, silently one might say, has continued to search for an answer during all this time. The questions, doubts, needs and desires that I formulate internally are acts that activate the consciousness to give an answer. Technically, we speak of an act-object operation.

However, the initiated acts are not always completed with an object, that is, they do not always find an answer, which generates a tension that, in a certain way, places the consciousness in a constant dynamic, in a state of permanent search, in order to complete the initiated acts.

It is clear that sometimes these acts of consciousness are not completed in an object, because sometimes it happens that the object is not found. Then there remains a line of tension. Fortunately, on the other hand. It is because consciousness is not complete that consciousness is dynamic. It is because consciousness is not stopped, completed in an object, that consciousness can set its various mechanisms in motion [1].

By showing the active nature of consciousness that expresses itself through intentionality, we approach the thesis of phenomenology, according to which the world is given to consciousness, creating a reciprocal interrelation between consciousness, which exists because it is part of this world, and the world, which exists because I am conscious of it, both forming a consciousness-world structure. However, the Husserlian concept must be completed by specifying that intentionality is expressing itself through the image and that consciousness essentially intends to transform the world.

Moreover, with the issue of human intentionality, we are moving away from today’s dominant reductionist theses, according to which only physics and chemistry would explain the essence of life and its evolution, reducing everything to matter.

The premises and background of the idea of active consciousness are to be found in the philosopher Frantz Brentano [2], who, at the end of the 19th century, introduced the notion of intentionality as a basic universal descriptive concept [3]. 3] One of his students, Edmond Husserl, further developed the concept and created phenomenology, describing intentionality as a fundamental structure of consciousness (and not only as a psychological phenomenon). Another pupil of Brentano’s, Sigmund Freud, developed the concept of the unconscious at the same time as Husserl, which shows the effervescence that reigned around the subject of consciousness at that time and which was heralding the discoveries to be made from this time onwards about the inner world of the human being [4].

Until then, past experiences were considered to have little impact on the present and even less on the future. Freud’s great contribution was to demonstrate that the contents of the psyche are active, and this was a real revolution for the time. However, it was Husserl who contributed the concept of the active role of consciousness: not only are the contents of consciousness active, but consciousness itself is also active.

New currents in the field of psychology were making their appearance… The winds of renewal were blowing in, while one by one our old idols were falling: no more Binet tests, no more Rorschach psychological diagnoses, no more Ribot, Wundt, Weber and Fechner… Experimental psychology had become a statistical or neurophysiological branch. The Gestaltists had landed on these beaches so far from the high psychology debate. Wertheimer, Koffka and Köhler were synthesised with behaviourism thanks to Tolman and Kantor. Behind all this, we saw a gigantic methodology which, moreover, was influencing the fields of logic, gnoseology and even ethics and aesthetics. It was the Husserlian phenomenological method that had long ago produced its critique of psychologism and transcended Heidegger and the psychology of existence. The psychoanalytic pantheon then collapsed with Sartre’s criticisms of the schema of the unconscious based precisely on the application of phenomenology. In particular, we discussed one of Sartre’s least studied essays, his magnificent Outline of a Theory of the Emotions [5].

The two schools of thought mentioned above obviously entail different research methodologies for resolving violence. Broadly speaking, let us say that one looks to the past and the other to the future. “With phenomenology, we free ourselves from the worlds behind us”, said Nietzsche.

In one case I see violence according to what I interpret and in the other I interpret it according to what I see. In the first case, there is a tension linked to the fact that I start from the interpretation. In the second case, I start describing without explaining, without analysing, without a previous reading grid, which allows a more relaxed approach to the problem, although it is necessary to be as exhaustive as possible in the description of the phenomenon. Moreover, I can observe without noise and see without interpreting, allowing intuitions and inspiration to emerge.

Nor do we appeal to the action of a supposed subconscious or unconscious, or some other epochal myth whose scientific premises are incorrectly formulated. We rely on a psychology of consciousness that admits diverse levels of work and operations of different pre-eminence in each psychic phenomenon, always integrated in the action of a global consciousness [6].

Research on consciousness does not use the concept of the unconscious, but considers the concept of co-presences [7] which, although we do not see them, although we are not aware of them – in the sense of not being aware of them and not in the sense of being unconscious – have a strong influence on our everyday life. Jean Gebser illustrates the phenomenon as follows: “We never see what we have in front of our eyes, without thinking that to the visible side corresponds a side that is not perceived because it is not visible, but indispensable for the whole to exist [8]”.

The co-presences can be unresolved background noises of everyday life, permanent preoccupations, subjects of reflection that occupy the mind, more deeply rooted beliefs whose values dictate life and intervene when one moves away from a certain line of conduct. The formative stage is therefore very important, as beliefs and values are formed at this time and can resurface at any time.

The co-presences may be at the surface, linked to the contexts in which I live, but they may also come from my more distant memory and resurface suddenly and unexpectedly, by association with situations that I am experiencing in the present. Their accumulated emotional and affective charge can be the trigger for great violence. In a conflict between two people, memories linked to the conflict come to the surface and act in co-presence.

Every individual representation is part of a more or less copresent system of representation, which varies according to the conditions of the memory data. In other words, a response to the world elicited by a stimulus has been selected by a field of copresence among many other possible representations. Thus, the co-presence system, in more than one sense, determines the overall behaviour of individuals and human ensembles [9].

9] Research on consciousness shows that it is primarily oriented towards the future. This vision conditions present behaviour and positively and gradually counteracts the burden of past traumas. Reconciliation with a lived situation, for example, aims at rehabilitation for tomorrow. I was able to experience a real integration of difficult experiences from my past by being able to elaborate future projects related to those same painful experiences.

No phenomenon is predetermined, including violence, as Ilya Prigogine demonstrated in his thermodynamics experiments [10]; there are multiple options in any situation and our free will allows us to always have the possibility to choose.

“We are condemned to be free [11]”, says Sartre, for whom, once thrown into this world that we have not chosen, we are responsible for everything we do in it. If we do not choose, we cannot speak of freedom. One cannot reply: “If one chooses to be violent, one is therefore free”, because this freedom, which is granted by eliminating that of the other, is at the origin of an enchainment, in which case one cannot speak of freedom.

In 1960, in a public speech as assistant pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta with his father, Martin Luther King also invoked the notion of choice: “It is not a choice between violence and non-violence; it is a choice between non-violence and non-existence”.

Silo poetically refers to the need to choose in the chapter The Guide to the Inner Path in his book The Inner Look: “… On the inner path you can walk darkened or luminous. Attend to the two paths that open before you. If you allow your being to be thrown into dark regions, your body wins the battle and dominates. Then sensations and appearances of spirits, of forces, of memories will arise. There you descend further and further. There is hatred, revenge, strangeness, possession, jealousy, the desire to remain. If you descend further, you will be overcome by frustration, resentment and all those reveries and desires that have brought ruin and death to humanity. If you push your being in the luminous direction, you will meet resistance and fatigue at every step. This fatigue of ascent has its culprits. Your life weighs, your memories weigh, your past actions impede the ascent. This ascent is difficult because of the action of your body which tends to dominate [12].

[1] Foundations of thinking. The pure form from the psychological point of view, Silo Lecture, Corfu, October 1975, Winged Lion Editions, 2019, p. 21.

[2] Franz Brentano (1838-1917), German philosopher, author of the reference work Psychology from the Empirical Point of View, Ediciones Sígueme, 2020.

[3] La phénoménologie et les fondements des sciences (Phenomenology and the foundations of the sciences), Hermann, 2019, Edmund Husserl, “Founding text of phenomenology. Husserl establishes here the principles and methods that make possible a new science, the pure descriptive science of the structures of consciousness, transcendental phenomenology. Revealing the implicit laws of intentional life and the constitutive power of intentionality” Jean-François Lavigne, specialist in contemporary philosophy, ontology and phenomenology.

[4] The influence of Husserlian phenomenology on the psychological sciences has been considerable, as has Heidegger’s philosophy derived from it. Many authors belong to this current. Almost all of them have been influenced by the phenomenological method of Franz Brentano and Husserl. The works of Jaspers, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre and Binswanger are universally known. As a psychiatric trend, the Third Viennese School of Viktor Frankl joins this trend. The psychological work methods of Ludwig Ammann in his Self-Liberation System are also well known.

[5] Self-Liberation, op. cit., p. 11.

[6] Contributions to Thought, Psychology of the Image, op. cit. p. 54.

[7] Self-Liberation, op. cit., p. 111.

[8] La imagen del hombre y la conciencia, lecture given in 1965 by Jean Gebser (1905-1973), German philosopher and poet, phenomenologist of consciousness, author of Origen y Presente, published in Spanish by Atalanta, 2011.

[9] La modificación del trasfundo psicosocial, Silo Conference, 4 January 1982 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Source: Pressenza

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The Love for All Animals



Love for Living Animals: The Javan Rhinoceros Communicates Through Secretions on its Foot


We must safeguard the web of life and care about the other living species that we share this planet with. Pygmy tarsiers eat and host bugs that we’ve seen at home — insects, spiders, lizards, bedbugs, lice, fleas, roundworms, and tapeworms. The vaquitas are preyed upon by large sharks and killer whales, keeping them away from us. But only 10 vaquitas are left and in their absence, the diet of sharks and whales may change. A tiger in the wild indicates that the forest it inhabits is healthy and diverse. As of now, there are 3,900 tigers in the wild globally, and more than twice as many (8,000) in captivity. By protecting the web of life, we build a kinder world for everyone.

The Javan Rhino, only found in Ujung Kulon National Park, Java, Indonesia, is critically endangered. It’s not just because only 75 of them are alive, but also because the park where they are located is too small for a growing future population.

They are the most threatened of all five rhino species. Their small population may lead to inbreeding, which will cause poor genetic variability. Forthcoming rhinos will be more vulnerable to disease.

Javan Rhinos, the second smallest rhino globally, have the smallest horn of all rhinos, at 10 inches. If its horn is broken, a new one will grow. Only the male Javan rhino has a horn.

The Javan rhino never reproduces in captivity. However, 25 individuals were placed at Ujung Kulon National Park in 1967. Today, they number 75, but the Park is too small for more Javan rhinos, so a new area is being studied to accommodate this growing population. Also, Ujung Kulon is near a volcano that has instigated tsunami waves in the past.

In Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam, the last Javan rhino was killed by poachers, for its horn, making them extinct in the country in 2011. There is an excessive demand for their horns as an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine for pain and fever, despite studies showing that no medicinal value is in the horn.

A Day in its Life

A Javan rhino spends more than half of the day in mud holes for their body temperature, to prevent sunburn, eliminate skin parasites, and avoid insects. If the mudhole is too small, the Javan rhino will deepen it with its horn and feet, turning puddles into pools. It is believed that Javan rhinos depend on the forest for protection from solar radiation.

After the Javan rhino is done relaxing, it will look for food. It will scrape the sides of its mud hole with its horn for plants. Then it will leave the hole and seek thick vegetation on the ground.

In the absence of a horn, this rhino still has its pointed upper lip to grab food. Its diet is a rich variety of leaves, shoots, twigs, and fruits. In one day it will eat as much food as a healthy person will eat in one year.

Still Much to Learn

Scientists say there is much to learn about the Javan rhino’s biology. They are observing the rhino and studying its dung. Javan rhinos don’t communicate vocally, although they’re capable of making sounds.

Instead, they communicate through, first, a spray of urine, second, a secretion from its foot glands, third, twisted saplings, and fourth, scrapes on the ground made with secretions released from its foot.

An example of a Javan rhino sound can be heard here. They have more aggressive sounds when two males fight over a female, or when a male and female fight before mating.

Scientists use camera traps to better understand this rhinoceros. Some things they have learned:

  1. Unlike humans that have evolved steadily to the way we look today, the Javan Rhino is believed to have remained unchanged for over one million years.

  2. Space. If you keep a silent, respectful distance from a Javan rhino, you will be allowed to observe it and photograph it until it tires and moves away. This was the experience of wildlife photographer Stephen Belcher.

  3. However, you mustn’t approach a javan rhino. Otherwise, they will attack humans by plunging their long sharp lower teeth into your body.

  4. Solitary animals. The Javan rhino lives alone, but may sometimes be with other rhinos in places rich with mud holes for wallowing, or areas where there is a large deposit of mineral salts. The rhinos use these salt licks to get essential nutrients like calcium, sodium, magnesium, and zinc.

  5. Occasionally young Javan rhinos will come together in pairs or small groups.

  6. Javan rhinos also interact during mating season, or when a female is caring for its young. A Javan rhino female is pregnant for 16 to 19 months and gives birth to a single calf every 2 ½ to 5 years. On very rare occasions, she’ll bear two calves. The calf separates from its mother at three years old. The lifespan of a Javan rhino is from 35-40 years in the wild.

  7. Courtship behavior is one of the rare times this animal will vocalize. Sometimes males will use their saber-like sharp incisors to fight each other during mating season for a female. Other times, a male and female Javan rhino will fight and growl loudly, followed by mating. In other cases, a male and female rhino may eat vegetation together. Suddenly, they’ll engage in a 200 meters long chase.

  8. Javan rhinos have poor eyesight, but their smelling and hearing are keen.

  9. Forest: Although the Javan rhino prefers ground vegetation to tree vegetation, they still use the forest for protection from solar radiation. Also, a forest has fewer water supply fluctuations. They also eat saplings from forest trees. The Javan rhino’s habitat requires a mesh of glades, and patches of forest.

Threats to the Javan rhino

At the start of the 20th century, 500,000 Rhinoceroses ran through much of Southeast Asia including Calcutta, India, Borneo, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, the Sumatra, and Java. They lived in tropical rainforests, floodplains, and grasslands.

Now, there are only 29,000 rhinoceroses left in the world. Out of that number, 75 are Javan rhinos with only one habitat, Ujung Kulon National Park. Despite this, there are still some dangers, such as:

  1. The 2018 tsunami, caused by the eruption of the nearby Anak Krakatau volcano, resulted in 10 feet high waves. Four hundred and thirty people died, two park rangers among them. Park buildings and ships were destroyed. This tsunami hit the north coast. If it had hit the south coast, all the Javan rhinos left in the world would have died.

  2. Anak Krakatau volcano is active. In August 1883, Krakatau erupted, resulting in 60 feet high waves. This volcano can wipe out the entire Javan rhino population in one fell swoop.

  3. Arengu palm. This invasive tree has overtaken 60% of Ujung Kulon National Park. It’s a tall tree, and its fronds block sunlight needed for ground vegetation. This results in food reduction and poor nutritional quality of what remains. The WWF is removing the Arenga palm trees, and restoring natural vegetation and food plants for the rhinos.

  4. Disease. In 1981 and 1982, five rhinos died in Ujung Kulon. The Morris Animal Foundation blamed the tabanid flies, horse flies, and deer flies, all of which can spread parasites that result in hemorrhagic septicemia, an acute, highly fatal form of pasteurellosis, causing death. A free vaccination program for livestock by the local government is in progress to address this.

  5. Habitat loss. Ujung Kulon is the last remaining habitat for the critically endangered Javan rhino species. However, another location is being eyed and studied to see if it can accommodate Javan rhinos.

  6. Poaching. In colonial times Javan rhinos were displayed as trophies. Now, they’re hunted for their horns. This continues to threaten the 75 Javan rhinos in Ujung Kulon.

What is Being Done

Many conservationist groups are working to save ecosystems, plants, and other animals by saving the Javan rhino first. Some groups doing this are:

  1. Save The Rhino. This group seeks to produce 2,000 to 2,500 Javan rhinos within the next 150 years. This is the number required for Javan rhinos for possible long-term survival. They do this by:

  • Protecting the Javan rhinos and their habitat.
  • Searching for new habitats to translocate Javan rhinos.
  • Providing ranger kits that include quality shoes, backpacks, and accommodation.
  • Expanding Dog squads to track and apprehend poachers.
  • Detecting illegally smuggled wildlife products.
  • Funding for veterinary interventions.
  • Providing transmitters and radio frequency tags to help track rhinos in the wild.
  1. WWF. The World Wildlife Fund and its partners found a possible habitat area for new Javan rhinos. As a result, they are: Conducting a feasibility study of the habitat.

  • Establishing management structures
  • Enlisting surrounding communities to protect the area. Engaging scientific research to inform conservation and management efforts.
  • Planning to remove all Arenga palm trees in Ujung Kulon
  • Planting suitable vegetation for the rhinos.
  • Patrolling against poachers with community help.
  • Addressing illegal trade through local and international law enforcement to subject traffickers to justice.
  1. The Morris Foundation funds studies focused on saving the Javan rhino.

  2. The International Rhino Foundation and the staff of Ujung Kulon National Park protect the Javan rhino. Javan rhinos are the flagship species of the Western Java Rainforests ecoregion.

Ecological Importance of the Javan Rhino

The Javan rhino does a lot of good for an ecosystem. For example:

  1. Javan rhinos keep an ecosystem healthy and balanced. By consuming so much vegetation, they help shape the landscape and keep plant life populations in check, and permit soil space for new plants to grow. Other animals in the ecosystem also benefit from this.

  2. The Javan is the most adaptable feeder of all rhino species. Biologists have identified 300 species of food that they eat.

  3. Javan rhinos topple vegetation and crush it with their feet and body weight, so it can wallow in the mud. This provides natural plant trimming that strengthens the forest. It also stores CO2 and releases clean air.

  4. Many plants and animals cohabit an area with Javan rhinos. Protecting the rhinos keeps all plants and animals in the ecosystem protected too, such as antelopes, buffalo, elephants, and large carnivores.

  5. Local people depend on natural resources from the rhino’s habitat for food and fuel. Ecotourism can generate income for locals.

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