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Wake Island

Wake Island is a small island located between Hawaii and Guam. Though people know the island as Wake Island, it is actually an atoll consisting of three smaller islands: Wake, Wilkes and Peale. Together, these islands create a 12-mile long coastline. The island is an “unincorporated territory of the United States” with restricted access. Here are 10 facts about living conditions on Wake Island.

10 Facts About Living Conditions on Wake Island

  1. Climate: Wake Island is a tropical area that receives fewer than 40 inches of rainfall annually. This contributes to why Wake Island has never had a population. Due to the lack of rainfall, “rainwater catchments and a distillation plant for seawater” provide the necessary water for the U.S. Army and military and contractors on the island. The island’s wet season runs from July to October with temperatures ranging from 74°F to 95°F.
  2. Population: In August 2006, a typhoon caused severe damage to structures on the land. The few inhabitants on the island had to evacuate to Hawaii. Wake Island has never been known to have a set population. It has been occupied by the military dating back to World War II. The island was previously used as a meeting ground between U.S. President Harry S. Truman and General Douglas MacArthur. After that, it served as a refugee camp for Vietnamese refugees after the fall of Saigon.
  3. Economy: All food and manufactured goods are imported to Wake and all economic activity is highly restricted by the United States Army and military. Activity is limited to providing for military personnel and contractors located on the island.
  4. Healthcare System: Aside from the one doctor and nurse, there are no medical facilities available on the island. Inhabitants must travel to nearby hospitals located in Honolulu, almost 3,000 miles away.
  5. Vegetation: The three islands of the atoll are covered with smooth fragments of coral. The island has tropical trees and grasses scattered throughout that provide shelter for the island’s inhabitants. Though trees are found throughout, the island does not have any trees that provide food.
  6. Inhabitants: Besides the United States Army and military, Wake Island is not home to any other humans except for few contractors. The island’s largest inhabitants are rats and hermit crabs. At one point, rats counted for two million of the island’s population. Due to the overpopulation of rats, night rat hunting has become a popular sport on Wake. A project in 2012 was supposed to completely eradicate the rats, but it wasn’t entirely successful.
  7. Environment: The nearest disposal facility, located more than two-thousand miles across the ocean, makes ridding the island of solid waste difficult. Wake Island has accumulated large amounts of waste in open dumps. Since the island only stretches 12 miles across the coastline, waste takes up a majority of the island. This has been a contributing factor to the rat population. In 2014, the Department of Defense decided to calculate the amount of solid waste on Wake Island, and it determined that several thousand tons of waste are festering on the island, some of which dated back to WWII.
  8. Rehabilitation: Before environmental rehabilitation could begin, the AFCEC/611th Civil Engineer Squadron surveyed the waste first in bird nests because of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. After surveying, they found that 80 percent of the waste was wrapped in vegetation. The squadron removed the affected trees and shrubbery and collected and cleaned the waste.
  9. Waste Disposal: After they inspected, cleaned and sorted the waste, they brought barges to the island to assist in removal. Every barge used and filled was sent out to Seattle for disposal and recycling. In total, it took three barge seasons to remove a total of more than 3,000 tons of waste from Wake Island.
  10. Wake Island Now: As of now, the entire atoll has been named a National Historic Landmark because of the WWII battle that took place on the island in 1941. In order to protect the landmark and any surrounding wildlife, the United States Air Force has taken on the responsibility of preservation under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.

These 10 facts about living conditions on Wake Island provide a little more insight into day-to-day life on the islands. Although this tropical island may look like paradise, it is simply a small military-run operation. Its historical significance will help to preserve the island as a Historic Landmark.

Juliette Lopez
Photo: Flickr

 Youngest American PresidentAt 70 years old, Donald Trump is the oldest president in U.S. history, but who is the youngest American president? Most people picture a fresh-faced, movie-star-handsome John F. Kennedy, but in fact it was none other than Theodore Roosevelt. Born in 1858 and taking office in 1901, Roosevelt was just 42 years old when he took the oath. Here are 12 facts about the 26th and youngest American President:

  1. Theodore Roosevelt is known as the first true “celebrity” president. While many of President Trump’s critics bemoan that the star of a TV show has been elected to the nation’s highest office, past presidents have historically used celebrity and fame as effective leadership tools. Roosevelt, in particular, used his “bully pulpit” to rally support for his policies and criticize greedy corporations and millionaires.
  2. Roosevelt was actually President William McKinley’s vice president. McKinley, however, was shot in Buffalo, New York and died of his wounds six days later. Roosevelt took the presidential oath and succeeded him on September 14, 1901.
  3. Although Roosevelt was known for his hyper-masculine “cowboy” persona, he actually suffered from bronchial asthma and congenital nearsightedness throughout most of his early life. In an attempt to improve his health, Roosevelt took several trips abroad, to places with dryer climates such as Paris, Italy, Egypt and Jerusalem. Although the trips had little effect on his asthma, they did encourage a young Roosevelt to expand his worldview.
  4. During his time at Harvard, the youngest American president made Phi Beta Kappa, an honor society whose members also include notable graduates such as the sixth American President, John Quincy Adams and actress Kerry Washington.
  5. For his work in helping to mediate the Russo-Japanese War, Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906, becoming the first American President to be given this honor. Other Nobel laureate presidents include Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.
  6. Among the many things for which President Roosevelt is known is his work in conservation. As a known outdoorsman, Roosevelt channeled his love of nature into his work as president by establishing the United States Forest Service and passing the 1906 American Antiquities Act, which established several national parks and reserves around the country.
  7. After his term as president ended in 1909, Roosevelt decided to take a break from politics and go on safari in Africa to shoot large game. Upon his return, however, he was upset at the growing rift between the conservative and progressive wings of the Republican Party. In 1912, Roosevelt began his own party, the Progressive Party, also known as the “Bull Moose Party” after journalists quoted him saying he felt “fit as a bull moose.”
  8. On October 14, 1912, just before he was to deliver a campaign speech, Roosevelt was shot in the chest by a fanatic outside a hotel in Milwaukee. The bullet hit him in his breast pocket, right where the transcript of his 90-minute speech and glasses case were stowed. These items, along with the thick coat he wore, were probably what slowed the bullet and saved his life. Despite having just been shot, however, Roosevelt went right on to deliver his 90-minute speech with the bullet still lodged in his chest.
  9. Being President of the United States is a strenuous job, but through it all, Roosevelt managed to find time to devote to exercise, though his endeavors didn’t always turn out well for him. While boxing with a sparring partner, he was hit in the left eye, and the punch caused heavy hemorrhaging and almost total blindness. A horseback riding accident nearly killed him and a string of leg injuries caused trouble for him for the rest of his life.

Besides his youth and vigor, President Roosevelt’s dedication to the American people is ultimately why he is remembered not just as the youngest American president, but as one of the greatest and most memorable.

Mary Grace Costa

Photo: Flickr

Leonardo DiCaprioLeonardo DiCaprio’s charity work spans a wide range of worthy causes. He has used his celebrity status to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS, conservation efforts, disaster relief and poverty alleviation. According to the celebrity news source Look to the Stars, DiCaprio has made charitable contributions to 20 different foundations in support of 17 causes.

In 1998, when he was 24 years old, DiCaprio recognized the importance of protecting the environment and the need for building a sustainable future. He established the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF) to contribute to this cause.

Since 2010, the LDF has donated over $30 million to fund high-impact environmental projects in more than 44 countries, according to the organization’s website. “I play fictitious characters often solving fictitious problems,” DiCaprio said in an interview with the Telegraph in January 2016. “I believe mankind has looked at climate change in the same way, as if it were a fiction. But I think we know better than that.”

DiCaprio’s unwavering commitment to the environment earned him the role of United Nations Messenger of Peace in September 2014. “[DiCaprio’s] global stardom is the perfect match for this global challenge,” said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a press conference at that time.

Charity Navigator, an organization known for guiding intelligent giving, noted DiCaprio’s involvement in the National Resources Defense Council, WildAid and the World Wildlife Fund on their list of celebrities who put their star power to good use. The LDF raised over $25 million at its inaugural gala in July 2014 thanks to auctioned items from Bono and Simon de Pury, according to Vogue Magazine.

DiCaprio’s charity work extends beyond the realm of fundraising galas or speaking to world leaders. While most celebrities use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for self-promotion, DiCaprio’s accounts are devoted to causes he cares about.

“Leonardo’s website and social media platforms are also dedicated to inspiring the public to take action on key environmental issues,” the LDF website says, regarding DiCaprio’s social media channels. “Growing in reach from just 500,000 followers in 2007 to over 25 million in 2015, Leonardo’s fans have engaged on an array of issues protecting key species — sharks in California, tigers in Asia, elephants in Africa — and calling on world leaders to address climate change.”

Leonardo DiCaprio’s ability to leverage social media for good has not gone unnoticed. Complex Magazine cited DiCaprio as one of 11 celebrities that used social media for good in 2015.

Summer Jackson

Sources: Complex, Look to the Stars, Telegraph, UN, Vogue, Charity Navigator
Photo: Google Images

Changing Lives and Preserving Forests
At least 2.4 billion people, or more than one-third of humanity, rely upon wood and charcoal to prepare food.  The demands of population growth have led to a rapid decrease in the worldwide supply of wood, where such a demand has rendered forests unable to regenerate.

This phenomenon of deforestation will have grave environmental consequences that should not be ignored.  In Africa, for example, deforestation has made more than 25 percent of the continent almost useless for cultivation.

Forests are cut down for many reasons, one of which is to provide the wood and paper products that people around the world use in their daily lives.  In the developing world, wood is particularly coveted because it is the primary source of energy for cooking food and keeping warm.

It is estimated that 86 percent of the wood consumed annually in developing countries is used as fuel.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, “Wood fuels account for two-thirds of all energy….used in Africa, for nearly one third in Asia, for one fifth in Latin America, and for six percent in the Near East.”  Compare such figures to those in developed countries, where wood fuel accounts for one-third of one percent of total energy use.

The use of solar power as an alternative energy option has gained a lot of traction lately, with numerous companies developing alternative modes of energy using solar power.

One such company is Sun Ovens International, which creates solar cooking programs that “will radically decrease the developing world’s dependence on fuel wood and dung as the primary cooking fuels, while benefiting the environment, raising the standard of living, and improving the health of the poor worldwide.”

One of their successful programs is Sun Bakeries, which helps create “self-sustaining, self-propagating micro-enterprise.”  Entrepreneurs are identified in local villages throughout the developing-world and are trained in business management skills and, more specifically, solar bakery management techniques.

The bakeries utilize sunshine to bake and prepare staple food items.

Sun Ovens notes how its products have a particular effect on the lives of women and girls:  “As fuel wood becomes scarcer, finding fuel for the household becomes an increasingly arduous burden, which usually bears most heavily on the rural woman.”

Instead of traveling and searching for wood, then returning only to spend hours stirring and cooking food, the food cooked in a Sun Oven does not require travel or hours of preparation, which frees up women and girls’ time in order to focus on other activities that can generate income.

Rifk Ebeid

Sources: SunOven, The Borgen Project, World Wildlife Foundation, National Geographic, FAO
Photo: Sharmin Choudury

conserve_water

According to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals Report in 2012, 11 percent of the world’s population, 783 million people, do not have access to clean drinking water. The United Nations and many other humanitarian organizations have been working for decades to address this global water crisis. The conservation of water is important for many systems in poorer, rural countries, like septic systems and drinking wells. Insufficient water supplies stifle industry and agriculture in developing countries, and, most importantly, fail to meet basic human needs.

The United Nations General Assembly affirmed that access to clean water is not a privilege, but a right delegated to all human beings. Water should be affordable, accessible, and safe for consumption and use. With the world population growing and freshwater sources being threatened by pollution, it is more important than ever for the world to engage in water sustainability projects and for individuals to conserve water.

While water is considered a renewable resource, this does not matter if water is being consumed faster than it can replenish itself. If more people do not take to examining their water consumption, massive problems will arise as the world population grows and more people in the developing world crave clean, fresh, usable water.

Here are 5 ways that people can conserve water:

1.      Check for leaks.

A lot of water is lost per day due to leaks in things like faucets and toilets. One of the most effective ways to save, water – 10 gallons a day per person on average – is to repair leaky pipes and sinks.

2.      Upgrade to water-efficient fixtures.

Instead of just fixing fixtures for leaks, installing water-efficient fixtures like low-flow showerheads, faucets, and toilets is one of the best ways to conserve water. In fact, in 1994, the US government mandated these low-flow efficient fixtures. Front-loading washing machines are water-efficient as well, compared to their top-load counterparts.

3.      Do not leave the water on unnecessarily.

Water is going to be needed for many daily tasks such as shaving and hand washing, but try to minimize the time the faucet stays on. When shaving or washing the dishes by hand, do not leave the faucet running. Every minute of water conserved saves many gallons daily. By shortening a shower by a few minutes each month, hundreds of gallons can be saved.

4.      Use water-consuming machines to their maximum capacities.

Use the washing machine or dishwasher when loads are full. Operating these machines with smaller loads on full cycles wastes massive amounts of water. If smaller loads are necessary, optimize the settings of the wash so that the least amount of water possible is used.

5.      Recycle.

This may not seem like a way to conserve water, but nearly 5% of US water consumption is centered on powering industries that create consumables. Recycling a pound of paper saves around 3.5 gallons of water. So, buy only what is necessary and try to buy recycled goods.

– Rahul Shah

Sources: UN, National Geographic
Photo: What Gives

wwf_opt
The World Wildlife Fund is one of the most recognizable organizations in the world, working in over 80 countries with more than 5 million members and 2,500 staff. It has a long and illustrious history, involving members as powerful as Prince Phillip from the earliest days of its foundation. The World Wildlife Fund, or WWF as it is more commonly known, was created in 1961 in response to a dire shortage in funding towards conservation issues. At any given moment, the WWF is said to be running 1,300 projects, cooperating with other powerful agencies like the UN, USAID and the World Bank.

The organization’s current practice is focusing on the preservation of species that are important to humankind (e.g. elephants, tuna, whales, dolphins) as well as working to reducing countries’ ecological footprints. (This is a measure of an impact on the environment through commercial activities, like carbon emissions from factories, fishing, forestry and water treatment.)

They also maintain a significant level of outreach to the public by educating on endangered species, environmental degradation, pollution and the state of the planet by aggressively promoting and publishing articles and factsheets. They also offer individuals many opportunities to get involved, not only through donation but also through campaigns, pledges, tips for greener living and adopt-an-animal programs. They are a highly active and interactive organization, attempting to harness public power as well as directing their own considerable influence.

Organizations such as the WWF are integral in the alleviation of poverty. Though it is not a link that is immediately recognizable, sustaining a healthy environment is necessary to provide the world’s population food, shelter and water.

For many in the developed world, conservation is somewhat distanced from our everyday lives; living, as we do, in an urbanized environment, we get our food from supermarkets, we live in concrete houses, we work in the third sector and the weather is largely inconsequential to us. Yet for many, subsistence farming is their only source of food, droughts and floods are a matter of life and death and disturbances in the delicate balance of nature have an immediate and devastating impact on their daily lives.

– Farahnaz Mohammed

Sources: WWF, The Guardian
Photo: WWF

Conservation and Development
Foreign aid and development are often focused on bringing people out of poverty and creating stable economies to keep them healthy and successful. The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), however, has a different focus. CEPF defines itself as a “global leader in enabling civil society to participate in and benefit from conserving some of the world’s most critical ecosystems”. CEPF works to target biodiversity hotspots and goes directly to civil society groups to create working alliances among diverse groups.

By protecting these biologically diverse areas, CEPF is also protecting and promoting those who live in the areas, often small local farmers. Empowering these communities to protect their environments creates a sense of reinvestment in the land and helps foster cooperation across borders.

Putting emphasis on ecosystems promotes the health of those that reside nearby as well. By working to stop the threats to these hotspots, CEPF is working to create communities that thrive based on their environment. Creating and supporting societies based on conservation can help to improve agriculture and economic stability.

CEPF’s goal is not only to preserve the planet and its ecosystems but to provide people with safe and healthy environments for the future. Conservation should go hand in hand with development and foreign assistance, because the healthier the land and the people, the more stable and successful they will be.

– Sarah Rybak

Sources: Huffington Post, CEPF
Photo: CEPF

The Effect Global Poverty has on Wildlife

The debilitating effects of extreme poverty on the citizens of afflicted countries are well-documented. Poverty leads to illness, shame, violence, and overpopulation. Yet poverty is not only detrimental to the human populations of the countries in which it exists, but also the animal populations which coexist alongside it.

It is well known that the earth cannot produce the resources to adequately sustain the current human population, much less at its current rate of growth. We are currently stripping our planet of all its available resources, with little room to maintain ourselves, much less wildlife. The situation is at its most dire in poor, rural villages where people are caught in an uncomfortable co-existence with native wildlife.

Those who still survive by a hunter-gathered lifestyle get food, clothing, and medicine from their surroundings. A research paper by the Department for International Development’s Wildlife and Advisory Group states: “We estimate that wildlife plays a significant role in the lives of up to 150 million poor people. Of the estimated 1.2 billion people who live on less than the equivalent of one dollar a day, about 250 million live in agriculturally marginal areas, and a further 350 million live in or near forests. Wildlife plays some role in the lives of many of these people, and is thought to be a primary livelihood asset in the lives of up to one-eighth of them. Where wildlife is declining or access to wildlife is denied, poor people adapt, but often at a cost to their livelihoods in terms of reduced income, fewer diversification opportunities and increased vulnerability.”

Resources are not the only problem, but also direct competition. Many are often forced into destruction of wildlife, not for a willful hatred of animals themselves or for recreational purposes, but out of sheer necessity. Tigers in India are often killed by rural communities which fear losing irreplaceable livestock. Poaching is a result of a desperate need for money, as ivory and other endangered animal parts often fetch handsome prices. Better education and greater opportunities for the individuals committing these acts would be far more effective than punishing a crime that the current system inevitably forces them to commit.

What this means is that the existence of poverty and conservation of our wildlife are mutually exclusive. One, by necessity, prevents the other. To conserve wildlife is to rob poor communities of the few resources they have, and to not intervene means the inevitable destruction of our environment and the creatures in it.  We have created a system where, if we do not act, we are choosing to destroy either our fellow humans or our fellow creatures. We cannot currently sustain both.

– Farahnaz Mohammed

Sources: Wildlife and Poverty Study
Photo: Jukani

Conservation Groups Investigate Google Ivory AdvertisementsThe Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) claimed this week that the Internet giant Google has over 10,000 advertisements for ivory products on its Japanese shopping site. The EIA has written to Google asking them to remove the ivory advertisements, but so far nothing has been done.

The EIA made the announcement this week at the 16th annual Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) held in Bangkok. Other conservation groups, including the International Fund for Animal Welfare, have recently uncovered illegal sales of ivory and other wildlife products on websites such as eBay. The anonymity of Internet-based sales services has clearly fueled the increase in international commerce of illegal animal goods.

Google’s ivory advertisements are a matter of extreme concern for several reasons. First, ivory comes from African elephants, which are internationally recognized endangered species. According to The Guardian, the vast majority of African forest elephants, whose population once numbered 5 million, have been poached for their ivory-containing tusks. The population of this endangered species is two-thirds what it was a decade ago. Should this trend continue, the African forest elephant will potentially become extinct within the next decade.

Of secondary importance is Google’s hypocrisy in the matter. The generally progressive and environmentally conscious company has so far failed to act to remove the ivory advertisements. Company policy states, “Ads for products obtained from endangered or threatened species are not allowed on Google.” Yet, the ads are still up and running, fueling demand for products that threaten the existence of one of the world’s most vulnerable creatures.

– Kat Henrichs

Sources: BBC News, Huffington Post
Photo: World Wildlife Fund