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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Birth of a salesman

Long gone are the days when door-to-door salesmen plied their trade on American streets. New ways of doing business have emerged: mega shopping centers, fashionable urban town centers and of course, Home Shopping Network and the internet have all changed the way Americans buy. But that doesn't mean that business has given up on the tried and proven old model that produced such giants as The Fuller Brush Co., Mary Kay, and venerable Sears and Roebuck.

Recently, Unilever , formerly Lever Brothers, pondered D2D sales in light of the emerging new market landscape and decided, not surprisingly, that opportunity is where you make it. Their new business model, rural India, where the annual household income amounts to less than $27 U.S. per month or about $300 per year and where two-thirds of India’s 1.1-billion inhabitants now live, is Unilever's newest door-to-door opportunity.

Rural India, with its rapidly expanding population and nearly nonexistent services infrastructure epitomized by open sewer systems, dearth of public schools and sporadic electrical grid; a countryside, predominantly agricultural with an annual population growth rate second only to China would seem a less than shiny new market frontier to a business like Unilever, but, not so. Just under the surface of India's impoverished landscape lies the fundamental, universal truism of commerce: markets follow customers and India is on the verge of becoming the largest new consumer market of the 21st century.

Reasoning that their product line: basic household items like Lifebuoy Soap, shampoo and Pepsodent Toothpaste would be well received by rural Indian households, Hindustan Lever began recruiting young married women, mostly illiterate and poor, to sell their products in villages throughout rural India that were either too impoverished or too remote to warrant a more traditional distribution system.

Starting in late 2000, Unilever has extended its sales force reach into 80,000 of India's more than 638,000 remote villages. The women typically earn between $16 and $22 a month, doubling their household income and, more importantly, spreading both the desire for such products and the ability to pay for them.

The bottom line may be survival for an old-line manufacture of consumer goods but we find that the real upside is in recognizing that market driven solutions, replayed, can have a positive effect for socio-economic empowerment throughout the world.

by Harlan Weikle
Greener Magazine

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1:18 PM

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sun tea, now sun wine

St. Helena, CA (March 27, 2006)

V. Sattui Winery, long a traditional high point for casual sojourners and eager young couples in search of a romantic afternoon get away, has a new feather in its cap today, a shiny new solar electric system. V. Sutti Winery estimates that with commercial electric rates now hovering at $0.16 per kWh, their new solar electric system is a way to enjoy lower rates of $0.09 per kWh by taking advantage of the plentiful California sun which, after all, is the reason they located in Napa in the first place, sun and lots of it.

V. Sattui Winery in Napa Valley, is easily visible from Highway 29, the new 34 kW solar electric system sits solidly on the winery's red steel roof. Consisting of 198 high efficiency solar modules, the system will significantly reduce the winery's electric expenses over the next 30 years, the expected lifespan of the panels, and, as a bonus, help reduce harmful carbon fixing emissions, the result of traditional utility energy production.

Moral of the story, the next time your driving along Highway 29 in Napa Valley and you spy a red roof with an particularly sunny glint, stop a moment for a glass of "sun" wine and a deep breath of fresh air,

by Harlan Weikle
Greener Magazine

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7:35 PM

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Carnival of the Green 20

The Carnival resumes now at Greener Mag. Many thanks to Steve over at Baloghblog for hosting last week's zesty green COTG, which, as you all know is sponsored each week by co-founders City Hippy and Triplepundit.

This week's show is lush and fun and full of sun so put down your garden tools, grab grandma and the kids, it's Carnival!

First up from Sameer at Transmorgified a little ditty 'bout bicycles, gasoline, food and, oh well you better read it for yourself.

All I know is that as a veggie I get 196 miles to the gallon.

Pussycat Predicament by Melissa at La Green Living Blog. Melissa's post explores the problem of cats as predators (specifically, the harmful effect on the bird population) and how we can keep him healthy and happy, while also protecting other creatures. Personally I think this sounds like A Tale of Two Kittys, er... one indoors and one outdoors.

Next our "green" evangelical Don at Evaneco, who "religiously" (sorry Don) produces the most interesting and thoughtful pieces presents a debate he calls Sacramental Ecology
which, you've probably read around the web. Evangelicals are trying to sort out what it means to be an ecologist, and how to reconcile their faith with environmental stewardship.

From Treehugger an Interview with Tony Brown of the Ecosa Institute

Tony Brown is the founder and director of the Ecosa Institute, the only design program in the US devoted entirely to sustainability. The Ecosa Institute was founded in the belief that design based on nature is critical to the search for a new design philosophy.

Triple Pundit has a "green" diptych entry this week with Why Is Population Growth Always Considered Good?

Why is population growth so often assumed to be a good thing? Is economic well-being really dependant on it? 3P Exposes some biases in typical reporting on this issue.

And something NEW!!! The Dictionary of Sustainable Management, a blog-powered dictionary of terminology relevant to sustinability and business. All definitions are open to public comments and the coolest things - if you're a blogger and you reference a definition in your posts, your blog will appear under the definition too (via trackbacks) so that eventually, we'll have definitions, comments, and a host of usage references on the site!

Nicholas thinks the dictionary is going to be something pretty useful, I concur so why not consider a link, besides, you'll get to make up phrases for the dictionary like "green diptych!"

While we're in California Siel a Green La Girl suggests a few nifty hookups for earning some "Moolah for your toxic trash."

By the way, that reminds me, anyone know who cleans up after these Carnivals leave town?

Now, if I may direct your attention to the center ring, as Steven Silvers presents The Body Shop, outrage, destruction, the "evil empire" and death...OK, I went too far, but Steven is right on with his level assessment of The Body Shop’s Aquisition an agreement to be bought by cosmetics giant L’Oreal furthering the separation between two types of corporate reform activists –- the pragmatists who see progress by working within the market economy and outraged ideologues who dream of destroying it altogether.

Tracy at EcoStreet tells How To Green Your Life while looking at small ways that you can make a big difference. Little things
that you can do now that will help save the planet.

Judy Kingsbury our favorite Savvy Vegetarian and Greener Mag Advice Columnist has this report on the Big Green Summer: 10-Week Immersion Project in Green Living in Fairfield Iowa, "greenest" little town in the Midwest. If you think 'green midwestern town' is an oxymoron? "Trust me," Judy says, "it's not!"

Back to the east coast and Rebecca at Greener Miami who takes us out for a ride - on the greener side with her journey across Miami one very special, green day recently, she calls the "Transportation Challenge," a free transit day (if you had the "Earth Day" coupon!) We ride around town all day as Rebecca samples the delights of Miami. (Wait, was that South Beach?)

MaryEllen, AKA marigolds2, enviro writer for the group blog The Blue Voice, writes Water Water - Everywhere?
about global warming and the pending world water crisis. Mary also invites you to her Squidoo lens, Stranger in a Dry Land. Come to think of it, where do Squidoo live in a dry land?

Dirty Greek, George Peterson brings us an update on the Forest Image Registry.org ,which launched this week. The F.I.R. Project uses interactive Google satellite imaging and user commentary to let you experience America's great National Forest lands. As a visitor to the Blog, you are invited to contribute your own forest images to the online Fliker archive tell recount favorite forest lore and let the administration know that our forest land are not theirs to sell.

Dirty Greek, Sustainablog, High Earth Orbit and Greener Magazine are proud partners in the F.I.R. Project, we invite you to join us. Together we can preserve America's National Forests for future, green generations.

Here is a badge for the forests that we hope you'll display on your site, inviting others to "see the forest for the trees."

Now, still thinking green, we turn to Greenthinkers where Scott Smith writes his follow-up to a previous post about Ecoist handbags, made from recycled candy wrappers - how sweet it is!

Then, Enrique at Commonground, shares this link to culture wonky Slate Mag, asking "Is Whole Foods Wholesome?
The dark secrets of the organic-food movement."

Jaquie from Enviropundit tackles a natty problem Navigating Federal Energy Programs . Better her than us.

New to our Carnival of the Green tour are authors Sally and Sarah Kate Kneidel - Veggie Revolution, a book about factory farming and sustainable farming, Fulcrum November, 2005 - who post at Veggie Revolution, the blog, about their ongoing inquiries into the nature and methodology of mankind, vegetarianism and the environment.

Here ecologist Ken Kneidel provides an excerpt from their forth coming book about a recent trip to Honduras in search of the virgin rainforest, a search that "failed." Learn the truth they found and what it means for the future of all of us who share the threatened world of Monkeylala.

A humour piece on global warming at Terry.

Submitted for your consideration, Dr. David Ng of the Advanced Molecular Biology Laboratory (AMBL), Michael Smith Laboratories sends us this ‘Glass Half Full’ Take on the Subject of Global Warming, by David Secko.

With her piece Ethical Nuts CityHippy's new Deputy Editor, Becky, makes her green blog debut with an interesting post about the not-so-ethical origins of the humble and much-loved cashew nut. Gesundheit!

One we read faithfully, Jane Perrone of Horticultural goes off on a mini rant about taking responsibility for the waste we reproduce. It's called Reduce, reuse, stop moaning
Jane is also deputy news editor at Guardian Unlimited, so she knows her 3 "r"s, rantin, ritin and rhythmatic.

...and, from Jasmin,The Worsted Witch in something we like to call, "these paints don't fit," comes Color me bad, why regular paints are bad for us and the environment, followed by her alternatives in Color me better.

What would a Carnival be without someone "tilting" a cap at wind mills and, as he shows us in this post, Groovy Green knows where to find 'em. Talkin 'bout Wind Energy in the movies folks with Mission Impossible 3. Thanks Michael.

Of course we'll have to ask the Brits when we get to MI 5.

Nancy from The Garden's Gift zeros in on Xeriscape in the Florida yard but be apprised, there are good lessons here for anyone engaged in creating an earth friendly landscape.

So we've just about arrived at the end of this week's Carnival of the Green but before you go, please note that Carnival #21 goes north to Canada next week with Scott Smith and crew at Green Thinkers. Be sure to dress warm.

This Carnival of the Green tour originated in the minds of City Hippy and Triplepundit. For more information on hosting a Carnival of the Green or contributing an article please visit the Carnival Announcement Page.

We're out of electrons so for our own contribution this week we refer you to Green home, a beginning.

Thanks, your host Harlan. From all of us at Greener Magazine have a great week and please, keep it "green" out there.

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8:16 AM

Friday, March 24, 2006

Green home, a beginning

With all the attention being paid to "building green" by media these days it occurred to us that still, very little was being said about regional differences in climate, lifestyle and location, differences that influence green building applications. Our office, for instance, is on the west coast of Florida, in a sub-tropical climate zone. Temperatures here are moderated by the warm Gulf waters and generally 5-10 degrees warmer than inland. Though they receive virtually the same degree of sun light, the interior inland, as little as 15 miles, and south for 70 miles or so is listed as tropical.

So, with that in mind, we paid a visit to the Tampa Bay home showcase tour this week, specifically to tour the first model home certified "green" by The Florida Green Building Coalition. At just under 4000 square feet and with a price tag of $1.3 million this is not your typical 4 bedroom 3.5 bath home. Nor is the style usual for this region. The architect chose a take off on a traditional Tudor styled coach house set with a massive roof line and undersized overhangs. The double hung windows with high E rated glass appear more suited for a New England climate than a tropical one.

despite those slight incongruities, the builder did pay close attention to "green building" elements with the following list of earth as well as budget friendly features:

  • Energy Star appliances, which use 30 percent less energy and 20 percent less water than is standard.
  • Tankless water heater, which provides hot water on demander rather than maintaining a large tank of hot water available at all times whether in use or not.
  • A mud room where tracked in dirt and mess are left behind.
  • High efficiency air filters
  • Paints with low levels of volatile compounds.
  • Minimal use of vapor producing carpet, which also reduces dust and dirt buildup.
  • Ductwork protected to keep construction and dry wall dust out during construction.
  • A central vacuum.
  • A cistern or rain barrel, to collect runoff.
  • Drought-tolerant plants.
  • A detached garage, which keeps pollutants and dangerous fumes away from the living spaces.
  • Sprayed-foam, formaldehyde-free insulation.
  • Zoned air conditioning system with a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 16 (code minimum is 13).
  • Swimming pool that uses salt purification rather than chlorine and an ozonator for the spa.
  • Duct work sealed with mastic.
  • Double glazed windows.
  • Arrayed solar panel to heat pool

Taken together, the builder claims, these features add from 3-6 percent to the overall cost of the home, an expense easily made up in energy savings.

As evidenced by last year's record storm season, some features that would actually improve this model are old Florida standbys, tried and proven methods the earliest settlers developed in order to cope with a sub-tropical clime:

  • A raised first floor with clearance of 3-6 feet for
    storm surge
  • Shuttered windows designed to open as large awnings and take
    advantage of constant ocean breezes to provide cross ventilation while keeping out summer monsoon rains.
  • Shallow pitched roof with no attic or crawl space, which uses the space between rafters to convect built-up heat away from the roof with a natural flow of air.
  • Large overhangs to provide shade and an extended drip line to keep rain water away from the foundation supports.
  • A xeriscaped landscape, which relies on native plants and encourages local eco-stabilization. For a more precise explanation, I happily refer you to The Garden's Gift page on Florida Native Plants, researched and produced by Nancy Lee, my beautiful wife, life partner and ever-green guide.

Nationally, as builders strive to embrace larger and larger markets, often spreading across multiple regions and climate zones, from Alaska to Southern Florida. The result is often poor interpretation of local standards and practices for construction, which take into account finely tuned construction methods that bend with, rather than stand against, the forces of nature. Steeply pitched roofs, for instance, are practical in New England where they readily shed 3 and 4 foot snow falls - hardly useful in Florida - and, just as storm cellars can be life saving in the Midwest, any hole in the ground in Florida quickly fills with water.

by Harlan Weikle
Greener Magazine

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8:43 PM

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Oil pipeline leak in Alaska, update

In its second week, the Alaskan pipeline oil spill caused by a failure of a pencil size section in a 34" diameter oil pipeline is well on its way to being cleaned up say BP Oil authorities. The leak, which went undiscovered for several days, dumped as much as a quarter of a million gallons of low grade crude oil onto the frozen roadway near "Big Lake" in Alaska's north shore pipeline terminal about 650 miles north of Anchorage. The area is in the Prudhoe Bay region 40 miles west of Alaska's wilderness range, the largest of all U.S. land preserve areas.
Satellite photos of spill site.

Because of severe winter conditions, as much as forty degrees below zero, workers did not discover the leak until it was spotted by a maintenance worker during a routine survey. Unified Command has released detailed information including aerial photos and land topographic overlays of the disaster site as well as details of the response team's plan for clean up and restoration. Critics of the Alaskan pipe line system and its operators BP Petroleum were quick to monitor the condition of the spill, and continue to criticize some officials for not maintaining a satisfactory inspection system for the 1100 miles of pipeline. They further insist that such spills, while infrequent, will increase as the system ages. They say that with an estimated 12 to 20 years of production remaining, the pipelines will fail at a faster rate in the future, increasing the damage to this sensitive area, beyond its ability to recover.

Even BP executives say that it is likely that the small area, a little more than 84,000 square feet (about 2 acres), will ever fully recover. Cold weather and permafrost tundra conditions likely helped to mitigate the damage they say. Frozen earth does not as easily absorb the viscous oil. At the same time, fresh fallen snow concealed the spill so more leakage occurred than would have during the summer months.

Environmentalists want better monitoring and more frequent inspections. Company officials said that their cost of prevention was increased 10 fold last year, to more than $3.5 million annually, when a similar leak resulting from a hunter firing his rifle into an elevated pipeline threatened a remote area of the tundra. Officials worried then, as now, that the aging system was breaking down more quickly than had been forecast.

by Harlan Weikle
Greener Magazine

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12:43 PM

Friday, March 17, 2006

HN51 the new boo

With the 2006 hurricane season just a couple of months away and Texas afire, floods and earthquakes and pestilence, oh my...pestilence! The government, just this week, as much as confirmed the arrival in the U.S. of the much touted virus HN51, the "bird flu."

Worldwide, 128 deaths in 16 countries - including Iraq, where thousands of American troops will soon be returning from extended tours of duty; signs are that two thousand and six may be yet another cruel summer. Now, scientists reveal that HN51 may well be arriving by that most capricious of vectors, the natural flight paths of migratory water foul. Wild birds from Asia mix with eastern European foul and Western hemisphere birds and share a common, intersecting flight nexus over the Alaskan straits. From that casual bottleneck may come the introduction of a new, more lethal strain of HN51 to the Americas.

With that in mind, we resurrected Greener Mag's survival list, post Katrina, and added a few common sense precautionary additions for Americans determined to survive the coming storm.

  • Food - recommended: Three months supply for each person/pet. Canned goods, dried staples, freeze dried or dehydrated vegetables and cured, dry meats are best suited to periods of extended storage, avoid all fresh meat for the interim. Keep items in a cool, not cold, and dry location. Your own kitchen garden will be the best source of fresh vegetables.
  • Water - recommended: a functioning still to boil and re-condense available water, 1 gal per person per day. Bottled water is not safe after 30 days in storage, bacteria can develop.
  • Sanitation - Usual items and quantities required over a 3 month period. Add rubbing alcohol, tincture of iodine, bleach (remember to dispose safely) and salt. The salt will make a decent source or chlorine to purify water through a filter such as a coffee maker or evaporation still.
  • Health - Much the same list as above with the addition of a 90 day supply of prescription meds, first aid supplies and analgesics.
  • Energy - Rechargeble batteries, full tank of gasoline in automobiles, candles, topped-off propane/fuel oil tanks (OK, 'cause at least you'll stick 'em when they raise the prices during the disaster), solar panel collectors, generator (including a wind mill if you have one), charcoal and or seasoned fire wood. Be prepared to be off the grid for 90 days or better.

Finally, consider that this is only a drill and that the likelihood of any real catastrophic incident occurring this particular summer is no greater than in any other year in recent history...Sorry, have to run to the store, forgot the plastic wrap and duck tape.

by Harlan Weikle
Greener Magazine

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9:35 PM

Friday, March 10, 2006

Green gifts that keep giving

Green philanthropy, like all gifting, is generally motivated by the sincere wish to return some measure of value, to assist a favorite cause or endeavor. This week such a gift came to Connecticut College in the form of an endowment of $1-million to the private liberal arts college, made by Karla Heurich Harrison, 98, daughter of the late beer magnate Christian Heurich. Mrs. Harrison granted the fund to her alma mater to support the work of the Goodwin-Niering Center for Conservation Biology and Environmental Studies, an environmental studies program that is among the oldest in the nation.

Heurich graduated from Connecticut College in 1928 and went on to earn a masters in zoology from George Washington University in Washington D.C. She worked for a while at the U.S. Department of Agriculture before marrying Charles King who was killed in Normandy, France during World War II.

A lifelong conservationist and environmentalist, Mrs. Heurich presently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida where she supports various local charities and enjoys indulging in another passion, ornithology.

The College launched its environmental studies program in 1969. Robert Askins is the current Director of the program, the position will now be named the Karla Heurich Harrison Directorship. Each year the Goodwin-Niering Center advances research, education, and curriculum development aimed at understanding contemporary ecological challenges.

by Harlan Weikle
Greener Magazine

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3:30 PM

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Home wind power, the Turby

We've waited years for an efficient home version of the wind powered turbine generator and here, new all over again, is the "Turby" by, who other than the Dutch team at Turby B.V.

This compact little wind turbine that can is the product of scaled down design, fit for urban environments. Quiet as an air conditioning unit, with adjustable height capability and an innovative vertical axis design, Turby can be mounted on roof tops or the side of any building. Like a glistening wind chime, the Turby can even spring from your garden.

The vertical curved blades allow Turby to catch wind from any direction including updrafts generated by high rise buildings, which is why it has been selected for installation at "Freedom Tower", the new World Trade Center in New York and the new JET Stadium.

Currently, in selected trials, the Turby has proven reliable and efficient by reducing home electric costs as much as two-thirds. The technology includes a permanent connection to the grid, when power consumption in the household is low, excess electricity generated by the Turby is fed back into the system and home owners receive a credit on their bill. In the future, a stand-alone version will be available for off grid locations.

While the unit is not available on the market just yet, the company plans to start commercial sales distribution within the year. The estimated price is $10,000 to $15,000; however, that price is expected to fall substantially as production increases.

We'll keep an eye on this one and update you as Turby comes to a dealer near you.

by Harlan Weikle
Greener Magazine

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11:38 AM

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Lake Biakal pipeline

Located in southeastern Siberia, Lake Baikal is the world's oldest lake (about 25 million years) and its deepest (5,315 ft or 1,620 m.) Baikal contains a huge volume of water, more than that held by all the American Great Lakes combined, over 20% of the world's fresh water. Nearly 400 miles in length and, at its widest point, over 50 miles across, Lake Baikal transects some of the world's most pristine natural terrain and some of the most geologically unstable. Scientists, who are monitoring the seismic shifts that steadily tear the region apart, say that Baikal is becoming an ocean. The region is growing apart at the rate of over 2cm per year. Scientists say nothing, therefore, can protect the pipeline from the frequent earthquakes that strike the area.

For over a century the only reliable transportation through the area has been the infamous Trans-Siberian Railway however now, that is about to end.

International energy giant, Lukoil and the Russian, State owned pipeline conglomerate, Transneft are about to undertake a massive 10 year construction project that would span the region with a 2597 mile (4,188 kilometers)long Siberian Pacific pipeline. The above ground transportation line with its attendant network of thirty-two pumping stations and nineteen tank farms is being built in order to convey oil from Russia's western fields to the east coast and Pacific ports north of Japan. The system, it is estimated will transport over 2 million tons of oil and associate product per week when fully operational.

The largest oil consumers in the region are China, Japan, South Korea, India, Indonesia and Australia. According to forecasts, consumption of oil and oil based products in the area will increase to 1510 million tons by 2010, 1970 million tons by 2020 and to over 2200 million tons by the year 2030.

Designated by UNESCO a World Heritage Site in 1996, the Baikal Lake region is considered by conservationists and environmentalists one of the world's most sensitive environments. Dozens of rare plant and animal species exist only in this high plateau tundra including the Amur leopard, probably the world's rarest big cat - its total population is estimated at just 30 individuals - and the Nerpa or Baikal seal (a.k.a., phoca sibirica). This is the only species of seal that lives exclusively in fresh water.

The pipe route will cross the largest river of the Baikal basin - Verkhnya Angara River. A rupture of the pipeline and pollution of this river will eventually result in the pollution of Lake Baikal itself. The route also crosses the Amur River, upstream of the Khbarovsk - the only water intake for a city with a population of million people.

In October 2005, Russian President Putin berated the country's works ministers for unreasonable delays in the coordination of the pipeline project. He further criticized Russian environmentalists for creating obstacles for Russia's economic development. Mr. Putin blamed non-government organizations of accepting financial aid from "competitors," specifically citing the Siberia-Pacific Pipeline Project (see enlarged map for detail). However, NGOs argue that their only interest is for a changed pipeline route, not for cancellation of the entire project.

Now, as pressure to supply a growing Asian demand for oil increases, Russian political and econonomic considerations threaten to permanently scar not just a land rich in natural resource but a land that would be key to a continent's changing face.

by Harlan Weikle
Greener Magazine

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11:59 AM

Friday, March 03, 2006

Who cries "wolf"

Who decides how many wolves may live in Sweden, the people in Stockholm, Malmö or Gothenburg, far away from wild life, or those living daily, with the predators among them?

In December last year the Swedish government decided to allow the shooting of wolves found inside fenced areas, near livestock, whether attacking or not. Disappointed by this, some reindeer owners said that this ruling was of no benefit in helping to protect their livestock: In fact, just the opposite, they had seen an increase in predation under the rule. The Swedish Nature organisation (SNF) on the other hand was of the opinion that the action was a good one, although they did add that it should have been an obligatory condition that the predator was in the act of attacking livestock, in order to minimize the risk of poaching.

According to a recent report, a healthy population of wolves requires 60-80 packs of approximately 10 animals to each. Today Sweden has only an estimated 14 packs (130-140 animals); inbreeding is therefore a concern. The real question is, is it defensible to hunt such a small population at all?
Many hunters claim that wolves constitute an enormous cost to society, killing scores of valuable sheep, reindeer and hounds each year. On the other hand, there are those who argue there are costs for damages created by all wild animals, from roe deer to seals – moreover there the other animals, considered much more dangerous to humans than wolves, More people are killed or injured in car accidents involving elk or stung in bees attacks than are injured by wolves.

Furthermore, if in fact wolves are no more than an imagined threat to humans, where does fear of the wolf as an enemy of man originate? Traditional children’s tales such as Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs, are partly to blame, yet it is interesting that even today newspapers and media reports continue to trigger the fear by using bold headlines such as: “Village in fear”, “Wolves rage” and “We dare not go outside.” Why is a virtually non-existent danger exaggerated in such an extreme manner? Is it merely a means of selling more newspapers? If that is the case, it may be time for editors to consider the impact these stories have on readers. Behind the headlines and the myth, behind the legend and lore is a shy animal whose true nature is to stay hidden a furtive creature that will invariably flee at the mere scent of humans.

Still, there remains another possibility, which is that people are using the “wolf-problem” as a means of resting a degree of control over unrelated difficulties with in their local communities. In many parts of Northern Sweden, unemployment is high. Constantly reduced and inadequate state funding for children’s services and elderly care are cause for increased worry and frustration. Dealing with local matters such as wild life management, people, unable to participate directly in decisions regarding their local environment, may turn their feelings of frustration at government interference into rebellious behaviour, rebellion aimed at politicians, rebellion through action against a surrogate target - the wolf.

In a SNF-report from 2002, Åsa Flodin interviewed people living in the Uppsala region, north of Stockholm. He asked them what they felt were the best solutions to the wolf-problem. The answers came in sharp contrast to the aforementioned decision; laws would have to be crafted on both the regional and national levels. A successful process would it was generally felt, require that local communities be allowed slowly to adapt to having the wolf population lining in close proximity. Furthermore, the consensus was expressed that there must be valid, information made available in schools and other local meeting places, not only about the dwindling number of wolves but with regard to how best to live with wolves, how to manage their presence and how to protect livestock.

One excellent example of cooperative wolf management was a recent eighteen-month project involving representatives from SNF in Gävle and local farmers who, together, erected large fenced areas, not to keep the cattle in but to keep predators out. The fences were 110 cm high, enclosing anywhere from four to six hectares. Reactions, for the most part, were positive; clearly, farmers had nothing intrinsic against wolves, or other predators, as long as their cattle were protected. The only objectors were the hunters, typically because they wanted to be able to set their hounds free and they made a pointed reference to their legal right of access to open countryside. In reality, the hunters were merely endorsing their own outdoor activity above that of the majority of the population and without consideration for the already endangered wolves.

It is clear that people can and always have lived with predators of all types. The solution perhaps then is simply to create awareness amongst all segments of a society, and foster a growing commitment to preserving nature in any form. Keeping the wolf from extinction is a proper place to start.

by Karin Didring
Greener Magazine

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10:33 PM