All Posts By

Marguerite van der Heijden

Earth Day: 22 April 2019

Blog: Earth Day

Yesterday was Earth Day.

Consider this, there is no life on Mars, Venus or the Moon, only on earth do the crucial elements combine perfectly to enable life.

OK, many of you will say… but hey, we are surely not alone in this huge area we call ‘space’, surely there are other intelligent beings out there.

Now that’s a word: intelligent. I think it depends on your definition of intelligent.

We consider ourselves the most intelligent species on earth. Yet we are the most destructive species of all. The most intelligent species is also the most stupid. Only humans destroy their own environment and keep doing so day after day after day…. So, looking at the big picture, how intelligent are we really?

If you are wondering why we need an Earth Day, it’s so that maybe just one day a year we can refrain from causing havoc to our environment and the other species we share this planet with. If you think this isn’t really necessary or important, visit www.earthday.org to wise-up, read and learn. You’re an intelligent human being aren’t you? You can do it!

If you’ve read some of my previous blogs, it’s no surprise that for many, many years now I have been an avid fan of Sir David Attenborough.

Through his ground-breaking nature programs, Sir David has spent his lifetime educating us about the beauty, diversity and the general awesomeness of nature as well as not shying away from speaking passionately about the need for us to change our ways and start taking better care of nature and the animals we share earth with. Now in his 90’s, he is even more outspoken and emphasizes that we really have to change our ways now or we can no longer undo the damage and our lives will change forever.

Like Sir David, I believe that every single species has a crucial purpose in the circle of life. If we eliminate one, it has dire consequences for all others. If we don’t all commit – and I’m referring to each and every one of you, then we should not grumble when nature is upset and fights back. Expect more rain, more tsunami’s, more floods, more extreme storms, tornado’s, hurricanes, wild fires, earthquakes and scorching temperatures in summer. And don’t blame others when earth is so overpopulated it can no longer feed all of us, or provide clean drinking water or has any unpolluted air left. Don’t be the one who has to tell your grandchildren that you thought other things were/are more important in your life. I sincerely hope you are more intelligent than that!

So today, in recognition of Earth Day, do something new! Join the largest environmental movement in the world (or should I say on Earth?). Commit to doing something positive to slow down the roller-coaster that is climate change, drink from a glass instead of from plastic and if you do, throw it in a bin instead of the street, river, ocean, forest, beach, park…etc, etc, etc. Or join one of the many worthwhile charities truly committed to protecting endangered species.

And once you have done that, reward yourself by watching one of the awesome nature series available today. Through technology, they show you the earth as you have never seen it before, from new perspectives and angles, but also more intimately and very up-close and personal. The best ones are narrated (of course) by the soothing and globally recognizable voice of David Attenborough. Enjoy what your earth gives to you and celebrate the beauty all around you. You know, it might be gone tomorrow!

Marguerite van der Heijden
Senior Consultant MCS PR

 

Connected Conservation

Having learned so much about animal conservation during the years I had the pleasure of looking after the programme publicity for Animal Planet in the Benelux, I am amazed at the giant steps recently made in nature conservation through the development of technology.

Animal Planet has turned me into a nature conservationist and I follow many projects around the world where people are doing incredible work like cleaning garbage out of India’s rivers with a garbage-robot. But one of the most awesome projects is the Ocean Cleanup project. The scale of the problem is so immense that using traditional methods (such as vessels and nets) would take thousands of years and cost way too much for anyone to initiate such an endeavour. This cleanup system uses algorithms to help specify optimal location deployment and is powered by solar energy. It is estimated that the cleanup will now take only (!!) 5 years and at a fraction of the cost.

Dutch inventor Boyan Slat was only 16 years old when he started thinking about how to clean up the massive plastic soup in the Pacific, better known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Boyan was recently a guest on DWDD (uitzending gemist: Monday 24 September) to talk about the final ‘dress rehearsal’ they are currently doing with the cleanup system outside of San Francisco. If this works (and I sincerely hope it does) Boyan wants to launch 60 cleanup systems. He cannot do this alone and needs funds, lots of funds! I urge you to donate what you can afford. Check out the site (link above) for details.

Tech develops at warp-speed

I can remember when Animal Planet introduced an innovative new project in 2003 to learn more about the behaviour and language of elephants when they’re in the bush and we cannot track them. Animal Planet researchers installed a camera around the neck of the matriarch, calling it Elevision. This way, we could see and hear them (one had to be within close range to catch the radio signal) while the elephants roamed about undisturbed and unaware of the humans in their environment.

Cameras were also disguised in big heaps of elephant dung, in trees, under rocks, basically using any natural element to disguise them. Of course tracking animals has been going on for quite a while and it has given us many insights. We have learned so much from the data that we now have a much better understanding of many different species and their environment and so become much more effective in our conservation efforts.

Everything Connected

Today, IoT technology helps with a pro-active approach to warn when humans are in the area, rather than focus on tagging the animals. Now the defence system has sensors around the perimeter, LAN and CCTV at every gate, Wifi and LORA technology , as well as drones and thermal cameras everywhere. All passes are scanned and linked to databases via biometrics. This way, poachers can be spotted well before they have a chance to slaughter the animal they are hunting.

One such project is the Connected Conservation program made possible by Dimension Data and Cisco in their effort to save the rhino’s. Started in 2015 they managed to cut rhino poaching by 96% in the first year and are now ready to build on their success in Zambia to reduce local elephant poaching. Check this animated clip to see the future plans to eradicate all forms of poaching around the world. What a great ambition and one that would never be possible without technology. With the developments in tech coming at us in warp-speed, who knows what will be possible in 10 years’ time? From Elevision to Connected Conservation in only 15 years… I can’t wait to see what nature conservation will look like in 2030!

And if you are still wondering why we should put all our efforts in conserving nature and all the animals on our planet, watch ‘Planet Earth’. Produced by BBC and Discovery Networks, as only these two giants in nature documentaries can. Of course they have all the resources at their fingertips, including the latest technology.

The series shows us nature as never seen before thanks to the innovative use of technology. I clearly remember seeing the absolutely stunning images of a giraffe roaming leisurely in a stream without a worry in the world and any inclination that a camera is hanging way above his/her head and giving us full views through the use of super HD 360-degree camera technology and drones. Zooming in on the giraffe, you can count his/her eyelashes – it’s that sharp. And this is just one example of the technology used in the series. Drones show animals in natural behaviour as we have never seen before and the level of detail and the close-ups in HD quality are so stunning, you catch yourself holding your breath in amazement. The second series of Planet Earth is even more spectacular. Showing us again just how beautiful, diverse, and wonderful our planet is and all that live here. It’s the showcase for all the efforts conservationists make and why conserving the planet should be every governments top priority. No ifs, ands or buts!

Marguerite van der Heijden
Sr. Consultant MCSPR | Check Twice