Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Weekly Photo Challenge: Awakening

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“For nature-lovers, there are few things more wonderful than the awakening of life after a cold, gray winter. Spring is a glorious green renewal.”

Well, here in Vancouver it has been raining a lot, and the blossoms we saw yesterday were distinctly bedraggled. So this collection of images comes from March of 2015 when I took a walk around our neighbourhood and managed to collect a whole album of pictures which I entitled “Blooming Spring in Vancouver“. The awakening of the plant life is happening, of course, but under cloudy skies this year.

 

Written by Stephen Rees

April 11, 2018 at 9:46 am

Weekly Photo Challenge: Smile

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via Photo Challenge: Smile

This week I face the greater challenge of using my tablet to post.

My MacBook is in the shop awaiting diagnosis of a display issue. That is taking longer than I expected. I have a couple of photos with nice smiles that meet the challenge, both have been used before but that means they are at least accessible.

And they both make me smile too! Good because I am need of cheering up right now.

I saw the exhibition that is referred to in the original challenge, at least I saw it being set up at the VAG, but the staff were most insistent that I could not take pictures of it. And what I did see did not tempt me to return.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 4, 2018 at 11:30 am

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rise/Set

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“For this week’s photo challenge, share your favorite photos of a sunrise or a sunset”

I am going to be restrained here and just post a few images. First sunrises

Dawn
At the end of the Panama Canal Cruise

Rosy Dawn

From an upper window of my then house in Richmond in 2011

Then sunsets – many more of those to choose from as our current home has west facing windows

Pretty Sky

Sundown with Crepuscular rays

There is an album of my sunrise and sunset images on Flickr 

All of these images are as taken with no special effects or filters added.

And if you like the ones with crepuscular rays there’s a Flickr group for that that I administer with contributions from many lucky photographers.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 28, 2018 at 9:25 am

Weekly Photo Challenge: Favourite Place

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Favourite Place (and yes I have anglicised the spelling) ought to be harder to pick. But “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” and while there are many places in Vancouver that I could pick, the loss of our view cones and corridors is one I feel very strongly about. We are blessed with a place of quite extraordinary beauty – a deep inlet (actually a fjord) at the foot of the North Shore mountains. For a long time Vancouver was mostly concerned about cutting down trees and making stuff from them. The old growth forest is almost gone except for one or two areas of park managed to make it look like we imagine it ought to have looked. Stanley Park is actually just one of several such places.

For as long as I have been here, there was a firm policy to protect the view of the North Shore mountains and the inlet from a number of significant places. Now the pressure to allow ever more taller towers across the city means that these views are vanishing. And one such development is right next to where I live. I took this photo with my phone while walking on the Arbutus Greenway at W 37th Avenue. Overlooking Quilchena Park with a spectacular view – and two tall cranes in the process of blocking that view with condos. The developer has recently gone back to the City to ask for permission to add more floors to the part of the development nearest to our six storey building.

IMG_3072

The roof of our building is just below the height of the current tree canopy, so it almost invisible. The new buildings will be up to 72m (263 ft). The developer says that fits the view because it would match the nearest skyline of the North Shore mountains: the snow capped peaks will still peer over the top. The City has yet to rule on this proposal, and I took the photo so I would be able to look back in future at what we will have lost if the developer gets what he wants.

I went back and took a picture with my camera using the zoom lens.

Click for a larger versionIMG_7897

 

Written by Stephen Rees

March 21, 2018 at 10:35 am

Announcement

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Thanks to a one day sale I have been persuaded to pay to remove advertising from this blog. You don’t have to thank me.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 20, 2018 at 5:50 pm

Posted in blogging

STEP UP AND SAVE ELEPHANTS

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#ivoryfreecanada PR Image - Mark Drury

© Mark Drury Photography (@markjdrury)

Vancouver, BC, March 14, 2018 – The poaching of elephants has reached unprecedented levels, threatening their very survival. In the face of this crisis, Elephanatics, a Vancouver elephant advocacy non-profit group, claims Canada is not supporting the worldwide initiative to save both African and Asian elephants.

At the last meeting of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) congress, it was overwhelmingly decided that globally, governments must close their legal domestic markets for elephant ivory as a matter of urgency. Canada was one of only four countries to vote against it.

 A coalition of 95 Canadian and international scientists, politicians and animal conservation organisations have co-signed Elephanatics’ letter urging the government to ban the domestic trade of elephant ivory. They include the BC SPCA, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, Mike Farnsworth, the Solicitor General of BC, International Fund for Animal Welfare, WildAid, Born Free Foundation, Humane Society International and African Wildlife Foundation.

 In addition to the global signatories, Elephanatics created an #ivoryfreecanada online petition that garnered over 120,000 signatures – and hundreds more each day – from concerned citizens wanting to see an end to elephant ivory sales in Canada. Even though elephants are not native to Canada, elephants are still important to many Canadians. The petition accompanied the letter sent today to the Minister of Environment & Climate Change, Catherine McKenna.

It is estimated there were 12 million elephants in Africa in the early 1900s. Today there are approximately 415,000. That equates to a 97% decline in a century. Asian elephants are even more endangered with less than 40,000 left. Conservationists and scientists agree that at this rate the world’s largest land animal will disappear from the wild within our lifetime.

Fran Duthie, the President of Elephanatics claims, “The Canadian government has a unique opportunity to play a leadership role in elephant conservation by closing its domestic elephant ivory trade, thereby eliminating all legal loopholes. Ignoring this opportunity would put Canada at odds with the growing international movement to save elephants from extinction.”

The international trade of elephant ivory was banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) from 1990. However the domestic trade of ivory within a country is only regulated by national and local governments. Illegal ivory – ivory stolen from an elephant from 1990 onwards – flows through legal domestic markets because it is difficult to differentiate between old and new ivory without extensive and costly testing.

“That really is the history of the ivory trade,” says Peter Knights, Chief Executive Officer of WildAid and a signatory to Elephantics’ letter to the government. “When there’s been legal ivory trade, it’s served as a cover for laundering of illegal ivory.”

Several countries have changed their laws to protect elephants. In June 2016, the United States imposed a near total ban in domestic ivory sales. Two months later, France became the first European country to ban its domestic trade. China shut down its domestic ivory trade at the end of 2017. The United Kingdom recently solicited public feedback on a proposed domestic ban and 85% of the public supported it. In January 2018, Hong Kong’s legislature voted in favour of banning all ivory sales by 2021. Taiwan is expected to announce a ban on domestic ivory sales starting in 2020. Singapore is considering a full ban.

Due to the US Administration over-turning their ban on elephant trophy imports last week, there is additional onus on the rest of the world to increase their efforts to protect elephants.

The loss of elephants causes significant negative environmental effects. Elephants are a keystone species as many plants and animals rely on them to survive. They trek through the jungle, creating a path for smaller animals from mice to cheetahs. More than 100 plant species rely on elephants for propagation as they spread the seeds great distances via their dung.

In addition, international security is compromised by the scourge of elephant poaching. The price of unprocessed ivory in China reached its peak in 2014 at around US$2,100 per kilogram. This has made the ivory trade very attractive to terrorist groups, including the Lord’s Resistance Army.

For three weeks in 2017, Canada participated in “Operation Thunderbird”, a global wildlife enforcement investigation involving 60 countries. It was organized by INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization and CITES. Globally, 8.2 tons of elephant ivory was confiscated in the three week operation. Some of it came into Canada.

Julie MacInnes, Wildlife Campaign Manager of HSI/Canada states, “CITES has recommended that all nations with ivory markets that contribute to poaching and illegal trade close these markets. Multiple seizures of illegal ivory in Canada in recent years clearly indicate that an elephant ivory market closure is warranted, particularly given the items seized likely represent only a small fraction of the problem. It is time Canada respect the CITES recommendation and protect elephants by prohibiting ivory trade.”

By closing domestic elephant ivory trade, Canada would join a growing number of countries that are leading the path towards the long-term survival of this significant and iconic species. The public may sign the #ivoryfreecanada petition at http://bit.ly/ivoryfreecanada.

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Elephanatics is a non-profit organization founded in 2013 in Vancouver. It aims to help the long-term survival of African and Asian elephants through conservation, education and action. For the last 4 years in Vancouver, Elephanatics hosted the Global Walk for Elephants and Rhinos, an international event involving over 120 cities.

elephanatics

Written by Stephen Rees

March 14, 2018 at 3:55 pm

Posted in Environment

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Weekly Photo Challenge: I’d rather be …

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This week’s photo challenge is headed by a picture of a sculpture of a woman sitting on a bench in a park. I’d Rather Be… is the beginning of the challenge – insert word or words of the activity you enjoy most. Ummm, no, I am not going to do that.

It reminded me of this picture, which I took in 2013, while walking with my partner.

Search

Today my partner is elsewhere, doing something very useful. But I would rather that we were together. Maybe even going for a walk somewhere like Stanley Park if the weather was nicer. Though I can’t claim that walking is my favourite activity.

Under the photo on flickr I wrote “I swear that this photo was not posed in any way. The young woman sitting next to the statue is unknown to me, and her mirroring of its pose was, I am sure, unintentional. A genuinely candid shot. ” And I also provided a link which did not actually work, so I had to update it.

The sculpture is by J Seward Johnson and is called “Search”.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 14, 2018 at 10:37 am

Posted in Transportation