Saving Elephants No Tall Order for Yao Ming

Chinese Internet giant Tencent teamed up with international NGO The Nature Conservancy to launch a campaign to promote December 2015 as Elephant Loving Month in China. The following animated short illustrates the toll human greed for ivory takes on wild elephants. One elephant is killed for its tusks every 15 minutes. It’s been 25 years since the ban on international trade of ivory, yet the illegal trading has been raging in recent years, with half of the big-ticket transactions happening in mainland China, Hong Kong, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam, among other countries, according to CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). In 1979, there were 1.3 million elephants in Africa, and now there are fewer than 400,000. As the Internet has become a more important platform for ivory trade, Tencent is trying to lend a hand. By December 2015, WeChat, the most popular Chinese social media platform, penalized or closed down 622 public or individual accounts and deleted over 100,000 posts containing illegal trading information.

Also, following is a public service announcement from WildAid featuring retired professional basketball star Yao Ming, formerly of the Houston Rockets; Prince William of Great Britain; and international soccer star David Beckham, advocating against the illegal wildlife trade, including the consumption of ivory, shark fins, and rhino horns.

I also recommend watching the Animal Planet documentary Saving Africa’s Giants, which features Yao Ming’s trip to Africa and back to China, helping to save elephants.

The smog is behind Beijingers for now. Let’s take a moment to enjoy some of the artwork submitted to World Environment magazine earlier this year. I’ve picked three (see above), and you can see more here. Also from World Environment comes a story about an important event in the history of fighting air pollution: For the first time, China’s environmental watchdog summoned officials in Dezhou, Shandong province, to answer for their lousy performance during the smog strike of late November. Dezhou environmental authorities failed to alert citizens about two days of serious pollution on November 29 and 30. “Dezhou government should put people’s life and health at a higher priority,” the local officials were told.

Climate Concern Versus Climate ActionAs we eagerly anticipate the news from the Paris climate negotiations, with measured hope that it will be good news, the Pew Research Center put out a survey that shows some really interesting results about climate change in various countries and regions around the world. Sadly, only 18 percent of Chinese think climate change is a very serious problem, even though 71 percent of Chinese support the country’s efforts in limiting greenhouse gas emissions. In the U.S., 45 percent of the people think climate change is serious, while 69 percent support limiting greenhouse gas emissions. I am sure that the Chinese people will catch up with Americans in this regard, but also feel relieved that the government in Beijing is acting as an enlightened leader on this global challenge. Also interesting, the Indian people seem to be leading the world in terms of their concern about the issue, with 76 percent saying climate changes is a very serious problem and 70 percent showing support for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.