Insights from Environmental Science Journalist Mike Gaworecki

Readers of Don't Forget Your Boots will know that we often struggle with finding positive environmental stories. Recently, I reached out to the most positive-and friendly-man in conservation, Mike Gaworecki, the Staff Writer and Editor at, with burning questions from "how to get into wildlife conservation writing" to "are we all doomed under Trump".

How banks and corporations are destroying the planet

Go figure, but big bankers don't always have the best interests of common people in mind. Whether it's for resource mining, paper for pulp, or palm oil, many banks and corporations are culpable for destroying the planet one forest at a time. How banks and corporations are destroying the planet (probably with your money) In

Positive Environmental Stories

This article was updated September 20th, 2017 In the death by 1,000 cuts of today's news climate, bad news is as irrepressible as ever. The current state of affairs regarding climate change, potential loss of the honey bees, and obviously, the breakdown of the EPA, can make even the most stoic of conservationists squeamish. But

Nature is good for you

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, '"This is what it is to be happy.'” As one of our favorite nature quotes, Sylvia Plath was onto something when she wrote The Bell Jar. And she is right, science has determined nature is good for you. Recently, PLOS

What will happen to the environment under Trump?

This article was updated March 29th, 2017 “You know what this says, right? You’re going back to work.” On March 28th, to a smattering of applause, Trump signed an executive order that begins the long process of dismantling Obama's Clean Power Plan. He said the order, known as "Energy Independence" would deregulate the industry, "reverse

Water, Water, Everywhere? Not Really

In many places, clean drinking water is so commonplace that it is often something that most of us take for granted. In the United States, functional water amenities have become so familiar that in many places they are simply automatic. This is, however, not a luxury that the rest of the world shares, and in

Volunteer in South Africa with Afri-Campus

A young leopard with its kill, a black-backed Jackal Recalling what she learned in her training, Beth's eyes followed the direction the giraffes were gazing. It didn't take her long to realize that all of them were being watched by one of Africa's Big Five. Not too far away, a leopard lay benignly under

Conflict Palm Oil and the Destruction of Rainforests

This article was updated September 19th, 2017 The rainforests are the lungs of the earth, provide food to many people, and are an amazing ecosystem for some of the world's most beautiful flora and fauna. With that in mind, there's little doubt that the effects of rainforest deforestation would be devastating to both people and

Companies That Give Back To The Rainforest

The rainforests of the world are astounding, and from where almost 80% of food originated. Just imagine millions of giving trees handing out everything from shampoo to coffee to moisturizer and you'll almost be there. Humans have known the giving potential of the rainforests for thousands of years, relying on it's flora and fauna for

If we aren’t careful, soon there may not be many fish in the sea

Overfishing our oceans: a real possibility The prospect of an overfished ocean is a truly scary thing; what we once thought were an inexhaustible resource has fallen to overconsumption and greed. The oceans are being abused, and everything from sharks, to tuna to humans will feel it. Just looking at the stats, at the rate we are going we may only know the massive effects of overfishing practices until after it’s too late. Image courtesy of Unsustainable (and illegal) Fishing Practices We’re not talking about the occasional hobbyist taking a pole to the pier or even a deep sea fishing charter. The real issue is the use of unsustainable practices like drift nets and long-lines consisting of up to a thousand hooks. Commercial fisheries will cast out either a net or line in the hopes of catching a certain type of fish. While these practices are phenomenal at catching the target species they also can snag just about all marine life without discrimination. Called bycatch, these unwanted animals can include females and juveniles, not to mention species like dolphins, turtles, and sharks. The fishing boats will wait for hours, sometimes days before pulling in the catch. By this time their nets and lines are full and most of the unintended catch is dead only to be thrown overboard. Some reports find that bycatch equals to about 63 billion pounds of wasted food per year. Diver unsuccessfully trying to rescue a Leatherback turtle caught in a net © Michel Gunther WWF-Canon Although long lines and drift nets round up a large amount of bycatch, they are in fact legal. Believe it or not, there are actually more unsustainable methods out there, including bottom trawling (where the net scrapes the bottom of the ocean destroying fish habitats and coral), blast (dynamite) fishing, and cyanide fishing. Unfortunately, illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices consist of 14-33 percent of the fishing market today. What Is Being Done About IUU Fishing? Leonardo DiCaprio is well known for his conservation efforts, but recently he has stepped up his game. Teaming with Google, Oceana, and Skytruth, Leo unveiled the newest iteration of a global heat map application depicting the locations of large fishing efforts from multiple companies and countries. The Oscar-winning actor donated over half of the budget for the 10.3 million dollar project, stating humans “are … pushing our oceans to the very brink,” and “treating our oceans as an endless resource and a dumping ground for our waste.” Called Global Fishing Watch, the technology allows for anyone in the world to see the oceans fishing activity in real time, putting power in the hands of the general public to combat unsustainable fisheries. Is Farmed Fishing The Answer? The granddaddy of animal domestication Francis Galton knew a thing or two about animal husbandry. In his 88 years, he was an accomplished statistician, anthropologist, sociologist, psychologist, explorer, geographer, inventor, proto-geneticist, psychometrician, meteorologist, and eugenicist. He published roughly 350 articles and books. He coined the phrase “nature versus nurture”. He was even knighted a few years before he died. Galton had some very simple criteria that he saw were required for the success of the domestication of animals. 1) Hardy: 2) Endowed with an inborn liking of man: 3) Comfort-loving: 4) Able to breed freely: 5) Needful of only a minimal amount of tending: All this research makes sense when we consider that Galton is Charles Darwin’s half-cousin. In chef Dan Barber’s TED talk from six years ago he addressed ocean sustainability announcing that “it’s hard to overstate the destruction”. He goes on to explain that in theory, farm-raised fish could be the easy solution. However, aquaculture is not without its drawbacks. The large concentration of fish pollutes the surrounding areas which pose a huge issue when close to drinking water sources. However, in order to farm bigger fish like tuna and sea bass, they must be fed hundreds or even thousands of pounds of bait fish like sardines and smelt, which are of course caught from the sea. Tuna are warm blooded and quick, agile swimmers and require a lot of food to maintain their active lifestyles needing an average feed conversion ratio (FCR) is 15-20lbs of wild fish to create 1 lb of tuna meat, making the entire process remarkably counter-productive. Compare that to salmon with an FCR of 3, and tilapia who have an FCR of 1.5 and can thrive off a purely vegetarian diet. Tilapia is so efficient that it is often used as a low-cost, high protein for fish farmers in developing countries. In fact, it is so useful that the Peace Corps regularly set up tilapia hatcheries in countries in which they serve. In the exhaustively researched book Four Fish, author Paul Greenberg explains the future of wild fish and the possibility of farming them. He then proposes two lists of how to handle wild fish and farmed fish. Enter Spanish Biologist Miguel Medialdea and his farm Veta La Palma. As perhaps one of the few sustainable aquaculture farms in the world, Miguel proves that farming fish is not only possible but can also enhance the surrounding environment. His farm is sourced by nutrient rich soil and water which with the ample sunlight create algae. This alga is eaten by shrimp, which is eaten by the fish. Sounds familiar? Yeah, it’s a process that has been around for millions of years, talk about sustainable.