I freakin’ love Bears. I’ve had four of them tattooed on my body. I’ve traveled to Denali National Park, Churchill and Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge just to see grizzlies, polar bears and black bears in the wild. Each time I see them up close, I become more certain that bears are my spirit animal. But you don’t need to be an ursine aficionado to love the new Bears movie from Disneynature.
Though most people may not remember it today, Walt Disney Productions set the standard for wildlife documentaries more than 60 years ago.
Between 1948 and 1960, the studio released 14 True-Life Adventures nature films: Three of them (1953′s Living Desert, 1954′s Vanishing Prairie, and 1958′s White Wilderness) won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, while five others (including a 1953 gem called Bear Country) won Oscars for Best Live Action Short Film.
We’re not even in the water yet, but already my heart is pounding in my chest.
I’m on a boat about 2 hours from Cancun, on the perimeter of a circle of dozens of other boats filled with eager tourists. Like my 12-year-old daughter and I, they’re all here for a singular purpose: The once-in-a-lifetime experience of Swimming with Whale Sharks, the largest known fish species in the world.
Though the glare of the morning sun on the water is nearly blinding, the 35-foot, 20,000-pound whale sharks aren’t difficult to spot. In fact, their hulking forms are everywhere we look, swimming in slow, lazy circles to filter-feed on krill and plankton at the surface, seemingly oblivious to our presence. Thankfully, our captain stays far away from the other boats, so that when one of these gentle giants swims near we will have them all to ourselves.
As he brings the boat to a halt, a massive whale shark swims straight for us. He looks as wide as a VW Beetle, and as long as a school bus, gliding effortlessly with his mouth wide open. At the last second his spotted form swerves past us, changing directions surprisingly quickly with a mere flip of his tail. I’m 6’2″ and built like a linebacker, but suddenly even I feel very small by comparison.
Over the past decade, NRG Energy’s David Crane has emerged as a leading voice on the topic of climate change and curbing carbon emissions. He was one of the first power industry CEOs in the U.S. to call for mandatory climate change measures. Now, in the Mojave Desert’s Ivanpah Dry Lake, Crane is leading a project that could add a turbo-charged boost to America’s Clean Energy revolution.
Known as the Ivanpah Solar Plant, the $2.6 billion venture boasts some impressive stats, using 170,000 heliostat mirrors to generate 392 megawatts of solar-generated electricity. Offsetting millions of tons of carbon emissions, Ivanpah is the largest solar energy plant in the world, powering around 100,000 homes with emission-free electricity.
But Ivanpah is not without its fair share of controversy: Some environmentalists have protested the project as “a deadly trap for wildlife,” because the heat it generates has reportedly killed hundreds of birds. Other critics carp that “The Ivanpah Solar Plant is already irrelevant,” because it relies on thermal rather than photovoltaic solar energy.
But with huge votes of confidence from President Barack Obama, huge investments by the U.S Department of Energy and Google, and the U.S. lagging behind other countries in developing renewable energy resources, Ivanpah has received considerable ink in sustainability circles since its opening ceremony in February.
During an extensive conversation with Crane, we discussed America’s need for an increased focus on renewable energy resources, the economic and environmental impact of the Ivanpah Solar Plant, and the future balance between sustainable energy and fossil fuels.
(The following is a guest post by Jessica Kay of A Passion and A Passport, a blog focused on balancing travel with a full-time 9 to 5 job. You can follow her adventures on Facebook and Twitter. If you’re a blogger looking to guest post on GGT, please email Bret Love at info@GreenGlobalTravel.com.)
I traveled to Kauai, Hawaii last summer with my husband, and quickly fell in love with the island’s diverse wildlife and natural attractions. Just minutes after our arrival, it was clear that Kauai is full of natural beauty and has a ton of ecotourism offerings waiting to be discovered. From dramatic coastlines and majestic mountains to native Hawaiian wildlife on both land and water, each of these activities left me nearly breathless. Here are my picks for the Top 5 Kauai Nature Attractions:
Created by David Simon and Eric Overmyer (The Wire), the show follows residents from the historic Tremé (pronounced Tre-may) neighborhood– a hodgepodge of musicians, chefs, community activists and Mardi Gras Indians– struggling to put their lives, homes and culture back together in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.