World Hippopotamus Day! Plus President Biden looks to have U.S. join Amazon Fund, and climate crusader, Geoffrey Supran!
World Hippopotamus Day! Biden Looks to Have U.S. Join Amazon Fund, Climate Crusader–Geoffrey Supran!
WORLD HIPPOPOTAMUS DAY! FEB. 15
It’s WORLD HIPPOPOTAMUS DAY!
Hippos are thought to have originated from a group of semiaquatic animals called Whippomorpha. This group later split into two branches around 54 million years ago. The first branch, which includes whales and dolphins, evolved to become complete aquatic cetaceans. The second branch became anthracotheres, a close ancestor of the common hippo.
There were ancestors of the hippo in Europe and the British Isles before the last glaciation, including the European hippopotamus — Hippopotamus antiquus — Hippopotamus major, and Hippopotamus gorgops. But these species of hippos went extinct, and the exact reason is still unknown, although scientists hypothesize it might be because of man.
Speaking of which, did you know that in 1910, The U.S. senate nearly passes a bill to import the hippo to control water hyacinth and help solve the American meat crisis? For a completely different reason, infamous Colombian Medellin Cartel drug lord Pablo Escobar successfully imported four hippos from New Orleans to his estate in Hacienda Napoles, Medellin, Colombia in the 1980s.
Aside from one narcoterrorist’s fascination with hippos, why do they matter to us? First off, The hippo’s dung or solid waste provides rivers and lakes the necessary nutrients for life in the ecosystem to strive. If hippos go extinct, there will be a drastic reduction in certain fish species and algae populations, eventually leading to food shortages in African water bodies such as Lake Victoria.
Second of all, Despite their enormous size, they can still run faster than an Olympic sprinter, and by “Olympic sprinter” we mean fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt. Hippos can accelerate to speeds of 30 MPH. Bolt’s fastest ever speed was 27.5 MPH. Most importantly, The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the hippo as a vulnerable species on its Red List.
DEEPER DIVE: EcoKidsPlanet, How Fast Can a Human Run?, National Today, African Wildlife Fund
BIDEN LOOKS TO HAVE U.S. JOIN AMAZON FUND
According to Reuters, the United States is considering its first contribution to a multilateral fund aimed at fighting Amazon deforestation, two U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the matter said. A U.S. contribution to the Brazilian-administered Amazon Fund would underline warmer ties between the two largest democracies in the Western Hemisphere, after frostier relations between Biden and far right former President Jair Bolsonaro.
The Amazon Fund was set up in 2009 with an initial donation from Norway to help fight deforestation and spur sustainable development in Brazil. Bolsonaro froze the fund when he took office in 2019, but current president Lula has rebooted it with support from Norway and Germany. Britain is also looking at joining the fund, which has received $1.3 billion so far.
The White House has since said it had no announcement to make. However, Reuters also reported separately on Lula’s visit to the White House, which “will focus on support for Brazilian democracy and shared environmental commitments”. Brazil’s foreign ministry said support for democracy, human rights and the environment will be at the center of Lula’s agenda in Washington.”
DEEPER DIVE: Carbon Brief, SEJ.org, CFAP
CLIMATE CRUSADER, GEOFFREY SUPRAN
Meet a true climate champion, Geoffrey Supran. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science. His research uses quantitative and qualitative applied social science techniques to study the history of global warming politics; particularly the climate denial, delay, and propaganda tactics of fossil fuel interests.
He was formerly a Research Associate in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University. From 2020-21, Geoffrey was Director of Climate Accountability Communication at the Climate Social Science Network headquartered at Brown University. Geoffrey was previously a Climate Change Solutions Fund Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard and, jointly, a Postdoctoral Affiliate at the Institute for Data, Systems and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.. Geoffrey received his PhD in Materials Science & Engineering at MIT.
But why does Geoffrey Supran matter to us? Because he’s the guy whose team unearthed, analyzed and exposed to the world Exxon’s dirty big lie—that its own scientists predicted global warming with shocking skill & accuracy between 1977 & 2003, contradicting the company’s decades of climate denial. A revelation the attorney general of Massachusetts confirms, alleging that ExxonMobil has had a “long-standing internal scientific knowledge of the causes and consequences of climate change” and waged “public deception campaigns” that misrepresented that knowledge.
Geoffrey’s academic publications include the first ever peer-reviewed analysis of ExxonMobil’s 40-year history of climate change communications, which demonstrated that the company misled the public about climate science and its implications.
DEEPER DIVE:Geoffrey Supran, Exxon Documents Review, Supran Twitter