Western Australia Shark Cull Rant

For all those who don’t know, a disgraceful policy has just recently been passed through the Western Australian state government a little of a month ago. All Great White, Tiger and Bull Sharks over three metres in length within a kilometre of several beaches will be culled. The worst part? They are going to be baited. That’s right, baits are going to be placed on hooked, drum lines to bring the sharks in so they can be killed by professional

Premier (and cull instigator) Colin Barnett with one of the hooks used to bait sharks

fisherman. The reason is because there have been more shark attacks in recent years than there used to be, but scientists say that the cull will not help.

Bond University wrote a paper on Likely effectiveness of netting or other capture programs as a shark hazard mitigation strategy in Western Australia. They found that the bait-and-capture method is not specific to large shark species. In fact, it also targets marine mammals, marine turtles, and sharks and rays that are not implicated in unprovoked attacks on humans, many of these species are already under huge threat of extinction. Shark control activities will also put dolphins at risk which play an important tourism role in Western Australia. In addition, the likely cost of the program is expected to exceed over $1 million a year. The study suggests that shark enclosures should be used instead due to the environmental  impacts of shark control activities.

Sea Shepherd Australia managing director Jeff Hansen said that they would be dumping the bodies of the dead sharks out to sea, which would only bring in more shark and make matters worse.

The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) is a global organisation who, among other things, lists the level of risk that each animal species is at. Species that are not at risk of extinction are listed as ‘least concern’. So how many of the sharks that the WA government plans to cull at at risk? Not one, not two, but all three of species. The Tiger and Bull Shark quality as ‘near threatened’ which means that they are likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future. Something that a shark cull is likely to push them towards. But what about the Great White Shark? According to the IUCN it is listed as ‘vulnerable’, and is therefore facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. And here we have the Western Australian government ignoring all evidence putting three shark species at greater risk of being wiped from our planet.

Why does it matter anyway? Surely a few less sharks in the world can’t be a bad thing? Actually, it is. As top predators, sharks play an extremely important role in the ecosystem. A top (or apex) predator is a species that resides at the top of the food chain, and doesn’t have any natural predators. Once you remove the top predator from any ecosystem, things generally go bad. An example of when this was done was when wolves were removed from Yellowstone National Park. First the deer numbers started increasing, because there were nothing to hunt them, and they eventually became so highly numbered that they ate themselves out of house and home. This, of course, impacted on other animals too, the ones that needed that vegetation to eat and live in. The small mammals started to disappear as well, and eventually, so did the beavers. Once the beavers left the rivers in the park started moving much faster than they used to, and thus not depositing any nutrients in the park. It was at this point that it was decided that wolves needed to be introduced into the park to fix the problem. Now, imagine this but with sharks, on a much larger scale.

And the thing is, people don’t want it. People are trying to make it stop. In fact over 4000 people protested against the cull on a Perth beach recently. Even shark attack survivors such Paul de Gelder (who lost an arm and a leg to a Bull Shark in 2009) have protested against the cull. If you want to fight against this ridiculous reaction, then you can sign Greenpeace’s petition here, and share it to spread the word.

If that hasn’t got you convinced, here are ten facts awesome facts about sharks that might change your mind:

  1. Sharks can go through 30,000 teeth in a lifetime
  2. Sharks inhabited the earth 200 million years before the dinosaurs
  3. Sharks don’t have any bones, they have cartilage instead
  4. 100 million sharks are killed a year by human
  5. Scientists study shark cartilage as a cure for cancer, because sharks rarely develop cancer
  6. Most sharks must swim constantly or they’ll die of oxygen deprivation
  7. Sharks have an acute sense of hearing
  8. Shark skin feels like sandpaper
  9. Some shark species can live up to 150 years
  10. Sharks may use the Earth’s magnetic field to navigate the ocean

 

Information References

Bond University Paper: http://www.fish.wa.gov.au/Documents/occasional_publications/fop108.pdf

IUCN data: http://www.iucnredlist.org/

Picture References

Shark Photos: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_white_shark

Bait Hook Photo: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/animals/shark-attack-survivor-slams-stupid-shark-cull-20140116-30vsq.html

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Man of Steel Movie Review

I wasn’t really interested in seeing this film because of all the bad reviews. That was until my friend offered me cheap tickets to see it, where the money would be donated to a good cause. Long story short, I’m glad that money was donated because it sure wasn’t worth seeing this movie. Warning that this post may contain spoilers.

Man of Steel is the newest film in a long line of Superman movies. This one was directed by Zack Snyder, produced by Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder and Emma Thomas, with a screenplay by David S Goyer.

From the trailer, I was expecting a film that took the viewer through Clark Kent’s (Henry Cavill) childhood and adolescence, before he became the man of steel. However, the actual film shows very little of Kent’s childhood, and what it does show is in the form of flashbacks that are sometimes out of order, and often seemed as though they didn’t fit in with the overall storyline. From the trailer, I thought that this Superman film was going to be different, and it seemed like it was going to be for the first half-hour of the film. However, after that it was obvious that the movie was going to be very cliche and shallow.

The screenplay was pretty terrible, and because of that a lot of the acting came off as bad as well. This caused the character development to be terrible. Films don’t need a script to have character development. Movie’s like Pixar’s Up and Wall-E have shown us that. But Man of Steel failed spectacularly in this field.

The character of Louis Lane (Amy Adams), for example. In previous Superman films, she’s always been seen as the damsel-in-distress and in Man of Steel you can see how hard they’ve tried to make her a strong, intelligent and witty character but in the end, her character became completely unnecessary. Her ‘witty’ lines mostly sounded stupid (except for a select two; “Well, here it’s an ‘S'” and “Welcome to The Planet”) and I’m pretty sure if her character was removed from the film, no one would even notice.

There also wasn’t nearly enough character development for General Zod (Michael Shannon), Clark’s adoptive father, Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) or Clark’s biological father, Jor-El (Russell Crowe). These character were repeatedly mentioned and emphasised to be very important when the viewer was shown so little about them. Yeah, General Zod is the bad guy, but it wasn’t until near the end that we were shown a tiny glimpse into why he was doing what he was doing, and it just wasn’t enough. Ok, Jonathan raised Clark as his son, but who was he has a person. He kept saying these lines that I could tell were supposed to be important and inspirational, but they just weren’t. So, Jor-El was looking after his son even after he died, but what do we really know about him other than that he probably didn’t agree with Krypton’s reproductive system. These characters had so much potential, they could have done so much more, but in the end what we were shown about them only went skin deep. Even one of the characters I liked Faora (Antje Traue) I only liked because she was so badass. The moment she said anything that just went downhill again. Like, one of her lines was “evolution always wins”. What is that supposed to mean?! Evolution is a process! A process can’t win, it doesn’t make any sense! You’d think someone from a highly advanced planet would know that, but apparently not. I’m pretty sure the only character with any major character development is Clark Kent and that’s only because the movie is based on him.

The things that annoys me most about this is that they had the time for character development, they just filled it with needlessly long action battle scenes that just got incredibly boring by the end. I mean, the special effects were incredible (and in 3D they looked amazing) but there are only so many shock-waves and building falling over I can see before it starts getting very repetitive. By the second half, my friends and I were just laughing at the

Words cannot describe how much I love his cape

sheer number of plot holes and the terrible script. I mean, how many people did Clark actually kill when he unnecessarily caused multiple buildings to topple over.  Have a bit of self-control, dude.

Don’t even get me started on the blatant copyright infringement! Ok, I’m probably exaggerated slightly, but it seems like so many scenes from Man of Steel were stolen from other movies (mostly Marvel films funnily enough). For example, there was one scene where one of General Zod’s soldiers was throwing around Clark Kent that looked exactly like when the Hulk was throwing around Loki from The Avengers. There is also the scene when Kent is standing in the street with the Kryptonian’s preparing to fight that also stunningly reminded me of the scene in Thor when Thor and his friends were preparing to fight Loki and the ice giants. There’s also the fact that one of the last things that Kent said to his adoptive father was very similar to what Spiderman said to his uncle before he died. Then there’s the fact that Kent’s father dies at all which doesn’t occur in the Superman comics. There are lots more but there’s no real point in listing them all. The point is that a lot of the scenes seemed to be blatantly copies from other successful franchises. Man of Steel just picked and chose what it wanted.

The music was by Hans Zimmer, and it was decent just very repetitive. I don’t blame him for this, but there’s only so much you can alter a main theme while keeping it ‘epic’ for the hour-long battles scenes (I don’t even think I’m exaggerating that).

So this turned out to be a really long rant more than a review, sorry about that. Hats off to you if you read all 1000 words of it 😛

Favourite character/actor: Clark Kent (Henry Cavill)

Least favourite character/actor: Lois Lane (Amy Adams)

Favourite scene: When Jor-El is showing Lois the way to go

Least favourite scene: The extended fight scenes that kept on going

Rating; 1.5/5 stars (Purely because of the awesome special effects, and his cape. I loved his cape! Also, the humour, even if it was unintentional.)

Public Transport Protocol Rant

Public transport is bad enough, always been late or early (whichever one you don’t want), never coming often enough or just being crowded. Despite this, I think most people can say that the worst part about public transport is when people don’t follow the unwritten rules.

1. No sense of personal space
I’ve been on trains and buses where almost every seat is empty and yet people decide to sit right next to you. Why? I have no idea, but it’s completely unnecessary and frankly, it’s an invasion of personal space. I mean, if the train is full, fair enough, fight your way to that one empty seat, but don’t next to someone when there are loads of other free seats.

2. Seat hogs
These are people who take up more than one seat with bags etc, even when they’re forcing someone to stand. This is just greedy, why take up more seats then you need to, especially when it means that another person can’t sit down because of it? It’s just being a bit selfish. I mean, yes, we’d all prefer to have a spare seat next to us, but sometimes we have to make sacrifices for the sale of other. Just put your bag in your lap or on the floor, it’s not that big a deal.

3. I’m not actually disabled
This is another type of seat hog and a rule that people that are supposed to obey. On every form of public transport, there is always a special section for the disabled, elderly, ill or pregnant. The rule is that anyone can sit there, but the seat must be vacated when one of these people need it. One of my friends recently dislocated her knee and was in crutches, yet sometime people just didn’t give her a seat. This kind if behaviour is just disgraceful, especially when it’s a rule. It should really be something that people do out of common courtesy.

4. Noisy passengers

These people come in two types; noisy talkers and really loud music. Talking on public transport is fine, whether it’s to a friend or on the phone, there’s nothing wrong with it. Except when it’s really loud. I mean so loud that it disrupts other passengers. Sometimes I find it’s more of a fear thing than something annoying. Especially when you get loud and (seemingly drunk) people piling onto the train with you. Then there are people with super loud music. I understand that bad headphones are going to have a bit of sound leakage, but I’ve been in circumstances where it’s just ridiculous. For example, once I was talking to a friend on the bus and there was a guy behind us listening to music on his over-ear headphones. The problem; the music was so loud we actually had to raise our voices to hear each other. I don’t understand how the music wasn’t too loud for him. It was just crazy.

So the next time you use public transport, don’t be one of these people. Follow those unwritten social rules of society, and just hope that your fellow commuters follow them too.

US Gun Laws Rant

So you’re probably wondering why I’m focussing on US gun laws as opposed to gun laws in countries elsewhere in the world or in my own country Australia. The answer; I’m sick of seeing the senseless slaughter of innocents in what’s supposed to be one of the greatest, and most developed, country in the world.

First, a few statistics about the use of guns in the US, just to create a picture of the use of guns. There are an estimated 310 million Gunsfirearms in civilian circulation. That’s just civilian, not including their massive army which has the largest budget of any other in the world. Also, at the moment, just 49% of US household own a gun. That’s a lot compared to other some countries but it’s still less than half of US households. That means that under half of the US population own those 310 million firearms. In addition, out of the 132 million voters in 2008, only 55 million of them own guns. This shows that it could actually be possible to change gun laws, it’s just whether politicians are brave enough to do it. The majority of US citizens don’t actually own them, but those who do are very vocal about it.

One argument is that of self-defence which can be rendered moot. As a wise woman once said; “guns never solve problems they didn’t help make in the first place”. There are approximately 89 guns per 100 residents in the US in 2007 compared to 15 per 100 people in Australia and 7 in the UK. This correlates very well with the number of deaths per 1000 people which is 9 times higher in the US than it is in Australia, and 40 times higher in the US than in the UK. From these statistics, it is obvious that guns do not help to protect people, but instead cause more violence and harm than good.

Then there’s the argument about the Black Market. Even if guns are banned entirely or severely limited in the US, people who want to get a hold of guns, those who want to commit crimes with them, with still be able to obtain them on the Black Market. But as the above statistics show, a reduction in gun laws does reduce the number of  guns and gun violence, regardless of the Black Market.
Then there’s the number one reason why guns laws are so lax in the US; the Second Amendment, the right to “keep and bare” arms. Let me just state now than an amendment has been cancelled by a new amendment. This occurred when the 18th amendment (which prohibited alcohol) was cancelled out by the 21st amendment.

Now, some alarming facts about the sale of firearms. They don’t need to be registered after purchase and a person as young as 18 can legally own a gun. Background checks are not required for private, unlicensed sellers. That means that anyone, even a known criminal, can purchase a gun completely legally, and without need of the Black Market. In addition, in some states it is legal to carry a concealed Anti-gungun in a public place without a permit. How easy does this make it for the burglar, the killer? Anybody in these areas could be carrying a concealed weapon without anybody knowing about it.

But there are lots of other weapons that can be used in crimes. This is true, but in 2004, the use of guns in homicides was twice as high as any other weapon used, including knives and blunt objects. Guns can also cause deaths by accident as well, killing approximately 500 children per year.
I think that the time is now to tighten gun laws in the US. I’m not suggesting a complete ban, I’m suggesting gun regulation and that each person who wishes to own a gun must undertake in a test to obtain a gun license and a thorough background check. The gun and the ammo must be securely locked away, separately and with different keys. This is the only way that gun violence can be prevented. So take a stand, and make a change.

Nuclear Energy Rant

When it comes to nuclear energy I’ve noticed that there are mainly three types of people; those who think it’s a great ‘sustainable’ energy source, those who are terrified of it and those simply don’t care. Well, today is the day of education. Today is the day you learn the truth about nuclear power. In Australia, this is a big issue. Should we go nuclear? My answer, no, and I will tell you exactly why.

Nucear powerPeople tend to think that nuclear energy is entirely sustainable because it releases no greenhouse gases. It is true that the process of nuclear fission (the splitting of an atom) is carbon neutral, however, the mining of the uranium needed for this process to occur is not. The activity of mining has vast negative impacts not only on the greenhouse effect, but also water contamination, erosion and habitat loss. Thus, in this respect it is not sustainable at all, let alone carbon neutral.

Then there’s the radioactive waste. As if we don’t have enough rubbish already! Where do we put this dangerous waste? Can it pass through towns and cities to reach it’s final destination? What happens if the storage area is breached? These are all important questions that we have no real suitable answers to, and are the result of using nuclear power. Wouldn’t it be best if we didn’t have these questions at all?

In addition, nuclear power is not even renewable. The uranium needed for it will run out. “But we have plenty of time until that happens” I hear you say. That’s exactly what our ancestors thought about oil, and look where we are now. At the current rate of consumption, oil will run out in under eighty years. Let’s not put our future generations in the strife that we’re in now.

Then there’s the risk of a Chernobyl-like event, one of nuclear disaster. The risk of this is very low and there are many strategies to prevent it, but as we’ve seen in the past, it’s not impossible. Why should we even take that risk? We have other options, why choose one of the most dangerous ones? Those who think we can, would you be happy with a nuclear power plant in your neighbourhood? I know I wouldn’t.

Renewable energyAll may seem lost to you at this point. What chance do we have now of being renewable? But never fear! It’s not time to bury our head in our hands just yet. There are still lots of truly renewable and 100% sustainable energy sources at our disposal that have little to no effect on our environment. Wind power, wave power, geothermal power, solar power and many more that have yet to be discovered! We do need a solution to our global warming crisis, but nuclear power is not the answer, nor will it ever be. So say “no” to nuclear power, and “yes” to truly sustainable and renewable energy sources.