In issuing its second report on the environmentality of several cruise lines, grassroots environmental watchdog group Friends of the Earth has distinguished Disney Cruise Lines as being ‘most improved’ for its improvements in sewage treatment over the past year. Continuing to use its odd letter-slash-pass/fail system to rate large cruise lines and their ships, Disney Cruise Line rose to a C- rating from a solid F in last year’s report.
With new advanced sewage treatment systems, it’s lack of shoreside power that keeps DCL from earning a top score (at least until its excursions into Alaska begin). The inability to power the ship directly from the ports means that the ship must burn off ‘dirty fuel’ while docked in order to provide electricity to the ship.
Disney Cruise Line has told the organization that the Disney Wonder will be upgraded to be able to operate on shoreside power when docked by the end of 2010 and that both the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy will offer shoreside power as well as the advanced sewage treatment systems.
For more information on the Disney Cruise Line rating as well as those of other cruise lines, visit the report’s methodology page.
Disneynature announced today that its “See ‘OCEANS,’ Save Oceans” campaign will protect more than 35,000 acres of coral reef in The Bahamas on behalf of the moviegoers who came out to see Disneynature’s motion picture “Oceans” during its opening week. Through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, Disneynature will help establish new marine protected areas through the The Nature Conservancy’s Adopt a Coral Reef program. At 55 square miles, this protected area of coral reefs will be almost two-and-a-half times the size of Manhattan or the equivalent of more than 412 Disneylands, supporting the expansion of the Westside National Park of Andros.
The Bahamas represent an important ecosystem, straddling the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The 700 islands that comprise The Bahamas contain miles of vital coral reefs, which are the foundation of a healthy ocean environment, providing shelter, nurseries and feeding grounds for hundreds of marine species, including dolphins, sea turtles and a wide range of fish. Scientists estimate that the coral reefs of the Caribbean could be gone in 50 years without a network of well-managed marine protected areas.
“We’re excited to once again collaborate with The Nature Conservancy on an initiative that takes the impact of Disneynature’s storytelling to an entirely new level,” said Alan Bergman, president of The Walt Disney Studios. “The health of our oceans is absolutely vital to the well-being of our planet and thanks to the supporters of Disneynature’s motion picture ‘Oceans,’ this investment in marine conservation will help ensure critical aquatic environments will thrive for future generations.”
“Disneynature has captured the beauty, wonder and fragility of our world’s marine habitats and species in ‘Oceans,’ said Mark Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “We appreciate Disney’s commitment to help protect marine areas in The Bahamas, which is home to 30 percent of all coral reefs in the Atlantic Ocean. With Disneynature’s support, The Nature Conservancy and its partners are making significant progress toward our ambitious goal of doubling the total amount of marine protected area in The Bahamas.”
That’s the conclusion of a team of researchers from Save the Elephants, Oxford University and Disney’s Animal Kingdom who have discovered a new alarm call made by elephants in response to the threat of bees. Working with herds of elephants in Kenya, scientists theorize that this unique rumble may warn other herd members of the bees’ presence, prompting pachyderm retreats even when no are bees present.
“The purpose behind these studies is to find a novel way of keeping elephants from raiding the crops of local communities, and thereby reducing “human-elephant conflict,” according to Joseph Soltis, Ph.D., research scientist at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. “As human populations expand, they move into elephant territory and elephants and people end up sharing the same space. One of the consequences is that elephants start raiding crops, which can end up harming both people and elephants.”
Using an array of microphones hidden in the bush, scientists first recorded the vocal reaction of the elephants to bees and then replayed these elephant rumblings without bees present. When elephants heard this recording through wireless speakers, they behaved the same as they did when bees were present; they shook their heads, threw dust in the air, and ran away from the area. These very low-frequency “rumble” vocalizations are apparently different from other rumbles, leading researchers to believe that that elephants may use their voices to communicate threats to each other.
Just in time for Earth Day, Disney Parks and Resorts released its 2009 Conservation Report earlier today. The report, which highlights various programs, activities and educational initiatives Disney Conservation has parktaken over the past year, can be found here.
Club Penguin and its millions of animated penguin inhabitants are going green. On April 22, 2010, the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the popular children’s virtual world will launch a special online party and new ways for its players to exercise their passion for making the world a better place.
“Our players constantly ask for ways they can improve the virtual world of Club Penguin and the world at large, and we like to encourage that spirit of global citizenship and giving back,” says Lane Merrifield, co-founder of Club Penguin and executive vice president of Disney Online Studios. “Children today are far more environmentally aware than ever before and they truly want to make a difference. It’s important that their experiences on Club Penguin reflect and reinforce those ideals.”
The Earth Day party will allow the kids who play Club Penguin to work together to make good things happen in the online community, and will include the launch of a permanent recycling depot and community garden, which players will be responsible for maintaining. In addition, players will have the opportunity to help plant and nurture a community tree, which will become a permanent fixture on the virtual island’s snow-covered landscape. In an effort to further promote sustainability and encourage environmentally friendly behavior, Club Penguin will also offer suggestions on things kids can do in the real world.
“We hope by taking an active role in caring for the virtual environment of Club Penguin, where their penguin avatars live, work and play, the kids will realize they have an important role to play, and they’ll take those lessons into their home communities and find ways to make a positive difference in the real world,” says Merrifield.
Club Penguin is available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, and is enjoyed by players in more than 190 countries. Word filters and live moderators monitor chat and activity on the site and work to prevent the sharing of inappropriate or personally identifiable information. Club Penguin is free to play, however paying members receive special features such as front-of-the-line access to game features, exclusive parties and opportunities to customize their penguin and igloo.
The 2010 Earth Day party is just one example of Club Penguin’s ongoing efforts to motivate its players to help change the world. A portion of the proceeds from each Club Penguin membership purchase supports organizations working to improve the lives of children and families around the globe. The annual Coins for Change online giving campaign lets players vote on where some of those donations go, including to environmental causes.
Club Penguin also supports kids or schools that want to help a village in one of the world’s poorest regions with a matching gift program, and sponsors a free speaking tour and leadership program to empower elementary school students. For more information on these and other initiatives, visit http://www.clubpenguin.com/global-citizenship/.
“OCEANS” won’t open till Earth Day, yet 400,000 moviegoers have already bought tickets to catch the movie in its opening week and protect coral reefs in the process. The “See ‘OCEANS,’ Save Oceans” initiative has bolstered ticket sales for the film; Disneynature’s pledge to make a contribution in honor of everyone who sees the motion picture between April 22-28 has already translated to more than 790 acres of marine protected area in The Bahamas—and that number is still growing with advance ticket sales on the rise and the April 22-opening just a week away.
“With 400,000 tickets sold so far, Disneynature’s second film is making a huge splash and saving coral reefs along the way—and ‘OCEANS’ hasn’t even opened yet,” said Chuck Viane, president, distribution, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. “Coral reefs are essential to the global ecosystem; we’re already on our way to establishing more than 790 acres of new marine protected areas—that’s the equivalent of about 600 football fields or nearly the size of New York City’s Central Park—and sales are still going strong.”
Disney Store Expands ‘Earth Day’ Collection in Honor of ‘Friends for Change’ and OCEANS; Free Hat Offer
In addition to the limited-time only ‘Save the Planet’ merchandise featuring the Alien from Toy Story 3, Disney Store has expanded its Earth Day 2010 merchandise to include merchandise inspired by Disney Channel’s Friends for Change ‘Project Green’ and the new anthem Make a Wave by Joe Jonas and and Demi Lovato which also serves as the end title song for Disneynature’s OCEANS.
In honor of OCEANS, guests who bring six plastic bottles or aluminum cans to their local Disney Store on Earth Day, April 22, will receive a free Friends for Change and OCEANS co-branded baseball cap made from six recycled plastic bottles itself.
Parents can also also bring kids to the Disney Store to pick up OCEANS themed activity sheets that teach children about our lakes, oceans, rivers, and streams and how we can reduce the amount of trash and waste in our waterways. OCEANS offers an unprecedented look beneath the sea, and can be a great viewing experience together for families and children. Disneynature’s OCEANS will also contribute to The Nature Conservancy’s ‘Adopt a Coral Reef,’ through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, on behalf of every person who sees the film in theaters April 22- April 28.
Don’t forget to visit the DisneyStore.com Earth Day Boutique. Shop Now!
A few days ago, we revealed some of the new Earth Day limited-time-only merchandise from the Disney Store featuring the Alien from Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3 with the tag line SAVE PLANET EARTH. Today, DisneyStore.com launched its Earth Day Boutique and although you won’t find any of that merchandise online, you will find dozens of other eco-friendly merchandise including Alien tees, a tree planting kit (pictured), a Muppets water bottle and re-useable tote and more eco-friendly merchandise.
Other items of special interest in the store include merchandise supporting the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund and a special re-useable tote from Make-A-Wish in honor of its first annual World Wish Day on April 29 with proceeds going to charity.
To see all of the items now available for purchase, click the special link below.
Disney today announced Mrs. Julie Schnedler’s sixth grade Mediapolis Community School class as the national grand prize winner of the inaugural Disney’s Planet Challenge, a project-based learning environmental competition for 4th – 6th grade classrooms.
“It was such a tough decision for our judging committee to make. So many of the projects submitted exhibited environmental solutions grounded in science and teamwork”
Thousands of classrooms in all 50 states enrolled in Disney’s Planet Challenge, which is just in its first year as a national program. Since fall 2009, classes across the nation have been hard at work on environmental projects of their choosing. They spent months collecting data, conducting field research, coming up with solutions for problems, promoting community involvement and documenting their efforts along the way.
“It was such a tough decision for our judging committee to make. So many of the projects submitted exhibited environmental solutions grounded in science and teamwork,” said Dr. Beth Stevens, senior vice president, Environmental Affairs for The Walt Disney Company. “Mrs. Schnedler’s class submission for ‘Operation: Save the Quail’ went above and beyond in demonstrating a dedication to understanding the environmental impacts of actions and initiating real-life change that they can be proud of.”
Winners were chosen by a judging committee made up of scientists, environmental experts and educators including representatives from the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and WestEd K-12 Alliance. State and regional winners will be announced this week on the program web site www.disney.com/planetchallenge.
Mrs. Schnedler’s class, located in a small rural community in Iowa, focused on saving the Northern Bobwhite Quail population for their project. The waning quail population – due to harsh weather and decreased prairie land – is a significant environmental issue facing Des Moines County. To restore the quails’ natural habitat, students collected information through computer research and field work. With the help of community members, the class restored acres of existing conservation space in Luckenbill Woods by conducting a controlled burn to prepare the land and replanting native vegetation that will benefit local quails, promote diversity of wildlife and help to control soil erosion. Furthering their efforts, the students wrote to the local Pheasants Forever chapter, which fulfilled a request to help fund the project. Their dedication will make it possible for future 6th grade classes to continue the work and nurture the new land.
The winning class will be honored in a recognition ceremony and parade at Disneyland® on May 7th, 2010, and featured on Disney Channel as youth environmental leaders. Regional and state winners will receive classroom grants, Disney prize packages, NSTA memberships and more.
Disney’s Planet Challenge promotes project-based learning and provides tailored lesson plans customized to reflect the curriculum standards of each state and grade level (grades 4-6). In recognition of tightening classroom budgets and the increasing importance of environmental science education, Disney’s Planet Challenge also offered a grant matching initiative with DonorsChoose.org, an online charity that connects individual “citizen philanthropists” with classrooms in need.
Disney’s Planet Challenge for the classroom, together with Disney’s Friends for Change: Project Green for everyday life, are cornerstones of Disney’s focus to provide the youth of today with the knowledge and resources to positively impact the environment for future generations.
Disney’s Planet Challenge enrollment for the 2010/2011 school year is open now at www.disney.com/planetchallenge and will soon be expanded for middle school classrooms.
In honor of Earth Day’s 40th anniversary, Disney Store unveiled a new line of eco-friendly merchandise today. Featuring the tag line ‘Save Planet Earth’ and featuring Alien from Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3, the new line of merchandise will be available at Disney Store locations nationwide only from April 12 though Earth Day, April 22.
The Alien-themed ‘green’ merchandise include fashionable ‘Save Planet Earth’ tote bags made from seven recycled bottles that were cleaned, smashed, melted and reused. Disney Store’s aluminum bottles can be reused over and over again, and the “Save Planet Earth” journals are made from recycled paper. A new line of T-shirts made from 100% organic cotton with the message “Love” and “Save Planet Earth” will also be available. Since the adorable three-eyed green alien from Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story serves as the mascot of these environmentally friendly products, Disney Store will also unveil an exclusive new plush alien to commemorate this special occasion.