These ivory carvings are one-of-a-kind. Today, they were destroyed, and not a moment too soon.

The message was loud and clear.

On a cool Friday morning in New York City's Times Square, I took a grainy, poorly composed photo of some of the most beautiful, tacky, and bizarre ivory carvings I've ever seen.

Photos by Eric March/Upworthy.


Just a few hours later, every single one of them was crushed into little tiny bits by this machine.

GIFs by Eric March/Upworthy.

Never to be seen again.

At 8 a.m., the pre-pulverized statues were on display in all their weirdness.

Much about this is deeply unsettling.

Officer Neil Mendelsohn of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and his colleagues worked through the night arranging and posing hundreds of the illegal trinkets — all so they could be smashed into oblivion early the next morning.

"I actually built that structure in my garage," he told me. "I'm functioning on no sleep."

Crushing a bunch of ivory in one of the busiest intersections in the world might seem like a random thing to do on a Friday.

But it actually makes a (literal) ton of sense. Because poaching is no joke.

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, 96 elephants are killed in Africa every day, mainly for their tusks. 100,000 elephants were poached between 2011 and 2014 alone.

Infographic by the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The "Ivory Crush" is a symbolic gesture. It won't make a big dent in the global ivory supply, and on its own, it won't stop poaching. But it's not designed to do either of those things.

The Ivory Crush is designed to send a message.

"When one country crushes ivory, another does. When one country says they're going to tighten their regulations, another does."
— Leigh Henry, senior policy advisor at the World Wildlife Fund

"China just announced they have the intention to close their domestic ivory market ... and they called out the U.S. to do the same," she told me. "I think some of it's competitive, It's just kind of human nature," Henry continued, "You don't want to be the first to give something up or the first to take the step. It's much easier to follow others."

#IvoryCrush is the *right* time to break out the elephant costume.

According to World Wildlife Fund officials, the global market for ivory is vast and complex, and motivations for buying ivory items vary greatly. For some, it's a status symbol. For others, owning a piece of ivory is a cultural signifier — a sign that you've made it. But perhaps most tragically, many people who buy ivory items don't fully understand what they're purchasing.

"Behind every piece of ivory is a dead elephant," Henry explained. "We find that a lot of people don't actually make that connection when they walk into a store to buy a piece of ivory. They don't understand that elephants have to be killed for that ivory."

Once the ivory is confiscated, it's off the market for good, and international law prevents it from ever being sold again. Destroying it does nothing to drive up the price, but ensures that if it somehow falls into the wrong hands, it's worthless.

Which is nice news for elephants. And elephants could really use some good news.


OK. I got it. You got it. This whole #IvoryCrush thing is good for the earth and good for elephants and happy and feely — all that jazz. Let's see some ivory get freaking pulverized.

You got it.

"OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG." — two-year-old you, probably.

"This machine is primarily for contractors doing recycling, demo, sand, and gravel rock," explained Tyler Trowbridge, territory manager for Powerscreen USA, the company that manufactures and operates the smashing machine.

"Stuff goes into what's called the hopper here..."

"...comes into the impact chamber — there's a big boulder in there spinning at 1800 rpm, and it's throwing the material against a steel apron that starts breaking the material..."

"...and then it spits it out."

"Normally it's [used to crush] boring recycled roads, recycled concrete, or rock," Trowbridge explained. "This isn't your typical application for us."

The U.S. government doesn't have a plan for what to do with all the crushed ivory yet.

Ride on, horse couple. Even though you have been crushed into little tiny bits, your spirit lives on.

It will remain in secure storage until they come up with something. But in the meantime, creative minds are working on ideas.

"Personally, I think it'd be really neat if they took all the pieces of ivory and made a statue of an elephant out of them," said Stephen Sautner, Executive Director of Communications for the Wildlife Conservation Society. "To represent all the elephants that have been killed."

Like this non-ivory elephant statue that I imagine it would look like:

Image by Cory Doctorow/Flickr.

I'd pay at least as much money as I would not pay for an ivory trinket to see that.

More
Youtube

Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

Most Shared
via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

Keep Reading Show less
Family