Friday, November 27, 2020

Loose Feathers #777

Song Sparrow / my photo

Birds and birding news

Science and nature blogging

Biodiversity and conservation

Climate change and environmental politics

Friday, November 20, 2020

Loose Feathers #776

Ferruginous Hawk / Photo: Tom Koerner/USFWS

Birds and birding news

Science and nature blogging

Biodiversity and climate change

Climate change and biodiversity

  • The Department of Homeland Security and Army Corps of Engineers are pushing ahead with border wall construction even though Biden has promised to stop construction when he takes office. While Biden can stop further construction, the wall has already done long-term ecological damage. Those links focus mainly on Arizona; this one documents the environmental situation along the Texas border.
  • Burning fossil fuels contributed to the Permian-Triassic mass extinction when volcanic activity in what is now Siberia ignited oil and coal deposits
  • Greenhouse gas emissions in the US are going to drop 9.2% this year, to roughly the level from 1983. The reduction is linked to lower economic activity due to COVID-19.
  • The Trump administration is rushing to lease as much of Arctic NWR as possible before Biden takes office in January.
  • Trump's golf course in Bedminster is draining 63 million gallons of water from the Raritan Basin per year and paying less for it than normal customers. (Wasting water like this is not just a Trump problem; it is feature of golf courses and other manicured lawns.)
  • A new agreement cleared the path for removal of four dams along the Klamath River that block fish migration.
  • Hurricane Iota was the tenth named storm to show rapid intensification this year and was the second major hurricane this November. Both numbers are anomalous.
  • Maryland is studying the potential for removing sediment trapped by the Conowingo Dam, which is known among birders for its concentration of Bald Eagles in winter.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Loose Feathers #775

Red-breasted Nuthatch / Photo by Peter Pearsall/USFWS

Birds and birding news

Science and nature blogging

Biodiversity and conservation

Climate change and environmental politics

  • Climate scientists have some advice for the incoming Biden administration. Here are some other suggestions for what the incoming Biden administration should do about climate change. Here is a look at how the incoming Biden administration might affect birds and wildlife. Of course, substantive action is dependent on getting legislation through Congress, which seems unlikely.
  • It will take a lot of work to undo the damage to the environment done by the Trump administration. The New York Times has counted 104 rollbacks of environmental protections under Trump.
  • Overall the election was a mixed bag for progress on environmental issues.
  • Earlier this week, Theta became the 29th named storm in the 2020 hurricane season and set a new record for named storms. Twelve of those storms hit the U.S., which is also a record.
  • Hurricanes are staying stronger after landfall because of warmer ocean temperatures, which means inland cities face more potential for damage. Here are five other ways that climate change is making hurricanes worse.
  • NOAA will allow the Navy to kill up to 51 Southern Resident Orcas per year during military exercises off the coast of Washington.
  • Groundwater pumping is drying up Arizona's rivers. A similar dynamic is at work in the Ogallala-High Plains Aquifer, which farmers are draining faster than it can be recharged.
  • One of the problems with free-trade agreements is that they undermine labor and environmental regulations. In this case, the US plastic industry is using CUSMA to threaten legal action against Canada for banning some single-use plastics.

Friday, November 06, 2020

Loose Feathers #774

Golden-crowned Kinglet / my photo

Birds and birding news

  • A new study proposes splitting the Gentoo Penguin into four species based on DNA and size.
  • In the spring of 2021, there will be Spring Global Shorebird Counts in addition to the usual ones in the fall. The spring event will be May 7-9, to coincide with World Migratory Bird Day.
  • A study using geolocators found that Eurasian Blackcaps migrate to different wintering grounds depending on where they breed. A small number migrate north and spend the winter in England.
  • Restoration of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers to the Piney Grove Preserve in Virginia has succeeded to such an extent that woodpeckers from that site are being used to supplement populations elsewhere.
  • Stronger immune systems do not affect reproduction in Purple-crowned Fairy-wrens.

Science and nature blogging

Biodiversity and conservation

Climate change and environmental politics

Friday, October 30, 2020

Loose Feathers #773

Ruby-crowned Kinglet / Photo by Peter Pearsall/USFWS

Birds and birding news

Science and nature blogging

Biodiversity and conservation

  • USFWS is proposing a new rule to remove the Gray Wolf from Endangered Species Act protections. Because of the abbreviated comment period, the rule could be finalized by the end of the year. While the wolf populations has rebounded from its historic lows, it still has not returned to its historic range and faces the threat of unsustainable hunting.
  • Some spiders can hear by sensing airborne vibrations with their hairs and leg joints.
  • The USFWS refused again to list wolverines under the Endangered Species Act.
  • Protecting nature, both by preserving habitats and stopping the wildlife trade, could prevent future pandemics that pass from wildlife to humans.
  • Wild fruit production is falling in Gabon, which is reducing the food available for large mammals like forest elephants.
  • Fin whales sing multiple song types instead of just one as previously thought.
  • Remoras can move around on a blue whale's skin without falling off.
  • A study in Guam showed the value of endangered trees to the forests where they survive.

Climate change and environmental politics