Friday, July 03, 2020

Loose Feathers #756

Western Tanager / Photo by Kari Cieszkiewicz/USFWS
Birds and birding news
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Friday, June 26, 2020

Loose Feathers #755

Ruby-throated Hummingbird / Photo by Courtney Celley/USFWS
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Biodiversity and conservation
Climate change and environmental politics
  • California is requiring that trucks sold in the state become zero-emission vehicles over the next 25 years — 50% by 2035 and 100% by 2045. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the rule should improve air quality, as diesel trucks cause 70% of California's smog and 80% of particulate air pollution.
  • This week temperatures reached 100.4°F in Siberia north of the Arctic Circle. It was the highest temperature ever recorded in the Arctic and follows a warm winter and hot spring. Like other extreme heat events in the Arctic, it appears to be linked to climate change. The heat has been accompanied by major wildfires in Siberia.
  • Reusable bags and similar items are a low risk for spreading COVID-19 since the virus spreads primarily by airborne droplets.
  • A new poll finds that a majority of Americans think the government should do more about climate change, including stricter emissions standards for power plants and automobiles.
  • A loophole in Facebook's fact-checking system allows climate change denialism to run rampant on the platform.
  • USDA Wildlife Services is back to planting cyanide bombs in the wilderness now that the Trump administration loosened the rules.
  • Australia’s wildfires last winter sent smoke 19 miles into the sky; the last smoke plume to reach such a height was the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991.
  • Climate change is likely to intensify wildfires in the American West. 
  • A recent paper found like between environmental racism and police brutality.
  • The Trump administration plans to hold a fireworks show at Mount Rushmore for Independence Day; fireworks shows at that site had been stopped ten years ago because of the fire hazard, and this year there is additional danger from the pandemic.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Loose Feathers #754

Marsh Wren / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
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Friday, June 12, 2020

Loose Feathers #753

Bald Eagle chick in nest / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
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Friday, June 05, 2020

Loose Feathers #752

Tree Swallow / my photo
Birds and birding news
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Friday, May 29, 2020

Loose Feathers #751

Eastern Kingbird / photo by me
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Friday, May 22, 2020

Loose Feathers #750

Gray Catbird / my photo
Birds and birding news
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Friday, May 15, 2020

Loose Feathers #749

Red-headed Woodpecker / Photo by Jessica Bolser/USFWS
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Biodiversity and conservation
Climate change and environmental politics
  • The EPA declined to restrict perchlorate, a chemical linked to fetal brain damage, despite a court order requiring them to do so. Regulation was opposed by the defense industry since the chemical is used in rocket fuel.
  • The Trump administration approved permits for a large solar array that would destroy habitat for the endangered Desert Tortoise. While renewable energy is preferable, placing energy developments in intact desert habitat is counterproductive and could be avoided by building solar arrays in areas that are already disturbed.
  • The crowding of public spaces during coronavirus lockdowns shows the need for preserving more parkland to allow people to spread out, especially in and near urban areas. 
  • A set of lawsuits is challenging the Trump administration's rules to weaken enforcement of the Endangered Species Act.
  • The EPA is maintaining an outdated standard for air pollution despite the health risks.
  • Most plastics collected in recycling bins are not recycled, and most of what is reused is actually downcycled. Fixing the waste problem will require more systemic changes, like bans on single-use plastics or requiring plastic manufacturers to be responsible for plastic waste.
  • A review paper suggests ways to protect both wolves and livestock, by making sure wolves have enough wild prey and keeping livestock fenced-in and under supervision.

Friday, May 08, 2020

Loose Feathers #748

Common Grackle / my photo
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Friday, May 01, 2020

Loose Feathers #747

House Wren / my photo
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Biodiversity and conservation
Climate change and environmental politics
  • Greenhouse gas emissions fell by 8% this year because of the pandemic, but they could bounce back to 2010 levels once stay-at-home orders are lifted.
  • The International Energy Agency believes that demand for fossil fuels will collapse as a result of the pandemic-related economic downturn. However, there will need to be alternatives in place, like solar and wind energy generation and electrified transportation. In the U.S., that seems unlikely, at least in the short term as a significant chunk of money from the relief bills went to bail out fossil fuel companies.
  • A study found that 3.7% of the natural gas extracted from the Permian Basin is released into the atmosphere through leaks, a much larger proportion than typical for gas wells. Natural gas is a greenhouse gas, so any leakage contributes directly to climate change.
  • Microplastics are accumulating in large concentrations deep in the Mediterranean Sea, akin to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but at the ocean floor instead of the surface. Researchers are trying to understand how these concentrations affect marine life.
  • There is already some evidence of harm, as hermit crabs that have been exposed to microplastics have trouble choosing the best shell
  • The Bureau of Land Management is rushing to open public lands to extractive industries and ignoring their own evaluations in the process.
  • Drone footage shows workers blasting through portions of Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge as part of border wall construction. Wall construction is continuing even though construction workers could spread the coronavirus to residents of border towns.
  • As if the pandemic were not bad enough, the coming hurricane season is expected to be more active than normal.