Sunday, December 04, 2005

Loose Feathers #8

News and links on birds, birding, and the environment.

  • A study from Spain and Morocco suggests more problems from habitat fragmentation than just loss of places to forage and breed. Where habitat is broken into small patches, birds have difficulty learning songs from any others except their closest neighbors, and breed within a smaller circle. This implies a loss of genetic diversity.
  • A new study suggests that ocean currents may be slowing due to decreasing salinity, which is a result of increased fresh water entering the ocean through melting polar ice. Over the long term this could mean a much colder climate for northern Europe, even as temperatures rise elsewhere.
  • Meanwhile, the climate summit in Montreal is seeking alternative ways to address global warming to global agreements to cut greenhouse gases. (The lead American negotiator has been criticized for his close ties to the energy industry.)
  • According to a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, the EPA manipulated the results of its estimates of the costs and benefits of Bush's "Clear Skies" initiative in comparison to plans proposed by senators. The senators' plans would have implemented reductions in emissions by power plants much faster than the Bush plan. Such manipulation is of a piece with this administration's pattern in other matters, ranging from the environment to health care.
  • A chemical spill in northeast China contaminated the water supply with benzene, a carcinogen. Several million people were left without drinking water as a result. Now the head of China's environment agency has been fired to show accountability.