Saturday, July 26, 2008

Miscellany: Neotropical Birds, Climate Change, an Oil Spill, and a Blog Carnival

First, the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA) is up for reauthorization this year. The current bill (H.R. 5756), introduced by Ron Kind (D-WI) and Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), renews the conservation funds at significantly higher levels than in years past. The NMBCA has helped to fund 244 bird conservation projects in 44 states and 34 other countries. Three grants, for example, have gone to fund cerulean warbler conservation projects in Colombia.

Please ask your representative to cosponsor the Kind-Gilchrest renewal bill. Very few representatives have signed on as cosponsors so far.

Second, New Jersey readers may be interested in this interview with Senator Bob Menendez on the Lieberman-Warner Act and the future of climate change legislation. I like the way he talks about international assistance dealing with the effects of climate change.

Grist: You were also one of the most vocal on the international issues involved in the climate legislation: advocating for a forest-protection amendment and for international-adaptation funding. What should be the role of these international programs in the climate bill?

Menendez: I think we need a well-funded effort to protect rainforests. My amendment that I would have offered would have increased funding for forest protection from what existed in the bill. I think [we need] a program to help vulnerable nations adapt to the effects of climate change, and we would have increased that funding. Also, [we need] a mechanism to deploy clean technologies in the developing world, including technology transfer -- something I was working with Sens. [Joe] Biden [D-Del.] and [Dick] Lugar [R-Ind.] on.

These are important because at the end of the day, global warming is just that -- it is a global challenge. We [need to bring] others along who can provide some of the greatest carbon sinks that we have in the world. [We should help] nations that through no actions of their own are going to receive the greatest effects of climate change, [and] at the same time, mitigate some of the security challenges as a result thereof.
I also like the fact that he included better public transportation among his environmental priorities for the next term, even if it came at the very end. I find it strange that transit gets such short shrift in national discourse on climate and energy when boosting its availability could relieve some of the burden of energy prices and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Third, refuge managers at Delta NWR are preparing for the Mississippi River oil spill to reach the refuge.
As the front end of a massive fuel oil spill continues its crawl toward the Gulf of Mexico, biologists at the wildlife refuge are seeing firsthand the challenges in containing the enormous plume that is only just arriving at this haven of marshland....

Cleanup crews farther upriver are redirecting oil to shorelines fortified by the levee system, where the muck can then be scrubbed, absorbed and trucked away. But preventing seepage into the innumerable channels and passes of the Mississippi Delta is another story....

That water will flow into adjacent marshes and eventually the Gulf.

In the shallower and narrower waterways near Delta National Wildlife Refuge, crews are setting up hundreds of feet of barriers to prevent oil from killing marsh plants that provide food to nearly 100,000 migratory birds every fall.

"This is a major wintering area for waterfowl," said James Harris, a senior wildlife biologist at the refuge who motored toward one of the shallow inlets to inspect the cleanup. "The marshes outside of the delta are not near as productive. They would have to work a lot harder to get that food."
So far there have been only a handful of reports of oiled wildlife. That will probably change as the slick reaches the delta marshes.

Finally, my post about wind power in Appalachia was included in the inaugural edition of Cirque du Vert, a blog carnival focusing on environmental impacts. Check out the other posts from the carnival, too.

Update: A belated Tangled Bank #110 is now up at Pharyngula.