Friday, March 19, 2021

Loose Feathers #793

Wood Duck / Photo by T. Kersten/USFWS

Birds and birding news

Science and nature blogging

Biodiversity and conservation

  • According to a new study using whaling records, Sperm Whales learned how to evade whalers and communicated the information with each other.
  • At this time of year, many amphibians need to cross roads to find vernal pools for breeding, so volunteers try to keep them from getting crushed by cars.
  • Researchers identified parts of central Arizona and New Mexico that could support up to 150 Jaguars. The area is not currently designated as critical habitat because the species has only been recorded south of I-10.
  • A Sri Lankan tree species was considered extinct until one was discovered in 2019. Now that individual tree is threatened by a road project. Three of the five "extinct" plants on Sri Lanka's 2012 red list have since been rediscovered, but another 177 plant species are still threatened or possibly extinct.
  • Saint Patrick did not drive the snakes out of Ireland. Instead they were eliminated in the last Ice Age and never made it back.
  • Sea-level rise is killing forests along the Atlantic coast.

Climate change and environmental politics

  • The Biden administration is considering a carbon tariff on goods coming from countries that are not doing enough to reduce carbon emissions.
  • To be effective, the EPA needs to be restaffed and end arrangements that allow states and industry to block enforcement.
  • Property owners in the Hamptons are fighting an offshore wind farm because the cable connecting it to a substation would pass through their town. Long Island is also the focus of a fight over flood insurance, which needs to be adjusted to account for sea-level rise.
  • Bottom trawling releases a gigaton of carbon from the seabed each year, which is roughly equivalent to global aviation. The amount could be reduced by protecting more of the ocean.
  • North America was the only continent whose air quality declined in 2020 due to western wildfires.
  • One of the challenges in switching to carbon-free energy is obtaining necessary elements like lithium without causing additional environmental damage. One proposed lithium mine in Nevada would pollute local groundwater and disturb vulnerable species, while another would destroy 70% of a rare plant's range.
  • Biofuels should not be part of a carbon-free transportation system because they are inefficient and stall the replacement of internal combustion with electric vehicles.
  • Researchers found microplastics in 53 waterways that flow into the Delaware Estuary. Among the main contributors are plastic fibers from synthetic clothing.
  • Deb Haaland was finally confirmed and sworn in as Interior secretary. She is the first Native American cabinet secretary and supports the 30x30 plan for biodiversity conservation.
  • The Keystone XL pipeline might be dead, but activists are still trying to stop another cross-border pipeline known as Line 3.