Friday, April 16, 2021

Loose Feathers #797

Bald Eagle / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS

Birds and birding news

Science and nature blogging

Biodiversity and conservation

Climate change and environmental politics

  • A new study finds that the overuse of DDT has had consequences over multiple generations, as the granddaughters of women exposed to DDT are more likely to have an array of medical conditions associated with the pesticide.
  • DDT has also been in the news in California after a survey discovered hundreds of thousands of barrels dumped off the coast of Long Beach.
  • Conservationists are trying to find ways to reduce the damage from border wall construction, potentially removing some barriers like the one blocking the San Pedro River. Tracking studies show animal movements being stopped by the wall in both the US and Mexico.
  • Theoretically all new cars sold in the US could be electric by 2035.
  • Abandoned, unplugged oil and gas wells emit greenhouse gases and threaten local groundwater, but it is difficult to get companies to take responsibility for fixing them.
  • The American Jobs Plan can be more sustainable by following these suggestions, which include keeping new development within the existing footprint of the built environment and adding things like wildlife corridors and bird-safe glass to new or repaired infrastructure.
  • Republican governors are already working to prevent any progress on climate change with delay tactics coordinated by the American Legislative Exchange Council.
  • Pledges of "net-zero" emissions from fossil fuel companies are another delay tactic.
  • Since greenhouse gases persist in the atmosphere, it could take several decades to see improvements from cutting emissions.
  • The Southwest is likely to face a severe drought this year after a record-setting fire season last year.
  • Microplastics can remain airborne long enough to be blown around the globe, even into the remotest areas.
  • A new agreement seeks to reduce the massive carbon footprint of cryptocurrencies.

Friday, April 09, 2021

Loose Feathers #796

Blue-winged Teal / Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS

Birds and birding news

Science and nature blogging

Biodiversity and conservation

Climate change and environmental politics

  • The Mauna Loa Observatory recorded carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at more than 420 parts per million for the first time ever. The new record means that the Earth is halfway to doubling pre-industrial carbon levels, which would cause a global temperature rise between 2.3 and 4.5°C.
  • Politicians have largely avoided the subject of how to manage the retreat from the coastlines made necessary by sea level rise, and some places are still developing vulnerable coastal real estate. 
  • Because the national monument designation was stripped from most of Bears Ears early in the Trump administration, the site has had a boom in visitation without the resources to manage it.
  • Hurricane Zeta nearly wrecked Transocean Deepwater Asgard, a drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, which would have caused a spill larger than the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
  • Japan has set a more ambitious goal under the Paris treaty of a 40% cut in carbon emissions by 2030 and being carbon neutral by 2050.
  • One third of Antarctica's ice shelves could collapse if there is 4°C of warming.
  • Beach Sweeps coordinated by Clean Ocean Action have been finding lots of discarded PPE in addition to the trash that they normally collect. Plastic makes up 72% of trash collected during cleanups.

Friday, April 02, 2021

Loose Feathers #795

Greater Sage-Grouse / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS

Birds and birding news

Science and nature blogging

Biodiversity and conservation

  • A new report named tropical forests like those in Brazil, Indonesia, Madagascar and Colombia as the most likely to host the 80% of species that have not been described.
  • Native oaks are the best trees for supporting wildlife, from insects to birds to mammals, so people should plant more of them instead of ornamental trees.
  • Kelp forests are collapsing off the coast of California since they have been hit by a combination of marine heat waves and a boom in purple sea urchins that make it impossible for the forest to regenerate.
  • Loss of forests continued at a high level in 2020. The loss of 4.2 million hectares of primary tropical forests is especially concerning since it released 2.64 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere.
  • Fireflies are in decline, and many species have been studied so little that their status is unknown. Major causes include light pollution, loss of habitat, and poor water quality.
  • Grizzly Bears often appear on hiking trails because they prefer a gradient and pace similar to those of humans.
  • The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned BLM to protect the last remaining habitat for Tiehm’s Buckwheat from a proposed lithium mine.
  • An interview with the person who runs the @PicPedant account describes how to spot fake or misleading wildlife images (some of which may involve animal abuse).
  • Here are some tips on how to identify and kill invasive Spotted Lanternflies.

Climate change and environmental politics

  • Pledges of net-zero emissions may not be that effective when calculating and offsetting emissions are voluntary and if there is not enough capacity to meet the demand for offsets. 
  • Offset programs like the Trillion Trees initiative are also problematic when rainforests are turning into savannas in response to climate change.
  • This year Kyoto had its earliest peak cherry bloom on record on March 26. Even though the previous record was set in 1409, the peak bloom date had been relatively stable until the past hundred years when they have steadily gotten earlier.
  • The oil industry has a long history of supporting white supremacy, from segregating workplaces to racist violence. The discriminatory models from the US were then replicated in other countries.
  • The Biden administration is planning a major expansion of offshore wind energy along the Atlantic Coast.