Archive for the ‘endangered species’ Category

the lost 8 years

October 17, 2008

Many in the environmental community consider the past 8 years of Bush Administration Policy as the lost 8 years. Here, Environmental Defense Fund shows us some of the devastation that ensued under the watch of our careless rulers.

Lost Eight Years by the Numbers

Over the last eight years, global warming took its toll on the world.

While climate scientists confirmed that it is undoubtedly a man-made phenomenon and predicted its disastrous future effects, the Bush Administration worked with various members of U.S. industry to bury this evidence and block action.

Check out our 10 Facts About the Lost Eight Years to learn more.

150,000
The number of people who died in 2000 due to debilitating diseases caused by climate change in 2000, according to a 2003 study by the World Health Organization.

20 billion
The net tons of water oceans gain each year through melting glaciers and ice caps, according to a 2006 study by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

1,260
Square miles in area of the Larsen B ice shelf that collapsed off the Antarctic Peninsula in 2002 – this area is roughly the size of Rhode Island.

2050
Year by which polar bears could be at or near extinction according to the U.S. Geological Survey in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

4.5 feet
The amount the seas could rise by the end of the century, according to scientists at the University of Arizona.

928
Number of peer reviewed papers used in a study that found there were no serious challenges to the global warming consensus that the phenomena was real and largely man made.

385 ppm
The concentration of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere in 2008 – the highest level in at least the past 800,000 years and 37% higher than CO2 concentrations at the start of the Industrial Revolution.

$200 billion
The amount of economic losses resulting from the intensity of climate change through the year 2005, according to the reinsurance company Munich Re.

0
Number of global warming bills passed by the Senate.

0
Number of global warming bills passed by the House.

Sources:

  • McMichael, Anthony J., ed. Climate Change and Human Health: Risks and Responses. World Health Organization. 2003.
  • “NASA Finds Arctic Replenished Very Little Thick Sea Ice in 2005.” The Earth Observer. Volume 19, Issue 3. May/June 2007.
  • National Snow and Ice Data Center. “Larsen B Ice Shelf Collapses in Antarctica.” March 18, 2002.
  • Roach, John. “Most Polar Bears Gone By 2050, Studies Say.” National Geographic News. September 10, 2007.
  • Borenstein, Seth. “Global warming’s rising seas projected to overtake unique U.S. coastal spots in 100 years.” Associated Press. September 22, 2007.
  • Oreskes, Naomi “Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change” for Science December 4, 2004.
  • Hansen, James. “Twenty Years Later: Tipping Points Near on Global Warming.” The Huffington Post, June 23, 2008.
  • Faust, Ebhard. “Climate Change impact on the (re-) Insurance Industry and Munich Re’s Response.” Global Roundtable on Climate Change Session II at Columbia University. November 14-15, 2005.

What do you think?

Leave your answer to the following questions posed by Environmental Defense Fund:

With a new administration only months away and a significantly new Congress just around the corner, do you think the United States will finally give environmental concerns the priority they deserve? Or will we end up falling into the pitfalls of the past, with political disagreements hindering progress?

public transport breathes life into endangered species

October 3, 2008

What are the positive consequences of choosing public transportation? This street art demo offers one answer.

[via Climate 411]

more about our emptied oceans

September 30, 2008

It seems like a challenging task to demonstrate how vast our negative impact on the oceans is. Most obviously because, when we look out at an open sea, we can’t see below the surface.

Randy Olson, documentarian and one-time marine biologist, shows us how depleted the oceans have become in a one minute video. He simply compares the observations of two ocean voyages 50 years apart. Pretty compelling stuff.

Read the NYT blog about it here.

Related post
fin, finito, bye bye fishies

fin, finito, bye bye fishies

September 22, 2008

The oceans are being depleted of their onetime abundance. Overfishing is something we can all help stop if we want to save fish from extinction. There is a sobering article in GOOD magazine about the imminent global collapse of fishing. It is a must-read for anyone who eats fish. Some eye-opening highlights:

The end of fishing = global food (and economic) crisis

The demise of commercial fishing is beyond the limits of even our darkest environmental imaginations. And yet the evidence of the ocean’s diminishment is everywhere. Leaving aside the legitimate concerns of conservationists, the possibility of a broad fish collapse is harrowing for other reasons. At a time when we are mired in a global food crisis, nearly 1.5 billion people depend upon the sea as a source of food or income. The destabilizing effect of such a collapse would be tremendous, bringing communities and countries into conflict over a resource we once considered boundless. It is fair to say that the endgame has begun.

Government support for an unsustainable industry

Many experts think that governments have been too kind to the fishing industry. The European Union, China, Japan, and the United States spend as much as $20 billion a year to subsidize a $90 billion industry. The number of industrial-sized fishing boats in the world, which the U.N. estimates at 1.3 million, will have to be reduced by more than a third to reach sustainable levels of fishing (and some conservation organizations put the number at closer to half).

Overfishing isn’t the only problem, but it’s the easiest to fix

We have imperiled what is perhaps the last wilderness on earth, for the simplest reason: We believed it was so vast it couldn’t be harmed. The signs of our folly are now too numerous to ignore. Massive, swirling gyres of plastic have formed in the North Pacific, as have toxic dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico, the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, and dozens more places. Coastal pollution and construction is destroying critical wetland habitats worldwide. And the ocean itself is warming, a development that will have consequences we can hardly imagine. Amid these challenges, overfishing represents the most immediate threat and possibly the easiest problem to remedy.

We are all responsible

Because of our role as consumers, we’re no less culpable than fishermen for the state of the oceans. Global seafood consumption has doubled since 1973 and, just as its health benefits are becoming known, it seems clear that we will have to eat less fish, and that the fish we do eat will have to be smaller and lower on the food chain, where the effects of fishing are less pernicious. A cod caught by a bottom trawler carries with it a different set of environmental implications than a cod caught by a hook and line—and we ought to recognize and pay for the difference. And we would do well to contemplate, too, why it is that we become indignant at the thought of a world without wolves or elephants, yet stand idly by as bluefin tuna, for instance, are hunted into obsolescence. This animal, as grand as any we know, can live for 30 years, weigh as much as 1,200 pounds, and cross thousands of miles of ocean in a single year.

Please read the whole article.

You can do something!

  1. Follow the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Guide. They have a free downloadable (or mail order) pocket guide you can take with you to restaurants.

    –Some common fish to avoid: Atlantic halibut, Atlantic cod, Atlantic salmon, flounder, sole, monkfish, Chilean sea bass, trawl-caught haddock, skate*

  2. Tell your favorite restaurant or fishmonger to offer sustainable seafood
  3. Help the Director of the National Marine Fisheries Service make the right decision about shaping new commercial fishing regulations

*I realize this may be hard for many people to do, but if we don’t change our actions now, these species will be fished into extinction. There are many viable (and delicious) alternatives, including: Arctic char, Pacific halibut, longline-caught Pacific cod, striped bass, tilapia, mackerel, U.S. Atlantic pole-caught Mahi Mahi, trap-caught lobster, plus farmed oysters, clams, mussels and more!

endangered species act in danger

August 15, 2008

Traditionally the good news follows the bad news to smooth over any ill feelings left over from the latter. Sorry for monkeying with tradition.

The bad news in this case has to do with the tinkering of the Endangered Species Act by a certain unpopular president (do I have to sully this blog with his name?). You know who I’m talking about. Well this is what he’s gone and done: propose said Act be overhauled to let federal agencies, not independent scientific review, determine if protected species are put at risk by “government projects.” That’s right. As Bob Irvin, of Defenders of Wildlife, put it, “Clearly, that’s a case of asking the fox to guard the chicken coop.”

From the Washington Post:
The new rules, which will be subject to a 30-day per comment period, would use administrative powers to make broad changes in the law that Congress has resisted for years. Under current law, agencies must subject any plans that potentially affect endangered animals and plants to an independent review by the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service. Under the proposed new rules, dam and highway construction and other federal projects could proceed without delay if the agency in charge decides they would not harm vulnerable species.

Okay, so there is some good news here.
You can give the administration a piece of your mind! Don’t let the current administration mess with the Endangered Species Act. Sign this letter to your representatives. (It’s easy, just click the link and fill in your info. Defenders of Wildlife will do the rest.)

recent environmental victories

August 15, 2008

It’s nice to hear some good eco news once in a while, so here’s a round-up of recent wins for the environment — from renewable energy to habitat conservation.

US renewable energy market on the upswing despite sluggish economy [World Watch Institute]
The accelerated growth of renewable energy projects is a response to the powerful combination of high energy prices and growing state government support. In addition, fears that Congress will not renew the federal tax credits before they expire at the end of this year have led developers to rush to connect their projects to the grid by December 31. The tax credits are crucial for renewables industries to remain competitive with the fossil fuel industries that receive regular government support.

Chevy Volt design to be ready for mid-September [Reuters]
GM has been racing to finish development of the Volt in time for its planned launch in 2010. The Volt is the centerpiece of GM’s effort to move away from large SUVs, as truck sales tumble and gasoline prices remain high.

Mega-resort denied in California due to greenhouse-gas limit concerns [Center for Biological Diversity]
“Business-as-usual sprawl is devastating to our climate and local environment,” said [Center for Biological Diversity Attorney Jonathan] Evans. “Building smarter with today’s green technology buildings is a major part of solving the climate crisis.”

Restricted roads remain closed in Death Valley National Park [Center for Biological Diversity]
According to [conservation] groups, Greenwater Canyon, Greenwater Valley and Last Chance Canyon will be preserved. Those areas are home to prehistoric sites, desert bighorn sheep, desert tortoises, cougars, deer, coyotes, badgers, various plants and scenic landscape.

Some whales rebounding after 1980s hunting ban [Reuters]
“The large whales, the commercially important ones, have for the most part responded well under protection,” he said. The [International Union for Conservation of Nature] groups governments, scientists and conservationists.

The world imposed a moratorium on all hunts in 1986 after many species were driven towards extinction by decades of exploitation for meat, oil and whalebone. Japan, Norway and Iceland still hunt minke whales, arguing they are plentiful.

evening eco news

August 6, 2008

sustainable seafood news

August 3, 2008

it just takes a dollar

July 29, 2008
One dollar can buy you a heck of a lot more than a lottery ticket. Through Plant A Billion Trees, a Nature Conservancy initiative, every dollar you donate will plant a tree in the deforested Atlantic Forest of Brazil. It’s home to 23 primate species, 1,000 bird species, and over 20,000 plant species. The restored forestland will take 10 million tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere every year, the equivalent of taking 2 million cars off the road.

Through this program, The Nature Conservancy is working with local partners to restore 2.5 million acres of land and plant 1 billion trees in 7 years, and you can be a part of it. See below for details.

another reason to choose organic

July 17, 2008

Choosing organic isn’t just about not consuming pesticides. It’s also a choice that affects the ecosystem, big time. I’ve mentioned the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico before. Well, I hate to be all doom-and-gloomy, but it’s getting bigger — it’ll be about the size of New Jersey this summer, according to the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. Runoff of agricultural chemicals is doing the trick. From the New York Times :

The scientists said high nutrient levels in the water stimulate the growth of algae whose eventual decomposition depletes oxygen to the point that most marine life cannot survive.