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With No Relief in Sight, Extreme to Exceptional Drought Now Covers Over 80 Percent of California

With No Relief in Sight, Extreme to Exceptional Drought Now Covers Over 80 Percent of California | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it
It's no longer a question of 100% drought coverage for the stricken state of California. That barrier was crossed months ago. Today, it's how severe that drought coverage has become. And in a state...
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Excellent article.

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Garry Rogers
Natural history news and information for animals, plants, and habitats.  See more at http://garryrogers.com.
Curated by Garry Rogers
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Subscribe to the Nature Conservation (NatCon) News

Subscribe to the Nature Conservation (NatCon) News | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it

The NatCon News' global coverage includes information and issues for animals, plants, soils, and ecosystems.  

Garry Rogers's insight:

GR:  Subscription to this daily news service is free.

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Birth Control Enters Mainstream Concern

Birth Control Enters Mainstream Concern | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it

This week, a group of researchers promoted a different kind of global approach to addressing climate change: voluntary family planning.

Though their proposal may raise eyebrows, researchers at the Population Reference Bureau and Worldwatch Institute say what they are advocating will both empower women and preserve the environment. They recently formed a joint working group of health, climate and population experts from around the world. They are drafting a report on how family planning could be incorporated into governments' environmental policy.

Garry Rogers's insight:

Good.  This is long overdue.  Reducing the human population by encouraging birth control will take generations.  In the short term (like in the next five years), we must drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and we must gain control over land use practices.  

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Harvard Announces New Animal Advocacy Program Endowed by Bradley L. Goldberg

Harvard Announces New Animal Advocacy Program Endowed by Bradley L. Goldberg | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it

Said Goldberg: “Animals have rights to experience a life of respect, free from unnecessary suffering, and the animal advocacy movement needs and deserves a new generation of leaders so that progress can continue. With its long history of pioneering legal theories to support social movements, Harvard Law School is able and willing to work with policy makers, regulators and society to increase protections for animals. This is a very exciting opportunity for the animal protection movement.”

Garry Rogers's insight:

Aldo Leopold would smile.

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Snap to it: U.S. mulls adding turtles to endangered species list

Snap to it: U.S. mulls adding turtles to endangered species list | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government has proposed adding four types of freshwater turtles to an international endangered species list, in part to better monitor exports of the species, whose meat
Garry Rogers's insight:

GR:  Turtles are resistant to toxic wastes, but they are helpless against water diversions, hunters, and pet collectors.  In my home state, wildlife biologists have registered concerns for survival of all ten native species and the five introduced species (http://garryrogers.com/2013/11/08/arizona-turtle).

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Will there be a 'hostile takeover' of western public lands?

Will there be a 'hostile takeover' of western public lands? | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it
Reblogged on WordPress.com
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Would states manage land better than the feds?  The choice is for the better of two evils.  Federal management is biased toward land abusers (e.g., welfare-ranchers), but at least the federal government has a difficult time selling off public lands.  Not a problem for the states where public land is often sold to developers.  Developers do not care for the land.  Moreover, the lands the states retain and manage gets even less care than the federal lands.  So, let's keep the public domain public by keeping it under federal management.

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Lockheed Aims for Commercial, Compact Fusion Reactor Within Ten Years

Lockheed Aims for Commercial, Compact Fusion Reactor Within Ten Years | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it
The compact nature of Lockheed’s prospective offering — 100 MW scale truck-sized reactors — should they emerge, could well be a critical fossil fuel replacement desperately needed in an age of ramping anthropogenic climate change. So let’s hope this is not a miss-fire on Lockheed’s part.
Garry Rogers's insight:

The Center for Biological Diversity is handing out condoms. There is no money for “no-breeding-checks” (Vardarac in the comments on this article). Is it nonsense to hope we might ever achieve wise landuse and control over our desire for reproduction? I’m beginning to suspect that new technological innovations will only add to our ability to destroy Earth’s biosphere.

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The Second American Revolution Is Brewing in Oregon

The Second American Revolution Is Brewing in Oregon | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it

GR:  The materialism that is dominating world governments is destroying the health of Earth ecosystems.  I believe this is because Human limitations make it impossible for members of our species to see beyond our fears and appetites. A close inspection of all the political candidates for whom I can vote in the next election shows that they will all continue the same blind materialism.  Of personal concern to me, none of them is interested in protecting natural landscapes and wildlife.  Others are reaching the same conclusion.  Why vote we say when no group we can elect will improve our government.  Even those who are not yet concerned about wild plants and animals are feeling the loss of the natural world, and they are realizing that the quality of their and their children's lives is fading. It is gratifying and evokes a glimmer of hope to learn about responses such as the one described in this post.

The following is from truth-out.org.

In Oregon, the capture of local government by the timber industry results in the destruction of the natural world and the poisoning of the populace, but a Josephine County ballot initiative would ban tree spraying by corporations and government entities.

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Feds launch ocean biodiversity monitoring network

Feds launch ocean biodiversity monitoring network | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it
Federal agencies are launching an ambitious $17 million pilot project to monitor ocean biodiversity, recognizing that fragile coastal and marine ecosystems face increasing threats, including climate change.
Garry Rogers's insight:

GR: We should be monitoring the species that define biodiversity in all habitats. It seems foolish for our government to ignore the drastic declines being reported for most animal groups. You can help identify and understand the nature and causes of the declines. Join one of the Citizen Naturalist projects (http://garryrogers.com/2014/10/08/citizen-naturalists/). Learn more about the issues by following the Nature Conservation News (http://natconnews.com).

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Vegan because plants don't have feelings? You're going to need a new reason.

Vegan because plants don't have feelings? You're going to need a new reason. | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it
Have fun eating air.
Garry Rogers's insight:

GR:  The title is just a bit misleading.  Unlike most animals, plants can lose parts with minimal harm.  I doubt if a Bermuda grass clone is too concerned when my friend Moe eats a few leaves. The plant simply grows new ones. Moreover, many plants drop fruit in hopes that a consumer will distribute the seeds.  Since most seeds fail to reach safe germination sites, plants always produce extra.  It's okay to eat some. If all the seeds germinated, the originating species might drive its neighbors extinct. 

But here's the hard part:  We have to know a lot about plants if we want to consume them safely.  We need to know how many leaves and seeds should go to our animal friends, and we have to know how many leaves should become soil mulch, and how many seeds need to germinate to maintain a healthy parent plant population.  We don't know much of this stuff.

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Biodiversity emerges as key U.N. development goal - The Korea Herald

Biodiversity emerges as key U.N. development goal - The Korea Herald | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it
PYEONGCHANG, Gangwon Province ― The 12th meeting of members of the Convention of Biological Diversity closed Friday with the global community showing its commitment to increasing funding significantly to achieve conservation targets.The members...
Garry Rogers's insight:

Around 25,000 participants and observers from 164 countries agreed to ask the UN to emphasize biodiversity as an essential component of sustainable development. Then everyone shut their eyes, patted herself or himself on the back, and went home to continue business as usual:  Growth.  Half a century ago, Garrett Hardin commented that "sustainable growth" is an oxymoron. The participants in the CBD should be reading Hardin. Here's a quote from a tribute to Hardin by John Cairns (2004:  http://bit.ly/1wfC8Ii) that relates to one of the CBD's recommendations (the biobridge).  The quote should encourage reading Hardin.

"He (Hardin) was a strong supporter of and commentator on Kenneth Boulding's dismal and utterly dismal theories of economics. The dismal theory states that, if the only check on the growth of population is starvation and misery, then no matter how favorable the environment or how advanced the technology, the population will grow until it is miserable and starves. The utterly dismal theory states that, if the only check on population growth is starvation and misery, then any technological improvement will have the ultimate effect of increasing the sum of human misery since it permits a larger population to live in precisely the same state of misery and starvation as before the change. Although Boulding first proposed both these theories in 1956 and Hardin reinforced them in 1968, the dangerous expectation still exists that a technological solution can be found to every problem."

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Sex? It all started 385 million years ago (w/ Video)

Sex? It all started 385 million years ago (w/ Video) | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it
It may not have been love as we know it, but around 385 million years ago, our very distant ancestors—armoured fish called placoderms—developed the art of intercourse.
Garry Rogers's insight:

GR:  Hmm, so sex came long after sentience.  After 385 million years we still haven't advanced to sapience.

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Australia aims to end extinction of native wildlife by 2020

Australia aims to end extinction of native wildlife by 2020 | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it
Australia's Environment Minister Greg Hunt has pledged to end the extinction of native mammal species by 2020, with a focus on culprits such as feral cats.
Garry Rogers's insight:

Invasive species, including feral species, are the second greatest short-term reasons for extinction.  Even if we removed them all, extinctions would still occur.  Habitat loss to human development is the greatest short-term reason.  Development in the form of construction and resource harvest (agriculture, grazing, logging, and mining) is steadily eliminating the natural habitats required by native mammals.


It makes sense to begin repairing our conservation efforts by controlling short-term reasons for extinction.  However, we must also control the long-term human impacts (climate change, toxic wastes, and more) if we seriously intend to stop extinction.

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How Beavers Build Biodiversity

How Beavers Build Biodiversity | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it

Even species as small and relatively uncharismatic as beavers produce dramatic changes in the environment, to the benefit of many species and the detriment of others.  This press release caught my eye partly because of the debate over how reintroduction of wolves has changed Yellowstone National Park.  It’s also of interest because the British, who seem t0 suffer from a profound fear of their native wildlife (wolves, bears, badgers), are currently debating reintroduction of beavers (with much “we shall fight in the fields and in the streets” rhetoric):

Garry Rogers's insight:

GR:  Flood damage by natural streams used to be controlled by beaver dams. We removed beaver, and flood control became expensive. This story discusses other natural beaver benefits.

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38 federal agencies reveal their vulnerabilities to climate change — and what they’re doing about it

38 federal agencies reveal their vulnerabilities to climate change — and what they’re doing about it | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it

Chris Mooney, The Washington Post:  "The Obama administration published a small library's worth of climate change documents on Friday, outlining 38 federal agencies' vulnerabilities to global warming and how they will address them -- as well as a separate and even larger set of new government-wide plans to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and achieve new targets for sustainability.

"In sum, the reports represent over a thousand pages of climate change threat assessment and sustainability planning by a vast federal complex that collectively operates 360,000 buildings, maintains 650,000 vehicles and spends $25 billion on energy costs per year.

"In many cases, the vulnerabilities revealed are stark. The Department of Agriculture, for instance, sees "the potential for up to 100 percent increase in the number of acres burned annually by 2050" by wildfires, according to its new adaptation report. The agency notes that fire suppression expenditures have already grown from 13 percent of the Forest Service's budget in 1991 to 40 percent of it today, and says the service's other operations are imperiled by the continual demand to throw more resources at fires."


Garry Rogers's insight:

GR:  Interesting that NASA worries that climate change might interfere with the agency's ability to launch.  Good.  Shut 'em down and focus on Earth until we resolve the multitude of crises we have right here.

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Big Coal Dumps on Wildlife in a Biological Motherlode

Big Coal Dumps on Wildlife in a Biological Motherlode | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it
When most people think about a biological hotspot, a motherlode of species, the Amazon may come to mind, along with certain regions in West Africa and Southeast Asia. Hardly anybody thinks about th

e Appalachians. But more species of salamanders and freshwater mussels live in the streams and forests of this region, stretching from upstate New York to northern Alabama, than anywhere else in the world. Those temperate, deciduous forests are more diverse than anywhere else in the world, too, apart from those in central China.

Unfortunately, seams of coal also run through the Appalachian Mountains, often buried deep within the range. To extract it, coal companies have been literally blowing the tops off of these mountains in a practice called mountaintop removal coal mining. Not only does this method change the landscape and leave swaths of barren rock in place of forested mountainsides, but the mining companies also take the millions of tons of dynamited rock and dump them in the valleys next to the decapitated mountains. These valleys usually have streams in them, and those streams are where the salamanders, mussels, and other freshwater species of the region live. As you might imagine, these animals don’t love having chunks of mountain dumped on their habitat.

"A new study..."

...
Garry Rogers's insight:

GR:  Just like my dogs' manic pursuit of squirrels.

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Join us to discuss democratization of science at Citizen Science 2015

Join us to discuss democratization of science at Citizen Science 2015 | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it

"As an ecologist trained in the auspices of academia, I’ve had the great fortune of traveling to magical places for my research.  However, one particular field season had a greater impact on my career than any other. It was the year when I left the comfortable bubble of my scientific team and began putting considerable effort into interacting with the community in which we were working – our hosts."

Garry Rogers's insight:

GR:  This is the place to go for ideas and support if you are planning to invite citizen participation in your research.


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Winter Finch Forecast: Fill the Feeders & Help Monitor Wild Bird Health

Winter Finch Forecast: Fill the Feeders & Help Monitor Wild Bird Health | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it

Every fall Ron Pittaway who is the Field Ornithologist for Ontario, Canada makes a winter finch forecast. One of the Vineyard birders always reminds me of same, this year it was Bob Shriber. Ron Pittaway’s forecast is based primarily on tree seed crop availability of spruces, birches and mountain-ashes. The general forecast predicts there will be a “mixed bag” of finch movements. For example purple finch and common redpolls will be seen on-Island as their foods of choice are less plentiful up north where these finches breed. The same is true of red crossbills. Ron Pittaway notes that although there are good spruce cone crops for the pine siskins, there will probably be some movement of these delicate finches into our area. So make sure that your feeders have not only sunflower seeds for the purple finches, but niger seed for the redpolls and siskins. Enjoy these finches they will probably be with us between now and April.

Garry Rogers's insight:

GR:  Here's another great citizen naturalist opportunity.  Birds, like butterflies, are excellent indicators of ecosystem health. Join the Cornell Lab of Ornithology FeederWatch project beginning November 8, 2014, and make a contribution. 

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Butterfly Indicators of Ecosystem Change

Butterfly Indicators of Ecosystem Change | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it
As more researchers begin studying butterflies, the links to other species and whole ecosystems will become clearer and will help guide nature conservation plans and policies.
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Eben Lenderking's curator insight, October 28, 3:29 PM
Butterflies and bees are the canary in the coal mine
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Parrots Over Puerto Rico: An Illustrated Children’s Book Celebrating the Spirit of Conservation

Parrots Over Puerto Rico: An Illustrated Children’s Book Celebrating the Spirit of Conservation | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it

GR:  Will the Puerto Rican parrot survive?  It is the only remaining native parrot in Puerto Rico.  Parrots of the region began disappearing in the 1700's due to logging, farming, and pet collecting.  The species' prospects have improved, but the World Conservation Union still lists it as critically endangered. In 2012, there were only 58–80 individuals in the wild and 300 individuals in captivity. Considering the numbers that persist, I wondered if conservation efforts over the past 40 years have done enough.


This blog post describes the history of the species' step back from the brink of extinction. 


"Most children’s books are full of animals — as protagonists, as pets, as age-old standbys in fairy tales and alphabet primers alike. But, as Jon Mooallem poignantly observed in his bittersweet love letter to wildlife, by the time each generation of children grows up, countless species of animals that roamed Earth during their childhood have gone extinct — today, scientists estimate that one species ceases to exist every twenty minutes. Perhaps whatever chance we have of reversing this tragedy lies in translating our children’s inherent love of animal characters into a tangible grown-up love of animal species, the kind of love that protects them from growing extinct, preserves their natural habitat, and honors the complex dynamics of ecosystems."

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CDFA > PLANT > DRAFT PROGRAM EVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT

CDFA > PLANT > DRAFT PROGRAM EVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it
The California Department of Food and Agriculture is preparing an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a Statewide Plant Pest Prevention and Management Program.
Garry Rogers's insight:

GR:  The EIR considers approaches and alternatives and describes an "Environmentally Superior Alternative" that seems more destructive than beneficial.  The Alternative does not appear to me to be prudent in light of recent determinations of the harmful consequences of pesticide use.

A "No Pesticide Alternative," is included, but its description criticizes the alternative in the first sentence.  The Department says, "It could cause other adverse environmental impacts because alternative management methods are not anticipated to be as effective in controlling or managing pests."

There are guidelines for the safe use of pesticides, but the guidelines are incomplete.  As native species and ecosystems are damaged, invasive species spread even more quickly. Moreover, invasive species evolve pesticide resistance.  The continued use of pesticides-while ecosystems decline and super bugs form is a short-term (rape and pillage) strategy.

Throughout the report, the Department fails to consider recommending changing crops and practices to avoid pest impacts.  Of course, we might have passed the point where we can feed our growing population without pesticides.  In this case, we can look forward to a time of forced population decline.  When our ecosystems fail to moderate storms and floods, and they stop absorbing toxic wastes from the farms, food production will fall.

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Development could lead to extinction of rare Australian bird

Development could lead to extinction of rare Australian bird | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it

The critically endangered Regent Honeyeater could be at risk of extinction if plans to develop an industrial estate in New South Wales in Australia goes ahead, experts have found.

The bird is endemic to South Eastern Australia
and this site contains one of the most important breeding habitats for this extremely rare bird, whose population has declined by more than 80 percent over the last 24 years.

“We are now certain that Regent Honeyeaters rely on this site for food and to breed,” said Samantha Vine, Head of Conservation at BirdLife Australia. “Development of this site will be catastrophic for this imperilled species.”

Garry Rogers's insight:

GR:  Not another extinction in Australia; right?

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Roads Benefit People But Can Have Massive Environmental Costs

Roads Benefit People But Can Have Massive Environmental Costs | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it

"Road-killed tapir in Peninsular Malaysia (photo © WWF-Malaysia/Lau Ching Fong).  Located in the wrong places, roads can open a Pandora’s Box of problems, says William F. Laurance. 

"In a recent Opinion in National Geographic News (“Want to make a dent in world hunger? Build better roads”, 14 October 2014), U.S. Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn makes a compelling case that roads can have major benefits for rural people—improving access to modern farming technologies, education, and healthcare, and even limiting the influence of extremist groups that prey on isolated communities.

However, Ambassador Quinn tells only half of the story. Yes, many roads or road improvements can yield major economic and social benefits. But other roads become environmental disasters—opening a Pandora’s Box of problems such as illegal logging, poaching, wildfires, and land speculation."

Garry Rogers's insight:

GR:  Roads open areas to invasive species; they raise wildlife-disturbing noise levels, and they block wildlife movements.  In some areas, roads lead to ecosystem disruption by encouraging tourism, recreational travel, and hunting.  According to RoadFree.org, keeping wild areas free of roads is a remarkably cost-efficient way of preventing deforestation and protecting biodiversity.

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Developing a Taste for Animal Rights: For Our Health, for Our Planet, for Our Future

Developing a Taste for Animal Rights: For Our Health, for Our Planet, for Our Future | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it
There is no greater example of inequality than the question of animal rights and our diet choices. When will we stop eating animals?
Garry Rogers's insight:

GR:  Human concerns for animal rights are steadily increasing.  Once, the only argument against raising animals for food was that eating plants instead of animals was the most economical and efficient means to feed the growing human population. Developing respect for other species has much broader significance than that. As Aldo Leopold and others have said, we can only fulfill our role as ethical beings if we learn to respect other species.  I believe that such respect is a sign of sapience.

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Behind on biodiversity targets, govts pledge to increase funding for conservation

Behind on biodiversity targets, govts pledge to increase funding for conservation | Garry Rogers | Scoop.it

"On the heels of a report showing that the world is far behind on targets to halve habitat loss, cut pollution, and reduce overfishing, delegates meeting at a United Nations conference in Pyeongchang, South Korea have agreed to increase efforts to conserve biodiversity in developing nations.

"After nearly two weeks of discussions, governments pledged to double average annual biodiversity funding relative to the level spent between 2006-2010. "Small island developing states" and "least developed countries" are the primary targets for funding."


Via Debra Dawson
Garry Rogers's insight:

GR:  The UN appears to have the correct sentiment, but the increased funding for conservation is too small.  The fundamental fuel for environmental decline, human population growth, remains uncontrolled.  Scientists are telling us that the growing human population has exceeded the Earth's carrying capacity.  What motivates our leaders to continue with development and "progress" when they surely know what is happening?  Governments should budget an amount equal to the increased funding for conservation to reversing population growth.

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