Staff Report Arctic sea ice extent in January was the lowest in the satellite record, according to the latest monthly update from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Scientists said the new record monthly low was likely the result of unusually high air temperatures over the Arctic Ocean and a strong negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation for the first three weeks of the month. Meanwhile in the Antarctic, this year’s extent was lower than average for January, in contrast to the record high extents in January 2015. In the Arctic, the ice extent average 5.2 million square miles, 402,000 square miles below the 1981 to 2010 average and 35,000 square miles below the previous record January low that occurred in 2011.
Governments proposed for the first time on Monday to reduce climate pollution from airplanes, plugging one of the biggest loopholes in last December’s landmark Paris agreement.
The global initiative was a first attempt to halt carbon emissions from air travel – one of the fastest growing sources of climate pollution.
In a call with reporters, White House officials described the standards as “a huge deal”, noting that the aviation authority has also proposed an aspirational goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2020.
Hunting whales is irrelevant to feeding Japan's population, draws global condemnation and is certainly not economic. So why does Japan still do it? The answer from the Japanese government is that whaling is an ancient part of Japanese culture, that fishermen have caught whales for centuries, and that Japan will never allow foreigners to tell its people what they can and cannot eat. One Japanese official once said to me: "Japanese people never eat rabbits, but we don't tell British people that they shouldn't". I pointed out that rabbits are not exactly an endangered species.
Visiting Nantucket a few years ago, I was dismayed to hear some of the island’s wealthy retirees complaining that the damned piping plovers were keeping them from their chosen fishing spots. The plovers, small beach-nesting birds, are a threatened species along the Atlantic coast and endangered in the Midwest. And I had naively assumed that people with the money to summer in one of the world’s priciest destinations might have a little sympathy for birds that barely manage to survive at all on the open beach.
Not so. The recreational anglers were determined to drive their off-road vehicles out the sandy spit of land called Great Point to their favorite surfcasting spots, and they were enraged that designated protected areas and buffer zones around plover nests blocked certain areas in breeding season.
Staff Report Consumers in the U.S. may soon get some help in figuring out if their seafood comes from sustainable fisheries. A national group that’s been tackling illegal fishing this week announced a proposal for creating a U.S. seafood traceability — another step toward ensuring that global seafood resources are sustainably managed and not fraudulently marketed. The proposal aims to trace the origins of imported seafood by establishing reporting and filing procedures for imported fish and fish products entering U.S. commerce. “Traceability is a key tool for combating illicit activities that threaten valuable natural resources, increase global food security risk and disadvantage law-abiding fishermen and seafood producers,” said Kathryn D. Sullivan, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “We are asking the seafood industry, trade and consumer sectors, our international partners and the conservation community to help guide us in creating an effective, efficient program.”
Scientists have warned bees feeding from wildflowers growing next to neonicotinoid-treated crops are exposed to a ‘chemical cocktail’ which could make the impact up to 1,000 times more potent than previously thought.
Ben Fogle: The murder of helicopter pilot Roger Gower while protecting Tanzania’s wildlife is the latest example of those on the frontline in the war against illegal ivory being outnumbered and outgunned...
LANSING, MI — The debate over Great Lakes fish farming is picking up speed in Lansing, where two hearings are scheduled this week on competing Republican bills that would expand or outright ban commercial net-pen aquaculture in Michigan waters.
Proponents of fish farms in the Great Lakes say they could help the state supply the nation's appetite for seafood, but Michigan sporting and environmental groups are lining up in opposition to proposals they say threaten the $7 billion fishing industry with concentrated "fish poo."
Feds suspend aerial tranquilizing pending necropsy results Staff Report Wildlife biologists have temporarily suspended their Mexican gray wolf count and capture operation after two wolves died during the annual population survey. As part of the wolf recovery effort, wildlife managers tranquilize the wolves from the air to attach radio collars, which gather biological information, such as dispersal, territories, habitat use, and breeding. This year, two of the wolves died shortly after being tranquilized. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will conduct necropsies at an Oregon lab to determine causes of death for each wolf.
Some populations likely to blink out because of global warming Staff Report Climate change may push pikas out of some western national parks, but they are expected to survive in others, where global warming won’t hit quite so hard, scientists said in a new report. The tiny mammals are common residents of the alpine zone in the West, but warmer and drier conditions will shrink their habitat in some regions in the coming decades. The study concluded that warmer temperatures in Rocky Mountain National Park will cause habitat suitability and connectivity to decline, making that population “highly vulnerable to extirpation.”
A pod of whales stranded in Fife had high concentrations of toxic chemicals, some of which had reached the mammals' brains, scientists have found. The pod of long-ﬁnned pilot whales were stranded on a beach between Anstruther and Pittenweem on 2 September 2012. Out of the 31 mammals which beached, only 10 could be refloated and 21 - 16 females and five males - died. The tests were led by the University of Aberdeen and the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme.
Watchdogs say global carbon-trading system for airlines is needed to cap emissions Staff Report After years of foot-dragging, the aviation industry is close to adopting a CO2 emissions standard for aircraft, which will require aircraft builders to start producing more fuel efficient planes.
Efforts to 'rewild' the landscape have become increasingly popular in some corners, but researchers writing in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on Feb. 8 say that scientific evidence supporting the potential benefits of this form of restoration is limited at best. As history has shown, the introduction of species into new places is often met with unexpected, negative consequences for the environment.
"As a kid on his family’s Montana ranch, Erik Kalsta performed a daily chore: He’d walk 500 paces from his house to a white shed, where an instrument panel recorded the height of the nearby Big Hole River. Then he’d march home and call in the measurement to a U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist. Over time, the data points created a long-term history of the river’s ebbs and flows.
On a warm day last February, Kalsta, now 48, sat in the kitchen of the same home, wearing wire-rim glasses, a silvering goatee and a lightweight Patagonia sweater. He pointed out the window at the stream gauge, which is now automated. Kalsta’s success as a rancher depends on snow and rain, and 92 years of stream data tell him that runoff patterns are changing."
The global trade in bees is driving a pandemic that threatens hives and wild bees, UK scientists say. A deadly bee disease has spread worldwide through imports of infected honeybees, according to genetic evidence. Stricter controls are needed to protect bees from other emerging diseases, researchers report in Science journal. The virus together with the Varroa mite can kill-off whole hives, putting bee populations at risk. Lead researcher Dr Lena Bayer-Wilfert of the University of Exeter said European bees are at the heart of the global spread of what she calls a "double blow" for colonies. "This is clearly linked to the human movement of honeybee colonies around the globe," she told BBC News. "It shows a piece of evidence we can't argue with."
Are humans inadvertently driving evolution in other species? Mounting evidence suggests activities such as commercial fishing, angling and hunting, along with the use of pesticides and antibiotics, are leading to dramatic evolutionary changes. Sitting down to a roast chicken dinner doesn't seem like an obvious opportunity to consider evolution. But it is. Think about it: those big tasty carrots, that plump, tender chicken and those handsome potatoes all differ markedly from their natural ancestors. A wild carrot is barely more than a slightly enlarged purple tap-root and red jungle fowl certainly don't have the extravagant cleavages found on modern broiler chickens.
‘Functioning and intact forests, grasslands, wetlands and coral reefs represent our greatest protection against floods and storms’ Staff Report Climate change adaptation is more than a slogan in many parts of the world, as communities work to protect themselves from the impacts of a warming world. But a new study says planners must carefully think through their responses — some changes could leave people worse off in the future, according to scientists with CSIRO, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Queensland.
Lighting ordinances help protect nesting turtles Staff Report Coastal development may still be running rampant in Florida, but there are some signs that a concerted effort to protect sea turtles from at least some of the impacts is paying off. A study that started as a high school science project suggests that a network of sea turtle-friendly lighting ordinances along Florida’s coast seems to be working by darkening beaches, which is a big deal because scientists already know that sea turtles are disturbed brightly lit areas. The findings fit in with other studies that assess the impacts of light pollution on wildlife.
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