Category: Environment

Court stands up for jaguar habitat in New Mexico

A motion-sensor camera captured this image of a jaguar in Arizona last year. Photo courtesy BLM.

Cattle ranchers come up empty in bid to cut protection

Staff Report

Endangered jaguars in North America don’t really know whether they are in Mexico or Arizona, so there need to be continued recovery efforts on both sides of the border. A federal court in New Mexico recently recognized that fact when it turned aside an attempt by ranching and cattle groups to eliminate habitat protections for the wild cats.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated about 59,000 acres of critical habitat in 2014. The court ruling upholds protections under the Endangered Species Act that prevent the federal government from rendering the habitat unusable for jaguars. An additional 705,093 acres were designated in Arizona but not challenged. Continue reading “Court stands up for jaguar habitat in New Mexico”

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Round 5 in fight over highway widening through redwood trees

It’s unclear why CDOT persists in efforts to start a highway project that could pose a threat to redwood forests in Humboldt County, California. @bberwyn photo.

Activists stand their ground against destruction of trees

Staff Report

A contentious proposal to widen U.S. Highway 101 through redwood groves in Humboldt County, California is once again facing a court challenge from conservation groups and local residents, who say the state transportation agency failed to adequately review and disclose environmental impacts.

This is the fifth time CDOT has been sued over the project that could needlessly damage or destroy thousand-year-old redwood trees in California’s iconic Richardson Grove State Park. Some of the trees in the park are trees up to 3,000 years old, 18 feet in diameter and 300 feet tall. Caltrans has pursued this project solely to incrementally improve passage for oversized commercial trucks, and continues to rely on inadequate environmental review. Continue reading “Round 5 in fight over highway widening through redwood trees”

It was a bad year for Austria’s glaciers

Not much time left for Alpine ice

Glacier remnants are visible in the Hohe Tauern Range of Austria in areas where there were thick ice caps just a few decades ago. The IPCC estimates that about 80 percent of the glaciers in the Alps will be gone by 2100 at the current rate of melting. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Austrian climate scientists aren’t mincing words when it comes to the continued alpine meltdown caused by global warming.

“It was a bad year for Austria’s glaciers,” scientists with the ZAMG said last week, announcing that the Pasterze Glacier, below the country’s highest peak, thinned by 2 meters in just one year. At the current melt rate, the Pasterze glacier’s tongue is likely to disappear altogether in another 40 years.

“The ice-mass loss was particularly high this year,” said glacier expert Berhard Hynek. The winter snow cover melted early and the ice was exposed to sun and warm temperatures for a very long time,” he said, adding that other glaciers monitored by the agency also thinned by an average of about 2 meters – equal to the losses measured during the record melt years of 2003 and 2012. Continue reading “It was a bad year for Austria’s glaciers”

Changing ocean alters food web

Study documents shifts caused by warming seas, other stressors

A chemical analysis of dolphin skin cells helped scientists track changes in the ocean food chain. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Big fish eat little fish is the conventional wisdom of the sea, but it’s not always quite so simple. When Global warming and El Niño combined in 2015 and 2016 to warm the Pacific Ocean to new record-high temperatures, it shifted the food chain significantly, according to scientists with NOAA, the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

According to their new study, published in the journal Science Advances,  the food web “changed in response to various natural and anthropogenic related stressors,” said lead author Rocio I. Ruiz-Cooley, formerly of NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center and now at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. “This tells us that the food web is very dynamic, and reveals changes with the ecosystem around it.” Continue reading “Changing ocean alters food web”

Sunday set: Seaside flashback

Climate change threatens The Med …

Haven’t had a chance to hang out near the ocean for a while, so it’s time to reach back into the archives for a seaside set from the coast of the Mediterranean, a region feeling the full impact of global warming. One recent climate study found that the current dry spell in the region is the most intense in the past 900 years, and just in the past couple of weeks, scientists said this past summer’s record heatwave across the region, dubbed Lucifer, had clear global warming fingerprints all over it. And along with direct heat impacts, there are other effects. In the eastern Mediterranean, warmer water has enabled  tropical fish to invade, and they are having a big impact on marine ecosystems. There are also clear signs that global warming will intensify droughts and the wildfire danger in the region. NOAA has also warned the region could become more susceptible to winter drought.

Will the GOP roll back Obama-era mining bans?

Attacks on public lands continue

The Grand Canyon. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

After more than a century of reckless mining that created a toxic legacy of pollution, the Obama administration finally started trying to prevent even more destruction by placing a few areas, including watersheds around the Grand Canyon, off-limits.

Even those modest restrictions are apparently too much for the mining industry and the politicians the industry has bought in Washington, D.C. Utah Republican Congressman Rob Bishop wants to reverse some of the mining bans enacted during the Obama era, says the Center for Biological Diversity, citing a letter from Bishop to Sec. Agriculture Sonny Perdue. Continue reading “Will the GOP roll back Obama-era mining bans?”

Scientists stunned by rapid fisheries changes in Pacific

Pacific Ocean sardine species. Photo via NOAA.

“Things are changing so much, it’s hard to say what’s normal these days”

Staff Report

Marine biologists have documented a rapid shift in key fish species in the Pacific Ocean. Anchovies, sardines and hake started spawning much earlier in the year off the coast of Oregon and Washington. Anchovies are also spawning for a longer period of time than documented previously, the scientists reported in a new study published in the journal Global Change Biology. Continue reading “Scientists stunned by rapid fisheries changes in Pacific”