News Roundup

  • Great pictures and story on the banteng, “the most beautiful of all the wild relatives of cattle.” Compared to the Kouprey, banteng are doing pretty well in SE Asia. But then, the Kouprey are probably extinct. That’s probably what happens when you set aside new land for carbon sequestration, and ignore the threats from hunting. Meanwhile, in Indonesia, one woman is hunting the hunters (and by “hunting”, the headline writer meant tracking and trying to carry out legal enforcement against poaching, not killing in cold blood).
  • This paper probably marks the end of the pendulum swing against individual actions in the Global War on Climate Change. If everybody worked on cutting household emissions, the U.S. could reduce carbon emissions by about 20% in the next decade. Call this Obama’s vaunted “Check your tire pressure” initiative.
  • This is crazy: some migratory birds push out a second brood after migration. “He noted that orchard orioles might raise a first brood in the Midwestern and south-central U.S. and a second on Mexico’s western coast, yet both sets of offspring find the same wintering area in Central America. The question is how both groups find the right place, since they must travel in different directions.”
  • Some discussion has arisen about conservation targets due to a recent publication in Conservation Letters. One problem with setting a target may be seen in Britain, where rare species appear to be increasing in abundance (i.e. doing better), while common species are in decline. Sometimes the whole thing feels sort of like the little boy with his finger in the dam. The newly-released IUCN Red List suggests that about 36% of the species analyzed are threatened with extinction (CJB weighs in).
  • Interesting profile of the new National Parks head, Jonathan Jarvis. Jarvis is the first trained biologist to head the NPS.
Posted by Tim on November 9th, 2009 • • Comments Off
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News Roundup

  • Argentina, Paraguay join Brazil in pledging to preserve the Atlantic Forest (the “most endangered” tropical forest, down from an estimated 500,000 sq. kms to about 35,000 sq. kms. today).
  • Columbia University will not be accepting applications for its 2 year program in environmental journalism, due to falling employment in the field, rising costs of education and lack of financial aid for students.
  • This one’s being picked up all over the place: forests in the NW might increase in the next century due to climate change. Although the net effects will be positive (in a value neutral sort of way), there will be a decline in growth at lower elevations, and an increase in growth at higher elevations (= more difficult to log). At, least, that’s what the model says.
  • This is kind of awesome. Communities in the Andes are using large nets to collect fog drip to use for irrigation. Although it only rains about 1.5 inches / year in the area, it’s foggy for almost 9 months.
Posted by Tim on October 21st, 2009 • • Comments Off
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Odds & Ends

Posted by Tim on September 24th, 2009 • • Comments Off
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News Roundup

  • Nice and morbid article on the work of a fellow Berkeleyan Steve Bellan on anthrax in Etosha NP, with pictures.
  • The Carteret Islands are being inundated by rising sea levels, forcing migration of about 800 of the 1,300 inhabitants. This spring, Dan Box traveled to the islands to report on the evacuation.
  • Carol Kaesuk Yoon on “Naming Nature.”
  • National Red Lists is a new website spearheaded by ZSL to consolidate national-level information on species declines.
  • An interview with Erik Patel on the ecological ramifications of the political unrest in Madagascar, though take with a grain of salt because his solution to the poverty/conservation problem is birth control and tourism…
  • It’s been a slightly environmental few days for the Obama administration, with Tom Vilsack (Sec of Ag) releasing a new vision for the Forest Service (Defenders of Wildlife seems to like it), and the Obama family taking a trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.
Posted by Tim on August 17th, 2009 • • 1 comment
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News Roundup, (Catchup edition)

Posted by Tim on May 11th, 2009 • • Comments Off
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News Roundup

  • In the past few weeks, two California condors have been shot with lead pellets (not fatally, they’re both recovering). The Center for Biological Diversity has hired a private investigator to capture the ne’re-do-well. I have to admit, the wacky aspects of conservation are part of what make the field so appealing. Somebody at CBD came into work a few days ago and was instructed to find a PI in Los Angeles. I’m sure they never expected to be doing such a thing.
  • WCS researchers have discovered a huge population of Irrawaddy river dolphins. (More from DotEarth). It’s always interesting to see how conservation organizations spin good news (usually awkwardly). This is exciting — BUT THEY’RE STILL AT RISK! While I think that’s definitely true, it goes back to that problem of messaging. It’s hard to get people to care more than they do, while simultaneously saying that things aren’t as bad as we thought.
  • In defense of the Red List. “Really, we’re getting better!!!”
  • Rare shark found, eaten.
  • New work on fossilized coral reefs is suggesting that sea levels can rise rapidly. Okay, so sea levels rose rapidly 100,000 years ago. But we still have coral… maybe this paradox is address in a new book by (Cal’s own) Tony Barnosky called Heatstroke: Nature in an Age of Global Warming. Worth checking out.
Posted by Tim on April 15th, 2009 • • Comments Off
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EPA Moves to Regulate CO2

So says the NY Times. It could very well be that, in the United States, the last coal-fired power plant has already been built. That’s quite a thought.

Posted by Tim on March 23rd, 2009 • • Comments Off
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News Roundup

  • There’s a public lands bill that’s been floating around Congress (previously mentioned here), and last week the House messed it up and actually failed to pass it. They were trying to do a runaround of Republican shenanigans by getting a 2/3 super-majority that would allow no amendments to the bill, but they lost by 2 votes (2 votes! And if 2 of those opposition votes simply hadn’t showed up to vote, it would’ve passed, because the 2/3 requirement would’ve been lower). Well, they’re trying it again — the Senate has set it up for re-passage as part of the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act.
  • In-depth, fascinating read on the different Yellowstone wolf packs’ activity. A true soap opera.
  • Peter Kareiva kind of knocks it out of the park talking about children and carbon footprints. Worth a full read, but here’s the take-home message: being an eco-hero in your daily life could probably save 300-500 tons of carbon over your lifetime. Reducing the number of children you have by one would save nearly 10,000. Unless you live in Bangladesh, in which case you would save about 50.
  • Nice article from the NY Times on the trade-offs between preserving ecosystems and building the fabled Smart Grid.
  • WCS has released free software that, using camera trap photos of tigers, develops 3D models of their stripes to identify individuals. They’ve even used it to identify poached skins. The next question, of course, would be whether certain patterns are spatially correlated. Can you identify a tiger’s home based on his stripes?
  • Dinosaur mesopredator discovered.
  • Had a very nice dinner with Brian (of the consblog Brians) last night, and the topic of “fish: good for you, terrible for the oceans” came up.
Posted by Tim on March 17th, 2009 • • Comments Off
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News Roundup

  • Mark Tercek, new TNC CEO (and former Goldman Sachs investment banker), interviewed at Mongabay.
  • The title of the article is “When science hijacks conservation funding.” When NSF starts giving grants for direction conservation actions, it will make a lot more sense.
  • A totally engaging review of the U. of Oregon’s Public Interest Environmental Law Clinic. (Bare-breasted women attacking Julia Butterfly and climate change conspiracy theories).
  • The Bay Area is the second “birdiest” city in the country (after Dauphin Island, Alabama, that renowned urban center).
  • Don’t worry about climate change — species can adapt.
Posted by Tim on March 6th, 2009 • • Comments Off
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News Roundup

  • Papua New Guinea is getting its first national conservation area.
  • WCS is getting some money from the World Bank and GEF to protect tigers. Weird, since pretty much the entire WCS tiger team moved to Panthera a couple years ago..
  • Patagonia employee gets paid time off to bike over 2,000 miles to promote Yukon2Yellowstone project. Blogs about it, with pictures.
  • Andy Revkin finally pushes back against George Will. I have to say, the fact that this is such a big deal — that a major columnist is trying to deny climate change — is actually pretty encouraging. I think in years past, Will just would’ve gotten away with it.
  • Dave Connell, associate director of marketing at TNC, wants you to know how important marketing is to conservation.
  • Obama’s restoring the old ESA rules.
Posted by Tim on March 3rd, 2009 • • 5 comments
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