This week in birds - #473

 A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment

The Red-bellied Woodpecker is one of the most common woodpeckers in our area. He is a permanent resident here. Common he may be but it is always a pleasure to see him in the yard.

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Three reports released by the Biden administration this week warn of conflicts fueled by the climate crisis. It is likely to aggravate conflicts over water and migration and to cause instability which can threaten global security.

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Another aspect of the climate crisis is its potential to provide an "emerging threat" to the financial system of this country and to upend global markets and economies.

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The weather pattern known as La Niña is likely to further prolong the severe drought in the western U.S. this winter but it may bring some relief to Northern California and the Pacific Northwest.

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Just what are El Niño and La Niña weather patterns anyway and why are weather forecasters always referring to them? Here's an explanation.

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Factory farms are obviously not environmentally friendly, and they are incubators of disease. They could well be the source of the next pandemic which could be even more deadly than the one we are currently experiencing.

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The family of chemicals known as "forever chemicals", or PFAS, are found in everything from drinking water to furniture. They have been linked to cancer. The E.P.A. administrator has set regulating those chemicals as one of his priorities.

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Global heating is hitting wildlife hard right around the world. It is causing problems with fertility, immunity, and behavior with the potential for lethal results. 

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In order to assess the status of a species, it is necessary to know their numbers and how widespread they are. And the only way to really determine that is to count. That's what counting bees is all about.

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The hippos introduced to Colombia by drug lord Pablo Escobar as a part of his private zoo have more than doubled in numbers since 2012. They have no natural predators to keep them in check. So the country's wildlife services department is engaged in a project to sterilize them in order to control the potentially destructive invasive species. 

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By 2030, the plastics industry in the United States will be releasing more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than coal-powered electricity generating plants. This is according to a new report released on Thursday.

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Honestly, it is difficult not to despair at times when one contemplates the damage we have done to our planet and the inadequacy of our response to the problem. But Jane Goodall refuses to despair. She has written a new book, a hopeful guide for the survival of our species.

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And sometimes when despair for our present circumstances threatens to overwhelm us, it is useful to consider where we have come from, humanity's long history. This is quite a long read, an adaptation from a new history of the species, but if you are interested in our prehistory, it is well worth it and quite fascinating. 

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Discover the wonders of the East African coral reefs with this link.

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One of the two last living northern white rhinos, both females, has been dropped from the breeding project which hopes to use preserved sperm from dead males to create an embryo that would then be implanted in a more abundant species of rhino.

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Remember the tragic story of the young family and their dog who mysteriously died from unknown causes while hiking in Sierra National Forest? It has taken several weeks but post mortem examinations have finally determined that their deaths were caused by heat exposure and possible dehydration. Temperatures on the trail they were hiking had reached 107 to 109 degrees Fahrenheit on the day of their deaths.

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Northern peatlands are a carbon sink that helps to cool the planet, but the heating climate may be turning them into a carbon bomb which will make global warming even worse.

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The World Meteorological Organization, along with other agencies, released a report this week stating that climate change threatens to destroy Africa's rare glaciers within the next two decades. The continent that contributes the least to global warming will likely suffer from it the most.

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The Stads K'un is a genetically unique subspecies of the Northern Goshawk that is one of the most endangered species on the planet. The search is on in British Columbia to locate habitats of the bird so that they can be protected from logging and habitat loss.

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The Environmental Protection Agency has located more than 120,000 locations around the country where people may be exposed to the toxic "forever chemicals." Colorado tops the list with an estimated 21,400 such facilities.

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Russia is allowing massive leaks of methane, as shown by satellites, to the planet's peril.

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Environmental themes seem to be very popular with novelists this year. Here is a list of twelve such novels that have been released this year.

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There has long been justifiable concern about the decreasing numbers of western Monarch butterflies, but here's some good news on that score: This week thousands of the butterflies returned to a sanctuary in California.

Comments

  1. I'm happy to hear about the Monarchs returning to the sanctuary in California and will be giving the novels with an environmental theme a look.

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    Replies
    1. I find it interesting that there are so many environmentally themed books just now. I've read three of them and plan to read some of the others.

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  2. Thank you, Dorothy, for the weekly roundup, sobering though it may be, filled with the sad realities of what we have done to befoul, degrade, and destroy the very mechanisms that support life on this planet. I wish that I could share Jane Goodall's optimism, but I do not. The run-up to the Glasgow climate conference is already portending failure to agree on greenhouse gas reductions, and countries like Australia and China will be advocating for increased extraction and use of coal. We are doomed!

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    1. My husband's standard response to much of what happens in the daily news is "People are stupid!" Doing these roundups each week, it is hard to disagree with him.

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  3. i agree with your husband... and it's hard to imagine any way to save the planet from decimation what with all the separate sources of destruction and pollution multiplying by the week/month/year...

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    1. It's hard to disagree with any of that. Still, we must try.

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  4. I'm not meaning to stray too far into politics, but I have to say that I'll take the Biden administration's environmental concerns a lot more seriously when they realize how much damage to the environment, including to animals and birds, that is being done by those horrible wind farms.

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    1. Energy from the wind is certainly a viable alternative and one could reasonably argue a lot less destructive to birds and the environment than oil and gas drilling or coal mining. Unfortunately, we don't have any perfect alternatives, but problems related to, for example, wind or solar energy can be somewhat mitigated. Hydroelectric energy is another possibility but then that, too, causes damage to the environment. Then, of course, there is nuclear energy to which many have a psychological aversion or abhorrence. Maybe there is another as yet undiscovered perfect source of energy, but I don't think we can wait for it.

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  5. I really do love reading these posts every week and appreciate the time you put into them.

    I didn't know that factory farms were THAT bad. Geez. And Russia really needs to get its crap together when it comes to the environment!

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    1. We all need to get out crap together before we reach the point of no return. Unless we've already reached it.

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  6. It's sad about that deceased family. How awful that is what it was. On a happier note, your woodpecker looks very pretty there. We don't get a lot of your birds ... but we see Northern Flickers here .... and today we saw snow geese and the Trumpeter Swans are back! Perhaps they have just arrived from the north .... we'll see how long they stay. They are on some lakes now in Alberta.

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    1. Snow geese will be arriving back here to overwinter over the next several weeks. They are a welcome presence.

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  7. Despite the Very Bleak News, I remain hopeful. Perhaps the best future is simply a human-less world.

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