This week in birds - #475

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

Well, this is a nice change for American Bird Conservancy's Bird of the Week: It's a bird that is not endangered or threatened. In fact, it is increasing. It is the indomitable American Crow. It is an intelligent though often maligned and misunderstood member of the corvid family. It is resident almost everywhere in North America, throughout interior Canada and the continental United States. In the winter, they gather in large roosts for warmth and protection. Some of these roosts can number in the thousands.

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Here are a series of maps and charts that explain the goals of Cop26 which has been taking place in Glasgow this week.  

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The pledges on greenhouse gas emissions made by countries at Cop26 could limit global temperature rises to below 2 degrees Centigrade, which would be the first time the world has been on such a trajectory.

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India is pledging to reach net-zero emissions by 2070. The question is whether renewable energy will be able to meet the demands of the more than a billion residents of the country. 

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In order to effectively change our direction and get on the right track to reduce emissions, it is necessary to get buy-in from ordinary people and this means paying attention to environmental justice considerations.

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Agreements to reduce methane emissions and to protect the planet's forests were key elements in the pledges made at Cop26.

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Brazil was once a champion of environmentalism but no more. Under its present right-wing government, it has become an antagonist of efforts to slow climate change. 

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The world has pledged to stop deforestation before but we are still losing our forests at an alarming rate. According to Global Forest Watch, we have lost the equivalent of forests half the size of the United States and 10 percent of global tree cover between 2001 and 2020.

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Here are five ways that climate change will affect plants and animals.

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Carbon capture facilities offer some hope of being able to reverse climate change.

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Beginning in 2019, the EPA stopped releasing crucial toxics reports. They withheld reports of substantial risks posed by as many as 1,240 chemicals. Reversing these policies is part of the clean-up necessary for the new administration. 

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Showing off his ten-foot wingspan - a California Condor.

Parthenogenesis is essentially virgin birth in which an egg becomes an embryo without the introduction of sperm. Several animals, mostly invertebrates, are capable of this and some vertebrates are also. Very rarely do birds reproduce that way but now it has been found to have happened in California Condors. A report published in the Journal of Heredity in October confirms it.

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You've probably never given a whole lot of thought to whale poop but whales are big animals. The eat a lot and they poop a lot and according to a new report published in Nature, that is a great thing. Their poop enriches the ocean and feeds lots of animals.

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Alaska Airlines is getting rid of plastic bottles and cups for water. The change is expected to remove 22 million plastic cups and 32 million plastic bottles from flights through 2022. 

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Fireworks are normally a big part of the celebration of Diwali, the Hindu festival of light, which took place this week. There was a ban on fireworks this year but there was still expected to be enough to create severe air pollution in Delhi. 

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As Earth warms and the permafrost melts, old secrets and human artifacts as well as animals are being revealed.

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Monarch butterflies in their Mexican winter sanctuary.

On the Day of the Dead this week, Mexicans looked forward to the return of the Monarch butterflies that normally show up on this date. As well as celebrating the return of the butterflies, they honored environmentalists who have been slain, many of them protecting the butterflies' sanctuary.

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Climate change is magnifying threats of flooding, fires, tropical storms, and drought to cities around the world and those cities are not adapting fast enough to meet the challenge. 

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Focusing on micro consumerist actions like giving up plastic coffee cups is not enough; we need to challenge the mindless pursuit of wealth that does not consider the consequences of its action. Capitalism is killing the planet.

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Iraq is facing an intensifying water crisis. The problem, exacerbated by climate change, threatens to escalate the disputes which the country already has with its neighbors. 

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Tiny bog turtles are a seriously endangered species living in the western part of Massachusetts. Conservationists have been battling for decades to keep the species from disappearing altogether.

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The Great Plains are suffering development at an alarming pace and that is threatening to cause America's native grasslands to disappear.

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Facebook has been a hotbed of misinformation about and outright denial of climate change. It was revealed this week that ten publishers are responsible for 70% of the denial content. Most of them are from the political far right. 

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Every year New Zealanders vote on the "Bird of the Year." This year's winner has ruffled feathers; it is a bat! The pekapeka-tou-roa, or long-tailed bat, is endangered from predators invading its native forest habitat and voters evidently wanted to call attention to its plight.




Comments

  1. Thank you, Dorothy, for the weekly roundup. Even though it is a small gesture, I applaud Alaska Airlines for their action in eliminating plastic cups and bottles on their flights. If only other airlines would follow suit. I have been following COP26 quite closely, and have two basic reactions. The first is that I am greatly encouraged by the involvement of so many young people, desperate to protect their future and to let politicians know they will soon be of voting age. The second is dismay at the failure to commit to bold action NOW to get emissions under control. China and Russia thumbed their noses at the climate summit, and from others its was more blah, blah, blah. Based on events following precious climate conventions, I have little hope that promises made will be promises kept. Quite simply, we are at the top of a cliff, and the land is slipping away beneath us!


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  2. That should say "previous" not "precious". They were far from precious!

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    1. Based on past records, I agree there isn't much reason to be optimistic about the pledges made at COP26. Maybe our only hope is in the generation coming up. They certainly seem to "get it."

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  3. roller coaster with no brakes is my fear... evolution has driven species to extinction before, so i shouldn't be surprised, lol...

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    1. One would think that a species that loves to boast about its big brain would have the intelligence to prioritize its own survival. Apparently, you would be wrong.

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  4. Replies
    1. They are rather incredible birds. I especially enjoy them at this time of year when they gather together.

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  5. I love this weekly roundup and look forward to it! And go Alaska Airlines! That's some great news!

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    1. They are to be commended. Perhaps other airlines will follow their good example.

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  6. Hooray for the butterfly sanctuary and Alaska Airlines. That's major ... and can be a model for other restaurants & airlines etc. Reducing plastics should be more of an agenda for food distributors etc.

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  7. I just finished reading A Hot Mess: How the Climate Crisis Is Changing the World. Readable, science-based, excellent research and bibliography. The only thing that bothered me is the last chapter has (a completely understandable) political bias. As I read the book, I kept thinking of people to whom I could recommend it, who could look at the facts and reconsider their stance--but they would take offense at the last chapter. All politicians should read it (although I realize more understand the current situation far better than they admit) there are quite a few who might gain a greater understanding of the changes to come, even if we make appropriate alterations in the way we do things. The last chapter, however, would throw many into antagonist mode regardless of what they learned.

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    1. It is extremely unfortunate that the destruction of the planet as we know it by climate change has been transformed into a political issue to divide people. One would think that if anything could unite us it would be a threat to our very lives. One would apparently be wrong.

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  8. One of the things that has been odd about the last five or six years is the startling growth of false news. Why hasn't this been reined in? It seems like it would be an easy matter for someone to start a lawsuit against some of these perpetrators of false news. It has been done in the past and it has stopped false news in its tracks. Facebook would be a good place to start.

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    1. I think it hasn't been reined in because powerful people have an interest in keeping it going. One can't help but despair that anything will ever stop it because people continue to be so gullible as to buy into it.

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    2. I think that is it exactly, Dorothy. There are masses who still believe in absolute disproven garbage...like the election was stolen...but because Faux News depends on viewers to keep eating it up, Murdoch keeps perpetuating it. I am also reminded of a quote from The Dark Knight where it is stated that some people just want to watch the world burn. That is also not an inaccurate statement either.

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