This week in birds - #477

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

A Tufted Titmouse stops by my little fountain for a drink and maybe a quick bath. 

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COP26 wrapped up with an agreement signed by almost 200 countries that would intensify global efforts to fight climate change. Many activists were disappointed that the agreement was not more forceful in setting higher goals for countries to reach, but looking on the brighter side, at least it established a clear consensus that more is needed from those countries.

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The success of COP26 will in large part depend upon whether certain powerful countries like the United States, China, and India that are major emitters of greenhouse gases actually live up to their promises.

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Satellite data reveals that the deforestation of Brazil's Amazon rainforest rose by nearly 22 percent over the past year. It was the worst loss of any year since 2006. Many blame the policies of President Jair Bolsonaro. 

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In some better news for rainforests, the Biden administration will propose restoring the Clinton administration's ban on logging and road-building in more than half of North America's largest temperate rainforest, Tongass National Forest. 

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Torrential rains resulted in floods that created widespread devastation in western Canada this week. The floods were exacerbated by the summer wildfires that wiped out much of the vegetation that could have slowed the flooding.

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In the U.S., the mountain states of Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana are still battling wildfires even in late autumn. The fires are whipped by strong winds that cause them to engulf entire mountains.

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And of course, hotter summer days mean more fires. A new study reported on research that adds to the growing body of evidence that climate change is increasing the fire risk in California and elsewhere in the West.

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As COP26 drew to a close, China made the point that developing nations will be unable to make the transition from coal to greener sources of energy without substantial help from developed nations. 

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What do grizzly bears eating out of trash cans in the United States have to do with COP26? It seems there is actually a connection.

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The Biden administration has submitted to the Senate for its approval a treaty that would fight hydrofluorocarbons which are hundreds of times more potent than carbon dioxide. It has support from both political parties so its passage, while not assured, is at least possible.

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For years, tribes have requested that oil and gas drilling be banned around the Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, one of the nation's oldest and most culturally significant Native American sites. The administration announced this week that it would ban new leases for drilling within a 10-mile radius of the site. This was a part of new initiatives that are aimed at improving public safety, health, education, and justice for Native Americans.

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Unfortunately, it is not all good news from the administration this week. They announced that they will auction off leases for drilling for fossil fuel extraction in more than 80 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico. To add insult to injury, the announcement was made in the immediate aftermath of COP26.

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We often hear of plans to plant trees to offset carbon emissions and that is all very good but there isn't enough room to plant all the trees that would be needed to actually save the planet.

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There are plenty of trees and plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities in America's newest national park, the New River Gorge in West Virginia.

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Saving the endangered Ashy Storm Petrel on the Farallon Islands requires controlling invasive mice and convincing hungry owls to leave the birds alone. The two needs are related.  

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized a rule that will list the Atlantic pigtoe mussel as an endangered species. The tiny mussel is only found in North Carolina and Virginia and it has waited thirty years to receive this protection.

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A GAO report details that moving the Bureau of Land Management to Colorado as the previous administration did two years ago has undercut diversity and led to confusion and inefficiency and that may very well have been what was intended. As Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced in September, that action is being reversed. The agency's headquarters will once again be in Washington while Grand Junction, Colorado will serve as its western hub.

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There appears to be something of a baby boom happening among the mountain gorillas of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Authorities this week announced the birth of two more babies.

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Show us that foot, Froggie! This is a Bornean rock frog making a foot-flagging display. It may not look scary to you but this is the way that these male frogs intimidate and threaten their competition.

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The owner of Black Rock Rhino sanctuary in South Africa has come up with a novel way to help fund conservation efforts: virtual horns tokenized as NFT's, non-fungible tokens.  

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Consider the opossum, an unjustly much-maligned animal. Opossums - or possums if you prefer - have an omnivorous diet that consists of insects, rodents, venomous snakes, grubs, frogs, carrion, and overripe fruit and vegetables. They are valuable members of the ecosystem and serve in some of the same ways that vultures do, in that they help to keep the environment neat. Furthermore, I think they are kinda cute.

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Did you get to see the partial eclipse of the Beaver Full Moon this week? Neither did I. But here are some photos to help us enjoy it vicariously.  





Comments

  1. Yay, for the Gorilla baby boom, and I agree that possums are a valuable asset!

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  2. Thank you very much for the Saturday roundup, Dorothy, the fuel that starts my weekend. I think that most of us have been severely disappointed in the outcome of COP26; even the rhetoric was not as high flung as it sometimes is. But rhetoric was all we got. If the past is any indicator of the future, even the grand commitments will not be realized. As I watch what is going on in BC with great dismay, the impact of full throttle climate change is there for all to see. Parts of this continent are becoming untenable for human settlement, with one disaster following another. Before the land has time to recover from one calamity another is inflicted on it. The area in southern Ontario where I live has been relatively unscathed, but I know that can't go on much longer. Woe is us!

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    1. I fear that no area of the planet will remain unscathed for long.

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  3. I love the photo of the Tufted Titmouse.

    COP26 is something, and that's better than nothing.

    Eight of us from our naturalist group planted 100 trees at a county park this week. A tiny step forward in a world where it seems like all are stuck in reverse. Still, I will remain optimistic.

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    1. I agree - something is definitely better than nothing. If we can find the political will, it could be the start of something big.

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  4. there used to be lots of possums around here but they seem to have disappeared... hard to comprehend the disconnect between Chaco Canyon and the Gulf insofar as drilling is concerned... why does the latter rate less protection, particularly after the horrendous oil spills there...

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    Replies
    1. True. And it's not like there are ever hurricanes that blow through and knock everything about. Oh, wait...

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  5. The fact that any drilling is allowed anywhere near Chaco Canyon drives me batshit crazy. The sites need to be protected, there's so much history there. These places do not belong to us.

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