The Endangered Species Act has been attacked over the last few years and Rep. Raul Grijalva sponsored a House bill that he said is needed to overturn rules by the departments of the Interior and Commerce that undermine the protections of the act. The bill passed the House Natural Resources Committee on a party-line vote after close to an hour of debate. Grijalva, who chairs the committee, said one of the rules his bill targets is the White House’s decision to exclude climate change when officials are considering how a species might fare in the future and whether it should be listed as endangered or threatened.
Scientists discovered a “lifespan estimator” and have estimated that Bowhead Whales live to be 268-years old
Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, Dr Benjamin Mayne, a molecular biologist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Canberra, said: “Bowhead whales are thought to be the longest living mammal, with one individual estimated as 211 years old. “It is rarely possible to follow long-lived species from birth to death as they would normally out live a generation of researchers. “Using our lifespan estimator and the bowhead whale genome, we estimated the maximum longevity of the bowhead whale to be 268 years. This lifespan estimate is 57 years more than the oldest aged individual to date.” The team also applied their lifespan clock to extinct species and discovered that the life expectancy of Neanderthals was 37.8. Likewise the Woolly Mammoth would have lived to 60, while the passenger pigeon which died out in 1914 had a lifespan of 28 years.
Harvard University faculty voted overwhelmingly to call on the school’s endowment managers to divest from fossil fuel companies, adding to escalating pressure on the school to take dramatic measures targeting climate change. The vote of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences does not compel the Harvard Management Co., which manages the school’s endowment, to act. But the results — 179 voting faculty supported the resolution and 20 opposed it — add considerable weight to calls from students and activists. The university’s international reputation and the sheer size of its endowment, which in the most recent report was valued at $40.9 billion, ensure that any decision by Harvard will be closely watched.
The Philippines is making roads and cement with plastic garbage
Philippine companies are using discarded shopping bags, sachet wrappers and plastic packaging to fire cement plants and build roads as the country embarks on an 8 trillion-peso ($157 billion) infrastructure push through 2022. San Miguel has laid down its first road combining plastic scraps with asphalt, it said in November. The surface material, developed with Dow Chemical Co., used 900 kilograms (1,984 pounds) of plastic to pave a 1,500-square meter (16,145-square foot) test site near the capital. “Nestlé is aiming for plastic neutrality, which is essentially recovering plastics equal to what we produce,” Kais Marzouki, chairman and chief executive officer of the Philippine unit, said in a statement. Initiatives to address the issue can have unforeseen consequences. Shredding plastic for asphalt and cement production breaks down waste to microplastics that are even more difficult to collect and reuse, said Beau Baconguis, GAIA’s regional plastic campaigner for Asia-Pacific. Feeding plastic into cement kilns releases toxic fumes, she added. Republic Cement’s Valencia says plastic-derived fuel involves less carbon emission than coal. Unlike incineration, which is banned in the Philippines, the higher temperatures in cement kilns leave behind no plastic ash, Valencia said.
Welsh Zoo welcomes critically endangered black rhino calf
After a 15-month pregnancy, Eastern black rhino Dakima gave birth to a healthy male calf on 16th January. Dakima is an eastern black rhino which is one of the rarest animals in the world. This new calf is one of only an estimated 40 eastern black rhinos to be born in the UK in the past 20 years. It is thought that the calf weighs between a healthy 30-45 kg. Folly Farm’s rhino keepers will monitor mum and baby closely over the coming weeks and will be back out in the enclosure in due course. There are thought to be fewer than 650 Eastern black rhinos left in the wild - and just eight in zoos across Europe.
Greece elected an Environmentalist as its first woman president
Top judge Katerina Sakellaropoulou, 64, won with an overwhelming majority and received 261 votes from members of parliament out of 300 seats, according to CNN. Sakellaropoulou, who became the first woman president of the Council of State, Greece’s top administrative court in 2018, chairs an environmental law society and is known to advocate for refugee rights. Sakellaropoulou joins such notable female environmental leaders as New Zealand’s Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern in 2017, Mexico City’s mayor Claudia Sheinbaum in 2018, and Finland’s Prime Minster Sanna Marin in December 2019.
Pelecanus NEWS #2 February 1, 2020
The stories we’ve collected today can be categorized as big planetary protections, wildlife, beyond fossil fuels and plastics, and the contribution of zoos to conservation.
Today is the beginning of a new era at Pelecanus… We’re launching a new podcast this week! PELECANUS NEWS will be twice-monthly episodes highlighting the positive conservation stories in the news. At around 10 minutes in length, each episode will be hosted by Taylor Parker focusing on a few recent exciting and inspiring news stories in conservation. We will still be releasing the long-form conservation conversations periodically, but we thought, why not highlight the awesome work being done around the world a little more often? We all need a little more positivity, inspiration, and wonder in our lives, especially when it comes to the natural world and how we interact with it. Our mission remains the same, to show that we can find optimism through science. In this episode we put the spotlight on Denmark making huge moves towards sustainable energy in 2019, the new calculation of the global price-tag of reaching 100% renewable energy, The Netherlands courts ordering a cut of GHG by 25% in 5 years, Copenhagen planting fruit trees, a boost in Grasshopper sparrow populations in Florida, Nene and ‘Io (Hawaiian Hawk) conservation efforts paying off, a baby rhino christmas miracle, endangered Storks being bred in captivity, and Svalbard Deer are doing better than expected after years of efforts.