Renewable Energy · America’s renewable energy sources have produced more electricity than coal every day for 40 days straight o https://www.newsweek.com/america-renewable-energy-electricity-generation-tops-coal-plants-april-2020-40-days-1501967 o Renewable sources including solar, wind and hydropower generated more electricity than coal-based plants every single day in April, a new report says. o Analysis shared by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEFA), based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), said the finding marks a major "milestone" in an energy transition that is now underway. o The move away from coal for electricity generation in the U.S. accelerated in 2020 due to lower gas prices, warmer weather and a "significant amount" of new renewable capacity being connected to the grid late last year, the report suggested. o For comparison, last April saw the previous longest continuous stretch: nine days. Wildlife · Iceland To Stop Killing Whales In 2020, Choosing To Watch Them Instead o https://www.forbes.com/sites/ariellasimke/2020/05/10/iceland-to-stop-killing-whales-in-2020-choosing-to-watch-them-instead/#7a32a3313d0d o Iceland recently announced that its long-time annual whale hunt is coming to an end; citing an extended no-fishing zone, coronavirus social distancing regulations, increasing interest in whale watching and declining exports to Japan as reasons why they won’t be hunting this year. o The decision, celebrated by animal rights advocates, is largely profit-based. This is the second year that Iceland has opted out of whaling. o A moratorium on commercial whaling was established in 1986, however Norway, Japan and Iceland have continued whaling despite the international agreement. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), over 30,000 whales have been killed by the three countries since the moratorium was established. · Rare Island Marble butterfly wins Endangered Species protections o https://sanjuanislander.com/news-articles/environment-science-whales/environment/31061/gret-news-island-marble-butterfly-protected-under-endangered-species-list o The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has made the final determination to list the island marble butterfly (Euchloe ausonides insulanus) as an endangered species and designate critical habitat for the species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). o The island marble, a beautiful, medium-sized, white butterfly with green ‘marbling’ on its wings, was historically known from southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands of Canada. It went undetected for 90 years until being rediscovered in 1998 on San Juan Island, Washington. Despite subsequent ongoing conservation efforts, such as captive rearing and improving the butterfly’s prairie habitat, the butterfly is in danger of extinction. The small population size of the butterfly makes it especially vulnerable to threats, including habitat loss and predation. · Colorado outlaws cruel and unsporting wildlife killing contests o https://wildearthguardians.org/brave-new-wild/news/victory-colorado-outlaws-cruel-and-unsporting-wildlife-killing-contests/ o WildEarth Guardians and our wildlife protection allies are applauding the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Commission for their vote April 30 to ban wildlife “killing contests” for furbearer and certain small game species in the state. Colorado is now the sixth state in the country to ban these cruel events. The proposal, advanced by Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff and approved by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission, prohibits wildlife competition events, known informally as “killing contest” targeted at species such as coyotes, bobcats, and prairie dogs, amongst others. · Costa Rican suburb gave citizenship to bees, plants, and trees o https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/29/sweet-city-the-costa-rica-suburb-that-gave-citizenship-to-bees-plants-and-trees-aoe o Curridabat, the Costa Rican suburb of San Jose, has granted citizenship to every bee, bat, hummingbird, and butterfly and the idea has transformed the municipality from an unremarkable suburb to a pioneering haven for urban wildlife. o The idea implemented over the last 12 years has gone so well, that they have since extended citizenship to trees and native plants and the city is now known as Ciudad Dulce, or the Sweet City. Their urban planning has been reimagined around non-human inhabitants where green spaces are treated as infrastructure with accompanying ecosystem services that can be harnessed by local government and offered to residents. COVID Updates · Clean air in Europe during lockdown leads to 11,000 fewer deaths o https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/30/clean-air-in-europe-during-lockdown-leads-to-11000-fewer-deaths o The improvement in air quality over the past month of the coronavirus lockdown has led to 11,000 fewer deaths from pollution in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, a study has revealed. o Sharp falls in road traffic and industrial emissions have also resulted in 1.3m fewer days of work absence, 6,000 fewer children developing asthma, 1,900 avoided emergency room visits and 600 fewer preterm births, according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air. o While the pandemic continues to take a terrible toll – more than 220,000 deaths worldwide since the start of the year – the authors of the report say the response has offered a glimpse of the cleaner, healthier environment that is possible if the world shifts away from polluting fossil fuel industries. · Greenhouse gas emissions predicted to fall nearly 8% - largest decrease ever o https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/30/848307092/greenhouse-gas-emissions-predicted-to-fall-nearly-8-largest-decrease-ever o The COVID-19 pandemic is delivering the biggest shock to the global energy system in seven decades, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency. o Global energy demand is expected to fall by 6% this year, seven times the decline brought by the financial crisis 10 years ago. IEA projections show oil and gas being hit hard. But demand for coal could fall by an extraordinary 8% — the largest decline since World War II. o The IEA says the lower emissions will reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions that lead to climate change by almost 8% this year, which would be the largest annual decrease ever recorded. · Pakistan hires thousands of newly-unemployed laborers for ambitious 10 billion tree-planting initiative o https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-pakistan-trees-fea/as-a-green-stimulus-pakistan-sets-virus-idled-to-work-planting-trees-idUSKCN22A369 o Since Pakistan locked down starting March 23 to try to stem the spread of COVID-19, unemployed day labourers have been given new jobs as “jungle workers”, planting saplings as part of the country’s 10 Billion Tree Tsunami programme. o Such “green stimulus” efforts are an example of how funds that aim to help families and keep the economy running during pandemic shutdowns could also help nations prepare for the next big threat: climate change. o A typical worker now makes 500 rupees ($3) per day planting trees - about half of what they might have made on a good day, but enough to get by. o As the coronavirus pandemic struck Pakistan, the 10 Billion Trees campaign initially was halted as part of social distancing orders put in place to slow the spread of the virus, which has infected over 13,900 people in Pakistan, according to a Reuters tally. o But earlier this month, the prime minister granted an exemption to allow the forestry agency to restart the programme and create more than 63,600 jobs, according to government officials.
Energy oNew renewable energy capacity hit record levels in 2019 §https://hardware.slashdot.org/story/20/04/06/1938223/new-renewable-energy-capacity-hit-record-levels-in-2019 §Fossil fuel power plants are in decline in Europe and the U.S., with more decommissioned than built in 2019. The world has invested about $3 trillion in renewables over the past decade, according to Irena, but annual investments must double by 2030 to tackle the climate emergency. The total green energy installed to date around the world grew by 7.6% oSweden and Austria closer their last coal power plants years ahead of schedule §https://electrek.co/2020/04/22/sweden-third-european-country-to-closes-its-last-coal-power-plant/ §Just days after Austria shut its last coal power plant, Sweden followed suit with the closure of Stockholm Exergi AB’s Värtaverket plant, two years ahead of schedule. Belgium also shut down its last coal power station a couple years ago. §According to Europe Beyond Coal, six more countries are expected to follow suit by 2025 or earlier, including France (2022), Slovakia and Portugal (2023), the UK (2024), Ireland (2025), and Italy (2025). Five more will drop coal by 2030 or earlier, which is the necessary end date for coal generation in Europe for the continent to be in line with the Paris Agreement. This includes Greece (2028), the Netherlands and Finland (2029), and Hungary and Denmark (2030). ·Wild Carnivores oA rare Snow Leopard pair spotted in Uttarakhand’s Nanda Devi Park §https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/travel/destinations/four-rare-snow-leopards-spotted-in-nanda-devi-national-park-in-uttarakhand/as75158515.cms §Camera traps in India’s Nanda Devi National Park reveal a pair of Snow Leopards from earlier this year. When scientists checked a camera trap that was set up in the Malari area of the Park, they noticed four snow leopards. Among them, one was a snow leopard pair which is an extremely rare sighting. oPhotos of wild tiger cubs in Thailand rekindles hope for species §https://news.mongabay.com/2020/04/photos-of-wild-tiger-cubs-in-thailand-rekindles-hope-for-species/ §A new scientific survey provides evidence of breeding tiger populations in eastern Thailand’s forest complex, one of the last stands of the Indochinese population. The outcome is the result of a decade-long program to protect tigers in this area. ·Law and Policy oSouth Korea to implement Green New Deal after ruling party election win §https://www.climatechangenews.com/2020/04/16/south-korea-implement-green-new-deal-ruling-party-election-win/ §Seoul is to set a 2050 net zero emissions goal and end coal financing, after the Democratic Party’s landslide victory. Under the plan, South Korea has become the first country in East Asia to pledge to reach net zero emissions by 2050. As part of the Paris Agreement, countries have agreed to submit updated climate plans to 2030 and long-term decarbonisation strategies to the UN before the end of the year. In its climate manifesto published last month, the Democratic Party promised to pass a “Green New Deal” law that would steer the country’s transformation into a low-carbon economy. The manifesto explicitly referred to the “Green New Deal” plans of Democratic candidates in the US and the EU’s “Green Deal for Europe”, under which the European Commission promised to make the EU the first carbon-neutral continent. oUS judge cancels permit for Keystone XL pipeline after lawsuit §https://apnews.com/89e3f21d344db86b8743665ea66b892c §A U.S. judge canceled a key permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline that’s expected to stretch from Canada to Nebraska. This is another setback for the disputed project that got underway less than two weeks ago following years of delays. Judge Brian Morris said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to adequately consider effects on endangered species such as pallid sturgeon, a massive, dinosaur-like fish that lives in rivers the pipeline would cross. oEPA can’t kick scientists off science advisory panels, court says §https://www.nrdc.org/experts/nrdc/epa-cant-kick-scientists-science-advisory-panels-court-says §In a victory for science and public health, a federal court determined that the U.S. EPA cannot exclude scientists who have received EPA research grants from serving on its advisory panels. The change, made by former EPA Administrator, had a silencing effect on public health studies. The court’s decision in the case, which was brought by NRDC in 2019, “affirms the role of science in protecting our environment and public health,” says Jon Devine, director of federal water policy for NRDC’s Nature Program. oSupreme Court Rejects White House’s View of Clean Water Act §https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2020/04/27/566428.htm §The Supreme Court ruled last week that sewage plants and other industries cannot avoid environmental requirements under landmark clean-water protections when they send dirty water on an indirect route to rivers, oceans and other navigable waterways. Rejecting the White House’s views, the justices held by a 6-3 vote that the discharge of polluted water into the ground, rather than directly into nearby waterways, does not relieve an industry of complying with the Clean Water Act. ·COVID-19 Updates oMilan’s plan to limit cars after COVID lockdown lauded as Excellent Example §https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/04/21/milans-plan-limit-cars-after-covid-19-lockdown-lauded-excellent-example §Climate activists from across the globe welcomed an ambitious new plan for Milan that will, according to the Guardian, transform 22 miles of street space currently reserved for cars "with a rapid, experimental citywide expansion of cycling and walking space to protect residents as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted." oHimalayas visible for first time in 30 years as pollution levels in India drop §https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/himalayas-visible-lockdown-india-scli-intl/index.html §People in the northern Indian state of Punjab are reacting with awe at the sight of the Himalayan mountain range, which is now visible from more than 100 miles away due to the reduction in air pollution caused by the country's coronavirus lockdown oGanges River water becomes fit for drinking §https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/travel/destinations/ganga-water-turns-cleaner-during-lockdown-fit-for-achaman-in-haridwar-rishikesh/as75079848.cms §The Ganges waters at Rishikesh and Haridwar have become very clean according to the observation made by BD Joshi, Environmental Scientist and professor… the cause behind cleaner Ganges water is a 500 per cent decrease in total dissolved solid (TDS), industrial effluent, and sewage from hotels and lodges oData shows 30 percent drop in air pollution over Northeast US §https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2020/drop-in-air-pollution-over-northeast/ §NASA satellite measurements have revealed significant reductions in air pollution over the major metropolitan areas of the Northeast United States … nitrogen dioxide levels in March 2020 are about 30% lower on average across the region of the I-95 corridor from Washington, DC to Boston than when compared to the March mean of the last 4 years.
Pelecanus NEWS #7 April 15, 2020
Protected Areas · Seychelles creates a marine reserve twice the size of Great Britain o https://news.mongabay.com/2020/03/seychelles-extends-protection-to-marine-area-twice-the-size-of-great-britain/ o The archipelago in the Indian Ocean has committed to protecting 400,000 sq km (154,000 sq miles) of marine area, about 30% of its waters. o A ‘debt-for-nature’ deal allowed the country to restructure its sovereign debt and leverage $21.6 million to fund the creation of the MPAs and adaptation to climate change. o Seychelles hosts giant tortoises, nesting sites for turtles, and fragile coral reef ecosystems that the new MPAs aim to protect. Climate Health · Savannah, Georgia commits to 100% green energy by 2050 o https://climaterealityproject.org/press/savannah-georgia-commits-100-percent-clean-renewable-energy o The City of Savannah, Georgia signed a resolution committing to transition to 100 percent clean, renewable electricity by 2035, and 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, thanks to efforts from the 100% Savannah Coalition. o The Climate Reality Project: Coastal Georgia Chapter spearheaded the 100% Savannah Coalition, which is comprised of faith groups, local businesses, and environmental justice organizations o Savannah will be developing a clean-energy action plan over the next 18 months, and the Climate Reality Project: Coastal Georgia Chapter hopes to continue supporting the city as it enters the next stage of this process through the creation of a citizen’s advisory board. · Earth’s Ozone layer is finally healing o https://www.sciencealert.com/the-ozone-layer-is-healing-and-that-s-good-news-for o According to an article published in Nature from NOAA scientists, last year the Antarctic ozone hole hit its smallest annual peak on record since 1982 o A new study suggests the Montreal Protocol - the 1987 agreement to stop producing ozone depleting substances (ODSs) – is responsible for pausing, or even reversing, some troubling changes in air currents around the Southern Hemisphere. o Using a range of models and computer simulations, researchers have now shown this pause in movement was not driven by natural shifts in winds alone. Instead, only changes in the ozone could explain why the creep of the jet stream had suddenly stopped. o In other words, the impact of the Montreal Protocol appears to have paused, or even slightly reversed, the southern migration of the jet stream. · Court reinstates limits on potent climate-polluting refrigerants o https://www.nrdc.org/experts/nrdc/victory-court-reinstates-limits-potent-climate-polluting-refrigerants o Marking NRDC’s 60th legal win against the current US president’s administration’s environmental rollbacks, a federal court today ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must reinstate limits on how manufacturers can use potent, planet-warming hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are often found in refrigerants, air conditioners, and aerosol propellants. o “This is an important victory for our climate,” says NRDC attorney Peter DeMarco. “The court’s decision restores commonsense restrictions on HFC use that the EPA had illegally removed.” o Historically, manufacturers have turned to HFCs when phasing out ozone-depleting substances, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)—but HFCs come with their own high climate costs, carrying hundreds to thousands of times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide. They’re also prone to leaking from damaged equipment or improper disposal. Unchecked, HFCs alone could add up to a half-degree Celsius of warming by 2100. COVID-19 updates · With humans under lockdown, thousands of Olive Ridley Turtles get to peacefully nest in India’s Odisha beaches o https://www.indiatimes.com/trending/environment/with-humans-under-lockdown-8-lakh-olive-ridley-turtles-get-to-peacefully-nest-on-odisha-coast-509372.html o Olive Ridley sea turtles have come ashore for mass nesting at the six-kilometre-long Rushikulya beach of Odisha’s Ganjam district because of the coronavirus lockdown. o These rare sea turtles are renowned for their mass nesting and come to Indian shores and Odisha’s coast every nesting season; the areas are their largest nesting site in the region. According to the Odisha Wildlife Organisation, nearly 50 per cent of the world population of these rare turtles come to Odisha’s coast for nesting. · With zoo closed to visitors, pandas finally bang after 10 years o https://shanghai.ist/2020/04/07/with-zoo-closed-to-visitors-pandas-finally-bang-after-10-years/ o The coronavirus pandemic has given a pair of pandas in Hong Kong enough alone time to finally get it on. o Keepers at Hong Kong’s Ocean Park have been trying unsuccessfully for 10 years to get 14-year-old pandas Ying Ying and Le Le to mate naturally. A decade-long effort that had proven fruitless. o However, with the zoo closed to visitors since late January because of the Covid-19 outbreak, staff began noticing changes in the animals’ behavior.
Pelecanus NEWS #6 April 1, 2020
Life, Activism, Circular Economy, and COVID-19 updates Life · Ancestor of all animals identified in Australian fossils https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200323152108.htm Geologists from UC Riverside have discovered the first ancestor on the family tree that contains most animals today, including humans. The wormlike creature, Ikaria wariootia, is the earliest bilaterian, or organism with a front and back, two symmetrical sides, and openings at either end connected by a gut. It was found in Ediacaran Period deposits in Australia and was 2-7 millimeters long, with the largest the size of a grain of rice. · Scientists have discovered the origins of the building blocks of life https://www.rutgers.edu/news/scientists-have-discovered-origins-building-blocks-life Rutgers researchers have discovered the origins of the protein structures responsible for metabolism: simple molecules that powered early life on Earth and serve as chemical signals that NASA could use to search for life on other planets. Their study, which predicts what the earliest proteins looked like 3.5 billion to 2.5 billion years ago, is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The scientists retraced, like a many thousand piece puzzle, the evolution of enzymes (proteins) from the present to the deep past. The solution to the puzzle required two missing pieces, and life on Earth could not exist without them. By constructing a network connected by their roles in metabolism, this team discovered the missing pieces.
Activism · Huge Victory for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as Federal Court rules DAPL permits violated law https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/mar/25/dakota-access-pipeline-permits-court-standing-rock The future of the controversial Dakota Access pipeline has been thrown into question after a federal court struck down its permits and ordered a comprehensive environmental review. The ruling is a huge victory for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of North Dakota, which rallied support from across the world and sued the US government in a campaign to stop the environmentally risky pipeline being built on tribal lands. In the latest ruling, the federal judge James Boasberg, said the environmental analysis by the companies behind the pipeline and the corps was severely lacking. The abysmal safety record of the pipeline parent company, Sunoco, “does not inspire confidence”, he added. Circular Economy · In race for a sustainable alternative to plastic, Indonesia bets on seaweed https://news.mongabay.com/2020/03/in-race-for-a-sustainable-alternative-to-plastic-indonesia-bets-on-seaweed/ A local government initiative to revive seaweed farming off Bali comes amid growing interest in the crop’s promise to tackle environmental problems ranging from carbon emissions to plastic waste pollution. Cultivated at scale, seaweed can grow up to 60 times faster than land-based plants, making it an important carbon sink. Local startups are also exploring its potential to make bioplastic that is naturally degradable and even edible, for use in food packaging and other applications to replace plastic. For the new generation of seaweed farmers in Indonesia, the plant also offers revenue streams through ecotourism as well. · New EU rules could spell end of throwaway culture https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-51825089 New rules could spell the death of a "throwaway" culture in which products are bought, used briefly, then binned. The regulations will apply to a range of everyday items such as mobile phones, textiles, electronics, batteries, construction and packaging. They will ensure products are designed and manufactured so they last - and so they're repairable if they go wrong. It should mean that your phone lasts longer and proves easier to fix. It's part of a worldwide movement called the Right to Repair, which has spawned citizens' repair workshops in several UK cities. The plan is being presented by the European Commission. It's likely to create standards for the UK too. · Aldi CEO tells suppliers: 100% recyclable or compostable packaging is non-negotiable https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/100-recyclable-or-compostable-packing-is-non-negotiable-for-aldi/ In a muscly demonstration of solidarity with the environment of the planet, the CEO of the Aldi grocery chain sent a strongly written letter to suppliers informing them that anyone looking to sell to Aldi must package their products in 100% recyclable, compostable, or reusable material by 2025. This extends their corporate responsibility pledge of 2018 which vowed that all Aldi branded items must come in the same sustainable packaging by 2022. CEO Giles Hurley says now that 2,700 tons of plastic and 3,700 tons of non-recyclable material had been saved already since 2018, but that “much more was needed,” adding that the move to sustainability is “non-negotiable,” and that buying decisions moving forward “will be based on our supply partners’ ability to lead and adapt in this area.” COVID · Malawi government bans bush meat in the wake of COVID-19 https://allafrica.com/stories/202003200203.html The Malawi Department of Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) has banned the selling and consumption of bush meat as a precautionary measure against Coronavirus (Covid-19). He further added, "People may think that poaching for, or trading in bush meat is a soft wildlife crime. But the truth is that it is a serious offense and can lead to a prison sentence." · Coronavirus closures reveal vast scale of China’s secretive wildlife farm industry https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/25/coronavirus-closures-reveal-vast-scale-of-chinas-secretive-wildlife-farm-industry Nearly 20,000 wildlife farms raising species including peacocks, civet cats, porcupines, ostriches, wild geese and boar have been shut down across China in the wake of the coronavirus, in a move that has exposed the hitherto unknown size of the industry. Until a few weeks ago wildlife farming was still being promoted by government agencies as an easy way for rural Chinese people to get rich. · China and Vietnam finally ban wildlife trade due to coronavirus https://nypost.com/2020/03/28/china-and-vietnam-finally-ban-wildlife-trade-due-to-coronavirus/ In January, China imposed a ban on all farming and consumption of “terrestrial wildlife of important ecological, scientific and social value,” which is expected to be signed into law later this year. And now, after conservationists sent an open letter to Vietnam’s prime minister recommending action against the wildlife trade as a means of preventing future outbreaks of disease, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, that country is also looking to stop importing imperiled animals to eat. The letter — signed by the head of Pan Nature, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Animals Asia Foundation, TRAFFIC, Save Vietnam Wildlife, and Wildlife Conservation Society — to Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, stated in part: “Limiting interaction between wildlife and humans through strong enforcement against illegal wildlife trade and wildlife markets is the most effective approach to mitigating future risk associated with transmission of disease between animals and humans.
Pelecanus NEWS #5 March 15, 2020
Legislation, Rewilding, and Money
Virginia lawmakers vote to ban offshore oil drilling
Virginia Democratic-led lawmakers passed a bill to block future oil and gas development off the state’s coastline
The bill prohibits infrastructure such as pipelines or gathering systems in state waters that could be used to transport oil and gas drilled in federal waters to Virginia’s shores. It also repeals a state policy to support U.S. efforts to explore for offshore oil and gas.
The first several eggs of 2020 arrived at the center, and keepers hope to see more throughout the month.
There are 14 condor pairs at the conservation center this year — more than any previous season.
California condor breeding programs are also operated at San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park, the Los Angeles Zoo and the Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey in Idaho.
The California condor was one of the original animals included on the 1973 Endangered Species Act and is classified as critically endangered. In 1982, only 22 individuals remained in the wild and by 1987, the last condors were brought into human care in an attempt to save the species from extinction. Thanks to recovery programs like the Oregon Zoo's, the world's California condor population now totals more than 517 birds, most of which are flying free
The once-endangered Echo Parakeet has officially been downlisted to Vulnerable from just 12 birds in 1970 to 800 today
In this year’s Red List update, the Echo Parakeet moved from Endangered to Vulnerable – an impressive recovery for a species that once numbered just a dozen birds
In the 1970s, there were around a dozen Echo Parakeets (Psittacula eques) remaining.
Like its famous Mauritian cousin, the Dodo, it was heading for extinction.
Fast forward 40 years and the species has made a remarkable comeback, with nearly 800 birds now in the wild. This is the second species the organization has recovered so significantly, and shows that concerted and prolonged conservation work pays off.
The species has been ‘downlisted’ on the Red List twice this century, from Critically Endangered to Endangered in 2007, and then to Vulnerable in 2019.
Declared extinct in the wild for nearly 40 years, the bird was, in late 2019, classified critically endangered, according to a news update by animal keeper Erica Royer posted at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
The rail used to be common in Guam, with about 60,000 to 80,000 birds there during the late 1960s and early ’70s. There are now about 200 birds living and producing offspring on Rota
“[T]he species was almost lost entirely due to predation by the invasive brown tree snake,” Royer wrote. It’s believed the snake was accidentally introduced to Guam by military cargo ships after World War II.
Biologists from Guam’s Department of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources began an effort to save the Guam rail in the early 1980s, capturing the last 17 birds to start a breeding and recovery program. In 2010, 16 Guam rails were released on Cocos Island, a small, uninhabited daytime resort island 1 mile south of Guam, and the population of 60 to 80 Guam rails there is flourishing and considered self-sustaining.
Following Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase announcements, Wells Fargo rejects funding drilling in the Arctic
Wells Fargo has released an update to its environmental policy ruling out funding for oil and gas projects in the Arctic region, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The update does not make improvements to the bank’s other oil and gas financing policies. The 2019 Banking on Climate Change report lists Wells Fargo as the world’s top banker of fracked oil and gas, and the second largest funder of fossil fuels overall
The release of this change to the bank’s policy comes in the wake of similar announcements by Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, as well as more than a dozen global banks.
Brown University sells 90 percent of fossil fuel investments
Brown decreases their fossil fuel investments decrease from 6.5 to 0.9 percent of endowment
The process of selling investments in fossil fuel companies began in October 2017 and is due in part to the “accelerating decline in the cost of alternative energy sources” and “escalating uncertainty” in the economic future of fossil fuels that the Investment Office made the decision to sell these investments, Dietze wrote. “People know that this sector is dying, … and it’s just not a good long-term investment,” Paxson told The Herald. “It carries too much risk for the endowment.”
The Investment Office also thought that investment in fossil fuel companies did not align with the University’s Environmental, Social and Governance criteria. While these standards have been in place in financial and investment decisions for the past five years, their importance to University investments has increased over time, Paxson said. This decision “positions us to be actively engaged in pushing … the companies we invest in to be more socially responsible,” she continued.
Senators reach $2b deal to boost conservation, parks
Senate leaders have reached an election-year deal to double spending on a popular conservation program and devote more than a $1 billion a year to clear a growing maintenance backlog at national parks
The deal, announced Wednesday by senators from both parties, would spend about $2.2 billion per year on conservation and outdoor recreation projects and park maintenance across the country.
If approved by Congress and signed by the President the bill “will be the most significant conservation legislation enacted by Congress in nearly half a century,” said veteran Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.
The program uses federal royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling to pay for conservation and public recreation projects around the country. The 55-year-old-fund is authorized to collect $900 million a year but generally receives less than half that amount from Congress.
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.