Loading...

Follow Ecology Global Network on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

Rapidly falling insect populations, said Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson, “will make it even more difficult than today to get enough food for the human population of the planet, to get good health and freshwater for everybody.”

Grasshopper. Photo: PublicDomainPictures.net

A leading scientist warned Tuesday that the rapid decline of insects around the world poses an existential threat to humanity and action must be taken to rescue them “while we still have time.”

Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson, professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and one of the world’s top entomologists, said in an interview with The Guardian that the importance of insects to the planet should spur humans to take immediate action against one of the major causes of insect decline—the climate crisis.

“Insects are the glue in nature,” said Sverdrup-Thygeson. “We should save insects, if not for their sake, then for our own sake.”

Falling insect populations around the world is cause for serious alarm, Sverdrup-Thygeson said, given the enormous impact these tiny creatures have on the global ecosystem.

“I have read pretty much every study in English and I haven’t seen a single one where entomologists don’t believe the main message that a lot of insect species are definitely declining,” said Sverdrup-Thygeson. “When you throw all the pesticides and climate change on top of that, it is not very cool to be an insect today.”

If this decline continues unabated, Sverdrup-Thygeson warned, soon “it will not be fun to be a human on this planet either.”

“[I]t will make it even more difficult than today to get enough food for the human population of the planet, to get good health and freshwater for everybody,” said Sverdrup-Thygeson. “That should be a huge motivation for doing something while we still have time.”

“You can pull out some threads,” she added, “but at some stage the whole fabric unravels and then we will really see the consequences.”

Sverdrup-Thygeson’s call to action came after the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released a comprehensive global biodiversity report, which warned that human activity has pushed a million plant and animal species to the brink of extinction.

According to the report, “available evidence supports a tentative estimate of 10 percent [of insect species] being threatened” by the climate crisis.

“It is not too late to make a difference,” said IPBES chair Sir Robert Watson, “but only if we start now at every level from local to global.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License, by Common Dreams.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

By Jessica Corbett
Common Dreams

Far-reaching global assessment details how humanity is undermining the very foundations of the natural world

Photo: James Temple

 
 
On the heels of an Earth Day that featured calls for radical action to address the current “age of environmental breakdown,” Agence France-Presse revealed Tuesday that up to a million species face possible extinction because of destructive human behavior.

The warning comes from a forthcoming United Nations report, a draft of which was obtained by AFP, that “painstakingly catalogues how humanity has undermined the natural resources upon which its very survival depends.”

A product of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the landmark three-year assessment was prepared by 150 experts from 50 countries, with additions from another 250 contributors.

As John Vidal wrote in a preview of the study for HuffPost last month, “It is the greatest attempt yet to assess the state of life on Earth and will show how tens of thousands of species are at high risk of extinction, how countries are using nature at a rate that far exceeds its ability to renew itself, and how nature’s ability to contribute food and fresh water to a growing human population is being compromised in every region on Earth.”

Outlining some of the experts’ key findings, AFP reported Tuesday:

The accelerating loss of clean air, drinkable water, CO2-absorbing forests, pollinating insects, protein-rich fish, and storm-blocking mangroves—to name but a few of the dwindling services rendered by nature—poses no less of a threat than climate change…

The direct causes of species loss, in order of importance, are shrinking habitat and land-use change, hunting for food or illicit trade in body parts, climate change, pollution, and alien species such as rats, mosquitoes, and snakes that hitch rides on ships or planes, the report finds.

 Although IPBES chair Robert Watson declined to divulge the new report’s details to AFP, he said that “there are also two big indirect drivers of biodiversity loss and climate change—the number of people in the world and their growing ability to consume.”

“We need to recognize that climate change and loss of nature are equally important, not just for the environment, but as development and economic issues as well,” Watson added. “The way we produce our food and energy is undermining the regulating services that we get from nature.”

As AFP reported, the draft document warns that “subsidies to fisheries, industrial agriculture, livestock raising, forestry, mining and the production of biofuel, or fossil fuel energy encourage waste, inefficiency, and over-consumption.”

Unsustainable human activity, according to the document, already has “severely altered” 40 percent of the marine environment, 50 percent of inland waterways, and three-quarters of the planet’s land.

Looking ahead, the report says that “half-a-million to a million species are projected to be threatened with extinction, many within decades.” It also warns that indigenous peoples and poor communities—who are already at risk because of the global climate crisis—will be negatively impacted by biodiversity loss.

“The loss of species, ecosystems, and genetic diversity is already a global and generational threat to human well-being,” Watson said in a statement from IPBES. “Protecting the invaluable contributions of nature to people will be the defining challenge of decades to come. Policies, efforts, and actions—at every level—will only succeed, however, when based on the best knowledge and evidence. This is what the IPBES Global Assessment provides.”

Some of the language may change in the report—which echoes previous warningsabout mass extinction—during the upcoming seventh session of the IPBES Plenary, scheduled for April 29 to May 4. However, the major figures and conclusions are expected to remain the same. The final document is due out May 6.

This work is licensed by Common Dreams under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

By Jessica Corbett
Common Dreams

“We face a stark choice [between] radical, disruptive changes to our physical world or radical, disruptive changes to our political and economic systems to avoid those outcomes.”

As people across the globe mobilize to demand bold action to combat the climate crisis and scientific findings about looming “environmental breakdown” pile up, a startling new study published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience warns that human-caused global warming could cause stratocumulus clouds to totally disappear in as little as a century, triggering up to 8°C (14°F) of additional warming.

Stratocumulus clouds cover about two-thirds of the Earth and help keep it cool by reflecting solar radiation back to space. Recent research has suggested that planetary warming correlates with greater cloud loss, stoking fears about a feedback loop that could spell disaster.

For this study, researchers at the California Institute of Technology used a supercomputer simulation to explore what could lead these low-lying, lumpy clouds to vanish completely. As science journalist Natalie Wolchover laid out in a lengthy piece for Quanta Magazine titled “A World Without Clouds“:

The simulation revealed a tipping point: a level of warming at which stratocumulus clouds break up altogether. The disappearance occurs when the concentration of CO2 in the simulated atmosphere reaches 1,200 parts per million [ppm]—a level that fossil fuel burning could push us past in about a century, under “business-as-usual” emissions scenarios. In the simulation, when the tipping point is breached, Earth’s temperature soars 8 degrees Celsius, in addition to the 4 degrees of warming or more caused by the CO2 directly…

To imagine 12 degrees of warming, think of crocodiles swimming in the Arctic and of the scorched, mostly lifeless equatorial regions during the [Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum or PETM]. If carbon emissions aren’t curbed quickly enough and the tipping point is breached, “that would be truly devastating climate change,” said Caltech’s Tapio Schneider, who performed the new simulation with Colleen Kaul and Kyle Pressel.

Quanta Magazine also broke down the study’s key findings in a short video shared on social media: https://www.quantamagazine.org/cloud-loss-could-add-8-degrees-to-global-warming-20190225/

The study elicited alarm from climate campaigners along with calls for the “radical, disruptive changes” to society’s energy and economic systems that scientists and experts have repeatedly said are necessary to prevent climate catastrophe:

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the amount of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere has surged from about 280 ppm to more than 410 ppm today. Although concentrations will continue to rise as long as the international community maintains unsustainable activities that generate greenhouse gas emissions, some observers pointed out that atmospheric carbon hitting 1,200 ppm is far from a foregone conclusion.

However, as Washington Post climate reporter Chris Mooney concluded in a series of tweets, “the point is not that this scary scenario is going to happen. Given the current trajectory of climate policy and renewables, it seems unlikely. Rather, the key point—and it’s a big deal—is that there are many things we don’t understand about the climate system and there could be key triggers out there, which set off processes that you can’t easily stop.”

In other words, as MIT professor Thomas Levenson put it: “The really terrifying aspect of this research is the reminder that we do not yet know all the ways catastrophic outcomes can emerge from this uncontrolled experiment on our only habitat.”

This work is licensed by Common Dreams under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

By Jon Queally
Common Dreams

“This is the stuff that worries me most. We don’t know what we’re doing, not trying to stop it, [and] with big consequences we don’t really understand.”

The marine insect Halobates sericeus, also known as a “sea skater” or “oceanic water strider.” Photo credit: Anthony Smith.

The first global scientific review of its kind reaches an ominous conclusion about the state of nature warning that unless humanity drastically and urgently changes its behavior the world’s insects could be extinct within a century.

Presented in exclusive reporting by the Guardian‘s environment editor Damian Carrington, the findings of the new analysis, published in the journal Biological Conservation, found that industrial agricultural techniques—”particularly the heavy use of pesticides”—as well as climate change and urbanization are the key drivers behind the extinction-level decline of insect populations that could herald a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems” if not addressed.

“If insect species losses cannot be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet’s ecosystems and for the survival of mankind,” report co-author Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, at the University of Sydney, Australia, told the Guardian. Sánchez-Bayo wrote the scholarly analysis with Kris Wyckhuys at the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing.

Calling the current annual global insect decline rate of 2.5 percent over the last three decades a “shocking” number, Sánchez-Bayo characterized it as “very rapid” for insects worldwide. If that continues, he warned: “In 10 years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none.”

Isn’t this a bit alarmist? Anticipating that concern, Sánchez-Bayo said the language of the report was intended “to really wake people up,” but that’s because the findings are so worrying.

Not involved with the study, Professor Dave Goulson at the University of Sussex in the UK, agreed. “It should be of huge concern to all of us,” Goulson told the Guardian, “for insects are at the heart of every food web, they pollinate the large majority of plant species, keep the soil healthy, recycle nutrients, control pests, and much more. Love them or loathe them, we humans cannot survive without insects.”

As Carrington reports:

The planet is at the start of a sixth mass extinction in its history, with huge losses already reported in larger animals that are easier to study. But insects are by far the most varied and abundant animals, outweighing humanity by 17 times. They are “essential” for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, the researchers say, as food for other creatures, pollinators and recyclers of nutrients.

Insect population collapses have recently been reported in Germany and Puerto Rico, but the review strongly indicates the crisis is global. The researchers set out their conclusions in unusually forceful terms for a peer-reviewed scientific paper: “The [insect] trends confirm that the sixth major extinction event is profoundly impacting [on] life forms on our planet.”

Doug Parr, the chief scientist for Greenpeace U.K., responded to the reporting by saying these are the climate-related developments that concern him most of all.

“I spend so many hours a week concerned climate change,” he said in a tweet linking to the story. “But this is the stuff that worries me most. We don’t know what we’re doing, not trying to stop it, [and] with big consequences we don’t really understand.”

According to Sánchez-Bayo, the “main cause of the decline is agricultural intensification,” and he put special emphasis on new classes of pesticides and herbicides that have been brought to market over the last twenty years alongside a global surge in industrialized monocultures. “That means the elimination of all trees and shrubs that normally surround the fields, so there are plain, bare fields that are treated with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides,” he said.

As campaigners worldwide intensify their collective demand that elected leaders, governments, communities, and businesses do significantly more to address the crisis of a warming planet and halt the destruction of the Earth’s natural systems, journalist David Sirota contrasted evidence of species loss—and the threat it contains—with those voices who say something like a Green New Deal would somehow be “too expensive” or disruptive to the status quo:

This work is licensed by Common Dreams under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

By Julia Conley
Common Dreams

“Nature is not a ‘nice to have’—it is our life-support system.”

Photo: James Temple

Scientists from around the world issued a stark warning to humanity Tuesday in a semi-annual report on the Earth’s declining biodiversity, which shows that about 60 percent of mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles have been wiped out by human activity since 1970.

The World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Index details how human’s uncontrolled overconsumption of land, food, and natural resources has eliminated a majority of the wildlife on the planet—threatening human civilization as well as the world’s animals.

“We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff,” Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF, told the Guardian. “If there was a 60 percent decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China, and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done.”

Killer whales were named as one species that is in grave danger of extinction due to exposure to chemicals used by humans, and the Living Index Report highlighted freshwater species and animal populations in Central and South America as being especially affected by human activity in the past five decades.

“Species population declines are especially pronounced in the tropics, with South and Central America suffering the most dramatic decline, an 89 percent loss compared to 1970,” reads the report. “Freshwater species numbers have also declined dramatically, with the Freshwater Index showing an 83% decline since 1970.”

Destruction of wildlife habitats is the leading human-related cause of extinction, as people around the world are now using about three-quarters of all land on the planet for agriculture, industry, and other purposes, according to the report.

Mass killing of animals for food is the second-largest cause of extinction, according to the report, with 300 mammal species being “eaten into extinction.”

“It is a classic example of where the disappearance is the result of our own consumption,” Barrett told the Guardian.

The report stresses a need to that shift away from the notion that wildlife must be protected simply for the sake of ensuring that future generations can see species like elephants, polar bears, and other endangered animals in the wild.

Rather, the survival of the planet’s ecosystems is now a matter of life and death for the human population, according to the WWF.

“Nature contributes to human wellbeing culturally and spiritually, as well as through the critical production of food, clean water, and energy, and through regulating the Earth’s climate, pollution, pollination and floods,” Professor Robert Watson, who contributed to the report, told the Guardian. “The Living Planet report clearly demonstrates that human activities are destroying nature at an unacceptable rate, threatening the wellbeing of current and future generations.”

“Nature is not a ‘nice to have’—it is our life-support system,” added Barrett.

Many scientists believe that studies like that of the WWF demonstrate that a sixth mass extinction is now underway—a theory that would mean the Earth could experience its first mass extinction event caused by a single species inhabiting the planet. The loss of all life on Earth could come about due to a combination of human-caused effects, including a rapidly warming planet as well as the loss of biodiversity.

“The Great Acceleration, and the rapid and immense social, economic and ecological changes it has spurred, show us that we are in a period of great upheaval,” reads the study. “Some of these changes have been positive, some negative, and all of them are interconnected. What is increasingly clear is that human development and wellbeing are reliant on healthy natural systems, and we cannot continue to enjoy the former without the latter.”

This work is licensed by Common Dreams under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

By Jessica Corbett
Common Dreams

“This is a wake-up call,” says one Australian marine biologist. “Given sea temperatures usually increase as we get towards March, this is probably conservative.”

Delivering yet another “wake-up call” after recent studies have shown that heat stress from anthropogenic global warming has killed half of the Great Barrier Reef’s corals since 2016, a new analysis from U.S. scientists warns that the entirety of world’s largest coral system is at risk of bleaching and death as Australia enters it summer months.

The forecast from U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for November 2018 to February 2019 indicates that the whole reef has a 60 percent chance of reaching “alert level one,” under which bleaching is “likely.”

When coral is exposed to warm water or pollution, it expels the algae living in its tissues—its main source of food—and turns completely white. Although bleached coral is still alive, the reaction makes it more susceptible to disease and death.

“This is really the first warning bells going off that we are heading for an extraordinarily warm summer and there’s a very good chance that we’ll lose parts of the reef that we didn’t lose in the past couple of years,” marine biologist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, the director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland in Australia, told the Guardian. “These are not good predictions and this is a wake-up call.”

Hoegh-Guldberg expressed concern that the analysis shows bleaching could occur before March, which historically has been the main month for such events. “To really have the full picture we’re going to have to wait for those projections that cover the main part of bleaching season,” he said. “Given sea temperatures usually increase as we get towards March, this is probably conservative.”

While NOAA’s predictions provoked alarm, Mark Eakin, head of the agency’s Coral Reef Watch, noted that “lots of things, including major weather patterns, can change the probabilities over the next three months.”

Although “it’s much too early to predict that with any certainty,” Eakin told Australia’s ABC that “depending on what happens with the El Niño,” or the warming of the ocean surface in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, “we could see another global bleaching event in 2019” that would impact not only the Great Barrier Reef but also other coral systems across the globe.

Regardless of whether an El Niño emerges and triggers another bleaching event, scientists are urging governments to heed the urgent warnings of the recent IPCC report—which detailed what the world could look like if the global temperature rises 1.5°C versus 2°C (2.7°F versus 3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels—and ramp up efforts to avert climate catastrophe.

The IPCC report found that coral reefs “are expected to decline by a further 70 to 90 percent even under 1.5ºC, but that rises to more than 99 percent reef loss as temperature rises hit 2ºC,” according to ABC. “Researchers say at current emissions rates, the world will hit that point between 10 and 14 years from now.”

NOAA’s new forecast for bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef is “very consistent with what the IPCC 1.5 degree report told us,” concluded Hoegh-Guldberg. “It’s extremely important that politicians and our leaders stand up and make the changes we need to make so we don’t tread down an even more dangerous path.”

 This work is licensed by Common Dreams under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

By Julia  Conley
Common Dreams

“Our message as scientists is simple: Our planet’s future climate is inextricably tied to the future of its forest.”

With a new statement rejecting the notion that drastically curbing emissions alone is enough to curb the threat of human-caused global warming, a group of scientists are urging world leaders to take immediate action to stop deforestation—calling it a key solution to stem the planetary climate crisis.

Forty scientists from five countries signed a statement days before the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is scheduled to meet in South Korea, warning that stopping deforestation is as urgent as ending the world’s dependence on fossil fuels.

“We must protect and maintain healthy forests to avoid dangerous climate change and to ensure the world’s forests continue to provide services critical for the well-being of the planet and ourselves,” the statement read. “Our message as scientists is simple: Our planet’s future climate is inextricably tied to the future of its forest.”

Because forests absorb about a quarter of the carbon released by human activity, the elimination of forests and jungles around the world would release more than three trillion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere—more than the amount that could be released from all of the world’s oil, gas, and coal reserves.

“The forest piece of the conversation is often lost and I don’t think the IPCC report will highlight it enough,” Deborah Lawrence, a professor at the University of Virginia who signed the statement, told The Guardian.

Deforestation represents a vicious cycle in the fight against the climate crisis. As the burning of fossil fuels leads to a warmer planet, changes in the climate have had multiple effects including wildfires like the ones that have swept through Europe and the U.S. in recent months, contributing to more deforestation which then releases more carbon.

“We will have a hotter, drier world without these forests” Lawrence told The Guardian. “There needs to be an international price on carbon to fund the protection of forests.”

The IPCC is scheduled to meet Monday.

This work is licensed by Common Dreams under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Center for Biological Diversity Press Release

WASHINGTON – Four commonly used neonicotinoid pesticides can harm bees and other pollinators, according to a new analysis by California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation. The study found that current approved uses of the “neonics” on crops like tomatoes, berries, almonds, corn and oranges exposes bees to levels of the pesticides known to cause harm.

Female carder bee. Photo wikipedia CC BY-SA 2.5

“The more we learn about the toxicity of neonics, the more apparent it is that pretty much any plant with nectar or pollen sprayed with these poisons is unsafe for bees,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This important analysis is further proof that it’s time to ban all outdoor use of these harmful pesticides on crops.”

Recent analyses by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency identified harms to bees and pollinators from neonics used on cotton, citrus and several other fruits. But California’s analysis indicates neonics can cause much broader harm, including to pollinators commonly found on many types of vegetables, cereal grains, tree nuts, fruits and tobacco.

One of the most important findings of the new California analysis is the discovery of the high risk to bees posed by use of two neonicotinoids, thiamethoxam and clothianidin, on cereal grains like corn, wheat, rice and barley. Late last year the U.S. EPA announced it would consider an application from Syngenta to spray thiamethoxam directly on 165 million acres of wheat, barley, corn, sorghum, alfalfa, rice and potato.

Earlier this year California announced that it would no longer consider any applications by pesticide companies that would expand the use of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides in the state.

“At the same time California is wisely prohibiting new uses of neonics, the U.S. EPA is considering approving the spraying of a neonic known to be harmful to pollinators on an area nearly the size of Texas,” said Donley. “It’s dangerous and it doesn’t make any sense.”

Background

Earlier this year, the European Union banned neonicotinoids for outdoor uses in agriculture. Europe’s decision came after Canada’s pesticide regulatory agency recommended banning imidacloprid, the most widely used neonicotinoid, based on demonstrated harms to aquatic ecosystems.

As other developed nations further restrict the use of these poisons, the U.S. EPA has largely ignored the risks. Last year a rule that would have placed limited restrictions on neonics when commercial honeybees were present in fields was changed from mandatory to voluntary.

The U.S. EPA is currently in the process of reanalyzing neonic impacts to humans and the environment and is expected to re-approve the pesticides by the end of 2018.

California’s pesticide office is in the process of identifying mitigation measures to reduce the risk of neonics to bees, which the agency says will be finalized in the next two years.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

From the National Science Foundation

Birds — the only surviving descendants of dinosaurs — are used to study a large range of fundamental topics in biology, from understanding the evolution of mating systems to learning about the genetic and environmental factors that affect their beautiful plumages. Although studied often, a complete description of the evolutionary relationships among all 10,560 bird species has not been possible.

Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia) Photo: Annetta Hoagland

Now, with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), researchers from Louisiana State University (LSU), in collaboration with a number of other institutions, are working to build an evolutionary tree of all bird species using cutting-edge technologies to collect DNA from across the genome. Called OpenWings, the project will produce the most complete evolutionary tree of any vertebrate group to date.

“A better understanding of an evolutionary tree of all birds will be transformative for the fields of ornithology and evolutionary biology, particularly as biologists integrate data to these trees from other large projects like the NSF-sponsored oVert Collection Network, the European Research Council-sponsored MarkMyBird project, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird,” said Brant Faircloth, LSU Department of Biological Sciences assistant professor and an investigator for the OpenWings project.

Data gleaned from the project will be released to the public as they are generated for use by scientists, citizens or professionals for their own research. The data will also be used to evaluate a number of ideas about how, when and where birds diversified and those processes responsible for the current distribution of worldwide avian diversity.

“A complete evolutionary tree constructed with cutting-edge data and all bird species represents an unprecedented resource for the research community. Our understanding of the evolution of birds may be rewritten in the coming years,” said Brian Smith, American Museum of Natural History assistant curator of birds and an investigator on the project.

This research is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) (“Collaborative Research: All Birds: A Time-scaled Avian Tree From Integrated Phylogenomic and Fossil Datagrants,” under NSF grants DEB 16-55624, DEB 16-55559, DEB 16-55683 and DEB 16-55736).

Learn more in the LSU news story, Scientists to Build the Avian Tree of Life. (Date image taken: 2014; date originally posted to NSF Multimedia Gallery: July 20, 2018)

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

WildEarth Guardians Press Release

Federal Court Overturns Leasing of Lands to Oil and Gas Industry

SANTA FE, NM — In a victory for New Mexico’s air, climate, and water, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico today rejected a 2015 oil and gas lease sale covering 19,788 acres of oil and gas leases on the Santa Fe National Forest within the Greater Chaco region.

Santa Fe National Forest, Jemez Mountain Trail – Photo: USDA

The federal court held the Bureau of Land Management failed to quantify the full life cycle of air pollution from oil and gas, including their indirect and cumulative effects on people and the environment. Likewise, the court found the agency failed to disclose the water quantity impacts of fracking a region currently suffering extraordinary drought that has closed the forest to public use altogether.

The court set aside the leases as illegal, effectively invalidating them. Click here to see an online interactive map of where the now-illegal leases are located.

“The law requires the government to look before they leap into fracking on our public lands, which includes an honest look at how the continued exploitation of oil and gas will impact our climate and future generations” said Kyle Tisdel of the Western Environmental Law Center. “This decision rejects the rubber stamp mentality of our public land managers on the Santa Fe National Forest, even as the government continues to approve unstudied fracking throughout New Mexico’s Greater Chaco region.”

“We are happy with the court’s decision that supports our assertion that federal agencies are failing to adequately uphold environmental protections intended to ensure the health of the land, people and cultural landscapes on public lands,” said Carol Davis of Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment.

“With the Santa Fe National Forest being targeted for fracking, it’s clear the oil and gas industry believes there is no place sacred in the American Southwest,” said Jeremy Nichols with WildEarth Guardians. “With our climate and our future at stake, we’re pleased the court agrees we can’t blindly sacrifice our public lands for fossil fuel extraction.”

Citizens and organizations submitted more than a hundred protest letters opposing the lease sale, which perpetuates a dangerous pattern of federal agencies erroneously relying on the 15-year-old Farmington RMP to facilitate a rush to frack New Mexico’s Mancos Shale without proper environmental analysis. BLM is currently writing an amendment to the RMP to reflect these new technologies—admitting that the 2003 RMP is obsolete.

Horizontal wells have double the surface impact (5.2 acres) of vertical wells (2 acres) and emit over 250 percent more air pollution, including toxic volatile organic compounds and greenhouse gases. Horizontal wells also require 5-10 times more water — a significant concern in the arid Southwest.

Horizontal drilling and multi-stage fracking use hundreds of thousands of gallons of highly pressurized water and toxic chemicals to shatter underground geology. This toxic cocktail includes known carcinogens and chemicals harmful to human health. If a wellbore is not properly sealed and cased, or its integrity is otherwise compromised, these chemicals can escape as they move through the wellbore, risking groundwater contamination.

“The Bureau of Land Management is the agency that oversees oil and gas leasing on these parcels of the Santa Fe National Forest. The judge’s decision affirms that BLM has ignored significant adverse impacts known to occur from oil and gas development in their quest to approve new oil and gas projects,” said Mike Eisenfeld, Energy and Climate Program managerof San Juan Citizens Alliance.

“Today’s ruling sends a strong message that this administration cannot ignore the effects on water, climate, and communities in their reckless attempts to sell off America’s public lands to the fossil fuel industry,” said Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter Director Camilla Feibelman. “We will continue to fight to prevent BLM from allowing any new fracking in the Greater Chaco region.”

“Unwise oil and gas development in our headwaters can destroy key water resources – such as high priority wetlands – and puts the future water supply for downstream New Mexico communities and ecosystems at risk,” said Rachel Conn, projects director for Amigos Bravos. “Instead of being ripped up for short term profits, the headwaters found in the Santa Fe National Forest should be maintained so they continue to provide water for wildlife, agriculture, and families.”

The groups involved in the lawsuit include the San Juan Citizens Alliance, Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, Amigos Bravos, WildEarth Guardians, and the Sierra Club. The challenged leases would have expanded oil and gas drilling and fracking into previously undeveloped areas of the Santa Fe National Forest on the remote and steep west side of the Jemez Mountains north of Cuba and near the San Pedro Parks Wilderness.

A copy of the decision is available here.

Contacts:

Kyle Tisdel, Western Environmental Law Center, 575-613-8050, tisdel@westernlaw.org

Carol Davis, Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, 928-221-7859, caroljdavis.2004@gmail.com

Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians, 303-437-7663, jnichols@wildearthguardians.org

Mike Eisenfeld, San Juan Citizens Alliance, 505-360-8994, mike@sanjuancitizens.org

Rachel Conn, Amigos Bravos, 575-770-8327, rconn@amigosbravos.org

Gabby Brown, Sierra Club, 202-495-3051, gabby.brown@sierraclub.org

Read Full Article

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview