Fishermen are cutting off the beaks of endangered albatrosses

Fishermen are cutting off the beaks of endangered albatrosses

SOURCE: Natural History Museum DATE: November 17, 2020 SNIP: Some fishermen targeting tuna, swordfish and halibut in the southwest Atlantic are cutting the beaks off live albatrosses to free them from hooks, before tossing the birds back into the ocean to die. The accidental catch of marine mammals, turtles and seabirds in fishing gear is one of the biggest causes of the global decline of these animals. Lots of work in recent years has tried to limit or reduce the impact that commercial fishing has on these creatures, from lights and acoustic pingers on nets, to setting gear at night and reducing the profile of nets when they are in the water. However, a worrying trend is emerging involving seabirds that are caught on the hooks of longline fishing equipment. A picture posted on social media in 2015 showed a live albatross with the top half of its beak sliced clean off. This led to a group of researchers gathering as many records of this kind of seabird mutilation as they could. What they found revealed a worrying trend that has emerged in the south-west Atlantic Ocean. Dr Alex Bond, Senior Curator in Charge of Birds at the Museum, has been involved in documenting these cases. His work has revealed that the practice is likely far more common than anyone suspected and dates back over two decades. ‘It appears to be a very specific thing that fishermen in this region are doing,’ explains Alex. ‘It’s clear that some operators are literally taking a blade and cutting the bill off to more expeditiously unhook the bird, and then tossing the...
Joe Biden Just Appointed His Climate Movement Liaison. It’s a Fossil-Fuel Industry Ally.

Joe Biden Just Appointed His Climate Movement Liaison. It’s a Fossil-Fuel Industry Ally.

SOURCE: Jacobin DATE: November 17, 2020 SNIP: Following a campaign promising bold climate action, president-elect Joe Biden’s transition team named one of the Democratic Party’s top recipients of fossil fuel industry money to a high-profile White House position focusing in part on climate issues. On Tuesday, Politico reported that Biden is appointing US Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) to lead the White House Office of Public Engagement, where he is “expected to serve as a liaison with the business community and climate change activists.” During his ten years in Congress, Richmond has received roughly $341,000 from donors in the oil and gas industry — the fifth-highest total among House Democrats, according to previous reporting by Sludge. That includes corporate political action committee donations of $50,000 from Entergy, an electric and natural gas utility; $40,000 from ExxonMobil; and $10,000 apiece from oil companies Chevron, Phillips 66, and Valero Energy. Richmond has raked in that money while representing a congressional district that is home to seven of the ten most air-polluted census tracts in the country. Richmond has repeatedly broken with his party on major climate and environmental votes. During the climate crisis that has battered his home state of Louisiana, Richmond has joined with Republicans to vote to increase fossil fuel exports and promote pipeline development. He also voted against Democratic legislation to place pollution limits on fracking — and he voted for GOP legislation to limit the Obama administration’s authority to more stringently regulate the practice. Biden is reportedly considering former Obama energy secretary Ernest Moniz for a cabinet spot or for a new international climate envoy post, according to...
Pet flea treatments poisoning rivers across England, scientists find

Pet flea treatments poisoning rivers across England, scientists find

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: November 17, 2020 SNIP: Highly toxic insecticides used on cats and dogs to kill fleas are poisoning rivers across England, a study has revealed. The discovery is “extremely concerning” for water insects, and the fish and birds that depend on them, the scientists said, who expect significant environmental damage is being done. The research found fipronil in 99% of samples from 20 rivers and the average level of one particularly toxic breakdown product of the pesticide was 38 times above the safety limit. Fipronil and another nerve agent called imidacloprid that was found in the rivers have been banned from use on farms for some years. There are about 10 million dogs and 11 million cats in the UK, with an estimated 80% receiving flea treatments, whether needed or not. The researchers said the blanket use of flea treatments should be discouraged and that new regulation is needed. Currently, the flea treatments are approved without an assessment of environmental damage. “Fipronil is one of the most commonly used flea products and recent studies have shown it degrades to compounds that are more toxic to most insects than fipronil itself,” said Rosemary Perkins at the University of Sussex, who led the study. “Our results are extremely concerning.” Prof Dave Goulson, also at the University of Sussex and part of the team, said: “I couldn’t quite believe the pesticides were so prevalent. Our rivers are routinely and chronically contaminated with both of these chemicals.” “The problem is these chemicals are so potent,” he said, even at tiny concentrations. “We would expect them to be having significant impacts...
1% of people cause half of global aviation emissions

1% of people cause half of global aviation emissions

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: November 17, 2020 SNIP: Frequent-flying “‘super emitters” who represent just 1% of the world’s population caused half of aviation’s carbon emissions in 2018, according to a study. Airlines produced a billion tonnes of CO2 and benefited from a $100bn (£75bn) subsidy by not paying for the climate damage they caused, the researchers estimated. The analysis draws together data to give the clearest global picture of the impact of frequent fliers. Only 11% of the world’s population took a flight in 2018 and 4% flew abroad. US air passengers have by far the biggest carbon footprint among rich countries. Its aviation emissions are bigger than the next 10 countries combined, including the UK, Japan, Germany and Australia, the study reports. The researchers said the study showed that an elite group enjoying frequent flights had a big impact on the climate crisis that affected everyone. Global aviation’s contribution to the climate crisis was growing fast before the Covid-19 pandemic, with emissions jumping by 32% from 2013-18. Flight numbers in 2020 have fallen by half but the industry expects to return to previous levels by 2024. “If you want to resolve climate change and we need to redesign [aviation], then we should start at the top, where a few ‘super emitters’ contribute massively to global warming,” said Stefan Gössling at Linnaeus University in Sweden, who led the new study. “The rich have had far too much freedom to design the planet according to their wishes. We should see the crisis as an opportunity to slim the air transport system.” The frequent flyers identified in the study travelled about...
Airliner slams into bear on runway while landing at Alaska airport

Airliner slams into bear on runway while landing at Alaska airport

SOURCE: Sacramento Bee DATE: November 16, 2020 SNIP: An Alaska Airlines flight crew spotted two bears crossing the runway early Saturday while landing at Yakutat Airport in southern Alaska. Then the pilot felt a bump. The passenger jet’s nose gear had missed the bears, but a left engine cowl struck one of the animals, killing it, KTUU reported. None of the six passengers aboard Flight 66 were injured. The second bear, a 2-year-old cub, escaped injury, Anchorage Daily News reported. The Boeing 737-700 will be grounded for several days for repairs. Airport workers had cleared the runway 10 minutes before the jet’s arrival and did not spot any wildlife at that time, said Sam Dapcevich, a public information officer for the state Department of Transportation, reported the Anchorage Daily News. Collisions with birds, either in mid-air or on the ground, are not uncommon for airliners in the United States, according to The Atlantic. But plenty of land-dwelling animals also have had fatal encounters with airplanes. FAA records show collisions with “coyotes, raccoons, skunks, opossums, desert hares, prairie dogs, cats, dogs, foxes, bull snakes, turtles, armadillos, alligators, badgers, at least one woodchuck, an elk (and) an antelope jackrabbit,” among others, the publication...