Olive production leads to bird killings on ‘catastrophic scale’

Olive production leads to bird killings on ‘catastrophic scale’

SOURCE: MSN DATE: May 17, 2019 SNIP: Hundreds of thousands of legally-protected birds are killed in southern Europe every year after being sucked out of trees and into machines which are harvesting olives. During the winter months from October to January, millions of birds from northern Europe, including the UK, flock to Mediterranean countries to escape the cold weather. It is thought around 96,000 birds die every year in Portugal alone as a result of harvesting for olive oil production during the night-time. France and Italy also carry out the practice, but specific numbers are not known. The Andalusian government in Spain, where an estimated 2.6 million birds used to be vacuumed up annually, has now stopped the practice. Other big olive-producing countries should follow their lead, say researchers. The problem of birds being vacuumed from the bushes is on a “catastrophic scale”, according to the findings reported in the journal Nature. Birds such as robins, goldfinches, greenfinches, warblers and wagtails are among those that suffer the biggest casualties. It is believed there are around 100 dead birds in each harvest trailer during a night-time operation. The trees are stripped of the fruits at night because cooler temperatures help to preserve the olives’ aromatic flavours. But in the dark there is less chance of the birds spotting the machines because they are sleeping. However, if the harvesting happened during the day they could see them and then escape. Martin Harper from the RSPB told Sky News: “We do know that sustainably managed olive grows are not only possible but very beneficial to wildlife and we need to encourage those.”...
Border wall along Mexico to go up in national monument, wildlife refuge

Border wall along Mexico to go up in national monument, wildlife refuge

SOURCE: Salt Lake Tribune DATE: May 15, 2019 SNIP: The U.S. government plans to replace barriers through 100 miles of the southern border in California and Arizona, including through a national monument and a wildlife refuge, according to documents and environmental advocates. The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday once again waived environmental and dozens of other laws to build more barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. Funding will come from the Defense Department following the emergency declaration that President Donald Trump signed this year after Congress refused to approve the amount of border wall funding that he wanted. Barriers will go up at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a vast park named after the unique cactus breed that decorates it, and Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, which is largely a designed wilderness home to 275 wildlife species. The government will also build new roads and lighting in those areas. Environmental advocates who have sued to stop the construction of the wall say this latest plan will be detrimental to the wildlife and habitat in those...
The heat is on: Amazon tree loss could bring 1.45 degree C local rise

The heat is on: Amazon tree loss could bring 1.45 degree C local rise

SOURCE: MongaBay DATE: May 14, 2019 SNIP: It is well known that the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation both lead to the emission of carbon dioxide, raising temperatures worldwide. Less well understood is how removing tree cover is contributing to increased temperatures at a local level – until now. In a new study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, scientists from Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro State University and the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), have found that the temperature increase in the immediate vicinity of a deforested area could be as much as 1.45 degrees Celsius (2.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2050 in tropical areas such as Brazil’s Amazon basin or in the Cerrado, the nation’s savanna biome. “Everyone is familiar with how hot it is in cities compared to a forest environment, and this is because the energy is absorbed and then generates infrared radiation that heats up the environment. The same happens if you deforest,” explained study co-author Barry Sinervo of the UCSC Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in a Mongabay interview. The paper explores how the albedo effect (whereby lighter-colored surfaces reflect heat, while darker ones absorb it), and the loss of evapotranspiration (whereby water goes back into the atmosphere from land, trees and plants) can both lead to warming on a local scale within deforested tropical areas. By contrast, loss of vegetative cover in sub-Arctic boreal forests has little impact on local temperatures. “We show that the heating in those [tropical] deforested habitats can have an effect at a very local scale,” Sinervo said. “And that means, even if you have an...
The dirty business of clean power in B.C.

The dirty business of clean power in B.C.

SOURCE: Vancouver Sun DATE: May 14, 2019 SNIP: Journalist Sarah Cox takes on the dirty business of clean power in Breaching the Peace: The Site C Dam and a Valley’s Stand against Big Hydro. NP: Clean energy = Bad? Please explain. SC: Large hydro dams are a hugely expensive and destructive way to generate renewable energy. They are neither “green” nor environmentally friendly. Some of Canada’s leading scholars studied the Site C dam project and found that it will have more significant adverse environmental effects than any project ever examined in the history of the federal Environmental Assessment Act. Among other impacts, the Site C dam will destroy habitat for more than 100 species already vulnerable to extinction, including bird, plant, butterfly, bee and mammal species. The Site C dam and its reservoir will also eliminate some of Canada’s richest farmland, ancient wetlands called tufa seeps, old-growth boreal forests and a living laboratory for scientists to study how species adapt to climate change. The Peace River Valley, which would be inundated by the dam, is a flyway for migratory birds and is part of the boreal bird nursery. It hosts three-quarters of all B.C.’s bird species. As many as 30,000 songbirds and woodpeckers nest in the dam’s future flood zone, which stretches the equivalent distance of driving from Toronto to Niagara Falls when you include Peace River tributaries that would also be flooded. Just how “clean” big hydro dams really are is called into question by many scientists. One study by U.S. scientists shows that reservoirs produce considerably more carbon emissions than anticipated. About 80 per cent of these...
Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace

Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace

SOURCE: New York Times and UN DATE: May 6, 2019 SNIP: Humans are transforming Earth’s natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival, a sweeping new United Nations assessment has concluded. The 1,500-page report, compiled by hundreds of international experts and based on thousands of scientific studies, is the most exhaustive look yet at the decline in biodiversity across the globe and the dangers that creates for human civilization. A summary of its findings, which was approved by representatives from the United States and 131 other countries, was released Monday in Paris. The full report is set to be published this year. Its conclusions are stark. In most major land habitats, from the savannas of Africa to the rain forests of South America, the average abundance of native plant and animal life has fallen by 20 percent or more, mainly over the past century. With the human population passing 7 billion, activities like farming, logging, poaching, fishing and mining are altering the natural world at a rate “unprecedented in human history.” At the same time, a new threat has emerged: Global warming has become a major driver of wildlife decline, the assessment found, by shifting or shrinking the local climates that many mammals, birds, insects, fish and plants evolved to survive in. When combined with the other ways humans are damaging the environment, climate change is now pushing a growing number of species, such as the Bengal tiger, closer to...