Green Gaze

State of the Birds: 230 species face serious threats

Written by Lisa Neff,
Staff writer
Friday, 12 September 2014 05:57

In 40 years time, the population of wild passenger pigeons went from 2-3 billion to none. Today, hundreds of species, with their habitats disappearing and their climate changing, face critical threats and need conservation help.

This week, 100 years after the extinction of the passenger pigeon, a team of scientists involved with the U.S. Committee of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative released the expansive 2014 State of the Birds Report. The document is based on extensive reviews of population data from long-term monitoring of species.

The report’s authors identified aridlands of the West as the habitat with the steepest population declines in the nation. The report shows a 46 percent decline since 1968 for birds in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, places where desert, sagebrush and chaparral habitats that have been destroyed or fragmented by development.

State of the birds: Common birds in steep decline

Written by Lisa Neff,
Staff writer
Friday, 12 September 2014 05:23

As part of the 2014 State of the Birds Report, a team of scientists with the North American Bird Conservation Initiative identified 33 common bird species in steep decline.

UN report: Global warming is here and dangerous

Written by AP exclusive Monday, 01 September 2014 03:37

Global warming is here, human-caused and dangerous — and it's increasingly likely that the heating trend could be irreversible, a draft of a new international science report says.

The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change this week sent governments a final draft of its synthesis report, which combines three earlier, gigantic documents by the Nobel Prize-winning group. There is little in the report that wasn't in the other more-detailed versions, but the language is more stark and the report attempts to connect the different scientific disciplines studying problems caused by the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas.

Bird advocates oppose Army Corps plan to kill 16,000 cormorants

Written by lisa neff Friday, 22 August 2014 11:25

An environmental group is raising multiple objections to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' proposal to kill 16,000 cormorant birds on East Sand Island in the Columbia River Estuary.

The government agency's plan is to reduce predation of juvenile salmonids including salmon smolt by the birds.
The Army Corps plan to kill the Double-crested Cormorants over four years was outlined in a draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Study: Red squirrels cause evolutionary change

Written by The AP Friday, 08 August 2014 14:55

When most people think about Yellowstone National Park and animals, the big ones come to mind: bison, wolves or grizzly bears.

They’re the species that draw tourists from around the globe. They’re also the ones that raise controversy and debate. But when it comes to actual impact on the forest, scientists recently discovered a much smaller, much more common creature is causing large, evolutionary changes to the park: the red squirrel.

UN: CO2 pollution levels at annual record high

Written by From AP
and Wig reports
Wednesday, 10 September 2014 11:48

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere reached a record high in 2013 as increasing levels of man-made pollution transform the planet, the U.N. weather agency said this week.

As the heat-trapping gas blamed for the largest share of global warming, carbon dioxide rose to global concentrations of 396 parts per million last year, the biggest year-to-year change in three decades, the World Meteorological Organization said in an annual report.

Endangered species protection sought for monarch butterfly

Written by The Wisconsin Gazette Tuesday, 26 August 2014 12:51

The Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking Endangered Species Act protection for monarch butterflies, which have declined by more than 90 percent in under 20 years.

During the same period the once-common iconic orange and black butterflies may have lost more than 165 million acres of habitat — an area about the size of Texas — including nearly a third of their summer breeding grounds, according to a statement from the organizations.

200,000 urge EPA to strengthen protections for farmworkers

Written by Wisconsin Gazette Wednesday, 20 August 2014 13:37

Some 200,000 people called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen its Agricultural Worker Protection Standard, which is the only federal standard designed to protect the nation’s more than 2 million farmworkers from pesticide exposure.

“Farmworkers face dangerous exposure to poisons over the course of their working life,” said Eve Gartner, an attorney for Earthjustice, a public interest law firm. “While most Americans benefit from broad workplace protections, farmworkers are not protected by the same health and safety standards.”

Sierra: Enbridge seeks to make Wisconsin a superhighway for toxic oil transport

Written by The Wisconsin Gazette Wednesday, 06 August 2014 09:45

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on Aug. 5 announced the permitting process for two proposed pipelines by Enbridge Energies.

Both pipelines enter Wisconsin from Minnesota and go to a refinery in Superior.

U.S. to review possible protections for orange clownfish

Written by The Wisconsin Gazette Wednesday, 03 September 2014 08:44

Finding a fish like Nemo is getting more difficult.

So the orange clownfish — the species popularized by the movie "Finding Nemo" — may warrant protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The National Marine Fisheries Service made the announcement this week, following a request for review citing threats from global warming and ocean acidification.

Massive environmental march a prelude to U.N. meeting

Written by Lisa Neff,
Staff writer
Friday, 22 August 2014 11:51

Updated: Wisconsin activists planning to attend

Journalists, scientists oppose EPA muzzling of experts

Written by Wisconsin Gazette Wednesday, 20 August 2014 13:24

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must not interfere with leading national scientists from talking to media outlets and the public, says a coalition of journalists and scientists concerned with the an agency memorandum instructing Science Advisory Board members to get permission before talking to the press.

“The EPA wants to control what information the public receives about crucial issues affecting Americans’ health and well-being,” Society of Professional Journalists president David Cuillier said in a news release. “The people are entitled to get this information unfiltered from scientists, not spoon-fed by government spin doctors who might mislead and hide information for political reasons or to muzzle criticism.”

Scientists develop spray-on solar cells

Written by The Wisconsin Gazette Tuesday, 05 August 2014 15:12

A team of scientists at the University of Sheffield is the first to fabricate perovskite solar cells using a spray-painting process — a discovery that could help cut the cost of solar electricity.

Experts from the university’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering have previously used the spray-painting method to produce solar cells using organic semiconductors — but using perovskite is a major step forward.