Human “Progress”

Rosemary commented: “We are seeing a longing for so-called ‘traditional’ ways of life, a manic nostalgia for something that really never was–except it was a less crowded world.”

To which I replied: I’ve thought that same thing many times. The only reason human life ever seemed to be in any kind of harmony with the rest of nature is that there were a LOT fewer of us. Sorry, but there’s no way an ever-growing population of humans can hope to be sustainable.

Here is a simple yet accurate depiction of human evolutionary “progress.”

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What Goes Up…

To all those of breeding age who are considering starting a family or adding yet another human child to this already dangerously over-crowded world, I politely urge you, with all due respect, to please think again. If not for the fragile planet’s sake or for the sake of every other struggling life form headed for mass extinction, then for the child’s sake, your sake and for sanity’s sake. Go ahead and adopt, whether human or non-human, but please don’t add to every environmental woe known to—and caused by—man by falling prey to the ill-advised notion that propagating is our duty or prerogative.

The world as we know it is headed for collapse. Do you really want your precious offspring to witness the unraveling of all of Earth’s systems or suffer the reckoning that’s soon to befall those unfortunate enough to be here when humankind’s self-serving environmental crimes come back on them? Can’t you see that the sheer weight of the human race is crushing everything and everyone else?

As a good friend, a young woman wise beyond her years, put it, those who consider reproducing to be a positive prospect for the twenty-first century “must be closing their eyes, plugging up their ears, and singing ‘Lalalala!’ very loudly.”

What goes up must come down, people; and for the past couple of hundred years or so, the human population has been accelerating skyward—breaking all sound barriers in a headlong quest to defy gravity, burst out of the Earth’s atmosphere and sail on to oblivion—taking all of creation with it.

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Salmon shortages stressing grizzlies

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/salmon-shortages-stressing-grizzlies/article15647451/

MARK HUME

VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Nov. 28 2013

When salmon runs dwindle on the B.C. coast, the stress levels in grizzlies climb, say researchers who examined hair samples collected from more than 70 bears.

And the bears, which gather along rivers in the fall to feed on spawning salmon, take those high stress levels with them into hibernation, perhaps affecting their long-term health, according to a science paper published Wednesday.

The study is expected to add weight to a growing argument that commercial salmon harvests on the West Coast should be managed not just for people, but also to reflect the needs of bears and other wildlife.

“Part of the reason bears might be experiencing stress is the fact we compete with them for food. And we really need to think about our fisheries not only in terms of our needs as humans but also of the needs of other species,” said lead author, Heather Bryan, a Hakai postdoctoral researcher at University of Victoria and a biologist with Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

In 2010, federal department of Fisheries and Oceans scientists John Ford and Graeme Ellis linked killer-whale survival to the abundance of Chinook salmon, and called on the government to consider setting aside allocations of salmon for whales.

Chris Darimont, who co-authored the grizzly-bear study, said it’s clear bears also need a share.

“Our findings highlight the importance of managing fisheries in a way that ensures enough salmon are allowed past fish nets to meet the needs of bears and other wildlife,” said Dr. Darimont, a UVic professor and the science director at Raincoast.

Dr. Bryan said the research showed the stress hormone, cortisol, was higher in bears that ate less salmon.

“That’s not surprising if you think about how stressful it would be to be going into a winter without enough food,” she said.

The long-term health implications for grizzlies haven’t been studied yet by Dr. Bryan, but other wildlife studies have shown that animals with high cortisol levels can have shortened life spans.

Dr. Bryan’s research was possible because of a network of 71 “hair snags” researchers have been monitoring for several years on a grid that covers 5,000 square kilometres on B.C.’s mainland coast. The area stretches from near northern Vancouver Island to around Prince Rupert.

“We were interested in looking at the health effects of long-term salmon declines on bears. And how we did it is we took a few milligrams of bear hair [from each grizzly] and we used that to gain insights into the health of these several-hundred-kilogram animals,” said Dr. Bryan.

She said some of the hair came from the B.C. archives, where samples from bears killed by hunters are kept. But much of it came from the hair snags – barbed wire wrapped around trees marked with fermented fish oil.

“It’s a delicious odour for bears … they come and check it out … they usually only stay a few seconds but it’s usually long enough to leave behind a strand of hair,” said Dr. Bryan.

She said none of the field workers has ever had a dangerous encounter with the bears, despite spending weeks gathering hair samples in prime grizzly habitat.

Working with only a few strands of hair from each animal, Dr. Bryan said she was able to to both measure the level of cortisol and to determine how rich a bear’s salmon diet was. The data showed that when salmon runs declined on B.C.’s Central Coast, in 2008 and 2009, stress levels increased. And when salmon runs increased, as they did in 2010, the stress levels declined.

In 2009, conservationists and ecotourism guides along the B.C. coast reported a huge drop in the number of bears they were seeing along rivers and they blamed the decline on two successive poor salmon runs. Bear watchers speculated many animals had died during hibernation and that others had stopped breeding because they were starving.

Grizzly photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Grizzly photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Bonobo’s hurtling towards extinction

Wednesday, November 27, 2013, 16:20

Washington: A study, which is the most detailed range-wide assessment of theelephant-range-map
bonobo- formerly known as the pygmy chimpanzee- ever conducted, has revealed
that this endangered great ape is quickly losing space in a world because of
forest fragmentation and poaching.

The research was conducted by University of Georgia, University of Maryland,
the Wildlife Conservation Society, ICCN (Congolese Wildlife Authority),
African Wildlife Foundation, Zoological Society of Milwaukee, World Wildlife
Fund, Max Planck Institute, Lukuru Foundation, University of Stirling, Kyoto
University, and other groups.

Using data from nest counts and remote sensing imagery, the research team
found that the bonobo avoids areas of high human activity and forest
fragmentation.

According to the model developed by the researchers in the study, as little
as 28 percent of the bonobo’s range remains suitable.

“This assessment is a major step towards addressing the substantial
information gap regarding the conservation status of bonobos across their
entire range. The results of the study demonstrate that human activities
reduce the amount of effective bonobo habitat and will help us identify
where to propose future protected areas for this great ape,”
lead author Dr. Jena R. Hickey of Cornell University and the University of
Georgia, said.

The bonobo is smaller in size and more slender in build than the common
chimpanzee. The great ape’s social structure is complex and matriarchal.
Unlike the common chimpanzee, bonobos establish social bonds and diffuse
tension or aggression with sexual behaviors.

Second author of the study, Dr. Janet Nackoney, said Bonobos that live in
closer proximity to human activity and to points of human access are more
vulnerable to poaching, one of their main threats. The results point to the
need for more places where bonobos can be safe from hunters, which is an
enormous challenge in the DRC.

The study is published in journal Biodiversity and Conservation.

http://zeenews.india.com/news/eco-news/bonobo-s-hurtling-towards-extinction_

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Tea Party Bill Would Eviscerate Endangered Species Act

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2013/endangered-species-act-11-22-2013.html

For Immediate Release, November 22, 2013

Contact: Brett  Hartl, (202) 817-8121

Tea Party Bill Would Eviscerate  Endangered Species Act

As America  Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Landmark Law, Right-wing Senators  Seek to Tear It Apart

              WASHINGTON— Tea Party senators introduced a  bill this week that would effectively end the protection of most endangered  species in the United States and gut some of the most important provisions of  the Endangered Species Act. Senate Bill 1731, introduced by Tea Party Sens.  Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Dean Heller, would end protections for most of the  species that are currently protected by the Act and make it virtually  impossible to protect new species under the law. It would also eliminate protection  for habitat that’s critical to the survival of rare and struggling animals and  plants around the country.

“Here we are celebrating the 40th  anniversary of the Endangered Species Act this year, and the Tea Party wants to  tear it limb from limb,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director  at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s really a sad testament to how out  of touch the Tea Party has become with the American people, and how beholden  they are to industry special interests that are more interested in profits than  saving wildlife, wild places and a livable future for the next generation.”

In its 40-year history, the Endangered  Species Act has been more than 99 percent successful at preventing extinction  for wildlife under its protection and has put hundreds of plants and animals on  the path to recovery, including bald eagles, grizzly bears, whales and sea  turtles.

Despite this successful track record, the bill’s  most extreme provision would require that every five years all protected species be removed from the list of threatened and  endangered species, eliminating all legal protections. No matter how close to extinction they might be, every  listed species would then have to wait until Congress passed a joint resolution  renewing their protections under the Act for another five years. Five years  later, this process would start over again, eliminating all protections until  Congress passed another joint resolution.

“The strength of the Endangered Species Act  — in fact all of our nation’s environmental laws — comes from the requirement  that science, not politics, guide the protection of our wildlife, air and  water,” said Hartl. “This bill would allow extreme ideologues in Congress to  veto environmental protections for any protected species they wanted, just so  they could appease their special-interest benefactors.”

The bill would eliminate all protections for  the critical habitat of endangered species and allow state governments to  effectively veto any conservation measures designed to protect an imperiled  species within their respective state. Meanwhile federal wildlife agencies  would need to complete onerous accounting reports to estimate the costs of  protecting endangered species rather than completing tangible, on-the-ground  conservation activities to protect species and the places they live.

“This bill would devastate species  protections and open the door to log, mine and pave some of the last places on  Earth where these animals survive,” Hartl said. “It’s a boon for profiteers  like the Koch Brothers but will rob every American who values wildlife and wild  places.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a  national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 625,000  members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species  and wild places.

Enviro Groups Challenge Anti-Wildlife Policies

…Two of the top environmental groups have sent out action alerts challenging anti-wildlife policies today. First, from the NRDC

A little-known government agency called Wildlife Services is killing thousands of wild animals every year — and you and I are picking up the tab.

We need your help to end the taxpayer-funded slaughter of wildlife!

This out-of-control agency is part of the Department of Agriculture. It kills at the behest of big ranchers and agribusiness. It spends tens of millions of our tax dollars to “resolve conflicts” with wildlife — by using poisons, traps, aerial gunning and other brutal methods.

The result? More than 100,000 native carnivores — such as wolves, bobcats, foxes and black bears — are being wiped out every year.

The tragic toll since 2000 is two million dead, and that number grows larger every day.

More than 50,000 of those animals were killed accidentally. The victims have included endangered species and even household pets.

It’s time to expose this secretive and senseless attack on wildlife — and end it.

Please demand an investigation of Wildlife Services and its heartless “predator control” methods.

Make no mistake: The agency is going to carry on with its wildlife killing spree unless they are held accountable and forced to stop.

But that won’t happen unless hundreds of thousands of us make our voices heard right away.

Join NRDC in calling for an immediate end to this taxpayer-funded travesty. The lives of thousands of wild animals dependcopyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles on it.

…and this alert is from the Sierra Club…

Strychnine is a deadly poison — but it’s slow.

A wolf pup that’s eaten bait laced with strychnine will die of suffocation, but only after hours of excruciating muscle spasms and convulsions.

That’s the cruel fate Canada has in store for wolves that get in the way of tar sands production. Wolves are being poisoned—or, if they’re “lucky,” they’re dying quickly by a helicopter-fired gunshot. It’s politicians’ answer to the disappearance of caribou that have lost their habitat to dirty tar sands oil development.

You read that right—wolves are dying to make way for tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline. It’s like some sick alternate universe where Sarah Palin is in charge.

Within the next few months, we will know once and for all whether the Obama administration will allow Keystone XL to be built. Sierra Club members have marched and petitioned against it for years, but now we’re in the final stretch—and it’s going to take everything we’ve got to stop dirty tar sands from destroying everything we hold dear. We can do it with your added support.

Wolves and caribou aren’t the only animals under threat right now. Other vulnerable wildlife, like black bears, moose, and native fish will continue to be at risk if the Keystone XL pipeline is built and the tar sands expand as a result. So will the Boreal Forest—the “Lungs of North America”—the largest remaining intact ecosystem in the world, storing 11 percent of the world’s carbon and home to a third of North American song birds.

Hunter Started 237,000 Acre Yosemite Fire

Firefighters Gain Ground on Rim Fire as Cause is Discovered

By Jillian MacMath, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
September 06, 2013; 9:42 AM

Thick smoke from the Rim Fire blaze has begun drifting into the Yosemite Valley, a popular scenic destination for visitors to the Yosemite National Park.

Nearly 4,000 firefighters continue to battle the massive blaze that has consumed more than 237,000 acres since its start on Aug. 17.

On Thursday, the Incident Information System confirmed in a news release that the fire began on Aug. 17 after a hunter allowed an illegal fire to escape.

[Hunters are responsible for dozens of forest fires each year, contrary to the claim that they're the "best environmentalists."]

Investigators from the U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement and the Tuolumne County District Attorney’s Office are withholding the hunter’s name pending further investigation.

No arrests have been made at this time. Additionally, there have been no indications that the hunter was involved with any illegal marijuana cultivation.

The fire, now 80 percent contained, has resulted in poor air quality for many surrounding areas.

“Visitors to Yosemite should expect periods of smoky conditions, depending on winds and fire behavior,” the National Park’s Air Quality and Smoke Monitoring page read on Wednesday.

A webcam in Yosemite National Park captures a shot of smoke from the Rim Fire in the distance on Aug. 29.

On Tuesday, the fire grew a total of 1,700 acres as southwest transport winds pushed smoke into communities northeast of the fire, including Pinecrest, Bear Valley, Markleeville, Minden, Carson City and the Lake Tahoe Basin.