Trophy Hunting May Drive Extinctions, Due to Climate Change

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/11/wildlife-watch-trophy-hunting-extinctions-evolution/

According to a new study, hunting the most impressive animals weakens a species’ ability to survive in the face of environmental changes.

 VIEW IMAGES

Big tusks on an elephants indicate well-being, which in turn signifies that they have high-quality genes that help them adjust to a changing environment. Elephants with big tusks are also the target of trophy hunters, but removing those genes from their populations could lead more quickly to extinction.

PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID CHANCELLOR, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE

Trophy hunters, as well as poachers who “harvest” the big males—antelopes and deer with the largest horns and antlers, elephants with the longest tusks, or lions with the most impressive manes—are putting those species at greater risk of extinction with climate change.

That’s the finding of a new study published today by researchers at Queen Mary University of London, England, in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. “Trophy” animals tend to be the most evolutionarily fit and possess the high-quality genes a population of animals need to adapt quickly to a changing environment, says evolutionary ecologist and lead author Robert Knell. “They also father a high proportion of the offspring. But if they’re killed before they can spread their ‘good genes’ around, this reduces the overall fitness and resilience of that population.”

When environmental conditions change—a shift in seasonal rainfall or warmer temperatures—the risk of extinction increases dramatically, even with a healthy population of animals apparently unaffected by trophy hunting, Knell says.

“The results were very, very clear.”

This can happen even with an annual harvest rate as low as 5 percent of the high-quality males. With environmental change now a reality across the globe, the study shows that some animal populations facing even relatively light hunting pressure are more vulnerable to extinction than is generally believed, Knell says.

This also means poachers are even more of a threat since they target big males but also indiscriminately kill any individual they believe will profit them, he says.

The study also shows that restricting the take to older trophy males means that they will have had time to spread their good genes around, which should help populations adapt to environmental changes.

“When properly regulated, trophy hunting can be a powerful force for conservation, which is why we’re suggesting a different management approach as opposed to calling for a ban,” Knell says.

In an email Rosie Cooney, of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which sets the conservation status of species, called the study interesting, “with obvious relevance to trophy hunting management, highlighting that there may be a need under climate change scenarios to shift to age restrictions as a basis for management.”

“This study matches up with the empirical work we’ve done on bighorn sheep in the Rocky Mountains,” says David Coltman, professor of biological sciences at the University of Alberta. Coltman’s studies have shown that decades of trophy hunting have resulted in a 20 percent decline in the size of ram’s horns in today’s sheep.

We also know that sheep with the biggest horns produce the largest offspring, and losses of them all contribute to a decline in the fitness of the overall population, Coltman says.

Horns aren’t ornaments. They’re a signal of fitness. The biggest horns that trophy hunters crave are likely found only on the highest-quality individuals, he says. This is an example of human selection leading to artificial evolution.

Hunters argue that the funds from their hunts—estimated to be anywhere from $132 million to $436 million in Africa annually—gives local communities an incentive to protect wildlife as well as fund conservation efforts and community development. Many conservation groups, on the other hand, argue that oftentimes the fees trophy hunters pay are actually siphoned away by corruption and mismanagement.

The latest trophy hunting controversy came on November 14, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would be lifting the ban on trophy imports of elephants killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia. There was an intense backlash, and within three days President Donald Trump tweeted that the Department of the Interior, which oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service, would reevaluate the decision. In a follow-up tweet he wrote, “[The department] will be “hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of elephants or any other species.”

Sustainable sport hunting is important for raising conservation revenue in many areas, but this study tells us we must be mindful of our evolutionary impact, said Adam Hart, professor of science communication at the University of Gloucestershire, England, in an email. “As always, conservation is more complex than it can appear.”

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Unfair Trade: US Beef Has a Climate Problem

Growing global demand for beef is hindering efforts to combat climate change, scientists say

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and industrial agriculture have been linked to the overuse of antibiotics, pollution of ground and surface water, as well as air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Go to any US city and you’ll spot Americans gorging on Big Macs and Whoppers at McDonald’s and Burger King. Visit Japan, and you’ll see folks slurping down gyudonbeef bowls, an incredibly popular dish featuring rice, onion and fatty strips of beef simmered in sweet soy sauce. Culture, tradition and geography might divide us, but a love for fast, cheap food that’s rich in beef definitely unites us.

But that growing demand for beef has immense environmental repercussions, especially regarding a stable climate – a fact not addressed by global trade agreements.

Back in January, one of Donald Trump’s first actions as president was to pull the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP), a multi-country trade deal that would have ramped up commerce with Asian countries — and opened Japan to a flood of US beef.

But Trump’s move slammed the door on the US beef industry’s designs for the lucrative Japanese market, the top export market for American ranchers, thanks partly to dishes like gyudon.

What lies ahead for the industry now that TPP is off the table is unclear. But no matter what transpires, environmentalists fear for the planet’s future if trade deals like TPP don’t start taking climate change into account, instead of encouraging more consumption, production and harm to the Earth.

Japan is hooked on beef

Japan wasn’t always sold on red meat, or any meat at all. But today, you need only look at how beef-bowl outlets have conquered Asian city streets to see how that has changed. Yoshinoya, the Japanese fast-food chain, can now be found in US cities. The company only uses US beef, and this allegiance is so strong that the Yoshinoya beef bowl became a pork bowl in 2003 when Japan banned US beef imports for 20 months over fears of foot-and-mouth disease.

Japan’s demand for beef doesn’t look like it will slow down any time soon. Its government is looking to attract 40 million tourists every year by 2020, when it hosts the Olympics, and with tourists come a whole lot of mouths to feed. “It’s pretty exciting,” Philip Seng, CEO of the US Meat Exporters Federation, says. “If you have that many tourists, they’re going to want to eat… We see that consumption is going to increase for the foreseeable future in Japan.”

The same beef boom is playing out across Asia, with increasing wealth and disposable income driving demand in previously meat-light countries. In South Korea, a new appetite for craft burgers is just the tip of a beefy iceberg: in 2007, the US exported 25,000 tons of beef to South Korea; last year that figure reached nearly 180,000 tons.

The Chinese beef market is expected to grow by as much as 20 percent between 2017 and 2025, and is part of a wider trend toward meat eating; in 1982 the average Chinese person ate around 13 kilograms (28.6 pounds) of meat per year, and today it’s around 63 kilograms (138.8 pounds). McDonald’s plans to open 2,000 more restaurants across the country by 2025 — signs that beef consumption is only going to grow.

Asia is clearly fertile ground for those looking to plunge deeper into the market.

What’s the beef with beef?

While all of that growth may be good for the market and profits, beef continues to be the most climate change-intensive foodstuff in the American diet, says Sajatha Bergen, policy specialist in the Food and Agriculture Program at the National Resource Defense Council. And with the beef habit now catching on across Southeast Asia, that problem is only deepening.

But defining the range of that problem is tricky. US beef industry carbon dioxide “emissions are actually coming from a few different places,” Bergen says. In the industrial production model, grain is grown to feed cattle, using chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and that requires a lot of fossil fuels. Next, the cow’s digestive system turns some of what it eats into methane — over 20 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2, according to scientists. And finally, cow manure is either spread or stored in lagoons, and that can produce additional methane emissions. Taking all this into account, Bergen believes that it’s not unfair to describe cows as “mini-greenhouse gas factories.”

Renée Vellvé, a researcher at GRAIN, an international NGO, believes that we have to expand our vision to include the entire industrialized food system in order to get a true sense of just how staggeringly costly beef, and agriculture in general, is to the environment. She notes that, in addition to the obvious impacts, meat must also be packaged, refrigerated all along the supply chain, transported — usually over long distances — and stored in supermarket and home refrigerators.

Every step contributes to climate change, says Vellvé, from fertilizing seedling crops all the way to your dinner plate. Thinking about the “food system at large,” not just how the food is produced, is essential, she says: “If you isolate agriculture it’s not enough.”

Research by GRAIN in 2014 found that when using this comprehensive approach, our food system accounts for roughly half of all greenhouse gas emissions — with much of that meat-related. In the US, the EPA currently estimates that agriculture contributes around 9 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions; of that, livestock takes up around 5 percent.

For Gidon Eshel, research professor of environmental physics at Bard College, New York, the direct climate impact of beef production isn’t the worst of it. “Beef is responsible for the lion’s share of land use [in the US],” he says. And by overusing fertilizers the industry is also responsible for the release of massive amounts of reactive nitrogen into water supplies, which can undermine water quality in lakes, rivers and estuaries. By spurring algae growth, which can in turn lower oxygen levels when bacteria feed on it, the release of nitrogen can suffocate bodies of water, creating so-called dead zones. Just this year the largest dead zone ever recorded hit the Gulf of Mexico — a calamity tied to meat production.

The source of all this harm can be found in the industrial model of agriculture, says Ben Lilliston, director of corporate strategies and climate change at the Institute for Agricultural Trade Policy. “In many ways, it’s been fairly disastrous for the environment.”

The industrial system, he explains, is based on producing far more product than is needed and then exporting that product around the globe – an incredibly inefficient system. It has, however, created a global market for really cheap meat, while externalizing all the environmental costs of production to nation states and communities, Lilliston said. “Of course, we’ve expanded that model around the world to other countries.”

Bergen agrees: “Even if we export the beef, we still keep the water pollution, the air pollution… is it really fair for US communities to bear the brunt of environmental damage?”

Enter TPP, or exit it

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, from which Trump withdrew the US after taking office, would have offered another boost for the industrial agriculture model, Lilliston said. The negotiations, which were highly influenced and dominated by big business, “facilitated a fairly serious expansion of this industrial model of agriculture where you produce way more than you need.”

And that is to be expected. For decades trade deals have been designed to benefit business and make goods flow more smoothly between countries in order to open up new markets. To do this, the deals reduce tariffs (designed to protect local industries) and remove or weaken trade-limiting regulations, including public health and environmental standards.

What was really at stake for the US beef industry with TPP was deep access to Japan.

Japan used to be a “controlled market,” says Seng, one that always looked after its domestic production first, at the expense of imports. That’s why it’s been a tough nut to crack for beef exporters like those in the US. But over time exporters have penetrated the market, to the point that today about 60 percent of Japan’s beef is imported. In 2015, Japan imported nearly 500,000 tons of beef, around 200,000 tons of it from the US.

TPP would have progressively whittled tariffs on frozen beef from 38.5 percent down to 9 percent by 2032 — a boon for the US. A report released by the US International Trade Commission prior to Trump’s decision to pull out of TPP estimated the value of beef exports to be worth $876 million per year by the end of the 16-year tariff reduction period.

Trump’s actions represent a “clear loss” to the industry, according to Andrew Muhammad, associate director of the USDA’s Economic Research Service Market and Economics Division.

KORUS, a free-trade agreement between the US and South Korea that was signed in 2012 (which included tariff reductions and the removal of “government-imposed obstacles” to trade, according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association) resulted in a 42 percent jump in US beef exports over a five-year period there, and an 82 percent rise in annual sales.

So it’s easy to see why Trump’s TPP decision wasn’t popular with the US agricultural sector. With his thumbs down, expanded access to the Japanese market was put out of reach for US beef exporters.

The problem for the American cattlemen and beef processors didn’t end there. Now Australia has managed to negotiate a bilateral trade agreement with Japan, gaining improved market access, while US beef still is at the mercy of high Japanese tariffs. In August, the tariffs on frozen beef from countries without economic partnership agreements with Japan were raised from 38.5 percent to 50 percent, an increase triggered by a built-in emergency system to guard against spikes in imports.

That’s why the US beef industry is now desperate to thrash out a trade deal with the Japanese. “Our organization, NCBA [National Cattlemen’s Beef Association], will work with [the Trump] administration on bilateral trade deals, if that’s the way to go,” NCBA president Craig Uden told agriculture.com. “We know that our trade partners want our product, and if we don’t fill the demand, someone else will.”

However, speaking from 45 years of experience working with the Japanese, Seng says it will be very difficult to get a bilateral deal that comes close to the benefits TPP would have provided. He explains that there was a “tremendous amount of political capital put on the table” by the Japanese to come down to 9 percent. This included overcoming the doubts of their own agricultural sector who feared an influx of cheap beef would damage their own market share. From Seng’s viewpoint, the objective now is to figure out a way to get back into TPP.

In November, the remaining 11 member nations committed to the TPP agreement are due to restart negotiations and plow ahead without the United States. But it looks as if TPP-11, as it has been dubbed, could be tweaked only slightly to encourage the US to enter later.

Vellvé isn’t ruling this out. She believes that in the next three or four years the US could well join the TPP, with or without Trump in office, as the business voices calling for it are influential: “The [beef] industry is pushing very hard and is very creative at getting what it wants.”

Lilliston, of the Institute for Agricultural Trade Policy, echoes this and says that TPP saw beef-producing multinational corporations, like Cargill, JBS and others, come together to form a “beef alliance” and push their agenda. “They are real forces in these trade negotiations and it’s not the same as seeing things through a national agenda.”

Climate change, meet trade; trade, meet climate change

But even as TPP moves forward, with or without the US, another important constituency has not been invited to the negotiating table: Nature, and the NGOs and national environmental agencies that represent her.

In a 2009 report, the World Trade Organization and the United Nations Environmental Programme said free trade agreements (FTAs) “most likely” lead to increased CO2emissions.

The “trading regime in general, and the United States led [FTAs]… are in tension with the policies for aggressive climate action,” Kevin Gallagher wrote in “Trade in the Balance: Reconciling Trade Policy and Climate Change,” a report released in 2016 by Boston University.

“Trade is intrinsic to the success and robustness of the industrial system” of food production, Vellvé says. But trade agreements “very much drive climate change coming from the food system, insofar as the [deals] create demand for cheap commodities,” she explains. For instance, an influx of cheap American beef has made it possible for gyudon chain stores like Yoshinoya to offer their beef bowls to Japanese consumers for around $3 a pop, in the same way that cheap beef has allowed McDonald’s to sell its Big Macs for $4.79 in the States.

Those low prices create more consumption, demanding higher industrial production, with bigger environmental costs. But nowhere in the industrial food chain, or in global trade treaties, are allowances made for the mounting environmental harm. This is a dangerous blind spot that, ignored for long enough, is going to bite back with increased climate and weather instability, more severe heatwaves, droughts and hurricanes, rising sea levels and increased ocean acidity — all of which will directly impact food security.

Vellvé argues that to reach our climate goals, countries will need to overhaul the way our food is grown. To do so, we’ll need to get rid of large-scale monocrop cultivation, big plantations and the current model of big trade.

“That’s a huge shift,” she acknowledges.

Vellvé points to other systems of agriculture as models, like small-scale farming, that could replace industrial-sized Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). This “small is better” approach would not only be less harmful from an environmental point of view, but could also be beneficial for farmers, cheaper to run and involve less labor in some cases.

But bridging the disconnect between an agribusiness industry focused on profit, global trade agreements that primarily serve business, and escalating climate change impacts, certainly won’t be easy. A mention of climate change didn’t even appear in the final TPP draft agreement, at the behest of Washington, despite it appearing in some initial drafts. The Paris Agreement also didn’t acknowledge TPP, or any other trade deals for that matter.

“By having an [industrialized food economy] like the US – one of the biggest [carbon] polluters – say we don’t care about the Paris Agreement – we’re going to negotiate trade agreements as if climate change doesn’t exist – that’s very problematic,” Lilliston says. The issue is being discussed in places like the WTO, he adds, but those people who matter, the trade negotiators, are proceeding as in the past, and acting as if environmental concerns didn’t exist.

As it stands, he says, strict trade rules furnish global markets with cheap goods that can price out local producers, and those treaties deregulate in a way that almost always favors industrial farming, making it impossible for smaller-scale operations to compete.

Lilliston argues that unless we change trade agreements to nurture local and sustainable food producers, allowing them to grow and participate on a level playing field in global markets, or at least put climate-friendly policies in place, we’ll soon be in a tough spot economically and environmentally.

Take drought, for example: it has deepened significantly over the US Midwest and West in recent decades, and severely impacted cattle herds and curtailed industry profits. And severe drought, like that seen in 2012, is projected to only worsen in future years as climate change escalates, further affecting the beef industry.

The good news: moves are being made by the beef sector to encourage sustainability, cut waste and decrease its climate impact. Seng at USMEF says that the beef industry is “working tenaciously to reduce any kind of greenhouse gases.” Jude Capper, an agricultural sustainability consultant, suggests the US beef industry has already made advances along this road in past decades: “US beef is considerably more productive and has a lower carbon footprint per unit than in many less efficient countries,” she says.

But others, like Vellvé, question whether these baby steps will be nearly enough. She acknowledges the efforts of the industry, but describes that work as little more than “eye shadow”.

“It’s not going to get us where we need to [go, to] stay within the [emissions] targets that were set at the Paris Agreement,” she says.

NRDC’s Bergen agrees. There are a lot of ways to cut the environmental costs of beef production, but the rapidly rising demand for beef worldwide will negate any positive effects: “Ultimately we need to reduce the amount of beef we eat.”

The decision by Donald Trump to back out of TPP has halted, at least for now, the beef industry’s drive to gain Japanese market share. But what is truly needed now is not the same old type of treaty, but a new deal — a TPP that acknowledges and addresses the deep links between industrial food production and climate change.

With the US now out of TPP, will the other 11 countries work climate change back into the agreement? It’s possible, and would be a big step forward, says Lilliston, but only on one big condition: “If TPP was to include climate considerations, how does the enforcement work on that?”

It’s pretty simple what needs to be done, Lilliston concludes: Future trade deals in the US, and around the world, must explicitly assure that trade and profit do not override climate policy: “That’s a fairly radical idea and would be a major change in trade agreements,” he says. “But at some point we are going to have to make that decision.”

Ranchers brace for ‘astronomical losses’ due to B.C. wildfires

Cattle ranchers in B.C. are bracing for massive damages to their land and
livestock as wildfires continue to rage across the Interior.

Kevin Boon, the general manager for the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association,
visited two areas this week in the ravaged Cariboo region.

“We know there’s going to be some astronomical losses,” Boon said.

It’s still too early to peg the total cost of damages – a question Boon says
he has been fielding from many ranchers – but the expenses are quickly
adding up.

“There’s hundreds of miles of fence out there that have been burnt up,” he
said.

“That’s all a huge cost when you stop and figure it costs somewhere in the
neighbourhood of $15,000 to $20,000 a kilometre of fence to replace.”

Costs will also be incurred in destroyed grass and hay, he said.

Volatile conditions

The B.C. Cattlemen’s Association has been liaising with RCMP to get ranchers
access through checkpoints so they can transport or tend to their livestock.

Boon is also calling on the province to keep tourists and recreational users
out of the backcountry because of the volatile conditions. Even ranchers are
restricting use on their own lands, he said.

“We’re recommending our guys take their horse shoes off their horses just so
they don’t create a spark of the shoe on the walk,” Boon said.

Boon estimates there are about 30,000 head of cattle in the wildfire
regions. Death tolls won’t be as high as ranchers anticipated, but he
expects it will affect the calf population next spring.

“A lot of these cattle are in their breeding season right now,” he said.
“They might be miscarrying those calves and aborting them naturally because
of the stress.”

Greg Nyman, a rancher who lives south of Clinton, B.C., has so far found 60
of his 120 cattle. They’re in varying degrees of health, he said.

“I saw quite a few that have burned feet,” he said. “They’ve been in a
burning fire for a week and heavy smoke for close to a month now.”

“More often than not, their lungs are scorched,” he added. “So they’re no
longer productive.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/ranchers-brace-for-astronomic
al-losses-due-to-b-c-wildfires-1.4233525

Climate change playing a role in growing list of species at risk

‘The North is one of the areas facing the greatest potential risk from climate change,’ officials say

By Nicole Riva, CBC News <http://www.cbc.ca/news/cbc-news-online-news-staff-list-1.1294364> Posted: May 10, 2017 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: May 10, 2017 5:00 AM ET

One herd of the Atlantic walrus is already extinct and two other herds could have the same fate, according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. <https://i.cbc.ca/1.4107280.1494368091%21/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/16x9_620/atlantic-walrus.jpg>

One herd of the Atlantic walrus is already extinct and two other herds could have the same fate, according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. (J. Higdon/Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada)

The list of species at risk of extinction in Canada has grown to 751, and the effects of climate change may put those species even more at risk — especially the 62 species in the North.

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada recently completed a meeting on at-risk species — which include animals, plants and lichen — adding another five to its list <http://www.cosewic.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=en&n=03E6BEA6-1> , and reassessing the status of several others.

“The North is one of the areas facing the greatest potential risk from climate change, many of these species are already behind the eight ball,” according to committee chair Eric Taylor.

Two species that live in the North that Taylor highlighted are the Atlantic walrus and eastern migratory caribou, both of which reside in the North and have had “significant changes” in their populations.

“Particularly the caribou,” Taylor told CBC News. “Part one of the large herds, the George River herd, that one had a precipitous decline up to about 99 per cent over three generations.”

The Eastern migration caribou, has seen a 99 per cent decline in its population in three generations, the committee reports. (Submitted by Katrina Noel)

The massive decline is partly from hunting and also because of a destruction <http://cbc.ca/1.4038199> of habitat in part because of climate change.

The walrus population in the Atlantic has already lost one herd to extinction, Taylor said, while the two others are listed as special concern, which means if things don’t improve they are also at risk of becoming extinct.

The committee identifies species at risk and advises the Canadian government on what needs to be added to the official list <https://www.registrelep-sararegistry.gc.ca/sar/index/default_e.cfm> , which brings protective measures and recovery plans, Taylor said, but it all takes a long time.

‘That could take years’

It can take years for a species to land on the official list, he said, which is concerning for species with fast population decline such as the caribou.

“Who knows what’s going to happen in the time it takes to actually consider their listing and design a recovery strategy that could take years,” Taylor said.

He acknowledges that there are many challenges such as resources and Canada’s vast landscape in helping at risk populations, but “we’ve got to get moving.”

“The longer we delay doing something about these plants and animals the greater is the risk that what we do won’t be effective,” he said.

Climate change adds an element of the unknown for the protection of these species, he said.

“Climate change presents sort of a moving target. It’s hard to know what the extent will be and how that might impact our recovery actions right now.”

Another big unknown is how different species will adapt to changes in climate, especially if climate changes or other activities destroy a species’ habitat, Taylor said.

“It’s all intertwined, which adds to the enormous complexity,” he said.

The five newly identified at-risk species, not all of which live in the North, are the Ord’s kangaroo rat, some populations of lake sturgeon, the butternut tree, Harris’s sparrow and shortfin mako sharks.

Harris’s Sparrow <https://i.cbc.ca/1.4107282.1494366195%21/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_620/harris-s-sparrow.jpg>

Harris’s Sparrow, a northern songbird breeding only in Canada, was among the new species added to the committee’s list. (G. Romanchuk/Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/cosewic-climate-change-at-risk-species-1.4107238

Donald Trump’s Earth Day Statement Is Shameful

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-earth-day_us_58fb9b9ee4b06b9cb91759d6

The president has moved swiftly to dismantle a wide range of protections for the environment.

“Our Nation is blessed with abundant natural resources and awe-inspiring beauty. Americans are rightly grateful for these God-given gifts and have an obligation to safeguard them for future generations,” Trump said in the statement Saturday. “My Administration is committed to keeping our air and water clean, to preserving our forests, lakes, and open spaces, and to protecting endangered species,”

Trump, who has claimed that climate change is a hoax that the Chinese invented, has appointed multiple climate change skeptics to fill his cabinet. Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt, one such skeptic, sued the agency more than a dozen times when the was attorney general of Oklahoma. Rick Perry, now the secretary of energy, said in 2012 he wanted to abolish the department Trump tapped him to run (he now says he regrets the comment).

In his first 100 days as president, Trump has moved to eliminate several protections for the environment. He signed legislation repealing the Stream Protection Rule, which protected streams from mining operations. The president has also moved to eliminate the Clean Water Rule, which protects 2 million miles of streams and 20 million acres of wetlands. Getting rid of the rule could jeopardize drinking water for nearly 120 million Americans and numerous endangered species. He has also moved to get rid of car emission and pollution standards.

The statement also noted that Trump is committed to “rigorous science” and “honest inquiry.”

“Rigorous science is critical to my Administration’s efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection,” Trump said.  “My Administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks.  As we do so, we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.”

But under Trump, the EPA’s Office of Science and Technology has removed “science” from its mission statement. Trump and Pruitt have questioned well established science that shows global warming is real. His administration has proposed gigantic cuts to biomedical and scientific research and, the EPA and environmental programs.

Trump and the White House have also undermined science by distorting the truth and questioning facts. The entire field of science is built around objective observation and facts in the pursuit of truth. Thousands joined protests around the world on Saturday to highlight how Trump’s disregard for facts undermined science.

Drought forces wildlife to spread across larger areas

Hindustan Times:  Man-animal conflict increases as Kerala faces severe drought
INDIA Updated: Feb 19, 2017
http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/man-animal-conflict-increases-as-kerala-faces-severe-drought/story-ETkcrWYmj29vU2I2VGGN7K.html

As Kerala slips into an unprecedented drought, wild animals have started raiding human settlements in search of water and food, endangering lives of people settled in fringe areas of the forest.

Last week three people were gored to death by elephant herds in separate incidents in the forested Idukki and Wayanad districts.

In the drought-hit Wayanad – the north Kerala district saw 72% deficit rainfall during the last two monsoons – people say besides elephants, other animals like, bison, deer and boars, made regular incursions into their villages.

Pepper plantation worker Nagappan, 34, was gored to death by a tusker three days ago in the district. About one-third of the district has forest cover.

According to forest officials, usually nearly 800 elephants are spotted along the Kabani riverbanks, a favourite summer habitat of jumbos in the Nilagiris, but this year their numbers dwindled to 120 as the river has partially dried up.

“Devoid of food and water, the elephant herds have become aggressive. Small crackers or fire torches fail to deter them these days. Bison and deer are behaving like domesticated animals,” said Velayudhan, a farm labourer of Thalappadi in Wayanad.

Another farmer in Ambalavayal said he lost crops worth Rs 2 lakh in the last three weeks as animals raided his farm.

“Two weeks ago, a tusker strayed almost seven km inside the human settlement.

We dug up 12 small ponds deep in the forest to check this menace,” said Wayanad district collector, BS Thirumeni.

Fed up with monkey menace, a 52-year-old widow had committed suicide in Thiruvananthapruam last week following which forest officials put up monkey traps in the area. Her relatives claimed she resorted to the extreme step after her frequent pleas fell on deaf ears.

OCEAN ACIDIFICATION IS HAPPENING. Oppose Pruitt Today

It may sound complicated, but really, it’s simple—if you add carbon emissions to seawater, the ocean turns more acidic. Ocean acidification is happening. We can’t sit back and watch politics harm our coastal communities.

Recently, Scott Pruitt—the nominee for the head of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) was asked directly by Senators about ocean acidification, he wasn’t even willing to admit that ocean acidification is happening.

shark

OCEAN ACIDIFICATION IS HAPPENING.

We gave Scott Pruitt a chance, we listened to what he had to say at his confirmation hearings and his answers on ocean acidification are a total deal-breaker. Ocean acidification is happening. Shellfish growers in the Pacific Northwest nearly went bankrupt as a result. Lobstermen in Maine are concerned enough about acidification that they have traveled to Washington, D.C. to urge Congress to support important research that will tell them how lobster might be impacted.

hello-crab-coral

AMERICA’S CLEAN WATER AND AIR THAT SUSTAIN US CREATE A SHINING EXAMPLE FOR MUCH OF THE WORLD, AND THE EPA IS THEIR DEFENDER.

Pruitt demonstrates no understanding of the present reality of ocean acidification and the urgent risk it poses to American marine life, fishermen and the communities that depend on them. Americans must protect our water and air from further pollution while we work collaboratively towards win-win solutions to challenges like ocean acidification. Because Pruitt ignores the established science about our ocean, he is the wrong choice to lead the EPA.

 

For the ocean,

Sarah Cooley, PhD
Director, Ocean Acidification
Ocean Conservancy

World’s Biggest Sockeye Run Shut Down as Wild Pacific Salmon Fight for Survival

     Climate

 Salmon have been swimming in Pacific Northwest waters for at least 7 million years, as indicated by fossils of large saber-tooth salmon found in the area. During that time, they’ve been a key species in intricate, interconnected coastal ecosystems, bringing nitrogen and other nutrients from the ocean and up streams and rivers to spawning grounds, feeding whales, bears and eagles and fertilizing the magnificent coastal rainforests along the way.

Salmon have been swimming in Pacific Northwest waters for at least seven million years.iStockFor as long as people have lived in the area, salmon have been an important food source and have helped shape cultural identities. But something is happening to Pacific coast salmon.

This year, British Columbia’s sockeye salmon run was the lowest in recorded history. Commercial and First Nations fisheries on the world’s biggest sockeye run on British Columbia’s longest river, the Fraser, closed. Fewer than 900,000 sockeye out of a projected 2.2 million returned to the Fraser to spawn. Areas once teeming with salmon are all but empty.

Salmon define West Coast communities, especially Indigenous ones. The West Coast is a Pacific salmon forest. Today, salmon provide food and contribute to sustainable economies built on fishing and ecotourism. West Coast children learn about the salmon life cycle early in their studies.

Salmon migrations, stretching up to 3,000 kilometers, are among the world’s most awe-inspiring. After spending adult lives in the ocean, salmon make the arduous trip up rivers against the current, returning to spawn and die where they hatched. Only one out of every thousand salmon manages to survive and return to its freshwater birthplace.

So what’s going wrong? Climate change is amplifying a long list of stressors salmon already face. Sockeye salmon are sensitive to temperature changes, so higher ocean and river temperatures can have serious impacts. Even small degrees of warming can kill them. Low river flows from unusually small snowpacks linked to climate change make a tough journey even harder.

Oceans absorb the brunt of our climate pollution—more than 90 percent of emissions-trapped heat since the 1970s. Most warming takes place near the surface, where salmon travel, with the upper 75 meters warming 0.11 C per decade between 1971 and 2010. Although ocean temperatures have always fluctuated, climate change is lengthening those fluctuations. A giant mass of warmer-than-average water in the Pacific, known as “the blob,” made ocean conditions even warmer, with El Niño adding to increased temperatures. Salmon have less food and face new predators migrating north to beat the heat.

Beyond creating poor environmental conditions for salmon, climate change increases disease risks. Warm conditions have led to sea lice outbreaks in farmed and wild salmon, and a heart and muscle inflammatory disease has been found in at least one farm. Scientists researching salmon movement through areas with farms are finding wild fish, especially young ones, with elevated parasite levels. Diseases that cause even slight deficiencies in swimming speed or feeding ability could make these marathon swimmers easy prey.

More: http://www.ecowatch.com/wild-salmon-climate-change-2011395747.html