The Ghost Wolves of Galveston Island – The New York Times

“From a distance, the canids of Galveston Island, Texas, look almost like coyotes, prowling around the beach at night, eyes gleaming in the dark.

But look closer and oddities appear. The animals’ bodies seem slightly out of proportion, with overly long legs, unusually broad heads and sharply pointed snouts. And then there is their fur, distinctly reddish in hue, with white patches on their muzzles.

The Galveston Island canids are not conventional coyotes — at least, not entirely. They carry a ghostly genetic legacy: DNA from red wolves, which were declared extinct in the wild in 1980.

For years, these genes have been hiding in plain sight, tucked away in the seemingly unremarkable animals that scavenged for food behind housing developments and roamed the grounds of the local airport.”

Vaquitas Could Soon Be Extinct. Mexico Will Largely Determine Their Fate. – The New York Times

Catrin Einhorn and 

Ms. Einhorn is the Times’s biodiversity reporter. Mr. Ramos, a freelance photojournalist, reported from San Felipe, Mexico.

“As scientists planned an expedition in Mexico this fall to count one of the world’s most endangered animals, a shy porpoise called a vaquita, they dreaded the possibility that there would be none left to find. The last survey, in 2019, estimated that only about 10 remained.

At the same time, fishermen in the area were preparing to set out with the illegal nets that scientists say are driving the porpoises to extinction: walls of mesh that hang upright below the surface, up to 20 feet deep and stretching the length of several football fields.

Called gill nets, they trap shrimp and fish. They also entangle vaquitas, drowning the mammals. Researchers say the nets are the only known cause for the species’ catastrophic decline, but getting rid of them has turned out to be a challenge.

Amid a global biodiversity crisis, with an estimated million species threatened with extinction, the story of the vaquita shows how even obvious solutions — in this case, putting a stop to illegal fishing — require political will, enforcement and deep engagement with local communities to meet the needs of both people and animals.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Thank you Catrin Einhorn and the NYT, even though you have disturbed my “wa,” or peacefully harmony. I was not aware of this tragedy, about losing the magnificent vaquitas, and I would like the United States to step up and do what ever it takes, to protect them. I’m not sure what is the best way to convince the Mexican government to protect this dying species, but a ban in the US of all Mexican sea food would probably get their immediate attention. I hope to read more, soon, about what pressures could realistically be brought to bear in this situation, which is so immediately dire.
Perhaps the Mexican and US government will have to start paying these same illegal fishermen, stipends or salaries, to protect the rare porpoises that they are driving quickly to extinction.
David blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.

Protected Too Late: U.S. Officials Report More Than 20 Extinctions – The New York Times

Video

Cinemagraph
Ivory-billed woodpeckers filmed in in Louisiana in 1935, when the birds were already rare. Despite pleas from conservationists and wildlife officials, the area was later logged by the Chicago Mill and Lumber Company.CreditCredit…Arthur A. Allen/Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornitholog

“The ivory-billed woodpecker, which birders have been seeking in the bayous of Arkansas, is gone forever, according to federal officials. So is the Bachman’s warbler, a yellow-breasted songbird that once migrated between the Southeastern United States and Cuba. The song of the Kauai O’o, a Hawaiian forest bird, exists only on recordings. And there is no longer any hope for several types of freshwater mussels that once filtered streams and rivers from Georgia to Illinois.

In all, 22 animals and one plant should be declared extinct and removed from the endangered species list, federal wildlife officials announced on Wednesday.

The announcement could also offer a glimpse of the future. It comes amid a worsening global biodiversity crisis that threatens a million species with extinction, many within decades. Human activities like farming, logging, mining and damming take habitat from animals and pollute much of what’s left. People poach and overfish. Climate change adds new peril.

“Each of these 23 species represents a permanent loss to our nation’s natural heritage and to global biodiversity,” said Bridget Fahey, who oversees species classification for the Fish and Wildlife Service. “And it’s a sobering reminder that extinction is a consequence of human-caused environmental change.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment
Sad but true. Thank you Catrin Einhorn and the NYT for this report. I recommend the booklet, “Half Earth,” by the famous etymologist Edward O Wilson, retired from Harvard. He and his associates around the world see us possibly losing 80% of the world’s species in the next 80 years. ( He talks mostly in ranges, like in 50 to 100 years) He predicts that if we lose 50% of the world’s species, the human species will not survive, because of dependencies that exist, but are not yet all understood. The message of the Half Earth Foundation and movement, is their strong sense that we need to preserve half the of the world’s area for non human species, to allow them to survive, and to guarantee our own survival. David Lindsay blogs at InconvenientNews.Net, and is writing a book on climate change and the sixth extinction.

Margaret Renkl | This ‘Shazam’ for Birds Could Help Save Them – The New York Times

Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.

“NASHVILLE — I spent my entire childhood playing in the woods and meadows of rural Alabama. The world back then was lush and green: cooled by creeks, carpeted by pine needles, attended by birdsong. In those days there were nearly three billion more birds in North America than there are today, and my young days played out beneath the sound of their music.

The staggering loss of birds — nearly a third of them since 1970 — is due to human behavior: to climate change, to deforestation and ecosystem fragmentation, to insecticides and free-roaming pets, to light pollution in our skies and microplastics in our waterways, to glass-encased skyscrapers protruding into migratory flyways, among other choices that favor our own convenience over the lives of our wild neighbors.

I can’t help but wonder how much of the blame lies, too, in indifference, our failure even to notice what we’ve lost. Birds can be secretive creatures, staying high in the treetops or deep in the underbrush. Even those in plain sight often move startlingly quickly, appearing as hardly more than a flash of color, a blur of wings. Except for the background sound of birdsong, many people are never aware of how many birds — or how few — they share the world with.

Apps like iNaturalist from National Geographic and the California Academy of Sciences help to close that gap, functioning as both electronic field guides and vast data-collection devices. They learn as we learn, improving with every photo and map pin we upload, helping experts understand a planet undergoing profound change. But what of the vast number of birds we never see, those we only hear? To offer that feature — one that accurately and consistently recognizes birds by sound alone — would be the birding equivalent of finding the Holy Grail.”

She describes just such an app. “Last month, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology released an updated version of its Merlin Bird ID app, which allows users to identify birds by song.”

Jill Filipovic | Women Are Having Fewer Babies Because They Have More Choices – The New York Times

Ms. Filipovic is a journalist and lawyer whose work focuses on gender and politics. She is the author of “OK Boomer, Let’s Talk: How My Generation Got Left Behind” and “The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness.”

“American women are having fewer children and having them later than ever before — a demographic shift being met with significant consternation from the left and right alike.

For conservatives, the fact that more women are putting off parenthood or forgoing it entirely is evidence of a dangerous decline in traditional family values. In this framing, women have been manipulated into putting their educational and professional aspirations ahead of motherhood, contributing to a broader cultural breakdown.

Liberals make the (better) case that birth declines are clearly tied to policy, with potential mothers deterred by the lack of affordable child care and the absence of universal health care, adequate paid parental leave and other basic support systems. Couple that with skyrocketing housing prices, high rates of student loan debt and stagnant wages and it’s no surprise that so many women say: “Children? In this economy?” “

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT comment:

Lovely essay, but also disappointing. We now have 7,7 billion humans, up from 2 billion in 1930. We are destroying the planet with pollution and over consumption. We face climate change, and rapid species extintion, so remarkable, that the scientist say we are living through the 6th extinction. It breaks my heart to realize that most Americans are ignorant of these threats and atrocities. Some women, but not enough, are having fewer children, because they are aware of these grave and serious problems.

David Lindsay Jr is the author of the Tay Son Rebellion about 18th century Vietnam, and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net. He is currently writing a book about his concert on climate change and the sixth extinction.

Bald eagles attack loons, but that’s not why loons are struggling – Granite Geek

“Bald eagles, as I’m sure you know, are making quite the comeback in New Hampshire (along with much of North America). New Hampshire Audubon and the Loon Preservation Committee wondered what effect this large fish-eating predator was having on another iconic fish-eating bird, the loon.

The answer, they say, is “not much”.

The team looked for evidence of predation attempts by an increasing eagle population, and whether this was limiting how successful loons are at raising young or if eagles provoked changes in where loons nest. The scientists found that eagle nest proximity may be contributing to about 3% of observed loon nest failures, but that this pressure does not account for local declines in loon abundance. Loons face a wide range of other simultaneous threats, including mortality from lead tackle poisoning, avian malaria, and entanglement in monofilament fishing line.

“We confirmed that eagles have joined a wide range of stressors currently impacting loons in New Hampshire,” said Loon Preservation Committee Senior Biologist John Cooley. “This result is great motivation to keep reducing the impacts caused by humans, like lead tackle poisoning, so that eventually the primary challenge for nesting loons can once again be natural predators like eagles.”

Source: Bald eagles attack loons, but that’s not why loons are struggling – Granite Geek

Protected Habitat, for a Population of One – The New York Times

“PROTECTION ISLAND, Wash. — From their perch atop a dead tree on the edge of a cliff, a pair of bald eagles enjoyed a panoramic view of a small island in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, off the coast of Washington State. Far below, seated on a bench surrounded by tall, swaying grasses, the island’s lone human resident, Marty Bluewater, watched them through binoculars.

For the past 50 years, Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge has been his touchstone. He has accumulated a lifetime of memories here, welcoming six deer who swam over from the mainland and have grown to a small herd, hosting five pairs of nesting swallows in his eaves every spring, and celebrating two weddings — one his own.”

DL:  Eagles are advancing, at the expense of other bird species now, since fish are in steep decline.

The Everyday Chemicals That Might Be Leading Us to Our Extinction – The New York Times

COUNT DOWN
How Our Modern World Is Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, Threatening Sperm Counts, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race
By Shanna H. Swan with Stacey Colino

If you’ve smugly enjoyed the dystopian worlds of “The Handmaid’s Tale” (where infertility is triggered in part by environmental pollutants) or “Children of Men” (where humanity is on the precipice of extinction) — and believed that these stories were rooted firmly in fantasy — Shanna Swan’s “Count Down” will serve as an awakening.

“Count Down,” which Swan wrote with the health and science journalist Stacey Colino, chronicles rising human infertility and warns of dire consequences for our species if this trend doesn’t slow. The reason, Swan explains, may be growing exposure to “endocrine disrupting chemicals” that are found in everything from plastics, flame retardants, electronics, food packaging and pesticides to personal care products and cosmetics.

She outlines the danger. These substances interfere with normal hormonal function, including testosterone and estrogen. Even in small doses, they pose particular danger to unborn babies and young children whose bodies are growing rapidly. These hormone-warping chemicals, which can enter even the placenta, have the ability to alter the anatomical development of girls and boys, change brain function and impair the immune system.

Swan is a noted environmental and reproductive epidemiologist who has studied this subject for more than two decades. Her work on falling sperm counts garnered worldwide attention in 2017. Media coverage focused on her central finding: From 1973 to 2011, the total sperm count of men in Western countries dropped by 59 percent. The quality also nose-dived, with more odd-shaped sperm and fewer strong swimmers capable of fertilizing an egg. Perhaps most important, the DNA they carried was also more damaged.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
What a disturbing and serious piece of reporting. Thank you Bijal P. Trivedi. This makes me want to protect myself, my family, my country and the world, but is there a silver lining? With 7.6 billion people now overpopulating the world, we are the new asteroid, causing the 6th extinction of species. Maybe our growing infertility is what saves us from destroying ourselves and our environment, stops us in our trajectory of being like another green algae bloom.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” on 18th century Vietnam and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Opinion | Captain Chain Saw’s Delusion – By Chris Feliciano Arnold – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Arnold is the author of “The Third Bank of the River: Power and Survival in the Twenty-First-Century Amazon.”

This article is part of the Opinion series The Amazon Has Seen Our Future, about how the people of the region are living through the most extreme versions of our planet’s problems.

“Amid political strife and smoke visible from space, the future of the Amazon has rarely been so hazy. Environmentalists see a vanishing rainforest of global consequence. Indigenous leaders see an ancestral home still being exploited by settlers after 500 years of genocidal violence. Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, sees valuable acreage wasted by “cave men” and Marxists.

Sixty percent of the world’s largest tropical forest lies within Brazil’s borders, and since 2006 I’ve traveled thousands of miles in the Amazon, witnessing how the river and its people have experienced a century’s worth of ecological and cultural change in a generation. For a few weeks last year, record-setting fires in the region focused the world’s attention with an intensity reminiscent of the Save the Rainforest campaigns of the 1980s, but this year, the land is burning during a pandemic that has interrupted travel, stymied environmental protection efforts, and emboldened miners, loggers and ranchers to encroach on Indigenous land with impunity.”

Opinion | Amazon 4.0. How to Reinvent the Rainforest – By Bruno Carvalho and Carlos Nobre -The New York Times

By Bruno Carvalho and 

Bruno Carvalho is a scholar of urbanization. Carlos Nobre is a climate scientist.

This article is part of the Opinion series The Amazon Has Seen Our Future, about how the people of the region are living through the most extreme versions of our planet’s problems.

Rainforests are unique ecosystems of immense complexity that nurture an incredible diversity of plants, animals and micro-organisms. Bulldozers and chain saws don’t care about that.

Some people think of rainforests as faraway places that have little to do with their day-to-day existence. But millions of people live in cities and settlements throughout the Amazon. Many endure precarious conditions and become sources of cheap labor. The forest is sometimes destroyed in their name, with the justification that it develops and improves the economy. In Brazil, deforestation rates are breaking records. And if we continue to destroy the forest, we can expect dire consequences — not just for the region, but for the planet.

Over the past 50 years, human intervention has been increasingly disrupting the ecological balance of the Amazon. Climate change has led to an increase in temperatures of 1.5 degrees Celsius across the basin, and to more frequent severe droughts. The droughts of 2005, 2010 and 2015-16 were among the worst in more than 100 years. Since 1980, there’s been an increase in the duration of dry seasons by three to four weeks in the more degraded areas of the Amazon.