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.”

Why Jane Goodall Still Has Hope for Us Humans – The New York Times

“Wherever the story of our natural world ultimately lands, Jane Goodall will have earned a proud place in its telling. Goodall, 87, first found fame in the early 1960s for her paradigm-busting work as a primatologist. Studying the chimpanzees of Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania, she was the first to observe those entrancing animals eating meat and using tools, thus expanding our understanding of primate capabilities. While that work is likely to remain what the public primarily associates her with, Goodall’s career as an activist is arguably her more important legacy. She has spent 44 years leading conservation efforts through her Jane Goodall Institute and seeding the future with like-minded souls via the Roots & Shoots educational programs for young people, which can be found in more than 60 countries and have nurtured millions of students. “You just plod on and do what you can to make the world a better place,” said Goodall, speaking via Zoom from her childhood home in Bournemouth, England, and whose “The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times” will be published in October. “That’s all I can do. I can’t do more, I don’t think, than I’m doing.” “

Why Record-Breaking Overnight Temperatures Are So Concerning – The New York Times

“Last month was the hottest June on record in North America, with more than 1,200 daily temperature records broken in the final week alone. But overlooked in much of the coverage were an even greater number of daily records set by a different — and potentially more dangerous — measure of extreme heat: overnight temperatures.

On average, nights are warming faster than days across most of the United States, according to the 2018 National Climate Assessment Report. It’s part of a global trend that’s being fueled by climate change.

Unusually hot summer nights can lead to a significant number of deaths, according to climate scientists and environmental epidemiologists, because they take away people’s ability to cool down from the day’s heat.”

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

Thank you Catrin Einhorn for your work. This piece, though excellent, is devastating. The comments after it are inspiring, in the recoconition of so many readers of alarm and grief and fear for the future. My partner and I are writing and performing a folk concert on these issues, and here is paragraph from one of our readings: “DL.V2: Edward O. Wilson, the famous Harvard entomologist, now retired, has written that at our present course of human growth, we might lose 50 to 80% of the earth’s species in the next 100 years. (2) E.O. Wilson and his scientific colleagues around the world are deeply concerned. They suspect that only about 10% of this world’s biodiversity has been identified and named— KS.V1: and they see that Earth is losing species of animals and plants before we know much about them, about their qualities, habitat, about how they support the ecosystems where they thrive. These scientists think that if we do lose 50% or more of the world’s species, then homo sapiens will probably disappear. When the dinosaurs died out, so did possibly 95% of all species at that time. (3) These scientists are sounding an alarm. ”

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 and show “Noah’s Ark, 2.0. on climate change and the sixth extinction.”

Margaret Renkl | For the Butterflies — and the Rest of Us – The New York Times

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

“NASHVILLE — For Christmas last year, my husband ordered a sign for my butterfly garden from the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, a nonprofit that works to protect insects and other invertebrates around the world. “Pollinator Habitat,” the sign reads. “This area has been planted with pollinator-friendly flowers and is protected from pesticides to provide valuable habitat for bees and other pollinators.” A note about where to find out more information includes a QR code that takes a smartphone straight to the Xerces Society’s “Bring Back the Pollinators” initiative.

National Pollinator Week begins on June 21, which is also the first full day of summer, a season we associate with bees and butterflies. What better time to launch an awareness campaign for the insects that are directly responsible for food and flowers? And what awareness campaign could be more necessary in an age when insect populations are crashing? Most of us know a butterfly when we see one, but their habits and habitat needs — and the perils they face — are another matter altogether.”

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT comment:

Wonderful essay, thank you. I’ve joined No Mow May, and put up a Pollinator Way sign. To my pleasant surprise, the Republicans on both side of my yard also this spring did not mow their lawns till May was almost over. Bonding with Republicans over lawn care, who would have thought. There are still dozens of neighbors not yet onboard. The best solution would be a town or state ban on pesticides for home owners. We are enjoying fireflies in our back yard, but there are just a few, when there used to be hundreds.

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.

Nicholas Kristof | How Biden Can Help Vaccinate the World – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Let’s begin with a quick quiz question: What’s the highest-return investment you can think of? Private equity? A hedge fund?

Here’s something with a far higher return: a global campaign to vaccinate people in poor countries against the coronavirus.

So far the United States and other Group of 7 “leading” countries haven’t actually shown leadership in fighting the pandemic globally. American vaccine nationalism means that we are hoarding both vaccines and the raw materials to make them, in ways that lead to unnecessary deaths abroad and also undermine our own recovery.

“It’s a huge moral failure of the G7,” said Esther Duflo, an M.I.T. economist and Nobel laureate in economics. “We’re so focused on our own problems that we can’t see beyond.”

Abhijit Banerjee, her husband and fellow Nobel laureate in economics at M.I.T., added that because of the risks of variants emerging from poor countries, “It’s not only a huge failure, but I think it’s going to come back to haunt us.”

This is not, of course, primarily about money. It’s about lives. It’s about the trajectory of humanity. But for those who weigh costs to orient their moral compass, a new paper from the International Monetary Fund offers numbers that underscore the importance of investing in global vaccines.  . . . “

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

I have read perhpas from Edward O Wilson, that there is a growing concensus that the the proper number of humans on the planet for a sustainable system is probably about 4 billion. Since we are at 7.8 billion humans now, (headed to 10 or 12 billion), and in the middle or beginnning of the sixth extinction of other species, losing 1 or 2 billion humans could be a weird blessing for the future of life on the planet, unless we can come up with a more civilized way to bring down overpopulation, over pollution, and the despoiling of the planet. I find that the argument by Nicholas Kristof fails to address this elephant or perhaps tiger in the room.

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.

Paul Krugman Opinion Column | The Plot to Help America’spo Children – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Democrats seem ready to enact major economic relief legislation. The package will be big, with a price tag probably close to the Biden administration’s proposed $1.9 trillion. But the bulk of this spending will clearly be temporary. Americans won’t be getting $1,400 checks every year, unemployment benefits won’t always be this generous, we won’t constantly be mobilizing for emergency vaccination programs (or at least we hope not).

There is, however, one piece of the package many progressives hope will become permanent: enhanced aid to families with children. Indeed, there’s an overwhelming economic and social case for providing such aid, in addition to the moral case.

Yet most conservatives seem to be opposed, even though they’re having a notably hard time explaining why. And the fact that they’re against helping children despite their lack of good arguments tells you a lot about why they really oppose aid to those in need.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
It all sounds good, but will it incentivize having more and more children? What the country and world need is zero, or even better, negative population growth. So I would like to know how this will effect the choice of the number of children American people will have. It might be good for the environment to put a cap on the credit/income payment for just two children, and not some unlimited number. We are living during the 6th extinction in the Anthropocene, which means that non human species are going extinct at an unusual and unsustainable rate, perhaps hundreds a week. We lost the Great White African Rhinoceros this winter. Just one of probably thousands of species lost. Someday, it would be useful if politically possible, to have the credit/subsidy for the first two children, and universal and subsidized family planning as part of health care.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.

The Last Two Northern White Rhinos On Earth – The New York Times

“The day Sudan died, everything felt both monumental and ordinary. It was a Monday. Gray sky, light rain. On the horizon, the sun was struggling to make itself seen over the sharp double peaks of Mount Kenya. Little black-faced monkeys came skittering in over the fence to try to steal the morning carrots. Metal gates creaked and clanked. Men spoke in quiet Swahili. Sudan lay still in the dirt, thick legs folded under him, huge head tilted like a capsizing ship. His big front horn was blunt, scarred, worn. His breathing was harsh and ragged. All around him, for miles in every direction, the savannah teemed with life: warthogs, zebras, elephants, giraffes, leopards, lions, baboons — creatures doing what they had been doing for eons, hunting and feeding and scavenging, breathing and going and being. Until recently, Sudan had been a part of this pulse. But now he could hardly move. He was a giant stillness at the center of all the motion.

Sudan was the last male northern white rhinoceros on earth — the end of an evolutionary rope that stretched back millions of years. Although his death was a disaster, it was not a surprise. It was the grim climax of a conservation crisis that had been accelerating, for many decades, toward precisely this moment. Every desperate measure — legal, political, scientific — had already been exhausted.”

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

Heart breaking. Thank you Sam Anderson. I some times wonder if things could be different. If Bill and Melinda Gates had decided to work for wildlife protection, instead of alleviating the poverty of the poor humans around the world. Or are they right, that taking care of all 7.7 billion humans might be the key to reducing the destruction of mass extinctions. Some scientist think we need to reduce the human population to 4 billion, to save most other species. Is it a silver lining, that if we humans keep multiplying, while we take out most other species, we most likely will not survive. A new age will then evolve, without the scourge of the humans, who propagated like green algae, until they died.