Скачать 0.5 Mb.
Coping with climate change
Bolivia is struggling to cope with rising temperatures, melting glaciers and more extreme weather events including more frequent floods, droughts, frosts and mudslides.
Research by glaciologist Edson Ramirez of San Andres University in the capital city, La Paz, suggests temperatures have been rising steadily for 60 years and started to accelerate in 1979. They are now on course to rise a further 3.5-4C over the next 100 years. This would turn much of Bolivia into a desert.
Most glaciers below 5,000m are expected to disappear completely within 20 years, leaving Bolivia with a much smaller ice cap. Scientists say this will lead to a crisis in farming and water shortages in cities such as La Paz and El Alto.
Evo Morales, Latin America's first indigenous president, has become an outspoken critic in the UN of industrialised countries which are not prepared to hold temperatures to a 1C rise.
Back to Menu
The Independent (UK): Recycling reward schemes shunned
10th April 2011
Financial incentive schemes designed to encourage householders to recycle more are being shunned by the majority of councils, research suggested today.
Schemes such as the "Recyclebank" programme, which give householders vouchers for local shops in return for recycling, have been championed by the Tories as a way to encourage rather than force green behaviour.
The first Recyclebank scheme, in Windsor and Maidenhead, was hailed as a better way to boost recycling than the failed "pay-as-you-throw" pilot proposed by the previous Government.
The pilot, which would have charged residents for throwing away too much rubbish, was roundly rejected by town halls.
But just one of 117 councils which responded to a Press Association survey, Halton in Cheshire, has introduced a Recyclebank rewards scheme.
Some 15 local authorities said they were monitoring the success of rewards schemes or looking into the feasibility of innovative recycling programmes.
Bexley in London is bringing in a "green points" scheme to reward householders and their communities for boosting recycling and cutting waste.
And Gwynedd council said it had run a scheme to measure participation and recycling weights in one community, which had boosted its recycling levels as a result, with the local school rewarded with vouchers for books.
But elsewhere, councils raised concerns about the incentive schemes.
Wiltshire council said: "Whilst we will examine the results of trials with interest, we do have a concern that, like the now-abandoned 'pay as you throw' penalty scheme proposals of the previous government, they require a council to keep records on residents' performance."
Northumberland County Council said it had no incentive schemes and "no money to introduce any at this time", while several said the programmes did not represent value for money.
And others said schemes such as Recyclebank were unnecessary if councils provided good recycling services, with North Lincolnshire council claiming "we currently recycle over 51% of all household waste without the need for gimmicks, carrots or sticks".
Councils are running a number of other initiatives, including providing home composters for free or at a reduced price, and real nappy schemes to cut the use of disposable nappies which end up in landfill.
Many local authorities said they were running education programmes designed to raise awareness of recycling, for example in schools, or are signed up to national campaigns such as "Love Food Hate Waste".
Local Government Minister Bob Neill said: "The best way to build a greener, cleaner community is for councils to do more to collect rubbish regularly and to encourage recycling for example by rewarding people for going green as Windsor and Maidenhead have done."
Back to Menu
The Independent (UK): Bali vows to tackle waste problem
9th April 2011
Indonesia's holiday island of Bali vowed on Thursday to tackle its worsening garbage and pollution problems, following a damning magazine article.
Under the headline "Holidays in Hell: Bali's Ongoing Woes", Time magazine said the resort island was struggling with waste and some of its famous beaches were strewn with rubbish.
"We are not closing our eyes. It's true that we have a waste problem," Bali tourism agency head Ida Bagus Subhiksu said.
Subhiksu said up to 300 garbage trucks a day were needed to collect rubbish in the Kuta area, a prime tourist spot. "In Kuta, there will be more garbage trucks designated for the area as extra funding for waste management there has been approved," he said.
Subhiksu added that many of the litter on the beaches came from islands outside Bali.
Visitor numbers to Bali are growing - 2.3 million foreign tourists came last year and 2.5 million are expected this year.
Back to Menu
The Independent (UK): Whitehall pulls plug on solar panel scheme
11th April 2011
Plans for a Government-wide solar power scheme have been put on ice following last month's controversial cuts to the solar subsidy scheme.
At a Cabinet Office-sponsored meeting in November, Whitehall departments and other public sector bodies were briefed by industry experts on the opportunities of the feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme for solar-panel installations on public buildings such as hospitals, barracks, and council buildings.
But preparatory work by the Government's procurement office, Buying Solutions, was pulled shortly after the announcement of a fast-track review of the FIT, according to industry sources.
Buying Solutions stresses that the solar power workshop was part of the organisation's ongoing work looking at power supply initiatives and that although some public bodies interested in participating in the scheme were identified at the initial meeting, it was made very clear that all discussions were purely exploratory.
"No procurement was commissioned and therefore nothing has been cancelled," a spokeswoman for Buying Solutions said.
But industry sources say the level of interest at the meeting suggested several megawatts-worth of potential schemes, sufficient to achieve significant price reductions if bought jointly through the central procurement agency.
"The total economic equation would have saved the country money and also created jobs in the solar industry," said one insider.
The solar power industry is in uproar after the Government announced proposals to slash the FIT for all but the smallest domestic installations.
Back to Menu
The Independent (UK): Google in German solar investment
9th April 2011
Google Thursday announced a multi-million-euro (dollar) investment in a solar power plant outside Berlin in what the US Internet giant said was its first clean energy project investment in Europe.
Google said it would plough 3.5 million euros ($5.0 million) into one of Germany's biggest solar plants, located in Brandenburg, the state surrounding Berlin.
"Until the early 1990s, the site was used as a training ground by the Russian military. We're glad it has found a new use," the firm said in a posting on its European Public Policy Blog.
Google said the plant should provide power for 5,000 homes in the area. The investment still needs official approval. It has also invested in wind power projects in the United States.
The announcement came as the German government wrestles with its future nuclear energy policy in the midst of the nuclear catastrophe in Japan.
In the wake of the crisis, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a three-month moratorium on an earlier pledge to extend the lifetime of Germany's 17 nuclear reactors and temporarily switched off seven pending safety checks.
The sooner Germany can be rid of nuclear power, the better, she said, vowing to accelerate progress towards cleaner forms of energy such as solar power.
Back to Menu
BBC News (UK): Nitrogen pollution 'costs EU up to £280bn a year'
11th April 2011
Nitrogen pollution from farms, vehicles, industry and waste treatment is costing the EU up to £280bn (320bn euros) a year, a report says.
The study by 200 European experts says reactive nitrogen contributes to air pollution, fuels climate change and is estimated to shorten the life of the average resident by six months.
Livestock farming is one of the biggest causes of nitrogen pollution, it adds.
It calls for changes in farming and more controls on vehicles and industry.
The problem would be greatly helped if less meat was consumed, the report says.
Nitrogen is the most common element in the atmosphere and is harmless.
It is the reactive form - mainly produced by human activity - that causes a web of related problems.
The 600-page report relies on experts from 21 countries and 89 organisations. It estimates the annual cost of damage caused by nitrogen across Europe as being £55-£280bn.
Reactive nitrogen emissions from agriculture are the most intractable as they come from many diffuse sources.
The report says Europe needs nitrogen fertilisers for its own food security but blames many farmers for applying fertiliser carelessly to crops, so that excess nitrogen runs off to pollute water supplies.
Run-off from animal manure also fouls watercourses, and the release of nitrous oxides from uncovered dung heaps pollutes the air.
Agriculture produces 70% of the nitrous oxide emissions in Europe.
Continue reading the main story
The big challenge is to link existing policy areas and make them work together”
End Quote Mark Sutton Report author
New rules reducing nitrogen emissions from farms are introduced next year, but there are questions over whether these will be strict enough or properly enforced.
The report says more careful application of fertiliser will benefit farmers by saving money. It will benefit the climate by avoiding the energy used to create the fertiliser.
Lead editor, Mark Sutton from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology near Edinburgh, told BBC News that 80% of the nitrogen in crops feeds livestock, not people.
"It's much more efficient to obtain protein by eating plants rather than animals," he said.
"If we want to help the problem we can all do something by eating less meat. Eating meat is the dominant driver of the nitrogen cycle in Europe."
The report says government efforts to control emissions of reactive nitrogen from combustion sources have been more successful.
In the 1980s nitrogen controls were placed on industrial plant and vehicles, This has led to a cut in emissions of 30%, despite an increase in traffic and economic activity.
But the traffic increase has slowed progress in reducing emissions further, and people in many areas still suffer from nitrogen-related air pollution, including small particulates that get sucked deep into the lungs, and ground-level ozone - a strongly irritant gas formed by the action of sunlight on reactive nitrogen.
The authors note that industries have typically resisted controls on nitrogen, but that the benefits of reducing its emissions far outweigh the costs.
Dr Sutton said: "This report is the first time anyone has brought together the whole suite of environmental and human health issues from nitrogen on a Continental scale.
"There have been and still are many attempts to control nitrogen but we believe the big challenge is to link existing policy areas and make them work together."
Back to Menu
AFP: Study reveals cost of nitrogen pollution
10th April 2011
Nitrogen pollution costs Europe between 70 and 320 billion euros ($100bn-$460bn) per year in its impact on health and the environment, according to a major European study launched in Britain on Monday.
The first European Nitrogen Assessment, the result of a five-year research programme, found that the costs represented more than double the benefits for the continent's agriculture sector.
The ENA was to be launched Monday at a five-day international conference in Edinburgh.
The study was carried out by 200 experts from 21 countries and 89 organisations, who came up with recommendations on how to reduce the amount of nitrogen in water, the air, the earth and ecosystems.
The invention of synthethic fertiliser in the early 20th century revolutionised agriculture, multiplying yields and improving quality.
However, the amount of nitrogen in the environment has doubled on the world level, and tripled in Europe.
ENA coordinator Mark Sutton said: "More than half the world's population relies on synthetic nitrogen fertiliser for food production, but measures are necessary to reduce the impact of nitrogen pollution.
"The solutions include more efficient usage of mineral and organic fertiliser (manure, liquid manure and compost) and eating habits aimed at more moderate meat consumption.
"We have the know-how to reduce nitrogen pollution, but we must start applying these solutions at the European level in an integrated way."
The event in the Scottish capital will bring together scientists and policy makers to launch the ENA and discuss the latest scientific progress on nitrogen.
Back to Menu
BBC News (UK): Carbon emissions linked to Europe's hay fever rise
9th April 2011
Carbon dioxide emissions may be raising pollen counts in European cities, according to a continent-wide study.
Researchers from 13 EU nations analysed pollen levels for more than 20 species of tree and plant.
They found that many, including several that cause allergies such as hay fever, correlated with rising CO2 levels.
Presenting their study at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) annual meeting, scientists said city planners might need to review which trees they plant.
Hay fever and other allergies appear to be rising across Europe.
In the UK, GP diagnoses of allergic rhinitis, which includes hay fever, rose by a third between 2001 and 2005.
It has been suggested that higher temperatures might be causing plants to produce more pollen.
But by comparing pollen counts during relatively hotter and relatively cooler years, this latest study found temperature was not the cause.
Annette Menzel from the Technical University of Munich said other possible factors were eliminated as well.
"We thought the increase in the amount of pollen could be related to land use changes, but we don't observe this," she told BBC News.
"We tried to link it to temperature, but that's not possible.
"So the only effect that's left would be a CO2 effect; and we know from experiments in the real world and in climate chambers that CO2 does promote the amount of pollen [that trees produce]."
“The season of suffering for people with hay fever is getting more serious”
End Quote Annette Menzel Technical University of Munich
Data in the study came from pollen monitoring stations in the 13 nations, supplemented by tree cover information from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and weather data.
Not all the 25 species studied show the same trend - pollen counts from some have actually gone down.
But 60% of species have seen an increase in pollen production across the decades of the study period, including nine species known to produce allergenic pollen.
There were also differences between trends in different countries, with pollen counts falling in a few.
Perhaps the most intriguing finding was that pollen counts have generally increased with CO2 inside cities, but not outside.
The researchers suggest this could be down to the longer lifetime of ozone molecules outside urban areas.
Pollen causes inflammation of the air passages by stimulating the immune system
The gas is known to disrupt plant growth.
Although more research remains to be done, Professor Menzel's team suggests further rises in pollen counts probably lie ahead, given that CO2 concentrations are rising.
The increasing length of pollen seasons in Europe is linked to the introduction of plants and trees from other continents, in addition to any impact of CO2.
"In Germany, it is now only in November that we do not see allergenic pollen - so the season of suffering for people with hay fever is getting more serious," she said.
"On a local scale, planners should be more aware of what sort of problems may arise from the urban trees they're planting.
"Often they use birch trees, for example, because of their nice silver colour, not aware that they leave allergenic problems behind."
Many of the researchers on this project are involved in wider efforts to plot climate impacts on the timing of natural events such as plant flowering, egg laying and bird migration across Europe - the field of phenology.
The hay fever research presented at EGU will shortly be written up for formal scientific publication.
Back to Menu
AP: Democrats claim EPA rules win in budget showdown
8th April 2011
Senate Democrats briefed on a potential budget deal say that Republicans have agreed to drop House-passed provisions to block the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing new rules on global warming or enforcing several other environmental regulations.
New York Democrat Charles Schumer said that during White House talks Thursday night, Republicans agreed that no controversial EPA-related policy restrictions would be included in any final budget measure.
Such policy issues dropped from the measure include a ban on new greenhouse gas restrictions on power plants and oil refineries, cleanup plans for the Chesapeake Bay and lakes in Florida, and blocking the agency from revoking permits for mountaintop mine sites that pollute rural waters.
The underlying legislation would fund the government through Oct. 1. A potential government shutdown looms at midnight.
Back to Menu
AFP: Surging food prices fuel ethanol critics
10th April 2011
A surge in global food prices has prompted fresh criticism of US subsidies for ethanol, which diverts massive amounts of corn from global food supplies for energy.
Producers of ethanol argue that the biofuel helps blunt the impact of high imported petroleum prices, but critics say the US policy giving tax breaks for ethanol used in motor fuel ends up being bad for food, energy and the environment.
The issue has created unusual political alliances, with environmental groups and some lawmakers from both parties clashing with farm interests and legislators from the corn-producing midwest states.
Senators Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma, and Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, introduced a measure last month to scrap the tax credit of 45 cents per gallon for ethanol in gasoline.
"The ethanol tax credit is bad economic policy, bad energy policy and bad environmental policy. The $6 billion we waste every year on corporate welfare should instead stay in taxpayers' pockets where it can be used to spur innovation, stimulate growth and create jobs," said Coburn.
The lawmakers cited a Government Accountability Office report describing the tax credit as "largely unneeded today to ensure demand for domestic ethanol production."
C. Ford Runge, a University of Minnesota professor of applied economics and law, argues that ethanol from crops has many "hidden costs" that should dissuade the government from subsidies.
Runge, who raised concerns about ethanol policy as early as 2007, says his research suggests some 30 percent of food price increases come from diversion of US corn for ethanol.
"If you're taking 40 percent of the US corn crop, the largest of any country on earth, and putting it to one use... you don't have to have a Ph.D in economics to know that's going to put upward pressure on prices," he told AFP.
In an essay written for Yale University's Environment 360 online magazine, Runge cites "strong evidence that growing corn, soybeans, and other food crops to produce ethanol takes a heavy toll on the environment and is hurting the world's poor through higher food prices."
The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization has warned that rising food prices are driving unrest around the world, including recent uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa.
Runge said high food prices -- including corn at record highs -- are a factor in the unrest, saying "these countries have been subjected to the pressures in their household costs," adding to the political pressures.
Economist Ed Yardeni at Yardeni Research said diversion of crops to fuel is important because the US provides more than half of global corn exports and over 40 percent of soybean exports.
"So our ethanol policy is exacerbating the global food fight, destabilizing the Middle East... Is that insane, or what?"," Yardeni said.
Yet ethanol has its staunch defenders including Senator Tom Harkin the corn-belt state of Iowa, who told a recent hearing that ethanol "has dramatically reduced our need for oil."
Harkin said the focus on ethanol diverts attention from the oil industry's "very lucrative and unnecessary subsidies."
Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association, said ethanol is important for the goal of energy security, and he dismisses its impact on food prices, saying refiners use only the starch component of feed corn, and produce animal feed as a byproduct.
"Ethanol is the only thing we have today to moderate skyrocketing prices of gasoline and crude oil," Dinneen told AFP.
"If the chaos in the Middle East teaches us anything, it should be that America must forcefully begin down the path of energy self-reliance. Increasing the use of domestic renewable fuels like ethanol is the first, and arguably, the easiest step we can take," he said at a congressional hearing.
US President Barack Obama said in a March 30 speech on energy policy that ethanol should be part of the US energy future as part of an expanded effort for biofuels.
He said there is "tremendous promise" in renewable biofuels, "not just ethanol, but biofuels made from things like switchgrass, wood chips, and biomass."
A White House official said that "corn ethanol is already making a significant contribution to reducing our oil dependence. But going much further will require commercialization of advanced biofuels technologies."
Dinneen argued the US will need a variety of biofuels, but added "the existing ethanol industry is providing the foundation on which those other biofuels will be able to grow."
Back to Menu
The Independent (UK): Britain's taste for cheap food that's killing Brazil's 'other wilderness'
11th April 2011
While rainforest destruction grips our attention, one of the world's great habitats is under An "upside-down forest" of small trees with deep roots, Brazil's wildlife-rich outback is home to a 20th of the world's species, including the spectacular blue and yellow macaw and giant armadillos.
Yet this vast wilderness – as big the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain put together – is being rapidly lost to feed the heavily carnivorous appetites of Britons and others.
What was, only a generation ago, an almost unbroken two million square kilometre mass of trees and bushes in central Brazil is now covered with fields of soy beans, waiting to be fed to pigs and chickens in Europe and China. Such has been the pace of conversion to agriculture that more than 50 per cent of the Cerrado has already been lost, threatening the future of some of the region's most charismatic animals.
WWF, the wildlife group, now hopes that shoppers in Britain and elsewhere will urge retailers to preserve the Cerrado as robustly as the Amazon rainforest, Brazil's most famous region, where deforestation has dramatically slowed as a result of international pressure.
So far only half of Britain's supermarkets have joined a responsible trading scheme which has been launched to halt the loss of land, wildlife and the region's role as a carbon sink. Britain's Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, who visited Brazil last week, now wants them to help by sourcing soy responsibly. Unless farmers and retailers around the world start putting tougher limits on the growth of soy farming, there appears to be little hope for Brazil's semi-humid interior.
Little known outside Latin America, the Cerrado stretches from central Brazil westwards and northwards to the edge of the Amazon, covering 23 per cent of the country. Agronomists discovered 30 years ago that its poor orange soil could be transformed into cash crops.
After decades of conversion to cattle farming and agriculture, overwhelmingly soy, but also corn and coffee, only 20 per cent of pristine Cerrado remains, much fragmented between farmland.
While acknowledging the case for economic development in a country with a GDP per capita of $10,900 (£6,630) last year, WWF Brazil wants development to take place in an orderly way, with much more land set aside for nature than the 3 per cent effectively protected at present.
Inside the country, WWF is stressing the region's role as the supplier of drinking water for the capital Brasilia. Michael Becker, leader of WWF Brazil's Cerrado programme, said: "The Cerrado is very important for Brazil because it is the water basket; many Brazilian rivers begin in the Cerrado. The Cerrado also has lots of carbon... there is a lot of carbon in the deep roots of the trees."
Environmentalists describe the region as an "upside-down forest"because of the roots, which are twice the length of the above-ground growth of the trees.
Among the trees are 5 per cent of the world's animal species and more than 30 per cent of Brazil's, including the giant anteater and armadillo, the maned wolf, pampas-deer and the endangered tapir. Wildlife groups fear that soy production to meet rising global demand for meat has shifted from the Amazon rainforest to Brazil's lesser known interior.
Overall, annual deforestation of the Amazon has slowed to 0.18 per cent. The vast majority of the rainforest is still standing, 83 per per cent, and 25 per cent is officially protected. The position in the Cerrado is almost the opposite – only 20 per cent of pristine land is intact and only 8 per cent is officially protected (less than 3 per cent on government or state government land).
"Demand for soy is rising globally due to the fact that the soy is used as feed to the meat production industry, mainly in China but also in Europe," Mr Becker said. "There has been a shift in the production. The Amazon is much more protected but the demand for soy is still rising, so the demand has been going to other parts of Brazil. The Cerrado is very suitable for production and therefore the expansion has occurred there."
After her visit last week, Ms Spelman said: "The Cerrado is globally important in terms of biodiversity and storing the world's carbon dioxide, but it doesn't receive the same attention from the international community. Because of that, people are not aware of the uncertain future it faces."
WWF wants consumers to demand that British supermarkets and farmers buy soy only from a scheme, the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS), which limits deforestation and the use of agrichemicals.
Although nearly two thirds of the 858,000 tons of soy beans imported into the UK come from Brazil, only four UK supermarkets have joined the RTRS so far: M&S, Waitrose, Asda and Sainsbury's. Some of the biggest players are absent such as Tesco, responsible for more than 30 per cent of Britain's £100bn-a-year grocery market.
WWF is hoping that consumers in Europe – which imports around 30 per cent of Brazil's soy – will eat less meat to reduce environmental damage and pressure the all-powerful supermarket giants to back the RTRS. In the long run they hope to enlist backing for the scheme from China, which imports 60 per cent of Brazil's soy and where meat consumption per capita has trebled in 30 years to move within striking distance of higher European levels.
Global pressure has already helped save the Amazon from encroachment. Faced with global outrage five years ago, the world's top soybean producers, including US commodities giants Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland and Bunge, and France's Dreyfus and Brazil's Amaggi, agreed to stop cutting down the Amazon to plant soy.
Partly as a result of the soy moratorium and stricter management by Brazil, the rate of deforestation in the Amazon slowed to 6,451 sq km in the year to July 2010, 14 per cent down on the previous year and well below rates of 27,772 sq km recorded in 2004. By contrast, in the Cerrado in 2009, 7,637 sq km a year was lost, more than in the Amazon, in an area half the size.
The loss is not only putting at risk animals, plants and the fight against climate change, but also affecting people who have lived off the land in isolated settlements for hundreds of years. Some of them make a living from harvesting and making jams and sweets from the fruits and from gathering plants used by Western medical companies to treat ailments such as high blood pressure.
Jose Correia Quintal, head of the Coop Sertao Veredas, who was born in the Cerrado 52 years ago, said: "Development is important – we are not against development – but we understand that the development must be balanced.
"[Development] is bringing money and profits. But at the same time agrichemicals are affecting people's health and contaminating the rivers. The Cerrado biodiversity is very important, because each plant, each fruit, has a use for medicine or for food. Our concern is that many species are disappearing – animals and vegetable species – and we rely on those species to survive."
The Cerrado by numbers
2,036,448 sq km in size – about half as large as the Amazon rainforest
23 per cent is the proportion of Brazil it covers
5 per cent of the world's plant and animal species are found there
80 per cent is the amount of pristine natural habitat lost so far
14,200 sq km a year was the rate of deforestation between 2000 and 2008
Back to Menu
AP: Judge blocks deal on protections for wolves
10th April 2011-04-11
A federal judge has blocked a proposal to lift the endangered species protections for wolves in Montana and Idaho that had been hammered out by U.S. wildlife officials and conservation groups.
The plan could have led to public hunting of some 1,300 wolves in the two states.
In the 24-page decision, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula, Mont., cited the court's lack of authority to put part of an endangered species population under state management and expose that population to hunting, noting "Congress has clearly determined that animals on the ESA (Endangered Species Act) must be protected as such," and the court couldn't "exercise its discretion to allow what Congress forbids."
He also said he couldn't approve the settlement proposed in March because not all the parties involved in the case agreed with it. Part of the argument for the settlement was that it could end litigation, but Molloy noted that was unlikely given the opposition by some to the proposed settlement.
The court decision came on the same day as Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and Idaho Republican Rep. Mike Simpson announced wolves in Montana and Idaho would be taken off the endangered list under the budget bill pending before Congress.
One of the reasons the 10 conservation groups entered into the settlement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was because of growing political pressure and potential Congressional action to reduce wolf numbers in Montana and other states due a gradual increase of wolf attacks on livestock and some big-game herds suffering declines. The groups hoped a favorable court decision would provide greater protection for wolves than lawmakers might provide.
So the groups not only lost in court on Saturday, their fears concerning lawmakers removing federal protections for wolves also became more real.
"The congressional threat was very much on people's minds when we negotiated the settlement," said Andrew Wetzler of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "In light of the court ruling, it's going to make it more difficult to derail the rider that may well be attached to the budget deal that will provide much fewer protections for wolves than the settlement would have."
The proposed settlement effectively asked Molloy to reverse his previous rulings on the matter. Last August he faulted the Fish and Wildlife Service for a 2009 decision that took wolves off the endangered list in Montana and Idaho but not neighboring Wyoming. He said decisions on the Endangered Species Act should be based on science and not on political boundaries, such as state lines.
The federal government appealed that decision, leading to the proposed settlement agreement that has now been rejected.
"I can't blame Molloy for the ruling," said Kieran Suckling of the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the 10 conservation groups favoring the settlement. "It's a very tortuous situation. We entered into a settlement agreement we didn't love but thought it was the lesser of two evils."
The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, one of the four plaintiffs in the lawsuit that did not agree to the settlement, said Molloy's rulings have consistently followed federal law, and his rejection of the settlement followed those same principles. Just because some of the plaintiffs agreed to the settlement doesn't make the deal any more legal, said Michael Garrity, the group's executive director.
"We think the fastest way to remove (wolves) is for everybody to work together so they can be legally removed from the endangered species list," Garrity said.
Suckling said the center wouldn't appeal Molloy's decision, but planned to work to stop the wolf rider on the in the budget bill pending before Congress. Wetzler said his group would do the same, but was reserved about the possibility of success.
"Idaho and Montana have long maintained that they can responsibly manage wolf populations," he said. "They may get the chance to prove that. And we'll be watching."
Garrity called the rider "bad news for wolves."
"We don't think congress should gerrymander the Endangered Species Act," he said.
An official with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press on Saturday.
Back to Menu
The Telegraph (UK): Penguin chicks suffering from mystery disorder that leaves them bald
9th April 2011
Penguin chicks are suffering from a mystery condition that is causing them to lose their feathers and has left scientists baffled.
Researchers have been left puzzled by the appearance of "naked" penguins on both sides of the South Atlantic.
The condition, which is known as feather-loss disorder, has been found to afflict penguin chicks in colonies in both South Africa and on the coast of Argentina.
Dee Boersma, from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) who is working with researchers in South Africa, Argentina and scientists at the University of Washington to study the condition, said there were fears the condition was spreading to different species.
Naked penguin chicks were first spotted appearing in African black-footed penguin chicks and later in several colonies of Magellanic penguins in Argentina.
Chicks suffering from the disorder were found to take longer to grow while in Argentina chicks that had lost their feathers also tended to stay out longer in the midday sun than those with feathers, which sought out shade.
Scientists fear the condition can leave chicks vulnerable to the elements and may increase death rates.
"Feather-loss disorders are uncommon in most bird species, and we need to conduct further study to determine the cause of the disorder and if this is in fact spreading to other penguin species," said Dr Boersma.
"We need to learn how to stop the spread of feather-loss disorder, as penguins already have problems with oil pollution and climate variation.
"It's important to keep disease from being added to the list of threats they face."
The disorder was first spotted in penguins at a rehabilitation centre in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2006. During that year 59 per cent of the penguin chicks at the facility lost their feathers and 97 per cent the following year.
The chicks eventually grow new feathers, but both in South Africa and Argentina, they grow more slowly than feathered chicks.
The extra energy needed by the featherless chicks to stay warm is thought to be responsible for leaving them smaller in size and weight than feathered chicks.
This could also leave them more vulnerable to the elements and disease.
Researchers say the feather-loss disorder may be caused by pathogens, a thyroid disorder, nutrient imbalances, or genetics.
"The recent emergence of feather-loss disorder in wild bird populations suggests that the disorder is something new," said Mariana Varese, Acting Director of WCS's Latin America and Caribbean Program.
"More study of this malady can help identify the root cause, which in turn will help illuminate possible solutions."
Back to Menu
The Telegraph (UK): RSPB: Mild weather brings first eggs for peregrines and goshawks
9th April 2011