This Week in Environmental News
November 26, 2011
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park were "improperly removed from the endangered species list." The grizzly bear is only the second species to be placed on the list, second to the polar bear, as a direct result of climate change. The dwindling population of 600 bears in the National Park is due to the loss of white bark pine, one of the grizzly bear's main food sources. The loss of the white bark pine results from warmer winters, which allowed for the invasion of a foreign beetle. The Pine Beetle has damaged at least 40% of the white bark pine trees in the National Park, threatening the continuation of the grizzly bear species.
Yale Environment 360, Court Restores Protections for Yellowstone Park's Grizzly Bears (Nov. 23, 2011), http://e360.yale.edu/digest/court_restores_protections_for_yellowstone_parks_grizzly_bears/3226/.
Carol J. Williams and Julie Cart, Court Restores Federal Protections for Yellowstone Grizzly Bears, Los Angeles Times (Nov. 22, 2011 7:22 P.M.) http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-1123-yellowstone-grizzlies-20111123,0,5352024.story.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released findings that some of the extreme weather that has been occurring globally the past few years "are consequences of human-induced climate change and can be expected to worsen in coming decades." However, this claim may be somewhat premature, according to the report. The report does indicate that the increase in temperature as a result of greenhouse gases is likely to be the cause of extreme heat waves, which can be triggers for extreme weather-related events. Rather than focusing on the gradual changes in temperatures, the report sheds light on natural disasters that seem to be occurring more and more frequently.
Justin Gillis, U.N. Panel Finds Climate Change Behind Some Extreme Weather Events, N.Y. Times (Nov. 18, 2011), available at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/19/science/earth/un-panel-finds-climate-change-behind-some-extreme-weather-events.html?ref=earth.
A Japanese tuna-boat captain designed new longline fishing gear that has resulted in a 90% reduction of accidental kills of seabirds. Injuring or killing seabirds as a result of tuna fishing has been a constant concern for environmentalists and fishermen alike, and Captain Yamazaki won $37,500 for his efforts to reduce seabird mortality. The World Wildlife Federation commended his efforts as a great success for the fishing industries and environmental industries alike.
John Roach, New Fishing Gear Sharply Reduces Seabird Mortality, MSNBC News (Nov. 17, 2011), http://futureoftech.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/22/8957698-new-fishing-gear-sharply-reduces-seabird-mortality#about_blog (last visited Nov. 25, 2011).
Press Release, Prize Winning Designs Make a Difference for Marine Life (Nov. 17, 2011), http://www.worldwildlife.org/who/media/press/2011/WWFPresitem25031.html
Droughts in Texas and Oklahoma caused the death of thousands of Christmas trees this season. Christmas tree farmers across the states worry about making enough money during the holiday season to pay the property taxes for their farmland. Texas only received 11 inches of rain this season, as opposed to the average 24 inches. Oklahoma received 18.7 inches of rain this season, whereas its average rainfall usually totals around 30 inches. Locals are referring to this season as a 500-year drought, and family farmers and businesses are hurting as a result.
Ramit Plushnick-Masti, Texas, Oklahoma Drought Kills Thousands of Christmas Trees, MSNBC News (Nov. 25, 2011), http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/25/9017465-texas-oklahoma-drought-kills-thousands-of-christmas-trees.
Leaking gas lines in Boston raised some concern this week when a scientist drove the streets tracking leaks in natural gas lines throughout the city. The scientist from Boston University met with a former gas inspector and drove a 785 mile loop around Boston and surrounding suburbs, finding 4,000 significant gas leaks. Scientist Nathan Phillips explained that these gas leaks may be causing serious damage to the city's trees. A state advocacy group is bringing suit against various utilities in the Boston area for damages to the trees, and to bring awareness to the public of the seriousness of gas leaks.
Christopher Joyce, Boston's Leaky Gas Lines may be Tough on the Trees, npr.org (Nov. 21, 2011), available at http://www.npr.org/2011/11/21/142504812/bostons-leaky-gas-lines-may-be-tough-on-the-trees.