Endangered Earth - Online, No. 396 - Barberries, Uranium, King Penguins and the Anthropocene
Center for Biological Diversity




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Endangered Species, Global Warming, and Water Wars: A Radio Conversation With Kieran Suckling

Hear a conversation with Center for Biological Diversity executive director Kieran Suckling about the growing problem of water shortages and how they affect endangered species and interstate water politics. The nationally syndicated radio show "Justice Talking" ran this interview on February 11.

Critical Habitat Slashed for Rare Southern California Endangered Plant

On February 13 the Bush administration cut the protected critical habitat zone of the imperiled Nevin's barberry, a native California shrub. Only 3 percent of the plants occurring in Riverside County are included in the protected area, while plants occurring in Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties are completely ignored. This slashing of protection comes amid a slew of new reports indicating declines in the diversity and health of native plants; recent studies have found that at least 30 percent of native flowering plants in the United States are currently at risk of extinction.

Conservationists, NYT Challenge Grand Canyon Uranium Mining

On February 11 the Center for Biological Diversity and allies requested the Kaibab National Forest withdraw its approval of up to 39 new uranium-exploration sites just south of Grand Canyon National Park. The Forest Service approved the exploration through a "categorical exclusion," exempting the project from public review and analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act. Approval of the test sites also caught the attention of the New York Times editorial board.

"Uranium development and the Grand Canyon just don't mix," said the Center's Taylor McKinnon. "It should go without saying that drilling for radioactive materials on the banks of a national treasure is controversial." Approval for the drilling failed to consider the potential for serious environmental impacts, public controversy, and the cumulative impacts of added uranium-exploration projects in the area. Read more in the New York Times.

To read our letter of request, click here.

Bobcats and Elk Bugles: New Ringtones Available at www.rareearthtones.org

New endangered species ringtones are here! This month we've added the bald eagle, American alligator, and emperor penguin, plus a few that though not endangered, just make for an excellent wildlife ringtone. Check out the common loon and bobcat. This month's best ringtone? The humpback whale -- pitching woo like a true, jazz-inspired virtuoso. Click here to download now.

Anthropocene: Earth's New Epoch?

Have humans entered -- or rather, created -- a new geologic era? Geologists of the Stratigraphy Commission of the Geological Society of London think so and are currently considering whether to add a new epoch to the geological time scale. If so named, the Anthropocene epoch would mark the period in which humans emerged as a predominant geophysical force over the Earth's environment.

Read more in the Christian Science Monitor.

King Penguins Face Extinction Due to Global Warming, Study Suggests

A scientific study released on February 11 found that over a nine-year period of time, a small amount of ocean warming triggered by an El Nino event caused a massive decline in the King penguin's ability to survive. The scientists showed that high sea surface temperatures in the penguins' wintering range reduced the amount of available marine prey, which in turn decreased the survival of adult King penguins since they had to travel greater distances to find food. Click here to learn more about the study and what it may indicate about the potential effects of global warming on King penguins.

Longfin Smelt May Be Protected Under California Endangered Species Act

On February 7 the California Fish and Game Commission voted to designate the longfin smelt as a candidate species under California's Endangered Species Act. The action came in response to an August 2007 petition in which the Center for Biological Diversity and allies sought both state and federal protection for the rapidly declining smelt, one of several native San Francisco Bay-Delta fishes suffering from recent population collapses. As a candidate species, the longfin smelt is now protected as a threatened species while a status review is conducted.

A final listing determination for the longfin smelt is due from the state in August; the federal government, however, has failed to respond to the petition. Click here to learn more about the San Francisco Bay-Delta's longfin smelt. And read more at the San Jose Mercury News.

Like the Limelight? Wanna Be on the Web?

How do you stand up for the endangered California red-legged frog? The polar bear? Mexican gray wolf? Are you a public-lands activist taking a stand for a favorite hiking trail? In 150 words or less, inspire us. We're looking to profile individual Center supporters engaged in activism. So tell us what you do to protect the species and wild spaces in your life. And if your story catches our fancy, we may feature you on the Center's new Web site.

Email us at jjohnson@biologicaldiversity.org.

If we like it, we'll request a picture, too.

Heart-shaped slender salamander photo by Char Corkran.

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