No. 641, November 1, 2012
Frankenstorm Sandy: The Ghost of Climate Future
With global warming raising sea levels around the world and increasing the intensity of massive storms, Superstorm Sandy, which caused major damage and dozens of tragic deaths on the East Coast this week, is a mere hint of climate-related natural catastrophes to come.
The good news is that Sandy seems to be making an impact on public awareness of the need to get serious about combating the climate change juggernaut. There's widespread discussion online and in the media about the link between climate change and storms like Sandy, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is even talking about building levees around Manhattan.
"The terrifying truth is that America faces a future full of Frankenstorms," said the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Science Director Shaye Wolf. "Climate change is raising sea levels and making storms stronger. The threat to many of our coastal cities will grow by the year unless we get serious about fighting greenhouse gas pollution."
Read more about storms and climate change at ABC News.
Court Upholds Habitat Protection for California's Santa Ana Sucker
Southern California's Santa Ana sucker, a threatened fish, will keep 9,300 acres of protected critical habitat that it won back in 2010. A federal judge recently upheld those protections after a legal challenge by 12 water districts and cities. The Center for Biological Diversity, which has worked to save the small fish for more than a decade and was instrumental in getting its habitat protected under the Endangered Species Act, went to court to help the government defend that protection in this latest case.
The decision protects river and stream habitat for the sucker in San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange and Los Angeles counties.
The Santa Ana sucker is a small, olive-gray fish found in clear, cool, rocky pools of creeks, as well as gravelly bottoms of permanent streams. It has vanished from nearly 95 percent of its historic range since the 1970s.
Read more in the Los Angeles Times.
15 States Not Up to Snuff in Protecting Marine Life
Fifteen coastal states in America don't have water-quality standards tough enough to protect wildlife from the harmful effects of ocean acidification. To remedy that, the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to override those states and put lifesaving measures in place to meet federal recommendations for protecting sea life.
More than 20 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution from factories, cars and power plants fall on our oceans every day, making water more acidic and hurting the ability of shellfish, corals and other animals to build the skeletons and shells they need to survive. Ultimately, acidification threatens the ocean's entire food web, as well as people who rely on the sea for protein. It's time for states to step up: Some have rules on the books that would allow oceans to get a hundred times more acidic before any action's taken. That just doesn't cut it.
Read our press release to find out if you live in one of those 15 lax states; learn more about our petition in Scientific American.
Defeat NRA Provision That Will Kill Wildlife -- Take Action
Congress is on the verge of voting on a scary provision, pushed by the National Rifle Association, that would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from doing anything to protect wildlife from lead poisoning.
The provision, part of the cynically named "Sportsmen's Heritage Act," is aimed at halting any effort to apply the Toxics Substances Control Act to lead ammunition that poisons and kills millions of birds each year, including endangered California condors, eagles, swans and loons. The EPA should use this law to limit the amount of lead that's left in the wild for nature's scavengers to eat.
The Senate could vote as early as Nov. 13. Take a moment today to tell the Senate to nix this lethal provision. If the NRA wins, our wildlife will lose.
Join Our Polar Bear Webcasts From Hudson Bay
Are you ready to come face to face with a polar bear? Join live webcasts next Tuesday and Wednesday with Center for Biological Diversity staffers on the Hudson Bay tundra. Kassie Siegel, director of the Center's Climate Law Institute and lead author of the petition to federally protect polar bears, will take part in Tundra Connections, a series of free webcasts broadcast from Polar Bear International's Buggy One during polar bear migration season.
Join us for incredible views of prowling polar bears making their way to the winter sea ice they need to survive; then participate in fascinating discussions about climate change and Arctic wildlife. You can even ask questions in real time.
The first webcast will be just for kids on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at noon Pacific (1 p.m. Mountain, 2 p.m. Central, 3 p.m. Eastern). The second will be Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 10 a.m. Pacific (11 Mountain, noon Central, 1 p.m. Eastern).
Click to learn more.
Climate Denier James Inhofe Wins 2012 Rubber Dodo Award
More than 15,000 people cast their votes in this year's Rubber Dodo contest, and the results were crystal-clear: Senator James Inhofe, one of Congress' most fervent deniers of climate change, was the winner by a landslide. The Center for Biological Diversity gives out the award each year to those who have done the most to drive endangered species extinct.
When it comes to denying the climate crisis, Inhofe has few peers. The Oklahoma Republican is a driving force behind the tragic lack of U.S. action to tackle this global problem. 2012 saw the publication, to the sound of no hands clapping, of his magnum opus The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, by a press also known for its "birther" campaign against President Barack Obama.
"Senator Inhofe's pet theory that climate change is an elaborate hoax would be hilarious, if only he weren't an elected representative of the American people," said Kierán Suckling, the Center's executive director. "If he were, say, a performance artist, it'd be really funny. But sadly he has the power to affect U.S. climate policy. Deniers like Inhofe, in positions of leadership, are dooming future generations of people to a far more difficult world."
As Superstorm Sandy makes clear, our work to combat climate crisis denial is increasingly urgent. Read more on the Rubber Dodo Award in Climate Progress.
Call to Obama: Protect the Marbled Murrelet's Ancient Forest Home
The Center for Biological Diversity and 20 other conservation groups are urging the Obama administration to withdraw from an agreement with the timber industry that would slash safeguards for nearly 4 million acres of protected habitat for marbled murrelets and the old-growth forests they call home.
Murrelets are shy, robin-size seabirds that nest on wide branches of old-growth trees. Commercial logging of Pacific Northwest forests propelled them dangerously close to extinction and still poses the greatest threat to their survival. The agreement proposes taking away the "critical habitat" protection of 3.8 million acres of forest where murrelets nest.
"Murrelets urgently need more, not less, habitat protection," said Noah Greenwald, director of Center's endangered species program. "A backroom deal with the timber industry that strips protections for an endangered species is a clear throwback to the Bush days."
Read more in our press release and then take action by telling President Obama to reject this timber-industry deal.
New Eco-fantasy Novel for Young Readers Has Global Warming Theme
Center for Biological Diversity Staff Writer Lydia Millet, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and winner of the PEN-USA Award for Fiction, has a brand-new book out in her eco-fantasy series The Dissenters, intended for readers about 9 years old and up.
The Shimmers in the Night is the second book about a 13-year-old named Cara, who lives with her father and two brothers in a rambling house on Cape Cod in the aftermath of her marine biologist mother's disappearance. When Shimmers begins, her younger brother Jax is off at "smart kid boot camp" in Boston; he texts Cara in distress, and she and her two best friends go into action to help fight a sinister force that wants to make the planet over in its own image -- leaving no space for other animals, plants or people.
Buy the book here for your children or the other readers in your life, young or old -- it's a Junior Library Guild Selection and a great way to introduce preteens and teens to themes of global warming and ocean acidification in a way that intrigues and inspires them. When you use the link above to buy Shimmers as a gift, the Center receives 10 percent of proceeds.
You can also buy the first book in the series, The Fires Beneath the Sea, here.
Wild & Weird: Tampa's Renegade Rhesus Monkey
In a world too rapidly shifting from wilderness to concrete, a new kind of hero may be emerging -- one that, like the superheroes of yesteryear, swings from trees to billboards, from office buildings to Dumpsters; and yet, unlike the superheroes of yesteryear, does not foil bank robbers or turn time backward to save the Hoover Dam. This new mythmaker visits retired grandmothers for morning tea but by midday is baring its teeth, throwing its feces and peeing on wildlife officials.
The pink-faced, toddler-sized Tampa monkey, which has caught the attention of The New York Times and has its own Facebook page, has lived for three years on the lam in highly urbanized South Florida. Nicknamed "Cornelius," the rhesus macaque is believed to hail from a feral clan living near Florida's Silver River, 100 miles away. He's a controversial local-media star: Some fear him, while thousands of others tout him as a rebel hero and even, as one reporter said, a symbol of "good, old-fashioned American freedom."
Sadly, last week a tranquilizer dart from a veterinarian ended the outlaw's escapades -- for now. Admirers are already calling for his liberation.
Read more about Cornelius's exploits in The New York Times and about his capture in the International Business Times.
Photo credits: Hurricane Sandy courtesy Flickr/NASA Earth Observatory; Hurricane Sandy courtesy USFWS Northeast region; Santa Ana sucker by Paul Barrett, USFWS; elkhorn coral courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; California condor courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Chuck Szmurlo; polar bear courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Ansgar Walk; Sen. Inhofe official portrait; marbled murrelet by Rich MacIntosh, USGS; The Shimmers in the Night cover courtesy Big Mouth House; rhesus macaque courtesy Flickr/Yasa_.
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