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No. 1229, January 25, 2024
Tell the USDA: Follow the Climate Science
Leading scientists have made it clear: Climate action must include scaling back meat and dairy industries in high-consuming nations. That means people in countries like the United States need to eat more veggies and less meat.
At the world's largest climate conference, the United States signed a declaration pledging to reduce its consumption of food responsible for high greenhouse gas pollution, like beef and dairy. Yet U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack claims he hasn't heard much about meat reduction as a climate strategy. Meanwhile he's bragging about the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program, which sends billions of dollars to the biggest corporate polluters.
So let's say it loud and clear: The USDA's climate strategy must include sustainable food policies.
Wolf Win in Washington: Less Killing to Come
Responding to a second appeal by the Center and allies — and having previously, unsuccessfully directed the state wildlife agency to reduce its wolf-killing — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has directed his state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission to draft new rules on when wolves can be killed for conflicts with livestock. Nonlethal methods of deterring conflict should be prioritized.
In just over a decade, 53 state-protected wolves have been killed in Washington over actual or claimed conflicts — 75% of them by the state on behalf of the same livestock-owning family.
“Third time’s the charm,” said Center wolf expert Amaroq Weiss. “Science tells us that killing wolves doesn’t actually decrease conflict. This victory holds so much promise, not only for Washington’s wolves but for all of us who love them.”
Help the Center keep fighting for wolves in Washington (and beyond) with a gift to our Saving Life on Earth Fund.
Center Op-Ed: Why Biden Must Cut Fossil Fuels Now
Four compelling facts point to the urgent need for the United States — and therefore the Biden administration — to act right now to phase out fossil fuels, writes Center Energy Justice Director Jean Su in a new op-ed in Newsweek.
One, 2023 was the hottest year in human history. Two, that same year the United States produced more oil than any other country, ever — and plans more expansion of oil and gas production through 2050 than any other nation. Three, at December’s COP28 climate summit, the United States vowed to “continue to press for a more rapid transition away from fossil fuels” — and we need to keep our promises. Four, the planet’s dangerously near a 1.5 degree Celsius temperature rise, and to stop it emissions must peak by 2025. Fossil fuel cuts are the only path.
Suits Launched for Two Mountain Salamanders
Last week the Center warned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service we’d sue to save two beautiful little amphibians of the Appalachians: Hickory Nut Gorge green salamanders and yellow-spotted woodland salamanders. And this Wednesday, just one week later, the Service announced it will consider protecting both species under the Endangered Species Act.
The green salamanders have lived in their only home — a 14-mile-long gorge in the Blue Ridge Mountains — for 12 million years. But they could wink out of existence because of habitat loss from development and climate change: Only a few hundred are left on Earth. The same is true of yellow-spotted salamanders, who make their homes in rock outcrops targeted by mountaintop-removal coal mining — fewer than 400 remain.
Rallying for Great Salt Lake
Great Salt Lake hosts 10 million migratory birds, including white pelicans and eared grebes. Unfortunately the lake is disappearing fast, mostly because agriculture is draining Utah rivers.
The Center is demanding lawmakers act boldly to save Great Salt Lake. On Saturday we helped rally more than 1,200 people at the state Capitol, many in brine shrimp costumes or carrying bird puppets. As author, activist and Center board member Terry Tempest Williams said to the crowd:, “We will bring water back to Great Salt Lake. This is our vow. We are mobilizing our love.”
The Center is in court defending the lake, and 2024 will be packed with more action for its water and wildlife.
Show Your Support for the Gila Wilderness
The Gila Wilderness in New Mexico is one of the most valuable stretches of public land in the Southwest. Its rare riparian forests — and imperiled species — are unique, irreplaceable and deserving of protection.
Sadly, feral and unbranded cattle have roamed the wilderness for decades, destroying wildlife habitat, overgrazing native plants, and trampling streams and streambanks.
On Thursday, Feb. 1, Center lawyers will attend a public court hearing in Albuquerque to defend the U.S. Forest Service’s decision to remove cattle from the Wilderness. You’re invited to come, too — a special chance to see the Center in action and support our efforts to conserve this precious place.
Where: 460 Vermejo Courtroom, 333 Lomas Blvd NW, Albuquerque, NM, 87102
When: Feb. 1 at 8:30 a.m. (Make sure to allow time to go through security.)
Attire: Wear green to take a stand for wildlife and wild places.
We ask everyone attending to respect the decorum of the federal court by remaining quiet during the hearing. If you have questions, email the Center’s Robin Silver.
Revelator: Spotlight on African Elephants
With their big ears and stature, long tusks, and unmistakable trunks, African savanna elephants are among the planet’s most iconic species — and its largest land mammals.
Head to The Revelator to learn how they’re navigating a landscape that’s becoming increasingly developed.
And make sure you subscribe to the free weekly e-newsletter for more species and other conservation news.
That’s Wild: Cuttlefish Camo
The skin of cuttlefish — those highly intelligent octopus relatives with tentacles and an internal shell-piece — can change color with dazzling speed, in a miraculous “wave” light show, and create some of the most astonishing camouflage in the animal kingdom.
New neuroscientific research gives insight into how they accomplish this feat, using millions of chromatophores (pigmented cells) that change shape, and thereby color, through muscle contractions. The animals use a trial-and-error strategy, according to scientists in Germany and Japan, as they cycle through hues and configurations. The discovery supports the notion that cuttlefish use an as-yet-unknown form of feedback on how they appear, which lets them compare that appearance to the background they want to match, and progressively minimize the difference between the two.
Check out a video of cuttlefish doing their thing.
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Photo credits: Cow by Jahoo Clouseau via Canva; gray wolf by Arne von Brill/Flickr; Jean Su at climate rally courtesy Center for Biological Diversity, fossil fuel power plant background by Everglades Earth First!/Flickr; Hickory Nut Gorge green salamander by Todd Pierson and yellow-spotted woodland salamander by Kevin Hutcheson; Terry Tempest Williams speaking at Great Salt Lake rally by Patrick Donnelly/Center for Biological Diversity; cow in Gila Wilderness by Robin Silver/Center for Biological Diversity; African savannah elephants by Gini Cowell/Elephant Aware; cuttlefish by feathercollector via Canva.
Center for Biological Diversity
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