Bookmark and Share
Center for Biological Diversity

No. 795, Oct. 8, 2015

Donate Now Take Action Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram

Demand Prosecution of Volkswagen's Climate Criminals

Car with smokestacksLet's call Volkswagen's cheating on smog pollution tests what it is: an appalling crime against our climate.

According to a Center for Biological Diversity analysis released this week, Volkswagen's deception allowed the greenhouse gas equivalent of at least 32.2 million tons of extra carbon pollution to be released into the atmosphere -- that's roughly the same as the emissions of 6.8 million cars. It's a sickening crime.

We need your help in calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to make sure those who perpetrated this crime against the environment are fully prosecuted and punished. And by our calculations, the financial penalties for Volkswagen's environmental violations in the United States ought to be at least $25.1 billion -- not the $18 billion that's been discussed so far.

Read more in our press release and then take action today by telling U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to make Volkswagen's punishment fit the crime -- and help ensure other car companies know they can't likewise cheat future generations out of a livable climate.

Southeast Snake, Fern Get Protection; Mussel Moves Closer

Black pine snakeWelcome relief for three beleaguered Southeast species: In response to the Center's 757 species agreement, a snake and a fern were protected Monday, while a mussel was proposed for protection. Mississippi's black pine snake was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act; the Florida bristle fern was listed as endangered.

Black pine snakes, which depend on the Southeast's disappearing longleaf pine forests, have been waiting for protection since 1982. Florida bristle ferns have no roots and grow in moist, shady areas of exposed limestone; already driven to rarity by development-related habitat destruction, the species is also at risk from sea-level rise.

The Suwannee moccasinshell, a freshwater mussel now remaining only in Florida, is threatened by groundwater pumping and pollution and was believed extinct until its recent rediscovery. A final decision on its protection is due in 12 months.

So far 151 species have been protected under our 757 settlement, and 65 have been proposed for protection.

Read more in our press releases.

Help These Rare Animals Win Lifesaving Protections -- Take Action

Wood turtleGreat news for some of America's most endangered species: After a 2012 Center petition, the Fish and Wildlife Service is now reviewing whether 17 rare species -- mostly amphibians and reptiles, plus two birds and a fish -- will get federal protections.

Thank you to all who helped support our petition. Now it's time to secure those protections for good.

All 17 species play key roles in maintaining their ecosystems' health, but they also deserve protection for their own sake, from the shy Shasta salamander -- whose webbed toes help it climb sheer, slippery rocks -- to the social tricolored blackbird, which may be part of a flock of tens of thousands of birds (though few flocks remain).

Act now to urge the Service to move quickly to protect these rare and incredible creatures before it's too late.

Become a Monthly Sustainer

100 Colleges Spending Week Focused on Food, Sex, Sustainability

Mountain lionStudents at more than 100 college campuses are spending this week focused on making campus life more sustainable, including hosting meat-free events; urging restaurants to provide discounts for Earth-friendly vegetarian meals; and distributing our Endangered Species Condoms in dining halls, dorms, classrooms and student centers. They're helping other young people make the connection between meat consumption, reproductive health and the future of the planet.

The programs are part of the Center's first-ever "Wildlife Week," a partnership with students across the country, from Rutgers University to the University of California-Davis.

"Wildlife Week empowers students to change the way they think about food and sex with an eye toward a healthy, sustainable planet," said the Center's Jennifer Molidor. "Producing meat is one of the most destructive things we do to our planet. A truly sustainable, Earth-friendly diet means reconsidering our impact on wildlife."

Read more in our press release.

Study: 200 Frog Species Recently Extinct, Hundreds More at Risk

Mountain yellow-legged frogGrim news for amphibians in a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Australian researcher John Alroy has examined extinction rates in reptiles and amphibians and found that more than 3 percent of all frog species -- at least 200 -- have disappeared, mostly since the 1970s. Hundreds more are likely on their way out.

Alroy's estimates, which he views as extremely conservative, suggest extinction rates for amphibians and reptiles are about 10,000 times greater than the long-term background average. Alroy says "the data suggest that a runaway train of extinction is now likely to produce what would be seen as a global mass extinction."

The paper explains that no single agent is pushing amphibians and reptiles toward extinction on a global scale. Instead, a variety of threats are at play, including habitat destruction, invasive species and the chytrid fungus epidemic, which has caused a substantial extinction pulse in Central America.

Read more about the study in The Washington Post and in our press release.

Survey Reveals Political Meddling in Federal Wildlife Decisions

WolverineThe Union of Concerned Scientists just released a survey finding that 74 percent of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists say consideration of political interest is too high a priority at the agency. Sadly this comes as no surprise: We've seen scores of politically driven decisions by the Service in recent years to deny or weaken protection for endangered species, including the greater sage grouse, wolverine and gray wolf.

The survey also found that scientists at the Service were more likely than their counterparts at other agencies (the Centers for Disease Control, Food and Drug Administration, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to feel that political interest carried too much weight in agency decisions.

"The Endangered Species Act is clear that decisions about how best to protect wildlife on the verge of extinction must be based solely on the best available science," the Center's Noah Greenwald wrote in The Huffington Post this week. "And yet, time and again, political and economic interests worm their way in, to the detriment of our most at-risk plants and animals."

Read Noah's Huffington Post piece and check out the survey.

Take Action

Save Puerto Rico Wetlands From Trash Incinerator -- Take Action

Puerto Rican parrotsThe U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering subsidizing a massive incinerator that would burn more than 700,000 tons of trash per year and pollute Caño Tiburones -- Puerto Rico's largest wetland and one of the Caribbean's largest nature reserves. Rather than encourage recycling, composting and sustainable solutions, the USDA wants taxpayer dollars to fund this for-profit venture that would spew toxic air pollution by burning city waste.

The behemoth trash incinerator would release
dangerous chemicals, including dioxins, furans, lead and mercury, into the surrounding air, soil and water -- putting the health of local residents at further risk (the area is already in violation of Clean Air Act standards) and threatening the wetland's 21 imperiled species, including the Puerto Rican parrot, leatherback sea turtle and hawksbill sea turtle.

Act now to urge the USDA to reject federal funding for this ill-conceived project, whose "great solution" to waste management is burning toxic trash.

Wild & Weird: Glow-in-the-dark Sea Turtle Discovered -- Watch Video

Hawksbill sea turtleScientific understanding of biofluorescence is still in its infancy. As more and more new research illuminates the "glowing" world -- especially in marine environments -- more and more questions are born. Biofluorescents were first discovered in corals and jellyfish, then in fish. Most recently, a collaborative expedition of artists and scientists discovered a biofluorescent sea turtle in the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific.

Now scientists must ask why sea turtles have biofluorescence: Might it help the turtles find each other during long migrations or attract a mate?

Watch this National Geographic video of a sea turtle glowing wildly red and green like an oceanic UFO.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

View this message in your browser and share it on social media.

Photo credits: Car with smokestacks courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; black pine snake courtesy Flickr/Louisiana Sea Grant College Program; wood turtle courtesy Flickr/Valérie Brillant-Blais; wolves by John Pitcher; mountain lion courtesy Nature's Pics Online; mountain yellow-legged frog courtesy Flickr/Eric Sonstroem; wolverine courtesy Flickr/Michiel van Nimwegen; brown bear (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; Puerto Rican parrots courtesy USDA; hawksbill sea turtle courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Ecocentrik Guy.

Donate now to support the Center's work.

The Center for Biological Diversity sends out newsletters and action alerts through Click here if you'd like to check your profile and preferences. Let us know if you'd like to stop receiving action alerts and newsletters from us.
Center for Biological Diversity
P.O. Box 710
Tucson, AZ 85702-0710