Bookmark and Share
Center for Biological Diversity

No. 806, Dec. 24, 2015

Donate Now Take Action Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram

A Center Interview With The New Yorker's Tom Toro

Cartoon by Tom ToroAs one of the only environmental organizations tackling human population growth and overconsumption, we at the Center for Biological Diversity know it takes a bit of creativity to draw attention to these often-ignored issues. Luckily we have Tom Toro on our side -- a cartoonist for The New Yorker with more than 140 cartoons published by the magazine since 2010. Tom recently drew a cartoon for the Center and talked with us about his lifelong connection to the environment, what it's like being an eco-conscious new parent and how his art reaches people.

"My greatest concern is that unchecked population growth and depletion of the Earth's natural resources will lead to a desolate planet ... where all the wonder and mystery and diversity of nature has been erased and there's no place left to step off the concrete and stand in awe of all creation," said Tom. "I can't imagine a worse home for our species than one in which we live alone."

Read our interview with Tom and sign up to receive Pop X, our monthly e-newsletter on population and sustainability.

"Candidate List" for Protection Hits Historic Low Numbers

Yellow-billed cuckooSome important progress in our fight to save wildlife: The number of animals and plants on the waiting list for federal Endangered Species Act protection has dropped to its lowest ever since this "candidate list" was begun in the 1970s, according to an updated list released this week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The backlog on the list has been vastly reduced since a historical settlement secured by the Center and other groups in 2011 that created legally binding deadlines for the government to make protection decisions for hundreds of species. Under that agreement 151 birds, butterflies, frogs and other species have gained Endangered Species Act protection, and another 71 have been proposed for protection.

The "candidate list" in 2010 was 251 species, and today it's only 60. It's heartening to see so many animals and plants get the lifesaving protections they need.

Read more in our press release.

Gem-like Beetle in Florida Moves Closer to Federal Protection

Miami tiger beetleIn response to a petition from the Center and partners, the Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to protect the Miami tiger beetle -- found only in the pine rocklands of South Florida -- under the Endangered Species Act. We petitioned to protect this species in December 2014 after learning that it's imminently threatened by a planned strip mall featuring a Walmart and a proposed theme park.

"Watching the Miami tiger beetle forage -- with its shiny, iridescent body and lightning-quick legs -- is mesmerizing," said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center. "Endangered Species Act protection will help ensure that the beetle's rare pine rockland hunting grounds remain intact in the face of ever-pressing development."

South Florida's pine rocklands are some of the most imperiled habitats in the world and harbor several other endangered species, including the Florida bonneted bat and Bartram's scrub-hairstreak butterfly -- which will also benefit if the Miami tiger beetle is protected.

Read more in The Miami Herald. And if you'll be in Miami in January, please join us at a public hearing to speak out in favor of protecting this unique invertebrate.

Become a Monthly Sustainer

Long Beach Runs Out of Time on Offshore Fracking Permits

Sea otterWe celebrated news this week that the city of Long Beach has run out of time to use 13 permits issued by state oil officials for offshore fracking in California waters.

California's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources issued the permits in June, just weeks after the devastating Refugio oil spill near Santa Barbara. Long Beach had planned to use two chemicals identified by the California Council on Science and Technology as among the most toxic substances on Earth to aquatic life. The permits are expiring next week, though, and there isn't enough time to conduct legally required reviews to make them active, according to a letter the Center sent to the city.

"It's a huge relief that these offshore fracking permits won't be used, and a major victory for California's coastal environment," said the Center's Kristen Monsell. "This toxic technique has no place in our ocean. Every offshore frack puts coastal communities and sea otters and other marine wildlife at risk from dangerous chemicals or another devastating oil spill."

Read more in the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

Get Neurotoxins Out of Our Food -- Take Action

WatermelonsThe Environmental Protection Agency is on the verge of renewing one of the most dangerous classes of pesticides for use on the food we eat -- including many types of fruits, vegetables and grains, ranging from watermelons and snap beans to tomatoes, cucumbers and grapes.

Organophosphates have been used as nerve agents in chemical warfare and have been linked to Gulf War syndrome, which causes fatigue and chronic headaches, as well as skin and breathing disorders. Due to their developing nervous systems, children are extremely vulnerable to the dangers posed by these chemicals.

A recent study at the University of California, Berkeley, found that an astonishing 87 percent of umbilical cord blood samples taken after birth had detectable levels of an organophosphate. And early exposure has been tied to cognitive delay and ADHD in kids. If we don't speak up, these pesticides could get renewed for another 15 years.

Act now to tell the EPA to ban the use of all organophosphates -- and prevent these chemicals from contaminating our natural world.

Congress Passes Ban on Plastic Microbeads in Beauty Products

Plastic microbeadsOn Friday the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a bill phasing out the manufacture of beauty products with plastic microbeads by July 1, 2017, and the sale of such products by July 1, 2018. The Microbead Free Waters Act bans all plastic microbeads in beauty products, including those made from so-called "biodegradable plastics," the majority of which do not biodegrade in marine environments.

The law will prevent 1.4 trillion plastic microbeads from entering U.S. waterways each year. Plastic microbeads -- designed to be washed down the drain and too small to be reliably captured by wastewater treatment facilities -- pollute lakes, rivers and oceans. They concentrate toxins like pesticides and flame retardants on their surface, which may then transfer to the tissue of fish that ingest them.

"Our oceans have been choking on these tiny plastic microbeads for way too long. This is a huge and important step toward protecting fish, birds and other ocean wildlife hurt by plastic pollution," said Miyoko Sakashita, the Center's oceans program director.

Get more from Bloomberg.

Suit Filed to Safeguard Coastal Marten

MartenThe Center and partners have sued to help grant crucial protections to one of the Pacific Northwest's most endangered old-growth animals: the coastal marten, a bushy-tailed carnivore related to minks and otters, gravely imperiled by logging, fire, climate change, rodenticides and more. About 2 feet long -- with large, triangular ears and a long tail -- coastal martens (sometimes known as Humboldt martens) are known for their slinky movements and sly hunting skills.

This secretive mammal's range once extended from California's Sonoma County through Oregon's coastal mountains; now it inhabits Oregon in small, unknown numbers, and fewer than 100 individuals live in California. Still, after a 2010 petition, the Fish and Wildlife Service decided not to protect it under the Endangered Species Act. The Center and our petition partners at the Environmental Protection Information Center (represented by Earthjustice) sued over that move last Wednesday.

Said the Center's Tierra Curry, lead petition author, "The Service ignored its own scientists in making the political decision to betray the marten."

Read more in The Eureka Times-Standard.

Take Action

Holiday Hookup? 40,000 Free Endangered Species Condoms Given Away

Endangered Species CondomsWith the holiday season being the busiest time of year for baby-making, the Center is distributing 40,000 free Endangered Species Condoms to encourage people to talk about the effects of runaway human population growth on wildlife. Five hundred volunteers will be giving away condoms across the country at parties and in stockings to invite endangered species into the festivities.

"As the human population grows, we're crowding wildlife into extinction, and if we don't start addressing this soon it will be too late," said Leigh Moyer, the Center's population organizer. "Polar bears, sea otters and other wildlife will thank you for making their future a part of your holiday celebrations."

The Center will also be sharing quick and easy steps individuals can take to reduce their environmental footprint at home, like turning down the heat and bundling up or trading holiday lights for greener decorations. Tips will be posted on social media, hashtag #InviteWildlife. Learn more about Endangered Species Condoms.

Help Ban Fracking in Our National Parks -- Take Action

Grand TetonsOil and gas drilling in national parks? It's not right. Your voice is needed today to ban destructive fracking in national parks across the country. Right now at least 42 national park units are being drilled for oil and gas or are at risk for future extraction, including via fracking. They include treasures like Florida's Big Cypress National Preserve (where rare panthers find refuge from encroaching urbanization), Everglades National Park in Florida, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Utah, the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado and Utah, Aztec Ruins National Monument in New Mexico, Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas and many more.

The National Park Service is updating the rules governing oil and gas extraction in our national park units for fossil fuels that are not owned by the federal government. These 30-year-old rules are completely outdated and must be changed, especially in light of the current fracking boom.

Please take a moment to tell the National Park Service that fracking has no place in our national parks. They need to hear from you by Dec. 28.

Study: Greenland Ice Melt Has Doubled in Speed

Greenland iceA new study by a team of scientists in Canada and northern Europe, published last Wednesday in Nature, shows that Greenland's ice sheet melted twice as fast between 2003 and 2010 as it did between 1900 and 1983. The study is the first look at Greenland ice loss in the 20th century to be based on observations rather than models.

Greenland's ice-sheet melt has been measured using satellites since 1992, but there wasn't any direct data on how much ice had melted before that, the researchers said. The new study estimates that from 2003 to 2010, Greenland dumped 186 billion metric tons of meltwater a year into the world's oceans -- more than twice the annual rate between 1900 and 1983, which averaged 75 billion metric tons.

Previous estimates have suggested that if all Greenland's ice melted -- which might take thousands of years -- it could raise global sea levels by more than 20 feet.

Read more at CBC News.

Wild & Weird: Our Top 5 Favorite Animal Videos of 2015

Yosemite bear cubs The influence of the internet on social life on Earth is panoptic. It's the way many humans connect, learn, shop and work. Most importantly, though, it's the way many humans share cute animal videos.

Here are the Center's five favorite videos, vines and animated GIFs featuring wildlife in 2015:

- Bear cubs wrestling at Yosemite National Park

- A 4-pound, 5-week-old polar bear cub born in November

- A spotted skunk performing an adorable handstand to ward off aggressors

- A chimpanzee whacking a drone out of the air at the Royal Burgers' Zoo in the Netherlands

- A bald eagle named Uncle Sam with Donald Trump

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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

Photo credits: Cartoon by Tom Toro, created for the Center for Biological Diversity; yellow-billed cuckoo courtesy Flickr/nebirdsplus; Miami tiger beetle by Jonathan Mays, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; wolves by John Pitcher; sea otter by Ron Eby, USFWS; watermelons courtesy Flickr/Ahmad; plastic microbeads courtesy Flickr/MPCA Photos; marten courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; brown bear (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; Endangered Species Condoms art by Shawn DiCriscio and design by Lori Lieber; Grand Tetons courtesy Flickr/Don Graham; Greenland ice courtesy Flickr/Greenland Travel; Yosemite bear cubs courtesy Department of the Interior.

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