1. We’ve turned a corner on the central environmental challenge of our time
- For the first time in history, the world is united to cut the carbon pollution that’s driving climate change by moving beyond the dirty fossil fuels of the past to the cleaner, smarter energy options that can power our future without imperiling the planet.
Here's what the #ParisAgreement on world climate will do — and what it won't https://t.co/Ujgm64QXNf https://t.co/TWtg2NgUGa— Los Angeles Times (@Los Angeles Times)1450014914.0
- To do that, 195 countries—rich and poor, large and small and at every stage of development—have pledged to cut, cap or mitigate their carbon footprint.
- This sends a clear message to the world: we’re not stuck with fossil fuels that do more harm than good.
- It sends a clear message to markets: we’re moving to a low-carbon global economy where the future belongs to those who invest in ways to make our homes, cars and workplaces more efficient and to get more clean power from renewable sources like the wind and sun.
- And it sends a clear message to our children: we won’t abandon you to pay the price for reckless habits that bring havoc and ruin to our world and our lives.
2. This agreement is ambitious
- As a whole, we’ve pledged to hold down global warming to well below 2 degrees Centigrade, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels; and to work toward holding the increase to 1.5 degrees Centigrade, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit.
BREAKING: A global climate deal has been reached at #COP21! There's more work ahead, but this is a historic step! https://t.co/g8nWWNgh0p— NRDC (@NRDC)1449945073.0
- To date, average global temperatures have risen by about 1 degree Centigrade, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels, with most of the warming coming in the past 50 years.
- The science tells us we must hold total warming below 2 degrees Centigrade to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
- Even at that level, though, coastal communities and island nations would be at risk of swallowed by rising seas. That’s why it’s important we hold the line at 1.5 degrees Centigrade.
- The pledges made to date won’t get us where we need to go: at best, they’ll take us roughly halfway to the 2-degree limit.
- The agreement, though, calls on nations to assess progress every two years and come back together five years from now to build on those gains by ratcheting up their ambitions and setting more assertive goals going forward.
- That’s a formula for the continuous improvement we’ll need to get the job done.
3. This agreement is comprehensive
- It calls for real action by nearly every country in the world that account for roughly 95 percent of the dangerous carbon pollution that’s driving climate chaos.
- It provides for a climate investment fund of public and private money totaling at least $100 billion a year, starting in 2020, to help low-income countries protect themselves from the threats already backed into global climate change and to invest in the clean-energy options that can help them to fight climate change while improving the lives of their people.
- Last year the U.S. provided some $430 million in public funding specifically to assist developing countries in this way, and Sec. Kerry pledged in Paris that we’ll double that amount to at least $860 million by 2020.
[email protected] Pledges New Support to Vulnerable Countries at #COP21 https://t.co/0kNYTFJVpJ @sierraclub @StateDept https://t.co/kxgLZiOsLW— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1449673738.0
- Overall—public and private, grants and loans—U.S. investment in climate change mitigation and clean energy already tops $2.5 billion a year worldwide.
4. This agreement has teeth
- For the first time, countries must take inventory of their major sources of carbon pollution and share that information with the rest of the world. When we know where the pollution is coming from, we’ll know how to go after it.
- Countries must monitor carbon emissions, using standard measuring practices subject to expert international review, and report regularly on the progress they’re making in reducing those emissions. Knowing what’s working and what isn’t will help speed the innovation and enterprise needed to reach the goals.
- And sharing experiences and lessons learned will help all countries make progress and speed the shift to a low-carbon global economy worldwide.
5. This agreement supports the global transition to a low-carbon economy
- The coal, gas and oil that is driving global climate change accounts for roughly 80 percent of world energy use.
- That, though, is changing, as private corporations, national governments, mayors, governors and others work to recast the global economy around cleaner, smarter energy options.
The world has come together to send a clear signal- the low carbon economy is on its way #ParisAgreement: https://t.co/3cgOlaseVA— WRI Climate (@WRI Climate)1449946509.0
- An estimated $50 trillion will be invested in the global energy system over the next two decades, and much of that will go toward clean, renewable power like wind and solar and to systems to help distribute and store the electricity they produce.
- In the U.S., General Motors, Apple computers, Google, Walmart and 150 other nameplate American corporations have pledged to reduce their carbon footprint, invest in clean energy and otherwise work toward sustainable practices in a private effort to fight climate change.
- The Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup has pledged to invest a total of $325 billion—at least—in clean energy technology over the coming decade.
- The U.S., France and 17 other countries that together account for 80 percent of global research and development in clean energy technologies have promised to double that investment over the next five years.
- And Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and 25 other billionaire investors are creating a private-public initiative to help bring clean energy ideas to market.
6. Every country will do its part, through plans tailored to each nation’s circumstances
- This is the basis of all international relations.
- Where we can gather around common values and goals, we form partnerships that seek to advance the agenda we share. Then we look at the best way each of us can contribute, based on where each country is in its development arc and the resources each brings to the table.
- We agree on the principles and then map out a way forward that recognizes where each nation is in its development arc and its capacity to help.
- That’s what we do with every international partnership we’ve ever developed.
- That’s what we do with our military alliances, in Europe, Asia and around the world.
- It’s how we’ve structured our trade agreements.
- It’s how peace talks get done and global summits are held.
- And that’s what we’ve done in Paris.
- We’ve said, as a world, we have a problem. It’s a problem for all of us. We know the solution. And it’s a solution we can all help advance.
- In the U.S., we’ve promised to do our part.
- So have the Chinese. So has India. So have more than 180 other countries around the world.
- These promises have meaning, because, in the connected world we live in, credibility matters.
- And the way you build credibility on the world stage, the way countries build trust, is by following through with our commitments—doing what we say we’ll do.
- These are promises each country has made. We’ll know who keeps their promises and, if there are countries that don’t, we’ll know that too, and we’ll know why.
7. We’ll get back together again every five years, beginning in 2020, to build on the progress we’ve made
- This is about global progress, global transformation, global change.
- It’s going to play out over many decades.
- And revisiting our progress, assessing where we are and determining how best to move forward, is essential to its success.
- It’s the only way we’ll know how well we’re doing at the game, what kind of halftime adjustments must be made and how we can keep getting better.
- And here’s what we’ll have then that we don’t have now.
- We’ll have five years of action, by countries contributing, in their own way, to a common goal: cut the carbon pollution that’s driving climate change by investing in efficiency, cleaning up dirty power plants, cars and trucks, and getting more power from the wind and sun.
- We’ll have five years of experience, by countries doing their best to find out what works, to find out how to do it even better going forward through innovation, markets and enterprise, then sharing all that with the rest of the world.
- And we’ll have five years of results, real change that helps to move us away from the fossil fuels that are driving climate change and toward the cleaner, smarter energy options that can power our future without imperiling our world.
- That’s what we’ll bring to the table five years from now, when we meet to take stock of where we are and set the course for future change.
8. We’re doing what’s best for our country
- Under President Obama’s leadership, we’re cutting our carbon footprint to fight the climate change that’s threatening our future.
- This agreement ensures the rest of the world does its part.
- There’s a lot the rest of the world can learn from what we’re doing in the U.S., there’s a lot we can learn from others, and there are a lot of American jobs to be created coming and going.
- President Obama has pledged to cut carbon pollution and other U.S. greenhouse gases between 26 and 28 percent by 2025, compared to 2005 levels.
- We’re already down 10 percent, by the way, even as our economy has grown 16 percent since the base year.
- We’re doing it by cleaning up our cars, trucks and dirty power plants.
- By investing in efficiency so we can do more with less waste.
- By building the best all-electric and hybrid cars anywhere in the world.
- And by powering them with more electricity from the wind and sun.
- That’s the way of the future for our country.
- The Paris agreement makes clear, it’s the way of the future for the world.
9. No country has a more comprehensive plan to cut carbon pollution than China, and this agreement both enshrines those efforts and aligns it with the larger global movement.
- China is doing something no other country in history has done: moving hundreds of millions of people from abject poverty to the global middle class in the span of a single generation.
China hails #ParisAgreement fair in splitting duty between developed & developing countries https://t.co/9izLe3JpMg https://t.co/IqHTN3VuOo— China Xinhua News (@China Xinhua News)1450014449.0
- The economic growth that supports that transition, though, has come at a high and unsustainable cost.
- China is the world’s largest producer of carbon emissions, just one of a litany of horrendous pollution problems the people of China face.
- China has pledged to cap its carbon emissions by 2030, and is working to do so sooner if possible, even as it does something no other nation in history has ever done: move hundreds of millions of people from abject poverty to the global middle class in the span of a single generation.
- Cleaning up this carbon pollution is in China’s own interest.
- Every day during the Paris talks, we read news reports about the horrendous air pollution plaguing China’s cities. It was so bad on some days people were advised to stay inside. In Beijing, air pollution was 40 times what the World Health Organization recommends as the maximum safe levels.
- The main problem: 80 percent of China’s power is now coming from coal.
- That has to change, and the country is working hard to change it.
- Over the past five years, 40 percent of all the world’s investment in wind and solar power has been in China, which invested some $90 billion in those renewable power sources last year alone.
- By 2030, China will be producing as much electricity from the wind and the sun as the U.S. currently produces in its entire generating system.
- China is putting a price on carbon, by creating the world’s largest cap and trade system, to launch in 2017.
- In March, China will adopt its 13th five-year plan, a blueprint for the nation’s long-term social and economic development. “Green Development” is one of five overarching principles guiding the plan.
- It’s already affecting everything from the design and construction of new buildings to China’s massive investment in subways, bus systems and rapid rail transit.
- And China has pledged $3.1 billion in climate and clean energy aid to developing nations.
10. India is working to hold down the growth of its carbon footprint while improving lives in a country with a fast-growing population and rapidly expanding economy.
- India is working to hold down the growth of its carbon footprint while improving lives in a country with a fast-growing population and rapidly expanding economy.
- To do that, India has pledged to cut its carbon intensity—the amount of carbon it emits as a share of economic output—by about a third by 2030.
- That’s an ambitious goal that will have real impact.
- By 2030, India’s economy is projected to be up to seven times larger than it is today. Its carbon footprint is expected to grow by less than half that much. That’s going to prevent billions of tons of carbon pollution per year.
- How will India get there? The country has launched the Indian equivalent of an Apollo Mission to install as much wind and solar power over the next seven years as would be generated by 350 coal plants. By 2030, the country plans to get 40 percent of its power without burning fossil fuels - focusing largely on wind and solar power and energy efficiency.
- In addition, India is embarked on a historic effort to reclaim forests and other green spaces by planting billions of trees. By 2030, these trees will absorb between 2.5 billion and 3 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere every year, going a long way to offset the country’s total carbon footprint.
- India is showing how a country with a growing population and expanding economy can strike a blow against climate change while improving the lives of its people.
11. It is time for Congress to get on board with the progress we need
- The Paris agreement is a public document. Every member of Congress can read it, and we expect every member will weigh in on it. That’s how our democracy works.
- But this is the kind of international agreement presidents make all the time as part of their executive authority and in their Constitutional duty to oversee the conduct of foreign policy and represent the U.S. in its dealings with other countries.
- It’s not a formal treaty and it doesn’t commit us to any new international legal obligations.
- It doesn’t contain legally binding carbon targets.
- Each country has put forth its own voluntary proposals for ambitions carbon reductions.
- That’s good for the U.S..
- We’re going to cut our carbon footprint 26-28 percent by 2025, compared to our 2005 level, because that’s what’s good for our people at home.
- We’re already down 10 percent—even as our economy has grown 16 percent.
- So we’re making real progress.
- We hope the Congress will get on board with policies that help us to build on our success, not try to drag us backward.
12. American leadership, American interests
- The Paris agreement is a tribute to unprecedented effort and cooperation on behalf of every nation represented.
- The global stakes have demanded nothing less.
- The agreement could not have happened, though, without American leadership and, as always, our leadership abroad begins with leadership at home.
- President Obama has done more to help protect future generations from the widening dangers of climate change than any other leader at any time anywhere on the face of the planet.
- At every step of the way, he’s been opposed by Republican leaders in both houses of Congress.
- Even now, the GOP leaders in the House and Senate are doing all they can to block the centerpiece of the president’s fight against climate change, the Clean Power Plan to cut the carbon pollution from our single largest source—the dirty power plants that account for 40 percent of the U.S. carbon footprint.
- Republican leaders in Congress want to block this initiative, with no plan of their own for dealing with the central environmental challenge of our time.
- They won’t get away with it, but there’s a larger problem here.
- The refusal of congressional Republicans to join in the fight against climate change has put the majority party in both houses of Congress at odds with sound science, out of touch with the hardship already being visited upon our nation and all others by climate change and missing in action from the clean energy revolution that is remaking the global economy.
- As of Saturday, they’re at odds with the collective will of the world.
- That’s no way to conduct the people’s business.
- It’s long past time for Republican obstructionism on the climate change fight to end.
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By Sharon Buccino
This week, Secretary Haaland chose a visit to Bears Ears National Monument as her first trip as Interior Secretary. She is spending three days in Bluff, Utah, a small town just outside the monument, listening to representatives of the five tribes who first proposed its designation to President Obama in 2015. This is the same town where former Secretary Sally Jewell spent several hours at a public hearing in July 2016 before recommending the monument's designation to President Obama.
By Anthony Richardson, Chhaya Chaudhary, David Schoeman, and Mark John Costello
The tropical water at the equator is renowned for having the richest diversity of marine life on Earth, with vibrant coral reefs and large aggregations of tunas, sea turtles, manta rays and whale sharks. The number of marine species naturally tapers off as you head towards the poles.
The Bell Curve is Warping Dangerously<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNjAzODUwNi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3NzE1OTU4N30.qQL3P1IvA7Cwj_UbsrAL6MVZvafXGZc7hlAFieLPvso/img.png?width=980" id="9bbfd" width="1580" height="872" data-rm-shortcode-id="16ca57badee20ad55037706875f813f4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
If you look at each line in this chart, you can see a slight dip in total species richness between 1955 and 1974. This deepens substantially in the following decades. Anthony Richardson, Author provided<p>This global pattern — where the number of species starts lower at the poles and peaks at the equator — results in a bell-shaped gradient of species richness. We looked at distribution records for nearly 50,000 marine species collected since 1955 and found a growing dip over time in this bell shape.</p>
This Has Happened Before<p>We shouldn't be surprised global biodiversity has responded so rapidly to global warming. This has happened before, and with dramatic consequences.</p><p><strong>252 million years ago…</strong></p><p>At the end of the Permian geological period about 252 million years ago, global temperatures warmed by 10℃ over 30,000-60,000 years as a result of greenhouse gas emissions from volcano eruptions in Siberia.</p><p><a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/117/30/17578" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A 2020 study</a> of the fossils from that time shows the pronounced peak in biodiversity at the equator flattened and spread. During this mammoth rearranging of global biodiversity, 90% of all marine species were killed.</p><p><strong>125,000 years ago…</strong></p><p><a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/109/52/21378" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A 2012 study showed</a> that more recently, during the rapid warming around 125,000 years ago, there was a similar swift movement of reef corals away from the tropics, as documented in the fossil record. The result was a pattern similar to the one we describe, although there was no associated mass extinction.</p><p>Authors of the study suggested their results might foreshadow the effects of our current global warming, ominously warning there could be mass extinctions in the near future as species move into the subtropics, where they might struggle to compete and adapt.</p><p><strong>Today…</strong></p><p><a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/117/23/12891" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">During the last ice age</a>, which ended around 15,000 years ago, the richness of forams (a type of hard-shelled, single-celled plankton) peaked at the equator and has been dropping there ever since. This is significant as plankton is a keystone species in the foodweb.</p><p>Our study shows that decline has accelerated in recent decades due to human-driven climate change.</p>
The Profound Implications<p>Losing species in tropical ecosystems means ecological resilience to environmental changes is reduced, potentially compromising ecosystem persistence.</p><p>In subtropical ecosystems, species richness is increasing. This means there'll be species invaders, novel predator-prey interactions, and new competitive relationships. For example, <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-09-13/sydney-growing-own-coral-reef-with-help-from-tropical-fish/11466192" target="_blank">tropical fish</a> moving into Sydney Harbour compete with temperate species for food and habitat.</p><p>This could result in ecosystem collapse — as was seen at the boundary between the Permian and Triassic periods — in which species go extinct and ecosystem services (such as food supplies) are permanently altered.</p><p>The changes we describe will also have profound implications for human livelihoods. For example, many tropical island nations depend on the revenue from tuna fishing fleets through the selling of licenses in their territorial waters. Highly mobile tuna species are likely to move rapidly toward the subtropics, potentially beyond sovereign waters of island nations.</p><p><span></span>Similarly, many reef species important for artisanal fishers — and highly mobile megafauna such as whale sharks, manta rays and sea turtles that support tourism — are also likely to move toward the subtropics.</p><p>The movement of commercial and artisanal fish and marine megafauna could compromise the ability of tropical nations to meet the <a href="https://sdgs.un.org/goals" target="_blank">Sustainable Development Goals</a> concerning zero hunger and marine life.</p>
Is There Anything We Can Do?<p>One pathway is laid out in the Paris Climate Accords and involves aggressively reducing our emissions. Other opportunities are also emerging that could help safeguard biodiversity and hopefully minimise the worst impacts of it shifting away from the equator.</p><p>Currently 2.7% of the ocean is conserved in <a href="https://mpatlas.org/" target="_blank">fully or highly protected reserves</a>. This is well short of the 10% target by 2020 under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.</p><p>But <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/global-ocean-alliance-30by30-initiative/about#global-ocean-alliance-members" target="_blank">a group of 41 nations</a> is pushing to set a new target of protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030.</p><p>This "30 by 30" target could ban seafloor mining and remove fishing in reserves that can destroy habitats and release as much carbon dioxide as <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03371-z" target="_blank">global aviation</a>. These measures would remove pressures on biodiversity and promote ecological resilience.</p><p>Designing climate-smart reserves could further protect biodiversity from future changes. For example, reserves for marine life could be placed in refugia where the climate will be stable over the foreseeable future.</p><p>We now have evidence that climate change is impacting the best-known and strongest global pattern in ecology. We should not delay actions to try to mitigate this.</p><p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anthony-richardson-100303" target="_blank">Anthony Richardson</a>: Professor, The University of Queensland. <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/chhaya-chaudhary-1223419" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Chhaya Chaudhary</a>: University of Auckland, <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/david-schoeman-111544" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">David Schoeman</a>: Professor of Global-Change Ecology, University of the Sunshine Coast, <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mark-john-costello-1223418" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mark John Costello</a>: Professor, University of Auckland</em></p><p><em>Disclosure statement: Anthony Richardson receives funding from the Australian Research Council.</em></p><p><em>Chhaya Chaudhary works for Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. During her PhD studies (2014- 2019), she received part- funding from the European Marine Observation Data Network (EMODnet) Biology project funded by the European Commission's Directorate—General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE), and received U21 Doctoral Mobility Scholarship from the University of Auckland in 2016.</em></p><p><em>David Schoeman receives funding from the Australian Research Council.</em></p><p><em>Mark John Costello does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/marine-life-is-fleeing-the-equator-to-cooler-waters-history-tells-us-this-could-trigger-a-mass-extinction-event-158424" target="_blank" style="">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
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In celebration of Earth Day, a star-studded cast is giving fans a rare glimpse into the secret lives of some of the planet's most majestic animals: whales. In "Secrets of the Whales," a four-part documentary series by renowned National Geographic Photographer and Explorer Brian Skerry and Executive Producer James Cameron, viewers plunge deep into the lives and worlds of five different whale species.
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b102b19b2719f50272ab718c44703dd0"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xOySOlB78dM?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Herring are a primary food source for Norway's orcas. Luis Lamar / National Geographic for Disney+
Belugas are extremely social creatures with a varied vocal range. Peter Kragh / National Geographic for Disney+
A Southern Right whales is pictured in the accompanying book, "Secrets of the Whales." Brian Skerry / National Geographic
The coronavirus has isolated many of us in our homes this year. We've been forced to slow down a little, maybe looking out our windows, becoming more in tune with the rhythms of our yards. Perhaps we've begun to notice more, like the birds hopping around in the bushes out back, wondering (maybe for the first time) what they are.
A Coeligena helianthea hummingbird is photographed during a birdwatching trail at the Monserrate hill in Bogota on November 11, 2020. Colombia is the country with the largest bird diversity in the world, home to about 1,934 different bird species, a fifth of the total known. JUAN BARRETO / AFP / Getty Images
1. Choosing the Right Binoculars<p>Binoculars are a relatively indispensable tool for most birders – but, for those just starting out, it might not yet be worth the several-hundred-dollar investment. If you aren't able to scour the attics of friends or borrow a pair from a fellow bird watcher, some local birding and naturalist groups have <a href="https://vashonaudubon.org/all-about-vashon-birds/binoculars-check-out/" target="_blank">binocular loaning programs</a> for members, allowing you to plan ahead for a day (or week) of birding.</p><p>When you're ready to take the plunge, choosing a pair or binoculars should take some careful deliberation based on your needs and preferences; some <a href="https://www.birdwatchersdigest.com/bwdsite/explore/optics/top-10-tips-buying-binoculars-bird-watching.php" target="_blank">major considerations</a> might include size, ease of use, <a href="https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/binoculars.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">magnification</a>, and price. While professional binoculars can easily run north of $1,000, there are plenty of perfectly suitable entry-level binoculars under $200. You might not get the perfect precision and clarity of more elite models, but a less expensive pair will allow you to strengthen your birding skills while deciding if you're interested in investing in a premium pair.</p><p>For a budget-friendly option, check out resale options on eBay, Facebook marketplace, or neighborhood yard sales: you might find a nicer pair whose retail price isn't within your budget.</p>
2. Know What Birds Are in Your Area<p>When I began to pay more attention to the birds just outside my apartment building, I started to learn what species have always been around me: European starlings, house sparrows, blue jays, black capped chickadees, and the occasional red-bellied woodpecker. They had always been there, but I hadn't ever taken the time to identify them. Once you learn to <a href="https://www.audubon.org/news/get-know-these-20-common-birds_" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recognize common birds</a> in your area, you'll be able to identify the typical species right outside your window and in your community. Of course, permanent residential birds in your neighborhood will <a href="https://nestwatch.org/learn/focal-species/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">vary by region</a>, as will those migrating through it.</p>
3. Get Out and Explore<p>Venturing elsewhere might allow you to spot some different species beyond those frequenting your backyard. Anywhere with water or greenery offers a place for birding; as an urbanite myself, I've found that even small- and mid-sized parks in New York City allow me to find more elusive birds (although Central Park takes the crown for an afternoon of urban birding).</p><p>If you are able to travel a bit further from home, <a href="https://www.fws.gov/refuges/" target="_blank">national wildlife refuges</a> and <a href="https://www.americasstateparks.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">state/national parks</a> are excellent places to explore bird habitats and perhaps log some less-common sightings. The American Birding Association also lists <a href="https://www.aba.org/aba-area-birding-trails/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">birding trails by state</a>, and Audubon and BirdLife International identify <a href="https://www.audubon.org/important-bird-areas" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Important Bird Areas (IBAs)</a> across the country – important bird habitats and iconic places that activists are fighting to protect – where birders can spot birds of significance.</p>
4. Finding a Bird: Stop, Look, Listen, Repeat<p>The National Audubon Society recommends the "<a href="https://www.audubon.org/news/how-find-bird" target="_blank">stop, look, listen, repeat</a>" mantra when seeking and identifying birds.</p><p>First and foremost, spotting birds requires attention. Stopping – getting out of the car, pausing on the sidewalk, trail, or in the backyard to look up – is the most important step.</p><p>When looking for birds, try to avoid gazing wildly around; rather, scan your surroundings, focusing on any odd shapes or shadows, trying to think about where a bird might perch (power lines, fence posts, branches), or keep an eye on the sky for flying eagles and hawks. In open areas like fields and beaches, you might have a more panoramic view, and can take in different sections of the landscape at a time. Look around with the naked eye before reaching for the binoculars to hone in.</p><p>While it can be hard to sift through the noise, listening for birds is perhaps an even more important element of bird watching than looking. Once you spend more time in the field, you'll be able to parse apart the racket and identify specific species, especially aided by Audubon's Bird Guide app or by learning from their <a href="https://www.audubon.org/section/birding-ear" target="_blank">Birding by Ear series</a>.</p><p>Repeat this pattern as you continue on your way, stopping to look and listen for birds as you go, rather than waiting for them to come to you. </p>
5. Identification<p>When you head out for a day of bird watching – especially when you're hoping to spot some new species – you'll want to be armed with the tools to identify what you see. <a href="https://www.audubon.org/news/how-identify-birds" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Major considerations when identifying birds</a> are their group (such as owls, hawks, or sparrow-like birds), size and shape, behavior, voice, field marks, season, and habitat.</p><p>The <a href="https://www.sibleyguides.com/about/the-sibley-guide-to-birds/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sibley Guide to Birds</a> and the <a href="https://www.hmhbooks.com/shop/books/peterson-field-guide-to-birds-of-north-america-second-edition/9781328771445" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Peterson Field Guide</a> are widely considered the best books for identifying birds in North America, although many <a href="https://www.audubon.org/news/what-bird-guide-best-you" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">specialized guides</a> focus on specific species or regions as well.</p><p>Plenty of <a href="https://blog.nature.org/science/2013/05/27/boucher-bird-blog-apps-smart-birder/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bird identification apps</a> have popped up in recent years – including National Geographic Birds, Sibley eGuide to Birds, iNaturalist, Merlin Bird ID, and Birdsnap – which are basically a <a href="https://www.audubon.org/news/the-best-birding-apps-and-field-guides" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">field guide in your pocket</a>. I'm partial to the Audubon Bird Guide, which allows users to filter by common identifiers, including a bird's habitat, color, activity, tail shape, and general type, adding them all to a personal map to view your sightings.</p>
6. Recording Your Sightings<p><span>As you deepen your commitment to birding, you might join the community of birders that track and quantify their sightings, building their </span><a href="https://www.thespruce.com/what-birds-count-on-a-life-list-386704#:~:text=A%20life%20list%20is%20a,which%20birds%20you%20have%20seen." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">life list</a><span>.</span></p><p>While a standard notebook noting the date, species name, habitat, vocalizations, or any other data you wish to include will suffice, some birders opt for a more <a href="https://www.riteintherain.com/no-195-birders-journal" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">structured birder's journal</a> with pre-determined fields to record your encounters, take notes, draw sketches, etc.</p><p>Many birders also choose to record their sightings online and in shared databases (which include many of the field guide apps), often pinpointing them on a map for others to view. Launched by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon, <a href="https://ebird.org/home" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">eBird is one of the largest databases and citizen science projects around birding</a>, where hundreds of thousands of birders enter their sightings, and users can explore birds in regions and hotspots around the world. Users can also record their sightings on the <a href="https://apps.apple.com/us/app/ebird/id988799279" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">eBird app</a>.</p>
7. Attracting Birds to Your Own Yard<p>Feeding birds is a common phenomenon: more than 40% of Americans maintain a birdfeeder to attract birds and watch them feast.</p><p>Not all birdfeed is created equal, however. Many commercial varieties are mostly made with "fillers" (oats, red millet, etc.) that birds will largely leave untouched. After researching what birds to expect in your area – and which ones you want to attract – you can create your own birdfeed with <a href="https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/types-of-bird-seed-a-quick-guide/?pid=1142" target="_blank">seeds that will appeal to them</a>.</p><p>Beyond filling a birdfeeder, <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/eco-friendly-lawn-2651194858.html" target="_self">transforming your yard into an eco-friendly oasis</a> is by far the best way to attract birds. Choosing to forgo mowing your lawn, planting native flowers and grasses, and ditching the pesticides will bring back the bugs that birds feed on, and provide a safe haven in which birds can happily live and eat.</p><p>While it's widely considered acceptable – and even beneficial – to feed birds with appropriate seeds, communal birdfeeders often <a href="https://www.audubon.org/news/to-feed-or-not-feed" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">foster unlikely interactions between different species</a>, who can then transmit harmful diseases and parasites to one another. Maintaining several bird feeders with different types of seeds might keep different species from coming into contact, and feeders can be <a href="https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/how-to-clean-your-bird-feeder/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cleaned to prevent the spread of infection</a>.</p>
8. Inclusivity and Anti-Racism in the Birding Community<p>Like all outdoor activities and areas of scientific study, birding communities are subject to racist and discriminatory ideologies. Black birders have long experienced discrimination and underrepresentation in outdoor spaces. The work of organizations like the <a href="https://www.instagram.com/birdersfund/" target="_blank">Black & Latinx Birders Fund</a>, <a href="https://www.instagram.com/birdability/" target="_blank">Birdability</a>, and <a href="https://www.instagram.com/feministbirdclub/" target="_blank">Feminist Bird Club</a> highlight the contributions and importance of birders of color, birders with disabilities, and women and LGBTQ+ birders to the birding community, as do activists and naturalists like <a href="https://www.instagram.com/hood__naturalist/" target="_blank">Corina Newsome</a> and <a href="https://www.instagram.com/tykeejames/" target="_blank">Tykee James</a>. The work of <a href="https://www.audubon.org/news/its-bird-new-comic-written-central-park-birder-christian-cooper" target="_blank">Christian Cooper</a>, <a href="https://camilledungy.com/publications/" target="_blank">Camille Dungy</a> (read her poem <a href="https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/58363/frequently-asked-questions-10" target="_blank">Frequently Asked Questions: 10</a>), and <a href="https://orionmagazine.org/article/9-rules-for-the-black-birdwatcher/" target="_blank">J. Drew Lanham</a> – including his essay "<a href="https://lithub.com/birding-while-black/" target="_blank">Birding While Black</a>" – are a great place to start.</p><p>Getting involved in birding means educating ourselves on these issues and taking meaningful action; the work of <a href="https://www.audubon.org/news/its-bird-new-comic-written-central-park-birder-christian-cooper" target="_blank">Christian Cooper</a> and <a href="https://orionmagazine.org/article/9-rules-for-the-black-birdwatcher/" target="_blank">J. Drew Lanham</a> – including his essay "<a href="https://lithub.com/birding-while-black/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Birding While Black</a>" – are a great place to start. Just as birders are activists for protecting habitats and natural areas, we must also be active and aware of inclusivity in these spaces.</p>
9. Get Involved<p>To learn from and enjoy the company of other birders, check out local birding groups in your area to join. Many Audubon chapters host trips, meetings, and bird walks for members. The American Birding Association even maintains a <a href="https://www.aba.org/festivals-events/" target="_blank">directory of birding festivals</a> across the country.</p><p>Volunteering for birds is also a great way to meet other birders and take action for birds in your community; local organizations might have opportunities for assisting with habitat restoration or helping at birding centers.</p><p>Like all wildlife, climate change and habitat destruction threaten the livelihood of birds, eliminating their breeding grounds and food sources. A <a href="https://www.audubon.org/climate/survivalbydegrees" target="_blank">2019 report released by the National Audubon Society</a> found that two-thirds of North American birds may face extinction if global temperatures rise 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. Staying informed about and taking action for legislation designed to protect birds and our climate – such as the recent <a href="https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/5552/text" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Migratory Bird Protection Act</a> – is important for ensuring a livable future for wildlife and humans alike.</p><p><em>Linnea graduated from Skidmore College in 2019 with a Bachelor's degree in English and Environmental Studies, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Most recently, Linnea worked at Hunger Free America, and has interned with WHYY in Philadelphia, Saratoga Living Magazine, and the Sierra Club in Washington, DC. </em><em>Linnea enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors, reading, practicing her German, and volunteering on farms and gardens and for environmental justice efforts in her community. Along with journalism, she is also an essayist and writer of creative nonfiction.</em></p>
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