30 Environmental Groups Urge Hillary Clinton to Take a Stand Against Keystone XL
A letter signed by 30 groups asks a vital question of a potential 2016 presidential candidate.
"Secretary Clinton, will you stand with us against Keystone XL?"
That's what Friends of the Earth, 350.org, Greenpeace, Moms Clean Air Force and more asked in a letter sent to Hillary Clinton Wednesday. The groups tell the former first lady and U.S. senator that building Keystone would be the equivalent of building 46 new coal-fired power plants.
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"If we’re going to have a livable planet for future generations—one that’s not fraught with floods, droughts, deadly heat waves and other catastrophic effects—it’s vital that we reject the
polluting fossil fuels of the past and move to cleaner, safer energy sources," the letter reads.
The letter's timing is right, and not only because Clinton could announce her presidential candidacy any day now. The Internet, newspapers, TV and radio have never carried as much content regarding climate change and Keystone XL as they do now. Whether it's the groups who signed the letter or governmental entities, reports confirming the worst fears about the 1,179-mile pipeline and its possible impact on the environment.
Additionally, she has advocated for several green causes. In 2012, she spoke out vehemently against wildlife trafficking. However, she has not taken a strong stand against Keystone XL. She angered some of the same groups who signed the letter in 2011 when they discovered that her former deputy campaign manager became the lead lobbyist for TransCanada.
Nearly two years ago, 10 climate scientists wrote a similar letter to Clinton.
"Given your longstanding advocacy for the environment and the importance of battling the climate crisis, your involvement would lend an important voice to the struggle against this
dangerous pipeline and in favor of energy sources that don’t threaten future generations of Americans," the letter reads.
"We’re at a critical moment. Please join us."
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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