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American Skyscrapers Kill an Estimated 600 Million Migratory Birds Each Year
An estimated 600 million birds are killed every year from collisions with some of the country's largest skyscrapers, according to research from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Particularly deadly are those tall buildings found in three cities in particular.
"Chicago, Houston, and Dallas are uniquely positioned in the heart of North America's most trafficked aerial corridors. This, in combination with being some of the largest cities in the U.S., make them a serious threat to the passage of migrants, regardless of season," said study lead author Kyle Horton.
The researchers cite artificial light at night as a contributing factor to heightened mortality numbers given almost one-half of the contiguous U.S. experiences substantial light-pollution during nighttime, including streetlights, safety lights and extensively lit buildings. These findings are especially troubling during migratory seasons in spring and fall, when billions of birds fly across the nation as they travel between North and South America. The birds normally depend on natural light from the moon, sun and stars to navigate.
Publishing their work in Frontiers and the Environment, researchers combined over two decades of satellite data showing light pollution levels with weather radar measuring bird migration from across 143 stations. Times and locations throughout the year showed when the highest numbers of migrating birds are exposed to light pollution.
Results indicate that avian light exposure in cities is 24 times as high as the countrywide average, potentially contributing to millions of birds fatally colliding with buildings, communications towers, power lines and wind turbines. Rankings of the most dangerous cities change with the season because birds change their migration routes between spring and fall. During the spring, billions of birds fly through the central U.S. between the Rocky and Appalachian Mountain ranges, with cities in the center of these areas being particularly deadly. A large spring migration along the West Coast also means Los Angeles is a particularly dangerous city. Meanwhile, fall migrations are most intense along the Atlantic seaboard, which experiences heavy light pollution.
Composite image of continental U.S. at night, 2016.
Though migrations during these times can last for months, the highest amount of birds can occur in just a few days. As the study notes, any one of the most dangerous cities can expect half of its annual bird-migration to pass through in just a week depending on wind conditions, temperature and timing.
And it's not just birds, either. Insects and bats can be negatively impacted as well.
The researchers hope their findings will help guide conservation efforts, particularly in urban centers, in an attempt to reduce lights at night. As the world begins to consider airspace as wildlife habitat, the research presents a "fundamental need to understand" how organisms interact with human-made infrastructure.
"Now that we know where and when the largest numbers of migratory birds pass heavily lit areas we can use this to help spur extra conservation efforts in these cities," said study co-author Cecilia Horton. "For example, Houston Audubon uses migration forecasts from the Lab's BirdCast program to run 'lights out' warnings on nights when large migratory movements are expected over the city."
Additionally, a quarter of a million birds die from running into residential buildings, and homeowners in both urban and rural settings can play a part in protecting avian species.
"If you don't need lights on, turn them off," Horton said. "It's a large-scale issue, but acting even at the very local level to reduce lighting can make a difference. While we're hopeful that major reductions in light pollution at the city level are on the horizon, we're excited that even small-scale actions can make a big difference."
A chestnut-sided warbler
Patricia Leonard, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
'How Dare You Put Our Lives at Risk': Pennsylvania Democrat Brian Sims Rips GOP Members for 'Coverup' of Positive COVID-19 Tests
Brian Sims, a Democratic representative in the Pennsylvania legislature, ranted in a Facebook Live video that went viral about the hypocrisy of Republican lawmakers who are pushing to reopen the state even though one of their members had a positive COVID-19 test.
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In another reversal of Obama-era regulations, the Trump administration is having the National Park Service rescind a 2015 order that protected bears and wolves within protected lands.
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By Linda Lacina
World Health Organization officials today announced the launch of the WHO Foundation, a legally separate body that will help expand the agency's donor base and allow it to take donations from the general public.
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Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
By Nicholas Joyce
The coronavirus has resulted in stress, anxiety and fear – symptoms that might motivate a person to see a therapist. Because of social distancing, however, in-person sessions are less possible. For many, this has raised the prospect of online therapy. For clients in need of warmth and reassurance, could this work? Studies and my experience suggests it does.
Telehealth Versus Traditional Therapy<p><a href="https://www.cigna.com/hcpemails/telehealth/telehealth-flyer.pdf" target="_blank">Private insurance companies</a> like Cigna and Aetna, have come around; they now provide coverage for what they see as a "legitimate" service. And <a href="https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/american-wells-2019-consumer-survey-finds-majority-of-consumers-open-to-telehealth-adoption-continues-to-grow-300906438.html" target="_blank">surveys show</a> consumers are receptive to telehealth counseling: no driving to an appointment, no searching for a parking space, no worries about childcare while they're away, no need to switch providers if they move, and no problem if the specialist happens to be far away.</p><p>Online therapy opens doors for clients who wouldn't otherwise seek help, <a href="https://www.worldcat.org/title/empirical-examination-of-the-influence-of-personality-gender-role-conflict-and-self-stigma-on-attitudes-and-intentions-to-seek-online-counseling-in-college-students/oclc/941976505" target="_blank">particularly patients</a> who feel stigmatized by therapy or intimidated by a stranger sitting across the room from them. Often, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/1094931041291295" target="_blank">people open up</a> more easily in telehealth sessions. Firsthand accounts have detailed <a href="https://www.romper.com/p/i-tried-online-therapy-for-a-month-this-is-what-happened-13630" target="_blank">positive experiences from consumers</a>.</p>
Overcoming Prejudices About Online Counseling<p>Now COVID-19 is forcing most traditional psychotherapists to adapt their practice to <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/expressive-trauma-integration/202003/covid-19-etherapy-in-times-isolation" target="_blank">online counseling</a>. After experiencing the medium, they are <a href="https://www.wecounsel.com/blog/why-every-therapist-in-private-practice-needs-a-telehealth-option/" target="_blank">overcoming their prejudices</a>. Many will convert some or all of their caseloads to telehealth after the pandemic ends. Most of our clients seem to be good with it: responding to a satisfaction survey, 85% of USF students strongly or somewhat agreed their telehealth experience was comparable to an in-person visit.</p><p>All this allows a continuity of care for clients that before was impossible; there is, however, a caveat. Because of the coronavirus, some of my clients at USF who live out-of-state have moved back home. That means, legally, I can no longer serve them. Even though they are still USF students, my license is valid only in Florida.</p><p>For telehealth to work effectively, our national system of licensing and regulation law needs to adapt. Although the federal government temporarily halted HIPAA regulations to promote telehealth during this time, not all states are allowing out-of-state practice. The coronavirus may not be here forever, but spring break and Christmas holidays always will. We need seamless telehealth across state lines.</p>
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As many parts of the planet continue to open their doors after pandemic closures, a new pest is expected to make its way into the world. After spending more than a decade underground, millions of cicadas are expected to emerge in regions of the southeastern U.S.
Kevin Frayer / Stringer / Getty Images
By Jessica Corbett
Even after the world's largest economies adopted the landmark Paris agreement to tackle the climate crisis in late 2015, governments continued to pour $77 billion a year in public finance into propping up the fossil fuel industry, according to a report released Wednesday.
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