Science Trumps Politics: Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Officially an Endangered Species
By Daniel Raichel
There are times—even today—when law and science triumph over politics.
The rusty patched bumble bee is the first bumble bee to receive endangered species protections and for good reason. Although common across the Midwest and the East Coast as recently as the mid-90s, since then, the bee's population has plummeted by about 90 percent.
After studying the bee for years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service came out with a report last summer, finding it was likely to disappear from most of its remaining habitat within five years and go completely extinct within 30 years. Recognizing there was no time to waste, the agency finalized a rule to list the bee as an endangered species in January. The rule was set to take effect in 30 days, but then Donald Trump was inaugurated as President of the U.S.
On day one, the Trump administration issued an order to "freeze" or delay the effective dates of all final rules, including the rusty patched bumble bee listing. The Fish and Wildlife Service then issued a notice—just one day before the bee was scheduled to be added to the list—claiming to delay the effective date of the listing until March 21.
That's when we sued. Because as any good government attorney knows, agencies can't simply discard or delay final rules years in the making at the whim of the president. They must instead follow the procedure required by law, which includes fair warning of a change in policy and an opportunity for interested members of the public to weigh in. The process can sometimes be slow, but it's designed to stop rash, baseless or purely political decision making—like, say, suddenly stopping the listing of a critically imperiled species supported by years of scientific study and review.
Given the Trump administration's questionable track record on appropriate legal process, we had anticipated a fight. But then, something incredible happened—the administration backed down and allowed the rusty patched bumble bee to get the federal endangered species protection it so desperately needs.
While it's hard to know whether this victory for common sense will be repeated elsewhere, it's unquestionably a win for bees everywhere—especially for the 4,000 species of native bees here in the U.S. While native bees like the rusty patched don't always get the same attention as honey bees, they are just as important to our food and our environment and many are just as in trouble. That's why we're hopeful that the protections the rusty patched bumble bee now enjoys will begin to help other bees too, chipping away at the larger bee crisis before it's too late.
The devil, of course, is always in the details, so we'll be watching closely as the Trump administration starts to implement those protections. Whatever happens, one thing's for sure—if they step out of line again, we'll "bee" there.
Disturbing footage of a snake in Goa, India vomiting an empty soft drink bottle highlights the world's mounting plastic pollution crisis.
By Melissa Hellmann
When her eldest son was in elementary school in the Oakland Unified School District, Ruth Woodruff became alarmed by the meals he was being served at school. A lot of it was frozen, processed foods, packed with preservatives. At home, she was feeding her children locally sourced, organic foods.
By James O'Hare
There are 20 million people in the world facing famine in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen. In developed nations, too, people go hungry. Venezuela, for instance, is enduring food insecurity on a national level as a result of economic crisis and political corruption. In the U.S., the land of supposed excess, 12.7 percent of households were food insecure in 2015, meaning they didn't know where their next meal would come from.
Artists are taking the climate crisis into frame and the results are emotional, beautiful and stirring.
So you've seen the best climate change cartoons and shared them with your friends. You've showed your family the infographics on climate change and health, infographics on how the grid works and infographics about clean, renewable energy. You've even forwarded these official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration graphs that explain the 10 clear indicators of climate change to your colleagues at the office.
As the Trump administration moves full speed ahead on boosting the oil and fossil fuel industry, opposition to increased pipeline construction is cropping up in different communities around the country.
By Simon Evans
Last Saturday, two dead whales washed up on the coast of Suffolk, in eastern England, and a third was spotted floating at sea.
What happened next illustrates how news can spread and evolve into misinformation, when reported by journalists rushing to publish before confirming basic facts or sourcing their own quotes.
By Monica Amarelo and Paul Pestano
Sun safety is a crucial part of any outdoor activity for kids, and sunscreen can help protect children's skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. Kids often get sunburned when they're outside unprotected for longer than expected. Parents need to plan ahead and keep sun protection handy in their cars or bags.
By Joe McCarthy
A lot of people take part in community clean-up efforts—spending a Saturday morning picking up litter in a park, mowing an overgrown field or painting a fence.