Who says you can't go home again?
A brown pelican rescued from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 and relocated to Georgia has made the 700-mile trek back to Louisiana 11 years later.
"It's truly impressive that it made its way back from Georgia,'' Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Biologist Casey Wright said in a press release.
There's no place like home. After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, this brown pelican was rehabilitated and re… https://t.co/VTN96fzUYZ— LaWildlife&Fisheries (@LaWildlife&Fisheries)1617907817.0
The pelican was found covered in oil on June 14, 2010, on a rock jetty off of Bataria Bay, located on Louisiana's Queen Bess Island, WBRZ reported. The bird, tagged "Red 33Z" by its rescuers, was first taken to a triage facility, then a rehabilitation facility in Louisiana. However, it couldn't be released near its home due to oil contamination. Instead, the pelican was flown to the U.S. Coast Guard station in Brunswick, Georgia, and released there on July 1, 2010.
It isn't known exactly when Red 33Z made it back home, but Wright spotted and photographed the bird on a Bataria Bay rock jetty in March. This isn't unheard of behavior for pelicans.
"Brown pelicans, like most seabirds, are thought to be hard-wired, genetically, to return to their birth colony to breed, despite moving long distances during the non-breeding season," LDWF Non-Game Ornithologist Robert Dobbs said in the press release. "That may be an overly simplistic generalization, but re-sighting data of banded pelicans often support that pattern.''
Other birds released in Georgia, Texas and Florida after the spill have also been spotted back in Louisiana.
It is thanks to careful restoration work that Red 33Z could return home. Queen Bess Island is an important nesting colony for sea birds and 15 to 20 percent of the state's brown pelicans are hatched there. But heavy damage from the spill left only five habitable acres. However, a restoration project raised that number to 36 acres by February 2020.
"Queen Bess is one of Louisiana's best redemptive wildlife stories," LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet said in a statement announcing the completed restoration. "It was on this very island in 1968 that we began the process of bringing back the Brown Pelican after pesticides nearly wiped the species from the Louisiana landscape. Now we celebrate the birth of a healthy home for Brown Pelicans and many other bird species because of the marriage of science, wise planning, and the determination of state and federal governments to do the right thing."However, not all birds had such a happy ending after the 2010 oil spill. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that 65,000 to 102,000 birds died in the disaster, The Associated Press reported. Still, bird populations in the area have recovered their pre-spill numbers.
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Endangered North Atlantic right whales gave birth in greater numbers this winter compared to the past six years — a promising sign for a species that's been driven to the brink of extinction due to human activity.
From December through March, an aerial survey team reported 17 calves swimming with their mothers between Florida and North Carolina, AP News reported. This overall calf count is equal to the total number of births for the past three years and is a hopeful sign compared to 2018, when no right whale births were recorded.
North Atlantic right whales — which can grow to be 52-feet long, weigh up to 140,000 pounds and live about 70 years — each have unique callus patterns on their backs, helping scientists to track and identify individual whales and estimate total populations, according to NOAA Fisheries. But after being decimated by human hunting by the 1890s, right whales continue to be threatened by human activity, making them one of the most endangered large whale species in the world, with less than 400 individuals remaining.
"What we are seeing is what we hope will be the beginning of an upward climb in calving that's going to continue for the next few years," Clay George, a wildlife biologist who oversees right whale surveys for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, told AP News about this year's higher birth rates. "They need to be producing about two dozen calves per year for the population to stabilize and continue to grow again."
According to scientists, the right whale's rebound could be attributed to shifting to a habitat where zooplankton food sources are more plentiful, Yale Environment 360 reported. "It's a somewhat hopeful sign that they are starting to adjust to this new regime where females are in good enough condition to give birth," Philip Hamilton, a right whale researcher at the New England Aquarium in Boston, told AP News.
But scientists warn that the hopeful news shouldn't distract from the leading causes of right whale deaths: entanglement in fishing gear and boat and ship collisions.
Since 2017, these threats have killed about 34 to 49 right whales, Yale Environment 360 reported. Research has also shown that entanglements caused 72 percent of diagnosed right whale mortalities between 2010-2018, according to The Conversation. Right whales that get tangled in lines and gear will often suffer for months or even years, slowly becoming emaciated and debilitated, the authors wrote.
"The greatest entanglement risk is from ropes that lobster and crab fishermen use to attach buoys to traps they set on the ocean floor. Humpback and minke whales and leatherback sea turtles, all of which are federally protected, also become entangled," explained Michael Moore, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Hannah Myers, a guest investigator with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
But recent proposals to reduce fishing activity that could harm right whales haven't gone without criticism. For example, Maine Gov. Janet Mills said the rules, which include reducing the number of vertical lines in the water, would be "devastating for the lobster fishery," AP News reported. "If this comes to pass, it is not only fishermen and their crew who will be impacted, gear suppliers, trap builders, rope manufacturers — all these businesses face a deeply uncertain future," Mills said in a letter to NOAA, AP News reported.
But for some conservationists, the solution is simple. "North Atlantic right whales can still thrive if humans make it possible," Moore and Myers wrote in The Conversation, pointing to the closely related southern right whales, which have recovered from just 300 individuals in the early 20th century to an estimated 15,000 in 2010, due to decreased human threats.
"If we reduced or eliminated the human-caused death rate, their birth rate would be fine," Hamilton told AP News. "The onus should not be on them to reproduce at a rate that can sustain the rate at which we kill them. The onus should be in us to stop killing."
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
By Andrea Germanos
Climate action groups and ocean defenders issued strong praise Monday after the Biden administration announced its intention to boost the nation's offshore wind capacity with a number of steps including preparing forfede leases in an area off the coasts of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
"Today's announcement marks a revolutionary moment for offshore wind. This powerful renewable resource has been waiting in the wings of our energy system for too long, and now it can finally take center stage," Hannah Read, an associate with Environment America's Go Big on Offshore Wind campaign, told Common Dreams.
Taken together, the initiatives will create 77,000 jobs, generate enough electricity to power over 10 million homes for a year, and avoid 78 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, according to the administration.
The plan would general 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind by 2030—a capacity that would surpass the roughly 19 GW predicted in 2019 by some industry analysts. As NBC News noted, the nation's offshore wind capacity is largely untapped:
[W]hile on-land wind farms have flourished in recent years, offshore wind has yet to take off in a significant way, in part due to bureaucratic and permitting hurdles that were a source of major frustration for renewable energy companies during the Trump administration. As of now, the U.S. has only one operational offshore commercial wind farm, with just five turbines.
According to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, making up for such inaction is urgent.
"For generations," Haaland said in a statement, "we've put off the transition to clean energy and now we're facing a climate crisis."
Although "every community is facing more extreme weather and the costs associated with that," Haaland said that "not every community has the resources to rebuild, or even get up and relocate when a climate event happens in their backyards." She noted that the "climate crisis disproportionately impacts communities of color and low-income families."
"As our country faces the interlocking challenges of a global pandemic, economic downturn, racial injustice, and the climate crisis, we must transition to a brighter future for everyone," said Haaland.
Among steps announced by the Interior, Commerce, and Energy departments were a data sharing agreement between NOAA and offshore wind development company Ørsted Wind Power North America to help development of infrastructure; the identification of nearly 800,000 acres in the shallow ocean triangle known as the New York Bight to be "Wind Energy Areas"; $8 million for 15 new offshore wind research and development projects; and notice that BOEM would launch an Environmental Impact Statement for Ocean Wind's proposed 1,100 megawatt facility off the coast of New Jersey.
"The ocean energy bureau said it will push to sell commercial leases in the area in late 2021 or early 2022," the Associated Press reported.
@SecDebHaaland @SecGranholm @SecRaimondo @SecretaryPete @ginamccarthy46 It’s a bit buried, but here’s the final map… https://t.co/TBdHTFQOdl— Brett Edkins (@Brett Edkins)1617040318.0
Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.)—who's previously introduced legislation to incentivize offshore wind—framed the development as "a sea change in American energy policy and a new day in the fight against climate change."
"This is a down-payment on our national future for our children and their children after them," Pascrell tweeted.
Read, with Environment America, said the administration's announcement could serve as a major catalyst.
"The potential to power our country using clean, renewable energy off our coasts is immense, and the Biden administration's commitment forges a path to take full advantage of offshore wind. This federal leadership should give states the confidence to continue making bold commitments to go big on offshore wind. Now that the executive branch is throwing its weight behind timely and ambitious development, it's full-steam ahead," she said.
The news also drew praise from climate group 350.org, which, like Haaland, put the announcement in the context of the multiple crises gripping the nation.
"This is the type of climate action we need from the Biden administration: major investment in renewable energy that creates thousands of good-paying union jobs," the group's U.S. communications director Thanu Yakupitiyage said in a statement.
"In this moment of compounding health, economic, racial, and climate crises," Yakupitiyage continued, "it's beyond time to get our country off fossil fuels and on track towards a renewable future that centers the working class and communities of color."
For Oceana, the administration's good news for offshore wind must be matched with an equally important element—a forceful departure from dirty energy.
"We applaud the Biden-Harris administration helping to make offshore wind a reality in the United States—a necessary step in our climate strategy," said Jacqueline Savitz, chief policy officer with the group, adding that it must also have "strong protections for ocean habitat, especially for the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale."
But for "the U.S. to successfully take full advantage of this unlimited resource that can help solve our climate and energy challenges, Oceana is calling for permanent protections from dirty and dangerous offshore drilling as well," Savitz added.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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Last year, COVID-19 lockdowns forced many restaurants to close and events to be canceled at the last minute, so a lot of food that was already purchased stood to be wasted.
"There were a lot of businesses that were faced with that harsh reality that they just had so much food that could not be utilized," says Phil Acosta of Aloha Harvest, a Hawaiian food rescue organization.
The group quickly mobilized to collect that food and distribute it to people in need.
As the pandemic wore on, chefs whose restaurants were closed rushed to help meet the growing demand. Aloha Harvest partnered with an organization called Chef Hui.
"And we started to prepare foods and get that out to the community – so, ready-to-eat, ready-to-heat type of meals," Acosta says.
Rescuing food not only helps feed people. It can also reduce global warming pollution because less food needs to be grown, packaged, and shipped. And less waste ends up rotting in landfills and releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
"We want to make sure that everything that's produced is consumed in some way and not wasted," Acosta says. "We need to do a much better job of utilizing our precious food resources."
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
In a rare occurrence, New York's East River welcomed unexpected visitors on Tuesday — dolphins.
The dolphins were first seen near the WNYC Transmitter Park in Brooklyn around noon, ABC7 reported. Twenty-six-year-old actor and Upper West Side resident Cailin Doran shared videos of the animals on Twitter, Gothamist reported.
Doran, who is originally from California, told Patch that she was used to seeing dolphins in her old home, but not her new one.
"It's just such a bright light in everything that happened over the past year," she said.
While it is unusual to see dolphins with the New York skyline in the background, there are 90 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises that swim in the New York Bight, the estuary between Long Island and New Jersey, Gothamist noted. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation said some of these animals could be seen relatively frequently and others only rarely.
Dr. Howard Rosenbaum, director of Wildlife Conservation Society Ocean Giants Program and New York Aquarium senior scientist, told ABC7 that the dolphins appeared to be common dolphins, which would make Tuesday's East River sighting all the more unusual.
"We see these animals during our offshore surveys in the wider New York Bight — so this is not normally where they are seen," Rosenbaum told ABC7. "In the New York Harbor and surrounding estuary, we actually have detected two other species — bottlenose dolphins and harbor porpoise — from a two acoustic monitoring study we recently completed."
Rosenbaum told Gothamist that the dolphins were probably following prey. However, it can be dangerous for dolphins to enter the East River if they swim into certain areas. For example, a dolphin died in 2013 after swimming into the highly polluted Gowanus Canal and getting stuck there, Gothamist reported at the time.
"Hopefully, this is a group of animals that has been able to freely swim into this area and will freely swim out of the area and are not in distress," Rosenbaum told Gothamist.
The waterways around New York City have generally become more hospitable for marine life. ABC7 reported that humpback whales were spotted in the Hudson River in 2016 and 2020, which the Parks Department possibly credited to improved water quality and an abundance of food. A 2017 report from the NYC Department of Environmental Protection revealed that the harbor's water quality had reached the healthiest level in more than a century.
"Over the past decade, the City has invested more than $12 billion to upgrade the sewer system and wastewater treatment plants to improve the health of these critical ecosystems," Commissioner Vincent Sapienza wrote in the report. "This investment, over time, has produced many ecological successes, ushering in the return of a variety of plant and animal species to our waters — including whales!"
And, it would appear, dolphins.
Reddit investors have found a way to meme for good.
The amateur investors on subreddit WallStreetBets often refer to themselves as apes and use the phrase "Apes Together Strong," BBC News reported. Now, some subreddit members have started to take this saying literally. Within days, Redditors have raised $350,000 for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund by adopting more than 3,500 gorillas, The Guardian reported.
"It's safe to say that the #investor community on @reddit is not traditionally who we think of as our supporter base. But they definitely surprised and overwhelmed us over the weekend," the conservation group tweeted.
🚨WE HAVE NEWS 🚨 It’s safe to say that the #investor community on @reddit is not traditionally who we think of as ou… https://t.co/f3Vg6e44dv— Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund (@Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund)1615827823.0
The trend began last Friday when Reddit user Pakistani_in_MURICA posted an adoption certificate for a mountain gorilla named Urungano. The post received a 92 percent upvote rate and prompted many other users to follow suit.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund works with mountain gorillas in Rwanda and Grauer's gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to BBC News. On Twitter, the group said that the new funds would support their work studying and monitoring gorillas, and supporting the people who live near them.
The organization told The Guardian that it usually receives 20 new gorilla adoptions a weekend, a far cry from the thousands that the Redditors initiated.
"The support that has come to our organization, as well as others, is amazing," Tara Stoinski, the fund's president, chief executive and chief scientific officer, told The Guardian. "One of the biggest challenges in conservation is just that there's not enough funding for the challenges we face on the ground."
The Redditors have also donated to other organizations and adopted other species. The Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative, which studies endangered bonobos, said it received $4,500 from the WallStreetBets community.
Wow!! Thanks to the @Official_WSB community, we have raised $4,500 and bonobos are now featured in @Newsweek! We ar… https://t.co/mlFI4en5Y5— Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative (@Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative)1615996027.0
The Redditors have also moved beyond apes to adopt endangered animals such as elephants, pangolins and sea turtles, according to The Guardian. The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which runs a sanctuary for orphaned elephants in Kenya, experienced a $10,000 rise in donations over the weekend.
"It's a new supporter base for us, for sure, one that we're extremely thankful for," the trust's Amie Alden told The Guardian. "We've currently got more than 90 dependent orphaned elephants in our care and it's an expensive undertaking."
The WallStreetBets community first rose to fame in January, when they noticed that hedge funds were betting against stocks, including GameStop and AMC, and banded together to buy several stocks to boost their prices, Business Insider explained. This caused the share price of GameStop to skyrocket from less than $5 a share at the end of December to more than $450 by Jan. 28, forcing some hedge funds to close their bets at a loss. Some of the Redditors referenced the saga by making their animal donations in the name of GameStop or "Jim Cramer's Tears," The Guardian noted.
"This is the sort of thing that happens when people unaccustomed to having money suddenly get some," BBC News reported one Redditor saying.
By Andrea Germanos
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday brought back its climate change website — a resource the former Trump administration had yanked.
How it started. How it’s going. Climate science is back at the @EPA 👇 https://t.co/WuC789TKue https://t.co/IXCrji7Biw— Select Committee on the Climate Crisis (@Select Committee on the Climate Crisis)1616092616.0
"Climate facts are back on EPA's website where they should be," newly confirmed EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement Thursday.
"Considering the urgency of this crisis, it's critical that Americans have access to information and resources so that we can all play a role in protecting our environment, our health, and vulnerable communities," Regan continued. "Trustworthy, science-based information is at the foundation of strong, achievable solutions."
New information on climate science and the crisis' impacts will soon be added to the website, the statement added.
In April of 2017 the Trump administration, with Scott Pruitt then at the helm of the EPA, rendered the agency's climate change site basically useless, with readers being redirected to a page that said, "This page is being updated." Any pretense of ongoing or pending updates, however, was dropped in 2018. The moves were seen as on-brand for an administration carrying out a war on science and pushing forth pro-fossil fuel policies.
The relaunching of the site was welcomed by the Union of Concerned Scientists, who said it was "back and better than ever!"
"The EPA is restoring science and reinstating its climate website, making it a priority as @EPAMichaelRegan leads the way in transitioning our nation to a clean energy economy," the group tweeted.
After 4 years of climate denial, the @EPA is restoring science at the agency! Step one: reinstating its climate web… https://t.co/qvuzVaflKb— AFGE Local 704 (@AFGE Local 704)1616094261.0
Progressive advocacy group Environment America said the "relaunch is a strong signal that the Biden administration will restore the role of science in protecting our communities and public health."
The move was also welcomed by climate action advocate and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
"For the first time in 4 years, the @EPA is providing information on climate change through its website. The public now has access to data and science about this existential threat. I am glad to see the federal government back in the fight for our future," Inslee tweeted.
A similar message was fired off by Regan, who tweeted: "Climate change impacts all of us. You deserve access to science and data so we can find solutions together."
Regan, who'd been serving as the top environmental official in North Carolina, was confirmed as EPA administrator last week.
Donna Chavis, senior fossil fuel campaigner for Friends of the Earth and an elder of the Lumbee Nation, said at the time that "Regan and the EPA have a new opportunity to place environmental justice at the center of the agency and the United States' approach to the climate crisis."
Chavis also urged Regan to "take bold and visionary steps to rebuild the EPA and address the very real climate crisis we face in the U.S and globally. It is time we all do better."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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"I AM DONE!!! I DID IT!!!"
I AM DONE!!! I DID IT!!! After **589** days of picking up trash every single day, I can say with confidence that E… https://t.co/7ko2wntQK3— Edgar McGregor (@Edgar McGregor)1614982100.0
The 20-year-old visited Eaton Canyon, his local park, for at least an hour every day to clean up municipal waste. He persisted during the pandemic and through extreme weather, including hail, 65 MPH winds and ashy rain from nearby wildfires, he said in the viral video celebrating his accomplishment.
McGregor's goal involved cleaning up after visitors in order to leave the hiking trail, which is part of the Angeles National Forest in Southern California, trash-free. Armed every day with gloves and empty paint buckets, the activist told ABC that he filled up at least two buckets during each visit.
"I just started picking up one day because I knew it needed to be done. I knew no one was doing it, and that was that," he added.
McGregor shared his daily progress on Twitter, gaining more than 18,000 followers. He documented not just how much trash he picked up, but also the weather, minor injuries he sustained, where he cleaned and how long it took.
On March 5, the last day of his marathon cleanup, he proudly announced, "After **589** days of picking up trash every single day, I can say with confidence that Eaton Canyon, one of Los Angeles's most popular hiking trail [sic], is now free of municipal waste!" That single tweet has been liked on Twitter's platform more than 107,600 times, and even famed climate activist Greta Thunberg congratulated McGregor.
"There is nothing more satisfying than seeing brand new animals return to your park after months of cleaning up. I highly encourage anyone with any spare time to give this mission a shot. Your parks need you," McGregor told NPR.
During his months of garbage removal, McGregor separated recyclables from trash and traded the former for cash. It totaled roughly $30 every two to three weeks, NPR reported, and McGregor donated that money to various charities and causes that mattered to him and his followers.
Earlier this week, McGregor tweeted that he raised more than $400 from recycling and donated all of it to plant native trees in Eaton Canyon, fund charities around the world and support political candidates that promise to act on the climate crisis.
McGregor also uses his platform to explain why cleanups matter and how they help.
Five days after his monumental achievement and proclamation, he recorded a new message in Eaton Canyon. McGregor explained how new trash had entered the park from several adjacent communities at higher elevations.
Trash pickup day 594. This was a 150 minute pickup. #EarthCleanUp It's hailing! Did two buckets in my park. Most… https://t.co/AcEAkC10Xn— Edgar McGregor (@Edgar McGregor)1615406445.0
"So trash on city streets gets into storm drains and dumps into this park," he said. "So this morning, all of this trash in this bucket was brand new. It entered this park after midnight today, and I was able to come out here before the rainstorm hit and clean up trash."
In his video, McGregor pointed out how the nearby storm drain had filled with water from a flash flood and carried tons of trash a mile and a half. Had he not intervened, that trash would have entered a local watershed that feeds directly to the Pacific Ocean, he explained. McGregor added a call to action for his followers, saying, "So, if you see rain in the forecast, be sure to clean up trash on your local streets and your local boulevards. Because if that trash is not cleaned up and the rain hits, it's gonna flow into the storm drains, and it can get into your local parks. It can get into the rivers, and, even worse, it can get into the ocean. And, it's a lot harder to clean up."
ON CBS, McGregor shared his ideal solution to this massive trash problem, saying, "The only solution to picking up trash in our local parks is to... hire people to clean them up permanently."
Because that isn't yet a reality, McGregor continues to return several times a week to Eaton Canyon to remove trash while also considering new parks to clean up. He encourages everyone to go on their own pickup expeditions and post photos with the hashtag #EarthCleanUp, which he promises to retweet and celebrate.
"If you think my work is inspiring, prove it to me by going out there and defending this planet with all you've got," McGregor urged on Twitter. "It can be anything within your abilities. It just has to be something."
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Regan is one of several nominees that the Biden administration announced in December as part of a team to tackle the climate crisis. But at the EPA, Regan also faces the added challenge of rebuilding an agency still reeling from former President Donald Trump's rollbacks, as well as addressing the inequality that exposes poor and minority communities to more pollution than wealthy, white communities.
The 44-year-old Regan comes to the EPA with a long background in environmental regulation and advocacy: He worked for the EPA under former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. From 2001 to 2008, he worked at the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, USA Today reported. From 2008 to 2015, he worked for the Environmental Defense Fund, then left to start his own environmental consulting firm, M. Regan and Associates.
In 2017, he served as cabinet secretary for North Carolina's Department of Environmental Quality. His experience running a regulatory agency in a swing state likely helped him clinch today's confirmation with bipartisan support, as every Democrat and 16 Republicans backed his nomination, HuffPost reported.
In his hearings, Regan presented himself as a consensus builder who would listen to all sides of an issue, according to The Washington Post.
"He is immensely qualified for this position, not only in qualifications, but in his demeanor," said North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, one of the Republicans who voted for Regan, The Washington Post reported. "Too often we overlook whether a nominee has the right character to lead an organization. In this case, there's no question that Michael Regan has that character."
However, Regan is still committed to tackling climate change and helping to lift the disproportionate pollution burden faced by marginalized communities. But he also needs to rebuild an agency that lost almost 900 employees during the Trump years, HuffPost reported.
Projects that could be tackled by his EPA include reversing Trump's rollbacks, setting vehicle and power plant emission standards and cleaning up polluted areas, The Washington Post reported.
Environmental groups met Regan's appointment with overall approval.
"This is a wonderful day for our country, for the Environmental Protection Agency, and for communities nationwide who cherish clean air, clean water, and safeguarding our climate," Sierra Club Legislative Director Melinda Pierce said in a statement.
However, Regan has earned some pushback for decisions made in North Carolina. He approved permits for the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline and approved a gas facility in Indigenous Lumbee territory without properly consulting tribal leaders.
"My belief is that he could have had a stronger environmental justice footprint," Donna Chavis, a North Carolina environmentalist and current senior fossil fuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth, told The Washington Post.
However, she added that Regan had succeeded in rebuilding the North Carolina agency despite budget cuts and low morale.
While Regan is the first Black man to hold the position, Lisa Jackson was the first Black American to run the EPA. She served for four years during the Obama administration.
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In 2017 the Trump administration altered the interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) arguing that it only prohibited the direct hunting or killing of birds, not unintended deaths from wind turbines or oil spills, for example, EcoWatch reported at the time.
The change "overturned decades of bipartisan and international consensus and allowed industry to kill birds with impunity," Interior Spokesperson Tyler Cherry told The Associated Press.
Obama U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe warned that the change could lead to billions of bird deaths in subsequent decades, The Associated Press reported at the time.
Before Monday's reversal of this interpretation by Biden's Department of the Interior, the Trump ruling had already encountered legal challenges. In August, a New York federal judge deemed the new interpretation to be invalid.
"It is not only a sin to kill a mockingbird, it is also a crime," U.S. District Judge Valorie Caproni wrote in her decision. "That has been the letter of the law for the past century. But if the Department of the Interior has its way, many mockingbirds and other migratory birds that delight people and support ecosystems throughout the country will be killed without legal consequence."
The Trump administration moved forward despite the decision, and finalized the rollback during its last weeks in power.
However, Biden's administration delayed the new rule from taking effect and reopened it for public comments, HuffPost reported. Now that it has been jettisoned, Cherry said a replacement rule would be forthcoming.
"The department will also reconsider its interpretation of the MBTA to develop common-sense standards that can protect migratory birds and provide certainty to industry," Cherry told Courthouse News Service.
The 1918 MBTA resulted from overhunting and poaching of migratory birds, The Associated Press reported. The policy makes it illegal to pursue, hunt, kill, capture or possess migratory birds or their parts without a permit, HuffPost explained. Since the 1970s, the act has also been used to penalize companies when their actions accidentally harm birds.
For example, the act helped win a $100 million settlement from BP after the company's 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico killed about 100,000 birds, The Associated Press reported.
It's estimated that around 460 million to 1.4 billion birds die every year from human-made causes, including oil pits and glass buildings. Between 2010 and 2018, civil and criminal enforcement cases against companies led to $5.8 million in fines, excluding the BP settlement. However, most of those cases did not lead to criminal prosecutions since many companies were willing to implement bird protections.
While industry groups backed the Trump rollback, they also did not oppose the Biden reversal.
"We are committed to working with the Biden administration throughout their rulemaking process in support of policies that support environmental protection while providing regulatory certainty," Amy Emmert, American Petroleum Institute senior policy advisor, told Courthouse News Service.
Conservation groups said this general atmosphere of cooperation made the Trump rollback unwarranted.
"There really had been a lot of collaboration and a fair amount of consensus about what best management practices looked like for most major industries," Sarah Greenberger, senior vice president with the Audubon Society, told The Associated Press. "There was a lot of common ground, which is why the moves from the last administration were so unnecessary."
"Watch. Connect. Take Action."
These words are the invitation and mandate of the WaterBear Network, a free film-streaming platform that launched in November of 2020. Its goal is to turn inspirational images of the natural world into actions to save it.
"WaterBear is the first streaming platform dedicated to the future of our planet," said CEO Ellen Windemuth. "WaterBear uses great storytelling to drive action."
Windemuth is no stranger to the power of films. Before WaterBear, she produced Netflix's hit documentary My Octopus Teacher, a unique story of friendship and recovery between a freediver and an octopus. The film stunned audiences around the world as it reinforced the power of nature. It has won several prestigious awards and recently was shortlisted for an Oscar, Cape Talk reported.
Describing the film's broad appeal, Windemuth said, "It does not hit you over the head with graphs and pie charts to tell you to care about life in the ocean. I think people appreciate being led into the subject matter through a compelling character and a story they can empathize with. They have the choice to care, so very often they do."
The planet positive momentum of My Octopus Teacher created a "direct transition" for Windemuth to WaterBear. She said, "I had always been passionate about empowering people to repair their relationship with nature and become part of the solution for environmental problems. Storytelling has a pivotal effect on getting people involved, especially the young generation."
WaterBear CEO Ellen Windemuth uses films to inspire planet-positive actions. WaterBear
Viewers come to WaterBear for award-winning short- and long-form documentaries about the planet. According to Vogue, these include original films like Africa's Hidden Sea Forest, produced by the same team behind My Octopus Teacher; Turning The Tide On Plastic, highlighting how rivers bring 80 percent of the plastic waste that ends up in our oceans; and The Black Jaguar's Amazon, providing an inside-look at the deforestation ravaging the world's biggest rainforest.
"It is our goal to tell stories about the meaning of the 17 UN Sustainable Development goals for people to... absorb them as true values instead of words," Windemuth told EcoWatch. To that end, the films focus on biodiversity, climate change, circularity and community – the four themes around which WaterBear aims to inspire action to create a more sustainable future.
While sneaking a peak into the world's wildest and most endangered landscapes, viewers are connected on the interactive platform to over 90 NGO partners and organizations, from smaller grassroots organizations to global mainstays like Greenpeace, Conservation International and Amazon Watch. Then, they're provided with numerous ways to get involved with these groups. Suggested actions range from donating to sharing and signing petitions to volunteering, Windemuth said.
"WaterBear bridges the gap between media and action," Dave Martin of Mongabay said in an introductory video.
"The Era of Action campaign is focused on energizing the sustainability movement," Windemuth said. "This campaign provides 100 clear steps for members to take action each week."
"Microplastics are literally in our bodies, and about 9 million people die each year of air pollution," Windemuth said.
Overall, WaterBear hopes to encourage more people to amplify their messages through films and storytelling, with the hope that this novel approach to conservation will reach new audiences and shift public opinion in time to make change for the planet.
WaterBear is currently available in eight countries and is planning to increase their film offerings and global expansion. Through the network, Windemuth hopes people find and pursue their own personal passions on how to save the planet and have a good time doing so.
As the WaterBear introductory video concludes, "This is our world. Let's make sure it remains extraordinary."
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
Wisdom hatched her latest chick on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and Battle of Midway National Memorial, home to the world's largest albatross colony where millions of birds return each year to nest in the same place and, usually, with the same partner.
"Each year that Wisdom returns, we learn more about how long seabirds can live and raise chicks," Dr. Beth Flint, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) biologist, said in a USFWS Pacific Islands post announcing the birth. "Her return not only inspires bird lovers everywhere, but helps us better understand how we can protect these graceful seabirds and the habitat they need to survive into the future."
🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA— USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)1612558888.0
Laysan albatrosses typically live 12 to 40 years, BBC News reported. Wisdom, however, was first banded in 1956 by biologist Chandler Robbins, according to The Guardian. She has gone on to outlive him and likely her first mate. In that time, she has also hatched 30 to 36 chicks, according to USFWS. Since at least 2012, her mate has been a male albatross named Akeakamai.
"At least 70 years old, we believe Wisdom has had other mates," Flint said. "Though albatross mate for life, they may find new partners if necessary — for example if they outlive their first mate."
Wisdom is among the 70 precent of mōlī that nest on Midway Atoll, one of the oldest atoll-type islands in the world, located at the northern end of the Hawaiian island chain. In addition to mōlī, nearly 40 percent of kaʻupu (black-footed albatross) and endangered makalena (short-tailed albatross) breed there, along with more than 20 other bird species.
Albatrosses arrive on the atoll beginning in October. Their eggs hatch around January or February following a 65-day incubation period, and the baby birds begin to fly in June or July. Wisdom laid this year's egg in late November. The Midway gathering can be a family reunion of sorts. In 2018, she nested a few feet away from a chick she had in 2011.
Albatrosses hatch one egg at a time, but don't lay eggs every year.
"Because she only nests every two years, the international bird community looks forward to see if she's been able to come back and nest," Sean Dooley, BirdLife Australia's national public affairs manager, told The Guardian. "The odds are stacked against them so much, whenever it happens it's always a cause for celebration."
"The changes in water temperate and the changes in currents in water and winds means... the extent they have to fly to find food increases as their prey species seek out colder water — it's a big looming threat that sea birds are facing, albatross in particular," Dooley explained.
Feeding their chicks can also be dangerous. Male and female albatrosses share incubation and feeding duties, USFWS noted. To feed their young, the birds catch squid and fish eggs that are rich in fatty acids and regurgitate them into their chicks' mouths. However, sometimes the parents bring home plastic instead, the Smithsonian reported:
Many birds accidentally eat plastic and other marine debris floating in the ocean, mistaking it for food. But the problem is intensified in Laysan albatrosses because of the way they catch fish, squid and other seafood: by skimming the surface of the water with their beak. Along the way, they accidentally pick up a lot of floating plastic, which they then feed to their chicks. Adults can regurgitate plastic they've swallowed, but chicks are unable to, so it fills up their stomachs.
"There's something so archetypal about these legendary birds and seeing bright colors of ocean plastic against dead sterility is a powerful symbol for our human culture right now. We're in a state of emotional bankruptcy," Jordan told The Guardian in 2018.
It is hard to know exactly how much plastic impacts the birds. Lead poisoning poses another threat to Laysan albatross chicks on Midway, the Smithsonian reported, so it can be difficult to determine their cause of death. However, more than 97 percent of dead albatross chicks found on Midway in recent years had plastic in their stomachs, according to The Guardian.
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