Who's a Climate Champion and Who's a Climate Disaster?
By Khalid Pitts, Sierra Club Political Committee
This is it. This is the homestretch. It's just under 50 days until the election, which means it's time to put up or shut up—and the Sierra Club is doubling down.
It's hard to look at the stakes in this election and not want to jump in the fight with everything you've got. There's just too much on the line for our environment and the climate, and the contrast is so clear.
Sierra Club Political Committee
That's why we've just officially released our first ever #ClimateVoter web guide, ClimateVoter2016.org, which makes the choice between "Climate Champions" and "Climate Disasters" clear for voters up and down the ballot. One area where that contrast couldn't be clearer is the presidential race.
For the last year, Donald Trump's campaign has laid waste to common sense and decency across the country. His toxic rhetoric has targeted Latinos, Muslims, women, immigrants, the disabled, African-Americans, and basically anyone who respects our nation for what it is and what it stands for. And we know his policy will be just as toxic if and when he steps into office—and so would our air and water.
Trump has promised that he will eliminate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if he wins, which means we can kiss the best, most important parts of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act goodbye, along with almost every other federal clean air and water safeguard.
And if you want even more evidence that Trump's extremism will mean havoc for our nation and our planet, look no further than his stance on the climate crisis: he has called it a hoax created "by and for the Chinese."
Trump Chooses Climate Skeptic as New Energy Adviser https://t.co/zHdwzx481g @HuffPostGreen @greenpeaceusa— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1463442312.0
That's right. If elected, Donald Trump would be the only world leader who denies the science of climate change. He even says he wants to tear up the historic Paris climate agreement, when nearly 200 countries came to the table to finally act together to tackle the climate crisis. His position would be a national embarrassment that would erode our ability to operate on the international stage and threaten U.S. national security.
Thankfully, there's a choice. Secretary Hillary Clinton doesn't just know the climate is changing, she is listening to the scientists and has a strong plan to do something about it.
Clinton is running on the strongest environmental and climate action platform of any nominee in history. She wants to implement the Paris agreement and more, with a plan to install half a billion new solar panels and generate enough clean, renewable energy to power every home in the country. She rejects the toxic Trans-Pacific Partnership, and would put an end to dangerous drilling in the Arctic, the Atlantic and on our public lands.
Sanders Touts Fracking Ban as Clinton Pushes Renewables Plan Just Days Before California Primary https://t.co/PeZtqT1pbP @frack_off— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1465005309.0
Beyond the presidential race, there are profound choices to make up-and-down the ballot between climate disasters and climate champions, and voters deserve to know the difference there too.
Take North Carolina, for example. Republican Sen. Richard Burr is another climate denier, claiming falsely that he doesn't "think science can prove" climate change.
Burr, we have a few hundred scientific studies you should take a look. Or you could just refer to NASA, which the Republican Party went out of their way to celebrate at their most recent convention. Frankly, it's no surprise that a denier like Burr also has no interest in a landmark policy like the Clean Power Plan—the EPA's first ever effort to cut carbon pollution from power plants while growing our clean energy economy.
On the other hand, Burr's opponent Deborah Ross strongly supported legislation that spurred the growth of clean energy jobs in North Carolina, while opposing environmentally harmful fracking. She's supported policies to protect clean air and clean water while opposing tax breaks for polluters. So it's clear all around that right now Congress desperately needs more climate and environmental champions like Deborah Ross in the Senate, and fewer climate deniers like Richard Burr.
The same story repeats itself in top Senate races in the country, where climate champions like Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Jason Kander (D-Mo.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) face climate disasters like Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Darryl Glenn (R-Colo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Joe Heck (R-Nev.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).
So if you're all revved up and ready to go, you're in just the right place because you can learn far more about each of these races by viewing checking out our #ClimateVoter web guide today.
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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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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