Starting today, Monday, Dec. 8 - Dec. 12, EcoWatch will feature live broadcasting via Democracy Now! from 8 to 9 a.m. from the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru. Diplomats from around the world are gathered in Lima to reach a draft agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, which will be finalized in 2015.
Watch livestream here on Tuesday, Dec. 9 from 8 - 9 a.m.:
Monday, Dec. 8:
As Typhoon Hagupit Wreaks Havoc, Leading Filipino Environmental Voice Silenced at U.N. Climate Talks
As we broadcast from the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, the Philippines is being hit by a deadly typhoon for the third year in a row. More than 90 people have been killed and more than one million evacuated from their homes. The Filipino delegation at the U.N. climate talks has drawn attention over the surprising absence of Yeb Saño, the country's former lead climate negotiator. Saño made international headlines at both of the last two climate summits after he gave emotional speeches on the link between climate change and the deadly typhoons hitting his country. We are joined by Lidy Nacpil of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice.
At Lima Talks, Nations Worst Hit by Global Warming Say Climate Aid Isn't Charity, But Reparations
Convening in Lima, Peru, the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference is in its second and final week of talks. Negotiators from 190 nations are working on a global deal to limit climate change, due to be agreed on in Paris next year. Just last week the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization said 2014 is on track to be the hottest on record, or at least among the very warmest. Including this year, 14 of the 15 hottest years on record will have been in the 21st century. Deep divisions remain between developed and developing nations on how much the world’s largest polluters should cut emissions and how much they should help poorer nations deal with climate change. We are joined by two guests: Lidy Nacpil of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, and Saleemul Huq, a Bangladeshi climate scientist who is advising the bloc of least developed countries in the climate negotiations.
The Laundering Machine: How U.S. Corporations Threaten Peru's Forests Through Illegal Logging
We are broadcasting from the United Nations Climate Conference in Lima, Peru, where more than half of the country is still covered by tropical rainforest, which plays a crucial role in absorbing carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. A new report reveals more than 20 U.S. companies have imported millions of dollars in illegal wood from the Peruvian Amazon since 2008. We speak to Julia Urrunaga, Peru programs director for the Environmental Investigation Agency and author of the new report, "The Laundering Machine: How Fraud and Corruption in Peru's Concession System Are Destroying the Future of Its Forests."
Widows of Slain Campaigners Speak Out on Peru's Growing Dangers to Environmental Activism
Peru, the host country of this year's U.N. Climate Change Conference, is facing scrutiny because a new report by the group Global Witness finds it is the fourth most dangerous nation for environmental activists, including the indigenous people who live in the forests and work to protect it from deforestation. Peru also recently passed legislation that rolls back forest protections in order to attract new investment and development. We speak with Julia Pérez and Ergilia Rengifo, the widows of activists Edwin Chota and Jorge Ríos, who were killed in September allegedly by illegal loggers they were trying to stop.
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.