People love summer. Whether you are in school, getting anxious for a summer break or at work dreaming of weekend getaways, summer brings smiles and warm memories to most of us. And like summer, everyone loves a day at the beach. We love to go to the beach to cool off, play in the sand, go fishing or snorkeling, escape the city heat, and, most importantly, spend time with our friends and family.
Every year, we make 2 billion trips to roughly 4,000 beaches, spending billions of dollars in the process. Unfortunately, however, water quality at many beaches around the U.S. is declining. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently estimated that up to 3.5 million people will become sick after swimming at their favorite beach or swimming hole this year. Despite nearly 40 years of Clean Water Act successes, polluted runoff, sewer overflows, and other human activities are threatening one of our favorite summer pastimes, as noted below in this video from California resident MJ Mazurek.
A contributing factor to these threats is that people lack access to up-to-date, easy to understand information on where and when it is safe to swim, until now.
Today, we have the solution to beach contamination and beach information problems: the Waterkeeper Swim Guide. Created by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, the Waterkeeper Swim Guide is a smartphone app and website that tells you where your closest beaches are, which ones are open for swimming, and which have unreliable monitoring data. In fact, the Waterkeeper Swim Guide goes further by describing the laws, policies and sampling procedures that apply to your beaches; drawing attention to the beaches with chronic water quality problems so we can protect them; drawing attention to the areas where beach quality data is not collected, is unreliable, or is not being released; and promoting beaches with the best water quality. Today, in time for summer 2012, Waterkeeper Alliance is launching the Waterkeeper Swim Guide in the states of Florida and California, adding to the Guide’s existing stock of beaches in Miami, FL; Mobile, AL; the Great Lakes; Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, and parts of Quebec.
Swim Guide uses information from government monitoring sources and offers historical beach status information to help people make informed decisions about where and when they want to swim. At the same time, we have partnered with Hertz to make the Waterkeeper Swim Guide available in the coming months on Hertz’s rental car NeverLost system. We wouldn't have been able to bring the Swim Guide to California and Florida without their support.
Swim Guide is a public education vehicle that helps to drive environmental change. It draws attention to areas in need of better environmental protection and fosters a connection between communities and their local waters. A new feature on the app now allows citizens to take action to protect their waterways, by using their smartphone to take a picture of and report pollution to their local Waterkeeper. The long-term benefits of the Waterkeeper Swim Guide include improved public policy, a more engaged community, strengthened communications, and better restoration and protection of our waterways. Beachgoers are passionate about their favorite beaches; if you discovered that your favorite beach was unsafe on some days, you would take action, wouldn’t you? The Swim Guide now makes it easy.
Like beaches, the Waterkeeper Swim Guide is available for free to anyone with internet access or a smartphone. Throughout the summer and beyond, the Waterkeeper Swim Guide will be coming to your community to help ensure that you can go down to your local beach and have a swim without fear of getting sick.
Download the free app on the Android and iPhone today!
Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
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Every September for the past 11 years, non-profit the Climate Group has hosted Climate Week NYC, a chance for business, government, activist and community leaders to come together and discuss solutions to the climate crisis.
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By Elliot Douglas
The coronavirus pandemic has altered economic priorities for governments around the world. But as wildfires tear up the west coast of the United States and Europe reels after one of its hottest summers on record, tackling climate change remains at the forefront of economic policy.
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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.