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The week in environmental news – Dec 18, 2015

  • Barack Obama scolded the US Republican party for standing apart from every other rightwing party in the developed world by denying the science of climate change.
  • While cities have a major carbon footprint, they are also gaining more influence on the international climate stage as well.
  • A fungus is threatening the most popular banana worldwide, the Cavendish banana.

A snail so dangerous it warrants attention from Homeland Security [NBC]

Earlier this month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agriculture specialists discovered two live Giant African Snails at the Port of Oakland in California. The snails are considered to be the most dangerous in the world, as they carry diseases dangerous to humans and crops as well as cause structural damage to homes.

President Obama says US Republican party’s views on climate are not sustainable [Guardian]

On Friday, Barack Obama scolded the US Republican party for standing apart from every other rightwing party in the developed world by denying the science of climate change.

The birth of this rare eagle chick provides a boost of hope for the species [Mongabay]

On December 7, a tiny Philippine eagle hatchling was born at the Philippine Eagle Foundation’s (PEF) conservation center in the Philippines.  This is the twenty sixth eaglet born at the center in 23 years. The Executive Director of the conservation center has called the birth a “breakthrough”.

Giant African snail. Photo courtesy of USDA.

How our world’s historic climate treaty could become public health treaty [WHO]

This commentary from the World Health Organization explains how the recent international climate agreement can push countries to develop plans that will protect human health from the worst impacts of climate change, such as, droughts, heat waves and floods.

The Paris climate talks have ended, but the real work is just beginning [Newsweek]

While representatives from 196 nations were able to come to a successful agreement on how to tackle climate change, there are plenty of problems with the agreement. The agreement also acknowledges that even if the individual country climate plans were fully and perfectly implemented, they would be insufficient.

Over-hunting of these animals is driving up carbon emissions [Guardian]

Monkeys and birds of tropical forests are climate change champions, however when contending against hunting, the outcome hasn’t been such a positive one. Because their seed dispersal role is vital to the survival of hardwood trees, the loss of these animals drastically reduces the Earth’s natural carbon storage.

A baby spider monkey in Costa Rica. A spider monkey’s diet mainly consist of fruits and nuts. Photo by Rhett Butler.

What are we waiting for? Local leaders encouraged to take initiative [Science Daily]

Whether you praise or criticize the Paris Agreement, most agree that it does send a strong signal. Now, progressive, local leaders see that it’s time to take up that signal. While cities have a major carbon footprint, they are also gaining more influence on the international climate stage as well.

Not a single one of these projects were halted by the US government [Guardian]

Of the 88,000 projects and developments over the past seven years considered potentially harmful the to US’s endangered species, only two triggered significant action from the Fish and Wildlife Service. A recent analysis conducted by Defenders of Wildlife, a wildlife welfare group, found that the FWS is intervening in a diminishing number of cases.

Bananas are facing extinction…again [Deutsche Welle]

In the 1960s, an aggressive fungus known as “Panama Disease” drove a popular banana variety to near-extinction. Now, a different strain of the fungus is threatening the most popular banana worldwide, the Cavendish banana. Scientists believe it’s only a matter a time before it reaches Latin America, where over 80 percent of the world’s Cavendish bananas are grown.

Magenta bananas in Costa Rica. Photo by Rhett Butler.

 

MONGABAY HIGHLIGHTS

 How well does the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protect endangered species?

A new analysis from Defenders of Wildlife finds that, in reality, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FSW), which is tasked with assessing the impacts of economic development projects on endangered wildlife, can hardly be said to be pursuing its charge overzealously.

This new mapping platform will track annual deforestation in Brazil

A network of over 20 organizations, in collaboration with Google, has launched a new open-access platform called MapBiomas that aims to generate “annual maps of land-use, land-use change and forestry in Brazil in the last 30 years and keep it up to date”.

More than 330 whales found dead in largest known whale stranding event

Using high resolution aerial and satellite photos, researchers identified 337 dead sei whales along Chile’s southern coast. The team’s analysis showed that all the whales had died around March 2015, within the same event. This, according to the scientists, is the largest known whale-beaching event to have occurred within such a short duration.

This infamous wildlife market wasn’t simply shut down, it was reduced to rubble

A determined collaborative effort between health officials and activists has resulted in the shutting down of one of the most egregious and flourishing illegal wildlife markets in all of Peru. Bellavista Market, after nearly twenty years of illegal activity, was finally not only closed but completely razed to the ground in November.

American wolf. Photo by Rhett Butler.