New York attempts to save one of the world’s largest salamanders

September 23rd, 2013

By Phyllis Sena

Eastern hellbender. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher / WCS.

The WCS’s Bronx Zoo is joining the fight to save the world’s largest salamander, the Eastern Hellbender, by teaming up with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Buffalo Zoo in reintroducing 38 of these animals into wild streams in the state of New York. Juvenile eggs were collected from the Allegheny River drainage at the start of the program, and they were raised off-location and returned to that same drainage. Each amphibian was tagged with a chip for future surveys and species health assessments after exposure to their natural environment.

This program will enable conservationists to release young hellbenders back to the wild at an age that will enable them to survive and live a full life in the state of New York. Currently this state lists the Eastern Hellbender as a species of Special Concern, due to several factors including disease, pollution, and habitat destruction.

Hellbenders are found in rocky streams and are entirely aquatic. Some of their nicknames include devil dogs, Allegheny alligators, and snot otters. Hellbenders can measure nearly two feet in length as adults, and join a category of two other giant salamanders, the Japanese giant salamander and the Chinese hellbender, which can grow to up to six feet long.

Photo by Julie Larsen Maher / WCS.

“Don’t Be Trashy”: campaign hopes to inspire teens to recycle

January 4th, 2012

Landfill in the U.S.Landfill in the U.S. Photo by: Jeremy Hance.

A new campaign by Do Something.org is working to motivate teens in the U.S. to recycle. With the opportunity to win free movie tickets or even a $500 scholarship for college, the campaign, working with Nestle Waters, brings the plight of trash home through illustrative statistics such as the fact that the average American throws away four pounds of trash everyday.

Do Something.org works to inspire teens to get involved in changing the world through online and real-world activism, while Nestle Waters is working to achieve 50 percent recycling rates of bottles in the U.S. by 2018. Generally, the US recycles less than other developed nations.

Cincinnati zoo turns on the solar (video)

May 22nd, 2011

With 6,400 solar cells producing 1.56 megawatts, the Cincinnati Zoo says its new solar parking lot the largest publicly accessible urban solar array in the US. The zoo says that on average the solar array with cover 1/5 of its total energy use and on some days will actually send clean energy back to the grid.

“Innovative projects like this solar canopy showcase the benefits of public and private investment working together to provide a powerful economic boost to communities that need it,” said Assistant Treasury Secretary for Management Dan Tangherlini in a press release. “New Market Tax Credits and a Treasury Recovery Act program that funds renewable energy development helped make this project possible, resulting in new jobs, reduced energy costs and less carbon dioxide being released into the air.”

For more recent news on solar energy:

Clean energy investments rise 630% in 7 years

(03/29/2011) According to a report by the US Pew Environment Group global clean energy investments, which do not include nuclear power, jumped 630% since 2004. The report detailing 2010 clean energy investments found that China remains the global leader in clean energy, while the US fell from 2nd to 3rd. This is the second year in a row that the US fell: in 2009 it lost first place to China. In all $243 billion were invested in clean energy in 2010.

Is Obama’s clean energy revolution possible?

(01/26/2011) Last night US President Barack Obama called for a massive green energy make-over of the world’s largest economy. Describing the challenge as ‘this generation’s Sputnik moment’ the US president set a goal of producing 80 percent of America’s energy by clean sources by 2035. While this may sound improbable, two recent analyses back the president up, arguing that a global clean energy revolution is entirely possible within a few decades using contemporary technology and without breaking the bank. “Based on our findings, there are no technological or economic barriers to converting the entire world to clean, renewable energy sources,” Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford said in a press release. “It is a question of whether we have the societal and political will.”

U.S. Congress passes legislation to boost solar, wind, and geothermal energy

(09/24/2008) Tuesday the U.S. Senate passed a bill that will extend tax credits on solar power installations through 2016. The House approved the measure Wednesday.

Will food dominate 21 century geopolitics? (radio)

May 22nd, 2011

One billion people in the world are going hungry–more than any other time in history. Yet food security remains a pretty low concern in most industrialized countries. That may not last long according to renowned environmentalist, Lestor Brown, who says that climate change, population growth, rising consumption of meat and dairy, and water issues could soon make food a flashpoint worldwide. Already, high food prices this year played a role in the Arab Spring revolutions and has pushed a number of countries, such as China and South Korea, to begin buying up land in Africa under century-long leases that could create further crises.

Lester Brown is the founder and president of the Earth Policy Institute.

For more information:

Rising food prices threaten to push over 60 million Asians back into poverty

(04/27/2011) The Asian Development Bank has warned that high food prices on the continent could push 64 million people in developing countries into extreme poverty, reports the AFP.

Foreign big agriculture threatens world’s second largest wildlife migration

(03/07/2011) As the world’s largest migration in the Serengeti plains—including two million wildebeest, zebra, and Thomson’s gazelles—has come under unprecedented threat due to plans for a road that would sever the migration route, a far lesser famous, but nearly as large migration, is being silently eroded just 1,370 miles (2,200 kilometers) north in Ethiopia’s Gambela National Park. The migration of over one million white-eared kob, tiang, and Mongalla gazelle starts in the southern Sudan but crosses the border into Ethiopia and Gambela where Fred Pearce at Yale360 reports it is running into the rapid expansion of big agribusiness. While providing habitat for the millions of migrants, Gambela National Park’s land is also incredibly fertile enticing foreign investment.

Food prices hit new record high—again

(03/03/2011) Food prices in February hit a new record, breaking the previous one set in January and continuing an eight-month streak of rising prices, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Experts fear that rising food prices could lead to another food crisis similar to that of 2007-2008.

Carl Safina on the gulf spill (video)

May 16th, 2011

Last month on the one year anniversary of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (dubbed the US’s worst environmental disaster), author Carl Safina spoke about the impacts of the spill and the even bigger disaster that the media has overlooked. Safina has recently come out with a book called: A Sea in Flames: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout.

For a recent interview with Carl Safina:

The ocean crisis: hope in troubled waters, an interview with Carl Safina

(02/07/2011) Being compared—by more than one reviewer—to Henry Thoreau and Rachel Carson would make any nature writer’s day. But add in effusive reviews that compare one to a jazz musician, Ernest Hemingway, and Charles Darwin, and you have a sense of the praise heaped on Carl Safina for his newest work, The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World. Like Safina’s other books, The View from Lazy Point focuses on the beauty, poetry, and crisis of the world’s oceans and its hundreds-of-thousands of unique inhabitants. Taking the reader on a journey around the world—the Arctic, Antarctic, and the tropics—Safina always returns home to take in the view, and write about the wildlife of his home, i.e. Lazy Point, on Long Island. While Safina’s newest book addresses the many ways in which the ocean is being degraded, depleted, and ultimately imperiled as a living ecosystem (such as overfishing and climate change) it also tweezes out stories of hope by focusing on how single animals survive, and in turn how nature survives in an increasingly human world. However, what makes Safina’s work different than most nature writing is his ability to move seamlessly from contemporary practical problems to the age-old philosophical underpinnings that got us here. By doing so, he points a way forward.

Activism: ban Atrazine in the US for the frogs (and yourself)

April 27th, 2011

Note: mongabay.com does not endorse the action below, but believes its readers may be interested in taking action or discussing the issue in comments.

For the third annual Save the Frogs Day (Friday, April 29th), amphibian-lovers are taking the fight to Washington DC to rally at the Environmental Protection Agency for a ban on the herbicide Atrazine. Banned in the EU since 2004, Atrazine has been shown to chemically-castrate frogs at incredibly small quantities. In addition, the herbicide has been shown to cause cancer in mammals.

Save the Frogs! petition: Atrazine – Let’s Get It Banned.

According to the organization Save the Frogs! : “Atrazine is an endocrine disruptor that turns male frogs into females at concentrations as low as 2.5 parts per billion. This horrible chemical causes cancer in laboratory mammals and developmental problems in fish. Atrazine is one of the most commonly detected pesticides in rainwater, groundwater and tapwater in the USA: atrazine spray gets lifted into the clouds, travels hundreds of miles and then falls down from the sky in rainwater — half a million pounds of it each year. Atrazine is one of the world’s most common pesticides: over 80 million pounds of it were used on American crops last year, and it has been in use for 50 years. Frogs and humans share half our DNA, so Atrazine can’t be good for humans either. That’s likely why the European Union banned the harmful pesticide in 2004. Now we need your help to get it banned in the United States.”

For more information on Save the Frogs! and the global Save the Frogs Day:

Save the Frogs Day focuses on banning Atrazine in US

(04/26/2011) This year’s Save the Frogs Day (Friday, April 29th) is focusing on a campaign to ban the herbicide Atrazine in the US with a rally at the steps of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Kerry Kriger, executive director of frog-focused NGO Save the Frogs! and creator of Save the Frogs Day, says that Atrazine is an important target in the attempt to save amphibians worldwide, which are currently facing extinction rates that are estimated at 200 times the average. “Atrazine weakens amphibians’ immune systems, and can cause hermaphroditism and complete sex reversal in male frogs at concentrations as low as 2.5 parts per billion,” Kriger told mongabay.com.

Elementary school children urge KFC to stop cutting down forests (video)

April 25th, 2011

With 6,000 hand-drawn postcards, four elementary school kids travel from Charlotte, North Carolina to Louisville, Kentucky (350 miles) to urge KFC to use recycled paper and stop endangering forests on North Carolina’s coast.

Lead by 10-year-old forest activist, Cole Rasenberger, the group delivered the postcards to executives at KFC.

“I had a second grade project to be an environmental activist,” Rasenberger explains. “I found that the forests in North Carolina are being cut down and animals are being endangered and so I did [work to get] McDonald’s to change and they switched to 100% post-consumer recycled bags. Now I am doing KFC.”

Watch the video to see how it turns out!

KFC sources its paper packaging, including the bucket, from companies that are destroying endangered forests along the North Carolina coast, according to Dogwood Alliance, an NGO devoted to protecting forests in the southern US.

For more information on Cole Rasenberger: Meet The South’s Coolest 8 Year Old .

Bill McKibben at Powershift: “there is no one else: it’s you”

April 21st, 2011

Bill McKibben speaking at Powershift.

Selection from the speech:

“Twenty-two years ago, I wrote the first book about climate change and I’ve gotten to watch it all, and I know that simply persuasion will not do. We need to fight. Now, we need to fight non-violently and with civil disobedience. [...] One thing you need to make sure that you manage to get across in your witness is that you are not the radicals in this fight. The radicals are the people who are fundamentally altering the composition of the atmosphere. That is the most radical thing people have ever done. We need to fight with art and with music, too. Not just the side with our brain that likes bar graphs and pie graphs, but with all our heart and all our soul. [...]
We need to fight with unity. We need to have a coherent voice. [...] We need to speak with one loud voice, because we are fighting for your future.”

[...]

“We fight not just for ourselves, we fight for the beauty of this place. For cool trout streams and deep spruce woods. For chilly fog rising off the Pacific and deep snow blanketing the mountains. We fight for all the creation that shares this planet with us. We don’t know half the species on Earth we’re wiping out. And of course, we fight alongside our brothers and sisters around the world. You’ve seen the pictures as I talk: these are our comrades. Most of these people, as you see, come from places that have not caused this problem, and yet they’re willing to be in deep solidarity with us. That’s truly admirable and it puts a real moral burden on us. Never let anyone tell you, that environmentalism is something that rich, white people do. Most of the people that we work with around the world are poor and black and brown and Asian and young, because that’s what most of the world is made up of, and they care about the future as anyone else.

“We have to fight, finally, without any guarantee that we are going to win. We have waited late to get started and our adversaries are strong and we do not know how this is going to come out. If you were a betting person, you might bet we were going to lose because so far that’s what happened, but that’s not a bet you’re allowed to make. The only thing that a morally awake person to do when the worst thing that’s ever happened is happening is try to change those odds.”

Power Shift activist: ‘there’s still [BP] oil on our coast’ (video)

April 17th, 2011

An activist with Power Shift 2011 says BP not living up to its obligations one year after disaster.

Activist from New Orleans wants everyone to know: ‘there’s still oil on our coasts’.

Trailer to John Muir in the New World (video)

April 10th, 2011

Watch the full episode. See more American Masters.

Trailer of PBS American Masters’ episode John Muir in the New World.

In honor of upcoming Earth Day (April 22nd) and John Muir Day (April 20th) PBS has produced a new episode of American Masters celebrating renowned conservationist, John Muir. The episode airs Monday, April 18 at 9 pm (ET) on PBS in US.