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Hybrid species are a conservationist’s nightmare. They’re difficult to identify, since species have their own genetic gradient (I’m simplifying). They’re tough to track in nature because there are few biologists that specialize in hybrid species. And, from a conservation standpoint, very difficult (perhaps impossible) to manage their habitat since they’re a “new” breed of animal. It is unknown if that line will survive, unknown where they will choose to nest, and there’s just little historical record. Not to mention the DNA testing is very expensive.

Climate change is pushing many animals north, extending their range because surface temperatures have warmed. Warmer surface temps make for more food sources (trees, berries, flowers, bugs, critters, human trash, etc.). This creates conditions where southern species are intermingling with northern species. And the resulting animals make for some interesting debates…


Pushed north by a warming climate, southern species mate with northern cousins, muddying gene pools and conservation efforts.

Really neat photo essay by the hard working folks at mothernaturenetwork:

10 remarkable Arctic birds

The warmest month in the Arctic Circle still means temperatures below 50 degrees. But that doesn’t deter about 200 species of Arctic birds from making the northernmost part of the Earth their home for at least part of the year.
During the winter, ptarmigan are the most abundant birds in the Arctic, while ravens are the most noticeable birds.
In the summertime, more birds can be found throughout the region. Some nest there, staying to care for their hatchlings, while others may just fly through the Arctic on migratory routes. As the weather gets colder, the birds depart, with only a few species remaining year-round.
We asked ornithologist Dr. Nathan Senner, who studies Arctic species with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, for his top 10 list of interesting Arctic birds. His selections include birds with long migratory flight patterns, two with flamboyant mating rituals and another with a distinctive call that differs during day and night.
Check it out if you have a sec: MNN

Allergic to the anesthesia in a tranquilizer dart.


Rhino dies in anti-poaching demonstration
Conservationists accidentally killed a rhinoceros they were attempting to make safe from poachers in a botched public relations event.

Some highlights from our climate conference, GreenGov2011, which we ran with the White House. In 2009, Obama signed EO 13514, which told the Federal Government to go green and GreenGov showcased the results. Hung out with climate expert Heidi Cullen (who was on Colbert recently) and the handsome and ocean/environmental tv star Philippe Cousteau Jr., among other climetey people. I also met Kevin Johnson, former NBA star and now Mayor of Sacramento. He surprised all of us with an inspiring talk on urban planning and sustainability. Retired Marine and author of the then anonymous (as “Mr. Y”) and controversial “National Security Narrative”, Mark Mykleby, was just phenomenal on national security and climate change. He got a standing ovation. Wish I took more pics, but since it was my event, I had to shake hands with guests and work with my fantastic, incredibly hardworking staff…

More on the effects of population growth. Untreated sewages kills millions of people each year - a genocide every year. Previously.

"More than 200 million tons of human waste goes untreated every year. In the developing world, 90 percent of sewage is discharged directly into lakes, rivers and oceans. And even in developed countries, cities depend on old, rickety sewage systems that are easily overwhelmed by a heavy rain.

All this untreated sewage adds up to a major public health crisis that kills an estimated 1.4 million children each year, according to the World Health Organization.”

This piece by MNN is worth your time:

How will sanitation departments deal with Earth’s 7 billion people?
Population growth in both the developing and developed world is putting pressure on sewage systems and highlighting the need for latrines in rural areas and urban slums.

This is what the GOP is doing. See my previous warning to enviro’s that environmental regulations are going to get slaughtered and Obama is going to cave. Be prepared. (Does anyone have a better summary of riders than MNN’s? Email me please.)

Debt ceiling proposals not so eco-friendly

The GOP has nearly 40 anti-environmental proposals in its debt plan. We parse through five of the most significant items.

1. Delay in carbon regulation
It’s hard to reduce the amount of carbon pollution in our atmosphere if you can’t regulate emissions from “stationary sources.” Yet, that is what Section 431 of the bill would do.

2. Oil companies don’t have to comply with Clean Air Act requirements
Section 443 of the Republican proposal includes a directive to amend the Clean Air Act in a few ways.
3. GOP gives green light to mountaintop removal mining
Of the 39 GOP proposals that take aim at the environment, two of them make it easier for mountaintop removal mining to continue.
4. Wild lands order put on hold
In December 2010, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the government would designate millions of acres in the American West as “Wild Lands.” This would allow the Bureau of Land Management to manage these acres, but Section 124 calls for essentially sticking a knife in the Salazar plan once and for all.
5. Grand Canyon to be opened for uranium mining
As if the views of the Grand Canyon weren’t glowing enough, Republicans in the House want it to be a beacon of uranium production. Section 455 of their appropriations bill would prohibit the Secretary of the Interior from implementing a land withdrawal to protect the Grand Canyon from new uranium mining claims.

Luckily, there’s little chance that all the proposals will be approved by the Senate, which Democrats control. In fact, one measure — to forbid the Fish and Wildlife Service to list any new plants or animals as endangered — was so extreme that 37 Republicans broke ranks Wednesday and voted to strip it from the bill.

Learn more about the proposals.



Become an MNN local correspondent
We’re seeking environmentally savvy writers, photographers and videographers to be part of MNN’s State Reports.

Smart photo essay by the good folks at Mother Nature Network. I wonder how, collectively and sociologically, residents in big cities flip from high consumption to conservation. How long does it take for the collective conscience to evolve? On the other hand, my gut tells me that these efforts in top ranked cities with supposedly low rates of consumption, are off-set by any gains with high ownership of gadgets, multiple computers, and beer drinking.

Update: Just realized that the report was originally by Nalgene. So now I’m even more suspicious that this “study” is nothing more than a PR stunt to cover up for the company’s plastic BPA recall and sell more crap bottles. In fact, Nalgene hired a PR firm to help shape its image shortly after the reputation damaging recall. The PR firm, by the way, went on to win awards for its turn around “successes.”

But, that’s not my main problem with plastic water bottles. It has to do with embodied energy from using hot water to clean them, and energy intensity used to manufacture and market them.

I argue that reusable plastic or aluminum bottles use more energy over their lifetimes vs the equivalent of disposable bottles. This may be a hard thing to wrap your mind around, since we can see the waste from piles of wasted plastic bottles in our dumps, and, of course, floating in our the earth’s oceans (not to mention it being pounded into our heads).

But look, hot water burns coal, and we use a shit ton of hot water to clean these bottles. Millions of gallons of hot water, I imagine. Disposable plastic bottles cost very, very little by way of embodied energy and natural resources. Disposables are not particularly marketed as a consumer item (what’s inside, is).

Reusables use highly complex manufacturing processes, more chemicals, more natural and man made resources than just simple plastic container. Sigg metal bottles depend on mining for aluminum, for example. Not to mention the special paint Siggs have that won’t rub off, melt away, or scratch easily (e.g., more chemicals, more energy to apply, and increased material sources expanding their ultimate supply chain, etc).

Reusables use less efficient shipping, since you can buy just one from, say, Amazon. Adding individual shipping to each bottle increases, on a unit-per-unit basis, its already large carbon foot print. Not to mention each bottle comes in cardboard packaging and with “instructions” in the form of more wasteful machine cut and machine inked paper, and plastic wrapping, all of which gets thrown away.

The silent-kicker, of course, is the energy used in marketing these products, again on a comparable unit-to-unit basis. Marketing increases the footprint of each “earth friendly” bottle. Not all of this is tangibly recognizable, but takes a quick thought experiment to see it. Marketing reusables uses tremendous amounts of electricity on so many levels - creating more printed marketing materials (a source of more embodied energy and resources), more computer power by way of computer design, and use of more electricity by the company’s marketing and PR staff to sell these supposedly environmentally good things. Reusables use more electricity, burns more coal, and consumes more resources than disposables. I assure you, you can live a healthy, environmentally friendly life without either of these products.