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Chickadee
iStock

Why it matters that climate change is shrinking birds

When we think about the impacts of climate change, many of us understand the need for connected habitat. We need to understand the larger impacts, too.

Scientists have long predicted that increasing temperatures would drive reductions in body size across the tree of life, but testing this requires huge amounts of data collected consistently over decades. This type of data is only available for a tiny fraction of the world’s species, including some North American birds.

Recently, a study based on over 70,000 North American bird specimens found that warming temperatures have been shrinking birds for the past 40 years…

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Amanda Gorman

“Earthrise” by Amanda Gorman

Sometimes sharing a poem or image is a powerful way to connect with those around you. For me, music and poetry provide a place to slow down and connect to what I care about. If you haven't listened to Amanda Gorman recite this poem, you may enjoy it.

“On Christmas Eve, 1968, astronaut Bill Anders
Snapped a photo of the earth
As Apollo 8 orbited the moon…”

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Playground
iStock

Schools and solar: Taking action, saving money

Land trusts are increasingly working with schools as part of their community conservation efforts. They could also help schools make the transition and share the good work of schools going solar, and the benefits of lands and waters we all want to conserve.

As school districts struggle to adapt to a nationwide budget crisis brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak, many K-12 schools are shoring up budgets with a switch to solar power. Find out more inside this third edition of Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools, including new data and trends on solar uptake at schools nationwide, how schools are saving millions in energy bills (with little-to-no upfront investment), and a national ranking of all states for solar on schools…

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Kids On Trail
iStock

Psychologists are learning how to bolster the health of humans and the environment as the planet warms

Land and water conservation, and climate solutions, need to support those who will treasure it for generations to come. With increasing stress on people, as well as natural systems, we need to think holistically and be honest about the solutions.

“We are concerned about the findings,” said Clayton, a psychology professor at the College of Wooster in Ohio. “Negative emotions and pessimistic beliefs can be a source of stress that leads to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.” Nearly half of the participants reported that their feelings about climate change negatively affected aspects of their daily lives, such as sleeping, socializing, school, and work…

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Wetland
Judy Anderson

U.S. eyes wetland restoration as hedge against climate change

Conserving land and water is an important part of natural climate solutions. Recognizing that we have to create a situation where they can add value, and thrive in a changing climate, is part of the longer-term strategy.

Researchers found that conserving existing wetlands, restoring 35 percent of marshes that have been impounded or drained, and allowing coastal wetlands to naturally migrate toward land as sea levels rise could create a substantial sink for CO2 and human-caused methane by 2050…

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Cows
iStock

A new study on regenerative grazing complicates climate optimism

Agriculture can be part of the climate solution. White Oak Pastures is at the center of a larger conversation about the climate impact of beef and the power of regenerative grazing to store carbon in the soil.

A new, peer-reviewed paper on White Oak Pastures’ practices advances our understanding of the climate impact of beef and the potential for regenerative grazing to store carbon in the soil….

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Brown Bird
Pixnio

Shared morphological consequences of global warming in North American migratory birds

Recently, a study based on over 70,000 North American bird specimens found that warming temperatures have been shrinking birds for the past 40 years...

“Increasing temperatures associated with climate change are predicted to cause reductions in body size, a key determinant of animal physiology and ecology…”

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Nuthatch
iStock

Declining body size: a third universal response to warming?

"Scientists have long predicted that increasing temperatures would drive reductions in body size across the tree of life, but testing this requires huge amounts of data collected consistently over decades. This type of data is only available for a tiny fraction of the world’s species, including some North American birds."

“Because body size affects thermoregulation and energetics, changing body size has implications for resilience in the face of climate change.”

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Sheep
MN Board of Water and Soil Resources

Rotational grazing revives the prairie

Prairies, because of their deep-rooted plants, can slow down climate change by storing carbon in roots. Managing prairies for wildlife habitat, soil health, and climate change will also help with water retention and flood control. Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources is testing out regenerative agricultural and prairie health.

Foraging sheep, prairie plants, and soil health all benefited from a two-month experiment that allowed Chris Schmidt to rotationally graze on neighboring land enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

The 45-acre prairie restoration was overdue for mid-contract maintenance… “Songbirds. Butterflies. Bees. All that stuff is intertwined one way or another. We can’t have one without the other. Increase that diversity not only in plants but wildlife,” Schmidt said of grazing the landscape…

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Dino Skull
NHM

What is mass extinction and are we facing a sixth one?

We need to ensure people understand that natural climate solutions are dependent to a large degree on keeping climate polluting gases under control — or nature can't function effectively, and the Sixth Mass Extinction will run out of control.

“Extinction is a part of life, and animals and plants disappear all the time. About 98% of all the organisms that have ever existed on our planet are now extinct.

When a species goes extinct, its role in the ecosystem is usually filled by new species, or other existing ones. Earth’s ‘normal’ extinction rate is often thought to be somewhere between 0.1 and 1 species per 10,000 species per 100 years. This is known as the background rate of extinction…”

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