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Oil Spill Bird
Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

Why the Huntington Beach oil spill is so harmful to wildlife

A ruptured pipeline spewed crude oil into the Pacific Ocean, and it may foul ecosystems for years to come.

On October 2, an oil pipeline off the coast of Southern California ruptured, spewing an estimated 144,000 gallons of crude into the Pacific Ocean. The leak created a toxic, 13-square-mile oil slick off the shore of Huntington Beach, which has since spread into coastal wetlands rich in biodiversity.

While the spill is far from the scale of infamous past disasters — the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 released roughly 930 times as many gallons into the ocean — experts say it will have sweeping impacts on Southern California’s coastal wildlife, potentially for years to come.

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Getty Images

Earth is running low on wildlife. Plants will be next.

Many plants need to migrate to survive climate change, but they’re losing their animal rides.

The seeds of this story were planted in a steaming pile of elephant dung somewhere in the African savanna. Elephants love to stuff their faces with fruit, and fruit trees like marulas need a way to spread their seeds, so the two species have developed an intimate and symbiotic relationship. A single African savanna elephant is capable of dumping seeds up to 65 kilometers (40 miles) from the site of its feast, making them the most impressive seed transporters in the animal kingdom.

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Charles Larry/The Nature Conservancy

This map may make you feel better about the state of the planet

If you are looking for hopeful things to share, this might be a good one.

One problem with the onslaught of negative environmental news — extinctionsoil spills, and so on — is that people become numb to it, as Barney Long, senior director of conservation strategies at the nonprofit Re:wild, told Vox last fall.

“I’m a strong believer in flipping this on its head and really starting to talk about the positive stories,” said Long, who’s involved in IUCN’s new tools to measure recovery (but not the Restor map). We want to avoid extinction, he said, “but what do we want to achieve?”

Efforts to restore ecosystems don’t always work, of course, and it’s important to highlight failures and course corrections, Crowther said. His previous research into forest restoration helped inspire enormous tree-planting campaigns, for example, but these efforts often fail to restore forests and can even destroy native ecosystems. Restoration is also not going to stop climate change on its own, experts say…

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Francis Chung/E&E News

Scientists flood forests to mimic rising seas

We are facing choices in how much we want to leave to chance, and how fast we want to slow down climate change. It's not mission creep for conservation groups to prioritize the effort. It's "mission central."

Using a web of PVC pipes and rubber hoses, they inundate sections of woodland half the size of a football field to study how the trees might respond to climate change and its effects — namely rising seas and torrential downpours.

It’s a local experiment, but the researchers said they hope to build a global model that will help scientists understand what events lead to the earliest stages of tree stress and when forests near coasts start converting to wetlands…

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Sheep Grazing

Minnesota research finds sheep grazing at solar sites actually improves soil quality

“Preliminary results indicate that implementing managed sheep grazing significantly increased soil carbon storage and other nutrients important for plant production.” Results will need to be confirmed through continued analysis of soil properties over the next few years.

Research conducted in Minnesota over the past two years points to many beneficial aspects of grazing sheep at ground-mounted solar projects. What is assumed to be the largest solar sheep flock in the United States operates from the MNL grazing facility and has been grazing Enel’s 150-MW Aurora project since 2017. Soil samples from six of the projects were first taken in 2020 and again in 2021 with the preliminary results recently presented…

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White Butterfly
Alamy Stock Photo

Air pollution makes it harder for pollinators to find plants

Exposing bees, butterflies and other pollinators to air pollution severely impairs their ability to sniff out the plants they feed on. That could be bad news for both insect populations and the crops that rely on them for pollination.

A field trial found that levels of nitrogen oxides and ozone similar to those near roads led to a 70 per cent drop in the numbers of bees and butterflies on mustard plants…

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Fly Fishing

Hotter summer temperatures prompt fly fishing restrictions in Montana

Warmer water contains less oxygen, which stresses fish. Habitat restoration around streams and rivers is important — but it won't be enough. Let's see if we can connect to people around climate action, because of the waters they love.

In some areas, fishing has been temporarily prohibited on hot summer afternoons when the water is too warm.

“That’s a huge impact to fisheries and to the guiding community as a whole,” Hutcheson says. “There are operations…starting their guide trips at 5 a.m. so they can get off the water by 2, or they’re simply not taking people out during the hottest times of the year, which traditionally has been some of the best fishing”…

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Land is a critical resource, IPCC report says

Here’s the good news: according to a report released by the United Nations in 2019, land conservation is one of the most important and effective methods of reducing the negative impacts of climate change.

Land is already under growing human pressure and climate change is adding to these pressures. At the same time, keeping global warming to well below 2ºC can be achieved only by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors including land and food, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in its latest report on Thursday.

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Maine Coast Heritage Trust

Why rivers matter in a changing climate

Maine Coast Heritage Trust is increasing its climate change work. To do so they are expanding partnerships and raising money to accelerate the impact.

Conditions on the Maine coast are rapidly changing. The Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 95% of the world’s oceans; sea level is expected to rise six feet in the next fifty years; some of our roads and bridges are already under water at high tide; storms are increasing in intensity and frequency.

Here’s the good news: according to a report released by the United Nations in 2019, land conservation is one of the most important and effective methods of reducing the negative impacts of climate change…

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Pft What We Do
Pacific Forest Trust

Natural Climate Solutions

Talking about climate change in a way that connects people to what they see, and feel, on a daily basis is increasingly important. So, too, is linking to policy initiatives that could help. Check out how Pacific Forest Trust works on natural climate solutions.

You might appreciate how Pacific Forest Trust is talking about natural climate solutions as they relate to forests — and the work of the land trust.

Check out their website pages related to climate change. Let me know how your land trust is talking about natural climate solutions and how they are part of the overall climate work that needs to be done.

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