The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
Environmental and indigenous groups are cheering a landmark decision by Canada’s highest court on Friday, which ordered the Yukon Territorial Government to abide by a negotiated plan to preserve one of the largest intact wilderness areas in North America.
The Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous decision marks the end of a three-year legal battle between the Yukon government and a coalition of indigenous First Nations and environmental groups over the future of the Peel Watershed, a wildlife-rich region of mountains and rivers that also has significant deposits of gas, coal, iron, and other minerals. Roughly the size of the Republic of Ireland, the pristine region was featured in an article in the February 2014 issue of National Geographic.
Use of plastic bottles is surging worldwide with a million being bought every minute. Even in Germany, which has a reputation for being an environmentally-aware nation of recyclers, more and more people are reaching for single-use bottles.
Producing the bottles consumes vast amounts of resources. In Germany, their manufacture requires 665,000 tons of crude oil and 11 billion kilowatt hours of electricity — ultimately spewing out 1.25 million tons of CO2 annually, according to environmental organization, DUH.
Most plastic bottles — even single-use — are recyclable. Still, most countries either lack waste infrastructure or cannot keep up with the sheer amount being produced. Instead, the plastic ends up on beaches and in the sea, where it accumulates because it doesn’t biodegrade in nature. As a result, it poses a danger to marine life and can even enter our food via fish and other animals that ingest it.
For the songbirds, breakfast meant leaving a nest or tree hollow at dawn to seek insects, nectar, fruit. The birds’ meals depend on local phenology, the seasonal timing of the cycles of plant and animal life. But as the climate has changed in the Sierra Nevada mountains, that age-old rhythm has slipped. By the time they are ready to nest, migratory songbirds often find that their food sources are available either higher up mountains or further north than in the past. For the most part, the birds follow suit. But a surprising number keep nesting in their old ranges, and until recently, researchers haven’t had a plausible explanation as to why. Now, a new analysis of the Grinnell Resurvey data suggests that many California songbird species are compensating for the effects of climate change, not by altering their range, but by nesting and raising their young much earlier in the year.
Fires have been ravaging Los Angeles and neighboring counties since Monday evening, scorching upwards of 83,000 acres of land. Flames have traversed the 405 and 101 highways, some of the routes that tens of thousands of evacuees need to leave their homes and flee to safety. California’s fire season often extends into the fall, but blazes this late in the year are unusual, Chief Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director of Calfire, told the New York Times. “In the last decade we’ve had more and more fires in the nontraditional fire season months, which really emphasizes the changing climate that we have here in California,” he said.
Indeed, climate change may be to blame for more common and more intense fires in the West. Two-thirds of California’s largest wildfires in the past century have occurred since 2002, according to Calfire.
The UK has committed to a programme that will phase coal out of all electricity generation by 2025.
Canada has also said it will close its coal power stations by 2030, and both countries are urging others to put a stop to coal-powered energy generation.
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