Bonn, Germany, 13 November 2017 (IUCN) – The number of natural World Heritage sites threatened by climate change has grown from 35 to 62 in just three years, with climate change being the fastest growing threat they face, according to a report released today by IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, at the UN climate change conference in Bonn, Germany.

The IUCN World Heritage Outlook 2 – an update of the 2014 IUCN World Heritage Outlook report – assesses, for the first time, changes in the conservation prospects of all 241 natural World Heritage sites. It examines the threats, protection and management of the sites, and the state of their World Heritage values – the unique features which have earned them their prestigious World Heritage status.

According to the assessments, climate change impacts, such as coral bleaching and glacier loss, affect a quarter of all sites – compared to one in seven sites in 2014 – and place coral reefs and glaciers among the most threatened ecosystems. Other ecosystems, such as wetlands, low-lying deltas, permafrost and fire sensitive ecosystems are also affected. The report warns that the number of natural World Heritage sites affected by climate change is likely to grow further, as climate change remains the biggest potential threat to natural world heritage.

“Protection of World Heritage sites is an international responsibility of the same governments that have signed up to the Paris Agreement,” says Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General. “This IUCN report sends a clear message to the delegates gathered here in Bonn: climate change acts fast and is not sparing the finest treasures of our planet. The scale and the pace at which it is damaging our natural heritage underline the need for urgent and ambitious national commitments and actions to implement the Paris Agreement.”

World Heritage-listed coral reefs, such as the Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean – the world's second-largest coral atoll, the Belize Barrier Reef in the Atlantic – the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere, and the Great Barrier Reef – the biggest reef on Earth, have been affected by devastating mass coral bleaching events over the last three years, due to rising sea temperatures. The Great Barrier Reef, for instance, has suffered widespread bleaching, with up to 85% of surveyed reefs impacted in 2016.

Retreating glaciers, also resulting from rising temperatures, threaten sites such as Kilimanjaro National Park – which boasts Africa’s highest peak – and the Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch – home to the largest Alpine glacier.

“Natural World Heritage sites play a crucial role supporting local economies and livelihoods,” says Tim Badman, Director of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme. “Their destruction can thus have devastating consequences that go beyond their exceptional beauty and natural value. In Peru’s Huascarán National Park, for example, melting glaciers affect water supplies and contaminate water and soil due to the release of heavy metals previously trapped under ice. This adds to the urgency of our challenge to protect these places.”

World Heritage sites with a changed conservation outlook between 2014 and 2017. Graphic: IUCN

The broader findings of the report show further challenges to World Heritage. Other threats, such as invasive species, unsustainable tourism or infrastructure development, are also increasing. They affect ecological processes and threaten the survival of species within the sites. Invasive alien species are the most widespread of all threats. Their impacts are often aggravated by climate change, which facilitates their spread and establishment.

Overall, the report finds that 29% of World Heritage sites face significant concerns and 7% - including the Everglades National Park in the U.S. and Lake Turkana in Kenya – have a critical outlook. Two-thirds of the sites are assessed as likely to be well conserved in the near future, the same overall proportion as in 2014.

The report also reveals that the management of natural World Heritage sites has dropped in quality and effectiveness since 2014, notably due to insufficient funding. Fewer than half of the sites are currently being managed to good standards.

However, the report also includes some success stories, which show tangible, positive impact of effective management. Côte d’Ivoire’s Comoé National Park, for example, has seen the recovery of its elephant and chimpanzee populations thanks to effective management and international support, following political stabilisation in the country. As a result, its conservation outlook has significantly improved over the last three years. It is one of 14 sites with an improved rating since the 2014 IUCN World Heritage Outlook report.

The report is available online and its next edition is planned for 2020. All site assessments can be accessed at worldheritageoutlook.iucn.org.

Contact

Number of natural World Heritage sites affected by climate change nearly doubles in three years – IUCN

Participants make their way along Rajpath during the Delhi half marathon, 19 November 2017. Photo: Chandan Khanna / AFP / Getty Images

19 November 2017 (Agence France-Presse) – Tens of thousands of runners Sunday choked through smog for the Delhi half marathon, ignoring dire health warnings from doctors who fought for the controversial race in the heavily polluted capital to be postponed.

More than 30,000 people, some sporting pollution masks, braved a hazy morning to run through the Indian capital despite almost two weeks of hazardous smog that forced schools shut for several days.

The US embassy website on Sunday showed levels of the smallest and most harmful airborne pollutants hovered near 200 - eight times the World Health Organization’s safe maximum - for the duration of the 13.1 mile (21 km) race.

Some athletes complained of side effects from the polluted conditions which worsened as amateur runners - the bulk of Sunday’s competitors - huffed and puffed around Delhi’s smoggy streets later in the morning.

“My eyes are burning, my throat is dry. I have a running nose,” said running enthusiast Rohit Mohan, a 30-year-old from the southern city of Bangalore who was among the minority donning a mask. “It’s been terrible since I landed here yesterday.”

Others expressed frustration at being forced to take precautions unnecessary elsewhere, like wearing masks that filter pollutants but also restrict breathing.

“It’s obviously much harder to breathe, so you’re not doing your best here, and you can’t take it off,” Abhay Sen, 30, told AFP. “Makes you think whether you want to do this again or not.” [more]

'My eyes are burning': Delhi holds half marathon despite pollution warning

Yaniel Alexis Perez outside his flooded home in Añasco, Puerto Rico. He has not had electricity since Hurricane Maria hit in September 2017. Photo: Milton Carrero Galarza / The Los Angeles Times

By Milton Carrero Galarza And Kurtis Lee
19 November 2017

AÑASCO, Puerto Rico (Los Angeles Times) – The lights remain off in bustling cities and in small rural villages. Gas generators, the only alternative to the downed power lines that seem to be everywhere, continuously hum outside hospitals and bodegas. When night falls, it’s the glow of car lights, not streetlights, that helps break through the darkness.

Two months after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, much of the U.S. territory still lacks electricity. Even in areas with power, such as the capital city of San Juan, residents must deal with daily blackouts.

A lack of reliable electricity coupled with massive destruction to roads and bridges have led hundreds of thousands to flee Puerto Rico for the mainland U.S., and some economists predict decades of stagnation for an island that already was struggling financially.

In recent days, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello announced that the island, through the work of Puerto Rico's Electric Power Authority, had restored power to 50% of the commonwealth.

Rossello has said the island will reach 80% generation by the end of November and 95% by mid-December — goals that some here have called unrealistic. By contrast, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that 75% of the island will regain power by the end of January. […]

On Saturday, Yaniel Alexis Perez walked down a narrow street in Añasco, a city of about 27,000 people with views that overlook the Caribbean Sea. He wore a special necklace — a black cellphone charger he carries with him everywhere so he can power up his phone when he finds electricity.

Perez's house is without power, and still flooded after the unrelenting rains that have pounded the island. The floodwaters have made it dangerous for him to use a generator.

For several weeks, Perez, 25, has powered up thanks to the generosity of friends with generators. He also spends evenings at the home of his neighbor, Ricardo Prosper.

Prosper, 67, considers himself a creative type. He managed to wire the 12-volt lightbulbs in his home to a series of car batteries.

"Even if there is no electricity, there's light here," Prosper said, showing his living room.

Officials estimate several hundred people — mostly young adults — are leaving Puerto Rico each day for the mainland. […]

Tony Villamil, an economist based in Miami who has worked extensively in Puerto Rico, said Saturday it was "going to take a decade at minimum for the island to recover and regain some sense of normalcy." [more]

Two months after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico struggles to regain electricity and thousands flee the island

Left: Greenland topography color coded color-coded from 4,900 feet (1,500 meters) below sea level (dark blue) to 4,900 feet above (brown). Right: Regions below sea level connected to the ocean; darker colors are deeper. The thin white line shows the current extent of the ice sheet. Graphic: UCI

By Carol Rasmussen
1 November 2017

(NASA) – New maps of Greenland's coastal seafloor and bedrock beneath its massive ice sheet show that two to four times as many coastal glaciers are at risk of accelerated melting as previously thought.

Researchers at the University of California at Irvine (UCI), NASA and 30 other institutions havepublished the most comprehensive, accurate and high-resolution relief maps ever made of Greenland's bedrock and coastal seafloor. Among the many data sources incorporated into the new maps are data from NASA's Ocean Melting Greenland (OMG) campaign.

Lead author Mathieu Morlighem of UCI had demonstrated in an earlier paper that data from OMG's survey of the shape and depth, or bathymetry, of the seafloor in Greenland's fjords improved scientists' understanding not only of the coastline, but of the inland bedrock beneath glaciers that flow into the ocean. That's because the bathymetry where a glacier meets the ocean limits the possibilities for the shape of bedrock farther upstream.

Above image shows a stretch of Greenland's coastline as created by BedMachine before and after the inclusion of new OMG data. Credit: UCI

The nearer to the shoreline, the more valuable the bathymetry data are for understanding on-shore topography, Morlighem said. "What made OMG unique compared to other campaigns is that they got right into the fjords, as close as possible to the glacier fronts. That's a big help for bedrock mapping." Additionally, the OMG campaign surveyed large sections of the Greenland coast for the first time ever. In fjords for which there are no data, it's difficult to estimate how deep the glaciers extend below sea level.

The OMG data are only one of many datasets Morlighem and his team used in the ice sheet mapper, which is named BedMachine. Another comprehensive source is NASA's Operation IceBridge airborne surveys. IceBridge measures the ice sheet thickness directly along a plane's flight path. This creates a set of long, narrow strips of data rather than a complete map of the ice sheet. Besides NASA, nearly 40 other international collaborators also contributed various types of survey data on different parts of Greenland.

No survey, not even OMG, covers every glacier on Greenland's long, convoluted coastline. To infer the bed topography in sparsely studied areas, BedMachine averages between existing data points using physical principles such as the conservation of mass.

A stretch of Greenland's coastline as created by BedMachine, before and after the inclusion of new data from NASA's Ocean Melting Greenland campaign. Credit: UCI

The new maps reveal that two to four times more oceanfront glaciers extend deeper than 600 feet (200 meters) below sea level than earlier maps showed. That's bad news, because the top 600 feet of water around Greenland comes from the Arctic and is relatively cold. The water below it comes from farther south and is 6 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit (3 to 4 degrees Celsius) warmer than the water above. Deeper-seated glaciers are exposed to this warmer water, which melts them more rapidly.

Morlighem's team used the maps to refine their estimate of Greenland's total volume of ice and its potential to add to global sea level rise, if the ice were to melt completely -- which is not expected to occur within the next few hundred years. The new estimate is higher by 2.76 inches (7 centimeters) for a total of 24.34 feet (7.42 meters).

OMG Principal Investigator Josh Willis of JPL, who was not involved in producing the maps, said, "These results suggest that Greenland's ice is more threatened by changing climate than we had anticipated."

On Oct. 23, the five-year OMG campaign completed its second annual set of airborne surveys to measure, for the first time, the amount that warm water around the island is contributing to the loss of the Greenland ice sheet. Besides the one-time bathymetry survey, OMG is collecting annual measurements of the changing height of the ice sheet and the ocean temperature and salinity in more than 200 fjord locations. Morlighem looks forward to improving BedMachine's maps with data from the airborne surveys.

The maps and related research are in a paper titled "BedMachine v3: Complete bed topography and ocean bathymetry mapping of Greenland from multi-beam echo sounding combined with mass conservation" in Geophysical Research Letters.

Contact

Alan Buis
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
818-354-0474
Alan.Buis@jpl.nasa.gov
Brian Bell
University of California, Irvine
949-824-8249
bpbell@uci.edu

New Greenland Maps Show More Glaciers at Risk


ABSTRACT: Greenland's bed topography is a primary control on ice flow, grounding line migration, calving dynamics, and subglacial drainage. Moreover, fjord bathymetry regulates the penetration of warm Atlantic water (AW) that rapidly melts and undercuts Greenland's marine-terminating glaciers. Here we present a new compilation of Greenland bed topography that assimilates seafloor bathymetry and ice thickness data through a mass conservation approach. A new 150 m horizontal resolution bed topography/bathymetric map of Greenland is constructed with seamless transitions at the ice/ocean interface, yielding major improvements over previous data sets, particularly in the marine-terminating sectors of northwest and southeast Greenland. Our map reveals that the total sea level potential of the Greenland ice sheet is 7.42 ± 0.05 m, which is 7 cm greater than previous estimates. Furthermore, it explains recent calving front response of numerous outlet glaciers and reveals new pathways by which AW can access glaciers with marine-based basins, thereby highlighting sectors of Greenland that are most vulnerable to future oceanic forcing.

BedMachine v3: Complete Bed Topography and Ocean Bathymetry Mapping of Greenland From Multibeam Echo Sounding Combined With Mass Conservation

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) arrives for a classified hearing at the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in October 2017. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

By Dino Grandoni
17 November 2017

(The Washington Post) – Despite the drumbeat of opposition to President Trump's political nominees, Senate Democrats haven't been able to do much to stop Congress from confirming them.

Fourteen Trump picks to executive branch jobs have withdrawn their names after being selected, according to the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service. Each of those nominees removed themselves from consideration before a Senate committee had the chance to vote.

Thus far, no Trump nominee, however, has actually been defeated by the full Senate -- it only takes 50 votes, remember, to reject a nomination because Senate Democrats when they last held the majority changed the rules to require just a simple majority to approve executive branch and federal judicial nominations (minus the Supreme Court).

Yet, that is.

This week, North Carolina’s two Republican senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, said they would oppose Michael Dourson’s nomination as the top chemical safety official at the Environmental Protection Agency.

The senators raised concerns about Dourson’s track record as a consultant for chemical companies when he was a professor at the University of Cincinnati, where he often produced research finding little or no human health risks for their products. Specifically, Burr pointed to contaminated water documented at a North Carolina military base and an unregulated compound known as Gen X, used to produce Teflon and other products, that was discovered in the Cape Fear River.

“I will not be supporting the nomination of Michael Dourson. With his record and our state’s history of contamination at Camp Lejeune as well as the current Gen X water issues in Wilmington, I am not confident he is the best choice for our country,” Burr said in a statement. [more]

This EPA nominee may be the first Trump appointee to be defeated by Congress

Sulfur dioxide concentrations for China have decreased between 2005 and 2016; sulfur dioxide concentrations for India have increased between 2005 and 2016. Graphic: Jesse Allen / NASA Earth Observatory

By Irene Ying; Editing by Karl Hille
13 November 2017

(NASA) – A new study by researchers at NASA and the University of Maryland indicates that India may be the world’s top sulfur dioxide emitter.

Sulfur dioxide is an air pollutant that causes acid rain, haze and many health-related problems. It is produced predominantly when coal is burned to generate electricity.

Although China and India remain the world’s largest consumers of coal, the new research found that China’s sulfur dioxide emissions fell by 75 percent since 2007, while India’s emissions increased by 50 percent. The results suggest that India is becoming, if it is not already, the world’s top sulfur dioxide emitter.

Although China and India remain the world’s largest consumers of coal, the new research found that China’s sulfur dioxide emissions fell by 75 percent since 2007, while India’s emissions increased by 50 percent. The results suggest that India is becoming, if it is not already, the world’s top sulfur dioxide emitter.

“The rapid decrease of sulfur dioxide emissions in China far exceeds expectations and projections,” said first author Can Li, an associate research scientist in the University of Maryland’s Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center and at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “This suggests that China is implementing sulfur dioxide controls beyond what climate modelers have taken into account.”

The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports on 9 November 2017.

China and India are the world’s top consumers of coal, which typically contains up to 3 percent sulfur. Most of the two countries’ sulfur dioxide emissions come from coal-fired power plants and coal-burning factories. In particular, Beijing suffers from severe haze problems because of the many coal-burning factories and power plants located nearby and upwind.

Starting in the early 2000s, China began implementing policies such as fining polluters, setting emission reduction goals and lowering emissions limits. According to the results of the current study, these efforts are paying off.

“Sulfur dioxide levels in China declined dramatically even though coal usage increased by approximately 50 percent and electricity generation grew by over 100 percent,” explained Li. “This suggests that much of the reduction is coming from controlling emissions.”

Despite China’s 75 percent drop in sulfur dioxide emissions, recent work by other scientists has shown that the country’s air quality remains poor and continues to cause significant health problems. This may be because sulfur dioxide contributes to only approximately 10 to 20 percent of the air particles that cause haze, according to Li.

“If China wants to bring blue skies back to Beijing, the country needs to also control other air pollutants,” Li said.

By contrast, India’s sulfur dioxide emissions increased by 50 percent over the past decade. The country opened its largest coal-fired power plant in 2012 and has yet to implement emission controls like China.

“Right now, India’s increased sulfur dioxide emissions are not causing as many health or haze problems as they do in China because the largest emission sources are not in the most densely populated area of India,” Li said. “However, as demand for electricity grows in India, the impact may worsen.”

To generate an accurate profile of emissions over India and China for the current study, the researchers combined emissions data generated by two different methods.

First, the researchers collected estimated emission amounts from inventories of the number of factories, power plants, automobiles and other contributors to sulfur dioxide emissions. These inventories, while important data sources, are often incomplete, outdated or otherwise inaccurate in developing countries. They also cannot account for changing conditions or unforeseen policies.

The researchers’ second data source was the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite, which detects a variety of atmospheric pollutants including sulfur dioxide. While OMI can collect up-to-date information and spot emission sources missing from the inventories, it can only detect relatively large emission sources. In addition, clouds or other atmospheric conditions can interfere with its measurements.

To overcome these challenges, Li and his colleagues collaborated with researchers from Environment and Climate Change Canada to develop better algorithms to quantify emissions based on OMI data. In addition, University of Maryland Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Professors Russell Dickerson and Zhanqing Li, co-authors of the paper, used a weather aircraft to measure the concentrations of sulfur dioxide and other air pollutants over one of the most polluted regions in China. These measurements were used to confirm that the upwind coal power plants were efficiently scrubbing SO2 from their exhaust stacks.

By combining the OMI and inventory data, the researchers generated a more accurate estimate than either data source alone. Previously published studies, which relied on inventory data and published policies, projected that China’s sulfur dioxide emissions would not fall to current levels until 2030 at the earliest.

“Those studies did not reflect the true situation on the ground,” said Li, who is also a member of the U.S. OMI Science Team. “Our study highlights the importance of using satellite measurements to study air quality, especially in regions where conditions may change rapidly and unexpectedly.”

Li hopes the current study’s results can be used to improve climate and atmospheric models by providing more accurate input data.

This work was performed in collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Michigan Technological University and NOAA. This study used data from OMI, which is a Dutch/Finnish contribution to the NASA Aura mission and managed by the Royal Meteorological Institute of the Netherlands and the Netherlands Space Agency.

To read the paper, visit: www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-14639-8

China’s Sulfur Dioxide Emissions Drop, India’s Grow Over Last Decade


ABATRACT: Severe haze is a major public health concern in China and India. Both countries rely heavily on coal for energy, and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emitted from coal-fired power plants and industry is a major pollutant contributing to their air quality problems. Timely, accurate information on SO2 sources is a required input to air quality models for pollution prediction and mitigation. However, such information has been difficult to obtain for these two countries, as fast-paced changes in economy and environmental regulations have often led to unforeseen emission changes. Here we use satellite observations to show that China and India are on opposite trajectories for sulfurous pollution. Since 2007, emissions in China have declined by 75% while those in India have increased by 50%. With these changes, India is now surpassing China as the world’s largest emitter of anthropogenic SO2. This finding, not predicted by emission scenarios, suggests effective SO2 control in China and lack thereof in India. Despite this, haze remains severe in China, indicating the importance of reducing emissions of other pollutants. In India, ~33 million people now live in areas with substantial SO2pollution. Continued growth in emissions will adversely affect more people and further exacerbate morbidity and mortality.

India Is Overtaking China as the World’s Largest Emitter of Anthropogenic Sulfur Dioxide

Sensitivity of sea level rise (SLR) along U.S./Canadian coastlines to Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) thickness variations. Gradient −dS/dH (in 10−3 μm/m per km2) at U.S. and Canadian coastal cities. Maps 1 to 9 correspond, respectively, to gradients computed for each of the named ports numbered clockwise from Halifax. −dS/dH is computed using the ISSM-AD (23) gradient solver. The forward SLR run used to support the derivation of –dS/dH is shown in the center Earth map (in mm/year). It is computed using the ISSM-SESAW (29) solver with model inputs (ice thickness change) inferred from GRACE for the period 2003–2016. This forward model therefore captures the response to thickness changes in all of the main glaciated areas of the world (including, among others, Alaskan and Canadian Arctic Glaciers, Himalayan Glaciers, Patagonia Glaciers, and the Greenland and Antarctica Ice Sheets) (28), hence representing a truly global “ice” fingerprint. Graphic: Larour, et al., 2017 / Science Advances

By Chris Mooney
15 November 2017

(The Washington Post) – New York City has plenty to worry about from sea level rise. But according to a new study by NASA researchers, it should worry specifically about two major glacier systems in Greenland’s northeast and northwest — but not so much about other parts of the vast northern ice sheet.

The research draws on a curious and counterintuitive insight that sea level researchers have emphasized in recent years: As ocean levels rise around the globe, they will not do so evenly. Rather, because of the enormous scale of the ice masses that are melting and feeding the oceans, there will be gravitational effects and even subtle effects on the crust and rotation of the Earth. This, in turn, will leave behind a particular “fingerprint” of sea level rise, depending on when and precisely which parts of Greenland or Antarctica collapse.

Now, Eric Larour, Erik Ivins and Surendra Adhikari of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have teased out one fascinating implication of this finding: Different cities should fear the collapse of different large glaciers.

“It tells you what is the rate of increase of sea level in that city with respect to the rate of change of ice masses everywhere in the world,” Larour said of the new tool his team created.

The research was published in Science Advances, accompanied by an online feature that allows you to choose from among 293 coastal cities and see how certain ice masses could affect them if the ice enters the ocean. The scientists also released a video that captures some of how it works.

The upshot is that New York needs to worry about certain parts of Greenland collapsing, but not so much others. Sydney, however, needs to worry about the loss of particular sectors of Antarctica — the ones farther away from it — and not so much about the ones nearer. And so on.

This is the case because sea level actually decreases near a large ice body that loses mass, because that mass no longer exerts the same gravitational pull on the ocean, which accordingly shifts farther away. This means that from a sea level rise perspective, one of the safest things is to live close to a large ice mass that is melting.

“If you are close enough, then the effect of ice loss will be a sea level drop, not sea level rise,” said Adhikari. The effect is immediate across the globe. [more]

These are the melting glaciers that might someday drown your city, according to NASA


ABSTRACT: There is a general consensus among Earth scientists that melting of land ice greatly contributes to sea-level rise (SLR) and that future warming will exacerbate the risks posed to human civilization. As land ice is lost to the oceans, both the Earth’s gravitational and rotational potentials are perturbed, resulting in strong spatial patterns in SLR, termed sea-level fingerprints. We lack robust forecasting models for future ice changes, which diminishes our ability to use these fingerprints to accurately predict local sea-level (LSL) changes. We exploit an advanced mathematical property of adjoint systems and determine the exact gradient of sea-level fingerprints with respect to local variations in the ice thickness of all of the world’s ice drainage systems. By exhaustively mapping these fingerprint gradients, we form a new diagnosis tool, henceforth referred to as gradient fingerprint mapping (GFM), that readily allows for improved assessments of future coastal inundation or emergence. We demonstrate that for Antarctica and Greenland, changes in the predictions of inundation at major port cities depend on the location of the drainage system. For example, in London, GFM shows LSL that is significantly affected by changes on the western part of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS), whereas in New York, LSL change predictions are greatly sensitive to changes in the northeastern portions of the GrIS. We apply GFM to 293 major port cities to allow coastal planners to readily calculate LSL change as more reliable predictions of cryospheric mass changes become available.

Should coastal planners have concern over where land ice is melting?

President Obama meets with the 2016 American Nobel Prize winners in the Oval Office in November 2016. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

By Lev Facher
13 November 2017

WASHINGTON (STAT) – President Trump, breaking a tradition that stretches back nearly two decades, will not personally greet the eight American Nobel laureates this year before they travel to Sweden in December to receive their prizes.

Not all the honorees are disappointed.

Two American Nobel Prize winners, when contacted by STAT, indicated they would not have attended a White House event even if invited. Columbia biophysicist Joachim Frank, awarded a Nobel in chemistry for his work in microscopy, said in an email he was “very relieved” when he learned there was no chance of an encounter with the president.

“I will not put my foot into the White House as long as Trump, Pence, or Ryan [i.e., the possible succession of impeachments] will occupy it,” Frank said. “I cannot speak for the others; don’t know them personally yet, but I strongly believe that as thinking intelligent people they will have a similar attitude as I.”

Trump returns from a two-week trip to Hawaii and Asia on Tuesday. A White House spokesman cited the foreign travel when asked why the president would not greet the laureates in person.

The White House has hosted an event in the laureates’ honor nearly every year since 2001. Former President Barack Obama granted an audience to the American group each year of his presidency except for 2009, when he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

Former President George W. Bush attended each year except for 2006, when former Vice President Dick Cheney greeted the group instead. Former President Bill Clinton also held in-person greetings for Nobel winners on numerous occasions during his presidency. […]

A White House spokesperson also indicated the administration will not follow through with its plans, at least this year, to continue the tradition of a White House Science Fair. [more]

Trump, Breaking with Precedent, Won't Meet with U.S. Nobel Recipients

African elephant tusks and trophies imported to the U.S., 2005-2016. Fewer elephants were killed under the 2015 ban elephant trophy imports under President Obama. Graphic: The Washington Post

By Christopher Ingraham
17 November 2017

(The Washington Post) – Supporters of trophy hunting say that permit fees from the practice, which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars in the case of large game like elephants, can be put toward conservation efforts that help bolster the populations of endangered animals.

In part, that's the logic behind the Trump administration's reversal of an Obama-era ban on importing African elephant trophies from Zimbabwe.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has made a finding that the killing of African elephant trophy animals in Zimbabwe, on or after January 21, 2016, and on or before December 31, 2018, will enhance the survival of the African elephant,” according to a notice posted Friday in the federal register.

But if the logic of killing elephants to save them strikes you as questionable, you're not alone.

As of 2014 the African elephant population stood at an estimated 374,000, according to the Global Elephant Census, a massive and costly effort to measure the continent's remaining savanna elephant population. That's down from an estimated 10 million elephants at the turn of the 20th century, and from 600,000 of the animals as recently as 1989. […]

Zimbabwe, in particular, has been rife with bad wildlife management practices, which is why the Obama administration banned elephant trophy imports from the country in the first place. […]

Before the Obama administration's ban, animals hunted in Zimbabwe accounted for nearly half of all elephant trophy imports to the United States, according to Fish and Wildlife Service data analyzed by the Humane Society. After the ban was put in place, elephant trophy imports fell dramatically. [more]

The Trump administration says we have to kill elephants to help save them. The data says otherwise

 

Blog Template by Adam Every . Sponsored by Business Web Hosting Reviews