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Weekly Environmental Updates
Changes in implementation of the Endangered Species Act proposed by the Trump administration are causing grave concern among conservation groups who fear that the changes could be detrimental to species. The overhaul would remove a provision that extends the same protections to plants and animals listed as threatened as it does to those listed as endangered. Republicans have been attempting to undermine protections for years, arguing that they hinder economic development. Opponents of the changes label them as an attempt to appease developers and polluters.
Climate change in the northern hemisphere is causing spring to come earlier and with a variety of effects on plants and animals, say experts. Some species, like marmots, ticks, some flowers and poison ivy, have been able to adapt and thrive. Others, like some bees and certain flowers, are languishing. Although many events are happening earlier, the changes are not synchronized across interdependent species, disrupting nature's rhythms.
The White House has named a pesticide executive as chief scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, bringing the number of former Dow Chemical employees holding key positions at the USDA to three. Scott Hutchins, who formerly served as global director for crop protection research (pesticides) at Dow, will be in charge of the USDA's 2.9 billion dollar research budget. Trump's previous pick for the position was Sam Clovis, a former right wing radio show host with no scientific background. Clovis withdrew from consideration when his role in the Russian scandal was uncovered.
Is the extreme weather occurring in the Northern Hemisphere the result of climate change? Climate scientists say "yes", noting that while bad weather is common, climate change has increased its intensity, frequency, and duration . Events such as wildfires are expected in the western part of the U.S., but have increased dramatically since the 1970's. Scientists say that global warming has lengthened the wildfire season by about three months due to snowpack melting. Rainstorms are a normal phenomenon, but big rainstorms increased by as much as 70 percent.
A funeral urn that doubles as a planter containing a tree or other seedling allows users to memorialize departed loved ones with a live specimen that even black thumbs can grow. "The Living Urn" is a bamboo canister with a biodegradable inner urn that can hold ashes and a growth medium. The included seedling is chosen by zip code in order to be regionally appropriate. Those without a yard or garden can plant the urn in one of many cemeteries and memorial parks across the U.S. Gardeners who prefer a houseplant can also choose from an indoor version.
Roman Hills