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A good day for women, a good day for the environment

Clean Water Action - Sun, 11/18/2018 - 00:00

As a woman, environmentalist, and intern at Clean Water Action, waking up in Massachusetts on November 7th felt pretty good. All 17 candidates that Clean Water endorsed in Massachusetts won their races, meaning that strong advocates for the environment will be taking office all around the state.

Looking at some highlights from those races and others: We re-elected Senator Elizabeth Warren who can be counted on to advocate for a green economy not just for Massachusetts but the country as a whole. Ayanna Pressley will also be in Washington fighting on behalf of Massachusetts as the first black women to represent our state in congress. Pressley took the pledge to not take money from the fossil fuel industry along with two new state representatives Nika Elugardo from Jamaica Plain and Thomas Vitolo from Brookline. Over 50 women will now represent constituents across Massachusetts in a wide range of local and state offices, and many of them are following with the national trend of being the first women of color in their positions. Along with Ayanna Pressley, Rachel Rollins is the first woman of color elected as Suffolk County District Attorney and Tram Nguyen is the first Vietnamese-American to run for office in MA, let alone win. These wins and many more should be celebrated in the name of intersectional feminism.

Both statewide ballot questions that Clean Water endorsed (2* and 3**) passed, ensuring a stronger and safer community for everyone. The 19th Suffolk District voted yes on the “Global Warming Solutions Implementation Act” which will hopefully lead to local environmental protections. Three different towns all voted in favor of the community preservation act which, among other things, allocates more open spaces. Two other towns voted to approve the funding for the removal of toxic asbestos sealant in a septage treatment facility. These proactive measures are an encouraging sign that localities are taking it upon themselves to protect their surrounding environments.

The election results in Massachusetts show, for the most part, that people are awake. They care about the environmental crisis we are in and they are no longer accepting menial efforts from our elected officials in an attempt to placate their concerns.

* Ballot question two regards the creation of a citizen’s commission to advance an amendment to the United States Constitution to limit the influence of money in elections and establish that corporations do not have the same rights as human beings.

**Ballot question three regards keeping in place the current law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in places of public accommodation.

Candidates endorsed by Clean Water:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Sen. Jason Lewis

Sen. Jamie Eldridge

Sen. Harriette Chandler

Sen. Paul Feeney

Sen. Julian Cyr

Rep. Lori Ehrlich



Rep. Sean Garballey

Rep. Natalie Higgins

Rep. Joan Meschino

Rep. Jim Hawkins

Rep. Marjorie Decker

Tommy Vitolo

David LeBoeuf

Rep. Michelle DuBois 

Tram Nguyen

Tami Gouveia 

 

Categories: G3. Big Green

Thankful for Clean Water Members

Clean Water Action - Sun, 11/18/2018 - 00:00

This is the time of year when many of us come together to reflect on the past year, give thanks, and celebrate with our family and friends.

As I look back on 2018, one thing becomes apparent -- Clean Water members and supporters matter.

Clean Water members and activists give me hope and keep me going. Throughout the year members and activists like you sent messages, mailed letters, signed postcards, and made phone calls. You attended rallies and town hall events. Many of you voted and helped make sure that clean water leaders were elected across the country.

Bottom-line: you got involved and you spoke loud and clear.

We didn't win every campaign this year, but Clean Water members helped us win a lot of them. You made sure the conversation in Washington DC and state houses and city halls across the country was about prioritizing people and protecting our water and health. You helped make sure our elected officials know that they we'll hold them accountable if they try put polluters' profits first.

There is a lot more work to do. But right now, all I want to do is say Thank You for your activism, your support, your donations, your membership. We can't do it without you.

Have a happy and restful holiday.

Categories: G3. Big Green

Oil Spill Shows We Are Not Prepared For Disasters At Sea

Sierra Club Canada - Sat, 11/17/2018 - 08:07

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 


Oil Spill Shows We Are Not Prepared For Disasters At Sea

November 17, 2018

Halifax, NS - An oil spill of an estimated 250,000 litres of crude oil in 7 metre seas shows we are lax in regulating our offshore. 

“Husky Oil is reporting they are unable to confirm extent of spill, never mind try and clean it up - a virtually impossible task in 7 metre seas. Our leaders are claiming this is world-class regulation. I think this spill shows we are far from that standard, says Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Program Director for Sierra Club Canada Foundation.

Estimates of the amount of oil spilled already surpasses the last worst oil spill in Newfoundland offshore, the Terra Nova spill of 2004.

“Clearly we are not learning from past mistakes. This same operation had a near miss with an iceberg last spring. One would have thought there would be extra vigilance given this recent history. Instead, oil transfer from the rig was attempted one day after record-breaking waves shook the coast of Newfoundland.”

Fitzgerald adds, “Safe clean-up and assessment of damage must be top priority. Afterward, our federal leader must put our offshore regulations under the microscope. One hundred new wells are planned for this region. We simply can’t afford to continue this way when so much is at stake.”

-30-

 

Media contact:

Gretchen Fitzgerald

National Program Director

Sierra Club Canada Foundation

Tel: 902.444.7096

Email: gretchenf@sierraclub.ca

Categories: G3. Big Green

Baseball for the Birds: A New North Carolina Team Rallies Around an Endangered Species

Audubon Society - Fri, 11/16/2018 - 08:45

Once common across the light-filled, longleaf pine forests of the Southeast, the Red-cockaded Woodpecker is now endangered—and has been for nearly 50 years. But baseball fans in Fayetteville, North Carolina, will soon see more of the elusive, checkered bird than they may have dreamed possible.

Last week, the city’s new minor league baseball team, the Class A affiliate of the Houston Astros, announced its chosen mascot and name: the Woodpeckers, inspired by the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. The bird is well-known among Fayetteville residents; the area holds one of the last remaining strongholds of the longleaf pines, making it key habitat for a recouping Red-cockaded population. In fact, Fort Bragg, a nearby active military base, hosts the second-largest population of the species nation-wide.

The team’s unique name has been almost two years in the making and comes just in time for its first spring training. The selection process was largely democratic. Back in April of 2017, the Fayetteville community cast a total of 1,300 votes on what they thought the club should be called, says Mark Zarthar, president of the now-dubbed Woodpeckers. His team narrowed the choices down to five, all of which represented the region in their own rights.

However tempting it was to pick the Fayetteville Fatbacks (a traditional part of southern cuisine and the no. 3 name choice) or the Fayetteville Jumpers (a nod to Fort Bragg’s paratroopers), Zarthar is glad the fans went with the Fayetteville Woodpeckers. The seven-inch headbanger, he says, is emblematic of the locals in a different way. “The [Red-cockaded Woodpecker] is a small bird, but it's tough and very resilient—evidenced by the fact that it's endangered but it's not extinct,” Zarthar says. “The city of Fayetteville is a small city, and it's very tough, too. People here have very strong values.”

The team’s logo, also newly unveiled, features a buffer, cartoon version of the bird. Kimberly Brand, Audubon North Carolina’s field organizer, says the design is fun and fierce while maintaining  the species’ distinctive white cheek patches and red tuft. Adding to the authenticity, the lettering is even peppered with woodpecker holes.

Photo: Courtesy of the Fayetteville Woodpeckers

All these details amount to a wider effort to get the word out on the woodpecker’s struggle. “It shows the bird a lot of love,” Brand says. Though people may be aware of the Red-cockaded’s existence, they might be less sure of what its needs or roles are in the environment. Studies have shown that the species helps control insect populations and creates nesting cavities for other animals such as flying squirrels, Wood Ducks, and titmice. But all of that’s been in jeopardy since the woodpecker’s numbers hit a drastic low in the mid-1900s. As its coniferous habitat shrank due to logging and suppressed burn cycles, populations dipped to as few as two breeding pairs in some states. In result, the Red-cockaded Woodpecker became one of the first birds to be protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Federal and state agencies have banded together with nonprofits, scientists, and members of the public to save the iconic bird, largely by restoring longleaf pine in novel ways.

That said, if people had been asked to name a baseball team in the ‘70s, the Woodpeckers wouldn’t have been a popular choice, says Curtis Smalling, Audubon North Carolina’s director of bird conservation. The shift in public attitude toward the species speaks a lot to the value of conservation and community partnerships, he explains. In the past, environmental efforts and military interests clashed over Red-cockaded Woodpecker habitat, because a lot of it happened to overlap with Department of Defense sites. Restrictions implemented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1990 made it tough for the U.S. Army to conduct exercises on Fort Bragg and the surrounding Sandhills. In recent years, however, Red-cockaded populations have increased, thanks to the military’s involvement in monitoring and controlled-burn projects.

The woodpecker still has a while to go before it can be removed from the endangered species list. Current estimates show 15,000 birds from Virginia to Texas, Smalling says. Historically, the population was thought to top a million. But Smalling is optimistic that the species will continue to climb back. Partnerships like Audubon North Carolina’s Working Lands program, he says, empowers local people to enhance their properties to support Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and other priority bird with a number of cost-effective options. “It’s really been a success—a good example of how the Endangered Species Act was intended to work, looking for those common solutions,” Smalling says.

Zarthar, for his part, says the team hopes to partner with environmental organizations and partake in volunteering efforts down the road. But for the first Fayetteville season, he says they will focus on spreading the Red-cockaded Woodpecker’s message on its social media channels and, of course, in the ballpark. From drilling a line drive down the third baseline or hammering a fastball into the stands, there’s certainly no shortage of woodpecker references to be had. 

The Fayetteville Woodpeckers' first home game is against the Carolina Mudcats on April 18. For some bird-on-bird action, watch them throw down against the Down East Wood Ducks in May and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in June.

Categories: G3. Big Green

DOE's Look at Smart Devices Should Consider the Opportunities of a Systems Approach to Energy Savings

Alliance to Save Energy - Fri, 11/16/2018 - 07:48

This guest blog post is authored by Susan Rochford, Vice President, Energy Efficiency, Sustainability and Public Policy for Legrand North America and Central America, and Chair of the Alliance’s Systems Efficiency Subcommittee.

Today the Alliance to Save Energy submitted comments in response to a Request for Information from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to gather perspectives about the “emerging smart technology market, including any energy efficiency trends or issues with respect to appliances or equipment incorporating smart technologies.” DOE’s request recognizes this new market will make the way we manage energy use in our homes and businesses look quite different in the near future. 

I have been the industry Chair of the Alliance’s systems efficiency work for the past two years, so I am always excited to see opportunities to inform energy efficiency discussions with the recommendations our diverse group of stakeholders developed. “Systems efficiency” refers to the co-optimization of multiple energy-consuming technologies to maximize energy efficiency, at the building system, whole-building, or electricity distribution grid level. The Alliance’s Systems Efficiency Initiative released two reports laying out overarching strategies for promoting a systems approach. As homes, buildings, and the grid become “smarter,” opportunities to manage energy use at a system level and provide value to customers – such as energy and cost savings, increased comfort, and energy reliability – will likewise increase.

Smart sensing, metering, and control technologies that allow homeowners and building managers to monitor and adjust energy usage with their smart phones are becoming more common every day. Connected products can make energy management more interactive, and enable it to become increasingly automated as these products gain the ability to learn from building users’ habits and adjust lighting and temperature settings according to their preferences. U.S. demand for smart and connected thermostats is forecast to increase 18% per year through 2022. The global market for the Internet of Things in Buildings is projected to increase at a 20 percent combined annual growth rate from 2015 to 2021.

Considering this new realm of connected devices, DOE requested comments on the direction of the market for smart technologies, relevant market metrics, associated cyber security risks, and the impact of smart features on the energy efficiency of appliances and equipment. The Alliance’s comments today emphasize the potential of connected products to optimize energy use and achieve energy savings that go beyond component-level efficiency savings, in both commercial and residential buildings. The comments encourage DOE to explore the added value of connected products that offer load flexibility and controllability, system reliability, and building-to-grid integration. For example, grid-enabled connected devices provide additional value and flexibility for demand response since they can adjust energy usage during times of peak demand. We need more investment and innovation in systems approaches; quantifying the energy savings potential associated with connected devices would help support the types of systems approaches that are enabled by connected devices.

Tapping into the potential of connected devices to offer system-level energy savings should be a priority for policymakers as the market for connected devices expands. Wide-reaching collaboration, including with tech companies, equipment manufacturers, utilities, and building owners and designers, will be necessary to ensure that efficiency opportunities are not overlooked as more and more connected products come online. We all live and work in buildings, and most of us have seen our personal collections of connected devices grow over the past decade or two. We have a chance to realize savings and other benefits by improving energy efficiency and making our buildings and devices “smarter” than before. DOE has an important role to play in working with the many stakeholders in the built environment industry to accelerate the evolution of systems efficiency with the help of connected devices.

 

Categories: G3. Big Green

Are Birds Actually Government-Issued Drones? So Says a New Conspiracy Theory Making Waves (and Money)

Audubon Society - Fri, 11/16/2018 - 05:00
Photo: Peter McIndoe

The CIA assassinated John F. Kennedy after he refused to kill and replace billions of birds with drones. The U.S. government is sequestering a team of Boeing engineers in Area 51 for a secret military mission. Our tax dollars have been funneled into building the “Turkey X500,” a robot used to hunt large birds.

Combine all these conspiracies and you get Birds Aren’t Real, a nearly two-year-old movement that claims the CIA took out 12 billion feathered fugitives because directors within the organization were “annoyed that birds had been dropping fecal matter on their car windows.” The targets were eradicated between 1959 and 1971 with specially altered B-52 bombers stocked with poison. They were then supplanted with avian-like robots that could be used to surveil Americans.  

Sounds extreme but also somewhat fitting, given the landscape of today's social discourse. By surfacing murky bits of history and the ubiquity of Aves, Birds Aren’t Real feeds into this era of post-truth politics. The campaign relies on internet-fueled guerilla marketing to spread its message, manifesting through real-world posters and Photoshopped propaganda tagged with the “Birds Aren’t Real” slogan.

For much of its devoted fanbase, Birds Aren’t Real is a respite from America’s political divide—a joke so preposterous both conservatives and liberals can laugh at it. But for a few followers, this movement is no more unbelievable than QAnon, a right-wing conspiracy theory turned marketing ploy that holds that someone with high-level government clearance is planting coded tips in the news. Therein lies the genius of Birds Aren’t Real: It’s a digital breadcrumb trail that leads to a website that leads to a shop full of ready-to-buy merchandise.

The creative muscle behind the avian-inspired conspiracy (and thinly disguised marketing scheme) is 20-year-old Peter McIndoe, an English and philosophy major at the University of Memphis in Tennessee. McIndoe first went live with Birds Aren’t Real in January 2017 at his city’s Women’s March. A video from the event shows McIndoe with a crudely drawn sign, heckling protesters with lines like, “Birds are a myth; they’re an illusion; they’re a lie. Wake up America! Wake up!” The idea of selling Birds Aren’t Real goods, he says, came after the stunt gained traction over Instagram.

        View this post on Instagram                      

A post shared by Birds Aren't Real (@birdsarentreal) on Jun 23, 2018 at 4:28pm PDT

McIndoe didn’t break character once during a 30-minute-long phone interview with Audubon. He defended the movement’s legitimacy, mainly by prosthelytizing about what Birds Aren’t Real isn’t. “The thought that this could be used to make a satire of a dark and tense time in American culture—I find those things to be baloney,” McIndoe says.

What isn’t baloney is the attention Birds Aren’t Real has drawn on social media, thanks to an Instagram account with more than 50,000 followers, a YouTube page with more than 45,000 views, and a Twitter profile with nearly 8,500 followers. McIndoe handles all these accounts and fulfills every order for the Birds Aren’t Real goods he sells online. He declined to comment on how much money he’s made off the T-shirts, hats, and stickers, many of which are out of stock.

Exploiting conspiracists for profit is nothing new, says Mike Metzler, a social media influencer and viral-content creator on Instagram. Amazon sells dozens of styles of QAnon T-shirts that have become a fixture at Make America Great Again rallies around the country. What’s different is that while many QAnon believers wear their shirts in earnest, most Birds Aren’t Real fans seem to wear theirs to be ironic and on trend.

“Birds Aren't Real is taking advantage of the meme-ification of previous conspiracy theories,” Metzler says. “People really want to believe in conspiracies—but more than that, people want to make fun of people who believe in conspiracies even more. Starting a conspiracy theory and selling Birds Aren’t Real merchandise allows them to sell to both sides,” Metzler says.

McIndoe’s movement got a free jolt of publicity on October 30 after Chicago-based journalist Robert Loerzel tweeted a photo of a Birds Aren’t Real flier he found on the street. The same flier also popped up on Reddit numerous times over the past month. The hectic and cryptic nature of the website makes it an incubator for conspiracy theories like QAnon. The Reddit forum r/conspiracy has 721,000 anonymous subscribers alone.

Message in a Chicago newspaper box pic.twitter.com/wtb9e0h62X

— Robert Loerzel (@robertloerzel) October 30, 2018

While some people will draw parallels between QAnon and Birds Aren’t Real (they were both launched in 2017, after all), their popularity on Reddit is the only true similarity, says Brooke Binkowski, managing editor of the myth-busting website TruthOrFiction.com and the former managing editor of Snopes. “Birds Aren’t Real is a good one, but it in no way ranks up there with the incredible complexity of whatever QAnon is,” she says over email. “QAnon has caught on because it's interactive, it's always evolving, and it's completely vague—so vague that anything they say could be ‘true’ if you interpret it the right way.”

How could Birds Aren’t Real gain more dark-web cred then? “Conspiracy theories offer a way for the world to make sense, and they offer a sense of purpose to the purposeless,” Binkowski writes. “If Birds Aren't Real hinted at some larger, dark pattern, it would really take flight.”

For now, though, this shallow conspiracy seems harmless and may even be a net gain for birds. Jordan Rutter, the director of public relations at the American Bird Conservancy, thinks the intricate history behind McIndoe’s movement is hilarious and thus, something positive. “Anything that gets people talking about birds is a good thing,” she says. “It’s definitely a way we can start a conversation.”

The filmmaker Oliver Stone once wrote that Kennedy’s assassination is “a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma.” Birds Aren’t Real, on the other hand, is a chimera of conspiracies that wraps satire, modern insecurities, and internet culture into a successful marketing scheme.

***

Birds are real! For proof, download our free Audubin Bird Guide app, which features more than 800 actual North American species. 

Categories: G3. Big Green

House Overwhelmingly Passes Bill to Protect Additional 17,000 Acres of U.S. Shoreline

Audubon Society - Fri, 11/16/2018 - 02:55

NEW YORK – “Hurricanes and rising seas are teaching us heartbreaking lessons and we’ve learned that more cement in the wrong places is not the solution for people or birds,” said David Yarnold, President and CEO of National Audubon Society (@david_yarnold). “The bipartisan support we saw in the House vote today reflects the growing understanding that building in nature’s bulls-eyes doesn’t make economic sense. Naturally resilient coasts are the best investment, and keeping them free of risky development is all upside for taxpayers, coastal communities and wildlife.”

On Friday morning, the U.S. House passed a bill protecting an additional 17,000 coastal acres in storm-prone states, including North and South Carolina, Delaware and Florida, amending the Coastal Barrier Resources Act. The Coastal Barrier Resources Act removes federal support for risky development saving taxpayers billions of dollars. The bill is HR 5787, the Strengthening Coastal Communities Act of 2018, which now moves on for consideration in the Senate.

Roughly 3.5 million acres of barrier islands, beaches and wetlands along the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes and Caribbean are included in the current Coastal Barrier Resources System, which:

  • Supports outdoor economies, ecotourism and fishing industries in 21 states and territories by preserving natural shorelines;
  • Has saved U.S. taxpayers billions in federal expenditures;
  • Protects people and communities by creating more resilient coasts that buffer the storm surge and flooding from increasingly powerful storms.

“These coastal areas are crucial to birds that have fewer and fewer places to feed and raise their young due to human development and the effects of climate change, including rising seas and shifting food sources,” said Dr. Karen Hyun VP, Coastal Conservation for the National Audubon Society. “In the Carolinas, for example, several iconic shorebird species are now rebuilding their populations on these protected areas, like the Red Knot, American Oystercatcher and Piping Plover. “

Audubon’s fact sheet on CBRA: https://www.audubon.org/sites/default/files/cbra_fact_sheet.pdf.

More about coastal resilience: https://www.audubon.org/conservation/coastal-resilience.

Contact: Anne Singer, asinger@audubon.org, 202-271-4679

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using, science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more how to help at www.audubon.org and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.

 

 

Categories: G3. Big Green

Quick Tips for a Healthier Thanksgiving

Clean Water Action - Fri, 11/16/2018 - 00:00

Nothing says Thanksgiving like eating comforting food while surrounded by loved ones.  Follow these quick and easy tips to stop harmful chemicals from crashing your holiday meal:

Avoid canned foods when possible, or look for the BPA-Free Lining label
  • Even after years of studies on BPA and its harmful effects, many canned goods still contain BPA in their lining.  When you can, it’s safest to buy your must-have ingredients fresh or frozen.  Many foods that are traditionally in cans can also be found packaged in glass jars or in tetra packs (paperboard with a foil or wax lining). 
  • If the ingredients you’re looking for are only in cans, make sure to look closely at the label.  More and more companies are moving to BPA-free lining, and will label their products accordingly. 
Stay away from “grease-resistant” packaging and Teflon-coated cookware
  • The class of chemicals known as per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, has recently come under scrutiny for potentially causing a wide range of adverse health effects at incredibly small dosages.  These chemicals are used to create a water- and grease-resistant coating, and can therefore be found in a variety of food packaging, disposable products, and some non-stick cookware.
  • Some PFAS chemicals can stick around in your body for several years, so although food contact is not the most significant route of exposure, it’s important to avoid the build-up of these chemicals in your system.  Avoid buying disposable plates that are labeled as grease-resistant, and if you’re cooking anything at a high heat, use your stainless or cast iron cookware instead of Teflon.
Store your leftovers in safer plastics, and reheat in glass or ceramic
  • One of the best parts of Thanksgiving is the leftovers!  Make sure there’s no chemical seasoning added to your secret family recipes by using glass and ceramic where possible.  If you do need to store leftovers in plastic, make sure you’re using #1, #2, #4, or #5 plastics.
  • Even those safer plastics shouldn’t be used when you’re reheating your mashed potatoes, stuffing, and turkey, however.  Heat and steam can cause chemicals to migrate from plastic into your food.  Put your leftovers in a glass or ceramic dish before reheating!

These simple steps will help ensure that you can focus the rest of your holiday on your food, friends, and family.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Categories: G3. Big Green

Clean Water Candidates Won Big in Texas

Clean Water Action - Fri, 11/16/2018 - 00:00

Thanks to clean water voters who came out in force for last week's elections, most of the pro-environment candidates endorsed by Clean Water Action here in Texas prevailed, and our endorsed candidates who lost, did so by very narrow margins.

At the top of our ticket, Beto O'Rourke helped energize voters in a historic way, received over 4 million votes and fell just a couple percentage points short. This gives us great hope for 2020, showing that Texas can make an impact when control of the White House and both houses of Congress will be in play.

Endorsed candidates for other offices fared better, flipping one seat in the U.S. House, two in the state senate, and six in the state house, and enjoying success in Austin’s local elections. Clean Water Action played a major role in many of these races.

Our phone and field canvass teams reached out to thousands of households in Travis, Hays and Williamson counties to win all four key state house races there. John Bucy III and James Talarico defeated two incumbents with dismal environmental voting records in Williamson. Vikki Goodwin unseated incumbent Paul Workman-- infamous for championing legislation to remove municipal protections for trees-- in Travis. Newcomer Erin Zwiener won an open seat Hays.

In the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex, all of our endorsed candidate except one carried the day. For U.S. Congress, Colin Allred unseated Pete Sessions, a 0% voter on our scorecard. Nathan Johnson and Beverly Powell defeated two anti-environment state senators, and John Turner, Thresa Meza, and Victoria Neave won their state house races.

In Austin's local elections, Clean Water Action helped re-elect Mayor Steve Adler and council members Kathie Tovo and Ann Kitchen, and helped propel Susan Almanza into a December 11 runoff. Two other races are going into a runoff, and we hope to announce endorsements there soon. All six bond proposals – led by Prop D, to invest in water quality and flood control -- coasted to easy victory, and Proposition K, a misguided initiative to compel an unnecessary and expensive outside audit of city spending, went down in flames.

The impact that Clean Water Action members and other environmentally focused voters made is undeniable when you look at how close many races were. Three of our state legislature wins had a margin of victory lower than 4%. And in Congressional District 23, the race is so close it still hasn’t been called! Our endorsed candidate Gina Ortiz Jones trails Rep. Will Hurd by around 1,000 votes as a potential recount looms.

All told, it was a banner day for Clean Water and the environment. Our victories helped take control of the U.S. House of Representatives away from the dirty water agenda of Donald Trump’s administration, and will staunch the flood of anti-environmental proposals coming from congress. They also help restore balance to the Texas House of Representatives, which now serves as a backstop for regressive measures coming out of the state senate. We thank you for making these wins possible, and look forward to building on them in 2020.

Categories: G3. Big Green

Victory for Red Wolves

Environmental Action - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 08:18

The planet’s 35 remaining red wolves are on safer ground thanks to a federal judge’s ruling.

 

 

Send a Thank-You Message 

Victory for Red Wolves

Just last week, a federal judge made an important decision. A rule stopping the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) from capturing and killing red wolves — or authorizing private landowners to do the same — is now permanent.1

Tens of thousands of you raised your voices earlier this year because you knew that the FWS’ proposed new management plan for North Carolina’s red wolves would drive these vulnerable animals to extinction. Now we can rest assured: the courts agree! The last 35 wild red wolves are safe.

How You Can Help

Will you join us in thanking Chief Judge Terrence W. Boyle for ruling in favor of North Carolina’s wonderful wolves? 

Send a Thank-You Message
We’re so happy to be able to share this exciting news with you. Members like you are what has made our work protecting wolves, other wildlife and the wild places they call home possible.

Thank you for standing with wolves.

1. Darryl Fears, “Federal judge blasts Fish and Wildlife Service, says endangered wolves cannot be shot,” The Washington Post, November 5, 2018.

The post Victory for Red Wolves appeared first on Environmental Action.

Categories: G3. Big Green

How Do Birds Take Off Without Falling?

Audubon Society - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 08:00

Ben Parslew had a problem: His robots weren't very good at jumping. Parslew, an aerospace engineering researcher and lecturer at the University of Manchester, studies the mechanics of flight. Along with his research team, he had turned to robots to better understand how flying machines might be able to launch themselves into the sky like birds. But while avians seem to effortlessly become airborne, Parslew's robots, which were relatively simple constructions, didn’t find it quite so easy. Some would flip over in the air and land upside-down. Others remained stable in the air but jumped in the wrong direction. And still others fell over before they got off the ground in the first place.

Something was clearly not working here. So Parslew and his team decided they needed to back up and first study how exactly a bird launches itself into the air. “That was kind of motivation for doing this study, to understand why our robots are failing and why birds succeed with such apparent ease,” Parslew says. 

The study Parslew's team conducted was published last month in the journal Open Science. Using computer analysis, the researchers found that when birds take off, they simultaneously control two motions: the direction they’re jumping in and the amount they rotate (pitch) their body as they accelerate, Parslew says. Such coordination allows them to remain balanced during launch. 

To conduct the study, Parslew’s team created computer models using data from two studies of birds with different takeoff styles: One was led by Pauline Provini, who researches evolutionary biology at the French National Museum of Natural History in Paris, using perching Diamond Doves, and another was led by Havalee Henry, now an orthopaedic surgery resident at Yale New Haven Hospital, on ground-jumping Guinea Fowl.

"That’s the kind of approach we took," Parslew says, "looking at birds in nature as a sort of dataset, but then also building our own theoretical models and computational models.”

In addition to discovering the importance of pitch and direction, the researchers found that birds are specially built for this kind of takeoff because of a certain sponginess, or cushioning, in their leg joints that lets them extend their legs for a smooth and fluid movement during the jump. This extra flexibility in combination with their jump direction and proper rotation allows for a stable takeoff, he says. 

Diamond Dove taking off. Video: Dr. Pauline Provini/Functional Morphology Lab/Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle 

The team also confirmed that the wings don’t contribute at all to the physics of the initial jump—it’s all about the legs. This can be seen in Provini’s video of a Diamond Dove taking off. The bird lowers its trunk by flexing its legs, and then extends its hip, knee, and ankle to push the body in the direction of takeoff.

“What is interesting is the fact that the wings are still up when the bird leaves the perch," Provini says, "meaning that they are not involved in the first propulsion.” 

Parslew’s modeling also showed that a bird's ability to grip a perch is beneficial for taking off: It allows them to launch at more angles than when they are standing with their feet on flat ground. 

"The big impact of having a perch to apply torque to is that it means you can jump in many more directions—from very shallow to very steep," Parslew says. "Without a perch you have a much narrower window of jump directions, and if you try anything outside of this window you tip over." 

The Diamond Doves, for instance, jumped at angles around 20 degrees shallower than birds with feet that aren't made for gripping, Parslew says. Contrast that with the Guinea Fowl: With their fee flat on the ground, they have a much more limited range of jumping angles.  

While this new research helps scientists understand bird flight and takeoff better, Parslew hopes that it will also translate to robotics research.  These findings could make drones more efficient, he says, and perhaps one day they will even be able to perch and take off themselves—without doing any unexpected flips. 

***

Audubon is a nonprofit, and stories like this are made possible by readers like you. To support our journalism, please make a donation today. 

Categories: G3. Big Green

4 ways to stop the deadly cycle of wildfires

Environmental Defense Fund - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 07:32
There are immediate steps policymakers can take to prevent the worst destruction from wildfires.      
Categories: G3. Big Green

Stop Gambling on Big Oil, Invest in Nova Scotia

Sierra Club Canada - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 07:05

K’JIPUKTUK (Halifax) – News of BP Canada’s dry well offshore Nova Scotia is an opportunity for change, according to the Offshore Alliance, a coalition representing fishermen, environmental groups, and coastal communities. But that’s not the end of offshore drilling in Nova Scotia - BP has permission to drill six more wells, and Equinor (formerly StatOil) is planning seismic blasting in waters adjacent to George’s Bank.

“Even looking for oil has serious consequences for other industries. The province needs to stop gambling on high-risk offshore oil projects and start betting on Nova Scotia’s renewable, sustainable sectors,” says John Davis, Director of the Clean Ocean Action Committee. “In its latest subsidy to the oil and gas sector, the province has invested $11.8 million to help find oil and gas deposits. This is funding that should be used to help create local, renewable sector jobs in fisheries and tourism that will actually help us tackle climate change, and sustain Nova Scotia’s coastal communities in the long-term.”

“It’s a relief to hear BP has not found commercial quantities of oil. For the sake of our climate and our communities, we should see this as an opportunity to implement a moratorium on dangerous offshore exploration,” states Angela Giles, Atlantic Regional Organizer with the Council of Canadians. “Fossil fuel expansion is not part of our just transition to a sustainable future, and we should waste no more time or money looking for oil we can’t burn anyway. ”

“If oil had been found, our oceans, fishing grounds, climate, and endangered species would remain under threat because our decision-making process is designed to facilitate industry, not protect the environment,” according to Marion Moore with the Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia. “BP spilled 136,000L of drilling mud after just 61 days of operations, and future projects are being reviewed with the same lens that allowed it to happen. We need an accountable, arms-length inquiry to determine if drilling projects like this are worth the risk.”

“If a spill were to happen a capping stack is two weeks away, at minimum, and BP’s plan to deal with a spill is to introduce more toxic chemicals into the water. BP coming up dry may give us a much-needed breather to truly address these risks,” adds Simon Ryder-Burbidge, Marine Conservation Officer at the Ecology Action Centre.

“We need a more independent and transparent process to assess offshore oil and gas projects in Canada,” according to Lisa Mitchell, Executive Director of East Coast Environmental Law. “The new Impact Assessment Act that is before the Senate today includes some positive steps but still allows captured regulators too much influence in the assessment of these proposed projects. Unless we take time to fix how we review and regulate these projects, we will continue to place oceans, coastal communities and renewable industries like fishing and tourism at unnecessary risk.”

“Despite evidence that seismic exploration is far more destructive to marine life than previously suspected, and given the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), our future cannot include more fossil fuel projects,” says Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Program Director at Sierra Club Canada Foundation. “Our geology, not our leaders, saved us this time. Next time we might not be so lucky.”

A poll commissioned by the Council of Canadians released in October showed that 54% of Nova Scotians oppose BP drilling for oil off our coast.

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Offshore Alliance of Nova Scotia unites a broad cross-section of impacted individuals, groups, and communities to organize and amplify common actions needed to establish a public inquiry into offshore oil and gas regulation and assessment.

AttachmentSize StopGamblingBigOilInvestinNSFuture_15_11_2018.pdf89.32 KB Local Chapter: Atlantic Chapter
Categories: G3. Big Green

Great Salt Lake's Greatest Source of Water

Audubon Society - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 06:00

The Bear River is one of the most important sources of water for Great Salt Lake. And as Leia Larsen writes in the Ogden Standard-Examiner, “the Bear River supports life and livelihoods.”

This includes the millions of waterfowl and shorebirds that visit the wetlands of Bear River Bay and Willard Spur.

Marcelle Shoop, Audubon’s director of the Saline Lakes Program told Larsen: "Bear River is such a critical life-giving source for people and wildlife — all along its path — and ultimately as the greatest source of water for Great Salt Lake.”

As Larsen reports, some 60 percent of Great Salt Lake’s inflows come from Bear River. But this fall, “the river instead disappeared into a vast mudflat that used to be Bear River Bay.” And that meant dramatically fewer birds showed up in early fall this year.

Increased water demand from a growing population, in combination with drought and changing climate, can degrade ecosystems in and around Great Salt Lake, a critical stopover point for birds migrating across the desert West. Audubon is working to protect Great Salt Lake, its wetlands, and its water sources like Bear River.

To read the story, visit The Standard-Examiner website. Larsen wrote a four-part series on Bear River. To read more: see Chapter 1Chapter 2, or Chapter 3.

Categories: G3. Big Green

My evacuation from the California wildfires gave my climate work new urgency

Environmental Defense Fund - Wed, 11/14/2018 - 15:08
Seeing the worst wildfires in California history first-hand, I know we can’t afford to lose this fight.      
Categories: G3. Big Green

ADVISORY: WRI Press Call: What to Expect at the International Climate Talks, COP24

World Resources Institute - Wed, 11/14/2018 - 13:11
ADVISORY: WRI Press Call: What to Expect at the International Climate Talks, COP24

WASHINGTON—On the heels of the IPCC 1.5° C special report, climate negotiators and experts are gathering in Katowice, Poland, for the international climate talks, also known as COP24. This year’s global climate summit will be a critical moment for national leaders and negotiators to fully put in motion the vision set out by the Paris Climate Agreement. In particular, they need to focus on three tasks: finalize the rulebook to advance implementation of the Paris Agreement, send a collective signal they will strengthen their national climate commitments by 2020, and build confidence for the financial investments to support climate solutions.
COP24 is taking place from December 3 to December 14, 2018.

On November 20, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. EST, WRI is hosting a press call to highlight the dynamics and expectation around the COP. Andrew Steer, WRI President & CEO, will be joined by experts on international climate policy, finance, and economics: Yamide Dagnet,Joe Thwaites, and Helen Mountford. WRI experts will discuss what’s at stake at COP24, highlighting countries to watch, the political context, and recent trends related to cities, businesses, and investors.

For more information and resources, visit WRI’s COP24 webpage.

WHAT

Press call on COP24 UN climate summit, held in Katowice, Poland from December 3-14, 2018

WHEN

Tuesday, November 20, at 9:00am EST

WHO
  • Andrew SteerPresident & CEO
  • Yamide DagnetSenior Associate, International Climate Action
  • Helen MountfordGlobal Director of Economics
  • Joe ThwaitesAssociate, Finance Center
  • ModeratorMichael OkoGlobal Communications Director, WRI
DIAL-IN
  • International/US Toll: +1210-795-1098
  • France Toll-Free: 080-510-0831
  • Germany Toll-Free: 0800-000-1654
  • Poland Toll-Free: 0-800-1211864
  • UK Toll-Free: 0800-279-3953
  • US Toll-Free: 866-803-2143

Verbal passcode: “WRI”

RSVP

To RSVP or receive additional numbers please email Rhys Gerholdt, Senior Communications Manager, rgerholdt@wri.org

ContactAdvisoryProject: International Climate Action, COP24Topics: ClimateExclude From News Feed?: 
Categories: G3. Big Green

Audubon Texas Announces Winners of the 2019 Women in Conservation Awards

Audubon Society - Wed, 11/14/2018 - 10:35

AUSTIN — Today, Audubon Texas released the names of the winners of the annual Women in Conservation Awards, who will be honored during a luncheon in Austin next spring hosted by Travis Audubon Society and Audubon Texas, the state office of the National Audubon Society.

“One would be hard-pressed to find another group of women who have gotten better conservation results in Texas,” said Suzanne Langley, executive director of Audubon Texas.

“For decades, women have been at the forefront of protecting the land, air and waters that Texans, birds and other wildlife depend on. I couldn’t be prouder of these leaders.”

Winners include:

Photo: Courtesy of Valerie Bristol

Valarie Bristol, Travis Audubon Society

As a Travis County Commissioner, Valarie’s proudest achievement was her work as the main advocate for the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan. This Habitat Conservation Plan was authorized under the Endangered Species Act to protect two endangered species, the Golden-cheeked Warbler and the Black-capped Vireo. This large community project took over six years to put in place. She listened carefully to many options, then championed a finance plan that allowed for mitigation properties to be purchased through a tax increment system. The innovative plan was the first multi-species habitat conservation plan in the United States and became a national model. Today the plan is almost complete with 30,000 acres conserved.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Carolyn Chipman

Carolyn Chipman Evans, Cibolo Nature Center

As the founding director of the Cibolo Nature Center and Farm (CNC), Carolyn has made the nature the nature of her business. She literally built the CNC from the ground up, a place nestled among sprawling live oaks along the banks of the spring-fed Cibolo Creek. There, she and her team of committed professionals, volunteers, and public and private partners have developed an exceptional, year-round outreach and education facility. Carolyn has worn all the hats involved in nature center development along the way. Under her leadership, the nature center has accumulated a net worth of $5.7 million with a current annual operating and campaign budget of $1.6, and CNC has grown to a staff of 15 with more than 30,000 volunteer hours donated each year.

Currently, the CNC’s conservation focus includes preserving additional land in the Upper Cibolo Watershed and developing the historic 60-acre Herff Farm, recently acquired by the Cibolo Nature Center and Farm, to further connect the Hill Country community to its past, present, and future through nature. The Herff Farm is now open to the public for a Farmers Market and workshops on gardening, growing native plants, conserving water, and other ways families can have a more ecologically sustainable lifestyle.

Photo: Courtesy of Susan Kaderka

Susan Kaderka, National Wildlife Federation

As the Regional Executive Director of the National Wildlife Federation's South Central Regional Center in Austin, TX since 1999, Kaderka developed and launched the Texas Living Waters project, which over the past six years has reformed Texas water law to better protect instream flows, improve groundwater management and foster aggressive water conservation. She has also been a vocal advocate for the restoration of Louisiana’s deteriorating coastal wetlands, serving since 2003 on the Louisiana Governor’s Advisory Commission for Coastal Restoration and Conservation. More recently she has been involved in educating river advocates and watershed groups on how our changing climate is expected to impact river ecosystems in the U.S.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Dianne Wassenich

Dianne Wassenich, San Marcos River Foundation

In the 33 years since joining the San Marcos River Foundation (SMRF)—first as a volunteer, then as a board member and now as executive director—Dianne has done just about every kind of work possible to protect the river, clean it, advocate for it, and improve the habitat for the endangered species. In recent years, SMRF has focused on permanent land conservation to keep the river flowing and clear by preserving recharge zone lands above the San Marcos Springs. Major progress includes a 210-acre ranch preserved with a conservation easement, a 250-acre ranch purchased and then sold to the city of San Marcos for water quality protection of major recharge features, and a 75-acre ranch purchased and now being surveyed for a conservation easement. In addition, 31 acres of riverside land, including a half-mile of San Marcos River frontage and a half-mile of spring-fed creek frontage immediately adjoining IH 35, was donated to SMRF last December and many volunteers have worked to clean out debris in the river and creek from the 2015 floods, plus care for the heritage trees on the property. SMRF has become a land trust and will apply for accreditation in 2019.

Proceeds from the event support both Audubon’s Conservation Leaders Program for Young Women, which provides opportunities for girls to become more involved in environmental science, and Travis Audubon Society’s education and conservation initiatives.

The Terry Hershey Award is named after a longtime champion of wildlife conservation in Texas. Terry Hershey was a former member of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission and a founding board member of Buffalo Bayou Preservation Association, Houston Audubon Society, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Research Center, The Park People, and Urban Harvest. She was also a past board member for Audubon Texas, the National Audubon Society, National Recreation and Park Association, and The Trust for Public Land. She passed away in 2017 on her 94th birthday.

To learn more about Audubon Texas’ work to protect birds and the places they need in the Lone Star State, please visit http://tx.audubon.org/ and follow the state office on Facebook and Instagram.

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more how to help at www.audubon.organd follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.

Contact: Nicolas Gonzalez, ngonzalez@audubon.org, (212) 979-3068.

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Categories: G3. Big Green

With a New Governor, Water Must Remain a Top Priority in Colorado

Audubon Society - Wed, 11/14/2018 - 08:30

The next Governor of Colorado, Jared Polis, comes to the Capitol amid one of the driest years since the state began tracking water supplies 123 years ago. Audubon wishes the new Governor much success in addressing priority needs for Colorado understanding he enters the office in an unprecedented time for the Colorado River Basin where water leaders are working to avoid widespread crisis, balancing water demand with available supply.

As the new leader of the Centennial State, home of the Colorado River’s headwaters in the Rockies, Governor-elect Polis will have to work with key partners in the state as well as his interstate peers across the Colorado River basin to ensure adequate water supplies for the 40 million people who consume Colorado River water, not to mention the working lands, birds, and other wildlife who critically rely on it.

Governor-elect Polis, like Governor Hickenlooper, has publicly stated a commitment to Colorado’s rivers and the Colorado Water Plan. However, the Water Plan needs sufficient and sustainable funding to be successful. Audubon is committed to working with the Governor and partners on the implementation of this Plan for the protection of Colorado’s hardworking rivers. We were pleased to see that he made it a part of his campaign.

Coloradans overwhelmingly (96 percent) believe that the outdoor recreation economy—meaning people who go birding, fishing, hunting, camping, and all of the equipment made and sold in the state—is vital to the economic future of the state. This is according to the annual State of the Rockies poll from Colorado College which also found that 80 percent of Coloradans favor “using our current water supply more wisely, by encouraging more water conservation, reducing use, and increasing recycling of water” over “diverting more waters from rivers” to address inadequate water supplies.

And while the snowpack isn’t as reliable as we once thought it was, the River is still an integral part of Colorado’s identity, economy, and natural heritage. Coloradans know what makes our state so special – our rivers.  We are a state of conservation and outdoor recreation. Let’s work together to protect our rivers and water supply for birds, our economy, and for future generations.

Congratulations to Governor-elect Polis on his election, Audubon looks forward to working with you.

Categories: G3. Big Green

4 Ways to Increase Home Energy Efficiency Before the Cold Sets In

Alliance to Save Energy - Wed, 11/14/2018 - 06:56

The days are getting shorter and the temperatures are dropping which means… winter is coming! If only putting on that ugly holiday sweater and thinking about chestnuts roasting on an open fire could keep us warm all season long. Unfortunately, colder temperatures also mean rising utility costs in much of the country. Home heating is the largest energy expense in the average U.S. home, accounting for 45 percent of energy bills. While updating your home heating system can make a big difference, taking smaller steps to improve efficiency first can keep you warmer this winter with a modest investment that will pay off in bill savings.

  1. Call in a Professional – If you own your home, consider a home energy audit. According to the Department of Energy, efficiency upgrades identified during an audit can save 5 to 30 percent on your energy bills. Auditors will analyze past year’s fuel bills, interview you to learn about how your home operates, conduct interior and exterior inspections, perform a blower door test to locate air leaks, and create a comprehensive energy report to determine the best efficiency improvements. Audits can be expensive, but many utilities offer rebates and incentives. You can also follow this DIY Home Energy Audit guide to help pinpoint the easiest areas to address. 
  2. Get “Smart” with Your Thermostat – Smart thermostats can increase awareness of your energy habits and help you make small adjustments to save big while staying warm. By setting the thermostat down by 8 degrees during the daytime while away from home and during nighttime, you can save up to $180 a year. Many utilities and even insurance companies offer rebates on smart thermostats.
  3. Stop the Leak – Sealing air leaks in older or drafty buildings can save more than 20 percent on heating and cooling bills. Apply tape, foam, or felt weather-stripping to doors and caulk the joints around window frames and between the frame and the wall. These tips are low-cost and easy to DIY.
  4. Harness the Sun – Take advantage of the sun’s natural solar radiation by opening the curtains on south-facing windows during the day and closing them at night. Consider investing in multi-layer, insulated curtains to make the biggest difference.

Weatherization assistance is also available through state and local agencies across the country, most giving preference to the elderly and families with children or disabilities.

Big or small, there is something each of us can do to make our homes more comfortable this winter through energy efficiency.

Categories: G3. Big Green

How One Photographer Got Up Close and Personal With a Curious Loon

Audubon Society - Wed, 11/14/2018 - 04:57

When Liron Gertsman’s flight to St. Paul Island, part of a volcanic archipelago in the Bering Sea, was canceled due to an incoming storm, he wasn’t too upset. The 17-year-old was heading to the birding hotspot with his father to celebrate his high school graduation, but the two had decided to spend a few days in Anchorage before the flight. Now they had an extra unplanned day—and a loon they wanted to see again.

When the two first arrived in Anchorage, a local birder had told them about a lake not far from downtown known to have a friendly summering Red-throated Loon, a rarity that far south in its full breeding plumage, Gertsman says. The morning after he got the tip, he and his father drove to the lake without success. But returning to the site that evening, he spotted the loon fishing out on the water as soon as they stepped out of the car.

Once at the lake’s edge, Gertsman found the bird more than lived up to its sociable reputation. “It surfaced right in front of me, so close that literally, it splashed me,” he says. Throughout the evening, the loon spread its wings, let out ringing cries, and inspected the newcomer as he photographed away. “It was so interested in me, at one point it pecked the edge of my lens,” Gertsman says.

The next day, with their flight canceled, Gertsman and his father were determined to return to the lake. There was just one problem: They’d already returned their car. Undeterred, they found a bike rental shop in Anchorage, loaded binoculars, two cameras, three lenses, snacks, and water into a backpack, and pedaled five miles to the lake in the bright summer evening.

The Details 

Date: July 4, 2018
Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II
Focal Length: 400mm
Shutter Speed: 1/1600
Aperture: f/5.6
ISO: 400
Flash: None

 

That night, the bird was just as curious as before, and Gerstman was able to squat low and snap an intimate portrait of its glassy, red-eyed stare. Such close-ups, “pretty much only happen on the animal’s terms,” Gertsman says.

For Gertsman, the secret to getting these shots is to position himself where a close encounter is likely, rather than attempting to approach an animal from far away. The key, he says, is to observe a bird and figure out its routines while ensuring your behavior is not disturbing the animal, including bothering a bird near its nest or blocking an essential feeding site. And if a bird begins to look distressed, it’s time to back away.

Having spent the previous day getting to know the loon, Gertsman felt confident in his placement and let the bird come to him. Understanding his subjects’ behavior also helps Gertsman capture small details in his shots, like the beads of water clinging to the loon’s head after it emerged from its dive. “If you just have one little extra detail in addition to the close-up, it can add a lot to the photo,” Gertsman says. “Being aware of the behaviors of birds helps to predict that.”

This link between awareness of bird behavior and capturing a rare moment is something of a mantra for Gertsman. It’s how he managed to sweep the Youth Category of the 2018 Audubon Photography Awards, and it’s why when he couldn’t be on a flightover the Arctic seas, he instead found himself at the edge of a lake, face-to-face with a loon under the midnight sun.

Categories: G3. Big Green

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