A study published today in the journal Science reveals that since 1970, bird populations in the United States and Canada have declined by 29 percent, or almost 3 billion birds, signaling a widespread ecological crisis. The results show tremendous losses across diverse groups of birds and habitats — from iconic songsters such as meadowlarks to long-distance migrants such as swallows and backyard birds including sparrows.
Other studies have documented mortality from predation by free-roaming domestic cats; collisions with glass, buildings, and other structures; and pervasive use of pesticides associated with widespread declines in insects, an essential food source for birds. Climate change is expected to compound these challenges by altering habitats and threatening plant communities that birds need to survive. More research is needed to pinpoint primary causes for declines in individual species.
“The story is not over,” said coauthor Michael Parr, president of American Bird Conservancy. “There are so many ways to help save birds. Some require policy decisions such as strengthening the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. We can also work to ban harmful pesticides and properly fund effective bird conservation programs. Each of us can make a difference with everyday actions that together can save the lives of millions of birds — actions like making windows safer for birds, keeping cats indoors, and protecting habitat.”
Presidents Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro have forged a nationalist alliance based on the idea that climate change is a hoax.
NEW YORK ― A month after a vicious outbreak of fires drew global attention to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro is unlikely to find many friends awaiting his arrival here for the United Nations General Assembly this week, especially as countries meet to discuss the need for more aggressive action in the global fight against climate change.
Bolsonaro’s flip response to the fires, and his government’s continued insistence that neither the Amazon nor the world face an existential climate threat, have risked made him a pariah on the international stage. But when he delivers a speech Tuesday that will likely continue to paint international concern over the Amazon as a global conspiracy rooted in manufactured fears over a worsening climate, Bolsonaro will be able to count on at least one major ally: the United States.
President Donald Trump is also a climate skeptic and, like Bolsonaro, has staffed his environmental regulatory agencies with officials who do not believe in climate change. The two right-wing leaders have cozied up to each other since Bolsonaro’s election in October 2018, and their relationship has only strengthened since Trump backed his Brazilian counterpart ahead of the G-7 meetings in August, when he told Bolsonaro that the United States would “absolutely … be a voice for Brazil” amid the international outcry.
In August, the French news service AFP revealed that the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has been drafting new climate action guidelines for businesses that raise concerns about promoting geoengineering as a climate solution.
The ISO is an industry-driven non-governmental organization that sets international standards for products, services, and systems, giving it a powerful voice in the global business community.
With these draft ISO guidelines, which DeSmog has obtained, the ISO appears poised to provide voluntary and market-based standards to address climate change that differ in a key way from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Climate Agreement. Instead of focusing on limiting global temperature rise, these guidelines argue for using radiative forcing, or the total excess heat warming Earth’s atmosphere, as the metric.
Support for Geoengineering Is Growing
Geoengineering, and specifically solar radiation management, certainly offers an appealing quick fix to global warming due to its low cost and promise for enabling business-as-usual activities. And it has many high-profile backers including Harvard researchers funded by Bill Gates. However, solar geoengineering also has many potentially catastrophic risks that come with it.
Many have discussed the need for an oversight agency to monitor geoengineering as the risks will only be amplified if various countries around the world independently implement different geoengineering technologies. While the ISO does set international standards, they are voluntary and non-binding for businesses, which has numerous drawbacks as a potential body for governing solar radiation management.
The issues raised by the ISO’s draft guidelines appear to support a growing movement to sell solar radiation management as the only viable method of addressing global warming, but as DeSmog has pointed out many times before, decarbonizing the economy is the guaranteed solution to the bigger problem.