Environment Forum

Audubon employees dig deep for the cause

You won’t see this on Wall Street folks.

Times are tough for U.S. non-profit organizations, so tough that some employees at one are donating their own money to help stave off layoffs and keep their projects going.

Employees at the National Audubon Society, an environmental group dedicated to habitat conservation, have pledged about $800,000 through voluntary payroll deductions in an internal donation drive to help see it through the recession. You can see my report here.

Conservation groups are often staffed by people who are passionate about their cause and many are facing tough times as the recession bites.

Audubon president John Flicker told me that for many U.S.-based conservation groups, the recession could not come at a worse time as the season is ripe politically for their agenda.

The Democratic-controlled Congress and President Barack Obama are regarded by most conservationists as more friendly to their cause on a range of fronts than former president George W. Bush, who worked with Republican majorities for most of his eight years in office. 

Cities in U.S. Southwest face thirsty times

The fast-growing U.S. Southwest has a problem: too many people, not enough water.

But then, what do you expect when you build cities like Las Vegas in the middle of a desert?

My colleagues Tim Gaynor and Steve Gorman have done a story on this, looking at the water woes of Los Angeles and Las Vegas. You can see their report here and other stories from our water package here.

Palin strikes back on wolf allegations

Sarah Palin has struck back at Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, which is running a video accusing the Alaska governor of planning to expand the aerial hunting of wolves in her state.

The graphic video, part of the group’s “Eye on Palin” campaign, is narrated by Hollywood star Ashley Judd and has generated a lot of media attention this week.

Here is the full text of Palin’s brief statement, which was released late on Tuesday:

Judd versus Palin on wolves

Sarah Palin still has environmentalists howling.

The Alaska governor and former Republican vice presidential hopeful is the target of a campaign by the Washington-based Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund which claims she is pushing for an expanded program for the shooting of wolves from the sky.

In a graphic video narrated by Hollywood star Ashley Judd, the group claims Palin even offered a $150 bounty for the left foreleg of each dead wolf collected. You can view the video here.

“When Sarah Palin came on the national scene last summer, few knew that she promotes the brutal aerial killing of wolves. Now, back in Alaska, Palin is again casting aside science and championing the slaughter of wildlife,” Judd says in the video, which features footage of a wolf howling in pain after apparently being shot from the sky.

Environment falls as priority for Americans – Pew

2009 may not be such a green year in America after all.

According to a new poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, environmental protection has fallen off sharply as a priority issue among Americans. You can see the whole survey here.

Of the 20 issues people were asked to rate in both January 2008 and January 2009, five have slipped significantly in importance as attention to the economy has surged. Protecting the environment fell the most precipitously – just 41 percent rate this as a top priority today, down from 56 percent a year ago,” Pew said.

It said green concerns and others such as illegal immigration had been overtaken by growing anxiety over the souring economy.

Good news for South American penguins

Half a million Magellanic penguins are among the critters to get protection in a new coastal marine park just established by Argentina.

It is the first protected area in Argentina specifically designed to safeguard not only onshore breeding colonies but also areas of ocean where wildlife feed at sea,” the Bronx-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said on Tuesday.

Researchers found that the area was in need of protection from increasing pressures by commercial fishing and the oil industry,” said WCS, which helped set up the park. Named the Golfo San Jorge marine park, it became official earlier this month.

Antarctica warms; scientists say we’re to blame

New research shows that both Antarctica and the Arctic are getting less icy – and the best explanation is mankind’s emissions of greenhouse gases.

But will that convert anyone who doubts that global warming is caused by human activities, led by burning fossil fuels?

The scientists, writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, say that a study of temperature records from Antarctica (there aren’t many of them) shows a slight rising trend over recent decades that can be best explained by a build-up of greenhouse gases led by carbon dioxide.

Good news on the Texas turtle front


There are two turtle tales brewing on the coast of Texas at the moment and they’re both good.

First the numbers tale. 

The dedicated folks at the South Padre Island conservation facility Sea Turtle, Inc, report record numbers of nests by endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.

“We have had record numbers of ridley nests on the Texas coast this year. We have found over 170 so far in 2008 compared to the previous record of 128 for all of last year,” Sea Turtle, Inc, curator Jeff George told Reuters.

Carbon credits to rescue a Madagascar forest?

lemur1.jpgCan credits traded in the world’s financial centers stop local farmers in Madagascar from burning up a rain forest filled with lemurs and other life found nowhere else in the world?    

The New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society is working with the government of Madagascar to sell about 9.5 million tonnes of carbon credits to help save the Makira Forest, which contains 22 species of lemurs, hundreds of bird species and thousands of plants. Many of those species are found nowhere else on the planet. 

 ”We want to create incentives so people don’t deforest,” Ray Victurine, the finance expert at WCS, told me.