First Cats and Now Monkeys who can we trust? :-)


Wild monkeys attack village in Indonesia

About 10 monkeys go on rampage in South Sulawesi province, leaving several people injured

Monkey in Indonesia

A pigtail monkey in Padang, Indonesia. Monkeys generally avoid encounters with humans. Photograph: Yuli Seperi/Zuma Press/Corbis

A group of wild monkeys has gone on a rampage in a village in eastern Indonesia, entering houses and attacking residents. Seven people were injured, including one who is in a critical condition.

Ambo Ella, a spokesman for Sidendeng Rappang district in South Sulawesi province, said on Wednesday that about 10 monkeys attacked Toddang Pulu village on Monday. A 16-year-old boy was being treated in hospital after being badly bitten, he added.

The spokesman said the animals were thought to have come from a nearby forest protected by a local tribe. Local authorities are investigating why the monkeys, which are usually afraid of humans and flee when they hear human voices, emerged and attacked.

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Does this look like the face of a killer?


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Killer cats take down billions of birds, report says

Leading human-linked cause of death for birds and mammals

CBC News

Posted: Jan 29, 2013 3:14 PM ET

Last Updated: Jan 29, 2013 7:35 PM ET

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Stray cats are the leading cause of death for birds and mammals, a new report says. Stray cats are the leading cause of death for birds and mammals, a new report says. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters )
   
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Cats may kill up to 3.7 billion birds and 20.7 billion mammals in the United States alone each year, a new study has found.

That means predatory felines are likely the leading human-linked cause of death for birds and mammals, surpassing habitat destruction, collisions with structures such as buildings, and pesticide poisoning, reports an article published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

“The magnitude of wildlife mortality caused by cats that we report here far exceeds all prior estimates,” said the paper co-authored by three U.S. scientists.

The researchers warned that very large numbers of birds and mammals are likely being killed “in all parts of the world where free-ranging cats occur,” not just the United States.

According to the paper, cats were previously thought to be a “negligible” cause of mortality for birds and mammals compared to other human-linked threats, and that is one of the reasons why policies to deal with stray cats often involve neutering them and then returning them to their hunting grounds.

The study, led by Scott Loss at the Migratory Bird Center of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute at the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., combined and analyzed data from as many other studies as the researchers could find about cats preying on birds and mammals in North America.

Strays largely to blame

Although the estimates of the feral cat population and the average kills per cat varied widely among the studies, Loss and his colleagues were able to say that U.S. cats fell 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds a year — a huge number considering that the entire population of North American land birds is estimated to be just 10 to 20 billion.

As for mammals, cats were estimated to kill 6.9 to 20.7 billion per year. For comparison, the human population worldwide is seven billion.

The study found that a large majority of the birds and mammals killed by cats were native species.

There are an estimated 30 million to 80 million feral cats in the U.S. There are an estimated 30 million to 80 million feral cats in the U.S. (Gordon King/Yakima Herald-Republic/Associated Press)

Cats without owners are blamed for most of the deaths. There are about 30 million to 80 million feral cats in the U.S., each of which can kill upwards of 200 mammals a year alone, the study reported.

However, pet cats were far from innocent, causing 258 million to 1.5 billion of the bird deaths and 571 million to 2.5 billion of the mammal deaths.

The paper advocated taking measures such as limiting or preventing cats’ access to the outdoors.

Very Long EPA Report but worth reading as it relates to the Environmental conditions that impact our children


Children’s Health and the Environment
Posted on January 29, 2013 by Allison Stalker

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report on January 25, 2013 entitled “America’s Children and the Environment, Third Edition”. This report has compiled information and data from a range of sources regarding the affects of the current environment on children’s health.

The report states three main objectives:

First, it compiles data from a variety of sources to present concrete, quantifiable indicators for key factors relevant to the environment and children’s health in the United States.
Second, it can inform discussions among policymakers and the public about how to improve data on children’s health and the environment.
Third, it includes indicators that can be used by policymakers and the public to track trends in children’s environmental health, and ultimately to help identify and evaluate ways to minimize environmental impacts on children.

“This latest report provides important information for protecting America’s most vulnerable – our children. It shows good progress on some issues, such as reducing children’s blood lead levels and exposure to tobacco smoke in the home, and points to the need for continued focus on other issues”, said Lisa P. Jackson, the EPA Administrator. “Although we are encouraged by these findings, there is still much work to be done. By monitoring trends, identifying successes, and shedding light on areas that need further evaluation, we can continue to improve the health of our children and all Americans.”

The report presents its findings in a number of categories including criteria air pollutants, hazardous air pollutants, indoor environments, drinking water contaminants, chemicals in food, contaminated lands, biomonitoring, respiratory diseases, childhood cancer, neurodevelopmental disorders, obesity, and adverse birth outcomes.

Some of the positive key findings include the following:

The median concentration of lead in the blood of children between the ages of 1 and 5 years was 92 percent lower in 2009-2010 compared to 1976-1980 levels. Although the majority of the decline occurred in the 1980s, consistent decreases have continued since 1999.
The median level of cotinine (a marker of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke) measured in blood of nonsmoking children ages 3 to 17 years was 88 percent lower in 2009-2010 than it was in 1988–1991. In 2010, 6 percent of children ages 0 to 6 years lived in homes where someone smoked regularly, compared with 27 percent in 1994.
The percentage of children living in counties where pollutant concentrations were above the levels of one or more national air quality standards declined from 75 percent to 59 percent from 1999 to 2009.

There were some negative findings as well. The percentage of children with asthma has increased from 8.7% in 2001 to 9.4% in 2010. Additionally, minority populations are specifically affected by asthma. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and preterm birth rates have also increased.

To read the full report, click here.
This entry was posted in Health and Safety and tagged Air Quality, children’s health, environment, Environmental, EPA, Water. Bookmark the permalink.

Enbridge Stalls on Kalamazoo River Cleanup


January 29, 2013enbridge kalamazoo
Enbridge Stalls on Kalamazoo River Cleanup

Enbridge is resisting the EPAâ��s order to dredge Michiganâ��s Kalamazoo River for oil that remains nearly three years after the company’s million-gallon spill there, InsideClimate News reports.

Enbridge is resisting the EPA’s order to dredge Michigan’s Kalamazoo River for oil that remains nearly three years after the company’s million-gallon spill there, InsideClimate News reports.

In October 2012, EPA ordered the Canadian oil firm to intensify cleanup efforts along the western Michigan river, where the company’s 30-inch pipeline spilled over 20,000 barrels in July 2010. The proposed order would require Enbridge to install oil containment devices and equipment at three locations by August 2013.

Enbridge asked the EPA to delay issuing its final order until it completes additional scientific studies, and according to a a Nov. 2 letter obtained by InsideClimate News, Enbridge questioned the EPA’s assertion that the submerged oil is “mobile” and could contaminate sections of the river that are already clean.

The website says the Kalamazoo cleanup has been long and difficult because the pipeline was carrying bitumen — an oil so thick it can’t flow through pipelines until mixed with liquid chemicals to dilute it. The diluted bitumen is called dilbit. When it spilled out of the pipeline the chemicals evaporated and the heavy bitumen sank into the riverbed.

According to InsideClimate News, cleanup tools used in conventional oil spills mostly float on water, and therefore don’t work on submerged bitumen.

Two years after the spill, in July 2012, the Transportation Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a $3.7 million civil penalty against Enbridge, in the agency’s largest fine ever.

Also in July 2012, a leak closed down the Enbridge Line 14 pipeline in Wisconsin and spilled more than 1,000 barrels of crude — almost exactly two years after the Michigan line ruptured.

When will the Cdn Government take the Environment Seriously


Environment commissioner ‘spinning wheels’ in top post, quits two years early
Canada’s Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan is being praised for professionalism, but colleagues say a lack of federal engagement on environmental issues contributed to early departure.

The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright
Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan, pictured with former auditor general Sheila Fraser.
By CHRIS PLECASH |
Published: Monday, 01/28/2013 12:00 am EST
Last Updated: Monday, 01/28/2013 9:39 am EST

Colleagues of Canada’s Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan say they aren’t surprised that he will resign from his post with more than two years left on his seven-year mandate so that he can head the International Institute for Sustainable Development.
“I was not surprised at the news,” admitted Scott Findlay, a member of Mr. Vaughan’s panel of environmental advisers and a professor of biology at the University of Ottawa. “None of us are dummies. We were all very well aware of the extent to which the environment is a priority of the current government.”
As a member of Mr. Vaughan’s panel of environmental advisers, Dr. Findlay is one of eight experts who met annually with the commissioner to provide feedback on audit practises and priorities.
Like many who have worked with Mr. Vaughan at some point in his career, Dr. Findlay praised the commissioner for his professionalism.
“Scott is a very bright, talented, dedicated, industrious guy. You don’t want people like that spinning their wheels,” Dr. Findlay said.
Mr. Vaughan’s decision to leave his post as the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development in the Auditor General’s Office was announced quietly in a press release from the IISD on Jan. 16. Mr. Vaughan will assume the role of president and CEO of the international research institute on April 1.
He holds graduate degrees from the London School of Economics, the University of Edinburgh, and Dalhousie University, and has worked in the environmental programs of major international organizations, including the Organization of American States, the World Trade Organization, and the United Nations Environment Program.
Former IISD president David Runnalls, a colleague of Mr. Vaughan’s at the WTO and NAFTA’s Commission for Environmental Cooperation, called him an “ideal fit” for the IISD.
“If you read his resumé, it sounds as if he was sent over by central casting,” said Mr. Runnalls, who also wasn’t surprised to hear that Mr. Vaughan was stepping down.
“This is a very, very unreceptive government. … I think it must have been pretty frustrating, because Scott did a very good job, produced good reports, but nobody paid any attention,” he said.
Acting IISD president Daniel Gagnier, chair of the organization’s board of directors, said that the organization used a headhunting firm that approached Mr. Vaughan, who was one of roughly 90 applicants for the position.
Mr. Gagnier said that Mr. Vaughan will be travelling between IISD offices in Ottawa, Winnipeg, New York, and Geneva, with a focus on the organization’s future operations in China.
“He’s a very experienced asset. He could be anything he wants—a deputy minister, head of an organization, nationally or internationally,” Mr. Gagnier told The Hill Times. “We’re at a point going forward where we want to establish an IISD presence in China, so that will be something that Scott will be focusing on.”
Appointed Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development by former auditor general Sheila Fraser in the spring of 2008, Mr. Vaughan built a reputation of holding the government to account for its commitments to environmental protection and sustainable development without the strident criticisms that marked his predecessor Johanne Gélinas’ tenure.
In his 2009 report on federal fish habitat protection, Mr. Vaughan found that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans was unable to demonstrate adequate enforcement of the Fisheries Act, and Environment Canada lacked a “systematic approach” to addressing the risks of non-compliance with the legislation.
At the time the departments agreed with his recommendations, but in the 2012 federal budget the government significantly narrowed its obligations under the Fisheries Act by limiting the scope of the act to “commercial, recreational, and aboriginal fisheries.”
Dr. Findlay said that there was no evidence that the changes were made in response to the commissioner’s report, but they did reduce federal commitments in an area that the commissioner was responsible for auditing the government on.
“If you’re not particularly interested in having your performance judged by the standard of what’s in a piece of legislation and what duties are under the legislation, then the obvious action is to change the legislation so it’s no longer a responsibility or obligation on the part of the government,” Dr. Findlay observed.
In 2010, Mr. Vaughan’s review of federal oil spill preparedness found that emergency plans for responding to ship-source oil spills were outdated, and Transport Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard had failed to conduct systematic risk assessments of oil spills in Canadian waters.
Mr. Runnalls described Mr. Vaughan’s work on oil spill preparedness as “chilling” given the federal government’s focus on Arctic resource development and exporting oil by tanker.
“We have no capacity whatsoever to deal with any kind of accidents from navigation in the North,” said Mr. Runnalls. “He’s continually turned the spotlight on the government and said, ‘You’re not going to meet any of your commitments the way you’re going now’—and demonstrated that quite calmly.”
But it was Mr. Vaughan’s work on the government’s climate change planning that was particularly damning.
In the fall of 2011, the environment commissioner reported that the federal government lacked tools to limit greenhouse gas emissions, and that financial management of $9-billion that had been invested in climate change mitigation and adaptation was inadequate.
In a recent interview with The Hill Times, Environment Minister Peter Kent (Thornhill, Ont.) was vague in outlining the improvements his department had made in the financial reporting of federal climate change funding since that report.
“The strategy goes across government and I’ve been looking at the draft report for this year, and it’s a work in progress and it’s one that we’ll continue to develop,” Mr. Kent said in response to a question about progress towards meeting Mr. Vaughan’s recommendations.
Under the 2009 Copenhagen Accord, the federal government committed to reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions to 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020 — the same benchmark agreed to by the U.S. Measures taken by the federal government to date include harmonizing fuel efficiency standards with the U.S. on light and heavy duty vehicles and commercial aviation, and restrictions on the construction of new coal-fired electricity plants.
The Conservatives made it clear that they will not attempt to outdo the U.S. government on GHG emissions regulations to protect the Canadian economy.
However, in his inaugural address last week, U.S. President Barack Obama pledged that his administration would “respond to the threat of climate change” in his second term.
The Obama administration’s response could include the introduction of a carbon tax, which would put the Conservatives in a difficult position. While the federal government has opted to harmonize with the U.S. on regulating carbon emissions, they have rejected imposing a carbon tax on the grounds that it would “raise the price on everything.” Mr. Kent has repeatedly stated that the government does not consider carbon pricing to be a policy option.
Despite Mr. Kent’s claim that Canada is “halfway” to meeting its Copenhagen target, Mr. Vaughan wrote in an op-ed in last week’s Hill Times that Canada was “unlikely” to meet the 2020 commitment.
“[I]t is unlikely—based on what is in place or proposed—that Canada will meet its 2020 target for several reasons: regulations take as much as five years to complete, so the clock is ticking; the regulations we looked at are expected to bring emissions down by about 12 million tons, yet the government still needs to close a gap of more than 10 times this amount to hit its target,” wrote Mr. Vaughan and colleagues Kimberly Leach and James Reinhart of the Auditor General’s Office.
Mr. Vaughan’s final report will be released on Feb. 5, and will include audits of Atlantic offshore oil and gas activities, the establishment of marine protected areas, and the federal government’s support of the fossil fuel industry.
Auditor General Michael Ferguson is responsible for appointing Mr. Vaughan’s replacement under the Auditor General Act.
“It’s just the nature of the beast. Bureaucrats hate the auditor general because he’s turning over rocks and watching things slither out from underneath them, but I thought Scott did it in as professional and tactful a manner as possible,” said Mr. Runnalls. “He didn’t set out to offend. People would get offended because they don’t like the truth being told.”
cplecash@hilltimes.com
Twitter: @chrisplecash
The Hill Times