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Tell your elected leaders: public land should be saved—not sold!

Our most treasured public lands and wild places could soon go up for sale.

National forests, seashores, wildlife refuges, and recreation areas are all at risk of being sold to the highest bidder. The truth is, a majority in the U.S. Senate has already voted to allow the sale or giveaway of our federal lands, other than national parks and monuments.

These lands constitute much of what’s left of the nation’s natural and historical heritage—lands that protect our drinking water, provide wildlife habitat, and offer people the chance to connect with nature through camping, hiking, fishing, and more.

And in the first two months of this year alone, several members of the U.S. House of Representatives put forth three bills that would allow states to take control of federal lands—including up to 2 million acres of national forests—and auction it off for mining, clear-cut logging, drilling and road construction, with no regard for environmental protection.

We can’t sit by and let our lands be destroyed.

Sign the petition to Congress: Public land should be saved—not sold!

Paid for by The Trust for Public Land

Our Message to Congress :

I stand with people around the country in supporting our public lands and calling on you to protect and preserve them now and for future generations!

Can the Caribbean’s Tropical Reefs be saved?

November 20, 2012

Belize, Bonaire, and the Bahamas share more than a first letter—they are among the best places in the greater Caribbean to experience that increasingly imperiled wonder of the world, the tropical reef.

Patrick Symmes dives in
The view from Alabaster Bay, near Governor’s Harbour, is as stunning as its offshore life

In the brine off Governor’s Harbour, Eleuthera. The Bahamas lie just beyond the Caribbean, in the Atlantic, but the warm shallow waters teem with marine life and also make an appearance in the series Saving the Ocean, which airs through January on PBS.

I made a sacrifice that night, an offering after my fourth day of being stranded in Punta Gorda, the southernmost town in Belize.

Offshore are the Sapodilla Cayes, a chain of fourteen barrier islands with some of the most pristine coral reefs in the Caribbean. I was supposed to be out there, participating in a science dive, dutifully collecting data on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.

But no. Wind covered the Caribbean in whitecaps, making the forty-mile crossing impossible. There was absolutely nothing to do, day after day—nothing but sit in bars while neatly coiffed Rastas mixed gin-‘n’-juice cocktails. Nothing to do but walk around in stiff breezes, absorbing the quirky local culture: British diction, Mayan faces, Hindu shrines, Garifuna drummers pounding out the ancient rhythms of their slave ancestors. There was nothing to do but eat garlic shrimp and stay up late, staring gobsmacked at the things that go down on a Belizean dance floor.

And then on the fourth night, leaving the Reef Bar after a session of pretty much all of the above, I found that the bike I’d rented from my hotel wasn’t where I remembered leaving it. It wasn’t anywhere else either. In a melancholy mood, I walked a mile to the Blue Belize Guest House and stood in front, silently rehearsing my apologies.

That’s when I noticed: The wind wasn’t blowing anymore. The bike was a sacrifice to the wind god, and it must have worked.

Ha! I threw sixty dollars at the hotel desk, the replacement fee for the bike, and packed my bags right then and there. At dawn I almost ran that mile back into town and caught the first boat out to the Sapodillas.

I was heading underwater, here and around the Caribbean, with two questions in mind: What do we get from coral reefs, and what can we do to save them? Starting in the far west of our continent’s home sea, I would visit the Sapodillas and the Mesoamerican Reef, the second largest in the world, looking for the awesome biodiversity that peaks on healthy coral reefs. Moving east would take me to Bonaire, the arid diver’s mecca that shows every day what actually works in reef conservation. And with a final run to the Bahamas, I would triangulate our high hopes for the Caribbean and its adjacent shores in the face of both damage and resilience.

“reefs are the canaries of the sea,” I was told by Don Stewart, who in 1979 co-founded the Caribbean’s first marine park, which protects the reefs of Bonaire. His equation was simple: “When the reefs die, the ocean is in big trouble.”

We’re in big trouble. Around the world, more than one billion humans, mostly poor coastal people, depend on the seas for the majority of their protein, and if predictions of reef collapse are accurate, 100 to 200 million of them could starve in the next two decades. Another 38 million who work in fisheries or rely on them will lose their livelihood. In addition to feeding us, reefs save lives and property by absorbing and deflecting storms—crucial as sea levels rise in the century ahead.

Oceans are hurting everywhere, but smaller sheltered seas like the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, and the Caribbean are the most threatened. The Caribbean—with the same population pressure as the Med but with warm water, making coral reefs so much more productive—is particularly vulnerable and may be the first to risk reef collapse. “Caribbean reefs were hit earliest and worst,” notes Carl Safina, a marine biologist and the presenter of Saving the Ocean, a ten-part PBS series that airs through January. Overfishing has depleted many of them, throwing off the self-correcting balance of predators and prey. Not only that, but the seas are rising and warming; during hot spells, corals are bleaching out, sometimes dying off en masse.

Safina can list threats to the Caribbean all day (“Wait,” he interrupted himself at one point, “I forgot about sewage!”), but he’s also the rare voice who talks about hope. Marine protected areas have an ability to help reefs recover; problems like overfishing and pollution are man-made and can be fixed as quickly as men care to. Many small Caribbean countries get fifteen percent of their GDP from reef-driven tourism, which creates strong incentives to protect the ocean, as do several potential cancer drugs that use components first isolated on reefs. Global warming is a long-term crisis, but slowly, plants and corals can adapt, Safina said, the marginal species moving in as today’s winners decline.

“We know how to deal with all of these problems,” Safina asserted. “The question is, will we decide to do so? Are we going to love the ocean enough to do something?”

A new Caribbean can emerge from the old.

LIP fLare is not a Belizean dance move. It is the curling, outermost pink edge of the spiraling shell of adult conch. In Punta Gorda, I signed up to measure some of that lip, volunteering as a diver on a project in the Sapodilla Cayes that involved studying a colony of conch.

We need answers about reefs, but even rudimentary science can be difficult and dangerous underwater, requiring huge expenditures on research boats and thousands of dives to collect data. There is “too much ocean and too few scientists,” as Polly Wood, a founder of a Punta Gorda-based NGO called Reef Conservation International, put it. RCI matches enthusiastic amateur divers with marine biologists studying in the Sapodilla Cayes Reserve. Paying our own way to dive in Belize, we would effectively extend the reach of researchers by collecting data at remote sites.

FACT SHEET: President Obama’s Climate Action Plan ~ 5/2015

EPAdontletFORDpoisontheRamapoughPresident Obama’s Plan to Cut Carbon Pollution
Taking Action for Our Kids

We have a moral obligation to leave our children a planet that’s not polluted or damaged, and by taking an all- of-the-above approach to develop homegrown energy and steady, responsible steps to cut carbon pollution, we can protect our kids’ health and begin to slow the effects of climate change so we leave a cleaner, more stable environment for future generations. Building on efforts underway in states and communities across the country, the President’s plan cuts carbon pollution that causes climate change and threatens public health. Today, we have limits in place for arsenic, mercury and lead, but we let power plants release as much carbon pollution as they want – pollution that is contributing to higher rates of asthma attacks and more frequent and severe floods and heat waves.

Cutting carbon pollution will help keep our air and water clean and protect our kids. The President’s plan will also spark innovation across a wide variety of energy technologies, resulting in cleaner forms of American- made energy and cutting our dependence on foreign oil. Combined with the President’s other actions to increase the efficiency of our cars and household appliances, the President’s plan will help American families cut energy waste, lowering their gas and utility bills. In addition, the plan steps up our global efforts to lead on climate change and invests to strengthen our roads, bridges, and shorelines so we can better protect people’s homes, businesses, and way of life from severe weather.

While no single step can reverse the effects of climate change, we have a moral obligation to act on behalf of future generations. Climate change represents one of the major challenges of the 21st century, but as a nation of innovators, we can and will meet this challenge in a way that advances our economy, our environment, and public health all at the same time. That is why the President’s comprehensive plan takes action to:

Cuts Carbon Pollution in America. In 2012, U.S. carbon pollution from the energy sector fell to the lowest level in two decades even as the economy continued to grow. To build on this progress, the Obama Administration is putting in place tough new rules to cut carbon pollution—just like we have for other toxins like mercury and arsenic —so we protect the health of our children and move our economy toward American-made clean energy sources that will create good jobs and lower home energy bills. For example, the plan:

  • Directs EPA to work closely with states, industry and other stakeholder to establish carbon pollution standards for both new and existing power plants;
  • Makes up to $8 billion in loan guarantee authority available for a wide array of advanced fossil energy and efficiency projects to support investments in innovative technologies;
  • Directs DOI to permit enough renewables project—like wind and solar – on public lands by 2020 to power more than 6 million homes; designates the first-ever hydropower project for priority permitting; and sets a new goal to install 100 megawatts of renewables on federally assisted housing by 2020; while maintaining the commitment to deploy renewables on military installations;
  • Expands the President’s Better Building Challenge, focusing on helping commercial, industrial, and multi-family buildings cut waste and become at least 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020;
  • Sets a goal to reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030 – more than half of the annual carbon pollution from the U.S. energy sector – through efficiency standards set over the course of the Administration for appliances and federal buildings;
  • Commits to partnering with industry and stakeholders to develop fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles to save families money at the pump and further reduce reliance on foreign oil and fuel consumption post-2018; and
  • Leverages new opportunities to reduce pollution of highly-potent greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons; directs agencies to develop a comprehensive methane strategy; and commits to protect our forests and critical landscapes.

Prepares the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change. Even as we take new steps to cut carbon pollution, we must also prepare for the impacts of a changing climate that are already being felt across the country. Building on progress over the last four years, the plan:

  • Directs agencies to support local climate-resilient investment by removing barriers or counterproductive policies and modernizing programs; and establishes a short-term task force of state, local, and tribal officials to advise on key actions the Federal government can take to help strengthen communities on the ground;
  • Pilots innovative strategies in the Hurricane Sandy-affected region to strengthen communities against future extreme weather and other climate impacts; and building on a new, consistent flood risk reduction standard established for the Sandy-affected region, agencies will update flood-risk reduction standards for all federally funded projects;
  • Launches an effort to create sustainable and resilient hospitals in the face of climate change through a public-private partnership with the healthcare industry;
  • Maintains agricultural productivity by delivering tailored, science-based knowledge to farmers, ranchers, and landowners; and helps communities prepare for drought and wildfire by launching a National Drought Resilience Partnership and by expanding and prioritizing forest- and rangeland- restoration efforts to make areas less vulnerable to catastrophic fire; and
  • Provides climate preparedness tools and information needed by state, local, and private-sector leaders through a centralized “toolkit” and a new Climate Data Initiative.

Lead International Efforts to Address Global Climate Change. Just as no country is immune from the impacts of climate change, no country can meet this challenge alone. That is why it is imperative for the United States to couple action at home with leadership internationally. America must help forge a truly global solution to this global challenge by galvanizing international action to significantly reduce emissions, prepare for climate impacts, and drive progress through the international negotiations. For example, the plan:

  • Commits to expand major new and existing international initiatives, including bilateral initiatives with China, India, and other major emitting countries;
  • Leads global sector public financing towards cleaner energy by calling for the end of U.S. government support for public financing of new coal-fired powers plants overseas, except for the most efficient coal technology available in the world’s poorest countries, or facilities deploying carbon capture and sequestration technologies; and
  • Strengthens global resilience to climate change by expanding government and local community planning and response capacities.

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MATCHING GRANT: Please support Sarayaku to share their vision of Living Forests!

This September, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s World Conservation Congress will bring together the world’s most preeminent thinkers, advocates and leaders to address society’s biggest ecological challenges. This year’s Planet at the Crossroads conference will focus on moving 2015’s historic climate agreements into action.

It’s imperative that indigenous voices and solutions that respect “living forests” are heard at this event. Amazon Watch will accompany allies from the Sarayaku people of Ecuador to promote their Kawsak Sacha proposal, and we need your financial support TODAY to ensure that it is spotlighted.

With Sarayaku’s ancestral territory under imminent threat from state-sanctioned oil drilling, their vision is not only compelling; it offers the best hope for protecting their territory, health, and culture from climate-destroying oil drilling.

At the WCC, Amazon Watch will join Sarayaku and other allies in promoting true solutions that respect “No Go policies” for mineral extraction in relation to World Heritage Sites, sacred natural sites and primary forests.

A generous donor has offered to match up to $5,000 for the costs of getting our partners to the conference, accompanying them, and providing translation and communications support. We have 48 hours to meet our $10,000 goal.

Please give as generously as you can in support of advancing this vision for sustainable Amazon ecosystems, indigenous communities, and our global climate.

For the Amazon,

Leila Salazar-López
Executive Director

Over-harvested, Pollution, Sustainable,Mercury, Overfished, Contaminated, Declined

netfishing11 Fish That Should Never Be Eaten

While some fish are both delicious and nutritious, others are not very healthy at all. Here are a few fish that you should probably stop eating.

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