Monarch butterfly conservation groups fight to conserve the species

February 20, 2019 by  
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Monarch butterfly conservation is in full effect as numerous organizations have shared concerns for the beautiful butterfly. The number of monarch butterflies observed at 97 sites in 2018 was dramatically lower than ever before, according to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation , an organization that monitors monarch butterfly populations. In fact, the numbers dropped as much as 86 percent. That’s a startling statistic and is much higher than scientists expected it be. Worse yet, looking back twenty to thirty years, the records showed a population around 4.5 million, which means the rate has been rapidly declining for decades. The numbers have plummeted so dramatically, that it has now become a race to save the vanishing species. Fortunately for the Eastern and Western monarch butterfly, there are several groups fighting for their survival. When it comes to increasing numbers and monarch butterfly conservation, the focus is splintered, working simultaneously to improve natural habitat alongside evaluating the health of the butterfly population. Here are some notable organizations and a highlight of their efforts to help the monarch butterflies. Related: California’s Monarch butterfly population hits ‘potentially catastrophic’ low in 2018 Southern Oregon Monarch Advocates (SOMA) The largest monarch habitat restoration projects in the western U.S., beginning in 2017 and continuing today, is taking place in the backyard of SOMA and they’ve played a key role in its success. Covering over 300 acres across Southern Oregon, the Southwest Oregon Pollinator Collaborative Project is working towards rebuilding pivotal habitats for the insects . For their part, SOMA placed over 7,000 plants over 40 acres in the Sampson Creek Preserve in the hopes of attracting and populating the butterflies. This project was one of the most recent of several, representing nearly five years of hands-on habitat restoration and community education. In 2015, the group began developing waystations for the butterflies — the largest of which is located at an appealing creekside location at Coyote Trails School of Nature in Medford, Oregon. Relying on the suggestions of published experts in the field, the SOMA group establishes plants well known as butterfly attractants, such as milkweed and other nectar-bearing plants . They also distribute seeds to encourage backyard planting and offer community outreach to several organizations with similar interests. Monarch Watch Based out of the University of Kansas, Monarch Watch promotes education pertaining to the monarch butterfly. They strive to inform the public about the life cycle and breeding of the species in an effort to encourage public involvement in the cause. In addition, the group also engages in research to better understand their biology and migration patterns. Monarch Watch also promotes the protection of known habitats and assists with the development of potential new habitats for the species . The website offers resources for the community and classrooms, such as a list of research projects that students can undertake along with information on how to rear monarchs. Monarch Watch feels that in order for the public to help, they need to have a better understanding of the issues so they provide information about how human activities such as infrastructure development decimates the natural habitat of the butterfly. They report that both overwintering and summer habitats are at risk due to human activities such as logging trees (known to aid the monarch) and building within the few known migration sites through Mexico and California. Journey North Journey North is another organization focused on saving the monarch butterfly. For twenty five years, Journey North has worked to maintain reliable resources for educators and the public. As an online citizen science program, they encourage teachers, scientists, members of the community and nature centers to report sightings so they can maintain a realtime database of monarch locations and numbers. This information is then mapped as waves of migrations move across the continent. The more people they involve, the more information they can gather. With a focus on “ecologically- sustainable relationships between people and the land through integrative, innovative, and collaborative science, stewardship, education, and public engagement,” community involvement is at the core of their mission. Monarch Joint Venture (MJV) The Monarch Joint Venture is an example of private and governmental organization coming together in an effort to conserve the monarch butterfly. More than 70 partners are part of the joint venture, all with the goal of “implementing science-based habitat conservation and restoration measures” to protect the migration of the butterfly. With a vast network of resources from all levels of stakeholders, the Monarch Joint Venture culminates all the information gathered and produces an annual report called the Monarch Conservation Implementation Plan that outlines the best conservation and habitat planning techniques for organizations making the effort to protect nesting grounds, build habitats and work to better understand the species and their needs. To further coordinate the efforts of this diverse group of like-minded organizations, the MJV maintains a visual map database of ongoing projects so people can connect with others in their area. Financially, the MJV also allocates funds to different conservation projects across the lower 48 states. As with all monarch conservation organizations, MJV works to provide information about the species, including their needs, biology , habitat, habits, migratory patterns, etc. so they facilitate an organized webinar series on the topic. Reports across the board support the knowledge that the monarch butterfly has become dangerously threatened. Organizations like those above agree that saving the species will require a coordinated effort of educators, scientists and the public from Mexico and up the west coast to Canada. Via Monarch Joint Venture , Journey North , Monarch Watch , SOMonarchs Image via elleo , eliza28diamonds , lauralatimer

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Monarch butterfly conservation groups fight to conserve the species

Sean Parker’s wedding violations result in new app for California coastline

January 4, 2019 by  
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What started out as a high-profile beachside wedding turned into a useful and long-term solution to beach access issues along the California coastline. When Napster founder and original president of Facebook Sean Parker started planning his 2013 beachfront wedding to then-fiance Alexandra Lenas, he had no idea that he was breaking land usage rules. With a redwood grove in mind, he simply leased the space from the hotel that fringed the area. He then spent months having the perfect set built. It included a 20-foot high fence, Roman pillars, bridges, a faux cottage and rock walls. Things were shaping up for the idyllic wedding when the California Coastal Commission (CCC) showed up and shut down progress. A little known agency, the CCC is responsible for maintaining access to over 1,200 miles of coastline. Enforcing a 1972 voter mandate, the organization aims to regulate the coast so that it is accessible to more people in a responsible way. So when the CCC heard a report of Parker’s construction, it came in with some harsh news — the hotel that Parker was leasing from did not have permission to lease him the space. Not only that, but the site of the wedding was supposed to be a public camping area that had been closed by the hotel six years earlier due to water quality issues without permission from the CCC. Related: California approves rule to require solar panels on new houses Fines for limiting beach access run high, and even though it wasn’t Sean’s fault, he sat down with the CCC to figure out a solution. According to the Coastal Act, violators can be fined $1,000 to $15,000 per day that they are in violation. That added up to a whopping $2.5 million dollars, which Parker agreed to pay on behalf of the hotel. Instead of going to the CCC, however, the funds were used to create hiking trails, fund field trips, reopen the campground, fix the water issues and otherwise promote public access to the Big Sur area. But the story doesn’t stop there. During conversations that eventually resulted in the CCC allowing the wedding to continue at the site, representatives mentioned the idea of developing an app where iOS users could find information about the 1,563 access points up and down the California coastline. Parker jumped on board and agreed to develop the app. Unveiled in December, the YourCoast app spent five years in development with teams from both sides working together. Parker’s team brought the technology to the table and received the decades of detailed information collected by members of the CCC. In the past, the constantly updated spreadsheet of information gathered about each access point was published in a book every few years and was periodically updated on the CCC website. Now, each access is shown on a map within the app, with additional information about each one when you click on it. With the financial and technological resources Parker provided, the public now has up-to-date data on closures, access points and photos of each path. The app also delineates amenities of each beach, such as whether there is wheelchair access, restrooms, off-street parking, lifeguards or fishing . Many of the access points are well disguised by natural overgrowth or less-than-helpful neighbors. Some are merely a small sign, fence or alley access, so without the YourCoast app, most people never know about them. Others are falsely marked with “No Parking” or “No Beach Access” signs to further discourage visitors, which is in direct violation of the Coastal Act. The CCC has a huge responsibility for such a small organization. The creation of the app has brought the commission from an era where it still doesn’t have Wi-Fi in the main office to an online resource available to any iOS user. Plans are in the works to also make the app accessible to Google and other Android users. Related: Southern California is losing its clouds, increasing the risk of more intense wildfires While the information is now front and center to the public, there is still the ongoing problem of policing businesses and residents along the coast who actively restrict access to the beach. In fact, the six- to 10-person violations team has a backlog of thousands of cases. The app allows users to report violations and submit pictures of their own, so that they can help with the problem. Some areas of the coastline are very remote, and with that much territory to cover, it’s difficult for the CCC to monitor it all. For those users that visit the more remote regions, YourCoast allows them to download information for use without cell service. Although it was an unusual course of events that brought Parker and the CCC together, both parties are happy to have found a creative solution that brings great value to the public and facilitates the goals of the CCC in promoting access to state coastlines. Additional sections of the settlement agreement required Parker to safely remove all the infrastructure used in the wedding, and he must produce an educational video for the public and ensure that it goes viral. + YourCoast Via LA Times Images via USFWS , James Smith and Inhabitat

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Sean Parker’s wedding violations result in new app for California coastline

Progress despite politics — lessons from a red state utility commissioner

October 30, 2018 by  
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The Chair of Ohio’s Public Utilities Commission explains how to advance grid modernization, transportation electrification and other clean technologies in a “red state” under today’s contentious political climate.

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Progress despite politics — lessons from a red state utility commissioner

Studio Roosegaardes laser light art tracks floating space waste in the sky

October 12, 2018 by  
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A dazzling neon green light show is illuminating the night skies in Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde’s latest large-scale art installation, the Space Waste Lab Performance. Created as part of the Space Waste Lab , the performance uses real-time tracking information to render the space waste floating above our heads visible with bright green LEDs that follow the movement of the drifting waste. The series of live installations kicked off on October 5 in the Dutch city of Almere and aims to call attention to the problem of space waste as well as sustainable upcycling solutions. According to Studio Roosegaarde, there are currently more than 29,000 items of space waste  — approximately 8.1 million kilograms worth — floating around the earth. Classified as objects greater than 10 centimeters, the waste comprises anything from parts of broken rockets to chipped-off satellite pieces. The drifting junk poses a danger to current satellites and can disrupt digital communications, however there is no clear plan on how to fix the growing issue. In response, the Dutch design studio launched Space Waste Lab with support from the European Space Agency to bring attention to the issue and find ways to upcycle the waste into sustainable products. The Space Waste Lab Performance that launched early this month marks the first phase of the living lab. Created in compliance with strict safety and aviation regulations, the large-scale light show uses cutting-edge software and camera technology to track pieces of drifting space waste in real time with high-powered, neon green LEDs that project a distance of 125,000 to 136,000 miles. “I’m a strong believer in cooperation between technologists and artists,” said  ESA Director Franco Ongaro about Space Waste Lab. “Artists not only communicate vision and feelings to the public but help us discover aspects of our work which we are often unable to perceive. This cooperation is all the more important when dealing with issues like space debris, which may one day impact our future and our ability to draw maximum benefits from space. We need to speak in different ways, to convey not just the dry technological aspects of technology, but the emotions involved in the struggle to preserve this environment for future generations.” Related: Daan Roosegaarde unveils mind-expanding 295-foot SPACE installation in Eindhoven Space Waste Lab will be open to the public at Kunstlinie in Almere until January 19, 2019 and is complemented by the “Space @ KAF” exhibition next door. The Space Waste Lab Performance will be exhibited after sunset on the nights of October 5 and 6; November 9 and 10; December 7 and 8; and January 18 and 19, 2019. The surrounding street and commercial lights will be turned off at those times to enhance the experience. Phase 2 of the program begins after January 2019 and will study ways to capture and upcycle space waste. + Studio Roosegaarde Via Dezeen Images via Studio Roosegaarde

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Studio Roosegaardes laser light art tracks floating space waste in the sky

Why are positive climate feedbacks so negative?

September 6, 2018 by  
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The “Hothouse Earth” report caught the public’s attention. But the coverage doesn’t tell the full story.

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Why are positive climate feedbacks so negative?

5 ways to encourage sustainable behavior through integrated corporate performance

September 6, 2018 by  
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And several companies and projects that are already taking steps to make it happen.

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5 ways to encourage sustainable behavior through integrated corporate performance

Can satellites help companies reach their sustainability goals?

May 2, 2018 by  
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Methane is the most dangerous greenhouse gas emission, and accurate measuring is necessary to ensure that corporations meet their public commitments and meet the 2-degree warning.

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Can satellites help companies reach their sustainability goals?

Customer obsessed: Customer demand for sustainability and engagement to maximize impact

February 15, 2018 by  
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The future of corporate sustainability leadership involves finding ways to engage the public to think and act sustainably. This is a task that companies can’t do alone and is best achieved by creating partnerships with NGOs and others to connect with the public and spread the word about companies that are trying to make a difference. As one of the world’s largest restaurant companies, McDonald’s has the responsibility and opportunity use our Scale for Good.

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Customer obsessed: Customer demand for sustainability and engagement to maximize impact

US to lift restrictions on making viruses deadlier and stronger

December 21, 2017 by  
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The United States National Institute of Health (NIH) announced on Tuesday that it will soon end a three-year moratorium on funding research projects that aim to make pathogens more powerful than they are naturally. The restrictions were put in place during the Obama Administration while the NIH created a more comprehensive system of risk-benefit analysis for the research. Now that such a system has been developed, the NIH is moving forward with its plans to develop more dangerous forms of deadly viruses . The goal is to study these lab-grown super-viruses to determine how these viruses might evolve in the real world, enabling experts and institutions to prepare antiviral medicines or other public health responses. Projects that engineer super viruses in the hopes of learning their weaknesses are called “gain-of-function” studies. Scientists seek to learn how a virus interacts with its hosts may change based on evolution . While research involving highly dangerous pathogens is strictly regulated, the potential cost from a mistake or malicious action could be devastating. Former CIA director John Brennan recently highlighted biological weapons, like a weaponized form of the ebola virus , as one of the most pressing existential threats facing the United States. Related: Scientists harness tobacco plants to produce polio vaccine Between 2003 and 2009, there were 395 reported incidents in which human error created a situation in which people were at risk of infection from these deadly viruses. Only seven infections resulted from these 395 events. Although this research is ostensibly to serve the public’s interest, some scientists question whether the risks are worth any potential reward. Gain-of-function studies have “done almost nothing to improve our preparedness for pandemics, yet they risked creating an accidental pandemic , said Marc Lipsitch, epidemiologist at Harvard University, according to Nature . It would seem that the NIH did its due diligence in preparing a comprehensive policy concerning the research of deadly pathogens. Hopefully it is enough to keep these super viruses behind tightly closed doors. Via Motherboard Images via NIAID   (1)  

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US to lift restrictions on making viruses deadlier and stronger

Defining the affordable path to Hawaii’s renewable future

September 8, 2017 by  
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Sponsored: A broad coalition of stakeholders can protect the public’s interest.

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Defining the affordable path to Hawaii’s renewable future

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