Top navigation


Gleanings from Headline News – August 2021

Can We Save Ourselves?

The Climate panel warns that a hotter future is unavoidable, but we can change how hot it will be. Some devastating impacts of global warming are now inevitable, a major new scientific report finds. But there is still a short window to stop things from getting even worse. Read more at New York Times.

The Plant That Cannot Die

Events in the genome of the Welwitschia plant have given it the ability to survive in an unforgiving desert for thousands of years. The genetic lessons Welwitschia has to offer in a warming world may help humans breed hardier, less thirsty crops. Read more at New York Times.

Snakes on a Plane!

Some 55 million people pass through San Francisco International (SFO) during a typical year, the nation’s seventh busiest airport. At some point during their journey, each traveler will pass by a seemingly unremarkable 180-acre parcel of land. It may look like any other overgrown vacant lot, but this one is home to the world’s largest population of the strikingly beautiful and highly endangered San Francisco garter snake. Read more at Yale Environment 360.

Should Geoengineering Science be Used to Combat Climate Change?

The U.N. climate report just released presents a major leap forward in predicting how geoengineering to limit global warming might affect the planet, although scientists said the most significant hurdle remains to decide whether to use the controversial methods. Read more at Reuters.

Pesticide Sprays Harm Grassland Birds

As swarms of grasshoppers chew through grasslands, environmentalists worry chemical pest controls hold unintended consequences for wildlife. Environmentalists fear that this effort to spray more than 1.5 billion acres with pesticides to protect farmers and ranchers comes at the cost of harming wildlife. Read more at Audubon.

The Guardian Changes Use of ‘Climate Change’ to ‘Climate Emergency’

Instead of “climate change,” the preferred term is “climate emergency.” The phrase “climate change” sounds gentle and passive when scientists talk about the destruction of ecosystems that support all life on earth. The world scientists’ landmark reports have laid bare the scale of the climate and wildlife crises. Read more at The Guardian.

Who Are We to Decide an Owl’s Fate?

Gunning down a common owl to save an endangered one worked. Are we willing to keep doing it? Barred owls are, in a way, the Terminator of owls, built to win out in a human-influenced world. Spotted owls are not. Do we have the stomach to kill one species in favor of an endangered species? Read more at Anthropocene Magazine.

More and More and More Plastics in Our Oceans

The overuse of plastic is changing the composition of Rhode Island’s marine waters. These petroleum byproducts don’t biodegrade; they remain in the environment for centuries. Their long-term impacts on environmental and public health aren’t close to being fully understood. Read more at ​​EcoRI News.

What NYC’s Little Island Says About Parks and Inequality

The Little Island, one of Manhattan’s newest public parks, officially opened in spring. It sits on the edge of Chelsea’s Pier 51 – a small patch of green floating above the Hudson River on a forest of mushroom-like concrete pilings. Access to the Little Island may be free, but daily attendance is limited, and the park will regularly close for private events. Is this park equitable for all? Read more at The Sierra Club.

Saving the Western Monarch

During the 20th century, millions of Western Monarch butterflies clustered along the California coast during their winter migration. But just last fall, during the 2020 annual Xerces Society Thanksgiving Count, fewer than 2,000 butterflies showed up, a 99.9% drop since the 1980s. A coalition of scientists and conservation experts have joined forces to extend a helping hand to these iconic butterflies. Read more at San Francisco CBS.

Rhode Island Confronts Access to Public Coast

Using a method known as “equity mapping,” researchers examined census data to determine whether different populations within Rhode Island’s cities and towns had equal access to opportunities for recreation on the coast. Read more at EcoRI News.

Tracking Species Recovery

What if we tracked a species recovery, not just its extinction risk? A team of 200+ scientists ran a first test to see whether the new International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) green list, which focuses on recovery, actually helps conservation efforts. Read more at Anthropocene Magazine.

Facebook Snafu Spells Trouble for Gardening Group

Moderating a Facebook gardening group in western New York is not without challenges. And then there’s the word “hoe.” Facebook’s algorithms sometimes flag this particular word as “violating community standards.” Thus putting the Gardening FB group endanger of being shut down. Read more at ​​The Seattle Times.

Invasive Moth, Caterpillar Could Devour Boxwoods

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources is alerting residents that nurseries statewide received Canadian boxwood shrubs that may be infested with invasive box tree moths. Read more at Mass Live.

Get Reacquainted with the Browntail Moth

The browntail moth (Euproctis chrysorrhoea) is an insect that was accidentally introduced to Massachusetts from Europe in 1897. The caterpillars of this species feed on oak, shadbush, cherry, beach plum, apple, rugosa rose, and other trees and shrubs. While feeding damage of this moth may be problematic, the real danger is that it can cause a poison-ivy-like rash or a more severe reaction in humans. Read more at UMass Landscape News.