Bat-killing fungus spreads to Texas – Summit County Citizens Voice

GR: This is sad news for our flying furry friends. The lethal fungus is spreading west across North America. It hasn’t been found in Arizona yet, but we have some of the susceptible species.

“A fungal pathogen that has wiped out bat populations across the eastern third of the U.S. has now been found in Texas, according to state wildlife officials, who documented the fungus for the first time on two new bat species: the cave myotis and a western subspecies of Townsend’s big-eared bat.

“White-nose fungus first emerged in 2006 in New York and his since spread into 30 states and killed at least 5.5 million bats. Wildlife conservation advocates said the recent announcement from is a biological disaster, considering the potential risks to huge, world-famous bat colonies that thrive in unique cave ecosystems in the state.” –Summit County Citizens Voice (Continue reading: Bat-killing fungus spreads to Texas – Summit County Citizens Voice.)

How Broadcast Networks Covered Climate Change In 2016

GR: So focused on our navels last year, we had no time for the building climate disaster. The Media Matters story below included fine graphics with full commentary. Here’s a sketch and some of the graphs. Once again, Bernie Sanders showed his broad perspective on critical issues. He brought up climate change four times as much as hosts did on ABC, CBS, and NBC Sunday shows. Mainstream media failed, but there was certainly good coverage of climate change across the Internet. I reported on it on this blog more than 200 times. Here’s an example (https://garryrogers.com/category/climate-change/). Other blogs have mentioned the poor 2016 coverage.

“In 2016, evening newscasts and Sunday shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC, as well as Fox Broadcast Co.’s Fox News Sunday, collectively decreased their total coverage of climate change by 66 percent compared to 2015, even though there were a host of important climate-related stories, including the announcement of 2015 as the hottest year on record, the signing of the Paris climate agreement, and numerous climate-related extreme weather events.

“There were also two presidential candidates to cover, and they held diametrically opposed positions on the Clean Power Plan, the Paris climate agreement, and even on whether climate change is a real, human-caused phenomenon.

“Apart from PBS, the networks also failed to devote significant coverage to climate-related policies, but they still found the time to uncritically air climate denial — the majority of which came from now-President Donald Trump and his team.” –Media Matters (Continue reading:  How Broadcast Networks Covered Climate Change In 2016.)

GR: Kate Yoder of Grist covered this story too:

“The networks can’t claim there was a shortage of important climate stories to cover. Hurricane Matthew, the Great Barrier Reef’s continued slow death, record-shattering heat, and the official beginning of the Paris climate deal all took place last year.

“Other insights from the study:

  • “Together, the networks aired five segments of climate science denial from Trump and his team — without rebuttal.
  • “No network covered climate change’s impact on national security or the economy.
  • “And none of them aired a single segment on the effect a Trump or Clinton presidency would have on the climate — until after the election.

“Great to know that TV news is taking the defining issue of our time so seriously.” –Kate Yoder.

Farm Policy in Age of Climate Change Creating Another Dust Bowl, Critics Say | InsideClimate News

GR: Most farmers and ranchers don’t preserve the land. They sacrifice soil and long-term productivity for profit or food. We have to give up the common belief that those closest to the land give high priority to the land’s health. Farmers and ranchers may understand the harm they cause, but opportunities and pressures keep them from sustainable use of the land. Examples from huge corporate farms and the small fields of indigenous people indicate irresponsible behavior dominates across a spectrum of objectives and imperatives. In general, the ‘grow or die’ mentality of contemporary businesses dictates corporate behavior, and social competition and the pressure of the growing population’s need for food dictate indigenous behavior.

The story below shows how desire for profit is destroying the land in America.

Farm policy critics say the latest Farm Bill is helping turn widespread drought into another Dust Bowl. Credit: Getty Images

“The last Farm Bill contained incentives for farmers to keep planting on degraded land, setting up potential environmental catastrophe.

“Over the past decade, farmers in the Great Southern Plains have suffered the worst drought conditions since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. They’ve battled heat, dust storms and in recent weeks, fires that devoured more than 900,000 acres and killed thousands of cattle.

“These extreme conditions are being fueled by climate change. But a new report from an environmental advocacy group says they’re also being driven by federal crop insurance policy that encourages farmers to continue planting crops on compromised land, year after year.

“Dust bowl conditions are coming back. Drought is back. Dust storms are back. All the climate models show the weather getting worse,” said Craig Cox of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which released the report Wednesday. “You’d think the imperative would be on adaptation, so we don’t make the same mistakes we did back in the 1930s.” –Inside Climate News (Continue reading: Farm Policy in Age of Climate Change Creating Another Dust Bowl, Critics Say | InsideClimate News.)

Access to nature reduces depression and obesity, finds European study

GR: Researchers have shown that people are healthier and happier when they have regular contact with nature (plants and animals). Controlled experiments show that even a photograph of natural vegetation reduces our blood pressure. Roger Ulrich, a colleague from long ago, described his research finding that views of vegetation reduced the need for pain medication and speeded recovery of surgery patients. This suggests that life in intensive urban settings, or life in a completely artificial habitat such as a space ship, would reduce overall health and lifespan. This link takes you to a discussion of the inclusion of nature in architectural design.

Here’s an article on people and plants:

Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire. The study cites research that 26% of England’s black and minority ethnic populations visit natural environments less than three times a year. Photograph: Rebecca Cole/Alamy

“People living close to trees and green spaces are less likely to be obese, inactive, or dependent on anti-depressants, according to a new report.

“Middle-aged Scottish men with homes in deprived but verdant areas were found to have a death rate 16% lower than their more urban counterparts. Pregnant women also received a health boost from a greener environment, recording lower blood pressures and giving birth to larger babies, research in Bradford found.

“Overall, nature is an under-recognised healer, the paper says, offering multiple health benefits from allergy reductions to increases in self-esteem and mental wellbeing.

“A study team of 11 researchers at the Institute for European environmental policy (IEEP) spent a year reviewing more than 200 academic studies for the report, which is the most wide-ranging probe yet into the dynamics of health, nature and wellbeing.” –Arthur Neslen (Continue reading: Access to nature reduces depression and obesity, finds European study | Society | The Guardian.)