Introducing the COS Big Marsh MAPS Bird Banding Station

Read the full story at Chicago Birder.

Chicago Ornithological Society is proud to announce the newest project as part of our conservation initiative in the Calumet region: a bird banding station located at Big Marsh Park in Chicago.

The new Big Marsh bird banding station is part of the Institute for Bird PopulationsMAPS Program (Monitoring Avian Productivity & Survivorship), which deploys a standardized bird banding protocol for studying breeding birds.

The Big Marsh MAPS station is run by three researchers from across Illinois – Stephanie Beilke, Conservation Science Manager with Audubon Great Lakes and board member of the Chicago Ornithological Society, Libby Keyes of Governors State University, and Anastasia Rahlin of the Illinois Natural History Survey – and offers us a glimpse into the lives of urban birds.

Can we estimate a monetary value of scientific publications?

Rousseau, S. et al (2021). “Can we estimate a monetary value of scientific publications?” Research Policy 50(1), 104116.

Abstract: In this paper, we analyze the compelling issue of monetary valuation of a scientific publication. While many academic scholars tend to overlook the topic, as being either too difficult or even meaningless, policymakers begin to use very rough tools for evaluating publications, which have many limitations, as we will discuss in this work. The main objective of this work is to address this open problem by stimulating further discussion on the topic and future research developments. We provide an overview of different methods to value scientific publications. We discuss their main hypotheses, pros and cons by means of an illustration based on Sapienza University of Rome. Although we begin to address the issue of monetary valuation of scientific publications, presenting a range of available methods and listing the limits and benefits of each, further methodological and empirical research is still needed to comply with policy and stakeholders’ needs which we expect will increase in the near future.

Boston Progressives Expand the Green New Deal to Include Justice Concerns and Pandemic Recovery

Read the full story at Inside Climate News.

City Councilor Michelle Wu’s plan is ambitious and far-reaching, calling for citywide carbon neutrality by 2040 and creation of an Urban Conservation Corps.

Finnish town offers locals cake (and other rewards) for cutting CO2 emissions

Read the full story at EuroNews.

A town in Finland is offering cake, free transport tickets and other rewards to locals who cut their carbon emissions.

Captive-bred Blanding’s turtles released into the wild: ‘To bring them back from the brink of extinction is a monumental undertaking’

Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

On a sunny afternoon in northwest DuPage County, a small turtle with a smile plastered on its face slid off a log into a marsh and began its first day of life in the wild.

The yearling was among a group of endangered Blanding’s turtles released into the wetlands of a forest preserve, where each dark splash into the lime green water marked, for some turtles, a jump more than a decade in the making.

The DuPage Forest Preserve District’s head-start program has helped raise and release young Blanding’s turtles for years. But Wednesday’s journey into the marsh featured the first cohort in the program’s 25 years that included captive-bred turtles from Brookfield Zoo.

Renewable energy can save the natural world – but if we’re not careful, it will also hurt it


by Laura Sonter, James Watson, and Richard K Valenta
The University of Queensland

A vast transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is crucial to slowing climate change. But building solar panels, wind turbines and other renewable energy infrastructure requires mining for materials. If not done responsibly, this may damage species and ecosystems.

In our research, published today, we mapped the world’s potential mining areas and assessed how they overlap with biodiversity conservation sites.

We found renewable energy production will exacerbate the threat mining poses to biodiversity – the world’s variety of animals and plants. It’s fair to assume that in some places, the extraction of renewables minerals may cause more damage to nature than the climate change it averts.

Australia is well placed to become a leader in mining of renewable energy materials and drive the push to a low-carbon world. But we must act now to protect our biodiversity from being harmed in the process.

A wind farm
Renewable energy infrastructure such as wind farms are good for the planet – but it requires minerals extraction. Shutterstock

Mining to prevent climate change

Currently, about 17% of current global energy consumption is achieved through renewable energy. To further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, this proportion must rapidly increase.

Building new renewable energy infrastructure will involve mining minerals and metals. Some of these include:

  • lithium, graphite and cobalt (mostly used in battery storage)
  • zinc and titanium (used mostly for wind and geothermal energy)
  • copper, nickle and aluminium (used in a range of renewable energy technologies).

The World Bank estimates the production of such materials could increase by 500% by 2050. It says more than 3 billion tonnes of minerals and metals will be needed to build the wind, solar and geothermal power, and energy storage, needed to keep global warming below 2℃ this century.

However, mining can seriously damage species and places. It destroys natural habitat, and surrounding environments can be harmed by the construction of transport infrastructure such as roads and railways.

An evaporation pond used to measure lithium and in the Uyuni salt desert in Bolivia.
An evaporation pond used to measure lithium and in the Uyuni salt desert in Bolivia. Mining can damage the environment if not done sustainably. Dado Galdieri/AP

What we found

We mapped areas around the world potentially affected by mining. Our analysis involved 62,381 pre-operational, operational, and closed mines targeting 40 different materials.

We found mining may influence about 50 million km² of Earth’s land surface (or 37%, excluding Antarctica). Some 82% of these areas contain materials needed for renewable energy production. Of this, 12% overlaps with protected areas, 7% with “key biodiversity areas”, and 14% with remaining wilderness.

Our results suggest mining of renewable energy materials may increase in currently untouched and “biodiverse” places. These areas are considered critical to helping species overcome the challenges of climate change.

Areas around the world potentially influenced by mining
Areas potentially influenced by mining, including for the minerals needed in renewable energy production (shown in blue). See paper for detailed methodology and limitations. Authors provided

Threats here and abroad

Australia is well positioned to become a leading supplier of materials for renewable energy. We are also one of only 17 nations considered ecologically “megadiverse”.

Yet, many of the minerals needed for renewable energy exist in important conservation areas.

For example, Australia is rich in lithium and already accounts for half of world production. Hard-rock lithium mines operate in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

This area has also been identified as a national biodiversity hotspot and is home to many native species. These include small marsupials such as the little red antechinus and the pebble-mound mouse, and reptiles including gecko and goanna species.

Australia is also ranked sixth in the world for deposits of rare earth elements, many of which are needed to produce magnets for wind turbines. We also have large resources of other renewables materials such as cobalt, manganese, tantalum, tungsten and zirconium.

It’s critical that mining doesn’t damage Australia’s already vulnerable biodiversity, and harm the natural places valued by Indigenous people and other communities.

In many cases, renewables minerals are found in countries where the resource sector is not strongly regulated, posing an even greater environmental threat. For example, the world’s second-largest untouched lithium reserve exists in Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni salt pan. This naturally diverse area is mostly untouched by mining.

The renewables expansion will also require iron and steel. To date, mining for iron in Brazil has almost wiped out an entire plant community, and recent dam failures devastated the environment and communities.

A little red antechinus
The Pilbara has large lithium deposits and is also home to the little red antechinus. Needpix

We need proactive planning

Strong planning and conservation action is needed to avoid, manage and prevent the harm mining causes to the environment. However global conservation efforts are often naive to the threats posed by significant growth in renewable energies.

Some protected areas around the world prevent mining, but more than 14% contain metal mines in or near their boundaries. Consequences for biodiversity may extend many kilometres from mining sites.

Meanwhile, other areas increasingly important for conservation are focused on the needs of biodiversity, and don’t consider the distribution of mineral resources and pressures to extract them. Conservation plans for these sites must involve strategies to manage the mining threat.

There is some good news. Our analyses suggest many required materials occur outside protected areas and other conservation priorities. The challenge now is to identify which species are most at risk from current and future mining development, and develop strong policies to avoid their loss.

The map in this article has been updated, because due to a technical issue the previous version omitted some information.

Laura Sonter, Lecturer in Environmental Management, The University of Queensland; James Watson, Professor, The University of Queensland, and Richard K Valenta, Director – WH Bryan Mining and Geology Research Centre – The Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Food & Beverage Ingredients Firm Tate & Lyle On a Mission to Protect the Planet

Read the full story at Compressed Air Best Practices.

Tate & Lyle’s sustainability actions involve countless initiatives worldwide to minimize its environmental impact by reducing emissions and using water sustainably. Whether it’s the use of a low-pressure blower instead of a high-pressure compressed air system to save energy, or a $75 million natural gas-fired Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system to replace coal as a power source at its corn wet mill in Lafayette, Indiana, Tate & Lyle is on a mission to protect the planet.

Meet the Black design collective reimagining how cities get built

Read the full story in Fast Company.

Urban planning often neglects or harms communities of color by cutting them out of the decision-making process. BlackSpace, a collective of architects, designers, artists, and urban planners, is quietly working to change that.

On Beaches Quieted By The Pandemic, Lebanon Sees Sea Turtle Boom

Read the full story from NPR.

Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, remains devastated by the massive explosion at the city’s port last month. The country is in the depths of an economic collapse, and the coronavirus is spreading.

But as Lebanon reels from multiple tragedies, conservationists are pointing to one bright spot. They say a record number of endangered green sea turtles have come to nest on the country’s shores. Loggerhead turtles have also come in large numbers.

Florida accused of push for ‘roads to nowhere’ under cover of pandemic

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Opponents of Florida’s largest highway construction project in decades say officials are exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to advance three new unwanted toll roads that would destroy more than 50,000 acres of rural landscape and pave hundreds of miles through ecologically fragile wetlands and wildlife corridors.