1. Invasive Asian Carp Has Spread Beyond Great Lakes Barrier
An Asian carp has been found beyond the Great Lakes, past an electrified barrier designed to keep the highly invasive species from spreading elsewhere in the ecosystem by sending an electrical pulse through the water. The fish was found by a monitoring team nine miles from Lake Michigan, but there is not yet any evidence that there is a reproducing population of Asian carp beyond the barrier. The carp poses as a massive threat to freshwater ecosystems—they can weigh up to 100 pounds, outcompete native species, and lower water quality. In addition, the advance of the Asian carp comes at the same time the Trump administration wants to eliminate a $300m Great Lakes cleanup program in its 2018 budget.
2. Trump Urged to Cut Size of Bears Ears Monument
Ryan Zinke, the US interior secretary, has urged President Trump to cut the size of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument to the “smallest area” possible. According to Zinke, he had recommended to Trump that “the monument needs to be right-sized and that is absolutely critical that an appropriate part be co-managed by the tribal nations”. Bears Ears had been designated as a national monument under the Obama administration, which limited new mining and grazing activity. However, Trump ordered a review of certain national parks in April, Bears Ears being one of the most controversial. Environmentalists have since criticized the review for potentially reducing protections for areas that attract visitors and preserve pristine and treasured landscapes.
3. Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Taken off Endangered Species List
For the first time in 42 years, the Yellowstone grizzly bear will be removed from the Endangered Species List after citing a successful rebound in the population, meaning the bear will lose its federal protections and be subject to state oversight. The National Park Service says the bears "have gradually expanded their occupied habitat by more than 50%." However, environmentalists are not happy with the decision, saying grizzlies are the slowest reproducing mammals on the planet, and a population decline can take decades to reverse. The ruling will take effect 30 days after publication.
4. Seismic Blasts are Devastating for Zooplankton
A new study from the University of Tasmania found that seismic blasts used to search for offshore oil and gas deposits have devastating consequences for zooplankton, one of the most critical species in ocean ecosystems. Zooplankton can include tiny jellyfish, crustaceans, and fish larva. Coauthor Jayson Semmens said that scientists used an air gun in the ocean off southern Tasmania and collected zooplankton samples before and after the blasts. Compared with control samples, areas with the blasts yielded a 64 percent catch decrease as far as 4,000 feet away. Zooplankton play an essential role in the ocean food web, serving as a food source for fish, top predators, and marine mammals.
5. Norway Holds Brazil Government Accountable for Amazon Deforestation
Last Friday, Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg warned Brazil’s president to curb deforestation in the Amazon, or else Norway will cut financial contributions to the Amazon rainforest fund. Norway donates more than $1 billion to encourage the conservation of the forests, but its environmental minister Vidar Helgesen wrote that there had been a "worrying upward trend” of deforestation since 2015. The Brazilian counterpart, Jose Filho, responded by defending Brazil’s commitment to sustainability. The Amazon and Atlantic rainforests are currently being cut down at the fast rate in a decade, but its 380 billion trees absorb 1.5 gigatons of carbon dioxide a year.