Neonicotinoids, dangerous for birds


This 16 March 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

How Neonics Affect Birds

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Police killings of unarmed black Americans and mental health


This video from the USA says about itself:

22 June 2018

Large crowds of protesters, angry over a deadly police shooting, shut down a major highway near Pittsburgh overnight. The protest halted traffic for hours. It marked the second day of unrest following Tuesday’s shooting of unarmed teen Antwon Rose Jr. Jericka Duncan reports.

“I see mothers bury their sons / I want my mother to never feel that pain”, Antwon Rose Jr. wrote in a haunting poem during his sophomore year of high school. Two years later, he was shot and killed by a police officer as he ran from a car during a traffic stop in East Pittsburgh. Rose, 17, was unarmed and was shot in the back three times: here.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Friday, 22 June 2018

Police killings of unarmed black Americans impact on community

Police killings of unarmed black Americans have adverse effects on the mental health of black American adults in the general population, according to a new population-based study.

With police killings of unarmed black Americans widely perceived to be a symptom of structural racism, the findings highlight the role of structural racism as a driver of population health disparities, and support recent calls to treat police killings as a public health issue.

The study was led by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Boston University School of Public Health (USA), in collaboration with Harvard University, and is published in The Lancet.

Police kill more than 300 black Americans – at least a quarter of them unarmed – each year in the USA. Black Americans are nearly three times more likely than white Americans to be killed by police and nearly five times more likely to be killed by police while unarmed. Beyond the immediate consequences for victims and their families, the population-level impact has so far been unclear.

The quasi-experimental study combines data from the 2013-2015 US Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a nationally-representative, telephone-based survey of adults, with data on police killings from the Mapping Police Violence (MPV) database.

By using statistical analysis, the authors estimate the ‘spillover’ effect of police killings of unarmed black Americans on the mental health of other black Americans living in the general population. A total of 103,710 black Americans took part in the BRFSS survey during the three-year study period and rated how many days in the past 30 days they felt their mental health (in terms of stress, depression and problems with emotion) was ‘not good.’

Half of the respondents were women, and half had been to university. 38,993 respondents (49% of the weighted sample) resided in a USA state where at least one police killing of an unarmed black American had occurred in the 90 days prior to the survey.

Each additional police killing of an unarmed black American in the 90 days before the survey was associated with an estimated 0.14 additional days of poor mental health among black Americans who lived in the same state. The greatest effects were seen 30-60 days after the police killing.

Black Americans are exposed to an average of four police killings in their state of residence each year.

Extrapolating their findings to total population of 33 million black American adults, the authors estimate that police killings of unarmed black Americans could contribute 55 million excess poor mental health days per year among black American adults in the USA.

These estimates suggest that the population mental health burden due to police killings is nearly as large as the population mental health burden associated with diabetes among black Americans.

‘Our study demonstrates for the first time that police killings of unarmed black Americans can have corrosive effects on mental health in the black American community’, says co-lead author Atheendar S. Venkataramani, a health economist and general internist at the University of Pennsylvania.

‘While the field has known for quite some time that personal experiences of racism can impact health, establishing a link between structural racism – and events that lead to vicarious experiences of racism – and health has proved to be more difficult.’

Adverse effects on mental health were limited to black Americans, and exposure to police killings of unarmed black Americans was not associated with any changes in self-reported mental health of white Americans. Exposure to police killings of armed black Americans was also not associated with changes in self-reported mental health among black or white Americans.

‘The specificity of our findings is striking’, says co-lead author Jacob Bor, a population health scientist at the Boston University School of Public Health. ‘Any occasion in which police resort to deadly force is a tragedy, but when police use deadly force against an unarmed black American, the tragedy carries with it the weight of historical injustices and current disparities in the use of state violence against black Americans.

‘Many have interpreted these events as a signal that our society does not value black and white lives equally. Our findings show these events also harm the mental health of black Americans.’ The authors suggest that the mental health effects of police killings of unarmed black Americans might be conveyed through several different channels, including heightened perceptions of threat and vulnerability, lack of fairness, lower social status, lower beliefs about one’s own worth, activation of prior traumas, and identification with the deceased. The authors note several limitations that should prompt further research in the field.

First, the BRFSS public-use dataset was limited to state-level identifiers, and there was no information on the extent to which respondents were directly aware of police killings nor whether respondents were aware of police killings in other states. If police killings affected the mental health of black Americans living in other states, then the study findings would be an underestimate of the true effect. Secondly, the measures used in the BRFSS are self-reported.

Thirdly, the study does not focus on other ways in which the criminal justice system disproportionately targets black Americans, and it is likely that other forms of structural racism – such as segregation, mass incarceration, and serial forced displacement – also contribute to poor population mental health.

Finally, the study did not include data on other vulnerable populations, such as Hispanics or Native Americans, nor did it consider the impact of police killings on the mental health of police officers themselves.

Senior author Alexander Tsai, a psychiatrist at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said: ‘Therapists and first responders are all too familiar with the potentially devastating effects of vicarious trauma. ‘By highlighting the effect of police killings on the wider community, our study provides evidence on a national scale that racism can be experienced vicariously.

‘Interventions are needed to reduce the prevalence of these killings and to support the mental health of communities affected when they do occur. ‘For example, in the wake of such killings, affected police departments could deploy greater resources to community problem oriented policing, give community stakeholders subpoena powers in investigating officer-involved shootings, and pursue disciplinary actions against involved officers with greater transparency.’

In a linked Comment, Dr Rhea W Boyd, Palo Alto Medical Foundation (USA) wrote: ‘Racism lands, violently, on bodies – not as a function of race but as a function of how humans order society (racial hierarchy), assign power (racial supremacy), and distribute resources (racial inequity).

‘Labelling the attributable mental health outcome a “spillover effect”, the authors adjoin the taxonomy of terms such as “weathering” and “toxic stress” to articulate potential pathophysiological mechanisms for the built harm of racism.

‘This intentional naming of racism is crucial to advancing an anti-racist praxis in medicine and public health… Despite (the) limitations, the findings (of the study) are urgent and instructive. (The authors’) work to acknowledge and address the clinical impact of police killing black Americans sits within a broader clinical imperative to rigorously define and intervene in the relationship between structural racism and clinical outcomes. ‘This evidence should ignite inquiry into the broader health impacts of police violence and advance the challenge to confront racial health inequities as products of racism.’

Murder charges have been filed against the East Pittsburgh police officer who shot and killed unarmed 17-year-old Woodland Hills High School student Antwon Rose, Jr. last week as he ran from a car he was riding in after it was pulled over by police: here.

Bird nests webcams update


This video from the USA says about itself:

Early Morning Feeding Bout On Wisconsin Kestrel Cam – June 20, 2018

Watch the female kestrel arrive with a small rodent and parcel out food to her chicks.

Watch the cams live at www.allaboutbirds.org/cams

The American Kestrel cam is a collaboration between the Cornell Lab or Ornithology and the Raptor Resource Project. Four downy American Kestrel nestlings are tucked into a gravel-bottomed nest on private property near Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin. The nest box is located on the side of a traditional limestone-footed barn, overlooking a rolling grassland that slopes away into folded hills and forests.

Our partners at the Raptor Resource Project have watched kestrels breed at this site for over 25 years, and the wonderful combination of grassland, forest, and water that surrounds the property is an excellent example of the habitat that kestrels need to survive and thrive.

The young birds began hatching out of their eggs on June 14th, and the remaining egg in the nest is unlikely to hatch at this point. Over the next 3-4 weeks the nestlings will transform from downy bobbleheads to sleek, dull versions of their parents on a diverse diet of invertebrates, small mammals, and birds (watch this highlight of the female feeding the young).

After fledging, the young will continue to be cared for by their parents, remaining near the nest as they learn to hunt and master flight.

Don’t miss the outside view! A second camera has been installed to give views of the nest box opening from the outside so viewers can observe the kestrels’ comings and goings, as well as the nestlings once they begin peering outside. To toggle between the two camera views, click the “switch camera” icon in the lower right of the livestream player, next to the settings wheel.

In the Netherlands, there are nest webcams for various bird species. Including for a barn owl nestbox. However, at the barn owl webcam nestbox at the moment, not barn owls nest, but another species: a stock dove couple.

Finally, back to the USA.

This video is called Osprey Chick Fledges In Savannah, Georgia! (edited) – June 11, 2018.

More suicide, opioid deaths in the USA


Suicide rates rose across the USA, 1999-2016

Mental health, substance abuse, life stresses and economic despair fuel crisis. US suicides increased by 25 percent from 1999 to 2016. By Kate Randall, 9 June 2018. The dramatic increase in suicides shows that, despite claims of the end of the Great Recession in mid-2009, increasing numbers of people are facing incredible personal and financial hardships: here.

Overdose deaths caused by the synthetic opioid Fentanyl in the Cincinnati area increased by one thousand percent over the course of the last five years, according to a new report in the Cincinnati Enquirer: here.

Red spruce comeback in American forests


This video from the USA says about itself:

Restoring Red Spruce in the Southern Appalachians

10 November 2015

Sue Cameron from the [U.S. Fish and Wildlife] Service’s Asheville Field Office recently joined staff from the Southern Highlands Reserve collecting red spruce cones on Pisgah National Forest, near Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in the Eastern United States. The cone collection is the first step in a multi-year process to restore red spruce to areas where it was found before the extensive logging and burning at the turn of the 20th century.

The Southern Appalachians are home to the highest peaks in the eastern United States and red spruce is a key part of the forests on those mountain-top areas. Unfortunately, the amount of red spruce found there today is a fraction of what stood 150 years ago. These forests were decimated by logging, which was followed by intensive fires which burned the thick layer of organic material the spruce needed to re-establish themselves, allowing a northern hardwood forest, with trees like maple and birch, to expand into new areas.

The collected cones will be divided among partners who will then extract the seeds and begin growing new trees, which will eventually be planted on public lands where red spruce once grew. Planting efforts will also be focused on connecting patches of red spruce.

In addition to helping conserve red spruce trees themselves, this effort will benefit wildlife, as high-elevation conifer trees are important sources of food and shelter for a variety of animals, including the endangered Carolina northern flying squirrel.

From the USDA Forest Service – Northern Research Station in the USA:

Surprising resurgence of red spruce likely result of cleaner air and warmer winters

June 5, 2018

Summary: When scientists found a resurgence of red spruce in northeastern forests, they had a lot of questions. Fifty years ago, red spruce was the equivalent of a canary in the coalmine signaling the effects of acid rain on forests. Researchers have identified two factors behind the tree’s surprising recovery: reduced inputs of acid rain and warmer fall, winter and spring temperatures.

Red spruce, for decades the forest equivalent of the canary in the coal mine signaling the detrimental effects of acid rain on northeastern forests, is making a comeback. New research by a team of scientists from the USDA Forest Service and the University of Vermont suggests that a combination of reduced pollution mandated by the 1990 Amendments to the Clean Air Act and changing climate are behind the resurgence.

The study, “The surprising recovery of red spruce growth shows links to decreased acid deposition and elevated temperature” by lead author Alexandra Kosiba of the University of Vermont with co-authors Paul Schaberg of the USDA Forest Service’s Northern Research Station and University of Vermont researchers, was published this week in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

The research team assessed the relationship between red spruce growth and factors that may influence growth such as tree age and diameter, stand dynamics, plot characteristics (elevation, slope, aspect, geographical position), and environmental variables including temperature, precipitation, a suite of climate indices, and sulfur and nitrogen pollution deposition that cause acid deposition. In a study that encompassed 658 trees in 52 plots spanning five states, they found that more than 75 percent of red spruce trees and 90 percent of the plots examined in the study exhibited increasing growth since 2001.

“Our research suggests that the reductions we’ve seen in acid rain are making a difference to forests in the Northeast”, said Schaberg. “Acid rain decline has helped red spruce recover, as well as higher temperatures in the fall, winter, and spring. Higher temperatures help some species and hurt others — right now, red spruce are benefiting, but they could be vulnerable to change in the future.”

Red spruce have unique characteristics that make them particularly susceptible to acid rain. For example, they have little genetic variation and they have only moderate tolerance to the cold. But they are also able to “wake up” and photosynthesize during warm interludes of the dormant season, a characteristic that may better position the species to take advantage of recent climate shifts that extend the functional growing season. Yet the study notes that future changes in habitat suitability may not be as favorable to red spruce as those already experienced — it will likely depend on how extreme future changes are.

Scientists are confident that their research represents the state of red spruce in the entire region, according to Kosiba. “Our study included a broad range of tree ages and sizes as well as a variety of plot locations and characteristics,” she said. “We are confident that we are capturing the regional status of red spruce forests, not just a snapshot of a specific location.”

“More broadly our work demonstrates the importance of using research to identify ecosystem problems that inform policy to mitigate those issues, and result in biological recovery”, noted Kosiba.

Hurricane season restarts in Caribbean, USA


This 16 May 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Hurricane Season 2018 Outlook: provided by MeteoMark’s Weather Northeastern, complete with the tropical factors, total number named storms, and which areas stand the chance of seeing the greatest hurricane activity this year for the Atlantic basin, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean. Find out how this tropical season will stack up to last year’s 2017 blockbuster Category 5 year.

From the League of Conservation Voters in the USA, 3 June 2018:

URGENT: Hurricane season has begun, yet many are still struggling from last year’s disasters. Urge FEMA to support the continued recovery of communities of color and low income communities and commit to more equitable recovery

URGENT ACTION NEEDED

Hurricane season is underway, yet communities still need support to recover. Urge FEMA to support the recovery of ALL communities.

FEMA failed communities in Puerto Rico, Texas, and Florida last hurricane season – and it had deadly consequences.

While climate-fueled Hurricanes Maria, Harvey, and Irma devastated communities, the delayed, chaotic, and ineffective response of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) exacerbated the crisis. And FEMA’s inequitable and insufficient responses disproportionately harmed communities of color and low income communities.

We cannot let this injustice continue. As the 2018 hurricane season, which we know will be made more intense by climate change, begins this weekend, it’s critical that FEMA ensures that the communities most impacted by these disasters have the resources and support to recover. Stand with impacted communities and urge FEMA to provide federal equitable recovery support before the next hurricane strikes.

We cannot adequately prepare for this hurricane season if we don’t support communities that were impacted by the 2017 hurricanes. Tell FEMA to fix systemic issues that lead to inequitable recovery

The destructive impacts of 2017’s storms, made worse by climate change, were felt first and worst by communities of color and low income communities. Many of these communities lacked the resources to prepare for and respond to these climate-exacerbated disasters.

Despite the extraordinary loss of life, property, and infrastructure, FEMA’s insufficient response failed these communities time and time again. Here are a few key examples of the egregious ways their ineffective, delayed, and insufficient responses had astounding consequences for communities of color and low income communities:

  • In Puerto Rico: According to a study from Harvard University, the death toll from Hurricane Maria was nearly 5,000 people — 70 times larger than the official government death toll of 64 people. Many of these deaths were caused by lack of medical care and insufficient access to water and electricity. And, more than nine months later, 90,000 Puerto Ricans are still without access to power. Tell FEMA to repair Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and ensure that this hurricane season doesn’t have the same devastating impact
  • In Texas: A Politico investigation found that historically African American and low income communities in Texas have been left behind by FEMA. Even former FEMA officials have agreed that there is a recurring and systemic problem with the delivery of federal recovery funds to most impacted communities. Urge FEMA to allocate recovery funds to the communities that need them to most
  • In Florida: In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, the Los Angeles Times reported that Immokalee, a Floridian city comprised largely of immigrant and low-income families, was severely damaged, but received little assistance from FEMA. FEMA delayed not only in immediately responding, but also, in providing permanent shelter and housing solutions for families. Demand that FEMA respond immediately to impacted areas during the 2018 hurricane season and continue to provide long-term support to impacted families

As hurricane season begins again it’s imperative that we speak out now. If we don’t act, FEMA will continue with business as usual, even if it means that thousands of most impacted people are held in limbo. We cannot let FEMA continue to leave communities of color and low income communities behind and in danger. Raise your voice now and help elevate the critical needs of these communities to FEMA as they consider response and recovery efforts this season.

SIGN: Thousands are still struggling after 2017’s climate-fueled hurricanes. Demand that FEMA equitably support all impacted communities and prepare for more equitable support in 2018

We must ensure that ALL our communities have the vital resources they need to continue on the long road of recovery ahead.

Thank you for standing up for our communities.

Sara Chieffo
Vice President of Government Affairs
League of Conservation Voters

Policymakers are being misinformed by the results of economic models that underestimate the future risks of climate change impacts, according to a new article: here.