Blog Archives

Conservation scientists asking wrong questions on climate change impacts on wildlife

Scientists studying the potential effects of climate change on the world’s animal and plant species are focusing on the wrong factors, according to a new paper by a research team from the Wildlife Conservation Society, University of Queensland, and other organizations. The authors claim that most of the conservation science is missing the point when it comes to climate change.

While the majority of climate change scientists focus on the “direct” threats of changing temperatures and precipitation after 2031, far fewer researchers are studying how short-term human adaptation responses to seasonal changes and extreme weather events may threaten the survival of wildlife and ecosystems much sooner. These indirect effects are far more likely to cause extinctions, especially in the near term.

The review appears online in the international journal Diversity and Distributions.

“A review of the literature exploring the effects of climate change on biodiversity has revealed a gap in what may be the main challenge to the world’s fauna and flora,” said the senior author Dr. James Watson, Climate Change Program Director and a Principle Research Fellow at the University of Queensland.

The research team conducted a review of all available literature published over the past twelve years on the impacts of climate change on species and ecosystems. In their review, the authors classified studies examining the projected changes in temperature and precipitation as “direct threat” research. Direct threats also included changes such as coral bleaching, shifting animal and plant life cycles and distributions, and habitat loss from sea level rise. Human responses to climate change — including everything from shifting agriculture patterns, the construction of sea walls to protect cities from sea level rise, changes in human fishing intensity, diversion of water, and other factors — were classified as “indirect threats.”

The authors found that the vast majority of studies (approximately 89 percent of the research included in the review) focused exclusively on the direct impacts of climate change. Only 11 percent included both direct and indirect threats, and the authors found no studies focusing only on indirect threats.

“The reactions of human communities to these changes should be treated as a top priority by the research community,” said Dr. Watson. “The short-term, indirect threats are not merely ‘bumps in the road’ — they are serious problems that require a greater analysis of social, economic, and political issues stemming from changes already occurring.”

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wildlife Conservation Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Idaho Joins Utah in Asking Federal Court to Dismiss ‘Ag-Gag’ Lawsuit

Idaho wants a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit brought against the state by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF).

“ALDF attacks a statute it wishes had passed,” say attorneys for Idaho Gov. C.L “Butch” Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.

“The statute actually passed has nothing to do with speech or employee whistleblowing,” they wrote in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Instead, they say the law to protect the state’s agricultural production facilities deals with specific forms of conduct by non-employees who gain access through force, threat, or misrepresentation.

“The law may interfere with ALDF’s preferred business model, but as a statute applicable to all individuals’ and organizations’ conduct, it violates neither Free Speech nor the Equal Protection Clause,” Clay R. Smith and Carl J. Withroe, deputy Idaho attorneys general, wrote.

Denver University law professors sued Idaho on behalf of the ALDF and other individuals and groups after Otter signed a bill into law that animal activists called an “ag-gag” measure because it makes it more difficult for outsiders to collect evidence of animal abuse. The suit asks that the Idaho law be struck down as unconstitutional.

Utah is also being sued by ALDF, and state attorneys have also asked a federal judge to dismiss that lawsuit, largely because they claim none of the plaintiffs have standing to challenge state law. Idaho attorneys, however, are making their arguments for dismissal on additional arguments.

They point to a 1971 Court of Appeals case, Dietemann v. Time Inc., in which Life magazine journalists had taken photographs and surreptitiously recorded conversations inside a house where access was gained by subterfuge.

“The First Amendment has never been construed to accord newsmen immunity from torts or crimes committed during the course of newsgathering,” the appeals court wrote. “The First Amendment is not a license to trespass, to steal, or to intrude by electronic means into the precincts of another’s home or office. It does not become a license simply because the person subjected to the intrusion is reasonably suspected of committing a crime.”

U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill has scheduled a telephonic hearing for scheduling purposes for May 8. The U.S. District Court for Utah has scheduled the dismissal motion for consideration on May 15.

Food Safety News