September 6th is World Shorebirds Day: a day bird lovers celebrate the monumental migrations undertaken by shorebirds such as Red Knots (well known for their dependence on Horseshoe Cab eggs), Bar-tailed Godwits (as many as 9 days without rest), and Arctic Terns (pole to pole migration). It’s the launch of fall migration.
I celebrated #WorldShorebirdsDay with the start of classes and participating in the hashtag by uploading some of my recent photos from a few days spent on Long Beach Island, NJ.
September 6th is also a day conversationalists rally around shorebird conservation, particularly the focusing attention on stopover grounds, the important refueling refugia. Which is why it was so alarming that this week a piece was published out in Washington questing the value of radio-tags, geolocators and other tracking technology. Without the use of such technology in conservation we wouldn’t know that Bar-tailed Godwits don’t stop as they circumnavigate the globe. We wouldn’t be able to identify stopover migration hotspots in remote regions. In larger organisms we wouldn’t be able to see how they are internally responding to the stresses we are putting on their bodies through the changes we wrought in the environment.
These are important lessons.
These are the reminders being shared right now in Hawaii at the IUCN Congress (#IUCNCongress), an international meet up of governments, scientists, policy makers, NGOs, to take a harsh look at the human impact on wildlife. But to merely describe it as such is limiting to the scope of what is on the table and what is at stake.
- Oceanic animals are migrating poleward 1.5 times faster than land animals are migrating north. (link)
- Pandas have been moved off the IUCN Endangered List (link), but 4 of 7 Great Ape species are now Critically Endangered. (link)
- Thousands of strange blue lakes are appearing in Antarctica, and it’s very bad news. (link) We saw this happen in Greenland a few years back. It resulted in much faster ice melt than models predicted.
- Poaching of wild elephants is on the rise. (link) To recover from 10 years of poaching will take African Elephants 90 years to recover. (link)
Every morning I get up and I read these messages and the longer articles that come along with them. If you were to sit down and read them all, your heart would break. But this isn’t all I read. Interspersed with these updates are the #NoDAPL updates. Which seems ironic really because this struggle is exactly what the IUCN Congress is all about. The controversy surrounding #NoDAPL is that a corporation has decided the most expedient route for the pipeline is through indigenous lands in the Dakotas. This land is steeped in great environmental and cultural heritage. Within the proposed corridor pipeline are at least 27 burials, 16 stone rings, 19 effigies & other sacred sites (link). The juxtaposition is striking.
What is nature without clean water? Without clean air? Without unspoiled land?
The shorebirds we’re valuing today depend on clean water, clean air, clean land. So do the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all the indigenous groups around the world responsible for stewarding 24% of earth’s land (link). We also depend on these things.
Without nature, there is no life. Later is too late.*
Suggested Reading List:
- Obama the Conservationist (Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker)
- Dakota Pipeline Was Approved by Army Corps Over Objections of Three Federal Agencies (Phil McKenna, Inside Climate News)
- The Oceans Can’t Protect Us Any More and Here’s Why ( National Geographic)
- Thousands of Strange Lakes are Appearing in Antarctica (Bec Crew, Science Alert)
- A Pipeline Fight and America’s Dark Past (Bill McKibben, The New Yorker)
- Giant Panda No Longer at Risk, But Iconic Species Still at Risk (World Wildlife Federation)
- ‘Is That Not Genocide?’ Pipeline Co. Bulldozing Burial Sites Prompts Emergency Motion (Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams)
- In a World of 7 Billion People, How Can We Still Protect Wildlife? (John Scanlon, The Guardian)
- Dakota Access Pipeline Protests: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know (Jessica McBride, Heavy)
- Obama Legacy: Quiet, but Big Changes in Energy, Pollution (Seth Borestein and John Lederman, The Big Story AP)
- Tribe Submits Evidence of Cultural Sites in Dakota Access Path (Amy Dalrymple
- Survival International (Facebook group)