What your drought-tolerant landscape could look like

Drought-tolerant landscapes are an idea whose time has come. Many homeowners in Austin get this. Here’s a look at several non-lawn lawns that may inspire you. While they almost all require getting rid of that pesky turf, they’re easy to maintain later on. Most importantly, they’re not overly thirsty.

Let’s start treating climate change like the enemy

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is hovering at a landmark 400 parts per million, a level never before experienced by human beings. Scientists say we’re playing with fire, risking the planet’s future if we don’t start to lower the greenhouse gas levels forcing climate change. How should we react to this news? First, we need to envision climate change more accurately, as a deadly threat.

How to — and how not to — help dolphins during the oil spill

You’ve probably encountered those “Don’t Feed the Bears” signs in national parks. Well, it’s true of dolphins also.

NOAA has put out notice that the public should not feed, corral, swim or approach dolphins in the gulf, even if they appear distressed from possible exposure to the oil spill.

But residents concerned about suffering or stranded dolphins should call in about them on the federal government’s wildlife hotline at 866-557-1401.

While they wait for a response team, they can and should:

  • Stay with the animal until rescuers arrive, but use caution. Keep a safe distance from the head and tail.

Experts say spill’s affect on wildlife still a guessing game

A bottle nose dolphin (Photo: NASA) The BP oil spill will affect ecosystems in the gulf for a long time and is certain to affect the entire “food web,” wildlife experts said Friday. But the government’s team leaders for the rescue and assessment of wildlife could not give projections for, nor would they hazard guesses about, how bad those effects might be.

Oil disaster could destroy Gulf of Mexico fishery, natural areas, tourism

As thousands rushed into action on the Louisiana coast on Friday to deal with the millions of gallons of oil heading for shore, the region’s largest environmental advocacy group issued a statement to illustrate the magnitude of the biological fallout. The BP oil spill quite simply could destroy the most productive fishery in the world, said Mobile Baykeeper, a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance. The coastal Gulf region, stretching from the Mobile Bay Estuary to Galveston Bay, produces 69% of all domestic shrimp and 70% of all domestic oysters, the group reported.

New coalition asks for kinder treatment of wildlife

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

A new coalition of animal rights, conservation and faith groups is asking for a philosophical change in how the federal government treats the nation’s diminishing wildlife, particularly of top predators, whose presence helps insure healthy wild ecosystems.

The coalition sent a letter signed by 115 of its member groups to Agriculture Secretary nominee Tom Vilsack earlier this month asking him to end the federal government’s systematic killings of wildlife, such as wolves, coyotes, bears, cougars and prairie dogs.

The group contends that the killings are excessive and often cruel and that Wildlife Services, a department of the USDA that exterminated 2.4 million animals in 2007 should be reevaluated.

Irreplaceable Wildlife: Exhibit Pictures Species In A Warming World

Update: The photo exhibit Irreplaceable is on display at the San Francisco Public Library gallery through the holidays. It heads to Los Angeles, to the G2 Gallery in Venice, for the month of January. It will move to Washington D.C. in the spring; the dates will be announced.

By Barbara Kessler

Polar bears, penguins and caribou are all facing an uncertain future as global warming melts their arctic climates.

Photo: Wendy Shattil/Bob Rozinski

If only they were the only species at risk. Tragically, these arctic animals have many cousins in similar straits in lower latitudes: From the American Crocodile to the Monarch Butterfly; the Green Sea Turtle to the Mountain Goat; the Grizzly Bear, Lynx, Mountain Yellow-legged Frog, Sugar Maple and Northern Flying Squirrel. An array of amazing mammals and marine life, as well as plants, is imperiled by climate change.

The effects are being observed already, as populations dwindle, critical habitat becomes inhospitable and breeding or wintering grounds warm.

More from GRN

Many mammals at risk of extinction

By Barbara Kessler

Polar bears, penguins, pandas have become symbols of the fight to save wild places around the world and push back global warming.

According to conservationists meeting in Barcelona this week, they have a host of company. A broad assessment of the world’s mammals reveals an “extinction crisis” with nearly one-quarter of known mammal species at risk of disappearing forever due to habitat loss, pollution, global warming, over-hunting and food chain erosion.

The study, unveiled at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress, shows that 1,141 (and possibly nearly 2,000) of the world’s 5,487 mammals are known to be threatened with extinction.

Gray wolves may be spared in Northern Rockies

By Barbara Kessler

Gray wolves, all but de-listed from the Endangered Species Act protections through a series of government steps this year, have won a reprieve. According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official, the government will be withdrawing its declaration that the animals are fully recovered.

The move, reported by the Associated Press and various conservation groups, follows a federal court decision this summer that sided with environmentalists arguing that the wolves need continued protections.