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The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Defiant Biden defends US exit from Afghanistan...
1 month ago
Presented by AT&T Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Wednesday, the first day of September! We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the co-creators. Readers can find us on Twitter @asimendinger and @alweaver22. Please recommend the Morning Report to friends and let us know what you think. CLICK HERE to subscribe!Total U.S. coronavirus deaths each morning this week: Monday, 637,539; Tuesday, 638,711; Wednesday, 640,108.President Biden on Tuesday defended his decision to end the U.S. war in Afghanistan this week, describing it as “a wise decision,” “the best decision for America” and a promise he kept to voters. The president said the end of America’s longest war was his decision, but also the consensus of Pentagon and diplomatic advisers. He used a 26-minute, mid-afternoon White House address to respond to criticisms at home and abroad about the chaotic pullout and the decision to stick with an arbitrary deadline that allowed for Kabul airlifts of 5,500 Americans and an estimated 100,000 Afghan allies but left between 100 and 200 American citizens and thousands of potentially eligible Afghan evacuees behind. The Hill: President digs in with forceful defense of Afghanistan withdrawal. Niall Stanage: The Memo: Defensive Biden tries to put Afghanistan behind him. Biden, aware that Republican lawmakers on Tuesday again accused him of “abandoning Americans” in Afghanistan, said U.S. citizens and allies who chose not to leave or did not get to Kabul before evacuations ended would still receive U.S. assistance to leave the country, but he did not specify how. The Hill: Biden says there is “no deadline” for remaining Americans who want to leave Afghanistan. The Washington Post: Administration in touch with Americans choosing to remain in Afghanistan for now. The Hill: House Republicans, led by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyOvernight Defense & National Security: War ends, but finger pointing continues McCarthy says GOP 'will not forget' if firms hand records to Jan. 6 panel GOP demands keeping troops in Kabul until all Americans evacuated MORE (Calif.) (pictured below), are working to amplify conservative criticism of Biden’s handling of the U.S. pullout from Kabul, and on Tuesday called for a vote on legislation that would keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan until all Americans are evacuated. The Hill’s Mike Lillis, Cristina Marcos and Scott Wong report that House Republicans have launched a full-scale political attack on the president and his administration tied to Afghanistan and international policy, a campaign aimed at Biden’s falling job approval and next year’s midterm elections. It is highly unlikely that U.S. service members would soon return to Afghanistan, based on Biden’s assertion that U.S. “boots on the ground” are unnecessary to battle terrorists there. But a recent ABC News-Ipsos poll found overwhelming bipartisan support for keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan until all Americans and Afghan allies who want to leave are able to make it out. Progressives overwhelmingly say they support the president’s decision to end the war, despite misgivings about a costly, painful military withdrawal (The Hill). The Hill: The United States is expected to rely on unmanned drone strikes for future military operations in Afghanistan. The Washington Post: In politics, Afghanistan is a dividing line. A Pew Research Center survey conducted before the end of Kabul evacuations found support for the U.S. troop withdrawal but criticism of Biden’s exit. Close to half of Democratic respondents rated the president’s performance positively before his Tuesday deadline, while just 7 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents approved. The president did not use his speech to describe what comes next for Afghanistan or the Taliban fighters who seized control, but he repeated his blunt warning to ISIS-K terrorists in the country, who he says are responsible for Thursday’s deaths of 13 U.S. service members in a suicide blast at the Kabul airport. “To ISIS-K, we are not done with you yet,” Biden warned. “We will not forgive or forget,” he added, repeating his vow to “hunt” for all those responsible to ensure the United States makes Islamic State militants “pay the ultimate price.” Reuters: With Kabul airport closed, fearful Afghans rush for borders with Pakistan and Iran. The New York Times: Faced with risks of famine and financial collapse, the Taliban spent a day celebrating victory and called for international engagement. And the United States faces a choice to shun or tolerate the group. The Hill: U.S. service members injured in last week’s deadly attack in Kabul are recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The president insisted again that the two-decades-long war had mistakenly “morphed” from a goal of crushing al Qaeda after the attacks of 9/11 to nation building in Afghanistan, a country in which he said the United States has no prevailing national security interest. He described the toll and tragedies of the long U.S. military commitment to Afghanistan but not any gains. “Everything had changed,” he said of the choice he believes he inherited from three of his predecessors, including former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaHouse Democrats to offer amendment to limit transfer of military-grade gear to police Creating American hostages, abandoning Afghan allies Feehery: Seizing the radical middle MORE at a time when Biden served as vice president, and former President TrumpDonald TrumpMcCarthy says GOP 'will not forget' if firms hand records to Jan. 6 panel The Memo: Defensive Biden tries to put Afghanistan behind him Hillicon Valley: Agencies on alert for ransomware attacks ahead of Labor Day weekend MORE, who cut a deal with the Taliban to pull U.S. forces out of the country by May of this year. The Hill: Pakistan said its military killed 11 Islamic State militants in a raid on Tuesday. The Washington Post: Rep. Markwayne MullinMarkwayne MullinGOP lawmaker threatened officials while trying to enter Afghanistan: report Overnight Energy: Update on Biden administration conservation goals | GOP sees opportunity to knock Biden amid rising gas prices | Push for nationwide electric vehicle charging stations GOP sees opportunity to knock Biden amid rising gas prices MORE (R-Okla.) unsuccessfully tried twice in the course of a week to carry out unauthorized schemes to enter Afghanistan to rescue Americans, seeking assistance from the U.S. ambassador to Tajikistan and the Defense Department in Greece. His requests were rejected as dangerous and potential violations of law. Mullin’s behavior has alarmed top U.S. officials who say he has gone to extraordinary lengths to defy U.S. warnings. Mullin’s current location is a question mark. He has never served in the armed forces. A MESSAGE FROM AT&T AT&T is making a $2 billion, 3-year commitment to help connect communities to their American Dream We are making a $2 billion, 3-year commitment to help connect communities to their American Dream. Kamal Bell, Founder of Sankofa FarmsLEADING THE DAYCORONAVIRUS: Although COVID-19 vaccination mandates have become the norm in parts of the country, financial penalties by employers do not seem likely to follow as the U.S. encourages more individuals to get vaccinated. Delta Air Lines made waves recently by announcing that it will impose fines and penalties for unvaccinated workers. However, The Hill’s Karl Evers-Hillstrom writes that other companies are not following suit. Experts tell The Hill that while there’s momentum behind requiring shots, with regular testing as an alternative, businesses seem unwilling to make employees pay out of pocket if they decide against a vaccine. They do warn, though, that companies may have to consider such steps down the line if mandates prove ineffective. Elsewhere on the vaccine front, European Union (EU) officials announced on Tuesday that 70 percent of adults have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as the 27-state bloc has steadily risen toward the top of vaccinated regions (The New York Times). The EU overtook the U.S. among fully vaccinated adults last month, although the U.S. has seen an uptick in inoculations in recent weeks due to the delta variant. According to ABC News, the U.S. saw a 17 percent increase in those receiving their first dose following the full approval of Pfizer and BioNTech’s jab. Roughly 404,000 Americans were receiving a first dose each day in the week prior to the full approval, with that toal jumping to 473,000 per day since then. The Washington Post: Pace of U.S. vaccinations picks up with 14 million first shots in August. Reuters: Japan finds another Moderna vial suspected to contain foreign substance. The Hill: Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerWicker says he's recovered from coronavirus The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Twenty years after invading, US exits Afghanistan Melissa Joan Hart reveals breakthrough COVID-19 case MORE (R-Miss.) says he's recovered from COVID-19. He had been fully vaccinated before testing positive with mild symptoms. The Hill: Health officials defend boosters after top Food and Drug Administration scientists announce retirements. > State watch, COVID edition: Individuals will be required to present proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test at businesses, including restaurants, bars and gyms, in Honolulu, Hawaii, starting on Sept. 13 (KHON2). In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom WolfTom WolfPennsylvania reverses course, will issue mask mandate for K-12 schools The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US prepares vaccine booster plan Pennsylvania governor pushing for law requiring mask mandates in schools MORE (D) announced a new mask mandate for K-12 and daycare students, with the state’s Department of Health requirement going into effect on Sept. 7. The directive comes after most of the state’s 500 school districts did not impose any sort of restrictions ahead of the school year (The Associated Press). In the Sunshine State, the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald reported on Tuesday that the Florida Department of Health changed its reporting to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of death data in a way that is “giving the appearance of a pandemic in decline.” The major difference is because of a minor change as Florida changed how it reports deaths. Instead of counting deaths by the date they were recorded, as Florida did until three weeks ago, it now tallies the fatality count by the date the person died, which makes the death count seem like it is on a downward trend at present. As the report notes, that’s because there’s a lag. WESH 2: Volusia County, Fla., voted last night to adopt a mask mandate. Max Greenwood, The Hill: Florida’s GOP strongholds buck Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisPennsylvania reverses course, will issue mask mandate for K-12 schools Florida reported 'artificial decline' in COVID-19 deaths as cases were surging Florida withholds funds from two districts with mask mandates MORE (R) on virus measures. The Hill: Montana governor issues rules requiring schools to consider “parental concerns” about masks. The Associated Press: Vaccinations in rural India increase amid supply concerns.IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKESGULF COAST RECOVERY: The aftermath of Hurricane Ida has left hundreds of thousands of Louisiana residents without electricity and water, among other necessities, as officials move ahead with clean-up efforts across the region. “We have a lot of work ahead of us and no one is under the illusion that this is going to be a short process,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said during a stop as part of an aerial tour to observe the damage left behind by the storm. “We're going to be with you all for the long haul” (The Advocate). According to The Associated Press, Louisianans lined up at gas stations across the region, with New Orleans announcing locations throughout the city where people could get a meal and momentarily enjoy some air conditioning. The city is also using transit buses to provide additional air conditioning as cooling sites, with drive-thru locations to provide food, water and ice distribution coming today, according to Mayor LaToya CantrellLaToya CantrellHurricane Ida could strengthen to Category 4 before hitting US Biden urges residents to prepare as Hurricane Ida nears US Louisiana officials announce evacuations ahead of Ida landfall MORE (D). According to Nola.com, the power blackout that has lingered since the storm ripped through the city on Sunday could start to be lifted late tonight, far earlier than previous estimates indicated. Entergy New Orleans did not say how much power will be available as that will depend on the number of transmission lines that can be restored in the coming hours and days. In total, more than 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi were left without power after thousands of miles of power lines were knocked out. Bloomberg: New Orleans on Tuesday imposed a night-time curfew to prevent crime in its darkened streets as power remained out following Hurricane Ida. On the sporting scene, the New Orleans Saints are expected to stay away from the city for more than a month, meaning that they will likely play their first home game on Sept. 12 at a location that has yet to be determined. Saints head coach Sean Payton indicated there’s a good chance the team will “host” that game somewhere on the road, potentially in either Dallas, where the team is practicing, or Houston. “And we've got enough fans in this area and Houston and certainly from Northern Louisiana that we think that would be something that's very realistic,” Payton said (ESPN).The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE! OPINIONA dishonest Afghanistan accounting, by The Wall Street Journal editorial board. https://on.wsj.com/3zApjhF Joe Biden’s critics lost Afghanistan, by Ross Douthat, columnist, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/3gP2iA6A MESSAGE FROM AT&T WHERE AND WHENThe House will meet at noon on Sept. 3 for a pro forma session. The full House will not be active until Sept. 20. ... McCarthy speaks today at the Nixon Presidential Library in California about House Republicans’ foreign policy agenda. The Senate convenes on Friday at 1:30 a.m. for a pro forma session. Senators are expected back in Washington on Sept. 13. The president and Vice President Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10 a.m. The president will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the White House at 2 p.m. The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant and Laura Kelly report that the two presidents are expected to talk about Russia’s aggression as the U.S. commits $60 million in military aid to Ukraine. Biden and Harris will receive a weekly economic briefing at 4:30 p.m. Biden will also be briefed by his homeland security team about hurricane recovery in the Gulf Coast. U.S. special presidential envoy for climate John KerryJohn KerryAfghan interpreter who helped extract Biden, other senators in 2008 asks president to save him Kerry travels to Japan in bid to cut emissions Time to rethink Biden's anti-American energy policies MORE was in Tokyo on Tuesday and flew to China overnight to promote global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions (Bloomberg News and CNBC). The White House press briefing is scheduled at 1 p.m. The Washington Post Live hosts Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenBiden: 'No deadline' for Americans still in Afghanistan who want to leave Biden faces unfinished mission of evacuating Americans US exit from Afghanistan ends 20 years of war MORE (D-N.H.), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, for a 2 p.m. discussion about the future of Afghan women. Information HERE. Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube. ELSEWHERE➔ JEOPARDY! THE SEQUEL: Mike Richards, criticized for alleged past comments about women, Jewish people and poor people, will no longer be executive producer for “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune.” “We had hoped that when Mike stepped down from the host position at ‘Jeopardy!’ it would have minimized the disruption and internal difficulties we have all experienced these last few weeks. That clearly has not happened,” Sony Pictures Television executive Suzanne Prete said on Tuesday. Richards was one of several guest hosts who helmed the show after former longtime host Alex Trebek died in November. Sony, which produces the show, has returned to searching for a permanent host of the popular syndicated quiz show (NBC News). ➔ POLITICS: Democrats are pouring late money into the race to save California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomDemocrats, unions pour cash into California recall fight Election Hail Mary — California recall law unconstitutional? Sanders urges support for Newsom in new California recall ad MORE (D) in next month’s recall election (The Hill). … A slew of potential 2024 Republican presidential candidates are descending on Iowa, testing the political waters three years out from the state’s next presidential caucuses. Former President Trump is slated to hold a rally in the Hawkeye State in the near future after he garnered the attention of campaign watchers, hiring two Republican operatives in Iowa during August. Meanwhile, Sens. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonTrump to hold rallies in Iowa, Georgia Sunday shows preview: Chaos in Kabul mars US evacuation efforts US military faces growing calls to do more to evacuate Afghanistan MORE (R-Ark.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump to hold rallies in Iowa, Georgia With minority bent on obstruction, US Senate still the place bills go to die State Department sanctions more Russians over Nord Stream 2 MORE (R-Texas) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio slams Biden over alleged list given to Taliban Rubio on withdrawal from Afghanistan: 'The true deadline is not the 31st' Child tax credit payments would up average monthly income for HUD-assisted families by about 38 percent: report MORE (R-Fla.) have already or plan to campaign alongside local officials in the near future (The Hill). … Federal authorities have charged a Florida developer in connection with an alleged scheme to extort $25 million from the father of Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzFlorida developer charged in alleged M scheme to extort Gaetz's family Jan. 6 panel seeks records of those involved in 'Stop the Steal' rally Cawthorn calls jailed Jan. 6 rioters 'political hostages' MORE’s (R-Fla.) in exchange for the promise of a presidential pardon for any potential crimes from the FBI probe into sex trafficking allegations against the lawmaker (The Hill). ➔ LIVE LONGER: Reducing global air pollution levels to meet the World Health Organization’s guidelines would boost average life expectancy by 2.2 years, a new study has found (The Hill). ➔ TECH: Facebook will consider negative user feedback to reduce political content in the platform’s News Feed, according to the company on Tuesday. The update is part of Facebook’s revisions to its previously announced plan to cut down on political noise, having initiated the effort in February. Facebook added that it has learned that “some engagement signals” are better at indicating what posts users find valuable (The Hill). THE CLOSERAnd finally … It’s worth remembering that 72 journalists were killed in Afghanistan over the past 20 years, according to The Associated Press (UNESCO tallies 80). Seven journalists died in Afghanistan this year. In July, Pulitzer Prize-winning Reuters photographer Danish Siddiqui, 38, was killed on assignment during a clash between Taliban fighters and the Afghan army. Siddiqui, (pictured below during a vigil in India, his home country), had been embedded with the Afghan commandos in Kandahar. He was the first foreign reporter to be killed in the conflict since U.S. and international forces began withdrawing from the country in May and the Taliban began a sweeping military offensive that ended this week (The New York Times). Siddiqui died after he was left behind when Afghan special forces were in retreat, Reuters reported. ISIS-K adherents in May claimed responsibility for killing three female Afghan media workers employed by Enikass, a Jalalabad television station, targeting them because of their employment and their gender. Mursal Wahidi, 25, Sadia Sadat, 20, and Shahnaz Raofi, 20, helped record voice-overs for foreign programs (The New York Times). --Updated at 6:52 a.m. Share on Twitter JW Video Type: CutdownPerson: Markwayne MullinLaToya CantrellKevin McCarthyJeanne ShaheenRoger WickerRon DeSantisDonald TrumpGavin NewsomBarack ObamaMarco RubioJohn KerryTom CottonMatt GaetzJoe BidenTom WolfTed CruzExcluded from Just In: 0Video comments: Video comments......
Enthralled scientists spot a giant tortoise behaving in a strange, wild way...
1 month ago
Biologists on Frégate Island, east of Africa, spotted a giant tortoise acting strangely in July 2020. They grabbed a camera and started filming.The giant female tortoise lumbered towards a small bird (a tern chick) who was standing on a log. The tortoise, who typically devours plants on the island, opened its mouth wide. The bird ran away, down the log. But the tortoise pursued. "At the end of the log the chick stopped retreating, enabling the tortoise to close its jaws directly on the head of the chick," the researchers wrote. "The chick, now dead, was dropped and the tortoise had to climb off the log to retrieve it. Once retrieved, the chick was swallowed whole."The footage of this wild event is the first known documentation of a giant tortoise (who largely devours plants) hunting and eating another animal, though people have reported (but not recorded) this behavior before. The evidence of the attack is compelling for a number of reasons, not least because it underscores how our understanding of nature is still evolving, and challenges assumptions about how animals live. "It changes the way most people think about tortoises," Justin Gerlach, a biologist at the University of Cambridge, told Mashable. Gerlach is a giant tortoise researcher and an author of the newly published study in the scientific journal Current Biology. There's more to them than we think, he said."It also shows that you can still make unexpected discoveries by observation," Gerlach added. "Their lives are secret from us, unless we watch them." "The more we watch, the more we learn," agreed Rob Baldwin, a conservation biologist at Clemson University who researches reptiles. "These animals have lives. Their lives are secret from us, unless we watch them. That's why having biologists and professionals out in the field is so important." Baldwin had no role in the research. Based on the rare footage, there's little doubt the female tortoise was hunting, as opposed to opportunistically snagging a nearby piece of protein. Gerlach and Anna Zora, a conservationist on Frégate Island who filmed the remarkable event, concluded the tortoise acted deliberately to attack the young tern. "It's seen the bird from a distance and goes straight at it," explained Gerlach. "Normally [giant tortoises] are slower and less directed. It clearly has purpose."The images and video below show the methodical hunt, which Baldwin also noted was clearly systematic. Images of the giant tortoise attacking the tern on Frégate Island. Credit: Anna Zora Reptiles, often living amid vegetation or under rocks, can be challenging to observe. On top of that, we're still learning about how creatures like giant tortoises truly live because humanity decimated their populations. Today, their numbers and conditions are returning to more normal, natural states. "This is a group of animals that has long been persecuted," explained Baldwin, noting they were once rounded up and stored as food on ships. On Frégate Island, conservationists bred the current population of 3,000 giant Aldabra tortoises from just 150 tortoises, according to the private island's website. As the island's habitat is restored, the wilds are returning (aka "rewilding"), including some 265,000 noddy terns that have recolonized the island. With rewilding comes the return of animal behavior little seen before, or never seen, by today's scientists — like a tortoise hunting a tern. "We don't know whether this is a totally new behavior or one that has re-developed," said Gerlach. "Personally, I think it's the latter, showing that where we restore natural systems we may recreate old species interactions, allowing things that no human has seen." SEE ALSO: The number of species on Earth is uncountable As biologists continue observing life on Frégate Island, they may discover these tortoises do indeed more regularly eat birds and have a genuinely mixed diet. Many tortoises could be expert hunters, too. We'll see what the wilderness has in store.Rewilding doesn't just bring back life. It invites surprises.......
The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is tackling the root causes of some of the toughest problems facing people and nature today, replicating good ideas to save many places and improve people’s lives....
Agreement: I do not AgreeBody: All eight species of pangolin are threatened with extinction, primarily by overexploitation. In their Letter “Seize China’s momentum to protect pangolins” (19 March, p.1214), C. Xia et al. make a call to arms for pangolin conservation but misrepresent both trade measures and conservation efforts. First, they report that pangolin scales have been removed from China’s list of traditional medicines and consider this measure to be progress in conservation terms. Although pangolin scales have been removed as a raw ingredient from part of China’s official pharmacopoeia, they remain included in the section on approved patented medicines. Whether or not limiting the inclusion of scales in the pharmacopoeia will result in positive conservation outcomes will depend on how consumers and traditional medicine practitioners respond in a market where pangolin scales have been used for millennia. There is scant literature on markets for pangolin products but understanding the behavior of actors along supply chains is critical to predicting outcomes (1) and avoiding adverse impacts (e.g. scarcity-driven price increases and potentially higher rates of exploitation of wild pangolin populations). Second, while we agree that concerted conservation attention is needed for pangolins, many of the actions called for have been instigated in the last decade. Since 2010 the profile of pangolins has grown enormously (2) with a concomitant increase in conservation investment, while national and regional conservation action plans have been developed, including by IUCN and its Pangolin Specialist Group, and priority actions at local to global levels have been agreed in CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (3). Future conservation solutions for pangolins should consider consumer behavior and the likely response of key stakeholders so that they have the best chance of success and can complement existing interventions. References 1. D. Veríssimo, D.W.S. Challender, V. Nijman, Wildlife trade in Asia: start with the consumer. Asian. J. Conserv. Biol. 1, 49-50 (2012). 2. P. Thomson, L Fletcher, “No longer a forgotten species: history, key events and lessons learnt from the rise of pangolin awareness” in Pangolins – Science, Society and Conservation (Academic Press, London, 2020), pp.335-347. 3. CITES Res Conf. 17.10 “Conservation of and trade in pangolins.” (2016). https://cites.org/sites/default/files/document/E-Res-17-10_0.pdf. No competing Interests: YesThe following competing Interests: Electronic Publication Date: Monday, March 22, 2021 - 07:20Highwire Comment Subject: Seize China's momentum to protect pangolinsWorkflow State: ReleasedContributors: ChallenderDaniel W.S.firstname.lastname@example.orgResearch FellowUniversity of OxfordWuShibaowushibao@163.comProfessorSouth China Normal UniversityFull Title: Pangolin momentum Highwire Comment Response to: Seize China's momentum to protect pangolinsCheck this box if you would like your letter to appear anonymously:: ...
Recorded songs get birds to take roads less traveled
Songbird communities are typically less diverse, and many species are less abundant, near roads. And for good reason: roads present a number of threats to birds, such as increased predation, noise that drowns out their communicative songs, and collisions with vehicles. There’s some evidence that these effects are pretty minor along less busy roads, yet birds...
Making Voters Care About Climate Change
Making Voters Care About Climate Change Jonathan Shaw making-voters-care-about-climate-changeOne day about four years ago, John Marshall’s youngest son came home from a class on climate change at Harvard Extension School and told his father, “Dad, you have to do something about this.” The 17-year-old (now a junior at Harvard) had been learning about rising seas—and countless other ecosystem impacts that will be locked in for thousands of years—from Hooper professor of geology Daniel Schrag. The prospect had shocked him. And the magnitude of the societal change required to deal with the problem was even harder to accept. It’s a disaster, he told his father, “and no one knows.” John Marshall is not a scientist, a politician, or an engineer. He is an expert in the art and science of moving people. The former marketing executive, now a consultant, says his son locked him in the house for two days, and asked him to make some phone calls. “So I called a lot of my fellow ad execs and CEOs and said, ‘If I put an effort together on climate communications, would you dedicate resources on a pro bono basis?’”—the same way law firms donate a percentage of their legal services. “And I got a lot of yeses. And then I called Dan.”That conversation led Schrag and Marshall to launch the Potential Energy Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to raising public awareness of climate issues in the United States. Surveys indicate that only between a quarter and a third of Americans care about climate change, says Marshall, lagging Europeans by about 20 to 25 percentage points. The goal of their nonpartisan organization is to change U.S. popular opinion by partnering with and providing marketing expertise to advocacy organizations aligned with their message.The challenge is that climate change has become politicized: it is regarded as a progressive issue in the United States. “If I even say ‘climate change’ to conservatives,” Marshall explains, “visions of Al Gore [’69, LL.D. ’94] might start dancing in their heads and then I might not be able to make progress.” Popular opinion on the subject is like a barbell, he says. “For every message I issue that feels like it is part of a liberal agenda, I’m going to manufacture an opponent on the other side: all I’m doing is increasing the weight at the two ends of the bar, and I’m not changing the politics.”On this issue, his research has shown, “People first pick their political identity, and then they choose whether or not they care about climate change.” Potential Energy aims to get the people in the middle to see it as an important, apolitical issue for humanity.That job falls to a team of 25 people at Potential Energy, based in New York City, where all the modern tools of marketing have been custom-built to focus on climate change. Because it is hard to measure precisely how a person thinks, Marshall says, marketing involves a mosaic of techniques. The team exposes research panels and control groups to different messaging and logs their responses; it also runs digital tests on platforms such as Facebook and YouTube and watches who responds to particular stimuli. They track the effectiveness of campaigns they’ve launched by using polls to measure how people’s thinking about the issue is changing, he continues, seeking the “pockets of elasticity where you can actually move people” in a particular segment of the population. Every day, they solicit the thinking of a 100-person digital panel, sounding out their attitudes, needs, and fears. And then they test hundreds of variants of messages before millions of consumers via their digital lab. That’s how the team learned that using the phrase “climate crisis” is 26 percent less effective than using the less charged “climate change” for moderate Americans. They’ve received pushback from some of their more progressive funders for this sort of nuance, but Marshall is adamant that they follow the data: “My values aren’t important,” he says. “My data is important. I’m in the persuasion business; I’m not in the values business.”The Potential Energy Coalition’s partners include some of the nation’s most effective marketing agencies.Courtesy of John Marshall The Potential Energy team also has access to all Marshall’s partners in the 200-agency network he has built, firms like Nielsen Media Research that perform dynamic polling, media companies such as Facebook and Univision, and advertising agencies like Weiden+Kennedy, famous for its work with Nike. “We’re using their tools, but specifically for climate change, and building databases of results,” he adds. “So, we’re a climate-change marketing engine” designed to make people aware of the issues, and the need to act on their convictions. Schrag got involved in this project, which is unconnected to his duties at Harvard (where he directs the University’s Center for the Environment), because previous efforts to solve the climate problem have failed politically. The “dominant narrative” about addressing the climate problem “has been one of personal sacrifice,” that “it’s worth the cost to save the world,” he explains. “That’s a fairly liberal, collectivist argument” that he compares to the ineffectiveness of recycling. “You can’t actually behave your way out of the problem” individually, he adds. Complementary action at the government level is necessary. To prove his point, he invokes the pandemic shutdown: “COVID changed behavior more than anything you could ever hope to accomplish in the name of climate change.” Airplanes were grounded and cars parked as people stayed home. “And emissions went down just 8 percent, transiently. And they will come right back” post-pandemic.“That tells you this isn’t a behavioral problem,” Schrag continues. “This is fundamentally a technological transformation problem. It’s not just about driving less or taking fewer airplanes. It’s about changing what airplanes are. It’s about changing what cars are. It’s about changing what power plants are. A lot of environmental groups are still pushing the fallacy that individual action is important, because it’s a way of getting people involved. But the most important individual action is to put pressure at the voting booth, and change policy quickly. That’s really what we need for a collective-action problem like this.”Daniel SchragCourtesy of Daniel SchragSchrag joined forces with Marshall to precipitate such action at the polls. But Marshall says climate change is “one of the only markets I’ve seen where an individualized message—tailored for farmers, for moms, for Latinas, and for young people—outperforms a generalized message.” The reason? Climate change per se isn’t actually important to most voters, he explains. What matters to them “is the value of their homes, or the products of their farm, or their kids’ opportunities. And so you end up with a series of messages” targeting groups of five million to 15 million people, rather than a single crisis call to action. That highly targeted messaging is driven by analytics. Plumbing the data, Potential Energy discovered that women are more persuadable than men, that Hispanics seem more movable than non-Hispanics, and that people in flood zones don’t appear any more movable than people on high ground. “You look at a population across a series of dimensions, and you try to find identifiable segments where you can get an outcome,” says Marshall. What they don’t do is start with a message. That, he points out, is what the traditional “greens” do, organizations like the Environmental Defense Fund and the Sierra Club, whose supporters already understand the importance of climate change, and which certainly benefit from the work of Potential Energy at the broader policy level. “Our approach is to start with the people we want to move, and then figure out what message, and what messengers, will move them,” Marshall says. For example, when research showed that Latina mothers as a group, many of them independents or Republicans, are more likely to care about climate change, Potential Energy’s 501(c)4 sister organization teamed up with the Latino Victory Project (run by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s father) to launch their first major outreach last September. Called “Vote Like a Madre,” the campaign starred Jennifer Lopez, who urged mothers to make a pinky promise with their children that they would vote to support climate causes at the ballot box.Market research shows that Latinos have a closer connection to nature, culturally, than other groups, Marshall explains. “They also talk to people outside the country a lot more, because many of them are recent immigrants. So, you call your cousin in Colombia, and they ask you about climate change, because they care more about it in Colombia than they do in the U.S. And finally, there is a family cultural aspect of caring about generations. All those things indicated to us that Latinos”—there are approximately 19 million Latino voters in Texas, Arizona, and Colorado—“were a really good audience.”“But it’s not just Latina mothers” who care, says Schrag. “It’s all mothers.” He and Marshall helped launch the $10-million “Science Moms” national television, newspaper, and online video campaign, in which women scientists speak about their concerns in personal terms, worried about the future their children will inherit. “We provided all the support and the design and the creation of that video,” he says. Adds Marshall, “We’re spending our donors’ money”—supporters include the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, and the Quadrivium Foundation—“to run large-scale climate change campaigns, in partnership with other organizations that will benefit from it, and that are a fit with us.” That means speaking not only to political centrists, but also the movable right. The team’s work with the American Conservation Coalition, a group of young conservatives who feel that they are on the wrong side of a generational divide over climate change, is an example. “We came up with a concept” and agreed to run a campaign with them, says Marshall. The group is happy because they have professional marketing expertise to help them work on their brand. “And we’re excited because they are good messengers.”“My dream outcome,” says Schrag, “would be that 10 years from now, or even five years from now, Republicans and Democrats are furiously arguing about strategies for decarbonization. That would be transformative.”The transformation begins with the people who work at Potential Energy, says Marshall. “Once they learn from Dan what is actually happening, they can’t sell credit cards anymore.” He adds that it is actually easy to engage partners in their efforts once they learn the truth. “We’ve had thousands of people working on this pro bono. Because once you know, you can’t go back. And with a little bit of effort, we could create a flywheel that will eventually engage all humanity. Because the advantage we have, over the billions of disinformation capitalists, is that we’ve got the truth on our side.”...
Talking their way out of trouble : Sperm Whales and Whalers
This is the latest post in a series which will look at recent advancements, discoveries and trends in the study of whales and dolphins. We here at Sea Watch believe strongly in the free sharing and dissemination of scientific literature and want to give you, our loyal members, the breakdown of all that’s going on in the field. Whaling is a tragic stain on our history which has, thankfully, come to an end in most parts of the world. The systematic exploitation of industrial whaling led to a constant and pressing demand for new populations of whales, which are then in their turn exploited. The patterns of the practice led first to the local eradication of the largest available species, followed by progressively smaller, and hence, less profitable whales (visualized in the graph below). One species was highly coveted not just for its remarkable size was the Sperm Whale. Found in all of the world’s oceans, these deep diving giants may now be best known for their underwater tussles with giant squid, but to the whalers of the 19th and 20th centuries, the sperm whales’ most compelling feature was its head full of valuable spermaceti oil (Whitehead 2018). A common sight on Victorians shelves, this clean burning oil was used to light candles, power early cars, and even protect metals from rust (Blakely & Rielly 1917) but originated in a specially evolved organ found in the sizable forehead of each sperm whale, known as the spermaceti organ (Evans 2020). The purpose of this organ divides scientific opinion, with many believing it to assist in the amplification of echolocation clicks, allowing the whale to hunt and navigate; and others believing the organ is key in regulating buoyancy during the sperm whale’s notoriously deep foraging dives (Evans, 2020; Whitehead 2018). Whatever the purpose, these massive organs can hold up to 1,900 litres of spermaceti oil, making even a single whale an incredibly valuable haul (Whitehead, 2018). Like other toothed whales, of which they are the largest, sperm whales live in close knit social units consisting of 10-12 females and their immature young, mixing with other whales only within their own tropical breeding grounds (Best, 1979; Rendell & Whitehead 2003). Sperm whales have exceptionally large brains, and are capable of complex communication, which is pivotal in upholding these complex and variable social groups. It is this combination of intelligence and communicative ability which has recently captured researchers’ attention. Digitized historical records from the logbooks of American whaling vessels in the 19th century reveal a startling pattern in the sperm whale hunt. Just a few short years after the expansion of the industry into the North Pacific the strike rate of whalers on sperm whales decreased dramatically (Whitehead et al., 2021). Having modelled several theories as to why this may have happened, scientists believe sperm whales learnt how best to avoid whaling ships, and shared this information with other individuals through social learning. If the drop-off in strike rate were due to a decrease in efficiency by fishermen (an unlikely cause, given the constant advances in technology) then this pattern of decreased hit rate would have been mirrored in other areas and with other species, but this did not occur (Whitehead et al., 2021). Another theory is that the hunt initially killed off weak and susceptible individuals, leaving only those more adept at avoiding or surviving the whalers. This theory also seems unlikely, however, given how rapid and severe the drop in hit rate was. Circumstantial evidence from the handwritten notes of the whaling ships’ captains may shed further light on this fall in strike rate, with clues pointing to an increase in novel evasive behaviours by the whales (Whitehead et al., 2021) . Sperm whales rarely need to concern themselves with the threat of predation, their only natural predator being killer whales (Whitehead, 2018), and while such predation events are rare, they have been documented and the defence strategies that sperm whales adopt may explain why whalers initially found it so easy to hit these giants. When under threat from predation from killer whales, the sperm whales huddle together at the surface, move slowly, and defend primarily with their tails (Pitman et al., 2001). Previously documented predation events describe sperm whales moving to break the circle only to defend an isolated individual (Pitman et al., 2001). Such behaviour must have been a whalers dream, as the slow moving perma-surfacing targets would make for easy aiming for the harpoon wielding fishermen. Sperm whales began adopting a new behaviour, however, with whalers’ journals describing the great whales diving when in sight of the vessels, fleeing (especially upwind) and even attacking whaling ships (Whitehead et al., 2021), conjuring images of Captain Ahab and his great white foe. The veracity of such claims is questionable, the willingness or ability of a sperm whale to fully breach over a vessel seems doubtful. However, the mental impact caused by the perception of an increased difficulty in catching these ever more elusive goliaths, surely is linked to these tales of wiley and brave whales. While these stories may be exaggerated, there should be no doubt of the intelligence and adaptability of these deep diving behemoths. Written by Jay Sea Watch Volunteer Feature Blogger Bibliography Best, P.B., 1979. Social organization in sperm whales, Physeter macrocephalus. In Behavior of marine animals (pp. 227-289). Springer, Boston, MA. Blakeley, A.G. and Reilly, E.A., 1917. Some Data on Sperm Oils Used for Burning Purposes. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry, 9(12), pp.1099-1100. Evans, P.G.H. (2020) Sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus. Pp. 131-136. In: European Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises. Marine Mammal Conservation in Practice. Academic Press, London & San Diego. 306pp. Pitman, R.L., Ballance, L.T., Mesnick, S.I. and Chivers, S.J., 2001. Killer whale predation on sperm whales: observations and implications. Marine mammal science, 17(3), pp.494-507. Rendell, L.E. and Whitehead, H., 2003. Vocal clans in sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus). Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, 270(1512), pp.225-231. Whitehead, H., 2018. Sperm whale: Physeter macrocephalus. In Encyclopedia of marine mammals (pp. 919-925). Academic Press. Whitehead, H., […]...
Cetaceans at the Surface
One of the main reasons we enjoy dolphin and whale watching is the unique behaviour that we can see from the surface. Imagine the deafening splash from a 30,000 kg breaching humpback, the rainbow mist created when a blue whale blows and surfaces, and the graceful leaps made by a bottlenose dolphin bow riding. These surface behaviours are not only fun to watch, but more importantly, documenting dolphin and whale behaviour is critical for their conservation. Being able to compare behaviour frequencies before and after an environmental disruption (ie, increased boat traffic, oil drilling, channel building, etc.) is essential in understanding human and environmental impacts on cetacean populations. However, behaviours must be consistently described in order to be useful to the scientific community. To facilitate consistent behaviour descriptions, scientists have established species specific ethograms, or categorized lists of described behaviours. This way, researchers across the globe can record accurate behaviour frequencies when sighting a cetacean. Ethograms typically consist of defined activity states (aka behavioural states) and behavioural events. Activity states are long duration behaviours such as foraging, whereas behavioural events are short duration behaviours that occur such as fish-whacking. “With specific definitions of activity state categories and behavio[ural] event types, the [behaviour] of a species can be described, quantified, and compared across populations.” Baker et al., 2017 Activity States Cetaceans often perform a variety of behavioural events that fall within each activity state category. Activity states include socializing, feeding, resting, and travelling, and milling (swimming around with no clear direction). The repertoire of behavioural events within these activity states can be highly species and/or population specific. In this article, we’ll discuss behavioural events associated with socializing and feeding. Behavioural Events: Socializing Chasing, pectoral fin rubs, and breaching are all behavioural events performed by bottlenose dolphins and other cetaceans within the socialization activity state. Dolphins, especially juveniles, often “play fight” and chase each other for fun! Evidence shows that pectoral fin rubs may be used as a way to establish social bonds among members of a group. Breaching, or propelling through the surface, has been hypothesized to be for feeding, parasite removal, or socializing. Breaching exerts immense force along the surface, and some suspect that cetaceans use it as a means to stun their prey. That same force has been used by spinner dolphins and other species to remove bothersome ectoparasites like remoras. Cetaceans may also breach as a means to communicate. Kavanagh et al. (2017) found evidence that humpback whales use breaching as a means to prove their strength to other humpbacks. Behavioural Events: Foraging There are also a multitude of behavioural events associated with feeding and foraging. Dolphins have been seen fish tossing, fish-whacking, and fin jerking. After catching their prey, dolphins often throw them in the air. This behavioural event, known as fish tossing, is believed to be a way to stun or reposition a fish to be consumed safely. Similarly, fish-whacking involves a dolphin sending their prey high above the surface, this time using their powerful tails. This method stuns their prey for easier capture. If you see a dolphin’s dorsal fin jerk quickly in another direction, this could be evidence that they just caught a fish! Cetaceans perform a variety of behavioural events. Documenting activity states and behavioural events are essential to make good decisions with regards to their conservation. You can contribute to that effort by recording behaviours you see on your Sea Watch sightings form! If you suspect that you saw a behaviour that is not an option on the list, be sure to include a detailed description in the “other comments” section. Including a photo or video of the behaviour can also help us identify what behaviour the animal was performing. By doing so, you can personally contribute essential information to the scientific community and help preserve cetacean populations! Sources Baker, I., O’Brien, J., McHugh, K., & Berrow, S. (2017). An ethogram for bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Shannon Estuary, Ireland. Aquatic Mammals. Dudzinski, K. M., & Ribic, C. A. (2017). Pectoral fin contact as a mechanism for social bonding among dolphins. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 4(1), 30-48. Janik, V. M. (2015). Play in dolphins. Current Biology, 25(1), R7-R8. Kavanagh, A. S., Owen, K., Williamson, M. J., Blomberg, S. P., Noad, M. J., Goldizen, A. W., … & Dunlop, R. A. (2017). Evidence for the functions of surface‐active behaviors in humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). Marine mammal science, 33(1), 313-334. Weihs, D., Fish, F. E., & Nicastro, A. J. (2007). Mechanics of remora removal by dolphin spinning. Marine mammal science, 23(3), 707-714. “See dolphins punt fish out of water to stun and eat them” – https://www.nationalgeographic.com/ “Why do dolphins sometimes throw their food around?” – https://www.earthtouchnews.com/ “Making a splash – why do cetaceans breach?” – https://www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/ Megan Feature BloggerSea Watch Volunteer...
Regional variation in the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on data collection
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed life as we know it all around the world. It's changed human behavior, and that has major consequences for data-gathering citizen-science projects such as eBird, run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This worldwide database now contains more than a billion observations and is a mainstay of many scientific studies of bird populations. Newly published research in the journal Biological Conservation finds that when human behaviors change, so do the data....
No Easy Answers To The Plight of Mountain Caribou
A 2019 study suggests lethal wolf control and maternal penning will help the mountain caribou. Scientists in this study disagree. The post No Easy Answers To The Plight of Mountain Caribou appeared first on Faunalytics....
Unlocking the power of data for wildlife conservation: An alliance between EarthRanger and Tableau Foundation
Jordan Steward Guest Author, Digital Content Manager, Vulcan Inc. Kristin Adderson April 22, 2021 - 3:26am April 22, 2021 Editor's note: This article originally appeared in Vulcan news. Rhino subadults are a lot like human teenagers: tracking and predicting their behavior can be difficult. In Zambia’s North Luangwa National Park, rangers study the map on their screen to see if there are any places they haven’t checked. They’re searching for six-year-old “teen” Chilunda, a critically endangered black rhino, missing for five months in the park’s rhino sanctuary. Rhinos are under intense pressure from poaching and habitat loss. Rangers crisscross the area daily, making sure Zambia’s once-extinct and only recently reintroduced population of black rhinos are safe. But they haven’t been able to find Chilunda. After months of searching the sanctuary—a pristine wilderness that’s double the size of Chicago—they pull up their Tableau dashboard. Fed by data compiled from EarthRanger, a wildlife management and protection tool, the rangers discover an area unchecked. After more than 150 days without a sight, the rangers find Chilunda the next day. “It took one presentation of that map from Tableau with EarthRanger data and everyone knew where to look,” said Ed Sayer, the program manager at Frankfurt Zoological Society’s North Luangwa Conservation Programme. Park rangers becoming data pioneers These days, protected area managers and rangers are also big data pioneers. Troves of historical and real-time information from tracked assets like animals, vehicles, helicopters, hidden cameras, and anti-poaching teams are at their fingertips. The data is incredibly valuable for conservation work, but its vastness can overwhelm wildlife managers and strain their limited time and resources. Photo: Mana Meadows EarthRanger creates easy access to this data for conservation workers by combining it in a continuously updated map. Developed by Vulcan Inc., a Seattle-based company co-founded by Paul G. Allen of Microsoft and his sister Jody Allen, the free software system is used in more than 130 conservation areas across 34 countries. Finding Chilunda is just one of the many ways that EarthRanger is protecting people and wildlife. The tool also aids with endangerment issues like poaching, illegal logging, and human-wildlife conflict in iconic landscapes—from the Serengeti and Maasai Mara National Reserve to Washington State's Olympic Peninsula. When EarthRanger was first built, it provided users with a comprehensive view of everything happening within their conservation area. But it missed the ability to expand and explore data through charts, tables, and reports that organizations needed to glean important insights and take action. “Protected area managers and rangers kept telling us that they were collecting the data and using it to plan patrols or respond to poaching incidents,” said EarthRanger Director, Jes Lefcourt. “But they also needed the ability to look deeper into the data and conduct more elaborate analysis in order to become a more data-driven organization.” The EarthRanger team didn’t have to look far to fill this gap. Across town, they knew Tableau could supercharge the way conservationists, rangers, and reserve managers use, analyze, and understand their data. Through a partnership with Tableau Foundation, Tableau is now directly embedded into EarthRanger, providing analysis and reporting functions to all users. Since the collaboration began, 200 people from 40 conservation organizations are now creating custom Tableau reports and dashboards to transform how they solve conservation problems. “Tableau is designed to make vast amounts of data visible and actionable,” said Neal Myrick, Global Head of Tableau Foundation. “It’s exciting to see the platform being used to bring together this critical data and enable the park rangers to drive innovative solutions to conservation issues. It’s taking data out of the typical, back-office setting and putting it in the hands of people who are on the ground, doing the work." Empowering local communities and improving quality of life Among one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, Gorongosa National Park in the heart of central Mozambique is perhaps Africa’s greatest wildlife restoration story. Decimated by the country’s 16-year civil war, the park rebounded by balancing the needs of wildlife and people. While EarthRanger helps keep wildlife and people safe, Tableau makes it easier for them to explore and manage the data needed to empower local communities and improve their quality of life. In February, Gorongosa began a pilot project to provide community members with clean and efficient cookstoves, designed to reduce pressure on forests for fuel while bringing health and economic benefits to families. The park created several, real-time dashboards that track the project rollout. Some dashboards provide a general summary (e.g., the number of registrations per day), while others deliver more insightful analysis (e.g., where households are, an estimate of how long it takes to acquire firewood, and how many people are helping gather it). With this information, they better understand what pressures are put on the forest and where to focus future cookstove efforts that will improve life—for nature and people. The cookstove program dashboard, developed in partnership with C-Quest Capital and Dimagi. “A lot of people are disconnected from data when it's stuck in a spreadsheet on one person's computer,” said Stephen Pope, a consultant for Gorongosa National Park. “We're using Tableau as a powerful tool to bring access to data, improve the quality of work, and drive knowledge exchange at the park.” Along with its cookstove program, Gorongosa has made significant investments in water, sanitation, and hygiene for communities in and around the park with support from donors such as the USAID. Although in very early stages, Pope and the team are developing a management dashboard to monitor the status of wells. Much like the dashboards seen during a power outage, Gorongosa hopes to share this real-time information with community and government stakeholders, ensuring people can access clean water after emergencies and avoid cholera outbreaks or spikes in other water-borne diseases. While these projects are both in their infancy, Pope says they are only just starting to scratch the surface in what the data reveals. “Building a culture of data is a powerful pathway for progression at Gorongosa National Park,” said Pope. "Tableau and EarthRanger are making this culture possible and accessible through their integrated approach and actionable insights. Securing a future for wildlife and people While poaching continues to pose problems for protected area managers and rangers in North Luangwa, keeping the peace between people and wildlife is another growing challenge. As cities and farms expand their footprint, people and animals are now coming into direct contact at an alarming rate. From elephants raiding crops to crocodiles injuring fisherman, human-wildlife conflict is a global problem. Figuring out how these two groups can coexist will play a critical role in determining the future of wildlife. “It’s very important for us to know where and what kind of human-wildlife conflict is happening because we need to work hard to support the communities impacted,” said Sayer. “If wildlife destroys their livelihoods, then they’ll see no value in wildlife.” That’s why Sayer prioritized collecting this data using a suite of techniques and technologies including the conservation software SMART. EarthRanger combines these data, providing a real-time map of incidents as they occur. North Luangwa rangers and protected area managers are now adding Tableau visualizations which show them what conflicts they face and where they are happening. And since wildlife such as elephants are clever and adapt to intervention techniques, Sayer and team are also collecting data around what solutions do and do not work. Analyzing this information over time, they hope will show trends, guide tactics, and expose gaps that wouldn’t have otherwise been seen. Ultimately with EarthRanger, SMART, and Tableau, they can see exactly what’s happening on the ground and improve decision-making to benefit people and wildlife. “EarthRanger and Tableau are invaluable tools,” said Sayer. “They are allowing us to learn, adapt, and ultimately enhance the hard-work of our rangers on the frontlines.”...
Marine Protected Areas Intensify Both Cooperation and Competition Among Fishers
Marine Protected Areas Intensify Both Cooperation and Competition Among Fishers Language English email@example.com Fri, 03/04/2016 - 11:16 AM Note to Editors: Xavier Basurto can be reached for additional comment at (252) 504-7540 or firstname.lastname@example.org. A video clip about the new research is available here. DURHAM, N.C. -- Marine protected areas generate both extreme cooperation and extreme competition among fishers. When these behaviors remain in balance, they can lead to better conservation of marine resources, according to a Duke University-led international study by researchers at three institutions. However, if competition among fishers increases while cooperation declines, it could threaten the long-term survival of marine protected areas (MPAs), their biodiversity and the communities that depend on them. “In Baja California, Mexico, you have these towns where the people have been fishing for generations; fishers are friends to one another and help each other at sea, but at the same time compete with each other to see who catches the most,” said Xavier Basurto, assistant professor of sustainability science at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. Previous studies have considered the impacts of only one behavior or the other, but the new research demonstrates that they are not mutually exclusive. “It’s really fascinating to listen to fishers convey what we would call friendly rivalry,” Basurto said. Friendly rivalry among fishers is one example of how the seemingly opposing behaviors can co-exist and be beneficial. From a theoretical perspective, friendly rivalry might seem like a contradictory behavior, particularly when trying to explain how fishers are able to avoid the so-called “tragedy of the commons,” or depletion of a commonly managed resource, Basurto said. But the new study underscores that friendly rivalry can result in equitable management of community-based fisheries as it does not necessarily undermine collective action, which is vital for better conservation of ocean resources. Red snapper, the days' catch. (Photo, Xavier Basurto) Basurto and colleagues from Innsbruck University, the Duke University Marine Lab and the University of Marburg used a multi-method approach that included controlled economic experiments which were based on game theory, to study prosocial and antisocial behaviors among fishermen and non-fishermen in four communities in Baja California. The primary fishing grounds for two of the communities were adjacent to MPAs. The fishing grounds for the other two communities were located outside the influence of MPAs. All of these local economies, though still dependent on fishing, had begun to diversify. One of the study’s key findings was that in fisheries influenced by MPAs, community members -- fishers and non-fishers alike -- show elevated levels of both cooperation and competition than in fisheries outside the influence of protected areas. “The elevated levels of simultaneous cooperative and hyper-competitive behavior we measured might be due to political processes related to the establishment and implementation of the MPAs and to the economic diversification taking place as a result,” Basurto said. “Hyper-competition can be useful in maintaining group cooperation and reinforcing overall successful collective action when hyper-competitive individuals help enforce rule-breaking behaviors,” he said. “Our survey results show that these outcomes do not derive from higher fish abundance and catches in the fisheries near MPAs.” For policymakers and fishery managers, one of the study’s key take-away messages is that because MPAs positively affect the behaviors of fishers and non-fishers alike, their impacts should not be underestimated. “This research indicates that when marine protected areas are established, special attention should be paid to the impact they have on social inequality,” Basurto said. “Social inequality can lead to a loss of social cohesion in a community, increasing competitive behavior while cooperative behavior declines.” More importantly, the results suggest that any type of policy intervention, including the creation of MPAs, has the possibility of generating extreme prosocial and antisocial behaviors, particularly if the processes they create lead to market diversification, social class differentiation and income inequality, he said. These extreme behaviors might not necessarily be a bad thing if they remain in balance, but when income inequality becomes an issue, anti-sociality could dominate and the system could unravel. Co-authors of the new study are Esther Blanco of Innsbruck University; Mateja Nenadovic, a postdoctoral associate at the Duke Marine Lab; and Björn Vollan of the School of Business and Economics at the University of Marburg. The peer-reviewed study appears March 4 in the journal Science Advances. Primary funding came from the Walton Family Foundation (grant #2012-668) and the World Wildlife Fund’s Kathryn Fuller Science for Nature Fund (grant #15116080). CITATION: “Integrating Simultaneous Prosocial and Antisocial Behavior into Theories of Collective Action," Xavier Basurto, Esther Blanco, Mateja Nenadovic and Björn Vollan, March 4, 2016, Science Advances; DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501220 ### Image basurto science advances image 2 local fleet.jpg Short title Marine Protected Areas Intensify Both Cooperation and Competition Among Fishers News type Release Publish date Fri, 03/04/2016 - 11:00 AM Featuring Xavier Basurto Media contact Tim Lucas, (919) 613-8084, email@example.com Site section Nicholas School Marine Lab...