Conservation Column: Global Cooperation Necessary For Future Generations’ Survival

Rather than read the back of the cereal box, I am currently reading articles on bird behavior, including “Parental cooperation in a changing climate: fluctuating environments predict shifts in care division.” 

Cooperation among birds has been shown to increase the chances of successfully raising offspring. Sometimes this means taking turns sitting on the nest and incubating the eggs. In plovers, the females do more of the incubating and typically take the day shift, while the males sit on the eggs at night. As temperatures rise, it becomes more difficult for the females to sit during the day. This study examined populations at different temperatures.

They found that at higher temperatures, the males increased their share of care, including taking on some daytime incubation. I think: Birds choose budgets (based on time and energy) that help the next generation. I think: Birds are cooperating to be successful as they deal with the repercussions of climate change. I think: We need to be more like birds.

At the end of May, the administration released a proposed budget for 2018. It contains several areas of concern, many of which will affect the environment. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service budget will be cut by 8.6 percent. The Environmental Protection Agency  budget will be cut by 31 percent. The Department of Agriculture’s budget will be cut by 21 percent, putting Farm Bill Conservation Programs at risk. The Department of the Interior budget goes down 12 percent, with a call to eliminate or weaken several conservation programs such as the Neo-tropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, State Wildlife Grants, Migratory Bird Joint Ventures, the North American Wetland Conservation Act, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The budget emphasizes development of energy extraction ventures on public lands, including in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge and in Sage Grouse habitat. The budget cuts spending on renewable energy innovation, and eliminates Clean Air programs like the Greenhouse Gas Reporting program. It cuts coastal, river, and lake water restoration programs, environmental justice programs, toxic spill clean-up programs, and it slashes several science research programs. The proposed budget also eliminates the Global Climate Change Research program and several programs to help prepare communities for extreme storms and rising sea levels.

We need to be more like birds by working together to ensure a better chance of success for the next generation. We should not minimize our ability to collectively make a difference. Our Congress will vote on some version of this budget, and we elect officials to represent us. Let your opinion be known. Write your elected representatives and inform them of your concerns about cuts to the budget that affect our environment. To find your members of Congress, see govtrack.us/congress/members/OR.

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