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“Hope Is the Thing with Feathers” – August 3, 2015

Western burrowing owls have found sanctuary on the grounds of a California prison, providing inspiration for the women inside.

Once a month, I facilitate a meditation group at a women’s prison in California. I leave my cell phone, cash, and lipstick in the car—inside, they’re contraband—and take with me only pens and paper. As I walk towards the prison, small ground-dwelling owls keep vigil at the entrances to their burrows. Long-legged, with huge yellow eyes, they watch me warily, and if I come too close, hop into their holes, heads bobbing up to keep me in view.  

Burrowing Owl guarding its nestPhoto by Numb Photo/FlickrThe burrowing owl used to exist in much greater numbers across North America. Although protected by the Migratory… more

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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Obama Creates Three New National Monuments Protecting Another 1M Acres of Public Lands – July 10, 2015

New designation preserves areas of historic, cultural, and natural value in California, Nevada, and Texas

Using his authority under the Antiquities Act, President Barak Obama today signed into being three new national monuments in California, Nevada, and Texas. Together, the new monuments protect more than one million acres of public lands. National monument’s are similar to national parks, except that they can be created from any land owned or controlled by the federal government via a presidential proclamation. With these new designations, Obama will have used the Antiquities Act to establish or expand 19 national monuments in the United States. Altogether, he has protected more than 260 million acres of public lands and waters – more than any other president

The new monuments are:

Basin and… more

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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Climate Change Is Shrinking Bumblebee Habitats, New Study Warns – July 9, 2015

Assisted migration may be necessary to prevent extinction of some bumblebee species in Europe and North America

Warming temperatures are killing off bumblebee populations across North America and Europe at an unprecedented rate, according to a new study published in Science. The study says global warming is putting a squeeze on these critical pollinators by shrinking their habitat ranges in both North America and Europe.

Red-tailed bumblebeePhoto by Jeremy T. Kerr As temperatures warm, bumblebee species are declining rapidly from warm areas but failing to colonize new areas in the north. Pictured here is a red-tailed bumblebee from Denmark.

As Earth’s temperature rises, many species have been expanding their territory further north while continuing to cling on to the southern (more… more

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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Want Babies? Eat Organic Produce – April 6, 2015

Pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables linked to poor semen quality, says study

For couples struggling with infertility issues, the list of probable causes can be long, running the whole gamut from genetics to age to sexually transmitted diseases. Now there’s one more to add to the list, at least in the case of men: their diet of conventionally produced fruits and veggies.

A new study shows that men who eat conventionally-grown produce with higher levels of pesticide residues — like peppers, spinach, strawberries, apples, and pears — have lower sperm counts and percentages of normally-formed sperm than those who eat produce with lower pesticide residues. (Check out my earlier report about the variations in pesticide exposure risk from conventional produce.)

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by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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Obama Administration’s New Rule to Govern Fracking on Federal Lands Draws Swift Criticism – March 20, 2015

Energy industry files lawsuit, environmentalists say rule falls short of what's needed to protect public health and safety

The Obama administration unveiled its first major federal regulation on fracking today and the backlash from the energy industry and its supporters was swift. Less than an hour of the announcement, two energy groups — the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Western Energy Alliance — filed a lawsuit challenging the rule, calling it “a reaction to unsubstantiated concerns.” Meanwhile, environmental groups say the rule falls short of providing Americans the protection they deserve.

Gas FlarePhoto by Sarah Craig/Faces of Fracking The rule, they point out, applies only to oil and gas drilling on federal lands. Which means, in regions like Pennsylvania,… more

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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