Energy & Environment Climate change threatens emperor penguin

Energy & Environment Climate change threatens emperor penguin

Officials say the Emperor Penguin is threatened because of climate change. John Kerry seeks a return to the table with China on climate, and prosecutors are appealing a decision to drop charges stemming from the Flint water crisis.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced Tuesday that it would grant the emperor penguin “threatened” status under the Endangered Species Act, citing the effects of climate change on the sea ice that comprises its habitat.

The USFWS said that while the emperor penguin population is stable for the moment, the projected loss of Antarctic sea ice will likely have major impacts on population size by the midcentury.

  • The species currently has about 61 breeding colonies along the continent's coast and 625,000 and 650,000 individual penguins among the entire species population.
  • However, projections of carbon emissions and their impact on sea ice found that by 2050, the population could recede by 26 percent in a low-emissions scenario and 47 percent in a high-emissions scenario. A worst-case scenario could reduce the global population size to just over 132,000 breeding pairs, according to the USFWS.

Certain regions would be harder hit than others, according to USFWS projections, with melting sea ice potentially reducing populations by more than 90 percent in colonies within the Indian Ocean and western Pacific as well as the Bellingshausen and Amundsen seas.

“This listing reflects the growing extinction crisis and highlights the importance of the ESA and efforts to conserve species before population declines become irreversible,” USFWS Director Martha Williams said in a statement. “Climate change is having a profound impact on species around the world, and addressing it is a priority for the Administration. The listing of the emperor penguin serves as an alarm bell and a call to action.”

The USFWS is set to publish the final rule assigning the threatened classification on Wednesday. It will take effect 30 days later.

Read more about the decision here.

Kerry calls for resumed climate talks with China

On Tuesday, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry called for the return of climate negotiations with China after the country halted cooperation on the issue following Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit to Taiwan in August.

In remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations, the former secretary of State said that the global issue of climate change should transcend beyond disputes between the two nations.

“The key is that this is not a bilateral issue and that we need to get back to the table because the world depends on it,” he said.

  • China is currently contributing the most to climate change as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. The U.S. is the world’s second-largest.
  • Kerry said he had been in touch with his Chinese counterpart, but the decision to resume negotiations ultimately rests with leader Xi Jinping.

“We’ve sent each other a few messages about trying to figure out how we might be able to resume, but at the moment, we’re not resuming, and we’ll see where we are,” he said.

The former Democratic presidential nominee also called on the country to strengthen its actions on climate.

“China is acting in an unbelievable pace, by the way, on the deployment of renewable energy … but it is not acting quickly enough on CO2 or covering all greenhouse gasses in its goal,” Kerry said.


About 62 percent of Americans say the U.S. government is not doing enough to fight climate change, according to a new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll.

The poll shows that 79 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of independents and 39 percent of Republicans agree with the statement that too little is being done to combat climate change.

  • Just 19 percent of Americans say the federal government is doing too much to fight climate change, mostly driven by 43 percent of Republicans who agreed with that statement. President Biden signed major legislation to fight climate change over the summer with the Inflation Reduction Act, which is expected to invest $370 billion in climate action.
  • But 61 percent of U.S. adults have heard nothing or know just a little about the law, according to the AP-NORC poll. And just 33 percent agree it will help fight climate change. At the same time, about 6 in 10 Americans say the federal government should reduce the number of greenhouse gases that companies are allowed to emit.

Read more here, from The Hill’s Brad Dress.

Flint prosecutors signal appeal after dropped charges

Prosecutors say they will appeal a judge’s recent order that dropped charges against seven defendants in the Flint water crisis case.

In a statement on Tuesday announcing its intention to appeal, the prosecution team said the “residents of Flint have waited years for their day in court.”

  • Earlier this month, Judge Elizabeth Kelly ruled that the indictments against seven officials, including former state health department employees, were invalid.
  • Kelly’s ruling came after a state Supreme Court decision about how prior proceedings had been conducted. Specifically, the Michigan Supreme Court took issue with the use of a one-man grand jury to issue an indictment.

In their statement, prosecutors said that, despite the issues raised in the Supreme Court’s opinion, they still believed there was a path forward for their case.

“The Michigan Supreme Court did not abolish the one-person grand jury, but instead more specifically defined the process, leaving a path for the prosecution to pursue charges against the defendants,” they said.

The backstory: Flint’s drinking water was contaminated after the source of the city’s water was shifted from Lake Huron to the Flint River in 2014. The water wasn’t adequately treated, causing lead from pipes to leach into the city’s drinking water.

In addition to causing lead exposure causes health issues, the switch Legionnaires’ disease outbreak killed 12 people.

Read more about the case here.



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About the Author: Janice

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