21 September 2019   Leave a comment

A new study indicates that over the last 50 years, the bird populations in the US and Canada have declined by 29 percent, about 3 billion birds. According to the study:

“Although the study did not analyze the causes of declines, it noted that the steep drop in North American birds parallels the losses of birds elsewhere in the world, suggesting multiple interacting causes that reduce breeding success and increase mortality. It noted that the largest factor driving these declines is likely the widespread loss and degradation of habitat, especially due to agricultural intensification and urbanization.

” Other studies have documented mortality from predation by free-roaming domestic cats; collisions with glass, buildings, and other structures; and pervasive use of pesticides associated with widespread declines in insects, an essential food source for birds. Climate change is expected to compound these challenges by altering habitats and threatening plant communities that birds need to survive. More research is needed to pinpoint primary causes for declines in individual species.”

Some bird species, such as raptors and geese, have experienced population increases because of directed activities to protect them. Scientific American published the graph below to show the differences among species.

Matt Taibbi writes for Rolling Stone and he has a very interesting article on President Trump’s foreign policy and the discrepancy between his rhetoric and his actions.

“Gerald Feierstein, the former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, suggested the assault on the Abqaiq oil processing facility — a devastating attack by drone or cruise missile that disrupted 5% of the world’s oil supply — shows Iran didn’t believe Trump would strike back with real force.

“’Clearly, the Iranians look inclined to test the Trump administration, to call Donald Trump’s bluff, if you will, to see if he really has the will to really go all the way, ‘ Feierstein said.

“Trump in June said America was ‘cocked and loaded’ to attack Iran after a drone was downed. Then he supposedly called off an attack because casualty estimates made him sad (maybe he was up late watching the analog scene in The American President?). Then he fired Bolton.

“Iran was naturally emboldened by all of this, and unlikely to be impressed by Trump’s Sunday tweet that America is ‘locked and loaded.’

“Every time he makes one of these empty boasts, he makes actual bloodless solutions more elusive. Trump’s mouth keeps forcing Trump’s presidency into dilemmas Trump’s brain can’t untangle. The Iran mess is one of the worst.”

The danger is that Mr. Trump’s language no longer provides any guidance to other countries. But that language does have an effect on American domestic opinion. Mr. Trump may find himself caught between domestic expectations of strong military action and a belief within American adversaries that Mr. Trump will never follow through. At some point, Mr. Trump may decide that he needs to satisfy domestic demands, to the surprise of adversaries who expected little action.

Posted September 21, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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