is the editor of The Revelator. An award-winning environmental journalist, his work has appeared in Scientific American, Audubon, Motherboard, and numerous other magazines and publications. His “Extinction Countdown” column has run continuously since 2004 and has covered news and science related to more than 1,000 endangered species. John lives on the outskirts of Portland, Ore., where he finds himself surrounded by animals and cartoonists.
And then there were two. One of Malaysia’s last three Sumatran rhinos (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) was euthanized this past weekend to relieve her suffering from untreatable cancer. Puntung, a 25-year-old female, survived a poacher’s trap as a calf, leaving her with just three feet for most of her life. Conservationists captured her from the wild in 2011 and she has spent her time since then living at Tabin Wildlife Reserve. The Borneo Rhino Alliance estimates that fewer than 100 rhinos from this critically endangered species still exist in all of Indonesia, where their remaining populations cling on in small, fragmented populations.
In a move that should surprise nobody, President Trump today announced that the United States would withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate accord, an agreement between 195 countries to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Trump did not provide details about the withdrawal, a process that according to the original agreement will legally take about four years. The president did proclaim that the U.S. would immediately cease implementation of the accord’s non-binding elements, including withdrawing from the U.N. Green Climate Fund, and offered to rejoin the accord or some future agreement under different, to-be-negotiated terms.
Anyone who has ever spent a summer in a city knows the pain of the heat island effect. Buildings and roads absorb heat and sunlight and emit it as heat at night, causing temperatures to soar as much as 22 additional degrees. Well, according to new research, climate change will make this an economic hardship for most cities, costing them up to 10.9 percent of their gross domestic products. That’s compared to 5.6 percent for rural economies. The costs come from spending more on cooling plus worker health effects from decreased air and water quality. Installing “cool” pavements and roofs, the authors say, could help reduce those costs — not to mention the risks.
A planned $12.3 billion coal mine in Australia has been “deferred” for now, a major victory for climate activists and conservationists trying to protect the nearby Great Barrier Reef. The Carmichael coal mine would have reportedly created as many as 5,000 construction jobs, but a study published last week found that it would have doubled Australia’s carbon emissions. The Queensland government had offered Indian billionaire Gautam Adani a “royalties holiday” subsidy that would have saved his company hundreds of millions of dollars, making it a potentially lucrative endeavor, but growing resistance to that tax scheme seems to have paved the way for Adani to pull out—at least for now.