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 Spring 2007, Edition 1, p.1

Climate Scientists Say It's Real and...Human-Caused

In a confident and alarming assessment of the future of the planet, the leading international network of climate change scientists (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has concluded that global warming is "unequivocal" and that human activity is the main driver, causing most of the rise in temperatures since 1950.

Conclusions from its 3 year comprehensive study were provided in a summary policy report, released on February 5 in advance of the main report. These findings represent increased certainty that global warming is real and humans are the main cause. In a prior, 2001 report, the panel ascribed 66--90 percent confidence to global warming and human causality calling both "likely." The current findings raise these to "very likely" (over 90 percent confidence).

In reviewing past climate data, the panel reached the following conclusions:

*Average surface temperature of earth has increased more than 1 degree F.
since 1900 and the rate of warming has been nearly three times the century-long average since 1970.

*Global atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased markedly as a result of human activities and now far exceed pre-industrial values (continued on p.2)

Bush Administration Caves on Polar Bear Status

On the day of a court-ordered deadline to make a decision on the endangered status of polar bears, US Interior Secretary, Dirk Kempthorne agreed to propose polar bears for a "threatened" status under the 1972 Endangered Species Act. He thereby avoided a judgment in US District Court and heated confrontation with activist environmental groups.

The department was under mounting pressure to take action listing after being sued in March 2005 by a consortium of environmental groups on the basis of evidence that the bears are suffering the effects of global warming and other impacts. Mounting evidence of global warming has intensified heat on the department.

The proposed "threatened status" requires that the department engage in an open planning process and make a final ruling. Confirmation would require a habitat conservation plan to protect the species from government regulated activities.

In making the status declaration, Kempthorne declared that "Polar bears are one of nature's ultimate survivors, able to live and thrive in one of the world's harshest environments,"(continued on p.2)

Elephants Societies in Trouble (from eco-page, continued)

Writing for the New York Times, Charles Siebert laid out the evidence: elephant aggression against humans, against other elephants, and against rhinos is on the rise from Africa to Bangladesh. In Bangladesh alone between 2000 and 2004, 300 people were killed by elephants. In one state in northeastern India, elephants killed 605 people in the last 12 years (and at an accelerated rate since 2001). This tracks closely with increasing attacks in Uganda, Sierra Leone, Zambia and Tanzania.

At the same time, attacks and rapes by elephants of rhinos have also increased--another sign that elephant populations are stressed and troubled. According to Siebert, last year in South Africa three young male elephants were responsible for killing 63 rhinos.

A 2005 article in the British journal Nature addressed the growing trend. Gay Bradshaw, a psychologist at Oregon State University, suggested that after decades of poaching, culling and habitat loss, elephants and elephant society are suffering from chronic stress. The stress, in turn, translates into heightened aggression, including aggression against humans.

One of the problems is that elephants seem to be especially sensitive to emotional scarring. Elephants are renown for their memory. They are also known to grieve, suffer depression, and even die of a broken heart over the loss of a beloved infant or parent.

When a member of the family dies, the other elephants typically engage in intense mourning, conducting vigils over the body for weeks on end. The elephants will cover their fallen baby or mate with earth and brush. Much later after the body has decomposed, they will return to the grave and (continued on p.2)