THIS CAN’T BE GOOD: The deaths of baby dolphins have increased sharply this year along the Alabama and Mississippi Gulf Coast, according to Karen Nelson of The Sun Herald in Gulfport, Miss. Nelson cites the Gulfport-based Institute of Marine Mammal Studies, which says that baby dolphins, some only three feet long, are washing up along the coast at 10 times the normal rate for stillborn and infant deaths. According to Nelson, 17 young dolphins have been collected along the shore. The Institute is doing necropsies on two of the animals. Institute director Moby Solangi told Nelson that the number of deaths is significant given the BP oil spill last spring, when millions of barrels of oil containing toxins and carcinogens were released into the Gulf of Mexico. This is the first birthing season for dolphins since the spill, Nelson says. Follow her story updates at www.sunherald.com.
CUTS AT EPA: President Barack Obama’s proposed federal budget, released last week, calls for a 13-percent decrease in funds for the Environmental Protection Agency and the termination of several EPA programs, according to Gina Marie Cheeseman at www.care2.com. The programs to be axed include the Diesel Emissions Reduction Grant Program, the Targeted Airshed Grants (another initiative related to diesel emissions) and the Targeted Water Infrastructure Grants. The budget gives some additional funding to the agency for regulating air pollution caused by greenhouse gases. According to Cheeseman, the budget also ends or reduces funding for some research and development projects related to fossil energy. Republicans, particularly those in the House of Representatives, want to make far deeper cuts to EPA funding.
HEY TEACHER: Want to liven up that classroom module on the environment for your antsy fifthgraders? Maybe you should avail yourselves of the online webinars offered by the non-profit Green Teacher. They offer a series of 30 one-hour webinars taught by experienced environmental educators. Each webinar features a 20- to 30-minute presentation and a 30- to 40-minute Q&A. All you need to participate is a headset and a good Internet connection, according to the web site. The webinars are free, but donations are strongly suggested. Recent webinars have included “Sustainability 101: Teaching the Ecological Footprint” and “How to Create Engaging Environmental Education Programs Using a Narrative, Storyline Approach.” Get the details at www.greenteacher.com.
EVEN MORE GREEN LEARNING: The Alabama Wildlife Federation hosts a variety of workshops and events for teachers who want to offer conservation education and hands-on outdoor activities. In March, the AWF will offer a pond maintenance workshop for teachers and school volunteers who wish to use small ponds as aquatic study areas. The time and place for the class are to be announced. Check out www.alabamawildlife.org.
BUT WAIT… THERE’S MORE! That’s right, I have yet ANOTHER green-learning tip for all you tree-hugging COMMIE-PINKO pedagogues out there. Learn how to calculate a business or organization’s carbon footprint with free tools made available online by the Carbon Trust, a British non-profit. The basic carbon footprint indicator at their site allows an organization to guess-timate its carbon emissions based on energy bills and business sector. A carbon footprint calculator allows for more detailed assessments. Check them out at www.carbontrust.co.uk.
HEY BUDDY, GET OFF OUR TRAIL: The Alabama Hiking Trail Society will host its 10th anniversary conference this weekend, February 25-27, at Monte Sano State Park in Huntsville. There will be hiking and backpacking presentations, along with hikes on the trails at Monte Sano, a photo contest, raffles, auctions, food, music and entertainment. Learn more at www.con2011. hikealabama.org. I don’t know if there’s any connection, but the Land Trust of North Alabama is sponsoring one of their “Green Means Go” hikes on the Bluff Line Trail at Monte Sano on Saturday, February 26, at 10 a.m. (details at www.landtrustnal.org). Hey, what if these two groups were locked in a death struggle to control the lucrative hiking racket in north Alabama? What if they met at the same crossroads on Saturday and fought a brutal turf war with rotten tomatoes, water cannons and nerf bats? My friend Robin thinks it would be cool if all this hiking stuff was just a cover for some crazy outdoor nudist festival (which, she points out, would certainly NOT preclude the use of nerf bats). O.K., maybe the Spring sun has gone to our heads. Maybe she and I have let our imaginations—better known as Lucifer’s game room— carry us away. But as my drinking mate Johnny Keats always tells me over the noise of the bar at 3 a.m., when he’s not coughing up part of a lung, “O, sweet Fancy! Let her loose.” You said it, bro.
ROCK FOR RIVERS: Good People Brewing Company and the Alabama Rivers Alliance are sponsoring a benefit for the ARA called “River Rock” on Saturday, February 26, from 1-6 p.m., at the Good People Brewery, 114 14th St. South. Your $25 ticket gets you food, beer and live music from Menewa, The Hurlers, The Paybacks and 13ghosts. You also get a one-year ARA membership. Kids eight years old younger will be admitted free. For more, call (205) 322-6395 or visit www.alabamarivers.org.
SOMEONE IS KILLING THE CRANES: As many as five endangered whooping cranes appear to have been shot and killed in Alabama and Georgia since the beginning of the year. As reported in Green Briefs, three cranes were found shot dead in Georgia early in January, and another dead crane, identified as #12-04, was found by an Alabama conservation officer at Weiss Lake on the Alabama-Georgia border January 28. Federal investigators have now discovered the remains of a second whooping crane at Weiss Lake, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service news release. The second crane, identified as #22- 10, was released last year in Wisconsin and was found less than a quarter-mile from crane #12-04. Investigators believe the deaths at Weiss Lake are linked. Laboratory results are pending. The reward for information leading to the successful prosecution of the Weiss Lake perpetrator(s) now stands at $23,250 after contributions by 18 federal agencies, private organizations and individuals. To provide information, contact Special Agent John Rawls at (334) 285-9600 or email@example.com. The cranes are part of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership effort to reintroduce the species into the eastern United States. Birds in the program are equipped with a transmitter and leg bands to help track their movements. There are about 570 whooping cranes left in the world, with 400 in the wild. For more about the reintroduction effort, visit www.bringbackthecranes.org.