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Study predicts ‘frightening future’ for North American birds, with two-thirds of species extinct by 2100 if earth warms more than 1.5 degrees

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“There’s hope in this report, but first, it’ll break your heart if you care about birds and what they tell us about the ecosystems we share with them. It’s a bird emergency.”

In a new study published Thursday by the National Audubon Society, scientists say that saving hundreds of bird species from extinction by the end of this century is entirely possible—but that without commitment from policymakers to end human-caused global warming, two-thirds of North America’s birds could be gone by 2100.

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The report, “Survival by Degrees: Bird Species on the Brink,” found that 389 out of 604 North American bird species are at risk of extinction by 2100 if the Earth’s temperature rises by 3 to 5º Celsius, as it’s projected to if the current trend of emitting millions of tons of carbon each year continues.

The Society released its report less than a month after the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies revealed that nearly a third of North American birds—about three billion—were lost over the last five decades.

Thursday’s study predicts “an even more frightening future” unless the climate crisis is stopped, Audubon Society CEO David Yarnold said in a statement.

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“Birds are important indicator species, because if an ecosystem is broken for birds, it is or soon will be for people too.”
—Brooke Bateman, Audubon Society
The group looked at 140 million bird records and measured the effects of sea level rise, urbanization, and extreme heat on bird populations. Many of the changes caused by increased carbon in the atmosphere will drastically reduce the range in which birds are able to live, the study found.

“Birds will be forced to relocate to find favorable homes,” reads the report. “And they may not survive.”

The Audubon Society created an interactive graphic allowing users to view how warming of 3º Celsius or more would affect various species versus warming of 1.5º, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says is the upper limit for global warming in order to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis.

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The bobolink, which lives in the northern U.S. and southern Canada, would lose 88 percent of its current habitat range by 2100 if policymakers don’t pass laws to help limit the warming of the globe, and would be forced to move north. The species would lose only 43 percent of its range if the Earth warms 1.5º Celsius.

Other birds at risk for drastic habitat loss include the Baltimore oriole, the saltmarsh sparrow, and the purple finch.

The prediction of an extreme loss of bird species by 2100 also points to danger for humans as well, the Audubon Society said.

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“Birds are important indicator species, because if an ecosystem is broken for birds, it is or soon will be for people too,” said Brooke Bateman, senior climate scientist for the Society.

But the group stressed that with commitment from government leaders around the world, more than three-quarters of bird species in North America are expected to have far greater outcomes at the end of the century, retaining more of their habitats.

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“By stabilizing carbon emissions and holding warming to [1.5º Celsius] above pre-industrial levels, 76 percent of vulnerable species will be better off, and nearly 150 species would no longer be vulnerable to extinction from climate change,” the report reads.

Renee Stone, the group’s vice president for climate, called on the public to make clear to election officials that reducing carbon emissions to net zero in the next decade, and therefore stemming the crisis, is a top priority for them.

“We already know what we need to do to reduce global warming, and we already have a lot of the tools we need to take those steps. Now, what we need are more people committed to making sure those solutions are put into practice,” said Stone.

While “there’s hope in this report,” Yarnold said, “it’ll break your heart if you care about birds and what they tell us about the ecosystems we share with them. It’s a bird emergency.”

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Trump fears his base will turn on him if he flips and calls for nationwide mask guidelines: CNN

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On CNN Saturday, analyst Ron Brownstein outlined the key reason President Donald Trump is struggling to adapt his message to proper public health guidance on the coronavirus pandemic.

"Ron, there is a retail trade group that has asked President Trump to institute federal, nationwide mask guidelines at stores across the country as the country continues to re-open," said anchor Alex Marquardt. "Experts are saying that masks could save thousands of lives in the coming months. Do you see a scenario in which — any chance in which he would issue that?"

"I think the short answer is no, and for a revealing reason," said Brownstein. "He is in a trap of his own construction. On coronavirus, we talk all the time about how President Trump's base is bonded to him, immovably. He's also bonded to the base in the other direction, that he is very reluctant to get out crosswise with a base that includes the kind of people that showed up at the Michigan capital to protest lockdown without wearing masks and waving Confederate flags and carrying automatic weapons."

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2020 Election

Trump and the GOP have become the party of the dead

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There are few morbid topics subject to greater speculation than the religious loyalty of President Donald Trump's "base." Why an alarmingly large amount of Americans refuse even to entertain any criticism of Trump deserves scrutiny from political scientists, psychologists and perhaps horror novelists working in the school of Edgar Allan Poe.

This article first appeared in Salon.

What is abundantly clear is that no matter who votes for Trump, he and the Republican Party on the national level have no interest in governing on the behalf of living human beings — with the exception of ensuring that a tiny minority of billionaires and multimillionaires enlarge their investment portfolios. Trump evinces no concern for Americans dying of the coronavirus, racist violence or any other malady or injustice. He demonstrates no regard for health care professionals courageously trying to save their patients from dying, and appears cruelly indifferent to the struggles of millions of workers whose livelihoods have been destroyed by COVID-19. Needless to say, Trump also shows contempt for Black Lives Matter, immigrants and anyone who opposes his re-election, which at this moment (and throughout his presidency) is more than half of the American public.

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As coronavirus seizes the state, Florida hospitals are in panic mode

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As Florida experiences a surge in coronavirus cases, the residents of the state are facing obstacles like overwhelmed hospitals and a looming shortage in beds.

This article first appeared in Salon.

There are 47,663 hospital beds in the state right now with 11,782 available (meaning a remaining capacity of 19.82 percent) and a total staffed bed capacity of 59,445, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration's Hospital Bed Capacity Dashboard. The state Department of Health also reported on Friday that, out of 95,300 individuals who received coronavirus test results over the course of the previous day, 11,433 tested positive for COVID-19 (all but 90 of whom were Florida residents), meaning that more than 12 percent of the new cases had positive test results. The state also reported 93 new deaths due to COVID-19. (Salon reached out to the Florida Department of Health for comment on this story.)

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