Sep 19, 2019

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 476 words, a 2 minute read.

1 big thing: "The loss of nature"

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There are 2.9 billion fewer birds in North America than a half-century ago, a 29% drop with dangerous ramifications for our natural world.

  • Why it matters: In addition to suffering pervasive losses in several groups of birds, North America has also reached a "widespread ecological crisis" affecting spring migration, food production and pest control, Axios' Eileen Drage O'Reilly reports.

The big picture: All habitats except wetlands recorded declines, but particularly big drops occurred on the United States' Great Plains and in Canada's vast boreal forests.

  • Europe is facing similar issues, conservation biologist Kevin Gaston told the N.Y. Times.
  • “This is the loss of nature," Gaston said.
  • "Experts say habitat loss was the No. 1 reason for bird loss. A 2015 study said cats kill 2.6 billion birds each year in the United States and Canada, while window collisions kill another 624 million and cars another 214 million," the AP reports.

Between the lines: “It’s not just these highly threatened birds that we’re afraid are going to go on the endangered species list,” conservation scientist Kenneth V. Rosenberg told the Times. “It’s across the board.”

  • "Common bird species are vital to ecosystems, controlling pests, pollinating flowers, spreading seeds and regenerating forests. When these birds disappear, their former habitats often are not the same," the Times notes.

The bottom line: Not all hope is lost.

  • With wetland protections and hunting regulations, waterfowl like ducks, geese and swans have restored their populations, study co-author Peter Marra told Axios.
  • Due to endangered species protections and the removal of DDT-based pesticides, raptors like the bald eagle have become more plentiful.
Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

Melania Trump, flanked by 4th-graders from Amidon-Bowen Elementary school, participates in the reopening of the Washington Monument on the National Mall.

2. What you missed
  1. The number of vaping-related illnesses has soared nearly 50%, the CDC announced today. Go deeper.
  2. Jeff Bezos announced Amazon’s Climate Pledge — to hit the Paris climate accord goal of carbon neutrality in 2040, 10 years early. Go deeper.
  3. President Trump sued Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance in an effort to block New York prosecutors from obtaining 8 years of his personal and corporate tax returns. Go deeper.
  4. Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon was named as the incoming chairman of the Business Roundtable. Go deeper.
  5. A 3rd instance of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in brownface or blackface surfaced today. Go deeper.
  6. Rep. Adam Schiff released 2 letters from Intelligence Community inspector general Michael Atkinson detailing why he believes a whistleblower complaint is a matter of "urgent concern." Read them.
3. 1 democracy thing
Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

The youths are voting: A study of 10 million college students on 1,000 campuses illustrated a nationwide increase in voting, with rates doubling in the 2018 midterm election as compared to 2014, Axios' Fadel Allassan reports.

  • Why it matters: While older voters historically turned out at significantly higher rates, the new data could signal a change going into the 2020 presidential election, a year in which millennials and Generation Z are expected to make up 37% of the U.S. electorate.
Mike Allen