To continue reading

Create a free account or sign in to unlock more free articles.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy


Humans Are Pushing Migratory Species to Extinction

On population declines, big oil mergers, and ocean current collapse

Humans Are Pushing Migratory Species to Extinction
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: A freak hail storm hit Abu Dhabi • Beaches in Trinidad and Tobago are black after a massive oil spill • It will be another wet week in California.


1. Study: Many migratory species face extinction

One in five migratory species are at risk of extinction, and humans are mostly to blame, according to a grim new United Nations report. The State of the World’s MIgratory Species report from the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (CMS) is the first to study the many creatures – from elephants to butterflies to birds – that travel thousands of miles every year to breed, eat, or find new climates. The report examined 1,189 of these species and found some 44% are in population decline. Perhaps the most shocking takeaway is the dire state of the world’s migratory fish species: Ninety-seven percent are facing extinction. Migratory reptiles are also in trouble, with 70% threatened. Overexploitation and habitat loss due to human activity are the largest pressures contributing to these losses. “These animals are, first and foremost, part of the ecosystems where they’re found,” CMS executive secretary Amy Fraenkel told CNN. “And we have a lot of evidence showing that if you remove these species, if they decline, it will have impacts on the ecosystems where they’re found, and not in a positive way.” Protecting migrating animals can be a challenge because it requires cross-border cooperation.

Proportion of species classified in risk areasCMS

2. Another big U.S. oil merger will create Permian Basin drilling giant

Diamondback Energy announced a $26 billion deal to buy Endeavor Energy Resources, the largest private oil company in America’s biggest oil field, the Permian Basin. The deal catapults Diamondback to the third spot on the list of the region’s largest oil and gas producers. This is “the latest in a flurry of large-scale merger and acquisition activity in the U.S. shale patch as companies look to snap up the best remaining drilling acreage,” explained the Financial Times. Last year saw similar acquisitions targeting the region by ExxonMobil and Chevron. Together Diamondback and Endeavor will pump the equivalent of 816,000 barrels of oil per day, Reutersreported.

3. Study raises new concerns about ocean current tipping point

A new study suggests the “conveyor belt” of Atlantic Ocean currents that sends warm water north and cold water south is in danger of collapse. Climate researchers have long worried that global warming could someday cause the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) to slow or stop. This would trigger major shifts in regional climates and devastate ecosystems, but such an event has always been hard to predict, and most forecasts saw it occuring centuries in the future, if at all. For this new study, researchers used a supercomputer to run through potential warming scenarios and were able to trigger a collapse in the model AMOC, confirming there is indeed a point at which the system breaks down. While the team couldn’t pinpoint when this collapse could happen, they say the findings suggest “we are moving in the direction of the tipping point.” If AMOC were to shut down, parts of Europe, North America, and Asia could see temperatures drop, the southern hemisphere could warm, and Atlantic sea levels could rise by a meter, all within a short timespan that would make adaptation almost impossible, The Guardianreported.

Get Heatmap AM directly in your inbox every morning:

* indicates required
  • 4. John Deere is going electric

    Tractor company John Deere plans to start making and selling fully electric farm and construction equipment by 2026, Yale Climate Connections reported. The company said its electric lineup will give farmers more flexibility and help them lower costs. “They can manage yield and plant health on a more frequent basis; enabled by the cost of that pass being so low. They are no longer exposed to fuel costs. Producers can focus on the health of the plants/animals, and truly optimize the material inputs such as fertilizers, chemicals, and feeds.” It mentions reduced CO2 emissions, too, but only briefly, suggesting John Deere thinks the key to encouraging farmers to swap out their legacy equipment is to focus on operational improvements rather than environmental benefits.

    5. Twisters trailer debuts

    The first trailer for the disaster film Twisters debuted during the Super Bowl last night. The film, which hits theaters in July, isn’t a remake of the 1996 Twister, but more of a follow up. It promises to be just as nightmare-inducing, especially given how extreme weather has become more common in the years since the first film was released. Back in ‘96, “‘climate change’ didn’t quite carry the very real, very doom-laden weight that it does now,” wrote Cheryl Eddy at Gizmodo. “Is Twisters’ apocalyptic weather even in the realm of science fiction anymore?”


    California is considering introducing an electric bike license for riders who do not already have a regular driver’s license. It would require e-bike drivers to take a course, pass a test, and get a state ID.


    Jessica Hullinger

    Jessica Hullinger is a freelance writer and editor who likes to think deeply about climate science and sustainability. She previously served as Global Deputy Editor for The Week, and her writing has been featured in publications including Fast Company, Popular Science, and Fortune. Jessica is originally from Indiana but lives in London. Read More

    Read More

    To continue reading

    Create a free account or sign in to unlock more free articles.

    By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy


    Trump, Haley, and the Climate Primary That Wasn’t

    Things could’ve been different in South Carolina.

    Nikki Haley and Donald Trump.
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images, Library of Congress

    As a climate-concerned citizen, one of the most discouraging things about Donald Trump’s all-but-inevitable confirmation as the 2024 Republican presidential nominee has been thinking about parallel universes.

    I don’t just mean the ones where the conservative Supreme Court has a shocking change of heart and disqualifies him from the presidential ballot, or where Nikki Haley, against all odds, manages to win her home state primary on Saturday and carry the momentum forward to clinch the Republican nomination. I’m talking about an even greater fantasy: A world in which Trump doesn’t dominate the news cycle, in which South Carolina conservatives have a real debate about the energy transition, and in which the climate conversation hasn’t been set back years by culture war-mongering and MAGAism.

    Keep reading...Show less

    Transcript: Is Biden’s Climate Law Actually Working?

    The full conversation from Shift Key, episode three.

    The Shift Key logo.
    Transcript: The Messy Truth of America’s Natural Gas Exports
    Heatmap Illustration

    This is a transcript of episode three of Shift Key: Is Biden's Climate Law Actually Working?

    ROBINSON MEYER: Hi, I'm Rob Meyer. I'm the founding executive editor of Heatmap News and you are listening to Shift Key, a new podcast about climate change and the shift away from fossil fuels from Heatmap. My co-host Jesse Jenkins will join us in a second and we'll get on with the show. But first a word from our sponsor.

    Keep reading...Show less

    The Ukraine War Blew Up the World’s Energy Economy

    And the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act is surprisingly well-designed to deal with the fallout.

    An oil derrick, Vladimir Putin, and Ukraine destruction.
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    It’s an open secret in U.S. climate policy circles that the Inflation Reduction Act got its name for purely political reasons. It’s a climate bill, after all. Calling it “Inflation Reduction Act” was just the marketing term to help sell it to a skeptical public more worried about rising prices than temperatures in August 2022.

    Temperatures have only risen since, while inflation is down, and the Inflation Reduction Act had nothing to do with either. But to see why the name was more than appropriate only takes going back a further six months.

    Keep reading...Show less
    HMN Banner
    Get today’s top climate story delivered right to your inbox.

    Sign up for our free Heatmap Daily newsletter.