Land Speculator Michael Winer Wins 2009 Rubber Dodo Award

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Third annual Rubber Dodo Award: Michael Winer, Land Speculator

And the Dodo Award unfortunately had to choose one more winner last year. If you are following The Dodo Blog on Twitter you already know that The Center for Biological Diversity announced Michael Winer, portfolio manager for the giant real-estate investment firm Third Avenue Management, LLC (“TAREX”), as the winner of its third annual Rubber Dodo Award for : “His Wall St. Firm Pushing Largest Developments in California and Florida Imperiling Dozens of Endangered Species, Including Condors on Tejon Ranch“. Not an easy work, but there is always a monster to do such things.

Winer is deserving of the 2009 award for his leadership of TAREX, the largest stockholder in companies developing the largest pieces of private land remaining in Southern California and Florida. These regions are also home to some the highest numbers of endangered species in North America. In California, TAREX is pushing the Tejon Ranch Company to pave over thousands of acres of federally designated California condor habitat. In Florida, TAREX is pushing the St. Joe Company to flood tens of thousands of acres of the Florida Panhandle with high-end developments.

“Under Winer’s money-obsessed leadership, TAREX has become the poster child for unsustainable, endangered-species-killing sprawl,” said Adam Keats, director of the Center’s Urban Wildlands Program. “He specializes in finding massive, remote estates far from urban centers and turning them into a sea of condos, malls, golf courses, and resorts. There is good reason that even Wall Street commonly calls TAREX a ‘real-estate vulture’.” (more…)

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin Wins 2008 Rubber Dodo Award

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

The 2008 Rubber Dodo Award goes to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin

Those are old news, but I didn’t share it here yet and the dodos were very pleased that she isn’t the vice president of USA. The dodos really don’t like her. And those were the news from the Center for Biological Diversity: Alaska Governor Sarah Palin Wins 2008 Rubber Dodo Award. Palin Has Sought to Remove Endangered Species Act Protection for the Polar Bear, Suppressed and Lied About State Global Warming Studies, and Denied That Global Warming Is Caused by Greenhouse Gas Emissions

“Governor Palin has waged a deceptive, dangerous, and costly battle against the polar bear,” said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Her position on global warming is so extreme, she makes Dick Cheney look like an Al Gore devotee.”

Palin has waged a deceptive public relations campaign, asserting that the polar bear is increasing. But many populations (including Alaska’s southern Beaufort Sea) are in decline and two-thirds (including all Alaska bears) are projected to disappear by 2050 by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Palin has repeatedly asserted that Alaska Department of Fish and Game scientists found fatal flaws in the sea ice models used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine the polar bear is threatened. When challenged, Palin refused to release the alleged state review. Independent scientists eventually obtained a summary through the federal Freedom of Information Act, revealing that Palin had lied: The state mammalogists concurred with the Fish and Wildlife Service determination that Arctic sea ice is melting at an extraordinary rate and threatens the polar bear with extinction.

“All global warming deniers are eventually forced to suppress scientific studies, and Palin is no different,” said Suckling. “To maintain her ludicrous opposition to protecting the polar bear in the face of massive scientific consensus, Palin stepped over the line to lie about and suppress government science.”

Palin has since filed a frivolous lawsuit against the Bush administration to have the threatened listing overturned. Meanwhile, the U.S. Geological Survey announced on September 16th that the 2008 summertime Arctic sea-ice melt was the second greatest on record, nearly matching the extraordinary melt of 2007.

“Palin’s insistence that Arctic melting is ‘uncertain’ is like someone debating the theory of gravity as they plunge off a cliff,” said Suckling. “It’s hopeless, reckless, and extremely cynical.”

Dirk Kempthorne Wins 2007 Rubber Dodo Award

Friday, August 31st, 2007

First Rubber Dodo Award

From the Center for Biological Diversity: “Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne Wins 2007 Rubber Dodo Award.” This is the first time they celebrate it, and it was a deserved victory: Kempthorne Surpasses James Watt By Protecting Fewer Endangered Species Than Any Interior Secretary in History.

Since his confirmation as secretary of the interior on May 26, 2006, Kempthorne has not placed a single plant or animal on the federal endangered species list. The last listing (12 Hawaiian picture-wing flies) occurred on May 9, 2006 — 472 days ago. The previous recordholder was James Watt, who listed no species for 376 days between 1981 and 1982.

Watt’s refusal to list species resulted in a 1982 congressional amendment to the Endangered Species Act, which established firm timelines for listing species and litigation consequences for violating the deadlines. Kempthorne’s refusal prompted Ed Markey (D-MA) to introduce H.R. 3459, the “Transparent Reporting Under ESA Listing Act,” on August 4, 2007. It would amend the Endangered Species Act to require the secretary to explain the scientific basis of decisions to deny Endangered Species Act protections to imperiled plants and animals.

“Kempthorne is eminently deserving of the first annual Rubber Dodo award,” said Kieran Suckling, policy director of the Center for Biological Diversity, which administers the award. “His refusal to protect a single imperiled species in more than 15 months gives him the worst record of any interior secretary in the history of the Endangered Species Act. His policies should go the way of the dodo as soon as possible.”

“Political appointees like Kempthorne come and go, but extinction is forever. No politician has the right to destroy the future of an endangered species.”

It’s not easy do that, he must have had a hard work and I would like to congratulate him for being such a jerk.

Mauritius turns wildlife clock back 400 years

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

A tiny Mauritius Fody

There are no dodos images, but it’s a very interesting news about Mauritius: Mauritius turns wildlife clock back 400 years from Reuters by Ed Harris:

Giant tortoises doze in the shade as rare lizards slip under bushes and endangered birds chatter in the sunlit trees overhead.

On a small wooded island off southern Mauritius, environmentalists are trying to turn back time to an era before humans ever set foot on the volcanic Indian Ocean archipelago.

“We want to turn the clock back 400 years,” says Ashok Khadun, a conservation expert with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF), a local non-governmental organisation.

Sadly, they are too late to help the Mauritius giant skink — a type of large grey lizard — its broad-billed parrot, scops owl or lesser flying fox, and many other species now extinct.

And, of course, the dodos:

But the arrival of Europeans led by the Portuguese in the 16th century triggered an ecological disaster with the slashing of forest habitats and the introduction of predators like rats.

By far the most famous victim was the flightless dodo bird, which is believed to have died out in the late 1600s.

Keep reading the news on Reuters page.

Dodos at AMNH

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

Dodo Model Dodo Squeleton

The Dodo at the American Museum of Natural History. I bet you saw that page before, many times (if you ever made a search for dodos). I saw it, many times before, and that’s a good reason for post it.

Something there sounds funny for me: the dodos are in the same area as the dinosaurs. Hum… giant dodos! Ok, silliness apart, here is part of the short text about dodos there:

The Dodo’s stubby wings and heavy, ungainly body tell us that the bird was flightless. Moreover, its breastbone is too small to support the huge pectoral muscles a bird this size would need to fly. Yet scientists believe that the Dodo evolved from a bird capable of flight into a flightless one. When an ancestor of the Dodo landed on Mauritius, it found a habitat with plenty of food and no predators. It therefore did not need to fly, and, as flying takes a great deal of energy, it was more efficient for the bird to remain on the ground. Eventually, the flightless Dodo evolved.

The dodo hunters

Monday, June 26th, 2006

Dodo oder Dronte by F. JohnRNW: The dodo hunters by Marnie Chesterton: An international team of scientists are, as I write this, standing in a swamp in Mauritius, looking for dodo bones. They have gone out to excavate a mass dodo grave, uncovered in November by a team of Dutch scientists, led by geoscientist Dr Kenneth Rijsdijk.

Dodos’ extinction continues to have impacts. In 1973, a scientist suggested that the Mauritian tree, the Calvaria or Tambalacoque, was dying out because it had entrusted its reproductive future with the dodo. Seeds from the tree needed to pass through the gut of the dodo before they would sprout.

The Calvaria, a hardwood species, were able to survive for 300 years without the bird but nearly went the same way as the dodo. An ornithologist came to the rescue with turkeys. Seeds from the last 13 trees were fed turkeys, and were suitably digested to start growing into seedlings. However the science behind this story, like so many stories that surround the dodo, is considered unreliable.

Yes, the same news of other days, but her text is very good there are some interesting additional information, – as you can see above -, images and an audio interview (link at the beginning at the text as Real audio or Windows Media).

The Extinct Dodo

Monday, June 19th, 2006

The Extinct Dodo is a fine page with technical and historical information about the birds and old drawings of them.

Contradicting records left some confusion over their traits, habits and palatability. Some accounts said they were fast runners, some said slow and lazy. Skeletal examinations lead some to believe common illustrations of today are inaccurate. Some believe it stood taller than depicted

Dodos likely ranged in weight according to seasonal diets and reproduction periods. They grew to about 50 lbs. They had a greenish yellow bill, black fluffy down and feathers and black feet.

Certainly they were eaten as many wildfowl were then whether tasty or not. They could be caught by hand, but one had to be careful. Their enormous, hooked bill could inflict severe injury.

The The Extinct Dodo is part of the Extinct Birds site. Illustrations by: Alice B. Woodward, Wilhelm Kuhnert, an unknown artist and Roland Savery.

Dodo by Alice B. Woodward

Dodo by Wilhelm Kuhnert

Vintage dodo engraving

Dodo by Roland Savery
This illustration by Roland Savery was painted using a live Dodo which was brought to Europe in the early seventeenth century.

Scientists to dig up dodo data

Monday, June 19th, 2006

The same news of other day: Scientists to dig up dodo data by Discovery Reports Canada:

Dodobird drawing

Dutch and British researchers just announced a plan to unearth new information on the iconic bird that represents extinct animals everywhere.

Leaders of the Dodo Research Program will go to Mauritius (a remote island in the Indian Ocean) to investigate a mass grave full of remains belonging to the long-extinct flightless bird.

The article has more info about what the scientists now about the dodo and what they don’t know and, the best part, there is a link to an old video: Dodo DNA with animations and an interview! Cool!

Update: the news page and the video are no longer available.