Kiera Butler

Kiera Butler

Senior Editor

Kiera answers your green questions every week in her Econundrums column. She was a hypochondriac even before she started researching germ warfare.

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Kiera has written about the environment, arts and culture, and more for Columbia Journalism Review, Orion, Audubon, OnEarth, Plenty, and the Utne Reader. She lives in Berkeley and recently planted 30 onions in her backyard.

Watch Live: Climate Change's Sleeper Role in Election 2012

| Wed Oct. 10, 2012 8:30 AM EDT

Today, a panel of pollsters, analysts, campaign operatives, and journalists will gather for the very first "Climate Desk Live" breakfast briefing in Washington, DC, hosted by award-wining science journalist Chris Mooney. Speakers include Joe Romm of Climate Progress, analyst Betsy Taylor of Breakthrough Strategies and Solutions, and Paul Bledsoe, a Washington-based consultant who was the chief staffer on climate change communications in the Clinton White House. The fun starts at 9:30 a.m. in Washington, DC, but don't worry if you can't make it to the event—you can see the livestream here:

Watch live streaming video from climatenexus at livestream.com

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VIDEO: "Farm It Maybe"

| Fri Sep. 21, 2012 2:02 PM EDT

Just when I was about to give Cookie Monster the award for best parody of "Call Me Maybe," this kid comes along:

"Hey, I just milked you. This cow is crazy! But here's her udder. So milk her maybe."

 

Kitties, Rabies, the Plague, and You

| Tue Sep. 18, 2012 4:37 PM EDT

In the neverending war between cat people and bird people, troops on either side gather ammunition in the form of research. Add this one to Team Bird's quiver: a new study that shows how that feral cats carry deadly diseases like rabies, toxoplasmosis, and the plague(!). Published in the journal Zoonoses and Public Health, the study finds that rabies in particular is a much bigger problem among cats than dogs. In 2008, cats had four times the rabies rate of dogs, and in 2010 cats accounted for 62 percent of all rabies cases in domestic animals. 

The study also casts doubt the feral-cat control technique known as Trap-Neuter-Return, or TNR, wherein feral cats are rounded up, fixed, and released back to where they were found. Feral-cat advocates have long favored TNR, claiming it humanely reduces the feral cat population. But the new study suggests it's not effective in stopping cats from spreading rabies. From the abstract:

...some studies have shown that TNR leads to increased immigration of unneutered cats into neutered populations as well as increased kitten survival in neutered groups. These compensatory mechanisms in neutered groups leading to increased kitten survival and immigration would confound rabies vaccination campaigns and produce naïve populations of cats that can serve as source of zoonotic disease agents owing to lack of immunity.

The bird advocacy group American Bird Conservancy crows in a press release:

"This is a significant study that documents serious wildlife and public health issues associated with 125 million outdoor cats in the United States.  Decision-making officials need to start looking at the unintended impacts these animals have on both the environment and human health when they consider arguments to sanction Trap, Neuter, and Return (TNR) cat colonies. These colonies are highly detrimental to cats, wildlife, and people, and only serve to exacerbate the cat overpopulation problem," said Darin Schroeder, Vice President for Conservation Advocacy at American Bird Conservancy.

Oh no they didn't! Team Cat, what have you got?

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