About GarryRogers

Dr. Garry Rogers is a biogeographer with interests in natural landscapes, vegetation ecology, and nature conservation. He agrees with the logic of the ecocentric view that all of nature, the atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere, and hydrosphere, has intrinsic value.

Population

Earth’s Human Population Is Not Sustainable

Human population growth threatens all life on Earth. Notice how the linked Guardian article focuses on Humans. We all know, and the article’s author would probably agree, Human destruction of Earth ecosystems harms other species as well as Humans. This might end when Human civilization ends, but population’s daughter product, climate change, might continue destroying life long after Humans are gone.

A report by the University of Washington predicts that Japan’s population will halve by by 2100. Photograph: Eugene Hoshiko/AP

The Guardian article gives a brief update on population projections.

“In 1798, Thomas Malthus wrung his hands as he contemplated the growing mass of humanity, warning: “The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race.” –Guardian Editorial.

Read more.

We are All Scientists

You are a Scientist

I heard someone ask “why do scientists lie so much.” Thinking about how I would answer, and with my grandchildren in mind, I composed the following statement:

Sharing the Earth

Half for Nature

Dr. Helen Kopnina (photo: Springer Nature)

As we age and grow more familiar with our surroundings, the limits of the Earth begin to appear through the clouds of our experience and reactions. When I think of the Voyager Golden Records travelling into the Cosmos for the past 43 years, I wonder if some alien species will one day trace humanity’s greetings back to a barren planet no longer wrapped in life and promise. In the linked article, Helen Kopnina and her coauthors gracefully lay out the mutually beneficial path we must follow to save our planet’s life and ourselves.

https://go.nature.com/2NxX2Cs

Header photo:  College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley.

 

Birds of Coldwater Farm

Introduction
My Birds of Coldwater Farm is complete at last. It is an illustrated guide to 146 bird species seen at Coldwater Farm during the first two decades of the Twenty-first Century. I included photographs, conservation status, and comments on species abundance trends at the Farm. Keywords:  Birds, Coldwater Farm, Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona, Conservation, Natural History.

Bird Identification

The photographs in this book will give you a name for many of the birds you see. However, you will also want a field guide. You can find one in most bookstores and you can download an app for your phone. Field guides help you distinguish similar bird species and they provide much more information than this book. Away from my desk, I use the Audubon Society Bird Guide app. It has pictures, recordings, range maps, and descriptions of each species’ preferred habitat and its mating, nesting, and feeding behavior. It also describes nests, eggs, and conservation status. At my desk, I use the fabulous Cornel Lab Birds of North America Online. Both the Audubon app and the Cornel Lab website have simple interactive tools that will let you become an instant success at bird identification (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/).

Bird Conservation

With concern for the health and survival of the birds, I dug into the published conservation literature on each species. I found that two species at the Farm, the Southwest Willow Flycatcher, and the Yellow-billed Cuckoo are on the U. S. endangered species list and other species are in decline.

The book is available in all the usual places, but since the bookstores and libraries are closed, you have to buy it online or direct from the publisher. This is the Amazon link. The book’s retail price is $39.95, but if you want a PDF copy, it’s free. Click here.

Rogers, Garry. 2020. Birds of Coldwater Farm, Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona, Birds Observed  During the First Two Decades of the Twenty-First Century. Coldwater Press, Prescott, AZ. 177 p.

Most of the birds are shown in the Photo Gallery

Postscript: The Time is Growing Short

POSTCRIPT
I published the blog post below in 2017. It discusses a scientific analysis and climate-change warning published in the journal Nature.
The critical element of the scientists’ conclusion was the absolutely necessity to begin immediately reducing CO2 emissions. Progress was pinned to six milestones that had to be reached by 2020. Here we are in 2020. Unfortunately, global CO2 emissions increased in 2018 and 2019 and none of the six milestones was reached. Likewise, the other disasters I mentioned are continuing to accelerate. The likelihood that human civilization will continue to progress and flourish in years to come is perhaps exactly equal to the number of times “biodiversity” or “global wildlife extinction” has been mentioned in the Democratic presidential debates: Zero. But who knows? Perhaps this year’s weather will provoke a massive mobilization similar to what it took to combat the Nazis.

[Alfred E. Neuman said “What, me worry?” — perhaps he was our spokesperson after all, eh Joe?]

The 2017 Blog Post

GR [in 2017]:  An article from June, 2016 should be on everyone’s mind now. Here’s my discussion followed by a link to the article.

A group of scientists analyzed the sources of CO2 and the dynamic relationship between the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere and global temperature to devise a global carbon budget they could use to assess the effect of timing of changes in CO2 emissions. The analysis enabled them to calculate the changes we must make to preserve a livable climate. You’ll have to read the article to see the individual sources of CO2 that must be adjusted. I wanted to mention the timing for the budget. The analysis shows that if CO2 emissions begin to fall immediately and reach zero in 30 years, we will remain within the global warming limits set by the Paris treaty. After the flat emissions of 2014, 2015, and 2016, the authors believed that the fall in emissions was ready to begin. This is good, because their budget shows that if we wait to 2020 to start tapering off CO2 production, we only get 20 years to reach zero emissions. If we wait to 2025, we get less than 10 years to reach zero. Transforming our energy use that quickly would be impossible.

SO, how are we doing. Six months after the analysis was published, we find that 2017 emissions have gone up, not down. Lot’s of positive changes have begun, but we have to wait to see what happens in 2018. If we begin to taper off CO2 emissions by 2020, we will have 20 years to reach zero emissions. I suggest you take a look at the six milestones the authors believe must be reached by 2020. Then you can monitor the world’s progress toward painful climate change (the Paris treaty) or disastrous climate change (with too many storms, fires, heat waves, and rising seas).

Climate change is just one of the approaching disasters. Human population and its impact is growing, wildlife species are going extinct at incredible rates, freshwater supplies are dropping, and toxic wastes are building up. If we can’t do much more than take our CO2 emissions to zero over the next 20 years, most of the diversity and beauty of life on Earth will disappear.

Christiana Figueres and colleagues set out a six-point plan for turning the tide of the world’s carbon dioxide by 2020. NATURE.COM

Legal Tools & Links For the Conservation of Nature

Globe on grassYesterday, a visitor sent an email containing corrections and additions for my Legal Tools & Links page. So much appreciated, I made the changes and checked a few other sites too. It occurred that the list needs something more helpful than alphabetization. Okay, that’s on my to-do list. Any suggestions would be most welcome (the image is from the scclegal website).

Thank you.

Garry

Expect the Best, Be Prepared for the Worst

Yikes! Stinknet is Here!

Stinknet Has Reached Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona

Yesterday (June 14, 2019), I discovered a new invasive weed growing in Humboldt. The plant’s small yellow flowers caught my attention as I walked along Old Black Canyon Highway. Roads are common dispersal routes for invading weeds. First the roadsides, next the yards and hillsides.

Stinknet (Oncosiphon piluliferum), an invasive desert weed.

The first thought produced by Stinknet is that its bright yellow flowers are beautiful. The next thought, however, is that something stinks. Stinknet produces resinous sap that smells like a rotten pineapple. The odor plus the tendency for the plants to grow in tight formation create real impediments to outdoor activity. Even worse, Stinknet is a strong competitor that replaces native plants. But worse still, the plants are highly flammable and encourage destructive wildfires. If Stinknet invades, the quality of natural habitats will decline and many soil organisms, native plants, and native animals will disappear.

Stinknet is spreading across the hot deserts of California and Arizona. I’ve known about the weed since 2008 when Andrew Salywon of the Phoenix Botanical Garden ranked it as one of four weeds posing the greatest threats to Agua Fria National Monument 20mi south of Humboldt. The plant has not been reported above 2300ft in Arizona, and I assumed that at 4500ft, Lonesome Valley winters would be too cold for Stinknet. I did not even include it in the list of possible future weeds in Weeds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona. Let’s hope that other dangerous weeds that I did not list will not reach Lonesome Valley.

Stinknet is a member of the Sunflower family. It’s small round yellow flower heads are composed of 100 to 250 flowers packed into a ball no more than 1cm (1/2in) in diameter (Copyright 2019, Garry Rogers).

Stinknet is a small plant rarely more than 2ft tall. This plant is about 6 1/2in (Copyright 2019, Garry Rogers).

 

Treatment: How to Control Stinknet

Though people have carried Stinknet thousands of miles from its South African home, and though the plant has dispersed rapidly along Arizona highways, Stinknet may not survive and spread in Dewey-Humboldt. However, that’s not a safe bet. Like medical doctors, weed professionals practice EDRR (Early Detection Rapid Response). Now’s the time to begin watching for the plant along the highway and town streets. At this early point in Stinknet’s invasion of Dewey-Humboldt, the best control tactic is pulling and bagging the complete plant including the roots. If the plant spreads, control will become much more difficult and expensive. Like any disease, weed invasions are easier to cure when discovered early.

Stinknet (Copyright Max Licher).

Identification

Stinknet (Oncosiphon piluliferum) Daisy Family—ASTERACEAE.
Annual with persistent roots. Small, less than 2ft tall. One to five or more thin stems arising from base, sparse alternate leaves, striking yellow flowers in small tight balls less than 10mm diameter. Stinky.

Saving Coldwater Farm

Conservation Easement Nearing Completion

Thanks to generous donors, the Coldwater Farm conservation easement is almost complete. During the spring we’ve had several guided bird walks to reward contributors. The walks were led by ornithologists Ryan Crouse and Carl Tomoff. A final walk, for contributors of $1,000 or more, is in two weeks. It will be led by field ornithologist Felipe Guerrero and will be followed by a picnic breakfast in the Farm’s bird garden. (Photo: Rare Black Hawk at Coldwater Farm, Copyright, 2019, Garry Rogers).

The conservation easement will protect the farm from all future development. We will continue to occupy our house and pay property taxes, but no other building will ever be permitted. !

Common Black-Hawk nests at Coldwater Farm. (photo copyright 2019, Garry Rogers).

Biodiversity Loss and Human Extinction

Global Extinction Emergency

Present day human impacts are causing global extinctions comparable in number to the dinosaur extinction of 65 million years ago. Research reports across all plant and animal groups are documenting falling numbers, and the losses are speeding up.

The loss of species and ecosystems is at least as dangerous as climate change. People cause both as we use and harvest soils, plants, animals, and fossil fuels. Soon we will begin to reach the limits of nature’s reserves. As marine fisheries and farming regions lose their productivity, there will be moments when the failure of one region to meet the needs of people will cause demands to shift to other regions. Then, like falling dominos, the cascading failure of ecosystems will force the same desperate international migrations that have already begun due to climate change. The great danger is that once it begins, the cascade of extinction and ecosystem failure will ripple around the world and will be unstoppable.

Here’s a story about the status of international efforts to halt biodiversity loss. As you can see, the extinction emergency is not being treated as an emergency. We need another Greta Thunberg to arise and lead the protest against extinction. And we need it now.

Deforestation in Indonesian to make way for a palm oil concession. Photograph: Ulet Ifansasti/Greenpeace

“The world must thrash out a new deal for nature in the next two years or humanity could be the first species to document our own extinction, warns the United Nation’s biodiversity chief.” —The Guardian.

Saving Nature and Human Civilization

Government Inaction on the Climate Emergency

More than 90% of the countries signing the Paris Climate Agreement have failed to meet their target emission reductions. Some countries, notably the U. S., have instead grown their emissions beyond the worst-case predictions.

BLUNDELL

The original goal was to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees celsius (2.7 degrees fahrenheit). However, national actions that would keep warming below 2 degrees celsius (3.6 degrees fahrenheit) were acceptable. Only three countries are on track to do either of these. Most are on the way to increases of 3 or 4 degrees celsius. Scientist fear that these higher increases will wipe out human civilization.

Government Inaction on the Mass Extinction of Wildlife

At the same time global warming is threatening humanity, global wildlife numbers are plummeting. This itself threatens the survival of human civilization even without the compounding effect of global warming. Under threat here is the soil, the foundation of life on Earth. And in the oceans, the delicate chemical and temperature balance that allows abundant marine life to exist.

The Extinction Rebellion

As the majority of the world’s citizens become aware that both climate and extinction are in danger of spiraling out of control, there are growing efforts to direct our governments to take action. Since the time India separated from the British Empire, we have all known that peaceful demonstration and protest can force major changes. The Student Strike, the progressive politics embodied by the Green New Deal, and The Sunrise Movement are starting to have an impact on government policies. It is essential that these groups welcome and endorse the efforts of the Extinction Rebellion. It is essential that all of us take part in local demonstrations sponsored by these and other groups concerned with avoiding extinction.

 

Photo: Rupert Read

Here are the basic demands of the Extinction Rebellion. I expect these will be expanded in the months ahead:

WE DEMAND:

These demands only represent XR US. They are still in the process of development.

  1. That the Government must tell the truth about the climate and wider ecological emergency, it must reverse all policies not in alignment with that position and must work alongside the media to communicate the urgency for change including what individuals, communities and businesses need to do.
  2. The Government must enact legally-binding policies to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and take further action to remove the excess of atmospheric greenhouse gases. It must cooperate internationally so that the global economy runs on no more than half a planet’s worth of resources per year.

  3. We do not trust our Government to make the bold, swift and long-term changes necessary to achieve these changes and we do not intend to hand further power to our politicians. Instead we demand a Citizens’ Assembly to oversee the changes, as we rise from the wreckage, creating a democracy fit for purpose.

  4. We demand a just transition that prioritizes the most vulnerable people and indigenous sovereignty; establishes reparations and remediation led by and for Black people, Indigenous people, people of color and poor communities for years of environmental injustice, establishes legal rights for ecosystems to thrive and regenerate in perpetuity, and repairs the effects of ongoing ecocide to prevent extinction of human and all species, in order to maintain a livable, just planet for all.

The first U. S. XR (Extinction Rebellion) events begin tomorrow.