GR: The video leaves us with a grim outlook. Human wastes running into the oceans coupled with global warming will soon destroy all the reefs. Do enough people care to force our governments to act? Probably not. Do you see any answers?
Josh Wall and Michael Slezak, theguardian.com: Jon Brodie from James Cook University says to give the Great Barrier Reef even a fighting chance to survive, Australia needs to spend $1bn a year for the next 10 years to improve water quality. If we don’t do that now, he says, we might need to just give up on the reef. ‘Climate change is happening much more quickly and much more severely than most scientists predicted’•
GR: The decline of species on the islands is consistent with the theory of island biogeography. No ecologist would be surprised by the decline.
Archipelago of forest islands within the Balbina hydroelectric reservoir, Brazil. Image: Eduardo M. Venticinque via C. Peres
University of Stirling: New research led by the University of Stirling has found a global pattern of sustained species extinctions on islands within hydroelectric reservoirs.
Scientists have discovered that reservoir islands created by large dams across the world do not maintain the same levels of animal and plant life found prior to flooding.
Despite being hailed as conservation sanctuaries that protect species from hunting and deforestation, islands undergo sustained loss of species year on year after dam construction, a pattern otherwise known as ‘extinction debt’. These findings represent a significant environmental impact that is currently missing from assessment procedures for proposed new dams.
Photos and text from: Rob Stott, BuzzFeed News Reporter, Australia
Take a quick look at the Tourism Australia website and social media channels and you’ll find all of the things you’d expect from the Great Barrier Reef: glossy photos of divers, happy turtles, and coral. Lots of coral. But the Australian government has been working hard to make sure you don’t see just how badly damaged by climate change the reef has become.
The United Nations has declared that May 22 is Biodiversity Day. The goal this year is to publicize biodiversity. After studying the text of the UN Convention on Biodiversity, I believe that the UN is doing little or nothing for biodiversity. I have studied plants and animals for many years. What I’ve seen, and what others report, is that all of nature is in steep decline. Humans are the cause. I fear that people might be led to believe that the United Nations is taking effective action to protect biodiversity. It is not.
The theme of the UN Convention on Biodiversity is sustainable development. It’s text has lofty goals with vague strategies for their attainment. The text makes clear the Convention’s desire for acceptance by even the most growth oriented government. Each Article begins with phrases such as: “Each Contracting Party shall, in accordance with its particular conditions and capabilities. . . .” and this: “Each Contracting Party shall, as far as possible and as appropriate. . . .” Since human desires are the conditions that define what is appropriate, the phrases prohibit no “contractor” from full-bore growth and development if they say that these are needed to provide jobs and improved standards of living.
This is the UN’s definition of the Convention:
Signed by 150 government leaders at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the Convention on Biological Diversity is dedicated to promoting sustainable development. Conceived as a practical tool for translating the principles of Agenda 21 into reality, the Convention recognizes that biological diversity is about more than plants, animals and micro organisms and their ecosystems – it is about people and our need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment in which to live (United Nations).
Biodiversity is definitely not about the needs of only one species. It is a general term that gives equal importance to all species. By placing humans ahead of all other species, the Convention’s definition replaces biological validity with the human bias that is destroying the Earth.
This year’s meeting focus is on promoting biodiversity. The meetings never do much more than report on small achievements. They serve as an opportunity to search for funding for their development-friendly activities and they let governments reward their environmental managers with a two-week vacation in an international resort.
Homo sapiens’ unrelenting rape of the Earth and the rapid decline of biodiversity is taking us toward the greatest mass extinction of all time. No one has found an effective means to stop this. In 1992, the United Nations decided to formalize their support for continued devastation by sugar-coating human impacts with the term “sustainable.” A genuine Biodiversity Day would focus on curtailing human:
Over and over, our leading biologists call for emergency responses to our impacts on the Earth. This blog has more than a thousand well-reasoned warnings and suggestions related to biodiversity. However, biodiversity decline continues. What do we do? Even as our impacts grow beyond the hope of remediation, our environmental managers lay by the pool sipping rum punch, eying the pretty young servers, and discussing funding proposals and plans for more meetings.
What can we do for biodiversity?
I intend to look for ways to oppose development, call for population control, live a simpler life, and learn more about plants and animals.
Barry is an artist, both with words and with paint. He has been associated with our organization for nearly three decades and is our go-to guy for any wildlife question. He knows his animals — especially birds — and the issues that affect them. His blogs will give you just the tip of his wildlife-knowledge iceberg, so be sure to stay and delve deeper into his Canadian Project articles. If you like wildlife and reading, Barry’s your man. (And we’re happy to have him as part of our team, too!)
Unaware of the consequences of its behavior, the growing human population is erasing sixty-five million of years of biodiversity recovery since the massive extinction that eliminated dinosaurs and most other species. This is without doubt the greatest issue of our time, perhaps of all time. In the article below, Quentin Wheeler points out that biodiversity is not even being mentioned by our current presidential candidates.
Saguaro, the iconic species of the Sonoran Desert, blooming in April, two months earlier than usual (Rogers, 2016).
Global warming, deforestation, desertification, environmental pollution, and ocean acidification are familiar labels for human-caused destruction of biodiversity and stability of Earth ecosystems. They are all connected to the attempt by our billions of people to satisfy their desires for food, reproduction, safety, and convenience. Allowed uncontrolled expansion, any one of them can achieve planet-wide destruction of biodiversity. Consider that even if this year’s great climate-change treaty achieves a sudden shift to safe energy and stops global warming, it will not save life on Earth. No single-issue approach can.
“It’s unlikely that presidential candidates will ever utter the word “biodiversity” while campaigning this year.
“Yet among emerging environmental challenges, none has fewer facts or more enduring threats than the large-scale loss of biodiversity. That’s why we need a visionary investment in fundamental exploration to create knowledge and options.
“And our elected representatives should lead vigorous discussions about what we can and should do about it. From Jefferson to Kennedy, from the Northwest Territory to the depths of space, presidents of vision have opened new frontiers to exploration.
“Serious environmental problems are a bipartisan challenge that deserves to be in every presidential platform. While scientific questions should be firewalled from politics, what we do with scientific knowledge should not. The best solutions should emerge from the rough and tumble of public debate.
“Biodiversity belongs in our public discussion because we have so much to learn from the Earth’s species – both what it means to be human and the knowledge encapsulated in nature – as we plot our future in a time of great change.”
“This is not the first time that earth has weathered such a mass extinction event. There have been five previously, the most recent occurring 65 million years ago, marked by the disappearance of the great dinosaurs.
“In each case, evolutionary processes have restored high levels of species diversity, but this should give us little comfort. Biodiversity recovery takes place over tens of millions of years. And in the meanwhile, there can be enormously chaotic consequences for ecosystems.
“Our knowledge of the species with which we share planet Earth is dangerously limited, meaning that we make decisions and policies in near complete ignorance of basic facts. Our best guess is that there are 10 million living species, more or less, excluding the single-celled bacteria and Archaea.
“Of these, fewer than two million are known to science. And of documented species, most are known by little more than a few diagnostic features and a name. While the rate of species extinction has greatly increased, the pace at which we are exploring species has not.
“In one of the original “big science” ideas, the Swedish naturalist Linnaeus set out in the mid-18th century to complete a global inventory of all the kinds of animals and plants. That inventory continues today, but at an unacceptably slow pace. We discover about 18,000 species each year, a rate unchanged since the 1940s in spite of technological advances.
“This need not be so. Given appropriate technical support and coordinated teamwork, it has been estimated that 10 million species could be described or redescribed in greater detail in no more than 50 years.
“As global environments are stressed, we need reliable knowledge of species diversity upon which to detect and measure changes. Ironically, we have mapped the rocky surface of Mars in greater detail than the living biosphere of our own planet.
“Unless we know what species exist and where, how are we to recognize invasive species, measure rates of extinction or even know whether our conservation strategies are working or not? How are we to understand or restore complex ecosystems when we are ignorant of the majority of their functioning parts? And how much are we willing to risk losing by not undertaking a comprehensive biodiversity moon shot?”
Half the Earth?
“Three major benefits would accrue from a NASA-scale mission to explore the biosphere.
“First would be baseline documentation of the species that exist early in the 21st century, including how they assemble into complex networks in ecosystems. Such baseline data would be transformative for ecology, conservation biology, and resource management, and establish a detailed point of comparison for whatever changes come in the future.
“Second is unleashing the full potential of biomimicry. For 3.8 billion years natural selection has maintained favorable adaptations and weeded out unworkable ones. Among the millions of such adaptations, engineers and innovators can find inspiration for entirely new designs, materials, products and processes.
“The extent to which we succeed creating a truly sustainable future – from renewable energy to degradable materials to cities that function like efficient ecosystems – may well depend on how much knowledge we gather from other species, including those about to go extinct.
“Last, but not least, is knowledge of our origins. Anthropologists continue to fill gaps in our knowledge of the emergence of modern humans, but that is only the most recent chapter in our story. Every attribute that we think of as uniquely human was modified from characteristics of earlier mammals. And features supposedly unique to mammals were similarly modified from even earlier ancestors and so forth, all the way back to the first single-celled species from which the diversity of life around us evolved.
“We can no more understand what it is to be human without exploring this whole history than we could account for why Earth is as it is in the absence of knowledge of the universe.
“We stand a much better chance of slowing the rate of extinction and reducing the percentage of species ultimately lost if we complete a planetary species inventory. And by preserving evidence and knowledge of those species that are lost, we can continue to learn from them.
“New tools, such as those from information science and molecular genetics, can help speed species exploration, but are most powerful when used in combination with detailed descriptive studies of species that reveal their evolutionary novelties.
“E.O. Wilson’s new book, “Half Earth,” proposes that half our planet be reserved for all the other species. His suggestion has unassailable common sense and is perhaps the most workable solution holding promise for millions of other species.
“If we accelerate species exploration, we can add value to “their” half of the world by better understanding and appreciating its residents while finding nature-inspired solutions to sustainably meet our needs in the confines of our half.
“The sooner we act, the greater our chances to avoid a sixth extinction event and preserve nature’s vast library of clues to better ways to meet human needs in an era of rapid global environmental change.”
“These six examples illustrate that there is no one-size-fits all approach for researchers to address today’s grand environmental challenges, but two common themes emerge. The first is that it is no longer enough to simply do the science and publish an academic paper; that is a necessary first step, but moves only halfway towards the goal of guiding the planet towards a future that is sustainable for both human civilization and the biosphere. To implement knowledge that arises from basic research, it is necessary to establish dialogues and collaborations that transcend narrow academic specialties, and bridge between academia, industry, the policy community and society in general. The second theme is that now is the time to rise to these scientific and communication challenges. The trajectories of population overgrowth, climate change, ecosystem loss, extinctions, disease, and environmental contamination have been rapidly accelerating over the past half-century. If not arrested within the next decade, their momentum may prevent us from stopping them short of disaster.” From: elementascience.org
“The word “biodiversity” is employed once in the Paris agreement’s 32 pages. “Forests” appears a few times, but “oceans”, like biodiversity, scores just a single appearance. There is no mention of extinction. Wildlife, coral reefs, birds, frogs, orchids, polar bears and pikas never show up anywhere in the document.
“This is hardly surprising: the landmark agreement in Paris – the boldest yet to tackle climate change (which is saying something, but not nearly enough) – was contrived by one species for the benefit of one species. It was never meant to directly address the undeniable impacts of global warming on the world’s eight million or so other species – most of them still unnamed. But many experts say this doesn’t mean biodiversity won’t benefit from the agreement – especially if the 196 participants actually follow through on their pledges and up their ambition quickly.” From: www.theguardian.com
GR: Noncommercial wildlife, wildlife habitat, and soils are suffering from neglect and outright exploitation while under the care of our farmers, ranchers, governments, and land-use agencies. It’s sad that nature has no way to protect itself from an egocentric species like ours.
Climate-change demonstrations show our leaders that we want them to take steps to stop global warming. We must also ask our leaders to change the human activities that are causing climate change.
We want them to block corporate control over our government and the decisions it makes.
We want them to end international sales of weapons and begin to encourage peace and a focus on life style and resource use.
We want them to discourage unsustainable resource harvests.
We want them to encourage human rights and equality.
We want them to speak out for wild animals and natural ecosystems.
We want them to call for restoring the damaged lands and seas.
And finally, we want them to oppose gender inequality and overpopulation.
Even if we stopped burning fossil fuels today, activities causing climate change would continue. Farming, deforestation, industrial fishing, desertification, construction, and growth of the human population would continue to waste the Earth and release CO2 and other greenhouse gases.