Yearly Coral Bleaching Will Not End

GR:  Again, let me say: climate change is happening now, and it will get worse.

“Despite La Nina, Ocean surfaces have not cooled enough to end the worst global coral bleaching event on record. What this means is that many reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef, are again under a rising risk of bleaching and mortality for the coming months. This is unheard of. Never before has a mass coral bleaching event lasted for so long or extended through the period of natural variability related ocean surface cooling called La Nina. Perhaps more ominously, the global coral bleaching and die off that began in 2014 may now be a practically permanent ocean feature of the presently destabilized world climate system.

“Cool La Nina is Over. According to NOAA, the periodic cooling of ocean surfaces in the Pacific called La Nina is now over. And since La Nina brings with it a variable related low point of broader Earth surface temperatures, after a few months lag, we can expect the globe to start to warm up again.

The above map shows sea surface temperature anomalies in the Pacific Ocean on February 9 of 2017. Presently SSTs over the entire Pacific range from about -1.5 C below average to +5 C above average. And as you can see, the Ocean is considerably warmer than normal, despite La Nina. Over the next 1-2 years, this is likely the coolest the Pacific will get. In just one decade’s time, under human-forced warming, it will take a very strong La Nina and a strongly negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation to produce similar sea surface temperatures. Image source: Earth Nullschool.

“Problem is, the Earth is still ridiculously warm, despite La Nina. Temperatures, driven inexorably higher by fossil fuel burning, have probably bottomed out at about 1 degrees Celsius hotter than 1880s averages during December, January and February of 2016-2017.

“What this means is that the likely range for annual global temperatures over the next 5 years will be about 1 to 1.3 C above 1880s averages. These readings are so high (the warmest in 115,000 years) and have risen so much, in such a geologically short span of time, that many of the world’s more sensitive species are now being pushed out of their habitats and are undergoing considerable heat-related mortality events.

According to NOAA:

Multiple coral reef regions are already experiencing Alert Level 1 bleaching stress (associated with significant coral bleaching). Alert Level 2 bleaching stress (associated with widespread coral bleaching and significant mortality) is expected in the Northern Cook Islands, Southern Cook Islands, the Samoas, Wallis & Futuna, Northern Tonga, Southern Tonga, the Society Archipelago, and the Austral Islands in the next 1-4 weeks. Alert Level 1 bleaching conditions are also expected in the Tuamotu Archipelago in the next 1-4 weeks and in Tuvalu in the next 5-8 weeks.

–Robertscribbler (More: The Permanent Global Coral Bleaching Event | robertscribbler.)

Why You Should Care: Trump’s Order on the Border Wall

GR:  In the midst of the greatest mass extinction in Earth history, the U. S. government is stepping in to do even more to disrupt wildlife movements and put more pressure on survival.

Wall on the Mexico Border

“Wildlife and habitat are on the line because of impacts of the new administration’s immigration policy.

“Today, President Trump ordered the construction of a Mexican border wall — the first in a series of steps intended to crack down on immigration and bolster national security. The executive order to finish the remaining 1,000 miles will have a huge impact on biological unity, connectivity along the border, and habitat disruption.

“While being constructed to stop people from illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexican border, the border wall actually does more to prevent wildlife – not humans – from migrating and connecting with different populations across vast natural southwestern habitats.

“Maintaining connected habitats is important for any species, but especially for those struggling to survive in the face of multiple and cumulative threats. For some species, the wall will completely block the corridors – or regularly traveled paths through the landscape – that they have relied on for centuries. If the wall fragments populations and prevents animals from reaching necessary habitat, these species are unlikely to remain healthy and contribute to their ecological landscapes. Imperiled species such as the ocelot, Mexican gray wolf, jaguar and Sonoran pronghorn may not be able to migrate, exchange genes between populations, and or reach vital food sources.

Is There An Alternative?

“There are several scientific and conservation-minded solutions to extending the wall, including virtual fencing and wildlife-friendly vehicle barriers that are passable only to wildlife. There are also short-term measures that can be taken to support wildlife on America’s borders such as increased funding for environmental protection, improved environmental training for Border Patrol agents, and greater commitment to existing environmental laws.” –Hillary Esquina (Continue reading: Why You Should Care: Trump’s Order on the Border Wall – Defenders of Wildlife Blog).

Duterte Orders Better Access To Birth Control In Majority Catholic Philippines : The Two-Way : NPR

GR: Cultural, social, and religious practices that formed centuries earlier can become destructive. The Catholic Church needs an update that acknowledges the growing population problem.

Religious practice isn’t the only behavior that can become destructive. Read these sad stories to see how other cultural and social behaviors can lead to the same terrible end.

You can be certain that when human population growth causes conditions to sink to the low points described in these stories, starvation, disease, and death walk rampant among the innocent creatures whose lands we have taken. Struggling in the grip of self-destructive behavior, we unknowingly commits ecocide and adds another force pushing us toward our own doom.

Population and Poverty in Modern Philippines

“Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered government agencies to expand access to contraception, especially for poor women. By 2018, he instructs, all poor households in the country should have “zero unmet need for modern family planning.”

“Duterte’s executive order, signed Monday and announced on Wednesday, is the latest development in a long battle over birth control in the majority-Catholic Philippines. It pits the president, who says family planning is critical for reducing poverty, against the country’s Supreme Court and Catholic leadership.

“Four years ago — after more than a decade of debate, negotiations and lobbying in Congress — the Philippines passed a law guaranteeing universal access to birth control. But the full implementation of that law has been blocked by court orders and budget cuts.

philippine-poverty

Poverty in modern Philippines.

“Birth control has long been available in the Philippines for middle class and wealthy women, but it is priced out of reach of the country’s poor. Abortion is illegal, with no express exceptions.

“More than half of all pregnancies in the Philippines are unintended, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and more than 90 percent of unintended pregnancies occurred in the absence of modern contraceptive methods.

Though the rate of population growth is falling, the total population continues to rise and is projected to reach

Though the rate of population growth is falling, the total population continues to rise and is projected to reach 140 million by 2045.

“Polls show that most Filipinos support the Reproductive Health Law, which calls not just for access to contraception (subsidized or free, for poor couples), but also sexual health education and reproductive health care services.

“But it has been strongly opposed by the powerful Catholic Church. The law was immediately challenged as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court upheld some of the law, but imposed a restraining order limiting the contraceptive methods the government can distribute. Then Congress slashed the budget that was supposed to pay for free or low-cost contraception in many communities.” –Camila Domonoske (Continue reading this story:  Duterte Orders Better Access To Birth Control In Majority Catholic Philippines : The Two-Way : NPR.)


Joe Bish of the Population Media Center found the following story.

Cultural Norms Create Poverty and Despair in Nigeria.
“He was proud to be the father of an enormous family — until he couldn’t feed them”

“To enter Mohammed Umar’s mosquito-infested house, you step over a gutter brimming with sewage.

“At dusk two wives and 13 children are crammed in a small dark corridor with no ceiling. Charcoal smoke permeates the air and stings the eyes. The latest baby, Adam, 2 weeks old, moans restlessly; another child coughs incessantly and the call to prayer rings out from a nearby mosque.

“Umar is a humble bricklayer in a city with few jobs — but he has four wives, two homes he rents to accommodate them and 17 threadbare children. They spend their long days hungry, waiting for him to bring home a small pocket of money for food.

“Umar leaves his small cinder-block house in northwestern Nigeria’s Kano city at dawn and returns late at night, often with just a couple of dollars to feed his family. Then he starts over. He has borrowed for survival, is sinking in debt and, with no money for rent, faces likely eviction.

“Even when I get a job, the money’s not enough to support the family,” he says. “Every time I go to sleep, the thought of the debt comes into my mind, and I can’t get back to sleep.” When the children get sick, there is no money for medicine.

“A 2-month-old daughter, Hauwau, died in 2015 because he couldn’t pay a few coins to transport her to a hospital. Struggling to breathe, she slipped away one night.

Nigerian bricklayer Mohammed Umar can barely afford to provide for his four wives and 17 children. He rises each dawn to search for work and toils until late at night, but there is never enough food.

Nigerian bricklayer Mohammed Umar can barely afford to provide for his four wives and 17 children. He rises each dawn to search for work and toils until late at night, but there is never enough food. (Robyn Dixon / Los Angeles Times)

“I have her picture in my cellphone. I’ve been trying to overcome the grief,” says Umar.

“His life is an illustration of what can go wrong in regions where a lack of education intersects with gender inequality and high fertility rates. He is at the sharp end of northwestern Nigeria’s dire health and population statistics: extremely high illiteracy, especially for women and girls; huge families; high rates of infant mortality and heartbreaking rates of chronic or acute malnutrition in children.

“Umar’s inability to feed his wives and children adequately could taint them for the rest of their lives.

Mohammed Umar's first wife, Mainuna Shuaibu, left, who married the impoverished bricklayer when she was 14, and Maryam Adam, who became his second wife when she was 15, and two of their children at their home in Kano, Nigeria. (Robyn Dixon / Los Angeles Times)

Mohammed Umar’s first wife, Mainuna Shuaibu, left, who married the impoverished bricklayer when she was 14, and Maryam Adam, who became his second wife when she was 15, and two of their children at their home in Kano, Nigeria. (Robyn Dixon / Los Angeles Times)

“Nearly 80% of children in Kano are stunted, the result of persistent, ongoing malnutrition, which will affect their brain development, learning capacity and, ultimately, the jobs they will have, and leave them more likely to suffer poverty for decades to come. It’s the product of a hidden crisis of chronic malnutrition in northwestern Nigeria that receives less attention than the famine and acute malnutrition afflicting the northeastern part of the country.” –Robyn Dixon (Continue reading:  http://www.latimes.com/world/africa/la-fg-global-big-families-poverty-2016-story.html.)

The extinction crisis is far worse than you think

GR:  This CNN Photo/Video/Data essay has high-quality images and interviews.  Recommended.

“Frogs, coral, elephants — all are on the brink. Three quarters of species could disappear. Why is this happening? CNN explores an unprecedented global crisis.” –CNN (Continue:  The extinction crisis is far worse than you think)