Hedgehogs now a rare garden sight as British populations continue to decline

GR: Worth noting that even in developed countries with slowing population growth, wildlife decline continues. In Britain, many people do small things to make their gardens more wildlife friendly. However, habitat loss and farming continue to cut carrying capacity for most wildlife species. Hedgehog and other species’ declines are accelerating, suggesting that many wildlife populations are no longer self-sustaining and are falling toward extinction. The Guardian story below includes ideas and links for steps to take to support wildlife. Unfortunately, it does not mention the big step, human population control. Without drastic efforts to cut our needs and begin returning the land and seas to their natural state, most of Earth’s wildlife species will disappear (more on human population impact).

Britain’s hedgehog population has dropped from an estimated 30 million in the 1950s to fewer than one million today. Photograph: Rebecca Cole/Alamy

“The plight of the hedgehog in Britain appears to be worsening, with a new survey revealing a further decline in garden sightings.

“The spiky creature was once a common sight, with the population estimated at 30 million in the 1950s. But that has plummeted to fewer than one million today, with a third of this loss thought to have taken place in the past decade.

“The latest survey, conducted with more than 2,600 people by BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, found that 51% of people did not see a hedgehog at all in 2016, up from 48% in 2015. Just 12% saw a hedgehog regularly.

“The poll’s result is in line with an in-depth analysis in 2015 by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species which found urban populations of hedgehogs had fallen by up to a third since 2000 and rural populations had declined by at least a half. Results from a citizen science survey run by the RSPB in June 2016 also revealed a falling number of sightings.

“The decline is not entirely understood but the main factors are thought to be the loss of their habitat in Britain’s towns and countryside – where farming has intensified – as well as road deaths. The fragmentation of habitat is also a problem as hedgehogs roam up to a mile every night to look for food and mates. A possible rise in badger numbers, which can eat hedgehogs, has also been suggested as a possible cause.” –Damian Carrington (More: Hedgehogs now a rare garden sight as British populations continue to decline | Environment | The Guardian.)

We are destroying rainforests so quickly they may be gone in 100 years

GR:  Deforestation is a major cause of climate change and of biodiversity decline, extinction of amphibians, arthropods, birds, mammals, and reptiles. Economists and agritechnologists talk of reversing it now, but even in the U. S., forest harvest continues. In poorer countries, the immediate needs for cash and land for crops is not going to end with the advent of more productive crops and efficient farming methods. Such symptom treatments will not end deforestation. It will not stop until we reverse human population growth. Of course, reducing need isn’t the only problem, we might also have to control our greed, a much more difficult task.

Likouala-aux-Herbes river near in Congo-Brazzaville. The Congo Basin is the world’s second largest tropical forest. Photograph: Hope Productions/Yann Arthus Bertrand / Getty Images

“If you want to see the world’s climate changing, fly over a tropical country. Thirty years ago, a wide belt of rainforest circled the earth, covering much of Latin America, south-east Asia and Africa. Today, it is being rapidly replaced by great swathes of palm oil trees and rubber plantations, land cleared for cattle grazing, soya farming, expanding cities, dams and logging.

Rainforests are home to more than half of the world’s animals. Photograph: Getty Images

“People have been deforesting the tropics for thousands of years for timber and farming, but now, nothing less than the physical transformation of the Earth is taking place. Every year about 18m hectares of forest – an area the size of England and Wales – is felled. In just 40 years, possibly 1bn hectares, the equivalent of Europe, has gone. Half the world’s rainforests have been razed in a century, and the latest satellite analysis shows that in the last 15 years new hotspots have emerged from Cambodia to Liberia. At current rates, they will vanish altogether in 100 years.

About 12% of all man-made climate emissions now comes from deforestation, mostly in tropical areas

A logging mill in the Amazon Basin, Peru. Photograph: Jason Edwards/Getty Images/National Geographic Magazines

“As fast as the trees go, the chance of slowing or reversing climate change becomes slimmer. Tropical deforestation causes carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, to linger in the atmosphere and trap solar radiation. This raises temperatures and leads to climate change: deforestation in Latin America, Asia and Africa can affect rainfall and weather everywhere from the US Midwest, to Europe and China.

“The consensus of the world’s atmospheric scientists is that about 12% of all man-made climate emissions – nearly as much as the world’s 1.2bn cars and lorries – now comes from deforestation, mostly in tropical areas. Conserving forests is critical; the carbon locked up in Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 150m hectares of forests are nearly three times the world’s global annual emissions.” –John Vidal (Continue reading:  We are destroying rainforests so quickly they may be gone in 100 years | John Vidal | Global Development Professionals Network | The Guardian.)

Bird species vanish from UK due to climate change and habitat loss

GR:  Human population growth, conversion of land to farms and cities, and rising temperatures are driving most species toward extinction. Naturalists are observing sinking populations around the world. As more populations reach zero, extinctions accelerate and will be roaring along by century end. They will not slow until only the most adaptable (weed) species remain. The progress of wildlife loss will eventually begin to cause human population decline. Whether or not our species escapes extinction in the centuries ahead, depends on rapid reversal of population growth and elimination of fossil fuel use. Such turns of events seem unlikely as the enormous wealth of the fossil-fuel companies and the owners of our industry and distribution systems have enthralled our leaders. So call or write your congressmen today. Let them know you will support them if they turn away from wealth and accept their responsibility to lead.

A family of willow warblers at a summer nest site in Scotland. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

“Climate change has already led to the vanishing of some bird species in parts of England, where intensively farmed land gives them no room to adapt to warming temperatures. The revelation, in a new scientific study, contradicts previous suggestions that birds are tracking global warming by shifting their ranges.

Meadow pipit have disappeared from sites in the south of England. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

“The research found that birds that prefer cooler climes, such as meadow pipits, willow tits and willow warblers, have disappeared from sites in south-east England and East Anglia, where intensive crop growing is common.

Meadow pipits, willow tits and willow warblers have disappeared from sites in East Anglia due to crop farming. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

“Birds are facing a double-edged sword from climate change and declines in habitat quality,” said Tom Oliver, at the University of Reading, who led the new study. “In England, birds really look like they are struggling to cope with climate change. They are already being hit with long-term reductions in habitat quality and, for the cold-associated birds, those losses are being further exacerbated by climate change.” (Continue reading: Bird species vanish from UK due to climate change and habitat loss | Environment | The Guardian)

Help Save the World

Block Trump. Declare World War on Global Warming and Other Human Impacts on Nature

Our Problem

desert-earth

Earth could join Mars as a dry, lifeless derelict.

Scientists report that growth and spread of humanity together with rising global temperature are causing declining biodiversity, rising seas, growing storms, intensifying drought, spreading disease, and much more. The reports, made by observers all over the world, are like the thunder ahead of a storm that threatens the safety of our families, our friends, our civilization, and all life on our planet. We know it’s coming. Without a massive effort by the people of the world, the storm will grow until terrible destruction ruins our planet. We and all other life may be lost.

Donald Trump’s pre-inauguration statements and cabinet choices make it clear that he will add to global warming and every other negative human impact on Earth.

The Earth continues turning, but if we don’t exert some self-discipline there might one day be no minds that know or eyes that see.

 

Global warming and human population growth are the destructors. They are greater even than fear, hate, and desire;

Together, they threaten humanity and all life on Earth.

Polls show that sixty-four percent of Americans believe global warming is occurring. The number is growing. When the first distant rumbles occurred, we said, “Ah, it might help if we quit burning so much coal, oil, and gas.” Later we said, “Hmm, maybe we need to quit clearing so much land for cities and farms.” And as the danger loomed, we added to the list of things we should do. But we haven’t done much, and the danger has arrived. We are even beginning to realize that the coming storm might be self-sustaining. Global warming might have passed the point at which we can stop it. Seas and soils are warming and releasing their stores of carbon, and the great glaciers are melting and exposing open water. Warming might continue even if we halt all burning and building.

Why War?

Global Warming is at the brink and looking down the slip face of runaway self-sustaining increase beyond our control. The research shows that global warming is already rotting organic matter stored in the tundra and on the ocean floor. Global warming is increasing evaporation and humidity. Global warming is causing soil microbes to release carbon. Methane (CH4), water vapor (H2O), and soil carbon (C in various forms) are joining carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning and are all working together to trap more of the incoming solar energy. The buildup of these gases appears to have taken us past the point at which we can prevent the great storms, droughts, and rising seas. By adding CH4 and H2O to CO2, we are unleashing an exponential spiral that will end human civilization in decades, not centuries. And not far beyond that, end all life on Earth.

overpopulationEven if there was no greenhouse gas and global warming, the spreading human population will eventually wipe out most life on Earth. Already, more than half of all animals are gone, replaced by humans. Family planning, like cutting greenhouse gas, has become an emergency requirement for sustaining life on Earth.

I can’t quite bring myself to believe that our civilization will end within decades. I still believe that we could stop global warming if we make a total effort.

Saving the Earth–The Citizens’ Call Campaign

The Citizens

Sixty-four percent of U.S. adults say they are worried a “great deal” or “fair amount” about global warming. The U. S. adult population totals 242+ million (over age 18). Sixty-four percent equals 154+ million.

The Actions

For those with concern for the future of society and their children, I find it intolerable to say that we must wait and see what happens. Instead, I have a proposal for action:

Leadership in the U. S. and most other nations is not responding to the growing human impact and the global warming threat. I propose that we declare a citizens’ war on the behaviors causing the impacts and threats. We can begin by forcing our elected leaders and our business leaders to organize and lead the war on warming and population growth. We need their help to convert the world’s industries, economies, and societies to the needed total effort to save Earth and us.

Other thinkers are saying the same thing. Here’s Michael Moore’s action plan:

And here is a list of more actions we can take.

Our local action group is forming now and will try to make visits to some of our representatives next week.

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)

National Lakes Assessment 2012 Key Findings | National Aquatic Resource Surveys | US EPA

GR:  In a new report, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency says that 40% of American lakes are polluted, and the situation is getting worse.  The EPA blames “nutrient pollution,” but I’ll be more clear:  The principal cause of American freshwater pollution is farming and the excess fertilizer that washes off the fields or soaks into the ground water. The photo below is from one of my ponds that has excess nitrogen that is probably from the nearby farm.

Algae Bloom BackgroundPeople can avoid harmful effects of polluted water by staying out of the water, by not eating fish from the water, and by not drinking unfiltered water. Wildlife does not have these options. Animal species that spend all or part of their time in water are leading the way down to extinction. Yay humans!

“Lakes and reservoirs provide many environmental, economic, and public health benefits. We use lakes for drinking water, energy production, food and recreation. Fish, birds and other wildlife rely on them for habitat and survival. In the National Lakes Assessment (NLA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its partners surveyed a wide array of lakes representative of those found in the U.S., from small ponds and prairie potholes to large lakes and reservoirs. The NLA is part of the National Aquatic Resource Surveys, a series of statistically-based assessments designed to provide the public and decision-makers with nationally consistent and representative information on the condition of the nation’s waters.”  (Continue reading:  National Lakes Assessment 2012 Key Findings | National Aquatic Resource Surveys | US EPA

Nitrogen pollution: the forgotten element of climate change

GR:  Living downstream from an active farm, I have witnessed the deadly impact of nitrogen fertilizer runoff first hand (more here). The authors of the article below point out that global warming will increase the need for nitrogen fertilizer which itself fuels global warming–giving us another nasty positive feedback loop. Increasing nitrogen use in food production gives us another reason to focus on family planning and population reduction while we might still control the process.

“While carbon pollution gets all the headlines for its role in climate change, nitrogen pollution is arguably a more challenging problem. Somehow we need to grow more food to feed an expanding population while minimising the problems associated with nitrogen fertiliser use.

“In Europe alone, the environmental and human health costs of nitrogen pollution are estimated to be 70 to 320 billion euros per year.

Food & Agriculture – Green beans: why pulses are the eco-friendly option for feeding – and saving – the world. Read now.

“Nitrogen emissions such as ammonia, nitrogen oxide and nitrous oxides contribute to particulate matter and acid rain. These cause respiratory problems and cancers for people and damage to forests and buildings.

“Nitrogenous gases also play an important role in global climate change. Nitrous oxide is a particularly potent greenhouse gas as it is over 300 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

“Nitrogen from fertiliser, effluent from livestock and human sewage boost the growth of algae and cause water pollution. The estimated A$8.2 billion damage bill to the Great Barrier Reef is a reminder that our choices on land have big impacts on land, water and the air downstream.” Ee Ling Ng and Deli Chen, Robert Edis (Continue: Nitrogen pollution: the forgotten element of climate change | Asia Pacific)

We can no longer ignore the damage factory meat production is causing to our drinking water

GR:  With meat demand rising, biodiversity sinking, and water resources disappearing, it’s time to quit eating meat.

“In London, back in 2013, the world’s first stem cell burger was tasted by its inventor and two volunteers in front of more than 200 journalists and guests. This burger was made from ‘cultured beef,’ which is grown in Petrie dishes using the stem cells of a cow. It was grown in three months and took a budget of $330,000. Lab-grown beef might seem like a pretty creepy, science fiction, futuristic-like project, but Dr. Mark Post of Maastricht University didn’t make his burger just for fun. He also didn’t do it to give the world’s vegans and vegetarians another option.

“Dr. Post was thinking about our inevitable future as a species. His cultured beef burger is meant to serve as a logical solution to the world’s addiction to factory-grown meat, which is about to reach its peak. The way we produce meat globally is unsustainable and posing a serious risk to our water, our air, our health and the possibility that humans will continue to remain a living species on this planet in the near future.

“Humans slaughter 3 billion animals worldwide for meat. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations expects global meat consumption to rise by about 73% by 2050 to accommodate the 9.1 billion people who will be attempting to live on planet Earth at that point. However, the chances that humans will even be a thing in 2050 are looking pretty grim, and a big reason for that is our large-scale factory farming industry.

“Agricultural pollution is the largest source of water pollution in the world. Animals who are raised for food, in a confined space, consume more feed, and therefore, create more waste. According to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, confined livestock generate 450 million tons of manure each year — that’s three times the amount of waste that American humans generate.

“Because everything is covered in raw shit at a factory farm, more water is required to wash it away. One hundred and fifty gallons of water, in fact. Per cow. Per freaking day. That’s a serious amount of clean water, especially when you consider that one cow is being slaughtered every 30 seconds at many of these operations. And it usually takes them 6 months to reach a typical ‘market weight’ of 1,200 pounds. So that’s about 13,500 gallons of water per the life of an average doomed cow — and that’s just to clean the place.” –Emma Thieme

Source: We can no longer ignore the damage factory meat production is causing to our drinking water – Matador Network

Chile’s Salmon Industry Using Record Levels of Antibiotics to Combat Bacterial Outbreak

GR.–The first superbug resistant to all our antibiotics was reported last month.  I haven’t heard if the thing has begun to spread.  Just as pesticide resistant weeds and insects require steady increases in pesticide applications, so antibiotic resistance requires more and more investment in antibiotic research.  Now, we are behind on antibiotic development.

The antibiotic issue is just one of the growing problems with the large factory farms needed to feed our growing population.  As with the “leave it in the ground” call for fossil fuels, we need a “leave it in the pants” call for population control.

Lorraine Chow.–“The Chilean salmon industry’s rampant use of antibiotics is once again under the microscope after a new report revealed that salmon producers are using record levels of the drugs to treat stocks suffering from salmonid rickettsial septicemia (SRS).

“Following a Chile Appeals Court order, the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service (Sernapesca) revealed that the country’s salmon producers used 557 tonnes of antibiotics in 2015, with consumption rate per tonne of salmon reaching its highest point in the last nine years at 660 grams per tonne. The previous high was 640 grams per tonne in 2007. Usage was as low as 310 grams per tonne in 2010, Undercurrent News noted. The newest figures were compiled from 46 companies that operate in both freshwater and sea water.

“SRS, or piscirickettsiosis, causes lesions, hemorrhaging and swollen kidneys and spleens in the salmon, and can ultimately lead to death. Chilean farmers have used ever-increasing amounts of antibiotics to try and keep their stocks healthy.

“However, concerns over drug-resistant superbugs are driving away American consumers and retailers who seek antibiotic-free products. Last year, Costco spurned the South American country’s farmed salmon, opting instead for farmed salmon from Norway, whose farmers use far less antibiotics.”  Continue reading:  Chile’s Salmon Industry Using Record Levels of Antibiotics to Combat Bacterial Outbreak

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Climate Impacts From Farming Are Getting Worse | Climate Central

By John Upton.–  “As signs emerge that the global energy sector is beginning to rein in what once had been unbridled levels of climate-changing pollution, new United Nations figures show pollution from farming is continuing to get worse.

“Greenhouse gases released from the growing of crops and livestock directly increased by a little more than 1 percent in 2014, compared with a year prior, the newly updated data shows.

“Burning fossil fuels for energy grew by about half that amount during the same period, research published in December showed, with further reductions anticipated for 2015. That’s seen as a key first step toward achieving the vast pollution reductions needed to start to stabilize the climate.

“Historically, it’s been the opposite — fossil fuel emissions have grown exponentially and agricultural emissions have grown linearly,” said Francesco Tubiello, a team leader in the statistics division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which compiles the data.

“The new U.N. figures do not include greenhouse gas impacts from deforestation or other clearing of land to make space for farms, which are slowly being reduced overall.”  Continue reading:  Climate Impacts From Farming Are Getting Worse | Climate Central

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