Bat-killing fungus spreads to Texas – Summit County Citizens Voice

GR: This is sad news for our flying furry friends. The lethal fungus is spreading west across North America. It hasn’t been found in Arizona yet, but we have some of the susceptible species.

“A fungal pathogen that has wiped out bat populations across the eastern third of the U.S. has now been found in Texas, according to state wildlife officials, who documented the fungus for the first time on two new bat species: the cave myotis and a western subspecies of Townsend’s big-eared bat.

“White-nose fungus first emerged in 2006 in New York and his since spread into 30 states and killed at least 5.5 million bats. Wildlife conservation advocates said the recent announcement from is a biological disaster, considering the potential risks to huge, world-famous bat colonies that thrive in unique cave ecosystems in the state.” –Summit County Citizens Voice (Continue reading: Bat-killing fungus spreads to Texas – Summit County Citizens Voice.)

On Nature Conservation

Defining Nature Conservation

Wild animals live in constant peril from weather, predators, and competitors. Their plight evokes sympathy and is the most common spur that goads me into action.  I agree with Aldo Leopold who concluded that survival of life on earth requires that humans accept that they are no more important than any other species.

Sand_county_almanac cover[A] land ethic changes the role of Homo Sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.”  Aldo Leopold, 1949.

Not bad.  “Earth ethic” would indicate the shared importance of life in the oceans and on land. This ethic should encompass air, animals, plants, rivers, rocks, and sea.  It seems to me that, at the time of his death, Leopold hadn’t yet fleshed out his ethics ideas. He hadn’t seen human impacts reach the catastrophic level we see today.  Were he living now, Leopold would most likely be a leading conservation activist.

Few people accept Leopold’s conclusion.  Most of our conservation ideas and practices developed while the needs and impacts of the human population were small compared to the extent and productivity of natural ecosystems. Climate change and other human impacts show that nature is limited.  However, it is difficult for most people to shift their view to include equality for other species. Few can give up the comfort and convenience that often comes at the expense of other species whose lives we take in order to benefit our own.

But look what’s happening. The past decade’s droughts, storms, and spreading deserts show that humanity is changing the Earth. Research coming from many sources shows that worldwide animal extinctions are occurring 100 times faster than in Earth’s previous mass-extinction events recorded in the fossil record.

Extinction isn’t the only concern. Total loss of a species results after years of decline. In 2014, the World Wildlife Fund, the Zoological Society of London, and other organizations carried out an extensive analysis of more than 10,000 wildlife studies. The analysis reached a stunning conclusion: The total number of animals on Earth has declined by more than 50% since 1970.

animal-declinesThis figure illustrates the findings of the World Wildlife Fund (2014) that, from 1970 to 2010, we lost 52% of all animals on Earth. The 2016 WWF report showed that in 2012, the decline reached 57%. Biologists predict it will reach 67% by 2020. The cause? Massive overpopulation by humans and their unsustainable overuse of space and resources.

A look at two sympathetic attitudes toward animals might help understand the different views of nature conservation.  Leopold’s approach aligns with the Rights Position, and traditional conservation aligns with the Welfare Position.

f0268080-8c59-44bc-95ba-3dca72f8c60c.jpgFuture of Nature Conservation

Having followed the news and events of the past decade, I have adopted a cautiously pessimistic attitude toward nature conservation. Nature conservation was humanity’s

polluted-water

Lake Karachay, Russia, has been used by the Soviet Union to dump nuclear waste for years now. The lake has several times the allowed pollutant, and 1 hour of exposure is said to be fatal to everyone (photo from lolwot.com).

great challenge for the Twentieth Century. Nineteenth Century naturalists warned about the environmental damage humans were doing (Andrea Wulff–The Invention of Nature). At the start of the Twentieth Century conservationists like U. S. President Teddy Roosevelt began setting up protective government agencies such as the National Park Service, Forest Service, and others. The Dust Bowl raised awareness of the need for conservation among farmers and schoolchildren everywhere. However, in spite of public concern, we were never able to control the ‘progress’ that inch by inch was converting nature into profits. Farmers, grazers, and loggers eroded the soils, consumed the grasslands, and cut the forests. As these enterprises grew, most of us moved to the cities and abandoned nature to for-profit businesses. Nature conservation faded from common knowledge. We are on our way to destroying most if not all of life on Earth.

With no effective controls over our population and resource use, I believe human extinction is a real possibility. A major war or disease might slow our devastation of the planet, but the only effective inhibitors of our steady destruction of nature are themselves global killers. The most likely are a great solar flare, a massive meteor, and of course, human-caused climate change. The last one, climate change, is a sure bet unless we treat it like the emergency it is and combat it with all of our resources. Our surrender to progress and profit has locked us into a global-warming cycle that will extinguish us and most other species unless we get busy and solve the problem. If we don’t, our grandchildren will inherit an impoverished world on its way toward a complete loss of human civilization.

One ray of hope comes from the predicted intensification of weather extremes. Growing storms, floods, and fires may soon force our leaders to get serious about stopping climate change. Let’s hope, and while we’re hoping, let’s work to limit progress and profit however we can.

Garry Rogers Nature Conservation Articles

Political Platform for Nature-Conservation

Nature Conservation Platform

We must apply much more effort to conservation if we want to keep the benefits we derive from natural ecosystems. We need leaders that can promote activities that improve living conditions and guarantee long-term benefits from nature.

Children playing outdoors.

Children playing outdoors.

Political platforms usually emphasize human social and economic equality. The Justice Democrats platform is an example that lays out a set of goals for leaders focused on human society. It includes climate change. Here are the nature-conservation goals I recommend we add to political platforms.

I’ve listed subjects and actions in rough order of priority. I don’t think the first items are more important than the ones that follow. They are first because the emergency conditions we’ve created require that we act on them immediately.

  1. Global warming. Make an immediate switch to renewable energy. This is part of the Justice Democrats platform, but the best statement is in the Our Revolution platform. I’m repeating the item because it deserves emphasis (climate-change*).
  2. Population. Make knowledge and technology for family planning free or inexpensive worldwide (population).
  3. Habitat Loss. Stop ecosystem destruction resulting from these human activities: construction, farming, spreading invasive species, mining, releasing toxic wastes, and water diversion (construction, farming, invasive species, mining, pollution, water).
  4. Sustainability. End fishing, grazing, and logging harvests that take more than natural processes produce (deforestation, desertification, fishing, forestry, hunting, livestock grazing, logging, soil erosion).
  5. Equality. Respect the right of sentient beings to live wild and free according to their natural instincts (animal cruelty, animal rights, sentient beings, wildlife)
  6. Restore. Restore and set aside half the Earth’s lands and seas for wild plants and animals (ecological restoration, half for nature).
    *Search terms for information and discussions on this website. The most recent search results will appear at the top of the list.
ea090e6c-3765-4e6a-be9a-2a1ffc4d54a6

Destroying the land for material that will destroy the air.

Conservationists, land managers, wildlife biologists, and educators will see nothing new here. We have years of observations, research, and experimentation on each of these topics. It is time to start full-scale application of what we’ve learned. For this, we need dedicated leaders that understand the value of watersheds, soils, pollinators, and ecosystems. We need leaders who recognize that we are in the midst of both a climate and an extinction crisis. We need leaders who are convinced that humanity cannot survive without healthy ecosystems.

Conditions are in flux. I would be delighted to have your suggestions and questions.  Thanks.

United Nations Tackles Ocean Plastic Pollution

GR:  There is growing realization that waste plastics including everything from packaging to the microfiber fabrics used in clothing, are harming wild plants and animals. An earlier petition campaign and many other reports have finally been heard. It’s good to see the UN tackling the problem.

un-env-leader-erik-solheim

Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment

“BALI, Indonesia, February 26, 2017 (ENS) – An unprecedented global campaign to eliminate major sources of marine litter within five years was launched this week by UN Environment, the United Nations agency formerly known as UNEP. The campaign is targeting microplastics in cosmetics and single-use plastics such as straws, bags and packaging materials.

SolheimUN Environment chief Erik Solheim of Norway (Photo courtesy World Bank)

“It is past time that we tackle the plastic problem that blights our oceans, said Erik Solheim of Norway, the former Norwegian environment and development minister who now heads UN Environment. “Plastic pollution is surfing onto Indonesian beaches, settling onto the ocean floor at the North Pole, and rising through the food chain onto our dinner tables. We’ve stood by too long as the problem has gotten worse. It must stop.”

“Introduced at the Economist World Ocean Summit in Bali, the UN’s new #CleanSeas campaign is urging governments to adopt plastic reduction policies.

“Ten countries have already joined the campaign with far-reaching pledges to turn the plastic tide.

“Indonesia has committed to slash its marine litter by a massive 70 percent by 2025.

“Uruguay will tax single-use plastic bags later this year, and Costa Rica will take measures to reduce single-use plastic through better waste management and education.

“The campaign is targeting industry with the message that it’s important to minimize plastic packaging and redesign products, and is calling on consumers to change their throwaway habits before irreversible damage is done to the oceans.

This Laysan albatross died from dehydration or starvation after swallowing plastics at sea. Laysan is one of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific Ocean. On nearby Midway Atoll, some 200,000 albatross chicks die each year from consuming plastics that block or perforate the stomach, esophagus or gizzard. (Photo by Duncan)

“Each year, more than eight million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans, wreaking havoc on marine wildlife, fisheries and tourism, and costing at least $8 billion in damage to marine ecosystems. Up to 80 percent of all litter in the oceans is made of plastic – items such as plastic bottles, bags and cups.” –Environmental News Service (Continue reading:  – UN Campaigns to ‘Turn the Tide’ on Ocean Plastics | ENS.)