Climate change is happening now – here’s eight things we can do to adapt

GR: The first four of these suggestions are for you to take to prepare for the challenges of climate change. You should recommend the last four suggestions to your government. (More on meeting the climate emergency.)

Donald Trump has rejected global leadership on the issue, so now it’s down to us as individuals to plan, and push through new policies change where we can.

Somalians fleeing drought fetch water at a camp in Doolow as humanitarian agencies warn that famine could affect 6.2 million peopl. Photograph: Xinhua/Barcroft Images

“If, like many of us, you have the sense that seasons are changing, winters are milder, summers a bit warmer, springs coming earlier, and autumns not quite what they used to be, you’d be right. According to a report released today by the United Nations, 2016 was the warmest year on record, breaking the record previously held by 2015, and before that by 2014. Having three years of record-breaking temperatures is a clear trend that the climate is changing.

Preparing for Climate Emergencies

1) “Make a plan; build a kit. Natural disasters are on the rise and are only projected to occur more frequently and be more intense thanks to climate change. Ensure you are prepared by having a plan for what you and your family will do in the case of a disaster. Then make a kit that has the supplies you’ll need to withstand and recover.

2) “Get to know your neighbours. In a disaster, government resources are likely to be strained. Building strong social networks, including within your own neighbourhood, can be an extremely effective way to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.

3) “Reduce your carbon footprint. Anything we can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will help slow down climate change. The mantra I use is that we must manage the unavoidable through adaptation, but avoid the unmanageable through mitigation.

4) “Call your legislators today, and every day. Demand that they preserve and advance domestic and international climate programmes, policies, and funding streams. Don’t take these programmes for granted.” –Missy Stults (Continue reading: Climate change is happening now – here’s eight things we can do to adapt to it | Missy Stults | Opinion | The Guardian).

Population: Current State and Future Prospects

GR:  This video (https://youtu.be/zEO8p5BudUc) has a great discussion of the current and future human population. Population growth is ruining the Earth. Learn why and what you can do about it in this video. (You can review United Nations’ interactive population charts here.) Recommended.

“World population size increased at a slow and uneven pace for centuries before the onset of the Industrial Revolution, and did not reach 1 billion until about 1800. The modern expansion of human numbers started then, but its pace was still modest for the next 150 years with the world total rising to 2.5 billion in 1950. During the second half of the 20th century, however, population growth rates accelerated to historically unprecedented levels, especially in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. As a result, world population size nearly tripled to 7.3 billion by 2015. This ongoing population expansion is expected to continue for several more decades reaching 11.2 billion at the end of this century. The future addition of four billion more people to the planet will have wide-ranging and potentially adverse implications for human welfare and the natural environment.

“This study consists of three parts. First, population trends for the world and its main regions will be summarized, including projections of population size, growth, fertility, mortality, urbanization and age distribution. The second part summarizes policy options in aging societies. The third part discusses the role of responsible parenthood in improving human welfare.

I. Population trends

Population size

“Long-range trends in population size typically show a logistic pattern. For much of human history, population growth was absent or very slow. In the more recent past, waves of countries have gone through socio-economic and demographic transitions. Countries’ population growth rates first accelerated, then declined, until population size leveled off at its likely maximum. This process is referred to as the demographic transition which usually takes place over the course of a century or more and is accompanied by a development process that transforms agricultural societies into industrial ones. Before the transition’s onset, population growth fluctuated near zero as high birth rates more or less offset the high death rates typical of traditional agrarian societies that preceded the industrial revolution. After the completion of the transition, population growth was again near zero as birth and death rates both reached low levels. During the intervening transition period, population growth was positive as the death rate dropped before the birth rate. Over the course of the transition, population size of countries multiplied many times.

“The first demographic transitions began in the early 19th century with declines in death rates in the now economically developed parts of the world (e.g., Europe, North America). Large declines in birth rates followed in the late 19th and early part of the 20th century. The transitions in these countries are now more or less complete.”

. . . .

The multi-sectoral impacts of family planning

When couples implement their own decisions about family size, their actions lead to a range benefits:

  1. Women’s empowerment: Women have greater freedom to determine the number and spacing of children and have more freedom to participate in the formal labor force and civic life;
  2. Health: The reduction in unintended pregnancies and the wider spacing of pregnancies reduce maternal mortality and morbidity and improve infant and child survival and health;
  3. Economy: A decline in unplanned births reduces the ratio of dependents to workers, raises investment in human capital, and leads to greater participation of women in the formal labor force. These trends are the cause of the demographic dividend (discussed earlier) which boosts GDP per capita and helps developing countries to accelerate poverty reduction;
  4. Government: Less pressure on education and health care sectors and on the country’s infrastructure (e.g. transportation, communication, energy, water and sanitation);
  5. Environment: Reduced pressure on natural resources on which peoples’ lives depend (fresh water, soil, forest, agriculture, energy, etc.) and reduces air, water, and soil pollution; and
  6. Social/Political stability: With a slower-growing youth population there is less competition for jobs and fewer unemployed youth, thus making political environments more stable.

Conclusion

Assisting couples to achieve their reproductive preferences is a compassionate act that promotes responsible parenthood and improves the lives of women, their children, and their communities, especially among the poor and most vulnerable sections of societies. The resulting decline in unplanned births also enhances prospects for poverty reduction and moderates the increasingly harmful impact of human activities on the natural environment.” –John Bongaarts (Continue reading:  Population: Current State and Future Prospects.)

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.
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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.

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.)