This is an excellent discussion of the causes of biodiversity loss. I highly recommend clicking through to the original article.
“Earth continues to hemorrhage biodiversity, according to the latest Living Planet Report. Unfortunately, its authors cannot manage a clear statement of how to stop the bleeding. “You could think of it as a health check for the planet,” says the World Wildlife Fund, introducing its most recent biennial Living Planet Report, “and a prescription for how to help it recover.” As in previous reports, the diagnosis is grim. Since 1970, for the 32,000 populations of 5200 vertebrate species surveyed, average numbers have declined by 69%. If these populations are representative (and there is no obvious reason to doubt they are), that means that for every 10 wild birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish on Earth in 1970, only 3 exist today. It is an almost unimaginable loss for such a short period. Read what the WWF should have said” Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere (MAHB).
The Primary Benefit of Biodiversity
Naturalists often warn that biodiversity loss is a greater danger to human civilization than climate change. They give a variety of reasons, but the most important is often overlooked. It is soil. Soil is the foundation for all life on Earth. Diverse ecosystems consistently armor the soil against erosion. If diversity declines, chinks appear and admit wind and rain that erode the soil.
More than 90% of the countries signing the Paris Climate Agreement have failed to meet their target emission reductions. Some countries, notably the U. S., have instead grown their emissions beyond the worst-case predictions.
The original goal was to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees celsius (2.7 degrees fahrenheit). However, national actions that would keep warming below 2 degrees celsius (3.6 degrees fahrenheit) were acceptable. Only three countries are on track to do either of these. Most are on the way to increases of 3 or 4 degrees celsius. Scientist fear that these higher increases will wipe out human civilization.
Government Inaction on the Mass Extinction of Wildlife
At the same time global warming is threatening humanity, global wildlife numbers are plummeting. This itself threatens the survival of human civilization even without the compounding effect of global warming. Under threat here is the soil, the foundation of life on Earth. And in the oceans, the delicate chemical and temperature balance that allows abundant marine life to exist.
As the majority of the world’s citizens become aware that both climate and extinction are in danger of spiraling out of control, there are growing efforts to direct our governments to take action. Since the time India separated from the British Empire, we have all known that peaceful demonstration and protest can force major changes. The Student Strike, the progressive politics embodied by the Green New Deal, and The Sunrise Movement are starting to have an impact on government policies. It is essential that these groups welcome and endorse the efforts of the Extinction Rebellion. It is essential that all of us take part in local demonstrations sponsored by these and other groups concerned with avoiding extinction.
Photo: Rupert Read
Here are the basic demands of the Extinction Rebellion. I expect these will be expanded in the months ahead:
These demands only represent XR US. They are still in the process of development.
That the Government must tell the truth about the climate and wider ecological emergency, it must reverse all policies not in alignment with that position and must work alongside the media to communicate the urgency for change including what individuals, communities and businesses need to do.
The Government must enact legally-binding policies to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and take further action to remove the excess of atmospheric greenhouse gases. It must cooperate internationally so that the global economy runs on no more than half a planet’s worth of resources per year.
We do not trust our Government to make the bold, swift and long-term changes necessary to achieve these changes and we do not intend to hand further power to our politicians. Instead we demand a Citizens’ Assembly to oversee the changes, as we rise from the wreckage, creating a democracy fit for purpose.
We demand a just transition that prioritizes the most vulnerable people and indigenous sovereignty; establishes reparations and remediation led by and for Black people, Indigenous people, people of color and poor communities for years of environmental injustice, establishes legal rights for ecosystems to thrive and regenerate in perpetuity, and repairs the effects of ongoing ecocide to prevent extinction of human and all species, in order to maintain a livable, just planet for all.
GR: Here’s an optimistic article that explains how to save the future of farming and control climate change. However, it requires that we act in the next five to ten years. The article calls for an overhaul of current farming practices and a return to the old ways before artificial fertilizers, pesticides, and corporate factory farms.
The need to return to sustainable methods is not in doubt. According to the United Nations, topsoil erosion caused by current farming and land-use methods will bring an end to most farming by 2070. However, switching back to the old ways would be difficult now that corporations control our governments. And even if it was possible, everyone needs to raise their eyes to the future where the human population reaches eleven billion and no amount of regeneration can save our natural ecosystems, wildlife, or civilization.
What can we do? In addition to fixing our farming methods, we need to reverse population growth, allocate half the Earth for nature, eradicate invasive species, stop generating greenhouse gases, clean up our polluted environment, recycle, stop eating meat, and get at least one hour of exercise every day. But no hurry, we have five to ten years to get ‘er done.
Despite my sardonicism, the article below is worth reading.
“A growing corps of organic, climate, environmental, social justice and peace activists are promoting a new world-changing paradigm that can potentially save us from global catastrophe. The name of this new paradigm and movement is regenerative agriculture, or more precisely regenerative food, farming and land use.
“Regenerative agriculture and land use incorporates the traditional and indigenous best practices of organic farming, animal husbandry and environmental conservation. Regeneration puts a central focus on improving soil health and fertility (recarbonizing the soil), increasing biodiversity, and qualitatively enhancing forest health, animal welfare, food nutrition and rural (especially small farmer) prosperity.
“The basic menu for a regeneration revolution is to unite the world’s 3 billion rural farmers, ranchers and herders with several billion health, environmental and justice-minded consumers to overturn “business as usual” and embark on a global campaign of cooperation, solidarity and regeneration.
“According to food activist Vandana Shiva, “Regenerative agriculture provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the health crisis, the climate crisis and the crisis of democracy.”So how can regenerative agriculture do all these things: increase soil fertility; maximize crop yields; draw down enough excess carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it in the soils, plants and trees to re-stabilize the climate and restore normal rainfall; increase soil water retention; make food more nutritious; reduce rural poverty; and begin to pacify the world’s hotspots of violence?” –Ken Roseboro (Continue reading: Beyond Organic: How Regenerative Farming Can Save Us From Global Catastrophe.)
Block Trump. Declare World War on Global Warming and Other Human Impacts on Nature
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.
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.
Even 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
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.
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:
GR: Yesterday I reported on the positive-feedback loop forming as global soils begin to warm and release greenhouse gasses. This article by Robert Scribbler lays out the catastrophic consequences of the feedback loop. The world’s scientists are beginning to shout that disaster is looming. However, greed has deafened the world’s leaders. The invader’s boats have reached our shores folks. He does not take prisoners.
“It’s fair to say we have passed the point of no return on global warming and we can’t reverse the effects, but certainly we can dampen them,” said biodiversity expert Dr. Thomas Crowther.
“I’m an optimist and still believe that it is not too late, but we urgently need to develop a global economy driven by sustainable energy sources and start using CO2, as a substrate, instead of a waste product.” — Prof Ivan Janssens, recognized as a godfather of the global ecology field.
“…we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity. We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it… we only have one planet, and we need to work together to protect it.” — Professor Stephen Hawking yesterday in The Guardian.
“The pathway for preventing catastrophic climate change just got a whole hell of a lot narrower.” –Robert Scribbler
“For according to new, conservative estimates in a scientific study led by Dr. Thomas Crowther, increasing soil respiration alone is about to add between 0.45 and 0.71 parts per million of CO2 to the atmosphere every year between now and 2050.
(Thomas Crowther explains why rapidly reducing human greenhouse gas emissions is so important. Namely, you want to do everything you can to avoid a runaway into a hothouse environment that essentially occurs over just one Century. Video source: Netherlands Institute of Ecology.)
GR: The potential for runaway global warming is growing. This is an important article that we shouldn’t ignored. Of course, one might argue that when you are chained across the railroad tracks, you might as well ignore the approaching train. If that’s where we are, perhaps its time for the Champaign.
“At a time when a huge pulse of uncertainty has been injected into the global project to stop the planet’s warming, scientists have just raised the stakes even further.
“In a massive new study published Wednesday in the influential journal Nature, no less than 50 authors from around the world document a so-called climate system “feedback” that, they say, could make global warming considerably worse over the coming decades.
“That feedback involves the planet’s soils, which are a massive repository of carbon due to the plants and roots that have grown and died in them, in many cases over vast time periods (plants pull in carbon from the air through photosynthesis and use it to fuel their growth). It has long been feared that as warming increases, the microorganisms living in these soils would respond by very naturally upping their rate of respiration, a process that in turn releases carbon dioxide or methane, leading greenhouse gases.
“It’s this concern that the new study validates. “Our analysis provides empirical support for the long-held concern that rising temperatures stimulate the loss of soil C to the atmosphere, driving a positive land C–climate feedback that could accelerate planetary warming over the twenty-first century,” the paper reports.
Robert McSweeney, 13.06.2016: The top metre of the world’s soils contains three times as much carbon as the entire atmosphere. This means that losing carbon from the soil can quicken the pace of human-caused climate warming.
A new paper, published today in Nature Geoscience, finds this is already happening in the forests of the German Alps. Soils there are losing carbon as summer temperatures rise, the researchers say.
GR: Carbon storage in soils equates to fertility. Over most of the Earth’s land surfaces, grazing and farming lead to loss of topsoil, the upper soil layer that holds the carbon. It will be very difficult to improve the current wasteful practices since the growing human population is urgently demanding more meat and potatoes. Unlike disaster movies with a positive conclusion, our waste of the soil will lead to a bad ending. Unlike the alien invaders in the movie Independence Day, we humans cannot move on when our resources are exhausted.
Study quantifies climate benefits of sustainable land use
Switching to more sustainable forms of land use management could significantly boost the carbon-storing capacity of the planet’s soils — by up to 8 billion tons of greenhouse gases, scientists reported in a new study. Previous research shows that soils currently lock away around 2.4 trillion tonnes of greenhouse gases, which are stored underground as stable organic matter.
The measures identified by the researchers include growing crops with deeper root systems and using charcoal-based composts. Widespread adoption sustainable land use practices and and application of best available technologies could help soils store up to 80 percent of greenhouse gases released by fossil fuel combustion, the researchers calculated.
Healthy soil may play a huge role in mitigating global warming and helping us adapt to it. From: www.huffingtonpost.com
GR: Healthy soil contains a rich array of microorganisms that are adapted to the site and to the plants and animals growing on the soil. Healthy soil blocks weed invasions, reduces flooding by absorbing precipitation, and produces the most plant growth. Centuries of farming and livestock grazing have destroyed most soils. Cows compact the soil, break up the essential surface and subsurface biological crusts. Flooding increases and carries with it the finest soil, the topsoil. Researchers have learned that it takes decades and even a century for damaged soils to recover. I know of no places that gauge their rest-rotation cycles in decades. However, that is what is required to restore the soil. We must begin now restoring our soils. It’s too late to block climate change, but healthy soil is essential if we hope one day to have healthy ecosystems again.