Disastrous 2016 shows British butterflies are ‘failing to cope’ with climate change

GR: Butterflies and other pollinators seem to be in steep decline around my home in Dewey-Humboldt, Yavapai County, Arizona. Monarch, Morning Cloak, and Swallowtail numbers shrank over the past few drought years. Part of the explanation for butterfly decline here, as in Britain is pesticide use and habitat loss. However, global warming with its rising temperature, droughts, and storms, is probably becoming as important. We just had wet winter, and I hope that this summer and next spring butterfly numbers will rebound.

Butterflies are like the canary in the coal mine. If they die, are we in danger too?

Tiger Swallowtail

Two-tailed Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio multicaudata) Arizona’s butterfly.

In Britain: “Butterflies are “failing to cope” with climate change and the pollution of the British countryside, experts have warned after a disastrous year saw population declines in 40 out of 57 species.

“The UK Butterfly Monitoring Survey found it had been the fourth-worst year overall with six species – the heath fritillary, grizzled skipper, wall, grayling, white-letter hairstreak and white admiral – all suffering their most dramatic declines in the 41 years since records began.

“Sixteen species saw increases with one remaining about the same, the annual survey found. But Professor Tom Brereton, head of monitoring at Butterfly Conservation, said the results showed that the insects were in trouble.” –Ian Johnston (Continue reading: Disastrous 2016 shows butterflies are ‘failing to cope’ with climate change | The Independent.)

A Survey of the “War on Wildlife”: How Conflict Affects Conservation

GR: Conflicts should perhaps be included in the list of the top nature destroying human activities. This gives us construction and farming, global warming, invasive species, pesticides and toxic wastes, soil erosion, resource harvesting (deforestation, fishing, and hunting), and conflict. As global warming advances, conflict will probably move up in the list.

“Over the last 60 years, more than two-thirds of the world’s remaining biodiversity hotspots have experienced armed conflict. The effects have been myriad, from destruction as a result of military tactics to indirect socioeconomic and political changes, like human migration and displacement. This so-called “war on wildlife” has important implications for conservation and peacebuilding efforts, according to a recent literature review published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.“

“Through armed conflict, global socioeconomic and political dynamics can ultimately threaten local animal populations and the vulnerable human communities that rely on their services,” said Kaitlyn Gaynor, lead author of the study, via email.

“The paper, a collaboration between natural and social scientists at the University of California-Berkeley, categorizes 144 case studies around the world that illustrate direct or indirect links between armed conflict and critical wildlife populations, from African elephants in Angola to mountain gorillas in Rwanda.

“The results of the literature review show a clear trend towards “non-tactical” pathways of conflict affecting wildlife more than tactical. Non-tactical pathways include changing institutional dynamics (83 cases), movements of people (81 cases), and altered economies (84 cases).” –Bethany N. Bella (Continue: A Survey of the “War on Wildlife”: How Conflict Affects Conservation.)

Farm Policy in Age of Climate Change Creating Another Dust Bowl, Critics Say | InsideClimate News

GR: Most farmers and ranchers don’t preserve the land. They sacrifice soil and long-term productivity for profit or food. We have to give up the common belief that those closest to the land give high priority to the land’s health. Farmers and ranchers may understand the harm they cause, but opportunities and pressures keep them from sustainable use of the land. Examples from huge corporate farms and the small fields of indigenous people indicate irresponsible behavior dominates across a spectrum of objectives and imperatives. In general, the ‘grow or die’ mentality of contemporary businesses dictates corporate behavior, and social competition and the pressure of the growing population’s need for food dictate indigenous behavior.

The story below shows how desire for profit is destroying the land in America.

Farm policy critics say the latest Farm Bill is helping turn widespread drought into another Dust Bowl. Credit: Getty Images

“The last Farm Bill contained incentives for farmers to keep planting on degraded land, setting up potential environmental catastrophe.

“Over the past decade, farmers in the Great Southern Plains have suffered the worst drought conditions since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. They’ve battled heat, dust storms and in recent weeks, fires that devoured more than 900,000 acres and killed thousands of cattle.

“These extreme conditions are being fueled by climate change. But a new report from an environmental advocacy group says they’re also being driven by federal crop insurance policy that encourages farmers to continue planting crops on compromised land, year after year.

“Dust bowl conditions are coming back. Drought is back. Dust storms are back. All the climate models show the weather getting worse,” said Craig Cox of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which released the report Wednesday. “You’d think the imperative would be on adaptation, so we don’t make the same mistakes we did back in the 1930s.” –Inside Climate News (Continue reading: Farm Policy in Age of Climate Change Creating Another Dust Bowl, Critics Say | InsideClimate News.)

Breaching environmental boundaries: UN report on resource limits

GR:  This is a thoughtful assessment of the problems with development goals that seek to raise everyone to the living standards of the United States and European Union.  Though the article brings the problems into clear perspective, I think it is already clear to most people that we can’t extract enough resources to meet the perceived need for high levels of material wealth held by Earth’s growing human population.  Cultural and social expectations need to change radically if we are reduce our population and our material consumption to truly sustainable levels.

Coal Mines at the source of the Yellow River, China

“This summer, the United Nations International Resource Panel (IRP), published ‘Global Material Flows and Resource Productivity’, a report that admits what ecologists have been saying for decades: resources are limited, human consumption trends are unsustainable and resource depletion diminishes human health, quality of life and future development.

“The report shows that consumption of Earth’s primary resources (metals, fuels, timber, cereals and so forth) has tripled in the last 40 years, driven by population growth (increasing at about 1.1% per year), economic growth (averaging about 3% per year over the same period) and consumption per person, worldwide.

“Economic growth has helped lift some regions from poverty and created more middle-class consumers, while enriching the wealthiest nations the most. The UN report acknowledges, however, that advances in human well-being have been achieved through consumption patterns that are “not sustainable” and that will “ultimately deplete the resources − causing shortages [and] conflict”.

“In 1970 — when ecologists in Canada founded Greenpeace and Club of Rome scholars prepared the original ‘Limits to Growth’ study — a human population of 3.7 billion used 22 billion tons of primary materials per year. Forty years later, in 2010, with a population of 6.7 billion, humans used 70 billion tons. Now, in 2016, we require about 86 billion tons and the UN Resource Panel estimates that by 2050 we will require annually some 180 billion tons of raw materials, which Earth’s ecosystems may not be able to provide.— Rex Weyler (Breaching environmental boundaries: UN report on resource limits)