Scientists Warn of Global Dangers
“Humanity is on a collision course with Nature.
A damaged Nature will survive. We may not.
We must change course to avert an ecological disaster.”
“Humanity is on a collision course with Nature.
A damaged Nature will survive. We may not.
We must change course to avert an ecological disaster.”
GR: An article from June, 2016 should be on everyone’s mind now. Here’s my discussion followed by a link to the article.
A group of scientists analyzed the sources of CO2 and the dynamic relationship between the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere and global temperature to devise a global carbon budget they could use to assess the effect of timing of changes in CO2 emissions. The analysis enabled them to calculate the changes we must make to preserve a livable climate. You’ll have to read the article to see the individual sources of CO2 that must be adjusted. I wanted to mention the timing for the budget. The analysis shows that if CO2 emissions begin to fall immediately and reach zero in 30 years, we will remain within the global warming limits set by the Paris treaty. After the flat emissions of 2014, 2015, and 2016, the authors believed that the fall in emissions was ready to begin. This is good, because their budget shows that if we wait to 2020 to start tapering off CO2 production, we only get 20 years to reach zero emissions. If we wait to 2025, we get less than 10 years to reach zero. Transforming our energy use that quickly would be impossible.
SO, how are we doing. Six months after the analysis was published, we find that 2017 emissions have gone up, not down. Lot’s of positive changes have begun, but we have to wait to see what happens in 2018. If we begin to taper off CO2 emissions by 2020, we will have 20 years to reach zero emissions. I suggest you take a look at the six milestones the authors believe must be reached by 2020. Then you can monitor the world’s progress toward painful climate change (the Paris treaty) or disastrous climate change (with too many storms, fires, heat waves, and rising seas).
Climate change is just one of the approaching disasters. Human population and its impact is growing, wildlife species are going extinct at incredible rates, freshwater supplies are dropping, and toxic wastes are building up. If we can’t do more than take our CO2 emissions to zero over the next 20-30 years, most of the diversity and beauty of life on Earth will disappear.
GR: The article below focuses on human children. Many of us would like to focus on wildlife as well. All young creatures are especially sensitive to pesticide poisons. The massive decline in numbers of wild animals is our fault. We need to teach or remind children, parents, teachers, and schools that our wild neighbors need our protection. Everyone is aware of the plight of the bees and Monarch butterflies. However, many other species also suffer from the toxic materials we spread across the land. Without focused effort on wildlife and nature conservation, silence will spread across the Earth like the Nothing in the Neverending Story. Let’s ban pesticides and then move on to eliminating our other destructive impacts too. Neighborhood schools are a great place to start.
“School policies must protect children from pesticides by adopting organic land and building management policies and serving organic food in cafeterias. At the start of the school year, it is critical for school administrators to make sure that students and teachers are learning and teaching in an environment where no hazardous pesticides are used in the school’s buildings or on playing fields. It is also essential that children have access to organic food in food programs and manage school gardens organically.
Send a letter to your local officials urging them to tell school districts to adopt organic management and serve organic food to students.
“In addition, there are other things you can do:
“Whether a parent, teacher, student, school administrator, landscaper or community advocate, there are steps that should be taken to make sure the school environment is a safe from toxic chemicals, as the new school year begins.
“Because children face unique hazards from pesticide exposure due to their smaller size and developing organ systems, using toxic pesticides to get control insects, germs, and weeds can harm students much more than it helps. The good news is that these poisons are unnecessary, given the availability of practices and green materials that do not poison people or the environment.
“Studies show children’s developing organs create “early windows of great vulnerability” during which exposure to pesticides can cause great damage. This is supported by the findings of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which concluded, “Children encounter pesticides daily and have unique susceptibilities to their potential toxicity.” You can help to eliminate children’s exposure to toxic chemicals by urging school administrators to implement organic management practices that use cultural, mechanical, and biological management strategies, and, as a last resort, defined least-toxic pesticides. See Beyond Pesticides ManageSafeTM database for managing all insects and weeds without toxic pesticides.” –Beyond Pesticides (Continue reading: Gmail – Action of the Week: Protect kids from pesticides as they go back to school.)
GR: The needs and desires of humans cause extinction, pollution, desertification, ocean acidification, and global warming. Failure is certain if we tackle any or all of these without first working to reduce the human population.
“In a year filled with many…memorable…milestones, 2016 closed with a truly depressing one, as giraffes were added to a list of “vulnerable” species headed towards eventual extinction for the first time. Their numbers have declined precipitously over the last three decades, according to a report released by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which maintains endangered species lists.
“The culprit? You guessed it—human population pressures.
“Habitat destruction due to human activity—such as logging, farming, and armed conflicts—is pushing giraffe populations to the breaking point throughout the African continent. An ever-expanding human population, largely unchecked due to a huge unmet need for family planning, is having a frighteningly damaging effect on these majestic animals.
“U.S. funding of international family planning programs has the greatest impact in the developing world, where women desperately want to limit their family size but lack the means to do so. All ten of the countries with the highest total fertility rates are currently located on the African continent. Home to some of the world’s most iconic wildlife, these nations are struggling to meet the needs of their human inhabitants while protecting the natural habitats that these animals depend on.
“And sadly, the implementation of the Global Gag Rule has thrown another huge obstacle into the path of slowing population growth throughout the developing world. It deeply undermines progress made towards smaller families and more sustainable communities. Humans and wildlife alike will suffer the consequences if we don’t keep fighting to make international family planning a funding priority.+ –Natalie Widel (Source: Human habitat destruction is decimating giraffe populations.)
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.
People 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
FRISCO — Neonicotinoid pesticides are spreading throughout the environment with as-yet unknown effects on human health, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.
The agency found the systemic pesticides in more than half the streams sampled across the country and in Puerto Rico during a survey between 2011 and 2014. This study is the first to take a nationwide look at the prevalence of neonicotinoid insecticides in agricultural and urban settings.
The research spanned 24 states and Puerto Rico and was completed as part of ongoing USGS investigations of pesticide and other contaminant levels in streams. Sourced through Scoop.it from: summitcountyvoice.com.
GR: The levels are low, but here’s the thing: They are not alone. Several other classes of chemical wastes are in the water. We know that insects such as dragonflies are responding to something in the water, so it would be prudent to asses the combined impact of neonicotinoids and other chemicals on wildlife.
Here is another threat to Arizona wildlife. Because it threatens humans, the state government is acknowledging it publicly. According to an email sent this morning by the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD), “the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), in association with the AZGFD, has issued a fish consumption advisory recommending that people limit consumption of channel catfish and largemouth bass caught from Bartlett Lake [an artificial reservoir on the Verde River] in Maricopa County. ADEQ is issuing this advisory because recent fish tissue samples from Bartlett Lake contained elevated levels of mercury.”
“Any health risks associated with eating fish from this advisory area are based on long term consumption and are not representative of risk from eating fish occasionally. Fish are an excellent source of protein and can be an important part of a healthy, diverse diet as they are low in saturated fat and high in omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends that individuals eat at least two fish or seafood meals weekly.”
Mercury washes into streams and lakes after exposure by floods, mining, and construction. Some probably comes from roads and urban wastes around and upstream from the lake. And some comes from power plants in and around Arizona: “Mercury is one of the most harmful pollutants faced by fish and wildlife. Toxic mercury is released from coal burning power plants across the country and accumulates in rivers, lakes, and forests.” — National Wildlife Federation.
Mercury is just one of many pollutants that humans feed into the Verde River and Bartlett Lake. Worldwide, human wastes are a major cause of wildlife disease and decline. ADEQ makes little or no effort to regulate the sources of pollutants, but as wildlife declines and extinctions become public knowledge, the agency may have to step up and face the developers and . . . . Well, that’s not going to happen. Not until private citizens force their political representatives to ignore their donors and future employers and direct the agency to say “enough is enough” without fear of retribution.
The Tsaeb warriors appeared at a time when Earth’s intelligent creatures were endangering their own existence. War and environmental pollution were destroying the planet. These destructive forces were also sorting out Earth’s intelligent species by extinguishing those least able to compete. Evolutionary trial and error favored the swift and strong, and it favored species with a long-term view of their lives and instinctive acceptance of responsibility for their behavior. The rabbits were the first evolving species to understand and reject the destructive effects of industry and war; they formed the warrior guild and began helping evolution weed out irresponsible species.
In Corr Syl’s time and in ours, Humans are endangering their own existence. Unchecked, the Human population is spreading across the land plowing and bulldozing natural ecosystems. We are introducing invasive species, and harvesting plants and animals so fast that nature can’t recover. It is not surprising that wildlife biologists report that the numbers of many animal and plant species are sinking toward extinction.
The lands that we do not destroy, we pollute with artificial fertilizers, pesticides, and a plethora of chemicals in municipal wastes. However, the most widespread and deadly pollutants of all are the big-molecule greenhouse gasses emitted by our industries, automobiles, and fires. CO2 is the principal culprit among these gasses. When we burn fuels such as wood, coal, or gasoline, oxygen from the air combines with the carbon in the fuel. A 6.3-pound gallon of gas produces about 20 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) when burned. Though the new big CO2 molecules float in the atmosphere, they weigh more than the original carbon atoms in the fuel. Here’s a clear explanation of what happens from the U. S. Department of Energy.
CO2 drifts up into the air where it admits light from the sun and blocks heat radiating back from Earth’s warmed surface. The oceans absorb some of the CO2 and this causes seawater to become more acidic.
The oceans also absorb some of the heat trapped in the atmosphere by CO2. Since the Industrial Revolution when our CO2 production shot up, the oceans have protected Earth’s climate by absorbing CO2 and heat.
The atmosphere and the oceans are warming. As they warm—and it takes only a few degrees—mountain glaciers and the great polar ice sheets begin to melt. This adds fresh water to the oceans, diluting their salinity and further increasing acidity. Rising ocean acidity is reaching the point where it is beginning to kill corals and shellfish. At the same time, our harvest of fish from the oceans has substantially reduced many species’ numbers. Since all sea creatures, like all land creatures, depend on one another, numbers of many species are falling.
As the atmosphere and oceans warm, changes occur in the great atmospheric pressure systems that steer cyclones and hurricanes. The North Polar Region is becoming warmer even more rapidly than other latitudes. In the past, cold heavy air at the pole blocked warm moist air from the south. Now, that air flows farther north than it used to and the global pattern of atmospheric and oceanic circulation is changing.
We are entering a period when evaporation from the warmed oceans is increasing, and the oceans are returning stored heat to the atmosphere. Storms, floods, droughts, cold spells, and heat waves are growing stronger.
Evolution took millions of years to cull the Tsaeb for species capable of living as stable elements of Earth’s ecosystems. I wrote that the Tsaeb wars were terrible, but I let them run for millions of years without destroying the Earth. Had they been as destructive as the side effects of our current population growth and pollution, there wouldn’t have been time for evolution to select for wisdom. The challenge for Humans today is greater than it was for the Tsaeb. Our impact on the Earth is far more abrupt than the damage caused by Tsaeb wars. In hundreds, not millions, of years, our pollution and habitat destruction will transform Earth into a barren planet with few species, little soil, and horrible storms. We’ve known this for only a few decades. Now we have only decades to change our ways and save our forests, seas, and ourselves.
Some believe that we already have the wisdom needed to take the long view of things and change our way of life. If you agree and you want to help, you may wish to begin by acquiring a general picture of what’s happening. Some of the best sources are those that fuel the Rebel Mouse newsletters on my website. Go to https://garryrogers.com/climate-news, and https://garryrogers.com/natcon-news. Many of the sources I use for the newsletters have excellent libraries of reviews and information. For more combined climate and nature-conservation news and information try http://www.scoop.it/t/ecoscifi. One of the sources is the blog by Robert Scribbler.
There are many good books on human impacts. Here are two on climate change that I like.
From near my home in central Arizona, left to right: 1) Long strands of algae in stream water polluted by fertilizer runoff from farms. 2) Total algae cover of pond polluted by fertilizer runoff from farms. 3) Land with its surface scraped in preparation for destruction by houses and streets. 4) Jet condensation trails. 5) Recreation destruction of a stream bank.
Whale & dolphin meat samples tested in Japan exceed safe mercury limits
LONDON: The Government of Japan and the country’s largest online marketplace for whale and dolphin meat have been urged to stop turning a blind eye to consumer health after the latest analysis revealed unsafe mercury contamination in 100 per cent of samples tested.
The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) tested 13 products purchased from Yahoo! Japan – the only major online retailer to continue to profit from sales of whale and dolphin meat – and an additional seven products from Japanese supermarkets.
Every sample showed mercury contamination exceeding the Japanese Government’s own recommended safe level of 0.4 parts per million (ppm). Source: oceansspirit.wordpress.com
GR: The two issues exposed here are animal protection, and environmental pollution. We shouldn’t be killing and eating increasingly rare species, and we should stop polluting the oceans.
“Maps are great tool for locating wildlands and wilderness areas we might want to visit, but they can also tell us much more. Maps can shed light on much larger stories about our changing country and our disappearing wilderness.
“In the past century, American has undergone rapid change – from technology to population growth to energy development- and these changes of modernity are also transforming American lands. Some of these changes become quite visible when a map is the storytelling device. We’ve worked to bring some of those to light in this collection of maps that demonstrate how truly fragile our wildlands are.”
The first map shows how much pavement we’ve placed over once living soils.
“It’s hard to imagine America without its gorgeous mountains and graceful rivers but that’s exactly what is shown in this map of only roads created by Boston-based design firm Fathom. The four million miles of roads (shown in black) that cover the U.S. have a powerful impact on us, from pollution runoff to floods to heat islands. When near wildlands, they also create barriers for migrating wildlife and interrupt other ecological processes. That’s why we support conserving roadless areas.” Source: wilderness.org
GR: These maps illustrate some of the consequences of all the things our presence does to our environment. For many, the changes are unimportant, but for others the changes are a gut-wrenching ruin of so many of our favorite places. Take a look.