Trump’s Wall Treats Symptoms and Causes Problems

Not to Wall

View of the border fence between the US states of Texas and New Mexico, left, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, right, on Jan. 25, 2017.

GR:  Instead of building a wall on our southern border, we should look closely at the causes of emigration from the south. Is there anything we can do in Central and South America to help reduce immigrant numbers? Worldwide, the growing human population is destroying wildlife habitat and polluting the Earth’s surface. Rather than solving our emigration problem, a wall merely treats a symptom of over population and climate change. And it causes problems for wildlife.

Drought-prone places like Arizona, Syria, and the dry west coast of Central America are facing increasing emigration pressure as surface and subsurface supplies of water decline. We should be analyzing potential steps to take to mitigate drought effects in the Central American Dry Corridor (CADC). Drought is increasing in the tropical dry forest region on the Pacific side of Central America that stretches from the Pacific Coast of Chiapas, Mexico, to the western part of Costa Rica. The drought is impacting portions of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Is there an environmental solution to the decline in productivity or is population reduction through emigration and birth control the only answer?

Severe drought has continued for several years. Here’s a map that shows locations.

How Trump’s Wall Would Alter Our Biological Identity Forever

“Besides the 600 miles installed, there may be 1,953 miles of border wall yet to come. In one generation, humans will have successfully disintegrated an extraordinary biodiversity web that evolved over millions of years. It is a legacy of which we should not be proud. Building the border wall sacrifices the ancient biodiversity of North America for the momentary political gain of one president. Our biodiversity is less flexible, requiring millions of years to evolve to its intricate state of ecological intactness. Further construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall will undoubtedly lead to the death of countless species in the process—adding to the 10 million species marching towards extinction worldwide as a result of the broader human footprint” –Jennifer R. B. Miller.

Two million risk hunger after drought in Central America – U.N.

BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – “Poor harvests caused by drought in parts of Central America could leave more than two million people hungry, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday, warning climate change was creating drier conditions in the region” –Anastasia Moloney.

2556 scientists have endorsed a study that shows just how devastating Trump’s wall will be for wildlife.

Nature Divided, Scientists United: US–Mexico Border Wall Threatens Biodiversity and Binational Conservation

 

The Time is Growing Short

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.

Christiana Figueres and colleagues set out a six-point plan for turning the tide of the world’s carbon dioxide by 2020.
NATURE.COM

15,000 Scientists From 184 Countries Warn Humanity of Environmental Catastrophe

GR: This is the 25-year update of the warning scientists gave in 1992.

“More than 15,000 scientists have signed a chilling article titled “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice,” urging global leaders to save the planet from environmental catastrophe.

“The plea, published Monday in the international journal BioScience, is likely the largest-ever formal support by scientists for a journal article with 15,372 total signatories, Motherboard noted. The scientists represent 184 countries and have a range of scientific backgrounds. Prominent signatories include Jane Goodall, E.O. Wilson and James Hansen.

“The “Second Notice”—an update to the original version published 25 years ago by the Union of Concerned Scientists and signed by 1,700 scientists then—underscores the lack of progress from the original document.

“The first notice started with this statement: “Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course.” It described trends such as the growing hole in the ozone layer, pollution and depletion of freshwater sources, overfishingdeforestation, plummeting wildlife populations, as well as unsustainable rises in greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures and human population levels.

“Unfortunately, the authors of the current article said that humanity has failed to progress on most of the measures.

“They ominously warned, “time is running out.”

“Especially troubling is the current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change” from the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities, the paper stated.

“William J. Ripple, lead author of the current article and a distinguished professor of ecology at Oregon State University, told the Associated Press he was stunned by the level of support for the manuscript.

“I initially sent it out to 40 of my colleagues,” he explained. “After 24 hours there were 600 scientists who signed it. Within two days, there were 1,200. There were so many people signing that our website crashed a couple of times.”

“According to the AP, the researchers document a number of alarming trends from 1992 to 2016, such as a 28.9 percent reduction of vertebrate wildlife, a 62.1 percent increase in CO2 emissions, a 167.6 percent rise in global average annual temperature change and a 35.5 percent increase in the global population (about 2 billion people).” –Lorraine Chow (More: https://www.ecowatch.com/scientists-environmental-warning-2509347840.html.)

Should We Look on the Bright Side of the 6th Mass Extinction? – Animalista Untamed

GR: Here’s the case for optimism for the great loss of species and a literate response that the arguments supporting the case are rubbish. And rubbish they are. The optimistic professor making the case seems to forget that we can only be optimistic when we know fear. Our optimism can be cowardly (accepting) or courageous (challenging). Knowing what might happen and hoping for a better outcome, the courageous will fight for that outcome while the coward will sit smug waiting for the good to come. The optimistic professor appears to be on the smug side of this divide.

I have to assert that the professor’s optimism is more than just cowardly, it is based on inaccurate premises. Here’s one clear example: The result of humans behaving naturally may be the end of life on Earth. Our planet is truly like an isolated petri dish with limited resources. Humans are behaving naturally within the bounds of evolution and ecology as the professor says, but so are the bacteria that consume all the resources in their little dish and then die leaving behind no life at all.

The idea that we want to become acquainted with the few hardy species that will survive the Anthropocene and be our companions on the other side inspired me to write a book about weeds. I guess the work represents a cowardly response to fear but with resignation instead of smugness. Okay, that’s a bit pretentious. My book also represents simple curiosity and appreciation for the amazing plants that thrive in adverse environments. I plan to continue arguing for population and pollution control and a societal shift toward ecological restoration of damaged ecosystems. But that doesn’t seem truly courageous, it just seems like the natural thing to do.

Here’s Animalista Untamed’s critique of Professor Chris Thomas’s new book Inheritors of the Earth, How Nature is Thriving in an Age of Extinction.

Animalista Untamed.

“One man thinks we should. Stop worrying about what is happening to the planet – just kick back and enjoy the ride. That is the message of ecologist Chris Thomas’s new book ‘Inheritors of the Earth, How Nature is Thriving in an Age of Extinction”. “It is time” he writes, “for the ecological, conservation and environmental movement to throw off the shackles of a pessimism-laden, loss-only view of the world.”

“We’ve now become all too unhappily familiar with the ‘Anthropocene’, the word coined by Dutch Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen to describe this new age, the age in which Man has played havoc with the entire functioning of the planet. We’ve altered the make-up of the atmosphere, the chemistry of the oceans, changed the climate itself. Glaciers are melting, sea levels rising. We’ve depleted biodiversity, plants and animals, and messed up their distribution. We’ve rerouted rivers, drained lakes, razed forests and covered the Earth in highways and cities. And all the while our own population has exploded, 7.4 billion today and an expected 9.7 billion by 2050.

“What is there not to be alarmed about?

“Anthropocenists (by that I mean the vast majority of ecologists who are concerned about the repercussions of human activity) propose that if we have the technology to so damage the planet, why can’t we turn technology to its healing? Hi-tech geo-engineering such as air cleaning plants, altering ocean chemistry to absorb more carbon, or capturing carbon emissions from power stations and factories. Maybe we could even modify the weather. A luxury travel company that promises perfect wedding weather for the big day thinks we can. Expert opinion says otherwise: “The scale of the Earth’s atmosphere is far too great to tamper with—at least for now.” according to meteorologist Bruce Broe.

“But Professor Chris Thomas’s thinking runs on altogether different lines, and he’s nothing if not a glass-half-full man. In this age of mass extinction, he says, nature will do what it always does – fight back.

“A quick summary of his thinking –

  • “Man is an animal and just as much a part of Nature as a bird or a fish
  • “Contrary to what we are constantly being told, Nature is thriving. There are biodiversity gains as well as losses, and “the number of species is increasing in most regions of the world”
  • “The essence of life is eternal change  – everything lives, evolves, dies. There is no stasis in Nature. We need to embrace the change and forget about trying to hold back the hands of the clock

“Taking each of those points in turn:” –Animalista Untamed. (Should We Look on the Bright Side of the 6th Mass Extinction? – Animalista Untamed.)

World Population Will Grow 30% To 9.8 Billion by 2050

GR: By 2050, our global population will increase by more than 2 billion people. That’s if nothing gets in the way. The projected growth comes at a time when the Earth’s capacity to support us is in decline. Add the increasingly fierce storms of an unbalanced climate system to the problems of dwindling resources, and calamity becomes unavoidable. It’s too late to rebuild Earth’s food-producing ecosystems, prevent climate upheaval, or control our reproductive urges in time to avoid disaster, but we can prepare for the inevitable crash. Those of us who can’t stuff our pockets with oil money can use our minds instead and begin studying the options.

“The global population will reach 9.8 billion in 2050, up from 7.5 billion now, according to the 2017 World Population Data Sheet. This year’s edition includes a special focus on the world’s youth (ages 15-24), with indicators and analytical graphics that assess whether youth are poised to become productive adults.” –2017 World Population Data Sheet (Population Reference Bureau)

GR:  I just ran across another good discussion by Richard Heinberg (http://www.postcarbon.org/why-climate-change-isnt-our-biggest-environmental-problem-and-why-technology-wont-save-us). It’s certainly worth a read.

Background for World Conservation Day

Nature Conservation Background

World Conservation Day is just around the corner. Here’s a series of background reports on global carrying capacity and human impact from the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere (MAHB). Stock your neurons with useful information. I haven’t finished reading these reports, but the bits I’ve scanned indicate they are important contributions. My pieces on conservation here and here cover some of the ideas. My ideas are less focused on humanity than on the plants and animals of the natural world, but all approaches to conservation have merit. We need them all now.

Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee (Country Living)

More articles from MAHB.

 

Bay of Bengal: depleted fish stocks and huge dead zone signal tipping point

GR:  Dead zones will spread across marine fisheries in the coming years. With rising sea level, stronger storms, and humid low-country heat waves, humans will begin to abandon coastal lowlands and move inland. For decades, we’ve know that we needed to reduce our population and our consumption of land, energy and water. We didn’t do it. So we exceeded Earth’s carrying capacity. As geophysical systems change and biological ecosystems collapse, tipping points at sea, across arctic ice, and on land will initiate gnawing consequences. There is growing belief that dystopian Earth is unavoidable now. The article includes maps.

“The Bay of Bengal’s basin contains some of the most populous regions of the earth. No less than a quarter of the world’s population is concentrated in the eight countries that border the bay1 [footnotes refer to references at the end of the original article]. Approximately 200 million people live along the Bay of Bengal’s coasts and of these a major proportion are partially or wholly dependent on its fisheries2.

“For the majority of those who depend on it, the Bay of Bengal can provide no more than a meagre living: 61% of India’s fisherfolk already live below the poverty line. Yet the numbers dependent on fisheries are only likely to grow in years to come, partly because of climate change. In southern India drought and water scarcity have already induced tens of thousands of farmers to join the fishing fleet3. Rising sea levels are also likely to drive many displaced people into the fishing industry.

“But the fisheries of the Bay of Bengal have been under pressure for decades and are now severely depleted4. Many once-abundant species have all but disappeared. Particularly badly affected are the species at the top of the food chain. The bay was once feared by sailors for its man-eating sharks; they are now rare in these waters. Other apex predators like grouper, croaker and rays have also been badly hit. Catches now consist mainly of species like sardines, which are at the bottom of the marine food web5.

“Good intentions have played no small part in creating the current situation. In the 1960s, western aid agencies encouraged the growth of trawling in India, so that fishermen could profit from the demand for prawns in foreign markets. This led to a “pink gold rush”, in which prawns were trawled with fine mesh nets that were dragged along the sea floor. But along with hauls of “pink gold” these nets also scooped up whole seafloor ecosystems as well as vulnerable species like turtles, dolphins, sea snakes, rays and sharks. These were once called bycatch, and were largely discarded. Today the collateral damage of the trawling industry is processed and sold to the fast-growing poultry and aquaculture industries of the region6. In effect, the processes that sustain the Bay of Bengal’s fisheries are being destroyed in order to produce dirt-cheap chicken feed and fish feed.

“In Myanmar, until a ban was enacted in 2014, the catch collected by foreign fishing boats was 100 times greater than that of local fishermen10. In the troubled Arakan region, where 43% of the population is dependent on fisheries, catches have declined so steeply that many families are mired in debt11. Conflicts over fisheries and other resources are a significant but largely unnoticed aspect of the explosive tensions of the region.

Green spots seen from the International Space Station are the lights of fishing boats used to attract squid across the Gulf of Thailand. Photograph: ISS/Nasa

“The dead zone of the Bay of Bengal is now at a point where a further reduction in its oxygen content could have the effect of stripping the water of nitrogen, a key nutrient. This transition could be triggered either by accretions of pollution or by changes in the monsoons, a predicted effect of global warming.” –Amitay Gosh and Aaron Savio Lobo (More:  Bay of Bengal: depleted fish stocks and huge dead zone signal tipping point | Environment | The Guardian).

Africa: Mauritania to Benefit From U.S.$21 Million IFAD Grant to Boost Food Security, Nutrition and Reduce Rural Poverty

GR:  The U.S. should grant an equal amount of money for family planning with the goal to cut population and food requirements. Anyone can see that continuing to prop up a human population with food needs exceeding local production is bound to fail in time. Moreover, the excessive human population is killing and eating large animals and destroying wildlife habitat.

Why is the U. S. supporting the population? Simple; Mauritania has extensive deposits of iron ore and other minerals. Iron accounts for almost 50% of total exports, but we’ve found oil, and gold and copper mining companies are opening mines in the interior. Despite rising exports and prospects for more, pollution, habitat deterioration, poverty, slavery, and other human abuses occur throughout the country. Not surprising, the income gap is enormous and growing.

Rome — “A total of 285,600 farmers, particularly women and young people in six regions in southern Mauritania will benefit from a financial agreement signed today between the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Mauritania to improve their incomes, nutrition and food security.

“The agreement for the Inclusive Value Chain Development Project (PRODEFI) was signed in Rome by Michel Mordasini, Vice-President of IFAD and Mariem Aouffa, Ambassador of Mauritania to Italy and Permanent Representative to Rome-based United Nations agencies.

“The total cost of the project is US$45.2 million of which IFAD is providing a US$21 million grant including $6 million grant from the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) Trust Fund.

“It is co-financed by the national private sector ($2 million), the Government of Mauritania ($5 million) and by the beneficiaries themselves ($2.2 million). The remaining $15 million will be covered by other financing sources or by the next IFAD financing cycle for Mauritania (2019-2021).” –All Africa (Continue:  Mauritania to Benefit From U.S.$21 Million IFAD Grant to Boost Food Security, Nutrition and Reduce Rural Poverty – allAfrica.com)

Nigeria’s 4th National Family Planning Conference Concludes

GR:  In our pursuit of food, space, and security we humans are destroying the planet’s diversity and productivity.  Joe Bish of the Population Media Center reported this story.

“The chairman of Foundation for Development and Environmental Initiative, Akin Mabogunje, has called for immediate steps towards addressing the country’s fast growing population before it poses serious danger.

“Nigeria is projected to become the world’s third most populous nation by 2050. The country is currently ranked 8th on the global demographic ladder.

“Mr. Mabogunje, a professor of geography, called for increase in the uptake of family planning as one of the ways to manage the country’s population.He said unless the current demographic issues, especially uncontrolled birth, are addressed, the rise in population may spell doom for Nigeria.

“Mr. Mabogunje, who was addressing a gathering of health and population experts at the 4th National Family Planning Conference in Abuja on Wednesday, said the huge demography of the nation could however become a blessing, if its potentials are adequately harnessed for development.

“If we continue on our present mindless trajectory of population growth, the way forward is clear. It is the way to deepening poverty for the masses of this country”, he said.  Nigeria’s 4th National Family Planning Conference Concludes

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)