Limiting climate change requires stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations. It implies the evolution of a society that becomes carbon-neutral on a global scale in this century. This would mean phasing out all fossil fuel-burning vehicles, aircraft, and electricity generating facilities or implementing permanent carbon sequestration—probably underground…. While these may sound like science fiction scenarios…, if the alternative is the inexorable and unmanageable loss of biodiversity, biologists have a strong reason to advocate exactly these changes.
—  Hannah, L., T.E. Lovejoy, T.E., and S.H. Schneider. 2005. Page 12 in T.E. Lovejoy and L. Hannah, editors. Climate Change and Biodiversity. Yale University Press.

Overpopulation & Over Development.
Endangered Florida Savannah Being Replaced With - Wait For It - A Brand New Walmart! Yaaayyyy!!!
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A pristine patch of Florida forest, the home to dozens of animals species that biologists say are found no where else on the planet, will be bulldozed to make room for a Wal-Mart shopping center.The 88 acres of rockland was sold by the University of Miami to a developer working for Wal-Mart who plans to build the retail store as well as a Chick-fil-A and Chili’s restaurant. As a concession the firm says it will set aside around 40 acres next to the store that can remain for the animals.Florida was once a vast savanna, dotted with deep, ancient forests. Today, less than 2 percent of that habitat remains. Consequently, the plants, animals and insects that used to thrive there have been decimated. Environmentalists say that this latest commercial development might be the killing blow for many of them. […]Many of the flora and fauna now almost extinct once dominated most of Florida, but the grind of urban sprawl has seen nearly every untouched forest in the state destroyed. In a way, this 88 acres was the final stand – the last, desperate stab at survival for animals which have literally no where else on Earth to go.One species the country doesn’t need more of is Wal-Mart. The corporation has over 4,000 stores in the United States andnearly 200 in Florida alone. It’s likely – should the deal go through – that developers will move quickly to build as soon as possible. Construction teams are in a race against time. Every month more wildlife is uncovered in the land they propose to destroy, and it is getting harder to claim it was worth it or that they didn’t know. 
From; http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/12/4232296/walmart-planned-for-endangered.html

This World Biodiversity Day (May 22), Worldwatch Institute is raising awareness of biodiversity losses worldwide and what individuals and institutions can do to confront these trends. The current rate of species extinction is up to 1,000 times above the Earth’s normal extinction rate, a level of loss that has not occurred since the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

To Read More, CLICK HERE

The UK is collaborating in peddling the corporate line that neonicotinoid pesticides are safe to use – they are anything but.

In April, the Observer published a letter sent by the minister in charge of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Owen Paterson, to Syngenta, which manufactures some of these pesticides. Paterson promised the company that his efforts to prevent its products from being banned “will continue and intensify in the coming days”.

The people who should be defending the natural world have conspired with the manufacturers of wide-spectrum biocides to permit levels of destruction which we can only guess. In doing so they appear to be engineering another silent spring.

Overpopulation & Overshoot of Humans.: Killing the Planet. No Room for Wildlife.
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Humans (Black Squares above), Their Pets & Domestic Farm Animals (Grey Squares above) Make Up 97% of Land Mammalian Biomass. Wildlife (Green Squares) make up 3%.
Therefore the tiny Green Squares above comprise all the elephants, wildebeest, impala, deer, rhinoceros, polar bears, elk, giraffes, moose, puma, leopards, lions, tigers, hyenas, chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, baboons, orangutans, lemurs, wild sheep & goats, possums, kangaroos, koala bears & so on. You get the picture.
From; http://www.cassandralegacy.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/italy-overshooting-bear.html

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Last week a report from WWF, the Living Planet Index 2014, seemed to confirm that grim picture with statistics on the world’s wildlife population which showed a dramatic reduction in numbers across countless species. The LPI showed the number of vertebrates had declined by 52% over four decades. Biodiversity loss has now reached “critical levels”. Some populations of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians have suffered even bigger losses, with freshwater species declining by 76% over the same period. But it’s the creatures that provide the most “natural capital” or “ecosystem services” that are getting many scientists really worried. Three quarters of the world’s food production is thought to depend on bees and other pollinators such as hoverflies. Never mind how cute a panda is or how stunning a tiger, it’s worms that are grinding up our waste and taking it deep into the soil to turn into nutrients, bats that are catching mosquitoes and keeping malaria rates down. A study in North America has valued the loss of pest control from ongoing bat declines at more than $22bn in lost agricultural productivity.

"It’s the loss of the common species that will impact on people. Not so much the rarer creatures, because by the very nature of their rarity we’re not reliant on them in such an obvious way," said Dr Nick Isaac, a macroecologist at the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Oxfordshire. He says that recent work he and colleagues have been doing suggests that Britain’s insects and other invertebrates are declining just as fast as vertebrates, with "serious consequences for humanity". "The really interesting thing about this work is that we are learning that it’s not just about the numbers of species going extinct, but the actual numbers in a population; that’s the beginning of a fundamental shift in our understanding," he says.

He pointed to the fact that between 23% and 36% of all birds, mammals, and amphibians used for food or medicine are now threatened with extinction. In many parts of the world, wild-animal food sources are a critical part of the diet, particularly for the poor.

The blame, most agree, sits with unsustainable human consumption damaging ecosystems, creating climate change and destroying habitats at a far faster rate than previously thought. But this time it’s not just the “big cuddly mammals” we have to worry about losing but the smaller, less visible creatures upon which we depend – insects, creepy-crawlies and even worms. They might not be facing immediate extinction, but a decline in their numbers will affect us all. “There are some direct impacts from the indicators, we are going to feel the impact of those losses because the pattern is much the same with the UK species, with invertebrates as it is with vertebrates. It’s not just the simplistic – fish die and people starve – but more complex,” said Isaac.

Pet trade threatens unusual lizard

A strange monitor lizard from Borneo has become popular in the wildlife trade, which could threaten its existence, a conservation organization is warning in a new report. The rare earless monitor lizard (Lanthanotus borneensis) has remained obscure since the last research was conducted on it in the 1960s. It lives underground and has adaptations such as a lack of external openings for its ears and small eyes and limbs. The animals are officially protected in Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, and Malaysia,the countries that make up Borneo. But in the last 2 years, private collectors have begun selling specimens from the wild. TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network that is a partnership of conservation organizations,found the animals being offered for sale online in Europe. The organization says many of the lizards are being collected from the wild and smuggled out of Borneo and that the trade should be made illegal under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. All other species of monitor lizard are protected by the convention.

Source - news.sciencemag.org

Biodiversity loss is a well-established consequence of climate change. In a number of infectious disease systems, such as Lyme disease and West Nile virus, biodiversity loss is tied to greater pathogen transmission and increased human risk.
Killing The Planet: The Web Of Life Is Unraveling - Loss Of Biodiversity.

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Photo; A new vineyard in the Qualicum River basin as humans move in & replace the wildlife.

Web of life unraveling, wildlife biologist says – ‘Everything is worse and we’re still doing the same things’

even in a place as beautiful as the Little Qualicum River estuary, his office for 30 years as a biologist for the Canadian Wildlife Service, he sees the unravelling of “the web of life.”

"It’s happening very quickly," he says.

A recent news report focussed on the precipitous decline of barn swallows on Vancouver Island.

That is certainly true, says Dawe, who starting in 1978 worked on the Royal BC Museum’s four-volume Birds of British Columbia project, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

People will focus on the extinction of a species but not “the overall impact,” he says. When habitat diversity is lost, “it changes the whole dynamic.” In 1975, when Dawe was assigned to study the newly created Marshall-Stevenson Unit of the Qualicum National Wildlife Area, which is part of the Little Qualicum River estuary, there were 24 nesting pairs of blue-and-rust barn swallows in an old barn that still stands to this day after 125 years.

However, their numbers began to decline as the area was developed. The trees were logged and milled, parts of the estuary were mined for gravel, rock walls were built to stop erosion, and a straight channel, in use to this day, was dug so the river no longer wound through the estuary, shifting course with the seasons.

All that meant fewer insects and that meant weak and hungry barn swallows, now susceptible to the larvae of the blowfly.

One by one, the nesting pairs slipped away over decades, Dawe says. “When I left there were none.”

There are still barn swallows in the area but there aren’t as many: between 1966 and 2011, barn swallows in B.C. have declined at a rate of 4.96% a year.

They’re among more 30 B.C. birds known to be in decline, including the iconic Great Blue Heron (1.7% per year), the Rufous Hummingbird (1.91%), the beautiful killdeer (3.8%), the American Goldfinch (4.85%) and so on. Forty-five of the 57 coastal waterbirds using the Strait of Georgia were in decline between 1999 and 2011, including the Brant sea goose (4.7% per year), Greater Yellowlegs (10.5%) and Western Grebe (16.4%).

But it isn’t just birds. The inconspicuous Pacific crabapple, once a mainstay of the estuary, is all but gone. Dawe points to a scrawny metre-high specimen near a road. “I’d guess it’s a hundred years old,” he says.

The Douglas fir and Sitka spruce are all but gone. The life-giving grassy carex, as Dawe and fellow biologist Andy Stewart reported in 2010, is being stripped from the estuary by resident Canada geese at a rate of 15-18 metric tonnes a year.

"Most of these plants here now are invasive species," he says.

Indeed, in his 35 years of studying what is supposed to be a wildlife sanctuary, it has almost all changed, and it no longer supports the life it once did.

From; http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2013/09/web-of-life-unraveling-wildlife.html

Balancing biodiversity in a changing environment

A gap exists between our ability to communicate the ideas of biodiversity change to the general public, in large part due to a shortcoming in a standard vocabulary to describe key, elementary, concepts.

Consider a simple example of biodiversity change: Plant diversity has increased on mountain summits in the Alps during the past century [10] because species formerly restricted to lower elevations have moved upslope, whereas incumbent populations have persisted. Is this increase in diversity permanent or transient? Should one expect some of these species, adventive or incumbent, to go extinct? Taken at face value, the message for the general public and policymakers could be that global warming will increase alpine biodiversity. If this is incorrect, how do researchers communicate the alternatives?

This work sets about formalizing and recording some of the key concepts necessary to explain these processes. I’ll add each of these as separate definition entries for indexing purposes.

The terms:

Biodiversity accrual, Biodiversity balance, Biodiversity loss, Biodiversity deficit, Biodiversity surplus, Compositional turnover, Delayed extinction, Delayed immigration, Equilibrium biodiversity, Extinction debt, Extinction lag, Forcing event, Immigration credit, Immigration lag

you should be able to find the definition entry by clicking the Tag of the same name.

The paper goes on to clarify some of the conditions and events that lead to each of the above actions.
Figure 1 Jackson and Sax (2010)

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In particular, that many of these actions happen over variable time intervals, related to the concept of reaching equilibrium in the system and the various interactions that can delay that result.
Some resulting questions:
  • Can indicators of biodiversity surplus or deficit in existing ecosystems be developed?
  • Can early-warning signs be identified for imminent biodiversity decline owing to extinction-debt payoff?
  • How precisely can immigration credit and immigration rates be estimated?
  • What risks and benefits accrue if managers attempt to intervene to, for example, foster immigration via managed relocation and or to prevent local extinction by taking extraordinary measures, such as modifying the physical environment to maintain previous conditions?

Jackson ST and Sax DF. Balancing biodiversity in a changing environment: extinction debt, immigration credit and species turnover. TREE. Volume 25, Issue 3, March 2010. Full text

The Climate Is Set to Change ‘Orders of Magnitude’ Faster Than at Any Time in the Past 65 Million Years

By Rebecca J. Rosen | The Atlantic

Some of the earliest clues scientists had that Earth’s climate has changed over time were mismatches between the fossil record and a current ecosystem. How could this palm tree have grown in Wyoming? Why have fossils of the tropical breadfruit tree been found as far north as Greenland? These cold places must have once been warm and wet. The world is not as it has always been.

And somehow, despite the tumult, species adapted, moving thousands of miles to habitats where they could survive. Won’t species today just do the same as temperatures rise in the years ahead?

It seems they may not have the chance. A new paper in the journal Science finds that climate change is now set to occur at a pace “orders of magnitude more rapid” than at any other time in the last 65 million years. That breakneck speed may mean extinction for species that cannot keep up.

—-> Read More Here

This is a special issue of Science that is completely devoted to Climate Change. Definitely worth a read.

Graph from Climate.nasa.gov

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The BBC have produced an interesting article about the purpose of Zoos. Very in-keeping with one of our previous episodes.

Ripping Out The Worlds Last Forests, Illegally. This From Mynmar (Burma).

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Just how bad is the logging crisis in Myanmar? 72 percent of exports are illegal – ‘A ban is only as good as the enforcement that governs it’

 Just days before Myanmar, also known as Burma, implements a ban on exporting raw logs, the Environmental Investigative Agency (EIA) has released a new report that captures the sheer scale of the country’s illegal logging crisis. According to the EIA, new data shows that 72 percent of logs exported from Myanmar between 2000-2013 were illegally harvested.

"The forestry sector is in crisis [in Myanmar]. Logging is rampant, transparency non-existent. Drivers include consumers’ need for cheap raw materials in the form of logs and in particular Myanmar’s precious hardwoods," EIA Forest Campaign Leader, Faith Doherty, told mongabay.com, adding "this situation is acknowledged by the government and we hope that support for reform in the forestry sector from the international community becomes a reality."

Analyzing new figures released by Myanmar’s Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry and published by the country’s Eleven Media group, the EIA found that official export data accounted for only 28 percent of logs imported into other countries. This means, the rest—over three-fourths of the total—was likely illegally logged and exported. In all, 22.8 million cubic meters of logs were imported to various countries around the world from Myanmar during the period in question.

"Data of this kind has not been published before; lack of transparency remains a major concern in Myanmar and the country still does not report trade data to mainstream global bodies such as the United Nations," reads the EIA briefing Data Corruption: Exposing the True Scale of Logging in Myanmar.

Illegal logging is a global scourge, accounting for some 15-30 percent of deforestation in the tropics and worth an estimated $30-$100 billion in ill-gotten gains annually. Not only does the practice devastate forests, harm biodiversity, and emit carbon, but it also imperils forest communities and robs developing countries of revenue. In Myanmar’s case, the EIA estimates that the country lost out on $6 billion in revenue over the 14 year period, four times the country’s health and education budget during 2013-2014.

http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2014/03/just-how-bad-is-logging-crisis-in.html

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