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

“It’s time to leave the pandas to their fate.”

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Summary:

An article on BBC states that scientists are in favor of abandoning species that have no chances of survival. Endangered species such as pandas and tigers require many resources to stay alive, and preserving the life of these animals in captivity are extremely expensive. Biodiversity loss is increasing at an alarming rate mainly due to deforestation and illegal poaching. Scientists believe that the only way to conserve biodiversity while they still can is to focus their efforts to save species that have a better chance of repopulating. This choice will leave species like the humpback whale and polar bear on their own to do the best they can to survive.

People who are in favor of this controversial decision, like wildlife guide Paul Goldstein, believe that the world only wants to save animals that are attractive, like cute baby seals. If not for this appealing factor, then the seal population would not have increased and efforts to save it would have diminished.  Keeping animals in a zoo, as stated earlier, costs a fair amount of money, and it doesn’t do justice for other species like the rhinoceros which nobody really gives a second thought about yet is on the verge of extinction.

Others who are against this idea, such as Diane Walkington from World Wide Fund for Nature Conservation (WWF), argue that the destruction of habitats is the primary cause of declining populations. People have been destroying homes of thousands of species and altering the food chains of animals. Humans are at fault for not considering their impacts on nature. She believes that people still have a chance to save all endangered and threatened species, though, if they decrease deforestation and increase conservation of natural habitats.

(Source)

Thoughts:

Being the huge environmentalist that I am, I was pretty shocked when I read this article. I thought that scientists would be more than willing to do everything they possibly can to protect these endangered species. I guess it’s not only scientists, but also ordinary people everywhere in the world as well that have been dedicated for so many years to protect these animals and plants from disappearing on this earth. It’s like giving up. They have already planted a seed of hope and put so much time, money, and effort to water and give sunlight to this seed so it can sprout and grow. But along the way, they decide to cease all their hard work and abandon their project to create a change that will bring life back into nature. They won’t be able to see the fruits of their labor because everything is now useless; an example of an individual’s efforts wasted.

I’m completely against this idea. Even though I might be a pessimistic person who rarely gives second chances, I believe scientists and representatives of wildlife groups—people who have authority and a big impact on the community—should be more open about giving every species a chance at survival. I know I sound like a hypocrite, but I just expected the world to be a lot more optimistic than this.

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

Old Polemics

Continuing to ignore the value of old polemics, scientists, ranchers, and educators tread uneasy through rocky terrain. I bought this copy of Sacred Cows at the Public Trough in Burns, OR last year. Thirty years after publication the Fergusons’ treatise against the cattle industry is shaky on foundation of careless shortsighted research. The authors completely ignored carp as a significant contributor to ecosystem collapse across the western states. I deeply respect the fervor Denzel and Nancy Ferguson brought to investigating the causes leading to substantial drop in bird counts observed over years of study. Their work without question enshrined the couple as serious pariahs in the community where they lived. More than a generation later firebrands, rabble-rousers, and lobbyists have exacerbated the denuded environment by dividing families and communities. Petty rhetoric, emotional pleas, and incendiary sound bites continue to prove poor excuses for reasoned debate. Contempt and a deepened split between urban and rural citizens characterize the threats facing a fragile peace. The need for advocates bringing attention to the plights of sage grouse or ranchers in the Arid West ended years ago. The demand for pragmatic leadership grows.

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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.

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

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

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

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

Assista em ecosapienshow.tumblr.com

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

Death to the Planet. Bye Bye Elephants. 20% of African Elephants Killed in Three Years. That’s 100,000 Magnificent Elephants Shot Brutally and Butchered.
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20 percent of Africa’s elephants killed in three years – ‘We are shredding the fabric of elephant society and exterminating populations across the continent’
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Around 100,000 elephants were killed by poachers for their ivory on the African continent in just three years, according to a new paper in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Between 2010 and 2012 an average of 6.8 percent of the elephant population was killed annually, equaling just over 20 percent of the continent’s population in that time. Elephant deaths are now exceeding births, which on average are 5 percent annually.”We are shredding the fabric of elephant society and exterminating populations across the continent,” lead author George Wittemyer with the organization Save the Elephants told the BBC, noting that old elephants are often the first killed. Elephants are being killed for their ivory, which is then smuggled abroad to mostly to China, but also to Thailand, the Philippines, Europe, and the U.S.
The conservationists told the BBC that if rates don’t slow, the African elephant could be extinct within a century. Complicating matters, is recent evidence that there are actually two, not one, species of elephant on the continent. A 2010 study found that forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis)—smaller, sporting straighter tusks, and residing in rainforests—are as distinct from their savannah cousins (Loxodonta africana) as Asian elephants are from woolly mammoths. Yet, forest elephants are rushing faster to extinction than savannah elephants. A study last year estimated that 62 percent of forest elephants had been slaughtered by poachers between 2002 and 2011
From; http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2014/08/20-percent-of-africas-elephants-killed.html

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