ecosystems

Salinisation of Rivers

With often devastating environmental impacts and high economic costs, the salinisation of rivers is a problem that is beginning to affect all of us, no matter what country we live in. Global climate change (be it natural or anthropogenicaly forced) and increasing demands for fresh water are making the issue we face worse.

Of course, river salinity can be natural. The geology of the area where a river flows may contain salt minerals such as gypsum or halite that are preferentially and easily dissolved by flowing water, or by the climate. However an increasingly large amount of the salinity in our river systems is coming from anthropogenic forces; industrial and agricultural activity, mining, and waste discharge from domestic sites.

In all of the Earth’s river systems, the additional salinity from man-made situations is threatening not just the ecosystems in the natural world that depend on the rivers for survival, but ultimately also the human race, who at the end of the scale depend on the rivers for drinking water. The additional salinity caused by our own doing is giving us an economic headache, as well as being a threat to the health of the public. Many of the chemicals used to make saline water drinkable are harmful to human health, as well as being poisonous to many plants and animals; this affects the long term food-web.

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Save the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is a natural wonder of the world. It’s an icon that is home to 1,500 species of fish and 400 species of coral.

Now, it’s at risk.

The Australian government has approved marine projects that involve dredging large portions of seabed in one location and then dumping them in another location, causing disastrous impacts to the Great Barrier Reef.

Australia should reverse its decision and immediately ban all dumping in this fragile ecosystem.

https://takeaction.takepart.com/actions/save-the-great-barrier-reef

anonymous asked:

Im so mad that ppl seems to see our earth as a replaceable. No one sees it as our home anymore. No one's grateful for our planet giving us life and room to strive. No one is thankful to the animals giving us a perfect ecosystem. I dont understand it.

People are just so selfish these days, they don’t think about the consequences of their actions and they don’t care because they don’t think it will affect them. People act like humans are the only animals on this planet that matter but we’re not - we are the plague of the Earth.

fuck alex gaskarth tbh lol

hes like 35 & stuck in his myspace phase, his band is washed up unlike his hair which looks like it’s growing it’s own ecosystem, his music sounds like the noise my garage makes when it opens, and he looks like he smells like goat cheese. :-)

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A student at Clemson experiments with turtles crossing the road. If you’re American, the experiment went just as expected…

College student’s turtle project takes dark twist

Clemson University student Nathan Weaver set out to determine how to help turtles cross the road. He ended up getting a glimpse into the dark souls of some humans.

Weaver put a realistic rubber turtle in the middle of a lane on a busy road near campus. Then he got out of the way and watched over the next hour as seven drivers swerved and deliberately ran over the animal. Several more apparently tried to hit it but missed.

“I’ve heard of people and from friends who knew people that ran over turtles. But to see it out here like this was a bit shocking,” said Weaver, a 22-year-old senior in Clemson’s School of Agricultural, Forest and Environmental Sciences.

To seasoned researchers, the practice wasn’t surprising.

The number of box turtles is in slow decline, and one big reason is that many wind up as roadkill while crossing the asphalt, a slow-and-steady trip that can take several minutes.

Sometimes humans feel a need to prove they are the dominant species on this planet by taking a two-ton metal vehicle and squishing a defenseless creature under the tires, said Hal Herzog, a Western Carolina University psychology professor.

“They aren’t thinking, really. It is not something people think about. It just seems fun at the time,” Herzog said. “It is the dark side of human nature.”

Via AP

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Japanese sculptor and illustrator Maico Akiba created an awesome series of sculptures entitled SEKAI, which means “world.” Each beautiful piece depicts an animal with a miniature ecosystem growing on its back, complete with tiny people and remnants of human civilization, such as utility poles, power lines, and buildings that have been reclaimed by nature.

Click here to view the entire SEKAI series.

[via Spoon & Tamago]

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A Pulsing Desert

The Sahara Desert conjures up images of merciless heat and endless sands, scuttling scorpions, deadly vipers, gritty winds, elusive water—but it wasn’t always like that. The Sahara has a long history of changing climate, when the sands give way to water and humans brave the elements and survive. The Fezzan region in southwest Libya is the beating heart of the Sahara. Though this apparent inferno receives less than an inch of rain a year and holds the world heat record, it actually harbours tiny gem-coloured lakes: the dehydrated reminders of a time when groundwater was much closer to the surface. 200,000 years ago, a lake the size of England spread across the sands, and ancient channels testify the existence of rivers, making the land not only tolerable, but farmable—human communities rose and fell with the water like a pulse. The Sahara Desert might have even been one of the paths our ancestors took on their journey out of Africa. To locate and map these ancient waterways, researchers have used radar images to direct ground crews to study the sites, but the images of the Fezzan region above, however, were taken by photographer George Steinmetz using an ultra-light paraglider.

State of the Species by Charles C. Mann - Why and how did humankind become “unusually successful”? And what, to an evolutionary biologist, does “success” mean, if self-destruction is part of the definition?

The Sixth Extinction? by Elizabeth Kolbert - There have been five great die-offs in history. This time, the cataclysm is us

Sued by the Forest by Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow - Should nature be able to take you to court?

Is Humanity Suicidal? by Edward O. Wilson - It is possible that intelligence in the wrong kind of species was foreordained to be a fatal combination for the biosphere

The Efficiency Dilemma by David Owen - If our machines use less energy, will we just use them more?

Cows Might Fly by Veronique Greenwood - When the land is all filled up, it’s time to get creative with it, as small countries like Switzerland already know

Planet of Weeds by David Quammen - Will he world be takne over by invasive species?

The Garbage that Could Kill Us All by Bucky McMahon - Is all the plastic we dump in the ocean slowly killing us?

Death of a Mountain by Erik Reece - Radical strip mining and the leveling of Appalachia

The Oil We Eat by Richard Manning - Following the Food Chain back to Iraq

Thank you for your submission The Electric Typewriter! Do you have an interesting climate post? Click here to submit!

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The Beauty of Life in Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are the most diverse of all marine ecosystems. They team with life, with about one quarter of all ocean species depending on reefs for food and shelter. This is a remarkable statistic when you consider that reefs cover just a tiny fraction (less than one percent) of the earth’s surface and less than two percent of the ocean bottom. Because they are so diverse, coral reefs are often called the rainforests of the sea.

Coral reefs are also very important to people. The value of coral reefs has been estimated at 30 billion U.S. dollars and perhaps as much as 172 billion U.S. dollars each year, providing food, protection of shorelines, jobs based on tourism, and even medicines.

Coral reefs are in dramatic decline and some coral are on the brink of extinction. One of the ten focal EDGE (evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered) coral reefs species, the elkhorn coral, has undergone an 95% decline in the shallow Caribbean reefs in the past thirty years (last picture).

Source 1, 2

Study: ‘Most plant species important in various and varying ecosystems’

From PhysOrg:

According to a new analysis of plants in grassland ecosystems around the world, it turns out that most of those plant species are important.

Brian Wilsey, associate professor, and Stanley Harpole, assistant professor, both in Iowa State University’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology, are authors of a study on plant diversity published in today’s issue of the journal Nature. The study’s lead author, Forest Isbell, is a former graduate student of Wilsey who now works at McGill University, Canada.

Their findings show that most species promoted ecosystem functioning in at least some years, sites and environmental conditions. In all, 84 percent of the grassland species are important to the ecosystem at some point.

Prior to this multi-year, multi-context research, Wilsey said that the argument for diversity was more difficult.

“In any single context, only about 27 percent of plant species were seen as important,” he said.

Since previous research had shown that such a small number of plant species were important to ecosystem processes, there was less reason to be concerned if grasslands lost different species and diversity lessened, according to Wilsey.

Now, the value of diversity is very apparent.

Check out the rest of the article here.

(Photo: My own, taken a few weeks ago in the Similkameen Valley, BC, Canada)

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The Headwaters Forest Reserve is 7,472 acres of public land located 6 miles southeast of Eureka, California. The reserve is set aside to protect and preserve the ecological and wildlife values in the area, particularly the stands of old-growth redwood that provide habitat for the threatened marbled murrelet, and the stream systems that provide habitat for threatened coho salmon.

Learn more: http://on.doi.gov/1anXhH9

Photo: Bob Wick, BLM-California

Thanks to a former NBA star, a coalition of Chinese business leaders, celebrities and students, and some unlikely investigative journalism, eating shark fin soup is no longer fashionable here. But what really tipped the balance was a government campaign against extravagance that has seen the soup banned from official banquets.

“People said it was impossible to change China, but the evidence we are now getting says consumption of shark fin soup in China is down by 50 to 70 percent in the last two years,” said Peter Knights, executive director of WildAid, a San Francisco-based group that has promoted awareness about the shark trade. The drop is also reflected in government and industry statistics.

“It is a myth that people in Asia don’t care about wildlife,” Knights said. “Consumption is based on ignorance rather than malice. ”

The dramatic expansion in China’s middle and upper classes has transformed the country into a major driver of global wildlife trafficking. The Obama administration is so concerned about Chinese demand for endangered wildlife that it made the subject an important part of its bilateral dialogue this year.

More than 70 million sharks were killed last year, largely to satisfy rapacious demand from China’s newly rich for shark fin soup.

Lavish spending by China’s wealthy has also sent demand for ivory skyrocketing, fueling a massive expansion in elephant poaching in Africa.

The consequences of the traffic go beyond a crisis for wildlife. The illegal ivory trade has financed global crime networks and local insurgents, including Somalia’s al-Shabab — responsible for last month’s attack on a Nairobi shopping mall.

“Conservation is more about China now than it is about Africa,” said Knights. “China can be the savior of wildlife or it can be the demise of it.”

Great read by WaPo.

This we know:

We are the earth, through the plants and animals that nourish us.
We are the rains and the oceans that flow through our veins.
We are the breath of the forests of the land, and the plants of the sea.
We are human animals, related to all other life as descendants of the firstborn cell.
We share with these kin a common history, written in our genes.
We share a common present, filled with uncertainty.
And we share a common future, as yet untold.
We humans are but one of thirty million species weaving the thin layer of life enveloping the world.
The stability of communities of living things depends upon this diversity.
Linked in that web, we are interconnected — using, cleansing, sharing and replenishing the fundamental elements of life.
Our home, planet Earth, is finite; all life shares its resources and the energy from the sun, and therefore has limits to growth.
For the first time, we have touched those limits.
When we compromise the air, the water, the soil and the variety of life, we steal from the endless future to serve the fleeting present.

This we believe:

Humans have become so numerous and our tools so powerful that we have driven fellow creatures to extinction, dammed the great rivers, torn down ancient forests, poisoned the earth, rain and wind, and ripped holes in the sky.
Our science has brought pain as well as joy; our comfort is paid for by the suffering of millions.
We are learning from our mistakes, we are mourning our vanished kin, and we now build a new politics of hope.
We respect and uphold the absolute need for clean air, water and soil.
We see that economic activities that benefit the few while shrinking the inheritance of many are wrong.
And since environmental degradation erodes biological capital forever, full ecological and social cost must enter all equations of development.
We are one brief generation in the long march of time; the future is not ours to erase.
So where knowledge is limited, we will remember all those who will walk after us, and err on the side of caution.

This we resolve:

All this that we know and believe must now become the foundation of the way we live.
At this turning point in our relationship with Earth, we work for an evolution: from dominance to partnership; from fragmentation to connection; from insecurity, to interdependence.

— 

‘The Declaration of Interdependence’ was written for the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by the David Suzuki Foundation. You can check out a beautifully animated video version of the declaration here.

Infographic: Sustainable Ideas

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Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative Builds Healthy Aquatic and Terrestrial Habitats

Through a science-based approach, the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) assesses and enhances habitats on a landscape scale. Partners have completed 70 conservation projects in an area spanning more than 19 million acres in southwest and south-central Wyoming.  

The Partnership draws on science-based information, local expertise, and robust information exchange. The science branches of the U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, universities and non-government organizations provide up-to-date research information for management decisions. 

Projects conserve and enhance the sagebrush, mountain shrub, aspen, riparian, and aquatic communities of southwestern Wyoming. Proper ecosystem function is important in each of these habitat types to provide healthy landscapes across the broad region.

Successes are wide-spread. In the sage brush community, partnership actions have treated more than 30,000 acres to improve greater sage-grouse, mule deer, elk, and pronghorn antelope habitat.  

Projects have also treated more than 8,700 acres of aspen stands, which provide diversity to the landscape and forage and cover for wildlife and livestock.  In the mountain shrub community, WLCI projects have enhanced about 6,200 acres to improve vegetative health and maintain migration corridors, benefiting key species including neotropical birds and mule deer. In the riparian community, restoration and improvements have been achieved on about 219 miles of streams and 1,220 acres of wetland. In the aquatic community, partners have worked to remove 22 miles of aquatic fish barriers and protect about 66 miles of native fish habitat. 

Partners have also worked to remove invasive species around historic ranch sites, replace invasive species with natives along the Green River, and remove barriers to wildlife migration in areas like the New Fork River Crossing on the Lander Road.  Partners are working with the City of Green River to remove invasive Russian Olive and Tamarisk along a 4.5 mile city greenbelt and restore native trees and shrubs. 

In another large partner effort, an easement was secured along the Green River for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to provide public fishing access on approximately 4.5 miles of the river. The project also restored native vegetation along the Green River, initiated riparian plantings and sediment control efforts for the Little Snake River, and engaged in invasive species control and restoration of native species along the Black’s Fork River.

Collaborating with yet another partner, the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative, WLCI improved conservation efforts by leveraging funds, improving information sharing, and building on mutual goals.   

WLCI has received $11 million in contributions toward its various conservation actions and science activities. Partners provide dollars and leverage WLCI dollars to an estimated 4:1 match. 

Through its collaboration with the scientific community, WLCI maintains healthy habitats in southwestern Wyoming so that diverse wildlife, agricultural success, and the wide open spaces that characterize the West are preserved for years to come. 

BLM-Wyoming nominated this program for the Interior Secretary’s “Partners in Conservation” Awards. The Department will formally announce those selected to receive an award in January.