biodiversity loss

bbc.com
'Diet is global food policy's elephant in the room' - BBC News
Global food policy needs to shift way from focusing on feeding people enough calories to nourishing people, say leading food experts.

Following up on the earlier piece by Haddad, Hawkes et al,

“Eating the planet
In another commentary in Nature, UN goodwill ambassador Pavan Sukhdev and fellow authors highlighted how current production and consumption patterns were not sustainable.
“Food systems are now the source of 60% of terrestrial biodiversity loss, 24% of greenhouse emissions, 33% of soil degradation and 61% of the depletion of commercial fish stocks,” they wrote.
“And the increasing homogenisation of food sources worldwide is narrowing the genetic diversity in animals and plants that is crucial to secure human nutritional needs against climatic and other changes.”
They add that the agriculture sector was a globally significant player economically, employing about 1.3 billion people.
“Small-scale agriculture provides subsistence, employment and most of the food directly consumed by urban residents throughout the developing world,” they observed.
They warned that current metrics for agriculture did not take into account the sector’s costs and benefits.
“The emphasis on yields or profits per hectare is as reductive and distorting as is gross domestic product, with its disregard for social and natural capital,” they wrote.
“Food metrics must be urgently overhauled or the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will never be achieved.”
Adopted in September 2015, the UN SDGs replaced the international Millennium Development Goals and included targets to end world hunger, and improve wellbeing and health of the global population.
Diet data
Mr Haddad said that improving “food metrics” would be one of the first things he would look to improve in order to shift global food policy on to a sustainable footing.
“Diet data is abominable,” he said.
“We only have a clue that our diets are so terrible is because of the outcomes, because there is so much micronutrient malnutrition and calorie deficiency, and obesity.
"We have some diet data and it does not tell us a great story.”
He added: “If policymakers are really going to figure out what is going to be the first, second or third thing they are going to do then they are going to need some good data to carry out some diagnostic work.”
Writing in Nature, Mr Haddad and his colleagues said: “Policymakers urgently need to recognise that diets are compromising economic productivity and well-being as never before. Delegates to the upcoming G20 and G7 meetings in 2017 should take collective responsbility for fixing our failing food system."”

humansandnature.org
Twenty-First Century Zoos and Aquariums: Ambassadors for Nature | Center for Humans & Nature
By Sylvia Earle, Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society, Founder of the Sylvia Earle Alliance / Mission Blue, Founder of Deep Ocean Exploration and Research Inc., Chair of the Advisory Council for the Harte Research Institute and former Chief Scientist of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

This essay covers a lot of bases, from the degradation of our environment and the effects of the degradation on wildlife, to the role of zoos and aquariums in our current societies. It’s worth a read, to make you think about these things.

Excerpt:

If present trends continue, it is likely that coral reefs, most large sharks, blue fin tunas, some dolphin, whale, and seal species, and many kinds of frogs, birds, lizards, and countless other creatures will have been forever lost by the middle of this century. Old-growth forests, natural deserts, and pristine places everywhere are rapidly disappearing, consumed, or displaced by humans. The not-to-exceed limit of 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is already beyond 400 ppm and rising; biodiversity loss exceeds the intact minimum of 90 percent in critical regions such as Africa; about twice the sustainable amount of nitrogen and phosphorus for agricultural uses are now being consumed annually; only 62 percent remains of the 75 percent minimum required of the original forest cover needed to yield vital contributions to earth’s biogeochemical processes. Harvard University’s distinguished ecologist E.O. Wilson calls for at least half of the earth to be banked as intact natural reserves to protect vital biodiversity and the planetary processes they generate. Presently, parks that are open to the public but prohibit destructive uses safeguard about 14 percent of the land and 2 percent of the ocean.

Whether institutions are fostering wildlife recovery, research, education, conservation, or entertainment, attitudes about zoos and aquariums and their governing policies are changing, in part owing to the voices of people who have come to care about animals and the natural world through experiences they have had at those very places, often as children.

ecowatch.com
Pope Francis: 'Politics Has Become Submissive ... Seeking Profit Above All Else'
"We are not custodians of a museum or of its major artifacts to be dusted each day, but rather co-operators in protecting and developing the life and biodiversity of the planet and of human life present there." — Pope Francis
By Climate Nexus

If a Pope can use words to tell us that he’s pissed off, then Pope Francis did so this week in an address to a group of scientists at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Some excerpts from his address:

In our modern world, we have grown up thinking ourselves owners and masters of nature, authorized to plunder it without any consideration of its hidden potential and laws of development, as if subjecting inanimate matter to our whims, with the consequence of grave loss to biodiversity, among other ills.  We are not custodians of a museum or of its major artefacts to be dusted each day, but rather co-operators in protecting and developing the life and biodiversity of the planet and of human life present there.   An ecological conversion capable of supporting and promoting sustainable development includes, by its very nature, both the full assuming of our human responsibilities regarding creation and its resources, as well as the search for social justice and the overcoming of an immoral system that produces misery, inequality and exclusion.

Just as the scientific community, through interdisciplinary dialogue, has been able to research and demonstrate our planet’s crisis, so too today that same community is called to offer a leadership that provides general and specific solutions for issues which your plenary meeting will confront: water, renewable forms of energy and food security.

Within this general picture, it is worth noting that international politics has reacted weakly – albeit with some praiseworthy exceptions – regarding the concrete will to seek the common good and universal goods, and the ease with which well-founded scientific opinion about the state of our planet is disregarded.  The submission of politics to a technology and an economy which seek profit above all else, is shown by the “distraction” or delay in implementing global agreements on the environment, and the continued wars of domination camouflaged by righteous claims, that inflict ever greater harm on the environment and the moral and cultural richness of peoples.                

icrowdnewswire.com
Battle of the Desert (II): A ‘Great Green Wall for Africa’

Desertification, land degradation, drought, climate change, food insecurity, poverty, loss of biodiversity, forced migration and conflicts, are some of the key challenges facing Africa—a giant continent home to 1,2 billion people living in 54 countries. And they are huge challenges indeed, in particular affecting Africa’s vulnerable drylands. Just think that the drylands of North Africa, […] The post Battle of the Desert (II): A ‘Great Green Wall for Africa’ appeared first on iCrowdNewswire.

icrowdnewswire.com
Battle of the Desert (II): A ‘Great Green Wall for Africa’

Desertification, land degradation, drought, climate change, food insecurity, poverty, loss of biodiversity, forced migration and conflicts, are some of the key challenges facing Africa—a giant continent home to 1,2 billion people living in 54 countries. And they are huge challenges indeed, in particular affecting Africa’s vulnerable drylands. Just think that the drylands of North Africa, […] The post Battle of the Desert (II): A ‘Great Green Wall for Africa’ appeared first on iCrowdNewswire.

icrowdnewswire.com
Battle of the Desert (II): A ‘Great Green Wall for Africa’

Desertification, land degradation, drought, climate change, food insecurity, poverty, loss of biodiversity, forced migration and conflicts, are some of the key challenges facing Africa—a giant continent home to 1,2 billion people living in 54 countries. And they are huge challenges indeed, in particular affecting Africa’s vulnerable drylands. Just think that the drylands of North Africa, […] The post Battle of the Desert (II): A ‘Great Green Wall for Africa’ appeared first on iCrowdNewswire.

Biodiversity: Out of Sight, Out of Mind!

Animal and plant species are declining so quickly that world biodiversity loss is no longer within a “safe limit” and could start to threaten much of the planet’s […]

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Loss of biodiversity can induce extinction ‘chain reactions’ which diminish and damage ecological processes. Subsequential cascade effects are caused by the loss of functionally important taxon, such as dung beetles, that are tightly linked with animals which have a greater extinction risk such as the African elephant (Loxodonta africana). Mammal assemblages have played a fundamental role in structuring dung beetle communities but are undergoing a persistent and irreversible decline.

My research investigates the role of large herbivores in structuring dung beetle communities in the montane and forested Aberdare N.P, and assess’ the ecological repercussions of dung beetle decline in the surrounding areas. I focus particularly on the role of dung beetles in soil macro-nutrient enrichment and how the loss of functionally important dung beetle guilds may affect agroforestry in the agriculturally productive land bordering the Aberdare N.P.


Recent results from my research have indicated that those dung beetles which have a strong association with large herbivore dung assimilate almost 30% more nutrients which are essential for plant growth (N,P,K) into the soil when compared with those which have a more generalist diet. This highlights that the integrity and maintenance of ecological processes may be more dependent on this functionally important group than previously thought, and further habitat loss and defaunation may have detrimental effects on agriculture and crop production.

queenofthearthropods  asked:

Hi Emily, my question to you is looking into the future, how do you think a Trump Administration will handle environmental issues, such as climate change and the rapid loss of biodiversity? I am a huge fan of your program, keep up the amazing work. We need people like you more then ever right now. -Olivia

Hi Olivia, thank you for your question.

Today, I have no solid answers - I have a lot of feelings, only some of which I can process right now. My initial thoughts are that it’s likely federal science programs and institutions will see a decrease in funding and support as that money will be reallocated/redistributed. If that happens, then universities that depend on federal grant support could suffer… smaller, more competitive grants, fewer positions supported, fewer students incentivized to pursue these programs… But I don’t know. I’m conjecturing. 

When I made our ‘Go Vote For Science!’ video, I meant every word. I mean it when I want our viewers to understand that politics isn’t just about people arguing in D.C., it’s about policies made in D.C. that are carried out and enforced throughout the country and our world. But we elect the policymakers. We elect who we think will best represent our interests. 

I fear that supporting science in a meaningful way is not a true interest for the majority of people, and in a way, that fear was realized last night.

Science needs champions to speak up for its processes, which aren’t perfect, but the field is held up to its own accountability. It’s a field that is meant to be deeply examined and its work replicated, even encourages replication, testing, and a perpetuation of question-asking and answer-seeking. But often, that process comes off as unduly rigorous, pedantic, in some ways ‘old-fashioned,’ and the questions being asked are often seen as trivial, or inconsequential by those unfamiliar with science research practices. I fear the perception that science has outside of its own community is that it only serves itself, which is not true. And I spend every fiber of my being attempting to open up those misconceptions and share how brilliant, guided, resourceful and imaginative scientific inquiry truly is, and how - thanks to the field and its scientists - we have a more coherent, better illuminated understanding for how our planet works, what it needs, and what brings it harm.

I do not know how Trump and his administration will handle environmental issues. I do know he does not have a strong history of even believing that such current issues and events - climate change being a major one - are… real. Or that they are really caused by human actions, which are really having truly negative impacts on our planet and its inhabitants. Frankly, I don’t even know if he cares. 

But here is what I do know: I will not give up my goal of helping people better understand and appreciate our terrifically wonderful planet. I will not begin to entertain the idea that the work of scientists and those communicators dedicated to sharing their research is somehow unimportant or lacking in meaning. I will be vocal about issues which will negatively impact the support and funding for science, especially when it comes to topics dealing with biodiversity. I will continue to create well-researched content about these topics in a way that is easy to understand and share. I will continue striving to keep you involved, in whatever way I can. 

Knowledge empowers people, and it can mobilize them in a way to take action for those causes they believe in. It’s my hope that we don’t forget the power that such knowledge and information contain, and that we don’t allow for that to be taken from us because suddenly we have a person in one of the most powerful leaderships positions on the planet who perhaps will not use that same knowledge or information to make changes for the better. We have to keep working. We have to keep seeking that knowledge, even when it’s hard, and even when it’s getting harder. 

In whatever small way I can help, I will. For whatever small, positive impact I can make, I’ll make it. These are the core values I hold now, and will always hold. That is the most I can do, and even so, it’s a lot. I hope you will do the same. And we’ll take this a day at a time. 

icrowdnewswire.com
Funding Lags to Combat Land Degradation

Land degradation already affects millions of people, bringing biodiversity loss, reduced availability of clean water, food insecurity and greater vulnerability to the harsh impacts of climate change. According to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), two billion hectares of productive land are currently degraded worldwide. An additional 12 million hectares are degraded every […] The post Funding Lags to Combat Land Degradation appeared first on iCrowdNewswire.

icrowdnewswire.com
Funding Lags to Combat Land Degradation

Land degradation already affects millions of people, bringing biodiversity loss, reduced availability of clean water, food insecurity and greater vulnerability to the harsh impacts of climate change. According to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), two billion hectares of productive land are currently degraded worldwide. An additional 12 million hectares are degraded every […] The post Funding Lags to Combat Land Degradation appeared first on iCrowdNewswire.

New natures: Landscape architecture, ecological and urban design from the scale of the street to the region

Stream: Imagination

Author: Simon Kilbane, University of Technology Sydney

Abstract: While Australia is not alone in facing global problems such as population growth, urbanisation, biodiversity loss and climate change, this ancient continent has witnessed the greatest ecological destruction over the shortest time period. The lack of understanding and the poor treatment of a fragile landscape and its remarkable biota continues to operate most visibly to this day in the nation’s cities and urban regions. Here citizens of increasing number are often, yet unknowingly implicit in the destruction of both resident urban and remote biodiversity and landscapes. Their seeming ambivalence to the fragility and ecological uniqueness of Australia’s biodiversity often framed by notions of ‘nature’ and ‘wilderness’ as geographically distant and separate from self.

Globally and locally, the challenge to design environments to host species other than just our own has come to the fore in the age of the Anthropocene. While ‘novel’ ecosystem concepts are increasingly common, these typically describe or recognise existing landscapes and species assemblages, rather than be ‘designed’ ecosystems. Similarly, ‘re-wilding’ approaches, popular at large scales, are fraught by attempts to replicate prior ecological benchmark conditions in an increasingly complex world marked by a changing climate. While deep ecology encouraged us to think of the intrinsic value of biodiversity, through the lens of ecosystem services we now reconsider ideas of ‘nature’ and are – perhaps – open to the engineering or design of ecosystems. But is this really possible or are we simply deceiving ourselves into thinking that we can mediate at the fraught confluence between our own species and the other 99.99% that we share the planet with?

This presentation explores a range of old and new tools and methods that could test the potential to design such futures. This takes place through a select review of projects and reflections based upon more than 15 years of teaching, research and practice that explores the nexus between landscape architecture, ecological and urban design from the scale of the street to the region. The landscape architectural method, involving stages of: research and consultation; mapping and on-site exploration; conceptual ideation; and detailed design can help to articulate a potential rapprochement between ‘nature’ and ‘culture, helping to re-imagine our urban environment in a post-anthropocentric world. The design approach sits in contrast with science – which does not operate in a speculative manner across uncertain futures – and fits within the disciplines ‘stewardship’ remit. This presentation argues that while policy, public support and recognition for ecological values within cities has never been stronger, Australia’s ambitious urban infill targets and an increasingly contested urban territory necessitates the exploration of creative ways such as these to consider the ‘wild’ within our cities. This is relevant not only to post-modern citizens who seek authenticity and healthy and engaging urban environments, but also holds promise for the planet’s future.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Novel ecosystem theory: should we worry?
  2. Heuristic principles versus design: do rules of thumb exist and do we need design?
  3. What tools and methods could help us to (really) practice notions of stewardship?
World's Wildlife Population Down Almost 60% Since 1970

The Living Planet Report 2016 confirms that alongside extinction, i.e. biodiversity loss, the loss of wildlife in terms of absolute numbers is extremely alarming. The Title Risk and Resilience […]

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Soundscape ecology is a fascinating field that is illustrating just how devastating the effects of human caused habitat destruction can be on biodiversity

if you’re idea of a “successful” economic system yields massive ecosystem destruction, loss of biodiversity, acidifying oceans full of mercury and plastic, antibiotic-resistant bacterial outbreaks from factory farm runoff, soil degradation and topsoil erosion through industrial agriculture and monoculture, mass honeybee die-offs, contamination of groundwater from fracking/chemical spills/oil spills, and unfathomable amounts of waste, please fuck off

Critically Endangered!?

It’s so silly how people are allowed to have a critically endangered species as a pet, is it really the right move in order to conserve a species to sell them to the public. They should monitored by animal specialists and not handled by curious children, it’s no wonder there is such a huge biodiversity loss in the world when people are so inconsiderate about animal welfare and conservation issues. It seriously needs to be sorted out.