In a meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF)’s Seventh Assembly in Vancouver, Canada on Thursday, representatives from 185 countries agreed to launch a new global conservation fund, with Canada pledging 200 million Canadian dollars and the United Kingdom contributing 10 million pounds. The United Nations is seeking contributions for the protection of 30 percent of terrestrial and coastal areas by 2030. “The new Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBFF) has been designed to mobilize and accelerate investment in the conservation and sustainability of wild species and ecosystems, whose health is under threat from wildfires, flooding, extreme weather, and human activity including urban sprawl,” a press release from the Global Environment Facility said.
Rising demand for metals like nickel, cobalt, copper and manganese to make batteries used in smartphones and electric vehicles, along with depleting land-based deposits, has led to increased interest in deep-sea mining. But research suggests that the process of extracting mineral deposits from the ocean floor could destroy habitats and decimate species. According to a new report from British nonprofit financial think tank Planet Tracker, mining the ocean’s depths could cause as much as 25 times more biodiversity loss than terrestrial mining, reported Reuters. And the financial cost of repairing that damage would be twice as much as extracting it.
Scientists have warned that an extreme marine heat wave off the UK and Ireland coasts is posing a major threat to marine species. According to the official blog of the UK’s Met Office, the global sea surface temperatures for April and May of this year were the highest since records began in 1850. Last month was the warmest May on record in the North Atlantic, with temperatures about 1.25 degrees Celsius higher than average over the 1961 to 1990 reference period. “The extreme and unprecedented temperatures show the power of the combination of human-induced warming and natural climate variability like El Niño,” said Daniela Schmidt, a professor of earth sciences at the University of Bristol.
New research shows we’ve long underestimated the environmental benefits from kelp forests. Now these important ecosystems are threatened. Floridians are bracing for an unwanted visitor this summer: sargassum. A 5,000-mile-long island of this rootless seaweed is floating around the Atlantic, and large swathes of it are expected to wash ashore in Florida and other states in the coming months. Smaller amounts have already arrived, and the rotting clumps of algae on the beach release hydrogen sulfide, giving off the smell of rotten eggs. A large landfall will be a health hazard — and a deterrent for tourists and nesting sea turtles alike.
In a study on more than 71,000 animal species around the world, researchers discovered that about 48% are declining. The research, led by Queen’s University Belfast, is one of the most comprehensive and alarming studies on biodiversity loss. The researchers analyzed population data on mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish and insects. The study differs from the IUCN’s Red List, which found 28% of over 150,000 species studied to be threatened with extinction. But the authors explained that the data uncovered with their methods shows that the issue is much worse. According to the study, 33% of species designated non-threatened by IUCN were in decline.
Among the most visible species threatened with extinction are leopards, tigers, elephants, orangutans, gorillas and rhinoceroses. What may be of even greater consequence, however, are the millions of species we cannot see, the microbiome of the Earth which is essential to the life of plants and animals worldwide. As the Sixth Great Extinction proceeds, our attention ought to turn as much to these tiny creatures as to the ones who make good television commercials because we can relate to them and because they are such large and grand products of evolution on our planet.
Did you know that back in December, one of the most important planetary environmental agreements in history got approved in Montreal? This would be the “Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework” (GBF), approved by the 15th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which clearly states the goal of protecting, conserving, and restoring 30% of Earth’s lands and waters by 2030. Not only was another opening created for the concept that non-human species have the right to exist and live their lives according to their kind in appropriate habitats, but indigenous peoples were included and given their due as primary keepers of land.
The 15th session of the Conference of Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) concluded in the early hours on Monday, December 19th with the adoption of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), known as the Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework. The UNCBD is a multilateral treaty with three core goals, “the conservation of biological diversity; the sustainable use of its components; and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.” Additionally, the post-2020 GBF defines targets for biodiversity conservation for the next decade, and with nearly 200 Parties and an estimated 15,000 attendees present for the biodiversity summit, there were various obstacles and points of tension that Parties did not agree on.
The dust has settled at the resorts in Sharm el-Shaikh, Egypt, as delegates of countries and corporations leave the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The only advance made in the final agreement was for the creation of a ‘loss and damage fund’ for ‘vulnerable countries’. However, despite being hailed as a breakthrough, the deal is little more than the financing of the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage agreed upon at the COP25 in 2019. It also remains to be seen whether this new financing will in fact be realised. Under previous agreements, such as the Green Climate Fund established at the COP15 in 2009, developed countries promised to provide developing countries $100 billion per year in financing by 2020, but have failed to meet their stated goals.
The fifth round of United Nations talks that began in New York on August 15 and were aimed at securing a UN Ocean Treaty to protect marine life in the international waters of the High Seas has ended in another stalemate, reported The Guardian. The treaty would have established regulations for the protection of biodiversity in two-thirds of the world’s non-territorial waters. “We’re disappointed that governments at the UN did not bring the High Seas Treaty over the finish line this week. However, it has been uplifting to witness the global momentum for ocean action steadily build throughout these negotiations. Communities across the world are asking for decisive ocean action to protect marine life and safeguard the vital role the ocean plays for the climate, global food security and the overall health of our planet.
We know more than ever about the abundance of life in the soil. Now we have to step up to save it. Look down. You may not see the soil beneath your feet as teeming with life, but it is. Better scientific tools are helping us understand that dirt isn’t just dirt. Life in the soil includes microbes like bacteria and fungi; invertebrates such as earthworms and nematodes; plant roots; and even mammals like gophers and badgers who spend part of their time below ground. It’s commonly said that a quarter of all the planet’s biodiversity lives in the soil, but that’s likely a vast understatement. Many species that reside there, particularly microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and protists, aren’t yet known to science.
A new report from the The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) – which is often described as the “IPCC for biodiversity” – found that billions of people depend on 50,000 wild species for food, medicine, fuel and income from activities like tourism. “70% of the world’s poor are directly dependent on wild species. One in five people rely on wild plants, algae and fungi for their food and income; 2.4 billion rely on fuel wood for cooking and about 90% of the 120 million people working in capture fisheries are supported by small-scale fishing,” assessment co-chair Dr. Marla R. Emery said in a press release.
Even if global temperatures start to decrease, after peaking this century due to climate change, biodiversity risks are likely to persist for decades, a new study by London’s Global University (UCL) and University of Cape Town researchers finds. The potential impacts on biodiversity were modeled against pre-industrial levels if temperatures increased by more than 2°C (35.6°F), before beginning to fall again. Climate change and all of its anthropomorphic influences are already facing a biodiversity crisis, with mass dieoffs — such as hundreds of migratory birds falling out of the sky in the Southwest in 2020.
Mass extinction lurks beneath the surface of the sea. That was the dire message from a study published in April in the journal Science, which found that continuing to emit greenhouse gases unchecked could trigger a mass die-off of ocean animals that rivals the worst extinction events in Earth’s history. The findings serve as just the latest reminder that climate change and biodiversity loss are interconnected crises — even if they’re rarely addressed in tandem by policymakers. Toward that point, the Science study came with a dose of hopeful news: Action to curb greenhouse gas emissions and keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius could cut that extinction risk by 70%.
On April 1, 2022 Roxy’s Law, a ban on trapping on New Mexico public lands more than a decade in the making, goes into effect after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed it last year. Nearly 32 million acres of public lands, including state-owned parcels, national forests, and Bureau of Land Management holdings will be free not only of cruel leghold traps, which can amputate and maim, but also from strangulation snares, body-crushing traps, and deadly poisons like sodium cyanide bombs. From the beautiful Latir Peak Wilderness to the incredible Florida Mountains, vast amounts of New Mexico will be safer for people, pups, and wildlife alike. Along with Roxy’s Law, New Mexico has recently taken other meaningful steps toward protecting wildlife.