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Biodiversity

‘Time Has Run Out’ — UN Fails To Reach Agreement To Protect Marine Life

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.

Why Biodiversity Also Needs Protection Below The Ground

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.

Billions Of Humans Depend On 50,000 Wild Species For Food, Fuel And Income

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.

Biodiversity Risks To Linger At Least A Half Century After Temperature Peaks

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.

Biodiversity Solutions Also Fight Climate Change

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%.

New Mexico Teeters On The Edge Of A New Era Of Coexistence

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.

Strong Evidence Shows Sixth Mass Extinction Of Global Biodiversity

The history of life on Earth has been marked five times by events of mass biodiversity extinction caused by extreme natural phenomena. Today, many experts warn that a Sixth Mass Extinction crisis is underway, this time entirely caused by human activities. A comprehensive assessment of evidence of this ongoing extinction event was published recently in the journal Biological Reviews by biologists from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa and the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris, France. "Drastically increased rates of species extinctions and declining abundances of many animal and plant populations are well documented, yet some deny that these phenomena amount to mass extinction," said Robert Cowie, lead author of the study and research professor at the UH Mānoa Pacific Biosciences Research Center in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST).

Fifteen Things Biodiversity Protectors Are Watching Out For In 2022

It’s no secret that the diversity of life around us is plummeting fast. In 2020 alone, scientists declared more than 100 species to be extinct. And that’s bad news not only for the creatures themselves, but for those of us (that would be all of us) who rely on them for food, to produce oxygen, to hold soil in place, to cleanse water, to beautify our world and so much more. According to the World Economic Forum, nature plays a key role in generating more than half of global GDP. So, what can we do to reduce future harm? One big thing is to identify emerging threats and opportunities to protect biodiversity and proactively shape policies and actions to prevent harm early on.

The Climate Response Cliff

Climate change is only one symptom of a broader ecological crisis; the rapid loss of wild life is equally critical. Most species other than humans and our livestock, (and pets and pests) have had horrifying drops in population within the last 70 years or so, even if they are not yet threatened with extinction. We and our livestock are now 96% of the mass of land vertebrates, leaving all wild creatures together to comprise a mere 4%. At this rate within another generation there may be virtually nothing left but us and our coterie—and we would not survive that, as we depend on a network of life more complex than we can imagine. We’re also seeing the oceans acidifying, filling with plastic and toxins, and warming; topsoil depleted, rivers and aquifers running dry; and the proliferation of nuclear weapons and power plants leaving sites potentially dangerous for thousands or even millions of years.

Animal Extinction Protesters Blockade McDonalds Factory

Animal Rebellion protesters have barricaded a McDonald's factory in Scunthorpe in a move to get the burger chain to switch to an entirely "plant-based food menu by 2025." The ‘animal and climate justice’ movement said that around 100 protestors set up a blockade using trucks, tents, bamboo structures in the early hours of Thursday morning to stop the facility from distributing burgers. Trucks with the sign “McMurder” stood outside the factory while police vans encircled the area. The campaigners, urging others to join in, said they will stay as long as it takes until McDonald’s commits to changing towards a plant-based menu. Accusing the global fast-food chain of poor labour conditions and wreaking havoc on the environment, the activists said that they would end the blockade if McDonald’s makes the first step towards this goal by committing to becoming 20 per cent plant-based within one year.

Red Alert: Only One Earth

Ecosystem degradation is accelerated by capitalism, which intensifies pollution and waste, deforestation, land-use change and exploitation, and carbon-driven energy systems. For example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report, Climate Change and Land (January 2020), notes that only 15% of known wetlands remain, most having been degraded beyond the possibility of recovery. In 2020, the UNEP documented that, from 2014 to 2017, coral reefs suffered from the longest severe bleaching event on record. Coral reefs are projected to decline dramatically as temperatures rise; if global warming rises to 1.5°C, only 10-30% of reefs will remain, and if global warming rises to 2°C, then less than 1% of reefs will remain.

We Hug The Trees Because The Trees Have No Voice

At the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, the delegates decided to hold an annual World Environment Day. In 1974, the UN urged the world to celebrate that day on 5 June with the slogan ‘Only One Earth’; this year, the theme is ‘Ecosystem Restoration’, emphasising how the capitalist system has eroded the earth’s capacity to sustain life. The Global Footprint Network reports that we do not live on one Earth, but on 1.6 Earths. We live on more than one Earth because, by encroaching and destroying biodiversity, degrading land, and polluting the air and water, we are cannibalising the planet. This newsletter contains a Red Alert from Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research on the environmental catastrophe that befalls us. Several key scientists have contributed to it. It can be read below and downloaded as a PDF print out here; we hope that you will circulate it widely.

The Healing Web Of Solidarity

As most of us sat at home during the past year, seeking safety from the pandemic and isolated from each other, we had little to protect us from the onslaught of historic national traumas and anxieties. We watched in horror as over half a million Americans died, millions lost their livelihoods while others had to face the virus at work, an unarmed Black man was slowly murdered by a policeman on camera, and our President encouraged a white rightwing insurrection. All of this is superimposed on the global existential crisis of climate change and the economic abandonment of many places across the country. If years can be ranked by their impact on the mental health and well- being of people, 2020-2021 would easily be near the top of the list.

Youth Launch ‘Stronger Campaign’ For UN Biodiversity Day

International Day for Biological Diversity is observed on May 22 under the theme ‘we’re part of the solution.’ A network of youth groups is informing policymakers that young people are tired of the same old rhetoric and platitudes.

Species Solidarity: Rediscovering Our Connection To The Web Of Life

If it wasn’t already clear, the Covid-19 pandemic has made it painfully obvious that our lives are entwined with the lives of other animals. Our health depends on theirs, not only because viruses from their bodies can enter ours, but because we survive thanks to the soil they fertilize and the plants they pollinate. And as climate disruption escalates, it’s evident that many animals are buffering us from its worst effects, maintaining ecosystems that absorb carbon and help mitigate the effects of sea-level rise. Conservationists have long cared deeply about the survival of other plants and animals, often for reasons that go well beyond self-interest. But sociologist Carrie Friese, a researcher at the London School of Economics, speculates that in this era of intersecting crises, conservationists and others will be more and more motivated by a sense of multispecies solidarity — a profound understanding that, as Rachel Carson warned in 1963, humans are “affected by the same environmental influences that control the lives of all the many thousands of other species.”
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