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Biodiversity

World’s Oceans Face ‘Triple Threat’, Study Finds

A new study has found that the planet’s oceans are experiencing a “triple threat” of oxygen loss, extreme heat and acidification. The researchers discovered that, as global heating has worsened, increasing stress has been placed on marine species, with as much as 20 percent of the world’s oceans affected by these threats. “The global ocean is becoming warmer, more acidic, and losing oxygen due to climate change. On top of this trend, sudden increases in temperature, or drops in pH or oxygen adversely affect marine organisms when they cannot quickly adapt to these extreme conditions,” the study said.

Cities, Roads, And The Sixth Extinction Event

Earth’s biosphere entered the stage of large, complex, multicellular life (following an extended – approximately three billion year – period of dominance by unicellular life) starting approximately 650 million years ago.  This ‘metazoan’ stage saw the tree of life proliferate and complexify, and has expanded into a huge variety of niches across the planet through to the present day.  A key phenomenon over this period has been extinction events; this describes periods of rapidly changing environmental conditions which have resulted in species die-offs and restructuring of ecosystems at different scales. 

Thacker Pass Protectors File First-Ever ‘Biodiversity Necessity Defense’

Winnemuca, Nevada — In a first for the American legal system, the lawyers for six people sued by Lithium Nevada Corporation for protesting the Thacker Pass mine are arguing a ‘biodiversity necessity defense.’ The necessity defense is a legal argument used to justify breaking the law when a greater harm is being prevented; for example, breaking a car window to save an infant locked inside on a stifling hot day, or breaking down a door to help someone screaming inside a locked home. In these cases, trespassing is justified to save a life.

Greenpeace Calls For Bold High Seas Ocean Protection Of Galapagos

On Monday 12 March, Greenpeace called for new marine protections for the ocean surrounding the Galapagos – a vital biodiversity hotspot. Specifically, the environmental campaign group pushed for governments to create a high seas marine protected zone under a new UN treaty to secure a much wider area around Ecuador’s archipelago. The islands sit some 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) off the mainland of Ecuador, and have flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world. The islands unique diversity of life famously inspired British scientist Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Treat Climate And Biodiversity Crises As One Global Health Emergency

A new editorial published in more than 200 health journals challenges health professionals and world leaders to look at global biodiversity loss and climate change as “one indivisible crisis” that must be confronted as a whole. The authors of the editorial call separating the two emergencies a “dangerous mistake,” and encourage the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a global health emergency, a press release from The BMJ said. “The climate crisis and loss of biodiversity both damage human health, and they are interlinked. That’s why we must consider them together and declare a global health emergency.

Deforestation From Rubber Worse Than Previously Thought

A new study has found that deforestation for rubber cultivation has been “substantially underestimated” with devastating consequences for the biodiversity crisis. Crucially, it identified that forest destruction is two-to-three-times higher than generally assumed. The new study was released on Wednesday 18 October in the journal Nature. It suggested that corporations and smallholders have deforested more than four million hectares since 1993 for rubber plantations. Moreover, it revealed that they have planted rubber in areas that are key for biodiversity.

Leaders From 185 Countries Launch Biodiversity Protection Fund

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.

Deep-Sea Mining Could Cause 25x The Biodiversity Loss Of Land-Based Mining

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.

Sudden Heat Increase In North Atlantic Seas Could Have Devastating Effects

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.

Is Kelp The Next Ocean Hero?

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.

Study: Nearly Half Of Earth’s Animal Species Are In Decline

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.

Little Things Mean A Lot: The World’s Microbiome Under Threat

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.

Achieving 30×30: Percentages Matter, We’re All In This Together

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.

False Solutions And Private Interests Take Over Global Biodiversity Summit

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.

In Malay, Orangutans Means ‘People Of The Forest’

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.
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