Facts

brain reading

Living Planet Report 2018, by WWF

Aiming higher

“The nature conservation agenda is not only about securing the future of tigers, pandas, whales and all the amazing diversity of life we love and cherish on Earth. It’s bigger than that. Our day-to-day life, health and livelihoods depend on a healthy planet. There cannot be a healthy, happy and prosperous future for people on a planet with a destabilized climate, depleted oceans and rivers, degraded land and empty forests, all stripped of biodiversity, the web of life that sustains us all.

In the next years, we need to urgently transition to a net carbon-neutral society and halt and reverse nature loss – through green finance and shifting to clean energy and environmentally friendly food production. In addition, we must preserve and restore enough land and ocean in a natural state to sustain all life.

But we have two main problems. First, and perhaps the greatest, is the cultural challenge. For too long we have taken nature for granted, and this needs to stop. The second is economic. We can no longer ignore the impact of current unsustainable production models and wasteful lifestyles. These must be accounted for and addressed.

This is today’s – and our generation’s – greatest challenge and opportunity: for the first time, we can fully grasp how protecting nature is also about protecting people. The environmental and human development agendas are rapidly converging.

Few people have the chance to be a part of truly historic transformations. This is ours. We have before us a rapidly closing window for action and an unparalleled opportunity as we head into the year 2020. This is when the world will review its progress on sustainable development by means of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity. And this is when the world should embrace a new global deal for nature and people, as we did for climate in Paris, and truly demonstrate the path we are choosing for people and the planet.

Today, we still have a choice. We can be the founders of a global movement that changed our relationship with the planet, that saw us secure a future for all life on Earth, including our own. Or we can be the generation that had its chance and failed to act; that let Earth slip away. The choice is ours. Together we can make it happen for nature and for people.”  – a forward by Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International

WWF, full report to download hyperlink, published in 2018

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Five countries hold 70% of world’s last wildernesses, map reveals

“Just five countries hold 70% of the world’s remaining untouched wilderness areas and urgent international action is needed to protect them, according to new research…

…They found that more than 77% of land – excluding Antarctica – and 87% of oceans had been modified by human intervention.

Already we have lost so much. We must grasp these opportunities to secure the wilderness before it disappears forever…”

Remaining wilderness

Map of the world’s remaining wilderness. Green represents land wilderness, while blue represents ocean wilderness

TheGurdianarticle source hyperlink to full article, published in 2018

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Where the Animals Go

Tracking Wildlife with Technology in 50 Maps and Graphics

For thousands of years, tracking animals meant following footprints. Now satellites, drones, camera traps, cellphone networks, apps and accelerometers allow us to see the natural world like never before. Geographer James Cheshire and designer Oliver Uberti take you to the forefront of this animal-tracking revolution. Meet the scientists gathering wild data – from seals mapping the sea to baboons making decisions, from birds dodging tornadoes to jaguars taking selfies. Join the journeys of sharks, elephants, bumblebees, snowy owls and a wolf looking for love. Find an armchair, cancel your plans and go where the animals go.

“Turn the pages to revel in the techno-tracking that is revealing the secrets of animal lives. This is science at its best, the art of understanding truth and beauty!” – Chris Packham

“This book is beautiful as well as informative and inspiring. There is no doubt it will help in your fight to save wildlife and wild habitats!” – Dr. Jane Goodall

James Cheshire & Olivier Uberti, “Where the Animals Go: Tracking Wildlife with Technology in 50 Maps and Graphics“, Amazon hyperlink

Where the Animals Go

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Mapping the decline of Canada’s caribou

“Caribou: one hoof in the grave…

…All of Canada’s caribou subspecies have increasingly been in the news as the animal’s national population, which once numbered in the millions, has declined drastically and quickly to little more than a million today. Experts are concerned some populations may not survive the threats they’re facing. One herd, British Columbia’s South Selkirk, had just three females left in April 2018…

…We are a natural resource-driven economy, and limits to our footprint is anathema to most…Our system of monetizing does not extend to species. They have no value. – Justina Ray, the president and senior scientist of Wildlife Conservation Society Canada

caribou

Canadian Geographicarticle source hyperlink to full article, published in 2018

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What a Fish Knows

The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins

“What we casually refer to as fish is in fact a collection of animals of fabulous diversity. According to FishBase – the largest and most often consulted online databases on fishes – 33.249 species, in 564 families and 64 orders, had been described as of Jan 2016. That’s more than the combined total of all mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. When we refer to fish we are referring to 60 percent of all known species on Earth with backbones.”

“The modern scientific field of cognitive ecology recognizes that intelligence is shaped by the survival requirements that an animal must face during its everyday life…Frillfin gobies’ ability to make mental maps, allowing them to leap accurately between tide pools, is a textbook example of having a well-honed mental skill wrought of necessity. As the biologist and author Vladimir Dinets, an authority on behavior and cognition in crocodilians, says: ‘When people use the word “intelligence” what they usually mean is being able to think the same way I do’. It’s pretty self-centered way to view being smart. I suspect if a frillfin goby could formulate a definition of intelligence, it would include being able to form and remember mental maps.”

“According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the average human in 2009 was consuming 40.6 pounds of fish, nearly double what it was consuming in the 1960s…Global fish numbers are shrinking, and the number of collapsed fisheries has grown steadily since 1950…Anybody who thinks there can be limitless growth in a static, limited environment (like the Oceans), is either mad or an economist…One of the dilemmas of approaching extinction is that, as you become rarer, you become more precious, which in turn makes you more valuable as a commodity. Today, one blue-fin tuna can sell for over a million dollars. Ounce for ounce, that’s twice the price of silver, and a huge incentive for a commercial fisherman.”

“The most destructive and indiscriminate of all fishing methods is bottom trawling. A trawler is like a lawn mower with a big weighted net to catch the cuttings. Armed with heavy metal rollers, these nets are dragged across the seafloor at depths of half a mile to a mile, indiscriminately scooping up everything in their path. A hundred years of structure on the bottom – corals, sponges, sea fans, etc., which provide vital spawning habitat for fishes – is seriously damaged or destroyed by one pass of a trawl net. Fishes of all sizes, plus seaweeds, anemones, sea stars, and crabs, are removed and destroyed. The celebrated American oceanographer and TED Prize winner Sylvia Earle likens trawling to using a bulldozer to catch hummingbirds.”

“At a first glance, aquaculture might appear to be a savior for fishes in the wild. The reality is more complicated. Paradoxically, the production of factory-farmed fish does not relieve the pressure on wild fish populations. This is because the primary food fed to fared fish is, well, fish…Most of “prey fish” captured on the seas are fed not to humans but to farmed fishes and to pigs and chickens on factory farms…While wild fishes are being fed to farmed fishes, the farmed fishes are already on someone else’s menu: sea lice…a generic term for many species of parasitic copepods that latch onto the bodies of fishes and another marine creatures and feed off their living tissues…Overall death rates of 10 percent to 30 percent are considered acceptable in fish-farming…The nets that hold fishes in their sea pens do not prevent these rampant parasites from escaping…The lice are credited with causing massive die-off of 80 percent of wild pink salmons on Canada Pacific’s Coast…”

“Besides wildlife, there are other things we are eating when we eat a fish. Fish flesh is the most contaminated of all foods…Of 125.000 new chemicals developed since the industrial revolution, 85.000 have been found in fishes…fish consumption is a leading source of mercury, dioxins, neuro-toxins, arsenic, DDT, putrescine, prescription drugs etc…Among the undesirable effects these contaminants can have on us are lowered intelligence, lower sperm counts, more symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress, and earlier puberty…”

“It is easy to condemn the cruelty and waste rampant in the commercial fishing industries. But consumers must acknowledge their complicity. In any supply-and-demand economy, demand is the fuel that drives the energy of supply. When we eat fish, we fund their capture

“What many people like about fishes is not that they are like us. What is beautiful about them, and equally worthy of respect, is how they are not like us. Their different ways of being in the world are a source of fascination and admiration, and cause for sympathy”

Jonathan Balcombe, “What a Fish knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins“, Amazon hyperlink

What a fish knows

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The GREAT DECLINE

“The disappearance of wildlife species is perhaps the most pressing and serious of all environmental problems, threatening the loss of valuable natural services and, as a result, undermining human well-being. The already accelerating rate of species loss is set to become faster still, as existing pressures arising from human population growth, expansion of farming, and economic development become more intense.

Key causes of threats to species, in the highest impact order:

  1. Agriculture 2. Forestry 3. Urbanization 4. Invasive species 5. Over-exploitation (e.g. hunting, fishing etc) 6. Infrastructure

The diversity of wildlife species on Earth is not evenly spread. Some places have a far richer diversity of animals and plants. But many such areas are under threat. These areas are known as biodiversity hot-spots.

WHAT CAN WE DO? Retaining natural habitats in the hot-spots will require the legal protection of at least the best-quality areas, with all rules adopted to protect habitats and wildlife fully enforced. It will also be necessary to find ways for farmers to make a living without encroaching into natural areas.

WHAT CAN I DO? Make regular visits to areas that are protected for nature, both near to home and when you are traveling. The more the protected areas are used, whether they are diversity hot-spots or not, the bigger the incentive for governments and individuals to work keep them intact.”

Tony Juniper, “What’s really happening to our planet?”, 2016 edition, Amazon hyperlink

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World on track to lose two-thirds of wild animals by 2020, major report warns

The number of wild animals living on Earth is set to fall by two-thirds by 2020, according to a new report, part of a mass extinction that is destroying the natural world upon which humanity depends.

The analysis, the most comprehensive to date, indicates that animal populations plummeted by 58% between 1970 and 2012, with losses on track to reach 67% by 2020. Researchers from WWF and the Zoological Society of London compiled the report from scientific data and found that the destruction of wild habitats, hunting and pollution were to blame.

The creatures being lost range from mountains to forests to rivers and the seas and include well-known endangered species such as elephants and gorillas and lesser known creatures such as vultures and salamanders.

The collapse of wildlife is, with climate change, the most striking sign of the Anthropocene, a proposed new geological era in which humans dominate the planet. “We are no longer a small world on a big planet. We are now a big world on a small planet, where we have reached a saturation point,” said Prof Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Center, in a foreword for the report.

Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF, said, “The richness and diversity of life on Earth is fundamental to the complex life systems that underpin it. Life supports life itself and we are part of the same equation. Lose biodiversity and the natural world and the life support systems, as we know them today, will collapse.”

He said humanity was completely dependent on nature for clean air and water, food and materials, as well as inspiration and happiness.

The report analyzed the changing abundance of more than 14,000 monitored populations of the 3,700 vertebrate species for which good data is available. This produced a measure akin to a stock market index that indicates the state of the world’s 64,000 animal species and is used by scientists to measure the progress of conservation efforts.

The biggest cause of tumbling animal numbers is the destruction of wild areas for farming and logging: the majority of the Earth’s land area has now been impacted by humans, with just 15% protected for nature. Poaching and exploitation for food is another major factor, due to unsustainable fishing and hunting: more than 300 mammal species are being eaten into extinction, according to recent research.

Pollution is also a significant problem with, for example, killer whales and dolphins in European seas being seriously harmed by long-lived industrial pollutants. Vultures in south-east Asia have been decimated over the last 20 years, dying after eating the carcasses of cattle dosed with an anti-inflammatory drug. Amphibians have suffered one of the greatest declines of all animals due to a fungal disease thought to be spread around the world by the trade in frogs and newts.

Rivers and lakes are the hardest hit habitats, with animals populations down by 81% since 1970, due to excessive water extraction, pollution and dams. All the pressures are magnified by global warming, which shifts the ranges in which animals are able to live, said WWF’s director of science, Mike Barrett.

Some researchers have reservations about the report’s approach, which summarises many different studies into a headline number. “It is broadly right, but the whole is less than the sum of the parts,” said Professor Stuart Pimm, at Duke University in the US, adding that looking at particular groups, such as birds, is more precise.

The report warns that losses of wildlife will impact on people and could even provoke conflicts: “Increased human pressure threatens the natural resources that humanity depends upon, increasing the risk of water and food insecurity and competition over natural resources.”

However, some species are starting to recover, suggesting swift action could tackle the crisis. Tiger numbers are thought to be increasing and the giant panda has recently been removed from the list of endangered species.

In Europe, protection of the habitat of the Eurasian lynx and controls on hunting have seen its population rise five-fold since the 1960s. A recent global wildlife summit also introduced new protection for pangolins, the world’s most trafficked mammals, and rosewoods, the most trafficked wild product of all.

But stemming the overall losses of animals and habitats requires systemic change in how society consumes resources, said Barrett. People can choose to eat less meat, which is often fed on grain grown on deforested land, and businesses should ensure their supply chains, such as for timber, are sustainable, he said.

“You’d like to think that was a no-brainer in that if a business is consuming the raw materials for its products in a way that is not sustainable, then inevitably it will eventually put itself out of business,” Barrett said. Politicians must also ensure all their policies – not just environmental ones – are sustainable, he added.

“The report is certainly a pretty shocking snapshot of where we are,” said Barrett. “My hope though is that we don’t throw our hands up in despair – there is no time for despair, we have to crack on and act. I do remain convinced we can find our sustainable course through the Anthropocene, but the will has to be there to do it.”

Euractivearticle source hyperlink to full article, published in 2016

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The contribution of predators and scavengers to human well-being

“… potential benefits include disease regulation through host density reduction and competitive exclusion; increasing agricultural output through competition reduction and consumption of problem species that destroy crops; waste disposal services; and regulating populations of species that threaten humans. Although there are a growing number of examples of benefits provided by predators and scavengers, it is often unclear how widespread these benefits may be. While some benefits, such as carcass disposal, may be common and general, others, such as protection from zoonotic disease, may be highly context-dependent effects that are localized in both space and time”

Human societies depend greatly on the living components of the natural world, and these natural services are being altered by human dominance of landscapes and climate change. While predators and scavengers currently face great threats in shared landscapes, they can coexist in areas where local communities accept and tolerate these species. Traditional conservation approaches, such as safeguarding land may not result in comprehensive protection of species in human-dominated areas, leading to a requirement for alternative approaches for saving species in these shared landscapes. An important alternative is using services that predators and scavengers provide for human well-being to enhance protection. By adopting an approach that communicates and educates these benefits to communities that live with predators and scavengers while accounting for cultural values and equitable conservation decision-making, we may be able to stem the decline of these persecuted guilds and make progress towards more expansive protection and increased instances of a net gain in shared landscapes.

Nature, Ecology & Evolutionarticle source hyperlink to full article, published in 2018

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COUNTDOWN

The author takes a journey into 21 countries, among them Israel, Iran, Pakistan, Vietnam, China, the UK, Niger, the Vatican and interviews local community leaders and NGOs experts on one of the most pressing questions: “How many people can fit on Planet Earth, in a sustainable way?” and what is the reality and the concerns in each of these countries and how future may look like for them. Along the way, he talks to ecologists and touches the topic of wildlife as well, and how human, wildlife and environment are inter-connected!

I will quote one paragraph where an Iranian ecologist explains just that to a group of school children in California, in the presence of a tamed wild cheetah, and making an analogy with an Iranian silk rug on which he is sitting in front of his audience, when asked by one of the kids: ” What will happen if Asiatic cheetah would disappear from the Earth? Would it be a disaster? Would we be in trouble? Will there still be gasoline for our parents’ cars? Will be have electricity and water? Should we be concerned?“:

Answer: “This beautiful Persian carpet belongs to an Iranian who lives in San Diego. It’s made with more than one-and-a-half million knots. It took women years to do that. Now, suppose some boy with a pair of scissors cuts few knots from its edge. What will happen? Nothing. You will not even notice it.

Now, suppose that he returns and makes two hundred knots disappear. Probably you still wouldn’t notice it among the one-and-a-half million. But what if he keeps doing that? Soon you will have a small hole. Then it will get bigger and bigger. Eventually, nothing will be left from the carpet.

Then, largely extending his arms in the air, he says: All this is the carpet of life. You are sitting on it. Each of those knots represent one plant or animal. They, and the air we breathe, the water we drink, and our groceries are not manufactured. They are produced by what we call nature.This rug represents the nature. If something happens in Asia or Africa, and the cheetah for example disappears, that is one knot from the carpet. If you understand that, you’ll realize that we are living on a limited number of species and resources, on which our life depends.”

World Population Clock – live update

Alan Weisman, “Countdown – our last, best hope for a future on Earth?”, 2013 edition, Amazon hyperlink

countdown

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10 BILLION – the documentary

A comprehensive documentary on what to expect in coming years, as governments fail one by one to acknowledge and tackle the most urgent issue the planet is facing – human population growth, expected to reach 10 billion, far out-stripping the planet’s resources!

Watch the trailer here: 10 BILLION !

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SAPIENS – A Brief History of Humankind

“The Animal that Became a God”

“Seventy thousands years ago, Homo Sapiens was still an insignificant animal minding its own business in a corner of Africa. In the following millennia it transformed itself into the master of the entire planet and the terror of the ecosystem. Today it stands on the verge of becoming a god, poised to acquire not only eternal youth (reference here to the progress to come in science), but also the divine abilities of creation and destruction.

Unfortunately, the Sapiens regime on Earth has so far produced little that we can be proud of. We have mastered our surroundings, increased food production, built cities, established empires and created far-flung trade networks. But did we decrease the amount of suffering in the world? Time and again, massive increases in human power did not necessarily increase the well being of individual Sapiens, and usually caused immense suffering to other animals”.

In the last few decades we have at last made some real progress as far as human condition is concerned, with the reduction of famine, plague and war. Yet the situation of other animals is deteriorating more rapidly than ever before, and the improvement in the lot of humanity is too recent and too fragile to be certain of.

Moreover, despite the astonishing things that humans are capable of doing, we remain unsure of our goals and we seem to be as discontent as ever. We have advanced from canoes to galleys to steamships to space shuttles – but nobody knows where we are going. We are more powerful than ever before, but we have little idea what to do with all that power. Worse still, humans seem to be more irresponsible than ever. Self-made gods with only the laws of physics to keep us company, we are accountable to no one. We are consequently wreaking havoc on our fellow animals and on the surrounding ecosystem, seeking little more than our own comfort and amusement, yet never finding satisfaction.

Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?”

“Perhaps if people were more aware of First Wave (spread of foragers) and Second Wave (spread of farmers) extinctions, they would be less nonchalant about the Third Wave (Industrial revolution) they are part of. If we knew how many species we have already eradicated, we might be more motivated at protecting those that still survived. This is especially relevant to the large animals of the oceans. Unlike their terrestrial counterparts, the large sea mammals suffered relatively little from the Cognitive and Agricultural Revolutions. But many of them are on the brink of extinction now as a result of industrial pollution and human overuse of oceanic resources. If things continue at the present pace, it is likely the whales, sharks, tuna and dolphins will follow the diprotodons (Australian mega-fauna extinct specie)”, ground sloths and mammoths to oblivion. Among all the world’s large creatures, the only survivors of human flood will be humans themselves, and the farmyard animals that serve as galley slaves in Noah’s Ark.”

Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens – A Brief History of HumankindAmazon hyperlink

sapiens

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HOMO DEUS – A Brief History of Tomorrow

“If you watch the National Geographic channel, go to a Disney film or read a book of fairy tales, you might easily get the impression that planet Earth is populated mainly by lions, wolves and tigers who are an equal match for us humans. Simba the lion king holds sway over the forest animals; Little Red Riding Hood tries to evade the Big Bad Wolf; and little Mowgli bravely confronts Shere Khan the tiger. But in reality, they are no longer there. Our televisions, books, fantasies and nightmares are still full of them, but the Simbas, Shere Khans and Big Bad Wolves of our planet are disappearing. The world is populated mainly by humans and their domesticated animals.

How many wolves live today in Germany, the land of the Grimm Brothers, Little Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf? Less than a hundred (and even these are mostly Polish wolves that stole over the border in recent years). In contrast, Germany is home to 5 million domesticated dogs. Altogether about 200.000 wild wolves still roam the earth, but there are more than 400.000.000 (million) domesticated dogs. The world contains 40.000 lions compared to 600.000.000 (million) domesticated cats; 900.000 African buffalo versus 1.500.000.000 (billion) domesticated cows; 50 million penguins and 20 billion chickens. Since 1970, despite growing ecological awareness, wildlife populations have halved (not that they were prospering in 1970). In 1980 there were 2 Billion wild birds in Europe. In 2009 only 1.6 billion were left. In the same year, Europeans raised 1.9 billion chickens for meat and eggs. At present, more than 90% of the large animals of the world (those weighing more than a few kilograms) are either humans or domesticated animals.

The disappearance of wildlife is a calamity of unprecedented magnitude…”

“Beijing has already become so polluted that people avoid the outdoors, and wealthy Chinese pay thousands of dollars for inside air-purifying systems. The super rich built protective contraptions even over their own yards. In 2013  the International School of Beijing, which caters for the children of foreign diplomats and upper-class Chinese, went a step further, and constructed a gigantic $ 5 Million dome over its six tennis courts and playing fields. Other schools are following suit, and the Chinese air-purification market is booming. Of course most Beijing residents cannot afford such luxuries in their homes, not can they afford to send their kids to the International School…We should also be concerned that an ecological apocalypse might have different consequences for different human castes. There is no justice in history. When disaster strikes, the poor almost always suffer far more than the rich, even if the rich caused the tragedy in the first place…And what about the poor? Why aren’t they protesting? If and when the deluge comes, they will bear the full cost of it…”

“Experience and sensitivity build up one another in a never ending cycle. I cannot experience anything if I have no sensitivity, and I cannot develop sensitivity unless I go a variety of experiences. Sensitivity is not an abstract aptitude that can be developed by reading books or listening to lectures. It is a practical skill that can ripen and mature only by applying it in practice.

Take tea, for example. I start by drinking very sweet ordinary tea while reading the morning paper. The tea is little more than an excuse for a sugar rush. One day I realize that between the sugar and newspaper, I hardly taste the tea at all. So I reduce the amount of sugar, put the paper aside, close my eyes and focus on tea itself. I begin to register a unique aroma and flavor. Soon I find myself experimenting with different teas, black and green, comparing their exquisite tangs and delicate bouquets. Within a few months, I drop the supermarket labels and buy my tea at Harrods. I develop a particular liking for “Panda Dung tea” from the mountains of Ya’an in Sichuan province, made from the leaves of tea bushes fertilized by the dung of panda bears. That’s how, one cup at a time, i hone my tea sensitivity and become a tea connoisseur. If in my early tea-drinking days you had served me Panda Dung tea in a Ming Dynasty porcelain goblet, I would not have appreciated it any more than builder’s tea in a paper cup. You cannot experience something if you don’t have the necessary sensitivity, and you cannot develop your sensitivity except by undergoing a long string of experiences.

What’s true of tea is true for all other aesthetic and ethical knowledge. We aren’t born with ready-made conscience. As we pass through life we hurt people (or animals) and people hurt us, we act compassionately and others show compassion to us. If we pay attention, our moral sensitivity sharpens, and these experiences become a source of valuable ethical knowledge about what is good, what is right and who I really am.

More on this excellent book directly on author’s blog: HERE

Homo Deus

Yuval Noah HarariHOMO DEUS – A Brief History of TomorrowAmazon hyperlink

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Being the change, live well and spark a climate revolution

“The prevailing mindset in our industrial society is to search for a silver bullet solution, some brilliant techno-fix that allows us to avoid personal change (which is assumed to be undesirable). After decades of searching by the world’s brightest minds, however, it seems likely that there is no such silver bullet. Personal change will therefore likely be necessary.

Peter Kalmus, “Being the change, live well and spark a climate revolution“, Amazon hyperlink

being the change

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DEAD ZONE   Where the Wild things were

“As I have heard  Olivier de Schutter argue when he was UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, policy-makers at that time had 3 options: address population growth; tackle runaway consumption, particularly in the West; or look to technology for answers.. Wary of being seen to be telling people what to eat, Western policy-makers preferred not to have a debate over consumption. Nor was there any appetite for a debate over population control, a political taboo. Technology was seen as the lone savior – and it delivered spectacular success, to the point where far more food is produced today than is needed”

“Whole landscapes were swept away by mono-cultures – carpets of uniform crops, sometimes stretching as far as the eye could see. Birds, bees and butterflies, along with the insects and plants they feed on, went into decline. Chemical fertilizers and pesticide sprays replaced time-honored natural ways of keeping soil fertile and problem bugs of all sorts at bay. Laying hens ended up in battery cages, pigs in narrow crates or barren, crowded pens, while chickens were selectively bred and reared to grow so fast that their legs could barely support their outsize bodies”

Philip Lymbery, “DEAD ZONE   Where the Wild things were”, Amazon hyperlink

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Our Consumption Model Is Broken. Here’s How To Build A New One.

“On August 2, 2017, we started using more from nature than our planet can renew in the whole year. Every natural resource we used from that day onward resulted in “ecological overspending.” Think of it as your bank account. For the first 7 months of the year, you lived on your regular salary. After that, you started using your savings and increasing your credit card debt. Currently, humanity lives at credit and consumes resources equal to that of 1.7 planets a year. That’s compared to 1.4 a decade ago and 0.8 in 1963. If population and consumption trends continue, this figure will rise to 2 planets by 2030. This puts us — and our children — on an unsustainable path.”

shift.newco.coArticle source hyperlink to full article, published in 2017

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PROJECT ANIMAL FARM 

“Your food will never again look the same!”

“”Most free-range farms are bull-shit” Brick told me. “Most free-range farmers give their chickens and turkeys just a small patch of dirt. It’s so small that the buggers don’t even bother to use it! You won’t see a single bugger outside! It’s all a scum.”But Brick’s official promotional line on free-range was contrary to his personal viewpoint. “We work with Mother Nature, not against her,” he would say, straight-faced, when asked about free-range in a professional context.”

“…there is the feed conversion ratio to contemplate. For every one pound of weight that a sheep, goat, or cow gains, she has eaten several pounds of corn or hay. The land used to grow the corn and hay would be put to exponentially better use – economically, environmentally, and ethically – if it were growing vegetables for people to eat directly. The problem of world hunger can largely be solved by agreeing to eat lower on the food chain, a concept publicized in the seventies in Frances Moore Lappe’s Diet for a small Planet

“I noticed that the number of wild birds flitting through dairy farms is inversely proportional to the number of cows on the farm. The reason is that there is nothing for birds to do on lands built solely on corn and concrete – there are no weeds or worms for them to seek or peck. On large diaries today, gone are the symphonies of sparrows, the songs of swallows, the guffaws of ravens, the whistles of mockingbirds, and the lifting chirps of bobolinks, eastern meadowlarks, upland sandpipers, and all manner of other birds. The sudden silencing of the song of birds, this obliteration of the color and beauty and interest they lend to our world have come swiftly, insidiously, and unnoticed.”

“The annual American report State of the Birds finds that more than 97 percent of native grassland of the U.S. (including prairie and pastureland) have been lost, mostly because of conversion to agriculture. As a result, grassland bird populations have declined from historic levels far more than any other group of birds. Factory farms endanger not just farm animal welfare and human health but also the survival of wildlife.

Sonia Faruqi, “Project Animal Farm”Amazon hyperlink

Project Animal Farm lynk Amazon online store

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The inner life of ANIMALS

Surprising Observations of a Hidden World

“When people reject acknowledging too much in the way of emotions of animals, I have a vague feeling that there’s a bit of fear that human beings could lose their special status. Even worse, it would become much more difficult to exploit animals. Every meal eaten or lather jacket worn would trigger moral considerations that would spoil our enjoyment. When you think how sensitive pigs are, how they teach their young and help them deliver their own children in life, how to answer to their names and how they pass the mirror test, the thought of annual slaughter of 250 Million of these animals across European Union alone is chilling.

And it doesn’t stop with animals. As science has discovered and you might already have read, we must acknowledge that trees and other plants have feelings and even a capacity to remember. How, then, are we supposed to feed ourselves in a morally acceptable manner if we are now justified to feel sorry for plants, too? Like many species, we cannot photosynthesize to create our own food, so we have to eat living entities to survive. The choices we make are very personal. They might depend on where we live or the culture in which we were brought up. Ultimately, though, each of us has to decide what we will eat. My hope is that what you have learned in this book will help you make informed decisions for the future.

From my personal perspective, I am suggesting that we infuse our dealings with the living beings with which we share our world with a little more respect, as we once used to do, whether those beings are animals or plants. That doesn’t mean completely doing without them, but it does mean a certain reduction in our level of comfort and in the amount of biological goods we consume. As a reward, if we then have happier horses, goats, chickens and pigs; if we can then observe contented deer, martens or ravens; if one day we can listen in when the ravens call their names, then a hormone will be released into our central nervous systems that will spread a feeling against which we have no defense – happiness!”

Peter Wohlleben, “The Inner Life of Animals“, Amazon hyperlink

The Inner Life of Animals Amazon hyperlink

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After Nature

A politics for the Anthropocene

“A democracy open to post-human encounters with the living world would be more likely to find ways to restrain its demands and stop short of exhausting the planet. The history of environmental law suggests that people are best able to change their ways when they find two things at once in nature: something to fear, a threat they must avoid, and also something to love, a quality they can admire and respect, and which they can do their best to honor ”

“It is a common – and fair – complaint that the U.S. government is distorted through and through by the political power of wealth. In environmental matters, the problem is even worse. Wealth is produced and sustained by an economy that effectively subsidizes fossil fuels (by treating greenhouse gas emissions as costless) and industrial agriculture (through explicit subsidies to big producers and regulatory tolerance as massive feedlots and slaughterhouses), along with every individual decision to buy from those industries. It’s as if Constitution gave three votes to everyone who wants to keep things as they are, and only one vote to those who seek to change them.”

“So long as the economy treats greenhouse-gas emissions and soil exhaustion as free and legal systems permits the mass feeding operations and slaughterhouses of industrial agriculture, a good deal of changed consciousness will mean no more than shuffling furniture between the first-class and second-class cabins of the Titanic

“Integrating human work into ecological vision has a broader potential, which is to re-figure the relationship between the natural world and the human economy. Ecology is the only possible home of an economy; an ecology and an economy must share some of the same shape, and must rise or fall together. Recognizing this, neo-liberal environmentalists today portray the world as “natural capital”, a productive form of wealth that rewards prudent investment. The metaphor of capital makes the natural world visible in economic thinking, where it has often been invisible – think of generations of ignored greenhouse gases and lost topsoil in service of narrowly defined profit – and in this way the metaphor is useful.”

Jedediah Purdy, “After Nature“, Amazon hyperlink

After nature

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Indirect effects of bear hunting: a review from Scandinavia

“In Sweden, data from 1984 to 2006 suggest that hunters exhibit low selectivity for age, size, and sex, except for a slight bias toward males in the north”

“There is growing evidence that the harvest of large carnivores can cause changes to their social structure, the space use of survivors, and population growth rate. For bears, the removal of con-specifics through hunting creates vacancies on the landscape and induces surviving animals to shift their home ranges toward these vacancies. Home range shifts are strongest when the surviving animal is the same sex as the killed animal, which can increase sexually selected infanticide (SSI) by males and reflect a release from female–female competition. Although little is known about how this spatial reorganization affects individual fitness, links have been made between hunting, male home-range shifts, SSI, and variation in population growth ”

“In North America, hunters may show preference toward larger and older bears, mostly males. The disproportionate removal of older and male bears could disrupt population age and sex structure, but it could also artificially select for smaller and less reproductively successful phenotypes. ”

BioOnearticle source hyperlink to full article, published in 2018

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Eating Animals

“We are literally reducing the diversity and vibrancy of ocean life as a whole (something scientists only recently learned to measure). Modern fishing techniques are destroying the ecosystem that sustain more complex vertebrates (like salmon and tuna), leaving in their wake only the few species that can survive on plants and plankton, if that. As we gobble up the most desired fish, which are usually top-of-the-food-chain carnivores like tuna and salmon, we eliminate predators and cause a short-lived boom of the species one notch lower on the food chain. We than fish that species into oblivion and move an order lower. The generational speed of the process makes it hard to see the changes (do you know what fish your grand-parents ate?), and the fact that catches themselves don’t decline in volume gives a deceptive impression of sustainability. No one person plans the destruction, but the economics of the market inevitably lead toward instability. We aren’t exactly emptying the oceans; it’s more like clear-cutting a forest with thousands of species to create massive fields with one type of soybean.

“Weather we’re talking about fish species, pigs, or other eaten animal, is such suffering the most important thing in the world? Obviously not. But that’s not the question. Is it more important than sushi, bacon, or chicken nuggets? That’s the question.”

“If nothing matters, there’s nothing to save.”

Jonathan Safran Foer, “Eating Animals“, Amazon hyperlink

Eating animals cover

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The Secret Life of Cows

“For many years we (owners of family organic farm) made a point of offering all our visitors the chance to taste our milk and our water, with some surprising reactions.  Quite a large number of people declared they had an allergy to milk but after a short description  of how the milk was produced almost all wished to sample it and of those who did not, several asked to take some home to try.  We built up a network of friends who could drink our milk but were allergic to any they bought. It seems, from all the observations we have made, that it is likel that allergies are caused not by certain foods but by the way those foods are produced and what treatments the animals and plants from which they derived have received.

There is no getting away from it, appropriate food is the  beginning and ending of health. Thomas Sydenham said: I had rather undertake the practice of physick with pure air, pure water and good food alone than with all the drugs in Pharmacopoeia. Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, first published in 1861, states, By a little care in dieting (the housekeeper) may prevent much outlay in nursing and much  money in doctors’ bills. More recently Cindy Engel wrote in Wild Health that human health is directly reliant on the health of the food we eat…we risk paying for cheap food with your health.

But somewhere along the way we have lost or ignored this knowledge. Feeding animals is, or should be, instinctively easy: baby blackbirds need worms; lions need meat; sheep and cows need grass. Yet intolerable pressure to cut costs means often farmers trawl international markets for the cheapest and frequently the least appropriate foodstuff for their animals. If you were to put inappropriate fuel in a car it would perform badly or stop. It seems that the effect of feeding people or animals the wrong food takes longer to discern but the consequences are equally dire and permanent.

More than two thirds of the farmland in UK is grassland. Most of this is unsuitable for crop production: keeping cattle and sheep on grassland is the only way to get food from it. We cannot eat grass, but they are purpose-built to do just that. At the moment vast areas of arable land are used to grow crops to feed animals – the least sustainable option. Grassland stores carbon, whereas ploughing releases it into the atmosphere.

Consumers who actively choose to eat organic high-welfare meat from 100 per cent grass-fed systems, more accurately described as pasture-fed, can thus influence for the better the way in which animals are reared, helping to bring about improvements to their own health as well as the lives of animals. Such products are often more expensive but if all the true costs are factored in, it would be less not more expensive and our pastoral landscape would be protected.

My brother Richard works for the Sustainable Food Trust, which is campaigning to increase awareness of the many hidden costs we pay, without realizing it, for the way food is produced. More sustainable food production and more stringent animal-welfare systems will become mainstream only once these costs are understood and recognized by society and by governments.”

Rosamund Young, “The Secret Life of Cows“, Amazon hyperlink

The secret life of cows

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The World-Ending Fire

“The corporate mind is remarkably narrow. It claims to utilize only empirical knowledge – the preferred term is sound science, reducible ultimately to the bottom line of profit or power – and because this rules out any explicit recourse to experience or tradition or any kind of inward knowledge such as conscience, this mind is readily susceptible to every kind of ignorance and perhaps naturally predisposed to counterfeit knowledge…”

“How would you describe the difference between modern war and modern history – between, say, bombing and strip mining, or between chemical warfare and chemical manufacturing? The difference seems to be only that in war the victimization of humans is directly intentional and in industry is accepted as a trade off…Were the catastrophes of Love Canal, Bhopal, Chernobyl and the Exxon Valdez episodes of war or of peace? They were, in fact, peacetime acts of aggression, intentional to the extent that the risks were known and ignored…”

“We seem to be living now with the single expectation that there should and will always be more of everything…This insatiable desire more more is the result of an overwhelming sense of incompleteness, which is the result of insatiable desire for more. This is the wheel of death. It is the revolving of this wheel that now drives technological progress. The more superficial and unsatisfying our lives become, the faster we need to progress. When you are skating on thin ice, speed up.”

“The great obstacle is simply this: the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependent on what is wrong. But that is the addict’s excuse, and we know that it will not do.”

“If you are concerned about the proliferation of trash, than by all means start an organization in your community to do something about it. But before – and while – you organize, pick up some bottles and cans yourself. That way, at least, you will assure yourself and others that you mean what you say. If you are concerned about air pollution, help push for government controls, but drive your car less, use less fuel in your home. If you are worried about damming of wild rivers, join the Sierra Club, write to the government, but turn off the lights you are not using, don’t waste water. In other words, if you are fearful of the destruction of the environment, then learn being an environmental parasite. We are all, in one way or the other, and the remedies are not always obvious, though they certainly will be difficult. They require a new kind of life – harder, more laborious, poorer in luxuries or gadgets, but also, I am certain, richer in meaning and more abundant in real pleasures. To have a healthy environment we all have to give up things we like; we may even have to give up things we came to think as necessities. But to be fearful of the disease and yet unwilling to pay for the cure it is not just to be hypocritical; it is to be doomed. If you talk a good line without being changed by what you say, then you are just not hypocritical and doomed; you have become an agent of the disease…”

“The usefulness of coyotes is, of course, much harder to define than the usefulness of the sheep. Coyote fur is not a likely substitute for wool, and,  except as last resort, most people don’t want to eat coyotes. The difficulty lies in the difference of what is ours and what is nature’s: what is ours is ours because it is directly useful. Coyotes are useful indirectly, as part of the health of nature, from which we and our sheep alike, must live and take our health. The fact, moreover, may be that sheep and coyotes need each other, at least in the sense that neither would prosper in a place totally unfit for each other.” (written in 1982)

“A person who undertakes to grow a garden at home, by practices that will preserve rather than exploit the economy of soil, has set his mind decisively against what is wrong with us. He is helping himself in a way that dignifies him and that is reach in meaning and pleasure. But he is doing something else that is more important: he is making vital contact with the soil and the weather on which his life depends. He will no longer look upon rain as a traffic impediment, or upon the sun as a holiday decoration. And his sense of humanity’s dependence on the world will have grown precise enough, one would hope, to be politically clarifying and useful.”

Wendell Berry, “The World-Ending Fire“, Amazon hyperlink

The World-Ending Fire

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Mc Mafia

Seriously Organised Crime

“The consequences of transnational organised crime are often grim. But few are as upsetting as those associated with illegal trade in engendered wildlife which has dramatically accelerated since I published the first edition of this book (2007). Rhinos and elephants have been joined by lions, tigers, turtles, sharks, rays and pangolins on the list whose existence is now threatened by the demand in East Asia for their body parts to be used either as decoration or medicines.

In 2007 South Africa registered 13 illegal rhino deaths. By 2014, that figure has skyrocketed to 1.215: an increase of 9.246 per cent. Enhanced protection measures have helped to reduce this number but it is still at above 1000 deaths per year. Given that 70 per cent of the world’s 30.000 rhinos lives in South Africa, these statistics describe a fast track to extinction for one of evolution’s most majestic creatures.

Poaching is frequently carried out by impoverished South Africans and Mozambicans who risk their lives at the hands of rangers and soldiers. They will be paid a month’s salary for each rhino horn, maybe $ 150. But the markup on the product starts rocketing when middlemen get their hands on the body parts. Then they dispatch these products to Vietnam, primarily for sale to Vietnamese and Chinese clients. When the horn reaches this market, it will fetch between $ 90.000 to $ 100.000 per kilogram.”

Elephants are also faring badly in Africa as traders seek out their tusks for ivory products. In the Great Elephant Census released in 2016, researchers found that across Africa there were now 352.000 elephants remaining. This may look a healthy number compared to the rhinos but the stock is being depleted by 30.000 animals a year. Given that a century ago Africa was host to some 20 million elephants, it’s clear the danger that humans pose to the species is extreme”

“The Ural river is home to the only remaining spawning grounds of the beluga sturgeon. As one approaches the river’s delta, Atyrau (city in Kazakhstan at Caspian sea) quickly peters out and what remains of the road merges into a barren moonscape. Visibly poor fishermen shuffle glumly in their wading boots around the few desolate villages. They are reluctant to talk about sturgeon trade, but one reveals how ‘We receive three dollars per fish from the state when we sell them the caviar. But it gets more difficult every year. Fewer fish!‘ When dead female eggs have made the long journey from Ural to the finest dining tables in New York or Paris, they will be worth $ 6.000 – $ 7.000 per kilo. This mark-up of more than 100.000 per cent is the sort of price that can tempt even the most law-abiding citizen. And there is no expensive drilling equipment involved. The only initial investment needed to harvest caviar is a net and a knife…In the last 15 years , the Caspian Sea sturgeon population has fallen dramatically. In 2004 just 760 tons of sturgeon were caught by the Caspian nations, down from 26.000 tones in 1985. This is the consequence of the frenzied program of extermination that human beings  launched against this ancient species, which, in 1989, had faced equanimity most evolutionary challenges since the dinosaurs…

Officially, visitors to Atyrau are permitted to purchase 100 grams of caviar from the modest personal quota agreed between the Government of Kazakhstan and CITES, the Convention of International Trade in Engendered Species…In the government shops, the system is clearly working – you cannot buy ludicrous amounts of top-quality caviar for next to nothing…But one hundred yards away, I wonder down the narrow channels of the city’s main Bazaar. Here dozens of stalls boast richly colored vegetables, sausages and cheese…I ask one of the vendors if she has any caviar ti sell. ‘Sure‘, she replies  tersely as she lifts a cloth covering a table to reveal buckets of fresh, but illegal, caviar. ‘What do you want? Fresh beluga, seasonal sevruga – we’ve got most in at the moment‘. I gawp at her stocks, which are worth tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of pounds in the West. ‘I will take a kilo of fresh beluga, please!‘. As she shovels my hoard of “black pearls” into a square plastic salad container, I ask her, ‘Can you give me a receipt to get this through customs at the airport?’ She explains irritably that this is out of the question, but is busy writing down a number nonetheless. ‘Here, call this man – he’s called Nurlan, the Director of Customs at the airport‘…”

Misha Glenny, “Mc Mafia – Seriously Organised Crime“, Amazon hyperlink

McMafia

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The Weather Detective

Rediscovering Nature’s Secret Signs

“Across Europe, the earth is no longer in its natural state. Before being settled by humans, the landscape was dense, with primeval forests. The closed, dense tree cover was the best possible protection for the fine, loose soil, and all processes took place at a slow and moderate pace under the canopy of beech, oak or ash…”

“The ideal conditions, with the lowest level of erosion, are found in the forest. Beneath the canopy of the trees, the soil loss per square meter per year is less than 1 gram, i.e. less than the amount that is created in most cases. In forests and woodlands, the soil layer is constantly growing thicker. Crop fields represent the other extreme. Out in the open, wind and water can cause the run-off of up to 10 kg of soil per square meter per year…”

“Our wild animals are permanently stalked by hunters (in Germany alone, 350.000 hunting licenses have been issued), meaning that they live in constant state of fear and anxiety. They moderate their behavior according to that of us humans. Although deer need to roam widely and graze all day to get their fill of grassy vegetation, they only emerge from the woods and hedges at night. They know from bitter experience that they may be shot anytime up until dusk. The gunfire stops once total darkness has fallen, and only then can they eat in the meadows undisturbed. By day, the animals flee to wooded areas where they cannot be seen and where their grumbling stomachs lead them to nibble on buds, tree leaves and sometimes even bark.”

“…our everyday life is dictated by artificial ecosystems, allowing us to lose sight of our biological origins. Our brain is designed for so much more than merely working on a computer or driving a vehicle: it’s the most important tool at our disposal for making sense of our environment. With the help of our old grey matter, we can sharpen our senses enough to match the sensory abilities of our fellow creatures.

I’m not advocating a return to our roots or rejection of modern life: I like my creature comforts too much for that. No, what I’m really interested in is reclaiming our sensitivity to nature and reawakening our powers of observation, which, up until now, have been buried under the clutter of modernity. When we use our senses at full capacity, we access, the wealth of thrilling and calming experiences waiting for us just outside our back doors, in nature and in our gardens. The world seems to expand when we’re able to appreciate it in all its diversity. I hope you find many new discoveries when you’re out and about, and that, like me, you discover a world that’s much bigger than it first appears.”

Peter Wohlleben, “The Weather Detective“, Amazon hyperlink

The Weather Detective

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4 thoughts on “Facts

  1. Pingback: The Great Wildlife Decline! | huggers.ca

  2. Pingback: Trade of Wildlife | Wildlife-reporter.com

  3. Pingback: Why being vegetarian is good for you, for the planet and its wildlife | Wildlife-reporter.com

  4. Pingback: Marine wildlife – the Fishes | Wildlife-reporter.com

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