Victorian logging could trigger ecosystem collapse, researchers say

Victorian logging could trigger ecosystem collapse, researchers say

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: November 30, 2017 SNIP: Decades of unsustainable logging has created an “extinction debt” in Victoria’s central highlands that will trigger an ecosystem-wide collapse within 50 years without urgent intervention from the state government, ecologists have warned. According to modelling produced by Australian National University researchers Dr Emma Burns and Prof David Lindenmayer, there is a 92% chance the mountain ash forests will not be able to support its current ecosystem of arboreal animals, like the critically endangered leadbeater’s possum, by 2067. If current logging practices continue, or if the forests experience another Black Saturday level bushfire, the likelihood of collapse approaches 100%. [T]he problem is the product of historical logging practices and that no amount of future logging is compatible with the ecosystem’s...
Meat eaters are destroying the planet, says report

Meat eaters are destroying the planet, says report

SOURCE: The Independent DATE: October 5, 2017 SNIP: Meat consumption is devastating some of the world’s most valuable and vulnerable regions, due to the vast amount of land needed to produce animal feed, a report has warned. The growing popularity of a Western diet, which contains high levels of meat and dairy, means an area 1.5 times the size of the European Union would be saved if global consumption of animal products was reduced to meet nutritional requirements, according to the WWF. The new report, Appetite for Destruction, launched at the Extinction and Livestock Conference, says the consumption of animal products is leading to a vast and increasing amount of land being used for crops. This is threatening areas including the Amazon, Congo Basin and the Himalayas, where water and land resources are already under significant pressure, the report warned. Excessive animal product consumption is responsible for 60 per cent of all biodiversity loss, according to...
Carbon calculations say sixth mass extinction looms

Carbon calculations say sixth mass extinction looms

SOURCE: Cosmos Magazine DATE: September 21, 2017 SNIP: The numbers don’t lie: the world is heading for a sixth mass extinction event, and the point of no return lies just 80 years ahead. That’s the conclusion of geophysicist and mathematician Daniel Rothman from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a paper published in the journal Science Advances. Rothman, who has previously been awarded for his mathematical analysis of the carbon cycle, set out to analyse available data relating to the five previous mass extinctions – including the Permian event, which saw the end of 95% of all marine species – and see what, if any, conclusions could be drawn in relation to today’s climate modelling. Crunching all the numbers, Rothman concluded that in the current circumstances the threshold will be crossed when the amount of carbon pumped into the ocean – above the sequestered leakage amount – hits 310 gigatonnes. Best-case scenario modelling by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that that by 2100 the actual added ocean carbon load will just scrape under that target, at 300 gigatonnes. Every other scenario lands substantially above...
Mathematical Formula Predicts Global Mass Extinction Event in 2100

Mathematical Formula Predicts Global Mass Extinction Event in 2100

SOURCE: Motherboard DATE: September 20, 2017 SNIP: A new paper in Science Advances finds that a mass extinction period mirroring ones from our planet’s ancient past could be triggered when humanity adds a certain amount of carbon to the oceans, which are home to the majority of all plants and animals on our planet. The paper pegs that amount at 310 gigatons. According to lead author Daniel Rothman of MIT, based on projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we’re on course to hit that number by 2100. After that, we enter “unknown territory.” Passing over this carbon threshold moves us “to the other side of the stability boundary,” Rothman [Daniel Rothman of MIT] told me. It’s not that on Jan. 2, 2100, all species on our planet begin to apocalyptically die off. “The next day, everybody wakes up and goes to work as normal,” he said. It might take 10,000 years for a true disaster to play out. We’re rapidly moving towards a tipping point echoed in Earth’s ancient past. If we continue at this pace, we’ll reach it within our lifetimes, with implications that aren’t yet...
New Climate Risk Classification Created to Account for Potential “Existential” Threats

New Climate Risk Classification Created to Account for Potential “Existential” Threats

SOURCE: Scripps Institution of Oceanography and PNAS DATE: September 14, 2017 SNIP: Researchers identify a one-in-20 chance of temperature increase causing catastrophic damage or worse by 2050. A new study evaluating models of future climate scenarios has led to the creation of the new risk categories “catastrophic” and “unknown” to characterize the range of threats posed by rapid global warming. Researchers propose that unknown risks imply existential threats to the survival of humanity. The risk assessment stems from the objective stated in the 2015 Paris Agreement regarding climate change that society keep average global temperatures “well below” a 2°C (3.6°F) increase from what they were before the Industrial Revolution. Even if that objective is met, a global temperature increase of 1.5°C (2.7°F) is still categorized as “dangerous,” meaning it could create substantial damage to human and natural systems. A temperature increase greater than 3°C (5.4°F) could lead to what the researchers term “catastrophic” effects, and an increase greater than 5°C (9°F) could lead to “unknown” consequences which they describe as beyond catastrophic including potentially existential...