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...
Red list: ash trees and antelopes on the brink of extinction

Red list: ash trees and antelopes on the brink of extinction

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: September 14, 2017 SNIP: Native ash trees, abundant across North America, are on the brink of extinction as an invasive beetle ravages forests, according to the new red list of threatened species from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The list now includes more than 25,000 species at risk of extinction and the scientists warn that species, such as the American ashes and five African antelopes, that were thought to be safe, are now disappearing faster than they can be counted. The six most common ash tree species in North America, representing nine billion trees, have entered the red list for the first time, with five assessed as being in the most at-risk category of critically endangered. They are being destroyed by the fast-spreading emerald ash borer beetle, which arrived in Michigan from Asia in the late 1990s in infested shipping pallets. The beetle has already killed tens of millions of trees and can wipe out a whole forest in six years. Climate change is also helping the alien invader enter new areas that were previously too...