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In the Oceans, the Volume Is Rising as Never Before

In the Oceans, the Volume Is Rising as Never Before

SOURCE: New York Times
DATE: February 4, 2021
SNIP: Although clown fish are conceived on coral reefs, they spend the first part of their lives as larvae drifting in the open ocean. The fish are not yet orange, striped or even capable of swimming. They are still plankton, a term that comes from the Greek word for “wanderer,” and wander they do, drifting at the mercy of the currents in an oceanic rumspringa.

When the baby clown fish grow big enough to swim against the tide, they high-tail it home. The fish can’t see the reef, but they can hear its snapping, grunting, gurgling, popping and croaking. These noises make up the soundscape of a healthy reef, and larval fish rely on these soundscapes to find their way back to the reefs, where they will spend the rest of their lives — that is, if they can hear them.

But humans — and their ships, seismic surveys, air guns, pile drivers, dynamite fishing, drilling platforms, speedboats and even surfing — have made the ocean an unbearably noisy place for marine life, according to a sweeping review of the prevalence and intensity of the impacts of anthropogenic ocean noise published on Thursday in the journal Science. The paper, a collaboration among 25 authors from across the globe and various fields of marine acoustics, is the largest synthesis of evidence on the effects of oceanic noise pollution.

Anthropogenic noise often drowns out the natural soundscapes, putting marine life under immense stress. In the case of baby clown fish, the noise can even doom them to wander the seas without direction, unable to find their way home.

In the ocean, visual cues disappear after tens of yards, and chemical cues dissipate after hundreds of yards. But sound can travel thousands of miles and link animals across oceanic basins and in darkness. As a result, many marine species are impeccably adapted to detect and communicate with sound. Dolphins call one another by unique names. Toadfish hum. Bearded seals trill. Whales sing.

The new study maps out how underwater noise affects countless groups of marine life, including zooplankton and jellyfish.

Marine life can adapt to noise pollution by swimming, crawling or oozing away from it, which means some animals are more successful than others. Whales can learn to skirt busy shipping lanes and fish can dodge the thrum of an approaching fishing vessel, but benthic creatures like slow-moving sea cucumbers have little recourse.

If the noise settles in more permanently, some animals simply leave for good. When acoustic harassment devices were installed to deter seals from preying on salmon farms in the Broughton Archipelago in British Columbia, killer whale populations declined significantly until the devices were removed, according to a 2002 study.

These forced evacuations reduce population sizes as more animals give up territory and compete for the same pools of resources. And certain species that are bound to limited biogeographic ranges, such as the endangered Maui dolphin, have nowhere else to go.

Even temporary sounds can cause chronic hearing damage in the sea creatures unlucky enough to be caught in the acoustic wake. Both fish and marine mammals have hair cells, sensory receptors for hearing. Fish can regrow these cells, but marine mammals probably cannot.

A healthy ocean is not a silent ocean — hail crackling into white-crested waves, glaciers thudding into water, gases burbling from hydrothermal vents, and countless creatures chittering, rasping and singing are all signs of a normal environment. One of the 20 authors on the paper is the multimedia artist Jana Winderen, who created a six-minute audio track that shifts from a healthy ocean — the calls of bearded seals, snapping crustaceans and rain — to a disturbed ocean, with motorboats and pile driving.

When warships and other anthropogenic noises cease, sea grass meadows have a soundscape entirely their own. In the daytime, the photosynthesizing meadows generate tiny bubbles of oxygen that wobble up the water column, growing until they burst. All together, the bubble blasts make a scintillating sound like many little bells, beckoning larval fish to come home.

After months of border wall construction, a look at the damage done

After months of border wall construction, a look at the damage done

SOURCE: High Country News
DATE: February 3, 2021
SNIP: In the last year and a half, crews have raced to complete the border wall promised by President Donald Trump. By the time his term ended, many of the construction projects across Arizona’s Borderlands were complete. As President Joe Biden takes office, environmental groups are taking stock of the environmental destruction caused by the wall as they make the case for restoration.

Much of Arizona’s international border with Mexico is made up of public lands, places set aside by the federal government for special protection because of their unique ecological value — Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, the San Pedro National Riparian Conservation Area, and Cabeza Prieta and San Bernardino national wildlife refuges, among others. So when the Trump administration released its first plans for new border wall construction in Arizona in May 2019, environmentalists were horrified to see that nearly all the proposed wall segments were on those public lands.

“(The administration) really started to push out into remote, rugged terrain on public lands all across the borderline in Arizona, where the ecological value of those places is so much higher that the damage done by this construction is much more egregious,” said Randy Serraglio, Southwest conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity.

For months now, construction crews have been dynamiting, drilling, pumping, excavating and clear-cutting public land. In places like Guadalupe Canyon in far eastern Arizona, simply building roads to bring in construction equipment involved blasting mountainsides and sending the rubble down to clog drainages. Previously wide-open landscapes where wildlife and water could move freely have been severed by the huge steel barrier. The Sonoran Desert’s iconic saguaros, protected by law, have been found lying in heaps next to construction sites.

“This is damage that will not ever be remediated or mitigated,” Serraglio said. “This is permanent.”

Under the Trump administration, contractors have replaced barbed wire or waist-high barriers with 30-foot-high steel beams, 6 inches wide, with only a 4-inch gap in-between. “Nothing larger than a cottontail rabbit could pass through there,” said Myles Traphagan, Borderlands program coordinator with the Wildlands Network. “So the common wildlife you see along the border, such as javelina, deer, mountain lion, bobcat, bighorn sheep, those are going to be completely impeded by this border wall.”

Traphagan’s organization works closely with ranches in Mexico that prioritize wildlife protection and cross-border migration corridors. He said their game cameras used to capture images of hundreds of animals per month traveling the drainages near San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge. “But the last few times I’ve been down there, those numbers have just plummeted,” he said.

Then there’s the impacts of water use: In many places, contractors have pumped water from deep below ground for construction purposes, wetting roads to keep the dust down or to make cement. Because Arizona doesn’t require data on water usage from wells in these areas, there are no hard numbers on how much has been used, but some impacts are already clear.

Quitobaquito is a rare desert spring in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, located on the ancestral homelands of O’odham tribes. Despite promises from U.S. Customs and Border Protection that the builders would respect a five-mile buffer around the spring and its pond, hydrologists and ecologists who monitor the site said last year that the pond dropped to its lowest levels in years after pumping began for the border wall. Since February 2020, CBP has withdrawn 45 million gallons of water around Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

A year ago, hundreds of protesters gathered along the San Pedro River, one of the Southwest’s last free-flowing rivers and a jewel of southern Arizona, to protest the plan to build a border wall across the riverbed. But despite active opposition by environmentalists, local residents and members of Congress, construction continued.

By November, that wall was complete.

That river is a lifeline for hundreds and hundreds of species; millions of migratory birds use it as a flyway every year,” Serraglio said. “And yet they have constructed a wall right across the riverbed that will almost certainly act as a dam and completely disrupt the normal ecological functioning of that river.

This is one of the fundamental problems with any recovery or restoration of the Borderlands now that wall construction has ended or been stopped, said Serraglio. In order to speed construction, the Trump administration waived dozens of federal environmental and cultural resource laws that normally apply to such projects — laws that were created to minimize or mitigate their impacts.

“We don’t really have the baseline science to be able to determine what all of the impacts are going to be, because all of the environmental laws that would have required that kind of analysis were waived,” he said.

Mysterious California sea lion deaths linked to toxic synthetic chemicals

Mysterious California sea lion deaths linked to toxic synthetic chemicals

SOURCE: The Guardian
DATE: February 1, 2021
SNIP: Sea lions in California had been dying of a mysterious cancer for decades. Now, scientists say they have finally uncovered the likely cause: toxic chemicals from industrial trash, pesticides and oil refinery waste.

A team of mammal pathologists, virologists, chemists and geneticists have concluded that sea lions with higher concentrations of DDT, PCBs and other chemicals in their blubber are more prone to cancer triggered by a herpes virus.

The findings, published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science, are the result of 20 years of research, gleaned from tissue samples collected from 394 sea lions.

“[Sea lions are] predisposed to cancer by these high levels of legacy compounds that are still in the environment,” Frances Gulland, a University of California, Davis, researcher who studied the animals for decades at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, told the Los Angeles Times.

Gulland and other scientists studied sea lions that died of various causes along the Sausalito coast. The levels of pollutants found in the sea lions blubber are “among the highest recorded in any marine mammal” the researchers said, likely because of the high levels of dumping along the California coast in the 1970s. DDT, the insecticide which was banned in the US in 1972, takes generations to break down and can accumulate easily in fat tissue.

While the findings begin to answer longstanding questions about what has been plaguing sea lions off California’s coast, it also raises concerns about the effects of ocean pollution on other mammals, including humans.

“Sea lions, they’re coming up on the beach, using the same waters that we swim and surf in, eating a lot of the same seafood that we eat,” said Gulland.

Northwest’s Salmon Population May Be Running Out of Time

Northwest’s Salmon Population May Be Running Out of Time

SOURCE: New York Times
DATE: January 20, 2021
SNIP: A Washington State report put it bluntly: Because of the devastating effects of climate change and deteriorating habitats, several species of salmon in the Pacific Northwest are “on the brink of extinction.”

Of the 14 species of salmon and steelhead trout in Washington State that have been deemed endangered and are protected under the Endangered Species Act, 10 are lagging recovery goals and five of those are considered “in crisis,” according to the 2020 State of Salmon in Watersheds report, which was released last week.

“Time is running out,” said the report, which is produced every other year by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office. “The climate is changing, rivers are warming, habitat is diminishing, and the natural systems that support salmon in the Pacific Northwest need help now more than ever.”

Researchers say recovery efforts — involving state and federal agencies, Native American tribes, local conservation groups and others — have helped slow the decline of some salmon populations. The report found that two species — the Hood Canal summer chum and Snake River fall chinook — were approaching their recovery goals. It also noted that no new salmon species had been added to the endangered list since 2007.

“We are at least treading water,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office. “We have not, however, seen the kind of progress that we had hoped for.”

With the effects of climate change expected to accelerate, researchers said that more must be done to prevent further population decline and the possible extinction of some species.

“We’re at a crossroads,” said Erik Neatherlin, the executive coordinator of the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office in Washington. “There is a lot at stake. If we continue doing the things the way we’ve always done them, we’ll just continue to see a slow decline. Or we can think about where we’re going and change course.”

Miners now saviours in green transition

Miners now saviours in green transition

DATE: January 19, 2021
SNIP: As developed economies adopt net-zero emissions targets and focus on “green” recovery, metals and minerals may one day supplant oil as the world’s top traded commodity.

The price of many base and precious metals have surged in recent months, but Friedland said those price rises are in part a reflection of a weakening American dollar.

“I think we’ll see higher metals prices, right across the board,” Friedland predicted. “You’ll see that the precious metals are rising against the dollar. And base metals are rising against the dollar. Even iron ore, which is probably the lowest IQ of the metals, has outperformed gold. It’s a fantastic run.”

But actual demand for metals is growing too, driven by “green” recovery stimulus and policies.

Friedland said politicians who talk about transitioning from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy and transportation don’t really understand the magnitude of the transformation they are touting.

“They’re talking about arresting climate change,” Friedland said. “They’re talking about eliminating the burning of coal and hydrocarbons without any idea, really, of what this is actually going to take.”

Greening the grid will be a massive undertaking, requiring new forms of power generation — wind, solar and nuclear — thousands of kilometres of new trasmission lines and power storage — all of which will require a small planet’s worth of copper, iron, cobalt, aluminum, lithium, and rare earths — virtually every kind of mineral and metal found in the earth’s crust.

Given that this greening of the global economy will require virtually every mineral and metal imaginable, it will be very good for mining and exploration companies.”

“And now we’re very excited about the United States,” Friedland said. “We think United States is very under explored. You know, American governments made it sort of toxic to be mining in the United States. Miners were the bad guys.”

“But now even Joe Biden has said he will support the mining of copper in the United States because they know they need it. And there’s a long list of metals the United States Department of Defense wants for America’s national security. And they prefer that those metals be discovered in the United States.”

‘Human fingerprint’ covers global heating seen from before industrial era to today, research says

‘Human fingerprint’ covers global heating seen from before industrial era to today, research says

SOURCE: The Independent

DATE: January 18, 20201

SNIP: A “human fingerprint” covers the global temperature rise seen from before the industrial era to today, new research has found.

From pre-industrial times to near present day, worldwide temperatures increased by about 1.1C, according to the research.

The study says that, over that period, greenhouse gases released by humans caused global temperatures to go up by between 1.2 and 1.9C.

But at the same time, air pollution from humans had a net cooling effect, causing temperatures to decrease by between 0.1 and 0.7C, the study says.

This suggests that the influence of greenhouse gas emissions on global temperature rise from pre-industrial times until near present would have been even greater were not for the cooling impact of air pollution via tiny particles known as aerosols.

Nathan Gillett, a climate scientist from the government of Canada and lead author of the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, told The Independent: “This is the first study to calculate the separate contributions of greenhouse gases and aerosols to temperature changes since the 1800s, rather than just their contributions to trends over the past 50 to 60 years.

“[The findings show that] humans have already had a very substantial impact on global temperatures, which would have been even larger without the offsetting effects of aerosols.”

The researchers used a range of climate models to estimate the relative contributions of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, human-caused aerosols and natural factors to the global temperature rise seen in 2010-19, when compared with the period 1850-1900.

Aerosols are released into the atmosphere through a range of natural and human processes, such as volcanic eruptions and fossil-fuel burning. They can have either a cooling or warming impact on the climate. However, research suggests that the aerosols released by humans have so far had a net cooling effect on the planet.

The scientists looked specifically at changes to global near-surface air temperatures, a measure commonly used to study climate impacts.

The results show that greenhouse gas emissions released by humans accounted for the vast majority of global temperature rises observed from pre-industrial times to today, while natural factors had a “negligible” effect.

In addition, human-caused aerosols had a net cooling effect, which cancelled out some of the warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions, according to the results.

“Approximately one-quarter of the greenhouse gas-induced warming has been offset by cooling due to aerosols,” said Dr Gillett.

But aerosol emissions are likely to decrease in future as countries reduce air pollution to protect public health.

Understanding the extent to which greenhouse gas emissions have contributed to the global temperature rise is key to future efforts to tackle the climate crisis, said Peter Stott, an expert in the attribution of climate change to humans from the UK’s Met Office, who was not involved in the research.

He told The Independent: “We know that the warming that has been observed has been dominated by greenhouse gases. But this study gets into the question of exactly how much of the warming that has been observed is human-caused. This is particularly relevant for the Paris Agreement.”

‘Carbon-neutrality is a fairy tale’: how the race for renewables is burning Europe’s forests

‘Carbon-neutrality is a fairy tale’: how the race for renewables is burning Europe’s forests

SOURCE: The Guardian
DATE: January 14, 2021
SNIP: [I]n 2015, the Estonian government allowed what is known as clear-cutting in some parts of the Haanja nature reserve. The practice involves stripping entire areas of mature forest and removing whole tree trunks.

This relaxation of the logging rules came as international demand for Estonian wood soared – not just for furniture or construction, but because of an unlikely culprit: Europe’s renewable energy policies.

Forests cover 2m hectares or more than half of Estonia. Around 380,000 hectares (939,000 acres) of that, including the Haanja nature reserve, fall under the EU’s Natura 2000 network, which is designed to protect Europe’s forests and offer a haven to rare and threatened species. Haanja is home to 29 protected species, including the black stork, the lesser-spotted eagle and the corncrake.

Natura-protected zones are managed under the legally binding provisions of the 1979 EU birds directive and the 1992 habitats directive. But logging is governed by domestic laws, and Estonia permits it as long as it does not damage bogs and other special habitats, or fall within bird mating seasons.

Campaigners say that by allowing intensive clear-cutting in Natura 2000 sites, Estonia is in breach of the habitats directive and undermining the EU’s climate goals.

Siim Kuresoo of the non-profit Estonian Fund for Nature (ELF) doesn’t just blame the Estonian government. He says there is a direct connection between the subsidised growth in the biomass industry encouraged by EU renewable energy policies and the acceleration of unsustainable Baltic tree-felling.

“There is clear evidence that the intensification of logging is at least partly driven by higher demand for biomass for heat and power,” says a report co-authored by Kuresoo for the ELF and the Latvian Ornithological Society. “Given that over half of Estonia’s and Latvia’s wood pellet exports in 2019 went to Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK, ‘green energy’ use in those three countries contributes directly to increased logging in the two Baltic states.”

The Council of Estonian Environmental NGOs (EKO), of which the ELF is a member, has made a complaint to the European commission alleging “systematic” breaches by Estonia of its forest conservation obligations.

To investigate the subsidised European pellet trade and its impact on Baltic forests, we uploaded boundary files for Estonia’s Natura 2000 zones to Global Forest Watch, an online platform for monitoring forests, and found that per-hectare tree cover loss (the removal of the tree canopy rather than outright deforestation) in these areas accelerated after 2015. That was when the government adjusted park conservation rules to allow clear-cutting of up to one hectare at a time in some nature reserves.

Across Estonia, between 2001 and 2019, Natura 2000 areas lost more than 15,000 hectares (37,000 acres) of forest cover, an area more than twice the size of Manhattan. The last five years account for 80% of that loss. Further alterations to rules in other Estonian national parks are planned.

This acceleration appears to be taking a toll on bird species like the black grouse, woodlark and others. Woodland birds are declining at a rate of 50,000 breeding pairs a year, according to national records.

A switch to burning wood in the form of pellets appears to offer a simple and in theory carbon-neutral alternative to coal-fired power stations because trees take up carbon dioxide from the air as they grow. As long as the burned trees are replaced with new plantings, there is no net addition to the stock of carbon in the atmosphere.

However, that process of carbon take-up can take many decades. And in the furnace, burning wood releases more carbon dioxide per unit of energy than burning gas, oil, or even coal. By accelerating carbon dioxide emissions in the short term, burning wood for electricity could be fatal for states’ ability to meet the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global heating to well below 2C by 2050.

Demand for woody biomass or energy from wood as an alternative to coal in power stations took off from 2009, when the first EU renewable energy directive obliged member states to source 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2020 and classified biomass energy as carbon-neutral.

A flaw in the legislation meant that woody biomass was fully categorised as renewable, even if it came not just from wood residues or waste, but from whole trees. This meant that companies could directly harvest forests for pellets – rather than making pellets from the by-products of timber cut for other uses – in the name of sustainable forest management.

As the EU moved in 2018 to double the use of renewable energy by 2030, scientists warned the European Parliament that this loophole in the sustainability criteria of the revised EU legislation would accelerate the climate crisis and devastate mature forests. But against the competing interests of the multibillion euro biomass lobby, it went unamended.

Almost all European countries have recorded an increase in logging for energy. Nearly a quarter of the trees harvested in the EU in 2019 were for energy, up from 17% in 2000.

Biomass, of which wood from forests is the main source, now makes up almost 60% of the EU’s renewable energy supply, more than solar and wind combined, and a vast cross-border industry has emerged to meet this demand.

Taxpayer subsidies are driving much of the growth in this trade. Between 2008 and 2018, subsidies for biomass, of which wood is the main source, among 27 European nations increased by 143%.

“Biomass only exists at the scale that it does because of subsidies,” says Duncan Brack, associate fellow at the London-based thinktank Chatham House. “We’re effectively paying to increase carbon emissions in the atmosphere, which is an absurd use of public money.”

On paper, Estonia’s forest stock seems to be stable and even slightly increasing, according to Estonia’s 2020 Forest Resources Assessment (FRA). On the ground, we found felled areas replanted with small spruces, which count towards forest area, even though the young trees will take decades to absorb the same amount of carbon as the old felled trees. These “temporarily unstocked or recently regenerated” forests have increased more than 20% since 2010, FRA data says, with serious consequences for the capacity of Estonian land to store carbon. As a result, the Estonian land-use sector, which includes forestry, is expected to switch from being a carbon sink to an emitter of carbon by 2030, according to Estonia’s National Energy and Climate report – the same year by which, under the EU’s updated Renewable Energy Directive, Europe must have increased its energy from renewable sources to 32%.

Experts hold that generally, the more diverse the forest, the greater the variety of animals and plants it can host. Žiga Malek, assistant professor in land use and ecosystem dynamicsat Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, says: “The vegetation that was there before protected the soil from being eroded.” Clear-cutting is allowed in Natura 2000 areas as long as it does not conflict with local conservation rules, Malek adds. “In this case it would mean minimum disturbance,” he says. “Which this is not.” Replanted forests can provide climate benefits, he adds, but they cannot fully replace the lost forest ecosystem.

Altering the forest type can also affect the amount of carbon stored in the ground. Mature and closer-to-natural forests sequester more carbon in the long run, due to a healthier ground biomass, Malek says. “Even if the clear-cut area is planted with one fast-growing species, it will not be as effective in terms of carbon sink as the more nature-like forest would in the long term.”

Trump Opens Habitat of a Threatened Owl to Timber Harvesting

Trump Opens Habitat of a Threatened Owl to Timber Harvesting

SOURCE: New York Times
DATE: January 13, 2021
SNIP: The Trump administration on Wednesday removed more than 3 million acres of Pacific Northwest land from the protected habitat of the northern spotted owl, 15 times the amount it had previously proposed opening to the timber industry.

The plan, issued by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, grew out of a legal settlement with a lumber association that had sued the government in 2013 over 9.5 million acres that the agency designated as essential to the survival of the northern spotted owl. The federal protections restricted much of the land from timber harvesting, which companies claimed would lead to calamitous economic losses.

But rather than trim about 200,000 acres of critical habitat in Oregon, as the agency initially proposed in August, the new plan will eliminate protections from 3.4 million acres across Washington, California and Oregon. What is left will mostly be land that is protected for reasons beyond the spotted owl.

The decision is the latest in a series of midnight regulations the Trump administration has pushed out in recent weeks that privilege industry over protecting the environment, including shielding industry from fines and prosecution if they kill migratory birds and reducing protections for animals and plants under the Endangered Species Act.

Conservation groups are almost certain to sue, and they said they would lean on House and Senate Democrats to use the Congressional Review Act — a procedural tool that allows lawmakers to nullify recently finalized regulations with a simple majority vote. But it could fall to the incoming Biden administration to do the slow work of unwinding the decision through the federal regulatory process.

Two people familiar with the spotted owl decision said the sharp increase in excluded land was done at the behest of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and other senior Trump administration appointees and was not backed up by the months of biological analysis previously conducted by the agency.

The final rule does not provide new scientific analysis. Instead it says “the Secretary has exercised his discretion” to exclude millions of more acres of land from critical habitat. He concluded, it said, “based upon the best scientific and commercial data available” that the northern spotted owl would not be threatened with extinction.

Conservationists said that assertion was unsupported by the agency’s own evidence. In December, the Fish and Wildlife Service ruled that the northern spotted owl should actually be reclassified, as endangered rather than threatened, but the agency said it would not take steps to do so because it had “higher priority actions.”

Northern spotted owls live in forests with dense, multilayered canopies and other features that take 150 to 200 years to develop, the Fish and Wildlife Service has said. They typically mate for life and breed relatively slowly. Threatened by logging and land conversion, they came under protection in 1990 after a fierce political fight, but their numbers have continued to decline by an average of about 4 percent a year, according to the service.

Now the administration is taking away critical protection, scientists say.

Top scientists warn of ‘ghastly future of mass extinction’ and climate disruption

Top scientists warn of ‘ghastly future of mass extinction’ and climate disruption

SOURCE: The Guardian
DATE: January 13, 2021
SNIP: The planet is facing a “ghastly future of mass extinction, declining health and climate-disruption upheavals” that threaten human survival because of ignorance and inaction, according to an international group of scientists, who warn people still haven’t grasped the urgency of the biodiversity and climate crises.

The 17 experts, including Prof Paul Ehrlich from Stanford University, author of The Population Bomb, and scientists from Mexico, Australia and the US, say the planet is in a much worse state than most people – even scientists – understood.

“The scale of the threats to the biosphere and all its lifeforms – including humanity – is in fact so great that it is difficult to grasp for even well-informed experts,” they write in a report in Frontiers in Conservation Science which references more than 150 studies detailing the world’s major environmental challenges.

The delay between destruction of the natural world and the impacts of these actions means people do not recognise how vast the problem is, the paper argues. “[The] mainstream is having difficulty grasping the magnitude of this loss, despite the steady erosion of the fabric of human civilisation.”

The report warns that climate-induced mass migrations, more pandemics and conflicts over resources will be inevitable unless urgent action is taken.

An estimated one million species are at risk of extinction, many within decades, according to a recent UN report.

“Environmental deterioration is infinitely more threatening to civilisation than Trumpism or Covid-19,” Ehrlich told the Guardian.

In The Population Bomb, published in 1968, Ehrlich warned of imminent population explosion and hundreds of millions of people starving to death. Although he has acknowledged some timings were wrong, he has said he stands by its fundamental message that population growth and high levels of consumption by wealthy nations is driving destruction.

He told the Guardian: “Growthmania is the fatal disease of civilisation – it must be replaced by campaigns that make equity and well-being society’s goals – not consuming more junk.”

Large populations and their continued growth drive soil degradation and biodiversity loss, the new paper warns. “More people means that more synthetic compounds and dangerous throwaway plastics are manufactured, many of which add to the growing toxification of the Earth. It also increases the chances of pandemics that fuel ever-more desperate hunts for scarce resources.”

The report follows years of stark warnings about the state of the planet from the world’s leading scientists, including a statement by 11,000 scientists in 2019 that people will face “untold suffering due to the climate crisis” unless major changes are made. In 2016, more than 150 of Australia’s climate scientists wrote an open letter to the then prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, demanding immediate action on reducing emissions. In the same year, 375 scientists – including 30 Nobel prize winners – wrote an open letter to the world about their frustrations over political inaction on climate change.

‘Extremely Hazardous’ Pesticide Federally Approved For Use On Florida Citrus

‘Extremely Hazardous’ Pesticide Federally Approved For Use On Florida Citrus

SOURCE: WUSF Public Media
DATE: January 13, 2021
SNIP: The neurotoxin aldicarb is banned in about 100 countries, and is only one of 36 pesticides that the World Health Organization has called “extremely hazardous.” It’s now allowed to be used on Florida oranges and grapefruits.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced late Tuesday its approval for registering the expanded use of the harmful pesticide aldicarb on Florida citrus trees to combat the Asian citrus psyllid, an insect that has spread citrus greening and decimated production.

“The registration limits the product’s sale and distribution to an amount allowing up to 100,000 acres in Florida to be treated each application season (Nov. 15-April 30) for three growing seasons, expiring on April 30, 2023,” said federal officials said in the release.

The agency is also allowing citrus growers across the country to use the antibiotic streptomycin, typically used to treat certain forms of tuberculosis, as a pesticide on oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have raised concerns that using the important antibiotic in this way could increase the risk for bacterial resistance to it. Streptomycin is banned for use as a pesticide in the EU and Brazil.

“Only the Trump EPA would approve use of a medically important antibiotic and a pesticide banned in over 100 countries on citrus crops,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity.

“Make no mistake, these unbelievably reckless decisions will harm children and farmworkers, and further hamper our ability to combat major public health crises.”

Aldicarb has been linked to brain damage in young children and infants.