The planet’s largest ecosystems could collapse faster than we thought

The planet’s largest ecosystems could collapse faster than we thought

SOURCE: The Daily Climate DATE: March 11, 2020 SNIP: If put under the kind of environmental stress increasingly seen on our planet, large ecosystems —such as the Amazon rainforest or the Caribbean coral reefs—could collapse in just a few decades, according to a study released today in Nature Communications. In the case of Amazon forests, stressors could cause collapse in just 49 years. In Caribbean coral reefs, it could take as little as 15 years. “The messages here are stark,” said lead researcher John Dearing, a professor in physical geography at the University of Southampton, in a statement. Those estimates come from Dearing and colleagues who examined data on how 42 natural environments—small and large, and on both land and water—have transformed. They found that larger ecosystems may take longer than small ones to collapse, but the rate of their decline is much more rapid. Ecosystem stress can come in many forms such as climate change, deforestation, overfishing, pollution and ocean acidification. “Humanity now needs to prepare for changes in ecosystems that are faster than we previously envisaged through our traditional linear view of the world, including across Earth ‘s largest and most iconic ecosystems, and the social–ecological systems that they support,” the authors wrote. Larger ecosystems are made up of smaller “sub-systems” of species and habitats, which provide some resilience against rapid change. However, once these smaller systems start to collapse, the new study finds the large ecosystems as a whole fall apart much faster than previously...
Trump administration pours “salt in the open wounds” at Bears Ears

Trump administration pours “salt in the open wounds” at Bears Ears

SOURCE: WestWise DATE: August 1, 2019 SNIP: Less than two years after President Trump dramatically shrunk Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) finalized a management plan for what remains of the monument. Instead of protecting the monumental redrock landscape, home to thousands of cultural sites, the plan would largely continue to manage the land as if it wasn’t a national monument, even allowing new utility transmission lines and widespread vegetation removal using tractors and massive chains. As National Wildlife Federation President Collin O’Mara told reporters, the plan “simply pours salt in the open wounds of the tens of thousands of tribal leaders and citizens who fought for decades to conserve these sacred lands.” [T]he new Bears Ears plan opens the possibility for new utility rights of way through the monument, and allows chaining, a process using tractors and a large chain to rip down pinyon and juniper forests. Additionally, though the BLM identified more than 82,000 acres of lands with wilderness characteristics within the monument, the plan specifically declines to protect those wilderness characteristics, instead directing that they be managed for multiple uses and even opening up hundreds of acres for new utility...
Extreme weather has damaged nearly half Australia’s marine ecosystems since 2011

Extreme weather has damaged nearly half Australia’s marine ecosystems since 2011

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: July 27, 2019 SNIP: Extreme climate events such as heatwaves, floods and drought damaged 45% of the marine ecosystems along Australia’s coast in a seven-year period, CSIRO research shows. More than 8,000km of Australia’s coast was affected by extreme climate events from 2011 to 2017, and in some cases they caused irreversible changes to marine habitats. The study collated all the published research by leading scientists, who have examined the effects of marine heatwaves, heavy rainfall from tropical storms, cyclones and droughts on coral, kelp, mangrove and seagrass communities. It paints a bigger picture of the extent to which the climate crisis is fuelling widespread change across Australia’s marine ecosystems. The study found that big climate events were exacerbating the effects of human-induced climate change. Heatwaves, for example, compounded the effects of the underlying global heating trend and left little time for organisms to adapt. The team of scientists looked at events, including the 2011 marine heatwave in Western Australia, cyclone Yasi, the back-to-back mass bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, and the mangrove dieback in the Gulf of Carpentaria in 2015-16. They also examined what the longer term repercussions of these events could be, given some areas had shown little, if any, sign of...