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Biodiversity / Biodevastation

Stories about Biodiversity and Biodevastation.

One million species face extinction, world is on notice, says major UN report

By: 
Countercurrents Team

Nearly one million species risk becoming extinct within decades while current efforts to conserve the earth’s resources will likely fail if radical action is not taken, says a major UN report on the impact of humans on nature.

Speaking in Paris at the launch of the 2019 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services – the first such report since 2005 – UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said that its findings put the world “on notice”.

We've Created a Civilization Hell Bent on Destroying Itself

By: 
James Dyke

[Editors Note: While GST finds much to agree with in this article, we disagree with the author's assertion that "curbing growth within environmental limits is central to the idea of a Green New Deal." On the contrary, the Green New Deals of the US Congress and the Green Party would increase growth.]

It may seem nonsense that humans are unable to make important changes to the system they have built. But just how free are we? Rather than being masters of our own destiny, we may be very constrained in how we can act.

If you jump in your car to get to a particular destination, you can’t travel in a straight line “as the crow flies”. You will use roads that in some instances are older than your car, you, or even your nation. A significant fraction of human effort and endeavour is devoted to maintaining this fabric of the technosphere: fixing roads, railways, and buildings, for example.

An Even More Inconvenient Truth: Why Carbon Credits for Forest Preservation May Be Worse Than Nothing

By: 
Lisa Song

The appetite is global. For the airline industry and industrialized nations in the Paris climate accord, offsets could be a cheap alternative to actually reducing fossil fuel use.

But the desperate hunger for these carbon credit plans appears to have blinded many of their advocates to the mounting pile of evidence that they haven’t — and won’t — deliver the climate benefit they promise.

I looked at projects going back two decades and spanning the globe and pulled together findings from academic researchers in far-flung forest villages, studies published in obscure journals, foreign government reports and dense technical documents. I enlisted a satellite imagery analysis firm to see how much of the forest remained in a preservation project that started selling credits in 2013. Four years later, only half the project areas were forested.

The Failures of Farming and the Necessity of Wildtending

By: 
Nick Pemberton

Kollibri makes a convincing argument against farming and agriculture (and for wildtending). Kollibri effectively debunks myths about what he calls gatherer-hunters (he explains the reason for the reversal of the name). He points to not only their technical knowledge of plants, but argues that the all-knowing Western subject simply cannot grasp the feeling of what it was like to live in that time—either mentally or materially. A remarkably humble Western scholar Kollibri must be! He also brings into question whether our lives now—which have above all just expanded the field of work and the distancing from nature—really make us happier.

A Lethal Industrial Farm Fungus Is Spreading Among Us

By: 
Alex Liebman and Rob Wallace

Eighty percent of U.S. antibiotics are used to promote livestock and poultry growth and protect the animals from the bacterial consequences of the manure-laden environments in which they are grown. That’s 34 million pounds a year of antibiotics as of 2015.

Fungicide and pesticide production at Sapec Crop Protection, Portugal

The agricultural applications help generate drug resistance across multiple human bacterial infections, killing 23,000-100,000 Americans a year and, with an increasing amount of antibiotics applied abroad, 700,000 people worldwide.

When will Californians wake up to the risk to children from nuclear radiation?

By: 
Akio Matsumura

World Wars I and II destroyed cities in huge urban areas, yet many of these cities were rebuilt within 20 years. The difference between these catastrophes is due to the fact that while the environmental landscape in cities destroyed by conventional warfare stayed relatively healthy, cities which were impacted by nuclear radiation will remain partly or completely uninhabitable for centuries. Within the “controlled” environment of a nuclear plant facility, spent fuel rods should be kept in a safe place for 100,000 years, and the 250,000 tons of radioactive waste produced worldwide will remain dangerous to all life for thousands of years. I have never thought of such a long time-span which could well extend beyond humanity’s existence on Earth.  This new discovery is what I and many of my readers share. 

Nitrogen glut: Too much of a good thing is deadly for the biosphere

By: 
Ian Angus

The nitrogen glut (and the uneven distribution that causes shortages in some places, particularly sub-Saharan Africa) is damaging the biosphere in many ways. Recent studies show that its harmful effects will be intensified by climate change. It is painfully clear that any serious effort to prevent ecological catastrophes in this century must include reining in the overproduction of reactive nitrogen.   To determine how that can be done, we need to understand how and why the glut occurred. How did the metabolic rift in 19th century agriculture, characterized by the depletion and waste of essential nutrients, lead in the 20th century to planetary rifts caused by massive oversupply and overuse of the same elements? Part Three will address that question.

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