Meditation Focus #115
Saving the Earth Through Healing Our Koyaanisqatsi
What follows is the 115th Meditation Focus suggested for the next 4 (FOUR) weeks beginning Sunday, August 1, 2004.
SAVING THE EARTH THROUGH HEALING OUR KOYAANISQATSI
2. Meditation times
3. Higher Assistance May Be Given Within the Context of the Law of Free Will
4. Earth People... Awake!
5. Humanitarian Vigil for Darfur, Sudan
6. More information related to this Meditation Focus
CONTENTS OF SECTION #6 BELOW
1. Modern Day Noahs Race to Build Wildlife Gene Bank
2. Life Disintegrating
3. Crazy Life
4. Mass Extinction Underway, Majority of Biologists Say
5. Lions 'close to extinction'
6. Study: Only 10 percent of big ocean fish remain
7. Bluefin tuna losing battle for survival
8. World's plants under pressure
9. Orangutans Edging Closer to Brink of Extinction
10. Polar bears roam Arctic ice on borrowed time
11. Industrial shrimp farming in mangrove areas must be banned
12. Deforestation threatens Amazon river, scientists warn
13. Amazon fires change weather, speed deforestation
14. The killer bees are coming
15. Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World
16. US nuclear clean-up carries major risks
koy · ahn · i · skaht · see
Noun from the Hopi language meaning...
1. life disintegrating
2. life out of balance
3. life in turmoil
4. crazy life
5. a state of life that calls for another way of living.
For over 50 years now, the environmental movement has desperately struggled against modern civilization's rush to ecological destruction, yet today we stand on the cusp of what many scientists refer to as the "Sixth Great Extinction," one caused this time not by a meteor or other "natural" disasters, but by the accumulated impacts of human activity.
Like a snowball rolling down a steep hill, the evidence is rapidly accumulating - there's a limit to how much bulldozing, plowing, paving, deforestation, pollution, and other human impacts Earth can take, and we've gone over it. The situation is so bad that scientists are now racing to set up a gene bank of the world's endangered animals, with thousands of species expected to become extinct within a generation due to climate change and habitat destruction.
According to Richard Cincotta, ecologist and senior researcher, Population Action International, "There are now more human babies born each day-- about 350,000-- than there are individuals left in all the great ape species combined, including gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans." Orangutans once ranged throughout Southeast Asia. Today they can be found only on the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Scientists estimate that in the last 10 years their numbers have been reduced by up to 50 percent, to perhaps as few as 13,000 living in the wild. Lion populations have fallen by almost 90% in the past 20 years, leaving the animal close to extinction in Africa, a wildlife expert has warned. There are now only 23,000 left, compared to an estimated 200,000 two decades ago, according to Laurence Frank, a wildlife biologist from the University of California.
As for the oceans, they may look pristine but experts warn that life below the sea could collapse. A study by Ran Myers and Boris Worm of Nova Scotias Dalhousie University reported that 90 percent of all large fishes have disappeared from the world's oceans in the past half century, the devastating result of industrial fishing. Those marine biologists say not only bluefin tuna but also other fish stocks are plummeting across the world, upsetting delicate natural food chains. Some fear irreversible damage has already been done. Even worse, international law experts add, little is being done to stop it. Despite all the evidence, high-tech fleets probe the last deep water refuges, hardly troubled by authorities.
Should Earth continue its warming pattern, scientists fear shore and habitat erosion, increased salinity of estuaries and freshwater aquifers, altered tidal ranges in rivers and bays, changes in sediments and nutrient transport, a change in patterns of chemical and microbial contamination in coastal areas, and increased coastal flooding. Ecosystems particularly at risk include saltwater marshes, mangrove ecosystems, coastal wetlands, coral reefs, coral atolls, and river deltas.
Almost half of all plant species could be facing extinction, according to new research by botanists in the United States. The official estimate by the World Conservation Union - the IUCN - suggests that 13% of the world's plant species are under threat, but the two US botanists say it is at least 22% and could be as many as 47%. Tropical forests alone are estimated to be disappearing at the rate of 12 million to 15 million hectares (46,000 to 59,000 square miles) a year.
This list of environmental ills that destroy our local and global environment could go on and on and on, as exemplified in the complementary information section below.
Our modern culture presents itself as something inevitable, even "natural," as if we have no choice but to continue to live alienated and Earth-destructive lives, but this is a lie. There is a way of living human life on Earth that is far more healthy, graceful and balanced than the destructive alienation currently driving us towards disaster, a way of life so powerfully connected to the often unnoticed wonder that surrounds us that it can actually heal the immense devastation we've caused during our march to "civilization." It is high time we heal our "koyannisqatsi" - our deadly estrangement from nature and the devastating damage it has caused to the processes that support life on Earth, as well as our own epidemic of human physical, emotional, social, and spiritual diseases. Despite huge progress in parts of the world in so-called environmental awareness, there is still a huge gap between what we profess or believe about the preciousness of all life-forms and the lightning speed with which we go about destroying the environment through our individual choices as consumers and the cumulative consequences of simple food choices, preferred lifestyles, transportation modes, and indulging in the multifaceted comforts of modern civilization.
Please dedicate your prayers and meditations, as guided by Spirit, in the coming four weeks (up to August 28), and especially in synchronous attunement at the usual time this Sunday and the following three Sundays, to foster a sense of urgency in every living soul as to the state of our endangered planet and the need to take remedial actions in order to restore balance in the Web of Life that sustains us all. May every human being realize soon how fragile are the ecological processes that maintain a steady and dynamic equilibrium without which nothing of what we have taken for granted for so long would exist. The exquisite beauty of all Life in Its myriad manifestations and the ever enchanting wonders of Nature are too sacred and just too precious to be wasted and blindly destroyed in the blink of an eye, on a cosmic time-scale perspective, as we are collectively doing right now. Let us all take time to ponder what can be done to alleviate the sufferings of Mother Earth and let us focus our collective healing energies to help Gaia, our living planet, survive and prosper, for the Highest Good of All.
This whole Meditation Focus has been archived for your convenience at http://www.aei.ca/~cep/MeditationFocus115.htm
"In Darfur, the situation is catastrophic on the scale of the [1984-85] famine in Ethiopia, which killed a million people, and that is a terrible thing to say in 2004."
Geoff Wordley, a senior emergency officer for the UN refugee agency.
"A long, long time ago, on an island lost amidst oceans of stars, in a place where neither foot nor eye had ever been set, a spark of Life slowly began to form and shine more and more strongly until it beamed with an almost unbearable intensity. For the first time - but was there ever a first time - Life, at a precise point in space-time, was able to manifest its Presence, diffused throughout the visible universe.Life was already there when the first atoms of hydrogen were formed from the raw material of universes. And when the first huge clouds of hydrogen gave birth to the first stars, sparkling like diamonds in the infinite vault of the sky, there again Life was manifesting a sign of its Presence. Yes! Life has always been at the origin of all that has taken form... But there, for the first time, all the necessary conditions were met for the beginning of the gestation of all the other forms of Life, endowed with movement and freedom. Right from these first instants was written in the great Book of Life, the Story of all beings that were to be begotten in the times to come. All... We were all there, joined as One Single Being, One Single Look, One Single Thought. The Immortal Child had just been born..."
- Taken from The Immortal Child at http://www.earthrainbownetwork.com/ImmortalChild.htm
2. MEDITATION TIMES
i) Global Meditation Day: Sunday at 16:00 Universal Time (GMT) or at noon local time. Suggested duration: 30 minutes. Please dedicate the last few minutes of your Sunday meditation to the healing of the Earth as a whole. See the Earth as healthy and vibrant with life, and experience the healing of all relations as we awaken globally to the sacredness of all Life and to our underlying unity with All That Is.
ii) Golden Moment of At-Onement: Daily, at the top of any hour, or whenever it better suits you.
These times below are currently corresponding to 16:00 Universal Time/GMT:
Honolulu 6:00 AM -- Anchorage * 8:00 AM -- Los Angeles * 9:00 AM -- Mexico City, San Salvador & Denver * 10:00 AM -- Houston * & Chicago * 11:00 AM -- Santo Domingo, La Paz, Caracas, New York *, Toronto *. Montreal *, Asuncion & Santiago 12:00 AM -- Halifax *, Rio de Janeiro & Montevideo 1:00 PM -- Reykjavik & Casablanca 4 PM -- Lagos, Algiers, London *, Dublin * & Lisbon * 5:00 PM -- Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Geneva *, Rome *, Berlin *, Paris * & Madrid * 6:00 PM -- Ankara *, Athens *, Helsinki * & Istanbul * & Nairobi 7:00 PM -- Baghdad *, Moscow * 8:00 PM -- Tehran * 8:30 PM -- Islamabad 9:00 PM -- Calcutta & New Delhi 9:30 PM -- Dhaka 10:00 PM -- Rangoon 10:30 PM -- Hanoi, Bangkok & Jakarta 11:00 PM -- Hong Kong, Perth, Beijing & Kuala Lumpur +12:00 PM -- Seoul & Tokyo +1:00 AM -- Brisbane, Canberra & Melbourne +2:00 AM -- Wellington +4:00 AM
+ means the place is one day ahead of Universal Time/Greenwich Mean Time.
* means the place is observing daylight saving time (DST) at the moment.
You may also check at http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/full.html to find your current corresponding local time if a closeby city is not listed above.
3. HIGHER ASSISTANCE MAY BE GIVEN WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THE LAW OF FREE WILL
"At this time, many beings of other planetary spheres are helping the Earth to move into a Golden Age of Unconditional All-encompassing Love and Perfection. They are responding to the Law of Free Will, for many of Earth have ASKED, of their own free will, for their assistance.
This is a particularly critical time to reach out telepathically to these beings who have come with the express intention to serve the unfoldment of the light on Earth. Many of them come from highly advanced civilizations, far removed from us, and in some cases have not been in contact with the earth for a long time.
The more of us who ask with clear visualization, the more assistance can be given. Since they are capable of helping us restore Earth to a perfect state on all levels, please remember to ask them, from inner guidance, for whatever assistance you feel is needed.
This is a time to offer vast and comprehensive visions of healing and enlightenment if you are so guided. Spare no superlatives nor detail in spelling out your visions.
Remember that those who are here to help are highly evolved. Some of them have technology that is millions of years more advanced than ours, and they are working under the Law of One, the highest good of all concerned.
They are answering individual requests for healing and enlightenment as well as requests for the Earth as a whole or any part thereof. If you specify that the answer to your prayer be governed by the Law of One, then whatever you have asked for stands the best chance of being granted.
Otherwise, sometimes a request may have contradictory aspects that only become apparent from a higher perspective that encompasses all the ramifications and future consequences of the request.
An excellent guideline for prayer is to emphasize a graphic visual image of the wonderful end result that you are co-creating. For example, if you are asking for the earth to be restored to its pristine purity of the garden of Eden, visualizing the appropriate, beautiful scenes of lush clean forests with clean running streams enhances the power of the prayer.
As with all requests, it is effective to ask a minimum of three times over a period of a few days or more. They determine in this way that the request is well thought out and that resulting changes are expected and will be met with gratitude and love instead of surprise and alarm. Keep in mind that requests for mental, emotional, and physical healing may result in unusual sensations and symptoms, occur in stages, and require time for recuperation and assimilation."
- Cynthia Rose Spiritus@mindspring.com> July 31, 2004. Taken from http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lovingpurelove/message/18087
4. EARTH PEOPLE... AWAKE!
Earth People... Awake!
You came from every part of this mighty Universe to help revive this dying planet.
You are those few selected ones who were given the rare privilege to assist this planet in giving birth to a new Being in the cosmic pantheon of gods: Gaia, the Immortal Child.
The Time is Now...
Awake from your sleepy state and carry out your Divine Mission on Earth.
The Time is Now...
Open your mind to the ideas poured into you through the sacred guidance of your soul.
The Time is Now...
Manifest the Vision of a New World through enlightened and courageous actions.
You have been given all the necessary skills and training up to now in your life to accomplish your Cosmic Duty. Trust the Spirit that inspired these words through one of Its many channels. Be sure that the cohort of God's angels will always be at your side to protect you and help you in fulfilling your Destiny. But above all, know that all the God Qualities are embedded within you and are available at any time to assist you along the Path. You are One with God, as you have always been and shall be forever...
Earth People... Awake! Awake!
Awake from your dream state, beloved Sons and Daughters of Light. You have nothing to fear, for I am with you, I am within you,
I AM YOU...
Stand up and walk towards the bright future that I devised for you. Stand up and talk to everyone around you about this glorious Destiny awaiting Humanity. Stand up and raise the real issues of your time: Peace, Love and Harmony. Peace among nations, Peace among neighbours, Peace within you. Love towards God, Love towards others, Love towards yourself. Harmony with the Universe, Harmony with the Earth, Harmony within you.
You are the leaven in the bread. You can change things around. You can trigger a global shift of consciousness. You can make a difference. For you are not alone... You are millions scattered all around the Earth as Seeds of Light. You must now shine as the true Sons and Daughters of Light that you are...
You are the Earth People. Your mind encompasses the whole planet and feels it as a single Being now ready to be born anew...
Earth People... Awake! Awake! Awake!
You are the morning dew crystalline pearls of Light emerging from the sky and fixing in Humanity's Consciousness the message of God ...
"UNITY is bound to manifest again its immanent Reality on our beloved planet Earth. From every part of My cosmic body, I sent Messengers of Peace, Bearers of the most sacred Mission ever embodied in human flesh. You are those who can change the face of the world. Awaken yourselves now from the slumber of matter and let shine this immortal Flame of Love that is your true and only nature. Rejoice with the celestial hosts as you express in your life the wisdom and compassion I pour and will unremittingly pour into you...
Now is the Time...
Command to all the Earth Forces of Life to renew and purify its lands and oceans so that the myriads of Life forms may blossom again as it was before Man attempted to destroy this magnificent blue sphere of Life, the craddle of Humanity, the Immortal Child. Command to all the invisible beings surrounding you and they will obey you, for you are My Sons and Daughters, for it is My Will that overshadows you and shall guide your steps on this eternal Path of Light that you are walking upon since the Beginning of Time."
I say "Open your heart, open your mind, open your soul to My Divine Guidance and all will be made anew on the face of the Earth and in the heart of Humanity"...
And one day, not far from now, the Story of how the Earth People have awakened themselves and joined to transform the world shall be told at night, around a fire, by old wise sages to the children of our lineage,
now latent in our loins...
- Taken from http://www.earthrainbownetwork.com/medcorner.htm
5. HUMANITARIAN VIGIL FOR DARFUR, SUDAN
Here are some of the latest developments in Darfur Sudan. Please also keep this situation in mind during your meditations in the coming weeks to help ensure that peace prevail there as well and humanitarian assistance is provided in a timely manner to everyone in need of such assistance.
UN Council Demands Sudan Stop Darfur Atrocities
July 30, 2004 By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council on Friday adopted a U.S.-drafted resolution demanding Sudan disarm and prosecute marauding militia in Darfur and threatened sanctions if Khartoum did not comply.
The 13-0 vote with abstentions from China and Pakistan came after the United States, facing considerable opposition, deleted the word "sanctions" and substituted a reference to a section of the U.N. Charter permitting punitive measures.
This provision, called Article 41, allows the "interruption" of economic, transport, communications or diplomatic measures, which amounts to sanctions.
The resolution, co-sponsored by Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Chile and Romania, demands that Khartoum disarm and prosecute within 30 days militia known as Janjaweed or the Security Council will consider punitive measures under Article 41.
At least 30,000 civilians have been killed in Sudan's western region of Darfur, 1 million have been driven from their villages into barren camps and 2 million need food and medicine in what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis and the U.S. Congress has branded as genocide.
The resolution also places an immediate weapons embargo on all armed groups in Darfur, where government forces and Arab militia have been battling a rebellion from some African tribes. But Sudan security forces, accused of protecting the Janjaweed as they rape and kill, are excluded.
The United Nations has been planning a peacekeeping force after a final peace pact in southern Sudan, where a decades-old civil war is ending. The resolution says the planning should also include Darfur, although troops are not expected soon.
The United States and its European allies faced an uphill battle in the Security Council, where developing nations as well as Russia questioned the 15-member body's right to interfere in internal affairs and argued that punishing Sudan would make matters worse.
But after deleting the word "sanctions" made the resolution more palatable to most objectors, 13 members voted in favor. But China said it had hoped all references to sanctions would be removed and decided, along with Pakistan, to abstain.
"The initial draft included the word sanctions. It turns out that the use of that word is objectionable to certain members of the Security Council," U.S. Ambassador John Danforth said earlier. "They would rather use 'U.N. speak' for exactly the same thing."
He said one could use word "banana, so long as it is clear that it equals sanctions. The meaning has to be very clear."
Sudan warms to UN resolution on Darfur
31 Jul 2004
KHARTOUM - Sudan has "no other option" than to comply with a UN resolution on the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region, the Sudanese ambassador to the African Union told reporters Saturday.
Osman al-Said's comments come one day after the resolution was passed and then promptly rejected by Sudan's information minister, El-Zahawi Ibrahim Malik. The UN Security Council endorsed a resolution calling on Sudan to disarm militias terrorizing civilians in Darfur in one month, or face economic penalities.
"We are not happy with the resolution, but we are going to implement it," al-Said said.
The militias, known as the Janjaweed, are blamed in the deaths of at least 30,000 people, mostly black African farmers, in the past year and a half. The Sudanese government has been accused of providing air support during the raids.
The death toll could surge to more than 350,000 if aid doesn't reach more than two million people soon, the U.S. Agency for International Development has warned.
At least one million people have been driven out of their homes in the western region.
According to an African Union monitoring team, militias chained civilians together and set them on fire in an attack on a village earlier this month.
Rain slows food aid
The United Nation's World Food Program (WFP) reports it's becoming increasingly more difficult to feed hundreds of thousands of hungry people in Darfur province.
A lack of security and heavy rains are the main obstacles.
Simon Pluess says his agency had hoped to distribute food to about a million people this month. But because of the dangers and the rain, aid agencies have been able to reach only about 265,000 people.
WFP trucks often are attacked and the food is stolen. Lately, most of them are bogged down on rain-soaked, muddy roads.
The WFP will soon start air drops of food to people in hard-to-reach areas. It hopes to drop 3,000 tonnes of food over the next two weeks.
On Saturday, France sent a planeload of aid to neighbouring Chad, and about 200 French soldiers will distribute the supplies at the Sudanese border.
Humanitarian Disaster in Sudan
By Samson Mulugeta - Newsday
27 July 2004
Thousands of villages in the Sudanese region of Darfur have suffered in a war that is, by most measures, the worst humanitarian disaster in the world today.
Bahai, Chad - Umm Fahara Mohammad was fetching water at the well in her Sudanese village when she heard gunfire and the thunder of galloping horses. She flung her clay pot aside and sprinted to hide in nearby bushes. Two of her cousins collapsed in the dirt, shot dead without warning, she said.
Mohammad hid for hours while the Janjaweed, an ethnic Arab militia, killed and pillaged. When she emerged, the village of Abliha was a ruin of charred huts and granaries.
Mohammad, 25, fled with her four children, the youngest on her back, into the hills of western Sudan. After six months, they ran out of food and trekked across the semi-desert plains to reach a refugee camp in Chad this month.
Thousands of villages in the Sudanese region of Darfur have suffered Abliha's fate since last year in a war that is, by most measures, the worst humanitarian disaster in the world today.
As many as 30,000 people have been killed and 1.2 million uprooted from their homes, human rights groups say. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, 300,000 are likely to die by December even if relief agencies can get food, tents and medicines into Darfur in the coming weeks.
Three weeks after Secretary of State Colin Powell and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan came to Darfur to insist that Sudan's government halt the violence and facilitate relief, attacks continue. Warfare and the start of annual rains, coupled with Sudan's resistance to foreign involvement in the crisis, means essential aid is not arriving and the ultimate death toll is likely to rise.
Pressure is growing for the United States and other Western governments to intervene militarily. Last week, Britain hinted it might send troops as part of a UN force. Thursday, Congress approved a resolution urging President George W. Bush to consider "multilateral or even unilateral intervention to prevent genocide should the UN Security Council fail to act."
A 1948 UN convention on genocide, to which the United States is a party, obliges governments to move aggressively to halt and punish any instance of genocide. The administration has avoided declaring this a genocide.
Sudan, a vast country nearly a third the size of the continental United States, was created by British colonialists who patched together territories of various groups from the north and south. Since independence in 1956, Sudan's governments have been dominated by northern groups from the Nile River valley that long ago "Arabized," adopting Arab language and culture as well as Islam.
Sudanese Arabs raided the Christian and animist south for slaves for almost a century. After independence, Arab-led governments, most of them military dictatorships inspired by an Islamic nationalist vision, have fought almost continuously to dominate non-Arab groups in the west and south. That battle escalated after oil was discovered in the south, and it has left more than 2 million dead over three decades.
Government Arms Militias
After years of fruitless negotiations, a peace agreement was struck this year with the southern-based rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.
Last year, however, rebels in Darfur, from ethnic groups such as the Zaghawa and Massalit, took up arms and demanded either better treatment from the government or independence. The government responded by arming the Arab Janjaweed militias.
Neither the ethnic politics nor the war in Darfur is simple, said Abdul Mohammad, an Ethiopian who worked for years in Sudan as a representative of UNICEF. "In Darfur, you find people who are dark but identify themselves as Arab," he said. "Often, you can't tell apart who is who."
Struggles for land historically have fueled wars in Darfur, especially during droughts such as the one that has afflicted the region in recent years. The Arabized tribes are mainly herders, while non-Arabs are mostly sedentary farmers.
Now the annual three-month rainy season is transforming the sandy plains on the fringes of the Sahara Desert into bogs and wadis, or rivers, that make overland travel virtually impossible. Having missed their planting season because of the fighting, the locals are totally dependent on aid.
In Darfur, "the situation is catastrophic on the scale of the [1984-85] famine in Ethiopia," which killed a million people, "and that is a terrible thing to say in 2004," said Geoff Wordley, a senior emergency officer for the UN refugee agency.
Wordley, a British logistics specialist, and other foreign human rights and relief officials say Sudan continues to drag its feet even though it has promised Powell, Annan and other leaders that it will do all possible to end the crisis.
"Khartoum is playing politics, trying to slow down aid coming in," he said.
Sudanese officials say foreigners underestimate the difficulty of pacifying Darfur.
Policy advocates such as the International Crisis Group accuse Sudan of integrating Janjaweed fighters into its army rather than disarming them.
"We're hearing reports that they are recruiting the Janjaweed into the Sudanese army" to guard camps of people uprooted by the Janjaweed, Wordley said. "The situation is putrid."
Because Sudan still is not letting relief agencies operate freely in Darfur, much of the crisis has shifted to places like Bahai, in eastern Chad. In camps scattered up and down the desert and plains along the Chadian side of the border, about 150,000 uprooted Sudanese are seeking shelter. Human rights monitors, Western government investigators and journalists trek to these isolated sites to monitor the crisis.
A Humanitarian Crisis
On Thursday, Congress declared that the civil war in the Darfur region of Sudan has become a case of genocide. U.S. officials say the death toll is likely to reach 300,000 this year.
* Reportedly backed by Sudan's government.
* Drawn from Arabized tribes, mostly herders.
* Accused of ethnic cleansing and genocide Against non-Arabs.
* Drawn from non-Arab ethnic groups (Fur, Massalit, Zaghawa, etc.), mostly sedentary farmers.
* Main groups are the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement.
Reason for Conflict
* Arabs dominate central government; non-Arabs are poorer and marginalized from power.
* Farmers, herders battle for control of land.
* An estimated 30,000 killed in the past 16 months.
* An estimated 1.2 million uprooted from destroyed villages; they face starvation and disease.
* Widespread rapes and abductions by Janjaweed are reported.
Darfur: We Are All Guilty of Watching Them Die (July 29, 2004) http://allafrica.com/stories/200407290961.html
For 15 Months now, ruthless militiamen have wrought devastation in western Sudan, butchering an estimated 10,000 to 30,000 black African people and uprooting another one million.The one million have been forced into the barren patches of sun-scorched Darfur and right across the desolate border into neighboring Chad. The shocking images of what is happening in Darfur, brought to us on TV, through the internet, graphic newspaper descriptions and eyewitness accounts, reveal a land stalked by genocidaires. . Powell meets President Museveni on May, 27 2001. He has shown more concern for the suffering people in Sudan's Darfur region than African leaders. (...) I have seen pictures of children and women with bodies so starved to look like wire gauzes.But with all these gory images swirling in our faces why did these African leaders who pride themselves on having turned a new chapter in the African leadership dither? It is quite easy to understand the ambivalence of the Sudanese Arab brothers; Egypt, Libya, Algeria or Tunisia. Yet it remains baffling for continental powers like Nigeria and South Africa to sit on their hands.What is somebody supposed to interpret from AU's - but most particularly these two nation's - disheartening indifference to a situation of gang rape, poisoning of water sources, burning entire villages and crop fields, random shooting of civilians? It is the same SA and Nigeria championing Nepad, pontificating to the West of how we are ready to solve our internal strife and police our own leadership. CLIP
Full Coverage on Sudan
6. MORE INFORMATION RELATED TO THIS MEDITATION FOCUS
This complement of information may help you to better understand the various aspects pertaining to the summary description of the subject of this Meditation Focus. It is recommended to view this information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision we wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mind-set, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of peace and healing. This complementary information is provided so that a greater knowledge of what needs healing and peace-nurturing vibrations may assist us to have an in-depth understanding of what is at stake and thus achieve a greater collective effectiveness.
Plutonium cancer risk may be higher than thought (18 July 04)
Plutonium may be many times more dangerous than previously thought. The cancer risk from exposure inside the body could be 10 times higher than is allowed for in calculating international safety limits. The danger is highlighted in a report written by radiation experts for the UK government, which has been leaked to New Scientist. The experts are unanimous in saying that low-level radiation emitted by plutonium may cause more damage to human cells than previously believed. Their opinion could provoke a rethink of the guidelines on exposure to radiation.Several tonnes of plutonium have been released into the environment over the last 60 years by nuclear weapons tests and nuclear plants. Concern over the harmfulness of plutonium is growing because of discoveries about the subtle effects of low-level radiation. Researchers in Europe and North America have shown that the descendants of cells that seem to survive radiation unharmed can suffer delayed damage, a phenomenon called "genomic instability". CLIP
UN conference on tropical timber breaks up without accord (July 30, 2004)
GENEVA (AFP) Delegates from 59 states involved in the trade in tropical timber have failed in a week of talks to reach a deal on a new international agreement to protect rapidly disappearing forests, a United Nations spokesman said in Geneva on Friday. They agreed to meet again in February to review International Tropical Timber Agreement (AIBT), adopted in 1994, and which expires at the end of 2005. Tropical forests are estimated to be disappearing at the rate of 12 million to 15 million hectares (46,000 to 59,000 square miles) a year. The aim of the agreement, to which 33 producer countries and their 26 major customers plus several dozen conservationist bodies are party, is to strengthen international rules protecting the forests. The tropical woods industry is estimated to be worth 10 billion dollars (8.3 billion euros) a year and support 500 million people.
Environmental Milestones: A Worldwatch Retrospective
Trace key moments in the modern environmental movement from the 1960s until today. Explore pivotal events, scientific breakthroughs, and obstacles through an illustrated timeline with links to resources on the Web.
Bangladesh capital inundated as millions suffer in flooded South Asia (July 28, 2004)
DHAKA, Bangladesh Residents waded through sewage and rowed boats on flooded roads in this city of 10 million people, as 44 more victims drowned and the death toll from monsoon rains reached 1,100 across South Asia on Tuesday. The annual monsoon flooding, fed by melting snow and torrential rains, has left millions across South Asia marooned or homeless. At least 686 people have died in India, 102 in Nepal and five in Pakistan, according to reports from officials. The new deaths were reported Monday and Tuesday in central and northern Bangladesh as waters receded in some flooded areas, raising the number killed in this delta nation to 394, the government said. Most of the deaths were caused by drowning, lightning, snakebites, and outbreaks of waterborne diseases.(...) The floods in Bangladesh are the worst since 1998. They have engulfed two-thirds of the country, affecting more than 25 million people. Up to 1.3 million displaced people huddled in about 4,000 flood shelters. CLIP
Greenland ice-melt 'speeding up' (July 28, 2004)
First you hear a savage cracking sound, next the rolling crash of thunder. Then as the icebergs rip away from the margin of the ice-sheet they plunge into the grey waters of the Atlantic with a roar that echoes around the mountains. In some places, the ice is melting one metre a month. Nothing prepares you for the sheer scale and drama of events in this forbidding terrain and all the signs are that the changes at work here are gathering pace. The only way to reach the ice-sheet is by helicopter - a spectacular flight through remote fjords and the jagged blue-white rubble of the ice. We travelled with Danish scientist Carl Boggild of GEUS, the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. For the past few years he has been managing a network of 10 automatic monitoring stations and his first results are alarming - the edges of the ice-sheet are melting up to 10 times more rapidly than earlier research had indicated. (...) "We can say for certain that the rate of melting has increased and we can say for certain that the height of the ice-sheet is falling, even allowing for increased ice-flow. "There is no doubt that something very major is happening here." As we speak, he checks the instruments on the automatic station. A large range of data is collected and transmitted via satellite to Copenhagen every six hours. For the first time, scientists should have a long-term, on-the-ground view of the changes taking place here. Just before we leave, there is another roar as more icebergs crash into the ocean Many more icebergs falling into the sea will cause two things to happen - the sea-level will rise and the injection of freshwater could disrupt the ocean currents, including the Gulf Stream. What happens in this remote barren land has the potential to affect us all.
Maldives: Paradise soon to be lost (July 28, 2004)
To visit the Maldives is to witness the slow death of a nation. For as well as being blessed with sun-kissed paradise islands and pale, white sands, this tourist haven is cursed with mounting evidence of an environmental catastrophe. The country is portrayed by travel companies as a tropical paradise. To the naked eye, the signs of climate change are almost imperceptible, but government scientists fear the sea level is rising up to 0.9cm a year. Since 80% of its 1,200 islands are no more than 1m above sea level, within 100 years the Maldives could become uninhabitable. The country's 360,000 citizens would be forced to evacuate. The Maldives' survival as a sovereign nation is truly at stake. CLIP
Sea engulfing Alaskan village (July 30, 2004)
Alaska It is thought to be the most extreme example of global warming on the planet. Some estimate that the sea moves inland three metres a year. The village of Shishmaref lies on a tiny island on the edge of the arctic circle - and it is literally being swallowed by the sea.Houses the Eskimos have occupied for generations are now wilting and buckled. Some have fallen into the sea. Not only is the earth crumbling underfoot, but the waves are rising ominously all around. (...) Locals are planning to relocate to the mainland. Because temperatures in Alaska have increased by as much as 4.4C over the last 30 years, glaciers are starting to melt, causing the sea levels to rise. The increased temperature is also thawing the frozen ground, which is known as permafrost, on which the arctic communities such as Shishmaref were built. It is this thawing that is causing the ground to crumble like sand. CLIP
Climate change: The big emitters (July 23, 2004)
The future of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change is largely in the hands of the world's biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. BBC News Online looks at how much they emit, what are they doing about it and where they stand on Kyoto. The US emits more, absolutely and per head, than any other country - although it also produces more wealth. When Kyoto was agreed, the US signed and committed to reducing its emissions by 6%. But since then it has pulled out of the agreement and its carbon dioxide emissions have increased to more than 15% above 1990 levels. For the agreement to become a legally binding treaty, it must be ratified by countries which together were responsible for a at least 55% of the total 1990 emissions reported by the industrialised countries and emerging economies which made commitments to reduce their emissions under the protocol.As the US accounted for 36.1% of those emissions, this 55% target is much harder to achieve without its participation. President George W Bush said in March 2001 that the US would not ratify Kyoto because he thought it would damage the US economy and because it did not yet require developing countries to cut their emissions. CLIP
Greenpeace Jaguars on the prowl Saving Argentine forests from destruction
Update July 29th: During their latest prowl our jaguars tracked down five more bulldozers clear cutting and burning the forest. Using their motorbikes they intercepted the bulldozers and blocked their path to the forest thus ending today's planned destruction. The machines have been locked up with chains and 'Blocked by Greenpeace' is now stamped on all the diggers. Monday's bulldozers are also still locked up so, all in all, our prowlers have managed to immobilize eight bulldozers. (...) In Argentina, 75 percent of our native forests have already disappeared, and every hour the equivalent of 20 football pitches (soccer fields, for you North Americans) of forest is destroyed to grow transgenic soya. The damage is irreversible, it is almost impossible to grow forest on the soil again - and today an area the size of Germany is at risk. In the last month, a provincial government has already sold off a natural reserve to companies planning to sow genetically engineered (GE) soya, an unprecedented act. This cannot carry on! That's why the Greenpeace Jaguars have gone into action to defend north-west Argentina's remaining forest. CLIP
Argentina Protests Against Monsanto's Clear-Cutting Virgin Forests to Plant GE Soybeans
29 July 2004 - Campaigners from environmental group Greenpeace launched a protest this week in Argentina's north western forests, in response to biotech company Monsanto using the land to plant genetically modified soya.
Locusts begin rampage in West, North Africa (July 28, 2004)
ALGIERS, Algeria Damage from swarms of locusts eating vital crops in North and West Africa could triple to $245 million within a year if no emergency aid is provided soon, U.N. and government experts say. "Locusts use war tactics. Locusts know no borders. Donors have to understand ... we face the risks of famine and death," Senegalese Agriculture Minister Habib Syla told a regional meeting to discuss the plague. Desert locust swarms contain up to 80 million insects per square kilometer and travel more than 80 miles a day. An adult desert locust can munch its own weight, or about two grams, of food a day. Swarms can devastate entire crop fields in minutes. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said the current locust crisis was the most serious to hit West Africa since a 1987-89 plague which cost more than $300 million. CLIP
Pesticides found in 43% of fruit and vegetables traces of pesticide (28 July 2004)
More than four out of ten items of fruit, vegetable and cereals on sale in Britain contain traces of pesticide, according to a new report which reveals the extent of chemical contamination in the food chain.Of a total of 2,087 samples, 889 - or 43 per cent - were found to contain some form of pesticide. Meanwhile 34 items, or 1.6 per cent of the total, exceeded the maximum safety levels laid down by the authorities. (...) Across Europe, more than 46,000 samples of mostly fresh food were analysed for traces of 170 pesticides. Compared with previous years the percentage with no detectable residues has decreased and those over the maximum threshold has risen as has those with some pesticide traces. CLIP
Apple a day may poison children (July 30, 2004)
Children who eat an apple or pear a day may be exceeding the pesticide safety threshold because of residues on the fruit, according to research.Using Department of Environment data on pesticides on fruit collected from supermarkets, scientists calculated that each day some children would get a toxic level of pesticides. CLIP
Bush Eases Pesticide Reviews for Endangered Species (29 July 2004)
Washington - The Environmental Protection Agency will be free to approve pesticides without consulting wildlife agencies to determine if the chemical might harm plants and animals protected by the Endangered Species Act, according to new Bush administration rules. CLIP
Alaska's Rainforest, The Tongass Under Threat by the Bush Administration (July 30)
20 Ways The World Could End
Rainforests Biodiversity Scale Of Destruction -- The Number One Issue Facing Humanity
Full Coverage on Climate Change
Full Coverage on Environment and Nature
Full Coverage on Nuclear Power and Waste
Full Coverage on Pollution
Modern Day Noahs Race to Build Wildlife Gene Bank
UK: July 27, 2004
LONDON - Scientists are racing to set up a gene bank of the world's endangered animals, with thousands of species expected to become extinct within a generation due to climate change and habitat destruction.
The plan, dubbed the Frozen Ark and announced on Tuesday, will run alongside a similar project to collect seeds from endangered plants run by Britain's Royal Botanical Gardens.
"Natural catastrophes apart, the current rate of animal loss is the greatest in the history of the earth and the fate of animal species is desperate," said Phil Rainbow, Keeper of Zoology at London's Natural History Museum.
While the biblical Noah collected live specimens to repopulate the world after the flood, the modern day Noahs will instead strive to preserve their biological details for posterity.
The Arabian oryx and the Socorro dove are among the 10,000 species of animals listed by the IUCN world conservation union as being likely to vanish over the next 30 years.
Of these, some 33 species are already extinct in the wild, and nearly 1,000 are deemed to be critically endangered.
Among the first species to enter the Frozen Ark will be the yellow seahorse, mountain chicken - which is actually a frog - the Seychelles Fregate Beetle and Polynesian tree snails.
Frozen Ark, which will hold samples of DNA and tissue at minus 80 Celsius, will save their genetic material for ever and give scientists an otherwise lost opportunity to study them.
"This is not an attempt to recreate Jurassic Park, but we are going through a period of intense species loss and we don't know what effect this will have on biodiversity," said Frozen Ark's patron Crispin Tickell, a diplomat and environmentalist.
The Ark - a project with the Natural History Museum, the Zoological Society of London and Nottingham University's Institute of Genetics - will be copied at other scientific institutions in countries including Australia and the United States.
The project will collect DNA samples from mammals, birds, insects and reptiles, with priority being given to animals in danger within the next five years and those that are already extinct in the wild.
Researchers will then focus on those expected to disappear within the next few decades.
"This is a small start," said Natural History Museum Trustee Anne McLaren. "But is has taken a long time to even get here and we have to start somewhere. This is vital work."
Like a snowball rolling down a steep hill, the evidence is rapidly accumulating - there's a limit to how much bulldozing, plowing, paving, deforestation, pollution, and other human impacts Earth can take, and we've gone over it. Just a few examples:
One in four mammal species and one in eight species of birds now face a high risk of extinction within the next 30 years, according to the IUCN.
In January 2003, a major new study found that Atlantic shark numbers have plummeted up to 90% during the last 15 years due to overfishing; thresher shark populations have completely collapsed and hammerhead, great white, and other shark populations could soon follow.
Scientists are warning that massive overfishing, pollution, global warming, and other human impacts will reduce the world's coastal habitats - coral reefs, kelp forests, seagrass and oyster beds - to microbial-dominated ecosystems within 20 to 30 years. Let's be clear what that phrase, "microbial-dominated ecosystems," really means: the replacement of once vibrant coral reefs, lush kelp forests, and productive seagrass and oyster beds with bacterial and fungal slime. Already 25% of the world's coral reefs have died and scientists now predict the death of all of the world's coral reefs within the next 20 to 50 years.
In the face of the environmental crisis now bearing down on us, Life Disintegrating/Earth Crash takes a unique approach to environmental issues, one dedicated to documenting Earth's environmental collapse due to the accumulated impacts of human activity without any of the usual sugar-coating. It contains in-depth coverage of the compelling evidence that the ecological collapse of Earth has indeed begun, by means of hundreds of news article from a wide variety of sources such as the BBC, New York Times, the international journals Science and Nature, and many other sources, with links to the original source articles.
If Life Disintegrating/Earth Crash succeeds at its mission, it is likely you will be very disturbed after spending some time browsing through it. If so, you are encouraged to look at what else is offered at Earth Crash Earth Spirit. Crazy Life (http://eces.org/archive/dwc_pages/index.php/21) presents an analysis - albeit a very challenging one - of how we got into this fix. Another Way of Living (http://eces.org/archive/dwc_pages/index.php/409) outlines a new way of thinking about and living human life on Earth that is far more healthy, graceful and balanced than the destructive alienation currently driving us towards disaster. And, finally, Earth Spirit (http://eces.org/archive/dwc_pages/index.php/3) offers us hope, because there are ways of healing the damage we caused, although by not by the usual means we've been trained to think of, such as yet more technological fixes.
For over 50 years now, the environmental movement has desperately struggled against modern civilization's rush to ecological destruction, yet today we stand on the cusp of what many scientists refer to as the "Sixth Great Extinction," one caused this time not by a meteor or other "natural" disasters, but by the accumulated impacts of human activity.
One of the basic ideas behind Earth Crash Earth Spirit (ECES) is that the main reason why the environmental movement has had such limited success over the last 50 years is because, in many ways, it is still locked into the same "civilized" ways of thinking as the very mindset that has brought us to the edge of the ecological catastrophe we now face.
In other words, more of the same - more "progress," more technological fixes - is not going to be able to avoid the total environmental collapse now looming over us and the hideous amount of suffering it will bring, not just to humans but to all life on Earth.
We humans face a fateful choice now: we can go on with our usual ways of thinking and doing, even though they obviously aren't "working" in terms of avoiding environmental collapse, or we can strike out in an entirely new direction - developing radically different ways of thinking about and living human life on Earth. ECES opts for the second path, and hopes you will too.
Our modern culture presents itself as something inevitable, even "natural," as if we have no choice but to continue to live alienated and Earth-destructive lives, but this is a lie. There is a way of living human life on Earth that is far more healthy, graceful and balanced than the destructive alienation currently driving us towards disaster, a way of life so powerfully connected to the often unnoticed wonder that surrounds us that it can actually heal the immense devastation we've caused during our march to "civilization."
Taken together, the series of essays listed below present a new view of what it means to be human and what I have come to believe is the only way of living human life that can heal our "koyannisqatsi" - our deadly estrangement from nature and the devastating damage it has caused to the processes that support life on Earth, as well as our own epidemic of human physical, emotional, social, and spiritual dis-ease. For our children and for all beings with whom we share Earth, please take some time to explore the essays included HERE. Granted, their point of view is quite different from the normal environmental discussion and can be very challenging to our usual ways of thinking and living. I am convinced, though, that it offers the only real hope we have. I therefore invite you to explore - and perhaps even join in developing - this different way of thinking about and living human life on Earth.
Nature's Little Rule Book
What will it REALLY take to tackle the human over-population crisis?
Sustainable Development and Related Myths
Big Green and the Problem of Politics
Archaeologist Ronald Wright: Civilization is a pyramid scheme
Daniel Quinn: The Boiling Frog
Daniel Quinn: The Great Forgetting
John Zerzan: Future Primitive
John Zerzan: Running on Emptiness - The Failure of Symbolic Thought
John Zerzan: Language - Origin and Meaning
John Zerzan: Time and Its Discontents
John Zerzan: The Case Against Art
John Zerzan: Number - Its Origin and Evolution
Paul Shepard: Themes of Cultural Recovery
Not So Dumb After All
MASS EXTINCTION UNDERWAY
The World Wide Web's Most Comprehensive Source of Information on the Current Mass Extinction
THE CURRENT MASS EXTINCTION:
Human beings are currently causing the greatest mass extinction of species since the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. If present trends continue one half of all species of life on earth will be extinct in 100 years. (For details see links below.)
Scroll Down For Hundreds Of Links:
Following the article below are more than 200 links to authoritative reports and updates about the current mass extinction. New articles are added regularly.
(Most recent update: July 14, 2004)
Mass Extinction Underway, Majority of Biologists Say
April 21, 1998
By Joby Warrick - Staff Writer
A majority of the nation's biologists are convinced that a "mass extinction" of plants and animals is underway that poses a major threat to humans in the next century, yet most Americans are only dimly aware of the problem, a poll says.
The rapid disappearance of species was ranked as one of the planet's gravest environmental worries, surpassing pollution, global warming and the thinning of the ozone layer, according to the survey of 400 scientists commissioned by New York's American Museum of Natural History.
The poll's release yesterday comes on the heels of a groundbreaking study of plant diversity that concluded than at least one in eight known plant species is threatened with extinction. Although scientists are divided over the specific numbers, many believe that the rate of loss is greater now than at any time in history.
"The speed at which species are being lost is much faster than any we've seen in the past -- including those [extinctions] related to meteor collisions," said Daniel Simberloff, a University of Tennessee ecologist and prominent expert in biological diversity who participated in the museum's survey. [Note: the last mass extinction caused by a meteor collision was that of the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago.]
Most of his peers apparently agree. Nearly seven out of 10 of the biologists polled said they believed a "mass extinction" was underway, and an equal number predicted that up to one-fifth of all living species could disappear within 30 years. Nearly all attributed the losses to human activity, especially the destruction of plant and animal habitats.
Among the dissenters, some argue that there is not yet enough data to support the view that a mass extinction is occurring. Many of the estimates of species loss are extrapolations based on the global destruction of rain forests and other rich habitats.
Among non-scientists, meanwhile, the subject appears to have made relatively little impression. Sixty percent of the laymen polled professed little or no familiarity with the concept of biological diversity, and barely half ranked species loss as a "major threat."
The scientists interviewed in the Louis Harris poll were members of the Washington-based American Institute of Biological Sciences, a professional society of more than 5,000 scientists.
SCROLL DOWN FOR HUNDREDS OF LINKS AND UPDATES:
For an overview of the magnitude of the crisis, scroll slowly down this page and read just the titles of all of the links. When you finish, go back and begin to click on the links to read the full articles.
New articles are added to this list regularly.
Note: You can now reach this page by the simple address http://www.massextinction.net
American Museum of Natural History Official Statement on Current Mass Extinction
American Museum of Natural History Press Release on Current Mass Extinction
Fastest Mass Extinction in Earth's History (Worldwatch Report)
SCIENTISTS AGREE WORLD FACES MASS EXTINCTION (CNN-- 2002)
THE SIXTH EXTINCTION by Richard Leakey
The Sixth Extinction (National Geographic Magazine)
The Sixth Extinction (American Museum of Natural History)
Wake-Up Call on Extinction Wave (British Royal Society-- 2003)
GLOBAL EXTINCTION CRISIS CONFIRMED-- 2000 IUCN Red List Released
Mass Extinction Pace Quickening: Red List 2000 Released (N.Y. Times)
Headlong Drive to Mass Extinction-- 2002 Red List Released (Toronto Globe and Mail)
12,000 Threatened Species: "Only Scratching the Surface"-- 2003 Red List Released (U.K. Guardian)
GLOBAL WARMING THREATENS EXTINCTION OF ONE MILLION SPECIES (Nature-- 2004)
By 2050 Global Warming Will Doom A Million Species (National Geographic-- 2004)
BRITISH STUDY CONFIRMS WORLDWIDE MASS EXTINCTION (Science-- 2004)
1998 Comprehensive Data on Plant Extinction Rate (N.Y. Times)
1996 Comprehensive Data on Animal Extinction Rate (IUCN)
World's Biodiversity Becoming Extinct (International Botanical Congress)
Scientists Warn of Mass Extinction (Environmental News Network)
CNN Special Report on Mass Extinction
Human Impact Triggers Massive Extinctions (Environment News Service)
Unprecedented Extinction Rate (World Conservation Union)
The Current Mass Extinction (Scientific American)
Wave of Extinctions Sweeping the Planet (United Nations)
Biodiversity Under Siege (Environmental News Network)
World Facing Greatest Extinction Risk Since Dinosaurs Disappeared (IUCN)
The Current Mass Extinction (PBS)
Mammals, Fish, Birds, Amphibians, Reptiles Suffering Major Declines (Worldwatch)
ONE QUARTER OF MAMMALS FACE EXTINCTION WITHIN 30 YEARS (United Nations-- BBC-- 2002)
Global Picture of Death, Damage and Destruction (United Nations)
Grim Picture of Extinction (2003 World Parks Conference)
One Quarter Of All Mammal Species Face Extinction Soon (IUCN-- 2000)
One Third of Primates Face Extinction (BBC-- 2002)
Many Primates Face Extinction (CNN-- 2000)
Gorillas, Bonobos, and Chimpanzees 10 Years From Extinction (U.K. Observer)
Monkeys, Apes Are Being Eaten to Extinction (Associated Press)
Primate Extinction Surge (ABC)
Primates in Peril (CNN)
Mass Extinction of Freshwater Creatures Forecast (WWF Report)
World's Freshwater Systems in Peril (World Resources Institute)
90% OF ALL LARGE FISH GONE FROM WORLD'S OCEANS (Nature-- 2003)
PLANKTON DISAPPEARING FROM WORLD'S OCEANS (S.F. Chronicle-- 2003)
1,600 Marine Scientists Warn That The Sea Is In Peril (MCBI)
Entire North Atlantic Ocean on Verge of Collapse (New Scientist)
North Sea Undergoing Ecological Meltdown (U.K. Independent)
Last Chance For Southern Ocean (BBC)
Saltwater Species May Vanish (American Fisheries Society)
Many Fish on Verge of Extinction (BBC)
World Amphibian Populations Plummet Toward Extinction (AAAS)
Amphibians Declining Worldwide (Boston Globe)
Reptiles Vanishing Faster Than Amphibians (CNN)
Migratory Birds and Animals Rapidly Dying Out (Environment News Service)
Many Carnivore Species At Risk of Extinction (Science Daily)
HALF OF EARTH'S PLANT SPECIES FACE EXTINCTION (Science)
Forests Face Global Extinction (United Nations)
Trees on the Verge of Mass Extinction (World Conservation Monitoring Centre)
Worldwide Plant Crisis Accelerating (E/Environmental Magazine)
Plants: Heading for Extinction (ABC News)
Plant Species Losses Threaten World's Food Supplies (BBC)
29% of Plant Species in U.S. Threatened (Chicago Botanic Garden)
Europe's Plant Species Threatened (IUCN)
1000's Of Medicinal Plants Being Harvested to Extinction (Australian Broadcasting Co.)
25% Of World's Conifers Threatened With Extinction (IUCN)
Half of Cycad Species (World's Oldest Seed Plants) Threatened (IUCN)
Many Palm Tree Species Threatened With Extinction (Smithsonian)
Half of World's Bamboo Species In Danger of Extinction (United Nations)
Intensive Farming Threatens Britain's Wildflowers (The Scotsman)
World Bird Populations Plummeting (WorldWatch Institute)
One in Eight Birds Face Extinction (U.K. Guardian-- 2004)
Humans Are Driving Birds to Extinction (National Geographic)
Farming Threatens One-Third of Europe's Birds (BBC)
Quarter of Parrot Species on Brink of Extinction (BBC)
Asia Faces Bird Extinction Crisis (BirdLife International)
World's Wading Birds Vanishing Fast (National Geographic)
EVERY SPECIES OF GREAT APE ON VERGE OF EXTINCTION (United Nations-- 2003)
Gorillas and Chimpanzees on Edge of Extinction (Nature-- 2003)
World's Great Apes Hurtling Toward Extinction (Associated Press)
Last Chance to Save Great Apes >From Extinction (United Nations)
90 Percent of Great Ape Habitats Will Be Destroyed by 2030 (United Nations)
Apes on the Edge (Population Action International)
Orangutans On Brink of Extinction (National Geographic)
Orangutan Numbers Plummeting Worldwide (Wildlife Conservation Society)
Gorillas Face Doom at Gunpoint (U.K. Guardian)
Lowland Gorillas In Drastic Decline (BBC)
Only 650 Mountain Gorillas Left in World (U.K. Telegraph)
Chimpanzees Will Soon Be Extinct (U.K. Guardian)
Western Chimpanzees in Danger of Extinction (BBC)
Uganda's Apes Face Extinction (The East African)
Congo's Great Apes on Brink of Extinction (South African Sunday Times)
Asia's Primates Face Extinction (MSNBC)
Gibbons Imperiled (N.Y. Times)
Madagascar's Lemurs Cling to Survival (Reuters)
Two-Thirds of World's Turtle Species Threatened (BBC)
Sea Turtle Hurtles Towards Extinction (U.K. Guardian)
Seahorses on Path to Extinction (ABC News)
Sharks Face Extinction (ABC News)
Sharks Suffer Population Crash (Nature--2004)
Extinction Stalks World's Tigers (World Wildlife Fund)
Indian Tigers' Last Habitat Being Destroyed (U.K. Guardian-- 2003)
Last Stand For Amur Tigers (BBC)
Sumatran Tiger Faces Extinction (U.K. Guardian)
Only 90 Chinese Tigers Left (Sydney Morning Herald)
Myanmar's Tigers Face Extinction-- Only 150 Left (Wildlife Conservation Society)
LIONS CLOSE TO EXTINCTION (New Scientist/BBC-- 2003)
Extinction Threatens African Lions (BBC)
Lions Face New Threat (U.K. Guardian)
Asia's Last Lions-- Only 300 Left (National Geographic)
Far Eastern Leopard Faces Extinction (Times of India)
South African Leopards Hunted Down By Dog Teams (Reuters)
Arabian Leopard on Verge of Extinction (U.K. Independent)
Snow Leopard Being Pushed to Extinction (The Age-- Melbourne)
Only 20 Caucasus Leopards Left (BBC)
Most Remaining Wild Horse and Zebra Species in Peril (BBC)
Indian Elephants on Brink of Extinction (ABC News)
Elephants on the Brink in Asia (CNN)
Vietnamese Elephants Face Extinction (Fauna and Flora International)
Thailand's Elephants Sick and Abandoned (BBC)
African Elephant Population Down 90% Since 1930 (N.Y. Times)
World's Bears Under Threat of Extinction (World Wide Fund for Nature)
Efforts To Save Panda From Extinction Failing (CNN)
Koalas Will Be Extinct Within Decades (Yahoo News)
Kangaroos Face Extinction In 20 Years (The Australian)
Polar Bears Facing Extinction (Norwegian Polar Institute)
Last Remaining Ocelot Habitats Threatened (Defenders of Wildlife)
Cheetahs on Brink of Extinction (CNN)
South African Cheetahs May Be Extinct in 10 Years (South African Broadcasting Corp.)
Last Chance For Lynx (BBC)
Sea Otters in Peril (CBS)
Rhinos on the Edge (Ecology Magazine)
Poachers Pushing Asian Rhinos To Extinction (WWF)
Rare White Rhinos Could Be Extinct in Months (The Age-- Melbourne)
Hippo Population Down 95 Percent in 30 Years (WWF)
Niger Giraffes Face Extinction (BBC)
Endangered Rabbits (National Geographic)
Tibetan Antelope Being Hunted to Extinction (AME Info, United Arab Emirates)
Demise of Asian Antelope is a Warning, David Suzuki, Univ. of British Columbia
Penguins in Peril (Environment News Service)
Albatross Faces Extinction (U.K. Guardian)
Half Of World's Bat Species Threatened (BBC)
Extinction Nears for Whales and Dolphins (BBC)
308,000 Whales, Dolphins, Porpoises Drown Each Year in Fishing Gear (WWF)
Whales Pursued to Brink of Extinction (E/Environmental Magazine)
Half of Whale Species Threatened (World Wildlife Fund)
Northern Right Whales on Brink of Extinction (U.S. National Academy of Sciences)
Climate Change Threatens Extinction of Blue Whales (WWF)
Discoverer of Whale Songs: "I'm Seeing My Life's Work Destroyed" (WWF)
Risk of Orca Extinction (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Porpoise Survival Threatened (BBC)
Dolphins Face Extinction in England and France (BBC)
Britain's Seas Are Dying (U.K. Guardian)
Time Running Out For Freshwater Dolphins (IUCN)
Extinction Fears for Nepal's Dolphins (Agence France-Presse)
Only 100 Maui's Dolphins Left (New Zealand Herald)
Indus Dolphin Faces Extinction (Pakistan Daily Times)
Manatees in Peril (CBS)
Dugongs Nearing Extinction (United Nations)
Atlantic Game Fish Close to Extinction (Big Game Fishing Journal)
Atlantic Sharks Decimated (Reuters)
Deep-Sea Fish in Danger of Extinction (U.K. Observer)
Tuna Near Extinction (U.K. Guardian)
Atlantic Salmon In Danger Of Extinction (World Wildlife Fund)
Cod Faces Extinction Threat (BBC)
The Last Sturgeon (Scientific American)
Dying Zooplankton Threatens Extinction of Marine Species (U.K. Observer)
Vietnamese Sea Species in Danger of Extinction (AP)
North Sea Extinction Crisis (U.K. Guardian)
Hundreds of Asian Bird Species Face Extinction (New Scientist)
Quarter of American Bird Species in Decline (Audubon Society)
Half of Europe's Mountain Bird Species Threatened (BBC)
Kiwi Bird In Freefall to Extinction (BBC)
Peacock in Peril (India Tribune)
British Butterflies Face Extinction (BBC)
UK Butterfly Decline Steepens (BBC)
Australian Butterflies Facing Extinction Threat (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Many Bees Threatened With Extinction (International Bee Research Association)
Bumblebees Could Face Extinction (BBC)
Italy's Bees Are Dying (Italian National Beekeepers' Association)
Insect Extinctions Threaten Human Life (English Nature)
British Insects Disappearing (U.K. Independent-- 2003)
Endangered Insects (Xerces Society)
North America Facing Biodiversity Crisis (NAFTA)
One-Fifth of Animals and One-Sixth of Plants in U.S. at Risk of Extinction (AP)
Hawaii Hanging By A Thread (Discover Magazine)
Hawaii A Zone Of Mass Extinction (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Half of Mammals and Quarter of Birds in Malaysia Face Extinction (Malaysian Star)
Amazon Rainforest Will Be Destroyed by 2020 (BBC)
Amazon Destruction Surges (BBC)
Loggers to Ravage Congo Rainforest (U.K. Observer)
Cloud Forests And Their Species Will Be Gone In Ten Years (National Geographic)
Deforestation Threatens Thousands of Species (Houston Chronicle)
Mexican Jungle Will Disappear Within 30 Years (Christian Science Monitor)
Last Chance To Save Indonesia's Forests (National Geographic)
Borneo On Brink of Ecological Disaster (Wired News-- 2004)
Rare Animal Trade Threatens Indonesia's Species With Extinction (Jakarta Post-- 2004)
Loggers Threaten Last Stronghold of Philippine Biodiversity (CNN)
Philippines on Verge of Losing Most Native Species (CNN)
Ethiopia's Forests Face Extinction (United Nations)
"Extinction Spasm" Beginning in West Africa (Duke University)
Massive Die-Off of Species Expected in South Africa (WWF)
Many South African Animals Face Extinction (South Africa Sunday Times)
Bushmeat Trade Wiping Out Large African Mammals (Scientific American)
No Hiding Place: The Cost of Bushmeat (BBC)
Bushmeat: 1/4 Million Tons Of Endangered Primates Now Eaten Per Year (Sunday Herald)
Madagascar's Species Disappearing at Alarming Rate (Toronto Globe and Mail)
Angola's Biodiversity Under Severe Threat (News24 South Africa)
Five Years Left for Sumatra's Forests and Key Species (U.K. Guardian)
Malaysian Plants Face Rising Rate of Extinction (Sunday Times of Malaysia)
Thousands of Australian Species in Danger of Extinction (Melbourne Herald Sun)
Australian Species In Peril (CNN)
Australian Species At Risk From Climate Change (Climate Action Network)
Huge Rise in Endangered New Zealand Species (NZ Department of Conservation)
Concern Grows For Wildlife in Egypt (The Scotsman)
South-East Asia Faces Catastrophic Extinction Rate (Nature)
Half of Amphibians in Central America Facing Extinction (The News Mexico)
Trade in Animal Parts Threatens Wave of Extinction in Asia (Wildlife Conservation Society)
Thousands of Antarctic Species Face Extinction (Reuters)
Arctic Fauna Extinction Fear (The Age-- Melbourne)
Half of Species in Norway Face Extinction (Oslo Aftenposten)
Wildcats Losing Battle for Survival in U.S. (National Wildlife Federation)
Coral Reefs Will Be Gone In 20 Years (AP)
Coral Reefs Dying Even Faster Than Previously Thought (United Nations)
World's Coral Reefs In Serious Decline (U.K. Guardian-- 2002)
Caribbean Coral Suffers Phenomenal Loss (BBC)
Hawaiian Coral Ecosystem May Collapse Within Three Years (AP)
Deep Sea Species Being Devastated (UPI)
Dead Zones in the Oceans (U.K. Guardian)
Bush Meat Trade Pushing Bonobos to Extinction (Christian Science Monitor)
Humans' Closest Relative in Danger of Extinction (Bonobo Conservation Initiative)
Is Humanity Suicidal? by E.O. Wilson, Harvard University
The Future of Life, E.O. Wilson, Harvard University
Can Humans and Nature Coexist? (USA Today)
The Weeds Shall Inherit the Earth, David Quammen (The London Independent)
Life in the Balance, by Niles Eldredge, American Museum of Natural History
The Sixth Extinction, by Niles Eldredge, American Museum of Natural History
Going Before Their Time, Sir Robert May, Oxford University
World Losing Battle Against Extinctions, Peter Raven, Washington University (BBC)
The Biodiversity Crisis, Peter Raven, Washington University
Earth in the Balance, Peter Raven, Washington University
The Future of Life, E.O. Wilson [RealAudio]
Are We Facing Mass Extinction? Peter Raven [RealAudio]
Mass Extinction, E.O. Wilson and Russell Mittermeier [RealAudio]
The Meaning Of Mass Extinction, George Schaller, Bronx Zoo (ABC) [RealAudio]
Mass Extinction Foreseen, Michael Soule, U.C. Santa Cruz
Biotic Holocaust, Norman Myers, Oxford University
A Winnowing for Tomorrow's World, Norman Myers, Oxford University
Planet Faces Mass Extinction, Richard Leakey
Earth On Edge, Michael Novacek, American Museum of Natural History
Repeating History at Our Peril, by David Suzuki, University of British Columbia
Ecologists Predict Massive Extinction (University of Tennessee)
The Dawn of a New Mesozoic Era (Wired News)
Losing Strands in the Web of Life (Worldwatch Institute)
Extinctions Past and Present (World Book)
The Current State of Biodiversity, by E.O. Wilson, Harvard University
The Brink of the Homogocene (U.S. National Academy of Sciences)
Rapid Species Loss a Global Danger (Science)
A Field Guide to the Sixth Extinction (N.Y. Times)
The Last of Their Kind (E/Environmental Magazine)
Local Populations Going Extinct (Stanford University)
Genetic Diversity Within Single Species As Crucial as Species Diversity (National Geographic)
Study Jolts Views on Recovery from Extinctions (N.Y. Times)
Recovery From Extinction Will Take Ten Million Years (ABC News)
Global Warming May Cause Extinction of 95% of Species (The Scotsman-- 2003)
Global Warming Report Predicts Doom For Many Species (N.Y. Times)
Global Warming May Make Mass Extinction Unavoidable (Univ. of Arizona)
Global Warming Threatens Third of World Habitat (Reuters)
Global Warming Hits Species All Over World (Reuters)
Extinctions, Not Random, Threaten Thousands of Species (UniSci)
Hunting To Extinction (U.S. News and World Report)
What Will We Lose As More Species Vanish? (N.Y. Times)
Human Alteration of Environment has Triggered Sixth Major Extinction (Nature)
Human Domination of Earth's Ecosystems (Science)
Humans Now Using 40% Of All Resources Available For Life On Earth (U.K. Guardian)
Ecological Overshoot: Humans Exceeding Earth's Capacity (U.S. National Academy of Sciences)
World's Ecosystems on Verge of Sudden Collapse (Nature)
The Current Biodiversity Extinction Event (U.S. National Academy of Sciences)
The Biotic Crisis and the Future of Evolution (U.S. National Academy of Sciences)
Biodiversity: Vanishing Before Our Eyes (Time Magazine)
Time Nearly Up For Human Race (U.K. Guardian)
Humans Moving Closer To Extinction, Study Says (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Time Running Out For the Environment (Johns Hopkins Population Information Program)
British Environment Minister: Humans Killing Planet (U.K. Guardian)
Needed-- Two More Planets (WWF)
Nature's Crown Jewels Face Ruin (U.K. Guardian)
Extinction Crisis Even Worse Than Previously Thought (Science)
Governments Sound Biodiversity Alarm (Convention on Biological Diversity)
UN Paints Grim Global Picture (United Nations Environment Program-- Outlook 2000)
Earth on Edge of a Precipice: United Nations 2001 Population Report
Earth Will Expire By 2050 (World Wildlife Fund)
2002 Biodiversity Summit a Complete Failure (U.K. Guardian)
Condition Critical: U.N. Assessment of Earth's Ecosystems (Time)
The Fraying Web of Life (United Nations)
A History of Awareness of the Current Mass Extinction (Wild Earth Magazine)
Why Are We Not Astonished? Ed Ayres (Worldwatch)
*** What We Can Do ***
"There are now more human babies born each day-- about 350,000-- than there are individuals left in all the great ape species combined, including gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans." (Richard Cincotta, ecologist and senior researcher, Population Action International)
VISIT EARTH CRASH: DOCUMENTING THE COLLAPSE OF A DYING PLANET
Earth Crash: Recent Articles
Earth Crash: Older Articles
Earth Crash: Archives 2001-2002
Earth Crash: Archives 1998-2001
[Note: Earth Crash is a unique site. You may think you know how bad things are, but until you've been to Earth Crash you don't. Just the facts, updated often. DO NOT MISS IT. And dig into the archives-- many *crucial* articles are there.]
18 September, 2003
Lions 'close to extinction'
Lion populations have fallen by almost 90% in the past 20 years, leaving the animal close to extinction in Africa, a wildlife expert has warned.
Live with them or lose them
There are now only 23,000 left, compared to an estimated 200,000 two decades ago, according to Laurence Frank, a wildlife biologist from the University of California.
Drawing on a study in Kenya, he says that the only hope for lions and other predators is for humans and wildlife to live together.
Clare Wallerstein of the International Fund for Wildlife Welfare told the BBC that the problem would get worse as Kenya's human population doubled in the next 12 years.
Interviewed in New Scientist magazine, Dr Frank says "It's not just lions. Populations of all African predators are plummeting."
The wild dog population has fallen to between 3,500 and 5,000 and there are now fewer than 15,000 cheetahs.
"People know about elephants, gorillas and rhinos, but they seem blissfully unaware that these large carnivores are nearing the brink," he says.
Dr Frank blamed the decline in predator numbers on people killing them to protect livestock.
"People have always killed predators," he says. "But there's only so much damage you can do with spears and shields."
"Now everyone has got rifles and poisons."
His study of the Laikipia region of Kenya convinced him that predators and farmers could co-exist peacefully.
Improved fencing and dogs to raise the alarm when predators approach could cut attacks drastically.
But with each lion killing livestock worth on average £200 a year, equivalent to one cow or three sheep, "bullets and poison are always cheaper than good husbandry".
Controversially, Dr Frank says the only solution is for local people to earn money from the predators, either through tourism or through sport hunting.
"In Laikipia you could make half a million dollars a year by shooting the problem animals that are going to be killed anyhow," he says.
Study: Only 10 percent of big ocean fish remain
By Marsha Walton
May 14, 2003
Industrial fishing can reduce a particular fish population to one-tenth its original size in only 10 or 15 years, according to scientists.
(CNN) -- A new global study concludes that 90 percent of all large fishes have disappeared from the world's oceans in the past half century, the devastating result of industrial fishing.
The study, which took 10 years to complete and was published in the international journal Nature this week, paints a grim picture of the Earth's current populations of such species as sharks, swordfish, tuna and marlin.
The authors used data going back 47 years from nine oceanic and four continental shelf systems, ranging from the tropics to the Antarctic. Whether off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, or in the Gulf of Thailand, the findings were dire, according to the authors.
"I think the point is there is nowhere left in the ocean not overfished," said Ransom Myers, a fisheries biologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia and lead author of the study.
Some in the fishing industry took issue with the tone of the report.
"I'm sure there are areas of the world with that level of depletion, but other areas are in good shape," said Lorne Clayton, with the Canadian Highly Migratory Species Foundation, a foundation that supports the sustainable development of the tuna industry.
He said some abuses of the past have ended: Long drift nets are illegal, untended longlines are illegal, and many countries adhere to elaborate systems of licensing, quotas and third party observers working on boats.
Yet Clayton agreed that there remains much room for improvement.
"It's important to keep these issues in front of the public. That puts pressure on the fisheries and agencies to keep cleaning up their act," he said.
According to the report, the big declines in the numbers of large fishes began when industrial fishing started in the early 1950s.
"Whether it is yellowfin tuna in the tropics, bluefin in cold waters, or albacore tuna in between, the pattern is always the same. There is a rapid decline of fish numbers," Myers said.
Co-author Boris Worm said the losses are having major impacts on the ocean ecosystems.
The predatory fish are like "the lions and tigers of the sea," said Worm, a marine ecologist with the Institute for Marine Science in Kiel, Germany.
"The changes that will occur due to the decline of these species are hard to predict and difficult to understand. However, they will occur on a global scale, and I think this is the real reason for concern."
Going the way of the dinosaurs?
In many cases, the fish numbers plummeted fastest during the first years after fleets moved into new areas, often before anyone knew the drops were taking place.
A few decades ago, longline fishing would catch about 10 big fish per 100 hooks. Now the norm is one fish per 100, with fish about half the weight of earlier years, Myers said.
Longlining, among the most widespread of fishing methods, uses miles of baited hooks to catch a wide range of species.
Myers warned that the world's great fish could go the way of the dinosaurs if immediate action is not taken.
"Humans have always been very good at killing big animals," Myers said. "Ten thousand years ago, with just some pointed sticks, humans managed to wipe out the woolly mammoth, saber tooth tigers, mastodons and giant vampire bats. The same could happen in the oceans."
Some representatives of the fishing industry say the picture is not as bleak as the Nature authors indicate.
"For tuna, the analysis is restricted to data from longline fisheries that catch only relatively old individuals, which comprise a small part of the stock," said Robin Allen, of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission.
According to the commission, a greater reduction would be expected in that age-group compared to the tuna stock as a whole.
Worm said he hopes this "big picture" study of the world's fish populations will serve as a wake up call to governments, global fishing conglomerates and environmental groups.
"People haven't before seen how bad this is," said Worm. "It doesn't make any sense, economically or ecologically, to ignore this."
Solutions in the water
While the numbers are alarming, Worm said there are solutions.
In the past when certain fishing areas have been declared off limits and fishing restrictions have been enforced, certain fish and shellfish populations rebounded "amazingly quickly," he said.
Haddock, yellowtail and scallops have recovered in different regions.
"The ocean is full of surprises," Worm said. But with numbers down so dramatically in every part of the world, the situation cannot be ignored for long, he said.
Myers said many of the world's fishing commissions and governments have tried to wish away the problem for years. Reversing the decline, he suggested, would require cutting back fishing by as much as 60 percent.
Clayton said that technological advances were already responsible for improvements. Hi-tech equipment on fleets from many developed countries reduce the by-catch, the fish and other animals caught as by-products of the target fish.
But a huge technological gap still exists between the fishing fleets of rich and poor nations, Clayton said.
He said it makes economic sense for the fishing industry to adhere to conservation measures, and to look at the expansion of aquaculture (fish farming) as part of the answer to dwindling fish numbers.
Bluefin tuna losing battle for survival
Italian port reflects how Asian fishing fleets took over
Alessandro Fucarini / AP file
Fishermen on Favignana Island in southern Italy prepare their nets for tuna catches, even though little has been caught in recent years.
Oceans may look pristine but experts warn that life below the sea could collapse. Click through this slideshow to see the threats listed in a 2003 report by the Pew Oceans Commission.
By Mort Rosenblum
The Associated Press
July 19, 2004
FAVIGNANA, Italy - Over thousands of springtimes, as far back as Homers Odyssey, the fishermen of Favignana have battled giant bluefin tuna lured into vast chambers of intricate netting. This year, the nets were empty.
The ancient mattanzas (slaughters) of Atlantic tuna that come to spawn in the Mediterranean are now all but gone. The craving for sashimi in Japan and the world beyond has taken its toll, but that is only part of it.
Marine biologists say not only bluefin tuna but also other fish stocks are plummeting across the world, upsetting delicate natural food chains. Some fear irreversible damage has already been done.
Even worse, international law experts add, little is being done to stop it. Despite all the evidence, high-tech fleets probe the last deepwater refuges, hardly troubled by authorities.
Legal quotas are too high, specialists say, and in any case are often pointless because too many crews lie about their catch.
Empty nets at Favignana, a butterfly-shaped islet off Trapani at the western edge of Sicily, are only one small sign of the times.
This is no sudden crash, but rather an extremely slow-speed fatal collision, said Carl Safina, founder of the conservationist Blue Ocean Institute on Long Island in New York.
For decades, he said, the world has moved blindly toward a precipice. We have been confronted with signs and warnings and a clear view of the danger. And now we have fallen off. We may deserve it, but our children do not.
Safina reflected views heard in a broad range of interviews in North America and Europe, from environmental activists to government-funded specialists charged with helping to set fishing limits.
Some are more optimistic, arguing that careful management can restore stocks to sustainable levels, but none dispute that urgent action is essential.
Scientists blame worldwide overfishing by private fleets, often with their governments complicity. Even where laws and accords are in place, they say, there is seldom more than token enforcement.
FACT FILE - Five threats to marine biodiversity
Chemical pollution and eutrophication
Alteration of physical habitat
Invasion of exotic species
Global climate change
One study found that, in the past two decades, the worlds fishing nations have so excessively increased their efforts that global fishing capacity in the traditional fisheries is estimated to be 30 percent greater than required to take the world catch. In the United States, it has been estimated that about one-third of all the fisheries for which sufficient data exist are overfished.
Chemical pollution and eutrophication
More than 75 percent of ocean pollution actually comes from sources on land. These might be factories, farms or even homes hundreds of miles inland, which pollute either into the air or into rivers that run into the sea. The pollution can increase mortality rates, decrease growth, impair reproduction and genetically mutate ocean species. It is also believed to contribute to the increase in certain marine algae that can kill various marine organisms and cause illness and even death in humans who consume contaminated seafood.
Alteration of physical habitat
According to the United Nations, more than half of the worlds population lives within 40 miles of the shoreline and this could rise to 75 percent by the year 2020. And as more people live close to shorelines, that means more erosion, destruction and pollution of habitat used by many ocean species. In the United States and worldwide, coastal salt marshes have been destroyed by dredging and filling, mangroves have been removed for shrimp aquaculture, coastal development has altered natural patterns of erosion and sedimentation, and mining and dredging have directly altered habitats for marine species.
Invasion of exotic species
Both man and nature sometimes add a species to an area where its not native. The danger is that this can bring new disease organisms that the native species are not equipped to defend against. Mans impact often comes via the exchange of ballast water in ships, which can dump marine organisms into new areas. This has been implicated in outbreaks of red-tide in Australia; the invasion of the Black Sea by the American comb jellyfish with disastrous effects on plankton biomass and the anchovy fishery; and the invasion of the Great Lakes by Eurasian zebra and quagga mussels that have caused great economic damage in inland waterways.
Global climate change
Should Earth continue its warming pattern, scientists fear shore and habitat erosion, increased salinity of estuaries and freshwater aquifers, altered tidal ranges in rivers and bays, changes in sediments and nutrient transport, a change in patterns of chemical and microbial contamination in coastal areas, and increased coastal flooding. Ecosystems particularly at risk include saltwater marshes, mangrove ecosystems, coastal wetlands, coral reefs, coral atolls, and river deltas. Source: National Research Council, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Bluefin can fetch $150,000
With a single bluefin worth as much as $150,000 on the Tokyo market, Italian and Russian organized crime is now involved, U.N. experts say.
University of British Columbia researchers sounded the alarm in 2001, reporting that some fish populations had fallen by as much as 85 percent. They said China drastically underreported its catch.
The report, directed by Daniel Pauly, said declassified Cold War technology, aircraft, and U.S. monitoring of water temperatures and ocean bottoms help fisherman find hideouts once beyond their reach.
A later study by Ran Myers and Boris Worm of Nova Scotias Dalhousie University reported drops of 90 percent among critical stocks. That brought protests from fishing industry officials, who cited other surveys showing smaller declines.
This is only quibbling over numbers, Safina said. If it is 60 percent now and not 90 percent, then just wait five years.
Beyond uncontrolled fishing, specialists see damage from pollution, silt runoffs from over-engineered river systems, and the still uncertain impact of global warning.
Not all tuna in danger - Tuna is a particular problem.
Such common varieties as skipjack, found canned in supermarkets, fetch lower prices and are not in immediate danger. But prized bluefins are hunted down for sophisticated worldwide networks of Japanese buyers.
Compare your thoughts with U.S. survey About 20 percent of the worlds dwindling supply is caught in the Mediterranean, where tuna stocks are most threatened. And bluefin are also endangered in the Atlantic and Pacific.
The competition is fierce. At remote ports in Maine, boats that bring in bluefin find Japanese agents on their cell phones, eager to bid for the fish and ship them to Tokyo in coffin-like containers packed with ice.
Since these giant tuna might live 30 years, their plight affects an entire complex food chain, which already suffers from other types of overfishing.
In the early 1950s, the global tuna catch was less than 500,000 tons. By 2001, it had surpassed 3.7 million tons.
Serge Garcia, a Frenchman who supervises fish-monitoring programs at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, says hes deeply disturbed by nearly every trend he sees.
As a scientist who answers to each of the FAOs member nations, he steers clear of advocacy. But, he said, the evidence speaks for itself: Wherever you look, the numbers are going down.
A counting issue
Garcia said the main problem is that since ocean fish cannot be accurately counted, no one can be certain about numbers. As a result, fishermen and conservationists push data to opposite extremes.
Guide lists seafood by abundance and scarcity But, he said, scientists have a clear idea of the downward trend. I dont think it is wise to wait until this is proven right beyond any doubt, he said. By then, it will be too late.
He calculated that fleets should be reduced by 30 to 40 percent to preserve stocks.
The ancient methods of Favignana focused on single schools, in which the biggest fish habitually swim first. This assured a lucrative catch without damage to sustainability.
Now most bluefin are caught on long lines. Other tuna are scooped up by purse-seine nets which catch whatever enters their broad openings. Huge numbers of untargeted fish are dumped back, dead in the water.
Using almost weightless nylon-Kevlar lines up to 2,500 feet long and equipped with lights and tiny cameras, Garcia said, fisherman can locate giant old tuna hiding in underwater caves.
Only one of these big tuna can be worth as much as the most expensive Mercedes-Benz, Garcia said. How do you expect criminal organizations not to want to be in on it?
He said Mafia-owned fishing operations launder money from other activities and exploit official fishing subsidies. Other operators, he added, push for quick and maximum profit in case enforcement is tightened.
Its warfare out there, complete with military technology, Garcia said. Within 20 years, he predicted, only the wealthiest will be willing to pay the necessary prices for the best cuts of tuna.
It is the height of absurdity, says marine biologist Chato Osio at the Worldwide Fund for Nature Mediterranean office in Rome. Sicily sends its best tuna to Japan, and Sicilians eat inferior tuna they import from Asia.
Even if commercial boats respected Mediterranean quotas, he said, the annual 32,000-ton limit for tuna is already too high to protect the threatened fish.
The WWF and other groups campaign for fishing moratoriums in sensitive areas as well as rigorous patrols to enforce quotas.
Tuna ranches a new trend
Some experts put hope in tuna ranches, which have grown fast since 1997. These are not breeding centers, as are common for salmon, but rather holding pens for wild tuna that are caught but not landed.
Marine species gone or on the brink
Mediterranean monk seal
Christmas Island frigate bird
North Atlantic right whale
Leatherback sea turtle
A coalition of conservation and government scientists put together a list reflecting the types of marine species lost over the years -- as well as those on the brink. They note that although extinctions are natural, the rate has increased dramatically in recent times, primarily due to human activity. Click on a category for examples of what's at stake.
Below are examples of some marine species known to have been lost, preceded by the year one was last seen:
1768Stellers sea cow
1929Atlantic eelgrass limpet
1952West Indian monk seal
CLIP - Go at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5428979/ to review the detailed status of each endangered species
Proponents say this allows prices to stabilize and adds more meat to the market. But in practice, the WWF says, tuna penning wreaks its own sorts of havoc by disrupting natural cycles and seasonality, and by opening new markets for tuna. These, a WWF report says, have made the situation of wild stocks even more perilous.
Francesca Ottolunghi, a marine biologist who advises the Italian fishing industry, calls WWFs positions too extreme. She predicts that farms will eventually raise tuna safely from eggs. But, like the environmentalists, she sees danger in illegal fishing.
This is the biggest problem, Ottolunghi said. Nobody has control. You can say anything you want, but there is no enforcement.
'Beautiful life has turned ugly'
None of this is news to the Favignana fisherman, whose annual running of the tuna has dwindled from the mainstay of the worlds biggest cannery to a subsidized curiosity for tourists.
1 November, 2002
World's plants under pressure
Almost half of all plant species could be facing extinction, according to new research by botanists in the United States.
Until now the official tally of endangered plants, compiled by the World Conservation Union, has suggested that only about one in eight plant species could disappear.
But the researchers, writing in the journal Science, now believe this figure to be a gross underestimate.
They say the old assessment does not include a reliable tally of species at risk in the tropical latitudes, where most of the world's plants grow.
Nigel Pitman and Peter Jorgensen say the world is teetering on the edge of an extinction crisis, as more and more plants disappear each year.
The species most at risk live only in small geographic ranges in specific habitats.
The official estimate by the World Conservation Union - the IUCN - suggests that 13% of the world's plant species are under threat, but the two US botanists say it is at least 22% and could be as many as 47%.
They say the IUCN has reliable data for plants in Europe, North America, South Africa and Australia, but there are no reliable figures for tropical, developing countries, where most of the world's plants grow.
In their journal report, the two botanists have taken the trends seen in temperate areas, and extended them to tropical countries.
Their calculations suggest that in the worst case scenario almost half the world's plants are at risk.
It is impossible, however, to establish the exact threat without local research, they argue.
Based on some Ecuadorian work, they estimate the cost of maintaining a global database of threatened plants would cost around $100 per species, per year, for an annual budget of less than $12.1m for all biodiversity "hotspots".
Pitman and Jorgensen tell Science: "Only with the species-by-species information generated by such an undertaking will conservationists be able to monitor and prevent the large-scale plant extinctions foreseen to occur in the tropics in this century."
Nigel Pitman is from the Duke Center for Tropical Conservation, Duke University, North Carolina; Peter Jorgensen is attached to Missouri Botanical Garden in St Louis.
Orangutans Edging Closer to Brink of Extinction
By Hillary Mayell (October 24, 2000)
Willie Smits is a man on a mission. He has just completed a cross-country speaking tour in the United States, and he has one message: Its now or never when it comes to orangutan conservation.
What is a human without education, without culture, without the love of his parents? Nothing. The same is true of the orangutan, says Willie Smits, director of the Wanariset Orangutan Rehabilitation Center in Indonesia.
A forestry scientist from the Netherlands, Smits emigrated to Indonesia 20 years ago to help the country grow trees. Today he runs the worlds largest orangutan rehabilitation center and is in the forefront of a campaign to save the species in the wild.
He faces great odds.
Orangutans once ranged throughout Southeast Asia. Today they can be found only on the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Scientists estimate that in the last 10 years their numbers have been reduced by up to 50 percent, to perhaps as few as 13,000 living in the wild.
We need to take action now; in 20 years it will be too late, says Smits. We still have a chance to set aside some very large areas of undisturbed lowland rainforest, but I dont think well have the chance in another five years. It is now or never.
RESCUING BABY UCE
In 1989 Smits stumbled upon a dying baby orangutan being sold in the street markets of Balikpapan, a town in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. The sight so haunted him that he returned later that evening and found the baby in its crate tossed on the garbage dump.
She was so sickly, just gasping for breath; they thought she was going to die so they just threw her away. Of course when they saw me take her, they chased me, yelling, wanting to be paid.
Smits nursed the baby, whom he named Uce, and searched for a way to return her to the wild. Orangutan babies are like human babies; helpless. Just releasing her into the wild would have been a death sentence.
The search for an alternative led him slowly but surely down a path that resulted in a profound career change from forestry management to orangutan conservation.
THE KILLING FIELDS
Humans and human activity present the biggest threat to orangutans, which are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN (World Conservation Union). Loss of habitat resulting from increased population pressure in particular poses a huge problem 100 years ago, 10 million people lived in Indonesia; today that number is 200 million.
Subsistence farmers burn the forests to clear land to grow rice; wealthy landowners use the same slash-and-burn technique to clear forest land for palm oil and rubber tree plantations that can cover hundreds of acres.
The loss of habitat means that orangutans are pushed deeper into the forests, where illegal logging has reduced much of the original rainforest into a patchwork of forest islands. The fragmented pieces of forest are too small to support a population large enough to survive in the long term.
The cycle of extreme drought, followed by the devastating fires of 1997-98 struck a devastating blow to orangutan populations. Those that werent killed in the fires faced starvation. Forced closer to human settlements in search of food and water, thousands fell prey to poachers.
Orangutans already had been pushed into less quality forest, where it was more difficult for them to survive, says Smits. Then when the fires came, they had no water, no food left; it was completely dark for months in a row. The orangutans came out of the forests toward the rivers and became victims of the people there who didnt like to see their very few last crops being raided by those wild animals.
Thousands of orangutans got killed during that disaster period. And thousands of baby orangutans started showing up in trade.
The economic and social crisis raging in Indonesia further exacerbates the problem. Forty million people became jobless and many of them go hunt for orangutans for the meat, pet trade, and the skulls that foreign tourists buy as souvenirs. As the provinces of Indonesia struggle for autonomy, nobodys clear whats going to happen, but everybody is grabbing their chance to take whatever they can from the forest.
We are losing the forest habitat at unprecedented speed.
REINTRODUCTION CENTERS: A STOP GAP MEASURE
The Wanariset Center, located in the jungle 24 miles (38 kilometers) from Balikpapan, has been accepting confiscated and rescued orangutans since 1991. Today it is home to more than 200 orangutans.
The orangutan rehabilitation center, which operates on a shoestring budget, reintroduces rescued and confiscated orangutans back into the wild in groups of 30 to 35. The rehab process takes years and is extremely labor intensive. Animals coming into the program are quarantined, screened, vaccinated and raised in social groups. An orangutan must be taught a whole slew of skills and essentially pass a test before being released back into the wild.
Orangutans from Wanariset are released into protected areas where there are no wild populations for fear of spreading human diseases. More than 300 have been released since 1991.
Many of the people seem to think this is a success and look at all these orangutans who are now truly living as wild orangutans; you have succeeded in getting them healthy, teaching them all these hundreds of different food items, the climbing skills, get them into groups with friends it looks like a wonderful thing, says Smits.
But I must stress, basically the very fact that we do have orangutan rehabilitation means that we have failed to do what is really important, and that is rescue the wild orangutan in its habitat.
One of the catalysts for Smits visit to the U.S. was to provide support for the Great Ape Conservation Act of 2000, which Congress passed this session. The legislation provides $5 million a year for five years for great ape (gorillas, bonobo, chimpanzee and orangutan) protection. Smits is hopeful that some of this money will be devoted to preserving the rainforests that are home to orangutans.
The situation is extremely critical, says Smits. Its now or never if we want to do something to try to rescue them.
Uce, the baby orangutan first rescued by Smits, was the first orangutan to graduate from the reintroduction program and give birth in the wild.
Polar bears roam Arctic ice on borrowed time
LONGYEARBYEN, Svalbard, Norway (AFP) July 28, 2004
There are today nearly as many polar bears as people in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, a mere 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from the North Pole, but experts fear that balance is about to shift as the white king of the ice roams steadily towards extinction.
Theoretically a protected species, the polar bear has in practice been exposed to an increasing number of man-made perils, leading researchers to worry that it could be completely extinct in just a matter of decades.
"There's a big risk of losing the polar bear altogether," said Kit Kovacs, a Canadian who heads up bio-diversity research at the Norwegian Polar Institute.
While measures are being taken to protect the bears, new threats keep popping up, negating the work that has been done.
Even before the bans on dangerous substances like PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) really start paying off, a flurry of other dangerous substances like mercury and brominated flame retardants have begun posing a significant threat to the king of the ice.
To researchers' astonishment, traces of flame retardants -- used in abundance in the electronics, textile and automobile industries -- have recently been found in Svalbard polar bears for the first time.
In the archipelago, which today is home to some 2,500 of a total 25,000 Arctic polar bears, these massive mammals are so common that most people carry a shotgun with them whenever leaving the human settlement areas.
Soon however, experts fear there will be no need to bring along firearms for protection, since all the new dangerous substances risk severely curtailing the number of bears in the area.
"The source of the toxins and environmental waste is basically in the south, in the industrial zones like North America, Russia and Europe. The substances tend to evaporate and to settle in the Arctic," said Bjarne Otnes, a local Svalbard government representative in charge of environmental issues.
While the direct effects of these substances remain unclear, researchers suspect that they at the very least seriously damage the bears' immune system as well as their ability to reproduce.
Over recent years, for instance, a number of "pseudo-hermophrodite" polar bears -- females with such protruding sexual organs that they resemble penises -- have begun appearing.
The substances "get into the food chain, first in the algae. The algae get eaten by the small fish, the small fish get eaten by the bigger fish, the big fish get eaten by the seals and the seals get eaten by the bears," Otnes said.
Topping the food-chain, polar bears store nutriants -- and poisons -- consumed by their prey in their fat as they prepare for hibernation.
"When the females metabolize the fat to feed the cubs, they spread the compounds in their body and in their milk. Cubs are getting heavy doses while they are at the most vulnerable stage of their lives," Kovacs explained.
The greatest danger however comes from another human-related environmental shift: global warming, which is rapidly shrinking the ice masses that make up the polar bears' vital hunting grounds.
According to the most widely accepted projections, the Arctic icecap will have completely disappeared -- during the summer at least -- by 2080.
That could be disastrous for the between 80 and 90 percent of polar bears who spend their summers on the ice hunting seals, which make up 95 percent of their food intake.
The receding ice will probably eventually drive the polar bears onto land, according to Kovac, who warns that they then may mingle with brown bears.
"But that would be the end of the polar bear as such. It's definitely a species at high risk and mating would then be the last of their worries anyway," she said.
As the ice disappears, the bears will be forced to swim longer distances to get to new hunting ground, something that will be difficult for cubs, researchers say. The effort of crossing larger bodies of water is also expected to detract from the adult bears' sex drive and thereby their ability to reproduce.
The diminishing ice has already claimed three potential victims. A mother polar bear and her two young cubs are currently stranded on Bjoernoeya ("Bear Island" in Norwegian) in the Svalbard archipelago after being caught off guard by a rapid ice melt this spring.
The three bears have been deprived of access to their primary food source, seals, which disappeared with the ice.
The local Svalbard government has so far ignored calls to save the small family, instead deciding to let nature take its course.
Polar bears generally catch baby seals curled up inside cavities in the ice by throwing their approximately 300 kilos (about 660 pounds) against the ice and breaking it.
"They gob seals like M and Ms. Initially, as spring ice disappears, it might make it easier for polar bears to catch seals," Kovacs said.
The polar bears will not be able to ride that gravy train for long however, she said, warning that these kings of the ice could soon be delegated to museum wings dedicated to extinct species.
Date: 23 Jul 2004
From: Teresa Perez email@example.com>
Subject: World Rainforest Movement Bulletin 84
Industrial shrimp farming in mangrove areas must be banned
World perception about mangroves is changing positively. Once described as insect-infested foul-smelling wastelands, they are now being more aptly called "roots of the sea", "amphibious rainforests" or "coastal nurseries". This new attitude constitutes a positive first step towards their conservation, because a valued ecosystem stands a better chance of being protected than one perceived as a useless wasteland.
This change in attitude is to a large extent the result of the activities of numerous NGOs working together with local communities struggling to protect their mangroves, and generating awareness at the national, regional and international level about the social and environmental importance of mangrove ecosystems.
Every July 26, many of those organizations carry out a number of organized activities under the common banner of "Save the Mangroves!". This day was chosen International Day of the Mangrove commemorating that day in 1998, when a Greenpeace activist from Micronesia -Hayhow Daniel Nanoto- died of a heart attack while involved in a massive protest action led by FUNDECOL and Greenpeace in Ecuador. During this action the local community of Muisne, together with the NGOs, dismantled an illegally placed shrimp pond in an attempt to restore this damaged zone back to its former state as a mangrove forest.
Actions such as the above are still unfortunately necessary and common throughout the tropical and subtropical regions -where mangrove forests occur- because powerful commercial interests - mostly linked to shrimp production, oil and gas extraction, mining and tourism development - threaten the mere existence of this unique ecosystem. Among these, industrial shrimp farming poses one of the gravest threats to the world's remaining mangrove forests and the wildlife and communities they support. In words of Alfredo Quarto, director of Mangrove Action Project, "an estimated 1 million hectares of coastal wetlands, including mangroves, have been cleared worldwide for conversion to shrimp farms that range from one-half to hundreds of hectares each. A telling sign of this boom-and-bust industry, approximately 250,000 hectares now lie abandoned due to disease and pollution."
The expansion of such destructive activity is fuelled by voracious consumer demands for cheap shrimp in the United States, Canada, Japan, and Europe. As a result, mangroves that provide for the livelihoods of poor local communities in the South are destroyed to feed the already well fed and to increase the profitability of rich shrimp producers and transnational trading companies.
The current situation can therefore be described as one where, on the one side, the world has become more aware about the social and environmental importance of mangroves, while, on the other side, unsustainable production and consumption is leading to mangrove destruction and to an increase in poverty in mangrove-dependent communities.
This paradoxical situation needs to change. Large-scale industrial shrimp farming must be banned because of the already proven negative social and environmental impacts it entails. Mangrove management should be put in the hands of those who know how to manage them sustainably and whose interest lies in their long-term conservation: the local communities. Shrimp will of course become more expensive in northern markets, but will be again freely available -together with the other means of livelihood mangroves provide- to those who most need to feed themselves.
The solution is obvious but not easy to implement. It requires a political will that can only be achieved through increased pressure on governments -in both North and South- to make them comply with what they themselves have defined as socially equitable and environmentally sustainable development -and have committed themselves to put in practice. In most mangrove areas, this simply means banning industrial shrimp farming and devolving management to the hands of mangrove-dependent local communities. As simple as that.
Other topics included in this Bulletin 84:
* LOCAL STRUGGLES AND NEWS
- Africa: Mangroves to Feed Shrimp Aquaculture
- Congo, Democratic Republic: Pygmies stand up to World Bank logging development
- Kenya: The Maasai Stand up to IUCN Displacement Attempts from their Forest
- South Africa: FSC Certification of Industrial Timber Plantations
- Also in the Mekong ... plantations are not forests!
- Burma: China Continues Devouring Neighbour's Forests
- China: Ramsar Mangroves lost to Shrimp Farming
- India: Welcome to Mowgli's Land
- Laos: Ongoing problems with the Asian Development Bank's "successful" Nam Leuk dam
- Costa Rica: The "eco" disguise of tourism threatens last pristine forests
- Honduras: The Peoples' March for Life
- Brazil: Mangrove Ecosystems Turned into Shrimp Aquaculture Ponds
- Colombia: Forestry as a business
- Ecuador: Certified shrimps
- Ecuador: Letter of thanks from Floresmilo Villalta
- Venezuela: The population of Aguide on the alert to face damages caused by shrimp farms
- Pulp mills and transgenic trees: From Spain to Finland, opposition is manifest
* THE CARBON SHOP FILES
- The carbon spin doctors: How the World Bank explains emissions trading to journalists
- The Plantar PCF project still in the spotlight
To review the rest of this bulletin, please go at http://www.wrm.org.uy/bulletin/84/viewpoint.html
Maldonado 1858; Montevideo, Uruguay
Web page: http://www.wrm.org.uy
Editor: Ricardo Carrere
This bulletin is also available in French, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Moving forward: The Mumbai Forest Initiative
A number of organizations concerned about forests and forest peoples rights held a strategy meeting at the World Social Forum to discuss ways of moving forward on those issues. The result was a draft statement of principles aimed at creating a global movement based on a common approach to forest conservation and to the respect of forest peoples rights. All people concerned about this issue are invited to share their views on the draft statement to make comments and suggestions for improvement and to join this process. CLIP
Deforestation threatens Amazon river, scientists warn
July 30, 2004
By Vivian Sequera, Associated Press
BRASILIA, Brazil Deforestation has provoked drastic changes along many Amazon tributaries and scientists warned it was only a matter of time before it affects the main trunk of the river.
A four-year study on the effects of deforestation found many of the Amazon's 7,000 tributaries were drying up, while fertilizers and pesticides have profoundly altered their ecosystems.
"So far this hasn't affected the Amazon river ... and we don't want to get to that point," Alex Krutsche, a biologist at the University of Sao Paulo who was involved in the study, said Thursday.
Although the Amazon rain forest has lost as much as 20 percent of its original forest cover some 6 million square kilometers (2.3 million square miles) Krutsche said little environmental damage was apparent along the main trunk of the 6,800-kilometer-long (4,223-mile-long) river.
The forest is being cut down at an ever faster pace to make way for cattle ranching and more recently, large grain plantations, especially soybeans which require lots of fertilizers and strong pesticides to flourish in the equatorial region.
"For now it's speculation to say whether the Amazon will disappear or not," said Reynaldo Victoria, a University of Sao Paulo researcher, who added that the smallest tributaries are among the most affected. "To save them we only have to follow the law."
To keep the river from drying up, Brazilian law requires that farmers not disrupt the forest within 50 meters (165 feet) of any river bank.
Another law limits clear cutting to only 20 percent of the forest property though the remaining 80 percent can be logged selectively with a government-approved forestry management plan.
But these and other tough environmental laws are routinely flouted in the massive Amazon region that covers an area larger than Europe. The government has few environmental inspectors in the rain forest.
The results were presented at the final day of the third conference on the Large Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia.
The experiment, which began in 1998 and is expected to continue through 2006, studies the interaction between the Amazon rain forest, the world's largest remaining tropical wilderness, and regional and global weather patterns.
It involves more than 1,000 scientists and specialists from over 100 research institutions including NASA, and is being called the largest international environment research project ever.
Amazon fires change weather, speed deforestation
July 28, 2004
By Axel Bugge, Reuters
BRASILIA, Brazil Burning of the Amazon jungle is changing weather patterns by raising temperatures and reducing rainfall, accelerating the rate at which the forest is disappearing and turning into grassland, scientists report.
Wide-scale burning by loggers and farmers of the Amazon has risen sharply over the past two decades, changing the region's cloud cover and reducing the amount of rain in some deforested areas that are turning into grassland or savanna.
"All the models indicate the same thing: 'savannization,"' Pedro Leite Silva Dias of the University of Sao Paulo said at a conference on research on Amazon deforestation.
Silva Dias said the worst-case scenario for the Amazon, a continuous tropical forest larger than the continental United States, is that at current burning and deforestation rates, 60 percent of the jungle will turn into savanna in the next 50 to 100 years. The most likely outlook is that 20 to 30 percent will turn into savanna, according to forecasting models.
Destruction of the Amazon, home to up to 30 percent of the globe's animal and plant species, reached its second-highest level last year. An area of 5.9 million acres, bigger than the state of New Jersey, was destroyed as loggers and farmers hacked and burned the forest in 2003.
About 85 percent of the Amazon is still standing.
The Amazon experts are presenting the latest findings of the Large Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia, the world's largest experiment on jungle deforestation.
The experiment, which includes U.S. space agency NASA, has found increasing evidence that the Amazon is slowly getting drier due to burning, with unpredictable consequences for its survival and weather patterns.
The experiment has monitored the Amazon since 1998, using research towers and a unique satellite image system.
As the climate becomes drier and reduces the colossal amount of water vapor over the Amazon, the effects will spread internationally, the experts said.
"Clouds over the Amazon are not in their normal state. The repercussions of this are going to be felt far away," said Meinrat Andreae of Germany's Max Planck Institute of Chemistry. "This leads to significant changes of global (cloud) circulation."
Experts have found that burning of the Amazon, accounts for 75 percent of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions, making Brazil one of the world's top 10 polluters.
The scientists said the Amazon's climate is already getting hotter due to global warming. Burning in the area itself is accelerating that process.
The killer bees are coming
African bees have invaded the south, and may eventually reach Missouri - One of the harshest lessons of environmental biology is that the unexpected does happen. Precisely because science operates at the edge of what we know, nosing ahead to learn more, researchers sometimes stumble over the unexpected. This lesson was brought clearly to mind this summer, with reports of killer bees being discovered for the first time east of the Mississippi River, in Jacksonville, Florida.
In Missouri we are used to the mild mannered European honeybee, a subspecies called mellifera. The African variety, subspecies scutelar, look very much like them, but they are hardly mild mannered. They are very aggressive, with a chip on their shoulder, and when swarming do not have to be provoked to start trouble. A few individuals may see you at a distance, loose it, and lead thousands of bees in a concerted attempt to do you in. The only thing you can do is run -- fast. They will keep after you for up to a mile. It doesn't do any good to duck under water, as they just wait for you.
They are nicknamed "killer" bees not because any one sting is worse than the European kind, but rather because so many of the bees try to sting you. An average human can survive no more than 300 bee stings. A horrible total of more than 8,000 bee stings is not unusual for a killer bee attack. An American graduate student attacked and killed in Costa Rican jungle had 10,000 stings.
The reason killer bees remind me of the "law of unintended consequences" is that their invasion of this continent is the direct result of researchers stumbling over the unexpected.
Killer bees were brought from Africa to Brazil 43 years ago by a prominent Brazilian scientist, Warwick Estevam Kerr. A famous geneticist, Kerr is the only Brazilian to be a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. What he was doing in 1956, at the request of the Brazilian government, was attempting to establish tropical bees in Brazil to expand the commercial bee industry (bees pollinate crops and make commercial honey in the process). African bees seemed ideal, better adapted to the tropics than European bees and more prolific honey producers.
Kerr established a quarantined colony of African bees at a remote field station outside the city of Rio Claro, several hundred miles from his university at San Palo. While he had brought back many queens from South Africa, the colony came to be dominated by the offspring of a single very productive queen from Tanzania. Kerr noted at the time that she appeared unusually aggressive.
In the fall of 1957 the field station was visited by a bee keeper. As no one else was around that day, the visitor performed the routine courtesy of tending to the hives. A hive with a queen in it has a set of bars across the door so the queen can't get out. Called a "queen excluder," the bars are far enough apart that the smaller worker males can squeeze through. Now once a queen starts to lay eggs, she'll never leave the hive, so there is little point in slowing down entry of worker males to the hive and the queen excluder is routinely removed. On that day, the visitor saw the Tanzanian queen laying eggs in the African colony hive, and so removed the queen excluder.
One and a half days later, when a staff member inspected the African colony, the Tanzanian queen and 26 of her daughter queens had decamped. Out into the neighboring forest they went. And that's what I meant by being bushwhacked by the unexpected. European queen bees never leave the hive after they have started to lay eggs. No one could have guessed that the Tanzanian queen would behave differently. But she did.
By 1970 the super-aggressive African bees had blanketed Brazil, totally replacing local colonies. They reached Central America by 1980, Mexico by 1986, and Texas by 1990, having conquered 5 million square miles in 33 years. In the process they killed an estimated 1,000 people and over 100,000 cows. The first American to be killed, a rancher named Lino Lopez, died of multiple stings in Texas in 1993.
All during the 1990s the bees have been invading the United States. All of Arizona and much of Texas has been occupied. Last spring all of Los Angeles County was declared officially colonized, and it looks like African bees will eventually move at least half way up the state of California.
In a few years the invasion is predicted to cease, on a line roughly from San Francisco to Richmond. Winter cold is expected to limit any further northward expansion of the invading hoards.
That line includes Missouri, barely. So, sure as the sun rises, the killer bees are coming, not caring one bit that they were unanticipated. The deep lesson -- that unexpected things do happen -- is being driven home by millions of tiny aggressive teachers.
Forwarded by "Mark Graffis" firstname.lastname@example.org> on July 30, 2004
Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World
Powerdown is a brilliant analysis of the options available to a civilization facing resource depletion, biosphere collapse, and financial insolvency. Differentiating his book from the slew of peak oil books that have recently appeared on shelves, he makes a cogent, impassioned proposal for a strategy of self limitation, sharing, and cooperation while preparing for the possibility of collapse. I file Powerdown in the must read category for the "walking worried" that is, anyone concerned about what is happening and wondering what can be done to avert worst case scenarios.
Julian Darley (Post Carbon Institute) writes: Powerdown is the only sane response to the world's increasingly grave problems of energy depletion, environmental degradation, and over-population. Richard Heinberg truly understands the nature, scale, and urgency of our global situation. As we briefly rest on the plateau of world oil production peak, Heinberg first outlines the possible unpleasant paths our society may take through energy decline. He then makes it devastatingly clear that a humane post-carbon future depends on urging our governments to powerdown, while we start to relocalise our economies and build community lifeboats.
In the near future, we will have a site dedicated to Powerdown; stay tuned for more.
All the best,
Dave R David
Room Communications Director
Post Carbon Institute
Global Public Media
http://www.viewfromthepeak.com(my blog) United States
World Creeping Closer to 'Oil Shock' (24 July 2004)
Energy crisis could loom, experts say. Politics, corporate moves are factors. Are we running out of oil? Are we in danger of another energy crisis of the magnitude of the 1970s "oil shocks" that condemned us to a decade of economic stagnation? And with our desultory regard for conservation and alternative energy sources, are we risking ever greater oil dependence on the volatile Middle East? Yes, yes and yes. CLIP
Is Saudi Arabia Running Out of Oil?
When oil prices have doubled to $80 and a second Great Depression threatens global political stability, our president will assemble a 9/11-style commission to explain the intelligence and policy failures that led to the crisis. The verdict will be familiar: The stunning blow to the world economy brought about by the sudden, unexpected depletion of fossil fuel should have been anticipated and prevented. CLIP
It's the End of the World as We Know It (29 July 2004)
A review of The End of Suburbia - Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream - A simple fact of life is that any system based on the use of non renewable resources is unsustainable. Despite all the warnings that we are headed for an ecological and environmental perfect storm, many Americans are oblivious to the flashing red light on the earth's fuel gauge. Many feel the "American way of life" is an entitlement that operates outside the laws of nature. At the Earth Summit in 1992, George H.W. Bush forcefully declared, "The American way of life is not negotiable." That way of life requires a highly disproportionate use of the world's nonrenewable resources. While only containing 4% of the world population, the United States consumes 25% of the world's oil. The centerpiece of that way of life is suburbia. And massive amounts of nonrenewable fuels are required to maintain the project ofsuburbia.The suburban lifestyle is considered by many Americans to be an accepted and normal way of life. But this gluttonous, sprawling, and energy-intensive way of life is simply not sustainable. Few people are aware of how their lives are dependent on cheap and abundant energy. Are these Americans in for a rude awakening? In a fascinating new documentary, The End of Suburbia - Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream, the central question is this: Does the suburban way of life have a future? The answer is are sounding no. CLIP
US nuclear clean-up carries major risks
25 July 04
There is a 50% chance of a major accident while the US government attempts to clean up its dirtiest nuclear site over the next three decades, a new study concludes. Even without an accident, the groundwater, a nearby river and fish could end up badly contaminated.
A decision to fast-track the rehabilitation of the vast Hanford nuclear complex in Washington State poses dangers and could lead to "costly and time-consuming mistakes", says Bob Alvarez, formerly a senior environmental adviser to the Clinton administration. His study is due to be published in the September issue of Princeton University's peer-reviewed journal, Science and Global Security.
Over the last 50 years nine reactors at the 1500-square-kilometre site have produced 67 tonnes of plutonium for the US nuclear weapons programme. In 2002 the US Department of Energy (DOE) embarked on a 30-year, $50 billion clean-up, which includes emptying more than 190 million litres of liquid radioactive waste from 177 underground tanks.
"The costs, complexity and risks of the Hanford high-level waste project rival those of the US manned space programme, but have far greater potential consequences to the human environment," says Alvarez, who is now with the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC.
Allyn Boldt, who was a senior chemical engineer at Hanford for 25 years, fears that any problems at the site will jeopardise the expansion of nuclear power he believes is necessary to meet the world's future energy needs. "The clean-up decisions at Hanford are being made by administrators driven by political and career considerations," he told New Scientist.
That may not lead to the best decisions, he says. Even if the clean-up goes according to plan, Boldt claims there will still be 260 square kilometres of groundwater exceeding drinking water safety limits for over 10,000 years. And ground contamination means "several square miles will be a national sacrifice zone that cannot be excavated for hundreds of thousands of years", he says.
The DOE accepts that it faces major challenges at Hanford but stresses that since 2000 it has made good progress on what it calls "the world's largest environmental clean-up project". A new treatment plant is more than 25% built and will be ready to take high-level waste by 2011.
The aim is to complete the clean-up by 2035, 35 years earlier than originally planned. This will reduce the danger to the environment, as well as cutting the cost, argues a DOE spokeswoman.
"The accelerated progress we've been making would not be possible without a corresponding improvement in safety," she says. "We are working safer today than we were three or four years ago."
He also highlights numerous other risks, including the potential build-up of flammable gases in Hanford's underground storage tanks. In October 2003, one tank was discovered to contain sufficient concentrations hydrogen to burn - after it had been declared safe.
The tanks, most of which date from the Cold War, are also increasingly unreliable, Alvarez alleges. Nearly four million litres of radioactive waste have leaked from a third of them and contaminated the groundwater.
A plan to dispose of iodine-129 at Hanford risks further contamination in breach of the Environment Protection Agency's safety limits for drinking water, he warns. Fish from the Columbia River, which flows through the site, are an important part of the diet for thousands of neighbouring native Americans.
Finally, Alvarez says that almost a fifth of the huge amount of radioactivity at Hanford could end up being left at the site, including six times more caesium-137 and over a hundred times more strontium-90 than were released by the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine. According to the DOE, there is not enough room for all the waste at the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
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