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Earth is fighting to stay alive. Mass dieoffs, triggered by anthropogenic assault and fallout of planetary defense systems offsetting the impact, could begin anytime!

Posts Tagged ‘Biodiversity’

Humans Committing Large-Scale Ecocide

Posted by feww on June 11, 2018

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Humans Committing Large-Scale Ecocide

Ecocide: “The destructive impact of humans on the natural environment, extensive damage to or loss of ecosystems to the extent that it is unable to support life.”

Prepared and presented by FIRE-EARTH Science and affiliated scientists.

  • Details are available via FIRE-EARTH PULSARS.







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Deforestation: Half of All Amazon Tree Species ‘Face Extinction’

Posted by feww on November 21, 2015


About quarter of Earth’s plant species probably threatened —Report

Amazon, the world’s most diverse forest, is home to more than 15,000 tree species. However, the forest is being rapidly degraded due to deforestation.

Clearing the forest for farming, ranching and human settlements is threatening up to 57% of all tree species in Amazon, which would likely qualify as being globally threatened under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species criteria, say researchers.

The study covers more than 5.5 million km² of forest spanning multiple countries: Brazil (60% of the rainforest) Peru (13%), Colombia (10%), Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.

The trends observed in Amazonia also apply to trees throughout the tropics, and they predict that most of the world’s more than 40,000 tropical tree species now qualify as globally threatened, according to the report.

If confirmed, these results would increase the number of threatened plant species on Earth by 22%.

The Jungle

Home to the largest collection of living plants and animal species on the planet, or about one in ten known species, biodiversity of Amazon rainforest is unparalleled.

“The original lowland forests of Amazonia are estimated to have covered 5.74 million km², 11.4% of which had been deforested by 2013. Most of the estimated 3.2 × 10^10 individual trees lost to date were in southern and eastern Amazonia,” according to the report.

Fire-Earth models show Amazonian forests have lost about 14% of their original extent. Most of the lost forest has become pasture for cattle. As of October 2015, the area of forest lost in the Amazon rose to nearly 805,000 km² [estimate does not include regrowth, if any.]

Estimating the global conservation status of more than 15,000 Amazonian tree species: by Hans ter Steege et al.


Estimates of extinction risk for Amazonian plant and animal species are rare and not often incorporated into land-use policy and conservation planning. We overlay spatial distribution models with historical and projected deforestation to show that at least 36% and up to 57% of all Amazonian tree species are likely to qualify as globally threatened under International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List criteria. If confirmed, these results would increase the number of threatened plant species on Earth by 22%. We show that the trends observed in Amazonia apply to trees throughout the tropics, and we predict that most of the world’s >40,000 tropical tree species now qualify as globally threatened. A gap analysis suggests that existing Amazonian protected areas and indigenous territories will protect viable populations of most threatened species if these areas suffer no further degradation, highlighting the key roles that protected areas, indigenous peoples, and improved governance can play in preventing large-scale extinctions in the tropics in this century.

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Copyright © 2015, The Authors Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license.

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Marine Population Halved in 40 Years -Report

Posted by feww on September 16, 2015

Humans catching fish faster than they can reproduce, while also destroying their nurseries —WWF

Population sizes of vertebrate species—mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish—have declined by 52 percent over the last 40 years, says a new report.

These findings coincide with the growing decline of marine habitats, where the deforestation rate of mangroves exceeds even the loss of forests by 3-5 times…; and almost one-third of all seagrasses have been lost.

The study has highlighted the following factors in the population decline:

  • Overfishing
  • Decline of habitats/ destruction of nurseries
  • Climate change
  • Ocean acidification due to excessive absorption of carbon dioxide

“Human activity has severely damaged the ocean by catching fish faster than they can reproduce while also destroying their nurseries,” said head of WWF International.

The report authors have analyzed 5,829 populations of 1,200 species of marine creatures since 1970.

Populations of some commercial fish stocks including tuna, mackerel and bonito, have declined by  almost three-quarters (74%).

“An index for Scrombidae, based on data from 58 populations of 17 species, shows a decline of 74 per cent between 1970 and 2010. While the most rapid decline is between 1976 and 1990, there is currently no sign of overall recovery at a global level,” said the report.

Some deep-sea fish populations in the North Atlantic have also declined by 72 percent over the last 40 years.

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Forests Can No Longer Be Considered Wilderness: Study

Posted by feww on March 21, 2015

Deforestation: 70 percent of remaining forests less than 800m deep

Seventy percent of forests left on the planet are within 800 meters (0.5 mile) of a forest edge due to land use changes, especially encroaching urban, suburban developments and agriculture, which are causing global declines in biodiversity, according to a new study lead by North Carolina University.

The researchers discovered that very few forest lands are unaffected by some kind of human development.

“The loss of area, increase in isolation, and greater exposure to human land uses along fragment edges initiate long-term changes to the structure and function of the remaining fragments.”

They also conducted major experiments across five continents examining the effects of habitat fragmentation. They found that fragmented habitats reduce the diversity of plants and animals by up to 75 percent, with the smallest, most isolated patches causing the most impact.

“The initial negative effects were unsurprising,” said the corresponding author of the paper, a professor at NC State University. “But I was blown away by the fact that these negative effects became even more negative with time. Some results showed a 50 percent or higher decline in plant and animals species over an average of just 20 years, for example. And the trajectory is still spiraling downward.”

“Data from 76 different studies across the five longest-running experiments were drawn from published and unpublished sources (table S1). We synthesized results according to three fragmentation treatments: reduced fragment area [the focus of Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project (BDFFP), Wog Wog, and Kansas; see Fig. 2 for identifiers of experiments], increased fragment isolation [Savannah River Site (SRS) and Moss], and increased proportion of edge (all experiments). Fragmented treatments were compared directly to non- or less-fragmented habitats that were either larger or connected via structural corridors (table S1).”

“The results were astounding,” said the author. “Nearly 20 percent of the world’s remaining forest is the distance of a football field—or about 100 meters—away from a forest edge. Seventy percent of forest lands are within a half-mile of a forest edge. That means almost no forest can really be considered wilderness.”

Research Article: Habitat fragmentation and its lasting impact on Earth’s ecosystems
Supplementary material for this article is available at

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Systemic Pesticides Harming Honeybees, Fish, Birds…

Posted by feww on June 25, 2014

Deadly impact of systemic pesticides on biodiversity and ecosystems
Scenarios 990, 444, 049, 013, 05

 Systemic pesticides last longer!

Systemic pesticides occupy all the plant tissues (leaves, flowers, roots and stems, as well as pollen and nectar), according to a report.

“The most common are Neonicotinoids and Fipronil (neonics), which are a class of neuro-active, nicotine-based systemic insecticide.  These were developed in 1991 and brought into commercial use in the mid-1990s.”

Neurotoxic pesticides thought responsible  for the decline of honeybees are also harming other species including butterflies, worms, fish, and birds.  They are also contaminating habitats globally affecting food production and wildlife, according to a new study by a group of 29 researchers.

“Undertaking a full analysis of all the available literature (800 peer reviewed reports) the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides – a group of global, independent scientists has found that there is clear evidence of harm sufficient to trigger regulatory action,” said a press release accompanying the report.

Systemic Pesticides

Unlike other pesticides which remain on the surface of treated foliage, systemic pesticides are taken up by the plant and transported to all the tissues (leaves, flowers, roots and stems, as well as pollen and nectar).

The most common are Neonicotinoids and Fipronil (neonics), which are a class of neuro-active, nicotine-based systemic insecticide. These were developed in 1991 and brought into commercial use in the mid-1990s.

Products containing neonics can be applied at the root (as seed coating or soil drench) or sprayed onto crop foliage. The insecticide toxin remains active in the soil or plant for many months (or years), protecting the crop season-long.

Neonics act on the information processing abilities of invertebrates, affecting specific neural pathways that are different from vertebrates. This makes them popular as broad-spectrum insecticides, as they are considered less directly toxic to vertebrate species including humans.

These systemic insecticides have become the most widely used group of insecticides globally, with a market share now estimated at around 40% of the world market. Common compounds include acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran imidacloprid, nitenpyram, nithiazine, thiacloprid, thiamethoxam and fipronil, with global sales of over US $2.63 billion in 2011.

The market for seed treatments is expanding even more rapidly, growing from €155 million in the 1990s to €957 million in 2008, at which point neonics made up 80% of all seed treatment sales worldwide.

Neonicotinoids are still toxic even at very low doses. They have a high persistence in soil and water, remaining in situ for months on average, and this results in sustained and chronic exposure of non-target organisms, such as invertebrates. Because they are relatively water-soluble, they run off into aquatic habitats easily. Growing concern about their connection to bee colony collapse disorder has led to restrictions on their use in EU Countries. Concern about their impact on other non-target species including birds, has been growing for the last five years.

NOTES: The full WIA will be published in the Springer Journal within the next few weeks. Date to be confirmed by the Journal.

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Bountiful Bees Committed to Extinction

Posted by feww on March 11, 2011

Bees Baffled by Human Insanity

Mass death of bee colonies worldwide threaten biodiversity and food security: UNEP

Speaking of fouling your own doorstep. Human activity is committing nature’s insect pollinators to extinction.

A clear pattern of species extinction is forming: Plants, bees, birds, fish … How much longer do you think humans can clutch on to the disappearing straws?

Bee pollinating a flower. Photo credit: PD Photo. Click image to enlarge.


Bee colonies worldwide are under threat, with serious implications for biodiversity and food security, UNEP says.

Global Honey Bee Colony Disorders and Other Threats to Insect Pollinators, a new study published by UNEP, finds that multiple factors are responsible for declines in bee populations, including

  • Habitat deterioration (destruction)
  • Air pollution
  • Crop spraying (pesticides)
  • Widespread use of insecticides
  • Climate Change
  • Parasites
  • Invasive species

Tens of thousands of plant species may disappear unless conservation measures are employed, the report says.

The decline of bee populations has serious consequences for food security. Pollination is critical for flower and seed production and vital to the health of ecosystems. As many crops depend solely on pollinators for survival, the well-being of pollinating insects such as bees is critical for ensuring the availability of food for a growing global population.

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Canaries Dying in Coal Mine

Posted by feww on October 10, 2008

Numbers of birds worldwide are dwindling

Numbers of birds worldwide are dwindling, Birdlife International reported on Thursday, a telltale sign that Governments have failed to slow damage to nature by 2010, contrary to their 2002 undertaking [so what’s new?]

Hawaiian Crow (Corvus hawaiiensis). Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

“Since the year 1500, we have lost over 150 bird species – an extinction rate far higher than the natural background. Today, one in eight bird species is threatened with global extinction, with 190 species Critically Endangered, and Red List assessments show that things are getting worse. Particularly alarming are sharp declines in many formerly common and widespread species. This is a signal of wider environmental problems, and of the erosion of biodiversity as a whole.” Birdlife International

Three species are believed to have become extinct since 2000, the report says:

  • The Hawaiian crow
  • Spix’s macaw in Brazil
  • Poo-uli [also in Hawaii]

The critically endangered bird species include:

  • 83 percent of albatrosses
  • 60 percent of cranes
  • 28 percent of parrots
  • 24 percent of pheasants
  • 20 percent of pigeons

Po`o-uli (Melamprosops phaeosoma)
Source: USWFS/ Paul E. Baker

One of the most vital services provided by birds is controlling the populations of insect pests in farmland and forests. “Studies show that birds provide biological control services worth millions of dollars in farmlands and forests, and are encouraged in some plantations through the provision of nest-boxes.”

Indeed the use of nest-boxes not only for flycatchers but also for titmice is a fairly standard management tool in forests throughout Europe.

“Birds are a good indicator for the wider environment because we have such long records. People notice that there aren’t so many birds around, even ones that are common.” Alison Stattersfield, Birdlife International.

The Spix’s Macaw (Ara Spixii)
. The Dream: A photo montage of the last known Spix’s Macaw nest, located on the Gangorra Farm, and two Spix’s Macaws now residents of the captive breeding program at Lymington Foundation. Source: Spix’s Macaw Project

Numerous bird species have been driven extinct

Key messages and case studies

State of the world’s birds is a good report well worth browsing through!

Related Links:

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Don’t Worry, it’s Only Earth

Posted by feww on May 20, 2008

A Herculean task, significant impact on physical and biological systems globally, worst cases in 800,000 years

One species disappears every 20 minutes, UN Experts

“In my view, climate change and the loss of biodiversity are the most alarming challenges on the global agenda,” Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said at the opening of a U.N. biodiversity conference on Monday.

Some of the biodiversity of a coral reef. Reproduced under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation license, ersion 1.2 or any later version. (author: Richard Ling)

“In my view, climate change [Germany is the world’s 6th largest pollutor] and the loss of biodiversity are the most alarming challenges on the global agenda […] It will be a Herculean task to get the world community and each individual country on the right path to sustainability [still talking about ‘Tending Our Goats at the Edge of Apocalypse’] … The truth today is that we are still on the wrong track. If we follow this path we can foresee that we will fail to meet the target … Business as usual is no more an option if humanity is going to survive. Losing biodiversity is not just losing trees and species, it is an economic and security loss. [Thanks for reading our blogs, Mr Gabriel!]” (Source)

Attributing physical and biological impacts to anthropogenic climate change

Significant changes in physical and biological systems are occurring on all continents and in most oceans, with a concentration of available data in Europe and North America. Most of these changes are in the direction expected with warming temperature. Here we show that these changes in natural systems since at least 1970 are occurring in regions of observed temperature increases, and that these temperature increases at continental scales cannot be explained by natural climate variations alone. Given the conclusions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-twentieth century is very likely to be due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations, and furthermore that it is likely that there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past 50 years averaged over each continent except Antarctica, we conclude that anthropogenic climate change is having a significant impact on physical and biological systems globally and in some continents. (Source)

Instrumental Temperature record of the last 150 years. (Author: Robert A. Rohde) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License Version 2.5

Greenhouse gases highest in 800,000 years

Atmospheric greenhouse gases are now at the highest levels in 800,000 years, according to a study of Antarctic ice, which provides additional evidence that human activity is disrupting the climate.

“Shanghai at sunset, as seen from the observation deck of the Jin Mao tower. The sun has not actually dropped below the horizon yet, rather it has reached the smog line.” This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (Photo: Suicup; via: Wikimedia Commons. )

“We can firmly say that today’s concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane are 28 and 124 percent higher respectively than at any time during the last 800,000 years,” said Thomas Stocker, a researcher at the University of Berne. (Source)

Related Links:

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