“Until the early 1990s, the Morro basin was a patchwork of water-absorbing forests and grasslands, but they are mostly gone, replaced by maize and soya beans.”
It may be a good move to cut down on cattle ranching worldwide (to prevent deforestation, to cut back on carbon and methane production, to limit the ongoing human health crisis caused by increasing meat consumption, to avoid further water pollution from farm runoff, to limit predator persecution, and to spare countless animals the endless cycle of slaughter), but an irony here is that soya beans, the hero of every vegan and vegetarian, come at a terrible price. Deforestation and clearing for cattle ranching has been replaced with deforestation in favour of this detrimental monoculture of soya bean farming.
If course, it is true that the humble soya bean is the new answer to reducing or cutting out meat consumption, but the majority of this soya and maize is being grown to become feed for the animal agriculture industry, something the attached article completely fails to mention. Animal agriculture is literally eating up our planet in countless ways.
Less than a third of Argentina’s rainforest remains. Losing that much established forest means losing deep networks of tree roots which naturally absorb large amounts of water from underground aquifers. The result is a huge new river appearing on land as has happened in Argentina. Why is this a surprise now? There are myriad experts in these fields worldwide who would have known this was a likely outcome as a result of mass deforestation. Why aren’t scientists involved in such massive economic and environmental processes and decisions?
Brazil has been in the grip of terrible deforestation for decades. With a changing climate, increased precipitation and otherwise poor substrate, deforestation in these countries inevitably means more landslides and more flooding, and perhaps more new rivers. We are drastically altering the landscape of the planet, destroying habitats and disrupting entire ecosystems.
Countless wildlife have lost their homes during this shift to soya bean plantations and deforestation, something that cannot ever be undone. When are governments of countries with such invaluable habitats going to quit putting profit before protecting and preserving their and the world’s most precious and vulnerable natural heritage? Rainforests are incredibly diverse, most are quite ancient, and they are so important to the world in terms of carbon sinks and wildlife biodiversity – they must be protected.
Turns out there aren’t plenty of fish in the sea.
Recent evidence suggests humans evolved their big brains not on a diet of red meat after all, but on a diet of fish. Yes, fish is a great source of protein for all animals. Yes, unaffected by microplastics, pollutants and heavy metals, fish is good for us, ‘us’ being the ever-increasing human population of 7.6 billion and rising (and let’s face it, fish is no longer safe to eat).
Plenty of marine conservation organisations, such as Sea Shepherd, have been saying for decades that while we allow industrial trawlers and fleets of thousands of unregulated fishing boats to ravage the oceans with trawler nets and insidious ghost nets, fish stocks will collapse and there will be devastating implications for all marine life and human populations that rely on fish as a source of protein. Even some marine conservation orgs hadn’t fully understood the role that overfishing plays in the decimation of the oceans – and its impact on local human populations – and are still not condemning overfishing or advising their relatively affluent members to cut out fish from their diets as an effective way of ending their contribution to the terrifying problem of global overfishing.
Anyone can stop contributing to ending overfishing by not eating fish, wherever you are in the world, and by writing to relevant businesses and governmental departments (and your MP), and by boycotting companies which contribute to global (and local) overfishing.
Where have all the hedgehogs gone? shutterstock
When the humble hedgehog was crowned “Britain’s national species” in a BBC Wildlife Magazine poll and “Britain’s favourite mammal” in a Royal Society of Biology poll, no doubt, sentimentalised memories of Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, played a role in swaying public opinion.
Ecologist and author Hugh Warwick explained how:
Beatrix Potter managed to sprinkle some magic over the hedgehog, transforming it into the irresistible companion of our gardens.
But despite their popularity, hedgehogs are now something of a rare sight in British gardens – and are in fact disappearing at the same rate as tigers worldwide. Rural hedgehogs in the UK have halved in number since 2000, while urban hedgehogs have declined by a third. More widely, UK hedgehog numbers have dropped from an estimated 30m in the 1950s to under a million today.
So what’s to blame? We are. Well, the changing lifestyles and tastes of people, to be precise. Farming methods have changed dramatically over recent years – becoming increasingly intensive. This has led to the removal of many hedges, an important habitat for the British hedgehog. It has also had negative implications on their main diet of worms, beetles, slugs, caterpillars, earwigs and millipedes.
The country’s roads are also busier. Hedgehog road deaths are estimated to exceed 100,000 a year in Britain. Road networks also cut through habitats leaving hedgehogs isolated, while our gardens are increasingly becoming more humanised. Lawns have been turned into tarmac for cars, foliage has been torn out, decking added, garden borders peppered with slug pellets, and hedges replaced by impenetrable fences and walls. All of which mean that hedgehogs are not only losing their habitats, but also their chances of survival.
Hedgehog friendly gardens
The plight is such that the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and People’s Trust for Endangered Species launched Hedgehog Street in 2011 to encourage people to champion the species and its habitat.
At the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in 2014, designer Tracy Foster made Hedgehog Street a reality, creating a summer garden to demonstrate “how neighbours can work together to help hedgehogs by providing routes through garden boundaries”. Sharing slogans such as “no one garden is enough” and “make a hole, make a difference”, the hedgehog haven won People’s Choice for Best Small Garden and the coveted RHS Gold medal. The first permanent Hedgehog Street garden was unveiled at RHS Harlow Carr, in North Yorkshire in April 2017.
I am an Arctic researcher. Donald Trump is deleting my citations
I’m stunned by this article. First of all, I had no idea the previous Canadian government destroyed 100 years of Arctic climate data. Secondly, we joke about Trump’s corruption, greedy business mind and being bought off by the Russians and huge corporations (does he think money is all that there is?), and his utter stupidity when tweeting about climate (“It’s freezing where I am so there cannot be global warming”), but this is real. This is systematic, deliberate climate change denial on behalf of big oil and other huge corporations because…money.
How are we allowing this? How are people becoming so blindly led, so brainwashed, so indignant and angry at the wrong people, at each other, instead of at those who have the power to destroy anything they want and are doing so. These very people are our downfall – of everyone, planet-wide. They deny science and deny fact to protect profit and greed, at all of our expense and at the expense of our precious living planet.
I briefly researched acidification in a corals essays I wrote last year (for which I got a first class mark); this study looks in-depth at the impacts of acidification on marine life.
Ocean acidification is deadly threat to marine life, finds eight-year study
“U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists and collaborators discovered that long-wave ultraviolet (UV) light directed at the wings of bats with white-nose syndrome (WNS) produced points of distinctive orange-yellow fluorescence. The orange-yellow glow corresponds directly with microscopic skin lesions that define the current “gold standard” for diagnosing WNS.”
Hybridization patterns in two contact zones of grass snakes reveal a new Central European snake species | Scientific Reports
This is amazing news. Natrix natrix -previously thought to be the only grass snake in the UK – has been found to be genetically distinct from what was previously thought to be a variation rather than separate species, the newly named Natrix venaticus. Studies sampled mtDNA from existing skins and specimens and found clear genetic differences between the two, confirming Natrix venaticus as a separate and distinct species. No living snakes were harmed for the study either, which is always good news.
So I’m writing an essay about drivers of coral reef bleaching, and reading about acidification and its effects on marine mammals that secrete calcium carbonate, and this new research pops up. Interesting immediate adaptation to cope with lower pH levels in marine environments; although I’m not sure how long-term (and effective) an adaptation it might be. Similarly, some coral species and their symbionts are more tolerant of some drivers of bleaching than others. Again, in the short-term that helps those species, but it’s not clear how far beyond their normal thresholds for CO2, irradiance, thermal stress and acidification they can survive. And then there’s coral diseases… We are pushing the limits, changing environments and testing tolerance thresholds for so much of the world’s wildlife, and not in a good way.