Amazon Tribe Stands Up for Their Survival
Any chance Western society will protect indigenous rights and save what remains of the Planet's last remnant rainforests? The world’s fourth-largest dam will flood some of the land that indigenous tribes have lived on for centuries. National Geographic
How an Indigenous Group Is Battling Construction of the Nicaragua Canal
The Rama community’s efforts offer a glimmer of hope for opponents of the canal project planned by a Chinese billionaire. Smithsonian
The Threat Facing Isolated Indigenous Groups in the Ecuadorian Amazon
Yasuní National Park and the Tagaeri-Taromenane Intangible Zone, home to isolated indigenous groups, have become hotspots of illegal logging and hunting. Pacific Standard
Can Borneo's Tribes Survive 'Biggest Environmental Crime of Our Times'?
More than 90 percent of Borneo’s primary forest has been destroyed.
How Dakota Pipeline Protest Became a Native American Cry for Justice
Keystone XL may have been a prelude, but the success of the Standing Rock 'water protectors' was more about environmental justice than just another pipeline.
By Michelle Nijhuis
Different facets of biodiversity other than species numbers are increasingly appreciated as critical for maintaining the function of ecosystems and their services to humans. While new international policy and assessment processes such as the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) recognize the importance of an increasingly global, quantitative and comprehensive approach to biodiversity protection, most insights are still focused on a single facet of biodiversity—species. Here we broaden the focus and provide an evaluation of how much of the world’s species, functional and phylogenetic diversity of birds and mammals is currently protected and the scope for improvement. We show that the large existing gaps in the coverage for each facet of diversity could be remedied by a slight expansion of protected areas: an additional 5% of the land has the potential to more than triple the protected range of species or phylogenetic or functional units. Further, the same areas are often priorities for multiple diversity facets and for both taxa. However, we find that the choice of conservation strategy has a fundamental effect on outcomes. It is more difficult (that is, requires more land) to maximize basic representation of the global biodiversity pool than to maximize local diversity. Overall, species and phylogenetic priorities are more similar to each other than they are to functional priorities, and priorities for the different bird biodiversity facets are more similar than those of mammals. Our work shows that large gains in biodiversity protection are possible, while also highlighting the need to explicitly link desired conservation objectives and biodiversity metrics. We provide a framework and quantitative tools to advance these goals for multi-faceted biodiversity conservation.
For full article, please visit Nature Letters...
Seven Simple Guidelines for Thinking About Carbon Emissions
By JOSH KATZ and JENNIFER DANIEL
Global climate: it’s complicated. Any long-term solution will require profound changes in how we generate energy. At the same time, there are everyday things that you can do to reduce your personal contribution to a warming planet. Here are seven simple guidelines on how your choices today affect the climate tomorrow.
You’re better off eating vegetables from Argentina than red meat from a local farm.
Full Article at NYTimes: What You Can Do About Climate Change
I know many sane, intelligent, and environmentally conscious people are distraught about the US withdrawal from the Paris climate change agreement. We all should be. And there will be a reckoning for all those politicians that supported the President and his misguided policy on climate change. But in the meantime, I'd like to offer some solace.
First, recent surveys suggest the vast majority of people support our involvement - regardless of political party. So clearly this is just a deranged lunatic trying to support his own financial interests and nothing to do with the reality of the people's will. This will clearly be a major campaign point in the mid-term elections. Article: Majorities of Americans in Every State Support Participation in the Paris Agreement
Second, I've seen multiple pieces suggest that the largest US cities, the most populated states, and the richest companies are all planning on meeting the same regulatory requirements set by the agreement. Article: Climate Mayors commit to adopt, honor and uphold Paris Climate Agreement goals.
To ensure that this is the case, contact your local and state politicians, and continue to minimize your carbon footprint by buying only from those companies that produce sustainable goods. See 25 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
One last point. It will take the country four years to complete the withdrawal process. This means that the exit will be finalized after the next presidential election in 2020. Which means, you have plenty of time to campaign for a candidate who will back climate change policy.
The top 17 ecosystem services are worth more each year than the entire global economy. These services include all those natural processes that benefit people and the rest of life on the planet, providing everything we need - healthy soils, pollinating insects, trees that provide us with oxygen, rivers and oceans that feed us, all for free. Interestingly, biodiversity - which represents the diversity of life on the planet and is often measured by species richness - is a concept often ignored in these valuations, along with most other ecosystem services. Consider the loss of crop pollinators, currently valued at over $100 billion worldwide. This work is currently done for free. However, wide-scale use of pesticides is thought to have resulted in the collapse of colonies - particularly in North America - requiring farmers to hire companies to bring in hives. This is just one species that we depend upon. Think of all the other species out there that provide services. At least 10 million species exist, and yet scientists have hardly begun to understand their contribution to ecosystems or what benefit they might have for people.
Herein lies the problem. We know these species, ecosystems, and the planet as a whole are valuable. And yet, we still have not developed a global wide solution to protecting life on the planet, which inevitably protects us as a species. In fact, many politicians in the U.S. are currently attempting to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Park Service, and the Endangered Species Act. The proponents of such attacks argue that these agencies and protections are limiting growth and that states should have full control of these lands to benefit the economy and add jobs. Others have somehow eluded to the notion that protection of oceans and forests is inherently incompatible with economic growth - as though somehow we can't have a healthy planet and provide jobs and grow the economy. The most short-sighted argument is that the EPA should take into account the true costs of implementing regulations such as job impedance, meanwhile ignoring the costs associated with human health from respiratory illnesses, brown sites due to corporate negligence, pollution of rivers, lakes, and oceans, job loss due to oil spills, and all the costs associated with climate change.
In fact though, our continued economic growth and prosperity as a people is entirely dependent on a healthy, thriving, intact planet. The difference is that we are talking about short-term gain at the expense of long-term prosperity. For example, when oil companies demand pipelines to move petroleum from oil tar sands in Canada, they will benefit financially from increased production. However, every single person on this planet pays the price of this action, as well as future generations. Use of fossil fuels will accelerate climate change, resulting in loss of real estate along coasts, increased droughts and wildfires, the spread of infectious diseases and health-related costs, loss of biodiversity due to changing climate patterns, higher energy demands and costs associated with warmer temperatures, and increased hurricane risks. This also overlooks the inevitable oil spill which will also cost the public dearly. With 300 oil spills each year in the U.S. and 8700 accidents since 1986, the cost is astronomical. The BP Deep Horizon oil spill alone cost $61.6 billion in lost wages, environmental damage, and clean-up.
In the case of the EPA, the governmental organization is in place to protect the people and those ecosystems that they depend upon. Far too often throughout the world, a few individuals will benefit at the expense of everyone else. In economic theory, this is referred to as the tragedy of the commons - resources available to all are exploited by a few individuals to the detriment of the whole. A few corporations may benefit from large scale extraction of oil and may even contribute to job growth. However, the majority of the world does not benefit and in many cases suffers due to the direct and indirect impacts of increased oil exploration.
What hope is there then to preserve our environment and incorporate the true value of nature and its services into a market economy? First, part of the solution is that people need to take into account the true cost of whatever they consume whether it be energy, transportation, housing, food and clothing. Combined, this is often referred to as an ecological footprint. The true cost of consumables would automatically be passed onto the consumer if rules and regulations enforced sustainable quotas and policies. First instance, by demanding that companies meet universally accepted human rights and environmental standards, we would essentially be pricing the true cost of being sustainable into the fair market price. Companies wouldn't be able to avert these costs by moving to environmentally sensitive areas, sourcing materials from some of the most fragile areas of the planet, and paying slave-labor wages. If a world-wide universal standard was enforced, then there would be little incentive to move jobs to areas where people and the environment can be exploited. Secondly, we still need protected areas in which communities, organizations, and governments work to protect their biodiversity. One way to do this is to pay developing countries for the ecosystem services that they provide. For example, The Amazon rainforest is a trillion dollar treasure and developed countries need to pay their fair sure if we all want to benefit from its long-term existence. Certainly you cannot expect developing countries who are having trouble feeding their people to ignore the pot of gold in their backyard. Plus, those countries that often benefit the most from retaining rainforests and other high productivity ecosystems are developed countries who have already destroyed most of their original ecologically important areas. Lastly, in order to truly understand the value of all species on this planet, we need to know what actually exists. As of today, a little more than 1.5 million species have been described by scientists. At the very least, there remain several million more. There is little chance in protecting what we have yet to describe and understand, and a major shift in thinking is needed with considerably more resources devoted to tackling this undertaking. All of this needs to happen now. There is no second chance, there is no back-up planet. If we act now, there's still hope for a healthy planet and a prosperous economy, but we need to make gigantic strides now and make the same substantial investments in our planet that we make in every other part of our society.
Original article: The 21st Century Colorado River Hot Drought and Implications for the Future
By Jeremy Hance
Snow leopards are showing up on camera traps in places they’d never been seen before – thanks to an innovative programme in Kyrgyzstan.
Sometimes wildlife champions come as high as heads of state. Since taking office in 2011 the current president of Kyrgyzstan, Almazbek Atambayev, has turned the former Soviet Republic into a centre point for snow leopard conservation and research. Perhaps the best symbol of Atambayev’s commitment to snow leopards are recent camera trap photos showing the elusive, high-altitude predator roaming Shamshy Wildlife Reserve. Just two years ago, Shamshy was a concession for high-paying trophy hunters looking to bag an ibex. Today, it’s protecting those prey animals that snow leopards depend on. Read more...
The Eastern Gorilla – the largest living primate – has been listed as Critically Endangered due to illegal hunting, according to the latest update of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ released at the IUCN World Conservation Congress taking place in Hawaiʻi. Four out of six great ape species are now Critically Endangered – only one step away from going extinct – with the remaining two also under considerable threat of extinction.
The IUCN Red List now includes 82,954 species of which 23,928 are threatened with extinction.
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Over 700 newly recognised bird species have been assessed for the latest update of The IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM, and 11% of them are threatened with extinction. The update also reveals a devastating decline for the giraffe, driven by habitat loss, civil unrest and illegal hunting. The global giraffe population has plummeted by up to 40% over the last 30 years, and the species has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
IUCN Red List update also includes the first assessments of wild oats, barley, mango and other crop wild relative plants. These species are increasingly critical to food security, as their genetic diversity can help improve crop resistance to disease, drought and salinity.
The update was released today at the 13th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP13) in Cancun, Mexico. The IUCN Red List now includes 85,604 species of which 24,307 are threatened with extinction.
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