Category Archives: Conservation and Environment

The Example of Easter Island Shows Why Humanity Will Be Extinct Within 100 Years – Philip Perry. 

Like any other system, capitalism has its positive and negative qualities. Inarguably, it has lifted nearly a billion across the globe out of extreme poverty between 1990 and 2010. But as with other socioeconomic systems of the past, such as with feudalism, a time can come when revolutionary changes make such systems anachronistic. So too has capitalism’s time come, at least the kind which exploits the biosphere.

A more sophisticated system must replace it. One reason is because we are on the verge of a technological shift which will make almost all working and middle class jobs obsolete within the next 25 years or so. Currently, middle and working class families are already getting squeezed in developed countries. Their wages have remained stagnant for decades while costs have steadily risen.

Today, 15% of the US population is below the poverty line. If you include children under age 18, the number is 20%. All the gains in productivity over the last several decades have gone to the top one percent of income earners, while the economic prospects for the vast majority stagnated or worsened. Then there’s the environmental impact. We’re about to kick off the sixth great extinction event. and we’ll follow shortly after.

Big Think

Watercare boss concerned about Auckland stormwater. 

Auckland Council is allowing developments to occur knowing there is no adequate stormwater system and this will result in more frequent harbour spills, says Watercare chief executive Raveen Jaduram.

The wastewater system is designed for toilet and other household wastewater and, as much as practical, stormwater needs to be removed, Jaduram said in an email to councillor Mike Lee last year

The email highlights different views between council and its water business about how to deal with overflows from 41 sites into the Waitemata Harbour almost every time its rains.

About 99 per cent of the overflows is stormwater. Just 0.2 per cent, or two litres for every 1000 litres, comes from toilets.

“The use of detention tanks in new developments to slow down the stormwater flow when it rains “is not a sustainable solution. What is required is investment by council in proper stormwater infrastructure.” Watercare chief executive Raveen Jaduram.

NZ Herald 

Killer whales explain the mystery of the menopause – Robin McKie. 

Killer whales and humans would seem to have little in common. We inhabit very different ecosystems, after all. Yet the two species share one unexpected biological attribute. Females of Orcinus orca and Homo sapiens both go through the menopause.

It an extraordinary aspect of our development. In contrast to the vast majority of animals on our planet, women and female killer whales stop reproducing halfway through their lives. Only one other species – the short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus) – behaves this way.

The question is: why? For what reason do females of these three different species give up the critically important process of reproduction in middle age? According to Darren Croft of Exeter University, whose team has been studying killer whales for several years, there are many different theories. “Some have argued that it is an artefact that has appeared during our recent evolution and has simply persisted in our lineage,” he said. In other words, there is no specific reason for the menopause in humans. It is simply an evolutionary accident. However, Croft believes there is overwhelming evidence that the menopause is an evolved trait deep rooted in our past.

One idea to account for the deep-rooted evolution of this trait uses the concept of the “granny effect”: older females are programmed to close down their reproduction so they can devote themselves exclusively to the rearing of grandchildren. In doing so, they lose the ability to pass on their genes directly to one generation but gain because they can help the following generation to reach adulthood, thus promoting their genotype for the future, it is argued.

The Guardian

Without action on climate change, say goodbye to polar bears – Darryl Fears. 

“Short of action that effectively addresses the primary cause of diminishing sea ice it is unlikely that polar bears will be recovered.”

Global climate change, of course, is completely out of the control of Fish and Wildlife, a division of the Interior Department. An international effort to address the issue was signed about a year ago in Paris, but President-elect Donald Trump has questioned U.S. participation in a treaty that nearly 190 governments signed.

Trump has waffled in his perspective on climate change. When asked about the human link to climate change following his election, he said, “I think there is some connectivity. . . . It depends on how much.” He also said he would keep an open mind about the international climate accord and whether his administration will withdraw from it.

But the president-elect has also openly doubted the findings of more than 95 percent of climate scientists who say climate change is driven by human activity. In 2012, he tweeted that “the concept of global warming was created for and by the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

Scientists say about 19 populations make up an estimated 25,000 to 31,000 bears, including a sub population of about 3,000 that roam Alaska. Estimates of their increases and declines go up and down depending on which population is being counted.

But researchers say 80 percent of the populations will almost certainly collapse if sea ice continues to decline. Air temperatures at the top of the world are rising twice as fast as temperatures in lower latitudes, resulting in significant ice melt, according to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Under the effects of global warming, Alaska recorded temperatures nearly 20 degrees higher than the January average as warm air flowed north, NOAA said in an Arctic Report Card.

“We’re quite confident that absent action to address climate change, there would be very significant reduction in the range of polar bears,”

NZ Herald

TODAY ALL DUTCH TRAINS ARE POWERED 100% BY WIND ENERGY – Michiel de Gooijer. 

As from 1 January 2017 100% of Dutch trains are powered by wind energy.  The Dutch railways company NS is the world’s first railway company that gets 100% of its energy from wind turbines.

Travelling by train has been the most environmentally friendly way of transportation for a long time already. In the Netherlands they have now taken it to the next level using wind turbines to power all of its trains.

The Dutch have a long history of using wind energy to advance. They used windmills to drain land covered by water since the 17th century. 

Energy company Eneco provides NS the energy to transport 600.000 people per day. That’s 1.200.000 train trips per day without any CO2 emissions.

Brightvibes

“Gutter Holes” and “Sewer Pipes”. A New Zealand environmental crisis second to none – Chris de Freitas. 

It is an uncontroversial fact that the state of the country’s freshwater resources has for decades been moving towards ecological collapse.

Freshwater ecosystems are key features of New Zealand’s natural heritage. Plentiful precipitation feeds many hundreds of streams, more than 70 major rivers, about 770 lakes and numerous underground aquifers.

More than 700 lakes are classified as “shallow” and up to 40 per cent of these are nutrient-enriched and no longer capable of supporting fish life.

Until relatively recently, water has never been considered a scarce resource in New Zealand. Consequently, the economic and regulatory controls over its allocation and use have been neglected.

The greatest impacts, however, have not come from water use but from land use: Agriculture, Urban, Dams, Mining & Forestry. 

NZ Herald 

China banning ivory trade in 2017 in ‘game changer’ move for Africa’s elephant – The Independent. 

China has announced a ban on ivory in what is being hailed as a “game changer” for Africa’s endangered elephant.

Beijing says ivory trading and processing, other than the auctions of “legitimately” sourced antiques, will be outlawed by the end of March 2017.

Conservationists say the move against the Chinese market, which is estimated to buy 70 per cent of the world’s ivory, also puts pressure on neighbouring Hong Kong and Britain to remove loopholes.

“This is great news that will shut down the world’s largest market for elephant ivory,” said Wildlife Conservation Society Asia director Aili King.

“This is a game-changer for Africa’s elephants. We call on all other countries with legal domestic ivory markets to follow China’s lead and close their markets as well.”

The Independent