Author Topic: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread  (Read 1651 times)

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Offline Rai

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The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« on: September 07, 2018, 06:15:24 AM »
This is becoming really scary really fast. We are losing biodiversity at an extreme rate, and it is very much visible all around the planet. All thanks to global warming (can we start calling it Global Climate Apocalypse by now?), unrestrained growth-chasing (deforestation, pesticides, overexploitation, etc. Capitalism in short.). We are seeing 50-90% declines across the board, and it is just insane

Thought I'd start a thread to post the most recent super-depressive news.

The first batch:

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On 13th August 2013 the Daily Nation, the main circulating daily paper in Kenya and around east African region, reported in one of its lead stories that wild animals in Kenya have decreased by 70%.The report was in fact a media outcry, decrying the evil force behind off-the-graph percentage decreasein the number of wild animals in Kenya. In fact the caption of the story was; what is killing the Wild Animals in Kenya?The Daily Nation in fact mentioned elephants, warthogs, rhinos and zebras to be the wild live animals in Kenya hurling towards extinction at the rate of 70%.
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Over the last three decades, the world’s largest colony of king penguins (and second largest penguin colony in the world) shrank by nearly 90 percent, a recent study published in Antarctic Science found. In the southern Indian Ocean territory of Île aux Cochons (translation: Pig Island), aerial and satellite imagery of the penguins documented changes in the population size over the course of 50 years. The island was last visited by scientists in 1982, and the photography is a rare glimpse into the extremely inaccessible ecosystem.
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Spix’s macaw, a brilliant blue species of Brazilian parrot that starred in the children’s animation Rio, has become extinct this century, according to a new assessment of endangered birds.

The macaw is one of eight species, including the poo-uli, the Pernambuco pygmy-owl and the cryptic treehunter, that can be added to the growing list of confirmed or highly likely extinctions, according to a new statistical analysis by BirdLife International.
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Bird protection organisation Vogelbescherming has named 2018 the Year of the House Martin in an effort to call attention to the dramatic decline of this migratory bird in the Netherlands, public broadcaster NOS reports. Together with bird research group Sovon, Vogelbescherming has mobilised a group of volunteers to find the cause of the dwindling numbers of house martins. Since 1970 some 80% fewer house martins have been spotted in this country and it is thought that since 1920 the decline could be as much as 95%. ‘Their absence tells us something about how healthy our landscape is. Much has changed over the years,’ Sovon researcher Loes van den Bremer told NOS. Van den Bremer says the main cause for the house martin’s decline is the disastrous lack of insects in the Netherlands. ‘People would complain about hundreds flies stuck to the windshield, now that’s a thing of the past,’ Van den Bremer is quoted as saying.
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A global crash in insect populations has found its way to Australia, with entomologists across the country reporting lower than average numbers of wild insects.

University of Sydney entomologist Dr Cameron Webb said researchers around the world widely acknowledge that insect populations are in decline, but are at a loss to determine the cause.

"On one hand it might be the widespread use of insecticides, on the other hand it might be urbanisation and the fact that we're eliminating some of the plants where it's really critical that these insects complete their development," Dr Webb said.

"Add in to the mix climate change and sea level rise and it's incredibly difficult to predict exactly what it is."

Entomologist and owner of the Australian Insect Farm, near Innisfail in far north Queensland, Jack Hasenpusch is usually able to collect swarms of wild insects at this time of year.

"I've been wondering for the last few years why some of the insects have been dropping off and put it down to lack of rainfall," Mr Hasenpusch said.

"This year has really taken the cake with the lack of insects, it's left me dumbfounded, I can't figure out what's going on."

Mr Hasenpusch said entomologists he had spoken to from Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and even as far away as New Caledonia and Italy all had similar stories.
Link

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Something ‘fundamentally wrong’ in rural landscape, scientists say, with numbers thought to have fallen 80% since 1950s

A “perfect storm” of intensive farming and rising badger populations has left most of the countryside in England and Wales devoid of hedgehogs, according to the first systematic national survey.

[...]
The scientists found no rural hedgehogs at all in the south-west of England.
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EXTINCT IN SPAIN: Government adds 32 native species to the list

SPAIN has presented a tragic new list of animals no longer living in the wild in Spanish territories.

The official state bulletin list of extinct indigenous species adds three mammals, two fish and eight birds.

The list also features 19 plant species.
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We have murdered the planet. At least the shareholders are happy. For now.

Offline daniel1948

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2018, 08:49:58 AM »
And people keep insisting that through the miracle of the green revolution we can support 4 or 5 times as many humans as we have on the planet today. When I was born, there were about 2 1/2 billion people living on Earth. Now it's over 7 1/2 billion. That's a three-fold increase just in my lifetime. And as standards of living increase throughout the developing nations, the impact of each person is going to increase exponentially. Coming generations are going to curse us for our profligate and wanton squandering of resources.
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Offline Desert Fox

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2018, 01:58:56 PM »
I work at a docks and there really seem to be far fewer gulls, terns, and the like there than there used to be.
We have ducks and geese and both had hatchlings but not sure if any made it to adulthood.
Our ospreys also seem to have failed to to have babies this year.

Beginning to wonder about the situation.
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Offline Paul Blevins Jr.

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2018, 02:43:35 PM »
I'm 56. Hopefully I'll be dead before the last polar bear, rhino, or elephant dies in the wild. How utterly tragic and sad that news report will be. Not if....WILL. 

And daniel you give people FAR too much credit. Future generations will curse us, yes. But out of resentment that they didn't get to reap the riches from raping the Earth first.

When I was younger I use to believe in the echo of a shadow of a glimmer of hope.

I was stupid.

Offline DevoutCatalyst

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2018, 02:55:43 PM »
How are grasshoppers doing in your neck of the woods? In my youth, everywhere I walked, up sprang grasshoppers. Big ones, little ones. Flying hoppers, too. Can't say I've seen any in recent summers here in the Midwestern USA.

Offline Rai

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2018, 01:30:27 AM »
45% of insects are gone from Puerto Rico

If the amount of poaching continues, based on pure greed, class posturing and robber capitalism, we will run out of elephants within a decade.


Offline Desert Fox

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2018, 02:34:43 AM »
I was thinking that maybe we need to look at the Earth like Centralia coal fire. If somebody had tried to put out the fire early on or put the effort into it, it would be out, but now it has grown so large it would cost a fortune to stop
"Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith. Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge."
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Offline Rai

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2018, 02:43:31 AM »
I was thinking that maybe we need to look at the Earth like Centralia coal fire. If somebody had tried to put out the fire early on or put the effort into it, it would be out, but now it has grown so large it would cost a fortune to stop

The problem is that it will cost a LOT more if it is not stopped. Probably all the wealth in the world.

Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2018, 12:51:24 PM »
This is becoming really scary really fast. We are losing biodiversity at an extreme rate, and it is very much visible all around the planet. All thanks to global warming (can we start calling it Global Climate Apocalypse by now?), unrestrained growth-chasing (deforestation, pesticides, overexploitation, etc. Capitalism in short.). We are seeing 50-90% declines across the board, and it is just insane

With the risk of going OT, how would a non-capitalist system farm without pesticides? The SGU and NeurologicaBlog have discussed the organic farming concept quite a lot, and organic farming would require significantly more land than conventional farming. That's not environmentally friendly.

The economic system does not change anything here. Organic farming is way more inefficient, regardless of the economic system it operates under.

Offline Rai

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2018, 01:23:10 PM »
This is becoming really scary really fast. We are losing biodiversity at an extreme rate, and it is very much visible all around the planet. All thanks to global warming (can we start calling it Global Climate Apocalypse by now?), unrestrained growth-chasing (deforestation, pesticides, overexploitation, etc. Capitalism in short.). We are seeing 50-90% declines across the board, and it is just insane

With the risk of going OT, how would a non-capitalist system farm without pesticides? The SGU and NeurologicaBlog have discussed the organic farming concept quite a lot, and organic farming would require significantly more land than conventional farming. That's not environmentally friendly.

The economic system does not change anything here. Organic farming is way more inefficient, regardless of the economic system it operates under.
'

This isn't exactly the right question. Capitalism is what got us here, at the point of collapse, and it will make sure that we pass it as well. There is no alternative, the markets are too strong, the oligarchy is too rich and the leaders are too inept and corrupt. Any attempt to provide alternatives to the status quo are doomed to fail. The pesticide damage is already done, thanks to decades of cooperation between the for-profit agricultural and chemical industries. It was just the invisible hand of the market that killed of the building blocks of ecosystems. The shareholders were very happy.

That being said, there could be alternatives. But first, we have to cut back on the mindless urge to grow and start redistributing. We already produce more food than we consume, all food scarcity is a distribution issue and it has nothing to do with production. That could be changed. Population growth will need to be stopped and temporarily reversed (the liberation of women, education and available contraception works very well). Farming techniques like Agroforestry, that are not designed to produce the largest yields in the shortest timeframe could be used with great success. However, none of this will happen, because of a bunch of old men in suits.

Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2018, 03:02:32 PM »
We already produce more food than we consume, all food scarcity is a distribution issue and it has nothing to do with production. That could be changed.

That's not what the evidence seems to suggest: Intense Farming Better Than Organic

Quote from: Steven Novella
Quote
Organic group though are not impressed with the study’s conclusions. They argue that the world produces enough food already and that the issues with feeding populations are economic and political, not agricultural.

First, no we don’t. We do not produce enough food to give every person on Earth the minimum nutrition as indicated by the USDA. These recommendations, by the way, are not for an overfed Western diet. Developed countries would generally decrease their land use if they adopted USDA recommendations. But the rest of the world would dramatically increase their land use, in an unsustainable way.

Organic apologists often argue that we produce more calories than we need to feed the world. This is one of those “true but misleading” statements. You cannot just consider calories. Most calories produced and consumed are staples, mostly grains like rice, wheat, and corn. These are great sources of calories, but not balanced nutrition. Keeping everyone well fed requires more than calories – it requires a diversity of food with lots of vegetables and sufficient protein.

Further, the assumption that we produce enough food is based on zero waste, which is ridiculously unrealistic. Sure, we can reduce waste in the food system, and we should strive to make the system as efficient as possible. But food spoils and is vulnerable to pests. You cannot eliminate waste entirely.

So – even if we reasonably reduced food waste and optimized economic and political distribution of food – we would not produce enough food to adequately feed the world.

Further, even if true, this point is irrelevant. It misses the fact that we already are using a massive amount of land for farming, with massive impacts on the environment. We should be striving to minimize our agricultural footprint, and that means getting the most food out of every acre we farm.

Population growth will need to be stopped and temporarily reversed (the liberation of women, education and available contraception works very well).

Yes sure, and global population growth takes place mostly in developing countries. In developed countries it happens because of immigration, and population would be slightly decreasing without immigration.

Farming techniques like Agroforestry, that are not designed to produce the largest yields in the shortest timeframe could be used with great success. However, none of this will happen, because of a bunch of old men in suits.

Is there any more data on this?

Offline random poet

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2018, 03:13:19 PM »
This is becoming really scary really fast. We are losing biodiversity at an extreme rate, and it is very much visible all around the planet. All thanks to global warming (can we start calling it Global Climate Apocalypse by now?), unrestrained growth-chasing (deforestation, pesticides, overexploitation, etc. Capitalism in short.). We are seeing 50-90% declines across the board, and it is just insane

With the risk of going OT, how would a non-capitalist system farm without pesticides? The SGU and NeurologicaBlog have discussed the organic farming concept quite a lot, and organic farming would require significantly more land than conventional farming. That's not environmentally friendly.

The economic system does not change anything here. Organic farming is way more inefficient, regardless of the economic system it operates under.
What does organic farming have to do with communism? I don't understand where that came from. Nobody is talking about organics here.
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Offline Rai

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2018, 04:15:45 PM »
We already produce more food than we consume, all food scarcity is a distribution issue and it has nothing to do with production. That could be changed.

That's not what the evidence seems to suggest: Intense Farming Better Than Organic

That quote of yours completely side-steps the question. How much of food production is wasted on industrial meat production? How many tons of perfectly edible plants and fish are used to produce meat and fish, which are mostly taken up by Western markets? Why does junk food exist? It is also made out of actual food items that could be used in a much better way. We could totally decrease Western consumption and increase distribution for the rest of the world, and keep everyone well-fed.

And a lot of food waste is indeed avoidable. Supermarkets don't need to discard vegetables that are slightly misshapen. The produce that wasn't sold that day doesn't need to be thrown out. We don't need to ship food halfway around the world, there are hardly any parts of the world where no food production is possible. There are a million things that could be changed.

Also, pardon me, but I don't care all that much about what Steven Novella, a neurologist, says about food production. He is as much of an expert as the postman. He is no authority on the matter, just another layman writing an opinion peace, based on a single study.

Yes sure, and global population growth takes place mostly in developing countries. In developed countries it happens because of immigration, and population would be slightly decreasing without immigration.

Therefore, we develop the developing countries, using the resources of the developed countries. Problem solved, if everyone is on an equal footing. Why would anyone want to move to Germany, if they can live in a much better place, like Greece, Colombia, Morocco or whatever, and have the same quality of life?

Is there any more data on this?

Not a lot, this is not the mot well-researched area. But, for example, since very recently, we do know that the the archetypal primeval wilderness, the Amazon, was carefully managed and cultivated, sustaining a huge population, before the invaders came and started destroying everything. Imagine the amount of food an area with that size could produce, with less efficiency (but larger by orders of magnitude) without any of the ecological cost. Of course, it would also require a decentralised world and similarly loose urbanism.But once we get rid of the main cause of all of our problems, that shouldn't be all that hard.

Offline 2397

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2018, 08:28:21 PM »
There are a number of solutions that would work, especially if we had already started, rather than being 5-50 years away from implementing them from the moment we finally decide to.

Meat is a big factor, and I'm hoping that synthetic meat will replace it soon. Ultimately it should become cheaper to grow meat without having to breed, feed, and transport unnecessary byproducts of animals to do it, so it should be what the market wants anyway. But if it leads to more people eating meat and populations surging again as food production increases, then we're no better off.

We need to free up land to grow a couple of trillion extra trees, or something to that effect, to absorb excess carbon. We need to become much more efficient and avoid losing the increased efficiency to increased consumption.

Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2018, 03:06:29 PM »
We already produce more food than we consume, all food scarcity is a distribution issue and it has nothing to do with production. That could be changed.

That's not what the evidence seems to suggest: Intense Farming Better Than Organic

That quote of yours completely side-steps the question. How much of food production is wasted on industrial meat production? How many tons of perfectly edible plants and fish are used to produce meat and fish, which are mostly taken up by Western markets? Why does junk food exist? It is also made out of actual food items that could be used in a much better way. We could totally decrease Western consumption and increase distribution for the rest of the world, and keep everyone well-fed.

And a lot of food waste is indeed avoidable. Supermarkets don't need to discard vegetables that are slightly misshapen. The produce that wasn't sold that day doesn't need to be thrown out. We don't need to ship food halfway around the world, there are hardly any parts of the world where no food production is possible. There are a million things that could be changed.

Also, pardon me, but I don't care all that much about what Steven Novella, a neurologist, says about food production. He is as much of an expert as the postman. He is no authority on the matter, just another layman writing an opinion peace, based on a single study.

Steven Novella quoted a news release stating that we currently dont produce enough food. Do you have a contrary source?

Also, it is not reasonable to expect to completely eliminate waste. This goes for any sort of production.

From what I understand, sometimes it is actually more efficient to have large, centralized food production, rather than much spread out. This is because of the diminishing costs of large-scale production. It would not be better if everyone produced their own food. Having said that, I'm sure some changes to the current ways are in order.

Yes sure, and global population growth takes place mostly in developing countries. In developed countries it happens because of immigration, and population would be slightly decreasing without immigration.

Therefore, we develop the developing countries, using the resources of the developed countries. Problem solved, if everyone is on an equal footing. Why would anyone want to move to Germany, if they can live in a much better place, like Greece, Colombia, Morocco or whatever, and have the same quality of life?

What's wrong with Germany? I assume that you refer to climate/weather. Not everyone likes a hot climate. I think the climate of Sweden is pretty nice, though I wish the winter was shorter and summer longer. I think around 20 C outdoors is about optimal. Having constant 30 C+ like we had for large parts during this summer, no thank you.

There are ongoign work at "using the resources of the developed countries to help developing countries". It is called foreign aid. I am not aware of any country that ever became affluent through receiving foreign aid. Are you? If we look at countries like Taiwan and South Korea, who not too long ago were poor and underdeveloped, but today aren't, how did they develop? By contrast, how did the different economic policies of India work out?

We should study real-world data, of which there is quite a lot. The world has over 200 countries and territories that offer ample of cases to examine, that should inform our policies.

Is there any more data on this?

Not a lot, this is not the mot well-researched area. But, for example, since very recently, we do know that the the archetypal primeval wilderness, the Amazon, was carefully managed and cultivated, sustaining a huge population, before the invaders came and started destroying everything. Imagine the amount of food an area with that size could produce, with less efficiency (but larger by orders of magnitude) without any of the ecological cost. Of course, it would also require a decentralised world and similarly loose urbanism.But once we get rid of the main cause of all of our problems, that shouldn't be all that hard.

I'm not sure if this is what you are saying, but it seems like you are saying that the Amazon rainforest could sustain a larger population than modern technology? If so, that seems highly implausible. But that might not be what you are saying.

I'm not sure what "loose urbanism" means, but from what I understand, urbanization is a mostly positive thing for the environment.

 

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