Author Topic: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread  (Read 2009 times)

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Online Rai

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #15 on: October 30, 2018, 07:45:36 AM »
WWF just published its Living Planet report, and it is staggering.

Since 1970, humans have eradicated 60% of all vertebrate life on Earth.

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The Living Planet Index also tracks the state of global biodiversity by measuring the population abundance of thousands of vertebrate species around the world. The latest index shows an overall decline of 60% in population sizes between 1970 and 2014. Species population declines are especially pronounced in the tropics, with South and Central America suffering the most dramatic decline, an 89% loss compared to 1970. Freshwater species numbers have also declined dramatically, with the Freshwater Index showing an 83% decline since 1970. But measuring biodiversity – all the varieties of life that can be found on Earth and their relationships to each other – is complex, so this report also explores three other indicators measuring changes in species distribution, extinction risk and changes in community composition. All these paint the same picture – showing severe declines or changes.

The reason: Capitalism.

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In a recent paper, researchers writing in the journal Nature analysed the most prevalent threats facing more than 8,500 threatened or near-threatened species on the IUCN Red List (explored in detail in Chapter 3) 1They found that the key drivers of biodiversity decline remain overexploitation and agriculture. Indeed, of all the plant, amphibian, reptile, bird and mammal species that have gone extinct since AD 1500, 75% were  were harmed by overexploitation or agricultural activity or both.

Overexploitation and ever-expanding agriculture are driven by spiralling human consumption. Over the past 50 years our Ecological Footprint – a measure of our consumption of natural resources – has increased by about 190% Creating a more sustainable system will require major changes to production, supply and consumption activities. For this we need a detailed understanding of how these complex components link together, and the actors involved, from source to shelf, wherever they may be on the planet.

In other news, China is once again permitting the trade of rhino and tiger parts for fake ""medicinal" purposes. Goodbye, Rhinos and tigers, you were great, but making a good profit off stupid people with erectile disfunction is just more important.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2018, 07:54:34 AM by Rai »

Offline daniel1948

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #16 on: October 30, 2018, 08:18:46 AM »
Capitalism is the major reason for the lopsided distribution of the wealth of the world, but population growth is the reason for the loss of biodiversity. The world population has doubled since 1970. We are simply displacing other species. And we are unique only in our ability to dominate each other and the world, not in our inclination to do so. All animals steal food and territory from others to the extent they are able to. I recall a segment from a BBC nature documentary about a population of birds that gets all its food by stealing it from another species of birds. They don't eat the other birds. They just take their food. And while we have the technology to control our numbers, we have never in the history of our species had the willingness to do so, or the willingness to share resources outside our tribe.

Capitalism systematically excludes a segment of the population from the benefits of the economy, and assures a massive inequality of wealth, but it is human nature, not capitalism, that is driving other species to extinction. Humans have been doing this for as long as there have been humans. Modern technology makes us more efficient at taking all the Earth's resources for ourselves, and capitalism drives the economic growth that allows us to build technology at an ever-increasing rate. But the underlying cause is greed and human nature, not our choice of economic systems.
Daniel
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Online Rai

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #17 on: November 28, 2018, 03:56:41 AM »
The Insect Apocalypse Is Here

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When asked to imagine what would happen if insects were to disappear completely, scientists find words like chaos, collapse, Armageddon. Wagner, the University of Connecticut entomologist, describes a flowerless world with silent forests, a world of dung and old leaves and rotting carcasses accumulating in cities and roadsides, a world of “collapse or decay and erosion and loss that would spread through ecosystems” — spiraling from predators to plants. E.O. Wilson has written of an insect-free world, a place where most plants and land animals become extinct; where fungi explodes, for a while, thriving on death and rot; and where “the human species survives, able to fall back on wind-pollinated grains and marine fishing” despite mass starvation and resource wars. “Clinging to survival in a devastated world, and trapped in an ecological dark age,” he adds, “the survivors would offer prayers for the return of weeds and bugs.”

But the crux of the windshield phenomenon, the reason that the creeping suspicion of change is so creepy, is that insects wouldn’t have to disappear altogether for us to find ourselves missing them for reasons far beyond nostalgia. In October, an entomologist sent me an email with the subject line, “Holy [expletive]!” and an attachment: a study just out from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that he labeled, “Krefeld comes to Puerto Rico.” The study included data from the 1970s and from the early 2010s, when a tropical ecologist named Brad Lister returned to the rain forest where he had studied lizards — and, crucially, their prey — 40 years earlier. Lister set out sticky traps and swept nets across foliage in the same places he had in the 1970s, but this time he and his co-author, Andres Garcia, caught much, much less: 10 to 60 times less arthropod biomass than before. (It’s easy to read that number as 60 percent less, but it’s sixtyfold less: Where once he caught 473 milligrams of bugs, Lister was now catching just eight milligrams.) “It was, you know, devastating,” Lister told me. But even scarier were the ways the losses were already moving through the ecosystem, with serious declines in the numbers of lizards, birds and frogs. The paper reported “a bottom-up trophic cascade and consequent collapse of the forest food web.” Lister’s inbox quickly filled with messages from other scientists, especially people who study soil invertebrates, telling him they were seeing similarly frightening declines. Even after his dire findings, Lister found the losses shocking: “I didn’t even know about the earthworm crisis!”

[...]

Since the Krefeld study came out, researchers have begun searching for other forgotten repositories of information that might offer windows into the past. Some of the Radboud researchers have analyzed long-term data, belonging to Dutch entomological societies, about beetles and moths in certain reserves; they found significant drops (72 percent, 54 percent) that mirrored the Krefeld ones. Roel van Klink, a researcher at the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research, told me that before Krefeld, he, like most entomologists, had never been interested in biomass. Now he is looking for historical data sets — many of which began as studies of agricultural pests, like a decades-long study of grasshoppers in Kansas — that could help create a more thorough picture of what’s happening to creatures that are at once abundant and imperiled. So far he has found forgotten data from 140 old data sets for 1,500 locations that could be resampled.

In the United States, one of the few long-term data sets about insect abundance comes from the work of Arthur Shapiro, an entomologist at the University of California, Davis. In 1972, he began walking transects in the Central Valley and the Sierras, counting butterflies. He planned to do a study on how short-term weather variations affected butterfly populations. But the longer he sampled, the more valuable his data became, offering a signal through the noise of seasonal ups and downs. “And so here I am in Year 46,” he said, nearly half a century of spending five days a week, from late spring to the end of autumn, observing butterflies. In that time he has watched overall numbers decline and seen some species that used to be everywhere — even species that “everyone regarded as a junk species” only a few decades ago — all but disappear. Shapiro believes that Krefeld-level declines are likely to be happening all over the globe. “But, of course, I don’t cover the entire globe,” he added. “I cover I-80.”

Offline Captain Video

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #18 on: November 28, 2018, 03:00:54 PM »
sorry wrong thread
« Last Edit: November 28, 2018, 03:05:38 PM by Captain Video »
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Online Rai

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2018, 03:44:27 AM »
Arctic wild caribou and reindeer populations down 56% in the past 20 years, we lost about 2.6 million animals.

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The abundance of migratory herds of caribou (North America and Greenland) and wild reindeer (Russia and Norway) in circum-arctic tundra regions (Fig. 1) has declined 56% (4.7 million to 2.1 million) over the last two decades. Five herds in particular, in the Alaska-Canada region, have declined more than 90% and show no sign of recovery (Fig. 2). It is normal for herd numbers to vary over decades (Fauchald et al., 2017), but currently some herds have all-time record low populations since reliable record keeping began. The extent and duration of the declines are a threat to the food security and culture of indigenous people who have depended on the herds. Caribou and wild reindeer are a key species in the arctic food web contributing to nutrient cycling between terrestrial and aquatic systems and the abundance of predators and scavengers.

Offline arthwollipot

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #20 on: December 13, 2018, 04:04:58 PM »
Shark numbers decline by up to 90% in five decades off Queensland coast

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Researchers conclude the most likely cause for the dramatic declines is commercial fishing

Shark numbers along the Queensland coast have declined by more than 90% for some species in the past five decades, according to new research that calls for better protections for sharks in Australian waters.

University of Queensland and Griffith University researchers analysed shark control program data to measure changes in shark populations along the Queensland coastline in a 55 year period.

The shark control program has used drumlines and nets since 1962 to try to reduce the risk of shark attacks, and now spans 1760km of the Queensland coastline.

The scientists studied the number of hammerhead, white, tiger and whaler sharks caught in nets from 1962 to 2016.

The data showed the number of hammerheads and white sharks had each declined by 92%, whaler sharks by 82% and tiger sharks by 74%.
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Online Rai

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #21 on: February 11, 2019, 03:33:09 AM »
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• Over 40% of insect species are threatened with extinction.
• Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera and dung beetles (Coleoptera) are the taxa most affected.
• Four aquatic taxa are imperiled and have already lost a large proportion of species.
• Habitat loss by conversion to intensive agriculture is the main driver of the declines.
• Agro-chemical pollutants, invasive species and climate change are additional causes.
Link

Let that sink in. 40% of all insect species are threatened with extinction, due rampant, unrestrained industrialisation and climate change. The shareholders must be gleeful.

At one point we'll need to face the fact that we need to cut profits big time and completely ignore economics in order to survive. We won't do it, though, because some old dudes in suits need their fifteenth gold-plated private jet with a swimming pool and garage space for a Maserati.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2019, 03:35:25 AM by Rai »

Offline Soldier of FORTRAN

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #22 on: February 11, 2019, 10:51:21 AM »
"It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism."
If global warming is real then how come I just felt this chill down my spine?

Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #23 on: February 12, 2019, 01:20:26 PM »
With regards to insects, a lot of their decline has been blamed on pesticides. Organic farming has been presented as a good alternative, for example in The Guardian:

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The Guardian view on the mass death of insects: this threatens us all

Some governments have done some necessary things. The EU has banned neonicotinoid pesticides. But the necessary change also relies on individual action. As individuals we must consume less in every way, which helps with climate change. We must also change our food habits. To eat less meat and more organic is not just piety. A little self-restraint in this generation will make all the difference to our grandchildren.

I know that The Guardian has a left-wing editorial stance which probably biases them in favor of things like organic farming. But I never percieved them to be anti-scientific. The SGU and Steve on his blog have critized organic farming a lot over the years. It would be interesting to know what they have to say about the insect death and what they think the ideal solution would be. And about the claim that organic farming is the answer.
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Offline 2397

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #24 on: February 12, 2019, 02:25:42 PM »
The main issue with organic farming being that it produces less food. Which is why proponents argue that you can cut back on waste and consume less of the most energy intensive foods. Ignoring that we could do that regardless, and that the actual environmental savings will be from the reduced consumption, not from organic practices.

Organic farming means excluding certain advances and technologies, so it can only be less effective than farming that's open to all of it.

Online Rai

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #25 on: February 12, 2019, 02:34:14 PM »
Individual responsibility is a big honking smoke screen anyway. No, eating more organic kale and roast beef won't save the planet, we don't have time to individually reduce consumption and wait few decades for it to start to affect the share prices of the international mega-corporations that are at fault for this whole mess.

I mean, look at climate change. We know which are the 100 companies responsible for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions. We need to dismantle them. We actually need to dismantle the whole global economy, because it is either it or our planet. Driving electric cars or eating grasshopper powder won't mean jack shit.

Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #26 on: February 12, 2019, 02:38:38 PM »
I mean, look at climate change. We know which are the 100 companies responsible for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions. We need to dismantle them. We actually need to dismantle the whole global economy, because it is either it or our planet. Driving electric cars or eating grasshopper powder won't mean jack shit.

What would your alternative look like? If you "dismantle" the global economy, won't you condemn the world to massive poverty?
"I appear as a skeptic, who believes that doubt is the great engine, the great fuel, of all inquiry, all discovery, and all innovation" - Christopher Hitchens

Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #27 on: February 12, 2019, 02:39:53 PM »
The main issue with organic farming being that it produces less food. Which is why proponents argue that you can cut back on waste and consume less of the most energy intensive foods. Ignoring that we could do that regardless, and that the actual environmental savings will be from the reduced consumption, not from organic practices.

Organic farming means excluding certain advances and technologies, so it can only be less effective than farming that's open to all of it.

Good points.

Yes, reducing waste is always a good idea, but it alone won't solve anything. Also, you can't reduce waste completely anyways.
"I appear as a skeptic, who believes that doubt is the great engine, the great fuel, of all inquiry, all discovery, and all innovation" - Christopher Hitchens

Online Rai

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #28 on: February 13, 2019, 04:25:04 AM »
I mean, look at climate change. We know which are the 100 companies responsible for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions. We need to dismantle them. We actually need to dismantle the whole global economy, because it is either it or our planet. Driving electric cars or eating grasshopper powder won't mean jack shit.

What would your alternative look like? If you "dismantle" the global economy, won't you condemn the world to massive poverty?

Sure, but massive poverty is better than the extinction of our species (and it's not like we don't already have massive poverty which is bound to get much worse as the climate apocalypse ramps up. The Water Wars won't be fun.). As for the alternative, we'll find out.

First, we have to stop what we are doing right now, because it is very clear that it is killing the planet.

Offline oscar.haglund

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Re: The Ongoing Mass Extinction Megathread
« Reply #29 on: February 16, 2019, 05:55:27 AM »
I mean, look at climate change. We know which are the 100 companies responsible for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions. We need to dismantle them. We actually need to dismantle the whole global economy, because it is either it or our planet. Driving electric cars or eating grasshopper powder won't mean jack shit.

What would your alternative look like? If you "dismantle" the global economy, won't you condemn the world to massive poverty?

The question is what other alternatives there are.

I don't think this issue has really gotten the attention it deserves. We need to stop talking about lions, tigers and elephants being at risk of extinction. They have been at risk for decades and they are still here so people think its probably fine. Furthermore if they were to go extinct its not easy for a lay person to see how their extinction would be more than a sad nuisiance.

Contrast this to a continual total insect biomass loss of 2.5% a year and what we are talking about is something that should be the biggest news story in the world. In one way or another this will mark the end of human civilization as we know it.

 

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