Ecologise has consistently driven home that humanity needs to prepare for unprecedented environmental, economic and socio-political upheaval and uncertainty in the 21st century. In this new series, we showcase free short-duration online courses that focus on these various emerging crises and possible responses. Created by the world’s leading universities, they offer a good starting point to explore these complex challenges.
From The Independent: Scientists warn in a new study that Earth is undergoing a sixth mass extinction that’s “more severe than perceived.” Not only that, human activity —including pollution, deforestation, overpopulation, poaching, warming oceans and extreme weather events tied to climate change— is to blame for this massive loss in biodiversity, according to the analysis.
George Monbiot writes: We cannot hope to address our predicament without a new worldview. We cannot use the models that caused our crises to solve them. We need to reframe the problem. This is what the most inspiring book published so far this year – Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth of Oxford University -has done.
Jonathan Rutherford writes: Reducing societal consumption –degrowing the economy– need not necessarily result in chaotic economic breakdown. This is indeed an inevitable outcome within our present economic system, but possibly not others. What then would be required to contract the economy, in an orderly and fair way? A possible answer, from the ‘Simpler Way’ perspective.
Kurt Cobb wrtites: According to scientists, we are amidst the Sixth Great Extinction, caused by human activity. If you consider that the broader world with which we interact has millions of species of which we’re not aware of, we could easily cause an organism essential to our survival to go extinct without even realizing it.
Growing numbers of scientists have asserted that our planet might soon see a sixth massive extinction— driven by the escalating impacts of humanity. Others, such as the Swedish economist Bjørn Lomborg, have characterised such claims as ill-informed. We argue that the jury is in and the debate is over: Earth’s sixth great extinction has arrived.
The Guardian reports: The number of wild animals on Earth is set to fall by two-thirds by 2020, which a new report attributes to an ongoing mass extinction. The analysis, the most comprehensive to date, indicates that animal populations plummeted by 58% between 1970 and 2012, with losses on track to reach 67% by 2020.
Aaron M. Ellison writes in Nature: Better data will not save elephants, rhinos or any other species. Countless individuals, institutions, governments, and multinational and non-governmental organizations have been collecting, assimilating and organizing such data for decades, essentially fiddling while our biological heritage burns… I suggest three crucial actions that scientists can take, beginning right now.
Jason Hickel writes: The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals recognise the inherent tension between economic development and the planet’s ecology. It signals awareness that something about our economic system has gone terribly awry–that we cannot continue chewing through the living planet without gravely endangering our security and prosperity, and indeed the future viability of our species.
40 scientists from across the world have recently announced that megafauna – large animals like elephants, lions, tigers, cheetahs, rhinoceroses – will not survive much longer if we don’t act fast. Examining population trends, the scientists said that human activities like deforestation and hunting can wipe out their populations by the end of this century.
The Guardian reports: Human-caused climate change appears to have wiped-out the Great Barrier Reef’s only endemic mammal species, the small rodent Bramble Cay melomys, into the history books, from its only known location. It’s also the first recorded extinction of a mammal anywhere in the world thought to be primarily due to human-caused climate change.
The State of the World’s Plants report “provides, for the first time, a baseline assessment of our current knowledge on the diversity of plants on earth, the global threats these plants currently face, and the policies in place and their effectiveness in dealing with these threats,” according to scientists at the Royal Botanical Gardens, London.
Colin Todhunter writes: A new paper by Rosemary A. Mason in the Journal of Biological Physics and Chemistry, titled ‘The sixth mass extinction and chemicals in the environment’ indicates that a ‘sixth extinction’ is presently under way (The Sixth Extinction, describes the ongoing extinction of species during the present Holocene epoch – since around 10,000 BCE). Download paper: The sixth mass extinction and chemicals in the
‘The Cause Is Us’: World on Verge of Sixth Extinction By Andrea Germanos, Commondreams.org A new study published in the journal Science has shown that human activity has driven current rates of species extinction to 1,000 times faster than the natural rate. “This important study confirms that species are going extinct at a pace not