From Mother Jones: Most scientists now agree that we are experiencing a sixth mass extinction, but unlike before, humans are responsible for this one. Here are some of the highlights from the Red List, the most comprehensive roster of threatened species available, including three that went extinct last year and others to watch out for in 2017.
environmental red lines
From Slate.com: Industrial civilisation’s impact is so massive that it goes way beyond climate change. Earth scientists now suggest that it is creating a distinct geological layer made of ‘technofossils’. The scale of our stuff is so gargantuan, that it is throwing off the quite robust balance of our natural systems—that’s how powerful it is.
What is permafrost? What happens when permafrost thaws? This animation, based on research by scientists at the Alfred Wegener Institute, answers these questions. Understanding this problem, and its connection to global climate change, is of vital importance at a time when the thawing Arctic tundra is creating massive craters and bringing back diseases like anthrax.
From The Guardian: In 2006, former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore triggered a worldwide debate about climate change with his Oscar-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Now, he’s back with a rousing follow-up for the age of climate change denial under Trump. Fellow climate champion and U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently discussed the film with Gore.
From Hindustan Times: The NGT has repeatedly criticised Bengaluru’s civic authorities this year for letting the city’s water bodies become toxic waste dumps. The central body could find similarly mistreated lakes in countless Indian cities, where wetlands are being lost due to urbanisation, changes in land use and pollution. What lakes have survived are shrinking.
From The Guardian: A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021, creating an environmental crisis some consider as serious as climate change. The demand, equivalent to about 20,000 bottles being bought every second, is driven by an apparently insatiable desire for bottled water.
It is not often that an article about climate change becomes the most hotly debated item on the internet. But David Wallace-Wells’ lengthy essay published in New York Magazine did exactly that. The full text of the essay –admittedly a worst-case scenario- which has kicked up a firestorm of debate online, along with selected responses.
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.
From Common Dreams: Humanity has just three years left to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions before risking a climate-safe world. After roughly 1°C of global warming driven by human activity, ice sheets are melting, summer sea ice is disappearing in the Arctic and coral reefs dying from heat stress— entire ecosystems are starting to collapse.
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.
From National Geographic: Our waters have borne the brunt of global-warming for decades, but dying corals, extreme weather, and plummeting fish stocks are signs that it can handle no more. And people are already experiencing direct consequences, such as more extreme weather events, says a new report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
From The Guardian: The chief reason that we’re waking up to our entanglement with the world we’ve been destroying, Timothy Morton says, is our encounter with the reality of hyperobjects –the term he coined to describe things such as ecosystems and black holes, which are “massively distributed in time and space” compared to individual humans.
From Forbes Magazine: With all of the knowledge of future mapping, do the world’s financial leaders know something we don’t? Consider how many of the richest families have been grabbing up massive amounts of farmland around the world. All property far away from coastal areas and in locations conducive to self-survival, farming and coal mining.
Here are the key findings from Centre for Science and Environment’s study of how India has warmed over the years, also plotted in animation. The analysis looks at temperature trends in the country –both annual and seasonal– from 1901 till recent years. It finds that the country has been getting warmer continuously, consistently and rapidly.
Currently, 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean each year – the equivalent of a dump truck of plastic rubbish every minute. At current rates, by 2050 there will be as much plastic in the oceans as fish. A closer look at the plastic tsunami menacing the world, and particularly, our oceans.
Climate Central reports: Two years after the Paris climate accord, climate policies are advancing in developing countries but stalling or regressing in richer ones. Here’s a trip around the world, assessing how pro-climate and anti-climate forces are faring in key nations and regions, showing how recent developments are affecting the languishing fight against global warming.
From DNA: Sagarmala is the Indian Government’s Rs 10 lakh crore programme to build Coastal Economic Zones (CEZ) and industrial clusters around 14 key ports. But, the Sagarmala plan document lays out its goals as if the coast has been an empty or unproductive space, and is now poised to be a “gateway” to growth.
Ugo Bardi, professor in Physical Chemistry at the University of Florence, writes: This is a real conversation that took place a few days ago, although, of course, the words that I report here can’t be exactly what we said. The protagonists are me and an acquaintance of mine. Imagine us holding glasses while at a party.
The Wire reports: Using satellite data of the last 14 years, researchers have shown that a thick blanket of toxic ammonia lies over the world’s major agricultural areas, with India being the worst affected. It’s emitted mainly by fertilisers as well as poorly managed animal waste. However, India has no policy to regulate ammonia emissions.
Clive Hamilton writes: Our best scientists tell us insistently that a calamity is unfolding, that the life-support systems of the Earth are being damaged in ways that threaten our survival. Yet, faced with these facts, we carry on as usual. Most citizens ignore or downplay the warnings; many of our intellectuals indulge in wishful thinking.