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Science in the Anthropocene: The emerging field of Planetary Health

It’s no longer possible to separate the health of the planet from the health of its people. Disease patterns are changing as the climate does, and human health is at risk from loss of biodiversity, depleted water supplies, environmental toxins, and collapsing food systems. From this realisation has come a new research field: planetary health.

Welcome to the Meghalayan Age, the latest stage in Earth’s history

4200 years ago, a sweeping mega-drought devastated agricultural societies across the globe, wiping out civilizations from Ancient Egypt to Mesopotamia, Palestine and the Yangtze River Valley. Now, scientists say the cataclysmic event marks the beginning of a new geologic age: Late Holocene Meghalayan, which encompasses everything from the start of the drought to the present.

Half-Earth: A biologist’s manifesto for preserving life on Earth

Here is the ambitious (and controversial) proposal by E.O. Wilson —arguably the world’s most lauded living evolutionary biologist— to save life on Earth by setting aside around half the planet in various types of nature reserves. Also included is a research paper exploring the viability of Wilson’s proposal, along with a sharp critique of it.

Cape Town is running out of water. Guess who’s next?

From BBC: Cape Town is in the unenviable situation of being the first major city in the modern era to face the threat of running out of drinking water. But Cape Town is just the tip of the iceberg. Here are the 11 other cities worldwide that are most likely to run out of water.

The lady who saved the falcon

From Live Mint: In October 2012, Bano Haralu led a small group of conservationists to Nagaland’s Doyang reservoir to check on large-scale falcon hunting. What they witnessed that balmy October day shook them to the core. Nagaland was and still is infamous for hunting, but this was something even the conservationists had not bargained for.

A second warning to humanity, from the world’s scientists

Mankind is facing the existential threat of runaway consumption of limited resources by a rapidly growing population, says a new, dire “warning to humanity” written by 15,000 scientists from 184 countries.The message updates an original warning sent 25 years ago. The experts say the picture now is far, far worse than it was in 1992.

The insect ecosystem is collapsing due to humans. It’s a catastrophe

From The Guardian: Insects are multitudinous beyond our imagining, and have triumphed for hundreds of millions of years, in every habitat. This makes all the more alarming the great truth now dawning upon us: insects as a group are in terrible trouble and the remorselessly expanding human enterprise has become too much, even for them.

We’ll never see these animals again

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.

An Atlas for the End of the World

The Atlas for the End of the World chronicles the archipelago of protected areas into which the world’s genetic biodiversity is now huddled. It is not about the end of the world per se; but the end of the world as a God-given and unlimited resource for human exploitation and its concomitant myths of progress.

Why climate change isn’t our biggest environmental problem, and why technology won’t save us

Richard Heinberg writes: Over the past century-and-a-half, fossil fuels enabled the rapid growth of resource extraction, manufacturing, and consumption; and these in turn led to population increase, pollution, and loss of natural habitat and hence biodiversity. Our core ecological problem is not climate change. It is overshoot, of which global warming is only a symptom.

Module 5: Biodiversity & Species Extinction

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.

Richard Heinberg: Ecological collapse? There’s no app for that

Even when we question the personal impacts of modern technology, how many of us consider how our dependence on technology might be harming us? Or question the belief that technological advances will save us from our most pressing environmental and societal challenges? Richard Heinberg tackles this thorny issue in this brilliant essay and animation feature.

Bees are disappearing in India – and we are slowly learning why

From Scroll.in: Honeybees, which play a vital role in pollinating food crops, are declining at an alarming rate in India. It is not just pesticides that are contributing to their decline. Ironically, it might be the very efforts to promote bees in India that could be leading to a further decline in their diversity and prevalence.

Layla and the owl’s eyes: Ecopsychology and being human

Will Falk writes: Just like an owl on a chain is no longer an owl, and an elephant in a zoo is no longer an elephant, humans cut off from the nature are no longer human. We are animals and animals are an ongoing process of relationships. When those relationships become impossible, we lose ourselves.

Satya Sagar: What on earth is a human being?

Satya Sagar writes: It’s time to step back, reflect and ask again and again the questions:  who or what exactly are human beings, how we should live in this world and where we should go?  For this time the very survival of the human species may lie in getting the answers right with great honesty.

Study: The world is facing a ‘biological annihilation’ of species, researchers warn

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.

Fight back: An ecopsychological understanding of depression

Will Falk writes: I’m an environmental activist. I have depression. To be an activist with depression places me squarely in an irreconcilable dilemma: The destruction of the natural world creates stress which exacerbates depression. However, acting to stop the destruction of the natural world exposes me to a lot of stress which, again, exacerbates depression.

Charles Eisenstein: A New Story of the People

From TEDxWhitechapel: “Our hearts know that a more beautiful world is possible; but our minds do not know how it’s possible”. In this intelligent and inspiring talk, writer and visionary Charles Eisenstein explores how we can make the transition from the old story of separation, competition and self-interest to a new Story of the People.

The illegal and ignominious world of wildlife trafficking

A recent raid at the Meerut house of a retired Colonel and his national-level shooter son unearthed a shockingly large cache of animal skins, parts and meat, apart from over 100 illegally imported firearms. This feature by Down to Earth analyses the magnitude and international nature of the flourishing illegal trade of Indian wildlife species.

Earth’s ‘technosphere’ now weighs 30 trillion tons, research finds

CBC News reports: A new report has calculated the total mass of all manmade things-from buildings to cars and computers- to be an astounding 30 trillion tons, seven times more than the total amount of living matter on Earth. It shows the sheer magnitude of the human impact on our planet, which is still growing.

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