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Robert B. Semple Jr. | Biden Set an Ambitious Goal for Nature. It’s Time He Went After It. – The New York Times

Mr. Semple, a reporter and an editor for The Times from 1963 to 2018, writes about the environment for the editorial board. He won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing in 1996.

“Compared with the United Nations climate change summit in Egypt in November, the U.N. biodiversity conference held in Montreal this month may have seemed distinctly minor league.

There were no heads of state, save Canada’s. The proceedings generated few front-page headlines and little play on the evening news. Yet the issue confronting delegates from nearly 200 nations who are parties to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity was nothing less than what many scientists believe to be a planetary emergency: the alarming decline of biodiversity, which threatens the world’s food and water supplies.

This is an emergency, not incidentally, inextricably tied up with global warming. And what the conference ended up agreeing to was also significant: an ambitious pledge to protect nearly one-third of the planet’s land and oceans by 2030, a strategy whose shorthand is 30×30.”

” . . . . Second, Mr. Biden should press the Agriculture and Interior Departments to complete inventories of old-growth and mature forests and recommend protections in those deemed worthy of protection, much like the Tongass. If there is one alpha culprit in biodiversity loss, it is the clearing of forests and wetlands for farms to feed an exploding world population and, to a lesser extent, to produce biofuels. According to some estimates, the world’s natural forests are home to at least two-thirds of the world’s species. Intact forests also absorb and store enormous amounts of carbon, so preserving them assists not only the species that live there but also the struggle against climate change.”

Why protecting 30% of lands and waters is critical | The Wilderness Society

60%
Decline in populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians over 40 years

“A 2018 World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report focusing on how human activity has affected wildlife found that between 1970 and 2014, there was an approximately 60 percent decline in populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians. The report highlighted deforestation and other types of land degradation as a major driver of this trend, citing data showing only about one-quarter of land on Earth is largely free of human impacts. Protecting 30% of U.S. lands and waters—as part of the global 30×30 goal—is a critical step to shore up critical habitat, save migration corridors and stop the bleeding. For example, species forced to shift to higher elevations in order to escape hotter temperatures need intact, interconnected thruways of land and water to make their move.

The chart below shows The Living Planet Index, an indicator of the state of global biodiversity cited by WWF. It measures the average rate of change over time across a set of species populations and shows an overall decline of 60% in the population sizes of vertebrates between 1970 and 2014–an average drop over half in less than 50 years.”

Source: Why protecting 30% of lands and waters is critical | The Wilderness Society

Animals Are Running Out of Places to Live – The New York Times

“WILDLIFE IS DISAPPEARING around the world, in the oceans and on land. The main cause on land is perhaps the most straightforward: Humans are taking over too much of the planet, erasing what was there before. Climate change and other pressures make survival harder.

This week and next, nations are meeting in Montreal to negotiate a new agreement to address staggering declines in biodiversity. The future of many species hangs in the balance. Meet some of the animals most affected as humans convert more and more land:

At least 60 percent habitat loss since 2001
At least 50 percent habitat loss since 2001
At least 45 percent habitat loss since 2001
At least 40 percent habitat loss since 2001
At least 35 percent habitat loss since 2001
At least 33 percent habitat loss since 2001″
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David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Great article and wonderful comments. But such a sad and tragic story. How about a follow up story, how best to stop and reverse population growth. How do we get rid of 4 billion people, at least get to 30 by 30, 50 by 2050 or 2300. Half Earth (for other species) is a great little book by Edward O Wilson.
Question for the NYT staff, when does this important piece show up in print” It should say at least at the end, if not the begining, when it will, or when it did, show up in print at the Times. David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Can We Save Nature? – The New York Times

You’re reading the Climate Forward newsletter, for Times subscribers only.  Your must-read guide to the climate crisis.

World leaders are not yet done negotiating the future of the planet this year. Another crucial environmental meeting is about to start, and there is hope that the world could agree on an official plan to protect nature.

A big question: Can the planet’s biggest predator save what’s left of our struggling ecosystems?

The challenge is immense. One example: An assessment that monitors populations of vertebrate animals found that since 1970, these populations declined more than two-thirds on average. (That estimate has some caveats, which my colleague Catrin Einhorn explained here.) The decline is mainly a result of humans taking too much of planet from them, and climate change will profoundly worsen the crisis, too.

At this week’s U.N. meeting in Montreal, known as COP15, leaders will have an opportunity to change this path, by setting goals for each country to work toward through the next decade and beyond. Targets could be expanding protected areas, getting rid of subsidies to industries that harm nature or agreeing on funding strategies for conservation.

Stakes are high. At the conference’s opening news conference this morning, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the United Nations executive who oversees the treaty on biodiversity, stressed that none of the goals established at an earlier meeting a decade ago to protect nature were achieved.

Red Sea Coral Reefs Keep Thriving Despite Global Warming – The New York Times

Jenny Gross and 

Jenny Gross reported from Egypt’s Ras Mohammed National Park in the Red Sea. Vivian Yee reported from the United Nations climate summit in Egypt.

“SHARM El SHEIKH, Egypt — The vast majority of the world’s coral reefs are likely to be severely damaged in the coming decades if the planet keeps warming at its current rate.

But the wildly colorful coral reefs in the waters outside the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh, where the annual United Nations climate conference is taking place, are an anomaly: They can tolerate the heat, and perhaps even thrive in it, making them some of the only reefs in the world that have a chance of surviving climate change.

There is a limit to how much they can take, however.

Mass tourism at Egypt’s beach resorts, overfishing, overdevelopment, pollution, occasional failures of the sewage system, sediment from construction and oil spills from tankers or terminals have put them at risk, according to marine biologists who study the Red Sea.”

Australia’s Environment in Crisis, Report Says – The New York Times

“MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s environment and wildlife are facing even greater threats than previously acknowledged, according to a new report that the environment minister said painted a “story of crisis and decline.”

“It shows that we are in the middle of catastrophic environmental decline where we’re seeing populations of wildlife declining dramatically,” said Brendan Wintle, an ecosystem and forest sciences professor at the University of Melbourne, who was not involved in the State of the Environment report released Tuesday. “It’s very much a precursor to an extinction crisis in Australia, unless we see transformative change.”

About 200 plant and animal species have been added to the threatened species list since 2016, the report said, or had their vulnerability status upgraded. Among those moved to the endangered list: the country’s iconic koala.”

David Brooks | America Is Falling Apart at the Seams – The New York Times – And my response

Opinion Columnist

“In June a statistic floated across my desk that startled me. In 2020, the number of miles Americans drove fell 13 percent because of the pandemic, but the number of traffic deaths rose 7 percent.

I couldn’t figure it out. Why would Americans be driving so much more recklessly during the pandemic? But then in the first half of 2021, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle deaths were up 18.4 percent even over 2020. Contributing factors, according to the agency, included driving under the influence, speeding and failure to wear a seatbelt.

Why are so many Americans driving irresponsibly?

While gloomy numbers like these were rattling around in my brain, a Substack article from Matthew Yglesias hit my inbox this week. It was titled, “All Kinds of Bad Behavior Is on the Rise.” Not only is reckless driving on the rise, Yglesias pointed out, but the number of altercations on airplanes has exploded, the murder rate is surging in cities, drug overdoses are increasing, Americans are drinking more, nurses say patients are getting more abusive, and so on and so on.”

“. . . But something darker and deeper seems to be happening as well — a long-term loss of solidarity, a long-term rise in estrangement and hostility. This is what it feels like to live in a society that is dissolving from the bottom up as much as from the top down.

What the hell is going on? The short answer: I don’t know. I also don’t know what’s causing the high rates of depression, suicide and loneliness that dogged Americans even before the pandemic and that are the sad flip side of all the hostility and recklessness I’ve just described.

We can round up the usual suspects: social media, rotten politics. When President Donald Trump signaled it was OK to hate marginalized groups, a lot of people were bound to see that as permission.” . . .

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you David Brooks for another thoughtful and challenging column. You do have a blind spot, or malfunction, like the EVSE I use to charge up my two electric cars, or one electric car, and a Prius Prime, which is only electric for 25 miles in the summer. To fix the EVSE, when some widget seizes up, the manufacturer said, turn off the breaker, and hit the unit with a rubber mallet really hard. And it worked. I wonder if a rubber mallet would unstick you. I’d like to add to your thoughtful short list of the usual suspects, climate change and the sixth extinction, and the world overpopulation which are the cause of both. My adult daughter says she might not have any children because of these environmental crises. My adult son son says nothing I do for mitigation matters, since we have probably already passed the tipping point, and human life on the planet is probably doomed. I write about this stuff, with weird dark thoughts intruding on my brain, when awake and asleep. One sick thought, is that the pandemic has failed, because it hasn’t killed enough people. I admit this is a dark and ugly thought, but so is driving thousands of non human species into extinction, which is real, and going on this century, and accelerating. Are we committing an unforgiveable sin against other forms of life?
David blogs at InconvenientNews.Net
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In addition,  one irony of this sin of human overpopulation and consumption, and of our poisoning the water, the air, the land, and the atmosphere, is that according to the late scientist Edward O Wilson, if we kill off over 50% of the world’s other species, which is where we are headed, the human species will probably not survive. During the 5th and last great extinction in the geological record, when the dinosaurs died off, so did probably about 95% of the world’s other species at that time.

Margaret Renkl | Halting Extinction Is an Issue We Actually Agree On – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/11/opinion/extinction-bipartisan-conservation.html

Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.

“NASHVILLE — If you’re a certain age, you may remember the snail darter, a small fish in the Little Tennessee River that caused an environmental firestorm when it was listed as endangered in 1975. At the time, the Tennessee Valley Authority was already in the midst of building a dam on the Little Tennessee. Snail darters require free-flowing water to reproduce, and the only known habitat for the entire species was about to be dammed.

The ensuing legal battle made it all the way to the Supreme Court, which sided with the fish. But Congress, pressed by Tennessee politicians, responded by making the Tellico Dam project exempt from the provisions of the Endangered Species Act. The little fish seemed doomed.

You may be wondering why I would resurrect the story of an ancient battle that ended badly for environmentalists. Why bring up the snail darter’s sad tale, especially now, with 22 species in the U.S. newly listed as extinct and one million others on track for the same grim future worldwide?

Those lost creatures are exactly why.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 garnered the kind of bipartisan Congressional support that we can hardly imagine today. The House voted 355-4 in favor of passage. It was signed into law by President Richard Nixon, a Republican. Since then, it has saved dozens of iconic species like the bald eagle and the peregrine falcon, the Yellowstone grizzly and the American alligator, and it remains extremely popular. Despite near constant challenges from business interests and a great many elected Republicans, at least 80 percent of Americans, including 74 percent of self-identified conservatives, support it.”

Protected Too Late: U.S. Officials Report More Than 20 Extinctions – The New York Times

Video

Cinemagraph
Ivory-billed woodpeckers filmed in in Louisiana in 1935, when the birds were already rare. Despite pleas from conservationists and wildlife officials, the area was later logged by the Chicago Mill and Lumber Company.CreditCredit…Arthur A. Allen/Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornitholog

“The ivory-billed woodpecker, which birders have been seeking in the bayous of Arkansas, is gone forever, according to federal officials. So is the Bachman’s warbler, a yellow-breasted songbird that once migrated between the Southeastern United States and Cuba. The song of the Kauai O’o, a Hawaiian forest bird, exists only on recordings. And there is no longer any hope for several types of freshwater mussels that once filtered streams and rivers from Georgia to Illinois.

In all, 22 animals and one plant should be declared extinct and removed from the endangered species list, federal wildlife officials announced on Wednesday.

The announcement could also offer a glimpse of the future. It comes amid a worsening global biodiversity crisis that threatens a million species with extinction, many within decades. Human activities like farming, logging, mining and damming take habitat from animals and pollute much of what’s left. People poach and overfish. Climate change adds new peril.

“Each of these 23 species represents a permanent loss to our nation’s natural heritage and to global biodiversity,” said Bridget Fahey, who oversees species classification for the Fish and Wildlife Service. “And it’s a sobering reminder that extinction is a consequence of human-caused environmental change.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment
Sad but true. Thank you Catrin Einhorn and the NYT for this report. I recommend the booklet, “Half Earth,” by the famous etymologist Edward O Wilson, retired from Harvard. He and his associates around the world see us possibly losing 80% of the world’s species in the next 80 years. ( He talks mostly in ranges, like in 50 to 100 years) He predicts that if we lose 50% of the world’s species, the human species will not survive, because of dependencies that exist, but are not yet all understood. The message of the Half Earth Foundation and movement, is their strong sense that we need to preserve half the of the world’s area for non human species, to allow them to survive, and to guarantee our own survival. David Lindsay blogs at InconvenientNews.Net, and is writing a book on climate change and the sixth extinction.

Humans Wiped Out Two-Thirds of the World’s Wildlife in 50 Years | Smart News | Smithsonian Magazine

 Keeping you current

Threats to global biodiversity are also threats to humans, experts warn

A cloud of smoke rises on the right over a rainforest treetops, with one tall tree illuminated from behind by the sun, and smoke. Hints of blue sky to the left
Smoke rises from a fire in the Amazon rainforest, south of Novo Progresso in the Para state, Brazil. (Photo by CARL DE SOUZA / AFP / Getty Images)
SMITHSONIANMAG.COM
“Two major reports released this month paint a grim portrait of the future for our planet’s wildlife. First, the Living Planet Report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), published last week, found that in half a century, human activity has decimated global wildlife populations by an average of 68 percent.

The study analyzed population sizes of 4,392 monitored species of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians from 1970 to 2016, reports Karin Brulliard for the Washington Post. It found that populations in Latin America and the Caribbean fared the worst, with a staggering 94 percent decline in population. All told, the drastic species decline tracked in this study “signal a fundamentally broken relationship between humans and the natural world,” the WWF notes in a release.

Source: Humans Wiped Out Two-Thirds of the World’s Wildlife in 50 Years | Smart News | Smithsonian Magazine

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