Thomas Friedman | We Are Opening the Lids on Two Giant Pandora’s Boxes – The New York Times

“. . . . . Ditto when it comes to the climate Pandora’s box we’re opening. As NASA explains on its website, “In the last 800,000 years, there have been eight cycles of ice ages and warmer periods.” The last ice age ended some 11,700 years ago, giving way to our current climate era — known as the Holocene (meaning “entirely recent”) — which was characterized by stable seasons that allowed for stable agriculture, the building of human communities and ultimately civilization as we know it today.

“Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives,” NASA notes.

Well, say goodbye to that. There is now an intense discussion among environmentalists — and geological experts at the International Union of Geological Sciences, the professional organization responsible for defining Earth’s geological/climate eras — about whether we humans have driven ourselves out of the Holocene into a new epoch, called the Anthropocene.

That name comes “from ‘anthropo,’ for ‘man,’ and ‘cene,’ for ‘new’ — because humankind has caused mass extinctions of plant and animal species, polluted the oceans and altered the atmosphere, among other lasting impacts,” an article in Smithsonian Magazine explained.”

Conserving Wildlife Can Help Mitigate Climate Change

Conserving Wildlife Can Help Mitigate Climate Change

“Solving the climate crisis and biodiversity crisis are not separate issues. Animals remove billions of tons of carbon dioxide each year. Restoring species will help limit global warming, new science reveals.

From the Yale School of the Environment News.
“Conserving Wildlife Can Help Mitigate Climate Change
“Solving the climate crisis and biodiversity crisis are not separate issues. Animals remove billions of tons of carbon dioxide each year. Restoring species will help limit global warming, new science reveals.
“Protecting wildlife across the world could significantly enhance natural carbon capture and storage by supercharging ecosystem carbon sinks, a new study led by Yale School of the Environment Oastler Professor of Population and Community Ecology Oswald Schmitz has found.
The study, published in Nature Climate Change and co-authored by 15 scientists from eight countries, examined nine wildlife species — marine fish, whales, sharks, grey wolves, wildebeest, sea otters, musk oxen, African forest elephants, and American bison. The data shows that protecting or restoring their populations could collectively facilitate the additional capture of 6.41 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. This is 95% of the amount needed every year to meet the Paris Agreement target of removing enough carbon from the atmosphere to keep global warming below the 1.5-degree Celsius threshold.
“Wildlife species, throughout their interaction with the environment, are the missing link between biodiversity and climate,” Schmitz says. “This interaction means rewilding can be among the best nature-based climate solutions available to humankind.”
Wildlife species, throughout their interaction with the environment, are the missing link between biodiversity and climate.”
Oswald SchmitzOastler Professor of Population and Community Ecology
Wild animals play a critical role controlling the carbon cycle in terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems through a wide range of processes including foraging, nutrient deposition, disturbance, organic carbon deposition, and seed dispersal, Schmitz’s research has shown. The dynamics of carbon uptake and storage fundamentally changes with the presence or absence of animals.
Endangering animal populations to the point where they become extinct could flip the ecosystems they inhabit from carbon sinks to carbon sources, according to the research.
The world’s wildlife populations have declined by almost 70% in the last 50 years. The study shows that solving the climate crisis and biodiversity crisis are not separate issues and the restoration of animal populations should be included in the scope of nature-based climate solutions, the authors say. Rewilding animal populations to enhance natural carbon capture and storage is known as animating the carbon cycle.
Other high potential species across the world include the African buffalo, white rhino, puma, dingo, Old and New World primates, hornbills, fruit bats, harbor and gray seals, and loggerhead and green turtles, the authors note.
“Natural climate solutions are becoming fundamental to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, while creating added opportunity to enhance biodiversity conservation,” the study states. “Expanding climate solutions to include animals can help shorten the time horizon over which 500GtCO2 is drawn out of the atmosphere, especially if current opportunities to protect and rapidly recover species populations and the functional intactness of landscapes and seascapes are seized on. To ignore animals leads to missed opportunities to enhance the scope, spatial extent, and range of ecosystems that can be enlisted to help hold climate warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

rving Wildlife Can Help Mitigate Climate Change

Why 23 Dead Whales Have Washed Up on the East Coast Since December – The New York Times


“First a North Atlantic right whale, a critically endangered species, washed ashore in Virginia. Then a humpback floated onto a beach in New Jersey. Not long afterward, a minke whale, swept in on the morning tide, landed on the Rockaway Peninsula in New York City.

And that was in just a single week this month.

In all, 23 dead whales have washed ashore along the East Coast since early December, including 12 in New Jersey and New York, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The pace of the deaths is worrisome to federal scientists, even if the total numbers are below some prior years.

Late Monday, the Coast Guard spotted another whale floating south of the Ambrose shipping channel, between New York and New Jersey; two teams from New York located the animal and determined that it was a humpback, but it was not clear where it might wash ashore.

Most of the fatalities have been humpbacks, and post-mortem examinations have suggested that ship strikes are likely the cause of many of the deaths.”

Deborah Cramer | When the Horseshoe Crabs Are Gone, We’ll Be in Trouble – The New York Times

Ms. Cramer is the author of “The Narrow Edge,” about red knots’ migration and horseshoe crabs.

Anyone who gets a flu or Covid shot, childhood immunization, heart stent or hip replacement — and that’s almost everyone — is protected from exposure to potentially lethal contaminants known as endotoxins by a test that uses what might seem like an odd ingredient: the blue blood of the horseshoe crab.

Endotoxins are a worry in medicine. They exist in the cell walls of certain bacteria and can be released when the bacteria break down or die. These toxins can send a patient into a tailspin of fever, chills, septic shock and death.

To keep patients safe, pharmaceutical companies run roughly 70 million tests a year on injectable medicines and implants for the presence of these toxins with a substance called limulus amebocyte lysate. It is an extract of cells from horseshoe crab blood and can identify even infinitesimal amounts of the toxin by reacting with it. No other natural substance is known to work as well.

The problem is that horseshoe crabs are in trouble. Their numbers are declining — “a finite source with potentially infinite demand,” as one pharmaceutical executive told Agence France-Presse last year, “and those two things are mutually exclusive.”

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

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″
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

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.”