Era of ‘Biological Annihilation’ Is Underway- Scientists Warn – The New York Times

“From the common barn swallow to the exotic giraffe, thousands of animal species are in precipitous decline, a sign that an irreversible era of mass extinction is underway, new research finds.The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, calls the current decline in animal populations a “global epidemic” and part of the “ongoing sixth mass extinction” caused in large measure by human destruction of animal habitats. The previous five extinctions were caused by natural phenomena.

Gerardo Ceballos, a researcher at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City, acknowledged that the study is written in unusually alarming tones for an academic research paper. “It wouldn’t be ethical right now not to speak in this strong language to call attention to the severity of the problem,” he said.

Dr. Ceballos emphasized that he and his co-authors, Paul R. Ehrlich and Rodolfo Dirzo, both professors at Stanford University, are not alarmists, but are using scientific data to back up their assertions that significant population decline and possible mass extinction of species all over the world may be imminent, and that both have been underestimated by many other scientists.”

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Are Your Sperm in Trouble? – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“Let’s begin with sex.As a couple finishes its business, millions of sperm begin theirs: rushing toward an egg to fertilize it. But these days, scientists say, an increasing proportion of sperm — now about 90 percent in a typical young man — are misshapen, sometimes with two heads or two tails.

Even when properly shaped, today’s sperm are often pathetic swimmers, veering like drunks or paddling crazily in circles. Sperm counts also appear to have dropped sharply in the last 75 years, in ways that affect our ability to reproduce.

“There’s been a decrease not only in sperm numbers, but also in their quality and swimming capacity, their ability to deliver the goods,” said Shanna Swan, an epidemiologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who notes that researchers have also linked semen problems to shorter life expectancy.”

“Human and animal studies suggest that a crucial culprit is a common class of chemical called endocrine disruptors, found in plastics, cosmetics, couches, pesticides and countless other products. Because of the environmental links, The New Yorker once elegantly referred to the crisis as “silent sperm,” and innumerable studies over 25 years add to the concern that the world’s sperm are in trouble.”

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Pending Approval

Very troubling. Thank you Nicholas Kristof.
As an environmentalist, deeply concerned with overpopulation, climate change and the sixth extinction, this new information adds fuel to the fire. I recommend Dan Brown’s new novel, “Inferno,” for a fun introduction into the serious issues of overpopulation. Edward O Wilson, the Harvard entomologist, has written that in the next 80 years we will likely lose 80% of the world’s species. I wonder why this isn’t front page news everyday.

Maybe chemically caused sick male sperm is the magic disease the earth needs, to save the world, and its thousands of species, from the Anthropocene. To drag the sick comedy further, perhaps we should support more endocrine disrupting chemicals, since as the crazed scientist in “Inferno” argues effectively, we have to get rid of about 4 billion humans, if we want to save life on this planet as we have know it. Real scientists are saying similar things.

Australia’s Death by Numbers – by Roger Cohen – The New York Times

“……………..The next day, Faisal Ishak Ahmed was pronounced dead in Brisbane. Earlier this year Omid Masoumali, an Iranian held on Nauru, burned himself to death. Other deaths include Reza Barati, an Iranian Kurd, killed in the Manus detention center in 2014. Australia has blood on its hands. This is where numbering human beings ends.

But, Australia insists, it has “stopped the boats” and the nameless “boat people” in them.

I recently finished Viet Thanh Nguyen’s fine novel “The Sympathizer.” In its last pages, as his hero flees from Vietnam, Nguyen writes: “Now that we are to be counted among these boat people, their name disturbs us. It smacks of anthropological condescension, evoking some forgotten branch of the human family, some lost tribe of amphibians emerging from ocean mist, crowned with seaweed. But we are not primitives, and we are not to be pitied.””

 

The problem, is that there will possibly be in the next 100 years or less, a billion climate change refugees,assuming just a two meter rise in sea level.
What I think we need, is to offer care to refugees, preferably in their own counties, in exchange for vasectomization or monitored, one child per couple family planning, followed by vasectomization. As ugly as it sounds, the rest of the world will also need a one or two children per couple policy as well, essentially now, to get our numbers down to a sustainable level with regards to reducing CO2 emissions and species extinctions. Or not. As in history, we can let civil war, ethnic cleansing and plagues do the dirty work, we do not have the stomach for, but reduce our numbers, we will.

Here is a comment, most recommended, that I approve:
Al Ketchum December 30, 2016

“The real problem the nyts and mr Cohen have with Australia’s immigration policies is that they work. Australia,unlike many western countries, is going to control its borders and who comes in. The vast majority of the migrants are passing thru several safe nations to get to western countries because of social welfare and economic factors. Australia has rightly concluded that they do not want to be the pressure relief valve for the tidal wave of people who are looking for better economic situations. Africa alone, now produces a minimum net gain of at least 30 million extra people a year. The continent cannot support anywhere near its present population. Should the west be required to take all these people in? When will it end? When the rest of the world has sunk to a level of poverty, hopelessness and despair that typifies these incredibly over populated counties? We must help these people solve their problems at home. It’s starts with birth control, a rejection of tribalism and the ignorance of fundamental religion and realizing that the west will not, and cannot take all of them in. Anything else just dooms the west to the same conditions that have made the Home Countries of the migrants so unlivable.”

268 Recommended

America’s Gray Ghosts: The Disappearing Caribou – The New York Times

“BONNERS FERRY, Idaho — The only caribou left in the contiguous United States are here in northern Idaho where they number about a dozen and live deep in the forests of the jagged Selkirk Mountains, near the Canadian border. Because they are so rarely seen, the caribou — America’s version of reindeer — are known as gray ghosts.They may very soon become real ghosts: These animals are among the most endangered species in the lower 48 states.

“Right now, predation is the biggest problem, primarily wolves and cougars,” said Norm Merz, a wildlife biologist with the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, which has contracted with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to create a plan to revive the population. Not that long ago, hundreds of the animals lived in the United States.

Source: America’s Gray Ghosts: The Disappearing Caribou – The New York Times

The Best News You Don’t Know, by Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

“The world is a mess, with billions of people locked in inescapable cycles of war, famine and poverty, with more children than ever perishing from hunger, disease and violence.That’s about the only thing Americans agree on; we’re polarized about all else. But several polls have found that about 9 out of 10 Americans believe that global poverty has worsened or stayed the same over the last 20 years.

Fortunately, the one point Americans agree on is dead wrong. As world leaders gather for the United Nations General Assembly this week, all the evidence suggests that we are at an inflection point for the ages. The number of people living in extreme poverty ($1.90 per person per day) has tumbled by half in two decades, and the number of small children dying has dropped by a similar proportion — that’s six million lives a year saved by vaccines, breast-feeding promotion, pneumonia medicine and diarrhea treatments!Historians may conclude that the most important thing going on in the world in the early 21st century was a stunning decline in human suffering.

O.K., you’re thinking that I’ve finally cracked up after spending too much time in desperate places. So a few data points:
■ As recently as 1981, when I was finishing college, 44 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty, according to the World Bank. Now the share is believed to be less than 10 percent and falling. “This is the best story in the world today,” says Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank.
■ For the entire history of the human species until the 1960s, a majority of adults were illiterate. Now 85 percent of adults worldwide are literate and the share is rising.
■ Although inequality has risen in America, the global trend is more encouraging: Internationally, inequality is on the decline because of gains by the poor in places like China and India.The U.N. aims to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, and experts believe it is possible to get quite close. In short, on our watch, we have a decent chance of virtually wiping out ills that have plagued humanity for thousands of generations, from illiteracy to the most devastating kind of hand-to-mouth poverty.” ”

Source: The Best News You Don’t Know – The New York Times

Please read the entire op-ed piece before reading my comment below.

Great piece Saint Nick, thank you.
I wish I were fully on board, but I’m not. Overpopulation is now threatening the majority of species, and might end the run of humans. We are in the Anthropocene, and witnessing the Sixth Extinction. We have gone from 2 to 7.5 billion humans in just 100 years. Tom Friedman reported this last month that the world famous Edward O Wilson of Harvard, an entomolgist, predicts that in the next 84 years, we are on course to lose 85% of all the species on the planet. Your good news ignores that the population growth rates in Africa are out of control, and the growth rates you mention as an improvement, might not be low enough to save us from destroying life on earth as we know it.
What I love about your piece, is that you focus on the misery, the pain and suffering index, which is laudable. But I fear the Sixth Extinction is real, the great water and resources wars are coming, and it should be all hands on deck for reducing world population to a sustainable level for the biosphere, and life on this planet that we enjoy, as we continue to poison and rape it.

The World’s Disappearing Sand – The New York Times

“MOST Westerners facing criminal charges in Cambodia would be thanking their lucky stars at finding themselves safe in another country. But Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, who is half British and half Spanish, is pleading with the Phnom Penh government to allow him back to stand trial along with three Cambodian colleagues. They’ve been charged, essentially, with interfering with the harvesting of one of the 21st century’s most valuable resources: sand.

Believe it or not, we use more of this natural resource than any other except water and air. Sand is the thing modern cities are made of. Pretty much every apartment block, office tower and shopping mall from Beijing to Lagos, Nigeria, is made at least partly with concrete, which is basically just sand and gravel stuck together with cement. Every yard of asphalt road that connects all those buildings is also made with sand. So is every window in every one of those buildings.

Sand is the essential ingredient that makes modern life possible. And we are starting to run out.”

Source: The World’s Disappearing Sand – The New York Times

Not many comments yet on this article, but the few I reviewed are excellent, such as:

ando arike

Brooklyn, NY 2 hours ago

“Nearly a fifty years ago, MIT scientists released a computer-modeled study that was published, to great acclaim and controversy, as “Limits to Growth,” predicting a collapse of industrial civilization in the first half of the 21st century. The collapse would be caused, according to their forecast, by growth — in the economy, in population, in pollution, in consumption of finite resources. The depletion of sand described by Mr. Beiser here is yet another sign that those limits to growth have been reached — indeed, surpassed. Where is the leadership humanity needs to reverse our suicidal trajectory of growth, growth, growth? As the environmentalist Edward Abbey put it, “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” “

Out of Africa, Part II A farming village too parched to sustain crops is also losing its men, who leave in search of work to support their families. nytimes.com|By Thomas L. Friedman

Tom Friedman at his best: “Ndiamaguene, SENEGAL — I am visiting Ndiamaguene village in the far northwest of Senegal. If I were giving you directions I’d tell you that it’s the last stop after the last stop — it’s the village after the highway ends, after the paved road ends, after the gravel road ends and after the desert track ends. Turn left at the last baobab tree.

It’s worth the trek, though, if you’re looking for the headwaters of the immigration flood now flowing from Africa to Europe via Libya. It starts here.

A farming village too parched to sustain crops is also losing its men, who leave in search of work to support their families.
nytimes.com|By Thomas L. Friedman
x

Thank you Tom Friedman for your excellent work here. The problems revealed boggle the mind, but let me dare raise some ideas. There is an international disaster brewing caused by a population explosion, exacerbated by climate change, and the population explosion definitely makes the climate change problem worse.

The wealthy countries can either sit out the population growth crisis, or intervene. Over history, the population explosions in places like China, when combined with drought, often led to civil war and massive starvation and cannibalism. Europe had wars and plagues. We could chose these traditional solutions today, but for the first time, the suffering would be broadcast on television, and we would have to watch it or turn it off. Also, we have the knowledge and means to find a more humane solution.

An intervention by the United Nations or its proxy would have to focus on an exchange. The haves would supply food, water and housing in exchange for either family planning or sterilization. Mathias Weitz commented after your piece: “The African population doubled from 1982 to 2009, and quadrupled from 1955 to 2009. The main cause of the desertification in the Sahel is overgrazing by an ever growing population.”  I wish to remind readers that world population just went from 2 to 7 billion in less than a hundred years.

Family planning might include IUD’s for every woman, but like the mosquito nets in Kenya, the baubles might be diverted to other purposes, like necklace decorations. Enforced family planning or sterilization are not pleasant ideas, but following the massive suffering and killing in the evening news, while our own climate keeps changing for the worse, will have its own drawbacks. Seven billion humans and growing, is a force in nature causing the sixth extinction. We are literally destroying thousands of other species by our fecundity, and risking our own future.

 

Birds that once feasted on misfortune are collapsing — part of a broader decline in vultures that illustrates the far-reaching effects of human interventions. nytimes.com|By MARC SANTORA

Sometimes I feel like the guy in the old cartoon, who is holding up a sign that says, The end is near!

Birds that once feasted on misfortune are collapsing — part of a broader decline in vultures that illustrates the far-reaching effects of human interventions.
nytimes.com|By MARC SANTORA

When Humans Declared War on Fish — NYTimes

“Taken collectively, the rise of postwar fishing technology meant that the global reported catch rose from some 15 million metric tons at war’s end to 85 million metric tons today — the equivalent, in weight, of the entire human population at the turn of the 20th century, removed from the sea each and every year.

Only the turn of the third millennium saw a new kind of reprieve, this time not caused by human adversity, but by the insight that we need to make peace with other species as well. Growing signs of exhaustion and failure in global fisheries made humans reconsider the totality of their assault.”

Victory in 1945 meant a new era of violence against ocean life.
nytimes.com|By Paul Greenberg and Boris Worm

Nicholas Kristof calls for saving the Rohingya boat people. Can we save them, and also stop the Sitxth Great Extinction?

Thank you Saint Nicholas for challenging us. I have to admit I fall short. I am almost obsessed with concern about climate change, which is caused probably by over-population. I’m reading the Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert, which is a book about how seven billion people are causing a giant extinction of species, as many kills as during the other great extinction periods.
Al Gore reported, it took almost 200,000 years for humans to reach one billion, around 1776. Humans then doubled to two billion people at the end of World War II, just 169 years later . Seventy years later, today we have jumped to seven billion humans. It is awkward to press countries like Malasia into accepting other nations’ refugees, when they have their share of over-population and ecological stress.
It seems right that we help organize the Nations of the world to alleviate refugee suffering and death, but there needs some recognition that too many people is a main cause of resource scarcity and tribal tension world wide. I am embarrassed to admit, that I am more concerned with the extinction of the African elephant, than with the saving of Rohingya boat people. Though I care about both, which is more pressing? Perhaps we could help the Rohingya, if we are willing to accept as refugees our share of their displaced numbers, whereas refusing them, forces them to work on their situation where they live. You are probably right, that there must be a civilized solution, but the most efficient would include keeping these people in the lands they come from.

American and Asian officials seem determined to avert their eyes as the toll climbs in the Rohingya refugee crisis.
nytimes.com|By Nicholas Kristof