Even scientists are shocked by the latest UN report on climate change

October 10, 2018 by  
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According to a Monday report on climate change from the United Nations, maintaining the Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius is crucial if more extreme weather events and species’ extinctions are to be avoided. The current ceiling on temperature increase is set at 2 degrees Celcius since the 2015 Paris Agreement , to which nearly 200 nations are committed. However, new UN research shows that this pledge is not enough to avoid possibly irreparable damage to our planet’s ecosystems. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) both weighed in on the report, saying that as of now, the world is not even on course to achieving the 2C benchmark, let alone a lower target. The UN is calling for rapid changes on the part of nations, businesses and individuals. The unprecedented changes to travel and lifestyle may be jarring but are the only way to avoid catastrophic damage to our planet in the near future. Related: Flood frequency of the Amazon River has increased fivefold “There is clearly need for a much higher ambition level to reach even a 2 degrees target, we are moving more toward 3 to 5 (degrees) at the moment,” explained Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the WMO. The 1.5C target would slow coastal flooding and ocean rise by the end of the century, giving people in these areas time to adapt to changes. Many species would also be given a greater chance of survival. Under the 2C target, coral reefs are still projected to disappear. The lower target would allow anywhere between 10 to 30 percent of coral reefs to possibly survive. “Even the scientists were surprised to see … how much they could really differentiate and how great are the benefits of limiting global warming at 1.5 compared to 2,” IPCC Vice-Chair Thelma Krug told Reuters . According the the IPCC, the human carbon footprint must fall by at least 45 percent by 2030 in order for the planet to maintain the 1.5C temperature rise and reach “net-zero” by mid-century. The report also stated that 70-85 percent of energy needs to be supplied by renewable sources by 2050 to stay at the 1.5C target — right now, renewable energy accounts for about 25 percent. Amjad Abdulla — board member for the IPCC and chief negotiator for small island states at risk of flooding — said, “The report shows we only have the slimmest of opportunities remaining to avoid unthinkable damage to the climate system that supports life as we know it.” While the U.S. is on target to meet the previous goal, the UN is still stressing that more action is needed. Urging individuals to make changes to their lifestyles, even at the smallest of levels, the report believes that every small incentive will make the difference. For us, this means reducing meat consumption and dairy intake, choosing public transportation or switching to electric and hybrid vehicles and demanding companies to supply low-carbon products for purchase. + United Nations Via Reuters Image via  Natasha Kasim

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Even scientists are shocked by the latest UN report on climate change

Endangered green and loggerhead turtles make Mediterranean comeback

August 17, 2018 by  
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For 10,000 years, green and loggerhead turtles have been nesting on the Mediterranean coast of Cyprus. In the last 100 years, they have been hunted to the brink of extinction. Thankfully, due to pioneering conservation efforts made by Cypriot marine biologists, these endearing reptiles have seen a promising bounce-back in numbers, pulling them away from the brink of extinction. Related: Turtle hatchlings spotted on Mumbai beach for the first time in nearly 20 years For thousands of years, the turtles have hatched on Cyprus’s Lara Beach, fighting the waves as they make their way to the ocean and begin their lives. The reptiles return 20 to 30 years later to lay eggs and bring about the next generation of turtle hatchlings. This phenomenon is a result of the turtles’ own biological programming, which calls them back to the same beaches that their ancestors chose long ago. Conservationists have been working tirelessly to save the endangered green and loggerhead turtle populations for four decades. Their efforts began in 1978, when only 300 turtle nests remained on Cyprus’s shores. The result is “quite spectacular,” according to Andreas Demetropoulos, founder and co-head of a turtle conservation program overseen by Cyprus’s Fisheries and Marine Research Department. His program reported approximately 1,100 nests last year alone, over three times as many as there were at the program’s beginning. Related: Sea turtles appear to be “bouncing back” from the brink of extinction The green and loggerhead turtles only nest in two countries, Turkey and Cyprus. Of the 1,500 egg-laying female green turtles, approximately 200-300 return to Cyprus to lay their eggs. More than twice as many loggerhead turtles do the same. To protect them, Cyprus’s government began its conservation program long before any other EU country, and in 1989 it passed legislation that protected two beaches that the turtles use as hatching grounds. Prior to this, residents would use the beach without regard for the turtles, but in the intervening years a conservationist culture has arisen. According to the program’s other co-head, Myroula Hadjichristophorou, “When people come [to the beaches] with their families, their children, they see the babies coming out of their nests, this is something that they will never forget.” + Sea Turtle Organization Via Phys.org

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Lemurs are now the most endangered species of primate on the planet

August 3, 2018 by  
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Approximately 94% of the 111 species and subspecies of lemur are under threat of extinction in their native country of Madagascar – the only place they exist outside of captivity. Of the remaining lemur groups, only six do not face high risk of extinction, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species . This retrogression was revealed by the Primate Specialist Group , a conservation organization that has been analyzing current threats to the survival of lemur populations and their habitats. Chair of the Primate Specialist Group and Chief Conservation Officer of  Global Wildlife Conservation  Russ Mittermeier indicated that the “very high extinction risk to Madagascar’s unique lemurs” would compound, generating “grave threats to Madagascar’s biodiversity as a whole.” Loss of habitat poses the single greatest threat the lemurs now face in the wild. Developments in illegal logging and slash-and-burn agriculture, as well as mining activities and charcoal production, are ultimately determining the fate of these endangered animals. Related: Conservationists sound the alarm to address ‘America’s wildlife crisis’ Lemurs also face threats from pet trading hobbyists or hunters who wish to turn them into food. Once a delicacy, lemur’s presence on menus has become more and more mainstream in Madagascar, according to Professor Christoph Schweitzer of the Bristol Zoological Society . In an interview with BBC News , Schwitzer commented, “More and more, we are seeing unsustainable levels of lemur poaching. We see commercial hunting as well – probably for local restaurants. And this is a new phenomenon for Madagascar – we didn’t see it at this scale 15 years ago” Although many would bow their heads at the unfortunate fate of the lemurs, Schwitzer is an optimist. People “need to shout about these problems and get the message out there” he remarked. “When we published the lemur action plan and the media picked up on it, suddenly we had people call offering to help – to donate money or other resources. That can really make a difference,” he remarked. The “lemur action plan” has already had an effect, protecting habitats that contain the densest numbers of lemur species while helping Madagascar boost its ecotourism in the hopes of tackling poverty. By helping the local people economically, the groups involved in the plan are deterring hunting and other activities destructive to the tropical forests that provide the lemurs with their natural habitat. + Global Wildlife Conservation + IUCN Via BBC News

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Lemurs are now the most endangered species of primate on the planet

What You Can Do for Global Tiger Day

July 27, 2018 by  
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Protecting species that we can see in our own back yards, … The post What You Can Do for Global Tiger Day appeared first on Earth911.com.

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What You Can Do for Global Tiger Day

Video of starving polar bear rips your heart out of your chest

December 12, 2017 by  
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Conservationist Paul Nicklen recorded this devastating video of a polar bear struggling to survive in a warming Arctic. With now-viral footage, which Nicklen describes as so wrenching that “it rips your heart out of your chest,” Nicklen hopes to motivate action to save the bears and their polar climate. If that fails, he hopes to at least document this tragic ecological period. “When scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like,” said Nicklen in an interview with National Geographic . “This is what a starving bear looks like.” Polar bears require solid sea ice to hunt its most essential prey, seals . If there is no sea ice, the bears have nothing to stand upon as they hunt for the mostly aquatic mammals. Polar bears are adapted for a food-free season of 3 to 4 months, the period during which the sea ice has historically melted in the Arctic. However, as climate change has extended the ice-free period in the Arctic , polar bears have suffered. Although the bears are not currently considered an endangered species, they are threatened and may slip into endangered status if their population continues to decline. Related: “You had to live it to believe it” – hundreds of polar bears rush to feast on one whale carcass Commentators on Nicklen’s video have questioned why he did not step in to help the starving bear, who spends much of the video desperately searching for something to eat. “Of course, that crossed my mind,” said Nicklen, according to the New York Times . “But it’s not like I walk around with a tranquilizer gun or 400 pounds of seal meat.” Feeding wildlife is also illegal in Canada, where the footage was taken. To effectively save the polar bears, rapid action must be taken to address climate change by shifting to a clean energy economy. Still, even as polar bears suffer an existential threat from melting sea ice, life seems to be finding a way; there are reports of polar-grizzly bear hybrids that have emerged as the two species increasingly share territory. Via New York Times and National Geographic Images via SeaLegacy

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Video of starving polar bear rips your heart out of your chest

The rapid disappearance of 5 billion passenger pigeons shows no population is safe from extinction

November 21, 2017 by  
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Five billion passenger pigeons once spread across North America in flocks so big that they could block out the sun and spread for hundreds of miles. Then, in just a few decades, they were gone. Now, scientists have found the cause for their devastating decline, and it reveals how fragile even large populations of animals can be. A new study shows that passenger pigeons have existed since the Ice Age in massive populations. But as large as their numbers were, they lacked genetic diversity. This allowed them to adapt quickly within the population, but it also meant that when a new threat came along – in this case humans – they couldn’t adjust quickly enough. While hungry humans are the main cause of their decline, the genetic shift caused by the shift from massive groups to small groups sped up the decimation of pigeon populations. Related: The sixth mass extinction is killing off wildlife 100 times faster than “normal” “We often think of large populations as a safeguard against extinction ,” said the study’s co-author, University of California, Santa Cruz biologist Professor Beth Shapiro. “What this study shows, however, is that we must also consider the longer-term natural history of a species when making decisions about their extinction risk.” Via The Independent images via Wikimedia  and DepositPhoto

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This restaurant in London has a gorgeous living wall that purifies air and absorbs noise

November 21, 2017 by  
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This restaurant in London has a daylit greenhouse at its heart with a beautiful living wall made of terracotta cells. Architecture studio Fusion DNA designed this verdant structure for Nando’s Putney Kitchen restaurant, creating a space that offers a moment of relaxation and peace amidst London’s bustling urban activity. The vertical garden occupies the restaurant main hall and features a glass roof that provides ample daylight that allows plants to thrive. The wall is made of terracotta cells, with a single pipe located at the top providing necessary water that is evenly distributed by gravity through a non-woven fabric. Cells are filled with a special substrate that stores water. Related: This living wall uses artificial intelligence to purify indoor air The green wall has several functions–it absorbs the noise produced by the customers, as well as volatile organic pollutants in order to improve indoor air quality . The project, completed in collaboration with Spanish landscape and vertical garden specialists Singulargreen and Urbanarbolismo won the 2017 Bar and Restaurant Design Award, a globally recognized competition dedicated to the design of food and beverage spaces. + FUSION Design & Architecture + Singulargreen + Urbanarbolismo

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This restaurant in London has a gorgeous living wall that purifies air and absorbs noise

Hippos could be threatened with extinction due to demand for their teeth

October 10, 2017 by  
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To satisfy black market demand for ivory , poachers have turned to hippos . Hippopotamus teeth offer an unfortunate alternative as elephant populations plummet. But now the animals could face extinction – with one estimate suggesting the species could vanish within 100 years . The International Union for the Conservation of Nature classifies hippos as vulnerable . Their populations have fallen in Africa as their habitats have shrunk, and they’ve been hunted for teeth, skin, and meat. They’re in trouble – but according to Anglia Ruskin University teaching fellow Ben Garrod, writing for The Guardian , “The simple truth is that they are not high on the priority list of the international conservation community.” Related: China promises to end ivory trade by the end of this year A study published earlier this year in the African Journal of Ecology dug into the issue; two researchers at the University of Hong Kong found discordance in trade data that they said could undermine regulatory measures and harm African hippo populations. They said 90 percent of the global hippo teeth trade goes through Hong Kong . 75 percent of the imports come from Uganda or Tanzania . But Hong Kong declared a different volume of imports than the exports those two countries reported. The researchers think the trade in hippo teeth exceeds quotas that have been agreed upon internationally, saying more than 14,000 kilograms – around 30,865 pounds – are “unaccounted for between Uganda and Hong Kong, representing more than 2,700 individual hippos – two percent of the global population.” According to Quartz, demand for hippo teeth spiked after a 1989 ban on the international trade of ivory from elephants. Also, it’s far less difficult to smuggle hippo teeth than elephant tusks. Lead author Alexandra Andersson said in a statement , “It is imperative that authorities in both exporting and importing nations cross check the volumes of threatened species declared on paper to those actually received, work together to understand the cause of any discrepancies, as well as correct any reporting errors or fraudulent declarations. The fate of hippos – and a plethora of other species – could depend on it.” Garrod said hippos now desperately need our help as do elephants, and will until there’s a change in the demand for ivory. Via The Guardian and Quartz Africa Images via Pixabay and Pexels

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Mesmerizing white humpback whale spotted off the coast of Australia

October 4, 2017 by  
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Jump, Migaloo! In recent months, we’ve seen photographs of white giraffes and even a white moose . Now, footage has emerged of a rare white humpback whale, and nature enthusiasts can’t contain their excitement. The whale, named Migaloo (after the Aboriginal word meaning “white man”), was recently spotted off the coast of Sydney, Australia , – and he is just as majestic as you may expect. Migaloo was first spotted in 1990 and is believed to be around 30 years old. As National Geographic reports, it is unknown whether or not he has leucism (a condition which results in white or patchy skin, but the eyes remain dark) or is a true albino , meaning he doesn’t produce any pigment at all. According to Brian Clark Howard in National Geographic, three white males — including Migaloo — have been spotted off Australia in recent years. He wrote, “One has been dubbed Migaloo Junior’ or the ‘son of Migaloo’ – although no one knows whether this smaller whale is actually related to Migaloo. A third white humpback with black spots on its tail has also been spotted.” Related: Hundreds of people come together to save beached whale in Brazil Due to commercial whaling , humpback whales were once close to extinction . A mere 100 remained in the oceans. Since legal protections were put in place, however, their numbers have recovered. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says there are approximately 20,000 humpback whales that migrate to Australia each year. Fortunately, Migaloo remains one of them. Via National Geographic Images via  Earth Touch News Network,   Australian Geographic

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Mesmerizing white humpback whale spotted off the coast of Australia

Doctor warns falling sperm counts could lead to human extinction

July 26, 2017 by  
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Will our lifestyle lead to our extinction ? New findings from an international team of eight researchers indicate sperm counts in men from North America, New Zealand, Australia, and Europe have halved in under 40 years. Lead author epidemiologist Hagai Levine of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem told the BBC, “If we will not change the ways that we are living and the environment and the chemicals that we are exposed to, I am very worried about what will happen in the future.” Sperm count studies have been controversial in the past. This recent one, published this week in the Oxford Academic journal Human Reproduction Update , is one of the biggest assessments ever undertaken, according to the BBC. Researchers pored over 185 studies between 1973 and 2011. Levine detected a 52.4 percent decline in sperm concentration and 59.3 percent drop in total sperm count in the men from those regions of the world listed above. The rate of decline continues and may even be increasing, according to the researchers. They didn’t see the same decline in men from Africa, Asia, or South America, but said there have been fewer studies from these regions. Related: Alarming new study suggests Zika virus could cause infertility in men Levine told the BBC, “Eventually we may have a problem, and with reproduction in general, and it may be the extinction of the human species.” Skeptics say a large proportion of past studies that have pointed to sperm count drops have been flawed, such as only including men who have gone to fertility clinics, and would be likely to possess low sperm counts. But the researchers involved in the new study said they accounted for some of the flaws. Professor Allan Pacey of Sheffield University told the BBC, “I’ve never been particularly convinced by the many studies published so far claiming that human sperm counts have declined in the recent past. However, the study today by Dr. Levine and his colleagues deals head-on with many of the deficiencies of previous studies.” Other scientists praised the quality of the new study but said it may be too soon to come to the conclusion that humans could be on the path to extinction. Researchers at institutions in Denmark, the United States, and Spain were also part of the research. Via the BBC Images via Wikimedia Commons and Pixabay

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