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

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

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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Doctor warns falling sperm counts could lead to human extinction

Several scientists predict the apocalypse will occur uncomfortably soon

May 2, 2017 by  
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Are humans an endangered species ? Some scientists think so. Author Phil Torres wrote a piece for Salon detailing evidence from various sources – from climate change data to a recent article by theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking – showing the possibility of an apocalypse that could occur in some of our lifetimes. Torres said, “We are in a unique moment of human history, one marked by an exceptionally high probability of disaster.” Climate change isn’t the only issue humanity must contend with today. Overpopulation , ocean acidification, antibiotic resistance , and the potential of a global pandemic threaten us. In a December 2016 article for The Guardian , Hawking said, “Now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together…we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity. We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it.” And all of this while an anti-intellectual president sits in the White House. Related: Scientists say we have 10 years to save Earth Donald Trump’s election prompted The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists to move the Doomsday Clock’s minute hand 30 seconds closer to midnight – the closest it’s been since 1953. In a New York Times article , scientists Lawrence Krauss and David Titley wrote their organization made the move because Trump had pledged to impede progress on climate change action and nuclear proliferation. They aren’t the only scientists predicting disaster. Microbiologist Frank Fenner, whose work helped defeat smallpox, said in 2010 “humans will probably be extinct within 100 years, because of overpopulation, environmental destruction , and climate change.” Biologist Neil Dawe said it wouldn’t surprise him if the generation following him saw the end of humanity. Ecologist Guy McPherson went so far as to say humanity could be extinct by 2026 . But we don’t have to go the way of the dinosaurs just yet. Hawking said humanity must break down barriers inside and outside nations, and help equip people for a changing economy with training and financial support. He said he is an optimist for our species, but elites must learn lessons from 2016 – and “above all a measure of humility.” Via Salon Images via David Blackwell. on Flickr and Lwp Kommunikáció on Flickr

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Several scientists predict the apocalypse will occur uncomfortably soon

First mammal species succumbs to climate change

June 15, 2016 by  
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Scientists from Australia’s University of Queensland and the Queensland government suspect the Bramble Cay melomys, a small rodent likely only found on the island of Bramble Cay, is the first species to go extinct because of climate change. The rodents were last spotted in 2009, and a thorough search in 2014 yielded not a single one. The scientists prepared a report and said the rodent’s status should be altered from ‘endangered’ to ‘extinct.’ The Bramble Cay melomys, or Melomys rubicola , was thought to live only on the tiny island of Bramble Cay, which is about 340 meters by 150 meters , or 1,115 feet by 492 feet. The Queensland government reports the size of Bramble Cay changes with the seasons, and the scientists think rising sea levels contributed to the Bramble Cay melomys’ demise. The waves destroyed much of their habitat and possibly even some of the rodents themselves. Related: Human activity will wipe out 41% of the world’s amphibians by 2200 Over the course of six nights, the scientists set up 150 mammal traps a night, and came up empty. They also ran 60 camera traps and conducted two hours of ” active daytime searches .” They also spoke with a fisherman who visits the island every year, who confirmed the rodent hadn’t been sighted since 2009. They finally concluded the Bramble Cay melomys is very likely extinct, and is possibly the first mammal species to perish because of climate change caused by humans. There might be a small hope for the species: the researchers think there could be some yet undiscovered on nearby Papua New Guinea . They think the Bramble Cay melomys could have arrived on the tiny island in the first place by floating on debris from Papua New Guinea. If that was the case, the rodents could still be there. The scientists suggested surveys of that island to search for any Bramble Cay melomys that may be lingering. Ecologist John White from Deakin University told The Guardian, “I am of absolutely no doubt we will lose species due to the increasing pressure being exerted by climate change. Species restricted to small, low lying islands, or those with very tight environmental requirements are likely to be the first to go.” Via The Guardian Images via The University of Queensland and screenshot

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First mammal species succumbs to climate change

First mammal species succumbs to climate change

June 15, 2016 by  
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Scientists from Australia’s University of Queensland and the Queensland government suspect the Bramble Cay melomys, a small rodent likely only found on the island of Bramble Cay, is the first species to go extinct because of climate change. The rodents were last spotted in 2009, and a thorough search in 2014 yielded not a single one. The scientists prepared a report and said the rodent’s status should be altered from ‘endangered’ to ‘extinct.’ The Bramble Cay melomys, or Melomys rubicola , was thought to live only on the tiny island of Bramble Cay, which is about 340 meters by 150 meters , or 1,115 feet by 492 feet. The Queensland government reports the size of Bramble Cay changes with the seasons, and the scientists think rising sea levels contributed to the Bramble Cay melomys’ demise. The waves destroyed much of their habitat and possibly even some of the rodents themselves. Related: Human activity will wipe out 41% of the world’s amphibians by 2200 Over the course of six nights, the scientists set up 150 mammal traps a night, and came up empty. They also ran 60 camera traps and conducted two hours of ” active daytime searches .” They also spoke with a fisherman who visits the island every year, who confirmed the rodent hadn’t been sighted since 2009. They finally concluded the Bramble Cay melomys is very likely extinct, and is possibly the first mammal species to perish because of climate change caused by humans. There might be a small hope for the species: the researchers think there could be some yet undiscovered on nearby Papua New Guinea . They think the Bramble Cay melomys could have arrived on the tiny island in the first place by floating on debris from Papua New Guinea. If that was the case, the rodents could still be there. The scientists suggested surveys of that island to search for any Bramble Cay melomys that may be lingering. Ecologist John White from Deakin University told The Guardian, “I am of absolutely no doubt we will lose species due to the increasing pressure being exerted by climate change. Species restricted to small, low lying islands, or those with very tight environmental requirements are likely to be the first to go.” Via The Guardian Images via The University of Queensland and screenshot

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First mammal species succumbs to climate change

The World’s First Smart Microhabitat

February 16, 2016 by  
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One of the most devastating consequences of the destruction we’ve wreaked on this little blue and green planet of ours has been the extinction of so many flora and fauna. From strange looking dodo birds to great auk’s, and innumerable plant and…

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The World’s First Smart Microhabitat

Mother and son prepare for epic Atlantic crossing in a pedal-powered boat

November 17, 2015 by  
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South Africans Robyn Wolff and Davey du Plessis are about to embark on an epic journey across the Atlantic ocean in a pedal-powered boat. The mother-son team will depart from Cape Town for Rio de Janeiro at the end of November on a journey expected to span more than 4,000 miles. Called Project Atlantic, the project is designed to draw attention to the sixth mass extinction, which scientists say is the collective result of human activity. The pair will be traveling in a vessel that has no sails or motor, and which will be unsupported by any other watercraft. Read the rest of Mother and son prepare for epic Atlantic crossing in a pedal-powered boat

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