Oct 30

• Two planets need by 2030 at this rate, warns report
• Humans using 30% more resources than sustainable

The world is heading for an “ecological credit crunch” far worse than the current financial crisis because humans are over-using the natural resources of the planet, an international study warns today.

The Living Planet report calculates that humans are using 30% more resources than the Earth can replenish each year, which is leading to deforestation, degraded soils, polluted air and water, and dramatic declines in numbers of fish and other species. As a result, we are running up an ecological debt of $4tr (£2.5tr) to $4.5tr every year – double the estimated losses made by the world’s financial institutions as a result of the credit crisis – say the report’s authors, led by the conservation group WWF, formerly the World Wildlife Fund. The figure is based on a UN report which calculated the economic value of services provided by ecosystems destroyed annually, such as diminished rainfall for crops or reduced flood protection.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Aug 13

Scientists: Humans To Blame

Devastating declines of amphibian species around the world are a sign of a biodiversity disaster larger than just the deaths of frogs and salamanders, University of California, Berkeley scientists said Tuesday.

Researchers said substantial die-offs of amphibians and other plant and animal species add up to a new mass extinction facing the planet, the scientists said in an online article this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Related articles:
Wildlife populations ‘plummeting’
Wildlife extinction rates ’seriously underestimated’
UN official: Biodiversity loss could hurts medical research

“There’s no question that we are in a mass extinction spasm right now,” said David Wake, professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley.

“Amphibians have been around for about 250 million years. They made it through when the dinosaurs didn’t. The fact that they’re cutting out now should be a lesson for us.”

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , ,

Jul 09

Biologists are stumped by a plague that has killed tens of thousands, and perhaps hundreds of thousands, of bats this year in Northeastern states.

The cause of “white-nose syndrome,” so named because of the white fungus that appears on bats’ noses and wings, remains a mystery. And the plague is still killing bats, alarming scientists who had considered it a winter syndrome.

“The surprise for us has been finding out that bats are still dying,” says biologist Susi von Oettingen of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service office in Concord, N.H. Biologists combing summertime roosts report finding six species of bats affected by the syndrome in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut, she says.

“I’m continuing to get calls on a daily basis from cities and residents reporting dead bats,” says Scott Darling of the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife. Spot surveys are being done in the five states, but conservation officials won’t get a solid sense of further losses until later this month when male bats begin returning to caves, Darling says.

One bat can eat more than a pound of night-time insects in a week. White-nose syndrome threatens the endangered Indiana bat, Darling says, and agricultural pest numbers may explode without bats.

Continue reading »

Tags: , ,

Jul 07

Endangered species may become extinct 100 times faster than previously thought, scientists warned today, in a bleak re-assessment of the threat to global biodiversity.

Writing in the journal Nature, leading ecologists claim that methods used to predict when species will die out are seriously flawed, and dramatically underestimate the speed at which some plants and animals will be wiped out.

The findings suggest that animals such as the western gorilla, the Sumatran tiger and the Malayan sun bear, the smallest of the bear family, may become extinct much sooner than conservationists feared.

Ecologists Brett Melbourne at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Alan Hastings at the University of California, Davis, said conservation organisations should use updated extinction models to urgently re-evaluate the risks to wildlife.

“Some species could have months instead of years left, while other species that haven’t even been identified as under threat yet should be listed as endangered,” said Melbourne.

Related articles:
Wildlife populations ‘plummeting’
UN official: Biodiversity loss could hurts medical research

The warning has particular implications for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which compiles an annual “red list” of endangered species. Last year, the list upgraded western gorillas to critically endangered, after populations of a subspecies were found to be decimated by Ebola virus and commercial trade in bush meat. The Yangtze river dolphin was listed as critically endangered, but is possibly already extinct.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , ,

Mar 18

China has lost about one tenth of its forest resources to recent snow storms regarded as the most severe in half a century, state media reported Sunday.A total of 43 million acres of forest have been damaged across China as the result of three weeks of savage winter weather, the China Daily website said, citing the State Forestry Administration.

More than half the country’s provinces have been affected, and in the worst-hit regions, nearly 90 percent of forests have been destroyed, according to the paper. Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,