Posts Tagged ‘conservation’

This seems an appropriate moment in the current sequence to republish this poem from early 2017


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Habitat loss and hunting have reduced tigers from 100,000 a century ago to just 3,000

Habitat loss and hunting have reduced tigers from 100,000 a century ago to just 3,000

Consumption has become all-consuming in the modern world.

(Will Self – BBC website post)

In August a good friend of mine, Mike Gammage, posted a review of a book containing a series of interviews by Andrew Hoffman with John Ehrenfeld. It was called Flourishing. As a result I bought the book and have read it with great interest. I plan to do my own review in the near future, it is such an excellent treatment of this idea. 

I have been triggered to bring forward my mention of the book by a recent BBC article. 

Andrew Hoffman in his forward to the book (page 16) quotes from the UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment:
“Humans have changed Earth’s ecosystems more in the past 50 years then in any comparable historical period.” We have increased species extinction rates by up to 1000 times over rates typical for Earth’s history.’
That such a drastic reduction is occurring is related to our mindless pursuit of possessions. The foreword continues (page 23):
We have become, in John’s eyes, a “culture of commerce,” in which consuming has become a central tenet of our lives; in fact for many the very purpose of their lives.’
Radical action is required to reverse this. Ehrenfeld feels strongly, and later marshals the evidence to back this up, that the concept and processes of sustainability do not go far enough and will not solve this problem. He feels we should aspire to a complex agenda he terms flourishing (page 40):
Flourishing is not some permanent state that must be continually generated.… Flourishing is the result of acting out of caring for oneself, other human beings, the rest of the “real, material” world, and also for the out-of-the-world, that is, the spiritual or transcendental world.’

Hence the title of his book.

The BBC article suggests that things may be even worse in terms of the reduction of species towards the edge of extinction and the process of depletion is showing no signs of slowing down.  It confirms the link with our patterns of consumption, which clearly must change if the damage is not to become irreversible for some species.

Below is an extract: for the full post see link.

The global loss of species is even worse than previously thought, the London Zoological Society (ZSL) says in its new Living Planet Index. The report suggests populations have halved in 40 years, as new methodology gives more alarming results than in a report two years ago.

The report says populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by an average of 52%.  Populations of freshwater species have suffered an even worse fall of 76%.

Severe impact

Compiling a global average of species decline involves tricky statistics, often comparing disparate data sets – and some critics say the exercise is not statistically valid.

The team at the zoological society say they’ve improved their methodology since their last report two years ago – but the results are even more alarming.

Then they estimated that wildlife was down “only” around 30%. Whatever the numbers, it seems clear that wildlife is continuing to be driven out by human activity.

The society’s report, in conjunction with the pressure group WWF, says humans are cutting down trees more quickly than they can re-grow, harvesting more fish than the oceans can re-stock, pumping water from rivers and aquifers faster than rainfall can replenish them, and emitting more carbon than oceans and forests can absorb.

It catalogues areas of severe impact – in Ghana, the lion population in one reserve is down 90% in 40 years.

In West Africa, forest felling has restricted forest elephants to 6-7% of their historic range.

Globally, habitat loss and hunting have reduced tigers from 100,000 a century ago to just 3,000.

In the UK, the government promised to halt wildlife decline – but bird numbers continue to fall.

The index tracks more than 10,000 vertebrate species populations from 1970 to 2010. It reveals a continued decline in these populations. The global trend is not slowing down.

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Given all the distressing evidence of ‘man’s inhumanity to man‘ around the globe, it may sound strange for me to get upset about the fate of elephants in Africa. Very upset I was, though, none the less, when I read the BBC report on how close the African Elephant is to extinction. Elephants are one of the most socially evolved and sensitive species on the planet. Gaza, Syria and Iraq notwithstanding, this is therefore still utterly shocking evidence of where greed, ignorance, superstition, global connectedness, economic power, advanced technology and complete lack of empathy can lead.

If we can do such things to our own kind, as well as to such advanced life forms as this, heaven help the rest of life on earth if we don’t change.  Below is an extract: for the full post, see link.

Africa’s elephants have reached a tipping point: more are being killed each year than are being born, a study suggests. Researchers believe that since 2010 an average of nearly 35,000 elephants have been killed annually on the continent. They warn that if the rate of poaching continues, the animals could be wiped out in 100 years.

The work is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Lead author George Wittemyer, from Colorado State University, said: “We are shredding the fabric of elephant society and exterminating populations across the continent.”

Dramatic loss

The illegal trade in elephant tusks has soared in recent years, and a kilogram of ivory is now worth thousands of dollars. Much of the demand has been driven by a rapidly growing market in Asia.

While conservationists have long said the outlook was bleak, this study provides a detailed assessment of the impact this is having on Africa’s elephants. The researchers have found that between 2010 and 2013, Africa lost an average of 7% of its entire elephant population each year. Because elephant births boost the population by about 5% annually, this means that overall more of the animals are being killed than are being born.

. . . . .

Conservationists said urgent action was needed.

John Scanlon, secretary-general of Cites, said: “The world needs to decide how much further effort it wants to put into the conservation of this magnificent species and, if so, be prepared to mobilise the necessary human and financial resources to deliver – and we are seeing some encouraging signs in this regard.

“In terms of concrete actions, we need to move to focus on the front-line and tackle all links in the illegal ivory trade chain – improve local livelihoods (for those living with elephants), strengthen enforcement and governance and reduce demand for illegal ivory. “

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