Archive for ‘Biodiversity’

Shorter Lived Climate Forcers: Agriculture Sector and Land Clearing for Livestock

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

In this video presentation, Gerard Wedderburn-Bisshop, World Preservation Foundation Senior Scientist, puts forward the case for how, with the devastating effects of climate change being felt ever-more quickly and with increasing intensity, the importance of embracing fast-acting solutions to mitigate climate change has increased dramatically.

In recent years, greater understanding of climate science has advanced considerably, and scientists and even policy makers now recognise that climate change in the short term is being driven by extremely potent, shorter-lived climate forcers. By reducing these climate forcers — namely black carbon, methane and tropospheric ozone — cooling begins rapidly.

Globally, the production of meat and dairy are significant contributors of these fast warming agents with far reaching consequences on planetary warming and environmental devastation. These include the major effects of black carbon due to biomass burning, on West Antarctica as well as the tropical monsoons; deforestation; soil carbon loss; and, food and water security. It’s estimated that 47% to 60% of the black carbon reaching West Antarctica and causing rapid melting is due to biomass burning resulting from livestock pasture management.

CO2 from pasture maintenance fires, reforestation of pastures and soil carbon uptake on relief of grazing pressure may also play a part in a fast-acting solution to the climate crisis.

This video is a synopsis of the paper Gerard wrote that examines the contributions of agriculture, namely livestock farming, to planetary warming through the shorter-lived climate forcers, and the effect of animal agriculture abatement on alleviating global warming and environmental collapse. We also propose four policy measures to immediately reduce the shorter-lived warming agents.

(By: Gerard Wedderburn-Bisshop: Senior Scientist, World Preservation Foundation )

Over 25% of flowers face extinction – many before they are even discovered

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

The giant carnivorous plant, Nepenthes attenboroughii, is under threat of extinction - along with 25% of all others on earth

The giant carnivorous plant, Nepenthes attenboroughii, is under threat of extinction - along with 25% of all others on earth

Scientists say human activity could spell end for a quarter of all flowering plants, with huge impact on food chain

More than one-in-four of all flowering plants are under threat of extinction according to the latest report to confirm the ongoing destruction of much of the natural world by human activity.

As a result, many of nature’s most colourful specimens could be lost to the world before scientists even discover them.

One-in-five of all mammals, nearly one-in-three amphibians and one-in-eight birds are vulnerable to being wiped out completely.

The researchers started by carrying out an independent review of how many flowering plants – which make up most of the plant kingdom – exist. The team calculated that there is another 10-20%, which has still to be officially discovered.

The second stage was to assess the level of threats from habitat loss due to clearing land for planting crops or trees, development, or indirect causes such as falling groundwater levels and pollution.

A study published in the journal Endangered Species Research in 2008, which estimated that one-in-five known species were vulnerable to extinction.

The warning comes as there is growing international recognition of the value of the natural world to humans in providing ecosystem services, from flood protection and medicines to spiritual spaces and enjoyment.

“Plants are the basis for much of life on earth with virtually all other species depending on them; if you get rid of those you get rid of a lot of the things above them,” David Roberts, at the University of Kent added.

Source: Over 25% of flowers face extinction – many before they are even discovered - guardian.co.uk

Date: 07 July 2010

Cleaner Water Mitigates Climate Change Effects on Florida Keys Coral Reefs, Study Shows

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Improving the quality of local water increases the resistance of coral reefs to global climate change, according to a study published in June in Marine Ecology Progress Series.

Florida Institute of Technology coral reef ecologist Robert van Woesik and his student Dan Wagner led the study, which provides concrete evidence for a link between environmental health and the prospects for reefs in a rapidly changing world.

  • When waters in the Florida Keys warmed over the last few summers, corals living in cleaner water with fewer nutrients did well. On the other hand, corals in dirtier water became sick and bleached.
  • In the face of climate change and ocean warming, this study gives managers hope that maintaining high water quality can spare corals.
  • Regulating wastewater discharge from the land will help coral reefs resist climate change.

Source: Cleaner Water Mitigates Climate Change Effects on Florida Keys Coral Reefs, Study Shows - sciencedaily

Date: 07 July 2010

Plants suck 123 billion tonnes of CO2 a year

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Measurements were taken from 253 flux towers around the world, including this one high above the tropical forest in Ghana.

Measurements were taken from 253 flux towers around the world, including this one high above the tropical forest in Ghana.

Trees, shrubs and grasses around the world take in 123 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year through photosynthesis, an international research team has calculated.

Altaf Arain, an associate professor of geography and earth sciences at McMaster University in Hamilton, said:

  • The results published online in Science Xpress on Monday mark the first time researchers have based such a calculation on such a large number of actual measurements instead of mainly computer modelling.
  • During photosynthesis, plants take in carbon dioxide, storing it as energy in the form of sugars. However, they also release large amounts of carbon dioxide while consuming the sugars as energy for growth and sustaining themselves or when they die and decompose — a process known as respiration.
  • Plant photosynthesis and respiration together control a large part of the carbon exchanged between the land and air. That may partly offset some of the carbon released through the burning of fossil fuels, estimated to be around seven billion tonnes a year. However, plants ultimately give off nearly as much carbon dioxide as they consume.
  • Rainfall important – the combined data from around the world showed that availability of water, including rainfall, plays a large role in the amount of photosynthesis that plants undergo.
  • Respiration response to the temperature was the same in various regions across the world, including tropics and the temperate forests.

Source: Plants suck 123 billion tonnes of CO2 a year – cbc.ca

Date: 06 July 2010

Small mammals at risk as world warms

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

The biodiversity of small mammals in North America may already be close to a “tipping point” causing impacts “up and down the food chain” according to a new study by U.S. scientists.

Examining fossils excavated from a cave in Northern California, biologists from Stanford University, California uncovered evidence that small mammal populations were severely depleted during the last episode of global warming around 12,000 years ago.

The research, which was recently published in the science journal, Nature, underlines the effects climate change could have on all types of biodiversity, not just the “eye-catching species.”

“The temperature change over the next hundred years is expected to be greater than the temperature that most of the mammals that are on the landscape have yet witnessed as a species,” Hadly said in a statement.

“The small-mammal community that we have is really resilient, but it is headed toward a perturbation that is bigger than anything it has seen in the last million years.” she added.

Source: Small mammals at risk as world warms – CNN

Date: 26 May 2010

Quarter of UK’s endangered species ‘declining despite government action’

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

The Government is part of an international treaty to stop global biodiversity loss by 2010 in order to protect hundreds of endangered species like the bumblebee, common toad and house sparrow.

But an official report, published quietly this week by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) discloses that 88 species are continuing to decline such as sky larks, pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly, fen orchid, freshwater pearl mussel and black grouse.

Of the 370 species identified as under threat only half are stable or increasing meaning the rest are in decline or there is simply not enough data. This includes wild asparagus, great yellow bumblebee, basking shark, lady’s slipper orchid and capercaillie.

Since 1994 when the UK first drew up its ‘Biodiversity Action Plan’ to stop species loss, it is thought 19 species have gone extinct, mostly insects and lichens but also the greater mouse-eared bat and colourful Ivell’s sea anemone.

Conservationists have pointed out that other species which are not including in the original action plan are also suffering including hedgehogs, wildcats and cuckoos.

Source: Quarter of UK’s endangered species ‘declining despite government action’ – Telegraph

Date: 22 May 2010

Amazon’s 2005 Drought Created Huge CO2 Emissions

Friday, March 6th, 2009

OSLO – A 2005 drought in the Amazon rainforest killed trees and released more greenhouse gas than the annual emissions of Europe and Japan, an international study showed on Thursday.

The report said rainforests from Africa to Latin America may speed up global warming if the climate becomes drier this century. Plants soak up heat-trapping carbon dioxide as they grow and release it when they die and rot.

“The Amazon forest was surprisingly sensitive to drought,” said Oliver Phillips, a professor of tropical ecology at Leeds University in England who led the study by 68 scientists.

The experts estimated that the forest had been absorbing 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year on average since the 1980s but lost 3 billion in the 2005 drought, which killed trees and slowed growth.

“The total impact was an extra 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That is more than the annual emissions of Europe and Japan combined,” Phillips said of the study published in the journal Science.

SAVANNAH

Paradoxically, the forest’s accumulation of carbon before 2005 may have been aided by global warming, which improved plant growth.

But the U.N. Climate Panel projected in a 2007 report that rising temperatures may cause more drought and “lead to gradual replacement of tropical forest by savannah” in the eastern Amazon by mid-century.

The study by a group known as RAINFOR said the 2005 drought especially affected soft-wooded species.

“Some species, including some important palm trees, were especially vulnerable,” Peruvian botanist and co-author Abel Monteagudo said in a statement. “Drought threatens biodiversity too.”

Phillips said the expansion of the Amazon’s carbon storage had helped slow global warming since the 1980s.

“Just because we’ve been getting this subsidy doesn’t mean we can count on it for ever,” he said.

Governments have agreed to work out a new U.N. treaty to fight climate change at a meeting in Copenhagen in December. But many countries are wary of agreeing deeper cuts in industrial emissions because of economic recession.

Many nations want measures to slow deforestation to be part of the deal. Deforestation, often by farmers burning forests to clear land, accounts for about 20 percent of emissions from human activities.

Source: Amazon’s 2005 Drought Created Huge CO2 Emissions – Planet Ark

Date: 06 March 2009

Results 1-7 of overall 7
REPORTS see all

Reversing Meat-Eating Culture to Combat Climate Change

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Livestock Production and Shorter-Lived Climate Forcers

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Plant-Based Diets - A solution to our public health crisis

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Leaders Preserving Our Future - Insights Paper - WPF - November 2010

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Maintaining a Climate of Life - Summary Report

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Livestock's Climate Impact

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Livestock & Sustainable Food

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Reducing Shorter-Lived Climate Forcers Through Dietary Change

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The global cost of biodiversity loss: 14 trillion Euros? - EU Commission (2008)

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Forests, Fisheries, Agriculture: A Vision for Sustainability (2009)

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