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UK will ‘pause’ publication of data showing biodiversity in decline

UK will ‘pause’ publication of data showing biodiversity in decline

Next year will see an important meeting to agree global biodiversity targets, but the UK says it won’t be publishing key data on wildlife and habitats

Lulworth skipper butterfly

A male Lulworth skipper (Thymelicus acteon) in Dorset, UK. Oliver Smart/Alamy

Conservationists and politicians have criticised the UK government for its decision to temporarily stop publishing new data on the state of the country’s wildlife and habitats in 2022, the same year as a landmark UN biodiversity summit.

Figures published today by the Department for Food, Rural Affairs & Environment (Defra) show a deteriorating picture for habitats, as well as for priority species, such as otters and red squirrels; woodland birds and butterflies that are reliant on specific habitats, such as the Lulworth skipper (Thymelicus acteon).

The UK, like many other countries, has failed to arrest declines in biodiversity in recent years despite signing up to global targets to protect nature. In April 2022, nations are expected to renew their commitment to act by agreeing new biodiversity targets for 2030 at the COP15 summit in Kunming, China.

However, Defra said that it will “pause” publishing new data on the state of UK biodiversity in 2022 to enable a “thorough review” of the indicators, such as the pressures from invasive species or the health of bird populations and other animals. Publication will not resume until 2023.

Mark Avery, a conservationist and former conservation director of the UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, says: “It seems like Defra’s response to a biodiversity crisis is to stop publishing the data that show it’s happening. That’s not very good, is it?”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Massive Radiation Leak Dwarfing Fukushima Traced To Russian Research Facility

Massive Radiation Leak Dwarfing Fukushima Traced To Russian Research Facility

A massive, unexplained cloud of radiation that swept across Europe in 2017 has been traced to one of Russia’s largest nuclear facilities, according to NewScientist

Located between the Volga river and the Ural mountains, the leak coming from the Mayak nuclear development facility released up to 100 times the amount of radiation into the atmosphere as the Fukushima disaster. 

Italian scientists were the first to raise the alarm on 2 October, when they noticed a burst of the radioactive ruthenium-106 in the atmosphere. This was quickly corroborated by other monitoring laboratories across Europe.

Georg Steinhauser at Leibniz University Hannover in Germany says he was “stunned” when he first noticed the event. Routine surveillance detects several radiation leaks each year, mostly of extremely low levels of radionuclides used in medicine. But this event was different.

The ruthenium-106 was one of a kind. We had never measured anything like this before,” says Steinhauser. –NewScientist

After the radioactivity was detected, the Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Security in Paris soon concluded that the most likely source of the leak was the Mayak facility – something Russian officials denied at the time, instead suggesting that the source may have been emissions from a radionuclide satellite battery burning up during re-entry. 

The team which tracked down the source of the emission ruled out a satellite because no space organizations reported missing any at the time, and the pattern of radiation in the atmosphere didn’t match that of a satellite’s reentry. 

The report claims that despite being so much higher than the Fukushima release, the radiation level in the Mayak incident wasn’t high enough to impact human health. 

A nuclear fuel processing facility in Russia looks to have been been the source of the leak
ITAR-TASS News Agency / Alamy Stock Photo

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Lakes run dry from too much water extraction and climate change

Lakes run dry from too much water extraction and climate change

Source: Hannah Osborne. Feb 8, 2016. Bolivia’s vanishing Lake Poopó: ESA images show fully evaporated lake from space. International Business Times.

Preface.  It’s bad enough that aquifers are being depleted that won’t recharge until after the next ice age, or in some places like California, never, because greedy farmers suck all the water up and the caverns below collapse and will never fill up with water again.

But equally problematic are lakes and rivers drying up, essential for agriculture, fisheries, drinking, and industrial water supplies.

Ah the poor grandchildren, what a bleak future, with little time left to do anything, if that’s even possible given human nature…

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Practical Prepping, KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report

***

Kate Ravilious. 4 March 2016. Many of world’s lakes are vanishing and some may be gone forever. NewScientist.

Bolivia’s second largest lake has vanished into thin air. In December, Lake Poopó became a dry salt pan and its largest lake – Lake Titicaca – is heading towards trouble, too. The combination of silting up and irrigation withdrawal from the Desaguadero River, which feeds Poopó, together with climate change and the extra warmth from current El Niño, were enough to finish this lake off.

Recent research and new data suggest that lakes in other parts of the world may also be on their way out.

“Considering the size of the lake – 2700 square kilometers (1042 square miles) – this is quite an astounding event, with slim prospects of recovery,” says Dirk Hoffmann from the Bolivia Mountain Institute. “This event should serve as a real warning. Eventually, we can expect Lake Titicaca to go the same way.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Minority Report Comes To Life: UK Police Will Use AI To Prevent Crime

With increasing availability of information and new technologies, West Midlands Police in the metropolitan county of West Midlands in England, has taken a page from the 2002 American neo-noir science fiction film, Minority Report, and will soon deploy artificial intelligence to stop crime before it happens, New Scientist reveals. 

The “pre-crime” software, called the National Data Analytics Solution (NDAS), uses a blend of AI, citywide smart cameras, and statistics to try to evaluate the risk of someone committing and or becoming a victim of a violent crime.

West Midlands Police has taken the lead on the project and will finish the prototype system by the end of 1Q 2019. Eight other police forces across the country are involved in the development, including London’s Metropolitan Police and Greater Manchester Police. NDAS will be piloted in the Midlands district before a nationwide rollout. One of the main reasons behind predictive policing – is a cost-savings tool for law enforcement agencies that have been dealing with funding issues, said Iain Donnelly, the police lead on the project.

Donnelly insists NDAS algorithms will sniff out already known criminals, and divert them with “therapeutic interventions,” such as “support from local health or social workers” to avert a crime.

West Midlands Police used data and statistics from past criminal events to identify 1,400 potential indicators for crime, including 30 important ones. Machine learning algorithms then took the data points and learned how to detect crime while analyzing video from smart cameras.

Predictive policing is based on prior criminal stats, including stops, arrests, and convictions, and it is incapable of expanding the pool of suspects beyond the database.

Predictably, the Alan Turing Institute found “serious ethical issues” with the NDAS, warning the program could have good intentions but “inaccurate prediction” is an ongoing concern. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“The collapse of our civilization is not a political issue.” Really??

“The collapse of our civilization is not a political issue.” Really??

The cover article of New Scientist this week asks “Is Western civilization on the brink of collapse?” I’m glad they’re raising this question, but their discussion was extremely disappointing.

First, as George Monbiot points out in a follow-up article, the article fails to distinguish between Western and global civilization, conflating two very different issues: 1.) the recent historical dominance of the West over the rest of the world, and  2.) the unsustainable dynamics of our global civilization.

Worse, in their editorial, they argue that on the issues of climate breakdown and environmental collapse, those raising the alarm have “prematurely politicised the science and hence provoked pushback from people on the other side of the fence.” To me, that reads like saying that those who argue that the Earth orbits the Sun have prematurely provoked pushback from the Flat Earth Society by emphasizing the role of gravity. It’s the kind of thinking that grants false equivalency to climate deniers and leads to pseudo-scientists funded by the Koch brothers getting equal television time to real scientists representing 98% of scientific opinion.

Bill Nye and climate deniers
Arguing against “politicizing” civilizational collapse is the same mindset that leads to offering equal TV time to pseudo-scientific climate deniers

As I describe in my recent article, “What Will It Really Take to Avoid Collapse?“, the underlying drivers impelling our global civilization to the precipice are the economic structures of a global capitalist growth-based system driven by massive transnational corporations that are more powerful than individual nations. Since politics is, by definition, about the dynamics of power and governance, how is it possible either to diagnose the problem or suggest solutions without it being political?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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