Home » Posts tagged 'wildlife'

Tag Archives: wildlife

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

How to Turn Your Backyard Into a Certified Wildlife Habitat

How to Turn Your Backyard Into a Certified Wildlife Habitat

Climate change continues to alter the planet and make it less suitable for sustaining life. Animals have felt this effect more than anyone else. As people look for new locations to build safer, more weather-proof cities, wildlife species have retreated to the minimal spaces still left intact.

Humans can do their part to mitigate the current mass extinction of animals and insects. Before you visit a zoo, consider transforming your property into a better home for creatures in need.

This is how you can turn your backyard into a certified wildlife habitat. Your backyard may currently have features that hurt the environment or prevent animals from roaming through or living safely. Use these tips and you’ll join the effort to save numerous species the food chain depends upon.

1. Ensure a Food Supply

Nothing can live without a steady supply of food. You’ll have to think of a way to ensure constant food that local wildlife can eat.

First, you should research where you live. Read about which animals thrive in your neighbourhood or migrate through your town. Think about whether your area interacts with creatures like:

  • Birds
  • Butterflies
  • Deer
  • Rabbits
  • Squirrels

Even some animals like bears, which don’t necessarily pose a safety threat, can find refuge in your homemade habitat if they first find access to food.

2. Provide Shelter

Bird Box
Image by Sabine Löwer from Pixabay

Animals want to feel safe, both for themselves and their potential offspring. Habitats must always include shelter for these purposes. You might hang a few birdhouses and bat houses on your trees or nestle a lizard shelter from a pet store next to your garden.

Don’t worry about needing a big budget for this step. It’s great to build or buy extra shelters, but animals will also appreciate leafy bushes and trees.

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

Here’s how Britain’s changing weather is affecting wildlife

Here’s how Britain’s changing weather is affecting wildlife

The Beast from the East, a polar vortex which brought freezing conditions to the UK, arrived on February 26 2018. Two days later there was a minimum temperature of -11.7°C (10.9˚F) at South Farnborough in Hampshire, and a maximum of only -4.8°C (23.4˚F) at Spadeadam in Cumbria.

In sharp contrast, on February 26 2019, temperatures reached 21.2˚C (70.2˚F) at Kew Gardens in south-west London – the warmest winter day since records began. In February 2019, bumblebee queens were out looking for nest sites, adult butterflies were emerging from their winter hibernation and blossom appeared on some trees and shrubs. But what will be the long-term effects of 2019’s early spring?

The relatively new science of phenology examines the timing of the seasons by plotting the calendar records of first plant bud, first flower, first nesting behaviour and first migrant arrivals. Over the past three decades, these records have confirmed that spring temperatures are generally arriving earlier in the year.

Embedded video

Kew Gardens has reached 21.2 °C which is the UK’s new maximum temperature record for February, winter and the year so far.

As the days get longer and warmer in the northern hemisphere, bird species such as the barn swallow follow these natural cues to depart for British habitats, where they nest and rear their young. These insectivorous migratory birds time their breeding season to coincide with insects being present in sufficient numbers to feed their young. 

While the main trigger for birds to migrate from their overwintering grounds to Britain is the length of daylight, temperature will also fine-tune the arrival date. An early spring means that insects could emerge and breed before migratory birds arrive.

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

Disappearing Acts

Disappearing Acts

We are living in an age of loss: the sixth mass extinction. Following this year’s shocking report that the planet has lost half its wildlife in the past 40 years, and the 2018 Remembrance Day for Lost Species, I wrote this piece on art and disappearance for Dark Mountain’s ‘The Vanishing’ section. Here we look not only to extinction – the deaths of entire species – but to the quieter extirpations and losses that are steadily stripping our world of its complexity and beauty. How do we, as writers and artists, stay human during such times? .

What does it mean to disappear? It’s a cold night and I am shivering outside the Café de Paris in London. I’m standing behind Trevor, hoping that his TV producer status will get me in, when Karen Binns, doorkeeper to this hippest of ’90s dance nights, lets me through. It’s over for you, she laughs, which in her Brooklyn back-to-front street talk, means it’s happening for me. As it turns out it was prophetic both ways. Because the last time I saw her was at a family gathering a year later, as I was about to leave the city.

She’s out of here, she announced to the chattering table. Everyone just carried on talking.
It’s two minutes to twelve, she said.

What does any of this have to do with extinction you might ask? Bear with me. To know how to deal with disappearance, you have to know about your own. To know that when you go, there is a world of difference between being ignored and being seen.

For a few weeks now. I’ve been wondering what to write about extinction. Does the world need another elegant essay on nature in peril, another rant about palm oil deforestation?

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

Humanity is Killing the World’s Wildlife Populations, Not ‘Capitalism’

Humanity is Killing the World’s Wildlife Populations, Not ‘Capitalism’

Photo Source N i c o l a | CC BY 2.0

Cocked the gat to her head, and pulled back the shirt cover
But what he saw made him start to cringe and stutter
Cause he was starring into the eyes of his own mother
— Immortal Technique, Dance With The Devil

“Man is a species-being, not only because he practically and theoretically makes the species – both his own and those of other things – his object, but also – and this is simply another way of saying the same thing – because he looks upon himself as the present, living species, because he looks upon himself as a universal and therefore free being.”
— Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto

“To all those who still wish to talk about man, about his reign or his liberation, to all those who still ask themselves questions about what man is in his essence, to all those who wish to take him as their starting-point in their attempts to reach the truth, to all those who, on the other hand, refer all knowledge back to the truths of man himself, to all those who refuse to formalize without anthropologizing, who refuse to mythologize without demystifying, who refuse to think without immediately thinking that it is man who is thinking, to all these warped and twisted forms of reflection we can answer only with a philosophical laugh – which means, to a certain extent, a silent one.”
— Michel Foucalt, The Order Of Things

This article is a response to an piece by the name same (get it?): Capitalism is killing the world’s wildlife populations, not ‘humanity’. 

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

Insects are disappearing. Why should we care? What can be done?

Insects are disappearing. Remember how in the ’90s when you went for a drive down a country lane on a summer evening, you’d end up with hundreds of splatters on the windscreen? No more does that happen. Your car is no longer like a 1 ton moth collecting sheet. That’s not to draw a parallel between vehicles and insect roadkill, although hold that thought.

We are seeing fewer insects in everyday life, whether you realise it or not. Studies suggest insect numbers have declined by around 50%.

Electrotettix attenboroughi Heads & ThomasA pygmy locust preserved in amber, named after Sir David Attenborough Photo: Electrotettix attenboroughi Heads & Thomas. Sam W. Heads. CC BY 4.0.A world ever more incompatible with life for those on six legs

When we talk of modern wildlife science some may think of wonderful discoveries, à la Sir David Attenborough and a community of scientists and researchers around the world. These advances should not be discredited. Since the 1970s we have also got better at monitoring our wildlife, and subsequently observed the scale of the problem we’re facing.

The modern world has become ever more incompatible with life for those on six legs.

Insects are by far the largest group of hexapod invertebrates. Insects include ants, bees, and flies. Of the planet’s creatures, it’s reckoned 90% of species belong to the class Insecta.

“The current state of our wildflide in this country, and globally, is approximately catastrophic. We are losing biodiversity at a rate that is of geological proportions.” David MacDonald, of the University of Oxford, refers to the fact that we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction event – the Anthropocene epoch.

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

Foresters vs. Ecologists

Foresters vs. Ecologists

Photo by Andrew Malone | CC BY 2.0

There is a huge difference between the Industrial Forestry worldview and an ecological perspective. Many people assume that foresters understand forest ecosystems, but what you learn in forestry school is how to produce wood fiber to sell to the wood products industry. I know because I attended a forestry school as an undergraduate in college.

Assuming that foresters understand forest ecosystems is like assuming that a realtor who sells houses understands how to construct a building because they peddle homes.

Foresters usually view ecological disturbance from insects, drought, wildfire, and disease as undesirable and indications of “unhealthy” forests. That is why they work to sanitize forests by removing dead and dying trees and attempt to limit with thinning influences like bark beetles or wildfire.

An ecologist sees these disturbance processes not as a threat to forests, but the critical factors that maintain healthy forest ecosystems. Indeed, one could argue that natural mortality processes like drought, bark beetles or wildfire are “keystone” processes that sustain the forest ecosystem.

Where foresters seek to prevent large wildfires through logging/thinning or what can be described as chainsaw medicine, ecologists see large high severity fires as essential to functioning ecosystems.

Where foresters remove shrubs by mastication (chopping them up) to reduce what they call “fuel”, an ecologist sees wildlife habitat. Indeed, one recent study found mastication reduced bird occurrence by half.

Where foresters seek to reduce tree density to speed growth, an ecologist seeks to maintain density to slow growth because slow-growing trees have denser wood that is slower to rot, hence last longer in the ecosystem.

Where foresters justify thinning to preclude wildfires, an ecologist notes that the probability of a fire encountering a thinned stand is extremely low.

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

Nations Won’t Reach Paris Climate Goal Without Protecting Wildlife and Nature, Warns Report

Nations Won’t Reach Paris Climate Goal Without Protecting Wildlife and Nature, Warns Report

Sierpe river mangrove forest in Costa Rica

The Paris Climate Agreement and several other United Nations (UN) pacts “all depend on the health and vitality of our natural environment in all its diversity and complexity,” said Dr. Anne Larigauderie, executive secretary of the UN-backed organization behind the report. “Acting to protect and promote biodiversity is at least as important to achieving these commitments and to human well-being as is the fight against global climate change.”

The report comes from the efforts of more than 550 scientists in over 100 nations, corralled by an organization often dubbed “the IPCC for biodiversity.”

Much like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assesses the state of research on global warming and its impacts, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) reviews the best-available science on biodiversity and nature’s contributions to human well-being.

Climate Change not so Great for Wildlife

Three years in the making, the study concluded humans are causing the planet to lose species at such a rapid clip that the resulting risks are on par with those presented by climate change. On top of being unfortunate for those species that no longer exist, these losses also endanger people’s access to food, clean water, and energy, according to the report.

We must act to halt and reverse the unsustainable use of nature or risk not only the future we want but even the lives we currently lead,” Robert Watson, current IPBES chair and former IPCC chair, told The Guardian.

In addition, by 2050, the report found that under a “business as usual” scenario for greenhouse gas emissions, climate change could jump ahead of other threats, such as habitat loss and change in land use, as the primary cause of extinctions in North and South America.

Wildlife and ecosystems across the world are threatened by the impacts of a warming climate.

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

Nations Won’t Reach Paris Climate Goal Without Protecting Wildlife and Nature, Warns Report

Nations Won’t Reach Paris Climate Goal Without Protecting Wildlife and Nature, Warns Report

Sierpe river mangrove forest in Costa Rica

The Paris Climate Agreement and several other United Nations (UN) pacts “all depend on the health and vitality of our natural environment in all its diversity and complexity,” said Dr. Anne Larigauderie, executive secretary of the UN-backed organization behind the report. “Acting to protect and promote biodiversity is at least as important to achieving these commitments and to human well-being as is the fight against global climate change.”

The report comes from the efforts of more than 550 scientists in over 100 nations, corralled by an organization often dubbed “the IPCC for biodiversity.”

Much like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assesses the state of research on global warming and its impacts, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) reviews the best-available science on biodiversity and nature’s contributions to human well-being.

Climate Change not so Great for Wildlife

Three years in the making, the study concluded humans are causing the planet to lose species at such a rapid clip that the resulting risks are on par with those presented by climate change. On top of being unfortunate for those species that no longer exist, these losses also endanger people’s access to food, clean water, and energy, according to the report.

We must act to halt and reverse the unsustainable use of nature or risk not only the future we want but even the lives we currently lead,” Robert Watson, current IPBES chair and former IPCC chair, told The Guardian.

In addition, by 2050, the report found that under a “business as usual” scenario for greenhouse gas emissions, climate change could jump ahead of other threats, such as habitat loss and change in land use, as the primary cause of extinctions in North and South America.

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

 

The Great Unraveling: Using Science and Philosophy to Decode Modernity

The Great Unraveling: Using Science and Philosophy to Decode Modernity 

Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | CC BY 2.0

“Forty percent of the United States drains into the Mississippi. It’s agriculture. It’s golf courses. It’s domestic runoff from our lawns and roads. Ultimately, where does it go? Downstream into the Gulf.”

—Sylvia Earle

Our civilization is headed for a downfall, to be sure, in part due to the massive gulf between our hopes for the future and the omnipresent inertia regarding social change in mainstream politics, though a more apt analogy for our society might be circling the drain. The dark, shadow side of our industrial farming practices in the US has resulted in the hypoxic dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately the size of New Jersey and growing every year. Caused by excess nitrates, phosphates, and various chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides draining from farmland into the Mississippi river basin, toxic algal blooms kill millions of fish, shrimp, shellfish, and, almost certainly, thousands of marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico every year. There are hundreds of these dead zones around the world’s oceans, caused by agribusiness and sewage runoff from the world’s largest cities. There are also garbage patches in the Pacific (actually diffuse swathes of ocean littered mainly by microplastics) comparable to the size of Mexico.

Meanwhile on land, we have lost half of our wildlife in the past 40 years. The implications are inconceivable and beyond words, and calls for global action on a coordinated scale beyond anything that has been seriously considered by the so-called political leaders of the “world community”. This will require an immediate mobilization of international resources (a Global Marshall plan, which will need trillions of dollars of aid redistributed to the developing nations over decades) to combat three main crises: global warming, habitat loss, and accelerating species extinction rates, all of which are interconnected.

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

Food Insecurity: Arctic Heat Is Threatening Indigenous Life

Food Insecurity: Arctic Heat Is Threatening Indigenous Life

Subsistence hunters in the Arctic have long taken to the sea ice to hunt seals, whales, and polar bears. But now, as the ice disappears and soaring temperatures alter the life cycles and abundance of their prey, a growing number of indigenous communities are facing food shortages.

An Inuit hunter pulls one of his dogs from a crack in the ice. View gallery.
Photo: Ed Struzik

The decades-long trend of extreme Arctic warming hit new heights this winter, as a mass of exceptionally warm air invaded the region, raising temperatures by almost 50 degrees Fahrenheit above average in some areas and driving temperatures above the freezing mark at the North Pole in late December. Arctic Ocean ice cover reached a new record winter low last month, putting even more stress on sea-ice-dependent seals and polar bears. Other wildlife populations, including caribou and some seabirds, are declining as species struggle to adapt to a swiftly changing polar ecosystem.

All these changes are also making it more difficult for Arctic people to put food on the table. The big Arctic melt is having a profoundly negative impact on many indigenous hunters, who for millennia have relied on the pursuit of whales, seals, fish, and land mammals such as caribou to feed their families. Even today, in an era of greater government support of far northern Native communities, indigenous people across the Arctic — from the Inuit of Canada and Greenland to the Yupik and Dene of Alaska — still depend heavily on subsistence hunting.

Now, as sea ice becomes an increasingly unreliable hunting platform and soaring temperatures alter the life cycles and abundance of prey species, some indigenous communities are facing worsening food shortages and a lack of proper nutrition. Last year, the U.S. government had to ship in frozen fish to Alaska communities whose walrus hunts had failed.

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

Wilderness and Economics

Wilderness and Economics

glaciernps

“A national park will not save the area. Rather, the restrictions and red tape that come with federal control would inhibit growth. Survival requires economic development, but a national park will limit our options.”

— Kathy Gagnon editorial opposing a national park in Maine published in Bangor Daily News May 11, 2014 [i]

Wildland preservation is motivated by a variety of ethical, biological, cultural, and recreational concerns. Rarely are efforts to protect wildlands motivated by an interest in promoting economic growth. Those working on wildland preservation issues have been forced to take up with the issue of local economic impacts because those supporting commercial development of those wild natural landscapes emphatically assert that wildland preservation damages the local and national economies by restricting access to valuable natural resources and constraining commercial economic activity that otherwise would take place.

The above quote from a recent editorial in the Bangor Daily News represents a frequent response that people have to any proposal to designate lands as parks, wilderness or other wildlands reserve. Yet numerous economic studies suggest that protecting landscapes for their wildlands values at the very least has little negative impact on local/regional economies and in most instances is a positive net economic benefit.

Not only are there economic opportunities that come with protected lands, including the obvious tourism-related business enterprises, but land protection has other less direct economic benefits. Wilderness and park designation creates quality of life attributes that attracts residents whose incomes do not depend on local employment in activities extracting commercial materials from the natural landscape but choose to move to an area to enjoy its amenity values.

Wildlands designation can also reduce costs and expense for communities by providing ecosystem services that would otherwise entail costs to taxpayers.

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

Unnatural Balance: How Food Waste Impacts World’s Wildlife

Unnatural Balance: How Food Waste Impacts World’s Wildlife

New research indicates that the food discarded in landfills and at sea is having a profound effect on wildlife populations and fisheries. But removing that food waste creates its own ecological challenges. 


The world wastes more than $750 billion worth of food every year — 1.6 billion tons of food left in farm fields, sent to landfills, or otherwise scattered across the countryside, plus another seven million tons of fishery discards at sea. That waste has gotten a lot of attention lately, mostly in terms of human hunger.

Hardly anyone talks about what all that food waste is doing to wildlife. But a growing body of evidence suggests that our casual attitude about waste may be reshaping the way the natural world functions across much of the planet, inadvertently subsidizing some opportunistic predators and thus contributing to the decline of other species, including some that are threatened or endangered.

Wikimedia Commons
Discarded food can lead to overpopulation of seagulls and other animals, which can affect other wildlife populations.

new study in the journal Biological Conservation looks, for instance, at California’s Monterey Bay, where the threatened steelhead trout population has declined by 80 to 90 percent over the past century. Efforts to restore the species along the Pacific Coast have focused on major initiatives like the recent demolition of a dam that had blocked access to critical steelhead breeding grounds on the Carmel River, which empties into Monterey Bay.

But a team of co-authors led by Ann-Marie Osterback, a marine ecologist at the University of California-Santa Cruz, suspects that garbage and fishery discards might also play an underrated part in the problem. The hypothesis is that local food wastes inadvertently subsidize Western gulls in the Monterrey Bay area, and these gulls in turn prey on the juvenile steelhead trout.

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

Shell’s Renewed Arctic Drilling Campaign Faces Yet Another Setback As Key Ship Forced Back To Port

Is Shell finally “Arctic Ready” after its doomed 2012 campaign? The company is set to begin drilling in the Arctic within the week, and it’s already not looking good.

The MSV Fennica, an icebreaker vessel bound for the Chukchi Sea, had barely left its berth in Dutch Harbor, Alaska last Friday when it had to immediately turn around. The crew discovered a 39-inch long, half-inch-wide breach in the Fennica’s hull, FuelFix reports.

There is no word yet from Shell on how long the repairs are expected to take, or how the company intends to proceed in the event that the Fennica is taken out of service for a long period of time. Any significant change to Shell’s Arctic drilling plans could force a new review by the US Department of the Interior.

The Fennica was not only tasked with keeping ice from collecting around the company’s drill site, but also carrying the capping stack to be used in case of a well blowout or other emergency, in addition to the equipment for deploying it.

A Shell spokesperson told FuelFix that the incident does not “characterize the preparations we have made to operate exceptionally well.”

But that’s not going to stop comparisons to the company’s accident-prone and ultimately aborted attempt to drill in the Arctic three years ago.

“Shell’s terrible safety history around the world makes today’s news no surprise, but is nonetheless disturbing,” David Turnbull, campaigns director for Oil Change International, told DeSmog.

“For the sake of the Arctic and for our climate, the President should put a stop to Shell’s dangerous experiment today, before an even greater mishap inevitably comes.”

 

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

– Half Earth’s Wildlife Gone, Governments Meet to Save the Rest | Environment News Service

– Half Earth’s Wildlife Gone, Governments Meet to Save the Rest | Environment News Service.

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea, October 14, 2014 (ENS) – Global wildlife populations have declined, on average, by 52 percent in the 40 year period since 1970, reports the global conservation nonprofit WWF. Habitat loss and degradation are the greatest threats to biodiversity, with exploitation of wildlife and climate change close behind.

Released ahead of the ongoing 12th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP12) now taking place in Pyeongchang, the WWF’s Living Planet Report 2014 is based on the Living Planet Index, which measures more than 10,000 representative populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.

gorillas

Freshwater species have suffered losses almost double that of land and marine species. Most of these biodiversity declines are happening in tropical regions, with Latin America enduring the most dramatic drop in species.

 

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase