Earth’s 6th Mass Extinction: Climate Crisis, Pollution, Depleting Resources Could Extinct 27% Of World Animal Life

 Countercurrents Collective | December 20, 2022

The planet has entered the sixth mass extinction. Pollution, climate change and depleting resources could drive up to 27% of the world’s animal life to extinction, a new paper has claimed. The study used a supercomputer to map out how interdependent food chains could collapse in the coming decades.

Published on Friday and authored by European Commission scientist Giovanni Strona and Professor Corey Bradshaw of Flinders University in Australia, the study (Coextinctions dominate future vertebrate losses from climate and land use change, GIOVANNI STRONA HTTPS://ORCID.ORG/0000-0003-2294-4013 AND COREY J. A. BRADSHAW HTTPS://ORCID.ORG/0000-0002-5328-7741DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abn4345) presented a series of increasingly grim scenarios. The researchers claimed that the magnitude of the coming extinctions will depend largely on how much carbon mankind emits over the coming century.

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COP15: A HISTORIC AGREEMENT ON BIODIVERSITY

The 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity, or COP15, came to a dramatic end early this morning, with a final agreement that will see 30% of Earth’s land and sea protected by 2030.

“We have 30 by 30,” said Canada’s minister of environment and climate change, Steven Guilbeault, a former climate protester. “Six months ago, who would have thought we could get 30 by 30 in Montreal? We have an agreement to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, to work on restoration, to reduce the use of pesticides. This is tremendous progress.”

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Confronting the plasticine: promise in a world wrapped in plastic

Margaret A Handley

The Lancet | Open Access | Published: September, 2022 | DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S2542-5196(22)00194-2

As we poured water into a jug to be added to the ashes in the bucket, Maria (not her real name) asked in Spanish, “Why does making soap have anything to do with plastic?” Maria and another 50 or so Indigenous women from her village, in the highlands of southeastern Guatemala, had gathered ashes from their home fires and filled water jugs to bring to their community centre for a workshop with a local craftswoman on soap making; the first step of which is mixing ash with water and letting it sit. “That’s a long answer” I thought, struggling to think of how to express myself in Spanish. “Too much plastic everywhere, in the ground, air, water—chemicals in the plastic—bad for our health and for animals” I said in Spanish.iO, los químicos de plástico! iSi, son malos!” she agreed, as we finished our task. Outside, women were talking together, and you could feel their excitement—they wanted to learn something useful that might also garner additional income. This highland village had selected making soap, among many options, that might rebuff the environmental pollution that surrounds them. This first workshop seemed a success.

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Kiss the Amazon Goodbye?

Robert Hunziker

Countercurrents | September 10, 2022

The ecosystems of the world that support life like Brazil’s Amazon rainforest have an incompatible relationship with far right governments, like the United States under Trump, who took a baseball bat to the EPA.  According to Christine Todd Whitman, who headed EPA under George W. Bush: “I’ve never seen such an orchestrated war on the environment or science.” (How Trump Damaged Science – Why It Could Take Decades To Recover, Nature, Oct. 5, 2020)

As devastating as Trump (4 more years?) was for the environment, President Jair Bolsonaro’s MBGA or Make Brazil Great Again has one-upped Trump. He’s single-handedly destroying the world’s largest rainforest. It may be the single most important ecosystem for the survival of Homo sapiens. As such, with such a big important target to ravage, Bolsonaro’s making Trump look weak.

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Ocean ‘garbage patch’ is filled with fishing gear from just a few places

The bulk of large plastic bits in the North Pacific garbage patch have been lost or discarded by fishing vessels.

Freda Kreier

Nature | September 01, 2022

A crate with Japanese text on it was among the plastic debris collected by researchers studying the North Pacific garbage patch.Credit: The Ocean Cleanup

Fishing gear from just five regions could account for most of the floating plastic debris in the ‘North Pacific garbage patch’, a vast swathe of the North Pacific Ocean that holds tens of thousands of tonnes of plastic.

A study published on 1 September in Scientific Reports1 found that up to 86% of the large pieces of floating plastic in the garbage patch are items that were abandoned, lost or discarded by fishing vessels. The finding is counter-intuitive, given that most marine plastic makes its way into the ocean through rivers.

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Cities embrace their water — and build resilience

Briony Rogers helps cities to connect to their environment to better survive drought and storm surges.

Nature | August 17, 2022

An infiltration basin at the White Gum Valley development in Perth, Australia, manages stormwater runoff and provides shade.Credit: The Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive CIties

“When we think about making decisions on how we shape our cities, that deep connection and stewardship of water is really important,” says Briony Rogers, a civil engineer at the Monash Sustainable Development Institute and director of MSDI Water, the institute’s water research hub in Melbourne, Australia.

Rogers’ work on ‘water-sensitive’ cities brings together her interest in applying civil engineering to shape the environment humans live in, and her love of the beaches and forests that surround her in Melbourne.

That interest began when she worked as a water engineer at a design infrastructure company and realized that, to create truly sustainable infrastructure, principles of sustainability needed to be incorporated from the very start of the design process.

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UN General Assembly declares access to clean and healthy environment a universal human right

Countercurrents | July 29, 2022

With 161 votes in favour, and eight abstentions*, the UN General Assembly adopted a historic resolution on Thursday, declaring access to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, a universal human right.

The resolution, based on a similar text adopted last year by the Human Rights Council, calls upon States, international organisations, and business enterprises to scale up efforts to ensure a healthy environment for all.

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, welcomed the ‘historic’ decision and said the landmark development demonstrates that Member States can come together in the collective fight against the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.

“The resolution will help reduce environmental injustices, close protection gaps and empower people, especially those that are in vulnerable situations, including environmental human rights defenders, children, youth, women and indigenous peoples”, he said in a statement released by his Spokesperson’s Office.

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Beyond Greenwashing: The Hollow Foundations Of Ethical Capital

Claire Parfitt

Progress in Political Economy | July 21, 2022

The explosion of ESG investing

ESG investment funds, which claim to invest according to environmental, social and governance criteria, grew to almost US$3 trillion in 2021.  With a 53% increase since 2020, this made ESG the fastest growing sector of the asset management industry.

The rapid flow of funds into ESG investments has led to many demands from investors and the financial press for reliable accounting information. There is enormous variability in valuations of stocks and indices according to ESG criteria, and even a fundamental confusion about what ESG investing is.

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How different COVID-19 recovery paths affect human health, environmental sustainability, and food affordability: a modelling study

Juliette Maire, PhD; Aimen Sattar, MPhil; Roslyn Henry, PhD; Frances Warren, PhD; Magnus Merkle, MSc; Prof Mark Rounsevell, PhD; and Peter Alexander, PhD

The Lancet | Open Access | Published: July, 2022 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2542-5196(22)00144-9

Summary
Background
The COVID-19 pandemic arrived at a time of faltering global poverty reduction and increasing levels of diet-related diseases, both of which have a strong link to poor outcomes for those with COVID-19. Governments responded to the pandemic by placing unprecedented restrictions on internal and external movements, which have resulted in an economic contraction. In response to the economic shock, G20 governments have committed to providing US$14 trillion stimuli to support economic recovery. We aimed to assess the impact of different COVID-19 recovery paths on human health, environmental sustainability, and food sustainability.

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Wildfires Ravage Spain, France, Portugal As Heatwave Kills Hundreds In West Europe

Countercurrents | July 17, 2022

Wildfires ravaged parts of Spain, France and Portugal Friday in the blistering heat, burning forests and prompting widespread evacuations. The ongoing heatwave has already claimed hundreds of lives in the west European countries. There is a spike in heat wave-related casualties in Western Europe.

On Saturday, La Vanguardia reported that there were more than 360 deaths in Spain caused by the unbelievable heatwaves, and in Portugal, 238 deaths were recorded between July 7 and July 13.

France is currently on high alert for severe weather this weekend into next week.

Italy, Greece, Morocco and the UK are also bracing for extreme weather — including fire warnings — attributed to this week’s heatwaves.

About 14,000 people have been forced to flee France’s south-western Gironde region due to dozens of wildfires that have spread across Portugal and Spain. The fires have been attributed to soaring temperatures not seen since 1757 across Europe.

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