The following articles on our impact on the planet caught my attention this week.
What is killing the birds in San Francisco Bay? No-one is sure, but it certainly isn’t natural and it certainly is man-made.
“The goo is coating their feathers, which causes them to lose their insulation and leaves the birds vulnerable to hypothermia. So far it has mostly affected diving birds including surf scoters, bufflehead ducks and horned grebes on the eastern shore of the bay, however more affected birds have been reported on the west side near Foster City. The goo is also beginning to harm other species, including sandpipers.”
New figures released show that some parts of the Arctic ice cap “has thinned by more than 50 metres just since 2012.”
“The findings show that over the last two decades, ice loss from the south-east region of Austfonna, located in the Svalbard archipelago, has increased significantly. In this time, ice flow has accelerated to speeds of several kilometres per year, and ice thinning has spread more than 50km inland – to within 10km of the summit.”
Global warming is not just affecting ice sheets, it is also likely to have a direct affect on the cost of bread in the near future.
“An international consortium of scientists have been testing wheat crops in laboratory and field trials in many areas of the world in changing climate conditions and discovered that yields drop on average by 6% for every one degree Celsius rise in temperature. This represents 42 million tonnes of wheat lost – about a quarter of the current global wheat trade – for every degree. This would create serious shortages and cause price hikes of the kind that have previously caused food riots in developing countries after only one bad harvest.”
Our impact on the earth has increased significantly since 1950, and humans’ impact is accelerating according to a set of 24 global indicators, or “planetary dashboard,” published in the journal Anthropocene Review (19 January 2015).
“It is difficult to overestimate the scale and speed of change. In a single lifetime humanity has become a planetary-scale geological force,” says lead author Professor Will Steffen, who led the joint project between the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and the Stockholm Resilience Centre … After 1950 you can see that major Earth System changes became directly linked to changes largely related to the global economic system. This is a new phenomenon and indicates that humanity has a new responsibility at a global level for the planet,” he added … Co-author IGBP Deputy Director, Dr Wendy Broadgate said, “The Great Acceleration indicators allow us to distinguish the signal from the noise. Earth is in a quantifiably different state than before. Several significant Earth System processes are now driven by human consumption and production.”
This is all very scary stuff, folks. We ignore these clear indicators at our children’s peril.
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