There have been many stories in the media about the ongoing environmental crisis at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Over the past two years, the reef has lost almost half of its coral because of bleaching events. Faced with this situation, the Australian government created the Reef 2050 Plan, a strategy to protect and maintain the reef through the year 2050.
Trees are nature’s way of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Growing plants take up CO2 and store it in the form of their roots, stems and leaves. And in fact, a significant factor in the growing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been the extensive deforestation that has gone on over the past couple of centuries.
The population of black bears in southern New York has grown and expanded its range over the past 20 years, which has led to increased encounters with people. Until recently, a detailed knowledge of bear populations in the state has been lacking.
Invasive species have been a problem for quite some time. Over the years, we have grappled with – among other things – invasive plants from Japan, zebra mussels from eastern Europe, and Asian fungus that kills off ash trees in our forests.
The Amazon rainforest is the biggest in the world, larger than the next two biggest combined. It covers over 3 million square miles, roughly the size of the lower 48 states. For this reason, it functions as a critical sink for carbon in the atmosphere.
There are many environmental problems associated with ruminant livestock and these problems continue to grow as the demand for meat-rich diets increases around the world. One of the biggest problems is that cows emit methane through eructation (or belching) as they chew their cud. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, some 25 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. More than a quarter of all human-originated methane going into the atmosphere comes from raising livestock.
There has been much news recently about the growing bleaching events going on in the world’s coral reefs associated with ocean warming and acidification. The massive damage to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is an ongoing tragedy.
Most of the planet’s freshwater stores are found in the northern hemisphere, a region that is changing rapidly in response to human activity and shifting climate trends. A recent study analyzed 147 northern lakes and found that many rely on nutrients from tree leaves, pine needles, and other land-grown plants to feed aquatic life.
Despite efforts by the new administration to increase support for fossil fuels, there is increasing momentum towards a clean-energy future. State and local efforts are driving the country to a 21st-century energy infrastructure, with or without the federal government.
One of the arguments some people make when discussing human causes of climate change is that people can’t cause such massive changes. However, there is a long historical record of human-driven ecological and climatic change in Europe, North America and New Zealand, among other places.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, tucked away on a Norwegian island far above the Arctic Circle, is often described as humanity’s last hope against extinction after some global crisis and is popularly known as the “Doomsday Vault.” Although its mission is to keep the world’s seeds safe, it wasn’t actually created to reseed the planet after a world-wide catastrophe.
Increasingly, conservation organizations are increasingly relying on satellite imagery to help save wildlife. The Jane Goodall Institute, a nonprofit focused on chimpanzee conservation, uses NASA’s and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Landsat satellite images to guide their chimpanzee conservation strategies.
According to the FDA, approximately three-quarters of all antibiotics used in the U.S. are fed to livestock for non-therapeutic purposes. This routine administration of antibiotics promotes the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can spread to animals and humans. And as antibiotic-resistant bacteria spreads, medicines used to treat human diseases can become less effective. Antibiotic resistant infections kill 90,000 Americans each year.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the world’s tallest land mammal may be in trouble. Giraffe populations have declined dramatically over the past 30 years, falling to approximately 97,000 from 163,000 in the 1980s.
Utah’s Great Salt Lake is the largest salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere and is the largest body of water in the United States after the five Great Lakes. When the pioneers first arrived in the area back in the middle of the 19th century, the lake spread across about 1,600 square miles. Now, the lake covers an area of only about 1,050 square miles, a reduction of about 35%.
Some of the poorest countries in the world are unfortunately among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Malawi, for example, has 90% of its population in rural areas and 80% of its labor force is associated with agriculture.
By some estimates, Americans waste as much as 40% of food that is produced. None of the reasons are anything to be proud of, but one of the most frustrating is the confusing array of food date labels that are supposed to tell us whether the food we purchased should be eaten.
Globally, 40% of invertebrate pollinator species, such as bees and butterflies, are facing extinction. And since approximately three-quarters of the world’s food crops depend on pollination, the decline of these pollinators could pose a threat to food security around the globe.
The conventional aquaculture industry has often been associated with many of the same problems that beset land-based agriculture: creating sterile monocultures, fouling the environment with pesticides, antibiotics and organic pollutants, and spreading diseases.