Clean and abundant water is the most essential need for all human societies and the supply of it is threatened by increasing populations and volatile climate patterns. The quality of water is threatened by a host of contaminants, most of our own making.
We have talked about the monarch butterfly on a number of occasions. The population of these iconic orange and black butterflies in North America has plummeted from 1 billion to 33 million over the past 20 years. People have undertaken a variety of efforts to try to save the species but now a major project to restore the dwindling habitat of the monarch is underway.
Sea pickles are translucent, tubular creatures that are usually found in tropical ocean waters. Also known as pyrosomes, they are actually made up of many small multicellular organisms that are linked together in a tunic to form a tubelike colony that is closed on one end.
Satellites orbiting the earth are becoming an increasingly powerful tool for counting and monitoring wildlife populations and to answer a host of other questions about the natural world.
Grizzly bears once roamed much of North America and symbolized the continent’s untamed wilderness. But hunters and trappers nearly wiped them out across most of the Lower 48 states by the late 1800s.
New York is home to 11 native species of land turtles. Many of the species can’t breed until age 10 and then they lay just one small clutch of eggs each year by digging in a suitable patch of sandy soil. As a result, breeding females are at a premium for the welfare of the species. Overall, turtles are on decline in the Empire State.
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.
We recently brought you the rediscovery story of cave squeakers. These tiny frogs, known for their high-pitched whistling calls, were native to the mountainous region of eastern Zimbabwe but had not been seen since 1962. That all changed in late 2016, when researchers found four cave squeakers, confirming that after 58 years the species was not extinct. Cave squeakers remain critically endangered according to the IUCN’s Red List of Endangered Species.
Installations of solar power continue to increase rapidly around the world and in no place more than China. By the end of 2016, total solar generating capacity in China reached 77.4 gigawatts, making it the largest producer of solar energy in the world. Globally, there is a total of 228 gigawatts of solar power installed, although that number keeps changing rapidly.
Amphibians are one of the most threatened groups of animals on the planet. Since the late 1980s, scientists have measured dramatic population declines from locations all over the world. The plummeting amphibian populations are perceived to be one of the most critical threats to global biodiversity. According to the IUCN, about 1 of every 3 amphibian species is facing extinction. Some of the greatest threats facing amphibians include climate change, disease, and habitat destruction.
China has worked to reduce its coal consumption in recent years but the air quality in cities like Beijing is still notoriously poor and a major health hazard.
Americans comprise less than 5% of the world’s population, but we use almost 20% of its energy. This is a problem from many perspectives and it is one that we are at least trying to solve.
According to a new report from the World Wildlife Fund, the world’s animal populations have suffered widespread population declines in the last half century. And thousands of species are now scrambling to survive.
Back in June, we reported that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature was reassessing the giant panda’s status as an endangered species. Well, in an update of the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species in September, the giant panda was indeed downgraded to “vulnerable.”
As the world’s population grows and becomes more urban and affluent, the amount of solid waste we produce grows and grows. Over the past century, the total amount has risen tenfold. By 2025, the world-wide total is expected to double again. The average person in the United States throws away their body weight in garbage every month.
At the beginning of the 20th century, there were about 500,000 rhinos across Africa and Asia. By 1970, the number was down to 70,000. Today, there are less than 30,000 rhinos in the wild. The number of black rhinos dropped to as low as 2,300 in 1993. Aggressive conservation efforts have brought their numbers up to over 5,000 today.
We recently highlighted the plight of orangutans. Following years of failed conservation measures, all orangutans are now listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The Sumatran orangutan had been listed as critically endangered for nearly two decades, but the Bornean orangutan was a recent addition. According to the IUCN, all orangutans have an “extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.”
Whale sharks are the largest fish in the sea. They can grow more than 40 feet in length, weigh up to 47,000 lbs, and have a lifespan of about 70 years. They can be found cruising in the open waters of tropical oceans. But despite being enormous, whale sharks are no threat to humans. The docile beasts, which feed almost exclusively on plankton, have often been referred to as “gentle giants.”