A great deal of research to inform environmental conservation and management takes a predict-and-prescribe strategy in which improving forecasts about future states of ecosystems is the primary goal. But sufficiently thorough understanding of ecosystems needed to reduce deep uncertainties is probably not achievable, seriously limiting the potential effectiveness of the predict-and-prescribe approach. Instead, research should integrate more closely with policy development to identify the range of alternative plausible futures and develop strategies that are robust across these scenarios and responsive to unpredictable ecosystem dynamics.
Prediction, precaution, and policy under global change Daniel E. Schindler, Ray Hilborn
This article originally appeared at Earth Island Journal.
In case you didn’t get the memo, today is Food Day. In more than 2,000 communities in all fifty states, people will be taking a moment to step back and celebrate our food—and the growing ranks of a food movement working hard to ensure that healthy, sustainably, and ethically raised food, grown and produced by workers paid and treated fairly, is the norm not the exception.
The red wolf, an endangered species with fewer than 100 individuals left in the wild and approximately 200 in captive breeding facilities around the country, is a striking, smart-looking canid with pointy ears tinged an autumn crimson. Larger than coyotes and smaller than gray wolves, red wolves have impossibly slender legs and eyes that can be deep and sorrowful. Seeing one up close — a rarity that probably requires a visit to a breeding facility in the winter months — is a humbling experience. The animals stay to themselves, a connected pack with no desire to add any human siblings, and only occasionally perk up their ears — perhaps a sign that they hear the trespasser, sense the presence, and prefer life without instigation.
"The rate at which tropical forests were cut, burned or otherwise lost from the 1990s through the 2000s accelerated by 62 percent, according to a new study which dramatically reverses a previous estimate of a 25 percent slowdown over the same period. That previous estimate, from the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Forest Resource Assessment, was based on a collection of reports from dozens of countries. The new estimate, in contrast, is based on vast amounts of Landsat image data which directly record the changes to forests over 20 years.
"Several satellite-based local and regional studies have been made for changing rates of deforestation [during] the 1990s and 2000s, but our study is the first pan-tropical scale analysis," explains University of Maryland, College Park, geographer Do-Hyung Kim, lead author of the new study accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.
Kim and his University of Maryland colleagues Joseph Sexton and John Townshend looked at 34 forested countries which comprise 80 percent of forested tropical lands. They analyzed 5,444 Landsat scenes from 1990, 2000, 2005 and 2010 with a hectare-scale (100 by 100 meter) resolution to determine how much forest was lost and gained. Their procedure was fully automated and computerized both to make the huge datasets manageable and to minimize human error.
They found that during the 1990-2000 period the annual net forest loss across all the countries was 4 million hectares (15,000 square miles) per year. During the 2000-2010 period, the net forest loss rose to 6.5 million hectares (25,000 square miles) per year - a 62 percent increase is the rate of deforestation. That last rate is the equivalent to clear cutting an area the size of West Virginia or Sri Lanka each year, or deforesting an area the size of Norway every five years.
In terms of where the deforestation was happening, they found that tropical Latin America showed the largest increase of annual net loss of 1.4 million hectares (5,400 square miles) per year from the 1990s to the 2000s, with Brazil topping the list at 0.6 million hectares (2,300 square miles) per year. Tropical Asia showed the second largest increase at 0.8 million hectares (3,100 square miles) per year, with similar trends across the countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines. Tropical Africa showed the least amount of annual net forest area loss. Still, there was a steady increase of net forest loss in tropical Africa due to cutting primarily in Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar."
Klein: The worst possible moment. The connection between greenhouse gases and global warming has been a mainstream political issue for humanity since 1988. It was precisely the time that the Berlin Wall fell and Francis Fukuyama declared the "End of History," the victory of Western capitalism. Canada and the US signed the first free-trade agreement, which became the prototype for the rest of the world.
The Serious Fraud Office has opened a criminal investigation into “alleged fraud concerning Global Forestry Investments”. The company’s “ethical” investments in teak plantations in Brazil may not have been so ethical after all.
REDD-Monitor wrote about Global Forestry Investments in March 2014. The company, which is now in liquidation, was run by Andrew Skeene and Omari Bowers. GFI offered retail investors a chance to invest a minimum of £5,000 in the Belem Sky teak plantation in Brazil, promising returns of “10-20% per annum”.
Andrew Callen, a solicitor at Alisons Legal Practice in Wales, is acting on behalf of 80 people who handed over money to Global Forestry Investments. In September 2014, Callen told the News and Star that somewhere between £10 million and £20 million has been lost.
A long-fought legal battle to recover $8.9 billion in damages from Exxon Mobil Corporation for the contamination and loss of use of more than 1,500 acres of wetlands, marshes, meadows and waters in northern New Jersey has been quietly settled by the state for around $250 million.
"They were heinous crimes with lethal results. A conspiracy by father and son, planned with malice aforethought. Perpetrated over a period of years. Bodies, lots of bodies. Dozens of bodies. Followed by lies and cover-ups. And ultimately arrests and a plea bargain in the deeply troubling saga of the Sowinski family."
When fishermen lose control of a fishing net or abandon a torn net at sea, the nets float around on the water surface or deep within the sea, ensnaring and killing millions of fish and marine mammals every year. Poetically called “ghost nets,” these are hardly-ethereal nets are usually made of heavy-duty nylon and hang on in the waters for years and decades causing repeated injuries and deaths of aquatic animals. Even after these nets fall to pieces, they continue to be a part of the ocean plastic pollution problem since they are ingested by birds, fish and other marine life.
Concerns are growing about antibiotic resistance of food-poisoning bacteria carried by poultry, according to a new report.
Campylobacter, which is present in many shop chickens, is becoming resistant to front-line drugs, a study in 28 EU countries has found.
It reduces the options for treating human infections, say scientists.
A separate report by the UK's Food Standards Agency found campylobacter in UK chickens remained at high levels.
The report from the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), monitored antimicrobial drug resistance in humans, animals and food during 2013.
A report released Wednesday shows that about 60 million metric tons of food is wasted a year in the United States, a problem that contributes to climate change and to the loss of natural resources like water and land.
Humans are full of contradictions, including the urge to destroy things they love. Like our planet. Take Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Like everyone living Down Under, he's extremely proud of his country's wonder of the world, the Great Barrier Reef. At the same time, though, Abbott believes that burning coal is "good for humanity," even though it produces greenhouse gases that ultimately make our world's oceans warmer, stormier and more acidic. In recent years, Australia has exported more coal than any other country in the world. And the reef, the largest living organism on the planet, is dying. Half of the corals that make up the reef are, in fact, already dead.
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