Climate Change Isn’t the Only BF Environmental D


Today, I’d like to pass along a couple of links to stories having to do with species extinctions. The first is a link to a segment on the PBS NewsHour about poaching in Africa’s wildlife preserves, entitled: “Why Wildlife Preserves in Kenya Resemble War Zones.”

The second is a link to a list of some of the species that are endangered. Click on the animal’s name for pictures and more information.

Photo source: Seven Natural Wonders


I, Termite?


If climate change were the only environmental crisis we face, we could switch to wind, solar, and other non-fossil forms of energy, and go on depending on economic growth to solve our enviro-politico-socio-economic problems forever. But while climate change is arguably the worst environmental crisis we face, it is not the only environmental crisis we face.

My last post included links to several articles about the species-extinction crisis. This time, my post includes a single link to a series of articles that ran in USA Today a few weeks ago on the groundwater-depletion crisis.

Did I hear a groan, Dear Reader? I think I did. So, let me just say, yeah, I know that reading about environmental degradation isn’t fun. At times, in fact, it’s downright depressing. Perhaps it’s comparable to reading reports about the condition of your home. While you probably don’t want to know that the entire back wall of your house is infested with termites, that the plumbing is corroded and needs to be replaced, that the roof is springing leaks, or that the foundation is cracked, you need to know the unpleasant facts so you can fix what’s wrong before the whole place caves in on you.

I regret putting it this way, but the sad fact is that humans have begun to feed on the Earth like termites feed on the wood in houses. But unlike termites that can move on to another house or a decaying tree to sustain them after they’ve consumed all the wood in one house, we have no other Earth that we can infest (so to speak), so we’d better take care of this one.

And now, without further ado, here’s the link to the article:



On species extinctions


Do you ever assume that other people know a fair amount about a subject that you know quite a bit about? I ask because a friend told me today that she’d read an interview with Leonardo di Caprio, and he said a mass extinction is occurring on Earth, and most people don’t know it.

I was surprised. Until a few hours ago, I assumed that the current wave of extinctions was common knowledge. Well, that was silly. If I hadn’t specialized in environmental policy, I probably wouldn’t have known about the extinctions, so why did I assume that people in other fields would know?

Who knows? In any case, below you’ll find a few lines from some recent articles about extinctions, along with links to those articles. I hope you’ll take a look.


From Antarctica to Africa, Penguins Are Facing Extinction

By Ben Adkison, for CNN

January 20, 2016

January 20 is Penguin Awareness Day.

As with most polar species, penguins are feeling the effects of climate change. Ice melt is changing their breeding grounds and overfishing and ocean acidification is affecting their food sources of fish, squid and krill.”

A Wild Liberty

By Grant A. Mincy, for The Ecologist

January 18, 2016

Of all the complex, wicked problems addressed by the current environmental movement, perhaps the most urgent is the rarely discussed mass extinction. We are currently experiencing Earth’s sixth great mass extinction crisis – on par with the rate that ended the reign of the dinosaurs….

The Sixth Mass Extinction on Earth Has Officially Begun and Could Threaten Humanity’s Existence, Scientists Warn (and This Time We’re to Blame)

By Mark Prigg, for The Daily Mail

June 19, 201

Species are disappearing about 100 times faster than normal rate.

Experts warn it could take Earth millions of years to recover.

They say humanity would likely disappear early on in the process.

Previous extinctions caused by natural disasters, but this is man-made.

And such a catastrophic loss of animal species presents a real threat to human existence, the experts warn, as crucial ecosystem ‘services’ such as crop pollination by insects and water purification in wetlands is also put at risk.

What’s Causing Deadly Outbreaks of Fungal Diseases in World’s Wildlife?

By Elizabeth Kolbert, for e360

January 18, 2016

Why are we seeing a growing number of fungal diseases of wildlife? Experts offer two possible explanations, both of which may be valid.

The first is the increase in global trade and global travel…. As the sheer volume of global trade and global travel rises, so, too, do the number of opportunities for pathogens of all sorts to disperse. Because fungi don’t need a host to survive, they may be particularly well-suited to intercontinental travel. And when a pathogen is let loose in a new place, the results can be spectacularly deadly.

[There’s] another possible answer to the question “why now.” Fungal diseases tend to be opportunistic…. Climate change, habitat loss, heavy metal pollution, competition from invasives — these are just a few of the forces that may be lowering animals’ resistance.

“I think it’s very likely that habitat in general is degraded, and so you have greater problems with disease,” [said] Tim James, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. “Everything is more stressed.”

Whales Are Full of Toxic Chemicals

By Sarah Zielinski, for Science News

January 19, 2016

European whales and dolphins may be at risk of extinction from the effects of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, a team of researchers recently reported in Scientific Reports. Concentrations of PCBs in killer whales and bottlenose and striped dolphins, they found, were high enough to cause health damage.

Persistent organic pollutants are not even the only problem when it comes to toxic chemicals. Mercury — from anthropogenic sources such as power generation — also works its way into whales and dolphins. Tests of whale meat for sale online in Japan last year revealed mercury levels as high as 47.5 times what is considered safe for human consumption.

A Note to Readers


Dear Blog Reader,

First, I want to thank you for visiting my blog. With a world of choices out there, you’ve chosen to devote a few minutes to my thoughts, and I’m deeply grateful.

Next, I want to apologize for posting so sporadically. My excuses are (1) that my health slows me down, and (2) that I’ve started working on a second book. Throughout 2016, most of my time and energy will go toward writing the book. My blogposts will generally be brief: thoughts to consider, links to informative articles, and so forth.

For now, I have a thought that I hope you’ll take a moment to consider:

Americans are richer than ever before in terms of market goods and services, but poorer than ever before in ecological goods and services.

In case you’re wondering, ecological goods and services are the biological, chemical, and physical functions that nature provides for free. They include the resources we use to produce market goods (including metals, fuel, food, wood, etc.) and critical processes (such as pollination, waste treatment, soil production, water purification, etc.)

Well, that’s it for now. As always, thanks for stopping by! Happy New Year!