Page Summary: Quotes & Links for 40+ Science News Reports on the Current Sixth Mass Extinction; on the Pivotal Role of our Food Choices; of How this Loss of Biodiversity Threatens Human Sustainability & Civilization.
This site also has pages with scores of science news reports on the impact of our food choices on climate change, deforestation and the dying oceans.
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“The Holocene extinction, otherwise referred to as the sixth extinction or Anthropocene extinction, is the ongoing extinction event of species during the present Holocene epoch, mainly due to human activity. The large number of extinctions spans numerous families of plants and animals, including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and arthropods. With widespread degradation of highly biodiverse habitats such as coral reefs and rainforest, as well as other areas, the vast majority of these extinctions is thought to be undocumented. The current rate of extinction of species is estimated at 100 to 1,000 times higher than natural background rates…” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_extinction
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2019 news report: “Human society under urgent threat from loss of Earth’s natural life … The biomass of wild mammals has fallen by 82%, natural ecosystems have lost about half their area and a million species are at risk of extinction – all largely as a result of human actions, said the study, compiled over three years by a team of more than 450 scientists and diplomats …” at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/06/human-society-under-urgent-threat-loss-earth-natural-life-un-report
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2019 news report: “Loss of biodiversity is just as catastrophic as climate change. Nature is being eroded at rates unprecedented in human history but we still have time to stave off mass extinctions … We have all assumed that nature would always be here for us and our children. However, our boundless consumption, shortsighted reliance on fossil fuels and our unsustainable use of nature now seriously threaten our future …
We have entered an era of rapidly accelerating species extinction, and are facing the irreversible loss of plant and animal species, habitats and vital crops, while coming face to face with the horrific impacts of global climate change …
Despite the profound threat of biodiversity loss, it is climate change that has long been considered the most pressing environmental concern. That changed this week in Paris, when representatives from 130 nations approved the most comprehensive assessment of global biodiversity ever undertaken.
The report, spearheaded by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), found that nature is being eroded at rates unprecedented in human history.
One million species are currently threatened with extinction and we are undermining the entire natural infrastructure on which our modern world depends …”
Report at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/06/biodiversity-climate-change-mass-extinctions
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Summary of the “Living Planet Report 2018” from WWF (World Wide Fund For Nature): “On average, we’ve seen an astonishing 60% decline in the size of populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians in just over 40 years, according to WWF’s Living Planet Report 2018 … We’re facing a rapidly closing window for action and the urgent need for everyone—everyone—to collectively rethink and redefine how we value, protect, and restore nature …”
Access the report via https://www.worldwildlife.org/pages/living-planet-report-2018
2018 news report in The Guardian: “Humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, leading the world’s foremost experts to warn that the annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens civilisation.
The new estimate of the massacre of wildlife is made in a major report produced by WWF and involving 59 scientists from across the globe. It finds that the vast and growing consumption of food and resources by the global population is destroying the web of life, billions of years in the making, upon which human society ultimately depends for clean air, water and everything else … ”
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2019 news report: “The Rapid Decline Of The Natural World Is A Crisis Even Bigger Than Climate Change.”
Excerpts: “The last year has seen a slew of brutal and terrifying warnings about the threat climate change poses to life. Far less talked about but just as dangerous, if not more so, is the rapid decline of the natural world. The felling of forests, the over-exploitation of seas and soils, and the pollution of air and water are together driving the living world to the brink, according to a huge three-year, U.N.-backed landmark study to be published in May …
nature’s ability to contribute food and fresh water to a growing human population is being compromised in every region on earth …
A February report from the U.N. warned that the loss of soil, plants, trees and pollinators such as birds, bats and bees undermines the world’s ability to produce food …
All of this comes at a huge cost and has implications for the systems that prop up life on this planet, throwing into doubt the ability of humans to survive …
Animal populations have declined by 60 percent since 1970, driven by human actions …
insects, vital to the diets of other animals, as well as the pollinators of our food, are facing a bleak future as populations appear to be collapsing …
saving nature will require a major rethink of how we live and how we think about nature, but that it is possible to turn this dire situation around if governments want it to happen.”
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“AT CURRENT RATES OF DECLINE, VIRTUALLY 100% OF WILD VERTEBRATES WILL DIE OFF BY YEAR ZERO : 2026” – https://www.preventyearzero.org/research/
“More details on this calculation can be found …” at
How “You can make a difference” see https://www.preventyearzero.org/take-action
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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2017: “… Earth is experiencing a huge episode of population declines and extirpations, which will have negative cascading consequences on ecosystem functioning and services vital to sustaining civilization. We describe this as a “biological annihilation” to highlight the current magnitude of Earth’s ongoing sixth major extinction event.”
Reference: “Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines”, PNAS July 25, 2017 114 (30) E6089-E6096; http://www.pnas.org/content/114/30/E6089
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The Guardian news UK, May 2018: “Human race just 0.01% of all life but has eradicated most other living things… Our dietary choices have a vast effect on the habitats of animals, plants and other organisms… The destruction of wild habitat for farming, logging and development has resulted in the start of what many scientists consider the sixth mass extinction of life to occur in the Earth’s four billion year history. About half the Earth’s animals are thought to have been lost in the last 50 years…
The new work** reveals that farmed poultry today makes up 70% of all birds on the planet, with just 30% being wild. The picture is even more stark for mammals – 60% of all mammals on Earth are livestock, mostly cattle and pigs, 36% are human and just 4% are wild animals…”
** The 2018 report titled “The Biomass Distribution on Earth” was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) at https://www.pnas.org/content/115/25/6506
From the section titled “The Impact of Humanity on the Biosphere” an excerpt: “Today, the biomass of humans (≈0.06 Gt C; SI Appendix, Table S9) and the biomass of livestock (≈0.1 Gt C, dominated by cattle and pigs; SI Appendix, Table S10) far surpass that of wild mammals, which has a mass of ≈0.007 Gt C (SI Appendix, Table S11). This is also true for wild and domesticated birds, for which the biomass of domesticated poultry (≈0.005 Gt C, dominated by chickens) is about threefold higher than that of wild birds (≈0.002 Gt C; SI Appendix, Table S12). In fact, humans and livestock outweigh all vertebrates combined, with the exception of fish …”
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2018 news report: “What is Biodiversity and Why Does It Matter To Us?”
Excerpts: “The air you breathe, the water you drink and the food you eat all rely on biodiversity, but right now it is in crisis – because of us…
A more philosophical way of viewing biodiversity is this: it represents the knowledge learned by evolving species over millions of years about how to survive through the vastly varying environmental conditions Earth has experienced. Seen like that, experts warn, humanity is currently “burning the library of life”…
Some examples are obvious: without plants there would be no oxygen and without bees to pollinate there would be no fruit or nuts.
Others are less obvious – coral reefs and mangrove swamps provide invaluable protection from cyclones and tsunamis for those living on coasts, while trees can absorb air pollution in urban areas…
The extinction rate of species is now thought to be about 1,000 times higher than before humans dominated the planet, which may be even faster than the losses after a giant meteorite wiped out the dinosaurs 65m years ago. The sixth mass extinction in geological history has already begun, according to some scientists…
Billions of individual populations have been lost all over the planet, with the number of animals living on Earth having plunged by half since 1970. Abandoning the normally sober tone of scientific papers, researchers call the massive loss of wildlife a “biological annihilation” representing a “frightening assault on the foundations of human civilisation”…
What’s destroying biodiversity?
We are, particularly as the human population rises and wild areas are razed to create farmland, housing and industrial sites. The felling of forests is often the first step…
Poaching and unsustainable hunting for food is another major factor…
Pollution is a killer too…
The hardest hit of all habitats may be rivers and lakes, with freshwater animal populations in these collapsing by 81% since 1970, following huge water extraction for farms and people, plus pollution and dams…
Could the loss of biodiversity be a greater threat to humanity than climate change?
Yes – nothing on Earth is experiencing more dramatic change at the hands of human activity. Changes to the climate are reversible, even if that takes centuries or millennia. But once species become extinct, particularly those unknown to science, there’s no going back…
What can be done?
Giving nature the space and protection it needs is the only answer. Wildlife reserves are the obvious solution, and the world currently protects 15% of land and 7% of the oceans. But some argue that half the land surface must be set aside for nature…
We can all help. Most wildlife is destroyed by land being cleared for cattle, soy, palm oil, timber and leather. Most of us consume these products every day… Choosing only sustainable options helps, as does eating less meat, particularly beef, which has an outsized environmental hoofprint…”
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2017 article on The Guardian news site: “Why factory farming is not just cruel – but also a threat to all life on the planet” at
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A 2015 science journal report titled “BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION: THE KEY IS REDUCING MEAT CONSUMPTION” some excerpts:
“The consumption of animal-sourced food products by humans is one of the most powerful negative forces affecting the conservation of terrestrial ecosystems and biological diversity. Livestock production is the single largest driver of habitat loss, and both livestock and feedstock production are increasing in developing tropical countries where the majority of biological diversity resides…
Livestock production is also a leading cause of climate change, soil loss, water and nutrient pollution, and decreases of apex predators and wild herbivores, compounding pressures on ecosystems and biodiversity. It is possible to greatly reduce the impacts of animal product consumption by humans on natural ecosystems and biodiversity while meeting nutritional needs of people, including the projected 2–3 billion people to be added to human population…
We suggest that impacts can be remediated through several solutions: (1) reducing demand for animal-based food products and increasing proportions of plant-based foods in diets, the latter ideally to a global average of 90% of food consumed; …
Such efforts would also impart positive impacts on human health through reduction of diseases of nutritional extravagance…”
Reference: Science of The Total Environment, Volume 536, 1 December 2015, Pages 419-431; http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969715303697 PDF at https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/5ca8/1a0ea2ccdd791251fd24726269afe5fc49e3.pdf
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there are two factors that matter: ecological strain and economic stratification. The ecological category is the more widely understood and recognised path to potential doom, especially in terms of depletion of natural resources such as groundwater, soil, fisheries and forests – all of which could be worsened by climate change…
While we are all in this together, the world’s poorest will feel the effects of collapse first. Indeed, some nations are already serving as canaries in the coal mine for the issues that may eventually pull apart more affluent ones. Syria, for example…
Our world would become an increasingly ugly place, one defined by a scramble over limited resources and a rejection of anyone outside of our immediate group. Should we find no way to get the wheels back in motion, we’d eventually face total societal collapse…”
Full article is at http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170418-how-western-civilisation-could-collapse
The main drivers appeared to be habitat loss and land conversion to intensive agriculture and urbanization, followed by pollution, mainly from pesticides and fertilizers, invasive species and climate change.
“The conclusion is clear,” they wrote. “Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades.”
Which of these would you name as the world’s most pressing environmental issue?… One is industrial fishing, which, all over the blue planet, is now causing systemic ecological collapse. The other is the erasure of non-human life from the land by farming…
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, at current rates of soil loss, driven largely by poor farming practice, we have just 60 years of harvests left… productivity is already declining on 20% of the world’s cropland…
A study published this week in the journal Plos One reveals that flying insects surveyed on nature reserves in Germany have declined by 76% in 27 years. The most likely cause of this Insectageddon is that the land surrounding those reserves has become hostile to them: the volume of pesticides and the destruction of habitat have turned farmland into a wildlife desert…
Insects, of course, are critical to the survival of the rest of the living world. Knowing what we now know, there is nothing surprising about the calamitous decline of insect-eating birds. Those flying insects – not just bees and hoverflies but species of many different families – are the pollinators without which a vast tract of the plant kingdom, both wild and cultivated, cannot survive. The wonders of the living planet are vanishing before our eyes.
As a UN report published in March explained, the notion that pesticide use is essential for feeding a growing population is a myth. A recent study in Nature Plants reveals that most farms would increase production if they cut their use of pesticides. A study in the journal Arthropod-Plant Interactions shows that the more neonicotinoid pesticides were used to treat rapeseed crops, the more their yield declines. Why? Because the pesticides harm or kill the pollinators on which the crop depends.
Farmers and governments have been comprehensively conned by the global pesticide industry…
To save ourselves and the rest of the living world, here’s what we need to do:
1. We need a global treaty to regulate pesticides…
2. We need environmental impact assessments for the farming and fishing industries…
3. We need firm rules based on the outcomes of these assessments, obliging those who use the land to protect and restore the ecosystems on which we all depend.
4. We need to reduce the amount of land used by farming, while sustaining the production of food. The most obvious way is greatly to reduce our use of livestock: many of the crops we grow and all of the grazing land we use are deployed to feed them. One study in Britain suggests that, if we stopped using animal products, everyone in Britain could be fed on just 3m of our 18.5m hectares of current farmland (or on 7m hectares if all our farming were organic). This would allow us to create huge wildlife and soil refuges: an investment against a terrifying future…”
Article at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/20/insectageddon-farming-catastrophe-climate-breakdown-insect-populations
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The Guardian UK 2017: “Vast animal-feed crops to satisfy our meat needs are destroying planet.” Excerpts: “WWF report finds 60% of global biodiversity loss is down to meat-based diets which put huge strain on Earth’s resources…
The vast scale of growing crops such as soy to rear chickens, pigs and other animals puts an enormous strain on natural resources leading to the wide-scale loss of land and species, according to the study…”
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“The Impacts of Meat Production and Consumption on Biodiversity: The livestock sector is the leading cause of reduction of biodiversity. A recent report by the Zoological Society of London, in concert with WWF International, claims that in the past 40 years 52% of all the world’s wildlife has disappeared, with agriculture, urban development, and food energy production identified as the major threats…”
Reference: “The Sustainability Challenges of Our Meat and Dairy Diets”, Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, Volume 57, 2015 – Issue 3; at
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From a 2016 article in ABC News (Australia) titled “Radical overhaul needed to halt Earth’s sixth great extinction event.”
Excerpts: “human civilisation relies on biodiversity for its very existence. The plants, animals and microorganisms with which we share the Earth supply us with vital ecosystem services.
These include regulating the climate, supplying clean water, limiting floods, running nutrient cycles essential to agriculture and forestry, controlling serious crop pests and carriers of diseases, and providing beauty, spiritual and recreational benefits…
species have been disappearing far faster than before. Since 1900, reptiles are vanishing 24 times faster, birds 34 times faster, mammals and fishes about 55 times faster, and amphibians 100 times faster than they have in the past.
For all vertebrate groups together, the average rate of species loss is 53 times higher than the background rate…
Humans cannot keep growing in numbers and consuming ever more land, water and natural resources and expect all to be well...
We also have to move urgently to slow human population growth, reduce over-consumption and over-hunting, save remaining wilderness areas, expand and better protect our nature reserves, invest in conserving critically endangered species, and vote for leaders who make these issues a priority.
Without decisive action, we are likely to hack off vital limbs of the tree of life that could take millions of years to recover.”
Article at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-09/overhaul-needed-to-halt-earth’s-6th-great-extinction-event/8006050
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A 2017 article on The Guardian newspaper website reports: “Earth’s sixth mass extinction event already under way, scientists warn… A “biological annihilation” of wildlife in recent decades… more severe than previously feared, according to new research… They blame human overpopulation and overconsumption for the crisis and warn that it threatens the survival of human civilisation, although there remains a short window of time in which to act...”
The article is at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/10/earths-sixth-mass-extinction-event-already-underway-scientists-warn
It refers to this study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) at http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/07/05/1704949114
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2016 news report titled “World on track to lose two-thirds of wild animals by 2020, major report warns.” Excerpts: “Living Planet Index shows vertebrate populations are set to decline by 67% on 1970 levels unless urgent action is taken to reduce humanity’s impact… The number of wild animals living on Earth is set to fall by two-thirds by 2020, according to a new report, part of a mass extinction that is destroying the natural world upon which humanity depends.
The analysis, the most comprehensive to date, indicates that animal populations plummeted by 58% between 1970 and 2012, with losses on track to reach 67% by 2020. Researchers from WWF and the Zoological Society of London compiled the report from scientific data and found that the destruction of wild habitats, hunting and pollution were to blame…” at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/27/world-on-track-to-lose-two-thirds-of-wild-animals-by-2020-major-report-warns
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WWF International’s Living Planet Report 2016 – a summary: “Global biodiversity is declining at an alarming rate, putting the survival of other species and our own future at risk. The latest edition of WWF’s Living Planet Report brings home the enormity of the situation – and how we can start to put it right. The Living Planet Index reveals that global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles declined by 58 per cent between 1970 and 2012. We could witness a two-thirds decline in the half-century from 1970 to 2020 – unless we act now to reform our food and energy systems and meet global commitments on addressing climate change, protecting biodiversity and supporting sustainable development…”
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“The Living Planet Index (LPI) is a measure of the state of the world’s biological diversity based on population trends of vertebrate species from terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats. The LPI has been adopted by the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) as an indicator of progress towards its 2011-2020 target to ‘take effective and urgent action to halt the loss of biodiversity’.” – http://www.livingplanetindex.org/home/index
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A 2016 article in The Independent (UK) titled “Half the world’s species failing to cope with global warming as Earth races towards its sixth mass extinction.” Excerpts: “Nearly half the species on the planet are failing to cope with global warming the world has already experienced, according to an alarming new study that suggests the sixth mass extinction of animal life in the Earth’s history could take place in as little as 50 years.
A leading evolutionary biologist, Professor John Wiens, found that 47 per cent of nearly 1,000 species had suffered local extinctions linked to climate change with populations absent from areas where they had been found before…
“This is stuff that’s already happened with just a small change to the climate. We’re looking at a two to five-fold increase [in warming over the next century]…”
Article at http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change-global-warming-mass-extinctions-species-study-donald-trump-kill-himself-joke-a7464391.html
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“Animal Extinction Hidden in Plain Sight – A new study suggests that the overrepresentation of wild animals—lions, tigers, giraffes, etc.—in our everyday lives (toys, films, ads) makes us forget that they are on the verge of extinction. Researchers believe companies should pay ‘image rights’ when using such animals to help conservation efforts. The study’s principal author ecologist Franck Courchamp explains…”
From the study report: “we identify the 10 most charismatic animals and show that they are at high risk of imminent extinction in the wild. We also find that the public ignores these animals’ predicament and we suggest it could be due to the observed biased perception of their abundance, based more on their profusion in our culture than on their natural populations…
According to our hypothesis, this biased perception would be likely to last as long as the massive cultural and commercial presence of charismatic species is not accompanied by adequate information campaigns about the imminent threats they face.”
Reference: “The paradoxical extinction of the most charismatic animals,” PLOS Biology, 2018; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.2003997
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A 2017 article in The Guardian states: “Humans causing climate to change 170 times faster than natural forces… Researchers behind ‘Anthropocene equation’ say impact of people’s intense activity on Earth far exceeds that of natural events spread across millennia…
while the Earth system had proven resilient, achieving millions of years of relative stability due to the complex interactions between the Earth’s core and the biosphere, human societies would be unlikely to fare so well.
Failure to reduce anthropological climate change could “trigger societal collapse”, their research concluded.”
Full article at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/12/humans-causing-climate-to-change-170-times-faster-than-natural-forces
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The Guardian, UK newspaper, 2017: “Why factory farming is not just cruel – but also a threat to all life on the planet.”
Excerpts: “It’s time the world woke up to the real impact of modern, industrial farming, says Philip Lymbery, author of Farmageddon and the Deadzone…
In the US in August, meanwhile, campaigners identified the world’s largest ever “deadzone” – an area in the sea where pollutants from farms create algal blooms that kill off or disperse marine life – and singled out the US’s heavily industrialised factory farm system as a major cause…
“The crops fed to industrially reared animals worldwide could feed an extra four billion [people] on the planet.”
As the global demand for cheap meat grows, the expansion of agricultural land is putting more and pressure on our forests, rivers and oceans, contributing to deforestation, soil erosion, marine pollution zones and the global biodiversity crisis, he said.
“The UN has warned that if we continue as we are, the world’s soils will have effectively gone within 60 years. And then what? We shouldn’t look to the sea to bail us out because commercial fisheries are expected to be finished by 2048…
“The rainforest homes of the likes of jaguars and the critically endangered sumatran elephants are being razed to make way for intensive crop production and plantations that are feeding factory farm animals … the mixed farm habitats of once common farmland birds such as barn owls, turtle doves and skylarks are being stripped away, and … vast quantities of wild fish are being scooped up to feed industrially reared farmed fish and chickens and pigs, leaving the likes of penguins, puffins and other species starving.”…
Antibiotic use is another red flag area. “There is now overwhelming evidence that the routine prophylactic use of antibiotics is leading to the rise of antibiotic resistant superbugs, and the World Health Organisation has issued warnings that if we don’t do something to curb antibiotic use in both human and animal medicine we will face a post-antibiotic era where currently treatable diseases will once again kill.”…”
Article source: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/04/factory-farming-destructive-wasteful-cruel-says-philip-lymbery-farmageddon-author
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2018 report: “Europe’s crisis of collapsing bird and insect numbers will worsen further over the next decade because the EU is in a “state of denial” over destructive farming practices, environmental groups are warning…
Farm subsidies devour 38% of the EU budget and 80% of the subsidies go to just 20% of farmers…
This week studies revealed that the abundance of farmland birds in France had fallen by a third in 15 years – with population falls intensifying in the last two years. It’s a pattern repeated across Europe: farmland bird abundance in 28 European countries has fallen by 55% over three decades, according to the European Bird Census Council. Conservationists say it’s indicative of a wider crisis – particularly the decimation of insect life linked to neonicotinoid pesticides…”
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From a 2017 article in The Conversation – “How changing your diet could save animals from extinction” – some excerpts: “Transforming large swaths of the tropics into farmland could render almost one-third of wildlife there extinct, new research suggests…
Aside from protecting land, food can be grown at little to no cost to biodiversity. For example, small-holder agro-ecological farming, which uses diverse cropping techniques along with fewer chemical fertilizers and pesticides, can produce large quantities of nutritious food at little to no cost to wildlife…
All of this raises the question: How can we eat well without harming wildlife? One simple step we can all take right now that would have a far greater impact than any other (aside from having fewer children): Cut out the grain-fed beef.
The inefficiency of feeding livestock grain to turn them into meals for humans makes a diet heavy in animals particularly harsh on the Earth’s resources. For example, in the United States, it takes 25 kilograms of grain to produce one kilogram of beef…
To make matters worse, the grain we feed animals is the leading driver of deforestation in the tropics. And it’s a hungry beast: our cows, pigs, and poultry devour over one-third of all crops we grow. Indeed, the grain we feed to animals in the U.S. alone could feed an additional 800 million people if it were eaten by us directly — more than the number of people currently living in hunger [globally].
Livestock quietly causes 10 times more deforestation than the palm oil industry but seems to get about 10 times less media attention. While it’s certainly true that avoiding unsustainable palm oil is a good idea, avoiding eating animals that were raised on grain is an even more effective conservation tactic…
Nearly one-third of tropical animal species face extinction if humans do not curb our growing appetites for beef, pork and other land-intensive meats…”
Dr Laura Kehoe, Researcher in Conservation Decision Science and Land Use, University of Victoria. The full article is at https://theconversation.com/how-changing-your-diet-could-save-animals-from-extinction-81061
Dr Kehoe’s sites are http://laurakehoe.org and http://400trees.org
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A 2015 article in The Guardian (UK) newspaper titled “How humans are driving the sixth mass extinction.”
Excerpts: “The impacts of a still-avoidable sixth mass extinction would likely be so massive they’d be best described as science fiction. It would be catastrophic, widespread and, of course, irreversible. In the past, it has taken life ten to thirty million years to recover after such an extinction…
The team of geologists and biologists say that our current extinction crisis is unique in Earth’s history due to four characteristics…
The scientists agree that to avoid mass extinction – and tackle the current environmental crisis – is possible but will require large-scale changes not only in how society operates but how humans view their relation to the natural world…
Ellis agreed that humans must move on from the view that we are somehow separate from nature (or that nature somehow exists separate from us) and, instead, embrace our role as “permanent shapers and stewards of the biosphere and the species within it.”…”
Article at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/radical-conservation/2015/oct/20/the-four-horsemen-of-the-sixth-mass-extinction
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A 2016 presentation on CNN titled “The Extinction Crisis is Far Worse Than You Think“… Our consumption, waste & pollution means species are going extinct “roughly 100 times higher than normal… imagine 3 out of 4 species that were common are gone… We have this very short window… 10-20 years… 5 causes:… climate change… [animal] agriculture… wildlife crime [poaching]… pollution… disease…”
Solutions include to “end the era of fossil fuels… protecting half the planet’s surface… stop the wildlife trade…” Presentation at http://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2016/12/specials/vanishing/
CNN article: “How to Stop the Sixth Mass Extinction” – http://edition.cnn.com/2016/12/12/world/sutter-vanishing-help/index.html
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A 2010 article in The Guardian “Protect nature for world economic security, warns UN biodiversity chief. Ahmed Djoghlaf says nations risk economic collapse and loss of culture if it does not protect the natural world…” Article at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/aug/16/nature-economic-security Also refer to: https://www.cbd.int/doc/speech/2007/sp-2007-05-22-es-en.pdf
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From a 2016 article in The Independent (UK) titled “World facing first mass extinction since the dinosaurs as wildlife populations plunge by 67 per cent in 50 years.”
Excerpts: ‘We ignore the decline of other species at our peril – for they are the barometer that reveals our impact on the world that sustains us’…
By 2020, the populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and other vertebrate species are on course to have fallen by more than two-thirds over a period of just 50 years, the Living Planet report found.
The current rate of extinction is about 100 times faster than is considered normal – greater than during some of the previous five mass extinctions in the Earth’s history…
“Humanity’s misuse of natural resources is threatening habitats, pushing irreplaceable species to the brink and threatening the stability of our climate.”…
But Dr Barrett stressed the situation was far from hopeless.
“We know how to stop this. It requires governments, businesses and citizens to rethink how we produce, consume, measure success and value the natural environment,” Dr Barrett said…”
Article at http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/extinction-wildlife-since-dinosaurs-populations-fall-67-per-cent-wwf-zsl-a7381906.html
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This site contains pages with hundreds of science reports on: the higher rates of disease & death associated with eating red meat, dairy, chicken/poultry, eggs, fish/seafood; & of the improved health & longer lifespans associated with eating healthy plant-based diets featuring fruits & vegetables, nuts & soy; as well as on common nutritional deficiencies; of why so many doctors fail at nutrition; of how big business influences food politics; the evolution of human diets; & on the negative impact of animal agriculture on climate change, deforestation, fishless oceans, biodiversity loss, antibiotic-resistant superbugs; & more.
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A 2017 article in The Guardian (UK) newspaper: “Where have all the insects gone?”
“Entomologists have been assessing diversity and abundance across western Germany and have found that between 1989 and 2013 the biomass of invertebrates caught had fallen by nearly 80%.’…” Article at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/13/where-insects-extinction-world-denuded-life
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“Earth has lost half of its wildlife in the past 40 years, says WWF” is the title of a 2014 article in The Guardian (UK). Excerpts: “Species across land, rivers and seas decimated as humans kill for food in unsustainable numbers and destroy habitats...
“We have lost one half of the animal population and knowing this is driven by human consumption, this is clearly a call to arms and we must act now,” said Mike Barratt, director of science and policy at WWF. He said more of the Earth must be protected from development and deforestation, while food and energy had to be produced sustainably…
the overuse of resources would ultimately lead to conflicts…
Currently, the global population is cutting down trees faster than they regrow, catching fish faster than the oceans can restock, pumping water from rivers and aquifers faster than rainfall can replenish them and emitting more climate-warming carbon dioxide than oceans and forests can absorb…
The report concludes that today’s average global rate of consumption would need 1.5 planet Earths to sustain it. But four planets would be required to sustain US levels of consumption, or 2.5 Earths to match UK consumption levels…
The fastest decline among the animal populations were found in freshwater ecosystems, where numbers have plummeted by 75% since 1970…”
Article at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/29/earth-lost-50-wildlife-in-40-years-wwf
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A 2017 study titled “More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas.” Excerpts: “Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services... we used a standardized protocol to measure total insect biomass… over 27 years in 63 nature protection areas in Germany (96 unique location-year combinations)… Our analysis estimates a seasonal decline of 76%, and mid-summer decline of 82% in flying insect biomass over the 27 years of study.
We show that this decline is apparent regardless of habitat type, while changes in weather, land use, and habitat characteristics cannot explain this overall decline. This yet unrecognized loss of insect biomass must be taken into account in evaluating declines in abundance of species depending on insects as a food source, and ecosystem functioning in the European landscape…”
Reference: “More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas”, PLOS ONE, 2017, October 18, 2017; at
Related 2017 news media reports:
“Insect and bird populations declining dramatically in Germany… A study by the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) concludes that the total number of birds in Germany has been declining dramatically in recent years. In the past twelve years an estimated 12.7 million pairs of breeding birds have disappeared. That’s roughly 15 percent of the total bird population…” at http://www.dw.com/en/insect-and-bird-populations-declining-dramatically-in-germany/a-41030897
The Guardian UK: “A giant insect ecosystem is collapsing due to humans. It’s a catastrophe… Insects are vital plant-pollinators… most of our fruit crops are insect-pollinated, as are the vast majority of our wild plants… Furthermore, insects form the base of thousands upon thousands of food chains, and their disappearance is a principal reason why Britain’s farmland birds have more than halved in number since 1970. Some declines have been catastrophic…
three generations of industrialised farming with a vast tide of poisons pouring over the land year after year after year, since the end of the second world war. This is the true price of pesticide-based agriculture, which society has for so long blithely accepted…
So what is the future… It will be worse still, as we struggle to feed the nine billion people expected to be inhabiting the world by 2050, and the possible 12 billion by 2100, and agriculture intensifies even further to let us do so…
It is the most uncomfortable of truths, but one which stares us in the face: that even the most successful organisms that have ever existed on earth are now being overwhelmed by the titanic scale of the human enterprise, as indeed, is the whole natural world…”
Independent (UK): “Scientists warn of ‘ecological Armageddon’ after study shows flying insect numbers plummeting 75%. Destruction of wild areas for agriculture and use of pesticides considered likely factors… “We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life, and are currently on course for ecological Armageddon. If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse.”…
A UN report in March warned that pesticides, which are “aggressively promoted” by chemical industries, were found to have “catastrophic impacts on the environment, human health and society as a whole”. It said the idea that they were necessary to feed the world’s growing population was “inaccurate and misleading”…
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Regards the decline of birds the Current Biology science journal reported in 2015: “studies demonstrate the ongoing decline of bird populations across Europe… threats to bird populations from habitat loss, illegal hunting, pesticides, and other causes persist, and the overall population trend is still pointing downwards…
a comprehensive analysis of avian abundance and biomass across 25 countries and 30 years… For all species together, the study found a dramatic decline with the estimated total population reduced by 421 million individual birds between 1980 and 2009…
the most dramatic losses both in head count and in biomass can be assigned to the quartile of the most abundant species. With fixed species composition, this quartile has lost 92% in abundance in 30 years…
the report finds that one in three European bird species is now threatened, including formerly common species such as the skylark and the turtle dove, whose populations shrank by 50 and 80%…
the most significant losses both in biomass and in ecosystem services come from the inconspicuous, small and abundant birds like house sparrows. These common birds carry out a wide range of services on a large scale, from seed dispersal to pest control… bound to have knock-on effects on the functioning of the wider ecosystem they are part of…
Research in the Netherlands has linked the spread of systemic pesticides from the neonicotinoid family to bird declines…
As the man-made mass extinction continues, Europe’s birds and other species depend on strong protective legislation for their very survival.”
Reference: “Europe’s bird populations in decline”, Current Biology, Volume 25, Issue 12, 15 June 2015, Pages R483-R485; at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982215006600
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A 2012 report in The Guardian newspaper: “How EU farming policies led to a collapse in Europe’s bird population. New survey shows devastation to farmland birds caused by policies… We take for granted things that two generations ago would have seemed inconceivable – in this case the reduction by 300 million of Europe’s farmland bird population… This dramatic decline represents a 50% reduction and is blamed on major changes in farming policies enforced by the EU over the last 30 years… In order to boost food production across Europe, the wholesale ripping up of hedgerows, draining of wetlands and ploughing over of meadows has robbed farmland birds of their homes and food… These losses are telling us that something is seriously amiss in the world around us and the way that we are interacting with nature…”
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“Global marine populations slashed by half since 1970: WWF… Populations of marine mammals, birds, reptiles and fish have dropped by about half in the past four decades, with fish critical to human food suffering some of the greatest declines… “Overfishing, destruction of marine habitats and climate change have dire consequences for the entire human population… The pace of change in the ocean tells us there’s no time to waste,” Lambertini [head of WWF International] said. “These changes are happening in our lifetime. We can and we must correct course now.”…”
Article at http://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/world/global-marine-populations-slashed-by-half-since-1970-wwf/ar-AAelC44?li=AA59G3&ocid=iehp
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From a 2015 article in The Guardian (UK): “A new study finds that the world’s seabird populations have plummeted by almost 70% in just 60 years… Conservationists have long known that many seabird populations are in decline, but a recent paper in PLOS ONE finds the situation worse than anticipated. According to the researchers, seabird abundance has dropped 69.7% in just 60 years – representing the deaths of some 230 million animals…” Reference: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/radical-conservation/2015/sep/22/after-60-million-years-of-extreme-living-seabirds-are-crashing
From the PLOS report “Seabird population changes are good indicators of long-term and large-scale change in marine ecosystems, and important because of their many impacts on marine ecosystems… We found the monitored portion of the global seabird population to have declined overall by 69.7% between 1950 and 2010…” at
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2019 news report: “A report on the state of New Zealand’s environment has painted a bleak picture of catastrophic biodiversity loss, polluted waterways and the destructive rise of the dairy industry and urban sprawl …
with 75 animal and plant species having gone extinct since human settlement. The once-vibrant bird life has fared particularly badly, with 90% of seabirds and 80% of shorebirds threatened with or at risk of extinction.
Almost two-thirds of New Zealand’s rare ecosystems are under threat of collapse, and over the last 15 years the extinction risk worsened for 86 species, compared with the conservation status of just 26 species improving in the past 10 years …
“New Zealand is losing species and ecosystems faster than nearly any other country,” he said. “Four thousand of our native species are in trouble … from rampant dairy conversions to destructive seabed trawling – [we] are irreversibly harming our natural world.” …
A massive rise in the country’s dairy herd over the last 20 years has had a devastating impact on the country’s freshwater quality, a key area being targeted by the government for improvement …
the report finding that groundwater failed standards at 59% of wells owing to the presence of E coli, and at 13% of the wells owing to nitrates. Some 57% of monitored lakes registered poor water quality, and 76% of native freshwater fish are at risk of or threatened with extinction. A third of freshwater insects are also in danger of extinction …”
Article at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/18/decades-of-denial-major-report-finds-new-zealands-environment-is-in-serious-trouble
- “Damning report warns New Zealand’s environment is in serious trouble” at https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/damning-report-warns-new-zealands-environment-in-serious-trouble
- “Despite its green image, NZ has world’s highest proportion of species at risk”
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From a 2017 in National Geographic title “First Bumblebee Declared Endangered in U.S.” Excerpts: “For the first time in the United States, a species of bumblebee is endangered… once a common sight, is “now balancing precariously on the brink of extinction.” Over the past two decades, the bumblebee’s population has declined 87 percent, according to the announcement…
Bumblebees are among the most important pollinators of crops such as blueberries, cranberries, and clover and almost the only insect pollinators of tomatoes…
The news comes just a few months after the first ever bees were declared endangered in the U.S. In September, seven species of Hawaiian bees, including the yellow-faced bee (Hylaeus anthracinus), received protection under the Endangered Species Act.’ …” See http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/01/bumblebees-endangered-species-rusty-patched/
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A 2016 report in The Globe and Mail: “Bird populations in steep decline in North America, study finds. North America has more than a billion fewer birds than it did 40 years ago… urbanization, growth in agriculture and possibly even climate change have driven the decline in North American landbird populations…
Dozens of species lost more than 50 per cent of their populations between 1970 and 2014… Even relatively abundant birds are dwindling in number, the report says…
Two groups of birds have been especially affected: grasslands species, which have been hurt by the conversion of their habitat into farmland, and insect eaters such as swallows and flycatchers, whose decline is less obvious but may be a result of falling insect populations related to pesticide use.
Human activity kills billions of birds a year, the report notes…”
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A 2010 report by Avian Conservation and Ecology states: “North American birds that feed on aerial insects are experiencing widespread population declines… The pattern of decline also shows a striking geographical gradient, with aerial insectivore declines becoming more prevalent towards the northeast of North America. Declines are also more acute in species that migrate long distances compared to those that migrate short distances… The taxonomic breadth of these downward trends suggests that declines in aerial insectivore populations are linked to changes in populations of flying insects, and these changes might be indicative of underlying ecosystem changes.”
Reference: “Declines of Aerial Insectivores in North America Follow a Geographic Gradient”, at http://www.ace-eco.org/vol5/iss2/art1/
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Article titled “The Disappearing Rainforests” at http://www.savetheamazon.org/rainforeststats.htm
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Regards the loss of native animals in Australia the below notes are from a 2015 report about how livestock farming (pastoralism) increases the threats posed by introduced carnivores and herbivores:
“The highly distinctive and mostly endemic Australian land mammal fauna has suffered an extraordinary rate of extinction (>10% of the 273 endemic terrestrial species) over the last ∼200 y: in comparison, only one native land mammal from continental North America became extinct since European settlement. A further 21% of Australian endemic land mammal species are now assessed to be threatened…
Pastoralism based on introduced sheep and cattle is now the dominant land use across much of Australia, and many other introduced herbivores (notably including the rabbit, goat, donkey, camel, horse, and buffalo) collectively occur abundantly beyond the pastoral estate across the entire Australian land mass, including in many conservation reserves.
Competition with, and habitat degradation caused by, introduced herbivores has also been detrimental to many Australian mammals, as demonstrated by livestock removal experiments and correlative studies that compare mammal assemblages in comparable areas with and without introduced herbivores…
Many of these diverse threatening factors directly or indirectly increase the intensity and impact of predation by feral cats and foxes.
In many areas, shelter sites for native mammals (including hollow logs and dense ground vegetation) are reduced by the current fire regime and/or by grazing pressure of livestock and feral herbivores, allowing more effective hunting by feral predators.
Across extensive areas of mainland Australia, dingo Canis lupus dingo populations have been reduced substantially by the pastoral industry, using exclosure fencing, concerted trapping, and poison-baiting programs, and such reduction in a top-order predator typically results in increases in the abundance of foxes and feral cats with consequently greater predation pressure on native mammals…
Some other instances of recovery of Australian threatened mammals have involved the broadscale removal of livestock and feral herbivores…”
Reference: “Ongoing unraveling of a continental fauna: Decline and extinction of Australian mammals since European settlement”, PNAS April 14, 2015. 112 (15) 4531-4540; at http://www.pnas.org/content/112/15/4531
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From a 2016 Press Release by Center for Biological Diversity titled “3.2 Million Animals Killed by Federal Wildlife-destruction Program in 2015.” Excerpt: “The highly secretive arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture known as Wildlife Services killed more than 3.2 million animals during fiscal year 2015, according to new data released by the agency. The total number of wolves, coyotes, bears, mountain lions, beavers, foxes, eagles and other animals killed largely at the behest of the livestock industry and other agribusinesses represents a half-million-animal increase over the 2.7 million animals the agency killed in 2014.”…” Article at https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2016/wildlife-services-06-20-2016.html
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From a 2015 article titled “Meat-Eaters Are The Number One Cause Of Worldwide Species Extinction, New Study Warns” – some excerpts: “According to a recent study published in Science of the Total Environment by researchers at Florida International University in Miami, livestock production’s impact on land use is “likely the leading cause of modern species extinctions” — a problem the researchers think will only get worse as population growth increases the global demand for meat…
Several studies have suggested that the Earth is currently in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, caused largely by human activities. Animals are hunted and sold for trade, climate change is disrupting migration and mating patterns, extreme weather is threatening animal populations, and deforestation is fragmenting crucial habitat. But all of those causes… pale in comparison to the threat of habitat loss driven by demand for meat, which the study claims “will cause more extinctions than any other factor.”…
Article at https://thinkprogress.org/meat-eaters-are-the-number-one-cause-of-worldwide-species-extinction-new-study-warns-c1a539827344
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From a 2013 article on The Conversation website: “Mass extinctions due to rapidly escalating levels of CO2 are recorded since as long as 580 million years ago. As our anthropogenic global emissions of CO2 are rising, at a rate for which no precedence is known from the geological record with the exception of asteroid impacts, another wave of extinctions is unfolding…
In February 2013, CO2 levels had risen to near 396.80ppm at Mauna Loa Atmospheric Observatory, compared to 393.54ppm in February 2012. This rise – 3.26ppm per year – is at the highest rate yet recorded. Further measurements show CO2 is at near 400ppm of the atmosphere over the Arctic. At this rate the upper stability threshold of the Antarctic ice sheet, defined at about 500–600ppm CO2 would be reached later this century…
Our global carbon reserves – including coal, oil, oil shale, tar sands, gas and coal-seam gas – contain considerably more than 10,000 billion tonnes of carbon… This amount of carbon, if released into the atmosphere, is capable of raising atmospheric CO2 levels to higher than 1000ppm. Such a rise in atmospheric radiative forcing will be similar to that of the Paleocene-Eocene boundary thermal maximum (PETM), which happened about 55 million years-ago… But the rate of rise surpasses those of this thermal maximum by about ten times.
The rapid opening of the Arctic Sea ice, melting of Greenland and west Antarctic ice sheets, and rising spate of floods, heat waves, fires and other extreme weather events may signify a shift in state of the climate, crossing tipping points…
Continuing emissions contravene international laws regarding crimes against humanity and related International and Australian covenants. In the absence of an effective global mitigation effort, governments world-wide are now presiding over the demise of future generations and of nature, tracking toward one of the greatest mass extinction events nature has seen. It is time we learned from the history of planet Earth.”
From a 2013 article titled “Another link between CO2 and mass extinctions of species” by Andrew Glikson, Earth and paleo-climate scientist, Australian National University; article at https://theconversation.com/another-link-between-co2-and-mass-extinctions-of-species-12906
“Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide” are listed on a web-page of the U.S. Government’s National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration at https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/global.html As of May 2017 the level is listed as being 406.36ppm (parts per million) for “mean carbon dioxide globally averaged over marine surface sites…”
From a 2000 page on the site of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is titled “How human activities produce greenhouse gases.”
Some excerpts: “Carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels is the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. The supply and use of fossil fuels accounts for about three quarters of mankind’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions… Deforestation is the second largest source of carbon dioxide… The second-most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide, methane is produced by cattle, dairy cows, buffalo, goats, sheep, camels, pigs, and horses. Most livestock-related methane emissions are produced by “enteric fermentation” of food by bacteria and other microbes in the animals’ digestive tracts; another source is the decomposition of animal manure. Livestock account for about one-quarter of the methane emissions from human activities, totalling some 100 million tonnes a year…”
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March 2018 article: “The destruction of biodiversity is an equally or perhaps even more pressing crisis than climate change, which has fuelled the decline. The problem is not only the extinction of species, but the slashing of populations. The number of land animals worldwide has fallen by as much as half since 1970…
As experts point out, the threat to other species is a threat to our own survival. Self-preservation demands the preservation of flora and other fauna, whose interconnection we cannot hope to understand. We are recklessly destroying the species that make oxygen and protect us from extreme weather; the food chains on which we depend; the sources of medicines we may need…
We do not have to consume so much, burn such vast quantities of coal, raze all our forests and fill our oceans with plastic. Changing the way we live will not be easy. But it is necessary for our own sake too…”
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This set of articles were compiled for
Pages on this Site:
Quotes from news reports & science journals on how the Western omnivore diet with meat and dairy products accelerates climate-change through: i) increasing our carbon footprint of greenhouse gases; ii) deforesting & destroying wilderness that absorbs carbon and protects biodiversity; iii) creating massive pollution; and iv) wasting resources like grains, water, fuels and agricultural lands.
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Excerpts & links to medical studies, articles & reports on the links between meat consumption and increased incidences of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and early mortality (a shorter lifespan); also to reports on how cancers are increasing in young people.
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Quotes & links to articles in science, medical & health journals that report great benefits vegetarians and vegans generally have including longer lives with less of the chronic degenerative diseases like cancer, cardiovascular heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and obesity as well as lower blood pressure, hypertension and blood cholesterol levels.
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Excerpts & links to articles in news media science journals about the current ‘Sixth Mass Extinction’ known also as the ‘Holocene Extinction’ or ‘Anthropocene Extinction’ as it is largely caused by human activities.
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This page contains quotes & links for studies & articles in science journals, news media & by medical doctors; on the association of drinking milk to higher rates of osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.
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This page features quotes & links to articles in news media and science journals about the rise of microbes that are resistant to antibiotics; posing a grave threat to all of us; from 50% to 80% of antibiotics are (mis-)used in animal agriculture industries.
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This page features quotes & links to reports that expose how the animal agriculture industries (meat, dairy, poultry) influence government, politics, the education schooling system and news media in order to promote their interests.
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Excerpts from articles about the marine ecosystem collapse that is happening now in oceans, seas & rivers due to over-fishing and the toxic pollution in waterways from land-based animal agriculture meat-farming; worsening climate change; threatening the entire food chain.
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Articles from science journals & news reports that dispute the health claims made regards eating fish; some even find higher rates of heart disease and cancer among seafood consumers.
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A collection of quotes & links for articles by doctors, dietitians & nutrition experts who refute & rebut the negative claims made regards “the soy food debate”
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For Archives of Related Memes see:
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