The Extinction Crisis is Growing Worldwide

Day 276 – They were on the endangered species list. Sadly, they have not been seen in the wild in a long time. It’s feared they are now extinct as a result of habitat destruction and climate change.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has officially proposed to take 23 plants and animals off the endangered species list and declare them extinct. Before this recent announcement, eleven species had been removed from the list as a result of extinction, in the past 50 years.

In an article written by Katharine Gammon for The Guardian, she writes about the current extinction crisis.

According to the UN, 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history. Declining habitat, climate change and pollution are all factors in the increasing number of extinctions.

The species on the list, now officially extinct, include 10 types of bats and birds found only on islands in the Pacific, as well as eight types of freshwater mussels from riverbeds across the eastern US.

One of the final members of the Kauaʻi ʻōʻō bird died in 1987. He lived his last days in captivity, singing a mating song to a female that would never come. His song was recorded for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.”

There’s still a chance that these plants and animals may not make the list of extinct species. The public has 60 days to comment. Many believe that the fight for these species is not over and people need to continue protecting their habitats. As John Fitzpatrick, a Cornell University bird biologist said, ““little is gained and much is lost” with an extinction declaration.

Tomorrow, hoping a little incentive will encourage people to recycle.

Protecting the Ozone

Day 259 – The ozone layer is a thin part of the Earth’s atmosphere that absorbs almost all of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet light.

“Ozone is only a trace gas in the atmosphere—only about 3 molecules for every 10 million molecules of air. But it does a very important job. Like a sponge, the ozone layer absorbs bits of radiation hitting Earth from the sun. Even though we need some of the sun’s radiation to live, too much of it can damage living things. The ozone layer acts as a shield for life on Earth.” – National Geographic

Starting in the early 1970’s, however, scientists found evidence that human activities were disrupting the ozone balance. Human production of chlorine-containing chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) has added an additional factor that destroys ozone. This depletion of the ozone layer, in turn, was affecting life on Earth — the destruction of plants and ecosystems, increase in skin cancer, etc. The scientists’ discovery highlighted the importance of the ozone layer and the dire need to preserve it.

The scientific confirmation of the depletion of the ozone layer prompted the international community to establish a mechanism for cooperation to take action to protect the ozone layer. This was formalized in the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, which was adopted and signed by 28 countries, on 22 March 1985. In September 1987, this led to the drafting of The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.” – United Nations

On 16th September 2009, the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol became the first treaties in the history of the United Nations to achieve universal ratification. September 16 has since then been dedicated each year to the appreciation and preservation of this protective layer and the success of the Vienna Convention.

On this International Day of the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, make sure you are doing your part to protect the ozone.

  1. Avoid the consumption of gases dangerous to the ozone layer, due to their content or manufacturing process. Some of the most dangerous gases are CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), halogenated hydrocarbon, methyl bromide and nitrous oxide.
  2. Minimize the use of cars. The best transport option is urban, bicycle, or walking. If you use a car to a destination, try to carpool with others to decrease the use of cars in order to pollute less and save.
  3. Do not use cleaning products that are harmful to the environment and to us. Many cleaning products contain solvents and substances corrosive, but you can replace these dangerous substances with non-toxic products such as vinegar or bicarbonate.
  4. Buy local products. In this way, you not only get fresh products but you avoid consuming food that has traveled long distances. As the more distance traveled, the more nitrous oxide is produced due to the medium used to transport that product.
  5. Maintain air conditioners, as their malfunctions cause CFC to escape into the atmosphere.

Tomorrow, Grand Rapids is doing something right when it comes to recycling.

Wildland Farming: Ecological Restoration

Day 163 – A farm in the UK has gone wild and it has people wondering if this could be the solution to our over farming problems. For 16 years the Knepp Wildland Project (West Sussex) has been home to grazing animals that are helping to boost biodiversity while also providing sustainable, high-quality meat.

“Not only are herds of animals roaming free, the project has brought solutions to some of the natural world’s most pressing problems: from soil restoration and flood mitigation to water and air purification, pollinating insects and carbon sequestration. Wildland farming can be an effective, low-cost method of ecological restoration. Rare species like turtle doves, nightingales, peregrine falcons and purple emperor butterflies are now breeding at Knepp, and populations of more common species are rocketing. Only the surplus of animals that the land cannot sustain are harvested, there’s no soil degradation from intensive farming practices and the amount of carbon locked in the soil is increasing. Knepp could be used as a prototype for rewilding abandoned and over-farmed land.”weforum.org

Even though many current farming techniques are using less pesticides and finding ways to maintain nutrient soil, it seems like allowing nature to take over at least some of our lands could be very beneficial. We could also learn a great deal from ancient farming techniques.

Eliminating hunger is one of the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, but with 690 million people still going hungry, our agricultural heritage has plenty to teach us about how to feed our growing population without destroying the planet.

Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) are outstanding landscapes of aesthetic beauty that combine agricultural biodiversity, resilient ecosystems and a valuable cultural heritage. Located in specific sites around the world, they sustainably provide multiple goods and services, food and livelihood security for millions of small-scale farmers. These ancestral agricultural systems constitute the foundation for contemporary and future agricultural innovations and technologies. Their cultural, ecological and agricultural diversity is still evident in many parts of the world, maintained as unique systems of agriculture.”Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Until we can entrust our farming to nature and the techniques created by our ancestors, we run the real risk of depleting our farmlands of the rich nutrients they need to survive. The current way is no longer working, we need to look to the past in order to ensure a successful future.

  • To learn more about the Knepp Wildland Project, click HERE.

Tomorrow, cases that protect your phone and the planet.

The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods

Day 159 – Oceans Day was first declared on June 8, 1992 in Rio de Janeiro at the Global Forum, a parallel event at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) which provided an opportunity for non-government organizations and civil society to express their views on environmental issues. In 2008, led by Canada, the General Assembly resolved that June 8 would be designated by the United Nations as “World Oceans Day”. The theme of the inaugural observance of World Oceans Day was ‘Our Oceans, Our Responsibility’.

This year’s theme is ‘The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods‘. The day will shed light on the wonder of the ocean and how it is our lifesource, supporting humanity and every other organism on earth.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) gives many reasons as to why we should care about the ocean.

  1. The ocean produces over half of the world’s oxygen and stores more than 50 times more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere.
  2. Covering 70% of the Earth’s surface, the ocean transports heat from the equator to the poles, regulating our climate and weather patterns.
  3. 76% of U.S. trade involves some form marine transportation.
  4. The ocean economy produces $282 billion in goods and services per year. Ocean dependent businesses employ almost 3 million people.
  5. The ocean provides so much more than just seafood. Ingredients from the sea are found in things like peanut butter and soy milk.
  6. Many medicinal products come from the ocean. Medicines that fight cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and heart disease can be traced back to the ocean.

So, what can we do to help the oceans?

NOAA gives us 10 ways we can help.

  1. Conserve Water – Use less water so excess runoff and wastewater will not flow into the ocean.
  2. Reduce Pollutants – Choose nontoxic chemicals and dispose of herbicides, pesticides, and cleaning products properly.
  3. Reduce Waste – Cut down on what you throw away.
  4. Shop Wisely – Choose sustainable seafood. Buy less plastic and bring a reusable bag.
  5. Reduce Vehicle Pollution – Use fuel efficient vehicles, carpool or ride a bike.
  6. Use Less Energy – Choose energy efficient light bulbs and don’t overset your thermostat.
  7. Fish Responsibly – Follow “catch and release” practices and keep more fish alive.
  8. Practice Safe Boating – Anchor in sandy areas far from coral and sea grasses. Adhere to “no wake” zones.
  9. Respect Habitat – Healthy habitat and survival go hand in hand. Treat with care.
  10. Volunteer – Volunteer for cleanups at the beach and in your community. You can get involved in protecting your watershed too!

Even if you don’t live near the ocean, your actions can have an impact. Make sure your impact is a positive one.

Tomorrow, saving the fireflies.

World Food Safety Day

Day 158 – The first World Food Day was celebrated on October 16, 1981. After acknowledging the global burden of food-borne diseases on individuals of all ages, the United Nations General Assembly then proclaimed in 2018 that every year, June 7th would be celebrated as World Food Safety Day.

“According to the World Health Organization (WHO), worldwide, unsafe food causes approximately 600 million cases of food-borne diseases and 420,000 deaths annually. Unsafe food is a serious threat to human health and economies. It is mostly the marginalized and vulnerable people, especially women and young children, migrants, and populations affected by conflict, who bear the brunt of it all. Food is the focal point for our health, energy, and our well-being. We often take for granted that all the food we eat is safe. But, in a progressively interconnected world where food value chains are constantly growing longer, there is a need for robust food-related standards and regulations to keep us safe.” FirstCryParenting.com

Food safety is a shared responsibility between governments, producers and consumers.  Everyone has a role to play from farm to table to ensure the food we consume is safe and healthy. Through the World Food Safety Day, WHO works to mainstream food safety in the public agenda and reduce the burden of food-borne diseases globally. Food safety is everyone’s business.

Calls to action

1 – Ensure it’s safe – Government must ensure safe and nutritious food for all.

2 – Grow it safe – Agriculture and food producers need to adopt good practices.

3 – Keep it safe – Business operators must make sure food is safe.

4 – Know what’s safe – Consumers need to learn about safe and healthy food.

5 – Team up for food safety – Work together for safe food and good health.

Be thankful for access to safe food and fight for those that do not. Everyone should be able to eat without fear of getting sick.

Tomorrow, preserving and protecting our oceans.