Brazil: deforestation jumps in world’s largest savanna as scientists raise alarm

Deforestation last year rose to the highest level since 2015 in Brazil’s Cerrado, prompting scientists on Monday to raise alarm over the state of the world’s most species-rich savanna and a major carbon sink that helps to stave off climate change.

The Cerrado, the world’s largest savanna spread across several states of Brazil, is often called an “upside-down forest” because of the deep roots its plants sink into the ground to survive seasonal droughts and fires.

Deforestation and other clearances of native vegetation in the Cerrado rose 8% to 8,531 sqkm (2.1 million acres) in the 12 months through July. That is more than 10 times the size of New York City’s land area.

“It’s extremely worrying,” said Mercedes Bustamante, an ecologist at the University of Brasilia. Bustamante also criticized the government for a lack of transparency for announcing the deforestation data on New Year’s Eve.

The added destruction is particularly concerning, scientists say, when considering that roughly half of the Cerrado has been destroyed since the 1970s, mostly for farming and ranching.

“You’re transforming thousands of square kilometers annually,” said Manuel Ferreira, a geographer at the Federal University of Goias. “Few other places on earth have seen that rapid of a transformation.”

‘Carbon bomb’: Queensland, Australia, reveals big jump in land clearing

Queensland landholders are clearing the equivalent of about 1,000 Melbourne Cricket Grounds a day, including endangered ecological regions, according to state government data that raises new doubts about the accuracy of Australia’s carbon emissions claims.

The Statewide Landcover and Trees Study for 2018-19 showed landholders cleared 680,688 hectares (1.7 million acres) of woody vegetation, or about 0.7% of Queensland’s total.

About 84% of 2018-19 land clearing destroyed vegetation that was at least 15 years old, the new report said. The great bulk of the deforestation, or 88%, involved land with less than 50% tree cover.

Stuart Blanch, a WWF Australia conservation scientist, said the figures were “a real shocker”, deliberately released ahead of New Year’s Eve to stir up the least attention. The data also suggests Australia’s carbon emissions are worse than reported, he said. “We’re a massive land-clearing nation. Queensland has got the vast majority of it, and the vast majority of that is for beef.”

Glenn Walker, a senior campaigner for Greenpeace, said the Slats data was “extraordinary, horrifying figures” that showed Australia remained one of the world’s fastest deforesting nations.

“Behind these figures are millions of killed and maimed native animals like koalas and huge amounts of carbon emissions from burning and rotting trees,” Walker said. “Clearly the current laws aren’t working and the beef sector isn’t taking this issue seriously. This should be a huge wake-up call to act fast before we lose more precious bushland and wildlife.”

‘A 99.5% decline’: what caused Australia’s bogong moth catastrophe?

  • Land-clearing for crops in the Murray-Darling basin, the main winter breeding ground for the moths,
  • Severe drought in the breeding grounds,
  • Increased use of pesticides such as neonicotinoids in Australia (some of which are banned in other countries),
  • Increased light pollution, which disrupts the moths’ migration,
  • Destruction of habitat and flowering plants on their migration routes, and
  • A climate that is becoming warmer and drier.

The moths provide a necessary feast for mountain pygmy-possums awakening from hibernation, and are also a key food source for birds, other mammals, reptiles and frogs, many of which are endangered in alpine regions.

“Even other invertebrates, such as ants and spiders, are seen feasting on the moths. The nutrients left every year by the moths are also important to the alpine soil and plants.”

“Given the sheer number of moths and the number of flowers they would visit, there should be strong concern about this”

Almost 17 million vertebrates killed in the 2020 wildfires in Brazil

Scientists estimate that 16.9 million vertebrates were killed by fires in the Pantanal wetlands, Brazil, between Jan & Nov 2020.

Sampling likely excluded species incl. jaguars, pumas & tapirs, & doesn’t reflect subsequent animal deaths from habitat loss.

Humanity continues to degrade the Arctic

The Arctic continues to warm more than twice as fast as the rest of the globe.

Summer 2021 saw the second-lowest amount of older, multi-year ice since 1985, and the post-winter sea ice volume in April 2021 was the lowest since records began in 2010.

Seven of the nine Arctic regions observed showed higher ocean primary productivity in 2021 than the long-term average (2003-20). All regions continue to exhibit positive trends over the 2003-21 period, with the strongest trends in the Eurasian Arctic and the Barents Sea.

Terrestrial snow cover in the Eurasian Arctic in June 2021 was the 3rd lowest since records began in 1967. In the North American Arctic, snow cover has been below average for 15 consecutive years.

The Greenland Ice Sheet experienced three extreme melt episodes in late July and August. On August 14, 2021, rainfall was directly observed at the 10,500-foot Summit Station for the first time ever.

Exceptionally high midsummer productivity was observed in 2021 across the tundra. Satellites provide unequivocal evidence of widespread tundra greening, but extreme events and other drivers of local-scale “browning” have also become more frequent, highlighting regional disruption as an increasing component of Arctic change.

Beavers are colonizing the Arctic tundra of western Alaska, transforming lowland tundra ecosystems and degrading permafrost by increasing the amount of unfrozen surface water on the landscape in winter.

The long-term observations for Eurasian and North American Arctic river discharges demonstrate an upward trend, providing evidence for the intensification of the Arctic hydrologic cycle. In 2020, the combined discharge of the eight largest Arctic rivers was ~12% greater than the average over the 1981-2010 reference period.

Retreating glaciers and thawing permafrost are causing local to regional-scale hazards that threaten lives and livelihoods, infrastructure, sustainable development, and national security. There is an urgent need for broad-scale hazard identification and assessment across the Arctic.

During 2020, the Bering Strait region of Alaska experienced a marine debris event that brought garbage ashore that was different from the types and amounts typically observed, most associated with foreign ship traffic through the region.

Arctic shipping traffic between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans continues to increase and with it, ambient marine noise levels are increasing in the frequency bands used by marine mammals.

Deep-sea mining may push hundreds of species to extinction

Almost two-thirds of the hundreds of mollusc species that live in the deep sea are at risk of extinction, according to a new study that rings another alarm bell over the impact on biodiversity of mining the seabed.

More than 80% of the ocean remains unmapped, unobserved and unexplored, and there is increasing opposition to deep-sea mining from governments, civil society groups and scientists, who say loss of biodiversity is inevitable, and likely to be permanent if it goes ahead.

The International Seabed Authority (ISA), a UN body, is meeting in Kingston, Jamaica, to agree a route for finalising regulations by July 2023 that would allow the undersea mining of cobalt, nickel and other metals to go ahead.

The species we studied are extremely reliant on the unique ecosystem of hydrothermal vents for their survival,” said Elin Thomas, the lead researcher. “If deep-sea mining companies want all the metals that form at the vents, they would remove all the habitat that the vent species come from. But the species have nowhere else to go.”

There are at least 600 known hydrothermal vents worldwide, at depths of 2,000-4,000 metres, and each are roughly a third of the size of a football pitch. They act as natural plumbing systems, transporting heat and chemicals from the Earth’s interior in massive geysers, and they also help regulate ocean chemistry. In doing so, vast – and valuable – mineral deposits accumulate at the fissures. The heat from them, on the otherwise cold seabed, also makes them biodiversity hotspots, akin to coral reefs or tropical rainforests.

The extinction threat was worst in the Indian Ocean, where every species was listed as threatened and 60% as critically endangered, and where many mining exploration licences have been issued by the ISA.

124 Australian species added to endangered species list

Among the species listed is the bogong moth.

Scientists have detected steady declines in numbers of bogong moths since the 1980s. But in 2017 and 2018 that crashed to numbers so low the species was described as “undetectable” in the alpine regions where it used to arrive in spring in numbers as high as 4.4 billion.

The ecologist, Ken Green, has been monitoring bogong moths for 40 years.

He and other researchers were consulted by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as part of the assessment and asked if they could quantify the size of the declines.

“They said are we talking 60%? Or 40%? And we said no. Three years ago we had a decline of about 99.5%.”

Green recalls one set of surveys in the Canberra and Kosciuszko region in 2017 and viewing one cave that would typically house 17,000 moths a square metre. He said they could see just three moths inside.

Factors including pesticides and urban light pollution have been considered in relation to the decline in the species.

Green said Australia’s drought through 2017, 2018 and 2019 was likely the largest contributor. He said last summer recorded a slight improvement in populations but numbers were, at best, 5% of what they used to be.

15% of Florida’s manatee population has died this year due to human activity

A record manatee die-off in Florida this year has become so dire that federal officials are taking a once unthinkable step — feeding the wild marine mammals to help them survive the winter.

More than 1,000 manatees, about 15% of the state’s total population, have died this year. But even with a supplemental feeding program — delivering heads of lettuce and cabbage as the manatees gather in their traditional warm-water wintering spots — biologists predict that hundreds more of the iconic species are likely to perish.

Manatees rely mainly on sea grass, beds of which have been smothered by pollutants along with outbreaks of toxic algae blooms intensified by climate change.

While boat strikes have ranked as the main cause of death among Florida manatees, starvation has outpaced boating accidents this year.

“You shouldn’t be able to see their bones. They’re supposed to be chubby, not emaciated.”

Human greenhouse gas emissions kill seabirds

The warming of the planet is taking a deadly toll on seabirds that are suffering population declines from starvation, inability to reproduce, heat waves and extreme weather.

One estimate by researchers from University of British Columbia stated that seabird populations have fallen 70% since the mid-20th century.

Researchers from the University of Washington and other institutions who studied dozens of worldwide seabird species found some were having success breeding at only 10% of historical levels.

Warming seas, coupled with die-off events that kill thousands of birds by starvation, are making it harder for some species to maintain stable populations, said P. Dee Boersma, a University of Washington biology professor.

The seabirds, such as penguins that have declined by nearly three-quarters in South Africa since 1991, are a harbinger of what will happen to wildlife with global warming, Boersma said.

One of the most serious threats to seabirds is a reduction of plankton and small fish in cold northern waters. Forage fish and plankton loss has led to mass die-offs of birds.

Rising sea levels are another concern. Albatross colonies in the central Pacific and Hawaiian islands depend on low-lying areas that face inundation and bigger storms, said Don Lyons, director of conservation science at Audubon Society’s Seabird Institute. “People are really concerned about a couple decades out” Lyons said.

“Seabirds are one of the most visible indicators of the health of our oceans,” said Shaye Wolf climate science director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “These escalations of seabird die offs are big red flags that the rising temperature of the ocean is wreaking havoc.”

Britain wildlife is in freefall with 70 of 245 bird species now seriously at risk

The red list of Britain’s most endangered birds has increased to 70 species. Birds are placed on the red list either because their populations have severely declined in Britain, or because they are considered under threat of global extinction.

The red list now accounts for more than a quarter of Britain’s 245 bird species, almost double the 36 species given the status of “highest conservation concern” in the first review 25 years ago.

One in six Australian birds are now threatened

216 out of 1,299 species are threatened – up from 195 in 2011 – with the climate crisis pushing more birds on to the list or increasing the threat status of those in danger.

Forest fires in Australia are worsening

The Black Summer forest fires of 2019–2020 in Australia burned more than 24 million hectares (59 million acres), directly causing 33 deaths and almost 450 more from smoke inhalation. Nearly 3 billion animals (mammals, reptiles, birds, and frogs) were killed or displaced.

A study has found:

  • The annual area burned by fire across Australia’s forests has been increasing by about 48,000 hectares (119,000 acres) per year over the last three decades. After 5 years, that would be roughly the size of the entire Australian Capital Territory.
  • In the past 90 years, there were four megafire years (defined as a year in which more than one million hectares burn). The first was 1939, and the subsequent three all occurred after 2001. 
  • The fire season is growing, spreading out of spring and summer into autumn and winter.

Human emissions causing increasing rates of albatross break-ups

Climate change and warming waters are pushing black-browed albatross break-up rates higher. Typically after choosing a partner, only 1-3% would separate in search of greener romantic pastures.

But in the years with unusually warm water temperatures, that average consistently rose, with up to 8% of couples splitting up. The study looked at a wild population of 15,500 breeding pairs in the Falkland Islands over 15 years.

Brazil Amazon deforestation up 22% in a year; a 15 year record

The 13,235 square kilometers (5,110 square miles) of forest lost from August 2020 to July 2021 was the largest swath since 14,286 square kilometers were cleared in 2005-06.

The rate of clearance in the past year is equivalent to 6 acres per minute, continuously all day and night.

Over 40% of insect species are threatened with extinction

From a study published in 2019:

Biodiversity of insects is threatened worldwide. Our work reveals dramatic rates of decline that may lead to the extinction of 40% of the world’s insect species over the next few decades.

The main drivers of species declines appear to be in order of importance: i) habitat loss and conversion to intensive agriculture and urbanisation; ii) pollution, mainly that by synthetic pesticides and fertilisers; iii) biological factors, including pathogens and introduced species; and iv) climate change. The latter factor is particularly important in tropical regions, but only affects a minority of species in colder climes and mountain settings of temperate zones.

A rethinking of current agricultural practices, in particular a serious reduction in pesticide usage and its substitution with more sustainable, ecologically-based practices, is urgently needed to slow or reverse current trends, allow the recovery of declining insect populations and safeguard the vital ecosystem services they provide.

The true cost of growing food in Spain’s arid south

Las Tablas de Daimiel is a unique wetland in the vast, almost treeless plains of Castilla-La Mancha in central Spain, but the park has had the life sucked out of it to slake intensive agriculture’s insatiable thirst.

3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) of Las Tablas wetland are all that remain of what, according to the World Wildlife Fund, was once a system of 50,000 hectares.

The park has been dry for three years and where there were once aquatic species such as ducks, herons, egrets and freshwater crayfish, as well as tree frogs and the European polecat, now the wildlife has mostly vanished.

Climate change has resulted in Spain’s periods of drought getting longer. The Guadiana river is drying up, while agriculture has depleted the aquifer and polluted the groundwater with phosphates and other chemical fertilisers. In 2009, the wetland was so dry that subterranean peat fires broke out.

Humans kill off 1 in 6 birds in the EU and UK

One of every six birds – a net loss of 600 million breeding birds in total – have disappeared over less than four decades.

The study by scientists from the RSPB, BirdLife International and the Czech Society for Ornithology analysed data for 378 of 445 bird species native to countries in the EU and UK, finding that the overall abundance of breeding birds declined by between 17% and 19% between 1980 and 2017 (1 in 6 = 17%).

“Our study is a wake-up call to the very real threat of extinctions and of a Silent Spring,” said Fiona Burns, lead author of the study and a senior conservation scientist for the RSPB.

“Common birds are becoming less and less common, largely because the spaces they depend on are being wiped out by humans. Nature has been eradicated from our farmland, sea and cities.”

Humans kill off 1 in 4 birds in the US and Canada

The US and Canada have lost more than one in four birds – a total of three billion – between 1970 and 2019, culminating in what scientists who published a new study are calling a “widespread ecological crisis”.

Researchers observed a 29% decline in bird populations across diverse groups and habitats.

The study did not analyze the reason for the drop. But around the world, birds are thought to be dying more and having less success breeding largely because their habitats are being damaged and destroyed by agriculture and urbanization.

Domestic cats, collisions with glass and buildings, and a decline in the insects birds eat – probably because of widespread pesticide use – also contribute to the dwindling bird numbers. And climate change compounds those problems by altering bird habitats.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef will survive if warming kept to 1.5˚C

If global warming is kept to 1.5˚C, the mix of corals on the Barrier Reef will change but it could still thrive, said the study’s lead author Professor Terry Hughes, of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

“If we go to 3, 4˚C of global average warming which is tragically the trajectory we are currently on, then there won’t be much left of the Great Barrier Reef or any other coral reefs throughout the tropics,” Hughes told Reuters.

A study released on Friday by an Australian university looking at multiple catastrophes hitting the Great Barrier Reef has found for the first time that only 2% of its area has escaped bleaching since 1998, then the world’s hottest year on record.

Sticky Post – The Extinction Crisis

Earth now faces a global extinction crisis never witnessed by humankind. Scientists predict that more than 1 million species are on track for extinction in the coming decades. Every taxon is in trouble –

Amphibians: More than 33% of the known 6,300 species are at risk of extinction.

Birds: 12% of known 9,865 species are considered threatened, with 2% facing an “extremely high risk” of extinction in the wild.

Fish: 21% of 8,814 species evaluated in 2010 were at risk of extinction, including more than a third of sharks and rays.

Invertebrates: 1.3 million known species. 30% of 9,526 species evaluated are at risk of extinction.

Mammals: 50% of the 5,491 species are declining in population and 20% are clearly at risk of disappearing. No less than 1,131 species are classified as endangered, threatened, or vulnerable.

Reptiles: 21% of species evaluated are endangered or vulnerable to extinction.

Insects: Dramatic rates of decline that may lead to the extinction of 40% of the world’s insect species over the next few decades.

Plants: Of the more than 300,000 known species of plants, 68% of the 12,914 species evaluated are threatened with extinction.

Sticky Post – Animal populations worldwide have declined nearly 70% in just 50 years

Nearly 21,000 monitored populations of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians, encompassing almost 4,400 species around the world, have declined an average of 68% between 1970 and 2016, according to the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report 2020.

Species in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as global freshwater habitats, were disproportionately impacted, declining, on average, 94% and 84%, respectively.

The report blames humans alone for the “dire” state of the planet. It points to the exponential growth of human consumption, population, global trade and urbanization over the last 50 years as key reasons for the unprecedented decline of Earth’s resources — which it says the planet is incapable of replenishing.

The report points to land-use change — in particular, the destruction of habitats like rainforests for farming — as the key driver for loss of biodiversity, accounting for more than half of the loss in Europe, Central Asia, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Much of that land is being used for agriculture, which is responsible for 80% of global deforestation. Around the world, an estimated one-third of all food produced for humans is lost or wasted. If current habitats remain the same, researchers predict that cropland areas may have to be 10-25% larger in 2050 than in 2005, just to accommodate increased food demand.

To feed 10 billion people by 2050, humans will need to adopt a healthier way of eating. Experts recommend humans adopt a diet that consists of a balanced proportion of whole grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables, beans and pulses, with animal-derived products like fish, eggs, dairy and meat consumed in moderation.

Biodiversity loss caused by Australian society

Nature is being destroyed at a rate never before seen in human history, that rate is accelerating and almost all of the destruction is caused by humans. 

Australia is ranked third in the world for the most species extinction, and number one when it comes to extinctions of mammals. More than a third of all mammal extinctions since industrialisation have occurred in Australia.

A study this year found that 19 ecosystems in Australia are now “collapsing” — including the crucial Murray-Darling Basin and the Great Barrier Reef.

Australia has cut funding for nature protection and restoration by about 40% since 2013.

“Over 90 countries have signed the leaders pledge to reverse biodiversity loss. Sadly, Australia isn’t one of them,”

Model suggests fish fecal carbon sequestering in the ocean has declined by half over the past century

An international team of researchers has created a model that estimates the effects on the world’s oceans over the past century by fish and their excrement.

The model showed that the amount of fecal matter dropped by fish globally is approximately half of what it once was, which suggests only half as much carbon is being sequestered. The remainder is likely entering the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.

Around approximately year 1900, humans began commercializing fishing—an event that signified a massive increase in the numbers of fish that were caught every year. That increase has led to decreased numbers of fish in the world’s oceans. The entire biomass of fish globally has dropped by approximately 47% over the past century.

UN deforestation prevention scheme collapses

Protecting trees is key to meeting ambitious climate goals, with tropical rainforest loss accounting for about eight percent of annual carbon dioxide emissions, according to monitoring platform Global Forest Watch.

Indonesia, home to the world’s third-largest expanse of tropical forest, walked away from the $1-billion deal with Norway, having received only a tiny fraction of the money.

While figures show forest loss slowed in Indonesia in the past five years, authorities say they did not receive the expected first payment of $56 million for this success. Indonesian officials told the Jakarta Post they terminated the deal because Norway had shown “no goodwill” and set additional requirements such as documentation on how the cash would be spent.

Globally deforestation has only escalated in recent years—destruction of pristine rainforest was 12% higher in 2020 than the year before despite a global economic slowdown.

Nearly half of Britain’s biodiversity has gone since industrial revolution

Almost half of Britain’s natural biodiversity has disappeared over the centuries, with farming and urban spread triggered by the industrial and agricultural revolutions being blamed as major factors for this loss.

Across the nation, woods and grassland have been ripped up and fields of single crops planted in their place. Over two-thirds of the UK is now used for agriculture and 8% has been built on, leaving little room for nature.

The Anthropocene causes 23 species to be declared extinct

In the nearly half-century since the U.S. Endangered Species Act came into force, only 11 other species have ever been delisted because they disappeared.

A million plants and animals are in danger of disappearing, many within decades. The newly extinct species are the casualties of climate change and habitat destruction, dying out sooner than any new protections can save them.

The species pushed over the brink include 9 birds, 1 bat and 1 plant found only on Pacific islands, as well as 8 types of freshwater mussels that once inhabited riverbeds from Illinois to Georgia.

The ivory-billed woodpecker, above, suffered a precipitous drop in numbers due to marksmen gunning them down for private collectors and hat makers, while loggers felled the old-growth stands of forest in the south east where the birds roosted and foraged for grub.

Rivers once teeming with mussels — which clean streams by filtering them — have been transformed by industrial pollution, dam construction and rising water temperatures linked to climate change. The invertebrates often can’t escape.

8 Hawaiian birds were officially declared extinct, and like so many island-bound creatures, have succumbed to wave after wave of invasive species, including feral hogs that root up native seed-bearing plants and mosquitoes that spread an avian form of malaria. Rising temperatures allow disease-carrying mosquitoes to reach elevations once too cool for them to tolerate, going deeper into birds’ territories.

Australian society devastating wildlife

  • 30% decline of total population in 3 years; the state of New South Wales was worst with a 41% decline in 3 years.
  • Now extinct in 47 electorates and only one electorate, Mayo in the Mt Lofty Ranges of South Australia, has more than 5,000 koalas.
  • Every region across Australia saw a decline in population – there were no upward trends.
  • Some regions have remaining populations estimated to be as small as just 5-10 koalas.
Woodland birds in Mt Lofty Ranges of South Australia
  • Population has dropped by 45% in the 20 years since 2001.
  • Scientists say the trend is a sign that the ecosystem is on the verge of collapse.
  • The causes are frequent prescribed burning (some bird species require long-unburnt habitat), land management, and an increase in pests and weeds.

Half of global coral cover destroyed since the 1950s

The world’s coral reef cover has halved since the 1950s, ravaged by global heating, overfishing, pollution and habitat destruction, a trend that is projected to continue as the planet continues to heat in the 21st century.

Diversity of species on reefs has dropped by more than 60% and total reef cover had approximately halved.

“Marine heatwaves are rapidly intensifying, leading to more frequent and severe bleaching events, including on some of the world’s most isolated and pristine coral reefs”.

“Over the last few years, Caribbean reefs have been clobbered by hurricanes and new diseases, both linked to ocean warming. Frankly, the global picture for coral reefs is pretty grim”.

The world’s oceans absorbed more than 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases and average water temperatures have continued to rise as the planet heats.

Military deployed to fight fires in Spain

260 Spanish troops are assisting firefighters battling a raging blaze that has emptied out villages and burned through forestland for days.

“We have talked for a long time about the consequences of abandoning the environment, or climate change. Today, we are living them,” Juan Sánchez, director of the operations center at Andalusia’s forest–fire agency, told reporters.

Humans causing species to lurch towards extinction

Efforts to halt decline of population & diversity of animals & plants have largely failed.

28% of the 138,000 species assessed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) are now at risk of extinction, including 37% of sharks & rays.

In 2019 the UN’s biodiversity experts warned that a million species are on the brink of extinction—raising the spectre that the planet is on the verge of its sixth mass extinction event in 500 million years.

Social cost of 2019’s plastic more than GDP of India

The pollution, emissions and clean-up costs of plastic produced in 2019 alone exceeded the annual GDP of India.

It estimated that unless there is concerted international action, this cost will double by 2040.

Since the 1950s, roughly 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced with around 60% of that tossed into landfills or the natural environment.

The debris is estimated to cause the deaths of more than a million seabirds and over 100,000 marine mammals each year.

Tragically, the plastic pollution crisis is showing no signs of slowing down, but the commitment to tackle it has reached an unprecedented level,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International.

France’s minister in charge of biodiversity, Berangere Abba, said if the world failed to act there would be “more plastic in the oceans than fish” by 2050.

North Atlantic right whales critically endangered by the Anthropocene

Climate change-induced warming in the Gulf of Maine has resulted in the population of the North Atlantic right whale to plummet, leaving the species critically endangered.

Right whales have long been known for foraging fatty crustaceans in the Gulf of Maine. But in the past decade the water there has been warming and the whale’s main food source, which thrives in cold water, has deteriorated.

The result was that the species now travels north-east to the Gulf of St Lawrence in Canada to forage for food, and there is a major decline in the number of female whales reproducing.

“When they can’t build those thick layers of blubber, they’re not able to successfully get pregnant, carry the pregnancy and nurse the calf”

In the past decade, the population has decreased by about 26%, leaving only 356 North Atlantic right whales on Earth.

Is deep-sea mining a cure for the climate crisis or a curse?

Trillions of polymetallic nodules litter Earth’s ocean floors. Each is rich in manganese, nickel, cobalt and copper; some of the most important metals for manufacturing low carbon technology.

Mining companies claim the nodules are desperately needed to manufacture the technology to lower carbon emissions, and to prevent significant environmental impact on land.

Researchers state that mining deep-sea nodules would be catastrophic for oceans. Ocean biodiversity would be obliterated by dredging, and plumes of sediments, laced with toxic metals, would be sent spiralling upwards to poison marine food-chains.

Virtually all emperor penguins doomed for extinction by 2100 as climate change looms, study finds

If climate change continues at its current rate, more than 98% of emperor penguin colonies are expected to become quasi-extinct by the turn of the century. Scientists’ near-term predictions were equally grim: they estimated at least two-thirds of colonies would be quasi-extinct by 2050.

An emperor penguin colony in the Antarctic’s Weddell Sea was effectively wiped out in 2016 because of record-low sea ice and early ice breakup. More than 10,000 chicks are thought to have drowned when the sea ice broke up before they were ready to swim.

Video shows salmon injured by unlivable water temperatures after heatwave

A conservation group recorded the video after a heatwave in the Pacific north-west on a day when water temperatures breached 21˚C (71˚F).

‘Heat dome’ probably killed 1 billion marine animals on Canada coast

“Ecosystems are going to change in ways that are really difficult to predict. We don’t know where the tipping points are.”

Upward expansion and acceleration of forest clearance in the mountains of Southeast Asia

Total mean annual forest loss in Southeast Asia was 3.2 million hectares per year during 2001–2019, with 31% occurring on the mountains, and is accelerating.

German climate, insect protection laws cross finish line

A 2017 study in Germany was one of the first to raise global alarm about the loss of insects.

It found that the biomass of flying insects across German nature reserves had declined by more than 75% in 27 years, triggering warnings of an “ecological apocalypse”.

Oceanographer Sylvia Earle on the need for sea conservation

“We humans, we have to listen to the laws of nature and face up to the reality that we’re causing our own misery.”

Great apes predicted to lose 90% of homelands in Africa

85 to 94% loss by 2050 of Great Ape’s habitat, mainly due to resource extraction for mobile phones, timber and palm oil.

“What is predicted is really bad”

Global freshwater fish populations at risk of extinction

Populations of migratory freshwater fish have plummeted by 76% since 1970, and large fish – those weighing more than 30kg – have been all but wiped out in most rivers. The global population of megafish down by 94%, and 16 freshwater fish species were declared extinct last year.