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Plummeting insect numbers 'threaten collapse of nature'

Plummeting insect numbers 'threaten collapse of nature'
The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review. More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century. The planet is at the start of a sixth mass extinction in its history, with huge losses already reported in larger animals that are easier to study. But insects are by far the most varied and abundant animals, outweighing humanity by 17 times. Insect population collapses have recently been reported in Germany and Puerto Rico, but the review strongly indicates the crisis is global. One of the biggest impacts of insect loss is on the many birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish that eat insects.

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Regenerative agriculture can make farmers stewards of the land again For years, “sustainable” has been the buzzword in conversations about agriculture. If farmers and ranchers could slow or stop further damage to land and water, the thinking went, that was good enough. I thought that way too, until I started writing my new book, “One Size Fits None: A Farm Girl’s Search for the Promise of Regenerative Agriculture.” I grew up on a cattle ranch in western South Dakota and once worked as an agricultural journalist. For me, agriculture is more than a topic – it is who I am. When I began working on my book, I thought I would be writing about sustainability as a response to the environmental damage caused by conventional agriculture – farming that is industrial and heavily reliant on oil and agrochemicals, such as pesticides and fertilizers.

worrying rise in global co2 The level of climate-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is forecast to rise by a near-record amount in 2019, according to the Met Office. The increase is being fuelled by the continued burning of fossil fuels and the destruction of forests, and will be particularly high in 2019 due to an expected return towards El Niño-like conditions. This natural climate variation causes warm and dry conditions in the tropics, meaning the plant growth that removes CO2 from the air is restricted. ‘The devastation of human life is in view’: what a burning world tells us about climate change I have never been an environmentalist. I don’t even think of myself as a nature person. I’ve lived my whole life in cities, enjoying gadgets built by industrial supply chains I hardly think twice about. I’ve never gone camping, not willingly anyway, and while I always thought it was basically a good idea to keep streams clean and air clear, I also accepted the proposition that there was a trade-off between economic growth and cost to nature – and figured, well, in most cases I’d go for growth.

Life-saving optimism: what the west can learn from Africa Nigeria, like most African nations, has been taught and dictated to since its independence, largely seen by the rest of the world as a receptacle for ideas rather than a generator of them. But is there something the world could learn from us? During the past few weeks in Nigeria, I’ve interviewed some 40 strangers whose lives, like those of most people in the country, were mired in want and suffering. Everywhere, people ambled about sweating, their skins wearing gradations of deprivation. Everywhere you turned there was a conspicuous lack of opportunities. The US won't be prepared for the next natural disaster How prepared is the United States for the inevitable next disaster? Hurricane Florence killed 50 and caused $22bn in damages last year; shortly after, Hurricane Michael killed 36 and left hundreds without homes. The California wildfires erupted the following month, destroying thousands of structures and leaving 89 dead. As climate change causes more intense superstorms and at a higher frequency, things are only likely to get worse. Researchers, representatives, and residents have called for better preparation.

Much of the surface ocean will shift in color by end of 21st century: study Climate change is causing significant changes to phytoplankton in the world's oceans, and a new MIT study finds that over the coming decades these changes will affect the ocean's color, intensifying its blue regions and its green ones. Satellites should detect these changes in hue, providing early warning of wide-scale changes to marine ecosystems. Writing in Nature Communications, researchers report that they have developed a global model that simulates the growth and interaction of different species of phytoplankton, or algae, and how the mix of species in various locations will change as temperatures rise around the world. The researchers also simulated the way phytoplankton absorb and reflect light, and how the ocean's color changes as global warming affects the makeup of phytoplankton communities. The researchers ran the model through the end of the 21st century and found that, by the year 2100, more than 50 percent of the world's oceans will shift in color, due to climate change.

humanity wiped out 60% of animals 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. “We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff” said Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF. “If there was a 60% decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done.”

The Uninhabitable Earth: David Wallace-Wells on the horrors of climate change “It is, I promise, worse than you think.” That was was the first line of David Wallace-Wells’s horrifying 2017 essay in New York magazine about climate change. It was an attempt to paint a very real picture of our not-too-distant future, a future filled with famines, political chaos, economic collapse, fierce resource competition, and a sun that “cooks us.” Wallace-Wells has since developed his terrifying essay into an even more terrifying book, titled The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming.