‘end/begin’ marks file seperation

 

 

Cockroach; additional material

 

Cock, Extinction Domino Effect, Annihilate Life on Earth

 

Cock, Extinction Domino Effect That Could Annihilate Life on Earth Has Already Started

 

 

By Brooke Jarvis

  • 27, 2018
    • 956

Sune Boye Riis was on a bike ride with his youngest son, enjoying the sun slanting over the fields and woodlands near their home north of Copenhagen, when it suddenly occurred to him that something about the experience was amiss. Specifically, something was missing.

It was summer. He was out in the country, moving fast. But strangely, he wasn’t eating any bugs.

For a moment, Riis was transported to his childhood on the Danish island of Lolland, in the Baltic Sea. Back then, summer bike rides meant closing his mouth to cruise through thick clouds of insects, but inevitably he swallowed some anyway. When his parents took him driving, he remembered, the car’s windshield was frequently so smeared with insect carcasses that you almost couldn’t see through it. But all that seemed distant now. He couldn’t recall the last time he needed to wash bugs from his windshield; he even wondered, vaguely, whether car manufacturers had invented some fancy new coating to keep off insects. But this absence, he now realized with some alarm, seemed to be all around him. Where had all those insects gone? And when? And why hadn’t he noticed?

Riis watched his son, flying through the beautiful day, not eating bugs, and was struck by the melancholy thought that his son’s childhood would lack this particular bug-eating experience of his own. It was, he granted, an odd thing to feel nostalgic about. But he couldn’t shake a feeling of loss. “I guess it’s pretty human to think that everything was better when you were a kid,” he said. “Maybe I didn’t like it when I was on my bike and I ate all the bugs, but looking back on it, I think it’s something everybody should experience.”

I met Riis, a lanky high school science and math teacher, on a hot day in June. He was anxious about not having yet written his address for the school’s graduation ceremony that evening, but first, he had a job to do. From his garage, he retrieved a large insect net, drove to a nearby intersection and stopped to strap the net to the car’s roof. Made of white mesh, the net ran the length of his car and was held up by a tent pole at the front, tapering to a small, removable bag in back. Drivers whizzing past twisted their heads to stare. Riis eyed his parking spot nervously as he adjusted the straps of the contraption. “This is not 100 percent legal,” he said, “but I guess, for the sake of science.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Riis had not been able to stop thinking about the missing bugs. The more he learned, the more his nostalgia gave way to worry. Insects are the vital pollinators and recyclers of ecosystems and the base of food webs everywhere. Riis was not alone in noticing their decline. In the United States, scientists recently found the population of monarch butterflies fell by 90 percent in the last 20 years, a loss of 900 million individuals; the rusty-patched bumblebee, which once lived in 28 states, dropped by 87 percent over the same period. With other, less-studied insect species, one butterfly researcher told me, “all we can do is wave our arms and say, ‘It’s not here anymore!’ ” Still, the most disquieting thing wasn’t the disappearance of certain species of insects; it was the deeper worry, shared by Riis and many others, that a whole insect world might be quietly going missing, a loss of abundance that could alter the planet in unknowable ways. “We notice the losses,” says David Wagner, an entomologist at the University of Connecticut. “It’s the diminishment that we don’t see.”

Because insects are legion, inconspicuous and hard to meaningfully track, the fear that there might be far fewer than before was more felt than documented. People noticed it by canals or in backyards or under streetlights at night — familiar places that had become unfamiliarly empty. The feeling was so common that entomologists developed a shorthand for it, named for the way many people first began to notice that they weren’t seeing as many bugs. They called it the windshield phenomenon.

To test what had been primarily a loose suspicion of wrongness, Riis and 200 other Danes were spending the month of June roaming their country’s back roads in their outfitted cars. They were part of a study conducted by the Natural History Museum of Denmark, a joint effort of the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University and North Carolina State University. The nets would stand in for windshields as Riis and the other volunteers drove through various habitats — urban areas, forests, agricultural tracts, uncultivated open land and wetlands — hoping to quantify the disorienting sense that, as one of the study’s designers put it, “something from the past is missing from the present.”

When the investigators began planning the study in 2016, they weren’t sure if anyone would sign up. But by the time the nets were ready, a paper by an obscure German entomological society had brought the problem of insect decline into sharp focus. The German study found that, measured simply by weight, the overall abundance of flying insects in German nature reserves had decreased by 75 percent over just 27 years. If you looked at midsummer population peaks, the drop was 82 percent.

Riis learned about the study from a group of his students in one of their class projects. They must have made some kind of mistake in their citation, he thought. But they hadn’t. The study would quickly become, according to the website Altmetric, the sixth-most-discussed scientific paper of 2017. Headlines around the world warned of an “insect Armageddon.”

Editors’ Picks

What Is the Perfect Color Worth?

Gayle King Has the Spotlight All to Herself

Was Interracial Love Possible in the Days of Slavery? Descendants of One Couple Think So

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Within days of announcing the insect-collection project, the Natural History Museum of Denmark was turning away eager volunteers by the dozens. It seemed there were people like Riis everywhere, people who had noticed a change but didn’t know what to make of it. How could something as fundamental as the bugs in the sky just disappear? And what would become of the world without them?

Anyone who has returned to a childhood haunt to find that everything somehow got smaller knows that humans are not great at remembering the past accurately. This is especially true when it comes to changes to the natural world. It is impossible to maintain a fixed perspective, as Heraclitus observed 2,500 years ago: It is not the same river, but we are also not the same people.

A 1995 study, by Peter H. Kahn and Batya Friedman, of the way some children in Houston experienced pollution summed up our blindness this way: “With each generation, the amount of environmental degradation increases, but each generation takes that amount as the norm.” In decades of photos of fishermen holding up their catch in the Florida Keys, the marine biologist Loren McClenachan found a perfect illustration of this phenomenon, which is often called “shifting baseline syndrome.” The fish got smaller and smaller, to the point where the prize catches were dwarfed by fish that in years past were piled up and ignored. But the smiles on the fishermen’s faces stayed the same size. The world never feels fallen, because we grow accustomed to the fall.

By one measure, bugs are the wildlife we know best, the nondomesticated animals whose lives intersect most intimately with our own: spiders in the shower, ants at the picnic, ticks buried in the skin. We sometimes feel that we know them rather too well. In another sense, though, they are one of our planet’s greatest mysteries, a reminder of how little we know about what’s happening in the world around us.

We’ve named and described a million species of insects, a stupefying array of thrips and firebrats and antlions and caddis flies and froghoppers and other enormous families of bugs that most of us can’t even name. (Technically, the word “bug” applies only to the order Hemiptera, also known as true bugs, species that have tubelike mouths for piercing and sucking — and there are as many as 80,000 named varieties of those.) The ones we think we do know well, we don’t: There are 12,000 types of ants, nearly 20,000 varieties of bees, almost 400,000 species of beetles, so many that the geneticist J.B.S. Haldane reportedly quipped that God must have an inordinate fondness for them. A bit of healthy soil a foot square and two inches deep might easily be home to 200 unique species of mites, each, presumably, with a subtly different job to do. And yet entomologists estimate that all this amazing, absurd and understudied variety represents perhaps only 20 percent of the actual diversity of insects on our planet — that there are millions and millions of species that are entirely unknown to science.

With so much abundance, it very likely never occurred to most entomologists of the past that their multitudinous subjects might dwindle away. As they poured themselves into studies of the life cycles and taxonomies of the species that fascinated them, few thought to measure or record something as boring as their number. Besides, tracking quantity is slow, tedious and unglamorous work: setting and checking traps, waiting years or decades for your data to be meaningful, grappling with blunt baseline questions instead of more sophisticated ones. And who would pay for it? Most academic funding is short-term, but when what you’re interested in is invisible, generational change, says Dave Goulson, an entomologist at the University of Sussex, “a three-year monitoring program is no good to anybody.” This is especially true of insect populations, which are naturally variable, with wide, trend-obscuring fluctuations from one year to the next.

Sign up for The New York Times Magazine Newsletter

The best of The New York Times Magazine delivered to your inbox every week, including exclusive feature stories, photography, columns and more.

SIGN UP

ADVERTISEMENT

When entomologists began noticing and investigating insect declines, they lamented the absence of solid information from the past in which to ground their experiences of the present. “We see a hundred of something, and we think we’re fine,” Wagner says, “but what if there were 100,000 two generations ago?” Rob Dunn, an ecologist at North Carolina State University who helped design the net experiment in Denmark, recently searched for studies showing the effect of pesticide spraying on the quantity of insects living in nearby forests. He was surprised to find that no such studies existed. “We ignored really basic questions,” he said. “It feels like we’ve dropped the ball in some giant collective way.”

 

Image

If entomologists lacked data, what they did have were some very worrying clues. Along with the impression that they were seeing fewer bugs in their own jars and nets while out doing experiments — a windshield phenomenon specific to the sorts of people who have bug jars and nets — there were documented downward slides of well-studied bugs, including various kinds of bees, moths, butterflies and beetles. In Britain, as many as 30 to 60 percent of species were found to have diminishing ranges. Larger trends were harder to pin down, though a 2014 review in Science tried to quantify these declines by synthesizing the findings of existing studies and found that a majority of monitored species were declining, on average by 45 percent.

Entomologists also knew that climate change and the overall degradation of global habitat are bad news for biodiversity in general, and that insects are dealing with the particular challenges posed by herbicides and pesticides, along with the effects of losing meadows, forests and even weedy patches to the relentless expansion of human spaces. There were studies of other, better-understood species that suggested that the insects associated with them might be declining, too. People who studied fish found that the fish had fewer mayflies to eat. Ornithologists kept finding that birds that rely on insects for food were in trouble: eight in 10 partridges gone from French farmlands; 50 and 80 percent drops, respectively, for nightingales and turtledoves. Half of all farmland birds in Europe disappeared in just three decades. At first, many scientists assumed the familiar culprit of habitat destruction was at work, but then they began to wonder if the birds might simply be starving. In Denmark, an ornithologist named Anders Tottrup was the one who came up with the idea of turning cars into insect trackers for the windshield-effect study after he noticed that rollers, little owls, Eurasian hobbies and bee-eaters — all birds that subsist on large insects such as beetles and dragonflies — had abruptly disappeared from the landscape.

The signs were certainly alarming, but they were also just signs, not enough to justify grand pronouncements about the health of insects as a whole or about what might be driving a widespread, cross-species decline. “There are no quantitative data on insects, so this is just a hypothesis,” Hans de Kroon, an ecologist at Radboud University in the Netherlands, explained to me — not the sort of language that sends people to the barricades.

Then came the German study. Scientists are still cautious about what the findings might imply about other regions of the world. But the study brought forth exactly the kind of longitudinal data they had been seeking, and it wasn’t specific to just one type of insect. The numbers were stark, indicating a vast impoverishment of an entire insect universe, even in protected areas where insects ought to be under less stress. The speed and scale of the drop were shocking even to entomologists who were already anxious about bees or fireflies or the cleanliness of car windshields.

The results were surprising in another way too. The long-term details about insect abundance, the kind that no one really thought existed, hadn’t appeared in a particularly prestigious journal and didn’t come from university-affiliated scientists, but from a small society of insect enthusiasts based in the modest German city Krefeld.

Krefeld sits a half-hour drive outside Düsseldorf, near the western bank of the Rhine. It’s a city of brick houses and bright flower gardens and a stadtwald — a municipal forest and park — where paddle boats float on a lake, umbrellas shade a beer garden and (I couldn’t help noticing) the afternoon light through the trees illuminates small swarms of dancing insects.

Near the center of the old city, a paper sign, not much larger than a business card, identifies the stolid headquarters of the society whose research caused so much commotion. When it was founded, in 1905, the society operated out of another building, one that was destroyed when Britain bombed the city during World War II. (By the time the bombs fell, members had moved their precious records and collections of insects, some of which dated back to the 1860s, to an underground bunker.) Nowadays, the society uses more than 6,000 square feet of an old three-story school as storage space. Ask for a tour of the collections, and you will hear such sentences as “This whole room is Lepidoptera,” referring to a former classroom stuffed with what I at first took to be shelves of books but which are in fact innumerable wooden frames containing pinned butterflies and moths; and, in an even larger room, “every bumblebee here was collected before the Second World War, 1880 to 1930”; and, upon opening a drawer full of sweat bees, “It’s a new collection, 30 years only.”

On the shelves that do hold books, I counted 31 clearly well-loved volumes in the series “Beetles of Middle Europe.” A 395-page book that cataloged specimens of spider wasps — where they were collected; where they were stored — of the western Palearctic said “1948-2008” on the cover. I asked my guide, a society member named Martin Sorg, who was one of the lead authors of the paper, whether those dates reflected when the specimens were collected. “No,” Sorg replied, “that was the time the author needed for this work.”

COMMENT OF THE MOMENT

Tom Mix commented November 28

T

Tom Mix

NYNov. 28

Times Pick

Actually, I read also sometime ago an earlier interview with a member of the cited Krefeld Society- in a closing note, he was asked how he would feel to live in a world without insects. His instructive answer was, as I remember, “I am not so worried about that – before that happens, humans will be long gone”.

1 Reply132 Recommend

Share

Flag

SEE MORE

Sorg, who rolls his own cigarettes and wears John Lennon glasses and whose gray hair grows long past his shoulders, is not a freewheeling type when it comes to his insect work. And his insect work is really all he wants to talk about. “We think details about nature and biodiversity declines are important, not details about life histories of entomologists,” Sorg explained after he and Werner Stenmans, a society member whose name appeared alongside Sorg’s on the 2017 paper, dismissed my questions about their day jobs. Leery of an article that focused on him as a person, Sorg also didn’t want to talk about what drew him to entomology as a child or even what it was about certain types of wasps that had made him want to devote so much of his life to studying them. “We normally give life histories when someone is dead,” he said.

There was a reason for the wariness. Society members dislike seeing themselves described, over and over in news stories, as “amateurs.” It’s a framing that reflects, they believe, a too-narrow understanding of what it means to be an expert or even a scientist — what it means to be a student of the natural world.

Amateurs have long provided much of the patchy knowledge we have about nature. Those bee and butterfly studies? Most depend on mass mobilizations of volunteers willing to walk transects and count insects, every two weeks or every year, year after year. The scary numbers about bird declines were gathered this way, too, though because birds can be hard to spot, volunteers often must learn to identify them by their sounds. Britain, which has a particularly strong tradition of amateur naturalism, has the best-studied bugs in the world. As technologically advanced as we are, the natural world is still a very big and complex place, and the best way to learn what’s going on is for a lot of people to spend a lot of time observing it. The Latin root of the word “amateur” is, after all, the word “lover.”

Some of these citizen-scientists are true beginners clutching field guides; others, driven by their own passion and following in a long tradition of “amateur” naturalism, are far from novices. Think of Victorians with their butterfly nets and curiosity cabinets; of Vladimir Nabokov, whose theories about the evolution of Polyommatus blue butterflies were ignored until proved correct by DNA testing more than 30 years after his death; of young Charles Darwin, cutting his classes at Cambridge to collect beetles at Wicken Fen and once putting a live beetle in his mouth because his hands were already full of other bugs.

The Krefeld society is volunteer-run, and many members have other jobs in unrelated fields, but they also have an enormous depth of knowledge about insects, accumulated through years of what other people might consider obsessive attention. Some study the ecology or evolutionary taxonomy of their favorite species or map their populations or breed them to study their life histories. All hone their identification skills across species by amassing their own collections of carefully pinned and labeled insects like those that fill the society’s storage rooms. Sorg estimated that of the society’s 63 members, a third are university-trained in subjects such as biology or earth science. Another third, he said, are “highly specialized and highly qualified but they never visited the university,” while the remaining third are actual amateurs who are still in the process of becoming “real” entomologists: “Some of them may also have a degree from the university, but in our view, they are beginners.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The society members’ projects often involved setting up what are called malaise traps, nets that look like tents and drive insects flying by into bottles of ethanol. Because of the scientific standards of the society, members followed certain procedures: They always employed identical traps, sewn from a template they first used in 1982. (Sorg showed me the original rolled-up craft paper with great solemnity.) They always put them in the same places. (Before GPS, that meant a painstaking process of triangulating with surveying equipment. “We are not sure about a few centimeters,” Sorg granted.) They saved everything they caught, regardless of what the main purpose of the experiment was. (The society bought so much ethanol that it attracted the attention of a narcotics unit.)

Those bottles of insects were gathered into thousands of boxes, which are now crammed into what were once offices in the upper reaches of the school. When the society members, like entomologists elsewhere, began to notice that they were seeing fewer insects, they had something against which to measure their worries.

“We don’t throw away anything, we store everything,” Sorg explained. “That gives us today the possibility to go back in time.”

In 2013, Krefeld entomologists confirmed that the total number of insects caught in one nature reserve was nearly 80 percent lower than the same spot in 1989. They had sampled other sites, analyzed old data sets and found similar declines: Where 30 years earlier, they often needed a liter bottle for a week of trapping, now a half-liter bottle usually sufficed. But it would have taken even highly trained entomologists years of painstaking work to identify all the insects in the bottles. So the society used a standardized method for weighing insects in alcohol, which told a powerful story simply by showing how much the overall mass of insects dropped over time. “A decline of this mixture,” Sorg said, “is a very different thing than the decline of only a few species.”

The society collaborated with de Kroon and other scientists at Radboud University in the Netherlands, who did a trend analysis of the data that Krefeld provided, controlling for things like the effects of nearby plants, weather and forest cover on fluctuations in insect populations. The final study looked at 63 nature preserves, representing almost 17,000 sampling days, and found consistent declines in every kind of habitat they sampled. This suggested, the authors wrote, “that it is not only the vulnerable species but the flying-insect community as a whole that has been decimated over the last few decades.”

For some scientists, the study created a moment of reckoning. “Scientists thought this data was too boring,” Dunn says. “But these people found it beautiful, and they loved it. They were the ones paying attention to Earth for all the rest of us.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The current worldwide loss of biodiversity is popularly known as the sixth extinction: the sixth time in world history that a large number of species have disappeared in unusually rapid succession, caused this time not by asteroids or ice ages but by humans. When we think about losing biodiversity, we tend to think of the last northern white rhinos protected by armed guards, of polar bears on dwindling ice floes. Extinction is a visceral tragedy, universally understood: There is no coming back from it. The guilt of letting a unique species vanish is eternal.

But extinction is not the only tragedy through which we’re living. What about the species that still exist, but as a shadow of what they once were? In “The Once and Future World,” the journalist J.B. MacKinnon cites records from recent centuries that hint at what has only just been lost: “In the North Atlantic, a school of cod stalls a tall ship in midocean; off Sydney, Australia, a ship’s captain sails from noon until sunset through pods of sperm whales as far as the eye can see. … Pacific pioneers complain to the authorities that splashing salmon threaten to swamp their canoes.” There were reports of lions in the south of France, walruses at the mouth of the Thames, flocks of birds that took three days to fly overhead, as many as 100 blue whales in the Southern Ocean for every one that’s there now. “These are not sights from some ancient age of fire and ice,” MacKinnon writes. “We are talking about things seen by human eyes, recalled in human memory.”

What we’re losing is not just the diversity part of biodiversity, but the bio part: life in sheer quantity. While I was writing this article, scientists learned that the world’s largest king penguin colony shrank by 88 percent in 35 years, that more than 97 percent of the bluefin tuna that once lived in the ocean are gone. The number of Sophie the Giraffe toys sold in France in a single year is nine times the number of all the giraffes that still live in Africa.

Finding reassurance in the survival of a few symbolic standard-bearers ignores the value of abundance, of a natural world that thrives on richness and complexity and interaction. Tigers still exist, for example, but that doesn’t change the fact that 93 percent of the land where they used to live is now tigerless. This matters for more than romantic reasons: Large animals, especially top predators like tigers, connect ecosystems to one another and move energy and resources among them simply by walking and eating and defecating and dying. (In the deep ocean, sunken whale carcasses form the basis of entire ecosystems in nutrient-poor places.) One result of their loss is what’s known as trophic cascade, the unraveling of an ecosystem’s fabric as prey populations boom and crash and the various levels of the food web no longer keep each other in check. These places are emptier, impoverished in a thousand subtle ways.

Scientists have begun to speak of functional extinction (as opposed to the more familiar kind, numerical extinction). Functionally extinct animals and plants are still present but no longer prevalent enough to affect how an ecosystem works. Some phrase this as the extinction not of a species but of all its former interactions with its environment — an extinction of seed dispersal and predation and pollination and all the other ecological functions an animal once had, which can be devastating even if some individuals still persist. The more interactions are lost, the more disordered the ecosystem becomes. A 2013 paper in Nature, which modeled both natural and computer-generated food webs, suggested that a loss of even 30 percent of a species’ abundance can be so destabilizing that other species start going fully, numerically extinct — in fact, 80 percent of the time it was a secondarily affected creature that was the first to disappear. A famous real-world example of this type of cascade concerns sea otters. When they were nearly wiped out in the northern Pacific, their prey, sea urchins, ballooned in number and decimated kelp forests, turning a rich environment into a barren one and also possibly contributing to numerical extinctions, notably of the Steller’s sea cow.

Conservationists tend to focus on rare and endangered species, but it is common ones, because of their abundance, that power the living systems of our planet. Most species are not common, but within many animal groups most individuals — some 80 percent of them — belong to common species. Like the slow approach of twilight, their declines can be hard to see. White-rumped vultures were nearly gone from India before there was widespread awareness of their disappearance. Describing this phenomenon in the journal BioScience, Kevin Gaston, a professor of biodiversity and conservation at the University of Exeter, wrote: “Humans seem innately better able to detect the complete loss of an environmental feature than its progressive change.”

In addition to extinction (the complete loss of a species) and extirpation (a localized extinction), scientists now speak of defaunation: the loss of individuals, the loss of abundance, the loss of a place’s absolute animalness. In a 2014 article in Science, researchers argued that the word should become as familiar, and influential, as the concept of deforestation. In 2017 another paper reported that major population and range losses extended even to species considered to be at low risk for extinction. They predicted “negative cascading consequences on ecosystem functioning and services vital to sustaining civilization” and the authors offered another term for the widespread loss of the world’s wild fauna: “biological annihilation.”

ADVERTISEMENT

It is estimated that, since 1970, Earth’s various populations of wild land animals have lost, on average, 60 percent of their members. Zeroing in on the category we most relate to, mammals, scientists believe that for every six wild creatures that once ate and burrowed and raised young, only one remains. What we have instead is ourselves. A study published this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that if you look at the world’s mammals by weight, 96 percent of that biomass is humans and livestock; just 4 percent is wild animals.

We’ve begun to talk about living in the Anthropocene, a world shaped by humans. But E.O. Wilson, the naturalist and prophet of environmental degradation, has suggested another name: the Eremocine, the age of loneliness.

Wilson began his career as a taxonomic entomologist, studying ants. Insects — about as far as you can get from charismatic megafauna — are not what we’re usually imagining when we talk about biodiversity. Yet they are, in Wilson’s words, “the little things that run the natural world.” He means it literally. Insects are a case study in the invisible importance of the common.

Scientists have tried to calculate the benefits that insects provide simply by going about their business in large numbers. Trillions of bugs flitting from flower to flower pollinate some three-quarters of our food crops, a service worth as much as $500 billion every year. (This doesn’t count the 80 percent of wild flowering plants, the foundation blocks of life everywhere, that rely on insects for pollination.) If monetary calculations like that sound strange, consider the Maoxian Valley in China, where shortages of insect pollinators have led farmers to hire human workers, at a cost of up to $19 per worker per day, to replace bees. Each person covers five to 10 trees a day, pollinating apple blossoms by hand.

By eating and being eaten, insects turn plants into protein and power the growth of all the uncountable species — including freshwater fish and a majority of birds — that rely on them for food, not to mention all the creatures that eat those creatures. We worry about saving the grizzly bear, says the insect ecologist Scott Hoffman Black, but where is the grizzly without the bee that pollinates the berries it eats or the flies that sustain baby salmon? Where, for that matter, are we?

Bugs are vital to the decomposition that keeps nutrients cycling, soil healthy, plants growing and ecosystems running. This role is mostly invisible, until suddenly it’s not. After introducing cattle to Australia at the turn of the 19th century, settlers soon found themselves overwhelmed by the problem of their feces: For some reason, cow pies there were taking months or even years to decompose. Cows refused to eat near the stink, requiring more and more land for grazing, and so many flies bred in the piles that the country became famous for the funny hats that stockmen wore to keep them at bay. It wasn’t until 1951 that a visiting entomologist realized what was wrong: The local insects, evolved to eat the more fibrous waste of marsupials, couldn’t handle cow excrement. For the next 25 years, the importation, quarantine and release of dozens of species of dung beetles became a national priority. And that was just one unfilled niche. (In the United States, dung beetles save ranchers an estimated $380 million a year.) We simply don’t know everything that insects do. Only about 2 percent of invertebrate species have been studied enough for us to estimate whether they are in danger of extinction, never mind what dangers that extinction might pose.

When asked to imagine what would happen if insects were to disappear completely, scientists find words like chaos, collapse, Armageddon. Wagner, the University of Connecticut entomologist, describes a flowerless world with silent forests, a world of dung and old leaves and rotting carcasses accumulating in cities and roadsides, a world of “collapse or decay and erosion and loss that would spread through ecosystems” — spiraling from predators to plants. E.O. Wilson has written of an insect-free world, a place where most plants and land animals become extinct; where fungi explodes, for a while, thriving on death and rot; and where “the human species survives, able to fall back on wind-pollinated grains and marine fishing” despite mass starvation and resource wars. “Clinging to survival in a devastated world, and trapped in an ecological dark age,” he adds, “the survivors would offer prayers for the return of weeds and bugs.”

ADVERTISEMENT

But the crux of the windshield phenomenon, the reason that the creeping suspicion of change is so creepy, is that insects wouldn’t have to disappear altogether for us to find ourselves missing them for reasons far beyond nostalgia. In October, an entomologist sent me an email with the subject line, “Holy [expletive]!” and an attachment: a study just out from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that he labeled, “Krefeld comes to Puerto Rico.” The study included data from the 1970s and from the early 2010s, when a tropical ecologist named Brad Lister returned to the rain forest where he had studied lizards — and, crucially, their prey — 40 years earlier. Lister set out sticky traps and swept nets across foliage in the same places he had in the 1970s, but this time he and his co-author, Andres Garcia, caught much, much less: 10 to 60 times less arthropod biomass than before. (It’s easy to read that number as 60 percent less, but it’s sixtyfold less: Where once he caught 473 milligrams of bugs, Lister was now catching just eight milligrams.) “It was, you know, devastating,” Lister told me. But even scarier were the ways the losses were already moving through the ecosystem, with serious declines in the numbers of lizards, birds and frogs. The paper reported “a bottom-up trophic cascade and consequent collapse of the forest food web.” Lister’s inbox quickly filled with messages from other scientists, especially people who study soil invertebrates, telling him they were seeing similarly frightening declines. Even after his dire findings, Lister found the losses shocking: “I didn’t even know about the earthworm crisis!”

The strange thing, Lister said, is that, as staggering as they are, all the declines he documented would still be basically invisible to the average person walking through the Luquillo rain forest. On his last visit, the forest still felt “timeless” and “phantasmagorical,” with “cascading waterfalls and carpets of flowers.” You would have to be an expert to notice what was missing. But he expects the losses to push the forest toward a tipping point, after which “there is a sudden and dramatic loss of the rain-forest system,” and the changes will become obvious to anyone. The place he loves will become unrecognizable.

The insects in the forest that Lister studied haven’t been contending with pesticides or habitat loss, the two problems to which the Krefeld paper pointed. Instead, Lister chalks up their decline to climate change, which has already increased temperatures in Luquillo by two degrees Celsius since Lister first sampled there. Previous research suggested that tropical bugs will be unusually sensitive to temperature changes; in November, scientists who subjected laboratory beetles to a heat wave reported that the increased temperatures made them significantly less fertile. Other scientists wonder if it might be climate-induced drought or possibly invasive rats or simply “death by a thousand cuts” — a confluence of many kinds of changes to the places where insects once thrived.

Like other species, insects are responding to what Chris Thomas, an insect ecologist at the University of York, has called “the transformation of the world”: not just a changing climate but also the widespread conversion, via urbanization, agricultural intensification and so on, of natural spaces into human ones, with fewer and fewer resources “left over” for nonhuman creatures to live on. What resources remain are often contaminated. Hans de Kroon characterizes the life of many modern insects as trying to survive from one dwindling oasis to the next but with “a desert in between, and at worst it’s a poisonous desert.” Of particular concern are neonicotinoids, neurotoxins that were thought to affect only treated crops but turned out to accumulate in the landscape and to be consumed by all kinds of nontargeted bugs. People talk about the “loss” of bees to colony collapse disorder, and that appears to be the right word: Affected hives aren’t full of dead bees, but simply mysteriously empty. A leading theory is that exposure to neurotoxins leaves bees unable to find their way home. Even hives exposed to low levels of neonicotinoids have been shown to collect less pollen and produce fewer eggs and far fewer queens. Some recent studies found bees doing better in cities than in the supposed countryside.

The diversity of insects means that some will manage to make do in new environments, some will thrive (abundance cuts both ways: agricultural monocultures, places where only one kind of plant grows, allow some pests to reach population levels they would never achieve in nature) and some, searching for food and shelter in a world nothing like the one they were meant for, will fail. While we need much more data to better understand the reasons or mechanisms behind the ups and downs, Thomas says, “the average across all species is still a decline.”

Since the Krefeld study came out, researchers have begun searching for other forgotten repositories of information that might offer windows into the past. Some of the Radboud researchers have analyzed long-term data, belonging to Dutch entomological societies, about beetles and moths in certain reserves; they found significant drops (72 percent, 54 percent) that mirrored the Krefeld ones. Roel van Klink, a researcher at the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research, told me that before Krefeld, he, like most entomologists, had never been interested in biomass. Now he is looking for historical data sets — many of which began as studies of agricultural pests, like a decades-long study of grasshoppers in Kansas — that could help create a more thorough picture of what’s happening to creatures that are at once abundant and imperiled. So far he has found forgotten data from 140 old data sets for 1,500 locations that could be resampled.

ADVERTISEMENT

In the United States, one of the few long-term data sets about insect abundance comes from the work of Arthur Shapiro, an entomologist at the University of California, Davis. In 1972, he began walking transects in the Central Valley and the Sierras, counting butterflies. He planned to do a study on how short-term weather variations affected butterfly populations. But the longer he sampled, the more valuable his data became, offering a signal through the noise of seasonal ups and downs. “And so here I am in Year 46,” he said, nearly half a century of spending five days a week, from late spring to the end of autumn, observing butterflies. In that time he has watched overall numbers decline and seen some species that used to be everywhere — even species that “everyone regarded as a junk species” only a few decades ago — all but disappear. Shapiro believes that Krefeld-level declines are likely to be happening all over the globe. “But, of course, I don’t cover the entire globe,” he added. “I cover I-80.”

There are also new efforts to set up more of the kind of insect-monitoring schemes researchers wish had existed decades ago, so that our current level of fallenness, at least, is captured. One is a pilot project in Germany similar to the Danish car study. To analyze what is caught, the researchers turned to volunteer naturalists, hobbyists similar to the ones in Krefeld, with the necessary breadth of knowledge to know what they’re looking at. “These are not easy species to identify,” says Aletta Bonn, of the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research, who is overseeing the project. (The skills required for such work “are really extreme,” Dunn says. “These people train for decades with other amateurs to be able to identify beetles based on their genitalia.”) Bond would like to pay the volunteers for their expertise, she says, but funding hasn’t caught up to the crisis. That didn’t stop the “amateurs” from being willing to help: “They said, ‘We’re just curious what’s in there, we would like to have samples.’ ”

Goulson says that Europe’s tradition of amateur naturalism may account for why so many of the clues to the falloff in insect biodiversity originate there. (Tottrup’s design for the car net in Denmark, for example, was itself adapted from the invention of a dedicated beetle-collecting hobbyist.) As little as we know about the status of European bugs, we know significantly less about other parts of the world. “We wouldn’t know anything if it weren’t for them,” the so-called amateurs, Goulson told me. “We’d be entirely relying on the fact that there’s no bugs on the windshield.”

Thomas believes that this naturalist tradition is also why Europe is acting much faster than other places — for example, the United States — to address the decline of insects: Interest leads to tracking, which leads to awareness, which leads to concern, which leads to action. Since the Krefeld data emerged, there have been hearings about protecting insect biodiversity in the German Bundestag and the European Parliament. European Union member states voted to extend a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides and have begun to put money toward further studies of how abundance is changing, what is causing those changes and what can be done. When I knocked on the door of de Kroon’s office, at Radboud University in the Dutch city Nijmegen, he was looking at some photos from another meeting he had that day: Willem-Alexander, the king of the Netherlands, had taken a tour of the city’s efforts to make its riverside a friendlier habitat for bugs.

Stemming insect declines will require much more than this, however. The European Union already had some measures in place to help pollinators — including more strictly regulating pesticides than the United States does and paying farmers to create insect habitats by leaving fields fallow and allowing for wild edges alongside cultivation — but insect populations dropped anyway. New reports call for national governments to collaborate; for more creative approaches such as integrating insect habitats into the design of roads, power lines, railroads and other infrastructure; and, as always, for more studies. The necessary changes, like the causes, may be profound. “It’s just another indication that we’re destroying the life-support system of the planet,” Lister says of the Puerto Rico study. “Nature’s resilient, but we’re pushing her to such extremes that eventually it will cause a collapse of the system.”

Scientists hope that insects will have a chance to embody that resilience. While tigers tend to give birth to three or four cubs at a time, a ghost moth in Australia was once recorded laying 29,100 eggs, and she still had 15,000 in her ovaries. The fecund abundance that is insects’ singular trait should enable them to recover, but only if they are given the space and the opportunity to do so.

“It’s a debate we need to have urgently,” Goulson says. “If we lose insects, life on earth will. …” He trailed off, pausing for what felt like a long time.

ADVERTISEMENT

In Denmark, Sune Boye Riis’s transect with his car net took him past a bit of woods, some suburban lawns, some hedges, a Christmas-tree farm. The closest thing to a meadow that we passed was a large military property, on which the grass had been allowed to grow tall and golden. Riis had received instructions not to drive too fast, so traffic backed up behind us, and some people began to honk. “Well,” Riis said, “so much for science.” After three miles, he turned around and drove back toward the start. His windshield stayed mockingly clean.

Riis had four friends who were also participating in the study. They had a bet going among them: Who would net the biggest bug? “I’m way behind,” Riis said. “A bumblebee is in the lead.” His biggest catch? “A fly. Not even a big one.”

At the end of the transect, Riis stopped at another parlous roadside spot, unfastened the net and removed the small bag at its tip. Some volunteers, captivated by what the study revealed about the world around them, asked the organizers for extra specimen bags, so they could do more sampling on their own. Some even asked if they could buy the entire car-net apparatus. Riis, though, was content to peer through the mesh, inside of which he could make out a number of black specks of varying tininess.

There was also a single butterfly, white-winged and delicate. Riis thought of the bet with his friends, for which the meaning of bigness had not been defined. He wondered how it might be reckoned. What gave a creature value?

“Is it weight?” he asked, staring down at the butterfly. In the big bag, it looked small and sad and alone. “Or is it grace?”

Correction: November 26, 2018

An earlier version of this article misidentified, on first reference, the location of Radboud University. It is in the Netherlands, not Denmark.

Correction: November 27, 2018

An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of an extinct species. It is Steller’s sea cow, not Stellar’s.

Brooke Jarvis is a contributing writer for the magazine. She last wrote about American children of undocumented parents.

Photo illustrations by Matt Dorfman

A version of this article appears in print on Dec. 1, 2018, on Page 41 of the Sunday Magazine with the headline: The Insect Apocalypse Is Here. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/27/magazine/insect-apocalypse.html?src=longreads

end/begin

end/begin

Cock, Extinction

C to wp

Extinctions likely faster now than with dinosaurs

https://www.reuters.com/article/idINIndia-48857920100527

 

end/begin

 

Humans have destroyed 83% of wild mammals

Copied to WP 2-5-22

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/21/human-race-just-001-of-all-life-but-has-destroyed-over-80-of-wild-mammals-study

 

 

Graphics @ link:

 

Humans just 0.01% of all life but have destroyed 83% of wild mammals – study

Groundbreaking assessment of all life on Earth reveals humanity’s surprisingly tiny part in it as well as our disproportionate impact

 

`

 

The total biomass of the human race accounts for just 0.01% of the life on Earth

All life on Earth is made up of …

… and found in …

1%

13%

bacteria

in the oceans

82%

86%

5%

13%

plants

on land

everything

else

deep sub-

surface bacteria

Humans make up 0.01%

of Earth’s total biomass

 

Of all the mammals on Earth, 96% are livestock and humans, only 4% are wild mammals

 

60%

are livestock

36%

are humans

 

4%

are wild

mammals

 

70%

of birds are

chickens and

other poultry

 

30%

are wild

 

Since the rise of human civilisation 83% of wild mammals have been lost

83% of wild mammals

80% of marine mammals

50% of plants

15% of fish

 

of wild mammals

of marine mammals

of plants

of fish

Guardian graphic.

 

`

 

Plants account for 82% of all biomass on the planet – 7,500 times more than humans

The total mass of all humans. In comparison there are …

three

times

more

viruses

three

times

more

worms

12 times more fish

17 times more

insects, spiders

and crustaceans

 

200 times

more fungi

1,200 times

more bacteria

7,500 times

more plants

Guardian graphic. Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A cattle farm in Mato Grosso, Brazil. 60% of all mammals on Earth are livestock. Photograph: Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace

Humankind is revealed as simultaneously insignificant and utterly dominant in the grand scheme of life on Earth by a groundbreaking new assessment of all life on the planet.

The world’s 7.6 billion people represent just 0.01% of all living things, according to the study. Yet since the dawn of civilisation, humanity has caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of plants, while livestock kept by humans abounds.

The new work is the first comprehensive estimate of the weight of every class of living creature and overturns some long-held assumptions. Bacteria are indeed a major life form – 13% of everything – but plants overshadow everything, representing 82% of all living matter. All other creatures, from insects to fungi, to fish and animals, make up just 5% of the world’s biomass.

 

Another surprise is that the teeming life revealed in the oceans by the recent BBC television series Blue Planet II turns out to represent just 1% of all biomass. The vast majority of life is land-based and a large chunk – an eighth – is bacteria buried deep below the surface.

“I was shocked to find there wasn’t already a comprehensive, holistic estimate of all the different components of biomass,” said Prof Ron Milo, at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, who led the work, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“I would hope this gives people a perspective on the very dominant role that humanity now plays on Earth,” he said, adding that he now chooses to eat less meat due to the huge environmental impact of livestock.

Advertisement

The transformation of the planet by human activity has led scientists to the brink of declaring a new geological era – the Anthropocene. One suggested marker for this change are the bones of the domestic chicken, now ubiquitous across the globe.

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.

“It is pretty staggering,” said Milo. “In wildlife films, we see flocks of birds, of every kind, in vast amounts, and then when we did the analysis we found there are [far] more domesticated birds.”

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.

But comparison of the new estimates with those for the time before humans became farmers and the industrial revolution began reveal the full extent of the huge decline. Just one-sixth of wild mammals, from mice to elephants, remain, surprising even the scientists. In the oceans, three centuries of whaling has left just a fifth of marine mammals in the oceans.

Advertisement

“It is definitely striking, our disproportionate place on Earth,” said Milo. “When I do a puzzle with my daughters, there is usually an elephant next to a giraffe next to a rhino. But if I was trying to give them a more realistic sense of the world, it would be a cow next to a cow next to a cow and then a chicken.”

Despite humanity’s supremacy, in weight terms Homo sapiens is puny. Viruses alone have a combined weight three times that of humans, as do worms. Fish are 12 times greater than people and fungi 200 times as large.

But our impact on the natural world remains immense, said Milo, particularly in what we choose to eat: “Our dietary choices have a vast effect on the habitats of animals, plants and other organisms.”

Advertisement

“I would hope people would take this [work] as part of their world view of how they consume,” he said. ”I have not become vegetarian, but I do take the environmental impact into my decision making, so it helps me think, do I want to choose beef or poultry or use tofu instead?”

The researchers calculated the biomass estimates using data from hundreds of studies, which often used modern techniques, such as satellite remote sensing that can scan great areas, and gene sequencing that can unravel the myriad organisms in the microscopic world.

They started by assessing the biomass of a class of organisms and then they determined which environments such life could live in across the world to create a global total. They used carbon as the key measure and found all life contains 550bn tonnes of the element. The researchers acknowledge that substantial uncertainties remain in particular estimates, especially for bacteria deep underground, but say the work presents a useful overview.

Paul Falkowski, at Rutgers University in the US and not part of the research team, said: “The study is, to my knowledge, the first comprehensive analysis of the biomass distribution of all organisms – including viruses – on Earth.”

“There are two major takeaways from this paper,” he said. “First, humans are extremely efficient in exploiting natural resources. Humans have culled, and in some cases eradicated, wild mammals for food or pleasure in virtually all continents. Second, the biomass of terrestrial plants overwhelmingly dominates on a global scale – and most of that biomass is in the form of wood.”

 

end/begin

 

CLIMATE CRISIS 101 Learn the basics of climate change science and how you can take action.

 

Copied to WP 2-5-22

Images @ link:

https://www.climaterealityproject.org/sites/climaterealityproject.org/files/Climate%20101_FINAL.pdf

 

The climate crisis is the defining challenge of our generation. Scientists are clear about the reality of climate change and we should be too. And with devastating storms, dangerous floods, melting glaciers, and rising seas becoming increasingly regular facts of life, it’s more critical than ever that we face reality and get working on solutions together. The simple fact is that climate change throws natural systems out of balance – to often devastating effect. What does that mean? Let us explain. Here’s a helpful 101-style refresher on what’s causing our climate to change and the crisis unfolding in front of our eyes.

What Do We Mean By Climate Change? What Changes the Climate? Is Climate Change Real? How Certain Are Scientists? How Do We Know? Why Should We Care? What Can We Do? Additional Resources

When we talk about climate change, we’re talking about the changes scientists have seen in long-term temperature, precipitation, and wind patterns, thanks to higher levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. HERE ARE SOME CLEAR SIGNS OF CLIMATE CHANGE: RISING AVERAGE TEMPERATURES AROUND THE WORLD

THE CAUSE IS CLEAR. Rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, primarily from humans burning fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide is the chief culprit, but other gases like methane also play a dangerous role. These gases upset the natural systems that regulate our climate and lead to more extreme weather. If this sounds like a big deal, that’s because it is. In fact, we can expect to see our world transformed by climate change during our lifetimes and if we do nothing, that transformation will be profound. We call this transformation – the process of climate change and its many effects on our world – the climate crisis. But there’s good news: we can choose to limit rising temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius or less, averting the worst of the climate and protecting our planet. What’s more, we know how to fight climate change and we already have the technology to do it. We have to start by burning less fossil fuels and ultimately stop altogether, which means a global shift to clean energy technologies like solar and wind. These technologies are getting more affordable and accessible every day, so we can make this shift while driving healthy economic growth around the world. We can’t win this fight alone. But with help from people like you, nothing is impossible. Want to learn more? Read on.

Carbon dioxide and other gases are released as a result of human activities such as burning fossil fuels for electricity, industry, and transportation. More gases in the atmosphere means more of the sun’s energy gets trapped in heat. Things keep getting hotter and hotter. Extreme weather events occur as a result of the shifting climate. Even small changes in the global average temperature can cause major and dangerous shifts in climate and weather. Just consider the difference between 0 and 1 degrees Celsius (or 32 and 33 degrees Fahrenheit) – that one degree means the difference between ice and water. Burning fossil fuels isn’t the only thing contributing to rising levels of carbon dioxide. Deforestation – cutting down trees on a large scale for fuel, land, or other purposes –leads to more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as more trees are burned and fewer are in the ground to absorb excess carbon.

In a word: yes. Scientists are crystal clear about the relationship between carbon pollution and climate change. Many of the attacks on climate science have come from oil and coal companies and their allies who see climate solutions like clean energy as a threat to their business. But instead of facing reality, they attack the science behind our understanding of climate change. Then there’s the smaller set of climate deniers who believe scientists and governments are engaged in a nefarious worldwide hoax, regardless of the evidence. Just as the tobacco industry once attempted to confuse the public about the link between smoking and cancer, Big Polluters like oil and coal companies have spent decades running well-funded campaigns to mislead and deceive the public about what’s really happening to the planet. Climate deniers willing to concede that the world is getting warmer will often argue that there is not “scientific consensus” that it’s due to human activity. This is also wrong.

In short, very certain. Over 97 percent of climate scientists agree that man-made climate change is a reality. Virtually every national academy of science on Earth agrees. In an urgent letter to the members of the US Congress, the leaders of 18 different major scientific associations wrote, “Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.” The Earth has experienced cycles of warming and cooling in the past, but experts believe the current warming trend is “proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years.” For comparison’s sake, climate scientists have estimated the planet has previously taken around 5,000 years to recover – by warming between 4-7 degrees Celsius – after an ice age has ended. In the twentieth century alone, the average surface temperature increased by 0.8 degrees Celsius – a rate eight times faster than a typical post-ice-age-recovery. And this cycle is rapidly accelerating.

Skeptical Science cc by sa 3.0 We know the Earth is getting hotter. The following data comes from satellites and a host of other measurements: • The world has already warmed about 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1880. • Fifteen of the 16 hottest years on record have occurred in the twenty-first century. • We’re not getting more heat energy from the sun to drive this warming, according to NASA. 11 Furthermore, average ocean temperatures have risen 0.3 degrees since 1969. • Warmer oceans mean less sea ice, particularly in the Arctic, where the extent and thickness of sea ice has declined rapidly over the last several decades. • The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have shrunk: in just the last decade, 2 trillion tons of ice from the Greenland ice sheet has made its way into the Atlantic Ocean as fresh water. • This melting ice – including glaciers across the world, which are retreating at an alarming rate – has accelerated sea-level rise, which is not great news for the half of the world’s population living within 60 km of the sea. • Higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leads oceans to become 30 percent more acidic since the nineteenth century since oceans absorb greater levels of carbon dioxide and turn it into carbonic acid. • The greater acidity prevents shellfish from building healthy skeletons and causes coral reefs to bleach and die off, with ripple effects up and down the food chain. And that’s just the oceans. Scientists have also traced strong connections between rising temperatures and greenhouse gases on one hand and increasingly frequent and dangerous storms, longer droughts, increasing danger from wildfires, and changes to the global water cycle on the other.

The simple fact is that global temperature rise throws natural systems out of balance. We are already beginning to see what a warmer future has in store for us: • Rainstorms, severe droughts, powerful tropical cyclones, extreme heat waves. • Rising sea levels (projected to rise an other 1 to 4 feet by 2100). • Displacement of nearly half of the world’s population. • Flooding coastal areas literally swallowing entire islands. • Populations of animals dying out. These are not wildly alarmist projections either – they’re based in solid science. The climate crisis has real and dangerous impacts on public health as well. This is especially true for the most vulnerable among us – children, the elderly, and the poor – who are at the most risk from heat stress, air pollution, and extreme weather events. And unless we act, we could see these impacts become even more pronounced in the very near future. Do we want to condemn our children, our grandchildren, and everyone who comes after to living in a world devastated by the climate crisis? Or do we want to be the generation that discovered the courage to act and rose to solve the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced? It’s our choice.

Climate change is already happening. How much the climate warms in the future is up to us. It’s true that even if we completely stopped emitting carbon pollution today, average global temperatures would continue on their upward trajectory for some time. The carbon pollution driving climate change stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, so it is difficult to stop the crisis in its tracks. What we can do is stop adding to all the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere so the warming slows and the planet has a chance to recover. We can do it by working to reach net zero carbon emissions by the second half of the century. If we act now to transition to clean energy technologies like solar and wind, we can limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), while also creating many, many new jobs in fields as diverse as construction, transportation, manufacturing, research and development, operations, engineering, and much more.

Here’s how you can take action: 1. Contact your leaders about the climate crisis: • Every elected official from a city council member to a senator has an obligation to listen to their constituents. Make your voice heard. • Find your senators’ contact info here and your representatives’ information here. • When you call, make sure you know the facts and have prepared a short pitch on why the official should or should not support a bill or proposition. • Be clear that you are a constituent asking your representative to do their job – to represent you. Then, thank the aide who answered the phone for their time. • Read our blog post for more tips on contacting your representatives. • Show the world that Americans support the Paris Agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions and halt rising temperatures by taking the I Am Still In pledge. Then, ask your friends to join you. 2. Request or attend a presentation from a trained Climate Reality Leader. Wherever you live, a Climate Reality Leader trained by former US Vice President Al Gore is available to give a presentation that makes the crisis and how we solve it easy to understand. Climate Reality Leaders are available to present to any audience of any size, whether it’s a crowd of two or a group of 2,000. 15 3. Write a blog post or letter to the editor discussing why you’re concerned about climate change and how it could affect the things you love. More tips here. 4. Learn about the climate crisis and how you can be an agent for change straight from Vice President Gore. Attend our next Climate Reality Leadership Corps training. In addition to taking a few small steps to reduce your own carbon footprint and supporting businesses that are embracing clean energy, we can work together to support leaders at every level who insist on truth, accept reality, and listen to science. By working together, we can ensure our leaders enact the strong city, state, and national policies needed to tackle a crisis of this magnitude. THE SUSTAINABLE AND PROSPEROUS FUTURE WE ALL WANT IS STILL WELL WITHIN OUR GRASP. BUT TO MAKE IT A REALITY, WE HAVE TO ACT NOW

Now that you understand the basics of climate crisis, take a deeper dive with these recommended resources and additional reading. DOWNLOAD THESE RECOMMENDED E-BOOKS FROM THE CLIMATE REALITY PROJECT: • The 12 Questions Every Activist Hears and What to Say • Climate Change and the Water Cycle: Four Big Questions Answered • Top Solar Myths E-book • Discover Your Purpose: Lessons from Six Climate Reality Leaders • “I Am Still In” Paris Agreement Toolkit 17 George Mason Center for Climate Change Communication maintains a site providing resources for effective communication of climate change. Yale Project on Climate Change Communication offers communication resources on a variety of user-selectable topics. Skeptical Science provides readers with the basics of climate change science as well as rebuttals to some of the most common myths perpetuated by climate change deniers. The Union of Concerned Scientists has a “Clean Energy 101” section on its website that’s very useful for people just beginning to learn about clean energy. The US Global Change Research Program conducts comprehensive assessments about the impacts of climate change in the US, including regional impacts, both observed and projected. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s climate website consolidates US climate trends, data, and climate change news, as well as teaching aids and tools to help explain the issues better.

Founded and chaired by former US Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore, The Climate Reality Project is dedicated to catalyzing a global solution to the climate crisis by making urgent action a necessity across every level of society. Today, climate change is standing in the way of a healthy tomorrow for all of us. But we know that practical solutions are right in front of us. We can create a healthy, sustainable, and prosperous future by making a planet-wide shift from dirty fossil fuels to clean, reliable, and affordable renewable energy. At Climate Reality, we combine digital media initiatives, global organizing events, and peerto-peer outreach programs to share this good news with citizens everywhere and build overwhelming popular support for policies that accelerate the global transition to a clean energy economy. To learn more, visit www.climaterealityproject.org

 

 

end/begin

 

Cock Fight

C to wp

 

Many deep thinkers have postulated that the ‘human experience’ is a computerized simulation outside of our awareness.

///

/ cockfight promoters and spectators ///

 

 

end/begin

 

Cock, Plastic, You Will Eat Two Recycling Bins of Plastic

 

Copied to WP 2-5-22

 

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2020/01/14/how-much-plastic-do-we-eat.aspx?cid_source=dnl&cid_medium=email&cid_content=art2HL&cid=20200114Z1&et_cid=DM435980&et_rid=789917372

 

 

Vid @ link

 

You Will Eat Two Recycling Bins of Plastic in Your Lifetime

The average person eats about 5 grams of plastic per week — about the amount found in one credit card

Drinking water is the greatest contributor to plastic ingestion for humans, and plastic particles were found in groundwater, surface water, tap water and bottled water throughout the world

Shellfish represent another notable source of plastic exposure, contributing up to 0.5 grams a week

Based on an average human life span of 79 years, the average person will consume 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of plastic, which is the same weight as two full-sized plastic recycling bins

 

Tiny bits of plastic about the size of a sesame seed or smaller are everywhere. News headlines often show intact plastic bags, rings and bottles as the primary threats to the environment — and these are indeed harmful to marine life and more — but the smaller, more insidious plastic bits may be even more harmful.

These microplastics, as they’re known, are smaller than 5 millimeters (mm), and found in a number of commonly consumed foods and beverages.

In a study at University of Newcastle, Australia, researchers for WWF International, they quantified what this means for humans, revealing a shocking finding that the average person could be eating about 5 grams of plastic per week — about the amount found in one credit card.1 Reuters then extrapolated on the findings, revealing what 5 grams of plastic per week adds up to over a lifetime.2

Drinking Water Is the Largest Source of Plastic Ingestion

The University of Newcastle study analyzed the “existing but limited” literature available on the average amount of plastic ingested by humans. The calculations were based on 33 studies on the consumption of plastic via foods and beverages, such as drinking water, beer, shellfish and salt.3 Per week, the researchers estimated that the average person consumes:4

  • 1,769 plastic particles from drinking water
  • 182 plastic particles from shellfish
  • 10 plastic particles from beer
  • 11 plastic particles from salt

As the data show, drinking water is the greatest contributor to plastic ingestion for humans, and plastic particles were found in groundwater, surface water, tap water and bottled water throughout the world. In the U.S., 94.4% of tap water samples contained plastic fibers, as did 82.4% of tap water samples from India and 72.2% of those from Europe.5

Drinking bottled water is not a solution and, in fact, may contain even more plastic than tap water. Research published in Environmental Science & Technology even suggested people drinking bottled water exclusively may ingest more microplastics than those drinking tap water.6

It’s thought the plastic pollution in bottled water originates from the manufacturing process of the bottles and caps. When researchers at the State University of New York tested 259 bottles of 11 popular bottled water brands — including Aquafina, Nestle Pure Life, Evian, Dasani and San Pelligerino — they found, on average, 325 pieces of microplastic per liter.7,8

Shellfish represent another notable source of plastic exposure, contributing up to 0.5 grams a week. Part of the reason for their large contribution is because they’re eaten whole, digestive system and all, after living in oceans polluted by plastic.9

Inhalation of plastic particles from the air was found to contribute only a negligible amount of humans’ lifetime plastic burden, although the researchers noted that this could vary largely depending on local conditions and lifestyle.

They did note, however, that indoor air contains more plastic pollution than outdoor air, due to more limited air circulation and the fact that household dust and synthetic textiles are significant sources of microplastics in indoor air.

Microplastics Traveling to Remote Regions

Further, while humans are exposed to more microplastics via food and beverages than air at this time, microplastics are known to be airborne and have been found in remote locations you wouldn’t expect, including the top of the Pyrénées mountains in southern France10 and “in the northernmost and easternmost areas of the Greenland and Barents seas.”11

The size and shape of the plastics (small and weathered) found suggested they had come not from local areas, but had traveled great distances. Calling the northeast Atlantic section of the Arctic Ocean a “dead end” for the plastic debris, researchers hypothesized that the seafloor below would be a catch-all for accumulating plastic debris.12

In separate research, it was also revealed that plastic pollution has reached the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica.

“It was thought that the Southern Ocean was relatively free of microplastic contamination; however, recent studies and citizen science projects in the Southern Ocean have reported microplastics in deep-sea sediments and surface waters,” researchers wrote in the journal Science of The Total Environment.13

You May Eat Two Recycling Bins of Plastic in Your Lifetime

It’s likely that you’re consuming plastic daily and, as mentioned, Reuters used the disturbing statistic that people are likely consuming 5 grams of plastic per week to illustrate just how much plastic you may be ingesting over time. Five grams of plastic, the news outlet noted, is about the same weight as a plastic bottle cap or enough plastic bits to fill a porcelain soup spoon. Further, in time this amounts to:14

  • Every month — 21 grams of plastic; the same weight as five die or enough shredded plastic to fill a rice bowl half way
  • Every 6 months — 125 grams of plastic, which is enough shredded plastic to fill a cereal bowl nearly to the top
  • Every year — 250 grams of plastic, which is enough to fill a dinner plate with a heaping portion
  • Every 10 years — 2.5 kilograms (5.5 pounds) of plastic; the same weight as a standard life buoy
  • In a lifetime — Based on an average human life span of 79 years, the average person will consume 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of plastic, which is the same weight as two full-sized plastic recycling bins

Thava Palanisami of the University of Newcastle, who was involved in the featured study, told Reuters:15

“We have been using plastic for decades but we still don’t really understand the impact of micro- and nano-sized plastic particles on our health … All we know is that we are ingesting it and that it has the potential to cause toxicity. That is definitely a cause for concern.”

What Are the Health Risks of Ingesting Plastic?

The long-term effects of plastic ingestion are unknown, but there’s reason to be concerned. Microplastics for textile fibers, for instance, make up 16% of the world’s plastic production. It’s been suggested that inhaled plastic textile fibers could persist in the lungs, leading to inflammation.

Such plastics also contain contaminants, such as polycyclic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which may be genotoxic (i.e., causing DNA damage that could lead to cancer), along with dyes, plasticizers and other additives linked to additional toxic effects, including reproductive toxicity, carcinogenicity and mutagenicity.16 As noted by the University of Newcastle report:17

“In marine animals, higher concentrations of microplastics in their digestive and respiratory system can lead to early death. Research studies have demonstrated toxicity in vitro to lung cells, the liver, and brain cells.

Some types of plastic carry chemicals and additives with potential effects on human health. Identified health risks are due to production process residues, additives, dyes and pigments found in plastic, some of which have been shown to have an influence on sexual function, fertility and increased occurrence of mutations and cancers.

Airborne microplastics may also carry pollutants from the surrounding environment. In urban environments, they may carry PAHs — molecules found in coal and tar — and metals.”

It’s difficult to link human health problems back to microplastics, especially considering the heavy toxic burden most are exposed to daily, but many of the chemicals used in the manufacture of plastics are also known to disrupt embryonic development, dysregulate hormones and gene expression, and cause organ damage. They have also been linked to obesityheart disease and cancer.

As Pete Myers, Ph.D., founder and chief scientist of the nonprofit Environmental Health Sciences and an adjunct professor of chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University, told Consumer Reports, “There cannot be no effect.”18

More Nurdles Than Ever

What are nurdles? As explained by Kim Preshoff in the TED-Ed video above, a key plastic pollutant you may never have heard of is nurdles — tiny plastic pellets that form the raw material for plastic products of all kinds. Ranging in size from microscopic grains to millimeter-sized pellets, nurdles are now found in lakes, rivers and oceans across the globe.

The small pellets easily escape during production, transport, processing and waste management procedures, such that an estimated 5 billion to 53 billion plastic pellets are lost by British production companies annually.19

It takes about 600 nurdles, which resemble plastic lentil beans, to make one disposable water bottle, and these tiny plastic pieces are similar in size and shape to fish eggs, making them appealing snacks to marine animals. This is another way that microplastics are deadly, as consuming microplastics is known to inhibit appetite in marine animals.20

Further, nurdles, like other plastics, are efficient at absorbing toxins from waterways and can concentrate them to extreme levels.21 They’re so ubiquitous that nurdles are said to be “the second-largest direct source of microplastic pollution to the ocean by weight.”22

And, once in the environment, nurdles and other plastics are unable to biodegrade, allowing them to persist and accumulate in the environment for generations to come. As journalism organization Orb Media and researchers at the State University of New York at Fredonia explained:23

“Being composed largely, if not entirely, of hydrocarbon chains, the lack of double bonds or other functional groups provides an inherent stability to its molecules, and its synthetic nature means that the vast majority of microorganisms haven’t evolved to utilize plastic as a food source.

Thus while plastic will break into smaller and smaller particles via photo-oxidative mechanisms, the fundamental molecule structures of the material change very little throughout that process.

Plastics become microplastics become nanoplastics, but they are all plastics, just of increasingly smaller size, allowing them to be more easily ingested and perhaps even cross the gastrointestinal tract to be transported throughout a living organism.”

A Call to End Plastic Pollution

WWF is calling on governments worldwide to support further research into how plastic and microplastics enter living organisms as well as their consequences on health. They also suggest establishing national targets for plastic reduction, recycling and management, along with an international treaty to stop plastic pollution in the oceans.

“The current global approach to addressing the plastic crisis is failing. Governments play a key role to ensure all actors in the plastic system are held accountable for the true cost of plastic pollution to nature and people,” WWF noted, adding:24

“Systemic solutions using strategic and tactical interventions are required to stop plastic pollution at its source, and bold action from a broad range of stakeholders is needed across the full plastic lifecycle to implement these interventions.”

That being said, don’t underestimate the impact one person — you — can have by making simple tweaks to your daily life. By avoiding the use of single-use plastics like straws, utensils, bags and bottles, and seeking to purchase products that are not made from or packaged in plastic, you can make a dent in the amount of plastic waste and pollution being produced

 

 

 

end/begin

 

Cock, Vision Zero

Copied to WP 2-5-22

Vision Zero :

This is add on stuff

 

5-25-17:

 

Corporate price of life:

 

Societies of the ‘developed world’ have placed a price (a low value) on human life too. This is not a justification of the corporate ‘calculated murder-for-profit’ model, but a glaring example of how acceptable the practice can be.

 

With the example of highway safety standards, it’s simple math. And the math clearly shows that just slowing down (and more thoughtful design of road infrastructure); yes, but the big factor, the really easy adjustment, and the adjustment which costs virtually nothing is just slowing (all drivers) down. I have been posing this issue in casual conversation for many years (since back before there was an official ‘movement’); and I can report that some people have actually expressed the attitude that it’s acceptable to kill thousands of people (every year) so that their daily commute will go 20% / 10 minutes faster. That’s sick; but I think and hope that they are the minority, or at least that not many folks will admit to such a selfish, homicidal tendency when presented with the figures on how we’ve been killing and harming and also on how minimally the life affirming adjustments will inconvenience them.

It’s so freaking easy to save millions of lives, and prevent tens-of-millions of injuries (each year, worldwide). What could the ‘do nothing’ excuse possibly be?

 

 

 

 

 

In U.S. per year:

 

Costs directly resulting from the unnecessary and indefensible ‘too rushed to be safe attitude and system’.

 

40,000 fatalities

 

About 5 million ‘serious injuries,’ which the NSC defines as those requiring medical consultation

 

$300 Billion (300,000,000.00); is the estimated costs of these crashes—including medical expenses, wage and productivity losses and property damage

 

http://www.newsweek.com/us-traffic-deaths-injuries-and-related-costs-2015-363602

 

The Vision Zero movement is long overdue, as it should have been a basic requirement since the first Model Ts rolled of the assembly line; duh. We’re slow learners I guess; but there are signs that we are coming around and developing a conscience.

The sentiments expressed by the ‘mission’ of the Vision Zero movement should inform the thinking corporate /// and insert a foundational moral directive at the top of its agenda.

 

`

 

 

 

Vision Zero is a multi-national road traffic safety project that aims to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious injuries in road traffic. It started in Sweden and was approved by their parliament in October 1997.[1] A core principle of the vision is that ‘Life and health can never be exchanged for other benefits within the society’ rather than the more conventional comparison between costs and benefits, where a monetary value is placed on life and health, and then that value is used to decide how much money to spend on a road network towards the benefit of decreasing how much risk

Principles

Roads in Sweden are built with safety prioritised over speed or convenience. Low urban speed-limits, pedestrian zones and barriers that separate cars from bikes and oncoming traffic have helped. Building 1,500 kilometres (900 miles) of “2+1” roads—where each lane of traffic takes turns to use a middle lane for overtaking—is reckoned to have saved around 145 lives over the first decade of Vision Zero –Why Sweden has so few road deaths, The Economist Explains[3] (Feb 26th 2014)

Vision Zero is based on an underlying ethical principle that “it can never be ethically acceptable that people are killed or seriously injured when moving within the road transport system.”[4] As an ethics-based approach Vision Zero functions to guide strategy selection and not to set particular goals or targets. In most road transport systems, road users bear complete responsibility for safety. Vision Zero changes this relationship by emphasizing that responsibility is shared by transportation system designers and road users.[4]

Speed limits

Vision Zero suggests the following “possible long term maximum travel speeds related to the infrastructure, given best practice in vehicle design and 100% restraint use”.[5] These speeds are based on human and automobile limits. For example, the human tolerance for a pedestrian hit by a well-designed car is approximately 30 km/h. If a higher speed in urban areas is desired, the option is to separate pedestrian crossings from the traffic. If not, pedestrian crossings, or zones (or vehicles), must be designed to generate speeds of a maximum of 30 km/h. Similarly, the inherent safety of well-designed cars can be anticipated to be a maximum of 70 km/h in frontal impacts, and 50 km/h in side impacts. Speeds over 100 km/h can be tolerated if the infrastructure is designed to prevent frontal and side impacts.

Possible Maximum Travel Speeds
Type of infrastructure and traffic Possible travel speed (km/h)
Locations with possible conflicts between pedestrians and cars 30 km/h (19 mph)
Intersections with possible side impacts between cars 50 km/h (31 mph)
Roads with possible frontal impacts between cars, including rural roads[6] 70 km/h (43 mph)
Roads with no possibility of a side impact or frontal impact (only impact with the infrastructure) 100 km/h (62 mph)+

“Roads with no possibility of a side impact or frontal impact” are sometimes designated as Type 1 ( motorways/freeways/Autobahns ), Type 2 (“2+2 roads“) or Type 3 (“2+1 roads“).[7] These roadways have crash barriers separating opposing traffic, limited accessgrade separation and prohibitions on slower and more vulnerable road users. Undivided rural roads can be quite dangerous even with speed limits that appear low by comparison. In 2010, German rural roads, which are generally limited to 100 km/h (62 mph), had a fatality rate of 7.7 deaths per billion-travel-kilometers, higher than the 5.2 rate on urban streets (generally limited to 50 km/h (31 mph)), and far higher than the autobahn rate of 2.0; autobahns carried 31% of motorized road traffic while accounting for 11% of Germany’s traffic deaths

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vision_Zero

 

 

“`

 

 

2-1-17:

Vision Zero. The words are intriguing…captivating even. The bold concept appeals to many people. After all, who would be against the goal of reducing the number of needless traffic deaths to zero? And, the urgency is unambiguous, given that more than 35,000 people were killed (and millions more injured) in traffic crashes in the U.S. last year alone.

Yet, words and good intentions will not be enough to ensure that Vision Zero succeeds. So, what will be?
This is the question being asked by an ever-increasing number of people across our country. Today, mayors, police chiefs, transportation and public health professionals, community leaders, loved ones of victims, and many more people are stepping up to declare that “enough is enough” of the preventable tragedies on our roadways. More than 20 U.S. cities have committed to the goal of Vision Zero – eliminating traffic fatalities and severe injuries among all road users – in the past three years alone. This is a significant step in the right direction.

http://visionzeronetwork.org/moving-from-vision-to-action-what-will-it-take-to-reach-vision-zero/

 

 

 

 

s Vision Zero? Simply put, it’s a recognition that traffic fatalities are preventable, and a commitment to ensure that no one is killed in traffic. Cities that adopt Vision Zero set out to end traffic deaths within a specific time frame.

In America, a few cities have publicly committed to Vision Zero. So how should policy makers go about achieving this goal? What works and what doesn’t? Which places are making real progress, and how are they doing it?

The Vision Zero Network was founded with support from Kaiser Permanente to help ensure that “Vision Zero” promises result in meaningful and effective change.

Yesterday, the network announced 10 “focus cities” that will model Vision Zero strategy in the United States. These cities were chosen for having demonstrated a significant commitment to Vision Zero:

Austin

Boston

Chicago

Fort Lauderdale

Los Angeles

New York City

Portland, Oregon

San Francisco

Seattle

Washington

 

 

 

 

“`

 

 

Commentary: Lower speed limits save lives

I learned that “when you get hit by a car traveling at 20 mph you live, But if you get hit by a car traveling at 40 mph, you die.“

 

The recent deaths of three pedestrians and of a boy riding his bike have resulted in Bike Walk Greenville being asked, “What can our community do to reduce the number of deaths?”

There are two answers. The first is to slow down the cars. Across the country, many cities are implementing “Vision Zero.” A goal of Zero embraces the concept that mistakes on the part of a pedestrian or motorist should not be fatal. The graphic displayed here, from Seattle’s Vision Zero plan, tells the story. Lowering our speed limits is a something we can implement now on our residential streets.

The second answer is designing our streets for people, not just for cars. This is a fundamental change that will not be easy.

Consider the experience of walking along White Horse Road, where the sidewalk is immediately adjacent to six fast lanes of traffic. This design not only is unpleasant for people who must walk there, but also has proven deadly, as a few years ago a driver killed a pedestrian who was on the sidewalk.

Contrast this to walking on Main Street in downtown Greenville, where pedestrians are separated from slow-moving traffic by trees and parked cars. People walking on Main Street have smiles on their faces; those walking on White Horse Road do not.

Main Street has sidewalk extensions that shorten the travel distance at crosswalks  On White Horse Road, pedestrians have to cross six lanes of traffic, and very few locations feature a narrow center island as a place of refuge. The distance between traffic lights for safe crossing is extremely long, and people often cross by necessity far from the traffic lights.

Of course, some people who have been killed were wearing dark clothing at night and might have been impaired — no design improvement will save them.  Distracted driving is also a huge challenge for our society that must be solved through state and national leadership.

We can reduce fatalities of pedestrians and people on bikes by lowering and enforcing our speed limits. The City of Greenville has installed a number of monitoring signs that display a vehicle’s speed compared to the speed limit, and my casual observation is that the posted 30 mph speed limit is consistently exceeded.

Let’s change the speed limit to 20 mph on these residential streets as the first step in saving lives. All it takes is for our elected officials to decide this is the right thing to do.

Frank Mansbach is executive director of Bike Walk Greenville. He can be reached at info@bikewalkgreenville.org.

 

 

 

 

Do speed limits reduce the number of road deaths?

Germany is once again debating a speed limit for the autobahn system but does it really help? And what is happening to motorway deaths across Europe?
• Get the data
• More data journalism and data visualisations from the Guardian

 

Should Germany introduce a permanent speed limit for the Autobahn network? And will it affect the number of fatalities. Photograph: Andreas Stirnberg/Getty Images

Once again the debate on whether German autobahns ought to have a speed limit has resurfaced. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s challenger, Peer Steinbrueck has been trying to halt a debate set off by a Social Democrat colleague about whether to introduce speed limits on all German highways.

The chairman of his party was quoted last Wednesday as saying that a 75 mph (120 kph) autobahn limit would make sense because statistics suggest it would reduce serious accidents, according to Associated Press (AP).

Stretches of the motorway, most famously referenced by Top Gear, currently have no speed limit although the advisory limit stands at 81mph. The autobahn system, with a total length of 12,845km, has often been the topic of debate in the past and is a guaranteed catalyst for road safety groups, environmentalists and politicians.

But do speed limits affect the number of deaths on motorways? A 2008 report by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) found that of the 645 road deaths in Germany in 2006, 67% occurred on on motorway sections without limits and 33% on stretches with a permanent limit. The fact that 33% of German motorways have a permanent limit and 67% have either a temporary limit or none means that these figures, at first glance, show that having a speed limit does not the lower the number of fatalities on motorways. But as ETSC note: ‘this similarity of percentages takes no account of traffic volumes on different sections.’

The report stresses though that:

“the relationship between speed and road accidents has been studied extensively and is very clear: the higher the speed, the greater the probability of a crash and the severity of the crashes.”

The relationship between speed and the increase in the number of deaths and injuries has lead to some interesting academic research. Writing about the ‘power model‘ devised by Rune Elvik, from Norway’s Institute of Transport EconomicsPeter Walker explains what insights it can offer:

Using the most widely accepted statistical model, drawn up by a Norwegian academic using data from 100 studies in more than a dozen countries, an increase in average traffic speeds of just 3mph – a typical change for a 10mph rise – would be expected to cause more than 25 extra deaths a year on motorways and more than 100 serious injuries.

But of course, countries differ. Not only in their standard of driving but in the total lengths of motorway, average flows of vehicles, geographical situation (i.e many use Germany’s autobahns to cross over into other countries) and their overall transport infrastructure.

For many countries rural road fatalities account for the highest proportion of road deaths. Rural roads killed five times more people than motorways in Germany between 2007-9, accounting for 60% for road deaths, versus 12% for motorways.

A 1991 case study used in the ETSC report illustrates the results of introducing a speed limit. A 130km speed limit was introduced on a 167km section of the A61 in Rheinland-Pfalz combined with a ban on overtaking heavy good vehicles. The result of both these measures was a 30% reduction in fatal and severe injury accidents.

Professor Benjamin Heydecker, the Head of the Centre for Transport Studies at University College London also found that ‘during the 45 years since the current motorway speed limit of 70mph was first implemented, the risk of road accident fatality per vehicle-km of travel has fallen to less than 1/13 of what it was’. But as Heydecker explains in his piece for the London School of Economics (LSE), roads have become safer over that period of time due to a variety of factors including road and vehicle development and not just the introduction of the speed limit.

In their 2008 report, the ETSC were firm and clear in their overall conclusion:

empirical evidence indicates that all instances’ of introduced speed limits on German motorways have caused very large casualty reductions.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/may/13/speed-limits-reduce-number-road-deaths

 

 

 

“`

 

 

Speed limit increases cause 33,000 deaths in 20 years

 

If Vision Zero is the destination, higher speeds are slowing us down.

A new IIHS study shows that increases in speed limits over two decades have cost 33,000 lives in the U.S. In 2013 alone, the increases resulted in 1,900 additional deaths, essentially canceling out the number of lives saved by frontal airbags that year.

“Although fatality rates fell during the study period, they would have been much lower if not for states’ decisions to raise speed limits,” says Charles Farmer, IIHS vice president for research and statistical services and the author of the study.

Maximum speed limits are set by the states, and they have been on the rise since 1995. However, during most of the 1970s and 1980s, the threat of financial penalties held state speed limits to 55 mph.

In 1973, Congress required that states adopt 55 mph as their maximum speed limit in order to receive their share of highway funds. Concerns over fuel availability, rather than safety, had prompted Congress to pass the measure, known as the National Maximum Speed Limit, but the most dramatic result was a decrease in fatalities.

In 1987, with energy concerns fading, Congress relaxed the restriction, allowing states to increase speed limits to 65 mph on rural interstates. The law was completely repealed in 1995.

Proponents of raising the speed limit often argue that such increases simply bring the law in line with reality, since most drivers exceed the limit. Once the limit is raised, however, drivers go even faster.

Not surprisingly, Institute researchers found that travel speeds increased following the repeal of the National Maximum Speed Limit (see Status Report special issue: speed, Jan. 31, 2008). They also found that fatalities went up, first on rural interstates with the law’s partial repeal and later on all interstates after the full repeal (see “Deaths go up on interstate highways where higher speed limits are posted,” Jan. 16, 1999).

The increases have continued apace. Today, six states have 80 mph limits, and drivers in Texas can legally drive 85 mph on some roads.

The new study looked at the effect of all speed limit increases from 1993 to 2013 in 41 states. Nine states and the District of Columbia were excluded because they had relatively few vehicle miles traveled each year, leading to wide fluctuations in their annual fatality rates.

Farmer looked at deaths per billion miles traveled by state and roadway type. Taking into account other factors that affected the fatality rate — including changes in unemployment, the number of potential young drivers (ages 16-24) and per capita alcohol consumption — he found that each 5 mph increase in the maximum speed limit resulted in a 4 percent increase in fatalities. The increase on interstates and freeways, the roads most affected by state maximums, was 8 percent.

Comparing the annual number of fatalities in the 41 states with the number that would have been expected if each state’s maximum speed limit had remained unchanged since 1993, Farmer arrived at the estimate of 33,000 additional fatalities over the 20-year period. That number is approximately equal to the nationwide annual tally of fatalities during recent years.

As large a number as it is, 33,000 is likely an underestimate, Farmer says. In his analysis, he considered only increases in the maximum speed limit, which often applies only to rural interstates, but many states also increased speed limits on urban interstates. Other states increased speed limits on one section of road and later extended the higher limit to other sections. Those subsequent changes weren’t factored in.

The study doesn’t include the increases of the past three years. In 2013, only Texas and Utah had limits above 75 mph. Five more have joined that club since then, and others have abandoned 65 mph limits for 70 mph.

“Since 2013, speeds have only become more extreme, and the trend shows no sign of abating,” Farmer notes. “We hope state lawmakers will keep in mind the deadly consequences of higher speeds when they consider raising limits.”

4-2016

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/speed-limit-increases-cause-33-000-deaths-in-20-years

 

 

“`

 

 

 

 

end/begin

 

Cock; human extinction:

 

Copied to WP 2-5-22

 

For Cock:

For The Fluoride Fiasco (and The Iodine rescue): (Swan blames “everywhere chemicals”, found in plastics, cosmetics and pesticides, that affect endocrines such as phthalates and bisphenol-A.

“Chemicals in our environment and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc,”)

 

Falling sperm counts ‘threaten human survival’, expert warns

Epidemiologist Shanna Swan says low counts and changes to sexual development could endanger human species

“The current state of reproductive affairs can’t continue much longer without threatening human survival,”

Sperm counts are set to reach zero in 2045

how to protect themselves from damaging chemicals and urges people to ‘do what we can to safeguard our fertility, the fate of mankind, and the planet

Falling sperm counts and changes to sexual development are “threatening human survival” and leading to a fertility crisis, a leading epidemiologist has warned.

Writing in a new book, Shanna Swan, an environmental and reproductive epidemiologist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, warns that the impending fertility crisis poses a global threat comparable to that of the climate crisis.

“The current state of reproductive affairs can’t continue much longer without threatening human survival,” she writes in Count Down.

It comes after a study she co-authored in 2017 found that sperm counts in the west had plummeted by 59% between 1973 and 2011, making headlines globally.

Now, Swan says, following current projections, sperm counts are set to reach zero in 2045. “That’s a little concerning, to say the least,” she told Axios.

In the book, Swan and co-author Stacey Colino explore how modern life is threatening sperm counts, changing male and female reproductive development and endangering human life.

It points to lifestyle and chemical exposures that are changing and threatening human sexual development and fertility. Such is the gravity of the threats they pose, she argues, that humans could become an endangered species.

“Of five possible criteria for what makes a species endangered,” Swan writes, “only one needs to be met; the current state of affairs for humans meets at least three.”

Swan offers advice on how to protect themselves from damaging chemicals and urges people to “do what we can to safeguard our fertility, the fate of mankind, and the planet”.

Between 1964 and 2018 the global fertility rate fell from 5.06 births per woman to 2.4. Now approximately half the world’s countries have fertility rates below 2.1, the population replacement level.

While contraception, cultural shifts and the cost of having children are likely to be contributing factors, Swan warns of indicators that suggest there are also biological reasons – including increasing miscarriage rates, more genital abnormalities among boys and earlier puberty for girls.

Swan blames “everywhere chemicals”, found in plastics, cosmetics and pesticides, that affect endocrines such as phthalates and bisphenol-A.

“Chemicals in our environment and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc,” she writes.

She also said factors such as tobacco smoking, marijuana and growing obesity play a role.

  • This article was amended on 27 February 2021 to remove an erroneous reference to a median sperm count.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/26/falling-sperm-counts-human-survival

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/26/falling-sperm-counts-human-survival

 

 

end/begin

 

Cockroach, Add ons 12.17.20

 

Copied to WP 2-5-22

 

 

Life vs. Anthropogenic Mass

 

The Heavy Hand of Humans

 

 

We are doubling the mass of the human-made, “anthropogenic” part of the world every 20 years and the curve is not flattening.

 

For each person alive today, mass equal to more than their bodyweight is produced by humans every week

 

Overall material output of human activities referred to as the ‘anthropogenic mass’ has pushed the Earth to the ‘crosspoint’ in the year 2020

 

30,000,000,000 tonnes) per year

Anthropogenic mass has increased rapidly and is now being produced at a rate of more than 30 gigatonnes (30,000,000,000 tonnes) per year

 

Human-Made Stuff Now Outweighs All Life on Earth

The sheer scale of buildings, infrastructure and other anthropogenic objects underscores our impact on the planet

 

 

Humanity has reached a new milestone in its dominance of the planet: human-made objects may now outweigh all of the living beings on Earth.

Roads, houses, shopping malls, fishing vessels, printer paper, coffee mugs, smartphones and all the other infrastructure of daily life now weigh in at approximately 1.1 trillion metric tons—equal to the combined dry weight of all plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, archaea and protists on the planet. The creation of this human-made mass has rapidly accelerated over the past 120 years: Artificial objects have gone from just 3 percent of the world’s biomass in 1900 to on par with it today. And the amount of new stuff being produced every week is equivalent to the average body weight of all 7.7 billion people.

The implications of these findings, published on Wednesday in Nature, are staggering. The world’s plastics alone now weigh twice as much as the planet’s marine and terrestrial animals. Buildings and infrastructure outweigh trees and shrubs. “We cannot hide behind the feeling that we’re just a small species, one out of many,” says study co-author Ron Milo, who researches plant and environmental sciences at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. These numbers should be a wake-up call, he adds. They tell us “something about the responsibility that we have, given that we have become a dominant force,” Milo says.

He and his team had previously published an estimate of the amount of biomass on Earth, which led to the question of how it compared with the mass of artificial objects. Emily Elhacham, then a graduate student at the Weizmann Institute, led the effort to pull together disparate data sets on the flow of materials around the world. The researchers found that human-made, or anthropogenic, mass has doubled every 20 years since 1900. Total biomass remained more stable in that time period, though plant biomass has declined by approximately half since the dawn of agriculture some 12,000 years ago. The team estimates that anthropogenic mass crossed over to exceed biomass this year, plus or minus six years.

Credit: Amanda Montañez; Source: “Global Human-Made Mass Exceeds All Living Biomass,” by Emily Elhacham et al., in Nature. Published online December 9, 2020

The researchers chose to focus only on living biomass and anthropogenic objects that are in use—not waste. With waste, anthropogenic mass began outweighing biomass in 2013, plus or minus five years. And the crossover point is slightly later if water weight is included in the biomass calculations. The wet weight of the biomass on Earth is currently 2.2 trillion metric tons, and humans are on track to outproduce that figure in 2031 (including waste) or 2037 (without it).

About half of the world’s current human-made mass is concrete, with aggregates such as gravel making up much of the rest. Bricks, asphalt, metals, plastic and other materials make up about 19 percent of the total.

The new research actually uses a conservative standard to define both anthropogenic mass and waste, says Colin Waters, a geologist at the University of Leicester in England, who had discussed the research in its early stages with Milo but was not directly involved in the study. Take, for example, a gold wedding band. The study would measure only the few grams of gold in the band as anthropogenic mass. But somewhere between four million and 20 million metric tons of ore were processed to make that tiny piece of metal, Waters says. Similarly, Waters says, the analysis does not take into account billions of tons of Earth moved when mining coal or dredging. Taking a more expansive view of human activities into account, he says, would put the point at which anthropogenic mass outweighed biomass in 1977, according to Waters’ research.

Whatever the moment when humanity’s production eclipsed nature’s, the study points to a larger narrative in which humans are modifying the planet to such an extent that we have created a new geologic epoch called the Anthropocene, says Waters, who has been active in research seeking out geologic markers of this proposed division of time.

The new research also raises alarms for the future. If current trends hold, anthropogenic mass will grow to three times the world’s biomass by 2040, Milo and his colleagues found—and there are plenty of metals and minerals available to keep this trend going in the near term. All of that new anthropogenic mass will eventually become waste that will have to be dealt with, says Fridolin Krausmann, who studies sustainable resource use at the Institute of Social Ecology at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, and was a peer reviewer for the paper but was not directly involved in the research. “In the next 20 years, we will get as much waste as from the last 110 years together,” he says. “Most of what we have now has been built in the last couple of decades, since the 1960s. Now this is becoming end-of-life, so we are really facing huge, huge waste flows.”

 

 

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/human-made-stuff-now-outweighs-all-life-on-earth/

 

 

 

 

`

`

Amount of human-made items on Earth will outweigh all living biomass

Save 52% when you subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine

Research suggests that for each person alive today, mass equal to more than their bodyweight is produced by humans every week.

A study suggests the mass embedded in human-made items – such as buildings, roads and machines – has doubled every 20 years for the past century years. The mass of these human-made objects could surpass the mass of all living things by the end of 2020.

These findings underscore the increasing impacts that humans have on Earth, researchers say.

According to the study, since the first agricultural revolution humans have halved plant biomass, from around 2 teratonnes (2,000,000,000,000 tonnes) to the current value of around 1 teratonne. This has been done through land-use changes such as agriculture and deforestation.

Read more about the impact of human agriculture:

The increasing production and accumulation of human-made objects – referred to as anthropogenic mass – has also contributed to a shift in the balance between living and human-made mass.

“We find that Earth is exactly at the crossover point,” wrote the authors of the new study, published in Nature. “In the year 2020, the anthropogenic mass, which has recently doubled roughly every 20 years, will surpass all global living biomass.

“On average, for each person on the globe, anthropogenic mass equal to more than their own bodyweight is produced every week.”

Ron Milo, from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, and colleagues estimated changes in global biomass and human-made mass from 1900 to the present day.

They found that at the beginning of the 20th Century, the mass of human-produced objects was equal to around 3 per cent of total biomass.

But today, human-made mass exceeds the overall global biomass, weighing in at around 1.1 teratonnes, according to the new study.

Over this period, overall biomass decreased slightly, whereas anthropogenic mass has increased rapidly and is now being produced at a rate of more than 30 gigatonnes (30,000,000,000 tonnes) per year, where a gigatonne is one-thousandth of a teratonne.

Buildings and roads make up the majority of human-made mass, with other examples including plastics and machines.

Changes in the composition of this mass correspond to specific construction trends, such as the shift from using bricks to concrete in buildings from the mid-1950s and the use of asphalt for road paving in the 1960s. The researchers also suggest that shifts in the total anthropogenic mass are linked to major events, such as continuous increases in construction after the Second World War.

Read more about plastic pollution:

The authors note that the exact timing of crossover is sensitive to definitions, so there may be some variability in the estimates. They used dry-weight estimates – excluding water, but they suggest wet-mass estimates or different definitions of mass categories could still place the transition in mass balance within the past, present or future decade.

If current trends continue, human-generated mass, including waste, is expected to exceed 3 teratonnes by 2040, the researchers suggest.

“This study joins recent efforts to quantify and evaluate the scale and impact of human activities on our planet,” wrote the researchers.

“The impacts of these activities have been so abrupt and considerable that it has been proposed that the current geological epoch be renamed the Anthropocene.

“Our study rigorously and quantitatively substantiates this proposal.”

In what ways are humans making the Earth less habitable?

Humans have thrived on the Earth for more than 200,000 years, but we have caused significant environmental damage – threatening the basic resources needed for the survival of our species, including water, air, soil and food.

By burning fossil fuels, we’ve sparked a rapid increase in global temperatures, which is predicted to cause a raft of issues from rising sea levels to more intense droughts and heatwaves. Intensive agriculture, deforestation and overfishing have damaged ecosystems and threaten many plant and animal species that we – and other species – rely on. We’ve contaminated our air and water with harmful gases, heavy metals, plastics and other pollutants. A growing population could exacerbate the problem.

But all hope is not lost. Tangible solutions to slow or even halt these trends are within our reach. Clean energy sources promise to replace fossil fuels; more sustainable agricultural practices might ensure our planet continues to feed us; and less wasteful consumption could preserve precious resources such as water.

Read more:

https://www.sciencefocus.com/news/amount-of-human-made-items-on-earth-will-soon-outweigh-all-living-biomass/

 

 

`

 

`

 

Mass Of Human-made Material Now Heavier Than Earth’s Entire Biomass: Research

Overall material output of human activities referred to as the ‘anthropogenic mass’ has pushed the Earth to the ‘crosspoint’ in the year 2020.

 

For the first time since the existence of humans on Earth, the man-made mass is now heavier than the weight of all lifeforms on the universe’s only habitable planet. The human manufactured establishments and inventions now weight approximately an estimated 1.1 trillion metric tons, which equals the mass of the plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, archaea, protists, and all other naturally occurring features on the planet.

According to the study published on December 9, the global human-made mass has exceeded all living biomass as mankind became the dominant force in shaping the face of Earth. 

According to the research, the overall material output of human activities referred to as the ‘anthropogenic mass’ has pushed the Earth to the ‘crosspoint’ in the year 2020. This manmade mass roughly doubles every 20 years. However, in the 21st century, activities of humanity and the production and accumulation of human-made objects spiked at an exorbitant rate and manner. In 1900, human-produced mass equaled only about 3 percent of the total biomass, according to scientists.

Read: Scientists Confident Covid Vaccine Soon; Price Being Discussed: PM Modi Says ‘we’re Ready’

Human comprise ‘0.01 percent’

“While the mass of humans is only about 0.01 percent of global biomass, our civilization had already had a substantial and diverse impact on it by 3,000 years ago,” the researchers explained. Since then, the global effect of humanity has accelerated and the material flows of our socioeconomic system, also known as the socioeconomic metabolism drastically increased. The material basis of the society along with the industrial ecology ramped up the socioeconomic material stocks on the planet.

[Credit: Amanda Montañez; Source: “Global Human-Made Mass Exceeds All Living Biomass,” by Emily Elhacham et al., in Nature. Published online December 9, 2020]

Read: COVID-19 Studies Should Focus On ‘mucosal Immune Responses’ Of Nose, Mouth: Scientists

“About 120 years later, in 2020, anthropogenic mass is exceeding overall biomass in the world,” scientists warned, adding, that the point at which anthropogenic mass surpasses living biomass is ‘sensitive’.

As per the research, the production of concrete, metal, plastic, bricks, and asphalt particularly pushed the Earth to comprise far beyond just the ecological biomass. Scientists call the current epoch the ‘Anthropocene’. The research was conducted by Ron Milo and his colleagues at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot (Israel) who examined changes in global biomass and human-made mass from 1900 to 2020.

https://www.republicworld.com/technology-news/science/mass-of-human-made-material-now-heavier-than-earths-entire-biomass-research.html

 

 

`

 

`

 

 

 

 

 

`

 

`

 

 

 

The Mass of Human-Made Material Now Outweighs All Biomass

 

We are doubling the mass of the human-made, “anthropogenic” part of the world every 20 years and the curve is not flattening.

Research suggests that for each person alive today, mass equal to more than their bodyweight is produced by humans every week

 

by Matthew Hart

Dec 11 2020 • 10:57 AM

If there’s anything humanity is becoming increasingly aware of this century, it’s our impact on the environment. But while many of the frightening environmental reports we’ve received are visceral and easy to understand, some are far more subtle. A new study out of Israel, for example, says that—likely during this year—the mass of material made by humans will exceed all the biomass on Earth.

The Guardian reported on the new study, undertaken by a team of scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in the city of Rehovot. Professor Ron Milo at the University’s Plant and Environmental Sciences Department led the study published in Nature, and gives an overview in the video above.

As Milo says, he and his team calculated the amount of “anthropogenic” mass on Earth, and the planet’s biomass. The scientists define the anthropogenic mass as any belonging to anything produced by people. For example, phones, cars, or buildings.

 

The biomass, on the other hand, is the total mass of all the organic matter on Earth; e.g. plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, etc. Milo and his colleagues only included dry biomass, however, subtracting out water content. (The scientists likely used dry biomass as the metric because moisture content of biomass varies greatly depending on its environment.)

In essence, the team wanted to find out when exactly anthropogenic mass would outweigh biomass. This was an inevitability, Milo says, as we humans are cranking out “artifacts” at an accelerating rate. Meanwhile, the overall amount of biomass, conversely, remains fairly constant. In fact, for each person, on average, two times their weight in anthropogenic mass is created per week.

 

Weizmann Institute of Science

Lo and behold, the scientists found Earth’s anthropogenic mass would outweigh its biomass in the Year of Terrors 2020. (Give or take six years, which, on a geological timescale, is nothing.) Regarding actual weight, humanity has produced (or is about to have produced) 1.2 teratonnes of mass, versus nature’s one teratonne of biomass. For reference, a teratonne is one trillion metric tons.

As for the effect the scientists hope the study will have, you guessed it: they want humanity to be more cognizant of its impact on the environment.

“The study provides a sort of ‘big picture’ snapshot of the planet in 2020,” Milo said in a press release from the University. “This overview can provide a crucial understanding of our major role in shaping the face of the Earth in the current age of the Anthropocene,” he added.

To help people understand just how big humanity’s “footprint” is on Earth, the scientists have also launched a website, Anthropomass.org. The site is a delightful guilt trip, which will show you how quickly we humans are turning nature into stuff.

https://nerdist.com/article/human-made-mass-now-outweighs-earths-biomass/

 

`

`

We are doubling the mass of the human-made, “anthropogenic” part of the world every 20 years and the curve is not flattening.

The mass of all human-produced materials – concrete, steel, asphalt, plastic and so on – has grown to equal the mass of all life on the planet, its biomass. A new study by the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, shows that we are right at this tipping point in 2020, with human activity now adding new buildings, roads, vehicles and products at a rate that is doubling every 20 years.

In other words, a further doubling of this “concrete jungle” could see it reach over two teratonnes (i.e. two million million), or more than double the mass of all living things, by 2040.

Professor Ron Milo, of the Institute’s Plant and Environmental Sciences Department, worked with colleagues including Emily Elhacham and Liad Ben Uri to quantify the human-produced “anthropogenic mass” from 1900 until the present day. Their study, published this week in Nature, found that this figure equalled just 3% of the world’s biomass at the start of the 20th century.

 

 

Not only have we humans quintupled our numbers in the last 120 years, the things we produce have far outpaced population growth. Today, on average, for each person on the globe, a quantity of anthropogenic mass greater than their body weight is produced every week.

The upswing is seen markedly from the 1950s on, when building materials like concrete and aggregates became widely available. In the Great Acceleration following World War II, spacious single-family homes, roads and multi-story office buildings spang up around the US, Europe and other countries. This trend has been ongoing for over six decades, and those two materials, in particular, comprise a major component of the growth in anthropogenic mass.

“The study provides a sort of ‘big picture’ snapshot of the planet in 2020,” said Milo. “This overview can provide a crucial understanding of our major role in shaping the face of the Earth in the current age of the Anthropocene. The message to both the policy makers and the general public is that we cannot dismiss our role as a tiny one in comparison to the huge Earth. We are already a major player and I think with that comes a shared responsibility.”

Referring to the dynamics of the human-made materials in our world as a “socio-economic metabolism,” the study invites further comparison with the way that natural materials flow through the planet’s living and geologic cycles.

 

 

“By contrasting human-made mass and biomass over the last century, we bring into focus an additional dimension of the growing impact of human activity on our planet,” said Elhacham.

“This study demonstrates just how far our global footprint has expanded beyond our ‘shoe size.’ We hope that once we all have these somewhat shocking figures before our eyes, we can, as a species, behave more responsibly,” said Milo.

Milo and Elhacham teamed with graphic designer Itai Raveh to create a website, Anthropomass.org, to help explain these figures in clear, simple terms.

“Given the empirical evidence on the accumulated mass of human artifacts, we can no longer deny our central role in the natural world,” a statement on the website concludes.

If the doubling rate of anthropogenic mass continues, what might this mean for the future of our world? It seems unlikely that growth of this kind could be sustained indefinitely – a plateau will surely be reached, due to limits in terms of the global population, environmental sustainability, economic stagnation and other factors. But for the sake of argument, let us assume that this trend continues unabated (perhaps humanity’s population will continue to increase after all, intelligent robots and other machines could begin to join society, and our economic system will remain relatively unchanged with a focus on the business-as-usual model of endless growth).

In such a scenario, today’s anthropogenic mass would double by 2040, and keep doubling every 20 years after that. A rough calculation therefore provides the following projection for the distant future. In around the year 2510, the anthropogenic mass would reach approximately 2.5 x 10^22 kg. This is equal to the estimated mass of the Earth’s crust. So perhaps by then, humanity or our descendants will have converted a large portion of our planet’s outermost layer for their own scientific or technological uses. This may involve a hypothetical material known as computronium turning “dumb” rocks into smart, intelligent matter.

Let us continue extrapolating even further ahead. The total mass of Earth is estimated at 5.9 x 10^24 kg. So by around the year 2670, our entire planet – including its crust, mantle, and core – might be fully converted for human uses. In a Singularity-type scenario of ever-expanding growth, this might be the eventual fate of our home world: its transformation into a giant machine, or hyper-intelligent being. This process might spread to every planet in our galaxy.

The rather extreme scenario described here assumes that we continue on our current path, of course. We know that the trajectory being followed by humanity is unsustainable in terms of preserving a liveable planet for the long term. Our economic model will surely have to change at some point and in some way, to better account for Earth’s living systems and to recognise the enormous impact we now have on the planet.

 

https://futuretimeline.net/blog/2020/12/13-mass-human-materials-vs-biomass.htm

 

`

`

`

 

READ THIS NEXT

EVOLUTION

Livestock, Pets and People Will Dominate Future Fossils

April 1, 2020 — Rachel Nuwer

 

CONSERVATION

Earth Has a Hidden Plastic Problem—Scientists Are Hunting It Down

August 13, 2018 — Andrea Thompson

 

CONSERVATION

Arctic Exploitation May Harm Animals Large and Small

March 5, 2020 — Chiara Eisner

 

BIOLOGY

Plants Are the World’s Dominant Life-Form

August 1, 2018 — Andrea Thompson

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/human-made-stuff-now-outweighs-all-life-on-earth/

 

 

 

 

`

 

 

Beef, what a relief
When will this poisonous product cease?
This is another public service announcement
You can believe it, or you can doubt it
Let us begin now with the cow
The way it gets to your plate and how

The cow doesn’t grow fast enough for man
So through his greed he makes a faster plan
He has drugs to make the cow grow quicker

Through the stress the cow gets sicker
Twenty-one different drugs are pumped
Into the cow in one big lump

So just before it dies, it cries
In the slaughterhouse full of germs and flies
Off with the head, they pack it, drain it, and cart it
And there it is, in your local supermarket
Red and bloody, a corpse, neatly packed

And you wonder about heart attacks?
Come on now man let’s be for real
You are what you eat is the way I feel
But, the Food and Drug Administration
Will tell you meat is the perfect combination

See cows live under fear and stress
Trying to think what’s gonna happen next
Fear and stress can become a part of you
In your cells and blood, this is true
So when the cow is killed, believe it
You preserve those cells, you freeze it
Thaw it out with the blood and season it
Then you sit down and begin eatin it
In your body, it’s structure becomes your structure
All the fear and stress of another
Any drug is addictive by any name
Even drugs in meat, they are the same

The FDA has America strung out
On drugs in beef no doubt

So if you think that what I say is a bunch of crock
Tell yourself you’re gonna try and stop
Eatin meat and you’ll see you can’t compete
It’s the number one drug on the street
Not crack, cause that was made for just black
But brown beef, for all American teeth

Life brings life and death brings death
Keep on eatin the dead and what’s left
Absolute disease and negative

Read the book ‘How to Eat to Live’
By Elijah Muhammad, it’s a brown paperback

For anybody, either white or black
See how many cows must be pumped up fatter
How many rats gotta fall in the batter
How many chickens that eat shit you eat
How much high blood pressure you get from pig feet
See you’ll consume, the FDA could care less
They’ll sell you donkey meat and say it’s
FRESH! For nineteen-ninety, you SUCKERS

Cockroach, Add ons 12.17.20

 

Copied to WP 2-5-22

 

 

Life vs. Anthropogenic Mass

 

The Heavy Hand of Humans

 

 

We are doubling the mass of the human-made, “anthropogenic” part of the world every 20 years and the curve is not flattening.

 

For each person alive today, mass equal to more than their bodyweight is produced by humans every week

 

Overall material output of human activities referred to as the ‘anthropogenic mass’ has pushed the Earth to the ‘crosspoint’ in the year 2020

 

30,000,000,000 tonnes) per year

Anthropogenic mass has increased rapidly and is now being produced at a rate of more than 30 gigatonnes (30,000,000,000 tonnes) per year

 

Human-Made Stuff Now Outweighs All Life on Earth

The sheer scale of buildings, infrastructure and other anthropogenic objects underscores our impact on the planet

 

 

Humanity has reached a new milestone in its dominance of the planet: human-made objects may now outweigh all of the living beings on Earth.

Roads, houses, shopping malls, fishing vessels, printer paper, coffee mugs, smartphones and all the other infrastructure of daily life now weigh in at approximately 1.1 trillion metric tons—equal to the combined dry weight of all plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, archaea and protists on the planet. The creation of this human-made mass has rapidly accelerated over the past 120 years: Artificial objects have gone from just 3 percent of the world’s biomass in 1900 to on par with it today. And the amount of new stuff being produced every week is equivalent to the average body weight of all 7.7 billion people.

The implications of these findings, published on Wednesday in Nature, are staggering. The world’s plastics alone now weigh twice as much as the planet’s marine and terrestrial animals. Buildings and infrastructure outweigh trees and shrubs. “We cannot hide behind the feeling that we’re just a small species, one out of many,” says study co-author Ron Milo, who researches plant and environmental sciences at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. These numbers should be a wake-up call, he adds. They tell us “something about the responsibility that we have, given that we have become a dominant force,” Milo says.

He and his team had previously published an estimate of the amount of biomass on Earth, which led to the question of how it compared with the mass of artificial objects. Emily Elhacham, then a graduate student at the Weizmann Institute, led the effort to pull together disparate data sets on the flow of materials around the world. The researchers found that human-made, or anthropogenic, mass has doubled every 20 years since 1900. Total biomass remained more stable in that time period, though plant biomass has declined by approximately half since the dawn of agriculture some 12,000 years ago. The team estimates that anthropogenic mass crossed over to exceed biomass this year, plus or minus six years.

Credit: Amanda Montañez; Source: “Global Human-Made Mass Exceeds All Living Biomass,” by Emily Elhacham et al., in Nature. Published online December 9, 2020

The researchers chose to focus only on living biomass and anthropogenic objects that are in use—not waste. With waste, anthropogenic mass began outweighing biomass in 2013, plus or minus five years. And the crossover point is slightly later if water weight is included in the biomass calculations. The wet weight of the biomass on Earth is currently 2.2 trillion metric tons, and humans are on track to outproduce that figure in 2031 (including waste) or 2037 (without it).

About half of the world’s current human-made mass is concrete, with aggregates such as gravel making up much of the rest. Bricks, asphalt, metals, plastic and other materials make up about 19 percent of the total.

The new research actually uses a conservative standard to define both anthropogenic mass and waste, says Colin Waters, a geologist at the University of Leicester in England, who had discussed the research in its early stages with Milo but was not directly involved in the study. Take, for example, a gold wedding band. The study would measure only the few grams of gold in the band as anthropogenic mass. But somewhere between four million and 20 million metric tons of ore were processed to make that tiny piece of metal, Waters says. Similarly, Waters says, the analysis does not take into account billions of tons of Earth moved when mining coal or dredging. Taking a more expansive view of human activities into account, he says, would put the point at which anthropogenic mass outweighed biomass in 1977, according to Waters’ research.

Whatever the moment when humanity’s production eclipsed nature’s, the study points to a larger narrative in which humans are modifying the planet to such an extent that we have created a new geologic epoch called the Anthropocene, says Waters, who has been active in research seeking out geologic markers of this proposed division of time.

The new research also raises alarms for the future. If current trends hold, anthropogenic mass will grow to three times the world’s biomass by 2040, Milo and his colleagues found—and there are plenty of metals and minerals available to keep this trend going in the near term. All of that new anthropogenic mass will eventually become waste that will have to be dealt with, says Fridolin Krausmann, who studies sustainable resource use at the Institute of Social Ecology at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, and was a peer reviewer for the paper but was not directly involved in the research. “In the next 20 years, we will get as much waste as from the last 110 years together,” he says. “Most of what we have now has been built in the last couple of decades, since the 1960s. Now this is becoming end-of-life, so we are really facing huge, huge waste flows.”

 

 

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/human-made-stuff-now-outweighs-all-life-on-earth/

 

 

 

 

`

`

Amount of human-made items on Earth will outweigh all living biomass

Save 52% when you subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine

Research suggests that for each person alive today, mass equal to more than their bodyweight is produced by humans every week.

A study suggests the mass embedded in human-made items – such as buildings, roads and machines – has doubled every 20 years for the past century years. The mass of these human-made objects could surpass the mass of all living things by the end of 2020.

These findings underscore the increasing impacts that humans have on Earth, researchers say.

According to the study, since the first agricultural revolution humans have halved plant biomass, from around 2 teratonnes (2,000,000,000,000 tonnes) to the current value of around 1 teratonne. This has been done through land-use changes such as agriculture and deforestation.

Read more about the impact of human agriculture:

The increasing production and accumulation of human-made objects – referred to as anthropogenic mass – has also contributed to a shift in the balance between living and human-made mass.

“We find that Earth is exactly at the crossover point,” wrote the authors of the new study, published in Nature. “In the year 2020, the anthropogenic mass, which has recently doubled roughly every 20 years, will surpass all global living biomass.

“On average, for each person on the globe, anthropogenic mass equal to more than their own bodyweight is produced every week.”

Ron Milo, from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, and colleagues estimated changes in global biomass and human-made mass from 1900 to the present day.

They found that at the beginning of the 20th Century, the mass of human-produced objects was equal to around 3 per cent of total biomass.

But today, human-made mass exceeds the overall global biomass, weighing in at around 1.1 teratonnes, according to the new study.

Over this period, overall biomass decreased slightly, whereas anthropogenic mass has increased rapidly and is now being produced at a rate of more than 30 gigatonnes (30,000,000,000 tonnes) per year, where a gigatonne is one-thousandth of a teratonne.

Buildings and roads make up the majority of human-made mass, with other examples including plastics and machines.

Changes in the composition of this mass correspond to specific construction trends, such as the shift from using bricks to concrete in buildings from the mid-1950s and the use of asphalt for road paving in the 1960s. The researchers also suggest that shifts in the total anthropogenic mass are linked to major events, such as continuous increases in construction after the Second World War.

Read more about plastic pollution:

The authors note that the exact timing of crossover is sensitive to definitions, so there may be some variability in the estimates. They used dry-weight estimates – excluding water, but they suggest wet-mass estimates or different definitions of mass categories could still place the transition in mass balance within the past, present or future decade.

If current trends continue, human-generated mass, including waste, is expected to exceed 3 teratonnes by 2040, the researchers suggest.

“This study joins recent efforts to quantify and evaluate the scale and impact of human activities on our planet,” wrote the researchers.

“The impacts of these activities have been so abrupt and considerable that it has been proposed that the current geological epoch be renamed the Anthropocene.

“Our study rigorously and quantitatively substantiates this proposal.”

In what ways are humans making the Earth less habitable?

Humans have thrived on the Earth for more than 200,000 years, but we have caused significant environmental damage – threatening the basic resources needed for the survival of our species, including water, air, soil and food.

By burning fossil fuels, we’ve sparked a rapid increase in global temperatures, which is predicted to cause a raft of issues from rising sea levels to more intense droughts and heatwaves. Intensive agriculture, deforestation and overfishing have damaged ecosystems and threaten many plant and animal species that we – and other species – rely on. We’ve contaminated our air and water with harmful gases, heavy metals, plastics and other pollutants. A growing population could exacerbate the problem.

But all hope is not lost. Tangible solutions to slow or even halt these trends are within our reach. Clean energy sources promise to replace fossil fuels; more sustainable agricultural practices might ensure our planet continues to feed us; and less wasteful consumption could preserve precious resources such as water.

Read more:

https://www.sciencefocus.com/news/amount-of-human-made-items-on-earth-will-soon-outweigh-all-living-biomass/

 

 

`

 

`

 

Mass Of Human-made Material Now Heavier Than Earth’s Entire Biomass: Research

Overall material output of human activities referred to as the ‘anthropogenic mass’ has pushed the Earth to the ‘crosspoint’ in the year 2020.

 

For the first time since the existence of humans on Earth, the man-made mass is now heavier than the weight of all lifeforms on the universe’s only habitable planet. The human manufactured establishments and inventions now weight approximately an estimated 1.1 trillion metric tons, which equals the mass of the plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, archaea, protists, and all other naturally occurring features on the planet.

According to the study published on December 9, the global human-made mass has exceeded all living biomass as mankind became the dominant force in shaping the face of Earth. 

According to the research, the overall material output of human activities referred to as the ‘anthropogenic mass’ has pushed the Earth to the ‘crosspoint’ in the year 2020. This manmade mass roughly doubles every 20 years. However, in the 21st century, activities of humanity and the production and accumulation of human-made objects spiked at an exorbitant rate and manner. In 1900, human-produced mass equaled only about 3 percent of the total biomass, according to scientists.

Read: Scientists Confident Covid Vaccine Soon; Price Being Discussed: PM Modi Says ‘we’re Ready’

Human comprise ‘0.01 percent’

“While the mass of humans is only about 0.01 percent of global biomass, our civilization had already had a substantial and diverse impact on it by 3,000 years ago,” the researchers explained. Since then, the global effect of humanity has accelerated and the material flows of our socioeconomic system, also known as the socioeconomic metabolism drastically increased. The material basis of the society along with the industrial ecology ramped up the socioeconomic material stocks on the planet.

[Credit: Amanda Montañez; Source: “Global Human-Made Mass Exceeds All Living Biomass,” by Emily Elhacham et al., in Nature. Published online December 9, 2020]

Read: COVID-19 Studies Should Focus On ‘mucosal Immune Responses’ Of Nose, Mouth: Scientists

“About 120 years later, in 2020, anthropogenic mass is exceeding overall biomass in the world,” scientists warned, adding, that the point at which anthropogenic mass surpasses living biomass is ‘sensitive’.

As per the research, the production of concrete, metal, plastic, bricks, and asphalt particularly pushed the Earth to comprise far beyond just the ecological biomass. Scientists call the current epoch the ‘Anthropocene’. The research was conducted by Ron Milo and his colleagues at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot (Israel) who examined changes in global biomass and human-made mass from 1900 to 2020.

https://www.republicworld.com/technology-news/science/mass-of-human-made-material-now-heavier-than-earths-entire-biomass-research.html

 

 

`

 

`

 

 

 

 

 

`

 

`

 

 

 

The Mass of Human-Made Material Now Outweighs All Biomass

 

We are doubling the mass of the human-made, “anthropogenic” part of the world every 20 years and the curve is not flattening.

Research suggests that for each person alive today, mass equal to more than their bodyweight is produced by humans every week

 

by Matthew Hart

Dec 11 2020 • 10:57 AM

If there’s anything humanity is becoming increasingly aware of this century, it’s our impact on the environment. But while many of the frightening environmental reports we’ve received are visceral and easy to understand, some are far more subtle. A new study out of Israel, for example, says that—likely during this year—the mass of material made by humans will exceed all the biomass on Earth.

The Guardian reported on the new study, undertaken by a team of scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in the city of Rehovot. Professor Ron Milo at the University’s Plant and Environmental Sciences Department led the study published in Nature, and gives an overview in the video above.

As Milo says, he and his team calculated the amount of “anthropogenic” mass on Earth, and the planet’s biomass. The scientists define the anthropogenic mass as any belonging to anything produced by people. For example, phones, cars, or buildings.

 

The biomass, on the other hand, is the total mass of all the organic matter on Earth; e.g. plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, etc. Milo and his colleagues only included dry biomass, however, subtracting out water content. (The scientists likely used dry biomass as the metric because moisture content of biomass varies greatly depending on its environment.)

In essence, the team wanted to find out when exactly anthropogenic mass would outweigh biomass. This was an inevitability, Milo says, as we humans are cranking out “artifacts” at an accelerating rate. Meanwhile, the overall amount of biomass, conversely, remains fairly constant. In fact, for each person, on average, two times their weight in anthropogenic mass is created per week.

 

Weizmann Institute of Science

Lo and behold, the scientists found Earth’s anthropogenic mass would outweigh its biomass in the Year of Terrors 2020. (Give or take six years, which, on a geological timescale, is nothing.) Regarding actual weight, humanity has produced (or is about to have produced) 1.2 teratonnes of mass, versus nature’s one teratonne of biomass. For reference, a teratonne is one trillion metric tons.

As for the effect the scientists hope the study will have, you guessed it: they want humanity to be more cognizant of its impact on the environment.

“The study provides a sort of ‘big picture’ snapshot of the planet in 2020,” Milo said in a press release from the University. “This overview can provide a crucial understanding of our major role in shaping the face of the Earth in the current age of the Anthropocene,” he added.

To help people understand just how big humanity’s “footprint” is on Earth, the scientists have also launched a website, Anthropomass.org. The site is a delightful guilt trip, which will show you how quickly we humans are turning nature into stuff.

https://nerdist.com/article/human-made-mass-now-outweighs-earths-biomass/

 

`

`

We are doubling the mass of the human-made, “anthropogenic” part of the world every 20 years and the curve is not flattening.

The mass of all human-produced materials – concrete, steel, asphalt, plastic and so on – has grown to equal the mass of all life on the planet, its biomass. A new study by the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, shows that we are right at this tipping point in 2020, with human activity now adding new buildings, roads, vehicles and products at a rate that is doubling every 20 years.

In other words, a further doubling of this “concrete jungle” could see it reach over two teratonnes (i.e. two million million), or more than double the mass of all living things, by 2040.

Professor Ron Milo, of the Institute’s Plant and Environmental Sciences Department, worked with colleagues including Emily Elhacham and Liad Ben Uri to quantify the human-produced “anthropogenic mass” from 1900 until the present day. Their study, published this week in Nature, found that this figure equalled just 3% of the world’s biomass at the start of the 20th century.

 

 

Not only have we humans quintupled our numbers in the last 120 years, the things we produce have far outpaced population growth. Today, on average, for each person on the globe, a quantity of anthropogenic mass greater than their body weight is produced every week.

The upswing is seen markedly from the 1950s on, when building materials like concrete and aggregates became widely available. In the Great Acceleration following World War II, spacious single-family homes, roads and multi-story office buildings spang up around the US, Europe and other countries. This trend has been ongoing for over six decades, and those two materials, in particular, comprise a major component of the growth in anthropogenic mass.

“The study provides a sort of ‘big picture’ snapshot of the planet in 2020,” said Milo. “This overview can provide a crucial understanding of our major role in shaping the face of the Earth in the current age of the Anthropocene. The message to both the policy makers and the general public is that we cannot dismiss our role as a tiny one in comparison to the huge Earth. We are already a major player and I think with that comes a shared responsibility.”

Referring to the dynamics of the human-made materials in our world as a “socio-economic metabolism,” the study invites further comparison with the way that natural materials flow through the planet’s living and geologic cycles.

 

 

“By contrasting human-made mass and biomass over the last century, we bring into focus an additional dimension of the growing impact of human activity on our planet,” said Elhacham.

“This study demonstrates just how far our global footprint has expanded beyond our ‘shoe size.’ We hope that once we all have these somewhat shocking figures before our eyes, we can, as a species, behave more responsibly,” said Milo.

Milo and Elhacham teamed with graphic designer Itai Raveh to create a website, Anthropomass.org, to help explain these figures in clear, simple terms.

“Given the empirical evidence on the accumulated mass of human artifacts, we can no longer deny our central role in the natural world,” a statement on the website concludes.

If the doubling rate of anthropogenic mass continues, what might this mean for the future of our world? It seems unlikely that growth of this kind could be sustained indefinitely – a plateau will surely be reached, due to limits in terms of the global population, environmental sustainability, economic stagnation and other factors. But for the sake of argument, let us assume that this trend continues unabated (perhaps humanity’s population will continue to increase after all, intelligent robots and other machines could begin to join society, and our economic system will remain relatively unchanged with a focus on the business-as-usual model of endless growth).

In such a scenario, today’s anthropogenic mass would double by 2040, and keep doubling every 20 years after that. A rough calculation therefore provides the following projection for the distant future. In around the year 2510, the anthropogenic mass would reach approximately 2.5 x 10^22 kg. This is equal to the estimated mass of the Earth’s crust. So perhaps by then, humanity or our descendants will have converted a large portion of our planet’s outermost layer for their own scientific or technological uses. This may involve a hypothetical material known as computronium turning “dumb” rocks into smart, intelligent matter.

Let us continue extrapolating even further ahead. The total mass of Earth is estimated at 5.9 x 10^24 kg. So by around the year 2670, our entire planet – including its crust, mantle, and core – might be fully converted for human uses. In a Singularity-type scenario of ever-expanding growth, this might be the eventual fate of our home world: its transformation into a giant machine, or hyper-intelligent being. This process might spread to every planet in our galaxy.

The rather extreme scenario described here assumes that we continue on our current path, of course. We know that the trajectory being followed by humanity is unsustainable in terms of preserving a liveable planet for the long term. Our economic model will surely have to change at some point and in some way, to better account for Earth’s living systems and to recognise the enormous impact we now have on the planet.

 

https://futuretimeline.net/blog/2020/12/13-mass-human-materials-vs-biomass.htm

 

`

`

`

 

READ THIS NEXT

EVOLUTION

Livestock, Pets and People Will Dominate Future Fossils

April 1, 2020 — Rachel Nuwer

 

CONSERVATION

Earth Has a Hidden Plastic Problem—Scientists Are Hunting It Down

August 13, 2018 — Andrea Thompson

 

CONSERVATION

Arctic Exploitation May Harm Animals Large and Small

March 5, 2020 — Chiara Eisner

 

BIOLOGY

Plants Are the World’s Dominant Life-Form

August 1, 2018 — Andrea Thompson

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/human-made-stuff-now-outweighs-all-life-on-earth/

 

 

 

 

`

 

 

Beef, what a relief
When will this poisonous product cease?
This is another public service announcement
You can believe it, or you can doubt it
Let us begin now with the cow
The way it gets to your plate and how

The cow doesn’t grow fast enough for man
So through his greed he makes a faster plan
He has drugs to make the cow grow quicker

Through the stress the cow gets sicker
Twenty-one different drugs are pumped
Into the cow in one big lump

So just before it dies, it cries
In the slaughterhouse full of germs and flies
Off with the head, they pack it, drain it, and cart it
And there it is, in your local supermarket
Red and bloody, a corpse, neatly packed

And you wonder about heart attacks?
Come on now man let’s be for real
You are what you eat is the way I feel
But, the Food and Drug Administration
Will tell you meat is the perfect combination

See cows live under fear and stress
Trying to think what’s gonna happen next
Fear and stress can become a part of you
In your cells and blood, this is true
So when the cow is killed, believe it
You preserve those cells, you freeze it
Thaw it out with the blood and season it
Then you sit down and begin eatin it
In your body, it’s structure becomes your structure
All the fear and stress of another
Any drug is addictive by any name
Even drugs in meat, they are the same

The FDA has America strung out
On drugs in beef no doubt

So if you think that what I say is a bunch of crock
Tell yourself you’re gonna try and stop
Eatin meat and you’ll see you can’t compete
It’s the number one drug on the street
Not crack, cause that was made for just black
But brown beef, for all American teeth

Life brings life and death brings death
Keep on eatin the dead and what’s left
Absolute disease and negative

Read the book ‘How to Eat to Live’
By Elijah Muhammad, it’s a brown paperback

For anybody, either white or black
See how many cows must be pumped up fatter
How many rats gotta fall in the batter
How many chickens that eat shit you eat
How much high blood pressure you get from pig feet
See you’ll consume, the FDA could care less
They’ll sell you donkey meat and say it’s
FRESH! For nineteen-ninety, you SUCKERS

 

 

end/begin

 

 

 

end/begin

 

end/begin

 

 

 

end/begin

 

end/begin

 

end/begin

 

end/begin

 

end/begin

Comments are closed.