Ocean heading for mass extinction, scientists warn
By Sarah Dingle, ABC News
Updated Tue Jun 21, 2011 10:23pm AEST
Scientists are warning of a potential marine massacre with a mass extinction of sea life akin to the death of the dinosaurs.
A new report says the seas are battling pollutants, overfishing and warming, and warns that without swift action the fight to save species could be lost.
The International Program on the State of the Oceans report brought together coral reef ecologists, toxicologists and fisheries scientists.
And when they compared notes, the result was grim.
Co-author Professor Ove Hoegh Guldberg, who specialises in reef ecosystems, says scientists found "unprecedented warming".
"We're seeing acidification in the ocean and now we're starting to see a drop in oxygen concentration throughout the major part of the ocean," he said.
"Now it's impacting directly on sea life, but the other is that it is a potential early step towards conditions which are associated with so-called mass extinction events."
Professor Guldberg does not want to be alarmist, but says a growing human population is to blame for many of the changes.
He warns the pressure will only increase, with the world's population set to grow by another 3 billion people in the next 30 to 50 years.
"As human populations have expanded in coastal areas - and it's really boomed throughout the world - you've had the modification of coastlines by the very fact that by destabilising vegetation you get nutrients and sediments going out in those coastal waters," he said.
"That's had a tremendously damaging effect in our neighbourhood. In South-East Asia for example, the entire loss of marine ecosystems that used to be there and used to support people."
Dr Alex Rogers is the scientific director of the International Program on the State of the Oceans and a professor of conservation biology at Oxford University.
He says when he got together with his colleagues they realised changes in ocean temperatures were occurring much faster than they had expected.
"The changes that people had been predicting would happen in the lifetime of our children, or our children's children, are happening really now before our eyes," he said.
Professor Guldberg says concerns about marine environments often take a back seat both in public debate and scientific research.
"They did a study last year where I counted the number of peer-reviewed papers on climate change on the land versus the sea and there were 20 more papers, 20 times as many papers, associated with problems on land versus the sea," he said.
He says the sea provides up to a quarter of the world's protein and is concerned about the proliferation of dead zones if nothing is done.
Dead zones are areas where oxygen levels in the water drop to zero, a condition known as anoxia.
He says in these conditions only certain species survive.
"It won't be fish that we like to eat. There are animals and plants - well in fact I shouldn't say animals but more plants and bacteria, green slime, that will prosper in the anoxic environment," he said.
Professor Guldberg says the ocean is the life support system for the planet's atmosphere and if uncontrolled degradation continues, the threat of mass extinction is real and does not just apply to the sea.
"If we barrel along as we are right now, there's an increasing risk that we will be entering into one of these mass extinction events," he said.
"This is where you essentially get a runaway set of conditions which will be very unsustainable as far as human or any other life that we have on the planet today."
"This comes back to the fact that the ocean is central to the climate and conditions across the entire planet."
Professor Guldberg says to control the pace of change the world must move to zero emissions within the next 40 years.
The report's findings will be presented at the United Nations headquarters in New York this week.
» » » » [ABC]
Licensed to breed
Published: 8/12/2009 19:57:18
by Michael Coetzee, The Citizen’s Chief Sub Editor
James Bond has one that allows him to kill, drivers of cars are supposed to always have one on them, and gun owners are constantly complaining about how difficult it is to get or renew one.
While it may indeed often be an inconvenience to obtain them, licences play a very useful role in regulating the ownership and use of dangerous and potentially lethal tools such as vehicles and firearms.
Few would deny that it’s a good idea people should obtain licences before being allowed to pilot a few tons of metal down the highway at 120km/h, or that it should be ascertained whether someone has a criminal record or is mentally unstable before they are allowed to own and carry a lethal weapon.
It seems there is pretty much a consensus that when it comes to things that have the possibility to injure, kill or in any other way negatively impact the lives of people or society in general, regulation is desirable.
Considering this, there is one sort of licence that is conspicuous by its absence: a licence to breed.
Or procreate, to use the more acceptable term, for people seem to get quite upset when the rather mundane event of a human giving birth to a child is referred to in any way other than with the respect and awe usually reserved for describing some religious experience.
» » » » [Read Further]
Michael C. Ruppert: DieOff & the End of Economic & Population Growth:
Anthony Kaufman, Wall Street Journal
November 04, 2009
The Wall Street Journal sat down with Michael Ruppert to discuss oil, Wall Street and the “imminent collapse of human industrialized civilization.”:“It is not possible to continue infinite consumption and infinite population growth on a finite planet. It is therefore crucial that human beings begin to openly and honestly discuss the issue of population and commit to reducing it through means that are as humane as possible lest through our resistance to doing so, nature takes the matter into its hands and reduces population in ways that are horrific and unimaginable. Unless a fundamental change is made-and quickly-the only available option is collapse and implosion; the bursting of the human population bubble; or, as people in the Peak Oil movement call it-the Dieoff.”
» » » » [Wall Street Journal (PDF)]
Population Bomb ‘ticks louder than climate’
by Rosslyn Beeby, Science & Environment Reporter
Canberra Times; 22 Jul, 2008 01:00 AM
Global population growth is looming as a bigger threat to the world's food production and water supplies than climate change, a leading scientist says.
Speaking at a CSIRO public lecture in Canberra yesterday, UNESCO's chief of sustainable water resources development, Professor Shahbaz Khan, said overpopulation's impacts were potentially more economically, socially and environmentally destructive than those of climate change.
Australia must also think about the future social and environmental implications of its ''population footprint''.
He said, ''It's not something that should happen by an act of God. It has to be an informed decision about geographic spread and location, about benefits for indigenous communities, for river systems and wetlands. It's a big exercise and needs to be done very carefully.''
» » » » [Canberra Times (PDF)]
Population explosion threatens to trap Africa in cycle of poverty
Xan Rice in Kampala
The Guardian, Friday 25 August 2006
There are 27.7 million people in Uganda. But by 2025 the population will almost double to 56 million, close to that of Britain, which has a similar land mass. In 44 years its population will have grown by nearly as much as China's.
"You look at these numbers and think 'that's impossible'," said Carl Haub, senior demographer at the US-based Population Reference Bureau, whose latest global projections show Uganda as the fastest growing country in the world. Midway through the 21st century Uganda will be the world's 12th most populous country with 130 million people - more than Russia or Japan.
» » » » [The Guardian (PDF)]
Thou Shalt Not Breed: Anglicans
by Josh Gordon, The Age, Australia,
May 9, 2010
THE Anglican Church wants Australians to have fewer children and has urged the federal government to scrap the baby bonus and cut immigration.
Wading into the population debate, the General Synod of the Anglican Church has warned that current rates of population growth are unsustainable and potentially out of step with church doctrine - including the eighth commandment, ''Thou shall not steal''.
In a significant intervention, the Anglican Public Affairs Commission has warned concerned Christians that remaining silent ''is little different from supporting further overpopulation and ecological degradation''.
''Out of care for the whole of creation, particularly the poorest of humanity and the life forms who cannot speak for themselves … it is not responsible to stand by and remain silent,'' a discussion paper by the commission warns.
''Unless we take account of the needs of future life on Earth, there is a case that we break the eighth commandment - 'Thou shall not steal'.''
» » » » [The Age (PDF)]
High birthrate threatens to trap Africa in Cycle of Poverty
Xan Rice, Guardian Weekly,
Friday 1 September 2006
"What's happening is alarming and depressing," said Jotham Musinguzi, director of the population secretariat in Uganda's ministry of finance, pointing out the clear correlation between high fertility levels and poverty.
"Are we really going to be able to give these extra people jobs, homes, healthcare and education?"
Development may not be the only casualty of the population boom. With increased competition for scarce resources such as land, conflict is likely to increase.
Consequences will be felt far beyond Africa: pressure to migrate abroad - already great - can only grow, experts say.
It is not yet a lost cause. Experience has shown that with strong political will population growth can be tackled in Africa. Southern Africa's population is expected to remain stable thanks to sustained efforts to cut fertility rates, although Aids-related deaths are also a factor. In 1978 Uganda's neighbour Kenya had the world's highest fertility rate - more than eight children per mother. The government made family planning a national priority and by the mid-1990s the figure had dropped to below five.
» » » » [Guardian UK (PDF)]
Muslim Europe: The Demographic Time-Bomb Transforming Our Continent
By Adrian Michaels, TelegraphUK
Published: 11:11AM BST 08 Aug 2009
Britain and the rest of the European Union are ignoring a demographic time bomb: a recent rush into the EU by migrants, including millions of Muslims, will
change the continent beyond recognition over the next two decades, and almost no policy-makers are talking about it.
The numbers are startling. Only 3.2 per cent of Spain's population was foreignborn in 1998. In 2007 it was 13.4 per cent. Europe's Muslim population has more than doubled in the past 30 years and will have doubled again by 2015. In Brussels, the top seven baby boys' names recently were Mohamed, Adam, Rayan, Ayoub, Mehdi, Amine and Hamza.
Europe's low white birth rate, coupled with faster multiplying migrants, will change fundamentally what we take to mean by European culture and society.
The altered population mix has far-reaching implications for education, housing, welfare, labour, the arts and everything in between. It could have a critical impact on foreign policy: a study was submitted to the US Air Force on how America's relationship with Europe might evolve. Yet EU officials admit that these issues are not receiving the attention they deserve.
» » » » [Telegraph (PDF)]
New York Times: Pregnant (Again) and Poor
by Nicholas D. Kristof,
New York Times; 4 April 2009
For all the American and international efforts to fight global poverty, one thing is clear: Those efforts won’t get far as long as women like Nahomie Nercure continue to have 10 children.
Global family-planning efforts have stalled over the last couple of decades, and Nahomie is emblematic both of the lost momentum and of the poverty that results. She is an intelligent 30-year-old woman who wanted only two children, yet now she is
eight months pregnant with her 10th.
As we walked through Cité Soleil, the Haitian slum where she lives, her elementary-school-age children ran stark naked around her. The $6-a-month rental shack that they live in — four sleep on the bed, six on the floor beside it — has no food of any kind in it.
The family has difficulty paying the fees to keep the children in school.
» » » » [New York Times (PDF)]
Population explosion: Africa is sitting on a time bomb
Publication date: Wednesday, 31st March, 2010
By Peter Mulira, New Vision
WITH the population of Africa predicted to double within the next 30 years, the economic future of its people is set to be very bleak unless something is done to combat the uncontrolled growth rate.
It is on the basis of these trends that experts predict that unless checked the population will double from the present level of around 850 million to 1.7 billion people within the next 30 years. The continent will simply not be able to cope with the multiplicity of problems a population in billions will bring about. As has been said by one population expert, “High rates of population growth create unemployment faster than jobs, increase the mouths to be fed faster than the production of rice paddies, squatters faster than people housed in modern facilities, excrement faster than sewers can be built.
A population growing faster than the output of modern goods and services not only frustrates development goals; it undermines the credibility of promises made in the name of development and the political will to pay the price of progress.”
There is a direct correlation between high population growth and low level economic development in Africa. For example with its population growing at twice the rate for the world the continent still contains 32 of the 47 countries classified by the World Bank as least developed in the world. Secondly, while the continent’s population grew at the rate of 2.9% between 1960 and 1980, GNP per capita grew at a rate of 1.9% per annum between 1965 and 1983. Thirdly, it is now well established that countries with the highest fertility rates also happen to be among the poorest.
With a total fertility rate of 6.6, the highest in Africa, Chad’s GNP per capita of around $230 is the lowest in the world while Algeria with a total rate of 3.8 had a GNP per capita of $1550.
» » » » [New Vision (PDF)]
Human race 'will be extinct within 100 years', claims leading scientist
By Niall Firth, Daily MailUK
Last updated at 1:59 AM on 19th June 2010
As the scientist who helped eradicate smallpox he certainly know a thing or two about extinction.
And now Professor Frank Fenner, emeritus professor of microbiology at the Australian National University, has predicted that the human race will be extinct within the next 100 years.
He has claimed that the human race will be unable to survive a population explosion and 'unbridled consumption.’
Fenner told The Australian newspaper that 'homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years.'
'A lot of other animals will, too,' he added.
'It's an irreversible situation. I think it's too late. I try not to express that because people are trying to do something, but they keep putting it off.'
Since humans entered an unofficial scientific period known as the Anthropocene - the time since industrialisation - we have had an effect on the planet that rivals any ice age or comet impact, he said.
» » » » [Daily Mail (PDF)]