It’s far from comprehensive, but here’s a link to some New Year’s tips for lightening our footprint on our precious planet:
Tips for a Green New Year | Easy Ideas for Organizing and Cleaning Your Home | HGTV.
Once hunted to near extinction, the humpback whales of Canada’s Pacific are back in larger numbers and their status has been downgraded from “threatened” to one “of special concern”.
However, this BBC report shows how there are now concerns that the whales face new risks from increased oil and natural gas exploration.
BBC News – New threat to Canadas Pacific humpback whales?.
Global wildlife populations have halved in just 40 years, according to new research by scientists at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).
Creatures across land, rivers and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats, the WWF’s Living Planet Report 2014 found.
The key findings are:
- Populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by an average of 52% since the 1970s.
- Freshwater species populations have suffered a 76% decline, an average loss almost double that of land and marine species.
- The worst declines have been observed in the Tropics.
The report draws upon the Living Planet Index, a database maintained by the Zoological Society of London, which monitors trends in over 10,000 populations of 3038 species since the 1970s. It also looks at how human consumption levels have increased in the same time period. It shows that the biggest recorded threat to biodiversity comes from the combined impacts of habitat loss and degradation, driven by unsustainable human consumption.
“If half the animals died in London zoo next week it would be front page news,” said Professor Ken Norris, ZSL’s director of science. “But that is happening in the great outdoors. This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live.” He said nature, which provides food and clean water and air, was essential for human wellbeing.
“We have lost one half of the animal population and knowing this is driven by human consumption, this is clearly a call to arms and we must act now,” said Mike Barratt, director of science and policy at WWF. He said more of the Earth must be protected from development and deforestation, while food and energy had to be produced sustainably.
Campaigners marched through central London on Sunday to demand global action on climate change, in one of thousands of events worldwide ahead of a UN climate summit.
Some 2,000 events took place in 150 countries, with more than 100,000 people taking to the streets of New York – where the summit is being held – to demand leaders take action to tackle rising temperatures. The summit has been convened by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, in a bid to drive action and momentum towards talks in Paris in 2015, where it is hoped a new global climate treaty can be agreed.
In London, campaigners were joined by celebrities, including actress Emma Thompson and musician Peter Gabriel, and church bells rang to mark the march through Westminster to Parliament, where speeches and a rally were held.
Thompson said: “There is little time left to prevent the worst excesses of climate change, yet our world leaders continue to stall. I’ve witnessed the impact climate change is already having on the melting Arctic and on poverty-stricken communities in the developing world. We can’t go on pretending nothing’s happening.”
In a statement on his website, Peter Gabriel said: “This big blue ball is the only possible home for humanity in the near future. If our family home was being destroyed and poisoned in the same way, we would do something immediately.
“This is not just a campaign for activists, but for everyone who wants to live on a planet capable of sustaining us. We will only achieve a sustainable future if global citizens demand global action.”
There’s four days left of the Big Butterfly Count 2014.
The charity Butterfly Conservation hopes that thousands of participants will spend 15 minutes to log 1m butterfly sightings – beating last year’s record of 800,000.
Nature lovers are being asked to count butterflies for 15 minutes during bright (preferably sunny) weather. Records are welcome from anywhere, including parks, school grounds, gardens, fields and forests.
If you are counting from a fixed position in your garden, count the maximum number of each species that you can see at a single time. For example, if you see three Red Admirals together on a buddleia bush then record it as 3, but if you only see one at a time then record it as 1 (even if you saw one on several occasions) – this is so that you don’t count the same butterfly more than once.
If you are doing your count on a walk, then simply total up the number of each butterfly species that you see during the 15 minutes.
The charity said: “Butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators. Butterfly declines are an early warning for other wildlife losses.
“The count will also assist us in identifying trends in species that will help us plan how to protect butterflies from extinction, as well as understand the effect of climate change on wildlife.”
You can download a handy identification chart to help you work out which butterflies you have seen and submit separate records for different dates, and for different places that you visit.
You can send in your sightings online at www.bigbutterflycount.org or by using a free smartphone apps available for iOS and Android.