By Robert McLachlan
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Is humanity doomed? If in 2030 we have not reduced emissions in a way that means we stay under say 2℃ (I've frankly given up on 1.5℃), are we doomed then?
<div id="98101" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9c658bbc6292bd7eb49514c454053d13"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1078329950703357952" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">As I have been pointing out for some time, climate change isn't a cliff we go off at 1.5C or 2C. It's much more lik… https://t.co/tY8NoRq153</div> — Michael E. Mann (@Michael E. Mann)<a href="https://twitter.com/MichaelEMann/statuses/1078329950703357952">1545928869.0</a></blockquote></div>
Good Reasons Not to Give Up Just Yet<p>The <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/" target="_blank">Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change</a> described the effects of a 1.5℃ increase in average temperatures in a <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank">special report</a> last year. They are also nicely summarized in an article about <a href="https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2865/a-degree-of-concern-why-global-temperatures-matter/" target="_blank">why global temperatures matter</a>, produced by NASA.</p><p>The global average temperature is currently about <a href="https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-temperature/" target="_blank">1.2℃</a> higher than what it was at the time of the Industrial Revolution, some 250 years ago. We are already witnessing localized impacts, including the <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-just-spent-two-weeks-surveying-the-great-barrier-reef-what-we-saw-was-an-utter-tragedy-135197" target="_blank">widespread coral bleaching</a> on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.</p>
This graph shows different emission pathways and when the world is expected to reach global average temperatures of 1.5℃ or 2℃ above pre-industrial levels. Global Carbon Project, Author provided
The Pessimist Perspective<p>Now suppose we don't manage that. It's 2030 and emissions have only fallen a little bit. We're staring at 2℃ in the second half of the century.</p><p>At 2℃ of warming, we could expect to lose more than 90% of our coral reefs. Insects and plants would be at higher risk of extinction, and the number of dangerously hot days would increase rapidly.</p><p>The challenges would be exacerbated and we would have new issues to consider. First, under the "<a href="https://news.mongabay.com/2009/06/proving-the-shifting-baselines-theory-how-humans-consistently-misperceive-nature/" target="_blank">shifting baseline</a>" phenomenon — essentially a failure to notice slow change and to value what is already lost — people might discount the damage already done. Continuously worsening conditions might become the new normal.</p><p><span></span>Second, climate impacts such as mass migration could lead to a rise of nationalism and make international cooperation harder. And third, we could begin to pass unpredictable "<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03595-0" target="_blank">tipping points</a>" in the Earth system. For example, warming of more than 2°C could set off widespread melting in Antarctica, which in turn would contribute to sea level rise.</p><p>But true doom-mongers tend to assume a worst-case scenario on virtually every area of uncertainty. It is important to remember that such scenarios are not very likely.</p><p><span></span>While bad, this 2030 scenario doesn't add up to doom — and it certainly doesn't change the need to move away from fossil fuels to low-carbon options.</p>
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By JoAnn Adkins
A landmark study by Global FinPrint reveals sharks are absent on many of the world's coral reefs, indicating they are functionally extinct — too rare to fulfill their normal role in the ecosystem.
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If world governments don't act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, most polar bear populations will not survive the century, a new study has found.
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Jane Goodall on Conservation, Climate Change and COVID-19: 'If We Carry on With Business as Usual, We're Going to Destroy Ourselves'
By Jeff Berardelli
While COVID-19 and protests for racial justice command the world's collective attention, ecological destruction, species extinction and climate change continue unabated. While the world's been focused on other crises, an alarming study was released warning that species extinction is now progressing so fast that the consequences of "biological annihilation" may soon be "unimaginable."
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By Peter Yeung
A pair of pink Amazon river dolphins emerges for just a moment, arcing above the chocolate brown waters inside the Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development, a research facility at the tropical heart of the Brazilian Amazon. Powerful jets of water spray out of their blowholes as these freshwater mammals take in air before submerging.
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The sixth mass extinction is here, and it's speeding up.
Terrestrial vertebrates on the brink (i.e., with 1,000 or fewer individuals) include species such as (A) Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis; image credit: Rhett A. Butler [photographer]), (B) Clarion island wren (Troglodytes tanneri; image credit: Claudio Contreras Koob [photographer]), (C) Española Giant Tortoise (Chelonoidis hoodensis; image credit: G.C.), and (D) Harlequin frog (Atelopus varius; the population size of the species is unknown but it is estimated at less than 1,000; image credit: G.C.).
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By Lamfu Fabrice Yengong and Sylvie Djacbou Deugoue
Biodiversity loss is a global crisis. In May last year, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) warned that over 1,000,000 species are threatened with extinction worldwide. On May 22, the International Day of Biodiversity, it is important to recall the silent victims of our country's obsession for industrial growth at the expense of our forests.
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By Malavika Vyawahare
Giant tortoises and flying foxes once roamed La Réunion, a volcanic island off the eastern coast of Africa. Then humans arrived and decided to stay. Within 150 years of their appearance, large fruit-eating animals like the giant tortoises (Cylindraspis indica) and flying foxes (Pteropus niger), a type of bat, were wiped off the face of La Réunion.
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The United Nations wants to stop the sixth mass extinction.
By Jessie Wingard
Scientists are hoping to impregnate the closely-related southern white rhino — the most abundant rhino sub-species in the world — using harvested eggs from the last two northern white rhino cows and frozen sperm collected from four rhino bulls before their deaths, an international science consortium said on Wednesday.
Turning Point in Assisted Reproduction<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTEwMjIwNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNzk4MzE1OH0.cZFBxyHWlM41-xBG29vcya2-SrijiiTBmqoiD8TtXHU/img.jpg?width=980" id="55b0c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f97abddd55647a65dbee0ab218b9a162" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>Two northern white rhino in-vitro embryos were successfully created at Avantea Laboratories in Cremona, Italy.<br></p><p>"These are early embryos that have a very high potential to develop into a baby. [They] have now been put in liquid nitrogen. We have achieved a new life, a new hope for this species," Thomas Hildebrandt, project head at the Leibnitz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, a consortium partner in the project, told DW.</p><p>Researchers from Kenya, Italy, the Czech Republic, and Germany are still fine-tuning the implantation procedure before the embryos are transferred into a surrogate mother, but are hopeful a northern white rhino calf can be born via surrogacy within the next three years.</p>
Mother's Bond<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTEwMjIxMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMTc0NTIxMn0.IbxmY18zxG1S2Ylqdu-Pcem16cgWPSxK25c_SL_cFFo/img.jpg?width=980" id="307e3" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6262cbf66a1bd68ffa0cbee91578d119" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>The remaining two cows, mother Najin and daughter Fatu, live in a Kenyan sanctuary. The last bull, Fatu's father, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/swipe-right-to-save-the-rhino/a-38966632" target="_blank">Sudan</a>, died in March, 2018.</p><p>Genetic reasons mean neither cow can breed.</p><p>While Najin and Fatu might not be able to carry the baby, the offspring would still be reliant on them "to pass on their knowledge of how a northern white rhino behaves with their offspring," Hildebrandt added.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from our media associate <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/researchers-create-northern-white-rhino-embryos-to-save-species/a-50380291" target="_blank">DW</a>.</em></p>
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Some two billion years ago, a significant decline of once-abundant oxygen killed as much as 99 percent of all life on Earth in a mass extinction event larger than the one responsible for the dinosaur die-off.
Barite crystals in the Costello Formation in Canada. Malcolm Hodgskiss<p>Scientists turned to <a href="https://geology.com/minerals/barite.shtml" target="_blank">barite</a>, a sulfate mineral found in the Belcher Islands in Canada's Hudson Bay that shows the geological record of oxygen in the atmosphere. An analysis of isotope geochemistry found negative values that occurred shortly after the GEO, implying a collapse in primary productivity that triggered a shift in the availability of nutrients like phosphorus. Altogether, this caused an enormous drop in life perhaps due to a decrease in oxygen levels.</p><p>"The fact that this geochemical signature was preserved was very surprising," <a href="https://earth.stanford.edu/news/ancient-die-greater-dinosaur-extinction#gs.0rfimc" target="_blank">said</a> study co-author Malcolm Hodgskiss. "What was especially unusual about these barites is that they clearly had a complex history."</p><p>The increase of life in correlation with atmospheric oxygen confirms a theory known as "oxygen overshoot" whereby photosynthesis from ancient microorganisms and the natural weathering processes of rocks resulted in an increase of oxygen in the atmosphere. Oxygen-emitting organisms eventually exhausted their nutrient supply in the ocean, resulting in declining populations in a world much different than how we know it today, where a stable atmosphere balances oxygen production with consumption. </p><p>The findings shed light into ancient processes that eventually resulted in Earth as we know it today. By further studying how Earth behaves throughout time, scientists say they can better understand how atmospheres operate on planets outside of our solar system, specifically the interlink between the biosphere (where organisms live) and how that relates to levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. </p><p>"Some of these oxygen estimates likely require too many microorganisms living in the ocean in Earth's past," said Crockford. "So, we can now start to narrow in on what the composition of the atmosphere could have been through this biological angle."</p>
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