Tag: Biodiversity

Climate Change isn’t everything: We’re talking Planetary Collapse. Let’s fix it.

Climate Change isn’t everything: We’re talking Planetary Collapse. Let’s fix it.

The phrase “Climate Change” gets bandied about a lot. But what does Climate Change mean?

As a result of human activity on this planet, we’re seeing increased storms, floods and droughts – and they are bigger and more devastating. Global temperatures, especially in the oceans, are increasing, and polar ice caps are melting, which means sea levels will permanently rise.

Most people understand that burning fossil-fuels such as coal, oil, petrol, diesel and natural gas, cause untold amounts of pollution. This impacts air quality, water supplies, cloud formation and the oceans, which in turns causes climate change.

But the phrase ‘Climate Change’ implies the worst effect of human activity on Earth is widespread, significant change of weather.

And where there’s a crisis, there’s often a money-making opportunity. Enter the ‘Zero Carbon Footprint’ or ‘Carbon Tax’ industry, which enables polluting, fossil-fuel burning, profit-chasing corporations to offset their continued planetary destruction by funding tree-planting or paying subsidies to less carbon-producing, ‘greener’ companies.

Climate Change isn’t everything.

While discussion of problems and solutions for Climate Change is important, all the hype can sometimes take the focus off other problematic environmental issues.

Burning fossil fuels is serious. But these ecological issues are also killing the Earth: Deforestation, Plastics and Waste, and Loss of Biodiversity.

Put together, the cumulative and fast-increasing effect of all of these, including burning fossil fuels, is agonisingly simple:

We’re losing all of Earth’s life-sustaining forces – air, fresh water, the oceans, soil, plants, and the living creatures who keep those in good condition, animals.

Let’s look at these in a little more detail.

Deforestation is the widespread destruction of forests. Almost a fifth of the world’s most important large forest, the Amazon, has been destroyed in 50 years. Forests are cleared for wood, but also to make space for mining/drilling, crops for humans, and feed crops and grazing for meat animals.

Deforestation, waste and loss of biodiversity have a number of drivers.

One of the biggest cause of these is intensive farming for meat-eating by humans. The amount of animals we have to keep and feed worldwide, to feed those people who choose to eat meat, and the substantial pollution (including methane gas) generated from farming animals intensively is crippling the planet’s ecosystems and causing human starvation. We are feeding crops to animals we will kill, while humans don’t have enough food.

Studies have found that it’s cheaper, healthier, more ecologically-sustainable, and more calorie-efficient for humans to eat plants. Why not commit now to decreasing your meat intake and eating more plant-based meals?

Plastics, as we all know, are clogging up our planet and especially the oceans. Much of the billions of tons of plastic litter in the oceans is from sewerage, ships including fishing vessels, and poorly managed waste collection and disposal. Millions of ocean wildlife and seabirds are killed by plastic and litter, and we are digesting micro-plastics in fish. Start today – refuse to use plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic containers; and choose to reuse items more.

Loss of biodiversity and species extinction are also closely tied to other factors. Whilst humans bulldoze vast tracts of land to farm, mine or build factories or houses on (resulting in habitat loss for countless animal species who used to live there), we also relentlessly hunt, trap, kill, poach and poison animals for money, entertainment, convenience, or unsustainable food sources.

The Earth has a very intricate web of ecosystems created over millions of years, where everything relies on everything else to survive.

This arrogance – that humans are the only life form worth saving – has to stop. Speak up against this madness – educate yourself, donate to charities, petition for nature conservation protections and laws, do what you can. Start today!

We also need to consider our actions closer to home.

While Earth’s enormous forests are invaluable to life on Earth, including for humans, smaller forests and individual trees are keeping us alive too. So the continual tree chopping that occurs by town councils, railway companies and people in their own gardens is also a significant threat to our survival. It’s simple – stop cutting back and chopping down trees and plants! We need every tree.

Pesticides, herbicides, weedkillers and other crop and garden chemicals and poisons are killing insects and micros-organisms and damaging and killing other plants and animals in the food chain, including animals and plants they weren’t intended for, and humans. We have to get back to more natural farming methods and wildlife-friendly gardening if we are to survive, and start appreciating and celebrating nature, including so-called weeds and pests, not killing it.

What about you? How are you helping or hindering survival of our planet? What are you going to change, or maybe you’re already making changes? What ideas can you share? Write a comment below this post.

Sources and Further Reading

Animal feed crops are destroying the planet: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/05/vast-animal-feed-crops-meat-needs-destroying-planet

Deforestation: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/deforestation/

Glyphosate herbicides: http://www.pan-uk.org/glyphosate/

Myths about Climate Change: https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/10-myths-about-climate-change

Plastic pollution facts: https://www.sas.org.uk/our-work/plastic-pollution/plastic-pollution-facts-figures/

Save the Earth in your own garden: https://kathrynrosenewey.com/5-ways-save-earth-own-back-garden/

Useful edible weeds: https://pfaf.org/user/cmspage.aspx?pageid=44

Vegan statistics: https://www.vegansociety.com/news/media/statistics

Images from pixabay.com and canva.com

Make 1 Change a Week – 52 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet: How to Save Hedgehogs

Make 1 Change a Week – 52 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet: How to Save Hedgehogs

 

Hedgehogs. Those cute little spiky animals we all love, which we are inadvertently driving to extinction.

It’s “Hedgehog Awareness Week” in the UK from 5th to 11th May 2019.

But hedgehog populations are suffering and we may lose these little critters if we don’t all start doing something about it now.

Basically hedgehogs are dying because humans are taking away their living space and their food, and since they’re nocturnal creatures, we’re killing them on the roads too.

So what can we do to help hedgehogs survive?

We need to make our gardens and parks and common spaces hedgehog-friendly.

Keep your garden and other natural areas litter-free. Hedgehogs and other wildlife can easily get caught in plastic, netting or packaging left lying around.
 
More than anything, we must actively keep plants, hedgerows, bushes and fallen leaves intact. We need to start encouraging nature and plant life, not cutting it back or clearing it away.
 
Hedgehogs eat bugs so we need to ensure the hedgehogs, and the bugs, have somewhere safe to live. That means NO weedkillers, pesticides or herbicides!
 

Remember that so-called ‘weeds’ are plants too, and these are usually important food sources for insects, bees and small mammals.

No matter how safe the manufacturers claim their biological poisons are, chemicals like Roundup, other glyphosate-based herbicides and other toxic garden sprays and pest pellets are designed to KILL life.
 
Despite the fact that they are designed to kill only some life, the target plants and small animals are always part of an ecosystem with other life, which means if we use chemicals at the bottom of the food chain, we are poisoning and negatively affecting ALL life up the food chain too.
 
For example, if we spray weedkiller, and a hedgehog eats insects which were on or around that plant, the hedgehog will be poisoned too.
 

Hedgehogs often struggle to move around to find food sources.

Where possible we should be adding holes for them in the bottom of garden fences, using lower borders around plant beds (maximum 15cm high), or using plants as borders instead of fences.
 
It’s a good idea to talk to your neighbours and each make a hedgehog-sized hole in your fences, so hedgehogs can move unhindered through all your gardens.
 
You can put out water in a shallow bowl, and some specialist hedgehog food for them too. But if your garden is a safe haven, full of life, and they can move around safely, hedgehogs will probably be able to find enough food and moisture without you feeding them. The only time it may become an emergency is in hot summer spells, when they will benefit from you putting water out.
 

Hedgehogs sleep and hibernate under hedges, bushes and in piles of leaves and vegetation.

Never clear leaves away, and don’t prepare or light a bonfire, without first gently checking for hedgehogs which may be resting or sleeping underneath. Be careful when gardening, as hedgehogs can be injured or killed by hedge-trimmers, lawnmowers, strimmers and even handheld garden tools.
 
You can place a hedgehog box or hedgehog house under plants or in areas with lots of leaves and vegetation for hedgehogs to live in. Put some leaves, moss and twigs in it to encourage them in. They may well hibernate in it all winter, and even make a nest for their babies there!
 

Hedgehogs are nocturnal, so they sleep in the day and roam around feeding at night.

Try to not disturb hedgehogs who you know may be sleeping nearby in the day. Also do be aware that hedgehogs may be hibernating for a few months in the winter, so again, do not disturb places where they might be.
 
Unfortunately it’s not always possible to avoid them on the roads. But where you can, do drive slowly and look out for little creatures crossing the road at night.

Find out more. 

Have you ever seen a hedgehog? What are you doing to save them? I’d love to hear from you. Write your reply below this post.


Information sources and further reading:

British Hedgehog Preservation Society: https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/
St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital: https://www.sttiggywinkles.org.uk/

Photo credits:

Hedgehog photos and images from pixabay.com and canva.com


Make 1 Change a Week – 52 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet: Elephant Extinction – Does it Matter?

Make 1 Change a Week – 52 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet: Elephant Extinction – Does it Matter?

I love elephants. I’m in awe of their huge size, their intelligence, their community spirit, their fierceness, their grace, their extreme care for each other, their strength, their resolve, their beauty, their elephant-ness.

But I’m also very scared. Scared that one day, soon, too soon, there will be only a handful of elephants left… And that those last few elephants will then be killed by humans or die off without their population recovering…

And then there will be no more elephants. Ever.

Get your free Elephants Matter worksheet

No elephants? How could that be?

The statistics on elephant deaths, mainly due to poaching for their tusks and habitat loss, are terrifying. For example, in the 9 years up to 2011, around 62% of the world’s elephant population was lost.

From 2003 onwards, elephants have been killed faster than they can reproduce (in other words, fewer animals are being born than are dying). In fact, on average poachers kill African Elephants every 15 minutes.

Mathematically and tragically, this means elephants will one day be no more. Except perhaps for some sad individuals behind bars in zoos.

That is, unless the poaching, habitat loss, hunting and kidnapping reduces or stops altogether.

But first, why do elephants matter?

Elephants matter because they are part of the great web of life. Okay, so people natter on about ecology etc, but what have elephants actually got to do with anything?

Elephants are essential ‘processors’ in forest and savannah landscapes, consuming, moving and producing organic matter (for example, leaves, grasses, roots and branches are eaten, moved and eventually turned into poo, which in turn, provides food and nourishment for others). Read more about how essential they are to nature (scroll down to the ‘Why They Matter’ section).

Think of it like this. Your body is an ecosystem, in the sense that there are lots of parts and organic material which interact in a very finely tuned, complex way to keep you alive. If we were to remove your liver tomorrow, you might survive for a short while with the help of doctors, but you would be very unhealthy and ultimately you would probably die.

Like your liver is essential for your body to be alive and thrive, elephants are a necessary part of the vast eco-web of life across this planet. If they are killed off, the important jobs they do in keeping life ticking along can’t really be filled by anything else.

And so the plants and other animals that rely on elephants in their environment will also suffer and some will probably die off. The intricate balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide between plants and animals, and on which you rely in order to be able to take every breath, will also be affected. As will the chemistry of the soil and water, and the symbiotic proportions of plants and animals.

Elephants alone are not responsible for all of this. We are all part of it and all necessary for life together.

Elephants also matter because they’re living beings on this planet.

Because they’re alive. Because they’re amazing and wonderful. And because all living things matter. Like you and me.

What can you do to help elephants?

Even if you live far away from any elephants, there are lots of things you can do to help:

  • Donate to environmental charities which take action to save elephants from poaching, hunting and habitat loss.

  • Sign petitions to governments and environmental authorities to do more to stop ivory trade, poaching and hunting. Speak up for elephants by speaking out against poaching, hunting and animal cruelty whenever you can.
  • Share information, videos and pictures about elephants online. Make people aware, so that they in turn also take action to help elephants.

  • Don’t support tourist attractions like zoos, elephant rides and circuses, where elephants are exploited and kept confined. Elephants are usually beaten and tortured from a young age in these situations to make them ‘tame’ enough for interactions with humans. Did you know that over 70% of elephants in zoos in Europe were caught as babies in the wild and taken away from their mothers and herds to live the rest of their lives in captivity?
  • Support, visit and donate to wild animal sanctuaries, who are committed to providing better lives for ophaned elephants and elephants rescued from zoos or circuses, as well as wildlife reserves who let elephants and other animals roam free in natural landscapes, as they are meant to.
  • Explore lots of elephant-related topics in my free ‘Elephant Matters’ eco-worksheet, yours to download and print as you need:

Get your free Elephants Matter worksheet

What do elephants mean to you? I’d love to know what you think. Reply under this post.


Information sources and further reading:

https://www.freedomforanimals.org.uk/blog/10-facts-about-zoos

http://www.greatelephantcensus.com/

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/every-elephant-counts-paul-g-allen/

http://www.poachingfacts.com/poaching-statistics/elephant-poaching-statistics/ 

 

Photo credits:

Most elephant photos and images from pixabay.com, except for:

Elephant standing to eat tree photo by Johanneke Kroesbergen-Kamps on Unsplash

Baby elephant swimming photo by Simson Petrol on Unsplash

Mother and baby elephant photo by Chen Hu on Unsplash