Senseless Destruction of Perth’s Beeliar Wetlands

A $1.9 billion transportation upgrade plan, conceived and funded partially in 2014 by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s cabinet, and agreed upon by Western Australia’s (WA) Liberal Premier Colin Barnett, is destroying ancient wetlands.

The Beeliar Wetlands, made up of two chains of lakes, are located in the southwest portion of the metropolitan city of Perth.

These wetlands are priceless ecological jewels. They help reduce the impacts from storm damage and flooding, filter water entering the Swan River and recharge groundwater. The Beeliar Wetlands store carbon in Banksia Woodlands and its Paperbacks, ancient 300-year-old Tuart and 500-year-old Jarrah trees. It’s a globally recognized hotspot of plant diversity. All ancient forests are invaluable as climate stabilizers.

A stump of a 300-year-old Tuart felled at Beeliar Wetlands. Photo credit: abc.net.au

A stump of a 300-year-old Tuart felled at Beeliar Wetlands. Photo credit: abc.net.au

The Beeliar Wetlands are also a vital warehouse for biodiversity including the endangered Carnaby cockatoos and the endangered Southern brown bandicoots.

Concerned citizens, environmentalists, indigenous peoples, Greens and Labor politicians oppose this destructive project called Roe 8, an extension of the Roe Highway.

Next month, there’s a state election on March 11. Voters are growing more discontented with the governing WA Liberals.

Kate Kelly of Save Beeliar Wetlands next to a felled 500-year-old Jarrah. Photo credit: watoday.com.au

Kate Kelly of Save Beeliar Wetlands next to a felled 500-year-old Jarrah. Photo credit: watoday.com.au

“They are blowing $2 billion on a road to nowhere that doesn’t fix the problem… It’s going to mean a massive bottleneck in East Fremantle,” said WA Labor leader Mark McGowan.

Since December 2016, more than 30 protesters have been arrested in the Beeliar Wetlands. Local residents have valid health concerns; once the forests are gone the noise and air pollution from Roe 8 traffic will skyrocket.

Last week, a critical flaw in traffic modeling was uncovered. Roe 8 underestimates the number of trucks that will use the road by 16,500. The existing noise management plan is invalid.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam told the senate that asbestos has been uncovered, dust suppression is non-existent and native fauna management is bordering on criminal negligence. One particularly egregious example is the trapping and removal of endangered Southern brown bandicoots occurring as little as 90 minutes before bulldozers tear the forest apart.

For months, the Greens have been asking the Liberals if Carnaby cockatoo surveys were conducted. The Liberals have failed, so far, to produce one survey.

In the meantime, the city of Freemantle’s council has passed a motion to support fundraising concerts to help pay the legal costs of protesters against the Roe 8 extension.

The senseless destruction of nature and the unparalleled ability of the ancient Beeliar forests to help cool down metropolitan Perth will come back to haunt its citizens. The Climate Council’s latest report shows that the number of heatwave days in Perth has already increased by 50 percent compared to the heatwaves during the 1950-1980 period. Extreme heat is projected to increase in the Perth region (and across the entire continent), with significant increases in length, intensity and frequency of heatwaves.

Australia’s capital cities are experiencing hotter, longer or more frequent heatwaves of the 1980-2011 period compared to the 1950-1980 period. Photo credit: ClimateCouncil.org.au

Australia’s capital cities are experiencing hotter, longer or more frequent heatwaves of the 1980-2011 period compared to the 1950-1980 period. Photo credit: ClimateCouncil.org.au

It’s time for Perth, and all cities globally, to protect their ancient climate stabilizing forests and wetlands, not pave them and elevate temperatures even higher in the Anthropocene: The age of climate instability.

Support Save the Beeliar Wetlands.

#NoRoe8

Earth Doctor Reese Halter’s upcoming book is “Save Nature Now.”

 

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An Overheating Planet

2016 was the hottest year ever recorded at 1.26C above preindustrial times. Life as we know it is in dire jeopardy because humans are pumping heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere 10X faster than during the previous 66 million years.

Nature is collapsing on land and under the sea. Unprecedented.

Man-made heat, infused into the oceans from climate-altering fossil fuels, has doubled since 1997. That’s the equivalent energy of detonating one atomic Hiroshima-style bomb every second for 75 straight years.

Next month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had scheduled a conference for climate change and health. Despite the warning of experts with the Union of Conservation of Nature — 80 scientists from 12 countries — that global warming is making the oceans sicker, spreading diseases in people and animals, the CDC abruptly cancelled the conference on Jan. 9. It did not explain the reason behind the decision.

Every successfully businessperson knows that, failing to plan is planning to fail.

Meanwhile, earlier this week at The White House, President Trump signed an executive order reviving both the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines. He authorized these pipelines in spite of a 2010-2015 analysis detailing more than 1,000 spills from US pipelines that leaked 7 million gallons of oil.

Whether or not Trump still owns an investment in Energy Transfer Partners, the operator of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the US presidency was designed to represent the people, not the corporations.

Frighteningly, President Trump believes he doesn’t need facts as long as ‘very smart’ Fox News viewers agree with him.

Elsewhere around the globe, fossil fuel smog continues to blanket eastern China. As a result, each day 4,400 people die from toxic air and respiratory disease.

The air is currently so polluted that the Beijing city government told officials, including the smog police, to crack down and not set off fireworks or firecrackers to welcome the Lunar New Year. The government is determined to reduce putrid smog.

On the other side of the world, deadly wildfires razed an entire Chilean town. At least 10 dead and 1,000 building incinerated in the ruins of Santa Olga. An overheated world from burning fossil fuels brought stifling heat waves and gripping droughts to Chile in the worst fires in the country’s recent history.

A recent climate report from the European Environment Agency warned governments to prepare for rising sea levels, more extreme weather including heat waves, flooding, droughts and fierce storms as a consequence of global warming. The agency said climate change poses increasingly severe risks for ecosystems, human health and the economy in Europe.

Yesterday former Vice President Al Gore agreed to host the CDC’s cancelled climate change conference, it’s back on next month. The conference will take place outside of any government circles. Rather than at the CDC, it will occur at the nonprofit Carter Center in Atlanta.

There’s more uplifting news. Employees from more than a dozen US government agencies established a network of unofficial ‘rogue’ Twitter feeds in defiance of the Trump administration’s muzzle on communicating climate change research and other science.

In addition, scientists across America will soon march against the climate-denying Trump administration.

It’s time to end all fossil fuel subsidies immediately, and follow China’s $370 billion (USD) investment in creating 13 million new jobs in the renewable energy sector.

The only way to contend with the climate in crisis is to tackle it head on. Not to subsidize the biggest, wealthiest polluters to hasten the planet’s demise.

At the end of the day, it’s about survival and preventing our planet from becoming inhospitable. We require 80 percent renewable energies by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050.

#ResistRejectDenial

Satellite image of man-made smog from coal, vehicle and industrial emissions over eastern China on Jan. 25, 2017. Photo credit: NASA

Satellite image of man-made smog from coal, vehicle and industrial emissions over eastern China on Jan. 25, 2017. Photo credit: NASA

Earth Doctor Reese Halter’s upcoming book is “Save Nature Now.”

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Mass Die-Off Indicates Ocean Sickness

The latest wave of ocean die-offs in the North Atlantic adds to a long list of mass mortality events indicating that marine creatures are in peril.

Man-made heat infused into the oceans from climate-altering fossil fuels has doubled since 1997. That’s the equivalent energy of detonating one atomic Hiroshima-style bomb every second for 75 straight years.

The Gulf of Maine stretches from Cape Cod to southern Nova Scotia. It’s a vast body of water that is warming 99.85 percent faster than the rest of the world’s oceans.

Warmer oceans along with increased acidity are affecting all marine life. Population distributions are changing. Creatures are appearing in locations where they have not been before or they are disappearing from where they normally reside. Some marine life is starving while others are succumbing to more diseases. Eighty scientists from 12 countries, experts with the Union for Conservation of Nature, concluded that global warming is making the oceans sicker, spreading diseases throughout the Animal Kingdom including people.

Since November, 2016, millions of herring have turned up dead in the Bay of Fundy, the northern Gulf of Maine and in Nova Scotia. According to Colin Sproul, from the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fisherman’s Association, the number could be as high as a billion dead fish. In 75 years of local fishing history, nothing matches this mass mortality event.

Last week reports circulated that a mysterious mass die-off in excess of 20,000 lobsters, sea stars, clams, crabs and one humpback whale washed-up on the western shores of Nova Scotia.

Tests so far by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans have yet to determine the cause(s).

This much we know: The Gulf of Maine is warming quickly. The Bay of Fundy is warmer than usual with temperatures more akin to fall rather than winter.

In November, an unusual plankton bloom occurred in the area likely linked to warmer water temperature. The increased temperature in the northern Gulf of Maine is signalling change in the environment, which resulted in mass death.

On the other side of the North Atlantic, in November, 2016, thousands of sea stars were disgorged along Southsea Beach near Portsmouth, in southern England. A couple days before New Year’s Eve, thousands of sea stars were left stranded while the stench of death lingered for miles near the seaside resort of Callantsoog, Holland.

Since 2009, mass sea star stranding has occurred in the Atlantic from 50,000 in Ireland, twice that year, to an estimated 100,000 along South Carolina’s shores in 2014.

Beginning in 2011, along the west coast of North America, sea urchins and millions of sea stars, in 20 different species, have expired. The occurrence of deadly algal blooms is implicated. These toxic blooms are predicted to occur more frequently. Global warming, rising ocean temperature, increased ocean acidity, destruction of shoreline habitat including loss of sea grass meadows and increased runoff from land-use developments are contributing to more algal blooms.

The loss of both sea stars and urchins will have many unintended consequences. Sea urchins provide essential food for gulls, crabs, rays, sharks, seals and sea otters. The presence of sea stars is crucial because they affect other animals and marine life in the ocean. They are predators feeding on barnacles, snails, mussels, clams, oysters and spiny urchins. Sea stars are keystone species; they help maintain balance in marine biodiversity.

It is heartbreaking to watch the unraveling of ocean ecosystems, the death of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the rampant overfishing and the on-going illegal Japanese whale poaching in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

It is time to end all fossil fuel subsidies immediately, and follow China’s $493 billion investment in creating 13 million new jobs in the renewable energy sector.

Nature is showing us that as the oceans warm, marine life and its habitat are killed. The time to turn this around is now because our health is inexorably linked to the fate of the oceans. We need healthy oceans in order to survive on our blue planet.

#Compassion

Thousands of dead Dutch sea stars, December 29, 2016. Photo credit: Martin Kool

Thousands of dead Dutch sea stars, December 29, 2016. Photo credit: Martin Kool

Earth Doctor Reese Halter’s upcoming book is “Save Nature Now.”

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2016 Vicious Year For Manatees

Florida’s state mammal, the gentle giant Manatees faced a horrific year in 2016.

Manatees, like their colossal land relatives, elephants, live to a ripe old age of 60 years. They grow over 12 feet in length, weighing almost one ton.

These sensitive, plant-eating marine mammals depend upon seagrasses and freshwater vegetation for their survival. Manatees’ teeth are all molars, especially adapted for grinding vegetation. When the molars wear down they fall out, soon replaced with new teeth.

Seagrasses are nature’s glorious underwater meadows. They provide crucial food and vital habitat for many sea creatures including Green sea turtles and the Manatees.

Florida’s seagrass meadows spread across 1,260 miles of coastline. They stabilize sediments and absorb nutrient runoff from the land, including agricultural poisons. When seagrass dies it floats ashore helping to create dunes. Dunes offer important habitat for Laughing gulls, Snowy plovers, crabs, insects, mollusks, beach mice and six-lined racerunner lizards.

Every plant, animal, fungus, bacteria and microbe is inexorably linked in nature. When damage or loss occurs to anything in nature, its effects are rippled throughout the web of life.

This June, torrential rainfall from Tropical Storm Colin flooded Florida, filling Lake Okeechobee to the brim. To alleviate the strain on the aged dike system, the Army Corps of Engineers released controlled discharges through locks, east and west of the lake to avert flooding in nearby towns. Those discharged waters were full of agricultural nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, pollutants, and blue-green algae that poured into rivers and lagoons, emptying into the Atlantic Ocean.

With Florida’s record July heat, the blue-green algae within the discharged Okeechobee waters quickly turned into putrid algal blooms. Those blooms smothered many miles of Floridian coastline causing beach closures on the Independence Day weekend.

It was Florida’s eighth massive, deadly algal bloom since 2004. This year, toxic algal sludge killed fish, shellfish, at least 8 manatees’ and anyone who touched it was sickened.

A warming world has increased the number of lethal algal blooms from eastern China to the entire westcoast of North America, along the coastline of Chile and elsewhere around the globe. Last year, those blooms were implicated in killing over 367 South American Sei and North American Humpback and Fin whales.

In addition to the algal bloom, this year, Manatees faced a record number of ship strikes resulting in 98 deaths.

On top of planning for sea level rise, Florida’s lawmakers are required to plan for heavier rainfall events in order to prevent more man-made deadly algal blooms. Speed restrictions on recreational motorboats travelling through Manatee habitat would easily reduce the reckless loss of life of these exquisite sea cows.

It is time to co-exist with nature by protecting seagrass meadows and all the splendid sea and land creatures.

A Manatee with scars from a motorboat strike. Photo credit: David Schrichte

A Manatee with scars from a motorboat strike. Photo credit: David Schrichte

Earth Doctor Reese Halter’s upcoming book is “Save Nature Now.”

Posted in Animals, Oceans | Leave a comment

Going Home To The Redwoods

Last week in San Francisco, I took several hours and went back to my roots among the majestic redwoods in Muir Woods.

Muir Woods National Monument is a remnant stand of ancient coastal redwoods, the tallest tree species on the face of the earth, that, prior to 1880, carpeted many northern California coastal valleys.

This superlative forest was spared the axe because local businessman William Kent and his bride, Elizabeth Thatcher Kent, bought the land in 1905. It was one of the last uncut southern stands.

In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt used the 1906 Antiquities Act, proclaiming the forest a national monument. At the request of Kent, the monument was named after the legendary naturalist John Muir, co-founder of the Sierra Club.

Over 30 years ago, I first cut my teeth in the science of trees. So returning back to my roots in the awesome redwood forest was just like going home.

The moist and pungent early morning air reminded me why trees in communities of forests are supreme life forms. The size and girth of redwoods is spellbinding. And the rich, earthy reds adorning the bark are unlike any other color that I’ve ever seen.

I’ve often worked alone in wild forests and always in the company of birds. That morning the unique sound of high-pitched trills brought a smile to my face because I knew my avian friends, Pacific wrens, were nearby.

As I neared the lifeblood of earth, the rushing water of Redwood Creek, I heard nature’s jackhammer hard at work: a flaming redheaded Pileated woodpecker drilling in the treetops for its breakfast: carpenter ants.

I was home. Grinning ear to ear like a fortunate child on Christmas morning, I greeted the tall ones by repeatedly thumping their foot-thick fibrous bark.

It was early and nobody else was in the forest except the creatures and the tall ones.

Along the edge of Redwood Creek just below a pool created by a downed ancient redwood, I spotted an ocean inhabitant – a female Coho salmon. I watched in awe as she performed a timeless ritual of digging a redd (nest) by turning partly on her side and using powerful, rapid movements of her tail to dislodge the gravels, transported a short distance downstream.

She repeated this, creating an oval depression approximately as long and deep as her length. Then she released her eggs and a nearby male added milt (sperm) to the redd.

I witnessed one of nature’s wonders – the fertilization of life!

Soon the mature Cohos would feed eagles, raccoons, coyotes, weasels, shrews and others. The decomposing Coho carcasses nearby Redwood Creek would decay and release nitrogen, a vital mineral for redwood roots and their symbiotic partners, mycorrhizal fungi.

This elegant circle of life in the redwood forest connects the land to the sea and reminded me that in nature there is no waste, there is no unemployment, everything eats and all life is interdependent.

It’s nature’s perfect blueprint for our survival on Earth.

Feeling nourished and humbled I left Muir Woods that morning to rally for climate science in the streets of San Francisco later that afternoon.

Kudos for the Kent family for saving that forest, President Roosevelt for protecting it and John Muir for his ceaseless activism saving redwoods and Sequoias over a century ago.

Ladies and gentlemen, we need all of the remaining ancient forests on our planet protected because they provide priceless oxygen, fresh water, carbon dioxide warehouses, climate stabilizers, crucial habitat for creatures and potent heart, pain, diabetes and cancer medicines.

This holiday season make time to visit a local wild forest and reconnect to your salubrious, energizing roots.

The glorious redwoods of Muir Woods National Monument. Photo credit: Reese Halter

The glorious redwoods of Muir Woods National Monument. Photo credit: Reese Halter

Earth Doctor Reese Halter’s upcoming book is “Save Nature Now.”

Posted in Forests | Leave a comment

Scientists Rally For Climate Action, San Francisco

This week in San Francisco, over 23,000 American Geophysical Union (AGU) scientists formed the world’s largest Earth and Space Science conference, presenting scientific findings and displaying professional integrity in support of climate science.

At the meeting, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its 2016 Arctic Report Card. The results show that the Arctic’s warming trends are accelerating.

· Unprecedented warm air over the Arctic caused extensive melting of sea ice, land-based ice and snow on Greenland.

· Air temperatures over land this year were the highest on record at 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit above the year 1900.

· Lowest extent of Arctic sea ice from mid October to late November ever recorded.

· Spring snow cover in May was the lowest in the North American Arctic on record.

· The pace of change occurring in the Arctic is unprecedented.

Hundreds of scientists, myself included, demonstrated in the streets of San Francisco demanding climate action from President-elect Trump’s incoming administration. It was a spirited, boisterous event!

The next day, California’s Governor Jerry Brown spoke passionately at the AGU meeting. He told us: “This is not a battle of one day or one election. You are “foot soldiers” for truth. If Trump turns off the climate satellites, California will launch its own damn satellite. We’re going to collect that data”

Brown mocked and then taunted climate denier, incoming Energy Secretary, former Texas Governor Rick Perry: “Rick, I’ve got some news for you: California’s growing a hell of a lot faster than Texas. And we’ve got more sun that you’ve got oil.”

Brown also sent a loud and clear message to Trump: “We’ve got the scientists, we’ve got the lawyers and we’re ready to fight!”

In the meantime, nature is painting a vivid picture of what rising temperature is doing to the animals in the far north. It’s so warm in Alaska that moose are moving into the Arctic; yet there’s not enough food to sustain these giant, cold specialists. Snowshoe hares are also moving northward and red foxes, their predators, are following. This is another ecological disaster in the making for the smaller Arctic foxes because there won’t be enough food to support both fox species.

Elsewhere around the globe this year, we’ve witnessed nature collapsing in Australia along the Great Barrier Reef where the northern third of the reef suffered massive, widespread death due to an over-heating Pacific Ocean. Further north and to the west in the Gulf of Carpentaria, 22,000 acres of mangroves collapsed from a lethal combination of drought and rising temperature. Unprecedented.

There’s only one way to slow this deadly global temperature increase: reduce fossil fuel emissions immediately until we attain zero emissions by 2050.

The effects of rising temperature on nature are irrefutable. Nature is collapsing. We must act now otherwise our only home will quickly become uninhabitable for all life.

#Resist

Scientists rallying for climate action at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. Photo Credit: Marco Jose Sanchez/AP

Scientists rallying for climate action at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. Photo Credit: Marco Jose Sanchez/AP

Earth Doctor Reese Halter’s upcoming book is “Save Nature Now.”

Posted in Climate in Crisis | Leave a comment

Protecting Beloved Antarctic Whales, Sea Shepherd

Children love whales and so do I. Me and millions of other compassionate people around the globe.

Whales are sentient mammals. Their majesty evokes awe. The presence of whales in the sea is crucial, not only for the health and well being of all marine life, but also all life on Earth.

In the 20th century alone almost three million whales were slaughtered, 71 percent of them in the southern hemisphere. In 200 years, over five million whales have been massacred.

Why is Japan still commercially hunting whales when a worldwide whaling moratorium went into effect in 1986? Are the Japanese people starving like post WWII? No. Instead, the government-run, subsidized whalers force whale meat into the school lunch program and mince the remaining whales into dog food.

Tasmanian conservationist, Dr Bob Brown, former leader of the Australian Greens and former Chairman of Sea Shepherd Australia told me: “The Japanese whale killers are headed south again, hoping to repeat last year’s slaughter of 300 gentle minke whales (200 of which were pregnant). This is established criminal behaviour under international and Australian law. Yet the only guardians of that law and the whales will be aboard two Sea Shepherd ships aiming to get between the Japanese grenade-tipped harpoons and the defenceless whales. The one thing rivalling the obscenity of this impending whale slaughter is the silent obsequience to Tokyo, and potential condemnation of Sea Shepherd’s rescue mission, from governments in Canberra, Wellington and Washington. One thing if for sure: the hearts and minds of animal lovers around the world are with the gallant few aboard Sea Shepherd’s ships Ocean Warrior and Steve Irwin.”

My colleagues at Scripps Atmospheric Oxygen Research revealed that oxygen levels are decreasing globally due to fossil fuel burning. Additionally, the oceans are supercharged with 300 zeta joules of heat from burning fossil fuels. Cold currents carrying iron and nitrogen are not surfacing as much now, denying minerals the ability to grow phytoplankton, the basis of the entire marine food web. As a result, 40 percent of the global phytoplankton is missing. Phytoplankton along with blue green bacteria,prochlorococcuus, provides almost two out of every three breaths of oxygen, irrespective of where you live in the world.

The whales and their flocculent fecal plumes or scat, rich in iron and nitrogen, are re-growing the missing phytoplankton. The whales are helping us breathe.

The stakes have never been higher as the world warms at an unprecedented rate while molecular oxygen continues to tumble. For every whale that Japanese whalers ruthlessly murder, there is less new oxygen generated for the children of Earth to breathe. Already three million people die each year from exposure to outdoor toxic air pollution.

Sea Shepherd and their two intrepid crews are protecting our beloved whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary from Japanese whale killers. It’s a noble and most necessary role since no country will oppose Japan’s bloody, illegal ecocide.

#Compassion

'Ocean Warrior' is the latest addition to Sea Shepherd’s fleet. This long-range speedster is equipped with a red cannon that ejects a potent plume of water, obstructing the view of the whalers, preventing them from killing whales. Photo credit: SeaShepherdGlobal.org

Ocean Warrior is the latest addition to Sea Shepherd’s fleet. This long-range speedster is equipped with a red cannon that ejects a potent plume of water, obstructing the view of the whalers, preventing them from killing whales. Photo credit: SeaShepherdGlobal.org

Earth Doctor Reese Halter’s upcoming book is “Save Nature Now.”

Posted in ecocide, whales | Leave a comment

Students Join Veterans At Standing Rock

I spent a few days with students in Environmental Science at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. They are deeply concerned with the state of our planet and nature collapsing.

We talked about how the oceans are warming 1.5 to 5 times faster than the land and that all life is attempting to contend with rapidly rising atmospheric carbon dioxide from burning climate-altering fossil fuels.

In 1960, annual atmospheric carbon dioxide increased by 0.5 parts per million (ppm). Last year, carbon dioxide rose by 3.05 ppm. That is a six-fold increase. According to Dr Pieter Tans, leader of National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network, human-made carbon dioxide is increasing 200 times faster than when Earth emerged from the last ice age.

Elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide is wreaking havoc by imposing droughts in the forests around the globe. Since 2010, in California alone, over 102 million trees perished from drought-induced water starvation and indigenous bark beetle epidemics. Tinderbox dry forests across the American southeast have resulted in unprecedented firestorms this week across eastern Tennessee. Eleven fatalities and over 700 homes and businesses were destroyed or damaged.

Since 2005, the Amazon has experienced three, one in 100-year droughts. Not only have billions of trees died, but also the forest’s ability to create massive daily rain clouds has been compromised. That means the rainforests reflective shield, that helps keep Earth’s temperature regulated, is declining as dead, burnt-over forests are absorbing more solar radiation, giving off more heat, which, in turn, contributes to a rising global temperature.

Heat waves are becoming more common and deadly. In 2011, a marine heat wave in the Indian Ocean, 2.5C above long-term average, killed almost 600 miles of kelp forests along Western Australia’s coast. There is no sign of recovery whatsoever.

According to Professor Marshall Shepherd, director of the Atmospheric Science program at University of Georgia, “Heat waves may be one of the primary climate change markers like home runs were in baseball.”

Droughts and heat waves are a lethal combination for both honeybees and food crops. My colleagues at McGill and British Columbia universities found that drought and extreme heat slashed cereal harvests between 1964-2007 in North America, Europe and Australasia by 19.9 percent.

Record-breaking heat waves and drought across Victoria, Australia in January 2013 prevented many plants from flowering. Beekeepers were forced to feed bees in the middle of the summer.Unprecedented. It was so hot, beehives melted.

Higher temperatures stress coral reefs, kelp forests, forests, animals, children, the elderly, pregnant women and our food crops. There’s only one way to obviate the forthcoming global food security crisis. Fossil fuel emissions must immediately be reduced until we attain zero emissions by 2050.

After next week’s examinations, the students that I spoke with are driving to the Standing Rock Encampment in North Dakota to spend Christmas with veterans and Native Americans protecting our planet.

#Resist

Earth Doctor Reese Halter’s upcoming book is “Save Nature Now.”

Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have increased to a record of 3.28 parts per million from October 2015 to October 2016.  Image credit: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have increased to a record of 3.28 parts per million from October 2015 to October 2016. Image credit: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

 

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Dead Forests, Shocking Wake-up Call

Last week the U.S. Forest Service released their latest survey on California’s dying forests. Since May, 36 million trees have perished, bringing the total for the year to 66 million dead trees.

The death rate of trees in the Golden State has doubled from 2015. California’s five-year drought has now claimed at least 102 million trees across 7.7 million acres.

Rising temperature in concert with drought weaken trees. In turn, these stressful environmental conditions enable indigenous bark beetle populations to soar.

Water-starved spruce, pines and Douglas-firs cannot make gooey pitch, the natural defense mechanism against bark beetles. The stressed trees become sitting ducks as beetles feed, breed and kill millions of Californian trees.

Over the past 15 years or so, bark beetles have feasted on more than 30 billion trees across western North America. The once carpeted mountains across the West are no longer. Instead of billions of trees removing rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, the dead trees across the West are adding to the heat-trapping atmospheric gases as they decompose.

With the loss of over 100 million mountain trees in the central and southern Sierra Nevada, and in the northern counties of Lassen, Modoc, Plumas and Siskiyou, one immediate concern in California is fresh water.

Mountain trees attract and hold winter snowfall. They slowly release spring melt water, which recharges valleys, rivers, watersheds and deltas. That forest-fed springtime melt is of paramount importance for the sixth biggest economy on the globe and its annual $47 billion agriculture business. California’s nuts, fruit and vegetables are crucial; they feed Americans each night.

The climate in crisis and its droughts and rising temperature are wreaking havoc elsewhere around the globe. In particular on the lungs of the planet, the Amazon rainforests, the largest remaining tropical rainforests on the globe.

Since 2005, the Amazon has experienced three, one in 100-year droughts. Not only have billions of trees died, but also the forest’s ability to create massive daily rain clouds has been compromised. That means the rainforests reflective shield, that helps keep Earth’s temperature regulated, is declining as dead, burnt-over forests are absorbing more solar radiation, giving off more heat, which, in turn, contributes to a rising global temperature.

Forests are invaluable living carbon dioxide warehouses. For every metric ton of ancient wood, the trees removed 1.5 metric tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They simultaneously released one metric ton of oxygen.

Globally, trees account for more than one of every three breaths of oxygen that 7.4 billion people and the Animal Kingdom need to breathe.

The recent loss of billions of pollution-filtering, oxygen-bearing trees, in combination with rising fossil fuel emissions has lead to 90 percent of the world’s population breathing polluted air. According to the World Health Organization, it is a public health emergency because heart attacks, strokes and lung cancer can all be caused by increased air-borne pollution, which is also known to cause acute respiratory infection.

The fact that trees are dying on every forested continent is a clarion call to a planetary emergency.

In order for the human race to survive to mid-century, fossil fuel emissions must immediately come down.

The single biggest thing you can do is to switch your diet to a plant-based one. It’s healthy, water-smart, easy and compassionate. Animal agriculture contributes 18 percent to the climate-altering greenhouse gases. That’s more than the entire global transportation sector.

#Resist

Millions of additional stressed Californian trees are expected to expire in the coming months. Photo credit: latimes.com

Millions of additional stressed Californian trees are expected to expire in the coming months. Photo credit: latimes.com

Tree scientist, Earth Doctor Reese Halter’s upcoming book is “Save Nature Now.”

Posted in Climate in Crisis, Forests, trees | Leave a comment

Shongolulu Fights The Sixth Great Extinction

Yesterday I spent a couple hours with a grade two class in Los Angeles. The children asked me, “Why are big game hunters driving African lions to extinction?”

I explained that certain affluent people crave power and exert their brutality by slaughtering defenseless animals. The children could not understand this shameful ecocide.

Humans have wiped-out 58 percent of all land animals on Earth in less than half a century. Since the 1970s, 1.5 billion birds are gone from North America. Over 230 million seabirds, or 70 percent, have vanished in the past six decades. From 2000-2010, approximately one billion sharks were poached from all oceans.

Elephants, giraffes, rhinos, tigers, cheetahs, orangutans, bluefin tunas,leatherback sea turtles, vaquitas and so many other masterpieces of nature face extinction immediately.

Children are perplexed. Greedy, selfish adults, driven by power and an insatiable lust for destruction, are causing the Sixth Great Extinction at a record pace.

The looting of the oceans is so egregious that my colleagues from Stanford and elsewhere found that, compared to the previous five mass extinctions, humans are killing off great white sharks, fin whales and bluefin tunas like never before.

There’s nothing like this in any fossil records. In the past, smaller oceanic species were lost, not all bigger ones.

The present Sixth Great Extinction is decimating everything in the oceans. My colleagues predict it will take millions of years for the oceans to recover the rich array of biodiversity that currently exists on the planet.

This is an ecological disaster of epic proportion never experienced since the dawning of sexually reproduced organisms 1.1 billion years ago.

Extinction means forever. Unacceptable. If we fail to take swift action, the human race will perish quickly, too.

A San Diego-based group of concerned citizens are fighting the Sixth Great Extinction.

According to a Zulu legend, deep in the African wilderness walks the most persistent animal on our planet – the Shongolulu. Shongolulu is on an 18 million-year journey. What appears like a simple pair of feet is actually a million feet. Those feet are marching together with the ultimate goal of creating coexistence between humans and all animals.

The Shongolulu is a symbol for the strength in numbers – the power of one. It is living proof that even the smallest animals can have the biggest impact.

With millions of feet the Shongolulu is not the fastest, but it never gives up on its dream, one step at a time.

Join the movement, together we march to save nature now!

#Compassion

Cheetahs are the fastest land animals. They can reach an astonishing 75mph. Photo credit: wonderopolis.org

Cheetahs are the fastest land animals. They can reach an astonishing 75mph. Photo credit: wonderopolis.org

Earth Doctor Reese Halter’s upcoming book is “SaveNatureNow.”

 

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