Back in 1975, the American Grizzly bear was declared endangered. With only minor differences, the American Grizzly bear is the same species as the European bear, that lives from Western Spain, through Europe to the Kamchatka bear of far Eastern Russia.
In 1975 the USA lower 48 states grizzly bear population numbered somewhere between 136 animals and 312, so it was essential that it was protected. Nowerdays the same 48 states have a population of around 1500, but given that this number would have been as high as 50,000 when people started migrating to the USA in large number, this recovery is only just getting going.
In some ways, recent discoveries should have been made long ago. Asiatic lions historic distribution stretched across Asia, north Africa, and Southern Europe.
Given that the Barbary Lions historic range covered the central part of this huge area, it seems reasonable that the Barbary lion and the Asiatic lion should be closely related. Yet it was only in the last few years that genetic evidence has been shown that this is indeed the case.
Methane emissions are 80 times more warming that carbon dioxide. They do not stay in the atmosphere for ever, but in the short term, they could still cause the human race an enormous task which could quickly become unmanageable. Methane (natural gas) is often found in the same place as oil yet, bizarrely, extractors are generally after one or the other. By making rules on methane capture, significant quantities can be stopped from escaping into the atmosphere, never mind the fact that this methane can then be sold, greatly increasing income.
According to a recent NASA study, methane is responsible for about 25% of the global warming that has occurred since the industrial revolution.
Under Obama the central American government tightened rules on methane extraction in an attempt to deal with this issue. The larger companies engaged with the new rules, but unfortunately the smaller companies which are responsible for much of the fracking that occurs complained and the EPA under Trumps oversight (Trump had installed many fossil fuel executives into its ranks) reversed these cuts.
The industry claimed that there was not much leakage and that the problem was under control. Unfortunately this was a lie. At the same time that they were claiming tiny leaks publicly, privately they were admitting to a huge problem.
So far, these lies which are going to cost the world population have not been punished at all. What is worse, we wouldn’t know about the behaviour were it not for a secret recording made of a member of the independent petroleum association. According to the recording Ron Ness president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council told the meeting “We’re just flaring a tremendous amount of gas. This pesky natural gas. The value if it is very minimal”. A few months later, the same organisation had a lawyer state that it is not in their interests to let even a molecule of gas escape.
Yet this requires us to be fools. The most long lasting view of an oil rig is with a flame blowing out, burning off excess gas.
We need to make pollution the expensive option. If venting is the cheapest way to work, lets tax it to such an extreme level that it is worth their while to catch the waste. Of course the best way to end this practice is for the producers to go out of business. While we are moving in that direction at a reasonable speed, it is perhaps too slow for the survival of the way of life that we humans have got used to over the last few millenia. If we continue as we are, the climate we will leave for out children will not be as pleasant.
It is an unfortunate fact, all over the world, that people have chosen to live near the sea. There are many reasons for this, but the basic fact is that this is often the most productive land.
The problem now, though, is that all these peoples lives are liable to change. This is because small rises in sea levels could make them homeless. As much as 1 billion people live at low enough elevation to make this a threat.
Countries like Bangladesh are very flat, and it is estimated that as many as 20 million people within Bangladesh would become homeless by 2050 under current trends (this assumes that we meet our carbon cut targets. There would be many others that would be lost.
Forgetting the hundreds of millions of people in the developing world, there are famous buildings and places which should underline this issue in the west as well.
Buckingham palace would be under water up to the first floor if we fail to act. A temperature rise of 1.5 degrees C would merely bring the water level to the front door. Many other famous buildings such as the pentagon, the tower of London and Tokyo tower in Japan would all be lost.
This is all a long winded way of stating, that even with the dramatic cuts the world is hoping to make over the next few decades, many people on earth are still likely to loose their lives have their lives changed dramatically, in most cases for the worse.
According to Lord Adair Turner, population decline should not be feared. It is certainly true that if the population of the UK were to shrink, so would our carbon emissions. Of course, this suggestion might have come with more authority if it had been made while he was still in post.
We have, in the last couple of centuries, unfortunately set up the financial world in such a way as to need a growing population. An increasing size of financial market in each country is required (according to current expertise) yet while there are some gains to be had in efficiency by each person, it is not possible for people to become more efficient endlessly. Furthermore, by this metric, a falling population would be a bad thing, as this would necessitate a shrinking market – even if it were shrinking slower than the population.
In filming for the BBCs mating game, the film-makers for the BBC were forced to work in a different way to normal.
Given rules that were put in place to stop the epidemics spread, it was impossible in many instances to send film makers on trips all over the world. As a result, they were forced to rely on local wildlife film-makers.
The producers of the series, found that not only did this make it easier to get the footage required, but also meant that it was easier to know timings of when specific parts of the series would be complete.
Over the last couple of decades high definition cameras have become the norm and in recent years, local people around the world have been trained to use them. With the advance of 4G signal in wilder parts of the world, it is now possible to stay in touch with crews even when they are in the field. This also means that the carbon price of the production can fall dramatically.
At the current time 26% of the UK is designated as a national park, area of outstanding beauty or other form of protected area. However, to claim that this whole area is set aside for nature, is absurd. British national parks, unlike African ones still have human habitation within them.
Cop26 is essential, there is no doubt, however there is a similarly important threat that the world is facing, and if we are not careful we wont start fighting it until it is too late.
What is Kunming there to fight? It is there to fight loss of biodiversity. Biodiversity is essential for the well running of ecosystems around the world which can often collapse without enough biodiversity.
Indeed, it is actually a problem that Kunming and Cop26 have been split. What we need is for the two fights to be fought side by side.
I have written in the past, about the problems for the Congo rainforest that have been caused by the local extinction of forest elephants. Without many of the wild animals that exist in these landscapes the forests and peat lands and grass lands will fail, releasing their huge carbon stocks back into the air.
There is a constant complaint from vested interests, that the price of greening the world economy is just too high. Of course, when the world-wide economy needs a boost, these concerns go out of the window (until the emergency is over, then even these costs might be used to argue against saving the planet).