Ecuadorians have voted to halt oil drilling in an Amazonian national park – GOOD NEWS!

The referendum on Yasuni reserve will benefit a huge range of species, along with several groups of uncontacted tribes of indigenous people. The vote was not close, with 90% of votes counted protection won by around 20%. It will also keep around 726 million barrels of oil in the ground. Given that one barrel is 158 litres, that is 114 billion liters of oil, and as each one emits at least 3 kg of carbon dioxide, this is going to save 350 billion kg of carbon dioxide released into the air. This is a huge win for the environment, but also for the wildlife of the Yasuni reserve.

The worlds top sovereign fund is cutting ties with a dam which will likely lead to the extinction of the Tapanuli Orangutan

In most countries, if a dam was to cause so much destruction to the last habitat of a species, the dam would likely not get permission to be built.

It is true that the dam will only take about 20% of the land in question, directly. It will also split the population in half.

It is not surprising that the Norwegian sovereign fund has pulled out of this dam

Given that only around 800 Tapanuli Orangutans survive in the wild, the loss of just a handful is bad. A loss of 20% of the remaining population could quite rapidly push the population towards extinction, particularly as it will split the few remaining Orangutans into separate populations which cannot interbreed.

Norway has a huge sovereign fund, into which it pours the countries earnings from fossil fuel extraction. Perhaps recognizing that this has a shelf life which is not far from ending, Norway has made sure that for the most part its sovereign fund is good for the natural world (alongside giving good returns)

Generally rules on financing should have ruled this project out in the past, so it is good that this decision has been eventually made.

Will the dam still get built? We will have to wait and see.

UK could quit ‘Climate wrecking’ treaty’ – encouraging, must see more

The treaty in question is called the Energy Charter Treaty, and apparently if changes are not made by November we will look at exiting.

Under this charter, any coal power plant forced to shut could require the government responsible to continue paying the company for the lifetime that the power station could last.

What is in this egregious rules? Well, it would be run with a system of secrets of courts, and it would allow a company to sue any signature country should they bring an a law that might cut their profits in the future.

Given that any cuts in coal use, oil use, wood or many other things would impact many companies bottom line. Given that coal and oil use must cease within the next couple of decades, and only wood from land that would be replanted, the vast majority of companies would have their profits hit.

This foolish treaty would either lead to governments abandoning all carbon reduction targets, or paying large companies billions for all time.

This treaty is not centuries old, rather, it came into being back in 1998, at a time where we knew about climate change. France is similarly talking about quitting. Other countries are also looking at leaving, and it is thankfully likely to collapse.

It is strange how this possible became a treaty, as this plan is insane.

Ozone layer hole early – Antarctic sea ice in danger?

The fear is that, with the Tonga eruption, this larger than normal hole might do extra damage to the vast store of ice on Antactica.

The Antarctic Continent has about 30 million cubic kilometres of ice. If just a small amount melts were in trouble

Why is this concerning?

Well, given the Antarctic and the Greenland icesheet has enough ice to raise sea levels by 65m worldwide. This means a 5% melt in Antarctica would raise sea levels by several meters (even without any melting of Greenland at all).

This quantity of sea level rise, would threaten cities such as Shanghai and London, to large parts of Florida and Bangladesh to total nations that would be wiped out, such as Maldives.

This means that while it may well take a century and increased carbon emissions for all of the ice at the poles to melt, it could threaten human populations long before this occurs.

Around 410 million people on earth live within just 2m of the height of the sea. This is roughly 5% of human population. Currently, there are issues with just 2% immigration into the UK. A sea level rise of 2m would likely trigger an order of magnitude more to move here, Western Europe, USA and other countries. We are all going to be hit hard, but some far harder than others.

Colorado river lost 10 trillion gallons of water since 2000

Climate change effects are not restricted to the third world (though very often the impact is felt more harshly here).

In the USA the volume of water in the Colorado river has fallen by the volume of lake Mead in 23 years – this is the equivalent of 15 billion Olympic sized swimming pools. More than 40 million people rely on this river for their water – along with millions of acres of farm land.

Despite the drought that has hit the area, scientists have calculated that the water loss would not have had anywhere near the effect without the human caused climate change.

This may simply be early signs of things to come in the USA

Amazon deforestation has fallen over 60% since last July

Great progress is being made in slowing rainforest destruction in Brazil with great falls in the last year. It is true that this rate needs to fall to zero in the near future, but great progress is being.

A lot of this progress is as a result of the end of the Bolsonaro regime, and could swing back should a similar person come to power.

However, what is clear is that if the Amazon reaches a tipping point and starts to dry out, it will rapidly die, and at this point there is unlikely to be enough rain for the regions croplands to remain (the crops will no longer grow as a result of the lack of rain).

It is essential that the rest of the world invests heavily in this region, in order to give a clear alternative to soy and cattle rearing in order to earn a living.

A flurry of wolves born in California: are they making a comeback?

Grey wolves from Oregon now appear to be thriving in California (where they disappeared from about 100 years ago).

Wolves and cubs in California

Wolves have never been reintroduced to California, instead they were returned to Yellowstone, re-entered Oregan back in 1999, and then entered California in 2008.

Short of a sudden sustained assault on their numbers, they are back in California and are likely to multiply over the next few decades to take back up their position as apex predators. This should not be feared in any way, with sensible management, it could end up benefiting California, with healthier ecosystems, less car crashes caused by wildlife amongst many other benefits.

BP has returned to profits – what now

BP has made profits of £2 billion in the second quarter of the year, while global warming continues to become a more and more existential issue.

Unfortunately, it also appears that BP is not thinking of the future at all. The vast majority of this money will be returned to share holders in dividends and buybacks.

Perhaps there is something in extra tax on companies which make extra profit, simply because oil prices are high – largely as a result of the Ukraine war.

Positive news from Borneo – reconnecting wilderness

One of the problems with cutting down rainforest, it often what is left is so fragmented that it is useless for conservation. Remaining blocks of forest must allow a viable population of the rarest creatures, in order for the animals not to need to travel outside protected areas.

In Borneo, like in Sumatra, there has been a rapid loss of rainforest over the last few decades. Often it is claimed that enough is left behind in order to conserve the animals that live there.

Could this provide a way for wildlife and humans to thrive in close proximity?

In Borneo, while there is still a large quantity of wilderness, this is increasingly fragmented.

Continue reading “Positive news from Borneo – reconnecting wilderness”

Unknown, seemingly impossible Polar bear population found living in Greenland

2200 polar bears live on the west coast of Greenland. It is unknown how many live on the east coast, but this group appears to be living in a place where they were formerly thought incapable of surviving.

Polar bears appear to be surviving in a place where there is only broken ice to hunt from
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