A Hard Deadline: We Must Stop Building New Carbon Infrastructure by 2018

I have long thought that we have no chance of dealing sensibly with climate change.

This Ecologist article should make for sobering reading but I doubt its contents will even make mainstream news. Here is the opening sentence:
There will be enough fossil fuel-burning stuff – cars, homes, factories, power plants – built by next year to blow through our carbon budget for a 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise.

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WildLeaks

Last week, the Ecologist reported that WildLeaks – “the WikiLeaks for wildlife” – was launched by a group of organisations fighting wildlife crime.

To quote an extract from the WildLeaks project description (with the addition of a link to the Elephant Action League):

WildLeaks is the first, secure, online whistleblower platform dedicated to Wildlife and Forest Crime.

It’s a not-for-profit collaborative project created & funded by the Elephant Action League (EAL) and managed by a small group of very experienced individuals, which includes the directors of environmental investigation NGOs, environmental lawyers, accredited journalists, security professionals and ex-law enforcement officers.

WildLeaks also enjoys the collaboration of several Partners around the world, including environmental organizations, media and experienced professionals. The project is open to new partnership opportunities, and more Partners will join soon. We invite organizations and individuals involved in fighting wildlife crime, and the media, to contact us if they wish to be Partners.

The Mission of WildLeaks is to receive and evaluate anonymous information and tips regarding wildlife and forest crimes and transform them into actionable items.

Live Elephant Trade Between Burma and Thailand

Below is a short film by the Ecologist Film Unit highlighting the cruelty behind the use of elephants for trekking, in festivals, as attractions in so-called ‘wildlife parks’, for riding, etc.

Action Alert: Help to Protect Britain’s Bees

The Ecologist is helping to promote campaign to help protect Britain’s bees by banning neonicotinoids (a group of synthetic chemicals used as a coating for agricultural seeds and in pot plants).

Please take a little time to sign the petition.  Thank you.

Bees

The Amazon Rainforest’s Dual Threat

Dr. Simon Lewis

Dr. Simon Lewis

The Ecologist has recently published an interesting interview with Dr. Simon Lewis, a tropical forest expert from the University of Leeds, where he explains what is happening to the Amazon Rainforest due to deforestation and human-caused climate change.

These are some of the points mentioned by Dr. Lewis:

  • Currently, carbon dioxide is being removed from the atmosphere and incorporated into the trees at the rate is about 1.5 billion metric tonnes of per year.
  • If the climate changes in the Amazon to a regime with more severe and frequent droughts then the dead trees may be numerous enough to cancel out all the usual carbon uptake and perhaps even add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
  • It is difficult to define single causes of deforestation, and care must be taken to note not only the proximate drivers (e.g. forest removal for soya bean production) but also the ultimate drivers of such decisions, for example, economic drivers like the price of agricultural commodities and policy choices such as government infrastructure projects that open areas to become within reach of national and international markets. The key proximate driver of deforestation in the Amazon is agricultural expansion – for cattle and soya – itself allied to road-building.
  • There is no good evidence so far that the Amazon is drying out.  The recent Amazon droughts were due to a change in the distribution of rain across the year, not the total amount.
  • In answer to the question “is the media getting the reporting of climate change right?” – no they are not getting coverage right. Unfortunately the media are mostly ignoring the science, or selecting stories to fit their editorial prejudices on climate change.

Antibiotics and Other Drugs

The Ecologist has recently published four articles about antibiotics and other drugs that are worth reading.  I have copied each article’s heading (as a link) below and included a few summary points.

Why our testing of antibiotics and other drugs may not be safe

  • Side effects of medicines are now one of our leading causes of death, hospitalising a million Britons and costing the NHS £2 billion a year.
  • Antibiotics cause almost one in five hospital admissions from adverse drug reactions.
  • Many studies have shown that animal tests are no more predictive for humans than tossing a coin.
  • Volunteers and patients in clinical trials are the real “guinea pigs” bearing the brunt of weeding out unsafe medicines.

Popular antibiotic ciprofloxacin linked to UK deaths

  • Victims who say they were poisoned by ciprofloxacin want more research into the drug’s side effects, greater education of health professionals and clearer warnings for consumers.
  • Experts caution that proving that a drug caused an adverse reaction is fraught with difficulty and point out that possible side effects are clearly listed on prescription medicines.

Adverse reactions lead US patients to ask ‘just how safe are antibiotics?’

Overuse of drugs in animal farming linked to growing antibiotic-resistance in humans

  • Around half of all antibiotics in Europe are prescribed for animals – the figure in the rest of the world is estimated to be even higher. In the US, for example, it is reported to account for 70% of antibiotic use.
  • There is evidence resistant bacteria are being transferred to humans via the food chain.
  • Despite the concern, efforts to reduce the use of antibiotics in animals, particularly on intensive pig and poultry farms, remain muted.