Tag Archives | Ecology

Toxoplasmosis: how feral cats kill wildlife without lifting a paw

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
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By Bronwyn Fancourt, University of Tasmania

Feral cats are a huge threat to our native wildlife, hunting and killing an estimated 75 million animals across Australia each and every night. But the killing spree doesn’t end there. There’s a parasite lurking in kitty’s litter that continues to kill wildlife long after the perpetrator has left the scene of the crime.

The killer is toxoplasmosis, a disease caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. The parasite is spread by cats but it can infect any bird or mammal. Around one-third of humans worldwide are infected with the parasite. But the deadly effects on our wildlife are often overlooked.

What does toxoplasmosis do?

In many animals, Toxoplasma infection causes nothing more than a mild case of the sniffles. If the animal is healthy, the immune system usually produces antibodies that keep the parasite under control.… Read the rest

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World Has Lost More Than Half of Wildlife in 40 Years

Sumatraanse Tijger.jpg

Can you imagine the conspiracy theories that certain usual suspects would be broadcasting far and wide if the human population was halved in just 40 years? So why isn’t there more outcry over that happening to the Earth’s wildlife population? From BBC News:

The global loss of species is even worse than previously thought, the London Zoological Society (ZSL) says in its new Living Planet Index.

The report suggests populations have halved in 40 years, as new methodology gives more alarming results than in a report two years ago.

The report says populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by an average of 52%.

Populations of freshwater species have suffered an even worse fall of 76%.

Severe impact
Compiling a global average of species decline involves tricky statistics, often comparing disparate data sets – and some critics say the exercise is not statistically valid.

The team at the zoological society say they’ve improved their methodology since their last report two years ago – but the results are even more alarming.

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Magic Mushrooms and Natural Intelligence

Simon G. PowellIn a time when Artificial Intelligence is getting all the headlines, English author and film-maker Simon G. Powell is making the case for Natural Intelligence – the idea that life itself is intelligent and nature has solutions to problems we have yet to even understand. And it was a series of mushroom trips – “like insights into the essence of existence” – which initiated and propelled his work.

Powell describes these first revelatory experiences in the latest podcast from The Eternities: “I had a mystical experience, what felt like divine energy [was] pulsing through me. It was like I tasted something that most people don’t taste and it was absolutely astonishing. ”

Powell went on to write The Psilocybin Solution: The Role of Sacred Mushrooms in the Quest for Meaning (2011), which traced the history of the sacred psilocybin mushroom and discussed its visionary effects, also examining the current science and lasting spirituality that surround it.… Read the rest

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A Critical Analysis of the State’s Definition of “Ecological Terrorism”

Pic: Will Potter (CC)

Pic: Will Potter (CC)

An incredibly lucid and thought provoking analysis by David Nickles of the DMT-Nexus, via their news site: The Nexian:

While the following article focuses on the relationship between the state, its shareholders, and ecological activists, much of the framing, narratives, and propagandizing can be easily applied to the War on [some people who use certain] Drugs. The parallel manners in which dominant narratives (and their wide-ranging repercussions) are framed by politicians and media figures in both arenas are easily observable and evidence certain functions of the state apparatus. This article is intended to serve as a crash course in some radical perspectives on ecological struggle, in order to lay the foundation for future writings on ecological resistance and entheogens. Ecological struggle is inherently tied to entheogenic rituals within many cultures around the world. The utilization of entheogens to open ourselves to these struggles, catalyze our own action with regards to them, and create rituals that can help sustain the long-term engagement necessary for such work cannot be overstated.

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Overpopulation Is Not the Problem

Malthus cautioned law makers on the effects of...

Malthus cautioned law makers on the effects of poverty reduction policies. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (PD)

Adhering to the apocalyptic overpopulation narrative  has proven to encourage human rights atrocities. It has the effect of dragging anchor on social progress and innovation. To move forward, I feel it is in all of our best interests to weigh anchor, sail out to the horizon, and throw Malthus overboard on the way. What say you, disinfonauts?

via The New York Times

MANY scientists believe that by transforming the earth’s natural landscapes, we are undermining the very life support systems that sustain us. Like bacteria in a petri dish, our exploding numbers are reaching the limits of a finite planet, with dire consequences. Disaster looms as humans exceed the earth’s natural carrying capacity. Clearly, this could not be sustainable.

This is nonsense. Even today, I hear some of my scientific colleagues repeat these and similar claims — often unchallenged.

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Working Less for a Sustainable Future

sisyphus-1549Anders Hayden writes at Solutions:

Since the Industrial Revolution, two main motivations have driven the movement for work-time reduction. Free time away from the job improves individual well-being, while reducing work hours can cut unemployment by better distributing the available work. These historical motivations for work-time reduction have been joined by a new rationale: the need to reduce the impact of human societies on the environment.

The urgency of reducing humanity’s impacts on the earth is well documented. Estimates of our ecological footprint suggest that we need 1.5 planets to sustain current consumption practices, while studies of humanity’s “safe operating space” have concluded that we have already crossed some critical planetary boundaries, including safe levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Two dominant responses to this threat have emerged. One has been to carry on with business as usual, pursuing endless economic expansion while downplaying or denying the severity of environmental problems.

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Utilities Wake Up – Rooftop Solar to Rival Conventional Power

Sun_in_the_skyPeter Sinclair writes at Climate Denial Crock of the Week:

I’m shouting this wherever I go. There is a revolution in energy production technology happening right now – it will be as disruptive to the utility industry as the internet has been to the communication industry. If states, utilities, and regulators don’t develop coherent strategies very soon to cope with unprecedented change, we are going to see a major economic train wreck within the decade over much of the country.

NYTimes:

For years, power companies have watched warily as solar panels have sprouted across the nation’s rooftops. Now, in almost panicked tones, they are fighting hard to slow the spread.

Alarmed by what they say has become an existential threat to their business, utility companies are moving to roll back government incentives aimed at promoting solar energy and other renewable sources of power. At stake, the companies say, is nothing less than the future of the American electricity industry.

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From Food Forests to Healthy Soil: Five Incredible Permaculture Videos

800px-Soil-test-ballSami Grover writes at TreeHugger:

When I posted 7 no-cost ways to grow more food from your veggie garden, one commenter argued that mulching was not a good strategy—suggesting that gardeners should plant polycultures instead, following the principles of permaculture.

While I’d dispute the idea that there is one “right” way of gardening, or that mulching and polycultures, or mulching and permaculture for that matter, are mutually exclusive, I do agree on one matter. Understanding permaculture design—which can loosely be described as a design discipline informed by principles observed in nature—can definitely make you a better gardener.

We’ve posted a fair few videos on permaculture and permaculture-inspired gardening over the years. I thought I’d round up a few of our favorites.

Campus lawn becomes permaculture food forest.

Lawns are rubbish. Lawns are great, for picnics, for a game of football, or perhaps just lounging around with a lover. But we don’t need so damn many of them.

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For a Future that Won’t Destroy Life on Earth, Look to the Global Indigenous Uprising

Picture: Melina Laboucan Massimo (C)

Picture: Melina Laboucan Massimo (C)

Kristin Moe writes at YES! Magazine:

There’s a remote part of northern Alberta where the Lubicon Cree have lived, it is said, since time immemorial. The Cree called the vast, pine-covered region niyanan askiy, “our land.” When white settlers first carved up this country, they made treaties with most of its original inhabitants—but for reasons unclear, the Lubicon Cree were left out. Two hundred years later, the Lubicon’s right to their traditional territory is still unrecognized. In the last four decades, industry has tapped the vast resource wealth that lies deep beneath the pines; today, 2,600 oil and gas wells stretch to the horizon. This is tar sands country.

In 2012 testimony before the U.S. Congress, Lubicon Cree organizer Melina Laboucan-Massimo, then 30, described witnessing the devastation of her family’s ancestral land caused by one of the largest oil spills in Alberta’s history. “What I saw was a landscape forever changed by oil that had consumed a vast stretch of the traditional territory where my family had hunted, trapped, and picked berries and medicines for generations.”

“When we’re at home, we feel really isolated,” says Laboucan-Massimo, who has spent her adult life defending her people’s land from an industry that has rendered it increasingly polluted and impoverished.

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Western Black Rhinoceros Officially Extinct

Picture: Vassil (PD)

Picture: Vassil (PD)

I shouted out, “Who killed the [Black Rhino]?”
When after all, It was you and me..

Chalk another one up to humanity…

Via CNN:

Africa’s western black rhino is now officially extinct according the latest review of animals and plants by the world’s largest conservation network.

The subspecies of the black rhino — which is classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species — was last seen in western Africa in 2006.

The IUCN warns that other rhinos could follow saying Africa’s northern white rhino is “teetering on the brink of extinction” while Asia’s Javan rhino is “making its last stand” due to continued poaching and lack of conservation.

Keep reading.

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