Recently in Biodiversity Category
Are we on the verge of an extinction crisis?
There's a rule of thumb when it comes to species extinction: if you have 90 percent habitat loss, you lose half of the species dependent on that habitat. That's what William F. Laurance told the audience at a recent bonus Frontiers in the Environment presentation, "The Future of Biodiversity."
The opening of the American Museum of Natural History's new exhibition, Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture, this Saturday (Nov. 17) comes at an interesting time.
The exhibit, which will look at food production throughout history and address the challenge we currently face of feeding an ever-growing population without destroying the planet as we do so, comes just days before Thanksgiving, the nation's holiday most focused on food as celebratory act. Obviously, as this is an annual holiday, the exhibition planners no doubt planned the opening with Thanksgiving in mind. The second reason the timing is interesting, though, is due to an event that no one could have anticipated well in advance. The AMNH is located in New York City, which, along with other areas of the East Coast, is still recovering from Hurricane Sandy. In recognition of these dichotomous events, Ellen V. Futter, president of the AMNH, said in a press release, "As the Museum prepares to open this comprehensive exhibition on the subject of food, we find ourselves disquietingly poised between the extremes of Hurricane Sandy--with its extensive devastation, including disruption to the food supply--and...Thanksgiving. In such a timely and vivid context, the Museum presents Our Global Kitchen, which addresses the vital and complex topic of food from the perspectives of the environment, food supply, and human culture."
The irony was not lost on the 300 or so environmental scientists, policy makers, activists and citizens who gathered earlier this week at the Aspen Institute for three days of solution-seeking around the theme, "Living in the New Normal." Even as participants in Aspen Environment Forum 2012 shared information, ideas and opinions, haze from the forest fires currently ravaging Colorado hung over the nearby mountains. This, more than one participant commented, is the new normal: uncertainty, extremes, unpredictability, unexpected turns of events - all brought on by humans' fiddling with the dials of nature on a grandiose scale.
Of course it's relatively easy to talk about troubles. But that's not what AEF2012 was about. The forum focused not only on defining the new normal, but also on exploring what we ought to do about it. Should we let us take it where it will? Or should we engage? Will we be tossed about like ships at sea? Or will we work to understand the changes taking shape, and shape our own activities to make both most compatible with the preservation of life on Earth?
Perhaps the best way to get a sampling of the conversations is to pull some participant quotes and paraphrases from the Twitter stream (#AEF2012):
If we continue at the present rate of eliminating species, half of them will be gone by the end of the century. - E.O. Wilson
The bulk of the credit for maintaining a planet that works goes to a living ocean. - Sylvia Earle
60,000-90,000 years ago, there may have only been 600-2,000 human beings. We were an endangered species at one time. - Richard Potts
We *have* to figure out how to close the gap - to bring environmental externalities into pricing. - Jason Clay
The past is no longer any guide for the future. This planet (w/new climate, biosphere, land use, ocean acidification) is new. - Jon Foley
Abruptness in climate change creates largely unpredictable side-effects. - William Calvin
Eating tuna is like eating something that feeds on dragons. Very high on the food chain. - Daniel Pauly
What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic. - Neal Conan
If you're pro-free market and ignore biggest market failure on planet (CO2), you have a problem. - Gernot Wagner
We have the tools at our disposal to end overfishing. We should start tackling the problem now. - Miguel Jorge
Comparing block to block, house to house, there is 7% greater property value to tree lined streets. - Rohit Aggarwala
In public's eye, pollution is top ocean problem. In reality, it's #3, behind overfishing & climate change. - Ayana Johnson
When you say "climate" it turns people off because they fear they'll have to reduce their quality of life. - Heidi Cullen
Not climate change or global warming, but planetary destabilization. - David Orr
The future of America is networked resilient communities. - John Robb
Never eat shrimp: either caught with 90% bycatch net, or in mangrove-destroying aquaculture. - Ayana Johnson
We have to be careful about what we can measure and what matters - Daniel Pauly
We need to make climate an economic issue, because it is. - Mindy Lubber
The notion that our emergence occurred during the most violent period of climate fluctuation means that we're able to adapt. - Richard PottsWe need to preserve ecosystems as working systems, for us to learn from and emulate in the Anthropocene. Not keep as museum pieces. - Jon Foley
Don't fish, you have zero fish. Fish too much, you have zero fish. Sustainable fishing is in between. - Daniel Pauly
Smart growth is the greatest technology we have to fight climate change, and its not in any of the books. - Peter Calthorpe
Trawling is like using a bulldozer to catch songbirds. - Sylvia Earle
The past can no longer be a guide to the future.- Dennis Dimick
No farmer is going to invest in sustainability if they don't have land rights. - Jason Clay
Let's celebrate successes in sustainable agriculture - and scale them up. - Chris Reij
U.S. agricultural research budget has gone to hell in a handbasket. - Dan Glickman
Something that people often miss: resilience doesn't just mean strengthened rule of law, it also means stronger civil society. - Jamais Cascio
We thought the ocean was too big to fail. Now we know otherwise. - Sylvia Earle
Why should unsustainable products cost less? They should cost more because they are subsidized by nature. - Jason Clay
If there's an elephant in the room with the global food system, it's a cow. - Jon Foley
Like to learn more? Check out video of select AEF2012 panel presentations here.