Patrap's WunderBlog

Biodiversity On Earth Plummets, Despite Growth in Protected Habitats

By: Patrap, 5:13 PM GMT on July 07, 2011


Study Shows Diversity Of Species Plummeting Worldwide, Despite Protective Efforts.

Despite rapid and substantial growth in the amount of land and sea designated as protected habitat over the last four decades, the diversity of species the world over is plummeting, a new study has found.

Over 100,000 so-called "protected areas" representing some 7 million square miles of land and nearly 1 million square miles of ocean have been established since the 1960's, noted the analysis, published Thursday in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series.

And yet, according to a widely cited index used to track planetary biodiversity, the wealth of terrestrial and marine species has seen steady decline over roughly the same period, suggesting that simply protecting swaths of land and sea -- a common conservation strategy worldwide -- is inadequate for preventing the steady disappearance of earth's creatures.

"The problem is bigger than one we can realistically solve with protected areas -- even if they work under the best conditions," said Camilo Mora, an assistant professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and lead author of the study. "The protected area approach is expensive and requires a lot of political and human capital," Dr. Mora continued in an email message to The Huffington Post. "Our suggestion is that we should redirect some of those resources to deal with ultimate solutions."

The steady loss of biodiversity -- defined roughly as the rich variety of living things -- can, in turn, have profound implications for human civilization, which relies on healthy, variegated ecosystems to provide a host of ecological services from water filtration and oxygen generation to food, medicine, clothing and fuel.

The precise value of such services is difficult to quantify, but one economic analysis estimated they were worth as much as $33 trillion globally.
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While the study concedes that individual protected areas that are well-designed and well-managed can be successful in preventing the imminent extinction of species and ecosystems, a variety of other forces conspire to further reduce biodiversity overall.

"Protected areas, as usually implemented, can only protect from over-exploitation, and from habitat destruction due to exploitation and other direct human actions within their borders. They are a tool for regulating human access and extraction," said Peter F. Sale, assistant director of the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health, and the study's co-author. "Biodiversity loss is also caused by pollution, by arrival of invasive species, by decisions to convert habitat to other uses -- farms, villages, cities -- and by various components of climate change," he told HuffPost. "None of these are mitigated by the creation of protected areas except, possibly, the removal of habitat to other uses."

In other words, the researchers, who based their analysis on a broad range of global data and a review of existing literature, suggest that the implementation of habitat protection is unable to keep pace with other stressors contributing to species loss overall.

This is partly due to lack of enforcement. Only about 5.8 percent of terrestrial protected areas and 0.08 percent of marine sanctuaries see reliable and consistent enforcement.

Further, the authors note most research suggests that between 10 percent and 30 percent of the world's ecosystems need to be protected to preserve optimal biodiversity. But despite what appears to be a rapid increase in protected lands, the pace is too slow to achieve those targets anytime soon. On land, the 10 percent target, under the best of circumstances, would not be reached until 2043, the study estimated. The 30 percent target would not be achieved until 2197. The same target percentages for marine sanctuaries would be reached by 2067 and 2092, respectively.

And these projections are almost certainly too optimistic, the authors note, because the rate of establishment of new protected areas would be expected to slow considerably as conservation efforts runs up against the needs of a rapidly expanding human population.

From the study:

[D]emand on marine fisheries is projected to increase by 43 percent by 2030 to supply ongoing food demands, while projected CO2 emissions by 2050 are expected to severely impact [more than] 80 percent of the world's coral reefs and affect marine fish communities globally, causing local extinctions and facilitating invasions resulting in changes in species composition of up to 60 percent. On land, the growing human population and demand for housing, food and energy are expected to substantially increase the intensity of stressors associated with the conversion of land cover to agriculture and urbanization, e.g. the release of nutrients and other pollutants, climate warming and altered precipitation. In short, the extent of coverage by [protected areas] is still limited and is growing at a slower rate than that at which biodiversity threats are developing.

Global population is expected to pass 7 billion in October, according to new estimates from the population division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs at the United Nations. That's an increase of 1 billion people in about a dozen years.

Other challenges include the size of protected areas -- which are often too small for larger species to survive -- and the lack of connectivity between protected areas, which is needed for healthy genetic dispersal.

The authors of Thursday's analysis suggest that reversing biodiversity losses will require a vast rethinking of conservation strategy -- one that redirects limited resources toward more holistic solutions. This would include efforts to reduce human population growth -- and its attending consumption patterns -- as well as the deployment of technologies that would increase the productivity of agriculture and aquaculture to meet human needs.

Also needed, the authors wrote: a continued "restructuring of world views to bring them in line with a world of finite resources."

Dr. Sale said, "In the final analysis, we have to recognize that we are pushing up against limits set by the way the biosphere functions. Biodiversity loss is one sign of this."

The Debt Ceiling Impasse: The Myth of Grand Bargains and Win-Win Unicorns

Arianna Huffington

As I write, there is still no deal in the debt ceiling impasse between Congressional Republicans and the president, so we can't say who "won." But we can definitely say who lost: America.

Even if we ultimately get the touted "Grand Bargain," and even if it's satisfying to both sides -- the "Win-Win" Unicorn that Obama is always fantasizing about -- it's not going to be grand for anybody who correctly identifies unemployment and our economy's anemic growth as the biggest crises we're facing.

Indeed, no version of the Grand Bargain we've heard so far will have any impact on the real problems that are affecting people's lives right now, or even in the foreseeable future. After the champagne has been uncorked and lots of backs have been slapped in DC, the lives of regular Americans will not be better -- indeed, they will almost certainly be worse. President Obama likes to say, as he did during his Twitter forum in early July, that "everything is on the table." But that was never true, because jobs and growth never even made it close to the table.

What's more, these extended, deadline-pushing theatrics are utterly unnecessary. There was no reason an agreement on the long-term deficit had to be coupled to raising the debt ceiling. The latter dates from the days of World War I, and has been raised, routinely, dozens and dozens of times. It was raised 18 times under Reagan. It was raised seven times under George W. Bush.

And, in fact, raising the debt ceiling has nothing to do with long-term future spending. The debt ceiling is about paying for spending already approved by previous congresses and presidents. An example? As Zaid Jilani reported, it was 10 years ago this week that the Treasury had to borrow $51 billion to pay for the first installments of Bush's tax cuts. As Jilani notes, Bush's two rounds of tax cuts combined "have blown a $2.5 trillion hole in America's budget."

This is from an AP report at the time: "The Bush administration said the need to borrow in the third quarter reflects a short-term cash squeeze and doesn't signal a move from budget surplus to deficit."

That, of course, turned out to be complete nonsense. But it is a pungent reminder that part of this spectacle going on in Washington involves Republican legislators refusing to pay for the very obligations -- including two wars -- they voted for in the past. Remember that the next time they lecture the country about "responsibility."

Indeed, the total Bush added to the deficit was almost $4 trillion and, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Bush's two tax cuts and two wars will account for nearly half of public debt projected by 2019.

So, given that the debt ceiling is largely about the past, there was no reason to create an artificial crisis by linking it to discussions about long-term debt reduction in the future. As Standard & Poor's, which advised against the link, put it: "It's best practice for governments to enact [deficit] reforms ... using the broader and longer-term perspective occasioned by debate on the budget proposal as a whole."

The relentlessness with which most of Washington decided it was long-term debt that needed to be subject to round-the-clock meetings with drop-dead deadlines instead of jobs and growth is truly bizarre. I've never seen such a disconnect between the several hundred members of the Washington establishment and the real problems facing the majority of Americans. It's beyond the powers of an economist to explain what's happening -- what we need is a psychologist. It's like Tulip Mania combined with a Lost Decade -- or three.

On the one hand, we have a Republican Party that, as David Brooks wrote recently, is no longer a "normal party," but rather one that is being pushed by members of a movement with "no economic theory worthy of the name," and "no sense of moral decency." On the other hand, we have a president who looked across the aisle and said: Okay, I agree in principle, let's just sort out the details.

"Someday," Elizabeth Drew writes in her must-read premortem of the debt-ceiling battle, "people will look back and wonder, What were they thinking? Why, in the midst of a stalled recovery, with the economy fragile and job creation slowing to a trickle, did the nation's leaders decide that the thing to do -- in order to raise the debt limit, normally a routine matter -- was to spend less money, making job creation all the more difficult? Many experts on the economy believe that the president has it backward: that focusing on growth and jobs is more urgent in the near term than cutting the deficit, even if such expenditures require borrowing."

Here's the maddening part: if Congress and the president had focused on the crisis of jobs and growth, the solutions they would have come up with would also have been the best solutions to the long-term debt crisis. The fact is, you can cut all the discretionary spending you want -- but it's growth, not cutting, that will solve our long-term deficit problem. And you can't cut your way to growth. When adjusted for inflation and population growth, non-security discretionary spending is the same today as it was in 2001: $369 billion.

As the Guardian's Michael Burke pointed out, Greece is clearly demonstrating that even though it no longer has a spending problem, its crisis is as deep as ever because it has a growth and revenue problem. Spending in the year leading up to May was actually 700 million euros less than the IMF and EU had called for. But government revenues were down almost 2 billion euros because of falling tax revenues.

Draconian cuts take money out of the system, depressing demand, job creation, and tax revenues -- which leads to more deficits and more calls for more cuts. It's an insanity spiral. And we're currently, and deliberately, riding it downwards.

Interestingly, one of the most eloquent voices on the subject has been Larry Summers. "The biggest problem the country has right now is not the budget deficit," he said in an conversation with Walter Isaacson in Aspen. "The biggest problem the country has right now is the jobs deficit."

And he brilliantly summed up the reality that is eluding the negotiating parties in Washington: "an extra percent a year on the growth rate for the next five years will do more for the budget than any amount of the entitlement-cutting that's under discussion." As Summers explained on Charlie Rose, every new dollar of GDP takes 25 to 30 cents out of the deficit in year one. And yet that simple economic truth does not appear to be included in the "everything" that Obama claims is "on the table."

"It is crazy if you think about it," Summers told Isaacson, "that we have schools across this country where we tell our kids that education is the most important thing in the world, but we ask them to study in classrooms where the paint is chipping off the walls."

"I'd rather see us focus on the jobs deficit," said Summers. "I'd rather see us focus on the public investment deficit. I'd rather see us focus on the human capital deficit. Those are deficits that we need to focus on also."

Why do people have to leave office before they can unambiguously and unequivocally speak the truth?

As Peter Orszag, now also no longer in office, wrote for Bloomberg View, a sluggish-growth scenario would add $2.5 trillion to the debt by 2021, more than the $2 trillion in cuts being discussed in the debt-ceiling package.

And a way to ensure the sluggish scenario is to do exactly what they're doing in Washington right now. "I only ask... as Congress looks at the timing and composition of its changes to the budget," said Ben Bernanke to the Senate Banking Committee, "that it does take into account that in the very near term the recovery is still rather fragile, and that sharp and excessive cuts in the very short term would be potentially damaging to that recovery."

So why aren't we focusing on jobs and growth? Summers' admirably candid answer to Charlie Rose: because "those without jobs aren't in a position to contribute to political campaigns, and to a disproportionate extent are the people who don't vote."

But it's not like the circus that's rolled into Washington is particularly popular with the people who do vote, either. In the latest Gallup poll, only 16 percent said the deficit was the most important problem facing the country today. Almost twice as many said it was jobs, and more still said it was the economy in general.

Is it any wonder that people have lost trust in the political system and that the vast majority of Americans think we're on the wrong track?

In the meantime, the president is engaging in the cosmetic populism of ending tax loopholes for corporate jets (which he mentioned not once but twice during his White House presser last Friday). I'm all for ending tax breaks for corporate jets, but what we need is not small-time symbolic gestures, but the tools to -- as this president put it not so long ago -- "win the future."

Instead of winning the future, Obama is facing two bad choices: a short-term debt-ceiling extension or going into default (unless he's willing, which he doesn't appear to be, to invoke the 14th Amendment).

So why did Obama go along with the idea that a long-term budget agreement should be tied to the debt ceiling increase instead of using all that time, his bully pulpit, and his considerable rhetorical skills to make the case to the American people that our long-term deficit crisis should be solved with the most powerful means available: a growing economy that puts people to work?

By wanting to be the only reasonable guy in the room, Obama is now facing two very unreasonable choices. And it was all entirely unnecessary. Regardless of who scores a political win as a result of this game of debt ceiling chicken, America is the real loser.

Instant Karma's gonna get you
Gonna knock you right in the head
You better get yourself together
Pretty soon your gonna be dead

What in the world you thinking of?
Laughing in the face of love
What on Earth you tryna do?
It's up to you, yeah, you

Instant Karma's gonna get you
Gonna knock you right in the face
You better get yourself together darling
Join the human race

How in the world you gonna see?
Laughing at fools like me
Who on Earth do you think you are?
A superstar? Well, right you are

And we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well, we all shine on
Everyone, c'mon

Instant Karma's gonna get you
Gonna knock you off your feet
Better recognize your brothers
Everyone you meet

Why in the world are we here?
Surely not to live in pain and fear
Why on Earth are you there
When you're everywhere
Gonna get your share

Well, we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Yeah, we all shine on
C'mon and on and on, on, on

Yeah, yeah, alright

Well, we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Yeah, we all shine on
On and on and on, on and on

And we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well, we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun

Yeah, we all shine on
Like the moons and the stars and the sun
Yeah, we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun

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Losing a Fellow Marine

By: Patrap, 11:24 PM GMT on July 01, 2011

Losing a Fellow Marine

It was a Friday,,in August,,late August 1982 in Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station in S. Carolina.

I was packed and ready to head home to New Orleans for a 2 week leave before Flying overseas to Okinawa for my overseas duty year.

My good friend Tom Lennon was from Utica,New York and we had been House mates for almost a year here in Beaufort.

Tom had been to Okinawa for a year and he gave me all the relevant scoop on the place,where to go,where not to go and I was thankful to him for that.

He was cook and baker like myself but was TAD to Station as a Life Guard for the Base dependents swimming pool,so he had the cushiest job on the whole base I thought.

I have never forgotten that Friday when the Taxi arrived to take me to Savannah for my flight.

Tom came into the Living room and said,,Hey Dude,,have a good year,Oh,,and do ya want the Robert Plant Album you like so much,,it was playing "Just Like I've never been gone"..on the stereo at the time,,and I replied,,"No,you keep it man,Ill get it when I return in a year".

We shook hands,hugged a lil..and that's the last time we saw each other.

While Home the next day,,I received a phone call from the Girl I was dating up in S. Carolina.

Tom had been killed in a freak Motorcycle accident while riding a Bike someone let him ride at a Party.

Nothing prepares one at 22 for such a complete and tragic loss so suddenly.

After many a year I found my good friends resting spot recently.

Thanks for all the good times Tom.
Sadly missed but fondly remembered by me and many others.

Semper Fi bro.


Corp Thomas D Lennon

Birth: Apr. 26, 1960
Oneida County
New York, USA
Death: Aug. 30, 1982
Beaufort County
South Carolina, USA

Cpl. Thomas D. Lennon, 22. of 1907 Anthony's Church, Inlet died August 30 Baker Ave., 30, 1982 in Beaufort. SC. as the result of a motor vehicle accident. He was the son of Assistant Fire Chief William J. and Lorine A. Albright Lennon and was a 1978 graduate of Notre Dame High School. While attending Notre Dame, he was a member of the swimming team and football team. Cpl. Lennon was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, serving in Okinawa, Japan and was presently stationed at the Marine Air Base, Beaufort, SC.

He was a member of St. John's Church, Utica and St. Anthony's Church, Inlet. Surviving are his parents; his maternal grandfather. Joseph J Albright of Utica, five sisters, Patricia Lennon, Mrs Pat (Carol) Benzo, both of Utica, Mrs Richard (Barbara) Cooper of New Hartford. Christine and Mary Beth Lennon, both at home, one brother, Michael J Lennon of Utica; two nieces and two nephews; several aunts, uncles and cousins.

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