Wednesday, June 12, 2019

More than 500 species of plants have disappeared in the past 250 years potentially robbing us of sources for future drugs, new research reveals

Only 500?  I think it was a million last time I heard.  Nobody knows in reality. In 2016, scientists reported that 1 trillion species are estimated to be on Earth currently with only one-thousandth of one percent described.  But 500 extinctions is reasonable for the time period concerned.   On some estimates 99% of all species that have ever lived are now extinct.  Extinctions are a regular natural occurrence.  

And no extinction has yet been shown to be important to humans. Most recently extinct species have closely related or similar extant species.  The banded trinity, for instance, has dozens of similar species in Asia and elsewhere

The shocking number of plant species that have gone extinct in the past 250 years have been revealed by a new study.

Experts found that 500 species - more than twice the number of birds, mammals and amphibians recorded as extinct - are no longer found on Earth.

Around two species of plants go extinct every year - although the true figure is likely to be even higher as plants may be disappearing before they are even discovered, the researchers said.

Scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Stockholm University analysed all plant extinction records worldwide to arrive at the figure.

One plant - the banded trinity - has not been seen since turning up in a field in Chicago in 1916.

Others include the Chile sandalwood, a tree that grew on the Juan Fernandez Islands between Chile and Easter island and was heavily exploited for its scent.

Another is the St Helena olive, first discovered in 1805 on the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic.

One lone elderly tree survived until 1994 and two more were propagated from cuttings, but they succumbed to a termite attack and fungal infections in 2003.

The research brought together data from fieldwork, literature and herbarium specimens.

It showed how many plant species have gone extinct, what they are, where they have disappeared from and what lessons can be learned to stop future extinction.

The study found that 571 plant species have disappeared in the last two and a half centuries - four times more than the current listing of extinct plants.

The figure is also more than twice the number of birds, mammals and amphibians recorded as extinct - a combined total of 217 species.

Dr Aelys M Humphreys, assistant professor at the Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences at Stockholm University, said: ‘Most people can name a mammal or bird that has become extinct in recent centuries, but few can name an extinct plant.

‘This study is the first time we have an overview of what plants have already become extinct, where they have disappeared from, and how quickly this is happening.

‘We hear a lot about the number of species facing extinction, but these figures are for plants that we’ve already lost, so provide an unprecedented window into plant extinction in modern times.’

The scientists found that plant extinction is happening as much as 500 times faster than ‘natural’ background rates of extinction - the normal rate of loss in earth’s history before human intervention.

Islands, areas in the tropics and areas with a Mediterranean climate were found to have the highest rates of extinction.

The research suggested that the increase in plant extinction rates could be due to the same factors that are documented as threats to many surviving plants - change of land use resulting in the fragmentation and destruction of native vegetation, particularly range-restricted species.

Dr Eimear Nic Lughadha, co-author and conservation scientist at Kew said: ‘Plants underpin all life on earth, they provide the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat, as well as making up the backbone of the world’s ecosystems - so plant extinction is bad news for all species.

‘This new understanding of plant extinction will help us predict (and try to prevent) future extinctions of plants, as well as other organisms.

‘Millions of other species depend on plants for their survival, humans included, so knowing which plants we are losing and from where will feed back into conservation programmes targeting other organisms as well.”

Commenting on the research, Dr Rob Salguero-Gómez, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, said: ‘Plants underpin and provide key resources to entire ecosystems worldwide.

‘However, much of the effort to quantify the loss of species diversity worldwide has focused on charismatic species such as mammals and birds. Understanding how much, where, and how plant species are being lost is of paramount importance, not only for ecologists but also for human societies.

‘We depend on plants directly for food, shade and construction materials, and indirectly for ‘ecosystem services’ such as carbon fixation, oxygen creation, and even improvement in human mental health through enjoying green spaces.’

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Nature, Ecology & Evolution.


State of the Climate 2018: Global Warming Is Not Accelerating

A slippery report by the WMO notwithstanding

The World Meteorological Organisation is misleading the public by suggesting that global warming and its impacts are accelerating. In fact, since 2016 global average temperature has continued to decline.

That’s according to Norwegian Professor Ole Humlum, whose annual review of the world’s climate is published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Last week, the WMO issued its own review of the climate, which insinuated that global warming was worsening. However, Professor Humlum points out that the data tells a very different story:

“Reading the WMO report, you would think that global warming was getting worse. But in fact it is carefully worded to give a false impression. The data are far more suggestive of an improvement than a deterioration.”

And the lack of anything to be alarmed about is clear across a range of measures, says Professor Humlum:

“After the warm year of 2016, temperatures last year continued to fall back to levels of the so-called warming “pause” of 2000-2015. There is no sign of any acceleration in global temperature, hurricanes or sea-level rise. These empirical observations show no sign of acceleration whatsoever.”

Professor Humlum’s key findings:

* In 2018, the average global surface temperature continued a gradual descent towards the level characterising the years before the strong 2015–16 El Niño episode.

* Since 2004, when the Argo floats came into operation, the global oceans above 1900m depth have on average warmed somewhat. The maximum warming (between the surface and 120 m depth) mainly affects oceans near the equator, where the incoming solar radiation is at a maximum. In contrast, net cooling has been pronounced for the North Atlantic since 2004.

* Data from tide gauges all over the world suggest an average global sea-level rise of 1– 1.5 mm/year, while the satellite record suggests a rise of about 3.2 mm/year. The large difference between the two data sets still has no broadly accepted explanation.

* The Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent has undergone important local and regional variations from year to year. The overall global tendency since 1972, however, is for overall stable snow extent.

* Tropical storm and hurricane accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) values since 1970 have displayed large variations from year to year, but no overall trend towards either lower or higher activity. The same applies for the number of hurricane landfalls in the continental United States, for which the record begins in 1851.


The only child known to have been born and raised inside the Chernobyl exclusion zone now a happy, healthy college student approaching her 20th birthday

More evidence that it is only really high levels of radiation that are dangerous to you

A healthy young Ukrainian

Mariyka Sovenko, now 19, was born to mother Lydia and husband Mikhail deep inside the Chernobyl exclusion zone in 1999 - a decade after the disaster.

Her birth was initially covered up by the Ukrainian authorities, embarrassed that some people were still living inside the deeply irradiated zone, but details have resurfaced as interest in the disaster has peaked thanks to the Sky Atlantic series.

Though Mariyka does not feature in the series, for many in Ukraine her life marks one of the defining chapters of the ongoing saga.

Lydia and husband Mikhail, who was a firefighter called to reactor 4 on the night of the explosion in 1986, had refused to leave the exclusion zone because they were not offered evacuation housing by the Soviet Union.

Lydia had not realised she was pregnant until she gave birth with Mikhail's help - who cut his daughter's umbilical chord before giving her a wash.

Once news of Mariyka's birth spread, Lydia recalled being treated 'like a criminal' for giving birth at Chernobyl and refusing to budge from one of the only family homes in the zone.

But she continued to raise Mariyka there, ignoring government health warnings that she was putting her daughter in mortal danger as young Marikya drank milk from a cow grazing on irradiated pastures and swam in streams where the fish sent Geiger counters bleeping wildly.

Rumours swirled and by the time her daughter was five, Lydia - then in her mid-40s - was forced to respond: 'If people think she is a mutant, or has two heads, they are quite wrong. 'She is a lovely child who is absolutely healthy as far as we can see.'

Interviewed in 2006 she said she was lonely with no playmates in a zone where visitors without a special reason were banned. She said: 'I wish there was just one other kid here. I would show him or her around my house and the village – we could have real fun together.'

Her parents continued to face pressure form the authorities to move but their tumbledown house remained Mariyka's home as she grew up – although from the age of seven she had to live outside Chernobyl in term time to attend school.

Now as Chernobyl once again captures headlines, Mariyka spoke to the Sunday Express newspaper.

Now aged 19, she is a student at a leading higher education institution and hopes to work in the hospitality industry. To pay for her studies she works in a fashionable bar.

She is reluctant to talk about her past but confirmed she is healthy, telling the Sunday Express: 'I am doing well, I am working. I'm providing for myself. This is it.'

Though Mariyka now lives and works outside the exclusion zone, she occasionally obtains a permit to visit her mother - now aged 66 - who still lives and works there.

Her mother confirmed that Mariyka is healthy, and is known to be 'proud' of her daughter's success in getting on in life after her unique start.

Her health and success - confirmed by her mother and friends - comes as the nature of Chernobyl is fighting back against the appalling nuclear decimation it suffered 43 years ago.

Wildlife is teeming in the area with elk, deer, wild boar and wolves thriving as well as rare wild birds and flowers, some of them from the Red Book.

As her mother, now 66, has said: 'People here believe that Mariyka is a symbol of Chernobyl's renaissance, a sign from God which they interpret as a blessing to live here, and that life is coming back to this blighted place.'


Canada’s Carbon Taxation: It’s Worse Than Thought

A prominent economist says that Canada’s carbon tax regime, introduced last year, has been a complete mess. In a new paper published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Robert Lyman explains how a theoretically sound approach to addressing CO2 emissions has turned out to be worse than critics have feared.

“Carbon pricing should be the most economically efficient way to deal with CO2 emissions”, says Lyman. “But the Canadian government has turned a simple idea into a dog’s breakfast.”

The problems encountered range from the use of rates that are unrelated to the cost of global warming, and varying widely across different provinces, and a staggering array of “complementary measures” that have made administration unnecessarily difficult. Moreover, it is not even clear that the carbon tax regime is constitutional – three provinces have launched challenges in the courts, and two more are likely to follow suit.

Lyman says that the carbon tax regime in Canada therefore faces an uncertain future:

“The way carbon taxes have been dealt with in Canada is almost the opposite of how it should have been done. It has been complex, inefficient and damaging to the economic prospects of the country. The government is going to have to think again”.


Australia: Green eco-warriors are killing off tourism because visitors think the Great Barrier Reef is dead

The Greenie lies never stop

Queensland's tourism industry is facing a recession as an increasing amount of tourists shun the Great Barrier Reef.

Reef cruise operators and tourism experts have seen a downturn in the amount of interest the once popular destination is receiving.

They argue claims made by environmental groups and eco-warriors that the reef is dying are detrimental to the industry.

Cairns-based Coral Expeditions commercial director Jeff Gillies said the overall negative perception of reef health has 'definitely affected the downturn in reef tourism'.

Former Cairns mayor Kevin Byrne agreed. He told The Australian 'our tourism industry here is pretty well static, if not in recession.

'We now have the monumental task of convincing people to come to the Great Barrier Reef. As a living organism, it is in wonderful shape and people need to be proud enough to stand up and say it'.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


No comments: