Sunday 26th of May 2019

of silent killers...


Good bugs, bad bugs

They might look cute, but ladybirds were found by early Australian farmers to be lethal killers ' of crop pests, that is. One such predator is a ladybird known as the mealybug ladybird, Cryptolaemus montroutizieri. These lay their eggs in the egg masses of common pest insects such as mealybugs. When the larval ladybirds hatch out, they immediately set about eating the mealybug eggs. As adults, ladybirds will also feed on both eggs and larvae of these pests.

Ladybirds are even being used to control insect pests in eucalypt plantations. They feed on the immature stage of the Eucalyptus leaf beetle. The results suggest tree plantations could benefit from the release of ladybirds early in the season when pests are laying eggs.

Meanwhile some insecticides are killing Ladybirds, very noticeably, in Europe...


But the bees are "saved"...

Monsanto, the massive biotechnology company being blamed for contributing to the dwindling bee population, has bought up one of the leading bee collapse research organizations. Recently banned from Poland with one of the primary reasons being that the company’s genetically modified corn may be devastating the dying bee population, it is evident that Monsanto is under serious fire for their role in the downfall of the vital insects. It is therefore quite apparent why Monsanto bought one of the largest bee research firms on the planet.

It can be found in public company reports hosted on mainstream media that Monsanto scooped up the Beeologics firm back in September 2011. During this time the correlation between Monsanto’s GM crops and the bee decline was not explored in the mainstream, and in fact it was hardly touched upon until Polish officials addressed the serious concern amid the monumental ban. Owning a major organization that focuses heavily on the bee collapse and is recognized by the USDA for their mission statement of “restoring bee health and protecting the future of insect pollination” could be very advantageous for Monsanto.

Read more:

"democracy butterflies are doing fine....."

This title was made as a joke — by the authors of a site on nature in decline — when the population of Monarch Butterfly was down by 28 per cent in Mexico... than 6000 news about nature collapse)Recent News:Tue May 8 2012

Demand for Rhino horns surges undoing decades of conservation efforts
South Africa is the epicentre of the poaching battle. A conservation success story, the country is home to 70 to 80 per cent of the world's rhinos. In 2007, 13 rhinos were poached. Last year the number hit 448, and more than 200 have already been killed this year. In Kenya, Zimbabwe and other countries, poaching is also on the rise, but at a less dramatic pace.... Demand for rhino horn in Asian traditional medicine is booming. On the black market, the horns are literally worth their weight in gold: about 50,000 euros ($66,000) per kilo.... Some private reserves that can't afford armed patrols have started dehorning rhinos. That's a difficult procedure in itself, and offers no long-term protection: the horns grow back.

Mon Apr 30 2012
from Waterville Morning Sentinel: 
Mild winter could lead to huge honeybee die-off come fall
Beekeepers need to be especially careful this year. A mild winter and unseasonably warm early spring have created conditions reminiscent of 2010, when beekeepers were caught off guard from an explosion of mite populations that killed off many honeybee colonies, according to a state expert.

Mon Apr 30 2012
from University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science: 
Scientists Provide First Large-Scale Estimate of Reef Shark Losses in the Pacific Ocean
Many shark populations have plummeted in the past three decades as a result of excessive harvesting -- for their fins, as an incidental catch of fisheries targeting other species, and in recreational fisheries. This is particularly true for oceanic species... The numbers are sobering. "We estimate that reef shark numbers have dropped substantially around populated islands, generally by more than 90 percent compared to those at the most untouched reefs," said Marc Nadon, lead author... "In short, people and sharks don't mix."

Tue Apr 24 2012
from New Yorker: 
Silent Hives
Over the last few weeks, several new studies have come out linking neonicotinoids to bee decline. As it happens, the studies are appearing just as "Silent Spring," Rachel Carson's seminal study of the effect of pesticides on wildlife, is about to turn fifty: the work was first published as a three-part series in The New Yorker, in June, 1962. It's hard to avoid the sense that we have all been here before, and that lessons were incompletely learned the first time around. In the first of the new studies, published online in the journal Science, British scientists raised bumblebees on a diet of pollen, some of which had been treated with a widely used neonicotinoid called imidacloprid. Those colonies that had received the treated pollen suffered significantly reduced growth rates and produced dramatically fewer new queens. In the second, also published in Science, French researchers equipped honeybees with tiny radio-frequency tags. They fed some of the bees sucrose treated with thiamethoxan, another commonly used neonicotinoid. Then they let the bees loose to go foraging. The bees that had been exposed to thiamethoxan were much less likely to return to their hives. "We were quite surprised by the magnitude of the effect," said one of the study's authors, Mickael Henry, of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research in Avignon. In a third study, to be published soon in the Bulletin of Insectology, seemingly healthy honey colonies were fed high-fructose corn syrup that had been treated with imidacloprid. Within six months, fifteen out of the sixteen hives that had been given the treated syrup were dead. In commercial beekeeping operations, bees are routinely fed corn syrup, and corn is routinely treated with neonicotinoids.

Mon Apr 9 2012from PNAS, via HuffingtonPost: 

White-Nose Bat Deaths: Fungus Behind Mysterious Deaths In U.S. And Canada Came From Europe
The mysterious deaths of millions of bats in Canada and the United States over the past several years were caused by a fungus that hitchhiked from Europe, scientists reported Monday. Experts had suspected that an invasive species was to blame for the die-off from "white nose syndrome." Now there's direct evidence the culprit was not native to North America. The fungal illness has not caused widespread deaths among European bats unlike in the U.S. and Canada. In North America more than 5.7 million bats have died since 2006 when white nose syndrome was first detected in a cave in upstate New York. The disease does not pose a threat to humans, but people can carry fungal spores. It's unclear exactly how the fungus crossed the Atlantic, but one possibility is that it was accidentally introduced by tourists. Spores are known to stick to people's clothes, boots and caving gear.

Mon Apr 9 2012
from San Francisco Bay Citizen: 
Despite Deadly Fungus, Bullfrog Imports Continue
About 5 million live American bullfrogs are imported every year into the U.S., nearly two-thirds of which carry the chytrid fungus disease ... The chytrid skin fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or B.d., is harmless to humans but may have wiped out hundreds of amphibian species.... The disease appears to affect only amphibians, and some species are immune to its effects while others succumb rapidly. It causes the amphibians' skin to thicken and leads to cardiac arrest .... Scientists and conservationists fear that the global trade could lead to the extinction of countless species of frogs and salamanders.

Mon Apr 9 2012
from PhysOrg: 
Loss of predators in Northern Hemisphere affecting ecosystem health
A survey done on the loss in the Northern Hemisphere of large predators, particularly wolves, concludes that current populations of moose, deer, and other large herbivores far exceed their historic levels and are contributing to disrupted ecosystems. The research, published today by scientists from Oregon State University, examined 42 studies done over the past 50 years. It found that the loss of major predators in forest ecosystems has allowed game animal populations to greatly increase, crippling the growth of young trees and reducing biodiversity. This also contributes to deforestation and results in less carbon sequestration, a potential concern with climate change. "These issues do not just affect the United States and a few national parks," said William Ripple, an OSU professor of forestry and lead author of the study. "The data from Canada, Alaska, the Yukon, Northern Europe and Asia are all showing similar results. There's consistent evidence that large predators help keep populations of large herbivores in check, with positive effects on ecosystem health."

Tue Apr 3 2012
from HuffingtonPost: 
Missouri Bats Discovered With Deadly 'White Nose' Fungus
A disease that has killed millions of bats across multiple states and Canada has been found in Missouri, marking its advent west of the Mississippi River and spelling possible trouble for agriculture in the region, officials said Monday. White nose syndrome has been confirmed in three bats in two caves in Lincoln County, north of St. Louis, the Missouri Department of Conservation said. The name describes a white fungus found on the faces and wings of infected bats and has not been found to infect humans or other animals. Scientists estimate the ailment has killed at least 5.7 million bats in 16 states and Canada.... "White-nose syndrome in Missouri is following the deadly pattern it has exhibited elsewhere," Mollie Matteson, a bat specialist with the conservation group Center for Biological Diversity said in a release. "First the fungus shows up on a few healthy bats. A couple of years later, the disease strikes. And if the pattern continues, we can expect that in another few years, the majority of Missouri's hibernating bats will be dead."

Fri Mar 30 2012
from The Independent: 
Up in smoke: ecological catastrophe in the Sumatran swamps
Fires raging unchecked in an Indonesian peat swamp forest could wipe out the remaining Sumatran orang-utans which live there, conservationists are warning. The forest is one of the last refuges of the great apes. The illegal fires, started by palm-oil companies clearing land to plant the lucrative crop, are believed to have killed at least 100 orang-utans -- one-third of those living in the Tripa swamp, on the west coast of Sumatra's Aceh province. The rest could die within weeks, according to Dr Ian Singleton, conservation director of the Sumatran Orang-utan Conservation Programme. "The speed of destruction has gone up dramatically in the last few weeks... This is obviously a deliberate drive by these companies to clear all the remaining forests," Dr Singleton said. "If this is not stopped right now, all those orang-utans... will be gone before the end of 2012." Only 6,600 Sumatran orang-utans are estimated to be left in the wild, and the Tripa swamp -- where they are most densely concentrated -- is considered crucial to the species' survival. But less than one-quarter of the peat forest remains; the rest has been converted to palm-oil plantations.... Satellite imagery showing 92 fires over the past week has horrified conservationists, who are awaiting a court ruling with far-reaching implications for the protection of wildlife habitats in Indonesia.

Thu Mar 29 2012
from Science, via The Guardian: 
Neonicotinoid Pesticides linked to honeybee decline
The new research strongly links the pesticides to the serious decline in honey bee numbers in the US and UK -- a drop of around 50 percent in the last 25 years. The losses pose a threat to food supplies as bees pollinate a third of the food we eat such as tomatoes, beans, apples and strawberries. Scientists found that bees consuming one pesticide suffered an 85 percent loss in the number of queens their nests produced, while another study showed a doubling in "disappeared" bees -- those that failed to return from food foraging trips. The significance of the new work, published Science, is that it is the first carried out in realistic, open-air conditions.... The pesticides investigated in the new studies - insect neurotoxins called neonicotinoids - are applied to seeds and flow through the plants' whole system. The environmental advantage of this is it reduces pesticide spraying but chemicals end up in the nectar and pollen on which bees feed. Goulson's group studied an extremely widely used type called imidacloprid, primarily manufactured by Bayer CropScience, and registered for use on over 140 crops in 120 countries.... "There was a staggering magnitude of effect," said Goulson. "This is likely to have a substantial population-level impact."

Tue Mar 27 2012
from Fox News: 
Hammerhead shark 'twin' means species is rarer than formerly thought
Scientists recently confirmed that endangered scalloped hammerhead sharks have a fishy twin -- a newfound species, still unnamed, that is distinct, yet very closely resembles the threatened sharks. The case of mistaken identity indicates that scalloped hammerhead sharks are even more scarce than once thought, according to some researchers. Since it's very hard to tell the two species apart -- only differences in their DNA and number of vertebrae reveal their true identities -- it's likely that previous assessments of scalloped hammerhead sharks exaggerated their numbers because the counts likely included the look-alike sharks. "It's a classic case of long-standing species misidentification that not only casts further uncertainty on the status of the real scalloped hammerhead, but also raises concerns about the population status of this new species," Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center professor Mahmood Shivji said in a statement.

Fri Mar 23 2012
from CBC: 
Don't ease fish protection rules, PM urged by 625 scientists
In a letter sent Thursday to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield, a group of 625 scientists urged the government to abandon changes to the Fisheries Act outlined in an internal government document leaked late last week. The document suggested the act is to be revised so Ottawa would be responsible for fish, but not their surrounding habitat. The act currently requires projects such as oil pipeline and road culvert construction to show their plans will preserve fish habitat. "Removing those provisions … would basically give proponents of projects license to do anything they pleased," said David Schindler, the University of Alberta ecologist who is the lead author of the letter.... Schindler said the signatories of his letter include many national and international prize-winning scientists and the number of them supporting the letter indicates how important habitat protection is.

Thu Mar 22 2012
Honeybee decline blamed on lethal combination of chemicals and disease
In the latest study a laboratory at Universite Blaise Pascal in France studied bees infected with a disease known as nosemosis and bees exposed to an insecticide known as fipronil. Neither of the case studies resulted in many deaths. However when the bees were exposed to both the disease and the insecticide, in any combination, a large number died. Nicolas Blot, who led the study, said only "multi-factors" could explain the worldwide decline. He said the world community now has to work on how to minimise the stress on insects. "Until now nobody could find one single reason why bees were in decline worldwide," said he said. "Many worked on one kind of stress. What we show here it is not one insecticide or one disease that explains what is happening but a combination of factors in the environment. Bees are not exposed to one stress they are exposed to many."

Fri Mar 16 2012
from HuffingtonPost: 
Monarch Butterflies Mexico Migration Dropped This Year
The number of Monarch butterflies wintering in Mexico dropped 28 percent this year, according to a report released Thursday, a decline some experts attribute to droughts in parts of the United States and Canada where the butterflies breed and begin their long migration south. Others say damage to wintering grounds in central Mexico's mountains remains a factor in the decline, citing deforestation of the fir and pine forests they favor. The numbers of butterflies spending the winter in Mexico have varied wildly in recent years. Concern rose two years ago, when their numbers dropped by 75 percent in the wintering grounds, the lowest level since comparable record-keeping began in 1993. They partially recovered last year, when the number of butterflies nearly doubled from that record low point.

Sun Mar 11 2012
from The Independent: 
Half the world's seabirds are in decline, says report
The populations of almost half of the world's seabirds are thought to be in decline, according to a study published in Bird Conservation International. It found that 28 per cent of species are in the highest categories of risk. Conservationists are particularly concerned for the albatross family. Threats include commercial fishing and damage to breeding colonies caused by rats and other invasive species. Researchers say seabirds are an important indicator of the health of the oceans.

Wed Mar 7 2012
from New York Times: 
Shark Fins Are Loaded With a Neurotoxin, Study Finds
Shark fins contain high levels of a potent neurotoxin that scientists have linked to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, according to a recent study published in the journal Marine Drugs.... The study provides another reason not to eat shark fins or shark fin soup, an expensive delicacy prized in Asia for its taste and supposed health benefits. Growing demand for the product drives a global hunt that kills an estimated 73 million sharks a year; the animals are often brutally definned and tossed back into the water to slowly die. Several species are on the brink of extinction, and the loss of so many sharks spells trouble for marine ecosystems.

Democracy butterflies are doing fine.....

destroying the mechanisms of nature...

In an earlier post I have mentioned the controversy about DDT... 

The arguments for its use is that it would have saved the lives of about 2 billion people since the 1950s or so by destroying insects, that are transmitters of diseases, such as mosquitoes... The counter argument exposed in "Silent Spring" was that DDT was also endangering many other animals such as birds. 

In retrospect we could argue that should DDT still be in usage today, the planet and the human population would be far worse off. Many birds species would have disappeared including the Bald Eagle and the present human population of the planet would be above 8 billion if we account for natural attrition, while saving an extra 2 billion people... The economic stress would be giganormous and nature would be in far worse trouble than we are now... 

Yet the outlook is grim. Not only we indulge in carbon gluttony, we have created new chemical monsters that can and eventually do create more damage than we solve... We also destroy habitats at a rate of knots... Being attacked from many front nature can only fold at the knees until it bites us on the bum since we are part of nature... DDT was a bad idea...






fighting the ecocide...

In 1992 the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro designed international legal protocol for the protection of the environment. Twenty years later, British barrister Polly Higgins believes those laws have failed.

“Environmental law as it stands is clearly not fit for purpose,” she says.

But her sweet Scottish brogue has only tones of optimism. Her perpetual smile reveals faith in her proposed solution – an international crime of ‘ecocide.’

Seven years ago, working as a corporate lawyer in London, she found herself fighting for things she didn’t believe in. She was representing clients who looked at the environment as collateral damage in pursuit of profit.

So Higgins became an international environmental lawyer. She has taken on one client, pro bono, and became advocate for the earth.

“I recognised that we don’t have legal duty of care for the earth. It doesn’t exist. I realised that the earth was in need of a good lawyer,” she says.

This month she will travel to the Rio+20 summit, as an official observer, to petition for the legal rights of the planet to be acknowledged under her proposed law of ecocide.

She has tabled international legislation at the UN that would make the “extensive damage, destruction to or loss of ecosystems” the fifth crime against peace, alongside genocide, under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.  Her law of ecocide would empower individuals and communities to act as legal guardians of the planet in the courtroom.’s-advocate-defending-our-environment/

the rate of change...


The Earth has never stood still. Change is built into the life of the planet, whether physical changes to the surface of the Earth — through the slow action of erosion or glaciation — or biological changes to the species that populate it. We only have to go back to the last ice age — which peaked just 20,000 years ago, a coffee break in geological time — to see a climate that is utterly different from the one human beings have thrived in for the last few thousand years. Heraclitus had it right: the only constant is change.

So it's not the fact that the global environment and the climate are changing that so worries many scientists. It's the rate of change — and whether or not human beings, and everything else that lives on the Earth, can adapt. Because the Earth, it turns out, is changing very, very fast.


Read more:,8599,2117024,00.html#ixzz1xfewWYIE



12,000 years ago, some megafauna, somewhat reduced in numbers by the climate of the Ice Age, still existed in Australia... Here, we're talking of wombats the size of hippos and kangaroos the size of cows... 12,000 years ago, mammoths still roamed Northern Europe... The somewhat fast climate change then placed further strain on all megafauna around the planet, except — I suspect — in the seas... Apart from climate change, most of the world megafauna was also under stress from being "hunted" by humans. This double/triple whammy led to the extinction of most (all) megafauna in places like Australia (where the "browning" of the land took place rather quickly) and Europe.

In Africa, hunting was more or less the only stress placed on the "megafauna" (such as elephant) thus the species was able to survive, selectively. 

These days, some scientists still classify "red kangaroos" as Megafauna, though, standing at about two metres while sitting on their hind-legs, they are much smaller than their real extinct Megafauna cousins, such as the parlorchestes...

The climate had more or less stabilised for the last 10,000 years.

Now, the climate is undeniably taking another turn for "hotter". Actually, the temperature on this planet is warming at about 10 times faster in geological time scale than the last warming 12,000 years ago... It took about 2000 years for an increase of 6 degrees Celsius. Presently, we are on target for about the same amount of increase (six degrees Celsius) over a period of only 100 to 200 years. This is a MASSIVELY FAST warming with no end of stopping the rise in sight — apart from a few feeble fiddle designed to reduce our emissions of CO2.

This is why serious scientists are very very very worried. Did I say very worried? 

Added to the loss of habitats, pollution and chemicals used in the eradication of some species, plus herbicides and other purposes, we are damaging the natural ability of many species to cope with the range of normal "natural" stresses... As expressed often on this site, one stressing factor is rarely enough to engender extinction of species, but two or three concurrent stress factors will kill off species quickly. We are on the edge of a massive extinction era (already started and noted) — all due to humans own existence. From burning "fossil" fuel (extra carbon added to the recent natural carbon equation over the last few million years) to habitat destruction and other such.

It is for all politicians to wake up to this sad fact and start fighting against ignorance — especially that deliberately pushed by denialists and imbecile shock jocks, and some religious idiotic leaders such as Cardinal Pell. 

Julia, my dear, it's more than time to put your boxing gloves on and hit Tony (a "secret" denialist) in the budgies, on this most important issue...


a call to business leaders...

Dear Mark Bouris, Donald Trump, Warren Buffett, George Soros et all...

Dear good people...

It is time, actually more than time, for you and all your capitalist friends to find time to pause and reflect on the future of the planet as we know it — with all its wildlife diversity and bounty cycle provider for life.

It is time for you to start rewriting the rules of your business to accommodate nature.

It is time for you to write a new capitalist system that does not destroy nature... A capitalist system that actually protects nature.

Presently capitalism destroys nature. Capitalism does not care much about nature apart from a few opportunistic touristic ventures... Even there, the development of facilities often destroys the very things people come to see... Despite strict controls on sewage and such, the place eventually gets degraded though touted as a paradise, as long as one has money. Capitalism treats most of the earth as a garbage dump...

It's time... IT'S REALLY TIME... No, I really mean it... It's time... It's time to rethink and retool unbridled greed as an incentive to do business. It's time to save the planet from us. Save the planet from you.

You of all people can do it. You are clever, you have the dosh, you have clout... All you need is to see.

population and consumption...

The Rio+20 Earth summit must take decisive action on population and consumption regardless of political taboos or it will struggle to tackle the alarming decline of the global environment, the world's leading scientific academies warned on Thursday.

Rich countries need to reduce or radically transform unsustainable lifestyles, while greater efforts should be made to provide contraception to those who want it in the developing world, the coalition of 105 institutions, including the Royal Society, urged in a joint report.

It's a wake-up call for negotiators meeting in Rio for the UN conference on sustainable development.


The authors point out that while the Rio summit aims to reduce poverty and reverse the degradation of the environment, it barely mentions the two solutions that could ease pressure on increasingly scarce resources

a McFeast of six-legger crisps at MacDeworm...


In 2010, David Letterman asked Hollywood actress Salma Hayek if she routinely eats bugs. "Look," she responded. "I'm salivating! They're delicious!"

Insect eating, officially called entomophagy, is an age-old custom found throughout the world and often considered standard dietary practice. Nearly 2,000 species of insects are eaten by approximately 2.5 billion people worldwide.

We come from a long line of bug eaters. Our earliest primate ancestors were insectivores and our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, make rudimentary tools to fish termites out of narrow tunnels in their mounds. Among the laws of Leviticus codified by the Israelites millennia ago is permission to eat "the locust after its kind, and the bald locust after its kind, and the cricket after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind".

Roman naturalist Pliny wrote that beetle grubs were so prized that they were fattened on meal to enhance their flavour. And the German explorer Heinrich Barth wrote in his 1857 Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa that people who ate locusts could "enjoy not only the agreeable flavour of the dish, but also take a pleasant revenge on the ravagers of their fields".

Some of the most interesting bits on entomophagy are found in Vincent M Holt's 1885 booklet Why Not Eat Insects? Holt recognised that it would be difficult for many people to overcome squeamishness, but he also felt that with a "fair hearing", an "impartial consideration of arguments" and an "unbiased judgment", they would be persuaded to rid themselves of their "stupid prejudices" and use insects as food. To this end, he drew up menus of curried cockchafers, moths on toast, devilled chafer grubs and slug soup.

Quite simply, over centuries and across the globe, eating insects has been the norm.

In contemporary Western Europe and North America, entomophagy occupies only a tiny (but growing) culinary niche - at this point, perhaps, more curiosity than anything else. In London, the high-end department store Selfridges now sells toffee-flavoured candies and vodka-flavoured lollipops containing scorpions, worm-salt infused with chilli and agave, and oven-baked worm crisps.


Forget the slugs, they will kill you... They are full of toxins... But snails are nice and nutricious... And stop the insecticide industry...


See also:

deaths of the baobabs...

A tree regarded as the icon of the African savannah is dying in mysterious circumstances.

International scientists have discovered that most of the oldest and largest African baobab trees have died over the past 12 years.

They suspect the demise may be linked to climate change, although they have no direct evidence of this.

The tree can grow to an enormous size, and may live hundreds if not thousands of years.

The researchers, from universities in South Africa, Romania and the US, say the loss of the trees is "an event of an unprecedented magnitude".

Revealing the findings in the journal Nature Plants, they say the deaths were not caused by an epidemic.

"We suspect that the demise of monumental baobabs may be associated at least in part with significant modifications of climate conditions that affect southern Africa in particular," said the team, led by Dr Adrian Patrut of Babes-Bolyai University in Romania. "However, further research is necessary to support or refute this supposition."


Read more:


Is it possible that "herbicides" — added to climate change — can also have an influence on this demise? Good question...