Welcome to the Sunday Recap, a brand new feature in conjunction with our Nature News UK Twitter account. In the current state of incesssant social media used and infomation coming at you left, right and centre it can sometimes be hard to digest the news that matters. So every Sunday Wildlife Articles will be bringing you some easily digestible highlights from a week of wildlife news.
Earth has lost 50% of species
Undoubtedly the main news of the week has been the staggering loss of wildlife over the last forty years as revealed by the ZSL’s Living Planet Index. A new methodology has helped ZSL give a more bleak diagnosis on the planets current state and determined that human activity is simply taking resources faster than they can be replenished. The report becomes even more startling when you start to break down the figures; for example in Ghana, the lion population in one reserve is down 90% in 40 years. Faring even worse however was the freshwater species, which have seen a 76% decline over the period.
The report has however met with some criticism. It has been argued that although there is certainly a rapid rate of decline in certain species as well as biodiversity, the data may not be representative of all species.In an interview for the BBC, Stephen Buckland, co-director of the National Centre for Statistical Ecology in the UK commented on the variability of the quality of data, noting some species were more monitored than others.
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Lord Lawson’s Charity Promotes Climate Scepticism
The governments Charity Commission has found climate sceptic Lord Lawson’s “The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF)” guilty of of blurring fact and breaching rules on impartiality on its climate change coverage. Furthermore it was decided that the websites publications promoted a particular position on global warming which was detrimental to its education value. The commission stated “In areas of controversy, education requires balance and neutrality with sufficient weight given to competing arguments. The promotion of a particular view or position would not equate to education.” In response the foundation has agreed to set up a new a new non-charitable organisation to act as a lobbying body, which will act alongside the existing charity.
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It was hard to miss the images of 35,000 walruses crammed onto the land mass in Alaska this week. They covered social media outlets as well as newspapers, with the WWF claiming “this is what climate change looks like”.
Low sea ice levels has forced ashore the walruses, who with nowhere to rest have resorted to this last chance. Although they will no longer drown due to lack of sea ice, there is now an ever present risk of them stampeding and crushing each other. This risk is so great that the Federal Aviation Authority has re-routed flights, and local pilots are being asked to avoid the area.
Toxic Moth Populations “Explode” in London
Oak processionary moth populations exploded this summer, due to the mild winter and spring. With no natural predators the invasive moth has established itself in West London and despite efforts to control it has spread outside of its infestation zone. The moths caterpillars are covered in hairs which contain toxins which can cause irritation to human skin, moreover these hairs unfortunately can blow on the wind and get into the airways of humans.
The moth poses a minor threat to our native trees due to their voracious leaf eating, but experts are more concerned about the threat they pose to human health. In South London children developed rashes after an outbreak of the caterpillars near their school, and arborists have also suffered at Kew Gardens. Although chemical control is currently being used, it is thought it could well be impossible to eradicate the moth due to its abundance in suburban areas.
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