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Nature

Cheetahs sprinting towards extinction: Study

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Washington, Dec 27:  With the cheetah being driven out of 91 per cent of its historic range in Asia and Africa, the world’s fastest land animal could soon be lost forever unless urgent, landscape-wide conservation action is taken, warns a study.

While renowned for its speed and spots, the degree of persecution cheetahs face both inside and outside of protected areas is largely unrecognized, said the study that estimated the number of cheetahs left in the wild today to be just 7,100.

Asiatic cheetah populations have been hit hardest, with fewer than 50 individuals remaining in one isolated pocket of Iran, it added.
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“The take-away from this pinnacle study is that securing protected areas alone is not enough,” said Kim Young-Overton, Cheetah Programme Director of Panthera, a non-profit organisation devoted exclusively to the conservation of the world’s wild cats.

“We must think bigger, conserving across the mosaic of protected and unprotected landscapes that these far-ranging cats inhabit, if we are to avert the otherwise certain loss of the cheetah forever,” she added.

Due to the species’ dramatic decline, the cheetah should be up-listed from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘endangered’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, the study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said.

Typically, greater international conservation support, prioritisation and attention are given to wildlife classified as ‘endangered’, in efforts to stave off impending extinction.

The researchers pointed out that even within guarded parks and reserves, cheetahs rarely escape the pervasive threats of human-wildlife conflict, prey loss due to overhunting by people, habitat loss and the illegal trafficking of cheetah parts and trade as exotic pets.

To make matters worse, as one of the world’s most wide-ranging carnivores, 77 per cent of the cheetah’s habitat falls outside of protected areas.

Unrestricted by boundaries, the species’ wide-ranging movements weaken law enforcement protection and greatly amplify its vulnerability to human pressures.

Indeed, largely due to pressures on wildlife and their habitat outside of protected areas, Zimbabwe’s cheetah population has plummeted from 1,200 to a maximum of 170 animals in just 16 years — representing an astonishing loss of 85 per cent of the country’s cheetahs, said the study.

“This study represents the most comprehensive analysis of cheetah status to date. Given the secretive nature of this elusive cat, it has been difficult to gather hard information on the species, leading to its plight being overlooked,” lead author Sarah Durant from the Zoological Society of London pointed out.

“Our findings show that the large space requirements for cheetah, coupled with the complex range of threats faced by the species in the wild, mean that it is likely to be much more vulnerable to extinction than was previously thought,” Durant noted.

IANS

# cheetah # IUCN # cheetah population # vulnerable # endangered

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Is climate change apocalypse real? Practice is better than preaching

If the climate change apocalypse was imminent, as he noted in his article, why did he undertake that journey?

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Is the looming climate change apocalypse real? In the clearly-demarcated battle lines, the good guys are those who believe it is and the bad guys, like US President Donald Trump, are the doubters as any progressive and most of the media would affirm.

Yet it is also the good guys, the warriors against climate change, who strain the credibility of the phenomenon’s reality – and it is for them to affirm its reality through their personal examples.

On Thursday, former US Secretary of State John Kerry published an op-ed in The New York Times headlined, “Forget Trump. We All Must Act on Climate Change.” While he had suggestions for US lawmakers on forcing Trump to act, he was silent on the personal responsibilities for fighting climate change.

At the time that leaders were grappling with climate change strategies at the United Nations conference in Katowice, Poland, he had been to India and danced at the wedding of a petroleum billionaire’s daughter.

On the round trip by air he would have been responsible for about 2.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, besides other greenhouse gases like nitrous oxides. (For comparison, a typical car in the US puts out 4.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide in a year.)

Here is a fair question: If the climate change apocalypse was imminent, as he noted in his article, why did he undertake that journey?

It’s easy to preach about fighting climate change to the government, lawmakers and countries like India and China (which are often hypocritically blamed for the greenhouse gas buildup by the progressives – though not this time by Kerry – and less hypocritically by the deniers).

Here’s the bottom line: An American emits nearly 15.53 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, which is nearly ten times that of an Indian’s 1.58 tonnes. (And Canada under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the high priest of sanctimony, is not far behind Trump’s America: the per capita emission is 15.32 tonnes.)

And countries like France have a comfortable standard of living with a per capita emission of 4.37 tonnes, which is less than a third of an American’s.

So, realistically, action has to begin with appeals to individuals to cut down their greenhouse rather than looking to governments and lawmakers – or telling developing countries to do it for them.

According to a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, 63 per cent of Americans believe that lifestyle changes are needed to combat climate change and 68 per cent of Democrats believe it is a serious problem.

Despite all that, it is easy to see why it is almost impossible to call for lifestyle changes.

Just look at France. A violent popular uprising drove President Emmanuel Macron to retreat from his daring attack on climate change in the name of the Paris Treaty with an with enhanced tax on petrol.

Forget about rousing individuals or society in the climate change war; the Democratic-run New York that riles against Trump and the deniers is not going to enrage its citizenry by banning the 30,000 lights on an eight-kilometre strand on the city’s Christmas tree in a country that produces about 30 per cent of its electricity from coal.

Meat diets are another glaring example of the hypocrisy. A study led by researchers at Linda Loma University concluded that because cattle farming for beef is greenhouse intensive, the US can right now reach about 50 to 75 per cent of its greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2020 by merely giving up beef for legumes as a protein source.

Not only would some of the activists not speak out against meat-eating in their own countries, but some of their Indian counterparts want to promote beef-eating in India.

As for Indian activists, greenhouse gas-generating trips to tell the British Parliament to stop mining in India is an ego trip, but not demanding the British do something about the 5.99 tonnes of carbon dioxide gas that each of them generates every year – especially the politicians who put out a lot more gas, literally and figuratively – than the average Brit.

So is the situation so hopeless and the apocalypse inevitable?

The Pew survey found that 24 per cent of Indians believe that technology can solve the climate change problem – and definitely that’s the way forward as technology is bringing down the price of green energy. And China and India can make the most significant contributions as they leap-frog to greener technologies – and no thanks to preaching from the activists of the industrialised West. So can the other developing countries.

In the industrialised nations (as elsewhere), the greenback is more powerful than greentalk: As technology advances, corporations are seeing the monetary benefits of adopting a greener way of doing business.

Meanwhile, may be the generals of climate warriors could tone down their holier-than-thou sermons on the climate change apocalypse and instead lead by example – and try to mobilise their armies of believers to adopt drastic lifestyle changes.

(Arul Louis, who pleads guilty to contributing to greenhouse gas pollution, covers the United Nation from New York. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)

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India

Green activists remind Modi, Gadkari of their promises for Yamuna

“Both Nitin Gadkiri and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised both before and after 2014 Lok Sabha elections of several steps to save Yamuna, but so far nothing has been done to save the river,” environmentalist Dr Devashish Bhattacharya said.

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PM Modi unveiling the Foundation Stones of Projects under Namami Gange & National Highway projects, in Mokama, Bihar on October 14, 2017. Pic : ANI

Agra, Dec 9 : Angry green activists on Sunday demanded firm steps to save a dying Yamuna, the lifeline of Agra with three world heritage monuments and several other architectural marvels.

River Connect Campaigners first cleaned the Etmauddaula View-Point Park on the Yamuna bank, and followed it up with a public rally to express concern and ire against continued dilly-dallying on the need for restoring the original glory of river Yamuna, one of the holiest rivers of India.

“Both Nitin Gadkiri and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised both before and after 2014 Lok Sabha elections of several steps to save Yamuna, but so far nothing has been done to save the river,” environmentalist Dr Devashish Bhattacharya said.

In a resolution, river activists demanded immediate action on the Yamuna barrage on downstream of the Taj Mahal, as was promised by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

River cleaning, desilting and dredging had also been promised but the concerned agencies have not shown any interest, the activists said, adding that the result is huge piles of garbage, sewer and industrial effluents increasing the overall pollution load in the river, causing adverse effect on the monuments along the banks of Yamuna.

The resolution also reminded Nitin Gadkiri of his promise to start ferry service to bring tourists from Delhi to see the Taj Mahal.

The green activists also expressed dissatisfaction with the working of the Taj Trapezium Zone Authority which has “miserably failed to address the problem of river pollution”.

The meeting blamed the river police squad to stop encroachers of the flood plains of the rivers, the polluters and the waste dumpers. Despite the success of the ODF programme, people could still be seen defecating on the river bed.

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Nature

US, Russia block UN panel report on climate change

These nations are climate villains and they must be opposed by the rest of the world, instead, they have found a steadfast ally and co-conspirator in the world’s most powerful country, the US, he said.

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File Pic of US President Donald Trump and Russian President Putin

Katowice (Poland), Dec 9 : The US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait have blocked the other 193 assembled countries in this Polish city from “welcoming” the recent IPCC report, even though the report had been requested by the earlier UN climate summit in Paris in 2015.

The US had even rejected the science itself, standing alone among all the world’s countries in refusing to endorse the findings of the report.

Reacting to this development, Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid’s International Climate Lead, said: “Saudi Arabia, Russia, Kuwait and especially the United States are rogue nations.

“These four major fossil fuel producers are working together against the interests of the rest of the world and jeopardising the chances of a safe climate.

“They show disregard for the wellbeing of the most vulnerable people on the planet. Climate change even threatens the future of their own people and yet they act to suppress scientific warnings.

“I had hoped that Saudi Arabia was undergoing reform and this was their chance to demonstrate it. But they have shown they don’t care about human rights, people or the planet.”

These nations are climate villains and they must be opposed by the rest of the world, instead, they have found a steadfast ally and co-conspirator in the world’s most powerful country, the US, he said.

Regarding the US pro-coal side event taking place on Monday at the ongoing UN climate summit, known as COP24, he added: “With great power comes great responsibility, and yet the US has failed to take this responsibility seriously. President Trump’s actions threaten the lives of many of the poorest people around the world.

“The scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) have shown that coal is the cause of our climate crisis and needs to be left in the ground, not touted at meetings designed to solve the suffering it has caused. The fact President Trump’s America is holding a pro-coal event at the climate summit underlines his utter ignorance and recklessness,” he added.

(Vishal Gulati is in Katowice at the invitation of Climate Trends to cover the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP24. He can be contacted at [email protected])

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