Gassy Cows Are Warming The Planet, And They’re Here To Stay

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/04/11/301794415/gassy-cows-are-warming-the-planet-and-theyre-here-to-stay?ft=3&f=1001%2c1003%2c1004%2c1090

April 12, 2014 5:06 AM ET

Correction April 12, 2014

An earlier version of this story said that the methane emissions associated with livestock come from their farts. In fact, most of those methane emissions come from belches.

 

These guys are gassy, and their emissions are contributing to global warming.

These guys are gassy, and their emissions are contributing to global warming.

Sorry to ruin your appetite, but it’s time to talk about cow belches.

Humans the world over are eating meat and drinking milk — some of us a little less, some of us a lot more, than years past. Farmers are bringing more and more cows into the world to meet demand, and with them escapes more methane into the atmosphere.

In 2011, methane from livestock accounted for 39 percent of all the greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, according to a report that United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization released Friday. That’s more than synthetic fertilizer or deforestation. Methane from livestock rose 11 percent between 2001 and 2011.

The bulk of the emissions — 55 percent — came from beef cattle. Dairy cows, buffalo, sheep and goats accounted for the rest.

Those emissions, combined with emissions from all the other sectors of food production, aren’t likely to go down anytime soon. Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, forestry and fishing have doubled over the past 50 years, according to the report. Emissions could go up by 30 percent by 2050.

All this talk about cow belches might make you want to give up meat. So should we all become vegetarians? Asking everyone to reduce their meat consumption isn’t a very practical strategy, says Francesco Tubiello, a natural resources officer for the FAO.

The demand for meat is rising most quickly in developing countries. And since the diets of many in the developing world are short on protein and calories, the poorest of them could really benefit from more meat production. Plus, “for many developing countries, agriculture is their main economic sector,” Tubiello tells The Salt.

Global meat consumption is likely to keep going up over the next 30 years, Tubiello says. (Though, as many have argued, it does make sense for the affluent people of the world who currently over-consume meat to cut back.) But the FAO says the best way to reduce agriculture’s contribution to global warming is to tackle other sources of emissions.

For example, we could improve how efficiently we use agricultural land. “There are many ways to improve the productivity of land,” Tubiello says, like increasing crop yields. That means we need to find more ways to use less land to make the same amount of food.

Encouraging farmers to use fertilizers more judiciously would also help. When farmers spray their fields with nitrogen fertilizer, microbes in the soil convert it to nitrous oxide, a powerful greenhouse gas. “A lot of the fertilizer is not used efficiently,” Tubiello says.

The FAO report found that fertilizers accounted 14 percent of agricultural emissions in 2011. And the amount emissions from fertilizers has risen 37 percent since 2001.

Of course, we can’t ignore the fact that raising livestock takes a huge toll on the environment. But, Tubiello says, there are ways to mitigate the environmental impact of raising livestock without doing away with meat altogether.

For example, we could also try to switch up what we feed cows. Having cows graze on grass isn’t a very efficient use of land, as the grass makes for smaller animals, who end up emitting more greenhouse gases per pound of meat produced, than animals raised on grain.

However, corn and soy that most cows eat makes them especially gassy, so feeding them alfalfa and supplements could reduce how much they belch. More research on how to optimize what we feed livestock could help farmers reduce emissions.

But even if we can’t control how much cows belch, we can control what we do with their poop. When nitrogen in livestock manure and urine is also broken down into nitrous oxide — and emissions from manure accounted for 16 percent of agricultural emissions in 2011, according to the FAO. Managing all that manure — or even reusing it as fuel, is one way to reduce emissions.

Good News for the Earth: Humans Will Soon Be Extinct

http://www.eutimes.net/2010/06/human-race-will-be-extinct-within-100-years-claims-leading-scientist/

    on    Jun 21st, 2010

As the scientist who helped eradicate smallpox he certainly know a thing or two about extinction.

And now Professor Frank Fenner, emeritus professor of microbiology at the Australian National University, has predicted that the human race will be extinct within the next 100 years.

He has claimed that the human race will be unable to survive a population explosion and ‘unbridled consumption.’

Fenner told The Australian newspaper that ‘homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years.’

‘A lot of other animals will, too,’ he added.

‘It’s an irreversible situation. I think it’s too late. I try not to express that because people are trying to do something, but they keep putting it off.’

Since humans entered an unofficial scientific period known as the Anthropocene – the time since industrialisation – we have had an effect on the planet that rivals any ice age or comet impact, he said.

Fenner, 95, has won awards for his work in helping eradicate the variola virus that causes smallpox and has written or co-written 22 books.

He announced the eradication of the disease to the World Health Assembly in 1980 and it is still regarded as one of the World Health Organisation’s greatest achievements.

He was also heavily involved in helping to control Australia’s myxomatosis problem in rabbits.

Last year official UN figures estimated that the world’s population is currently 6.8 billion. It is predicted to exceed seven billion by the end of 2011.

Fenner blames the onset of climate change for the human race’s imminent demise.

He said: ‘We’ll undergo the same fate as the people on Easter Island.

‘Climate change is just at the very beginning. But we’re seeing remarkable changes in the weather already.’

‘The Aborigines showed that without science and the production of carbon dioxide and global warming, they could survive for 40,000 or 50,000 years.

‘But the world can’t. The human species is likely to go the same way as many of the species that we’ve seen disappear.’

A map of the world from an atlas which concentrates on population rather than land mass released last year. The Earth’s population is due to hit 7bn by next year

Retired professor Stephen Boyden, a colleague of Professor Fenner, said that while there was deep pessimism among some ecologists, others had a more optimistic view.

‘Frank may well be right, but some of us still harbour the hope that there will come about an awareness of the situation and, as a result the revolutionary changes necessary to achieve ecological sustainability.’

Simon Ross, the vice-chairman of the Optimum Population Trust, said: ‘Mankind is facing real challenges including climate change, loss of bio-diversity and unprecedented growth in population.’

Professor Fenner’s chilling prediction echoes recent comments by Prince Charles who last week warned of ‘monumental problems’ if the world’s population continues to grow at such a rapid pace.

And it comes after Professor Nicholas Boyle of Cambridge University said that a ‘Doomsday’ moment will take place in 2014 – and will determine whether the 21st century is full of violence and poverty or will be peaceful and prosperous.

in the last 500 years there has been a cataclysmic ‘Great Event’ of international significance at the start of each century, he claimed.

In 2006 another esteemed academic, Professor James Lovelock, warned that the world’s population may sink as low as 500 million over the next century due to global warming.

He claimed that any attempts to tackle climate change will not be able to solve the problem, merely buy us time.

Source

Warm Alaskan Winter May Pose Problems for Iditarod Dog Sled Race

http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/warm-alaska-winter-may-present/23749451
By Kristen Rodman, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
February 27, 2014; 4:25 PM
Alaska’s most popular sporting [sic] event, the Iditarod Sled Dog Race is set to begin March 1, 2014. However, due to the milder-than-normal weather that has depleted snowpack this winter this winter, mushers may encounter some setbacks.

Kicking off the race, the annual ceremonial start will take place in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 1, 2014. The actual start to the competition will be on Sunday afternoon, March 2, 2014, in Willow, despite recent discussions.

Due to the lack of snowcover thus far this winter, race organizers considered moving the race start from Willow to Fairbanks, according to an Alaska Public Media  article. However, a construction company offered to help fix the trail with specialized equipment, and as a result, the race will stick to its traditional route through the Rainy Pass of the Alaska Range.

Musher Michelle Phillips of Tagish, Yukon Territory, Canada, makes the final push on the Bering Sea ice for the finish line a few miles outside Nome, Alaska, on Wednesday, March 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

“It’s been a very unusual winter up across Alaska,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jack Boston said. “The problem has been frequent mild days, which have been knocking down the snowcover.”

In January, Anchorage’s average temperature was 12 F above normal, causing the city’s snowcover to melt. Farther northwest in Nome, the temperature soared to a record-breaking high on Jan. 27, 2014, hitting 50 F for the first time ever during the winter season. Nome’s average temperature for January was 16 F above normal.

Despite the region’s massive winter warmup, many areas along the path of the race have received near-normal snowfall. So far this winter, Anchorage has received 53.7 inches of snow, or 90 percent of the normal snowfall, while Nome has accumulated 53.9 inches, or 96 percent of the normal snowfall.

As nearly 70 mushers get ready to make the 1,000-mile, multiple-day journey from Willow to Nome, the weather does not seem like it is going to cooperate this year but not because of its normal severity. Typically, the troublesome weather conditions that the race faces include winter storms, blizzards, high winds and subzero temperatures.

“It looks like a mild start to the Iditarod,” AccuWeather Long-Range Forecast Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said. “It looks like there can be a little snow on the ground around March 5, 2014, but it should not amount to much more than a few inches.”

Not All Winter Sports Negatively Impacted by Climate Change…

…THAT IS, IF YOU CONSIDER KILLING RABBITS A “SPORT”!!!

The USA Today ran an article yesterday by U.S. Olympic cross country skier, Andrew Newell, entitled, Climate Change Impacts Winter Sports.” Newel tells us, “As a skier, my life revolves around winter and being outside. Years spent training have not only honed my skills, but also shown me the negative impacts of climate change first-hand. There have been countless times in the past 10 years when our early season competitions have been delayed or canceled due to lack of snow, or our spring and summer training camps disrupted due to erratic weather or insufficient snowpack. It’s no coincidence then that the last decade was also the hottest decade ever recorded…

“Even the most reliable snowfall areas have seen a decrease in storms and precipitation. In the last few seasons, Scandinavian countries such as Finland, Norway and Sweden, which host world cup ski events in November and December, have had to rely upon man-made snow and injected ice for races. Many Nordic athletes, myself included, train on glaciers during the summer months.DSC_0098

“I’ve witnessed the visible recession of off season ski destinations such as Eagle Glacier in Alaska and the Dachstein Glacier in Austria in the last decade. Warming temperatures melting snow has meant in recent years, summer skiing conditions on glaciers have become too unstable to train on. Some countries have resorted to skiing indoors in artificial ski tunnels due to unpredictable conditions.

‘The conditions in Sochi are no exception. The organizers of these Winter Games ran into similar problems and had to go to extreme and unorthodox means to supply the snow necessary to hold high-level competitions. Workers in Russia have been stockpiling nearly 16 million cubic feet of snow and adding a special kind of salt to prevent melting.”

The article goes on: http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/02/11/andrew-newell-olympics-global-warming/5370379/  and in many ways parallels an early post of mine about the impacts of climate change on skiing, “In Case You Haven’t Noticed, Global Warming is Real.”  http://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/in-case-you-havent-noticed-yet-global-warming-is-real/

imagesQB1DEJITBut there’s one winter “sport” (if it can be called that) that isn’t effected by a lack of snow–bunny blasting. As Utah’s Daily Herald claims, “Rabbit hunting offers chance for winter sport” reports, “Regulations allow each hunter with a license to kill up to 10 cottontails.” [per day, no doubt.] And it also quotes Mark Zornes, who boasts, “This is what bunny hunting is like,” he said. “We rarely see people doing this, and this is the most fun kind of hunting. It’s also a great kid activity.”

So, forget snow sports, winter can be yet another chance to kill something.

In Case You Haven’t Noticed Yet, Global Warming Is Real

If you’re one of the lucky few who live somewhere as yet relatively unaffected by climateunderwear change, or you spend all your time indoors listening to Rush Limbaugh and watching Donald Trump on Fox News, I’m here to tell you, global warming is real.

It may be hard to accept that the Earth’s overall temperature is rapidly warming up if your state has just experienced a polar vortex, but if you live in California or the Pacific Northwest you know all too well the drastic effect climate change is having on winter weather—especially if you’re a skier like me.

As an avid powder skier I’ve been closely following the snow reports for the mountains in the western United States and I’m seeing a depressing trend toward shallower snow packs and away from our normal winter wonderland.

Why is this happening? As the San Jose Mercury News reported it, “Meteorologists have fixed their attention on the scientific phenomenon they say is to blame for the emerging drought: a vast zone of high pressure in the atmosphere off the West Coast, nearly four miles high and 2,000 miles long, so stubborn that one researcher [Swain] has dubbed it the ‘Ridiculously Resilient Ridge.’ Like a brick wall, the mass of high pressure air has been blocking Pacific winter storms from coming ashore in California, deflecting them up into Alaska and British Columbia, even delivering rain and cold weather to the East Coast.” Much to the dismay of skiers, this stubborn high pressure ridge is pushing the jet stream, and our winter moisture, along a much more northerly track.

Ok, but what does this, and the lack of winter storms (for us here in the West) have to do with global warming? In an article in ThinkProgress.org, “Leading Scientists Explain How Climate Change Is Worsening California’s Epic Drought,” we learn that “Beyond the expansion and drying of the subtropics predicted by climate models, some climatologists have found in their research evidence that the stunning decline in Arctic sea ice would also drive western drought — by shifting storm tracks…Scientists say this anomaly looks very much like what the models predicted as sea ice declined. The storm track response also looks very similar with correspondingly similar impacts on precipitation (reduced rainfall in CA, increased precipitation in SE Alaska).”

In addition to California’s record-breaking drought and water rationing, you probably heard on the national news about their destructive January brush fires. But even more shocking than those unseasonable fires are a recent pair of 300 acre wildfires on the normally soggy North Oregon Coast, which burned nearly to the beach. January fires in the Pacific Northwest rain forest are almost unheard of, as anyone who has tried to light a campfire in winter there will attest. In an article about the forest fires, The Daily Astorian (North Oregon Coast ’s local paper) reported that the National Weather Service in Portland issued a “red flag” warning in response to conditions (strong dry east winds and humidity as low as 25%) that can contribute to wildfires burning out of control. Instead of the 25% humidity, coastal Oregon humidity on a winter’s day should be more like 125%.

Whether you choose to “believe in” global warming or not, I urge any of you enjoying this mild, dry winter weather to please think snow!

DSC_0098

What Goes Up…

To all those of breeding age who are considering starting a family or adding yet another human child to this already dangerously over-crowded world, I politely urge you, with all due respect, to please think again. If not for the fragile planet’s sake or for the sake of every other struggling life form headed for mass extinction, then for the child’s sake, your sake and for sanity’s sake. Go ahead and adopt, whether human or non-human, but please don’t add to every environmental woe known to—and caused by—man by falling prey to the ill-advised notion that propagating is our duty or prerogative.

The world as we know it is headed for collapse. Do you really want your precious offspring to witness the unraveling of all of Earth’s systems or suffer the reckoning that’s soon to befall those unfortunate enough to be here when humankind’s self-serving environmental crimes come back on them? Can’t you see that the sheer weight of the human race is crushing everything and everyone else?

As a good friend, a young woman wise beyond her years, put it, those who consider reproducing to be a positive prospect for the twenty-first century “must be closing their eyes, plugging up their ears, and singing ‘Lalalala!’ very loudly.”

What goes up must come down, people; and for the past couple of hundred years or so, the human population has been accelerating skyward—breaking all sound barriers in a headlong quest to defy gravity, burst out of the Earth’s atmosphere and sail on to oblivion—taking all of creation with it.

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Large carnivore decline puts humans at risk

http://www.nbcnews.com/science/cry-wolf-large-carnivore-decline-puts-humans-risk-study-says-2D11880999

copyrighted Hayden wolf walking

by John Roach

A few years after wolves were reintroduced to the Northern Rockies in 1995, fifth-generation Montana rancher Rick Jarrett gave up on the parcel of federal land near Yellowstone National Park that he grazed for 20 years. The carnivores harassed his cattle so much that they stopped gaining weight. Skinny cattle don’t sell.

“It wasn’t worth being there anymore,” he told NBC News. To turn a profit, he now confines his livestock to several thousand acres on and around his ranch in Big Timber, where his cattle and sheep are free to pack on the pounds — for now. The wolves, he said, will eventually get there, too.

While Jarrett is bitter about having to live with wolves, such coexistence is increasingly necessary if the world hopes to reverse a downward spiral of its largest carnivores such as wolves as well as lions, tigers, and bears, according to a review study published Thursday in the journal Science.

As the carnivores decline, ecosystems and food chains that humans depend on for survival are unraveling and, in many cases, adding to the economic woes of everyone from farmers to ecotourism companies.

“We should be thinking of ourselves in the end because if enough important species go extinct and we lose enough ecosystem services and economic services, then humanity will suffer,” William Ripple, an ecologist at Oregon State University in Corvallis and the study’s lead author, told NBC News.

What to do? Ripple and 13 colleagues from around the world found that more than three quarters of Earth’s largest carnivores are in population declines. Most occupy only a fraction of their historic ranges and more than half are threatened with extinction.

 The paper’s main finding is familiar to wildlife conservationists — large carnivores are in trouble — but pays scant attention to the most important problem: “What are we going to do about it?” Craig Packer, an ecologist at the University of Minnesota who was not involved with the study, told NBC News.”I think that is a huge challenge.”

Finding solutions is complicated, Ripple noted. The study, he said, is meant to illustrate the plight of carnivores and what humans stand to lose if the creatures go extinct — information that could steer policy via, for example, a global committee focused on carnivore conservation.

In the paper, the researchers argue that humans are ethically obligated to conserve large carnivores — the animals have an intrinsic right to exist on planet Earth. They then back the argument with examples of the way the role carnivores play in the ecosystem help humans.

In Africa, for example, loss of leopards and lions has translated to an increase in baboon populations, which in turn are raiding farmers’ livestock and crops for food. “In extreme cases, the farm family needs to keep their children home to guard the crops instead of go to school,” Ripple said.

Other benefits of carnivores noted in the study include control of deer, elk, and moose populations, which in turn keep forest plants healthy for other critters, limit erosion, and enhance water quality. Parks full of wolves and bears also attract tourists, whose dollars boost local economies.

Wolf-specific tourism in Yellowstone National Park, the paper notes, brings in $22 to $48 million per year.

What’s more, the scientists add, regions where carnivores keep other animal populations in check are full of plants that soak up carbon from the atmosphere, helping to slow global climate change. Jarrett, the Montana rancher, doubted such arguments would foster better feelings toward wolves.

“Granted carbon sequestration is important,” he said, “but the benefit we are going to get from wolves … is so insignificant it isn’t even funny.”

Legitimate fears The reality, noted Packer, who is an expert on human-carnivore interactions and deeply involved in African lion conservation, is that humans naturally fear these animals, often for good reason.

“You cannot expect somebody living in rural Africa or rural Asia to risk being eaten by a lion or a tiger so that your moral sense is gratified back in California or Texas or New York,” he said. “Conservationists need to recognize that there are legitimate reasons why people want to get rid of these animals.”

To reduce human predation on lions, Packer advocates the controversial use of patrolled and maintained fences that serve as a physical barrier between people and wildlife.

Ultimately, he said, the conflict among humans about our relationship with carnivores comes down to emotion versus intellect. While arguments such as carnivores’ ability to buffer ecosystems against climate change are “interesting,” in the end, he said, emotion usually wins.

“You have to find ways that people feel safe and that people benefit economically.”

John Roach is a contributing writer for NBC News.

Reducing Gas Emissions from Livestock Key to Curbing Climate Change: Study

By James A. Foley

Jan 03, 2014

A study published recently in the journal Nature Climate Change highlights both the need for policy changes and greater emphasis on livestock management in order to curb climate change.

Although it’s well known that significant quantities of methane are produced by the burps and excrement of the world’s livestock, the study authors contend that inadequate attention is being paid to to the greenhouse gasses associated with ruminant animals such as cows, sheep, goats and buffalo.

“Because the Earth’s climate may be near a tipping point to major climate change, multiple approaches are needed for mitigation,” study leader William Ripple, a professor in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University. said in a statement. “We clearly need to reduce the burning of fossil fuels to cut CO2 emissions. But that addresses only part of the problem. We also need to reduce non-CO2 greenhouse gases to lessen the likelihood of us crossing this climatic threshold.”

Ripple and his colleagues suggest that an effective way to mitigate the effects these greenhouse gasses have on the environment is to reduce global populations of ruminant livestock.

At approximately 3.6 billion heads, the world population of ruminant livestock is about half the global human population. Moreover, about 25 percent of the Earth’s land area is dedicated to livestock grazing, and a third of all arable land is used to grow feed crops for livestock, the researchers write.

On the basis of pounds of food produced, cattle and sheep generate between 19 and 48 times more greenhouse gasses than protein-rich plant foods such as beans, grains, or soy products, the researchers found.

More: http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/5514/20140103/reducing-gas-emissions-livestock-key-curbing-climate-change-study.htm#

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2013: The Year of the Big Backslide?

The year of our lord, 2013, could be known as the year of the big backslide, at least in terms of attitudes toward animals and the environment, as well as the general acceptance of scientific fact.

For example, CBS News reports that the number of Republicans who believe in evolution today has plummeted compared to what it was in 2009, according to new analysis from the Pew Research Center. A poll out Monday shows that less than half – 43 percent – of those who identify with the Republican Party say they believe humans have evolved over time, plunging from 54 percent four years ago. Forty-eight percent say they believe “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time,” up from 39 percent in 2009.

I can’t help but think this is because many people still aren’t comfortable admitting they’re animals. And this supremacist attitude is reflected in everything they do in regard to our fellow species.

Anyone who has been following the wolf issue since gray wolves were removed from the Endangered Species List in a handful of backward states has certainly noticed a rapid backslide pertaining to how wolves are perceived, treated and “managed” by those bent on dragging us back to the dark ages for animals—the Nineteenth Century—when concepts like bounties, culls and contest hunts were commonplace. Hunters and ranchers in the tri-state area surrounding Yellowstone National Park, as well as in the Great Lakes region, are doing everything they can to resurrect the gory glory days of the 1800s, and wolves are paying the ultimate price.

Meanwhile, in spite of great efforts to educate people about the myriad of problems associated with factory farming and the dependence on meat consumption in an ever more crowded human world, the number of ruminants raised for food on the planet today is at an all-time high of 3.6 billion, double what is was 50 years ago. Regardless of or our burgeoning human population, not only do we have a chicken in every pot in this country, we now have cow and sheep parts in every freezer and pig parts in practically every poke. This, of course, is all thanks to ever-worsening living conditions for farmed animals.

Professor William Ripple and co-authors of a research paper, “Ruminants, Climate Change, and Climate Policy,” prepared in Scotland, Austria, Australia and the United States, noted that about 25 percent of the earth’s land area is dedicated to grazing, and a third of all arable land is used to grow food for livestock, according to the report. Reducing the number of cattle and sheep on the planet, and thereby reducing the methane gas emissions they produce, is a faster way to impact climate change than reducing carbon dioxide alone, the report concluded. The researchers concluded that greenhouse gas emissions from cattle and sheep are 19 to 48 times higher per pounds of food produced than the gas emitted in the production of plant protein foods such as beans, grains or soy.

To get an idea of how unnatural and unsustainable 3.6 billion large ruminants is, think back to when vast bison herds blackened the plains. At that time there were only 50 million bison in all of North America. There are over 300 million human beef-eaters in the United States, every one of them expecting to see a fully stocked steak house, Subway or McDonald’s on every street corner.

Meanwhile, the media’s busily cooking up a spin to answer to meat’s culpability in this planet’s climate crisis. Articles on how methane from grass-eaters is a primary greenhouse gas are often accompanied by the suggestion that pigs and chickens don’t produce as much. In other words, don’t worry your little meat-addicted heads if this beef-cow-causing-global-warming thing becomes a recognized issue, you can just switch over to other non-ruminants’ carcasses—no one really expects you to become a vegetarian, after all.

One of the most outrageous spins ever concocted aired on a “Ted Talk” just last March. Allan Savory, a former Rhodesian provincial Game Officer, has been spreading the counterintuitive notion that to control desertification and stop global warming we need to turn even more cattle out onto arid land. This notion comes from a man who, as late as 1969 advocated for the culling of large populations of elephants and hippos because he felt they were destroying their habitat. Savory participated in the culling of 40,000 elephants in the 1950s, but he later concluded it did not reverse the degradation of the land and called the culling project “the saddest and greatest blunder of my life.” Now he’s trying to sell us on another blunder with even more destructive consequences. What will this guy do for an encore? Never mind, I don’t want to know.

Speaking of Africa, 2013 saw the fastest growing and second most populous continent on its way to adding another billion people to the planet. By the end of this century, 3/4 of the world’s growth is expected to come from Africa, and projections put its population at four billion—one billion in Nigeria alone. Most African countries will at least triple in population, as there are very high fertility rates and very little family planning in most regions. No one is quite sure how the continent will provide for that many hungry humans; only time will tell.

And even though China’s overwhelming population is already well past a billion, in 2013 they abandoned their one child policy and affectively doubled it by implementing a two child policy at the stroke of a pen.

Sorry, but this shit is scary, at least if you care about the plight of non-human species on this planet. Sure, cultural diversity is important—to people. But it sure as hell doesn’t trump biological diversity in the scheme of things. Regardless of what you may or may not believe about whether we were created in the image of a god, life on Earth as we know it will not go on if we humans are one of the only species left around.

The coming decades are going to test just what Homo sapiens are made of. Are we progressive and adaptable enough to learn to share the planet with others and become plant eaters, as some people have? Or is our incessant breeding and meat consumption going to put us into an all new classification—planet eater?

1535443_10151792030721493_1254752217_n