These are the animals that went extinct in 2018

Spix's macaws in captivity. They are extinct in the wild.
Spix’s macaws in captivity. They are extinct in the wild. IMAGE: PATRICK PLEUL/PICTURE ALLIANCE VIA GETTY IMAGES)

With the end of 2018 comes the near-certain reality that some critters, after millions of years of existence on Earth, are gone for good.

There’s little question that humanity’s continued exploitation of wild animals and the depletion of their habitats have left many species either clinging to existence, or at worst, extinct. Today’s extinctions are happening 100 to 1000 times faster than the expected, natural rate of die-offs. It’s grim. MORE

 

10 ways to accelerate progress against climate change

From pricing carbon to shifting diets, here’s what we need to prioritize now.

wind turbines

According to the Carbon Majors Database, 71 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions since 1988 can be traced back to just 100 fossil fuel companies. Hitting the 1.5°C or 2°C goals means these corporations, their customers, and other large enterprises must phase out fossil fuels (more aggressively than what Shell laid out in its vision for a zero-carbon world).

Governments will also have to come up with tax schemes to generate new revenue for investment in and incentives for renewable energy, reforestation, and carbon removal technologies. And we need to vote for leaders who will deliver on them. MORE

 

U.S. cities committed to running on 100% renewable power can be models for a national plan

With a new, scary study appearing at what seems like once a week, good news on the climate front is always welcome. And in at least one climate-related way, the news in 2018 has been very good.

From Abita Springs, Louisiana, population 2,365, to San Diego, California, population 1.3 million, U.S. cities are joining others around the world in pledging to obtain 100 percent of their electricity from renewable (or at least non-carbon) sources. As of December 17, those are just two of the 102 U.S. cities that have made such a formal commitment. The mayors of those 102 cities and 104 others now stand with the 100 percent pledge, though more than half of them have yet to convince their governing bodies to follow their lead in the matter. Nineteen months ago, only 25 cities had made the commitment. In addition to these cities, 11 counties, Hawai’i and California are shooting for the 100 percent goal. MORE

Forget ‘the environment’: we need new words to convey life’s wonders

Language is crucial to how we perceive the natural world. Help me to find better ways of describing nature and our relationships with it so we can better defend it

Beavers in the river Otter in Devon
 Beavers in the river Otter in Devon. ‘Our awe of nature, and the silence we must observe to watch wild animals, hints at the origins of religion.’ Photograph: Mike Symes/ Devon Wildlife Trust

If Moses had promised the Israelites a land flowing with mammary secretions and insect vomit, would they have followed him into Canaan? Though this means milk and honey, I doubt it would have inspired them.

So why do we use such language to describe the natural wonders of the world? There are examples everywhere, but I will illustrate the problem with a few from the UK. On land, places in which nature is protected are called “sites of special scientific interest”. At sea, they are labelled “no-take zones” or “reference areas”. Had you set out to estrange people from the living world, you could scarcely have done better. MORE

Discount Frenzy: The dirt on discount oil

We are being inundated with discount frenzy and it’s not just annoying, it could be life-threatening.

Image result for Discount Frenzy: The dirt on discount oil

I’m not talking about the onslaught of huckster ads encouraging us to buy, buy, buy on Black Friday, or even today, Boxing Day. No, the truly crazy-making discount frenzy is the barrage of half-truths, misinformation and outright lies blaming Alberta’s woes on the so-called discount on Canadian oil. That’s some serious snake oil (aka propaganda) that is sabotaging our chance to keep the world habitable for our children.

Lower quality = lower price

Politicians in Ottawa and Alberta are spinning a good yarn. Their tall tale taps into deeply entrenched Canadian insecurities as well as anxieties about U.S. control of Canadian resources. The problem is, like any good yarn, it’s full of blarney. The truth is that there is no discount on Canadian oil as most people understand the term. MORE