A man-made extinction epidemic, unprecedented in human history, is occurring on Planet Earth, according to a 2019 United Nations report.
In major land habitats, the abundance of life dropped an average of 20% over the past century. The decline of wild bees and other pollinators is jeopardizing up to $577 billion in annual crop production. The disappearance of mangrove forests and coastal reefs could place 300 million people at increased risk of flooding.
New York state estimates it would cost up to $40 billion to protect New York City from being flooded. If every city in the U.S. over 25,000 population were to be protected from flooding, the cost would be $400 billion. This isn’t good news vs bad news — it’s true news.
Researchers from Kings College in London recently completed a study of micropollution from five English rivers. They found pesticides in many of the freshwater shrimp tested. What surprised them was the presence of cocaine in the shrimp from all five rivers.
They understood that pharmaceuticals and insecticides would be present, but vastly underestimated what they might find inside the wildlife. This is not really new because in 2016, researchers in the U.S. found a “cocktail” of drugs, including Prozac, in salmon in Puget Sound off the coast of Seattle.
The best thing to do, according to British researchers, is to return unwanted drugs to pharmacies that offer a take-back program. Ah, the Brits have such brilliant ideas.
And speaking of things in the water, the National Marine Fisheries Service in California has begun requesting that whale carcasses washed up on private property be allowed to decay naturally.
There have been, at last count, 77 whales washed up on West Coast shores this year and the cost of towing them to a spot where necropsies can be conducted is getting out of sight. The whales can be as long as a semitrailer and weigh up to 45 tons.
States along the coast have tried burying them on beaches, dumping them in landfills, sinking them at sea and once, blowing one of them up with dynamite, which sent chunks of rancid whale meat raining down, according to The New York Times. If you have any ideas for getting rid of 45 tons of blubber, please call the National Marine Fisheries Service. They would like to hear from you.
The Week, a national magazine, had a very interesting editorial in its June 28 issue. We humans have covered the planet with plastic, but the plastic has found a place of respite in our bodies. What is this, payback?
An Austrian study in 2018 of people on four continents found plastic, known as BPA, in the urine of 93% of residents over the age of 6. A new Australian study found people ingest an average of 2,000 microplastic particles a week from food, water and air, roughly the same amount of plastic found in a credit card.
Research has found links between these plastics and prostate and breast cancer. Stay tuned for more dismal predictions as global production of plastic has reached 364 million tons.
In more linear news, a new record length of a python was caught in April. Guess where the 17-foot, 140-pound female containing 73 eggs was discovered. Africa? Malaysia? No, it was found in the Big Cypress National Forest in the Florida Everglades.
The rapidity of which climate change is affecting Florida’s low elevation is endangering cities along its east and west coasts so much that the entire state is in jeopardy of becoming a swamp. Pythons and alligators and mosquitoes, oh my!
Robert D. Campbell lives in Newburyport.