The Denuding of Britain.

As a Biologist I am dismayed by the destruction of nature I have witnessed in my own lifetime.

As a boy I played in the fields and meadows, collected frogspawn from the ponds and snakes, lizards and slowworms from the heaths.

 

The meadows were awash with colour, adorned with all manner of flowers. When you lay back in the long grass there was a buzz of insects, a multitude of bees attended the blossoms, grasshoppers stridulated, beetles crawled through the undergrowth. golden eyed, luminescent green lacewings flew by, hoverflies wavered in the air, butterflies of all hues bobbed over the fields. In the air above house martins, swallows and swifts zipped and soared. The swifts shrieking in delight as they fed off the abundant insects. A journey in the car resulted in a splattered windscreen. Clouds of insects hung in the air around lamps.

 

The streams were alive with red throated stickle-backs that darted from cover to cover. The ponds were full of globes of frogspawn each spring. Thick with pond weed in which the newts and frogs sheltered.

The heath rustled as lizards and snakes darted into the dry undergrowth. We'd dive and catch them. We'd move the old corrugated iron and collect the grass snakes and slowworms.

 

I dug a big pit at home with a pond in which I kept my creatures.

 

Every year we'd collect the Puss Moth caterpillars and Poplar and Eyed Hawk moth caterpillars from the poplars and willow, Drinker Moths from the grass, and Privet Hawk Moth caterpillars from the privet hedges. I'd rear them to moths and release them.

 

I'd breed the voles, rear the tadpoles to frogs and toads, and delight in nature.

 

Back then I did not realise that even that was just a mere vestige of what once had been. Back in the days of King Harold - 1066 - England had been one vast forest full of bears, wolves, beavers, otters and wild boar. When Harold marched to and from Stamford Bridge to first defeat Harold Hardrarda and then lose to William they travelled through trails in the forests not roads.  I doubt they saw the sky. Those forests were cleared and the animals that lived there in abundance destroyed with them. I lived in the green patchwork fields that were a desert compared to before. Yet they were still full with that rump of life.

 

In my lifetime the decline has been rapid. The fields no longer buzz, crawl or bob with insects. The car no longer gets splattered. The skies are not full of swifts. The streams are either culverted, polluted with farm run-off and stagnant, devoid of darting fish, the ponds are devoid of newt, frog or spawn. The heaths no longer rustle with lizards and snakes. Hedgehogs are no longer squashed on the road. They have all become rarities. No longer do little boys go collected their frogspawn or jars of fish or hunting lizard and snake. The butterfly nets are a thing of the past. Those creatures, once abundant, are not to be easily found.

 

Yet people still tell me that I am wrong. We are not destroying nature. No animals are being pushed to extinction.

 

The evidence of my own eyes both in England and across the world is a lie. The scare stories are being manufactured for obscure reasons.

 

I despair. I do not believe people care.

Comments

opher goodwin Added Nov 26, 2017 - 5:31am
I believe that unless we act decisively we will see the total demise of nature. It is a tragedy that leaves me so sad.
opher goodwin Added Nov 26, 2017 - 6:08am
Donald Bickerstaff Added Nov 26, 2017 - 6:52am
I agree with you. As a kid I was always playing outdoors in Ayrshire Scotland, in the 1960's. After we got fed up playing Cowboys and Indians, I would go off on my own, I had a birds egg collection which led me to read books on who the birds were. We guddled trout in the burn leading into Glanderston and old volcanic lake full of fish. I moved to another country for 25yrs on my return I walk around Morden Park which is local shocked by the lack of creatures and monotony of trees and plants, Should have a list of species affected and do a better job of protecting their environments. Any very niece piece Opher 
Leroy Added Nov 26, 2017 - 7:42am
It's a different story in the US.  It has a lot more trees than it did a hundred years ago.  When I was a young teenager, hunting wasn't popular in the area because there wasn't much to hunt.  Today, it is overrun by deer.  The population must be culled.  One jumped the fence at the factory and smashed into a glass panel killing himself.  People are killed by cars running into deer every year. Turkeys were rare and are now in abundance.  Non-native animals now live there such as coyotes.  Wild pigs are in abundance.  Ok.  These are fugitive pigs that escaped from the mass pig farms.  They are in such abundance that they are a nuisance.  In the city downtown, a hawk nearly took my head off one day as it focused like a laser beam on a bird perched on the carport.  There was a possum with its young on its back outside the back door one day.  A rabbit used to live in my small yard. 
 
And, it is much less polluted these days.  We shipped most of it to China.
 
I suppose it is different living on an island with a growing influx of people.  We are lucky in the US to still have vast lands.
 
 
opher goodwin Added Nov 26, 2017 - 10:50am
Thank you Donald. I wish it wasn't so.
opher goodwin Added Nov 26, 2017 - 10:52am
Leroy - that is heartening to hear. I wish it was true all over the planet. I'm afraid it isn't.
Michael B. Added Nov 26, 2017 - 12:08pm
@ Leroy - I know someone who had not one, but two cars totaled from deer collisions.
Michael B. Added Nov 26, 2017 - 12:11pm
Opher, I guess that's the down side of living on an island. I know exactly what you mean, though. The city next to my home town became aggressively "pro-growth" in the mid 90's, growth as in the growth of concrete, asphalt, and steel. What was once a vast area for agriculture is now mostly malls and industrial parks. My hometown is kind of locked in by the terrain, so it probably will never suffer the same fate.
opher goodwin Added Nov 26, 2017 - 12:33pm
Leroy/Michael - there are certain animals that appear to be flourishing around the world as all the others decline - deer, rabbits, rats, pigeons, crows and seagulls come to mind.
opher goodwin Added Nov 26, 2017 - 12:34pm
Michael - urbanisation is just one of the perils of overpopulation.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 26, 2017 - 1:33pm
Opher- overpopulation, as we cut down the rain forests, fish species to extinction, and tap the resources of the earth until there are no more. Yet, some realize it. The U.S. and Europe have stopped expanding their populations, I hope because of environmental consciousness.  China realized they were on the path to disaster because of an unmanageable population growth in the 1980s and took measures to control it, with some success. But look what nations are expanding their populations and leaving their countries en mass.
Their populations have expanded faster then their economies and natural resources can handle. No problem, just go where there's a bunch of old people, they're kind and understanding. We cannot populate ourselves into prosperity. Like it or not, the earth has limited, fixed resources. The earth surely can support a lot more population, but the quality of that life will be nothing like the quality of previous life, for both man and animal.
Michael B. Added Nov 26, 2017 - 1:47pm
I cannot improve upon Jeff's comment.
opher goodwin Added Nov 26, 2017 - 2:44pm
Jeff - you summed it up. We can surely support a lot more people but the price is way too high for me. I value nature too much. I feel for the poor creatures being displaced and murdered.
We have to assist those expanding populations to limit themselves. There is madness at work.
opher goodwin Added Nov 26, 2017 - 2:44pm
Michael - I guess not.
Dino Manalis Added Nov 26, 2017 - 3:01pm
It's happening gradually and people in the U.S. and Britain probably like the idea of having warmer weather during the winter and they don't like insects anyway.  Some voice their concerns and some policymakers call for various actions, but nothing really changes.
opher goodwin Added Nov 26, 2017 - 3:05pm
Dino - you are right. But insects form the basis of our food webs. Without them we not only don't have pollination but we do not have all the creatures that feed on them or the creatures that feed on them, or the creatures that feed on them. It is a big web of which we are part.
I value nature.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 26, 2017 - 6:51pm
Insects are the key to feeding the population. They grow quickly on meager and rather unpleasant foods, they are mostly protein, and they're simple and easy maintain. But those crickets keep falling through the grill on to the charcoal!
A. Jones Added Nov 26, 2017 - 7:09pm
I wish it was true all over the planet. I'm afraid it isn't.
 
I'm afraid you're wrong. All data from all scientific sources indicate that the earth, overall, is getting greener. You've intentionally chosen to ignore that fact and instead to cite anecdotes from your childhood as evidence of some imaginary catastrophe. This is known as "clickbait."
 
You're a biologist? A few questions:
 
Where and when did you obtain your Ph.D. in biology?
 
What scientific research in biology have you done, and in what peer-reviewed technical journals was it published?
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 26, 2017 - 8:14pm
Opher - living here in West Virginia, I've seen some of the things that Leroy mentioned. 25 years ago, we marveled to see a deer in our neighbor's fenced back yard. Now the hooved rats eat almost anything that I put out. I have an acre and a quarter of land on a hillside, and it is a nature refuge, since the only chemicals I use are wasp spray for yellow jackets, and Round-up for poison ivy. I love seeing the box turtles mating in our back yard (male looking up at us on the deck going, hey, can we get a little privacy here, mate?).
 
I realize that a hillside environment is different than a row crop environment, and the observations you have made about insect population declines are true here as they are in Europe. I wrote a post back in May on this same topic - there was good information in Science at the time.
opher goodwin Added Nov 27, 2017 - 4:03am
Jeff - with a bit of genetic engineering the grill problem could be solved - giant crickets could become the new king prawns.
opher goodwin Added Nov 27, 2017 - 4:17am
A Jones - What you cite is an obfuscation of the facts. The rise in CO2 levels has resulted in faster plant growth - hence your observation that the planet is getting greener. But this is not any indication of improvement at all. The pristine rainforest is still being chopped down. Habitats are being destroyed. There is overfishing and overhunting drastically reducing populations of animals. The pollution levels are rising. There is global warming, a rise in sea levels and bleaching of corals. Insect populations and mammal populations have dropped dramatically. Your claim is intended to camouflage the real issues. There is a crisis that needs addressing. We are causing a catastrophe in animal population - nothing to do with the greening of the planet.
For your information I have a London University BSc Hons Degree in Zoology, special subject Entomology, and completed two and a half years research on the Biostratonomy of Lake Windermere using Chironomid larvae as indicator organisms. Not that such a justification should be necessary on a debating site of this nature.
I then taught Biology to A Level (round about degree level in the States) for 36 years culminating as Headteacher.
opher goodwin Added Nov 27, 2017 - 4:24am
EABC - what is most concerning to me is the loss of diversity and huge reduction in many populations. There seem to be a number of species flourishing but hundreds of others disappearing altogether. We're going to be left with the creatures that make a living out of human waste - seagulls, pigeons, rats, crows and foxes - and ones that flourish due to a lack of competition or predation - rabbits and deer. The loss of swifts, housemartins, frogs, hedgehogs, toads, newts, caterpillars, slowworms, snakes, sticklebacks and lizards is very noticeable to me. Who would have believed that honeybees would virtually have disappeared?
Simply Jews Added Nov 27, 2017 - 5:54am
Opher - good points all, maybe slightly exaggerated, but good.
Overpopulation is the key factor, of course. 
We are just that fungus that will overgrow the planet if not checked.
But yes, giant crickets might still come through for us.
opher goodwin Added Nov 27, 2017 - 7:16am
Simply Jews - I am glad you agree with me about the overpopulation crisis. I believe it is the key to everything.
Slightly exaggerated? I thought it was understated if anything. But there you go. It certainly distresses me.
Billy Roper Added Nov 27, 2017 - 7:57am
As a biologist you should understand that multiracialism and hybridization through interbreeding blunt the true diversity which nature requires for the continued evolution of the species through group natural selection competition. It counts for homo sapiens, too.
opher goodwin Added Nov 27, 2017 - 8:38am
Billy - I think you are wrong here. As a biologist I know that cross-breeding introduces both hybrid vigour and greater diversity. The mixing of genes is just what sexual reproduction is all about. I think you have got your biology kinda mixed up.
Cross breeding works the same for human beings. Mixing with other races masks deleterious genes and creates healthier, more vigorous stock. Inbreeding within groups leads to sickly offspring.
Sort of the opposite of what you said.
Natural selection merely weeds out the ones that won't survive. We are largely preventing that from happening in humans through our nurturing ways. We'll see how that plays out.
Neil Lock Added Nov 27, 2017 - 8:42am
When I look into the background behind the claims that various species are in decline, I find myself becoming rather confused. When I look at bees, for example, I see the numbers of hives going up, but the numbers of bees per hive going down by more. There are various claims about the causes, for instance side effects of pesticides (which I find quite believable). The one thing I can be sure of is that nobody really knows. With regard to swifts, I find a suggestion that the decline may be because modern energy-efficient homes don’t provide the same level of nesting sites as older ones. But that means that, historically, humans have actually been a help to swifts! I also see statements like the moths they eat are declining, at the same time as moths in general are said to be undergoing a population explosion. That doesn’t pass my smell test.
 
I’m also worried by how often I find “climate change” touted as an explanation of species decline. I know enough about that subject to be aware that, yes, climate changes; and no, nobody knows why temperatures go up and down. The attribution of much or all of recent warming to human activities is scientifically very dubious, and the whole thing has been turned by vested interests into a political football. The overall consequences of warming (for example, less storms and hurricanes due to decreased temperature gradients) and of more CO2 (for example, increased photosynthesis for plants) are also unclear. Though the vested interests try to make out that these consequences are always negative and “worse than we thought!”
 
As to my own personal experience, I don’t see any less of most species than I remember from the past. My local canal and lake have no shortage of swans, ducks, geese or moorhens (nor, indeed, of fish); and you can even see herons and the occasional kingfisher. Birds have nested under the eaves above my bedroom window for many summers now. Wasps are, if anything, increasing. So are spiders – a good thing from my point of view, most of all when they spin their webs in a place that stops the wasps coming into my bedroom! Foxes, deer, badgers and in the autumn pheasants are just as much hazards on the road at night as they ever were. Rabbits, perhaps, may have gone down – but then I was brought up within a few miles of Watership Down.
 
I have three big problems with the greens and their supporters. One, they tend to assume that humans are to blame for particular problems, without proving the case beyond reasonable doubt. Two, they often exaggerate or misrepresent the facts, or sow confusion, in order to try to justify their case. And third and worst, their accusations are collective. That is, they accuse humanity as a whole of causing these problems, not the individuals or companies who may (or may not) be actually responsible.
 
As an individual, I never intentionally harm wildlife (other than the ones I eat). I’ve even been known, when walking, to change my stride in order to avoid stepping on a column of ants or a beetle. I am perfectly prepared to accept responsibility for the bad effects on others of what I do – though, as I’ve said before, I consider treating animals badly to be inelegant, but not nearly as bad as treating human beings badly. But I don’t accept any collective responsibility, unless I have taken on a contract to do so (which I haven’t).
 
My view is that those, who want to help a particular species, should get together with like minded fellows, buy a piece of its habitat, and establish a colony. That’s not a new idea; it’s already done in places like bird sanctuaries. But those that promote the green agenda don’t usually do things like that. Instead, they raise a smoke of half truths, misrepresentations and scares in an effort to bring about political action. And the political action they want – such as to reduce the human population by government force or by “incentives” that require ever heavier taxation – are invariably unjust and harmful to human beings, and most of all to those who are innocent of all wrongdoing.
 
Lastly, the reasons why they do these things aren’t “obscure” at all. There’s a great green gravy train – mostly tax funded – on to which lots of politicians, bureaucrats, bad “scientists,” unscrupulous corporate barons and academic and media manipulators have all climbed in the last 30 years or so. Their goals are money, power or both.
Shane Laing Added Nov 27, 2017 - 8:57am
 I'm no tree hugger but even I can see problems down the road. Due to a massive drop in bee numbers and other insects, pollination of food crops is a real problem that needs to be addressed sharpish.
Shane Laing Added Nov 27, 2017 - 8:59am
Oh and pulse fishing by the dutch. Destroying the seabed and killing not only fish but everything else in the trawlers path. Yep the EU allows it. From it being a trial in which 20 dutch boats were allowed to do it for a short period, the dutch now have 100 boats allowed to do it continuously.
Michael Cikraji Added Nov 27, 2017 - 9:12am
Billy and Opher,
I'm no biologist, but know well that hybrid vigor helps to make superior organisms, of any type. Yea, Hitler and the Nazis were right in claiming that humanity can create the Master Race; they were wrong in the method to achieve it: homogeneity breeds inferiority, diversity breeds strength. 
Need proof of this, Billy? If a guy inbreeds with his sister, the kids are smaller, weaker and sickly. That's why inbreeding is discouraged. 
opher goodwin Added Nov 27, 2017 - 9:24am
Neil - the evidence is that there has been a huge decline in bee populations due to the varroa mite and use of neonicatinoid pesticides.
The decline in Swifts is not mainly from nesting sites but the drastic 75% reduction in winged insects on which they feed.
The correlation between global warming and CO2 levels is well established. The scientific knowledge of the greenhouse effect is well understood.
Hurricanes are created and fuelled by heat. We can expect bigger storms and far more rain and flooding from saturated air.
Neil I think as a denier you are burying your head in the sand and hanging on to the threads created by those with the vested interests.
opher goodwin Added Nov 27, 2017 - 9:25am
Shane - I thoroughly agree. We have a big crisis looming with insects and pulse fishing should be banned. It is environmentally destructive.
opher goodwin Added Nov 27, 2017 - 9:26am
Michael - exactly right. Quite the opposite of what Billy was thinking.
Simply Jews Added Nov 27, 2017 - 9:29am
Opher, I really admire you.
Arguing racial purity with a Nazi is something I thought no one is doing anymore ;-)
Neil Lock Added Nov 27, 2017 - 9:51am
Opher: The correlation between global temperature and CO2 levels is unclear. Not least, because the temperature levels in the past have huge uncertainties and have been "adjusted" many times, perhaps dubiously. And anyway, correlation doesn't prove causation.
 
While the direct heat trapping effects of CO2 seem to be quite well understood, the knock on effects (feedbacks) are not well understood, because they include effects from water vapour and clouds. The first of these has huge uncertainties, and last I looked it wasn't even clear whether the feedback from clouds is positive or negative. On top of all that, how much of the effects of CO2 (however big or small) are actually down to CO2 emitted by human activities is still an open question.
 
I have an article on the subject on my list (or maybe even two), but don't hold your breath. ;-)
Neil Lock Added Nov 27, 2017 - 9:57am
Opher: let me also add to SJ's my admiration for your efforts to deal with those that would politicize race.  And Michael C is right: inbreeding does indeed breed inferiority. As evidence, I offer the British royal family - see my "Brief History of England" from last week.
Michael Cikraji Added Nov 27, 2017 - 10:01am
Opher,
A great article, as always. I think what England is having to deal with is massive population growth in a (comparatively) short period of time.
 
People have lived in England for thousands of years, but the population in 1800 of England was 10.5 million, today it's 53 million! I think nature is having a real problem trying to keep up.
 
England is (roughly) the same size of Ohio, (where I live). We generally consider Ohio "full" at less than 12 million! The thing is that it's London's growth in particular. As crazy as it may sound, in our lifetime, a combination of factors:
 
1) increased speed of public transportation (mainly trains)
2) growing cost of living in London area
3) massive growth in London job opportunities, and infrastructure projects
 
....may make the whole of England turn into the metropolitan area of London!
wsucram15 Added Nov 27, 2017 - 10:42am
Opher..it is sad to hear firsthand that ALL areas of the planet are affected by this elimination of wildlife.
Here, you really have to look now for some forms of the chain. I dont see just wild bees anymore. If I go out into the country to shoot pictures, I will sometimes find dragonfly's, butterfly's and bees around wildflowers.  I have a field with an old dilapidated barn I shoot  in the late spring because it has a cool creek that runs through it and I often see some wildlife there.
I was also fascinated in going to Mt St Helens in 2014, which is still very barren 40 years after the eruption.  However, some things are beginning to grow back and wildlife has returned.  I saw Elk, squirrels, butterflys, BIG birds, various bugs, bears..etc.   Its nice to see that something like that can happen to nature and somehow it will find a way.
But it is STILL a protected area.  FOR NOW.  Some of the US protected areas, are now unprotected via US LAW and TRUMP for mining.
 
Hopefully the next person in office respects nature...if you are out in it, it is the most valuable resource we have, at least to me.
opher goodwin Added Nov 27, 2017 - 11:12am
Simply Jews - unless we speak our minds with each other in a respectful manner we cannot make progress. I've always been passionate about trying to improve the world for some reason. And I've always, maybe foolishly, believed that if you explain things well and communicate you can change people. To do that you have to be prepared to listen, to argue and find the points of compromise if they exist - at least to understand each other.
Simply Jews Added Nov 27, 2017 - 11:16am
Opher, foolishness is not what I would call your admirable optimism, and I don't think any less of you for engaging you know who. 
Being a lesser man, I know only one argument to use in a case like the one in question. Oh well, not to happen. 
opher goodwin Added Nov 27, 2017 - 11:17am
Neil - while there are uncertainties with both CO2 levels in the past and the complexities of global warming (given cloud reflection, water vapour and effects of dust, volcanic ash and other gasses) the evidence is certainly sufficient for me and most other scientists. I do not think there is much doubt and I do not go along with the deniers who I believe are clutching at straws. The rising in sea-levels, warming of the planet and the effects of that on hurricanes, people and habitats is surely sufficient, regardless of what you believe the cause is, for us to need to do something about it.
opher goodwin Added Nov 27, 2017 - 11:18am
Neil - the inbreeding of Europe's royalty is indeed evidence against racial purity. Hybridisation is the way forward. Harry has obviously taken this to heart.
Rick Fontes Added Nov 27, 2017 - 11:28am
We are sparsely populated here in our remote corner of Waller County, Texas.  The local government does not use herbicides or pesticides to any great degree and there is very little farming any more.  One might expect a noticeable return to nature but for some reason the insects are disappearing, along with the birds. 
I hang several bird feeders, all of which used to be hubs of activity, teeming with birds and opportunistic squirrels.  For the past couple of years they have been all but ignored. 
With mixed emotions it can be observed that the fire ant population seems to be half of what it once was.  On the other hand, the numbers among native animals, now to include coyotes, are increasing.  A few years ago it was extremely rare to actually see a coyote or wild hog.  Not so much anymore. 
No science here, just the view from a front porch in the woods.      
opher goodwin Added Nov 27, 2017 - 12:24pm
Thanks Michael - We are now over 65 million. We have had a lot of immigration from Eastern Europe and migrants from the Middle East. It has been rapid and caused a lot of problems with housing, schools, health and jobs which fuelled Brexit. Here, as in many parts of the world, the overpopulation is very telling. Politicians and business people love it because it is good for the economy. The population is not so sure. It is causing many strains.I don't think it is quite so bad that England is a metropolitan area just yet. We still have plenty of great countryside
opher goodwin Added Nov 27, 2017 - 12:26pm
Jeanne - I agree - nature is the most valuable thing of all. We should protect it at all costs.
I flew round Mount St Helens in a Cessna the week after it blew up. It was still smoking. The devastation was incredible.
opher goodwin Added Nov 27, 2017 - 12:28pm
Simply Jews - a debating site is simply that - we speak our minds and debate. If everyone agreed it would be boring. The thing I like about this site is the range of views. People are passionate. I have lost my temper a few times though.
opher goodwin Added Nov 27, 2017 - 12:29pm
Rick - thank you for your observations. The loss of birds and insects is very disturbing to me.
wsucram15 Added Nov 27, 2017 - 1:46pm
I stood opposite of the mountain on Spirit Lake.   It is the bluest lake I think I have ever seen, still covered with scorched trees.   I have at least 100 pics of the site.  I was amazed both at the damage (still) from the explosion and subsequent lahar and the new growth.
I still cant believe that it lost around 3 ,000 feet of height due to the explosion?  I have a piece of a petrified tree and one of the women there gave me ash they used to sell.  LOL
 
Dave Volek Added Nov 27, 2017 - 4:33pm
Opher
I remember watching a BBC documentary about life in northern English. The documentary showed a great meadow, which was used for grazing sheep. The narrator said that this used to be a forest a few centuries back.
 
I couldn't help but think wouldn't it be better for this land to return to forest than to graze a few sheep.
opher goodwin Added Nov 27, 2017 - 7:02pm
Jeanne - I've got some ash. We were standing on six feet of it. The trees were like matchsticks strewn on the moon. We flew into the smoking crater. It was awesome. Spirit lake was brown sludge.
opher goodwin Added Nov 27, 2017 - 7:03pm
Dave - so true. The wildlife we now have is a shadow of what used to be. We have lost so much and losing more daily.
A. Jones Added Nov 27, 2017 - 7:41pm
The rise in CO2 levels has resulted in faster plant growth
 
Not "faster" plant growth but more plant growth, lasting longer periods of time over larger areas of land.
 
hence your observation that the planet is getting greener. But this is not any indication of improvement at all.
 
The improvement has come about from longer agricultural growing times over larger geographical areas: i.e., more food to feed more people.
 
For your information I have a London University BSc Hons Degree in Zoology, special subject Entomology, and completed two and a half years research on the Biostratonomy of Lake Windermere using Chironomid larvae as indicator organisms.
 
I didn't ask you about your undergraduate education. I asked you where and when you got your Ph.D. in biology (apparently you don't have one), and what research you have had published in peer-reviewed scientific journals (apparently you have none).
 
In fact, you're not a scientist but a science teacher — not the same thing at all.
Shane Laing Added Nov 28, 2017 - 3:21am
Perhaps cleaning up the Pacific Trash Vortex. Planting or encouraging the spread of sea grass may be things to concentrate on. I do believe though I cannot be sure that most of our oxygen come from sea bacteria. If so the seas are something we need to really do need to clean up.
opher goodwin Added Nov 28, 2017 - 3:27am
A.Jones - I have never claimed to be anything other than what I am. I am a scientist by virtue of my degree and training. I have been quite open about my teaching career. I'm sorry you misunderstood. It is very clear through my other threads what my background is. There is no need for you to sneer as if a London University Degree is of no consequence. In my career I have followed Biology up to research level in many areas - particularly genetics, biochemistry and environment/ecology.
CO2 levels would result in faster growth as well as more extensive. CO2 being a limiting factor on photosynthesis. This process has improved crop yield as you point out but has done little for the natural environment which has continued to be destroyed at an alarming rate.
A. Jones Added Nov 28, 2017 - 4:07am
https://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/10/the-world-is-getting-greener-why-does-no-one-want-to-know/
 
"The world is getting greener. Why does no one want to know?
As carbon dioxide levels have risen, the planet’s green vegetation has increased by 14 per cent"
 
Fourteen percent is the twice the size of mainland USA — new greenery spread over the planet. Sounds good to me (as it does to many people).
 
Improving crop yield, per se, is an improvement in the "natural environment." The "natural environment" by itself doesn't feed billions of people; it usually starves them. 
 
Anecdotes about childhood memories of "how idyllic things were back then" are not evidence of how bad things supposedly are today. Anecdotes are unworthy of a biology teacher claiming to be a scientist.
opher goodwin Added Nov 28, 2017 - 5:40am
A Jones - greening sounds good to me too. Though as I say - it is mostly crop yield and not natural habitat. The natural habitat is still being destroyed at an alarming rate and extinctions rates are soaring as populations crash.
You are totally focussed on humans. We are a scourge. 7'6 billion is too many. It is trashing the planet.
I'm not sure what your credential are? Perhaps you could fill us in as I have done. Your sneering attitude returns with 'biology teacher claiming to be a scientist'. I have made no bones about my qualifications. I believe a science degree and a life working in science qualifies me as a scientist. I speak with knowledge and authority. Where are you coming from?
My anecdotal evidence is fully backed up with sound science. Insect. mammal, bird, amphibian and fish populations worldwide have crashed. What I see around me here and on my travels fully backs that up. It is valid.
Michael Cikraji Added Nov 28, 2017 - 8:38am
Opher,
When you say: We are a scourge. 7'6 billion is too many. It is trashing the planet.
You are exactly correct, and human population growth is wildly unprecedented.
 
To be fair, I think England has done wonders with trying to preserve the natural environment. Much better than most places in the US (and infinitely better than places in the "developing world") but it isn't nearly enough, humans, en masse, are much like locusts... but other than exterminating people I really don't see available answer. Do you?
opher goodwin Added Nov 28, 2017 - 1:54pm
Michael I agree with you. Our population in Britain would decline if it wasn't for immigration. The trouble is that when I travel the world I find people having families of 7 or more. It is madness.
In order to get population down I believe we need a good programme:
a. Incentives
b. Female education
c. Contraception freely available
d. Sickness benefit
e. Pensions
When those things are in place the fertility drops.
A. Jones Added Nov 28, 2017 - 6:57pm
Though as I say - it is mostly crop yield and not natural habitat.
 
Crop yield is better than natural habitat. Natural habitat is the place human beings suffer starvation. Interesting that you approve of that.
 
extinctions rates are soaring as populations crash.
 
Actually, extinction rates were higher before mankind appeared on the scene. Since his arrival, extinction rates have slowed. The phrase, "alarming rate" is non-scientific. It means nothing more than "Opher is personally alarmed."
opher goodwin Added Nov 28, 2017 - 7:05pm
A. Jones - I do approve of the natural world - this planet isn't all about selfish humans. We share it with a wealth of other incredible amazing life forms that we do not have enough respect for. You exemplify that.
You talk rubbish. It seems you do not have a clue what is going on. There has always been a background extinction rate but, before human beings, it was stable. Scientists are now calling this age the Anthropocene because of the huge effect we are having on the planet. Extinction rates and population crashes are manifesting themselves due to our activity.
Yes that alarms me. The shame is that it doesn't alarm you or shake you out of your complacency and arrogance.
Neil Lock Added Nov 29, 2017 - 8:51am
A. Jones: extinction rates were higher before mankind appeared on the scene.
 
Now that's a claim for which I really would like to see some references to peer-reviewed papers!
opher goodwin Added Nov 29, 2017 - 3:27pm
Neil - me too. Where on earth did that claim come from? Or was he referring to the 6 major catastrophes that cause massive species wipe-out?
A. Jones Added Nov 29, 2017 - 10:38pm
I do approve of the natural world
 
So you approve of humans starving? You're a true humanitarian.
 
As for extinctions, it's unquestioned that over 90% of the species that have ever existed on earth went extinct before humans appeared on the scene. The first mass extinction was the "Permian-Triassic Extinction" 250 million years ago (250 mya); the second mass extinction was the Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction" 65 mya. Both occurred long before homo sapiens appeared.
Bill H. Added Nov 30, 2017 - 1:28am
 
Balance is key to any ecosystem. We have thrown off the balance. Certain species will temporarily benefit due to this, but most will suffer. In the end, it will all unwind.
If anyone ever had an Ant Farm when they were a kid, it was the best desktop lesson in the reality of life that one could ever have experienced.
opher goodwin Added Nov 30, 2017 - 10:22am
A. Jones - of course I do not approve of humans starving. Neither do I approve of animals being slaughtered and displaced. There is room on this planet for both to prosper. It does not have to be one or the other. If we do have intelligence then we should start using it. We are the guardians of life on this planet.
There have been 6 major extinctions. They were catastrophes caused by major supervolcanic eruptions or comet strikes. If we have something like that again it is unlikely that humans will survive. They are terrible events.
We are the seventh major cause of extinctions. None of those are desirable. Nothing could be done about those 6 other terrible events. Something can be done about this one. We are causing it. We can stop causing it and act more responsibly.
opher goodwin Added Nov 30, 2017 - 10:23am
Bill - that is precisely right. We are throwing off the balance of the ecosystem. It will come back to bite us..
I used to spend hours playing with ants. They are so fascinating.
A. Jones Added Dec 1, 2017 - 7:48pm
of course I do not approve of humans starving. Neither do I approve of animals being slaughtered and displaced. 
 
Which one is the more important concern?
opher goodwin Added Dec 2, 2017 - 3:37am
A. Jones - I do not see them being mutually exclusive. I contend that we have to use our intelligence to provide guardianship. We overproduce food and waste it. We have no need to destroy nature. What I want to see is the human population reduced and nature protected. Destroying nature is a short term gain long term huge loss.