Carbon Rangers/Ecozoic Times
Volume 11 No. 10

November, 2018

View this email in your browser
Dear Reader,
Welcome to the November 2018 edition of Carbon Rangers/Ecozoic Times.  The banner photo above  shows a Mandarin duck that found its way to Central Park in New York City recently.  Photo is not retouched.  That is what this guy really looks like.  A wonder!  Native to south Asia.  No explanation for his arrival in this region.  I thought the photo might  introduce this month's topic: biodiversity.  The spectacular explosion of life forms on this planet continue to delight.  In this edition I focus on a biodiversity challenge facing the planet.  The challenge is to tell a story that makes people aware but also allows them to absorb the data and perhaps even take some action.   The big fauna such as tigers, elephants, rhinos and the like tend to get our attention and make headlines.  Penguins are a favorite on the nature channels.  We know the bees are in big trouble and the food chain suffers as a result.  Birds have champions. But "bugs" take the first position in this edition.  

One goal of "Carbon Rangers" is to inform and assist understanding of the natural world.  Informing can lead to action for change.   The challenge recently has been the steady drip of hard news, especially about climate change and our inability as humans to change the energy formula - taking stuff out of the ground and setting it on fire. The climate crisis takes first position for many planet advocates because it is clearly the existential challenge for now. There are two audio portions in this edition addressing climate.

But we look here at a particular aspect of the human-earth relationship, the insect world, that may  prove compelling for many.   I hope you find this Rangers to be helpful in showing the contours of how we share the planet with a lot of insects but not as many as we once thought. 

This issue begins with some words on climate change from Bill McKibben.  The new feature here is the audio clip of Bill speaking with Mongabay Publications.  There is also an audio clip about the recent U.S. Climate Assessment from Science Friday in the second item today. US readers especially are invited to please click on that audio link to hear what our USA scientists have to say.   Some good news on preservation of habitat  by Wyss Foundation gets a look.  We see a step toward justice for the family of Berta Caceres as a court in Honduras returns guilty verdicts against her killers.

There is also news of the UN Climate Conference COP24, taking place these days in Katowice, Poland. Delegates there are hoping to ramp up ambition from the Paris Climate Agreement COP21 from three years ago.
Please check the insights from Thomas Berry and also a piece from Pope Francis in Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home. These wise leaders show us their deep appreciation for the work of creation.

Let me hear from you if you have ideas for improving the Carbon Rangers.

Br. Kevin

Websites to visit:
Edmund Rice International

Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona

Audio: Bill Mckibben On The Climate Movements That Give Him Hope By Mike Gaworecki 11/27/2018] Mongabay Publications
Listen Here.
- On this episode, Bill McKibben discusses the climate movements that could spur the world to action and help us avert the worst impacts of global warming.
- You might think that the upcoming Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) would be closely followed by Bill McKibben. But McKibben is not looking to the upcoming COP, taking place in Poland next week, to make much progress in the world’s attempts to combat climate change.
- McKibben joins the Mongabay Newscast to discuss why he thinks these international climate efforts have run out of steam, the climate movements that give him hope, and what’s at stake if we don’t find a way to check global warming.


Where Will Climate Change Impact The USA? Everywhere.
From Science Friday.  On November 23rd, the U.S. government issued Part II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, a report describing how climate change will impact the future of the U.S. But its release escaped most of the public's attention. It was published on Black Friday, while most of us were still digesting our turkey and stuffing.   It describes how every part of our society and every state in our country will be impacted by a warmer world. Not just by hurricanes, floods and wildfires, but by more rainfall in the Midwest, thawing permafrost in Alaska, and drier air in the Southeast. 

Audio. Science Friday's Ira Plato is joined by Bob Kopp, Director of the Rutgers Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences to discuss the areas of the country where the results of climate change maybe aren't grabbing headlines, but are still having a profound impact on society. Audio Link is here. 

Bonus: Read a summary of the 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment.

Biodiversity Conservation: Are We Content To Fight A Rear-Guard Action?
In the lead-up to the Earth Summit (Rio de Janeiro, 1992) Maurice Strong, the Secretary General of the conference, often referred to it as "the last chance to save the Earth."  In retrospect, it is not clear whether he felt the stars were optimally aligned for the world's leaders to make a genuine commitment to sustainable development or whether he saw critical thresholds approaching with such speed that we needed to act or live with the consequences. Many of us feared the latter. Subsequent developments have, unfortunately, suggested Strong might have been right. 
Agenda 21. A quarter century has passed since the euphoria of Rio and its significant achievements: the adoption of the Rio Principles and Agenda 21; the signature of major legal instruments like the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity. These were designed to ensure "the last chance" was not missed and, instead, we would equip ourselves with the instruments to ensure necessary progress was made in addressing the threats to the future.
While Rio didn't achieve all its goals, it appeared to have laid a solid foundation to build a response to our economic, social and environmental problems.

A Brief History of the Arctic Biodiversity Congress
CAFF- Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna.The Arctic Council is comprised of the eight Arctic states—the Russian Federation, Canada, US, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland—and six organizations with permanent participant status, representing the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic: the Inuit Circumpolar Council, Saami Council, Aleut International Association, Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Arctic Athabaskan Council, and Gwich’in Council International. Observer organizations from non-Arctic states, inter-governmental and inter-parliamentary organizations, and NGOs also contribute to the Council’s work.  Read More.

Formally Established 1996. The Council was formally established through the Ottawa Declaration of 1996 as a high-level, consensus-based, intergovernmental forum to provide a means for promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic states, with the involvement of the Arctic Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants, on common Arctic issues. Biennial declarations of the Arctic ministers set the agenda and mandate of the Arctic Council.

The mandate. CAFF’s mandate is to address the conservation of Arctic biodiversity and to communicate its findings to the governments and residents of the Arctic, helping to promote practices that ensure the sustainability of the Arctic’s living resources. It provides a mechanism to develop common responses on issues of importance for the Arctic ecosystem, such as development and economic pressures. CAFF is one of the six working groups of the Arctic Council, which collectively address a broad range of issues, from biodiversity and climate change to emergency response.

Pope Francis: Laudato Si On Biodiversity
Here we can add yet another argument for rejecting every tyrannical and irresponsible domination of human beings over other creatures. The ultimate purpose of other creatures is not to be found in us. Rather, all creatures are moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival, which is God, in that transcendent fullness where the risen Christ embraces and illumines all things. Human beings, endowed with intelligence and love, and drawn by the fullness of Christ, are called to lead all creatures back to their Creator. (83)

Insect Populations Are Declining Around The World. How Worried Should We Be?
Barbara Hoff for ENSIA

Unsettling News. Widely reported studies this year and last led to headlines globally of an “insect Armageddon.” The real story is more nuanced — but probably just as unsettling. Around the globe, scientists are getting hints that all is not well in the world of insects. Many people tend to think of animals as large, furry, likeable creatures. In reality, insects are the dominant form of animal life. Close a million species have been described to date — compared with a paltry 5,416 mammals. And depending on who you ask, entomologists suspect there could be two to 30 times as many actually out there. (Photo above is a Dung Beetle at work.)

Pollinators Linked to Food. Not only that, but insects are linchpins of the living world, carrying out numerous functions that make life possible. Insects pollinate a spectrum of plants, including many of those that humans rely on for food. They also are key players in other important jobs including breaking dead things down into the building blocks for new life, controlling weeds and providing raw materials for medicines. And they provide sustenance for a spectrum of other animals — in fact, the Puerto Rico study showed a decline in density of insect-eating frogs, birds and lizards that paralleled the insect nosedive.

The Insect Apocalypse Is Here: What Does It Mean For The Rest Of Life On Earth?
By Brooke Jarvis. NYT December 2, 2018
Insects Story. In the United States, scientists recently found the population of monarch butterflies fell by 90 percent in the last 20 years, a loss of 900 million individuals; the rusty-patched bumblebee, which once lived in 28 states, dropped by 87 percent over the same period. With other, less-studied insect species, one butterfly researcher told me, “all we can do is wave our arms and say, ‘It’s not here anymore!’ ” Still, the most disquieting thing wasn’t the disappearance of certain species of insects; it was the deeper worry, shared by Riis and many others, that a whole insect world might be quietly going missing, a loss of abundance that could alter the planet in unknowable ways. “We notice the losses,” says David Wagner, an entomologist at the University of Connecticut. “It’s the diminishment that we don’t see.”
80,000 Varieties. Technically, the word “bug” applies only to the order Hemiptera, also known as true bugs, species that have tubelike mouths for piercing and sucking — and there are as many as 80,000 named varieties of those.) The ones we think we do know well, we don’t: There are 12,000 types of ants, nearly 20,000 varieties of bees, almost 400,000 species of beetles, so many that the geneticist J.B.S. Haldane reportedly quipped that God must have an inordinate fondness for them. A bit of healthy soil a foot square and two inches deep might easily be home to 200 unique species of mites, each, presumably, with a subtly different job to do. And yet entomologists estimate that all this amazing, absurd and understudied variety represents perhaps only 20 percent of the actual diversity of insects on our planet — that there are millions and millions of species that are entirely unknown to science.
Fish and Birds With Less To Eat. There were studies of other, better-understood species that suggested that the insects associated with them might be declining, too. People who studied fish found that the fish had fewer mayflies to eat. Ornithologists kept finding that birds that rely on insects for food were in trouble: eight in 10 partridges gone from French farmlands; 50 and 80 percent drops, respectively, for nightingales and turtledoves. Half of all farmland birds in Europe disappeared in just three decades. At first, many scientists assumed the familiar culprit of habitat destruction was at work, but then they began to wonder if the birds might simply be starving.  Read More.   
A Different Fish Story.  In decades of photos of fishermen holding up their catch in the Florida Keys, the marine biologist Loren McClenachan found a perfect illustration of this phenomenon, which is often called “shifting baseline syndrome.” The fish got smaller and smaller, to the point where the prize catches were dwarfed by fish that in years past were piled up and ignored.   Florida Keys photos courtesy of Monroe County Library.


Comparing 1958 and 2007 catches on the same dock. But the smiles on the fishermen’s faces stayed the same size. The world never feels fallen, because we grow accustomed to the fall. 

International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN): IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
"Red List" as Guide. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species. It uses a set of criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of species and subspecies. These criteria are relevant to all species and all regions of the world. With its strong scientific base, the IUCN Red List is recognized as the most authoritative guide to the status of biological diversity. Read more.


2018 UN Biodiversity Conference (COP14)
Investing in Biodiversity for People and Planet

14-29 November 2018 | Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt
ENB Report | COP 14 | 14-29 Nov 2018 | Sharm El-Sheikh, EG | IISD Reporting Services
Who Was There?  The UN Biodiversity Conference was held from 13-29 November 2018, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, under the theme “Investing in biodiversity for people and planet.” It was attended by approximately 3,800 participants representing parties, other governments, international and non-governmental organizations, indigenous peoples and local communities, academia, and the private sector.
The UN Biodiversity Conference included:

  • the African Ministerial Summit on Biodiversity (13 November);
  • the High-level Segment of the Conference (14-15 November);
  • the fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 14) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 17-29 November);
  • the ninth meeting of the COP serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CP COP/MOP 9, 17-29 November); 
  • the third meeting of the COP serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits arising from their Utilization (NP COP/MOP 3, 17-29 November 2018); and
  • parallel meetings, side-events, and the Rio Conventions Pavilion.

The Conference adopted a number of decisions on a series of strategic, administrative, financial, and ecosystem-related issues of relevance to the implementation of the Convention and its Protocols. 
A Commentary from ENB Reporting of COP14 Outcomes:
The need for a new, engaging message on biodiversity to capture public imagination and boost conservation efforts was a common theme both in the corridors and in the discussions on the post-2020 process. The latter envisages a communication strategy, which will contain outreach activities and foster high-level political engagement, including a high-level panel to raise awareness. As a veteran stressed, developing such a strategy and compelling message is no easy task, and requires addressing both the complexities of the subject matter, in our case biodiversity, and the complexities of the target audience. “People are different,” she said, “some are haunted by the song of the last living male Kauai O’o bird, in his mating call to a female that will never come. Others may act upon understanding the economic valuation of a specific function of a bacterium. We need to engage them all.”
As participants left the Sharm El-Sheikh Conference Center, most agreed that it was a successful meeting. Many especially applauded the inspiring and stirring leadership of COP 14 President Yasmine Fouad, Minister of Environment of Egypt, (photo) who, along every single regional group at the meeting, underscored the need to “work together.”

Temptations to Nationalism. Working together, however, may be a challenge in the near future. Increasing environmental pressures coupled with the rise of populism and nationalism in many parts of the world may provide a greater temptation for each country to “care for its own.” The decisions in fora like the COP, as well as the courage, passion, and resilience of all those working on biodiversity conservation, will ultimately decide whether, as one participant emotionally put it “the living species of the planet will continue to play life’s symphony, or will instead start playing extinction’s requiem, with the instruments, one by one, leaving the orchestra and exiting the stage, closing the door behind them.”  
Brief History of Convention on Biodiversity
Convention on Biodiversity CBD: The CBD was adopted on 22 May 1992, and entered into force on 29 December 1993. There are currently 196 parties to the Convention, which aims to promote the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its
components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the governing body of the Convention.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC: The international political response to climate change began with the adoption of the UNFCCC on 9 May 1992, and was opened for signature at the Rio Earth Summit in June 1992. The UNFCCC sets out a framework for action aimed at stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference” with the climate system. The UNFCCC entered into force on 21 March 1994, and now has 197 parties.
The UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP21) convened in Paris, France, in November and December 2015 and culminated in the adoption of the Paris Agreement on climate change. The Agreement sets the goals of: keeping global average temperature rise well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels; and enhancing global adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change.
The Paris Agreement creates two five-year cycles. One cycle is for parties to submit nationally determined contributions (NDCs), each successive contribution representing a progression from the previous contribution, reflecting common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances. By 2020, parties whose NDCs contain a timeframe up to 2025 are requested to communicate a new NDC and parties with an NDC timeframe up to 2030 are requested to communicate or update these contributions. The second cycle is a global stocktake of collective efforts, beginning in 2023, following a facilitative dialogue in 2018.
CBD Post-2020 and Connections to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification UNCCD,  UN Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC and Sustainable Development Goals SDG Agenda 
Carolyn Lundquist introduced this closing panel, asking panelists to reflect on how the day’s discussions can contribute to the further development of the transformative change agenda for biodiversity and the Post-2020 Framework. She also invited proposals on how scenario analysis can strengthen the link between science-policy platforms of the three Rio Conventions to support more coherent policy agendas, as well as the realization of the SDGs.
Thomas Brooks, IUCN, emphasized that biodiversity needs the equivalent of the Paris Agreement and the scenarios and modelling discussed had helped inform how these types of targets can be set. He also pointed out that many countries will make the goal of biodiversity stabilization by 2050 a challenge, but at the same time there are many other actors such as cities, private sector, indigenous groups and sub-national authorities who are prepared to be supportive in reaching these targets.

Bernadette Fischler, WWF, recalled the often-asked question of whether there is enough room on the planet to meet the needs of climate  adaptation, biodiversity conservation and food security, adding that this is possible if we substantially change the way we produce and consume food. She called for an integrated approach to addressing plans for climate, biodiversity and development, since “life does not happen in silos.” 



Thomas Berry
“If the central pathology that has led to the termination of the Cenozoic is the radical discontinuity established between the human and the nonhuman, then the renewal of life on the planet must be based on the continuity between the human and the other than human as a single integral community. Once this continuity is recognized and accepted, then we will have fulfilled the basic condition that will enable the human to become more present to the Earth in a mutually enhancing manner.” (Thomas Berry, “The University,” in The Great Work, 80).
“What is needed is a new pattern of rapport with the planet. Here we come to the critical transformation needed in the emotional, aesthetic, spiritual, and religious orders of life. Only a change that profound in human consciousness can remedy the deep cultural pathology manifest in such destructive behavior. Such change is not possible, however, so long as we fail to appreciate the planet that provides us with a world abundant in the volume and variety of food for our nourishment, a world exquisite in supplying beauty of form, sweetness of taste, delicate fragrances for our enjoyment, and exciting challenges for us to overcome with skill and action. The poets and artists can help restore this sense of rapport with the natural world. It is this renewed sense of reciprocity with nature, in all of its complexity and remarkable beauty, that can help provide the psychic and spiritual energies necessary for the work ahead.” (Thomas Berry, “Alienation,” in The Sacred Universe, 48).

Wyss Foundation Launches $1 Billion Campaign to Help Conserve 30% of the Planet by 2030
Conserving Earth. 31 October 2018: “To confront the growing global conservation crisis, the Wyss Foundation announced today it is launching an unprecedented $1 billion campaign to help rapidly expand the proportion of the Earth’s lands and oceans that are conserved so current and future generations can drink clean water, breathe clean air, and experience the wonders of the natural world.

Save Thirty Percent. “The goal of the effort, called the Wyss Campaign for Nature, is to help nations conserve 30 percent of the planet in a natural state by the year 2030 by creating and expanding protected areas, encouraging the international community to establish more ambitious protected area targets, investing in science, and inspiring conservation action and new investments around the world.

Local Conservation. “From the forests that supply our drinking water to the rugged backcountry that inspires the imagination of our children, everyone on Earth has a stake in conserving our planet’s wild places before they are gone,” said Hansjörg Wyss, a philanthropist who launched the Wyss Foundation in 1998. “I believe that to confront the global conservation crisis, we need to do far more to support locally-led initiatives that conserve lands in the public trust, so that everyone has a chance to experience and explore the wonders of the outdoors.”

New Research Measures Impacts Of China’s Elephant Ivory Trade Ban by[10/23/2018]
Decline in Consumption- Research released last month by WWF and TRAFFIC, the wildlife monitoring network, found that there has been a substantial decline in the number of Chinese consumers buying ivory since the ivory trade ban went into effect on December 31, 2017. But there is still work to be done to diminish both the supply and demand for elephant ivory in China.

Some Sales International Now- Of 2,000 Chinese consumers surveyed, 14 percent claimed to have bought ivory in the past year — significantly fewer than the 31 percent of respondents who said they’d recently purchased ivory during a pre-ban survey conducted in 2017. Some ivory sales have simply gone international, however: 18 percent of regular travelers reported buying ivory products while abroad, particularly in Thailand and Hong Kong.

Formerly Licensed Now No Longer Seliing- TRAFFIC reports that all of the formerly accredited (i.e. legal) ivory shops the group’s investigators visited in 2018 have stopped selling ivory. But the illegal ivory trade has not been so thoroughly shut down. TRAFFIC investigators also visited 157 markets in 23 cities and found 2,812 ivory products on offer in 345 separate stores.
Study Warns Of Dire Ecological, Social Fallout From Sumatran Dam by Hans Nicholas Jong[10/23/2018]

Impact Greater- A new study warns that the environmental impact of a planned hydroelectric plant in Sumatra’s unique Leuser Ecosystem will be much greater than initially thought.

Habitats Will Flood. The area is the last place on Earth that’s home to wild tigers, rhinos, orangutans and elephants — all critically endangered species whose habitat would be flooded and fragmented by the dam and its roads and power lines, activists say.
Greater Risks. They also warn of the dam exacerbating disaster risks to local communities, in a region already prone to flooding, landslides and earthquakes.
Possible Lawsuits Pondered. Activists are mulling a lawsuit to void the project permit, but the developer says it has done everything by the book and that the new study is based on an outdated environmental impact analysis.
Politics And Peace: The Fate Of Colombia’s Forests
  by Haley Wiebel [10/18/2018]

Santos Brokered Peace- Juan Manuel Santos will be forever remembered as the president who ended one of the world’s longest armed conflicts, establishing a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2016.
Santos Pushed Environment Issues. While the peace accords have shaped his image at home and abroad, they do not represent his entire presidential legacy. In addition to lowering the domestic poverty, unemployment, and murder rates, Santos advanced the country’s environmental agenda during his two terms. This should not be undervalued.
Post-Conflict Deforestation. Deforestation in the post-conflict era has grown at an alarming rate. Rather than a policy solution, Santos’ environmental legacy should be viewed as an initial step in securing the fate of Colombia’s forests.  Read More: Mongabay.
Berta Caceres Update    

Seven Guilty Verdicts. Seven men have been found guilty of the murder of the Honduran indigenous environmentalist Berta Isabel Cáceres. An eighth defendant, Emerson Duarte Meza, was cleared and freed on Thursday.

Goldman Prize. Cáceres, a winner of the Goldman prize for environmental defenders, was shot dead late at night on 2 March 2016 – two days before her 45th birthday – after a long battle to stop construction of an internationally financed hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque river, which the Lenca people consider sacred.

Dam Company Ordered Killing. The court ruled the murder was ordered by executives of the Agua Zarca dam company Desa because of delays and financial losses linked to protests led by Cáceres. The murder was contracted to a group of hitmen who were paid to kill Cáceres.  

Drawdown Update
NBC News interviewed Vice President of Operations and Engagement Crystal Chissell on the “6 Ways Ordinary People Can Prevent Climate Change, According to Researchers and Advocates.” The article is one of our most viewed and shared posts on Facebook.

Climate Meeting Update
COP24 Meeting in Katowice, Poland
The most important talks on global warming in years kicked off on Sunday , December 2, 2018, and the impacts of climate change "have never been worse", according to Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. 
Rules Needed for Paris Agreement. The UN climate chief urged countries meeting in Katowice, Poland (City Coat of Arms in photo) to come up with a set of rules that will make the Paris climate deal work. If these talks fail, the promise of an international deal to control carbon emissions will wither. With stark disagreements brewing and leaders thin on the ground, Espinosa will have a crucial role behind the scenes: brokering, cajoling and nudging countries toward compromise. (Source: Climate Home News)
Photo: Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary COP24.
Read More.

Copyright © 2018 Edmund Rice International, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list