I was out is the garden yesterday and heard a bird that I didn’t recognize. I opened up the Merlin ID app and got the name. Then I spent a few minutes listening. Heard it just now outside my window and smiled: Good morning White-eyed Vireo. I love learning about this amazing planet.

    Cofounder of Greenpeace and writer of the Deep Green column Rex Weyler helps us transcend the idea that we can fix the environment – or anything else – so we can finally learn to participate as members of a living world.

    An excellent discussion between Rex Weyler and Douglass Rushkoff on the current episode of the Team Human Podcast.

    The current rate of extinctions compared to the geological norm is now several thousandfold faster, making this the sixth great mass extinction event in Earth’s history, and thus the start of the Anthropocene in its clearest demarcation, which is to say, we are in a biosphere catastrophe that will be obvious in the fossil record for as long as the Earth lasts.

    It’s taken me far too long but I’m finally reading The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson. In the paragraph before the quote above, he provides a list of recently extinct species, from that list: Saudi gazelle

    Livestock make up 62% of the world’s mammal biomass; humans account for 34%; and wild mammals are just 4%.

    A diverse range of mammals once roamed the planet. This changed quickly and dramatically with the arrival of humans. Since then, wild land mammal biomass has declined by an estimated 85%.

    Humans are now the dominant species.

    We see this when we look at the distribution of mammals across the world today.

    Wild mammals make up only a few percent of the world’s mammals - Our World in Data

    From elephants to tigers, study reveals scale of damage to wildlife caused by transformation of wildernesses and human activity.

    The total weight of Earth’s wild land mammals – from elephants to bisons and from deer to tigers – is now less than 10% of the combined tonnage of men, women and children living on the planet.

    ‘A wake-up call’: total weight of wild mammals less than 10% of humanity’s | The Guardian

    “Almost two-thirds of sharks and rays that live around the world’s coral reefs are threatened with extinction with potentially dire knock-on effects for ecosystems.”

    ‘Extinction crisis’ of sharks and rays to have devastating effect on other species | The Guardian

    “Volunteers hope to bring native wildlife back into abundance by reestablishing grasslands that were wiped out after European settlement of Missouri. "

    ‘Everybody can do their part’: Naturalists working to reestablish prairies in Missouri | Missouri Independent

    “At its very essence, a lichen consists of a fungus coexisting symbiotically with algae or photosynthetic bacteria called cyanobacteria — and sometimes with both.”

    A macro photo of pale green and greenish brown lichen some of which are tubular funnels.

    An interesting introduction to Lichen biodiversity!

    “Environmental advocates say this is just the beginning to a cleanup that will likely take years.”

    What you need to know about the latest Keystone pipeline oil spill : NPR

    From the Guardian podcast: The Cop15 conference brings together representatives from all over the world with an urgent mission: preventing the breakdown of Earth’s natural habitats and mass extinction.

    The age of extinction: can we prevent an ecological collapse? | The Guardian

    A visually stunning documentation.

    “The most diverse group of organisms on the planet are in trouble, with recent research suggesting insect populations are declining at an unprecedented rate.”

    The collapse of insects

    Bee bus stops first appeared in the Dutch city of Utrecht. Now the UK is planning for more than 1,000 and there is growing interest across Europe and in Canada and Australia

    Buzz stops: bus shelter roofs turned into gardens for bees and butterflies | Bees | The Guardian

    A fungal disease that attacks while bats are hibernating has brought the tricolored bat to the brink of extinction.

    Fish and Wildlife Service recommends tricolored bats for endangered species list : NPR

    Very sad news but not surprising. From habitat destruction to climate change to chemical agriculture, we’re wreaking havoc. Monarch butterflies are now listed as endangered

    An orange and blackMonarch butterfly gathers necture from purple coneflowers.

    It seems fairly common amongst humans in modern societies that we seem to focus on our individual selves, we identify as singular human beings. Setting aside the importance of socialization and being a part of families, the human community, and the larger ecological community, it might also be worth mentioning that our individual human body is also not what it seems. Welcome to the human microbiome. Your body is human, bacteria, archaea, fungi, protists and viruses.

    The human body is full of bacteria, and in fact is estimated to contain more bacterial cells than human cells.

    Source: National Human Genome Research Institute:

    Our bodies play host to a wide variety of microbes, called the human microbiota, that outnumber our own cells by about 10 to 1.

    Source: Wide Variety of Bacteria Mapped Across the Human Body

    In any human body there are around 30 trillion human cells, but our microbiome is an estimated 39 trillion microbial cells including bacteria, viruses and fungi that live on and in us.

    Due to their small size, these organisms make up only about 1-3 per cent of our body mass, but this belies the microbiome’s tremendous power and potential.

    We have around 20-25,000 genes in each of our cells, but the human microbiome potentially holds 500 times more.

    Moreover, the ability of microbes to evolve quickly, swap genes, multiply and adapt to changing circumstances give them – and us, their hosts – remarkable abilities that we’re only now beginning to fathom.

    Source: The human microbiome: Everything you need to know about the 39 trillion microbes that call our bodies home

    Apple and the environment

    If you’ve read this blog for long you may have picked up that I’m a bit of an Apple fan. But it’s also true that I have, since around 1990, I have oriented the way I live my life around the question, “Is this good for the health of the Earth?” Those that know me would probably agree with the suggestion that I’m a bit extreme in that regard. The way I look at it is that it is, fundamentally, a question lived ethics and survival.

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    As is my usual routine I took my dog Cosmo out for our walk to the mailbox yesterday. Along the way I had a thought about the precariousness of our existence on Earth. We live in this sort of illusion as our daily life is wrapped in an assumption of stability. For the most part our human brains encounter the same environment everyday. Most of us wake up in the morning and are active during the day.

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    Big on Small

    I’m big on small and have been for much of my adult life. Not just small but tiny if at all possible. What might it mean to be small? I’d suggest that we just start by acknowledging our own smallness. We spend much of our lives in a relentless effort to find or create our identity which is a part of proving our worth to the world around us. It might be that we do this with good deeds or, as often seems to be the case, with accumulation of one sort or another.

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    Of Monarchs and Birthdays

    It’s Royal’s birthday so I’ll put on a happy face. But this. This. I’m having a real hard time imagining a summertime without Monarchs. What else will we kill off because we don’t know how to live within limits, don’t know how to live as species that recognizes the needs of other species. Every grass lawn, every golf course is a problem. Prime example, I’ve just had a bit of a family kerfluffle because now that I’m not living at the lake they are making changes.

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    Pondering the Future

    Specifically my personal future and also thinking a bit about this blog. I’ve obviously not been very consistent with updates. Honestly, I put some of the blame for that on Facebook. I’m sure I am not the only one who spends too much time there. While it is great for sharing I thing the downside is that much of that sharing is just reposting. I am also leery of so much content being under one roof so to speak.

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