The giant devil catfish, or goonch, found in the rivers of Southeast Asia, can measure nearly seven feet long and can weigh more than 200 pounds.Credit…Zeb Hogan, UNR Global Water Center
By Rachel Nuwer
“Some of the most astonishing creatures on Earth hide deep in rivers and lakes: giant catfish weighing over 600 pounds, stingrays the length of Volkswagen Beetles, six-foot-long trout that can swallow a mouse whole.
There are about 200 species of so-called freshwater megafauna, but compared to their terrestrial and marine counterparts, they are poorly studied by scientists and little known to the public. And they are quietly disappearing.
Following an exhaustive survey throughout the Yangtze River basin, researchers this month declared the Chinese paddlefish officially extinct. The paddlefish, last seen alive in 2003, could grow up to 23 feet long and once inhabited many of China’s rivers, but overfishing and dams decimated their populations.
The paddlefish may be a harbinger for many other giant fish. According to research published in August in Global Change Biology, freshwater megafauna have declined by 88 percent worldwide in recent years.”
“NAGORO, Japan — The last children were born in the remote mountain village of Nagoro 18 years ago.
Now, just over two dozen adults live in this outpost straddling a river on the Japanese island of Shikoku. The elementary school closed its doors in 2012, shortly after the last two students completed sixth grade.
But on a recent bright autumn Sunday, Tsukimi Ayano brought the school back to life.
It just so happened that she did it with dolls rather than humans.
Ms. Ayano, 70, had arrayed more than 40 handmade dolls in a lifelike tableau on the grounds of the shuttered school. Recreating a school sports day known as “undokai,” a staple of the Japanese calendar, she had posed child-size dolls in a footrace, perched on a swing set and tossing balls.
“We never see children here anymore,” said Ms. Ayano, who was born in Nagoro, and has staged an annual doll festival for the last seven years.”
What a lovely, strange story by Motoko Rich and Nadia Shira Cohen. Thank you. Dr of Nothing commented to this extraordinary piece: “What we are seeing here is a town at the end of its lifespan, but also a society and culture in significant decline. Japan is predicted to have half its current population by the end of the century, so this is more than just a retreat, its a collapse.”
I must disagree completely. Japan is one of the most overpopulated places in the planet, and naturalists are suggesting that for the life as we know it to be sustainable, and with other creatures, we need to reduce world population from 7.6 to perhaps 4 billion. That the Japanese are doing their part to bring their own country to more sustainable human numbers, to allow for other species, and clean air and water, and less climate change is magnificent.
Wikipedia reports, “According to the World Bank, the population of Japan as of 2018 is at 126.5 million, including foreign residents. The population of only Japanese nationals was 124.8 million in January 2019.
Japan was the world’s tenth-most populous country as of 2018. “ They showed that in 1910, the population was only about 51 million.
This fact that overpopulated states are going down in population is not bad news. It is good news, and a necessary part of our survival through a slowing of climate change and the sixth extinction of species.
David Lindsay Jr. is an author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.
“GAOSHAN, China — The first earthquake struck this small farming village in Sichuan Province before dawn on Feb. 24. There were two more the next day.
Sichuan is naturally prone to earthquakes, including a major one in 2008 that killed nearly 70,000 people, but to the rattled villagers of Gaoshan, the cause of these tremors was human-made.
“The drilling,” Yu Zhenghua said as she tearfully surveyed her damaged home, still officially uninhabitable five days later.
The drilling Ms. Yu referred to was hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The technology, which has revolutionized the production of natural gas and oil in the United States, has created a boom in China, too, and with it many of the controversies that have dogged the practice elsewhere.
In the hours after the quakes, thousands of residents converged outside the main government building in Rong County to protest widespread fracking in the rolling hills and valleys here now yellowing with the flowering of rapeseed.
A shale gas drilling station in Rong County. In the last decade, the China National Petroleum Corporation alone has invested $4 billion in fracking shale gas in the Sichuan Basin.CreditGilles Sabrie for The New York Times
The protesters jostled with security guards along a sliding metal gate and dispersed only after officials announced they had suspended fracking operations of a regional subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corporation, the country’s largest oil and gas producer.”
“Fewer babies were born in China last year than in 2017, and already fewer had been born in 2017 than in 2016. There were 15.23 million new births in 2018, down by more than 11 percent from the year before. The authorities had predicted that easing and then abolishing the one-child policy in the mid-2010s would trigger a baby boom; it’s been more like a baby bust.
“On a summer day in the mountains high above Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, the Tuyuksu glacier is melting like mad. Rivulets of water stream down the glacier’s thin leading edge.
As she has for nearly two decades, Maria Shahgedanova, a glaciologist at the University of Reading in England, has come here to check on the Tuyuksu. As one of the longest-studied glaciers anywhere, the Tuyuksu helps gauge the impact of climate change on the world’s ice.”
“In 2009, The Economist wrote about an up-and-coming global power: Brazil. Its economy, the magazine suggested, would soon overtake that of France or the U.K. as the world’s fifth largest. São Paulo would be the world’s fifth-richest city. Vast new reserves of offshore oil would provide an added boost, complemented by the country’s robust and sophisticated manufacturing sector.
To illustrate the point, the magazine’s cover featured a picture of Rio de Janeiro’s “Christ the Redeemer” statue taking off from its mountaintop as if it were a rocket.
The rocket never reached orbit. Brazil’s economy is now limping its way out of the worst recession in its history. The murder rate — 175 people per day in 2017 — is at a record high. One former president is in jail, another was impeached. The incoming president is an admirer of the country’s old military dictatorship, only he thinks it should have killed the people it tortured.
Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first tout as countries of the future.
I thought about The Economist story while reading a deeply reported and thought-provoking series in The Times about another country of the future: China. The phrase “rise of China” has now become so commonplace that we treat it more as a fact of nature than as a prediction of a very familiar sort — one made erroneously about the Soviet Union in the 1950s and ’60s; about Japan in the ’70s and ’80s; and about the European Union in the ’90s and ’00s.”
Bret Stephens, as my father liked to say, you’re not as dumb as you look. Thank you for another terrific, mind-bending piece.
I hope your are right, but fear you are wrong. The Chinese appear to be preparing for the future, fighting for our lives and the lives of our grand children against climate change, better than the United States, which is deeply troubling. You do not appear to understand that climate change is rapidly becoming a crisis. Humans are putting 110 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every What.
Take a guess. Every year, month, week, day or hour. Take a guess.
Unfortunately the answer is daily. No wonder the coral and the shellfish are dying all over the oceans. Scientist who study the sixth extinction predict gloomily, that not only are we humans the cause of the sixth extinction, but we will be one of the myriad species that fails during it.
David Lindsay Jr. has written and performs a folk music concert and sing-a-long about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.
“HANOI, Vietnam — Coal, the fuel that powered the industrial age, has led the planet to the brink of catastrophic climate change.
Scientists have repeatedly warned of its looming dangers, most recently on Friday, when a major scientific report issued by 13 United States government agencies warned that the damage from climate change could knock as much as 10 percent off the size of the American economy by century’s end if significant steps aren’t taken to rein in warming.
Central to that transformation: Getting out of coal, and fast.
And yet, three years after the Paris agreement, when world leaders promised action, coal shows no sign of disappearing. While coal use looks certain to eventually wane worldwide, according to the latest assessment by the International Energy Agency, it is not on track to happen anywhere fast enough to avert the worst effects of climate change. Last year, in fact, global production and consumption increased after two years of decline.”
Vandana Shiva: There Is No Reason Why India Should Face Hunger and Farmers Should Commit Suicide
There is no reason why India should face hunger and malnutrition and why our farmers should commit suicide. India is blessed with the most fertile soils in the world. Our climate is so generous we can, in places, grow four crops in a year—compared to the industrialized west where sometimes only one crop is possible per year. We have the richest biodiversity of the world, both because of our diverse climates and because of the brilliance of our farmers as breeders. Our farmers are among the most hardworking, productive people in the world. Yet India faces an emergency, in our food and agricultural system. This emergency is man-made.
Firstly, the poor and vulnerable are dying for lack of food. According to the Deccan Herald, Lalita S. Rangari, 36, a Dalit widow and mother of two children of the Gondiya tribal belt, allegedly died due to starvation. Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Indu Jain of the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court have served notice to the government of Maharashtra seeking its reply to the starvation death of a Dalit widow.
Photo credit: Nourishing Revolution”Even as India gets richer, we have emerged as the capital of hunger and malnutrition. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), 42.5 percent of children under five years old were underweight. This is more than double the African average of 21 percent, which until recently was the face of hunger.
The second tragedy is that our food producers, the small farmers who have provided food to more than a billion Indians and hold the potential to provide healthy food for all, are themselves dying because of agriculture and trade policies which put corporate profits above the rights and well being of our small farmers. More than 300,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since 1995, when the rules for the globalization of agriculture of the World Trade Organization (WTO) were implemented, transforming food into a commodity, agriculture into corporate business and shifting control over seeds and food from farmers to a handful of giant multinational corporations.
The third tragedy is that even those who get food are being denied their right to healthy and nourishing food. The explosion of junk food, of pesticides and toxics in our food, have created a disease epidemic that is a human tragedy and an economic burden. There is an epidemic of diseases related to our lifestyle and food, such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension, infertility and cardiovascular diseases.
The recent Maggi noodle scandal highlights the rapid invasion of junk food in the Indian diet. We are what we eat. When we eat food full of toxic chemicals, we pay the price with our health. India has emerged as the epicenter of diabetes.
In 2004, 8.2 lac Indians were diagnosed with diabetes and 2.6 lac succumbed to the disease. In 2012, the diabetes numbers jumped to 180 lac diagnosed and 7 lac dead. In 2010 alone, India spent 32 billion dollars on diabetes care. Cancer has also seen an increase by 30 percent in the last 5 years, with 180 million people affected in India. At 10 lac treatment per cancer victim this multiplies to 300 billion dollars, or 18 lac crores in rupees.
In extensive studies reported in “Poisons In Our Food” by Navdanya, elevated levels of PCBs, DDE and DDT have been found in the blood of women suffering from breast cancer. Studies show that 51 percent of all food commodities are contaminated by pesticides.”
A farmer sits on a dried-up patch of land in the southern Indian state of Karnataka in May 2015. (Jagadeesh Nv/European Pressphoto Agency)
“Every year, thousands of Indian farmers commit suicide. Now one researcher thinks it may have something to do with climate change.
Tamma Carleton, a researcher at the University of California at Berkeley, compared almost five decades worth of suicide and climate data and concluded that temperature variations in India may have “a strong influence” on suicide rates during the growing season.
In her study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Carleton estimates that more than 59,000 farmer suicides over the past 30 years can be linked to global warming.
Carleton’s findings are particularly worrisome and come just two months after the Trump administration pulled out of the Paris climate accord, which was adopted by 196 countries, including the United States under the Obama administration in December 2015. As part of the agreement, world leaders committed to holding the average global temperature rise to “well below” two degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. After President Trump pulled out of the accord, many countries, including India and China, said they would continue to honor their commitments under the accord.”
“. . . . High temperatures in the growing season reduce crop yields, putting economic pressure on India’s farmers, she writes. “These crop losses may also permeate throughout the economy, causing both farming and nonfarming populations to face distress as food prices rise and agricultural labor demand falls.”
Rainfall in the growing season, too, is important, Carleton suggests. More rain means higher yields, she writes, noting: “Suicide rates fall as growing season rainfall increases.”
According to the World Health Organization, India accounts for the highest number of suicidesin the world. A staggering 133,623 people took their own lives in 2015, according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau. More than 12,000 of those were farmers and agricultural laborers, almost one-tenth of the total.
According to Indian authorities, bankruptcy and indebtedness or farming-related issues are cited as the major causes of suicide among farmers in India.”
“More than 1,000 assorted pieces of plastic, including 115 cups, 25 bags, four bottles and two flip-flops, have been found inside a dead sperm whale in Indonesia, according to local officials.
The whale, found washed ashore Monday in Wakatobi National Park, was already decomposing when rescuers arrived, so investigators were unable to determine if the plastic caused its death, said Lukas Adhyakso, the conservation director of the World Wildlife Fund in Indonesia. The plastic weighed about six kilograms, or 13 pounds, he said.
But images of the dead whale resonated in Indonesia, a country that has started to reckon with its outsize use of plastics. Indonesia, a nation of about 260 million people spread over thousands of islands in Southeast Asia, was the world’s second-biggest producer of plastic waste in 2015, behind only China, according to a study in the journal Science.”