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Originally posted by SonoftheSun
Doesn’t look good. That point of no return is long gone. There’s no going back. Too late.
Today, many scientists think the evidence indicates a sixth mass extinction is under way. The blame for this one, perhaps the fastest in Earth's history, falls firmly on the shoulders of humans. By the year 2100, human activities such as pollution, land clearing, and overfishing may have driven more than half of the world's marine and land species to extinction.
Originally posted by SonoftheSun
1/22/11 Hundreds of penguins dying near Wellington at Banks Peninsula, NZ
[color=gold]"It got too cold for them."
At Banks Peninsula, hundreds of little white-flippered penguin chicks have died of starvation, according to Shireen Helps, who has been caring for the colony on her property for about 25 years.
"There were chicks dying in their burrows, in the hillside, and heaps dying on the water."
Dr Argilla said the calm La Nina seas meant fewer small fish and plankton close to the surface of the water for them to feed on.
penguins, for example, needed five or six years of good conditions for populations to regenerate.
The strong La Nina had brought with it conditions that made for a bad breeding year. "They're natural occurrences that always happen, but now they're happening more regularly and it's playing havoc with wildlife populations."
However, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research principal scientist James Renwick said it was unknown whether La Nina would be stronger or happen more frequently in future.
This year's La Nina was the strongest since 1975, when Conservation Department seabird scientist Graeme Taylor said many hundreds of seabirds died.
Unusually warm currents had made it difficult for adults to find food, leading them to stay out searching at sea for too long while their chicks needed feeding, she said.
Conservation Department vet Kate McInnes said that, during La Nina, cold currents did not come up around New Zealand and stir up the ocean to bring food near the surface.
Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony manager Jason Gaskill said no chicks there had starved, but warmer sea surface temperatures led to poorer breeding conditions for fish and less food for penguins, which would affect this year's season.
In late 2006, something strange began to happen to America's honeybees. Colonies that were once thriving suddenly went still, almost overnight. The worker bees that make hives run simply disappeared, their bodies never to be found. Over the past couple of years, nearly one-third of all honeybee colonies have collapsed this way, which led to a straightforward name for the phenomenon: colony collapse disorder (CCD).
A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) shows that the causes of CCD may be more varied than scientists expect. The bees may be dying not from a single toxin or disease but rather from an assault directed by a collection of pathogens.
Berenbaum believes that the presence of those genetic fragments inside the CCD-afflicted bees indicates that they may be under attack by a number of insect viruses — including deformed wing virus and Israeli acute paralysis virus — that damage the ribosomes.
"It was the one factor that remained consistently associated with the CCD bees we tested, no matter where they came from or how severe the disorder was," says Berenbaum. "It doesn't have to be a specific virus, just an overload." Once the bees' systems get burdened this way, they are less capable of fighting off any other threat, from pesticides to other environmental causes. (See TIME's video "Bees Without Borders.")
Berenbaum is quick to point out that the microarray analysis is only correlative, meaning that while it can show evidence that certain viruses are present in CCD-afflicted bees, it doesn't reveal exactly what role the viruses play, nor how best to battle them.
The good news is that the disorder may be on the wane, with the Apiary Inspectors of America reporting that deaths from CCD are below 30% for the first time since the crisis began.
Since 1991 Bayer has been producing the insecticide Imidacloprid, which is one of the best selling insecticides in the world, often used as seed-dressing for maize, sunflower, and rape.
Bayer exports Imidacloprid to more than 120 countries and the substance is BayerÂ´s best-selling pesticide. Since patent protection for Imidacloprid expired in most countries, Bayer in 2003 brought a similarly functionning successor product, Clothianidin, onto the market.
Both substances are systemic chemicals that work their way from the seed through the plant. The substances also get into the pollen and the nectar and can damage beneficial insects such as bees.
In both ailing humans and bees, he said, it is plausible that a mix of infection, genetics, and environmental influences is at work.
Now, one bee disease, called Israeli acute paralysis virus, seems strongly associated with the beekeeping operations that experienced big losses, a large research group has concluded...
Dr. Pettis said that even if the virus is involved, it is likely that more than one factor has to align for a hive to collapse, with another possible influence being poor nutrition. Most of the colonies that had big losses over last winter were in areas that experienced drought a few months beforehand, and thus a lack of nectar in flowers, he said.