Wednesday Whys

Wednesdays are for why I choose to take on climate work, even though it traumatizes me. As simply and tritely and deeply as you can feel, it’s beauty. I have become a little obsessed with documenting glorious examples of structure. As my mother says, and I agree, “This is my time. And I will never get another.”

Tuesday Truths

Tuesday posts on this new blog will be for baring truths. These realities are not only super-depressing, they are traumatizing. Hang in there with me. I will address trauma in other posts throughout the week.

I want to start with two data sets that motivated me to start BIOMASSACRE. I started feeling these numbers consciously about 2008 and began researching them.

1. My first curiosity was about people. I started to feel like there were a lot more people in the world. Turned out there were just about twice as many people here as when I was little.

My favorite site for keeping track of the world population is here:

https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

It includes all types of ways of breaking down population numbers including:

  • It has taken all of human history up to about 1800 for the world population to reach one billion. The second billion was achieved in only 130 years (1930), the third billion in 30 years (1960), the fourth billion in 15 years (1974), and the fifth billion in only 13 years (1987).

  • During the 20th century alone, the population in the world has grown from 1.65 billion to 6 billion.

  • In 1970, there were roughly half as many people in the world as there are now.

There is an interactive graph that lets you zoom in and out in time to see how population has changed. If you look at my lifetime so far, you can see that it sits directly in the exponential curve that begins right near my birth year of 1965 (small dot).

PopulationMap.png

2. The second data set that I started to feel was about the shrinking biomass, and this is how I found the title of the project. This data set is hard to pin down and stay accurate, but my best resource is the new report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. This report is still in draft form, but I am so grateful to everyone working on it. It is a monumental effort to get a perspective on the crisis from the most global level possible. I urge you to look at their site at: https://www.ipbes.net/.

The shortI IPBES media release has a solid 3 1/2 pages of statistics on the scale of the loss of nature. This is often simplified into a single statistic that generally reads that we have lost 50% of the total world biomass in the last 50 years. To give a little bit more nuance than that, here are a few conservative estimates from the report in paraphrase:

  • The abundance of native species in major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%. 

  • The numbers of invasive alien species per country have risen by about 70% since 1970.

  • Almost half (47%) of land-based mammals and almost 25% of birds may already have been negatively affected by climate change. 

  • We have so far named and classified about 1. 7 million species but estimate there are 5 - 20 million species yet on the earth. One million of those are threatened with extinction. More information is available about this statistic here:

    https://www.ipbes.net/news/how-did-ipbes-estimate-1-million-species-risk-extinction-globalassessment-report

Tune in tomorrow to learn more about what I’m doing with this information and how BIOMASSACRE is part of a regimen to keep from falling into despair.