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crocodile

United Nation Reports Global Wildlife Trafficking Is Causing ‘Untold Harm Upon Nature’

A report from the United Nations has warned that more than 4,000 species of animals around the world are currently being targeted by traffickers, which is causing an unknown level of “harm upon nature.”

Crimes and trafficking involving wildlife are driven by demands for medicine, pets, bushmeat, ornamental plants, and trophies, according to reports. Of all the animals currently being trafficked, 40% are on the “red list” of threatened or near-threatened species. 

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The wildlife trade is active in more than 80% of countries around the world, according to the report which came from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). 

“Despite gaps in knowledge about the full extent of wildlife trafficking and associated crime, there is sufficient evidence to conclude that this remains a significant global problem far from being resolved.”

Researchers for the report looked at more than 140,000 wildlife seizures that took place between 2015 and 2021. They found that Corals, larger reptiles like crocodiles, and elephants had the largest number of individual seizures. 

These crimes are also actively driving extinction rates in species of rare orchids, succulent plants, reptiles, and fish, according to UNODC. 

“About 16,000 tonnes of goods were seized. Actual wildlife trafficking levels are of course far greater than the recorded seizures,” researchers say in the report.

“Wildlife crime inflicts untold harm upon nature, and it also jeopardizes livelihoods, public health, good governance and our planet’s ability to fight climate change,” said Ghada Waly, the executive director of the UNODC.

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Separate research has found that specific populations of spider monkeys and Baird’s tapir have declined up to 99.9% due to the illegal wildlife trade exclusively. Researchers want the world to know that this illegal trading can lead to global extinctions of multiple species, which would also impact the overall environment. 

“Much wildlife crime is linked to large organized crime groups. Corruption plays a critical role in undermining efforts to stop wildlife trafficking, from bribes paid to inspectors, to government officials allowing fake permits,” the report says.

“An absence of seizures of a particular commodity or at a certain location could reflect lack of enforcement, rather than evidence that illegal trade was not taking place,” researchers said

It is estimated that the illegal wildlife trading industry could be worth around $23 billion annually, with over 100 million plants and animals being trafficked every year. While the UNODC has the goal of ending all trafficking of protected species, it seems unlikely that they’ll reach that by 2030 as they initially planned. 

“To address this crime, we must match the adaptability and agility of illegal wildlife trade,” said Waly.

flooding

$34B of US Real Estate May Be Fully or Partially Underwater by 2050

Rising waters due to climate change could engulf $34 billion in US real estate within the next 30 years.

According to a report from the nonprofit Climate Central, up to 650,000 properties will be underwater or partially below the tidal boundary level within 30 years. Thirty counties across the country will lose more than 10% of their useable land, and 100 counties will lose at least 2% of their usable land.

The states most affected will lose a sizable portion of their total dry landmass. These states include Louisiana (8%), Florida (1.8%), North Carolina (1.3%) and Texas (0.2%).

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Rising waters will likely make these locations less desirable to live and work in, causing property values to plummet. Property taxes are an integral part of a municipal’s budget. They pay for many community social services, including schools, fire protection, emergency services, transport and other governmental aids.

Taxes also fund disaster relief and the subsequent costs of rising sea levels. New infrastructure, building safeguards against rising tides and relocating entire communities cost money. The aftermath of a rise in waters will quickly deplete many localities of their necessary funding.

“Property taxes fund local government operations, which typically include services such as K-12 schooling, roads and other infrastructure, police and fire protection, water, waste management, sewers, public transit, parks and public housing. Quality public services at competitive tax rates are key to attracting and retaining residents and businesses, which in turn support local tax revenues. Diminished property values and a smaller tax base can lead to lower tax revenues and reduced public services–a potential downward spiral of disinvestment and population decline, reduced tax base and public services and so on.”

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Seas will rise 8 to 23 inches along the nation’s coasts by 2050. The East Coast, particularly the Southeast, will be hit the hardest. Due to the sediment that flows in from the Mississippi River and the drilling for oil and gas pipelines, the gulf coast will be hit even harder by rising water levels and sinking ground.

Mark Rupp, director of the adaptation program at Georgetown Climate Center, points out that insurance carriers are reluctant to serve the Florida market, have become insolvent or have pulled out from the state entirely.

“How many mortgage lenders want to be lending for mortgages in flood-prone areas if they don’t think they’re going to be paid back?”

Rupp emphasizes that it is essential that these communities can rely on their state and federal governments to pay attention, fund their communities and provide a plan.

According to NASA, the earth’s climate has changed at a rate unseen in the past 10,000 years. The current rate of global warming is “occurring roughly ten times faster than the average rate of warming after an ice age.” The carbon dioxide we release is “increasing about 250 times faster than it did from natural sources after the last Ice Age.”

Hurricane

Hurricanes Continue To Get Stronger As A Result Of Climate Change, According To New Study

Climate change is still just as much of an issue as it’s been for the best decade, however, the intensity of concern over our planet’s climate crisis has subsided due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Even so, it’s becoming increasingly evident to scientists around the world that major natural events such as hurricanes, typhoons, and tropical cyclones have the potential to become much more deadly as the planet continues to heat up. 

According to a study performed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the probability of storms reaching a hurricane status of category 3, with winds exceeding 110 miles-per-hour, has consecutively increased every decade for the past 40 years. 

“The change is about 8% per decade. In other words, during its lifetime, a hurricane is 8% more likely to be a major hurricane in this decade compared to the last decade,” said Jim Kossin, author of the study.

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The idea that natural disasters get stronger as climate change worsens is not a new concept, and the data has clearly proven this to be correct within the past four decades. The study states that initially researchers were just looking at data from 25 years ago, however, looking back even further would give them even more evidence as to what aspects of man-made global warming that have had the most detrimental effects on the planet. 

“Almost all of the damage and mortality caused by hurricanes is done by major hurricanes (category 3 to 5). Increasing the likelihood of having a major hurricane will certainly increase this risk. The study reveals that global warming has increased sea surface temperature in regions where tropical cyclones form. The combination of these warm temperatures along with changes in atmospheric conditions, have allowed storms to more easily reach higher intensities,” Kossin said.

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Within the past few years specifically, Kossin and his team have been noticing these trends more in the Northern Indian Ocean, but he believes that’s mostly because data collection in that part of the world isn’t as advanced for this type of research, so the disaster occurrences seem much more random when they’re not. This study in particular neglected to include the past two years as well, which Kossin also knows could have skewed the data. 

The research also concluded that global cyclones should be the planet’s top concern for future natural disasters, as they’ve shown the most evidence for growing in intensity as a direct result of global warming. This is due to our ocean temperatures increasing, which results in stronger hurricanes to build out in the middle of the ocean and grow even larger before they hit land. 

“Here, the authors apply an objective technique on four decades of satellite data to create a consistent record of global tropical cyclone intensity, their results are consistent with the theory that increasing sea-surface temperatures are indeed increasing the intensity (but not frequency) of the strongest storms of at least major hurricane strength,” said Ryan Maue, a private industry meteorologist not involved in the recent research.

There are a multitude of natural reasons why these natural disasters have also increased in intensity, however, the evidence is clear. If we want a shot at a more healthy planet in the future, it’s up to us and our world leaders to fix all the damage we’ve caused.