People who study human genetics can explain why some pregnancies result in triplets or what determines someone’s hair color. Crop genetics deals with similar queries, except that field of study is specifically for plants. Experts in crop genetics study how to increase yields, make crops more resilient to adverse weather and more. Here’s a look at why crop genetics seems poised to impact agriculture significantly.
Our world changes every day in subtle and life-altering ways. Animal extinction manages to be both at once. It happens so gradually that it remains unknown to many people until a headline about another extinct species draws their attention. And though the process feels slow, each organism we lose has earth-shattering repercussions. The worst part is that we don’t always know the extent of these consequences until they’re upon us.
A World Wildlife Fund report from 2016 stated we’d lose two-thirds of our endangered species by 2020. They reported a 58% decrease in wildlife populations between 1970 and 2012, with a prediction of 67% by 2020. Though environmental groups and legislators are continuously making gradual moves to protect endangered animals, we’re increasingly closer to reaching the two-thirds prediction.
If humans lacked effective ways to keep pests at bay, gardens and lawns would be overrun with unwanted visitors that could eat plants and trigger other undesirable effects. One method of interest is biological pest control. It centers on introducing living organisms that display predatory behaviors toward the pests rather than relying on chemicals to do the job.
Research shows there are many downsides to using non-biological pest control measures. For example, the chemicals pose dangers to kids and pets, and there are issues with the chemicals not reaching their intended targets. Additionally, ongoing use can cause resistance, requiring people to use more of a product to get the same results once achievable with a smaller amount.
When methods of getting rid of nature’s nuisances prove ineffective, agricultural professionals often waste money when, perhaps, they should have investigated different options sooner. A study from the Zoological Society of London recently found that the overuse of an herbicide to control a weed that harms winter-wheat fields takes a £400 million bite out of the United Kingdom’s economy every year.
Since the conventional ways of pest management have these negatives and others, more people wonder if now is the time to embrace biological pest controls.
How many wild animals are killed by farming practices? While scientists know there’s a problem, they’re unable to pinpoint a precise figure.
Some of the biggest drivers of biodiversity decline include overexploitation — harvesting animals from the wild at rates that can’t replenish — and agriculture, which consists of the production of food, livestock farming, aquaculture, tree cultivation and more.
According to experts, agriculture and the overexploitation of resources is a more significant risk to biodiversity than climate change. In fact, nearly 75% of the world’s threatened species face overuse, compared to only 19% affected by climate change.
The Sumatran rhinoceros, for example — which people illegally hunt for its meat and horn — is one of 4,049 species threatened by this problem. Other animals that poachers target include the Western gorilla and Chinese pangolin.
Habitat destruction, the most significant ecological crisis we’re facing right now, is a problem for both humans and animals.
Construction — along with other land-clearing industries, like logging and agriculture — is a significant driver of destruction. Yet it doesn’t have to be. Companies can implement sustainable practices that preserve local environments, respect wildlife and minimize impact — all while staying on deadline.
The Proposed Impact of Oil Development in the Arctic
On September 12th, the Trump Administration’s Interior Department published a final plan to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to gas and oil development and leasing. This is the first time in history that the government will open leasing opportunities to drill from the ANWR. The plan will open 1.56 million acres on the Arctic Coastal Plain to promote the development of fossil fuels. The sanctuary in full is 19.3 million acres. Among one of the most feared impacts, there is a rising worry that upcoming oil and gas drilling may severely damage the wildlife habitat. In particular, the combination of drilling and climate change may lead to bird extinctions.
When people think about wildlife extinction, they often ponder how creatures like the woolly mammoth and the dodo bird now only exist through media and research. However, it does more than eradicate animals. Here’s an eye-opening breakdown of how extinction’s effects often get overlooked.
It Could Trigger the Decline of the Human Population
A sobering report from the United Nations warns that 1 million species are at risk for extinction. The organization says it’s not too late for everyone to work together, from a local scale to an international one, to enact positive changes.
Eco-tourism — travel to areas that conserve the natural environment — makes up one of the largest segment of global tourism income. It’s also one of the fastest-growing kinds of tourism, and responsible for producing more than $28 billion in revenue for developing nations. And when eco-tourism works well, it conserves the fragile habitats as it provides income for local communities and indigenous peoples.
But while eco-tourism can provide many benefits for both the environment and local people, not all eco-tourism is sustainable and beneficial to local communities and conservation efforts.
Overfishing has become a global crisis. One-third of fisheries around the world are operating at unsustainable levels. Over time, this unsustainable fishing will both decrease the amount of wild fish available to fishers and have huge consequences for the environment. If left unchecked, overfishing can lead to disruption of the food chain, harmful algal blooms and even critical dispensation: fish populations so reduced in size they can no longer sustain themselves.
But overfishing isn’t inevitable. Regulations that prevent overfishing and encourage sustainable fishing have been proven to help restore fish and plant populations and heal marine ecosystems. And sustainable fishing may even be good for fishers’ profits, too.
Here are 10 overfishing solutions that could save our oceans and help prevent ecological collapse.
During the past century, the extinction of animal species continued to exceed natural rates. There’s no doubt humankind drives the phenomenon. Climate change and the relentless pursuit of nonrenewable resources decimates habitats. Housing developments encroach upon the homes of native species.
The ocean is not safe from the devastation man wreaks. If current consumption continues unchecked, many scientists believe there will be more plastic than fish in the seas by 2050. What’s even more troubling is the species we may lose — and once they’re gone, they’re gone forever. Is it too late to save the most endangered marine animals?