Buscador avanzado

New shoot of a plant in a dried up lake bed caused by prolonged drought. Photo by: Sven-Erik Arndt/Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images.

It is well-known that existential threats due to biodiversity loss and the rapid transformation of the global biosphere which most basic conditions of human existence depend on are growing, and that the potential crossing of climate change tipping points will have catastrophic effects due to cascading effects.

But 2020 is a real turning point, because the total weight of human-made materials – which has doubled roughly every 20 years since the middle of the last century – is now exceeding that of the planet’s natural biomass. However, there is little sign world leaders have understood the importance of this new reality.…  Seguir leyendo »

Además de costar vidas humanas, la temporada de incendios forestales de este año en Australia, de una intensidad sin precedentes, destruyó cerca de 2500 viviendas, mató a cientos de millones de animales, golpeó la economía y sometió al gobierno a una enorme presión. En uno de los años más secos y calientes desde que se tiene registro, los incendios recalcan la profundidad y complejidad de los retos globales a los que nos enfrentamos. Del mismo modo, el brote del COVID-19, que comenzó cuando un nuevo coronavirus pasó de un animal a un ser humano en China, hoy amenaza con interrumpir la vida social y económica en el planeta.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las empresas y la biodiversidad

En la reunión anual del Foro Económico Mundial celebrada el mes pasado en Davos, la evidencia de las crecientes amenazas que enfrenta la naturaleza y del aporte que esta hace a la humanidad ocupó un lugar mucho más destacado que nunca en la agenda. Los dirigentes empresariales de todo el mundo tienen ante sí la tarea de aceptar esta evidencia y comenzar a actuar como custodios, no saqueadores, de nuestros activos naturales vitales.

La última edición del Informe Global de Riesgos del Foro no se equivoca cuando concluye: “De todos los riesgos, es en relación con el medioambiente donde más se evidencia que el mundo va camino de una catástrofe”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Wild brumbies running through Australia’s high country.CreditCreditFairfax Media, via Getty Images

Since this country’s founding in the early 20th century, the packs of untamed horses that roam freely through our beautiful and hostile alpine landscape have captured the public’s imagination. The savage grace and freedom of the horses — known here as brumbies — have made them into a popular symbol of the national spirit.

Today, environmentalists want the brumbies shot.

Not since cattle roamed the mountain parks (before a ban in the 1950s) have animals done such damage to the alpine regions that Australians proudly call the “high country.”

A 2014 survey estimated there were more than 9,500 wild horses in the Australian Alps.…  Seguir leyendo »

La fotografía de la Tierra tomada por William Anders desde el Apolo 8 en 1968 Credit William A. Anders/NASA

En 1968, el astronauta William Anders miró hacia afuera desde su cápsula en la misión Apolo 8 que orbitaba alrededor de la Luna y vio a la Tierra de color azul que emergía sobre el grisáceo horizonte lunar. Fue la primera vez que alguien vio un “amanecer lunar” y la foto que tomó se volvió icónica.

En ella, nuestro planeta se ve solo y frágil en contraste con lo negro del espacio. A cincuenta años, la foto de Anders sigue siendo un resumen visual de la apremiante necesidad de salvar al planeta de nuestro pésimo comportamiento. Pero ¿qué tal si hemos malinterpretado el significado real de esa imagen?…  Seguir leyendo »

Vivimos un apocalipsis global de los insectos

A 56 años de que Rachel Carlson advirtió en su libro Silent Spring sobre las muertes de aves por el uso de pesticidas, parece que nos encontramos ante una nueva crisis biológica. Un estudio, publicado en otoño pasado, documentó un declive del 76 por ciento en la biomasa de los insectos voladores que cayeron en redes en varios lugares de Alemania a lo largo de las últimas tres décadas. Las pérdidas a mediados del verano, cuando estos son más numerosos, superaron el 80 por ciento.

Este alarmante descubrimiento, en esencia obra de naturalistas aficionados que forman el grupo de voluntarios Sociedad Entomológica Krefeld, genera un cuestionamiento evidente: ¿Esto sucede en otras partes del mundo?…  Seguir leyendo »

El voto de los animales

Cuando la cuestión ecológica irrumpe en las agendas políticas, su primer efecto es la identificación de una serie de deberes de los humanos respecto del mundo natural. Los debates se intensifican hasta el punto de constituirse unos derechos de los animales que los humanos tendríamos que respetar. Sin entrar en este debate concreto quisiera añadir la perspectiva de en qué medida este asunto modifica la naturaleza misma de la democracia y cuestiona la universalidad de nuestros procedimientos de representación. La democracia es concebida en la modernidad como un conjunto de instituciones gracias a las cuales los humanos abandonábamos el mundo natural.…  Seguir leyendo »

Elephants, with their wondrous size, need vast amounts of food and space. A group crossing a farmer’s field can do enough damage to bring about both economic ruin and their own consequent demise. Credit Alex Majoli/Magnum Photos

Lately I’ve been haunted by a photo. In it, a mother elephant and her baby are running across a road in West Bengal, India. The mother has her head down and ears forward, heading for safety in the trees. A ball of fire clings to her right foot; her tail appears singed. The baby’s hind legs are engulfed in flames. In the background, a crowd of men is running away, some pausing to gape and jeer over their shoulders. They are the reason for the fire. They have thrown firecrackers and balls of flaming tar at the animals. The image, taken by Biplab Hazra and chosen by the Indian conservation group Sanctuary Asia as this year’s winner of its annual wildlife photography contest, is titled “Hell Is Here.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Tweaking Genes to Save Species

Biotechnologists have engineered the mosquito that spreads the Zika virus to pass a lethal gene to its offspring. Another team of researchers has devised a way to spread sterility through the mosquito population, using a technique called gene drive to wipe out the offending insects.

If regulators approve this genetic tinkering, these insects could become a powerful weapon against the spread of mosquito-borne diseases to humans. But bugs like these, and the techniques used to create them, might have another role to play: helping to protect the earth’s biodiversity.

This kind of genetic meddling makes many environmentalists deeply uncomfortable. Manipulating nature’s DNA seems a hugely risky and ethically fraught way to help save the natural world.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Global Solution to Extinction

During the summer of 1940, I was an 11-year-old living with my family in a low-income apartment in Washington, D.C. We were within easy walking distance of the National Zoo and an adjacent strip of woodland in Rock Creek Park. I lived most of my days there, visiting exotic animals and collecting butterflies and other insects with a net that I had fashioned from a broom handle, coat hanger and cheesecloth. I read nature books, field guides and past volumes of National Geographic. I had already conceived then of a world of life awaiting me, bottomless in variety.

Seventy-six years later, I have kept that dream.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian lumber in transit in 2008. Credit Michael Christopher Brown/Magnum Photos

I have loved wood and the smell of sawdust ever since I was a child and got to wander among the open sheds at the local l

umberyard. But for years now I have had a sick feeling every time I shop for almost anything made of wood. The prices are often unbelievably good, but then I notice the words “Made in Vietnam,” or some other country where illegal logging is demolishing forests at appalling speed, largely for the United States and European markets.

So I was pleased when I read this month that a federal judge had approved a criminal settlement in just such a logging case.…  Seguir leyendo »

Elephants cross the road to Ngorongoro in Tanzania. Photograph: Laura Romin & Larry Dalton/Alamy

The death of the British helicopter pilot Roger Gower, shot down by elephant poachers over a game reserve in Tanzania, shows the dangers faced by the heroes attempting to save our most charismatic mammals from extinction.

We are in the midst of a crazy killing spree, the slaughtering of elephants, rhinos and lions on a scale never before witnessed on Earth. The 1989 ban on the international trade in ivory and conservation efforts that helped populations of big African animals recover in the 1990s now looks like a golden age. In 2007, 13 rhinos were poached in South Africa. In 2014, 1,215 were poached.…  Seguir leyendo »

Our Mediterranean, Our Survival

All the world’s seas are bedeviled by global warming, pollution and overfishing, but the Mediterranean and the 20-plus nations that ring it face another threat: A rising flood of invasive marine species flowing through the Suez Canal.

On Aug. 6, 2015, over the objections of environmentalists and the reservations of many economists, the canal’s latest expansion opened to shipping. The new 22-mile channel will double the canal’s capacity, allowing 97 ships to pass through each day. It also opens a wider path for invasive species from the Indian and Pacific Oceans to flood through the Red Sea into the Mediterranean.

Once they’re in, there’s no way to get them out, and the changes they bring are irreversible.…  Seguir leyendo »

What Comes Out in the Wash

Ask most people about the problem of waste plastics in the environment and they will talk about plastic bags caught in trees and the vast slicks of plastic trash found in remote areas of the Atlantic and Pacific. But the most menacing plastic waste problem is less visible and not so well publicized.
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It’s the tiny fibers, less than one millimeter wide, that come from our clothes when we launder them. These fibers make their way into the world’s rivers and seas through the sewage and drainage systems of our cities. The pollution is worst near urban areas, but it is global and has increased by more than 450 percent since the 1960s.…  Seguir leyendo »

La creación por China del Banco Asiático de Inversión para Infraestructura (AIIB, por su sigla en inglés) ha intensificado el debate sobre si una nueva generación de bancos de desarrollo liderados por países emergentes es necesaria para garantizar que las decisiones financieras consideren adecuadamente los principios del crecimiento ambientalmente sostenible. Mucho más importante, sin embargo, resulta si esos principios son capaces de apuntalar a los mercados de capitales más amplios de los países en desarrollo, cada vez más fundamentales para el sistema financiero internacional.

La respuesta, al momento, parece ser positiva. De hecho, China y otras grandes economías emergentes parecen estar comprometidas con el diseño de sistemas financieros que respondan a los imperativos de largo plazo del desarrollo inclusivo y sostenible, pero no pueden crear una economía mundial genuinamente inclusiva y sostenible por sí solas.…  Seguir leyendo »

El 22 de abril, el mundo celebrará el cuadragésino quinto aniversario del Día de la Tierra, establecido en 1970 para señalar a la atención las amenazas medioambientales. Nunca dichas amenazas habían sido mayores ni más urgentes que hoy. La combinación de cambio climático, erosión de la biodiversidad y agotamiento de los recursos naturales está lanzando el planeta a un punto de inflexión allende el cual objetivos como el desarrollo sostenible y la reducción de la pobreza serán más difíciles de alcanzar que nunca.

Desde 1970, los científicos han descubierto no sólo que la actividad humana es el motor primordial del cambio medioambiental de la Tierra, sino también que está llevando al planeta más allá de sus límites.…  Seguir leyendo »

The highway that cuts deep into the Amazon is visible at night — even from the Moon. DeAgostini/Getty Images

If you want to see how differently economists and ecologists view the world, just ask them about roads. Many economists love roads; they see them as one of the most cost-effective ways to encourage economic growth and provide social benefits. But roads truly scare ecologists — especially roads that penetrate into wilderness areas, nature reserves, and the remnants of rare ecosystems. Why? In such circumstances, roads often open a Pandora’s box of environmental evils.

In the Amazon, 95 percent of all forest destruction occurs within five kilometers of a road. The BR-163 highway that cuts deep into the heart of the Amazon is visible at night — even from the Moon — as a thousand-kilometer-long slash of forest fires.…  Seguir leyendo »

Unesco calls the Galápagos Islands a “living museum and showcase of evolution,” but they are much more than that. The islands have become the world’s foremost conservation laboratory, which scientists and the Ecuadorean government have promoted as a model on how humanity might prevent, or even reverse, the catastrophic species depletion that has taken place relentlessly ever since Charles Darwin first pondered the finches there.

These efforts matter more than ever now, as recent research suggests that Darwin was wrong when he rejected the natural catastrophe theory of evolution. According to a recent report from the World Wildlife Fund, populations of more than 10,000 vertebrate species declined by 52 percent on average between 1970 and 2010.…  Seguir leyendo »

Stopping the Next Amphibian Apocalypse

For the past 25 years we have watched helplessly as a wide range of amphibians around the world have died from a pathogenic fungus, known as Bd (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis). Now, yet another fungal contagion appears to have been unleashed. This one is spreading among salamanders in parts of Europe and threatens devastation.

This new menace, known as Bs (Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans), appears to have invaded Europe from Asia by way of the pet trade. In Asia, salamanders carry the infection but don’t become sick from it. But European salamanders are particularly susceptible to its pathogenic effects. The mortality rate is 96 percent.…  Seguir leyendo »

Extinctions, droughts, rising sea levels, bigger and more dangerous storm events; nature has been speaking to us. It's telling us we are taking too much from the planet and saving too little. My colleagues and I at Conservation International (CI) have been listening and now is the time for the world to act.

The world's eyes are on Australia this week as both the G20 Leaders' Summit and the World Parks Congress -- that only happens once every 10 years -- take place. Both are significant international events whose outcomes will influence millions of lives around the globe for years to come.…  Seguir leyendo »