I admit that I had not thought about this matter in a while and wasn’t planning to discuss it here on the seed. But when it came to my attention lately I recalled the problems we have had here in Florida with the sea turtles on the beach. It was a horrible thing that happened when people were leaving their lights on along the beach during the turtle hatches. The poor baby turtles were running backwards, up onto the sea oats, towards city lights instead of the light of the moon on the water, and getting lost in the sand rather than running towards the ocean. Since that time, years ago, it has been a common practice here to leave lights out along the beach during the hatches. I am not sure if it is a law, however I do know that everybody just does it.

Lately came this study from a group of ecologists, biologists and biophysicists that has since been published in the journal, “Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment”. In this study they came to the conclusion that manmade light sources alter the natural light cycle and can cause animals that rely on light cues to make dangerous mistakes when moving through their environment. Although I don’t think they really needed this study, seeing that we had come to this conclusion years back on the beaches as I just noted, but I am glad I saw it because it brought it back to my attention.

Also currently discovered is that, in addition to direct light sources, this same problem occurs with polarized light. In fact, polarized light can trigger animal behaviors that lead to injury and often death. What is commonly called “light pollution” is artificial light from whatever source that occurs at unnatural times or places. This can attract or repel animals, resulting in animals migrating in the wrong direction, choosing poorly placed nests, choosing the wrong mates, increasing predatory activity out of fear or disorientation. Also possible are collisions with structures as a result of light blindness and stopping the search for food in the belief that morning has come when it hasn’t. All of this confusion is deleterious to animal security and safety, making them vulnerable in places and under conditions where they normally would be safe.

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The IUCN (The International Union for Conservation of Nature) is in the process of releasing the first of the 2008 assessments on how climate change is affecting species populations. The first results of that assessment have been published and these show that 35% of the worlds’ birds, 52% of amphibians and 71% of coral reefs in warm water areas are particularly susceptible to the vagaries of climate change.

The assessment is done every year and leads up to the yearly Review of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, long considered the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of plants and animals. This years publication, entitled a “Review of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”, was released this month in Barcelona, Spain.

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I saw an article on Reuters about how many of the world’s most common birds have suffered steep declines in their numbers over recent decades. This is considered to be a sign of a deteriorating global environment and a biodiversity crisis according to Birdlife International.

“Birds provide an accurate and easy-to-read environmental barometer, allowing us to see clearly the pressures our current way of life are putting on the world’s biodiversity,” said Mike Rands, chief executive of the alliance of conservation groups.

The intensified levels of industrial scale agriculture and equally large scale and effective fishing operations are only a part of the threats to birds. Logging and the replacement of natural forests with singular plantations dedicated to one crop are also destructive to birds. They have no where to nest, to fish or to feed. Still, according to Mr. Rands, the long term effects of climate change may be the most serious of all stress placed on birds.

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I got this recent article from SeattlePi . According to this article, the north pole is getting closer and closer to having no ice at all. I can’t imagine “Santa’s Workshop” being on mud and grass, can you? Anyways, the article sites a scientist from the University of Washington named Ignatius Rigor. This man has been studying the quirks of the north pole for years and has known, as early as this past spring, that the ice up there was getting very thin and brittle. He says he knows the planet is warming. He is willing to bet that the area of ice would have shrunk to a record low this summer, even beating the amount already lost last year.

Rigor was absolutely sure, following the record losses of the past year or so, that the ice would disintegrate. In fact, the area of the Arctic ocean usually covered in ice has shrunk 1/3 below what has always been normal for the past 30 years. This is actually the first year that both the northwest passage over the top of North America and Russia’s northeast passage are free of ice. This astonishing and frightening fact has been pointed out by environmentalists while researchers are still waiting to see if last years’ dismal record will be surpassed. So far, it looks like 2008 will fall behind.

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I found this fascinating item online at Wildlife Extra. According to this article, the earth’s oceans are on the brink of collapsing, due to overfishing. As long ago as 2001, Jeremy Jackson, senior scientist emeritus of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, published a landmark paper named, “Historical Overfishing and the Recent Collapse of Coastal Ecosystems”.

In this paper, Mr. Jackson made the case that some environments which have long been considered unaffected and “pristine”, have, in fact, been radically altered by centuries of exploitation. Since this is again a very serious concern, due to the high volume of pollution and drastic species reduction due to overfishing, he has offered a current article on this matter. In this article, Mr. Jackson believes that the following steps, if taken by humans immediately, could reverse the speeding collapse of the ocean ecosystems.

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