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Ski
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PostThu Nov 29, 2018 6:52 pm 
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RandyHiker wrote:
"...almost every aspect of our society up to this point has set that out as the ideal..."

I would submit that the biggest aspect is the fact that our (American) economy is set up to be dependent on ever-increasing consumption: consumption of more food, more land, more houses, more cars, more big-screen teevees, more made-in-China plastic crap from Walmart, more more more more.
If the rate of consumption stops, or even slows down to a significant degree, we will experience economic collapse.
So yes, your point that this is "set up" is spot on.

RandyHiker wrote:
"...IDK..."

Buddy, I don't know either. If I had all the answers, I'd be rich, or I'd have to change my name to Jesus or Buddha or something like that.
I'm just another little pawn on a great big chessboard.
I try to minimize my overall impact. I try to minimize the amount of garbage I generate. I try to re-use stuff. I fix things (not just for myself, but for other people as well.)
But again, I'm just one little pawn. My infinitesimal efforts probably don't make a hell of a lot of difference.

I'm just relieved to know I won't be around when we run out of drinking water and they've contaminated the arable soil to the point where we can't produce food crops that don't causes terrible illnesses.

Again, I don't believe we're the first age of man here on this planet. I believe we've been down this path before, but thus far we haven't been able to keep under control the unbridled avarice of those who seek to control the rest of us politically and economically.
We'll manage at some point to kill ourselves off, and the cycle will start all over again.

In the meantime, I just try to enjoy what we have and try not to worry too much.

==

To Steve's point:
Yes, 80% is more than believable.
Wetlands were a thing to be filled in and built upon.
My elementary school, Alice M. Birney Elementary School ( 47.1878281,-122.4518194 ), was built on top of what was formerly a swamp area that stretched from about South Sheridan Avenue west to South L Street, and from South 76th Street south to where Jerry Dye lived at about South 78th Street.
They just filled it in and poured a slab and built a school on top of it.
The groundwater wicked up through the concrete foundation and through the asphalt linoleum for a few years after the school first opened in September of 1962 and made all the floors turn black with mold.

Vern Brett ("Blue Ribbon Soils") - the "dirt man" as we called him - owned a parcel on South 72nd Street between McKinley Avenue at about East "I" Street ( approx. 47.1917925,-122.4208922 ) - it looks like there's a "Planet Fitness" there now - on which there was a swamp that went all the way back to what is now South 70th - I'm looking at "Google Earth", and that "Planet Fitness" and all those houses just east of South "I" Street would have been in the swamp - and he just hauled in truckloads of dirt and filled it about 1964 or 1965.

Oscar Hokold filled in "Little Wapato Lake" just south of South 72nd Street at South Alaska Street ( 47.191508, -122.457543 ) in 1961 when he started construction of the housing development known as "Lakeshore Estates".

Those are just three little bodies of water that were filled in that I can recall from my childhood. I know of them because we used to ice skate on the swamp where Birney Elementary School was, and Greg James and I used to catch salamanders down at Little Wapato Lake, and my cousin Dennis and I used to play in the swamp over off of 72nd and McKinley.

How many others worldwide were filled in that I don't know about?

So yeah... 80% is more than believable. No question.

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Bedivere
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PostThu Nov 29, 2018 10:20 pm 
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What's truly concerning is the apparent reduction in abundance of insects in areas that are basically undisturbed.  What was one of the examples in the article - Phillipines, or Fiji or something like that?  A rainforest area that has not been disturbed and there are fewer insects there now.

When I drove to Wyoming this last summer I drove through a lot of areas that are still undeveloped or minimally developed.  Southern Idaho, Southwestern Montana, Northwestern Wyoming - all still mostly forest with a fair amount of ranch land and some fields growing things like hay, alfalfa, etc.  These areas should be supporting healthy insect populations and my car did get a decent coating by the end of the trip, but not what I would have expected and almost certainly gotten decades ago.

As for wetlands and swamps - prime example is in West Seattle where I grew up.  My dad also grew up in West Seattle.  He was born there in 1924 and spent most of his time in the Delridge area.  At that time the Westwood Village shopping center and the park across from it were a swamp that drained to the North forming Longfellow Creek which ran into Elliot Bay right at the Nucor Steel plant.  Even back then there was a steel plant there but there were only a couple houses down in the Delridge valley and no shopping center or park and Longfellow Creek was a wild and basically undisturbed creek that my dad and his brother fished and caught trout out of.  Then the swamp was filled in and the creek put into culverts so the shopping center and park could be built and houses and apartments were built all along Delridge way, all around the creek and now that creek is basically just a ditch in a lot of spots.  There are a few stretches of it that aren't surrounded by pavement and there's a walking trail along it, but for the most part it's not a functional wildlife habitat any more.

An even bigger example is the Kent valley, which up until the '70s was mostly farmland.  Now it's warehouses, industrial parks and apartments.

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Ski
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PostThu Nov 29, 2018 11:05 pm 
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When you really start thinking about it, the elimination of wetland areas in the name of "progress" is mind boggling.
I forgot all about the huge marshy area where my cousin Dennis and I used to romp around  just west of Portland Avenue East behind what is now the Portland Avenue Nursery (47.203907,-122.4111117) - it's all residential now.
And then there's the Black River, a long gone tributary of the Duwamish, that came down off of the Renton Highlands - completely eliminated by development.  eek.gif

And these half-dozen places mentioned here in the last couple posts are just what two of us can think of off the top of our heads.

Doesn't take a rocket scientist (or entomologist) to understand why there would be fewer insects.

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Bernardo
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PostFri Nov 30, 2018 4:56 am 
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One critikue I read of the study is that it looked at wait.  The absence of a few large species may have scewed the results.  Also, the areas of the German study were small and degraded.  I doubt we've lost 80% of insects on a global basis, though I would definitely like to learn more about this and see more studies. What percentage of the biomass of planet earth is from microbes?  How are they doing? With regard to insexts,  how low could we go before we'd notice the results in the supermarket?
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Anne Elk
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PostFri Nov 30, 2018 12:00 pm 
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Belvidere wrote:
What's truly concerning is the apparent reduction in abundance of insects in areas that are basically undisturbed.

The NYT article that I opened this thread with is also being discussed in a professional beekeeper forum that I watch. One researcher in Grass Valley, CA (foothills NE of Sacramento) noted the same as Belvidere: 
In Bee-L forum, Randy Oliver wrote:
As an entomologist and naturalist, I've watched the decline and disappearance of insects where I live and have lived.  This is cause for alarm.  The question is, what's the cause?  It doesn't appear to be solely due to pesticides, since the decline is also taking place in nature preserves and tropical rain forests, as well as in the mountainous area in which I live, where there is close to zero pesticide exposure.

Another entomologist in that forum shared this citation, zeroing in on the point made by the Times article that "80 percent of the time it was a secondarily affected creature that was the first to disappear."  (Points in bold my emphasis.):

ABSTRACT

North American birds that feed on aerial insects are experiencing widespread population declines. An analysis of the North American Breeding Bird Survey trend estimates for 1966 to 2006 suggests that declines in this guild are significantly stronger than in passerines in general. The pattern of decline also shows a striking geographical gradient, with aerial insectivore declines becoming more prevalent towards the northeast of North America. Declines are also more acute in species that migrate long distances compared to those that migrate short distances. The declines become manifest, almost without exception, in the mid 1980s. The taxonomic breadth of these downward trends suggests that declines in aerial insectivore populations are linked to changes in populations of flying insects, and these changes might be indicative of underlying ecosystem changes.

Declines in aerial insectivore songbirds were first noted about two decades ago (Böhning-Gaese et al. 1993) and have continued to this day. Our analysis of North American Breeding Bird Survey trend estimates shows that passerines of the aerial insectivore guild incurred significantly stronger declines between 1966 and 2006 compared to other passerines. Furthermore, we show a striking geographical gradient in the population trends of aerial insectivores, with the probability of decline being the highest in northeastern North America. Declining trends predominate after 1980 and are most acute in species migrating to and from South America.

Nebel, S., A. Mills, J. D. McCracken, and P. D. Taylor. 2010. Declines of aerial insectivores in North America follow a geographic gradient. Avian Conservation and Ecology
I think humans lack the capacity to fully understand the complex interdependencies of life forms and the environment, and the ripple effects of serious disturbance in even one factor.

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Anne Elk
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PostFri Nov 30, 2018 12:28 pm 
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Ski- I appreciated your reminiscences about local water habitats crushed by development in your childhood haunts.  It just scratches the surface re the massive changes around here. Each successive generation has a re-set for what "normal" is, dumbing down collective memory re what our local ecosystems used to be.  I had a conversation recently with a relative of a local who grew up here and recently died at age 94.  Talk about someone who saw massive change in his lifetime.  I was astounded to find out that 8th Ave NW in Seattle used to be a creek.  Same thing with the area around NW 64th St as it descends toward Shilshole. Who else remembers that kind of stuff?  Of course, there was the grand-daddy of all estuarian destruction projects: the Denny Regrade.

One of the most beautifully written accounts of what we've lost on the west coast is The Living Shore - Rediscovering a Lost World It's a meditation on habitat loss reflected through one species.  Author Rowan Jacobsen recounts how the native oyster, once ubiquitous in the entire PNW, was wiped out by overharvesting, pollution and development. It was thought to be extinct until a small patch was discovered on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

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Schenk
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PostFri Nov 30, 2018 12:43 pm 
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The Portland area is rife with converted wetlands too.
I lived there for a few years in the late 70s-early 80s. When I go back to visit I am astounded at some of the places they built on. I am surprised they don't sink into the mud...
Lake Oswego and surrounds has hundreds of acres of wetland that were still there in the early 80s but are now nothing more than apartment complexes, cookie cutter condominiums, and asphalt.

We really need a space alien human sterilization ray gun blast to hit Earth...don't want to hurt anyone, just slow down the Human Propagation Party we've been having...there are simply too many people.

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Ski
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PostFri Nov 30, 2018 12:57 pm 
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Anne Elk wrote:
"...just scratches the surface re the massive changes around here..."

Yes, the tiny little bodies of water that I noted above are insignificant in the larger picture. As you noted, the Denny Regrade was a huge undertaking. Where did all that dirt go?
They hauled it south a little ways and filled in the estuary at the mouth of the Duwamish, creating what is now "Harbor Island" and the industrial area between I-5 and Alki Avenue.

But that's actually a smaller area than they filled in down here, when the entire lower end of the Puyallup was developed for industrial purposes - originally that area between what is now McKinley Park and Marine View Drive was all tidal estuary.

And as Sir Bedivere notes above, virtually the entirety of the lower Green River Valley was developed over half a century ago.

It does bring to light what people consider "normal" from generation to generation. Having lived in the same area my entire life I have seen changes on a massive scale, just here within a 20-mile radius.

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IanB
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PostFri Nov 30, 2018 1:13 pm 
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Probably on par with the regrade are the effects of the Montlake Cut, significantly lowering Lake Washington and eliminating the Black River's flow into the Duwamish.

I appreciate the concept of a generational "reset."  I became a birder about 25 years ago, and the diminishing numbers of birds even within that short time frame are clear.  It seems most obvious in the reduction of overwintering waterfowl and seabirds on the Sound, which is confirmed in Audubon CBC numbers.  But when (or if) we study the past, we then learn that what had seemed abundant to our younger selves was already just a pale shadow of what nature was like before our arrival.

Nevertheless, it is clear that a few adaptable species are doing well.  Everyone thinks of crows and gulls at landfills, but Juncos (for example) seem to be proliferating.  Obviously, as a naturalist, I find the current ecological trajectory appalling and inexcusable.  But I can take a small measure of consolation imagining those Juncos as finches in the Galapagos - morphing and diversifying into new species replacing the ones that we will exterminate along with ourselves.

Anne Elk wrote:
I think humans lack the capacity to fully understand the complex interdependencies of life forms and the environment, and the ripple effects of serious disturbance in even one factor.

I agree, with the exception that I would add the qualifier "most" to humans.  Such understanding is crucial to survival in a complex ecological system - once a species has developed the ability to alter that system.  Unfortunately I don't see any evolutionary mechanism for our species to select for that type of awareness, except for (possibly) surviving a devastating population crash (or several repeated crashes) and rebuilding with some better appreciation?

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Anne Elk
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PostFri Nov 30, 2018 1:19 pm 
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One more point re all the infilling of estuaries and other wetlands that everyone has noted - just wait until "the big one" hits.  The liquifaction is going to be stupendous.  Then all the municipal DCLU's will shrug their shoulders and say "who knew?"  huh.gif

Schenk wrote:
We really need a space alien human sterilization ray gun blast to hit Earth...don't want to hurt anyone, just slow down the Human Propagation Party we've been having...there are simply too many people.

  lol.gif   That's about what it's going to take, too, because any other kinds of serious discussion/attempts at slowing down human reproduction will turn into a nightmare of eugenics politics.  So much for advances in medicine, eh? Plagues had a useful purpose, I guess, from a planetary perspective.

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Bernardo
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PostFri Nov 30, 2018 3:39 pm 
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The population is not projected to increase that much from current levels.  population forecast
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DIYSteve
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PostFri Nov 30, 2018 5:33 pm 
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Anne Elk wrote:
ABSTRACT

North American birds that feed on aerial insects are experiencing widespread population declines. An analysis of the North American Breeding Bird Survey trend estimates for 1966 to 2006 suggests that declines in this guild are significantly stronger than in passerines in general. The pattern of decline also shows a striking geographical gradient, with aerial insectivore declines becoming more prevalent towards the northeast of North America. Declines are also more acute in species that migrate long distances compared to those that migrate short distances. The declines become manifest, almost without exception, in the mid 1980s. The taxonomic breadth of these downward trends suggests that declines in aerial insectivore populations are linked to changes in populations of flying insects, and these changes might be indicative of underlying ecosystem changes.

Yeah, we longtime birders have seen profound declines in our lifetimes. I'll be participating in this this years Christmas Bird Count, which is always bittersweet.
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DIYSteve
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PostFri Nov 30, 2018 5:36 pm 
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Bernardo wrote:
The population is not projected to increase that much from current levels.  population forecast

True, but irreparable damage has already occurred and much more will occur by peak population in 2070. Maintaining 9 billion people is a huge ongoing stress on Earth's resources. Climate change will make it worse, as affected areas will result in huge human migrations to places that are already crowded.
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IanB
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PostFri Nov 30, 2018 5:44 pm 
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Kind of a "fun" website.  Plenty of other counters ticking away...   flush.gif


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PostWed Dec 05, 2018 5:50 pm 
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Agriculture is not inherently a destructive activity.  And a lack of land space should not be the issue.  A good start would be doing away with the Farm Bill and discontinuing the use of ethanol.  Here's an article on the topic:  Grass-fed Beef — The Most Vegan Item In The Supermarket

An analysis I saw he other day on land use in Illinois:

In Illinois there is enough land for 1,835,280 farms like ours. And most of that land would sustain more production than our farm. (We produced enough meat for 80 people this year.)
There are 12.8 million people in Illinois eating, on average 200lbs of meat a year.

So if a 20 acre farm could support 100 people (people eat a lot more chickens 🐔 than beef), then we would need 128,000 farms or a whopping 6.9% of the land.
Plenty of room for suburbs and farmers markets!

Right now, 75% of Illinois's land is in corn and soy!

Even if you doubled the estimate for meat and then doubled it again for vegetable production then you would be at less than 1/3 of what they are farming.
You say ....yes, but we have a lot of inputs here. 20 tons of 🌾. It would take 3.8 acres to grow that much feed a year and 14.6 acres to grow the hay.
I estimate we could grow 60 times the amount of grain and vegetables we would need on those 128,000 farms or the equivalent of 24,000 pounds for each of the 12.8 million people in Illinois.
So realistically it would take less than 15% of the land in Illinois to feed the people of Illinois.
And those farms would employ millions of people in growing, processing and distribution with little equipment, debt, and inputs.
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