Black market trade of wild animals and plants, living or dead, for their parts or products derived from them, is a multibillion-dollar business, third only to drugs and arms. The illegal wildlife trade generates a hefty sum of $5 to $20 billion per year.
The black market trade of wildlife is both unethical and unsustainable. Endangered species are the common contraband for their rarity and economic values of exotic products. But, not all wildlife trade is illegal! Many wildlife species are exclusively bred and harvested for their legitimate trade as food sources, pets, ornamental values, touristic and medicinal purposes.
Things get messy when wildlife trade escalates unsustainably, negatively impacting the natural resources, biodiversity, and local businesses in the region that might benefit from the tourism and legal trade.
Nonetheless, the line between legal and illegal trade has been blurred with poachers trying to pass off their illicit wildlife products as legal. Captive breeding of wildlife species for such products spikes the demand and increases poaching in the wild.
But the question arises, “Why would someone covet the word’s most charismatic wildlife species?”
The answer is simple! Some animals like African Gray Parrots, cuddly Asian Otters, and squirrels are desired as pets, pangolin meat and shark fins as a delicacy; and the body parts of tigers, bears, and pangolins are used in traditional Asian medicines; while elephant ivory, and tiger skins and bones are often traded as souvenirs or as a status symbol.
Cryptocurrency was a relatively obscure term and was not really spoken about out loud ten years back. But now it’s a whole new ball game with the cryptocurrency of different origins and names having a worth up to 70,000 dollars a coin at its peak. What is the basic definition of this cryptocurrency? It is a virtual currency that uses complex encryption algorithms. It is highly decentralized, and it is highly secure, and has a zero chance of being counterfeited.
The most famous one is Bitcoin. It was made by a group of unknown people, and all there is to remember them by is the pseudonym: Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoins which are now synonymous with the word cryptocurrency, have taken the world by storm. From relatively obscure to a full-blown phenomenon, especially after the series of tweets by Tech Giants are turning heads and appear to be a brilliant investment opportunity for many people. The investment in them is one that can have a huge upside and great returns. But will they make paper currency and coins a thing of the past? And what are the effects of cryptocurrency on the environment?
The 2021 theme for World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is Restoration, land, and recovery. We build back better with healthy land. It highlights the need for land restoration and reclamation of the natural ecosystem for a greener environment and economy.
The human-induced degradation of arid, semi-arid, or sub-humid land (collectively known as dryland) and loss of vegetative cover are termed Desertification. The term might have pulled out a Sahara Desert sketch or any other desert in your mind. However, it is not limited to one. It encompasses all the changes in soil quality, vegetative cover, water resources, wildlife, and land-use changes.
The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), established by the United Nations in 1994, defines drylands as “areas other than polar and sub-polar regions where the ratio of annual precipitation to potential evapotranspiration ranges between 0.05 to 0.65 or 5% to 65%”. Desertification hardly hits the drylands as these regions receive little or no annual precipitation.
There are millions and millions (~8.6 million) species of plants and animals. They have two kinds of names. The local names and the scientific names. Their local names might cause certain difficulties. For example, starfish is called so because it looks like a star. But is it a fish? A fish by definition is a limbless cold-blooded vertebrate animal with gills and fins living wholly in water.
Similarly, an ornithologist from the 'land down under' is talking to his fellow scientists from Europe, and he wants to talk about magpies. Easy right? But which magpie is he talking about? The Australian or Eurasian?
And this is how confusion is generated. Imagine the confusion when millions and millions of people with different languages talk about the same species (with different common names) and vice versa. Also, the local name provides no precise information as to which group the organism belongs to. This is where scientific names are very helpful.
The use of scientific names, Greek or Latin, for plants and animals helps reduce this confusion. And also, the organisms are divided into many categories, which help them be classified.
The ocean plays an integral role in sustaining our environment and climate, so do sharks and every other creature that lives below the surface. Life on earth depends on the delicate balance of this vast life support system. Sharks have gained an identity of the vengeful, bloodthirsty monsters of the deep, as portrayed by award-winning movies like Jaws. Ever since the movie, the box office has seen an onslaught of shark movies. The balance between the shark vs. human attacks has been shockingly disturbed by shark culling.
The five major Mass Extinctions around 65 million years ago that wiped over three-quarters of the planet’s species is old news now, and we made peace with the fact that “nothing lasts forever.” Species are bound to go extinct, as proposed by Charles Darwin. It is part of the evolutionary life cycle to adapt to diverse ecological niches on the Earth. The extinction of one or more species favors the evolution of other species.
What is alarming is that we are dealing with another Mass Extinction for which we are responsible. Scientists are calling it the Anthropocene Extinction, because it is caused by anthropogenic factors.
The fact that human-induced emissions have largely contributed to climate change, is overwhelmingly endorsed by researchers and scientists. This has led countries to introduce and implement stringent environmental regulations and taxes. The ever-present emissions of greenhouse gases are expanding planetary temperature graphs, thawing glaciers and permafrost, changing atmospheric circulations and precipitation patterns, increasing sea-levels, washing out coral reefs, and affecting flora and fauna biodiversity in terrestrial as well as aquatic ecosystems.
These changes in environmental processes are responsible for the collateral damage of the infrastructure, the agricultural productivity, and the economy. However, these socio-economic costs are not considered in the prices for energy commodities. Thus, legislations like the carbon dividend act are the blueprint to mitigate the looming climate crisis. Carbon pricing provides strong market incentives for emission reductions and alternative energy resources.
When was the first time you heard the phrase; The Arctic Is Melting?
I have grown up through adulthood listening to and reading this expression. Like some climate skeptics, I also wonder, “Has it not already melted?” It was prophesied that the ice of the Arctic Ocean would disappear by 2035. But now scientists are proposing a new end mark: 2050. However, it has already lost two-thirds of its ice sheet.
The icy Arctic is a climate-sensitive, fragile ecosystem. It is characterized by its ice and snow-covered land, peaks, and native wildlife including polar bears, reindeer, walruses, arctic cod, and seals. Currently, the polar natives are left with only small chunks of ice. In a few decades, the Arctic, and all its native life, will vanish.