Taking stock of the environment with the 53rd Earth Day on Friday

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Earth Day, established worldwide in 1970 and coming up on Friday, aimed to raise awareness of the consequences of relentless human efforts to command and control nature. It can be said that it is done, even if increased awareness has not changed the general direction.

Take the spotted lanternfly, for example. First identified in Pennsylvania in 2014, it has recently arrived in at least three counties in northern Ohio. The destructive lantern feeds on vines as well as peach, plum, cherry, and apple trees. His favorite, the Tree of Heaven, is itself an invasive species from China.

This development follows the ash borers which in recent years have left skeletons in the landscape. Something has killed the oaks and the hemlocks are also at risk.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources lists 122 animal species as endangered, 53 threatened, and 110 species of special concern. Endangered species include the state’s two native rattlesnakes; four species of bats; two types of sturgeon; and 12 species of birds, including American Bittern, Hen Harrier and Snowy Egret.

Much, but not all, of the damage began long before the first Earth Day. The victims, 11 extinctions, were lost forever.

At least one case of COVID-19 jumping from an infected wild deer to a human in Ontario was identified in late February, raising concerns about an apparently additional biological reservoir for coronavirus mutations.

The weather has gotten attention, but not necessarily as much as it deserves.

An April 4 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a compilation of assessments by hundreds of climate scientists, concluded that Earth’s governments are rapidly running out of time to limit the use of fossil fuels. if they hope to keep global warming to what is deemed a manageable level.

This level would be 4 degrees below the long-term norm, and currently the global temperature is just over 2 degrees above the norm.

On the day the report was made public, ExxonMobil announced plans to invest $10 billion in an offshore oil development project in South America that is expected to yield 250,000 barrels per day.

On April 6, around 1,200 scientists from around the world staged a climate protest, with some getting arrested after locking themselves in the JP Morgan Chase building in Los Angeles.

One of the world’s great carbon sinks, the Amazon jungle, is approaching a tipping point that could turn it into savannah. Bird populations have plunged in tropical forests. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, reached record levels as permafrost thawed.

In March, a research station in Antarctica recorded a temperature of 68 degrees above normal, while temperatures in parts of the Arctic soared to 54 degrees above average. An Antarctic sea ice the size of New York, and thought to be stable, has collapsed.

Western Australia in January experienced the hottest temperature on record in the southern hemisphere at 123 degrees. Records have been broken in Argentina and Uruguay. January was the sixth hottest on record, February the seventh hottest.

Models suggest the planet this year will remain about as hot as it was in 2021, the sixth hottest year on record. But be aware, earthlings, that models predict that 2023 will bring global heat unmatched in recorded history.

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