15 May 2013

Owl at dusk

Horned owl
Chapter 24: Xenoglaux 

page 334: tipping point.  Some scientists say an Arctic thaw may be the first in a cascade.  "Perhaps the worst news of all is that there may be no warning of impending flips." But there is also push-back against the idea.

page 335: sixth extinction.  Today's extinctions, say some scientists, may be the result of damage humans did in the early 20th century; our own extinction legacy could ultimately be far worse.   There has been excitement this year about the possibilities of de-extinction (also here). Cooler heads point to ecological and other challenges.

page 336: the consequences of climate changes for species survival, abundance, distribution are hard to predict, and likely to be complex and variable. A short article on birds is here. Generally, about one third of animal species are predicted to be affected. And disruption can travel the other way:  "wiping out top predators like lions, wolves and sharks is tragic, bad for ecosystems – and can make climate change worse."

page 337: owls fascinate humans. A recent science-based reason being the discovery of how they are able to turn their heads through 270 degrees.

page 337: horned owl. According to David Abram, the great horned owl has long been regarded as the preeminent prophet or seer among birds.

page 339: protect and restore the beautiful...and create new possibilities for future flourishing.  A shift from trying to conserve individual species to protecting ecosystems as a whole (and making some hard choices about which to protect) is underway. Scientific paper here, press report here. about See also Feral by George Monbiot.

This is the twenty-fifth in a new series of notes and comments on chapters in The Book of Barely Imagined Beings. It appears around the time of the US publication, and adds to an earlier series that appeared around UK publication.

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