I arrived in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, five weeks ago. In the days prior, I had read up on this southwestern African country and its tourist sites, learned about the wildlife conservation successes it has achieved since independence in 1990, and was even reminded that this was where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie chose to give birth to their first child. But on my first night here, I was confronted with a different side of Namibia that isn’t making as many headlines.

A typical arid landscape in the Erongo region of Namibia.

Jet-lagged and disoriented, I stumbled out of my room at 2 a.m. and ran into Johannes Gabriel, the night guard at the guesthouse where I’m staying for three months. Gabriel, an Ovambo man from the village of Okapa, told me of the drought that is gripping the nation, the worst in three decades. “Many cattle and people are dying, schools are closing because children aren’t interested in education, people are waiting on long lines for food.” While much of the world may know Namibia for tourism, wildlife conservation, and famous babies, the drought has received relatively little media exposure. Greater international attention and support will be needed if these conditions are indicative of climate challenges to come.

Read the rest of this entry

Africa, Climate Change, drought, ecotourism, Namibia

International Congress for Conservation Biology logoWhether big cats on U.S. soil or tiny bats around the world, more and more species are being driven toward extinction and crammed into smaller slivers of habitat as a result of unchecked climate change. That’s bad for the diversity of life on Earth and often bad for people, too, according to recent research by conservation biologists and other analysts. But amid the gloom, some promising strategies might protect people from harsher climates while preserving nature.

At the annual conference of the Society for Conservation Biology, held earlier this month in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 128 of the nearly 1,100 research presentations, posters, and papers dealt exclusively with the impacts of climate change on the Earth’s species. The lesson learned: that this impact is nearly always negative. Perhaps twice as many additional studies considered climate change alongside other major drivers of extinction such as population growth and habitat destruction, making climate change the biggest issue at the conference. Not even 10 years earlier, climate featured heavily in only half as much of the Society’s work.

Read the rest of this entry

adaptation, American, Argentine ants, bats, big cats, biodiversity, bioinformatics, bioinvasion, buffer, Canadian lynx, Climate Change, computer scientists, conference, conservation biologists, critters, crops, deaths, deer, dire predictions, diversity, Earth, economic losses, economically beneficial, ecotourism, extinction, fluffy, food, fruit and nut trees, fur trapping, furry, habitat, habitat destruction, hairy, human encroachment, jaguar, life, markets, nature, negative impact, paper, people, pollinators, population control, population growth, poster, presentation, research, rodents, runaway climate change, salt marshes, Society for Conservation Biology, soil, species, storm surges, warm fuzzies, welfare