Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
One in three fish caught never makes it to the plate – UN report (theguardian.com)
202 points by YeGoblynQueenne 37 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 149 comments



One of the more depressing things to read, is how back in the early days of America, one could just reach into the river/sea and grab a fish.

E.g. lobsters were once so plentiful that native americans used them as fertilizer[0]. And there's photographic evidence of overfishing too. [1] is a nice NPR piece about how the largest catch of the year at a particular spot in Florida has been dwindling.

[0] - http://www.gma.org/lobsters/allaboutlobsters/lobsterhistory....

[1] - https://www.npr.org/sections/krulwich/2014/02/05/257046530/b...


Equally terrible is the same comparison about bugs, but it's easier to make people flip because it happened in our lifetime (recent and so fast!):

When I was young, I was driving a small bike. Having mosquitoes or flies clouds was a common occurrence on the road and the best motivator to wear a helmet for a youngster not bothered by security.

Nowadays, I'm still driving a bike, although a bigger one. But I encounter a bug cloud maybe once a year.

Our garden is also quite silent, and I have to go to the country side to hear the bugs again.

Given the massive role of fishes and bugs in our ecosystem, this is more than alarming.

We already have a hard time making people aware of one single issue, such as global warming. But the reality of the scale of our fuck up is so beyond that, as we have a bleak role in:

- global warming

- killing most animals, including fished and bugs

- then selectively breading the remaining life to serve our interest only, annihilating biodiversity and its balance

- destruction of huge biomes by either exploiting it or polluting it

- consuming resources at a rate that make even the most abundant of them seem scarce

- polluting air and water to such a scale it's becoming a health issue

Scientists are alarmed by one topic, saying we should do something before it's too late.

However, take all those topics together and the big picture seems an impossible battle to win, which ironically we fight against ourself, that is leading us to the worst possible ending


Awareness is relative. What you see in your formative years sets what's normal. Everything is relative to that. Older photos of abundance or massive piles of horseshoe crabs to be ground for fertiliser[0] are a strange alien world. People in their 20s are used to a lack of wildlife and consider it normal simply as that is what they grew up seeing, along with acres of monoculture in the "countryside".

The almost insolvable problem we have is everyone 60 or younger grew up with throwaway consumerism as "normal". My parents generation didn't. They had a fraction of my generation's environmental impact without any efforts to environmentalism. Simply they expected to buy something once then repair it if need be and replace when broken beyond repair. Not when something a little better gets released.

For all the huge increase in general awareness of the environment, when in the 80s the environment was something of the fringe, we're destroying it at an ever increasing rate. I'm not optimistic.

[0] https://modernfarmer.com/2014/03/horseshoe-crabs-went-fertil...


That's a good point, and maybe a solution lies in it.

When I read other comments about birds obscuring the sky, fishes you could caught by hand, etc. It seemed unreal, almost magical. A fairy tale on some Westeros-like world.

If we can use this narrative to astonish people, and make them get perspective on what should be, it can be a powerful message.

"Eat less meat", "recycle", "use less the car/plane" are not really sexy. They are constraints.

"Look how amazing things used to be before we did this", however, is much more inspirational.


My normal at 18 saw summer trips that included stops to wipe the wildlife off the windscreen or visor. I can't remember the last time I did that - sure there's a few bugs, after a hundred miles or more.

I think it needs a multi-pronged approach. Inspiration is a great start, but it's fairly weak against a marketing machine spending billions inventing more nonexistent problems and needs.

We need to rediscover collective action, activism of the get off facebook and into the street to make someone's life difficult variety, regulation as a good thing (food safety laws, clean air acts, child labour laws etc), and stop pretending the market has the solution to everything.

That's a slightly challenging wishlist especially if we don't want to give up all the lifestyle in the process. :)


">>But I encounter a bug cloud maybe once a year. Our garden is also quite silent"

Where most people live, virtually everything is covered with concrete and whatever is left green is routinely sprayed with lots of chemicals.


Don't forget "solving world hunger" which means causing a human population boom, exasperating the above problems.


We never really had a technological problem about world hunger. It was political. Social. But humanity has been able to produce food for everybody for centuries.

It just happens we don't share it and we waste it.

I think energy, peace and hygiene are a better factor in baby booming. They contribute to a better food distribution as well.


Efficiently transporting food or growing it where people need it is certainly a technological/logistical problem.


Right. I meant food production technologies.

But even then, people don't need that much food to be healthy. A regular human being can live happy with one meal a day. We are just used to more.

The population was also much lower in the past.

The problem is more about:

- war

- people not helping each others

- a small group of people keeping a lot of it for themself (royalty, rich cast, etc)

And of course now we face a novel problem: the fact our population is getting huge and want to eat meat 2 times a day.


I'm not sure about that; higher birth rates are associated with poverty, not wealth.

Also, I feel that these appeals often suggest that we should be OK with letting some unspecified Other die for the cause of environmentalism when we would clearly not accept this for ourselves.


>I'm not sure about that; higher birth rates are associated with poverty, not wealth.

Who said anything about wealth? That sounds like a red herring to me. In any ecosystem, with any living organism, a population will increase until it reaches the limit of its food supply.

>Also, I feel that these appeals often suggest that we should be OK with letting some unspecified Other die for the cause of environmentalism when we would clearly not accept this for ourselves.

And I feel like your appeals are more interested in virtue signaling than actually having a meaningful discussion.

Say you have an island that has enough resources to feed 100 people. 30 settlers move there. In a few years, the population grows to 105. There isn't enough food. People die off and the population is down to 95. There's enough food to go around, so the next generation the population grows to 105 again. This process fluctuates indefinitely.

Then someone takes a boat out and discovers a nearby island. This has enough resources to feed another 100 people. There's enough food to go around, until the population reaches 205 people. Now there's not enough food again and people are starving. Repeat indefinitely until we run out of islands.

There is no solution to "solving hunger" that doesn't involve controlling birth rates. Anything else is just pushing the problem back. Nobody has to die. Simply making contraceptives as ubiquitous in third world countries as they are in developed countries would probably solve most of the problem.


A great case has been made about this by Albert Bartlett.

You can see his very well made conference on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-QA2rkpBSY&feature=list_oth...

It's one of the reasons I'm very excited about vasalgel:

https://www.parsemus.org/projects/vasalgel/

This procedure has been tested for 10 years in India under the name of RISUG and has been quite successful up to now.

I really hope we can demonstrate it's efficient and safe in the US, as:

- the procedure it incredibly simple: a simple injection

- it's semi-permanent: up to 10 years with one injection

- it's supposedly reversible : back to fertility in 3 month after an injection of another product

- it's not hormone based. In fact it does not appear to affect the body outside of the injection area.

- it's on the male size. Now given than less males want children than females and that there are still many males having children despite not wanting them, I'm curious on the effect perfect male control can have. Not only on the population growth, but also on the quality of fatherhood. I just hope it won't make STD more common because people will avoid condoms.

Reversibility has been an issue to prove on rabbits for now. So the suspense is killing me :)


I have really come to dislike the term "virtue signaling," since it seems to just be a more socially acceptable way of calling your interlocutor a sissy for caring about something. If pointing out the troubling moral implications of following a line of argument to the end is "virtue signaling" then the semantic space occupied by the word is so broad that it's meaningless.

As for the food supply stuff: animal populations can be constrained by factors other than food supply, particular when we're talking about a population which is capable of reason. You yourself seem to acknowledge this when you propose offering condoms, which would be a nonsensical suggestion if you truly believed that the only thing affecting population size was food supply. Therefore, I do not believe it is necessary for the sake of the planet to deliberately allow people to die of starvation.


> Who said anything about wealth? That sounds like a red herring to me. In any ecosystem, with any living organism, a population will increase until it reaches the limit of its food supply.

Empricially incorrect with humans, largely because human reproductive behavior isn't purely instinct driven and involves conscious choice based on lifestyle concerns, which is why natural population growth consistently declines with I creasing strength of social support systems. The distributional failures which are the only reason for world hunger despite far more than sufficient production to neat global needs also contributes to population growth by making children and family the social support structure in much of the world.


> Don't forget "solving world hunger" which means causing a human population boom

Solving world hunger means solving the distribution problems which allow hunger to exist, which means improving social safety nets around the world; stronger social safety nets are consistently associated with lower rates of natural population growth, so, no, solving world hunger doesn't mean causing a population boom, it means reducing global population growth.

It does mean a smaller share of the people who are born will live in misery and die young, but it also means fewer people will be born in the first place.


This is really interesting; growing up I definitely remembered seeing more bugs than I do now, but I kind of assumed that this was just because I've been living in cities rather than suburbs since college, so I'm exposed to a lot more asphalt and sidewalks than grass and dirt. Now I'm curious if there used to be more bugs in cities before I moved to them.


> Having mosquitoes or flies clouds was a common occurrence on the road and the best motivator to wear a helmet for a youngster not bothered by security.

Debatable. In The Netherlands, except for professional cyclers people who drive bicycles generally don't wear helmets. If they'd do, they'd look like profs and then cars keep less distance, which is an increased danger. A cap and glasses works fine for me with regards to sun and getting things in my eyes (sand is still annoying at times), just don't drive with your mouth open.


>>E.g. lobsters were once so plentiful that native americans used them as fertilizer

Plentiful for that population, at that time. We're now 7+BILLION people and a lot of them are rich enough to demand fish, lobster and so on. Just in China we have millions of newly minted millionaires. Not to mention their middle class. Maine lobster is good? So get me some.


I heard an article on the radio measuring the proteins in trees. Apparently much of it in the Pacific Northwest forests comes from salmon carcasses that bears fetch from the stream and discard. I have no idea how they'd determine the source. Maybe I was paying attention to the road when they explained.

So if the fish disappear, maybe the forest does, too.


" I have no idea how they'd determine the source"

Probably isotopes. It's always isotopes.


Ummm, trees incorporating protein from animals? I'm not sure that's how it works...

Nitrogen at best, but not protein...



Lobsters would just like wash up in big waves on the beach. Prisoners complained about having to eat lobsters too often. It's grim stuff.


Given that change blindness, I wonder if an interesting component of teaching history could be to emphasize 'things you would find jaw-droppingly different if you were dropped back in time'?

Precise arrangements for where/when to meet ("at 10:10, on the corner of mumble and mumble") - because no cell phones. Boston Python, having an unusually large turnout... so someone needed to pull up an extra chair to the conference room table (instead of 150+waitlist) - because so fewer programmers. "Computer" is a job title. Chatting with the elevator operator. Going into downtown office buildings (no staff in the lobby), up and into an office, and wandering around looking for someone to ask where to find the person you're looking for (instead of presenting government-issued papers to be photographed by a security guard in the lobby in order to attend a meetup). As maybe a view of the future: Boston SIGCHI meetups (hosted at Amazon) have lately required signing an NDA to attend. No food or money for dinner in NYC? Head to the clam banks to get both. Manhattan is so noisy you have to yell to be heard by the person next to you... because of the immense flocks of extinct and unGoogleable Christmas Tree Birds (they looked like candle flames decorating trees). Real open-flame candles on Christmas trees. Theft by servants and employees as a commonplace aspect of the relationship. A British officer writing in shocked disbelief, 'the American officer... he, he _talked_ with his men... he asked them what they thought! he really did!'. Egyptian farming villages going on strike, to bring down Ottoman official wrath on intemperate local elites. And on and on. Anyone have favorites?


My current point of concern is that I can go out and sit all evening without a mosquito bite. That was unheard of even 30 years ago when I was a kid. You'd be lucky if you didn't have one for every minute you spent outside. I think the insects are dying, and it's frightening.

Second item would be watching the bison migrate on the plains. Literally horizon to horizon, a hundred thousand individuals or more in a group. More than ten bison for every person alive on the continent. Same with the passenger pigeons - the sky would go dark from dawn to dusk with the movement of 6 billion birds.


IMO The lack of mosquitos is the single positive aspect of a crippled nature. Allegedly a Pharao had a slave covered in honey to get some peace from those beasts. New Zealand is paradise except that on some beaches you just can't stop unless you want to get drained.


For your human comfort yes. But mosquitoes are part of the food chain, and also help mixing blood from very different species. This, in turn, allow micro-organisms that should never meet to interact with each others, giving a new path to biodiversity.

As annoying as it is, it's a useful critter.

You see, the way you react is the very cause of our current troubles: we only see the living systems as a way to please us, and only on the short term. When they don't please us, we start hating them, and find a way to bend them to our will.

Now we destroyed most of the systems, or at least their balance, and we are painfully discovering that it may dooms us all.

So let's try to adopt a different point of view before we face even more terrible consequences of our gluttonous actions.


Just to clear, there are about 3500 or 4000 species of mosquitoes, and if we eradicated the tiny handful that carry malaria, Zika, etc. it would only have positive results. That would leave thousands to continue pollinating and serving as food for fish, frogs, and other wildlife.


> and if we eradicated the tiny handful that carry malaria, Zika, etc. it would only have positive results.

for humans yes - which was his point. looking at this from a human perspective is a problem. there are likely unknown consequences elsewhere in the food chain if we completely eradicate a species for our own gain


No, in this case. That was my point. Those individual species would have no impact on the overall ecosystem.


Isn't it the case that we just need to wipe out mosquitoes in an area long enough for malaria to die off? Didn't that happen in the US with DDT, the mosquitoes came back but the malaria stayed away. Or am I mistaken?

Though frankly I'd be willing to risk them gone for good.


Yes, I just think they're the most durable bastards out there, and if they're being affected by whatever it is, surely all the more shy and retiring species are basically gone as well.

If we were being deliberate, sure, a targeted assassination of the Anopheles mosquito might not be a bad thing. But I don't get that sense at all... More like collateral damage.


My experience of this is that 10-15 years ago, when I was a child, my dad would often take us on road trips by car, sometimes arriving home late into the night. (the trips were around Central Europe)

The headlights, windshield and parts of the body were always significantly covered by dead insects.

For the past 5 years or so however, they have almost always been perfectly clean. This has amazed me.


I wonder if any of that can be attributed to improved aerodynamics pushing bugs around the body of the car?


No, its farmers and their monoculture:

https://edition.cnn.com/2017/10/19/europe/insect-decline-ger...

Also, quite relevant to the topic at hand ..


Improved aerodynamics makes it worse not better.

Less of a bow wave to divert them away from the vehicle earlier.


As someone who has just done a 13 hour drive from Amsterdam to Krakow, I can assure you that my car was absolutely covered in dead insects, the front licence plate was barely readable, the layer of dead bugs was so thick.


That must have been the last part of your trip then. When I drove from The Netherlands to Bretagne (about 900km, ±10 hours) last Summer I had less insects on the car than I had in my parent's car 35 years ago for 1/10 of the trip length.


> I think the insects are dying, and it's frightening

At least in New York, we put tremendous resources towards keeping harmful mosquito populations down. A better canary insect might be the bee.


Wasps, beetles, grasshoppers, caddis flies, crane flies, are all substantially reduced in number. Just gone, by comparison.


People bitch about wasps, but there are almost none now a days. I used to see plenty.

The only species that thrive are the opportunist ones that tied their fate to the humans: cockroaches, fruit flies, dogs, cattle, chicken, etc.

Those don't pollinate plants, they don't eat plant parasites , they pollute the water and air, and because we feed them with so much crap, even the land instead of fertilizing it.


>The only species that thrive are the opportunist ones that tied their fate to the humans: cockroaches, fruit flies, dogs, cattle, chicken, etc.

rats :-(


To be fair, mosquitoes are the target of a fairly narrow, focused attack.

That said, bees seem to be dwindling, so you have a point.


You clearly don't live in Minnesota, where the mosquito is the unofficial state bird.

I come inside quickly in summer because there are mosquitoes and flies all over the place. Doing fireworks with my kids last week, I was deliberately standing downwind in the path of the smoke bombs to get some relief. I'm religious about not having standing water around, our cars are covered in bug carcasses after a 10-mile drive. I literally feel mosquitoes bouncing off my forehead as I walk through my dark backyard. I kill massive deer/horse flies constantly.

If insects are dying, it sure ain't around here!


This is all really bad and we're not on a good path here as a species...

But one thing to remember is that nature works locally. I think there is a chance to protect the environment through isolated "islands" - with no human contact whatsoever - where flora and fauna have the chance to come back.

Interestingly, Chernobyl is quite a good example for that: https://nordic.businessinsider.com/wildlife-near-nuclear-rea...


But I'm not worried about nature at all, although the massacre disturb my sense of aesthetic and empathy.

It's sad we destroy it. I wish we would not.

But it will survive, thrive even.

The problem is that our current actions will kill us.


My idea is to preserve nature so it can safe us. If there are large areas where no human being has access to, nature will thrive and we can then use that area to take whatever we need, whatever has been extinct through us and grow it back. Think of it as a safe for your most valuable things, in this case, nature


Islands as Noe's ark. Why not.

It's a good complement to old seeds data banks like kokopelli's.


Exactly. It won't save many from dying, once some regions start collapsing, but it'll help us to survive as a species


The following is conjecture, but I'm guessing that insects of the last century mainly survived off of crops from farmland, either directly or indirectly.

So, if true, that means that it was hardly natural beforehand either. It may be we are just using better pesticides, so we moved from one artificial environment to a different one. Both are out-of-whack compared to what would naturally be there. How do you know the previous conditions, where there was lots of farmland, but no good pesticides was the better one?


I never understood why such changes -- dramatic as they may be -- were seen as a cause of concern, except in cases where the changes affected our food supply.

Humans may be responsible for the decimation or outright extinction of entire species, but isn't that how Nature works? Nature has encountered countless extinctions before us (where's the Megalodon now?) and at least 5 mass extinctions, so why should this dynamic cease now?

(I get the emotional argument for conservationism, and I even share it, even though I might not sound that way. But I've always considered that something purely subjective, not objective, and arguably just as manipulative of Nature.)


Conservationism is about conserving a place in the world where humans can survive, full stop. It's not just food, it's disease, it's mycology, it's everything, and if we're not careful, we will render the planet uninhabitable for naked apes.

You're right, in the sense that of course the tardigrades, archaea around deep ocean vents, and blue-green algae will continue trucking along more or less whatever happens. We, however, are not tardigrades.


Because we depend on biodiversity to survive. It's what allows animals to not be wiped out by only one super parasite. It's what allow plants to bread so that they get robust and nutritious. It's what allow all our bodies to not be vulnerable to only one disease and all die.

It also supports the balance of all the ecosystems: forests, seas, rivers... Which we also depend on to survive.

It's what makes us live on a beautiful, comfortable planet instead of survive in a terraformed rock we have to fight against while rushing to the next scientific way to palliate yet a new deficiency.

In our planet system, everything is connected.

Let's take a very naive but simple to understand example, the tomatoe.

Planting so much, and always the same kind of tomatoes makes the land nutritionally poor and the plant susceptible to parasites. We compensate this unnatural state by addition artificial nutrition and pesticides to the plant.

The result ?

Most tomatoes are tasteless garbage that looks more like a plastic ball than a fruit. Their nutritional content has been divided by 10 during the last 80 years, so that you need to eat much more to remotely get the same minerals and vitamins. When you eat them, you also absorb a small amount of all the products we put on them, with consequences we still don't know about.

That's just for a simple tomato. Bring together all the food, the water, the air, the temperature, etc. together, and that's how much we are disturbing.

It's not just emotional. We are seated on branch we are sawing.


From a purely objective concern, if the a perfect storm of global warming, pollution, massively reduced fish stocks, elimination of pollinators and ocean oxygen depletion run to their end game, humanity will suffer decimation.

Due to nutrient pollution of the ocean, large dead zones are spreading, these are zones without enough oxygen to support life caused by nitrogen and phosphorous pollution. 70% of the earths oxygen is produced by marine plants. Forests produce most of the rest and we are cutting them down at an accelerating rate.

So from an objective point of view, not enough oxygen is a pragmatic cause for concern. Looking at it from the perspective of nature, species evolve to survive, it is their prime directive. We are actually doing a pretty good job of working against this directive to our species own detriment.


> but isn't that how Nature works? Nature has encountered countless extinctions before us (where's the Megalodon now?) and at least 5 mass extinctions, so why should this dynamic cease now?

This mass extinction caused by humans is an order of magnitude faster and affects far more varity of species and plants.


Even if that were true (and I'd challenge the variety of species and plants, see [1]): what, objectively, is the problem with that?

Furthermore, even if the pace and breadth of current extinction were that dramatic, isn't the argument against that a purely emotional one? I sincerely doubt that most humans can even name a hundred species; would they really miss a few million if a few million others remained?

Just to be clear again: I'm not arguing against conservationism, I'm interested in the arguments being made for it. I believe we are conserving for own selfish purposes, and I'm perfectly OK with that. I just think it's wrong to call that "natural".

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permian%E2%80%93Triassic_extin...


> what, objectively, is the problem with that?

Nothing. But you can say that about asteroids that kill the planet as well.

That's basically nihilism. Many people want to live and enjoy nature, that's why. We just got conflicting interests of short-term thinking that resembles nihilism (Nothing matters - let's live life to the fullest) and long-term thinking / delayed gratification (I want my kids / all the animals / the next generation to have a nice life as well).

edit: for the semantics of "natural" - humans can be seen as a part of nature. It's just intellectual gymnastics if one defines us as natural or not. Some say humans aren't natural and have good reasons for it, some say they are and have good reasons for that. This discussion really isn't that meaningful. Many peole say we have responsibility because we have consciousness, but even that could be argued. It all depends on what you believe.


The problem with that is, its an unknown, the effects could be far more devastating than previous mass extinctions, even the worst one about 252 million years ago.

If you extrapolate the speed of current devastation, extinction and let it play out over the time-span of the last mass-extinction, there really wont be anything living on earth besides micro-organisms.

Non-selfish arguments for why we should not kill off other species? Why should we not kill all life bigger than a pea on earth? Ill let you take that one.


It's a hugely worrying trend. If it continues, a potential outcome is no other species exist.

There are medicinal and practical uses for plants, and some are have only recently been discovered. Losing them is losing this these potential discoveries and uses.

Humans inherently enjoy nature. We like to see trees, greenery , wildlife. The loss of these things hurts our enjoyment of the world.


Side effects. We don't know what the effect of all these species disappearing will be.


Others are making the good general case argument, but I will add one other thing: sometimes there's actually some very positive "side benefits" that you get from having a biodiverse ecosystem around, that you may not initially think about as far as the general conservation case is concerned.

Examples that come to mind immediately include the huge number of medicines that have been derived by isolating compounds derived from plants, an area which we are probably far from done exploring. Another more specific case I can think of, is how one of the most important compounds in molecular biology today (Taq polymerase) came from bacteria found in the Lower Geyser Basin at Yellowstone. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermus_aquaticus)


I sometimes get a little irritated at some of the "save the planet" type arguments. The planet will be just fine, it's gone through a lot of changes over the years and will continue to go through changes. One example I often show is the sea levels 16,000 BC as explained here https://www.nationalgeographic.org/maps/doggerland/ by National Geographic.

What is going to have problems is the health of the ever growing Human population. Us Humans may well be heading towards a crisis, the planet won't even notice.

BTW, I think we should be working hard to support a sustainable future for Humanity and the rest of the environment.


The most charitable reading of ”save the planet” is: save those parts of the biosphere that might be critical to our long term survival.


The problem with that, though, is that you can't just saw those parts off and tuck them away. Cascading failure of systems is a global phenomenon.


That seems to be an almost willfully obtuse reading. Yes, obviously, Earth in some form will continue to exist whether we do anything about pollution or not.


Yes you could see it like that but my thoughts are more we are in one of the many phases the planet goes though and it is part of evolution. I still don't want it to happen any time soon, or at all really, but have an acceptance of our transient time here.


But we ourselves are ushering in the transience


I know very little about ecology, but my understanding is that lots of insects, including but not only bees, are key to plant reproduction. Maybe my math is wrong, but fewer insects probably implies fewer plants, with a delay. Given that I'd like to survive and all, I'd like there to be plants so I can eat them. And breathe air and whatnot.


I already conceded the survability aspect ("except in cases where the changes affected our food supply").


Well I suppose the most pressing problem is that we will create conditions such that we ourselves are not longer able to survive, or at least some significant portion of us will not. Rising sea levels and increased extreme weather events will also cause substantial financial loss, even if you don't care about the loss of natural wonders.


> but isn't that how Nature works

It might be how the nature works, but it is definitely not how Nature works. Capitalisation matters.


Well yeah, stuff goes extinct all the time, but on scale of millions/tens of millions of years. the pace we're seeing these days is unprecedented and the pace is more on level of mass extinction rather than business-as-usual evolution state.

Sure, we can keep looking at the half-full glass focusing what is not extinct yet, but over few generations, we might be pretty lonely on this planet when it comes to complex life. It's more an indication of how badly we're screwing our own environment, also for ourselves. It's clear that life itself will survive much harsher situations compared to mankind and repopulate once we're long extinct.


The mosquito situation might be due to the availability of CO2 based mosquito traps.

You don't mention where you're located but perhaps you're in an area that isn't as hospitable for mosquito breeding as the location where you were a kid.


Family has lived on the same land in a very rural area for 38 years, so that is not really applicable. I would doubt there are enough mosquito traps in the county to make a difference.


Droughts, less open water available, more activity in said waters? That could account for some mosquito reduction.

But in other comment you mention other insects, so this indeed seems like a broader problem.


I don't know what it is, but it's absolutely disturbing. Insects are, by comparison with us mammals, incredibly resilient. Anything that is reducing insect populations on a massive scale is bad news for the entire world.


Try leaving out some old tires to collect water.


In our area mosquitos are killed on purpose, by poisoning their main breeding areas when they are still in the water. (And I am just finding out that this is done by a sanctioned non-profit organisation.)

Maybe something similar is done in your region?

https://www.kabsev.de/ (German)


Where I live in South Africa the local Springbok deer herds were so large that they were once recorded to take 5 days to pass a camp.


> Going into downtown office buildings (no staff in the lobby), up and into an office, and wandering around looking for someone to ask where to find the person you're looking for (instead of presenting government-issued papers to be photographed by a security guard in the lobby in order to attend a meetup).

I truly cannot tell which is supposed to describe the past, and which the present. Both seem common today in Seattle, depending on the building.


  extinct and unGoogleable Christmas Tree Birds
Wait a second, what are "Christmas Tree Birds"?


Christmas trees used to have candles. So a flock of flame-colored birds sitting in trees resembled Christmas trees with candle flames. Thus a (nick?)name, "Christmas-tree birds". My very fuzzy recollection is 1600's Manhattan. So perhaps I saw it in the Mannahatta exhibit/project/book? But I don't quickly see it on [1]. And Google/Bing are giving me nothing related.

Upon reflection, I'm now unsure the "yell to be heard in Manhattan" story was the same bird - I may well be folding together two stories there.

[1] https://welikia.org/


exactly!


Is this what you are looking for regarding Christmas Tree Birds?

https://www.boothbayregister.com/article/christmas-tree-bird...


Hey, screw Amazon and their asinine NDAs, they've tried that same BS over here in Seattle on much less relevant meetups. All its ended up doing is killing participation and fracturing the group.


> E.g. lobsters were once so plentiful that native americans used them as fertilizer[0]

I call total BS. Taking edible food, carting it and then plowing it into fields for edible food in 6 months time. Sounds like fantasy.

Fish Fertilizer: A Native North American Practice?

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/188/4183/26 DOI: 10.1126/science.188.4183.26


Lobsters weren't always "edible", not sure how it was viewed in Native American culture

But if they're more than what you can eat and if using them as fertilizer works, why not


Before refrigeration and large glass tanks the time between edibility and putrefaction was probably on the order of hours.


While that’s a very enlightening fact. I’m not sure how I would feel about jumping in a river and just getting swarmed by schools of fish or swimming in an ocean teeming with lobster. Still I agree that modern industrial fishing is having grave impacts on our environment and ecosystems.


It's pretty sad that people are so used to lifeless rivers and oceans so they are scared of the idea.


The river does not solely exist so you can swim in it and feel safe.


Most animals are programmed to evade annoying swimmers.


> The FAO reports that 35% of global catches are wasted. About a quarter of these losses are bycatch or discards, mostly from trawlers, where unwanted fish are thrown back dead because they are too small or an unwanted species. But most of the losses are due to a lack of knowledge or equipment, such as refrigeration or ice-makers, needed to keep fish fresh.

This is so depressing...


It get worse when one consider that wanted species is only a tiny fraction of the fish population, while invasive or overpopulated species continue to cause problems because they are so unwanted that the most economical thing a fisherman can do is to dump them back into the water.


As I understand it it's pretty controversial to promote fishing invasive species, because the concern is it could motivate people to deliberately cause the invasive species to spread.


Here in Sweden we have a invasive species called signal crayfish that carries the Crayfish plague. People do eat the signal crayfish and I have only seen encouragement to promote aggressive fishing of it. The voices of concern is against illegal implantation, but those have (to what I have heard) been mostly of a cautionary nature about people who unknowingly spread the invasive type into lakes which so far has been spared.

The European crayfish is seen as more traditional correct so the beside getting devastated from the plague it is also rather heavily fished. Getting people to stop and only go after the invasive one would be a huge win, but as the trend is currently it look like the European crayfish is going to get extinct. A very clear example where a change in what kind of species we buy would have a positive effect rather than a stop.

caio1982 36 days ago [flagged]

We are a disease...


Please don't post unsubstantive comments here.


A huge amount of the plastic in the ocean is discarded fishing gear as well. [0]

[0] - https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/03/great-pacific-ga...


http://globalfishingwatch.org/map/

If you're interested to see real-time data visualization of fishing around the world that have been monitored.


Fish catch in East Africa is down 75% in 30 years. That’s huge - given increased population, hunting effort and “fishing down the food chain”, as species previously not eaten are now fished. There will undoubtedly be substitution - but we barely understand the 2nd order effects, let alone 3rd , 4rth and 5th.


[flagged]


I can assure you that Somalians are not the main contributer to the devestation of the areas like the Gulf of Aden. Most fishing there happens illegally from your "superior countries" taking advantage of the weak country's lack of protection of it's legal fishing waters. When people are fishers and foreign government's come into their land and drain the fish, people get angry.


I agree. If I was a native American a few centuries ago I would also think something similar. What do Europeans contribute to us other than killing of our loved ones and almost extinguishing our race. A ballooning European population is not good.


Horses were a cause of celebration back then

ponzored 36 days ago [flagged]

Europeans have been responsible for the majority of scientific advances we all enjoy today.

Native Americans died from diseases and conflicts with a superior group of people. Competition for resources is a core driver of evolution and is nothing new for any species on Earth.


Europeans got the lucky bounce of Genghiz Khan. It's very probable that the Islam golden age would have beaten Europeans to the punch if not for him.

And what do you mean by "superiors group of people"?


Superior technology.


You post too many unsubstantive, inflammatory, ideological comments with a suspicious ethnocentricity. If you keep doing this we'll ban the account because that's not what this site is for.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


If news like this upsets you, there's an easy solution: just stop eating fish.


If you want to make the situation better, start eating eating fish from invasive species or fish from overpopulated lakes caused by eutrophication. Here in Sweden it seems more the rule than the exception that fresh water lakes are overpopulated, and yet the prescriptive method is to eat less fish and more farmed vegetarian options which means more fertilizers and more runoff creating even more eutrophication in lakes.

There is no easy solution to sustained ecological balance. Only by actively counteract the imbalance by positive action can a balance be maintained.


Which solves exactly nothing, until a significant chunk of the world's population does the same too. And then we'll have depressing articles about poor fishermen who found themselves unemployed and unemployable.

The problem is unfortunately very complex and in need of some large-scale, targeted effort.


This is the appeal to futility fallacy and can be used to make an argument against doing just about anything. By not eating fish you become part of the solution instead of part of the problem. And the poor fishermen are going to be unemployed soon enough at the current rate of overfishing because there won't be anything left for them to catch anyway.

The bycatch for sushi fish is even worse than the figure given in the article:

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/sushi-obsession-is...


It's not an appeal to futility, it's pointing out the reality of the problem.

My marginal impact on the problem is negligible. The issue only manifests itself on a very large scale. Therefore, any solution involving "just stop eating fish" needs to explain a strategy to achieve this change of behavior on a large scale. Note that simply telling people on the Internet to change is not a working strategy - for each individual, again, the impact is marginal, but individual sacrifice required is great, so most people will just shrug and go on with their lives.

Want to make a change? Sure, stop eating fish if you want to signal your commitment. But don't stop at that, because at this point you've achieved nothing. Work to have more impact. Some particular bottom-up and top-down areas I can outline that mesh nicely together:

- Work to make the idea of not eating fish more popular. If you can convince a few hundred thousand people to stop eating fish, then maybe it'll actually show up somewhere on some spreadsheet in a fishing company. Be careful not to become like PETA though - if you're too hard about the topic, people will start eating more fish just out of spite.

- Make it easier for people to stop eating fish. That involves creating and popularizing new foodstuffs that are substitute to fish, but have better ecological footprint.

- The ultimate goal: work towards making the cost of fish products correctly account for externalities. That is, making them (much) more expensive. This involves finding ways to correctly estimate the costs of ecological impact, and then convincing regulators to make fishing industry pay this cost in taxes. Also, you'll want to fight various fishing subsidies that further hide the true costs. You'll make enemies along the way. But this is something that must happen, as it is the real solution. The previous two examples I gave are only supportive to this one. Fish must get more expensive. That's the efficient way of achieving a mass change of behaviour.


Those are all good ideas, I agree, and I commend anyone with the dedication to pursue them. But even just not eating fish and setting a positive example to your friends and colleagues etc is still worth doing. I became vegan because of the example of a friend and several of my friends, while not vegan, have been eating less meat & fish as a consequence of my example and are more conscious in the choice of the meat & fish they do eat.

I'd love to see the animal agriculture industries forced to pay for their externalities but I doubt it's going to happen any time soon. But in the meantime a lot of positive change has come just from people being made more aware of where what they eat comes from and what it costs to get it there. Non-dairy milks have become so popular, for example, that they've put a huge dent in the dairy industry's profits.


Not denying that changing your habits and setting an example for your friends has some impact. I'm only trying to frame it in the relation to the problem. Its marginal first order effects are negligible. This concept was hard for me to accept emotionally too, in the space of energy use - whether or not I reduce my usage of electricity and gas has near-zero immediate impact on anything except my wallet. Such is the problem of scale.

The irony is, that the very same thing that's individually almost meaningless, is also the solution once everyone follows it. And there's a point in the middle somewhere, when the idea becomes popular - like vegetarianism today - and suddenly its impact becomes much greater than before. It gets noticed by the market, it starts flowing through feedback loops and begins affecting everything else. One person in a million refusing to eat fish is meaningless. One in a thousand starts to sound like a business opportunity, and business begets more business.

The trick is, how to get from here to there. Basically, how to start and sustain a movement.

I guess my whole point here is: if you care about a social problem then do your individual thing (here: stop eating fish). But don't stop there, try to do more. Try to speed up the change instead of just changing yourself and hoping others will follow. If we know anything about society, we know this: there are two primary motivators for changing behavior - things that impact one's sense of identity/ego, and things that impact one's wallet. Popularizing fish abstinence is an ego-based solution. Taxing the fishing industry is the economics-based one. We should pursue both.


I've tried pretty hard to encourage people not to eat fish, using a variety of approaches (varying in intensity) over the last few years for people in many places. Nothing has ever worked, for anyone. People really seem to like eating fish. :(


It's not a "fallacy", the problem is real. Check your mental model with reality. Disregard the "if" that your mental model relies on ("if enough people did it it would work") and look at what actually happens, and do so separately for different issues, because they all have different contexts and complexities. If those "if"s that your argument depends on never materialize in the real world then the model you use is useless. "Possible" vs. "likely".


Lab-grown fish is going to be a very ecologically sustainable solution hitting the market in the next few years, which will also leave the "poor fishermen" out of work. Like the drivers displaced by autonomous vehicles, I don't think that should stop us from seeking more sustainable and efficient models, instead it should be a wake-up call to our governing class that we need to reexamine our wealth distribution programs.


You are simply wrong. I am vegetarian now for 10 years, I have been hearing the same de-motivational talk since I started. (but less so now) Ten years ago there were not so many vegetarians or vegans, now Israel (I read) is one of the leading countries in the ratio of vegetarians in the population. Don't be discouraged, if you stop eating fish, friends will hear and some will get inspired and do the same. Eventually many will make the same decision. These processes take time.


"Just stop eating fish" is not a solution, in the same sense that one brick does not make a building. You need very many bricks, and you need a very significant amount of people to stop eating fish for the problem to be solved.

Popularizing fish abstinence - now, that's an outline of a solution.


Perhaps, but bringing your own house in order before marching on to tackle the world is not bad advice.

There is a lot of 'feigned indignation' in this world, and big plans whereby everyone has to change, and then we will see progress.

I couldn't give up fish, not right now. So I applaud anybody who would actually take that step, over writing a few bullet points as to how we should tackle the problem.


I think we just need to accept that a portion of the population will not follow these rules, and that this portion alone is enough not to reach the critical mass required to reach that solution "inflexion point".

Even if I'm wrong saying that... how long will it take to reach critical mass? How much destruction will be caused attempting to reach it?

Individual-centered solutions can't work efficiently enough for these things to change without personal incentives. We need incentives, replacements, regulations.

Look at the difference between those two worlds:

World 1: "Don't use those free plastic bags! Buy a reusable bag instead for more money! It's the responsible thing to do!"

World 2: "Plastic bags cost $0.06 each."

Which one has less plastic floating in the sea?


But only rarely do these laws come out of nowhere. People already practicing these ideas show that they're viable, and starts giving those ideas mindshare.


> And then we'll have depressing articles about poor fishermen who found themselves unemployed and unemployable.

But think of all the uplifting articles we'll have about new jobs on farms!


You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

Or to put it another way: try not to contribute to creating a world you don't want to live in.


Sure. My point is that just "being the change you wish to see in the world" is nowhere near enough for actual change to happen.


The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.


And too often ends with it.


"And then we'll have depressing articles about poor fishermen who found themselves unemployed and unemployable."

They'd still be better off than the fishermen who are enslaved.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/02/01/582214032/wa...


Exactly, it makes sense.

Why contribute to an industry where there is so much human slavery involved, still in 2018 (source - https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/jan/23/t...)?


WTF?

I'm also upset by the large percentage of slaughtered animals that isn't eaten. Do you have an easy solution for me, just stop eating those species of animals?

I'm also upset by the large percentage of vegetables that's thrown away by the shops. Do you have an easy solution for me, just stop eating vegetables?


You also have to stop all the other people who aren't upset from eating fish.

So... not so easy.


Or eat farmed fish.


That couldn't be farther from a solution. Boycotts do next to nothing in the face of collective action problems.


Eat more oysters! It blows my mind all of the ecological (and gastronomic benefits) of oyster-culture - especially in contrast to a report like this!

Edit: Farmed oysters


Oysters themselves have been at high risk, at least where I come from (Virginia): http://www.virginiaplaces.org/natural/oysters.html


Edited my comment - I was referring to farmed oysters hence the oyster-culture (vs aquaculture) comment


So, honest question: Why are invasive species like the gigantic asian carp so reviled, when they seem to be quite successful animals, thriving in an otherwise unforgiving environment?

I get that invasive species can stress their environment until it collapses and ruins even their own capacity to thrive or even survive, but sometimes I get the sense that asian carp are denegrated because they annoy humans by jumping out and slamming into people on boats. Are asian carp really a threat to their surroundings, or simply inconvenient from a human perspective?


They are an ecological destroyer and they don’t taste good


They taste fine. No better or worse than tilapia. It's just that it's impossible to get all the bones out because a lot of them aren't connected to anything and are just floating in the meat.


Arguably, the part about tasting bad is purely a human concern, but ecological destruction is a possibly real problem, if left unchecked.


Why does half the world think they taste good and the other half thinks they don't? They must be fine... Right?


bad taste is a evolutionary trait that has kept them in the gene pool


There are also huge human health concerns, because a lot of the feed of aquaculture fish (53% of fish consumed by humans today) is made from other caught fish, which leads to toxic bioaccumulation:

> farmed fish can harm wild populations because often their feed, made from wild fish such as sardines and anchovies, is caught at sea and they can cause pollution


Absolutely shocking statistic! But not surprising with the rate of overfishing combined with fishing quotas resulting in redundant catches being thrown back!


What was the name of the recent book, which describes nature in its pristine state? Not "Paradise Lost".


Sounds interesting!

I don't think you're after The World Without Us but I guess it's on the same, ish, topic. Looking forward to hearing the correct answer.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_World_Without_Us


So, catch and release is included in this number. That makes the number very believable to me.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: