More calls for Global Leaders to work to reduce the risk AI could pose to humanity

Revelations 13:14 “…by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth…”

Important Takeaways:

  • AI Poses ‘Extinction’ Risk, Say Experts
  • Global leaders should be working to reduce “the risk of extinction” from artificial intelligence technology, a group of industry chiefs and experts warned
  • A one-line statement signed by dozens of specialists, including Sam Altman whose firm OpenAI created the ChatGPT bot, said tackling the risks from AI should be “a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war”.
  • ChatGPT burst into the spotlight late last year, demonstrating an ability to generate essays, poems and conversations from the briefest of prompts — and sparking billions of dollars of investment into the field
  • The fear is that humans would no longer have control, which experts have warned could have disastrous consequences for the species.

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Over 10,000 species risk extinction in Amazon, says landmark report

By Stephen Eisenhammer and Oliver Griffin

SAO PAULO/BOGOTA (Reuters) – More than 10,000 species of plants and animals are at high risk of extinction due to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest – 35% of which has already been deforested or degraded, according to the draft of a landmark scientific report published on Wednesday.

Produced by the Science Panel for the Amazon (SPA), the report brings together research on the world’s largest rainforest from 200 scientists from across the globe. It is the most detailed assessment of the state of the forest to date and both makes clear the vital role the Amazon plays in global climate and the profound risks it is facing.

Cutting deforestation and forest degradation to zero in less than a decade “is critical,” the report said, also calling for massive restoration of already destroyed areas.

The rainforest is a vital bulwark against climate change both for the carbon it absorbs and what it stores.

According to the report, the soil and vegetation of the Amazon hold about 200 billion tonnes of carbon, more than five times the whole world’s annual CO2 emissions.

Furthermore the continued destruction caused by human interference in the Amazon puts more than 8,000 endemic plants and 2,300 animals at high risk of extinction, the report added.

Science shows humans face potentially irreversible and catastrophic risks due to multiple crises, including climate change and biodiversity decline, said University of Brasilia professor Mercedes Bustamante in a statement published by the SPA.

“There is a narrow window of opportunity to change this trajectory,” Bustamante said. “The fate of Amazon is central to the solution to the global crises.”

In Brazil, deforestation has surged since right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro took office in 2019, reaching a 12-year high last year and drawing international outcry from foreign governments and the public.

Bolsonaro has called for mining and agriculture in protected areas of the Amazon and has weakened environmental enforcement agencies, which environmentalists and scientists say has directly resulted in the rising destruction.

Neighboring Colombia a week ago reported that deforestation rose 8% in 2020 versus the previous year to 171,685 hectares (424,000 acres), with nearly 64% of the destruction taking place in the country’s Amazon region.

Of its original size, 18% of the Amazon basin has already been deforested, according to the report – mostly for agriculture and illegal timber. Another 17% has been degraded.

The destruction may threaten the very ability of the rainforest to function as a carbon sink, with potentially devastating results for the global climate change.

A separate study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday showed that some parts of the Amazon are emitting more carbon than they absorb, based on measurements of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide taken from above the rainforest between 2010 and 2018.

Lead author Luciana Gatti, a scientist at Brazil’s Inpe space research agency, suggests the increased carbon emissions in southeastern Amazonia – where deforestation is fierce – is not only the result of fires and direct destruction, but also due to rising tree mortality as severe drought and higher temperatures become more common.

(Additional reporting by Jake Spring; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Hundreds of North American bee species face extinction: study

The western bumble bee, Bombus occidentalis, is seen in this undated U.S. Department of Agriculture photo. REUTERS/Stephen Ausmus/USDA/Handout via Reuters

By Gina Cherelus

(Reuters) – More than 700 of the 4,000 native bee species in North America and Hawaii are believed to be inching toward extinction due to increased pesticide use leading to habitat loss, a scientific study showed on Wednesday.

The Center for Biological Diversity’s report concluded that of the 1,437 native bee species for which there was sufficient data to evaluate, about 749 of them were declining. Some 347 of the species, which play a vital role in plant pollination, are imperiled and at risk of extinction, the study found.

“It’s a quiet but staggering crisis unfolding right under our noses that illuminates the unacceptably high cost of our careless addiction to pesticides and monoculture farming,” its author, Kelsey Kopec, said in a statement.

Habitat loss, along with heavy pesticide use, climate change and increasing urbanization are the main causes for declining bee populations, the study found.

Experts from the center reviewed the status of 316 bee species and then conducted reviews of all available information to determine the status of a further 1,121 species. The center said the species which lacked sufficient data were also presumed to be at risk of extinction.

Among the native species that are severely threatened are the Gulf Coast solitary bee, the macropis cuckoo bee and the sunflower leafcutting bee, which is now rarely seen.

Last month, the rusty patched bumble bee was listed by federal authorities as endangered, becoming the first wild bee in the continental United States to gain such protection.

Bees provide valuable services: the pollination furnished by various insects in the United States, mostly by bees, has been valued at an estimated $3 billion each year.

The center’s Kopec noted that almost 90 percent of wild plants are dependent on insect pollination.

“If we don’t act to save these remarkable creatures, our world will be a less colorful and more lonesome place,” she said.

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Andrew Hay)

California Drought Could Eliminate Endangered Fish

While California’s drought is driving up food prices nationwide and causing some cities to ration water resources, the drought is also taking its toll on wildlife.

The delta smelt, a fish that lives in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, has been endangered for years.  The drought, now in its fourth year, has driven population levels to the point that a July survey showed zero for the level of delta smelt abundance.  Researchers found “a handful” of the fish but the number was too small to register on the population gauge.

“The delta smelt is basically on its last legs right now. We’ll be lucky if it survives the coming year,” said Peter Moyle, a fish biologist at the University of California.”The drought has basically made all the things that were bad for smelt worse.”

Other native fish are endangered because of the drought including longfin smelt, green sturgeon and Chinook salmon.

Moyle said that because the water releases from the Shasta Dam were so warm, an entire generation of winter-run Chinook was erased.  The eggs either never hatched or the young died soon after hatching.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the operator of the dam, admitted miscalculating the volume of cold water and didn’t maintain the proper river temperature.

“We’re going to be losing most of our salmon and steelhead if things continue,” Moyle said.  “It would be a major extinction event.”