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Unspoiled lands disappearing from face of the Earth at an alarming pace, finds Study

The wilderness losses in the past two decades make up a combined area about half the size of South America's vast Amazon region

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FILE - An overview of the Cascade Range inside the North Cascades National Park near Marblemount, Wash., near the Canadian border. A quarter of the planet's land surface remains wilderness, conservationist James Watson says. Source: VOA
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  • Only 11.6 million square miles remain worldwide as biologically and ecologically intact regions without notable human disturbance
  • The wilderness losses in the past two decades make up a combined area about half the size of South America’s vast Amazon region
  • “We are running out of time and we are running out of space.” says conservationist James Watson 

Unspoiled lands are disappearing from the face of the Earth at an alarming pace, with about 10 percent of wilderness regions — an area double the size of Alaska — lost in the past two decades amid unrelenting human development, researchers said Thursday.

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South America, which lost 30 percent of its wilderness during that period, and Africa, which lost 14 percent, were the continents hardest hit, they said. The main driver of the global losses was destruction of wilderness for agriculture, logging and mining.

The researchers’ study, published in the journal Current Biology, was the latest to document the impact of human activities on a global scale, affecting Earth’s climate, landscape, oceans, natural resources and wildlife.

The researchers mapped the world’s wilderness areas, excluding Antarctica, and compared the results with a 1993 map that used the same methods.

They found that 11.6 million square miles (30.1 million square kilometers) remain worldwide as wilderness, defined as biologically and ecologically intact regions without notable human disturbance. Since the 1993 estimation, 1.3 million square miles (3.3 million square kilometers) of wilderness disappeared, they determined.

Amazon Manaus Forest. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Amazon Manaus Forest. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

‘Shocking implications’

“This is incredibly sad because we can’t offset or restore these places. Once they are gone, they are gone, and this has shocking implications for biodiversity, for climate change and for the most imperiled biodiversity on the planet,” said conservationist James Watson of the University of Queensland in Australia and the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York.

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The wilderness losses in the past two decades make up a combined area about half the size of South America’s vast Amazon region.

Watson, who led the study, said about a quarter of the planet’s land surface remains wilderness, particularly in central Africa, the Amazon region, northern Australia, the United States, Canada and Russia. The losses in the past two decades were most acute in the Amazon region and central Africa.

“We need to focus on quality of habitat and keeping some places on Earth that are largely untouched by us,” Watson said. “We are running out of time and we are running out of space.” (VOA)

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5 Simple Ways to Conserve Water in Your Home

Adopting just one of these fixes can bring about a huge change to your life that goes far beyond your home

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Mother Nature and your monthly budget will thank you for your effort. Pixabay

Water is one of the most abundant substances on earth, but that doesn’t mean it’s free or endless. Not only can practicing simple water conservation techniques help the planet out in the long run, but they can also put more money back in your pocket. Here are five water-saving techniques that you can do every day from the comfort of your home.

Repair Any Leaks or Running Toilets

Even a slightly leaking or constantly running toilet can waste up to 2 gallons of water a minute. In a month’s time, that number can climb to a grand total of 6,000 gallons of water lost and an increase of about $70 to your water bill. Repairing just one seeping flapper could save you hundreds of dollars over the next few years.

ALSO READ: 5 Traditional Water Conservation Methods In India

Turn off the Ice Maker

Most people don’t consume 4 pounds of ice a day, which is what the average refrigerator can produce in 24 hours. Investing in refillable ice trays can help you save gallons of water per week. You also won’t be spooked when the fridge drops ice into a plastic bin late at night.

Don’t Overwater Your Plants, and Embrace Watering Bulbs

Knowing the exact watering needs of both your house and garden plants can be pleasantly welcoming. Buying and using watering bulbs can take the guesswork out of watering your plants while also making sure you don’t overdo it.

Wash Your Clothes and Dishes in Larger Loads

When possible, do your laundry in larger loads as opposed to doing several smaller loads throughout the week. Most washing machines use the same cycle lengths and nearly 75 percent of the same amount of water in all load sizes. By simply eliminating small laundry loads for single larger loads, you can save time, money, and water in one fell swoop. Also, check that you’re only running the dishwasher on a full load to maximize your home’s efficiency.

ALSO READ: Worlds Day for Water: 5 water conservation ways that are ideal for Indian conditions

Wash up and Brush Your Teeth Without Running the Water

Leaving the tap running while cleaning your teeth and scrubbing your face is a common source of water waste in almost every household. If you were to turn off the faucet while doing either of those activities, you could save dozens of gallons of water daily. On average, brushing your teeth with the water running uses 4 gallons of water, while showering uses roughly 17. Turn the water off in between washing and rinsing can cut those numbers in half.

Water conservation, especially in the home, is a win-win situation for your wallet, our planet, and your spare time. Adopting just one of these fixes can bring about a huge change to your life that goes far beyond your home. Mother Nature and your monthly budget will thank you for your effort.