Notes from The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy by Michael McCarthy

p. 71 “A major concern, however, is not only what China’s frenzied growth is doing to its own environment, but what it is also doing to environments beyond its borders …600 million of its people, nearly a tenth of the world’s population, live in river catchments which drain into the Yellow Sea, mean that the pressure to reclaim tidal flats along its coastline is irresistible, and it is proceeding with ever-increasing rapidity. .. a report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2012 makes clear… Since 1980 China has reclaimed no less than 51% of all its coastal wetlands (this includes habitats such as mangroves and sea grass beds) and South Korea 60% (of a much lower base).Of the key areas of tidal mudflats on which the shorebirds of the flyway depend, around the Yellow Sea as a whole, 35% has already gone and the remainder will go soon.. regarded by environmentalists involved as a wildlife catastrophe in the making, indeed, it is already happening, with the bird populations starting to fall. Observed rates of decline of waterbird species of 5 to 9% a year,’ says the IUCN report, ‘are among the mighest of any ecological system on the planet.’.. The future of 50 million wading birds, and let it be said, of coastal fisheries on which thousands of people depend, are having by a threat … the East Asia/Australiasia Flyway has a poster species. The spoon-billed sandpoper is not only one of the most charming of birds… it is also one of the rarest, and has long been at the top of the wish-to-see list of many birders… Breeding only in Chukotka, the Siberian province in Russia’s far north-east, it winters 5.000 miles away around the coastlines of Burma and Bangladesh, dependent like the other waders of the flyway on the Yellow Sea stop-over.. In 2008, with the entire population now thought to be under 200 pairs and falling at the rate of 26% a year, it was listed as Critically Endangered.”

p. 75 “Gerard Manley Hopkins, the Victorian Jesuit …

What would the world be, once bereft

Of wet and of wilderness? Let them be left,

O let them be left, wildness and wet;

Let live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

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