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Abstract

As Australian wildfires raged and youth-led climate movements inspired millions globally to march against climate change, commentators dubbed 2019 “the year the world woke up to the climate crisis” (1). However, one of the major contributors to climate change over the course of the past century too often remains overlooked: the U.S. military. Two recent studies demonstrate the scale of U.S. military greenhouse gas emissions, which rivals the emissions of the majority of countries around the world (2, 3). As global leaders prepare to discuss the next phase of international agreements at COP26 in Glasgow and political discourse around sustainable transitions to green economies becomes more mainstream, the United States must reconsider the ecological costs of its military's global operations, including its domestic and global base infrastructure.
28 FEBRUARY 2020 • VOL 367 ISSUE 6481 989SCIENCE sciencemag.org
PHOTO: NATURE PICTURE LIBRARY/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
Giant salamanders:
Farmed yet endangered
Chinese giant salamanders (Andrias davidi-
anus s.l.) are the largest extant amphibians,
attaining a body size of almost 2 meters (1).
As “living fossils,” their common ancestor
lived in the Middle Jurassic (2). However,
their population density has decreased
since the 1950s because of habitat loss
and overharvesting (3). Chinese giant
salamanders now appear in Appendix I of
the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and
Flora (CITES), and the International Union
for Conservation of Nature lists them as
Critically Endangered (4, 5). Conservation
efforts include national reserves, breed-
ing in captivity (6), and release back into
nature (7), but these strategies have
proved inadequate. The existence of mul-
tiple species (1) complicates conservation
planning. Moreover, although extremely
endangered in nature (8), Chinese giant
salamanders are overstocked in com-
mercial farms (9). Conservation strategies
must reflect this contradiction.
Between 1990 and 2010, the potential for
high profits drove frequent illegal capture
of salamanders in the wild for farm breed-
stock, decimating wild populations (9).
Since 2002, in an attempt to facilitate the
recovery of wild salamander populations,
the government has paid farmers to release
more than 270,000 farm-bred individuals
(10) but has not required genetic or health
Edited by Jennifer Sills
LETTERS
assessments before release. The mass
release could accelerate extinction of some
species through genetic homogenization (1).
Most farms also pump water directly from
streams and rivers into their facilities, cir-
culate it within ponds, and then discharge
the effluent directly into the wild without
wastewater treatment (9). This activity may
drive transmission of viruses and threaten
ecological security (9). Given that observa-
tions of Chinese giant salamanders remain
extremely rare in nature (3, 8), it seems that
the release from farms has not succeeded in
augmenting the population.
The balancing of conservation and utili-
zation is key to the future of Chinese giant
salamanders. Governmental agencies should
coordinate unfailing supervision of the
commercial market. Wastewater from farms
must be treated before release back into
nature. Stringent law enforcement must
stop commercial farming in or near reserves
and end poaching. Coordinated national
scientific investigations need to evaluate
the status of each species, especially in
areas where natural breeding-caves persist
(11, 12). All releasing of farm-bred animals
should cease until testing confirms disease-
free, pure-native species. Ecotourism should
be developed to educate and promote the
conservation of Chinese giant salamanders
and build local pride in them as cultural
and biodiversity resources.
Chenqi Lu1,2, Jing Chai1, Robert W. Murphy1,3,
Jing Che1,4*
1State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and
Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese
Academy of Sciences, 650223 Kunming, China.
2Kunming College of Life Science, University of
Chinese Academy of Sciences, 650204 Kunming,
China. 3Centre for Biodiversity, Royal Ontario
Museum, Toronto, ON M5S 2C6, Canada.
4Center for Excellence in Animal Evolution
and Genetics, Chinese Academy of Sciences,
650223 Kunming, China.
*Corresponding author. Email: chej@mail.kiz.ac.cn
REFERENCES AND NOTES
1. F. Yan et al. , Curr. Biol. 28, R590 (2018).
2. K. Ga o, N. H. Sh ubin, Nature 422, 42 4 (2003 ).
3. K. Zhang, X. Wang, W. Wu, Z. Wang, S. Huang, Biodiv. Sci.
10, 291 (2002) [in Chinese].
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The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (2004).
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eng/app/appendices.php.
6. A. S. Yang, G. J. Li u, Hunan Fish. Sci. Technol. 4, 29 (1978)
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China, 18 to 21 October (2019).
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10.1126/science.abb2375
The U.S. military is
not sustainable
As Australian wildfires raged and youth-
led climate movements inspired millions
globally to march against climate change,
commentators dubbed 2019 “the year the
world woke up to the climate crisis” (1).
However, one of the major contributors to
climate change over the course of the past
century too often remains overlooked:
the U.S. military. Two recent studies
demonstrate the scale of U.S. military
greenhouse gas emissions, which rivals
the emissions of the majority of countries
around the world (2, 3). As global leaders
prepare to discuss the next phase of inter-
national agreements at COP26 in Glasgow
and political discourse around sustainable
transitions to green economies becomes
more mainstream, the United States
must reconsider the ecological costs of its
military’s global operations, including its
domestic and global base infrastructure.
The U.S. military’s contribution to
global climate change and local envi-
ronmental damage is extensive (4). The
U.S. military’s global greenhouse gas
(GHG) emissions amount to 593 million
metric tons of CO2 equivalent from 2010
to 2018, an annual average similar to
the annual GHG emission output of 14
million passenger cars. [(2), p. 14]. U.S.
military operations—such as the use of
herbicides during the Vietnam War (5)
and white phosphorous in Iraq (6), and
the construction of the global network of
military bases (7)—have disrupted local
ecological systems. Moreover, in May
2019, the Anthropocene Working Group
Chinese giant salamanders
are overstocked in farms
but endangered in the wild.
Published by AAAS
on February 28, 2020 http://science.sciencemag.org/Downloaded from
under the International Commission
on Stratigraphy voted to designate the
Anthropocene as a new geological epoch,
with the 1945 atomic bomb blasts serving
as the strongest anthropogenic marker
in the geological record (8). Looking for-
ward, the U.S. military continues to invest
billions in carbon-intensive preparations
for conflicts in areas disproportionately
affected by climate change (9).
The U.S. military’s status quo is incon-
sistent with the aspirations of policy
proposals like the Green New Deal (10)
and the Paris Climate Accord (11). To
decarbonize government and private sec-
tors to the greatest possible extent, the
United States and countries around the
world must reevaluate American geopo-
litical aspirations and the foreign policy
norms that have guided decisions since
the Second World War.
Oliver Belcher1*, Benjamin Neimark2, Patrick Bigger2
1School of Government and International Affairs,
Durham University, UK. 2Lancaster Environment
Centre, Lancaster University, UK.
*Corresponding author.
Email: oliver.belcher@durham.ac.uk
REFERENCES AND NOTES
1. E. Kolbert, “What will another decade of climate crisis
bring?” The New Yorker (2020).
2. N. C. Crawford, “Pentagon fuel use, climate change,
and the costs of war” (Watson Institute,
Brown University, 2019).
3. O. Belcher, P. Bigger, B. Neimark, C. Kennelly, Trans. Inst.
Br. Geograph. 45, 1 (2020).
4. A. Jorgenson, B. Clark, J. Kentor, Glob. Environ. Politics
10, 7 (20 10).
5. J. Stellman et al., Nature 422, 681 (2003).
6. P. Hashey, N. Engl. J. Intl. Comp. Law 291, 299 (2011).
7. Y. Woo, Southeast. Environ. Law J. 15, 577 (20 07).
8 . C . Waters et al., Ear th-Sc i. Rev. 178, 379 (2019).
9. M. Klare, All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s
Perspective on Climate Change (Metropolitan Books,
New York, 2019).
10. 116th Congress, H. Res. 109 (www.congress.gov/116/
bills/hres109/BILLS-116hres109ih.pdf).
11. The Paris Agreement (https://unfccc.int/
process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/
the-paris-agreement).
10.1126/science.abb1173
Brazilian national
parks at risk
Brazilian national parks could be seri-
ously threatened if pending legislation
[draft bills 984/2019 (1) and 61/2013 (2)]
is approved. These two bills aim to change
the federal law [9.985/2000 (3)] that
created Brazil’s national system of con-
servation units and instead create a new
category of conservation unit called “park-
road.” Beyond this, the bills would reopen
the Colono Road, an 18-km-long road closed
more than 30 years ago that bisects the
famed Iguaçu National Park (4) and Brazil’s
largest remnant of the Atlantic Rainforest, a
global biodiversity hotspot (5).
“Park-roads”—roads for vehicular traf-
fic that traverse parks—are not currently
regulated as a conservation-unit category in
Brazil. Brazil’s proposed bills are designed
to allow roads for traveling through the
parks, even if they serve no other purpose,
such as allowing access to points of scenic,
historic, or scientific importance. Reopening
the Colono Road would expose Iguaçu
National Park to problems such as poach-
ing, illegal deforestation, wildlife trafficking,
and vehicle roadkill of wildlife (4). Opening
roads would also increase habitat frag-
mentation, one of the main causes of the
contemporary biodiversity crisis (6), which
alters many aspects of forest ecology and
composition (7–1 1).
Brazil has more than 70 national parks
occupying over 25 million hectares across
different biomes (12), including the imper-
iled Atlantic Forest, Cerrado ecosystems,
and Amazon rainforest. The proposed
bills could set an alarming precedent for
opening new roads inside these and other
protected areas. Such action could cause
irreparable damage to biodiversity and
the climate-stabilization services of intact
forests (9, 10), which could affect not only
Brazil but also the entire planet. Brazilian
citizens and decision-makers must consider
the consequences of such bills for Brazilian
national parks and make their concerns
about irreversible environmental impacts
known to policymakers.
Renata Ruaro1*, William Laurance2,
Roger Paulo Mormul3
1Federal Technological University of Paraná,
Câmpus Curitiba–Sede Ecoville, CEP 81280-
340, Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil. 2Centre for Tropical
Environmental and Sustainability Science,
College of Science and Engineering, James Cook
University, Cairns, QLD 4878, Australia. 3Ecology
of Inland Water Ecosystems, State University of
Maringá, CEP 87020-900, Maringá, Paraná, Brazil.
*Corresponding author.
Email: renataruaro_@hotmail.com
REFERENCES AND NOTES
1. Projeto de Lei N˚984 (2019); www.camara.leg.br/
proposicoesWeb/fichadetramitacao?idProposi-
cao=2192602 [in Portuguese].
2. Projeto de Lei da Câmara N˚61 (2013); https://www25.
senado.leg.br/web/atividade/materias/-/mate-
ria/114299 [in Portuguese].
3. Lei N˚ 9.985 (18 July 2000); www.planalto.gov.br/
ccivil_03/leis/L9985.htm [in Portuguese].
4 . R . A. Or tiz , Ambientalia 1, 141 (2010).
5. World Wildlife Fund, “Guia de Fauna do Parque Nacional
do Iguaçu” (2014); https://d3nehc6yl9qzo4.cloudfront.
net/downloads/guia_fauna_parna_iguacu.pdf
[in Portuguese].
6. W. F. Laurance, I. Arrea, Science 358, 442 (2017).
7. V. Arroyo-Rodríguez et al., Ecol . Res. 32, 81 (2017).
8. D. A. Saunders et al., Conserv. Biol. 5, 18 (1991).
9. W. F. Laurance, Phil. Trans. Royal Soc. B 359, 345 (2 004).
10. N. M. Haddad et al., Sci. Adv . 1, e1500052 (2015).
11. D. Lesbarrères, L. Fahrig, Trends Ecol. Evol. 27,
374 (2 012 ).
12. Brasil, MMA/ICMBio, “Ministro anuncia concessões em
parques nacionais” (2016). www.icmbio.gov.br/portal/
ultimas-noticias/20-geral/8569-ministro-anuncia-
-concessoes-em-parques [in Portuguese].
10.1126/science.abb0926
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The U.S. military is not sustainable
Oliver Belcher, Benjamin Neimark and Patrick Bigger
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb1173
(6481), 989-990.367Science
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Article
Brazilian national parks could be seriously threatened if pending legislation [draft bills 984/2019 and 61/2013] is approved. These two bills aim to change the federal law [9.985/2000] that created Brazil’s national system of conservation units and instead create a new category of conservation unit called “parkroad.” Beyond this, the bills would reopen the Colono Road, an 18-km-long road closed more than 30 years ago that bisects the famed Iguaçu National Park and Brazil’s largest remnant of the Atlantic Rainforest, a global biodiversity hotspot . “Park-roads”—roads for vehicular traffic that traverse parks—are not currently regulated as a conservation-unit category in Brazil. Brazil’s proposed bills are designed to allow roads for traveling through the parks, even if they serve no other purpose, such as allowing access to points of scenic, historic, or scientific importance. Reopening the Colono Road would expose Iguaçu National Park to problems such as poaching, illegal deforestation, wildlife trafficking, and vehicle roadkill of wildlife. Opening roads would also increase habitat fragmentation, one of the main causes of the contemporary biodiversity crisis, which alters many aspects of forest ecology and composition. Brazil has more than 70 national parks occupying over 25 million hectares across different biomes, including the imperiled Atlantic Forest, Cerrado ecosystems, and Amazon rainforest. The proposed bills could set an alarming precedent for opening new roads inside these and other protected areas. Such action could cause irreparable damage to biodiversity and the climate-stabilization services of intact forests, which could affect not only Brazil but also the entire planet. Brazilian citizens and decision-makers must consider the consequences of such bills for Brazilian national parks and make their concerns about irreversible environmental impacts known to policymakers.
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Forest fragmentation is considered by many to be a primary cause of the current biodiversity crisis. The underlying mechanisms are poorly known, but a potentially important one is associated with altered thermal conditions within the remaining forest patches, especially at forest edges. Yet, large uncertainty remains about the effect of fragmentation on forest temperature, as it is unclear whether temperature decreases from forest edge to forest interior, and whether this local gradient scales up to an effect of fragmentation (landscape attribute) on temperature. We calculated the effect size (correlation coefficient) of distance from forest edge on air temperature, and tested for differences among forest types surrounded by different matrices using meta-analysis techniques. We found a negative edge-interior temperature gradient, but correlation coefficients were highly variable, and significant only for temperate and tropical forests surrounded by a highly contrasting open matrix. Nevertheless, it is unclear if these local-scale changes in temperature can be scaled up to an effect of fragmentation on temperature. Although it may be valid when considering "fragmentation" as forest loss only, the landscape-scale inference is not so clear when we consider the second aspect of fragmentation, where a given amount of forest is divided into a large number of small patches (fragmentation per se). Therefore, care is needed when assuming that fragmentation changes forest temperature, as thermal changes at forest edges depend on forest type and matrix composition, and it is still uncertain if this local gradient can be scaled up to the landscape.
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The authors situate treadmill of destruction theory in a comparative international perspective to assess the environmental impacts of national militaries. Results of cross-national panel models indicate that high-tech militarization in the form of expenditures per soldier contribute to the scale and intensity of carbon dioxide emissions as well as the per capita ecological footprints of nations. Likewise, all three of these environmental outcomes are positively associated with military participation in the context of the number of soldiers relative to the size of domestic populations. Overall, the findings support the proposed theorization and highlight the need for social scientists to consider the environmental and ecological consequences of nations' militaries, regardless of whether or not they are engaged in conflicts. (c) 2010 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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F. Yan et al., Curr. Biol. 28, R590 (2018).
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K. Gao, N. H. Shubin, Nature 422, 424 (2003).
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