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Tuesday Cannon Fodder: long-awaited return

A cheetah is seen moving freely in Mara Triangle, part of... Photo by Billy Mutai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Good morning TSF! I’m back to doing a regular Cannon Fodder, which I’m sure you’re all thrilled about. I know that for at least some of you, CF was an integral part of your morning routine. To be clear, the “some of you” that I am so confidently speaking about is an army of one - my father, who told me that he missed reading CF in the morning. I hope that some of you share his sentiments.

To my morning routine, I’ve added checking the National Zoo’s Cheetah Cub Cam, which is exactly what it sounds like — a camera on the mother cheetah who recently gave birth to a litter at the Zoo’s Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal, VA. I have a personal connection to the CRC: I went to sleep-away camp there. They have a dormitory that usually hosts visiting scientists and researchers that for one week a summer played host to a bunch of 11-13 year olds who were interested in wildlife and nature. I have many fond memories of my three trips there over three different summers.

Cheetahs are currently considered a “vulnerable” species, although their dwindling numbers have spurred calls from environmentalists, biologists, and animal rights activists to upgrade (downgrade?) them to an “endangered” species. There are an estimated 7,100 adult cheetahs in the wild today, half as many as there were in 1975. They’ve also been driven out of 91% of their historic range. And when you couple that with their natural difficulty in reproducing, the number killed by human conflict, a.k.a. people killing the animals for sport, perceived threat, etc., you have what an environmentalist interviewed by National Geographic called “a double whammy” accelerating the species towards extinction.

Climate change contributes massively towards cheetah extinction and the loss of biodiversity, generally. Temperature increases reduce livable habitat - actual land - for animals, reduces the number of prey species making food scarce, pushes humans to convert more land to farmland (which worsens the cycle), and so on. For cheetahs, some believe that increased temperatures negatively affect male fertility and virility as well.

World leaders are currently meeting in Rome for the G20 conference to discuss climate change and measures to combat the deleterious effects on the planet that we, humans, have wrought. I have...thoughts about all that, but I’ll keep them to my self for now. Suffice it to say that a bunch of world leaders arriving in Rome burning extra fuel for private jets and motorcades isn’t great optics.

The reporting from Rome has been about continuing the aim to become climate neutral by 2050. Most experts believe the problem is much more pressing and needs to be addressed sooner than “over the next few decades” to save the planet and preserve her for our children and grandchildren.

Fortunately, some people and organizations have a better grasp of the dire nature of climate change. Arsenal are among them, although even the club specifically mentions that possibly-too-late 2050 goal. The club became the first in the Premier League to sign the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, a plan devised specifically for sport to bring itself in-line with the Paris Agreement. The club were also the first PL club to switch to 100% green energy.

And you can’t mention Arsenal and sustainability without mentioning Hector Bellerin. The on-loan defender has spoken on numerous occasions about social responsibility of all shapes and sizes, including climate change. He’s put his money where his mouth is as well, funding the planting of nearly 60,000 trees in the Amazon with his project tied to Arsenal wins last season and buying a stake in eco-friendly club Forest Green Rovers.

From “CF is here again” to cheetah cam to biodiversity to climate change to G20 to Arsenal to Hector Bellerin. Yeah, I’m back. Have a great day, y’all!