Species Loss Threatens Humankind

The attempts by the world’s governments 2002-2010 to stem massive loss of species completely failed. So the recent conference on species loss at Nagoya in Japan found. Failed.

It doesn’t make a person optimistic about the recently concluded Nagoya agreement. Though, bless the Japanese for pledging $2 billion to fight species loss.

A fifth of the world’s species could be gone in a few decades. The world hasn’t seen anything like this since that meteor slammed into Chicxulub 60 million years ago. The meteor impact created enormous tsunamis that wiped out much life in the oceans, started continent-wide fires, and it threw so much dust into the atmosphere that the sun was partially obscured for an extended period of time, causing many but not all plants to die and then causing the death of creatures that normally ate the plants.

That was some catastrophe. And, we human beings–you and I– are just as deadly to the earth’s species today as the Chicxulub meteor was then. We are a global tsunami, we are a continent-burning fire, we are a shadow on the sun.

Of course, many of the species being lost are insects. Butterflies and beetles, etc. They may seem unimportant, but butterflies pollinate plants that bees do not, and beetles are the world’s “garbage collectors.” Then many are small ocean organisms and fish who live amid corals, as the corals are turning brown and dying, probably from global warming. I can’t get people to be sympathetic to sharks, but many of them are in danger. Millions and millions have been killed by human beings, who deserve to have that creepy ‘Jaws’ theme play when they show up much more than do the poor sharks.

Large animals like human beings are at the top of the food chain. It is very dangerous to us when the little animals disappear, because they underpin the chain.

Here is a snippet of video I took at Sydney Aquarium in October 2010, full of the sort of species our grandchildren may not see.

David Suzuki and other scientists discuss the threat of species loss.

Posted in Environment | 14 Responses | Print |

14 Responses

  1. Tsunamis don’t cause ocean destruction; they are only very long surface swells. A friend of mine was out surfing in Aragon Bay, Sri Lanka, when the 2004 tsunami passed by. He didn’t notice anything at all, until he got ashore, discovered the devastation and found that one of his friends had died.

    Corals go white when they die.

    Sharks are in real danger; I used to buy shark teeth at 10 pesos each for neck charms; but then they were P70 each; this happened within 6 years. The problems are long drift nets and Chinese shark’s fin soup (the shark is caught, de-finned, and left, still alive)

  2. Who knew that Soylent Green was actually a Documentary instead of Science Fiction.

  3. In May of 1966, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said:

    There is no human circumstance more tragic than the persisting existence of a harmful condition for which a remedy is readily available. Family planning, to relate population to world resources, is possible, practical and necessary. Unlike plagues of the dark ages or contemporary diseases we do not yet understand, the modern plague of overpopulation is soluble by means we have discovered and with resources we possess.

    Family planning, however, is taboo politically in the USA. Evidently, this results from a combination of Christian fundamentalism and the continued belief that growth is the only means for maintaining a “healthy” economy. In a book titled More: Population, Nature, and What Women Want Robert Engelman argues that if women are given the choice, they will opt for having fewer children in order to provide them a better quality of life. Per the quote cited in this blog posting Tunisia is trying this approach:

    There is now substantial evidence that the health and schooling of children can be raised by empowering women, and this is precisely what Tunisia did when it raised the minimum age for marriage, revoked the colonial ban on imports of contraceptives, instituted the first family planning programme in Africa, legalized abortion, made polygamy illegal, and gave women the right to divorce as well as the right to stand and vote for election.

    Hopefully, the USA will wake up sooner rather than later.

  4. man has spread corruption on the lands, skies, and in the seas. Its quite unbelievable for a relatively miniscule creation, man, when compared to the massive oceans, to have utterly destroyed the oceans.

  5. These are the folks who are S O O O CONCERNED about leaving any debt for their grandchildren. Leaving these hypothetical grandchildren a devastated environment, depleted of essential species of plants and animals, not to mention a human infrastructure that’s worn out and broken down doesn’t bother them at all.

  6. Hey, what’s the big deal? It’s all on video — If I want to see “nature,” I just go to youtube. There’s no present profit in Saving the Whales — they don’t take part in the Free Market or anything. Ronnie Reagan had it right — You see one sequoia, you seen them all. Turn the rest into furniture and chipboard. And he had it on good authority (Reader’s Digest, no less!) that Trees Cause Cancer — those conifers in the Blue Ridge Mountains, emitting terpines that are suspected human carcinogens, after all.

    I hope Mother Nature can take a joke — or there’s a good chance she’ll chew all of us, not only the greedy and violent and thoughtless and heedless, into a giant cud, and expectorate us out into the vacuum of space. Unless some zealot decides to use our newfound, unrestrained, unlimited technical skills to manipulate some virus and kill us all off more compendiously before we can do any further damage.

    And yeah, I know that’s already a plot in books and movies. Wonder why? (remember that our State Security Apparatus pulled together all the writers of “thriller” books and movie scripts to brainstorm about what “the terrorists” would pull next — I wonder what they came up with?)

    • You must’ve missed that Arizona state legislator (at least she wasn’t in the US House…), who figured out their states water deficiency could be effectively addressed by getting rid of all the damned trees up in the Arizona mountains that were using it all up!

      You just cannot make this stuff up.

      What I think is that Mother Nature doesn’t give a flip: if things get rewound back to plankton and ferns again, fine. It’s happened before, it’ll happen again. If (when) the next big explosion on the scale of Krakatowa, Vesuvius, or Yellowstone cork-off, modern life will spin in reverse faster than you can say….Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuoooooooooooooooooooooo…… And by the way, there are a number of other events along these lines, all of which are NOW OVERDUE.

      There are some things you/we can have an impact on, where worry might do us any good. But ultimately, we’re on borrowed time. Best thing that could happen in terms of government would be a truly enlightened and benevolent autocracy (the only way to administer peoples disparate greed and agendas) , but even that wouldn’t save us from the fate which has ALWAYS awaited us.

  7. Darn. I spent some time in Sydney and missed the aquarium. Looks pretty cool.

    Though I did play golf overlooking the Tasman Sea.

    Did you do the bridge climb? I did and I strongly discourage it. It scared the hell out of me and I wouldn’t consider it again. And I’m not sure if I’m glad I did it or not.

    If anyone cares here is a look. The climb takes you about 450 feet above Sydney Harbor. link to bridgeclimb.com

  8. Homo sapiens sapiens is a failed species. Darwin defined natural selection in terms of species, and this species has overshot the carrying capacity of it’s habitat. In this regard, a more apt name would be homo asapient runamuctus. I digress.

    Fox News is doing its part to save other species on the planet by hurrying this species alongs towards self-anihilation along with Rogue State and it’s political wing, aipactus inyourfaceus, which seems to have adopted a symbiotic relationship.

    Honestly, my only hope is that web cams will be available to catch the last gasp.

  9. Its amusing to contemplate what paleontologists, in a civilization 50 million years in the future, would conclude from the fossil record they exhume. Assuming our civilization and its history are long dead and buried by that time, they will have to construct a theory based on natural phenomenon to explain the drastic elimination of so many species and the concurrent appearance of new species (genetic engineering) over a period of just a few thousand years.

    A few crackpots will theorize the existence of a materially sophisticated society that found little reason to co-exist with any species that was seen to be competing for resources or was a pest of some sort. Such species were quickly eliminated. Species of material value were simply consumed in toto. The strange new species that abruptly appeared during this era were more puzzling, but did not staunch the crackpots. Their pet theory for this phenomenon was simply that the society created them. The term “Intelligent Design” caught on.

  10. As generalists / omnivores, humans get food from numerous food chains, not just one.

  11. The loss of species diversity is connected to a lot of things in our civilization (buckshot urbanization, deforestation, etc.) but it is connected to nothing so much as livestock. People probably don’t want to hear this, but with the possible exception of not reproducing ourselves, the single most important thing we can do about this is to go vegetarian or vegan. Just a thought.

    Vaclav Smil has estimated that 94% of the zoomass of mammals on the planet is humans, their livestock, and their pets. That leaves 6% for elephants, giraffes, and everything else. “The rapidly growing zoomass of domestic animals has made dairy and meat mammals the dominant class of vertebrates on Earth.” Lester Brown in Plan B 2.0 puts it slightly differently, saying that 98% of all land-based vertebrates are humans, their livestock, or their pets.

    link to vaclavsmil.com

    • You make an excellent point. However, you can do nearly as much good by reducing your meat intake by 50-90%. Use meat as a condiment.

      It makes nutrition simpler, prevents people from feeling deprived, AND will provide massive cut-backs in the requirements for livestock support. Not to mention being a much healthier diet, excellently suited for our obese times.

      Absolutism just turns me off, and I suspect that I’m not alone in this. And frankly, I’d like your ideas of reducing animal farming and want you to succeed!

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