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March 21, 2006

UN: Worst Mass Extinctions In 65 Million Years Environment

We're blindly sawing off the limb we're sitting on. The Guardian:

Humans have provoked the worst spate of extinctions since the dinosaurs were wiped out 65m years ago, according to a UN report that calls for unprecedented worldwide efforts to address the slide. The report paints a grim picture of life on earth, with declining numbers of plants, animals, insects and birds across the globe, and warns that the current extinction rate is up to 1,000 times faster than in the past. [...]

Released yesterday to mark the start of a UN environment programme meeting in Curitiba, Brazil, the report says: "In effect, we are currently responsible for the sixth major extinction event in the history of earth." A rising human population of 6.5bn is wrecking the environment for thousands of other species, it adds, and undermining efforts agreed at a 2002 UN summit in Johannesburg to slow the rate of decline by 2010. The global demand for biological resources now exceeds the planet's capacity to renew them by 20%.

The report, Global Biodiversity Outlook 2 from the secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, says: "The direct causes of biodiversity loss — habitat change, over-exploitation, the introduction of invasive alien species, nutrient loading and climate change — show no sign of abating." It is bleaker than a first UN review of the diversity of life, issued in 2001, and says the 2010 goal can only be attained with "unprecedented additional efforts".

About 6m hectares (15m acres) of primary forest are felled each year and about a third of mangrove swamps have been lost since the 1980s. In the Caribbean, average hard coral cover has declined from 50% to 10% in the last three decades. Up to 52% of higher bird species studied are threatened with extinction and the number of large fish in the North Atlantic has declined by two-thirds in the last 50 years.

The report concludes: "Biodiversity is in decline at all levels and geographical scales," and international travel, trade and tourism are expected to introduce more alien species to fragile ecosystems.

On the positive side, the number and size of protected areas is increasing, though most types of natural environment fall short of the target to protect 10%. About 12% of the land surface is protected, against 0.6% of the oceans. [Emphasis added]

I can't tell you how profoundly sad this makes me. This is not a small thing. This is not something that, once done, can be undone. It is the very definition of irresponsibility. In fact, it is in many ways the very definition of evil. We're doing the devil's work.

Posted by Jonathan at March 21, 2006 06:02 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb


Despair is the only word I can think of to describe how I feel. It appears that the logical end point of evolution is wipe-out. We've reached the pinnacle of the evolutionary process, and are now masters of the universe. All life on this planet must bow and submit to humanity. Canadian fishermen have annihilated the Grand Banks cod fishery, and the scientist say it will never recover. Coastal countries like Japan, Portugal, Spain, Canada, the USA etc. string massive trawl and dredge nets across the oceans, and scoop up everything in their paths, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, destroying coral reefs, where the food chain begins, in the process. Large Tuna fish are a rarity now. The large fish are required for a continuing healthy replacement. Small ones are not as prolific and their get are also small. The lower the catch, the more the boats and the longer the trawls. It's a race to the bottom, and all life on this planet will lose. I won't even get into the destruction of ecosystems on land, the ravishing of the earth's amazing creatures, large and small.
I don't think there's a damn thing we can do about it either.

Humans have reached this dominant point in the evolutionary process because we are profoundly selfish and aggressive. It it wasn't humans to 'win' this race, it would have been another selfish, aggressive species, like the dinosaurs 60,000,000 years ago. The dinosaurs, and most other species, were wiped out by a 15 km across asteroid which hit into the Gulf of Mexico at 60,000 miles per hour. Birds and small mammals survived, and we are the result of that survival. I'm not a religious person, but if I were, I would pray for another 'devine intervention' to stop us from destroying Mother Earth and all her hapless inhabitants.

Posted by: Dilbert at March 21, 2006 09:05 PM

Although it's true that we're going down a horrible spiral, it's important to consider that people's action can still make some change, by changing consumption habits, by voting for the right politicians and, above all, by educating future generations. This, in fact, is what worries me most.

Posted by: gillo at March 22, 2006 02:42 AM

Not only is man not fully evolved, he is a weed on this planet. The worst, most destructive kind of weed. Unalbe to manage it properly, he is unworthy of such a diverse resource as our planet.

Posted by: Jeff at March 22, 2006 06:18 AM

It is, no doubt, very very sad.
Maybe, once the human population is "corrected", or eliminated, evolution will continue with new animal and plant life, and the glory of diversity will flourish again.
I have a sticker on my environmental destruction device (car) that reads:

Consumer product diversity now exceeds biodiversity

Posted by: Clay at March 22, 2006 11:26 AM