For every bad-news story, there are little rays of hope, people who stood up and fought or just, you know, recycled.
That list of wildlife in danger has almost doubled since I started working at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) in 2002. Today, there are 748 species that have been assessed as at risk in Canada by COSEWIC. Part of this steep increase has resulted from more species being assessed.
We are currently embroiled in a mass-extinction event and, by 2025, up to a fifth of our known wildlife species will be lost. Don't worry, this post isn't like the last ten minutes of a wildlife documentary where they tell you that all the lovely animals that you have been enjoying are about to die, and it's your fault.
Clean air, water and soil to grow food are necessities of life. So are diverse plant and animal populations. But as the human population continues to increase, animal numbers are falling. Habitat degradation and destruction, hunting and overfishing, the illegal wildlife trade, invasive species, disease, pollution and climate change are causing an extinction crisis unlike any since dinosaurs disappeared 65 million years ago.
“That is a mass extinction and there is every reason to believe that we are triggering it.”
Unlike other species with no ability for self-reflection, humans are able to tell themselves fictions and myths, religious or not, to mollify and placate. Denial enabled early Homo sapiens ignore the realities of their fragile circumstances. But while the capacity for denial enabled continuance of the human species, at this stage of the game in our present evolution, our individual and collective undoing may be inevitable.
She wants you to know that two species of rhinos have died off in the last two years.
B.C. will continue to kill wolves for at least a decade in an attempt to save endangered caribou according to government documents released this week -- but new research re-confirms that caribou declines are primarily caused by industrial development.
When carbon dioxide (CO2) is emitted into the atmosphere it doesn't just stay there -- about 25 per cent of emissions are absorbed into the ocean, increasing the acidity of the ocean. An ocean increasing in acidity is not a very friendly place for its creatures, many of which play critical roles in marine food webs and are vital sources of human food. I recently travelled to Italy and across North America investigating how ocean acidification could impact marine life. While I like to remain hopeful in most things, what I learned has made me very worried about the future of the ocean.
Watching grizzly bears catch and eat salmon as they swim upstream to spawn is an unforgettable experience. Many people love to view the wild drama. Some record it with photos or video. But a few want to kill the iconic animals -- not to eat, just to put their heads on a wall or coats on a floor.
Image: Tony Azios, Cinematographer People around the world are also teaming up for the annual March for Elephants and Rhinos
In 2014 there are more nuclear weapons than ever, but we don't really talk about them very much. Instead we talk, primarily about the possibility of human extinction due to climate change, food shortages, ocean acidification or, occasionally, super-volcanos or comet collisions. All of these things are possible, and all of them are very unlikely to cause the extinction of humanity.
For much of human history we lived close to the natural world. As civilization evolved we became increasingly urbanized, and most of us now live in cities. As we've moved away from nature, we've seen a decline in other forms of life. Biodiversity is disappearing.
Overfishing, wildlife poaching, climate change etc., are not only causing species extinction, but also bringing human civilization closer to the brink of collapse. Fortunately, there is reason for hope that in the future evolution of man, human love and enlightenment will prevail over the forces of violence and destruction.
The spread of invasive species, overexploitation of natural resources, pollution, and climate change are also major contributors to what some scientists are calling the sixth great extinction.