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Posts Tagged ‘human impact’

. . . and we’re clearly to blame.

So says a new report by the WWF, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Global Footprint Network. The finds, the Independent reports today, that land species have declined by 25 per cent, marine life by 28 per cent, and freshwater species by 29 per cent.

“You’d have to go back to the extinction of the dinosaurs to see a decline as rapid as this,” says Jonathan Loh, the report’s editor.

It’s shocking and saddening reading. Let’s hope it will also help galvanize action on a global level — what’s needed for there to be any hope for the thousands more species threatened by pollution, invasive species, habitat loss and climate change, all but the last of which are unarguably the result of human actions.

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“Australia already has the worst record in the world for conserving its beautiful and unusual wildlife,” says the UK’s Independent in what’s already become a gloomy week for the world’s fauna and flora — and it’s still only Tuesday here in California.

Some 40% of all the mammal species that have become extinct over the past 200 years, says writer Kathy Marks, were Australian.  Now, it appears, climate change threatens a whole bunch more antipodean mammals — as well as frogs, turtles, finches and more.

Elsewhere, we learn that bats are suffering a terrible die-off in the Eastern USA, for a reason yet to be identified.

Frogs, meanwhile, have long been known to be under tremendous environmental pressure.  Some are now disputing the idea that Global Warming is the trigger, the NY Times reports today.  But even if that’s so, it does seem that the virus that causing much of the distress to frogs is spread by humans.

Finally, lovers of common Britain’s wildflowers — often otherwise known as weeds — are lamenting their diminishing presence in the nation’s fields and woods.  Intensive (i.e. in-organic) farming practices get the blame here.

Dynamic change is a part of nature.  Even large die-offs and population surges are common (think locusts, gypsy moths, squid).  But that’s not to defend our fooling with a system we hardly understand — a point likely to be brought painfully home to anyone on America’s East Coast bitten by a bug that a now-dead bat ought to have been snacking on this summer.

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The UC Santa Barbara-based National Center for Ecological Synthesis and Analysis has published in today’s Science a “Global Map of Human Impact on Marine Ecosytems.”  You can see the map here.

“We still understand very little of the ocean’s biodiversity and how it is changing under our influence,” says the report, which represents an effort to address that lack of understanding.

Over 40% of our oceans are heavily afected by human activity, the report finds.   “And few if any areas remain untouched.”

The analysis highlights areas where a failure to change what we are doing will cause ever deeper harm.  But in reaching for a positive angle on a pretty sorry story, it also points out that the mapping project can help identify areas where we might be able to continue activities that have relatively little impact.

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