The disappearance of the species is mainly our fault
I had the unfortunate privilege to watch a video produced by CNN. I personally consider CNN as a reputable source of information. This documentary is about “The 6th Mass Extinction”, and you can find a link to the program below.
It is alarming to know that species are vanishing at 100 times the normal rate, and that ¾ of all known species can disappear in just a couple of centuries.
One of the species (and one of the largest) is the African Elephant
I know you have heard that elephants are being killed simply for their tusks or even to take their feet to use as ashtrays or trash cans (as I have seen in a Doctor’s offices in Malaga, Spain). But did you know that there is a disturbing uptake in the killing of elephants on the border of Botswana and Namibia. It used to be thought that because of Botswana’s policies, the elephants inside their borders were safe. But recently, poachers are encroaching in on Botswana’s borders.
Recently a two-year study (the Great Elephant Census, 2012-2014) to count elephants in 18 countries across the continent, was concluded. In 7 years Up to 2014, elephant numbers have dropped by 1/3. In the two years of the Great Elephant Census, it is projected that up to 75,000 elephants have been lost to poaching, habitat loss, climate change, human-elephant conflict, and retaliatory killings. African elephants can be extinct in 20 years.
The Death of the Coral Reefs
Around a small island community off the coast of Africa, coral is dying. Just as coral is dying across the globe, but here it is more impactful. The small village exists only because of the sea and with the dying coral, the life of the sea is going as well. Extreme heat and acidification of the oceans have damaged reef ecosystems all over the world. Divers surveyed the reef during a heat wave in April and they estimate that 70% of the reef was damaged by the high temperatures.
Another aspect of our impact is the plastic that is reaching the ocean, If current trends continue, the Pacific Ocean can become more parts plastic then fish by weight, by 2050.
On Midway Atoll, the tide leaves a “bathtub ring” of plastic. High tide brings it in and it remains. Since 1999, NOAA has removed 125 metric tons of debris from the island. It gets there because it is in the middle of the North Pacific Gyre Swirl (a pattern of the ocean’s movement in a clockwise direction going west from about Central America to the Philippines then north along the coast of Japan, then back down the American Pacific coast.)
Plastics is the death of many animals
This is only part of the problem. The albatross that lives on Midway and roams across the ocean, forages for food and brings that food back home to the island. Normally they will capture squid, fish and other sea creatures but more and more, they are consuming brightly colored bottle caps and other pieces of plastic. They bring that home and feed this plastic to their young.
Rangers on the island have found carcasses of young and mature birds with their stomachs filled with plastic. Albatross adults bring back an estimated 5 tons of plastic back to midway along with the food they bring to feed their chicks. The threats to the birds that roam the seas are not limited to their home but are global.
The rapid decline of the bees
Bees are showing a rapid decline. Nearly a ¼ of our bumble species in North America are facing extinction. If any of our bumblebees go extinct, we will be impacted. These bees pollinate 35% of the world’s crops. Lately, to help pollinate plants, the industrial bee industry has taken over. That is especially helpful in greenhouses where the imported bees are kept busy.
But speculation by some suggests that the imported bees may be contributing to the decline of the natural bee population. The suggestion is the imported bees are bringing in diseases that decimate the natural bee population. But the bee industry disagrees saying the queen is kept in a container and cannot escape and all the bees are removed and incinerated after 8 weeks in the greenhouse.
Frogs are in danger
In Costa Rica, frogs are disappearing. In the past 30 years, scientists have seen dramatic frog extinctions all over the world. Some have been due to habitat loss but others have occurred in pristine rain forests. Places that look healthy, but for frogs, climate change and a fungus called Chytrid, that humans have helped spread around the world, are causing much of the problem.
I am afraid that the average Joe will wonder what do frogs, bees and coral have to do with me. I do not eat them or rely on them?
It helps to understand what is happening by looking at specific species. Frogs are called an indicator species. The decline of the Frog population brings to light the extreme conditions in our rainforest, without which, we would not have many of our modern drugs. The life of the rainforest is vitally important to the life of the planet.
The coral loss is especially problematic because with the loss of the coral comes a corresponding loss of smaller fish species. With the loss of the lower species, comes the loss of species we as humans harvest.
As mentioned in another of our posts, the bee population is vital to our crop production. Without bees, farmers will rely more heavily on industrial bees and the small farm will disappear. Crops will increase in price or disappear altogether.
Plastic in our oceans is decaying at a very slow rate. All the while, its decay process is releasing chemicals into the environment. We are ingesting seafood that is contaminated with all these petrochemical byproducts.
There is evidence of this extension event all around the world in just about every ecosystem. Plastics, extreme heat, fungus and disease spread by human contact, species loss through chemical usage and overhunting is only a few ways humans are driving the next extinction event.
Photo Source: Pixabay
Perhaps you like to read my post on Bees.