Understanding the Extinction Crisis (GreenChristian.org)
From GreenChristian.org --
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy.
Earth has lost ½ its wildlife in the past 40 years.
More specifically: "in less than two human generations, population sizes of vertebrate species have dropped by half" (Living Planet Report 2014, WWF).
How can we help?
Protect & Restore Biodiversity.
> What is Biodiversity?
Bio-diversity simply means the variety of life on earth. Bio-diversity means our Life-Support Systems, e.g without bees, there would be little pollination and therefore few fruit. Populations of wild animals are falling because of the following (from WWF Living Planet report 2014):
What are the main causes of actual species extinctions?
a) Habitat loss, b) Invasive species, c) Pollution.
How many species exist in the world?
Low estimate: 12 million, but many species have not yet been discovered. Humans, other animals, plants, fungi and micro-organisms all depend on each other.
How many species are threatened?
Over 18,000 species are threatened with extinction (IUCN 2010): 1 in 3 amphibians, ½ of all freshwater turtles, 1 in 8 birds, 1 in 4 mammals, 1 in 5 plants. Extinction means the final, irrevocable disappearance of a species from the earth. It is possible that we are (causing) a major extinction event?
What is UK habitat loss in the last 60 years?
- Lowland peat bogs: 95%
- Lowland heathland: 40%
- Lowland wet grassland: 60%
- Hay meadows: 98%
- Chalk downland: 70%
- Native pinewoods: 70%
Local authorities have set up Local Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs) to protect what is left of these habitats.
Without plants, life on Earth would cease to exist. Biodiversity is not just about different species; it includes variation within species. This genetic diversity enables a species to survive in face of adversity, such as pests, disease, drought and climate change. Kew Gardensâ€™ Millennium Seed Bank Project is gathering and storing seeds from plants most at risk across the world.
Regulations restrict the sale of vegetable seeds to a few registered varieties.Â The Heritage Seed Library at Garden Organic exchanges UK seeds from 700 unregistered vegetables they are not allowed to sell. National fruit collections keep our genetic heritage safe: Brogdale in Kent grows 2,500 different apple varieties, plus pears, plums and soft fruit; Harlow Carr Gardens in Harrogate preserves the UK rhubarb collection.
˜The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon which he planted. In them the birds build their nests; the stork has her home in the fir trees."
In the last 20-30 years the numbers of UK farmland birds have declined by 42% and woodland birds by 15%. House sparrows and starlings are in serious decline. Others like the magpie, carrion crow and woodpigeon are on the increase. The loss of farmland birds was largely caused by:
- Effects of pesticides on the insects eaten by birds
- Loss of mixed farms with their range of habitats
- Change to autumn-sown crops from spring-sown
˜The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the badgers."
Examples of UK Extinctions since 1900:
Exploding bombardier beetle 1928;
Horned dung-beetle 1955;
Burbot (a fish) 1972;
Ivell sea-anemone 1983 (now globally extinct);
Mouse-eared bat 1990;
Essex emerald moth 1991.
World Extinctions since 1900:
Passenger Pigeon 1914;
Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacine) 1936;
Caribbean Monk Seal 1952;
Golden Toad 1966;
Javan Tiger c1980;
Tecopa Pupfish 1973;
Pyrenean Ibex 2000;
Baiji Rover Dolphin 2006;
Zanzibar Leopard 2012.
˜Yonder is the sea, great and wide, which teems with things innumerable."
We know more of the moon than we do of the deep mysterious oceans. Industrial fishing and fish farming are increasing. Fish stocks are plummeting, coral reefs are being destroyed by pollution, dynamite fishing, tourism and souvenir hunters. Non-government organisations and campaigning groups have battled long and hard to protect large sea mammals.