Sep 14

“Mammalian Mass Extinction Looms”


October 15, 2008 Edition  —  By Scott Davis, Staff Writer.

Endangered turtle, O'ahu

I think people should be particularly aware of the confounding discovery reported on CNN’s Web page last week, “1 in 4 Mammals at Risk of Extinction, Scientists Say.”   Basically, the article states what is self-evident in the title — that a quarter of the world’s mammals are nearing extinction.

According to CNN.com, a new report by the International Union of Conservation of Nature updated its Red List of Threatened Species to 44,838 overall, with 16,928 species threatened by extinction. Of these, 3,246 are labeled critically endangered, 4,770 are endangered and 8,912 are vulnerable to extinction. Although the animals classified at risk of extinction make up only 20 percent of total mammalian species, researchers say that there are several hundred species without enough data to classify and because they live in such small numbers, are difficult to track, and may be endangered, pushing the rate to 25 percent.

Humpback whale, O'ahu

These statistics are a direct corollary to human negligence and need to be acted upon. Once a species is lost from this world it will never exist again. Diversity is what holds our ecosystem together and is what makes this world so magnificent and unique.

All of the remaining rainforests in the world can fit into the state of Texas or the country of South Africa. Deforestation is a catalyst for global warming and is also devastating much of Earth’s biodiversity. The melting of the polar ice caps is resulting in further loss of diversity, as many polar bears and harp seals are now becoming extinct without their habitat.

A domino effect is inevitable and things will become exponentially worse in the not-so-far future unless we begin making changes in how we run our lives and treat Mother Nature. “Going green” seems to be such a fad in society that it has lost its significance sometimes and we need to truly assess what we can do to be more modest. A morose future seems evident for humans and other animals alike if we do not begin treating our planet better. Please, let’s recognize the importance of this issue and work together to help make this world survive as we know it.

One thing I personally have done for the past five years to help is become vegan. This simply means no animal products or byproducts, including eggs, dairy, leather, etc.

It requires 3 1/2 acres of land per person to support a meat-centered diet, and only 1/6 of an acre per person (21 times less) to support a vegan diet, according to John Robbins, author of “Diet for a New America.” That equates to an ungodly amount of deforestation, resulting in a massive loss of biodiversity, that could be prevented, or at least reduced, by something as simple as food choice.

Endangered Gallinule, O'ahu

Is the preservation of the world worth giving up certain luxuries? I definitely think so.

Endangered Hawaiian Stilt, O'ahu

There are numerous ways to help safeguard Earth’s land and animals and each individual should have a moral obligation to better things.

Endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal

I hope that whatever people decide to do to help, they research it well and make sure it works. If so, then our planet may see a glimpse of hope after all.



[All photos courtesy of Carroll Cox]