The great challenge is not to deny this fear, but to take responsibility and overcome it, avoiding paralysis and nihilistic or cynical attitudes. In other words, converting fear into preventive and effective action, into awareness of all species.
Far from saving the whales, it was oil that nearly obliterated them, and may yet still do so. The real lessons to be drawn from the history of whaling are more interesting and more complex than the oil salvation narrative.
But there’s another story that the American burying beetle is a part of. It’s the less-told but equally important story of bringing uncharismatic minifauna back from the brink through cooperation among sometimes-opposing groups: private landowners, public officials and conservation activists.
At this crucial moment for Australia and the world, it is pertinent to take a step back from reactions to the ongoing flames and proactively revisit what happened in the Amazon—and why—before fires reignite in the dry season.
In a remote corner of Nevada is a wildflower that grows nowhere else on earth. Named “Tiehm’s Buckwheat” (Eriogonum tiehmii), it has been found on only ten acres of public land in the Silver Peak Range of Esmerelda County, and is virtually unknown except to a handful of botanists. Tragically, it is at risk of extinction due to mining activities that have just started in its habitat.
The New Yorker and other mainstream voices are spreading the message about the seriousness of climate change, and the possibility of an apocalypse. The Pope too says that the climate is in an emergency and asks the world to abandon fossil fuels.
The bottom line is: we’re changing our world in many different ways at once. And the myriad little creatures that play so many critical roles in the fabric of life are struggling to survive the onslaught.
Today the monarchs are all but gone. That sad fact hit home this week as I read of the 97 percent collapse of the Western monarch population. No number of inspired “Ten Things You Can Do” articles, no amount of milkweed replanting, will revive a species once it falls into the past.
Humans and our livestock now make up 97 percent of all animals on land. Wild animals (mammals and birds) have been reduced to a mere remnant: just 3 percent. This is based on mass. Humans and our domesticated animals outweigh all terrestrial wild mammals and birds 32-to-1.
Dramatic declines in bird populations suggest that we are much further along in the so-called Sixth Great Extinction than we imagined. What does it mean for the human future?
Despite my somewhat snarky title, which is based on my assessment that Half-Earth is missing a key strategic component, E. O. Wilson’s book is engaging and even inspiring. Wilson makes a compelling case that our planet is facing serious and accelerating species loss, that human beings are the primary cause of this phenomenon, and that, most importantly, we are capable of doing something about it.
How serious is the loss of species globally? Are material cycles in an ecosystem with few species changed? In order to find this out, the “Jena Experiment” was established in 2002, one of the largest biodiversity experiments worldwide.