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PMC Articles Tagged 'species loss'

David Attenborough Talk on Population

April 27th, 2011 by joe | 1 Comment

Many thanks to Roger Martin of Population Matters for this March 10, 2011 talk by Sir David Attenborough to the Royal Society of Arts and Commerce.  The talk was introduced by the Duke of Edinburgh.  Eric Rimmer provided this link for viewing or listening to the talk: http://www.thersa.org/events/audio-and-past-events/2011/rsa-presidents-lecture-2011


Your Royal Highness, President, Ladies and Gentlemen.

May I first, sir, thank you for inviting me to give this, the last lecture in your Presidential series.  And may I also congratulate you, Sir, on your coming 90th birthday.    This year is a rich one, when to comes to anniversaries.  April 29th is the fiftieth birthday of an organisation without which our planet would be in much worse condition than it is today.

Fifty years ago, a group of far-sighted people in this country got together to warn the world of an impending disaster.  Among them were a distinguished scientist, Sir Julian Huxley; a bird-loving painter, Peter Scott;  an advertising executive, Guy Mountford;  and a powerful and astonishingly effective civil servant, Max Nicholson.  They were all, in addition to their individual professions, dedicated naturalists, fascinated by the natural world not just in this country but internationally.  And they noticed what few others had done – that all over the world, charismatic animals that were once numerous were beginning to disappear. The Arabian oryx , which once had been widespread all over the peninsula  had now been reduced to a few hundred.   In Spain, there were less than a hundred imperial eagles.   The Californian condor was down to about sixty.  In Hawaii, a goose that had lived in flocks on the lava fields around the great volcanoes were reduced to fifty.  The strange little rhinoceros that lived in the dwindling forests of Java – to about forty.  Wherever you looked there were examples of animals whose populations were falling rapidly.  This planet was in danger of losing a significant number of its inhabitants – both animals and plants.

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Just When You Thought You Could Bank On It

March 28th, 2011 by joe | Add a Comment

Thanks to Michael Tobias for this article.  See http://blogs.forbes.com/michaeltobias/2011/03/02/just-when-you-thought-you-could-bank-on-it/ It would be useful if you would create an account on Forbes (sixty seconds), click “recommend” and render relevant comments.  Let Forbes editorial staff and management begin to appreciate that people take the population issue very seriously.

Just When You Thought You Could Bank On It

Mar. 2 2011 – 2:43 am


I’m sitting with my friends William Shatner and his wife Liz having tea and discussing wildlife. Bill and I have been having an ongoing dialogue about the fate of the earth for over twenty years, a conversation that started in earnest beneath Mount Everest where he insisted on doing his own climbing stunts at about 19,000 feet for a television series we made together (“Voice of the Planet”.)

“We need to get more wolves into the wild,” he declares, mulling over the future for his kids and grandchildren.

Reintroduction of wolves, we both acknowledge, has been one of the most contentious of wildlife issues. But with over 2,000 Threatened and Endangered species (T&E’s) in North America wolves are iconic, just like the now extinct Passenger Pigeon was. We need to care about predators. They keep ecosystems healthy, without which, we’re all dead.

The number of T&Es is growing rapidly and this trend threatens to defuse our sense of urgency about the value of biology in general.

When Extinction Starts To Draw A Yawn

We’ve read the “Be Warned” headlines too many times. We’ve set our sights on Labradoodles, not Antarctic sea-pigs, Egyptian vultures or Borneo leopards. But as oil prices soar, and revolutions come and go, the value of threatened wildlife takes on increasingly dire dimensions. The 193 delegates to the Nagoya Summit in October 2010 for the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity journeyed to Japan in an effort to find ways to slow down the vast tragedy of extinctions occurring all around us.

Wish them luck. Polls among young people have shown they can recite hundreds of labels and brands – the latest cool gizmo – but know virtually nothing about other species.

To read the full article, click here: http://blogs.forbes.com/michaeltobias/2011/03/02/just-when-you-thought-you-could-bank-on-it/

Reflections of a Naturalist: Human Overpopulation

March 28th, 2011 by joe | 1 Comment

Thanks to Bruce Snyder for this article.  See http://rolandcclement.blogspot.com/ where you can read all of Roland Clement’s blog entries.

Reflections of a Naturalist

Roland C Clement

Friday, February 18, 2011

Human Overpopulation

Starting from different bases on different continents, and different cultural assumptions, all three major civilizations had nevertheless overpopulated their environments by the turn of the 20th century.

Although biological evolution had given humans a high reproductive potential to compensate for the high mortality of hunter-gatherer life styles for the first 200 millennia, it was the advent of agriculture about 10,000 years ago that initiated our unbalanced relationship within Nature’s productive systems. Indeed, that is what  Nature is: a set of evolving, mostly living, and interdependent systems and their byproducts.

So long as our numbers and our technologies were modest, we were just one species among many, adding diversity and contributing innovations in the use of the same building blocks that the rest of the life process utilizes to maintain itself, the atoms and molecules.  At first nomadic, our demands were scattered and replenished in a few seasons of vegetative growth. In fact, native vegetation is the mainstay of all higher animal life on planet Earth, hence a principal index to Earth’s carrying capacity for animal populations.

Agriculture is a specialized form of exploitation for seasonal crops grown especially for human use. Such crops therefore contribute much less to the larger biotic community than native plants. Being seasonal, they also induce more erosion. And since we contest the tithe competing insects impose, we end up with impoverished biotic communities, a high price for the maintenance of one species, since we resorted to chemical pollution to do this.

To read the full article, click here: http://rolandcclement.blogspot.com/2011/02/human-overpopulation.html

OPT: We must address resource demand as well as supply

February 23rd, 2011 by joe | Add a Comment


Thursday 13 January 2011 – For immediate release

We must address resource demand as well as supply

The Optimum Population Trust welcomes the recent report by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers “Population: One Planet, Too Many people?”

We endorse the Institute’s view that “Population increase is likely to be the defining challenge of the 21st Century, a global issue that will affect us all whether or not the countries in which we reside become more crowded or not.” We share the Institute’s concern about the need to ensure that resources can meet demand; in particular, food, water, urbanisation and energy; and that “failure to act will place billions of people around the world at risk of hunger, thirst and conflict as capacity tries to keep up with demand”. And we fully support approaches that will develop and spread the sustainable uses of technology.

We have four main criticisms of the report and of how it is being interpreted.

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February 13th, 2011 by Chantelle Routhier | 1 Comment

by Valorie M. Allen

Ecocide: the damage, destruction or loss of ecosystems, whether by human agency or other causes.
Legal definition proposed to the UN by International Environmental lawyer, Polly Higgins, in April 2010

Have you ever wondered why we would need to create A NEW WORD to describe the colossal damage we are doing to our ecosystem? Perhaps it is because we have never been as ruthless and abusive to our ecosystem as we are today.
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Why we need a law on ecocide

February 13th, 2011 by Chantelle Routhier | Add a Comment

Thanks to Val Allen for this article.

Sophie Scholl, a Munich University student, was executed for revealing the truth about the activities of the Nazi authorities; today 20 brave Ratcliffe whistleblowers have been sentenced at Nottingham crown court for plotting to draw attention to the truth of the activities of another German entity. This time, replace the tyranny of the Nazis with the tyranny of the energy giant E.ON.

Scholl and 20 others stood up and took direct non-violent action. Their crime was the dissemination of leaflets highlighting and decrying the tyranny of the Nazi dictatorship. It was a decision to undertake something unlawful – an act that they believed was a necessity – to halt a greater but unnamed crime, a crime that cost many lives. That crime did not, at the time, have a name. But it soon did: genocide.

For full article, visit:

Recession – An Opportunity We Should Not Pass Up

February 12th, 2011 by Chantelle Routhier | Add a Comment

Thanks to Peter Seidel for his post at the CASSE website.

We are currently facing a worldwide recession. Many people cannot find employment, and many things are poorly done or not done at all, because businesses and governments say they don’t have the money to fund them. Political and business leaders keep calling for more growth to get us out of this recession. I am not an economist nor do I have a complete understanding of the economy, nevertheless, like the boy who pointed out that the emperor was naked, I see things that strike me as odd.

Perpetually pursuing growth into the future, in a finite space with limited resources, is impossible. We have already exceeded the level of consumption our planet can sustain. According to the Global Footprint Network it would take 1.5 planets like our own to regenerate all the resources humanity now uses and assimilate our carbon dioxide emissions. If everyone lived like the average American, we would require the resources of almost 5 planets. Instead of growing, we need to scale back. Continued growth is suicide for our species. Now this may sound naïve, but why not employ people who have lost their livelihood to do things that urgently need to be done, and do this in a way that puts us back on the road to sustainability?

For full article, visit:

For Many Species, No Escape as Temperature Rises

February 7th, 2011 by Chantelle Routhier | Add a Comment

Many thanks to Edmund Levering for this article.

Simon Joakim Kiiru remembers a time not long ago when familiar birdsongs filled the air here and life was correlated with bird sightings. His lush, well-tended homestead is in the highlands next to the Aberdare National Park, one of the premier birding destinations in the world.

When the hornbill arrived, Mr. Kiiru recalled, the rains were near, meaning that it was time to plant. When a buzzard showed a man his chest, it meant a visitor was imminent. When an owl called at night, it foretold a death.

For full article, visit:

The Sixth Extinction

February 6th, 2011 by Chantelle Routhier | Add a Comment

Thanks to Rick Eliot for this article.

The author says that the carrying capacity of humans on earth is variously estimated at 13-15 billion. I think that is way high. It’s hard to imagine we could double human impact and still be growing. Nevertheless, the article is informative.

Can we stop the devastation of our planet and save our own species? We are in a biodiversity crisis – the fastest mass extinction in Earth’s history, largely due to:

About 30,000 species go extinct annually.
There is little doubt left in the minds of professional biologists that Earth is currently faced with a mounting loss of species that threatens to rival the five great mass extinctions of the geological past. As long ago as 1993, Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson estimated that Earth is currently losing something on the order of 30,000 species per year – which breaks down to the even more daunting statistic of some three species per hour. Some biologists have begun to feel that this biodiversity crisis – this “Sixth Extinction” – is even more severe, and more imminent, than Wilson had supposed.

For full article, visit:

Bees in freefall as study shows sharp US decline

February 5th, 2011 by Chantelle Routhier | Add a Comment

Thanks to Steve Kurtz for this article.

The abundance of four common species of bumblebee in the US has dropped by 96% in just the past few decades, according to the most comprehensive national census of the insects. Scientists said the alarming decline, which could have devastating implications for the pollination of both wild and farmed plants, was likely to be a result of disease and low genetic diversity in bee populations.

Bumblebees are important pollinators of wild plants and agricultural crops around the world including tomatoes and berries thanks to their large body size, long tongues, and high-frequency buzzing, which helps release pollen from flowers.

For full article, visit: