Thursday, October 18, 2007

Extinct Species

Because of humans, an alarming rate of animals are becoming extinct every day. At this rate, more than half of the world's species will be extinct in 100 years. This is because of habitat destruction, climate change, pollution, and invasive species. Read my blog to find out about the animals that are in danger, why this is happening, and what you can do about it.

Endangered Mammals

Most people have probably heard about endangered mammals, for they are the most popular with society. That is why I feel very guilty for writing about all these different animals that are extinct or are going to be. Mammals have a great impact on our lives, whether we notice it or not, and without mammals, well, life would be different. Mammals are going extint for all the same reasons as the other organisms listed in my blog. I could write about every single specie of animal, and each one would have a different history of human involvement. Those animals include the Humpback Whale, Wolves, Armadillos, Tigers, Lions, Elephants, wild dogs, cougars, and a huge list of others that are going to go extinct without our involvement and care.

Birds Going Extinct

Bird populations are plummeting while we speak. Global warming and habitat destruction are main causes for their extinction. Here is a list from Worldwatch Institute of why bird populations are declining:

Habitat loss: Deforestation rates from 50,000 to 170,000 square kilometers a year pose the single greatest overall threat, jeopardizing 85 percent of the world’s most threatened bird species. While forest re-growth initiatives offset the net losses, for many native animals and plants, simplified plantation mono cultures are no substitute for more complex natural forests. Roads and power lines frequently cut through forests, fragmenting them, increasing the chance of fatal collisions, and providing pathways for predators, competitors, and exotic plants. Intensive hunting often follows when roads cut into forests.

Alien attacks: A rise in global trade and travel over the past century has led to an acceleration in the introduction of exotic (non-native) species. Exotic species—including snakes, rats, cats, plants, and insects—now menace a quarter of globally threatened bird species.

Chemical threats: Large oil spills threaten many seabird populations, but small, less-publicized daily tankers also kill birds. Terrestrial habitats also face threats from oil and natural gas exploration, and transport via pipelines. Worldwide, pesticides kill millions of birds on water and on land.

Hunting, Capture, and Fishing: Illegal hunting and poorly regulated laws lead to the killing of millions of birds around the world. Birds can be loved to death too: Almost a third of the world’s parrot species are threatened with extinction because of the pet trade, and long-term habitat loss. Long line fishing also claims hundreds of thousands of seabirds—23 species now face extinction—when they are inadvertently hooked on baited lines and drowned.

Climate change: Recent evidence of earlier bird migration and nesting in some species seems to indicate early effects of global warming. Scientists fear that in coming years climate change will alter vital bird habitats, from tundra to subtropical coastlines, even pushing some localized species towards extinction.

Half of Plant Species Could Vanish

About 1/2 of the earth's plant species are facing extinction. The species most at risk include those that live in only small geographical ranges and specific habitats. The World Conservation Union and two botanists in the US have different thoughts about the actual number of threatened species of plants. The IUCN states that 13% of the worlds plants are under threat, but US botanists say that at least 22% are going to be extinct, and as much as 47% are in danger.

Amphibians Face Extinction

Scientists were shocked to find that an entire class of organisms are at the brink of extinction. These are the amphibians. Amphibians have a harder time with global warming than mammals and other organisms, because their bodies have permeable skin that absorbs water and oxygen, and their lives depend on clean and fresh water. About 122 species of amphibians have already gone extinct, with 5,734 known species. But scientists believe that both figures could be underestimates because of all the unknown species. The latest threat, being a rapidly spreading fungal disease, is is predicted to wipe out about half the amphibian species exposed to it within six months. Chytridiomycosis, which damages the skin, is caused most by climate change and polluted water.

Complete Collapse of North Atlantic

Watch a funny video of overfishing in "video" section of this blog.

By 2010, there will be no more fish in the North Atlantic. Scientists claim this is because of major overfishing in the area, which will result in everyone eating only jellyfish sandwiches. The North Atlantic catches have fallen by half since 1950, and the devastating decrease of ocean organisms are still continuing at a faster rate than ever before. Fish prices have risen a sixth fold during that time because of such demand for more fish. The only way to curb the amount of fish in the North Atlantic is to decrease the amount of fishing drastically, or else all hopes will be gone. Although it will drive many people out of business, it is the only way for the fish to repopulate themselves and have a new beginning.

Global Warming

Global warming may drive about 1 quarter of land animals and plants to extinction by 2050. This is a remarkably devastating number of organisms. This means that about 1 million species will be gone, with an estimated of 10 million species in existence. Humans cause most of global warming whether they believe it or not. Greenhouse gases are changing the climate in the world, and melting Arctic ice at an alarming rate. Even though we drive our luxury cars that use 13 miles per gallon, we still seem to think we are not the ones causing this chaos. In fact, cars are doing most of the damage. Also, because of global warming, the temperature in different regions change, which then becomes unsuitable for the organisms that previously thrived there. That then leads to a mass extinction of species.