Chronicling Sixth Great Extinction

Jan Libourel

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Sad indeed about Cotton's Ceratothere, as the Northern White Rhino is also called. However, on the bright side, the Southern White Rhino has made an amazing comeback. From about 20 animals in the late 19th century, their numbers have increased almost a thousandfold. However, even they are under pressure from poaching these days. Asian quack medicine has been a scourge to much of the world's wildlife, alas.
 

Jan Libourel

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How about a little good news: The tiger population of India is up by about 500 animals, and there has also been a substantial increase in the tiger population in the Russian Far East as well.
 

John Lee Pettimore III

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because it is an easy, safe & entirely vacuous statement to make
One of the great amusements of life is how short-term it all is. Our lives are a blink of an eye in the history of the earth, or even of humanity. The tenets of white supremacy are essentially based on 400 years of technical dominance out of hundreds of thousands of years of existence. People say that the entire ecosystem of Florida will collapse if the Everglades is changed; the Everglades is only ten thousand years old. Right-wingers claim Mexicans are invading the country, but it's largely a repopulation of an area they were once extirpated from. An estimated 90% of all species of life died out in the Permian era, yet this thread is predicated on a roughly 20% species reduction being apocalyptic. So much anger and sadness, most of it utterly pointless. Relax, control what you can, live with what you can't, and enjoy the eighty or so years you've been given on this wonderful beautiful crazy planet.
 
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Thruth

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One of the great amusements of life is how short-term it all is. Our lives are a blink of an eye in the history of the earth, or even of humanity. The tenets of white supremacy are essentially based on 400 years of technical dominance out of hundreds of thousands of years of existence. People say that the entire ecosystem of Florida will collapse if the Everglades is changed; the Everglades is only ten thousand years old. Right-wingers claim Mexicans are invading the country, but it's largely a repopulation of an area they were once extirpated from. An estimated 90% of all species of life died out in the Permian era, yet this thread is predicated on a a roughly 20% species reduction being apocalyptic. So much anger and sadness, most of it utterly pointless. Relax, control what you can, live with what you can't, and enjoy the eighty or so years you've been given on this wonderful beautiful crazy planet.
That is well put. If people are so wrapped up with climate change, their asses should be in Paris, otherwise live well and die happy
 

Jan Libourel

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Right-wingers claim Mexicans are invading the country, but it's largely a repopulation of an area they were once extirpated from.
When and how were the Mexicans "extirpated" from the Southwest? Do you mean in that great Indian uprising on the upper Rio Grande in the late 17th Century or what? White people never extirpated the Mexicans. The greater part of the Southwest was still in hands of the Indians when the Americans took it over.
 

John Lee Pettimore III

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When and how were the Mexicans "extirpated" from the Southwest? Do you mean in that great Indian uprising on the upper Rio Grande in the late 17th Century or what? White people never extirpated the Mexicans. The greater part of the Southwest was still in hands of the Indians when the Americans took it over.
Meant it more in a general sense, and "extirpated" was a poor word choice. Most Mexicans are 50% indigenous. Was trying to make the point that, in a vague sense, it's just "Native" Americans repopulating the place they largely abandoned (through illness, war, etc....).
 

LelandJ

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One of the great amusements of life is how short-term it all is. Our lives are a blink of an eye in the history of the earth, or even of humanity. The tenets of white supremacy are essentially based on 400 years of technical dominance out of hundreds of thousands of years of existence. People say that the entire ecosystem of Florida will collapse if the Everglades is changed; the Everglades is only ten thousand years old. Right-wingers claim Mexicans are invading the country, but it's largely a repopulation of an area they were once extirpated from. An estimated 90% of all species of life died out in the Permian era, yet this thread is predicated on a a roughly 20% species reduction being apocalyptic. So much anger and sadness, most of it utterly pointless. Relax, control what you can, live with what you can't, and enjoy the eighty or so years you've been given on this wonderful beautiful crazy planet.
 

Jan Libourel

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^How the hell can anyone reliably calculate the biomass of terrestrial vertebrates from 12,000 B.P.? Let us remember that a very large portion of the Northern Hemisphere was under great masses of glacial ice at that time, thus being unsuitable for habitation by most vertebrates.

Just out of curiosity, I made a calculation of the adult weights and estimated populations of three popular American big game animals--whitetail deer, elk and wild hogs and came up with a figure of 2,602,500 tons. Since I used a very conservative figure for both the deer and the hogs (150 pounds--some individuals of both species can run well over 300), the actual tonnage might come closer to 3 million. And that's just for three species here in the good ol' USA.
 

Jan Libourel

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Hey, some more good news! I just read in the paper that the Florida manatee has now been taken off the Endangered Species list and upgraded to "Threatened." Their numbers have increased considerably in recent years. It's always heartwarming to read of a conservation success story, especially of a creature so innocuous and peaceful as the manatee.
 
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John Lee Pettimore III

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Hey, some more good news! I just read in the paper that the Florida manatee has now been taken off the Endangered Species list and upgraded to "Threatened." Their numbers have increased considerably in recent years. It's always heartwarming to read of a conservation success story, especially of a creature so innocent and peaceful as the manatee.
Don't worry, I'm sure in a few months we'll hear about how some conservative policy has brought them back to the brink of extinction.
 

Jan Libourel

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Another bit of good news: Rhino poaching in South Africa, which had been increasing drastically in the past few years, was down slightly in 2015 because of increased protection against poachers. However, an unfortunate side-effect of this is that improved enforcement in South Africa may be pushing poachers into neighboring countries like Namibia and Zimbabwe.
 

Jan Libourel

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Yet more good news: A couple of species of sea turtle in the Caribbean area have been taken off the endangered list because of population increase.

I was looking in a bowhunting magazine not long ago and saw that black bear populations are on the increase in many states, including here in California. Not long ago, my stepson's half-brother saw a black bear walking down the street in front of his house. He lives in the city of Monrovia, near the San Gabriel mountains
 

Jan Libourel

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Well, I see that there was a mass burning of 105 metric tons of confiscated poached ivory in Kenya. This sort of thing has been done before. It has always struck me as horribly wasteful. Let the ivory be sold at market value, I say, and the monies used for wildlife conservation--hiring more game rangers, buying vehicles, improved surveillance technology, that sort of thing. That way those poor elephants would not have died altogether in vain.
 

Jan Libourel

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A little more good news: The highly endangered Asiatic lions of the Gir Forest in India have shown a major population uptick. About 410 were counted in the 2010 census. In 2015 their numbers had increased to 535.
 

Rambo

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http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-37775622

World wildlife 'falls by 58% in 40 years'

Global wildlife populations have fallen by 58% since 1970, a report says.

The Living Planet assessment, by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and WWF, suggests that if the trend continues that decline could reach two-thirds among vertebrates by 2020.

The figures suggest that animals living in lakes, rivers and wetlands are suffering the biggest losses.

Human activity, including habitat loss, wildlife trade, pollution and climate change, is attributed to the declines.

Dr Mike Barrett. head of science and policy at WWF, said: "It's pretty clear under 'business as usual' we will see continued declines in these wildlife populations. But I think now we've reached a point where there isn't really any excuse to let this carry on.

"We know what the causes are and we know the scale of the impact that humans are having on nature and on wildlife populations - it really is now down to us to act."

However the methodology of the report has been criticised.

The Living Planet Report is published every two years and aims to provide an assessment of the state of the world's wildlife.

For freshwater species alone, the decline stands at 81% since 1970

Dr Mike Barrett, WWF
This analysis looked at data collected on 3,700 different species of birds, fish, mammals, amphibians and reptiles - about 6% of the total number of vertebrate species in the world.

The researchers then analysed how the population sizes had changed over time since 1970.

The last report, published in 2014, estimated that the world's wildlife populations had halved over the last 40 years.

This assessment suggests that the trend has continued: since 1970, populations have declined by an average of 58%.

Dr Barrett said some groups of animals had fared worse than others.

"We do see particularly strong declines in the freshwater environment - for freshwater species alone, the decline stands at 81% since 1970. This is related to the way water is used and taken out of fresh water systems, and also the fragmentation of freshwater systems through dam building, for example."

It also highlighted other species, such as African elephants , which have suffered huge declines in recent years with the increase in poaching, and sharks, which are threatened by overfishing.

If pressures - overexploitation, illegal wildlife trade for example - increase or worsen, then that trend may be worse
Dr Robin Freeman, ZSL
The researchers conclude that vertebrate populations are declining by an average of 2% each year, and warn that if nothing is done, wildlife populations could fall by 67% (below 1970 levels) by the end of the decade.

Dr Robin Freeman, head of ZSL's Indicators & Assessments Unit, said: "But that's assuming things continue as we expect. If pressures - overexploitation, illegal wildlife trade, for example - increase or worsen, then that trend may be worse.

"But one of the things I think is most important about these stats, these trends are declines in the number of animals in wildlife populations - they are not extinctions. By and large they are not vanishing, and that presents us with an opportunity to do something about it."

However, Living Planet reports have drawn some criticisms.

There are some numbers [in the report] that are sensible, but there are some numbers that are very very sketchy

Stuart Pimm, Duke University
Stuart Pimm, professor of conservation ecology at Duke University in the United States, said that while wildlife was in decline, there were too many gaps in the data to boil population loss down to a single figure.

"There are some numbers [in the report] that are sensible, but there are some numbers that are very, very sketchy," he told BBC News.

"For example, if you look at where the data comes from, not surprisingly, it is massively skewed towards western Europe.

"When you go elsewhere, not only do the data become far fewer, but in practice they become much, much sketchier... there is almost nothing from South America, from tropical Africa, there is not much from the tropics, period. Any time you are trying to mix stuff like that, it is is very very hard to know what the numbers mean.

"They're trying to pull this stuff in a blender and spew out a single number.... It's flawed."

But Dr Freeman said the team had taken the best data possible from around the world.

"It's completely true that in some regions and in some groups, like tropical amphibians for example, we do have a lack of data. But that's because there is a lack of data.

"We're confident that the method we are using is the best method to present an overall estimate of population decline.

"It's entirely possible that species that aren't being monitored as effectively may be doing much worse - but I'd be very surprised if they were doing much better than we observed. "
 

Jan Libourel

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Yet more good news: The endangered Sierra Nevada Yellow Legged Frog seems to be making a nice comeback. When non-native trout species have been removed from their environment, they seem to be thriving. A deadly fungus had also been depleting their numbers, but they seem to be developing an immunity to this malady. Not as dramatic as lions. tigers or rhinos, but still a part of the Great Chain of Life.
 

Jan Libourel

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When is stating simple facts I have mostly gleaned from the newspaper "trolling"? At the very outset of this thread I said it wasn't all gloom and doom.
 

Jan Libourel

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Some more gray wolves have turned up on wildlife cameras in Northern California. Heartwarming to see these great beasts making a comeback here.

On another note, a sounder of 20-odd wild swine, probably up from the Santa Ana river bottoms rooted up a park in downtown Riverside, California. Riverside is a good-sized city. Wild swine have spread over much of California since I was a young fellow and now number in the millions nationwide--they certainly don't appear to be in any danger of extinction.
 

Jan Libourel

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I received the Smithsonian magazine yesterday. In it there was a lengthy article about Przewalski's Horse. This is the last true wild horse (as opposed to feral). Unlike feral horses, they are truly wild and completely untamable. By the late 1960s, they had become extinct in the wild and survived only in zoos. However, starting in the early 1990s, Przewalski's horses from zoo stock were introduced into the wild, principally in Mongolia but also in several other central Asian countries as well. They seem to be flourishing, numbering in the thousands, with their only real problems being predation of foals by wolves and interbreeding with domestic horses. It's always pleasant to hear of such a conservation success story.
 
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