The New Scientist
May 2, 2006

New Red List paints bleak picture of extinction

By Duncan Graham-Rowe

Two out of every five species on the planet that have been assessed by scientists face extinction, according to the latest World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Overall, 16,119 animal and plant species are in danger of extinction, including 1 in 8 birds, 1 in 4 mammals and 1 in 3 amphibian species. Since records began, 784 species have been declared extinct. From the poles to the deserts, “biodiversity loss is increasing, not slowing down,” says IUCN director-general Achim Steiner.

The main cause, as ever, is people, as humanity impacts the world’s fauna and flora both directly and indirectly. While hunting and habitat loss continue to have a disastrous effect on species numbers, global warming is emerging as another threat.

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No Comments to “God's bounty at grave risk”

  • Taken from William Barrett’s book on existentialism, “Irrational Man,” chapter two, “The Encounter With Nothingness;”

    “No age has ever been so self-conscious as ours. At any rate, the quality of journalism the modern age has turned out in the process of its own self-analysis already overflows our archives and, were it not that most of it is doomed to perish, would be a dull burden to hand down to our descendants. The task still goes on, as it must, for the last word has not been spoken, and modern man seems even further from understanding himself than when he first began to question his own identity. Of documentation of external facts we have had enough and to spare, more than the squirrellike scholars will ever be able to piece together into a single whole, enough to keep the busy popularizers spouting in bright-eyed knowledgeability the rest of their days; but of the inner facts-of what goes on at the center where the forces of our fate first announce themselves-we are still pretty much in ignorance, and most of the contemporary world is caught up in an unconscious and gigantic conspiracy to run away from these facts. Hence the necessity of returning to a subject that only appears to be well worn. With civilization, as with individuals, the outer fact is often merely the explosion resulting from accumulated inner tension, the signs of which were plentifully present, though none of the persons concerned chose to heed them.”

  • Even under Clinton, getting the agencies to list species was like pulling teeth. Now of course it’s worse. All our actions are defensive – like getting rid of Pombo’s legislation to kill the ESA. (BYW I think Sen. Chafee’s ongoing role in dealing with that legislation in conference may be a big part of the Sierra Club’s recent endorsement of Chafee.)

    Here’s a study out of U. of Toronto projecting 25% loss of species by 2050:

  • Quick! Which one species can you exterminate to save all the rest?

  • Peter Ward has written a remarkable book just on this subject. The book is for anyone interested in the state of our natural world, as Ward offers up an interesting premise and story line concerning issues of biodiversity. I believe Dr. Ward is a Paleo Zoologist, and the name of the book is: “The End of Evolution…On Mass Extinctions and the Preservation of Biodiversity”. There are other books by Ward on related issues. Another good read is Edward O. Wilson’s; “The Diversity of Life” Wilson was one of the leading scientific minds that delved into the notions of “biodiversity” years ago.

    It is a shame that the United States has for years produced some of the worlds leading scientists, yet their findings have fallen on deaf ears or victim to loud corporate disinformation. Currently we are in an extremely hostile political arena when it comes to the Sciences, the powers that be have pitted the Theocratic world to the scientific one in a crass political / power grab pandering to religious extremists.

    I do not believe we as a species, along with the fate of many other species can afford not to listen to and abide by the ideas and practices that have been offered up by the many progressive scientific minds from across the globe. Our window of opportunity shrinks rapidly as we continue to be dominated by ignorant and corrupt leadership.

  • P.S.: Mark, nice job with the new format… looks great.

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