Next Great Extinction Around The Corner?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by livingin360, Mar 5, 2011.

  1. livingin360 Registered Senior Member

    I believed for a long time humans are going to push all life on earth to the edge for the last two years and made a video to bring awareness to the subject. It seems like more awareness has been brought to the subject then and sites like TIMES are actually making articles about it now. What do you guys think? I've scanned over the majority of the earths satellite images almost crazily thoroughly and i can agree the earth is being raped by men mostly with deforestation and farming. Also being a Hunter in the past but now a vegetarian i recall my dad shooting over 400 deer in his lifetime and seeing the populations of deer declining to almost 0 because of poaching near our land. Also when i would go to any national forest i would realize after traveling different ones that they were all lumber crops. They were not really protected forests they were just crops of lumber that were regularly harvested. The trunks of the ancient trees that were untouched before people came you would see and they would make the new forests look tiny they looked 100's of years old but couldn't be found anymore.
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  3. Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous Valued Senior Member

    We have plenty of deer around here if you need some. In fact, there are more deer here now than there have ever been since the glaciers retreated.

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    We would really like it if you could take some of them off our hands.

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  5. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    The next great extinction is already here.
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  7. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    I'd say we were about a quarter way through.
    Another few hundred years of population growth, climate change, pollution, and uprooting of natural habitats will see us at tipping point.
    We don't look capable of changing our habits.
    As the instigators, it only seems fair that we are one of the species to go.

    I think I read somewhere that the loss of the honeybee alone would see most of us off.
    It wouldn't trouble the planet.
    Most plants can self propagate, if necessary, but not enough for our needs.
    Eventually, some wasp would become bee-like.
    Given a million years or so.
    A mere blink in the life of our planet.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2011
  8. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    Dude, we're in the middle of it.
  9. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    Large deer populations are the direct result of man changing the landscape. They actually thrive in the kind of clearings we create, more so than in their previous habitats. But perhaps before we started to fight forest fires, there were more clear areas.
  10. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    About 33 percent of the United States, or ~750 million acres is forested.

    About 52 million acres of this forestland is reserved for non-timber uses and managed by public agencies as parks, wilderness or similar areas.

    About 191 million acres are not productive for growing wood for harvest, but are of used for watershed protection, wildlife habitat, and other uses (most of these forests are in land that is too steep/remote for commercial logging).

    More importantly, forest growth nationally has exceeded harvest since the 1940s such that by 1997 forest growth exceeded harvest by 42 percent and the volume of forest growth was 380% greater than it had been in 1920.

    And these aren't just skinny trees, since nationally, the average standing wood volume per acre in US forests is about one-third greater today than in it was in 1952 and in the East the average volume per acre has almost doubled.

    So even though US wood products consumption has increased by 50% since 1965, from 374 to 563 million cubic meters annually, the amount of our forests has also increased.

    Then there are the even more massive Canadian Forests.

    Of the ~1,030 million acres of forests in Canada, ~578 million acres are considered "commercial forests" in that they are capable of producing commercial species of trees as well as other non-timber benefits.

    BUT, much less than half of these forests are actually used for timber production.

    In Canada, 94% of the forests are publicly owned. The provinces have ownership and legislative authority over 71% percent of them and the federal government has 23% of Canada's total forest land, most of it in two of the three territories in the north.

    So, with ~1.8 Billion acres of forest in the US and Canada, we have no shortage of forests and these forests are filled with deer and other wildlife.

    So very clearly we are managing our forests in North America quite well, and they are GROWING, not shrinking.

    I couldn't recall the last animal to go extinct in North America so I looked it up:

    For the last 20 years we know of these in North America:

    2007 Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit, only ever found in 4 counties of Washington state
    1994 Hadley Lake Limnetic Stickleback, only ever found in one Lake on Lasqueti Island in British Columbia
    1992 Vancouver Island Wolverine, only ever found on Vancouver Island, again in British Columbia

    (if you know of others within the last 20 years, list them)

    Most extinctions we have now are like this, usually a sub-specie (for instance Sticklebacks are not extinct by any means), which has a very limited range to begin with and something happens (often a new predator) that causes this limited local extinction.

    On a global basis, for the 21st century we have these 6 listed (three are actually only possibly extinct)

    Pipistrellus murrayi - Christmas Island Pipistrelle
    Psephurus gladius - Chinese Paddlefish
    Lipotes vexillifer -Yangtze River Dolphin
    Melamprosops phaeosoma - Po'o-uli
    Partula labrusca -Vine Raiatea Tree Snail
    Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica - Pyrenean Ibex

    But again we are usually dealing with sub-species that only ever occurred in very limited range. (again if you know of others please list them)

    On the other hand, these animals have come off the extinct list because they were rediscovered:

    Bavarian Pine Vole Microtus bavaricus. It had not been seen since 1962, but a small population was found on the German-Austrian border in 2000.

    New Zealand Storm Petrel Oceanites maorianus, a seabird rediscovered in 2003;

    Miller Lake Lamprey Lampetra minima, a fish living in a small area in Oregon, United States, thought to have become Extinct in 1958, but it was refound during surveys in the 1990s;

    Gulella thomasseti, an endemic snail from the Seychelles rediscovered in August 2002;

    Fabulous Green Sphinx Moth Tinostoma smaragditis from Hawaii, rediscovered in 1997

    Pitt Island Longhorn Beetle Xylotoles costatus, rediscovered on South East Island in the Chatham Islands group;

    Lord Howe Island Stick Insect Dryococelus australis, rediscovered in 2001 on Balls Pyramid, a rocky outcrop 23km from Lord Howe Island in Australia;

    Then there are ~50 species that are extinct in the wild, but are still alive in captivity, some of these will be reintroduced.

  11. Kennyc Registered Senior Member

    Could be, and the blood could be on humanity's hands.

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  12. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    Yep. Work in progress.

    Depressing. Tragedy of the commons. Can't be stopped.
  13. livingin360 Registered Senior Member

    At least for the most part people are agreeing with me. I dont think we are half way or a quarter through it though. 2 out of 3 species today are estimated to become extinct. We will make it through however. When the going gets rough humans connect in ways that are unthought of now to survive. If only we would do that now before waiting till the last moment and with the unfathomable guilt that we destroyed something so priceless. All of us who have more knowledge just have to take action to quickly give our gift of expanded knowledge to the people around us. I did it through a viral video that reached 100k people so far. Not bad for one guy.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2011
  14. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    It takes a while for the very last of something to be verified as absent.

    It takes a while for the remnants of an effectively dead population to finally die off.

    So one measures extinctions by century, at least, not by decade (the "past twenty years" is meaningless).

    Even so, we have already seen a mass extinction in the past few thousand years, caused by people, it is still in progress, and the rate seems to be accelerating (with fluctuations decade by decade and century by century, of course, but trending upwards).

    It's much quicker and more visible on islands, naturally, but there is no reason to suppose the larger and slower changing populations on the continents are immune. We have several examples of species apparently living in national parks of the US suddenly vanishing from them - turns out they were remnant populations that could not maintain themselves in such limited environs, despite their ability to hang on for several decades. As a continent wide phenomenon, all the patches dying out, that would of course take longer.
    They are just skinny trees. The large pines of the Great Lakes region are essentially gone, for example - the new "forests" (they count tree plantations, where the trees are in rows, and monocultures of aspen and cottonwood hybrids, and the boxelder/scrub maple trash regrowth on abandoned dairy farms) are nothing like the ones cut down in the first, second, and sometimes third waves of clearcuts.
    The eastern cougar, a "subspecies", was just declared extinct last week - but it's probably been gone since the 1930s. So which century does it count in? There are a fair number of species that haven't been seen much, if at all, recently - that are unlikely to have maintainable breeding populations.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2011
  15. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    All forests are good reservoirs of species.
    But non native trees reduce diversity if they replace native forest.
    There is nothing per se wrong with conifers, especially if they are new forests,
    but a sprinkling of broad leaf making a mixed forest is to be encouraged.

    Coniferous woodlands tend to have lower biodiversity than broadleaf woodlands. This is partly because they are usually predominantly composed of introduced species. Management practices designed to reduce pests and competition from other plants also reduce biodiversity. However, coniferous woodlands still have considerable biodiversity value because they often contain a range of different species to those found in broadleaf woodlands.

    The biggest problem is not in industrialised countries,
    where the few remaining ancient forests with their massive biodiversity are protected,
    but in poorer countries with increasing populations,
    where people desperate to thrive, rip up the forest for wood or land.

    There most of the forest is ancient forest,
    and species are lost before we ever realise they exist.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2011
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Here in Maryland we call them "rats with hooves." One of them just ran into the side of my truck and did $7500 damage.

    The deer population in the USA is now something like 100 times greater than it was before the European occupation. We've killed off all their predators and planted parks and gardens full of their favorite foods. Speed and agility are no longer survival traits so they're evolving greater intelligence to coexist with civilization. I saw a pair late one night in Washington DC standing on the curb at a crosswalk waiting for the light to turn green.

    They've figured out that most breeds of dogs were selected for the instinct to guard livestock, so they jump into our yards at night for protection from the occasional bear or cougar.

    When the Audubon Society contracts with bow hunters to cull the herd in their reserves, you know you've got a deer problem.
  17. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    Hey, the deer are just a symptom. Humans are the problem.
  18. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    The Eastern Cougar was just declared extinct.

    OTOH they're re-introducing whooping cranes to Louisiana, the houston toad is repopulating the area west of where I live, and I've been seeing bald eagles every so often for the first time in my life...

    Alligators were almost endangered at one, there's a county southeast of me where they seriously outnumber people.

    That, and brown pelicans went from highly endangered to dirt-common in my lifetime...So, yeah, we're in a mass extinction event already, but at least we're aware of it and trying to do something about it.

    Oh, y'all (Americans) should plant pawpaw trees-they are native, they can grow throughout the lower 48, they are only thing the zebra swallowtail butterfly larva eats...besides producing a fruit you just can't buy in a store.

    Around here we are starting to have a somewhat scarier invasive species problem-feral hogs. They actually displace deer by rooting the grass out...and the feral hogs will attack people if they believe themselves to be threatened.
  19. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    If it wasn't us, it'd be something else. Virus, volcano, asteroid, whatever. Life on earth goes thru periodic die offs and has always bounced back.

    The issue is whether we want a world made up of only humans and whatever species can co-exist with us; or if we want to maintain some "wild spaces" for aesthetic reasons or even as potential sources of biologically active compounds.

    Personally, I think that unless we get off of this planet and spread out to others, we'll ultimately wipe out every life form that doesn't directly benefit us.
  20. SciWriter Valued Senior Member

    The Great Equalizer stalks all creatures made,
    Lying ever just ‘round the corner, in the shade,
    Taking both human and the beetle as one,
    After their lives are spent from rolling some dung.
  21. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Yeah, and no one is likely to call for it's reintroduction either.

    Humans and large predator cats really can't live in close proximity.

    Well not if you don't want the occasional child dragged off as a meal.

  22. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Nah, I lived in South Florida when that BS of an idea was floated for awhile, but being a Bass fisherman out in the Everglades it was quite obvious that there was never a shortage of those cold-blooded bastards (they got a LOT of my fish before I got them to the boat)

    To put it in perspective, the much larger and more dangerous, salt water Crocodile that lives in the Everglades, the Keys and up to Homestead was never endangered and there are FAR FAR less of them then those damn Aligators which live in swamps as far north as the Great Dismal swamp in Virginia and to the West to the entire coastline of Texas.

    Last edited: Mar 8, 2011
  23. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    ...and THAT'S why I want to be a hobbyist beekeeper. That, and bees are just cool...the idea of owning several thousand pet bees...

    Bass aren't supposed to be good eating, not for people you just kill bass for fun, I guess?

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