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Duke Research - The Alarming Extinction of Species

Palm Oil harvest in Sumatra - Hayden

November 12, 2010

The Alarming Extinction of Species

“When we think of extinction,  we refer to dinosaurs and dodos. We don’t digest the concept of extinction in present day," said television host and conservationist Jeff Corwin, during a talk at Duke on Thursday.

He was here to talk about the state of conservation of natural resources in the 21st century.

“The rate of extinction right now is almost ten thousand times the natural extinction rate,” Corwin said. The extinction  today is remarkably different from extinctions of the past in terms of causes and character. He attributes habitat loss, climate change, medicinal trade and commercialization as some major factors that are expediting the process of extinction of species today.

“We lose one species every twenty minutes. If you add up, we would have lost 30-40% of our planet’s life halfway through this century.”

He shared some startling real-life stories of disappearance of species during his expeditions.

“The Panamanian Golden Frog is no longer the national symbol for Panama. This is because sadly, they are vanishing at a fast pace. We were able to find the last one surviving in the wild.”

He added that Sumatra is projected to lose all its forests in the next ten years. This does not just affect Sumatra’s environment and wildlife, but also affects people throughout the world.

“One out of every ten everyday products that you use has palm oil in it. Sumatran forests are the biggest source of palm oil in the world, and if the forests are destroyed, our palm oil will be lost.”

Currently, the group of animals that are most impacted by extinction are amphibians. They have survived for almost 350 million years, but they are becoming endangered or extinct at a terrible rate.

Corwin still has hope, however, citing the example of the widespread conservation efforts to protect the bald eagle.

“In the 1970s, you could hardly see any bald eagles. But through extensive efforts they were conserved and delisted from the endangered species list. And now we can see them everywhere.”

Jeff Corwin’s most recent book is called 100 Heartbeats: The Race to Save Earth’s Most Endangered Species.  .

Tags: Talk, Climate, Environment, Sustainability

Posted by vm19. 2 comments

Tags: climate/global change, environment/sustainability, lecture

Please give this guy a megaphone

“We don’t digest the concept of extinction in present day... The rate of extinction right now is almost ten thousand times the natural extinction rate."

I wish this knowledge were much more common, especially in our country! Only when more people understand the far-reaching and often devastating effects of the average 'American' consumer lifestyle will they feel compelled to forge a new, sustainable model for living in greater harmony with all of the life on this planet.

what a shame

Things that are going extent is all in the name of progress bad excuse. I have watched 300 acres of woods just raped off the land. No more protection for Deer, Racoon, and the like. I still have 2 acres I refuse to cut down. I can see if progress don't slow down we will all be pulling oxygen tanks behind us as you oxygen will be extinct.


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