7.29.2009

Humanity — ecological imperialist or global infection?

This is not a wholly facetious question. I ask it because of a depressing story from down-under (the link comes via Naked Capitalism):

Many scientists believe we are now living in the midst of another big extinction event although this time the cause of the mass die-off is easier to identify — humans.

A survey of conservation research in the Oceania region says the area is losing species at least as fast as the rest of the planet — and maybe eqven faster.

Dr Richard Kingsford is lead author on the collaborative review of thousands of research papers on conservation in the Oceania region.

The review has found that from Polynesia and the Pacific Islands to New Zealand and Australia, humans are having a dramatic impact on biodiversity and continue to present large-scale threats to plant and animal species.

"The rates are increasing," Dr Kingsford said.

"They are certainly a lot higher than the background rates of extinction that you would see in the evolutionary record.

"Maybe 1,000 to perhaps 10,000 times that rate and that is occurring right across all organisms.

"From our studies, it is clear that we are actually affecting all of biodiversity.

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