Humans Change The World! How Many Species We Are Losing?

What took 4 billion years to evolve is vanishing in the blink of an eye. “For millions of years all humans, early and modern alike, had to find their own food. They spent a large part of each day gathering plants and hunting or scavenging animals. Then, within just the past 12,000 years, our species, Homo sapiens, made the transition to producing food and changing our surroundings. We have been so successful that we have inadvertently created a turning point in the history of life on Earth”, says the Smithsonian Institution’s Human Origins Program.

Here are some examples of Biodiversity state of being that GreenDustries chose to talk to you about. There are 4 different forms of life and we want to explain their places in the Ecosystem, in our lives: the Mammals, the Plants, the Birds and Reptiles. The United Nations General Assembly aims to engage people all around the world in protecting life on Earth. Biodiversity is not just about plants, animals and insects, it is about life – it underpins our survival on this planet, the importance of biodiversity for our health, wealth, food and survival, indeed for our life. Biodiversity lies at the cornerstone of human development.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity:

“Under relentless pressure from exploding human populations, species are going extinct. The diversity of life that sustains both ecological systems and human cultures around the world is collapsing, and the Center’s programs to save unique species and lands now reach beyond American borders from the Antarctic to the North Pole and Asia to North Africa. In the United States, our goal is to secure legal protection for all species in danger of extinction and to enact conservation strategies that will save them. Mammals can be identified by the presence in females of mammary glands that produce milk for offspring. Mammals are warm-blooded vertebrates with sweat glands, hair, three middle ear bones and a neocortex region in the brain. Their gradual evolution from Mammal-like “reptiles” called “synapsids” spanned about 70 million years. The first clear evidence of fully mammalian jaw joints and middle ears was found about 200 million years ago; mid-Jurassic fossils show early evidence of hair or fur; and lactation occurred in monotremes, egg-layers that urinated, defecated, and reproduced through a single hole, though not at the same time. They are believed to have secreted milk not from nipples but through a hairy patch on their bellies. (The platypus and four echidna species are the sole surviving mammalian egg-layers.) Mammals now encompass approximately 5,400 species, including humans. Globally, 1,131 species of mammals, or about 21 percent of the total 5,491 described mammal species, were deemed endangered or vulnerable to extinction by IUCN’s 2010 Red List. Thirty-seven mammal species risk extinction in the United States, or about 9 percent of the total. Madagascar is home to as many as 12,000 Plant Species — 70-80% of which are endemic — making it one of the most diverse floras on the planet. One of Madagascar’s most famous plants is the baobab tree which looks like a tree growing upside down. Baobabs usually inhabit the drier parts of Madagascar. They have adapted to their environment by storing large amounts of water in their bulbous trunks ecosystem. Local Malagasy take advantage of this water reservoir when they are thirsty. Madagascar is also home to a totally unique ecosystem — one that is found nowhere else on Earth. Found in the dry southwestern part of the island, the spiny forest is notable because virtually every species of plant is covered with sharp spines. While these plants look a bit like cactus, they are not related. About 95% of the species found in the Spiny Desert are endemic. Madagascar has nearly 1000 known species of orchids, of which 85% are endemic. One of Madagascar’s plants is used as a cure for cancer. The rosy periwinkle has been used to treat Hodgkin’s lymphoma and childhood leukemia. In addition, nearly 80 percent of respondents agreed that it was ‘virtually certain’ that human activities were accelerating species loss. Deforestation, habitat loss, climate change, pollution, overexploitation for food or medicine, disease, and invasive species are among a few of the big drivers of biodiversity decline worldwide.

According to the IUCN Red List, over 19,000 species of birds are currently classified as Vulnerable, Endangered, and Critically Endangered. However the Red List has only had the capacity to date to analyze around 3 percent of the world’s known species. Even more alarming no one knows just how many species inhabit Earth with estimates ranging from 3 million to 100 million (currently almost 2 million have been described).

Reptiles are air-breathing, cold-blooded vertebrates that have scaly bodies rather than hair or feathers; most reptile species are egg-laying. Lizards, snakes and worm-lizards — give birth to live young. The earliest reptile is usually said to have been Hylonomus (a so-called “forest mouse”), which lived about 315 million years ago and resembled contemporary lizards. “Reptile” is an ambiguous category: It usually refers to lizards, snakes, turtles, alligators and crocodiles, but to be genetically consistent should also include birds, since crocodilians are more closely related to birds than to lizards, snakes or turtles. Globally, 594 species of reptiles, or 21 percent of the total evaluated species, were deemed endangered or vulnerable to extinction by IUCN’s 2010 Red List. In the United States, 32 species are at risk, or about 9 percent of the total. To group all invertebrates together is an immodest proposal, since the definition of “invertebrate” is any animal without a spinal column — no less than 97 percent of all animal species on Earth. Invertebrates range from spiders and scorpions to centipedes and millipedes, crustaceans, insects, horseshoe crabs, worms, leeches, earthworms, marine bristle worms, mussels and clams, snails, squid and octopi, sea anemones and corals, among others.

About a quarter of Earth is used to grow crops. Fewer than 20 plant species produce most of the world’s food. While there might be “survival of the fittest” within a given species, each species depends on the services provided by other species to ensure survival. It is a cooperation based on mutual survival and is often what a “balanced ecosystem” refers to.

“Biological diversity is the resource upon which families, communities, nations and future generations depend. It is the link between all organisms on earth, binding each into an interdependent ecosystem, in which all species have their role.” It is the web of life.
“The rapid loss of species we are seeing today is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate.” Says the WWF.

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