Saturday, April 23rd, 2011 | Author:


As this graph shows, human population and extinction rates have been rising at the same amount, in the same time frame. These increasingly high extinction rates result in a loss of biodiversity on a global scale. As the graph suggests, human actions have led to the large growth in extinction. (Note: extinctions are a natural occurrence when a specie is unable to adapt to a changing environment….but our current levels of extinction are not natural)  Why should we care? According to this MSNBC article, we still have time to stop or slow down the Earth’s 6th Mass Extinction. However, in order to know how to stop or slow down a mass extinction, first we need to know what causes it in the first place. As Dr. S taught in class, there are 5 main human-caused extinctions:

1. Excessive Predation: hunting, raising wild animals as pets

2. Habitat Destruction: deforestation, housing developments, growth of cities

3. Destruction of Keystone Species: species that play a crucial role in their ecosystem–> without it the ecosystem could collapse.

4. Introduction of Exotic Species: competitors overthrow native species, unnatural predators disrupt the food chain, diseases spread especially among plants.

5. Pollution and Contamination: BP oil spill, water pollution, air pollution, climate change

It is important that we all do our part in trying to stop the 6th mass extinction, but it also goes further than just an individual level. It needs to be an international level. We need to get governments from across the globe to recognize the serious problem on our hands. However, that starts with community efforts (like our campus for instance). Communities can appeal to their government representatives and let them know that this issue is important to us. Let’s all do our part in trying to stop excessive predation (give up hunting as a hobby, or do it less, or make sure the species you’re hunting is not endangered), habitat destruction (deforestation), destruction of keystone species, introduction of exotic species, and pollution and contamination (recycle, throw trash in trash cans, etc).

Final Thoughts-

Over the semester I have learned so much from this class, and honestly i’m going to miss it so much in my upcoming semesters! I am now more knowledgeable about global problems, but also specific case studies of these problems (domestically and internationally). I have learned different solutions to these problems…there is hope that we can fix them! These global problems are the issues that I hope to help solve someday, and maybe that’s why they mean so much to me. Whether there will be one solution, I don’t know. I think it is more likely that a number of solutions, creative ideas, technological advances, and a more thorough understanding of nature will help us solve these problems. I think it is important to note the global trends that Dr. S lectured: rise in population, rise in water demand, decline in natural resource supply, rise of ecosystem services suffering, decrease in crop yields, decrease in biodiversity, and an increase in climate change.

Let’s spread the word by appreciating and respecting the true value of nature!

Fun Earth Day Activities:

On Friday, I stopped by the Underground to celebrate Earth Day! I was happy to see that there was a good turnout (even though it was raining!), because that means that we have an active community who cares about our environment! There were many fun activities such as tie dye, decorating reusable cups (I made mine with a sun, earth, and an ocean!), making t-shirts, and many more. While this was a fun, lighthearted celebration, I did keep in mind what Earth Day is truly about: respecting our Earth and our environment.

-Kristen Callahan

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  1. Anne says:

    I really like the graph showing extinction rates along with human population size. Where did the graph come from originally? Thanks!

  2. John says:

    And reason number one for animal extinction and loss of biodiversity = too much human breeding !!

  3. Dr. Szulczewski says:

    I love the illustrations and images you used in this post. I’ve never seen the correlation of population-extinction in graph form before, so I grabbed that to use in class next year!

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