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The extinction of species requires urgent action
Future generations will know that we were aware of the loss of biodiversity, of global warming, of air and land pollution, and of the degradation of the ozone layer, but that we did nothing about it.
By Cristian Frers/Editor of Environment -Seinforma Canada
The list of endangered species is alarming: 529 animals and 240 vegetables. At the top of the list appear those that are more sensitive to changes in their habitats, the ones with large land requirements, the ones with commercial value, and the ones with restricted distribution. Many with small populations live in deteriorated environments and are battered by endless threat. (Photo espacioblog /Seinforma)
Carmen De Areco, Argentina.- The extinction of plant and animal species is one of the most troubling symptoms of environmental degradation in the world. It is an irreversible process that deprives us forever of a unique and irreplaceable genetic material which may not even be known yet and, that could have practical applications for humanity, whom are destroying it.
Perhaps, this concept is easier to understand in the materialistic and interested world where we live, but it is not the only reason that advises the conservation of species. In effect, the mere fact of not substantially alter the delicate interrelation that binds living beings among themselves should have been sufficient, and that reminds us that every species occupies a unique niche and, after its extinction, this niche becomes vacant or is occupied by other more ubiquitous species Therefore, unique food chains simplify or disappear, as if this were not enough, just the right to exist on Earth for plant and animal species should become the main argument as to avoid extinction by all means.
The word biodiversity is a contraction of biological diversity, thus refers to the variety in the living world. Within the biodiversity we find three levels of components: The genes level, that constitutes the molecular basis of heredity; the species, which are sets of related organisms capable to reproduce; and the ecosystems, which give origin to functional complexes formed by organisms and the physical environment in which they live. This broad usage includes many different parameters, and in this context biodiversity is actually a synonym for Life on Earth.
At an ecological scale, biodiversity depends not only on species richness but also on its relative abundance: when a few species dominate over others, diversity decreases. In general, from a conservationist perspective, these limited elements (the "rare" species) are the most important from the viewpoint of conservation. The issue of biodiversity is largely the problem of rare species, those most vulnerable to extinction. Among these are the endemic, i.e. those that thrive only in a specific (and often small) geographical region.
The problems of biodiversity, as many environmental problems currently affecting human life, are interdependent problems, that is, systemic problems. To understand the real magnitude, it is important to position from a perspective that allows a broad view, a view that transcends disciplines and knowledge, and provides the context to work from a deeper and broader view.
The three main causes of biodiversity loss are:
Destruction of natural habitats: This is a major cause of biodiversity loss in the world. Tropical forests, undoubtedly the main stores of biodiversity on the planet, are disappearing at a rapid pace.
Fragmentation: Croplands, urban areas, roads and highways are barriers for many species. For these living beings, their natural habitat has shifted to occupy large areas continued to be split into isolated fragments of lesser extent. The effect is known as habitat fragmentation, which is responsible for local extinction of many species. When a certain number of individuals of a species are confined to a small portion of territory, the danger of extinction is much higher.
Fields without life: The emergence of modern industrial agriculture, based on specialization and the massive use of fertilizers and pesticides produced a sharp decline of species. In the countries most heavily exploited by these new forms of industrial agriculture, the term green desert has coined to refer to these new landscapes, very poor in wildlife.
The biodiversity of species in Argentina is easily imaginable if we look at its geography. It is one of the largest countries in the region, and 18 ecoregions can be identified. Landscapes are very different in a gradient ranging from the Andes to the sea, on a range of different types of relief, soil and climate. Some of these ecoregions are unique, like the mountains, others are shared with neighboring countries such as the Uruguayan Pampean grasslands, forests and Patagonian Chile. Three of the most bio-diverse ecoregions in South America - the missionary forest, the yungas and chaco - have their southern limit in the country. We can not forget the extensive coastline that adds its particular biological material.
Due to this fact and, in spite of not having tropical climates, this country shelters a wide variety of species. Do not get surprised if you notice representatives of exclusive American groups such as the cacti, or many of the neo-tropical, such as bromeliads, hummingbirds, the anteaters and armadillos; neither of the South American endemic chuñas and rheas.
The presence of whole groups of animals from the South America’s fauna can help to understand this environmental diversity. Argentina is the only country in which the ten South American variety of felines can be located.
The loss of biodiversity in the country accounts for only two species worldwide: the Falkland Island Fox and the Glaucous Macaw, and we could add the explorer’s lizard to them, and a dozen missing, presumably, with stocks in the rest of the continent, like the Giant River Otters (Pteronura brasiliensis) and the Eskimo Curlew.
The list of endangered species, however, highlights a warning: 529 animals and 240 plants. At the top the list appear those that are more sensitive to changes in their habitats, the ones with large land requirements, the ones with commercial value, and the ones with restricted distribution. Many with small populations live in deteriorated environments and are battered by endless threat.
Argentina has a vast natural and cultural diversity that has to be known and preserved for future generations. All sectors and social actors involved should be integrated into the development processes, in order to respect the cultural identity of each region. The preservative use of biological and genetic resources that contain different biomes will play a key role in setting the pattern of a progressive improvement of the socio-economic conditions that our people possess.
Our generation is facing the most extraordinary opportunity for greatness that no other generation in human history has ever had. We live in a time when we can not only save a small kingdom only by our own interest, but the entire animal kingdom. If we do not change our course and let the wild world disappear from Earth, we will be more hated than any other generation that has ever existed.
Future generations will know that we were aware of the dangerous population explosion of our species, the loss of biodiversity, global warming, air and land pollution, and the degradation of the ozone layer. They will be able to see that we had more than enough information to understand that the problems we had created required solutions and, they would see with equal clarity that we failed to act with sufficient strength to save Nature. And they will hate us due to the fact that we have exchanged our comfort for their future.
*Cristian Frers is an Argentinean journalist and a technician in environment solutions. He’s worked at the local media producing environmental content for radio stations, magazines, and newspapers.
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