Earth's wildlife in peril

Giant Jewel (Chlorocypha centripunctata. Photo by Kai Schuette

The latest update of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species™ shows that 17,291 species out of the 47,677 assessed species are threatened with extinction. Those threatened are 21 percent of ALL known mammal, 30 percent of ALL known amphibians, 12 percent of ALL known birds, 28 percent of reptiles, 37 percent of freshwater fishes, 70 percent of plants, 35 percent of invertebrates. Is this the apocalypse?! Why are so many animals/plants dying?

Habitat loss seems to be a key factor, as well as the introduction of invasive species like insects and fungus to foreign soils where they disturb the ecosystem. This should be nothing new to us New Englanders. The hemlock trees have been under attack from the insect adelgid and could be completely decimated off the face of New England by the end of this century, researchers predict. The mighty oak trees of Martha's Vineyard have also suffered huge losses after being eaten alive by catepillars

Also on the list of reasons is climate change. Whether you want to argue that we are doing it or not (not getting into that debate here), the climate change is showing effects on nature already, says the IUCN.

What can you do? Recycle, talk to your representatives about more nature conservation and green energy acts, like Gov. Patrick's Wind Energy in MA plan. Also check out the Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts and the Audobon Society to see how you can help.

VIEW this short, but still amazing BBC slideshow of threatened species.
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