Lester Brown, Earth Policy
We’ve kind of taken over the planet and
there’s just not much room left for many of the other species.
So we’re seeing these extraordinary drops in populations.
Steve Osofsky, Wildlife Conservation
Right now we know that at least 25 percent
of the world’s 4000 or so mammal species are threatened or
endangered. Two out of three bird species are in decline
worldwide. I would say that the state of the planet’s wild
life is precarious and I think the decisions we make in the
next few years will be very important in terms of determining
which way things go.
Liz Bennett, Wildlife
one of perhaps a hundred million species on the, but we’re the
first species ever to have the control of the fates of other
species in our hands. The state of the planet’s wildlife, at
the moment, is very alarming. Some species are going so fast
and we either need to do something about it very quickly or
we’re going to start seeing some pretty massive extinctions of
species that we really care about.
Kennel, Scripps Institute of
always side effects from human activities, but they were
always small compared to the scale of nature and now we are
altering the surface of the Earth. You have to be realistic
about the size and scope of the problems. They are
unprecedented. My optimism is that we will eventually see the
nature and the global scale of these problems and at that
point people will insist on developing and really working on
solving the problem.
Robert Cook, Wildlife
while there have been other extinction crises this will be a
dramatic alteration that will fundamentally threaten the
future of humanity because we are all linked. We are all part
of this web of life. But it’s going to be a horse race between
those changes that will be irreparable and our ability to do
good and alter the way that we use the resources on our
There’s a place in the world where a lush rainforest — with open
meadows, bamboo thickets and fresh running streams — provides a safe
haven for a group of endangered lowland gorillas. In this jungle
sanctuary highly threatened animals survive without fear of being
stalked by local poachers. It's a place where the affects of
Africa’s extreme poverty and civil unrest seem a world away.
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But what really makes this patch of wilderness so extraordinary
is the fact that that it's not located in a remote part of Africa.
It’s in New York City.
The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo gorilla exhibit is
one of the city’s most popular attractions, providing visitors with
a rare and intimate glimpse of the natural world. However realistic
the experience seems to be, much of the food the gorillas eat comes
from local markets, most of the trees are made of metal and epoxy,
and the forest that lies behind these thick walls of protective
glass is essentially an environmental illusion.
Gorilla at the Bronx
But what is not an illusion is the fact that the zoos of the
future may have no choice but become urban sanctuaries for our
planet’s animals. Scientists now tell us that as much as a half of
the world’s wildlife may completely disappear during our lifetime.
“ Every kind of species, every broad
type of species, every broad type of habitat is under threat now
in a way that wasn’t true in all of past human
Engelman, Population Action International
Once, not so very long ago, the Earth was a place of great and
unspoileddiversity, a rich tapestry dominated by
the elegance of the natural world. Our world encompassed vast
stretches of uninhabited and protected wilderness areas. Our polar
regions supported an abundance of sea and land mammals and the
biodiversity of oceans were healthy and over-flowing.
Once, not so very long ago, our tropical rainforests supported an
almost infinite variety of species and the savannahs and grasslands
of the world sustained great herds of wild and migrating animals.
Giraffes in African
But now scientific research has discovered that something is
terribly wrong with our environment and that much of our planet’s
wildlife is in danger of going extinct.
Wildlife extinctions are not a new phenomena. On at least five
occasions during our planet’s long geological history, catastrophic
events wiped out vast numbers of species. The last great extinction
happened sixty-five million years ago when a giant asteroid crashed
into the Earth. The ash sealed the fate of the dinosaurs along with
over seventy-five percent of the world’s plants and animals. But
today, the threat of what scientists call “the sixth extinction”
won’t come from outer space or a volcanic eruption. The next
extinction will be the result of human activities.
The urgency to avoid a sixth extinction presents us with enormous
challenges. What we need now are the efforts of people everywhere —
all those who are willing to find ways to strike the right balance —
between what we want — and what our planet's wildlife can endure.
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