The third best Global Big Day in the ENTIRE WORLD recently happened here at Villa Carmen in southeastern Peru by the ACCA (Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica) co-director, Percy Avendaño Medina. 257 bird species found in a single day! Incredible! To give you some perspective, that's over 1/3 of all bird species found in all of North America. This area of the Madre de Dios (Mother of God) has been labeled by some as the epicenter of biodiversity and will be featured in the next issue of National Geographic.
Love that I posted this not immediately knowing that it's written by SUNY-ESF President Quentin Wheeler. Biodiversity loss + climate change = equally daunting problems faced by the planet. http://bit.ly/1TfkihX #climatechange#biodiversity SUNY ESF
Solutions to President Wheeler's article? I would suggest that there are two aspects to consider: scientific exploration and political drive.
SCIENTIFIC EXPLORATION: The first "small" step is an initial study utilizing the newest genetic techniques and computational analysis to analyze "all species and populations" within plots scattered throughout the world. I say "small" in the sense that it would be an initial phase that looks at all forms of life within small (10 meter ) plots. That may not sound that difficult but it would contain an analysis of all soil microbes (bacteria and Archae included), all insects, all fungi, all plant forms, and all other animals (a small portion) throughout the world. Based on this enormous amount of information - analyzed using bioinformatics - you could start to wrap your head around how much variation exists between plots and get more accurate estimates of how many species there are in the world. Roughly 2 million species have been identified, another 8 million are projected, but that doesn't even include bacteria and Archaea. Recently researchers estimated 1 TRILLION species exist including microorganisms. (http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=138446). Part of this might also be accelerated by the invention of new portable sequencers which would allow people to go and discover new species without much training:http://bit.ly/1YtDRqw
Knowing how many species there are in the world is the first step to understanding how many are actually going extinct. Some estimate that as many as 10000 go extinct every year, well before we ever discover them.
Second phase. Once we have a more accurate understanding of what species exist, you can then start to understand what benefits they provide in terms of ecosystem services (functionality) - pharmaceuticals, maintaining air quality, pollinating crops, soil retention, etc. Part of the problem with this is that by putting a value on nature, you then open it up for corporate exploitation. However, the value of any one of these services is equivalent to the entire world economy and this value is very likely to drive protection. This is exactly what is happening with climate change. There is a huge incentive to conserve forested areas (REDD+) which help mitigate global climate change. Unfortunately, there isn't always a focus on forested areas with high species richness. For example, monocultures and plantations aren't equivalent to primary rainforest, even though they both might help mitigate climate change.
POLITICAL DRIVE: Concurrently, voters need to be educated about the value of biodiversity. These educated voters can then put pressure on their elected leaders and elect those who support legislation to: protect biodiversity and the most critical ecosystems throughout the world, invest in education to limit population growth and consumption, support industries which are sustainable, end fossil fuel subsidies, and help design cities which have zero carbon footprints. They can also then make wise consumer decisions that minimize the impact on the environment.
We essentially have a one-world government in many ways. What often happens, when large economies like the US lead, then other countries often will follow due to globalization and economies of scale (e.g., solar panels). Unfortunately, much of what the U.S. does (and its people) is irresponsible and people throughout the world seek to live outside their means like much of America.
Whether you believe climate change is man-made or not is irrelevant. What you can do to help the planet is the same under either scenario. The question itself is simply a distraction created by corporations dependent on extractive industries like coal, oil, and large-scale deforestation. Either way, what you can do every day to help the planet will also likely benefit your health and well-being.
1) Minimize your use of the automobile and "green your commute"
2) Improve energy efficiency in your home
3) Eat locally and reduce your meat intake
4) Minimize your waste (food, recyclable packaging). Recycle and reuse
5) Switch to renewable energies wherever possible
*6) Elect officials who are interested in furthering any of the above objectives.
Other ways to make an enormous impact can be found at the following links:
Feel free to post other useful resources for improving the planets health below. #climatechange #conservationbiology