Friday, September 20, 2019

Birds are Disappearing

At first I thought the numbers in the below article were off. But apparently the numbers are accurate.  What if modern life as we experience it in the so-called First World is actually not good for humans and other living beings?

What if that modern life, which is being eagerly sought after by billions of people in China, Africa, India and other so-called Third World regions or countries is incompatible with continued wildlife existence? If one-third of wild birds have vanished then what replaces their previous role in the world's life cycle? And what impact will that replacement have on us all?

Nearly one-third of the wild birds in the United States and Canada have vanished since 1970, a staggering loss that suggests the very fabric of North America’s ecosystem is unraveling.

The disappearance of 2.9 billion birds over the past nearly 50 years was reported today in the journal Science, a result of a comprehensive study by a team of scientists from seven research institutions in the United States and Canada. 
As ornithologists and the directors of two major research institutes that directed this study, even we were shocked by the results. We knew of well-documented losses among shorebirds and songbirds. 
But the magnitude of losses among 300 bird species was much larger than we had expected and alarmingly widespread across the continent.

What makes this study particularly compelling is the trustworthiness of the data. Birds are the best-studied group of wildlife; their populations have been carefully monitored over decades by scientists and citizen scientists alike.

Much of the loss is among common species. The red-winged blackbird population has declined by 92 million. A quarter of all blue jays have disappeared, along with almost half of all Baltimore orioles. These are the birds we know and love, part of the bird life that makes North America lively, colorful and filled with song every spring. While it remains vital to save the most endangered of these birds, the loss of abundance among our most common species represents a different and frankly more ominous crisis.

Birds are indicator species, serving as acutely sensitive barometers of environmental health, and their mass declines signal that the earth’s biological systems are in trouble. Unfortunately, this study is just the latest in a long line of such mounting evidence.

A study in Germany, for instance, reported a midsummer decline of 82 percent in the biomass of flying insects over the past quarter century. Forty percent of the world’s amphibians are in danger of extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Stocks of bluefin tuna are down to the last 3 percent of their historic population, and the United States’ Atlantic cod fishery recently hit a low. A United Nations report this year warned that about a million animal and plant species face extinction. That’s “more than ever before in human history,” according to the report.

I think there are probably too many people on the planet. We are crowding out other fauna and flora. Also, as a species we must change our behavior patterns. 

What nature could accept before the Industrial Age or before there were so many humans is probably not what nature can accept now with almost 8 billion people and exponentially more chemical and pollution production. I am uncertain that our species can fix whatever is ailing the world's fauna and flora. There are too many different people. Everyone wants to do their own thing. 

And few people in other nations are going to be too sympathetic to Americans or Europeans telling them that they need to stop or change their economic development or cultural quirks for the good of the world. People generally pursue their own interest.

The only way we can address this problem is enforceable worldwide agreement on such activities as chemical use, deforestation, trophy hunting, overfishing, agribusiness subsidies, etc. Otherwise don't expect change until enough people can no longer find their favorite bird to watch or notice that certain useful or beautiful plants or trees are dying out. The sort of cross-national cooperation and resolve to place anything above selfish national and economic interest is out of style right this moment.
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