The Final Chapter, The Start of the Journey.

It has been a fulfilling writing on this blog. This is perhaps the most enjoyable part of any of my 5 modules. Thank you, Dr Coleman, for this opportunity. I have learnt a lot reading the blogs of others and through the research done while writing my own. Not only valuable information but also invaluable perspectives of others, broadening my own environmental view. Before I started my BES journey, I was just another oblivious Singaporean who did not know the extent of environmental damage and was only aware of the significant vital events such as Global warming but not to specifics. Who would have thought that soil was so important? I’m grateful for the way that my journey has started out (with most of the credit going to ENV1101), shaping my ideology and habits for the rest of my 4 years in University and perhaps my life.

Vegetarian with Joy, Yan Yong and Jet! ūüėÄ (Credits to Joy Foo)

My blog has been centred around extinctions of other animals. Hence, to end off, I will be talking about this particular organism which we desperately need to save. We are all procrastinators and like to do things at the eleventh hour. Most of the time it works out, but there are times when things go wrong. We are already starting to feel the severe impacts of our actions, but yet we still choose to turn a blind eye. One thing is for sure, we still have the power to stop our own extinction, it is time to stop being oblivious or thinking that since everyone is doing it, one more person doesn’t matter. It matters.

While the IPCC report says that individual efforts make little to no impact, I believe that we need every little boost we can get. Society’s power is more significant than we think, through social media, beliefs and ideologies spread like wildfire. If the social norm is rejecting disposables and everyone is doing it, there will be no place for these plastic companies. If everyone refuses to use coal-powered energy, oil demand will eventually decrease. Consumers make companies, it is our demand that motivates them and spurs them to create pollution. If we can make them, we can stop them but only if we do it together.

Our own existence is in our own hands. If we continue as it is, it wouldn’t be long before we stop worrying about the survival of other animals but our own as we are destroying our one and only habitat, the Earth. There will be no one around to reverse our extinction when our species die out. It would be a laughing stock that such an advanced species can’t even save ourselves due to our own selfishness and foolishness.

Let’s all do something. We are saving ourselves by saving nature. Join me, Evangelista, Fang Qin and Si Hui in our personal sustainability challenge where we eat a day of vegetarian for each unsustainable action that we do. Our inexhaustive list includes: 1) No using of disposables 2) No personal rides/ cabbing 3) Less than 2hrs of aircon/day 4) Buying of bottled drinks are allowed (Pls refrain) but you have to recycle them 5) Always remember to off power switches when not in use (lights/ fans etc.) 6) Your own discretion and integrity. Do it with a friend and create your own list which you are comfortable with!

Edit: Currently 9 of us are on the bandwagon, do contact me or Eva if you are interested in joining our group where we discuss some of the individual challenges we face and how to overcome them!

Goodbye
Qi Han

What can we do?

My blog has been centred on the loss of biodiversity and efforts done to save these animals with the premise of discussion and sharing of ideologies and perspectives. As we come close to the end of my blog, I will be focusing on how we as individuals can help preserve biodiversity instead.

Some of you (Brendan) may be wondering what can we as individuals, far and distant from these animals do to help them? It’s actually not too complicated. In fact, you can start right now! The most straightforward way of helping these animals would be being environmentally friendly.

The main reasons for the loss of biodiversity are pollution and loss of habitats. By¬†reducing consumption and recycling, we can lower the demand for goods which require resources to be produced.¬†These resources come at the stake of the homes of animals and their lives. If you are willing to, you could even become a minimalist! We all know that change isn’t easy but always keep in mind that it is not impossible to change our lifestyles. You could even be the pioneer among your friends and influence them.¬†Advocate the need for biodiversity and spread the word to your friends especially those not in BES so that they too know the dire state and importance of biodiversity.

If you feel that the above-mentioned is too intangible and there is little motivation to do so. You can have direct contact with these animals by volunteering/working at the Wildlife Reserves of Singapore¬†(Zoo or Birdpark etc.). You can refer to Eva’s blog where she talks about the efforts of Zoos in preserving biodiversity and her firsthand experience working there to gain a better idea of what they do before signing up!

Animals up for adoption (WWF)

I would bring up the idea of donating/ adopting species but as students, most of us would not have the financial capability to do so. But it could be something we can keep at the back of the mind until we start working. We could even introduce the concept to our working parents and relatives. Dr Coleman once shared that she gave symbolic adoption of animals as a Christmas gift for some of her nieces and nephews and they were elated about it. That could be your wishlist for your Birthday or Christmas this year!

All in all, most of the methods to conserving biodiversity stems from being environmentally friendly. It may not seem like a great help but the reason why animals are going extinct is due to anthropogenic factors affecting balanced ecosystems and worsening living conditions. Just by not disturbing wildlife with our actions would be helpful to conserving biodiversity. One plastic waste thrown into the sea could make its way onto the neck of a marine life and strangle it.

Cheers
Qi Han

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References

[PIC] Animals up for adoption (WWF). Retrieved from WWF website on 27 October 2018: https://gifts.worldwildlife.org/gift-center/gifts/Species-Adoptions.aspx

 

Resurrection Biology (2)

Hello to the 2nd part of Resurrection Biology! Thank you all for sharing your thoughts with me in my previous post! This week’s focus will be on the scientific and ethical issues regarding de-extinction as well as my own thoughts. Should we, just because we can?

From Daphne’s and Brendan’s comments on my previous post,. It is evident that most people are aware of the blasphemy of ‘Playing God’ and it should be a forbidden area of science, making it ‘unethical’. Daphne’s comment resonated with me when she said, we already ‘played God’ when we led the animals to destruction and took away their lives. The most ethical thing to do right now would be to clean up the mess that we made and bring them back when we have the capability to do so.
In my personal opinion, there is nothing morally wrong with reviving a species, rather it is morally good. The part I would deem as controversial would be genetic modification of current species to revive extinct ones.

Would the Woolly Mammoth¬†still be the same if it was ‘created’ through the combinations of genes of elephants?

Some people may also develop the mindset of: So why conserve when we can revive them? We can focus on our more pressing problems right now i.e. humanity’s problems and worry about animals in the future. Well, to that, I find it very apt, when Michael Mahony (a biologist) described the de-extinction technology as an insurance policy against extinction (The Guardian, 2013). Just because you have an accident insurance does not mean you should not look when you cross the road. De-extinction does not mean we can stop our conservation efforts. If we are deceived by this false sense of security, there will be too many animals going extinct before we can even revive them. Moreover, the cost of reviving all of them will be too enormous to bear.

Habitat Destruction: Deforestation

That brings us to my next point: Is all the cost for research worth it? While so much resources are spent experimenting and perfecting the technology for de-extinction, these could be channeled into saving many others threatened species which have yet to go extinct. Furthermore, we need to preserve the DNA of the organisms before we can resurrect them. And to do so, we need to be in contact with the final survivors of the species. Many of the animals become extinct in their habitats as we destroy them. Some of these species we have zero knowledge about, and they disappear just like that. Hence, I would rather advocate the saving of current species and their homes.

I do not want to bring back a species just to go through the pain of watching them go extinct once again. With the recent IPCC assessment, it sticks out even more to me that we should focus on saving our current environment. If we can’t even save the Earth, and provide these organisms a place to stay, what is the point of bringing them back? To a broken and contaminated Earth? Will they be able to survive?

Cheers
Qi Han

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References

Guardian (2013). Extinct frog resurrected with ‚Äėde-extinction‚Äô technology. Retrieved form Guardian website on 26 October 2018:¬†https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/22/extinct-frog-resurrected-with-de-extinction-technology

[GIF] SCIENCE FICTION SCIFI GIF BY UNDERDONE COMICS. Retrieved from GIPHY website on 26 October 2018: https://giphy.com/gifs/funny-future-xUPGcgajPlEVuCImd2

[PIC]¬†¬†Nguy√™n Linh (n.d.) Devastated natural forest in An H∆įng Commune. Retrieved from Vietnam News Website on 26 October 2018: https://vietnamnews.vn/environment/393812/wood-from-devastated-natural-forest-found-in-wood-chip-factory.html#F60ywjEjKxlu305X.97

Resurrection Biology (1)

Hello and welcome back to my blog!¬†Remember the dinosaurs in my 2nd posts? What if I told you they could come back to live :o. Just kidding! As of currently, it is impossible to resurrect dinosaurs but, of course nothing is resolute, especially with humans. That may very well change in the future. After all, humans have already comprehended the way to bring back recently extinct species! (Even though we can’t really do it yet).

The study of the Dolly the sheep, the first successfully cloned animal has led many other breakthroughs in related fields by employing¬†concepts of somatic cell nuclear transfer. Just recently, in January this year, scientists have cloned 2 macaques using the same methods (Liu et al., 2018). Considering how closely related humans are to primates, that’s frightening. Moreover, in 2013, the Lazarus project successfully created an embryo of the gastric-brooding frog¬† which has already been extinct for 30 years (Yong Ed, 2013).

Gastric-brooding frog

This incredible frog is able to ingest its eggs, hatch and nurture its young in its stomach, which also serves as its womb, before releasing them through its mouth. (Clarke. S, 2013) Isn’t that fascinating? It’s such a pity that we lost them 30 years ago. Even though the project only managed to create an embryo that lasted for 2 and a half days (Clarke. S, 2013), this serves a major step forward for future studies and experiments of de-extinction.

In fact, when Lonesome George, the last of the Pinta Island Tortoise, passed away, scientists preserved his cells to potentially bring the species back to the face of Earth in the future. (Gray. R, 2012)

Nonetheless, such groundbreaking technology would not be without its limitations. The price for research is¬† astronomical (Yong Ed, 2013). Moreover, the cells must be conserved with complete nuclei and there’s a cutoff time limit from the time of extinction (Shultz. D, 2016). This means that we are unable to bring back animals who have gone extinct long ago, at least for now. Nonetheless, de-extinction has already been proven possible and its only a matter of time before its techniques are improved to be more effective and safe.

I know many of you will have many thoughts and opinions on this issue as do myself (but I do not have enough word count to write them here). In my next blog post, I will discuss the ethical and scientific controversies regarding this method of bringing back biodiversity. Meanwhile, feel free to comment on how you feel and I may reference you comment in my next post! Here’s a question for you as well, if you could (at no cost) resurrect any animal, what extinct animal would you most want to resurrect?¬†Till next week!

Cheers
Qi Han

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References

Liu, Z., Cai, Y., Wang, Y., Nie, Y., Zhang, C., Xu, Y., . . . Sun, Q. (2018). Cloning of Macaque Monkeys by Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer. Cell, 172(4), 881-887.e887. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2018.01.02

Yong Ed (2013). Resurrecting the Extinct Frog With a Stomach for a Womb. Retrieved from National Geographic Website on 19 October 2018: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/phenomena/2013/03/15/resurrecting-the-extinct-frog-with-a-stomach-for-a-womb/?user.testname=none

Sarah Clarke (2013) Bizarre extinct frog brought back to life. Retrieved from ABC news website on 19 October 2018: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-03-16/bizarre-extinct-frog-brought-back-to-life/4575916

Richard Gray (2012) Lonesome George could be resurrected after cells are frozen by scientists. Retrieved from Telegraph website on 19 October 2018: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/wildlife/9468918/Lonesome-George-could-be-resurrected-after-cells-are-frozen-by-scientists.html

David Shultz (2016) Should we bring extinct species back from the dead? Retrieved from science magazine website on 19 October 2018: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/09/should-we-bring-extinct-species-back-deadbefore

[PIC] Mike Tyler, University of Adelaide (1973). Gastric-brooding frog. Retrieved from National Geographic Website on 19 October 2018: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/phenomena/2013/03/15/resurrecting-the-extinct-frog-with-a-stomach-for-a-womb/?user.testname=none

[VIDEO] Seeker (2017) How Close Are We to Resurrecting Extinct Species? Retrieved from Youtube Website on 19 October 2018:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qA1_mdiDgyk

Returning their freedom (2)

Welcome back to the 2nd part of Returning their freedom!

Some of us may have had a pet before and ended up not having the time to care for it or losing interest in it. I’m not pinpointing anyone as we all may have had some unforeseen circumstances happen to us. Just like how human beings break up, we may not always love our pets till the end. So what should we do when we are unable to take care of them anymore? Well, we will often try to give them away and if no one wants to take them, the next most humane action would be to release them into the wild where they ‘belong’.¬†Here’s some nostalgic background music for you while you read through my blog :).

 

But it is truly where they belong?¬†Many pets do not originate in the region where they are kept captive. They are either reared and distributed or captured from the wild and exported to other countries. To make matters worse, it is human nature to be fond of rare and unfamiliar creatures. This has led to the illegal wildlife trade, facilitating the movement of animals cross-boundaries, bringing them to new lands. You can refer to Ning Ginn’s and Eva’s blog to better understand the problem of illegal wildlife trade which can severely impact biodiversity globally!

European Rabbit: An invasive species in Tasmania

However, that is not the focus of today’s blog post. It is, rather, what happens when a non-native animal is released into a new environment.¬†To make things more relatable, I will be using migrants as an example of foreign species, while I understand that there are certain differences, I would be focusing on their similarities. There are 3 outcomes and I will be discussing them in order of optimism.¬†

The most favourable outcome would be immigrants who can blend with the environment of the new country and contribute their knowledge and skills. The non-native could also perfectly assimilate into the new habitat and their ecological operations may bring benefits to to the ecosystem (Schlaepfer, Sax, & Olden, 2011). Moreover, as they reproduce with native species, it brings about genetic diversity. 

 

The 2nd outcome would be if the migrants just live in the new country and have no significant impact it on it. They may use some of the country’s resources but it would be an acceptable outcome as we do not need to worry about any unforeseen impact it has on the existing country. This applies to the native animals as well, the ecosystem that it’s intruding would remain at status quo and life goes on as per normal.

The worst case scenario would be that the migrants bring along with them problems such as ethnic differences which might escalate¬†(Ibrahim, 2005). The migrants may also slowly take over the country’s population as the local population becomes the minority. This is corresponding to how invasive species propagate rapidly and cause the native species to die off¬†(Clavero & Garc√≠a-Berthou, 2005) as they not may not only be prey for these species but may also get out-competed for resources.

So why did I use humans as an analogy you asked? Well take a guess!

Because humans may be the most invasive species ever!

In fact, my friend Clarissa has recently wrote about invasive species on her blog as well. Do visit it if you have time and wish to find out more!

Cheers
Qi Han

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References

Schlaepfer M. A., Sax, D. F., & Olden, J. D. (2011). The Potential Conservation Value of Non-Native Species. Conservation Biology, 25(3), 428-437. doi:doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2010.01646.x

Ibrahim, M. (2005). The Securitization of Migration: A Racial Discourse1. International Migration, 43(5), 163-187. doi:doi:10.1111/j.1468-2435.2005.00345.x

Clavero, M., & García-Berthou, E. (2005). Invasive species are a leading cause of animal extinctions. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 20(3), 110. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2005.01.003

[PIC] Harrison J.J (n.d.) European Rabbit. Retrieved from Wikipedia Website on 9 October 2018: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_rabbit#/media/File:Oryctolagus_cuniculus_Tasmania_2.jpg

[AUDIO] Tanya Chua. Where I belong. Retrieved and converted from Youtube website on 9 October 2018: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePsPXlyW8hM

 

Returning their freedom (1)

Hey Everyone!

Previously, we talked about endangered animals taken into captivity and whether we should continue to do so to protect them from extinction. Well, this week’s focus will be on releasing them back into the wild.

Longing for Freedom

Have you ever felt as if your wings were clipped and your freedom restricted? By your parents, your responsibilities, time and your many other commitments? I for one, hate being constrained by anything and I would never be able to stand living in a confined space even if I was treated and fed well each day.

I’m sure all of us have been to the Singapore Zoo and Jurong Bird Park to feast our eyes on exotic animals. I’ve always felt that we should set them free into the wild where they belong. I’m sure some of you have felt the same way too. Well fret not, there are already on-going programs doing so. These programs are not only a act of mercy but are also beneficial for their population in the long-term.

Reintroduction

It is the liberation of animals born in enclosures into natural habitats (Campbell-Palmer & Rosell, 2010) to fend for themselves to encourage feasible and independent communities in the future. They can be introduced to both foreign and original habitats. This sounds effective at promoting biodiversity at first glance but have met with mixed success.

Black-Footed Ferret

Let us first look at a successful reintroduction program, the black-footed ferrets. They only had 18 survivors at their lowest point. Fortunately, they were picked up and saved. They were first bred in enclosures until their population was more stable before they were primarily released into the Badlands National Park in 1994 and Wind Cave National Park in 2007. Across the years, they were also released into other areas such as Mexico. Through the cooperation of multiple parties, these ferrets are no longer endangered and many survive in natural environments. (Errick. J, 2015)

However, there are many limitations and reintroduction could be counter-productive due to the insufficient foresight and weak execution¬†(Ewen, Soorae, & Canessa, 2014). The considerations include costs, laws and social and environmental impacts on that new habitat with the most important aspect being ensuring the survival of the introduced species. Certain captive animals do not exhibit the same characteristics as animals in the wild, they lose their edge and fighting spirit.¬†China’s reintroduction of Giant Panda was done with good intentions but is unfortunately falling short.

Panda in Training ūüôā

Well, that Panda was pretty impressive. If all pandas could do that, I would be assured that they could survive on their own in the wild. Nonetheless, that is merely my wishful thinking. In spite of the training provided for captive Pandas and a period of probation where they are monitored and protected, only 5 out of 8 pandas released into the wild survived (Xinhua, 2017). If they do not survive, we will in fact be further lowering the number of the already endangered species, making them closer to extinction. Considering their present low numbers, should we still take the risk?

Cheers
Qi Han

 

~You can read more here on Propagule pressure (aka Introduction Effort) which is another one of the determining factor on the success of reintroduction.

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References

Jennifer Errick (2015). 9 Wildlife Success Stories. Retrieved from National Park Conservation Association website on 3 October 2018: https://www.npca.org/articles/880-9-wildlife-success-stories

Campbell-Palmer, R., & Rosell, F. (2010). Conservation of the Eurasian beaver Castor fiber: an olfactory perspective. Mammal Review, 40(4), 293-312. doi:doi:10.1111/j.1365-2907.2010.00165.x

Ewen, J. G., Soorae, P. S., & Canessa, S. (2014). Reintroduction objectives, decisions and outcomes: global perspectives from the herpetofauna. Animal Conservation, 17(S1), 74-81. doi:doi:10.1111/acv.12146

Xinhua (2017) China Focus: Panda’s death renews debate over reintroduction program. Retrieved from XinHuaNet website on 3 October 2018: http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-03/31/c_136175296.htm

[PIC] HD Cartoon Girl in Cage. Retrieved from Myhdwallpapers website on 3 October 2018: http://myhdwallpapers.org/hd-cartoon-girl-in-cage.html

[PIC] Lockhart. M (n.d.) Black Footed Ferret. Retrieved from Defenders of Wildlife website on 5 October 2018: https://defenders.org/black-footed-ferret/basic-facts

[GIF] Panda in Training. Retrieved from GIPHY website on 5 October 2018: https://giphy.com/gifs/panda-attack-cnbsOTkEJnq0

The 6th Extinction

Welcome back to anotsonaturaldisaster!

Today’s focus will be on the anthropogenic 6th extinction and why it is happening. Before we start, here’s a silent but insightful video to put things into context.

To give a clearer idea on why we are able to and are exerting so much pressure on other species which is leading to their endangerment and extinction, let us break this down into two components: direct and indirect impacts so as to explain better.

Firstly, the direct impact: We have grown to be so sophisticated that we are able to consume and exploit the various parts of both flora and fauna in a myriad of ways to make life more comfortable for ourselves. From the simple and imperative need for food for survival to keeping ourselves warm through their fur to making use of every possible part of them to suit our wants. This is fueled by the consumerism which feeds on the greed of humans and our lack of self-control (Vorster, 2011). Currently, our population growth rate is at 1.09% (Worldometers, 2018) and this just means that as the years go by, we will have more mouths to feed and greater consumption of resources, further exacerbating the situation.

Secondly, the indirect impact, in our efforts to make the environment more comfortable for us we have caused massive destruction of natural environments. Dams built to facilitate irrigation and forests cleared to make land for urbanisation may seem necessary for our¬†advancement and development but as we manipulate and change natural environments, we neglect the other animals and plants who are living peacefully in it. Moreover, our pollution has caused drastic changes in certain habitats such as coral reefs making them unfit for living anymore. These animals lose their homes and are forced to relocate, sometimes into environments which are not suitable for them. (Welch. C, 2017) And those that fail to relocate or can’t adapt to the new environments? They die out. Moreover, when they relocate, they intrude and invade foreign ecosystems, disrupting the balance in them, causing complications for organisms there.

The Italian Sparrow (A Hybrid between House and Spanish Sparrows, officially established in 2011 as a new species)

However, there are also new species, such as the Italian Sparrow, which are emerging as organisms evolve and adapt in response to human activities so as to survive (Thomas, 2017). Today I will throw out a controversial proposition: If there are animals and plants who can adapt to the changes we are causing, should we still continue to preserve biodiversity? Or should we merely let this ‘selection’ do its work and oust those species who are too slow to adapt?

 

 

In my first blog post, I mentioned humans as a ‘force of natural selection’ by selecting which endangered animals to conserve, species which are unable to survive by themselves in this current competitive Anthropocene. More often than not, these species are charismatic ones which appeal¬†to the public and are kept in exhibits at zoos and wildlife parks. If we do not keep them in enclosures so as to save them, they are likely to go extinct. Here comes the question of should we let live or let die? (Shout out to Eva’s blog on biodiversity, do check it out if u haven’t!) I urge you to share your thoughts with me by commenting below!

Cheers
Qi Han

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References

Vorster, J. M. (2011). ” Go out and gather each day…”: Implications of the ethics of Exodus 16 for modern consumerism. Koers, 76(1), 171-192.

Worldometers (2018). Current world population. Retrieved from Worldometers website on 28 September 2018: www.worldometers.info/world-population/

Thomas, C. D. (2017). Inheritors of the Earth: how nature is thriving in an age of extinction: Hachette UK.

Welch, C (2017)¬†Half of All Species Are on the Move‚ÄĒAnd We’re Feeling It. Retrieved from National Geographic website on 28 September 2018: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/04/climate-change-species-migration-disease/

[PIC] Tettenborn L, B. (2008) The Italian Sparrow. Retrieved from Wikipedia Website on 28 September 2018: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Passer_italiae_1_(loz).jpg#/media/File:Image-Passer_italiae_2(loz).jpg

[VIDEO] Cutts. S (2012) MAN. Retrieved from Youtube Website on 28 September 2018: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfGMYdalClU

What about us?

Hello Everyone

Welcome back to my blog! Last week I talked about the previous five major extinctions of other species before us which was due to climate change and coincidental natural disasters. Did that make you wonder whether we will be next? In this week, I will be talking about how we fare against mother nature.

Dr Coleman’s class has taught us that humans have evolved to be the best in adapting to changes in climate and environment and that is how we managed to triumph against other species and eventually end up at the apex of the food chain. We also know that we are able to manipulate the environment to our advantage to lead more comfortable lives.

However, are we still organisms affected by the acts of mother nature? We have learned how to defend ourselves against natural disasters better through technological advancements that let us predict natural disasters better and evacuate before they happen. A prime example would be the Nicoya Peninsula Earthquake of 7.6 magnitude in 2012 which was predicted in advance and had its damage restricted. Specifically, there were no human deaths. (Zielinski S, 2013)

Destruction by 2011 Japan Tsunami

However, even as we become better at combating natural disasters, we still cannot stop them completely and can only seek to avoid them. That is provided that we are able to predict them which we are not always able to do so, as seen by the Haiti Earthquake (Whitcomb. D, 2010). Moreover, even when we do, there will still be loss of homes and damage to infrastructure.

What’s worse is that humans activities have resulted in climate change that has led to more severe and uncertain weather conditions¬†(Van Aalst, 2006). Shockingly, there have been three times as many natural disasters from 2000 to 2009 as there were from 1980 to 1989 (Leaning & Guha-Sapir, 2013). The fact that recent natural disasters are becoming more frequent and more erratic is one of the many signs that our impacts on the environment are causing more unpredictable changes and we are suffering the brunt of it.

Below is a video on how humans need nature way more than mother nature needs us. While we have advanced and become fairly good at manipulating the environment to our advantage, we are currently unable to tame nature completely yet, and may never be able to. For now, we are just another species in nature and we can only strive to live within its rules and be careful not to cause any further turbulence if not I’m afraid¬†there won’t be enough time for us to learn how to control nature before we bite the dust in its anger.

I will end off with a quote from Rachel Carson, ‚ÄúBut man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself.‚ÄĚ Should we really be racing against Mother Nature instead of learning to live in harmony?

Cheers
Qi Han

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References

Zielinski, S. (2013). Scientists Successfully Forecasted the Size and Location of an Earthquake Retrieved on 19 September 2018, from Smithsonian Magazine website: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/scientists-successfully-forecasted-the-size-and-location-of-an-earthquake-180948072/

Whitcomb, D. (2010). Haiti quake could not have been predicted: experts Retrieved on 19 September 2018, from Reuters Website: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-quake-haiti-research/haiti-quake-could-not-have-been-predicted-experts-idUSTRE60F02B20100116

Van Aalst, M. K. (2006). The impacts of climate change on the risk of natural disasters. Disasters, 30(1), 5-18. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9523.2006.00303.x

Leaning, J., & Guha-Sapir, D. (2013). Natural Disasters, Armed Conflict, and Public Health. New England Journal of Medicine, 369(19), 1836-1842. doi:10.1056/NEJMra1109877

[PIC] Destruction by 2011 Japan Tsunami. (Philippe Lopez, n.d.) Retrieved on 19 September 2018, from Getty Images website: https://www.gettyimages.com/photos/philippe-lopez-japan-tsunami?editorialproducts=news&family=editorial&page=2&phrase=philippe%20lopez%20japan%20tsunami&sort=oldest

[VIDEO] Nature is Speaking. (Roberts. J, 2014) Retrieved on 19 September 2018, from Youtube website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmVLcj-XKnM

Wrath of Nature

Humans have caused the extinction of many species of animals and even more to become endangered. But what about before we came about? Has there not been widespread loss of biodiversity before?

Everyone has most likely heard of the asteriod that wipe-out the dinosaurs but you’d be surprised to know that there were in fact 4 more great extinctions before that, each of them causing the extinction of more than 75% of all species! Moreover, 99% of species that once lived on Earth no longer exist. (Barnosky et al., 2011)

The 5 great extinctions in order of timeline are as follows: End Ordovician, 444 million years back with 86% of species disappearing; Late Devonian, 375 million years back with 75% of species disappearing; End Permian, 251 million years back with 96% of species disappearing; End Triassic, 200 million years back with 80% of species disappearing; Finally we have the End Cretaceous, 66 million years back with 76% of all species disappearing (Richter, n.d.) and the tragic loss of our favourite ginormous friends.

Exactly how they happened? No one knows but scientists have speculated that most of the extinctions were caused by climate changes such as a rise in CO2 levels or a coincidental storm of natural catastrophes across a period of time. (BBC Nature, n.d.)

Across 450 million years, only 5 mass extinctions have happened but in the short span of 200 thousand years since the existence of homo sapiens (Howel, E., 2015), we are in the midst of causing the 6th and by comparison, the 6th extinction is happening much more rapidly than ever.

Highly Conservative Estimate of Extinctions (Ceballos et al., 2015)

To put things into context, the current rate of extinction of species is estimated at 1000 times the natural rates (Pimm et al., 2014) with mammals and birds being hit the hardest as seen in the graph above. In comparison to previous natural extinctions, we may have been the deadliest that has hit Earth yet.

However, what is truly terrifying is that our current extinction is caused by the¬†dominance of a single organism which is bias.¬†Mother nature, on the other hand,¬†is non-bias and it is the survival of the fittest which determines whether a species can continue to exist. Looking at the rate of loss of biodiversity, I’m afraid that it will not be too long until most of the species that are left on Earth are those which humans deem as useful or choose to save.

But what if it turns out that our choices were wrong? We do not know what the future entails and we may very well need the other species in the future be it for medicinal purposes or for research to save our very own species.

Cheers,
Qi Han

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References

Barnosky, A. D., Matzke, N., Tomiya, S., Wogan, G. O. U., Swartz, B., Quental, T. B., . . . Ferrer, E. A. (2011). Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived? Nature, 471, 51. doi:10.1038/nature09678

Richter, V. (n.d.). The big five mass extinctions. Retrieved on 10 September 2018, from Cosmomagazine website: https://cosmosmagazine.com/palaeontology/big-five-extinctions

BBC Nature (n.d.). Big Five mass extinction events. Retrieved on 10 September 2018, from BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/earth/earth_timeline/mass_extinctions

Howel, E. (2015) How Long Have Humans Been On Earth? Retrieved on 10 September 2018, from universetoday website: https://www.universetoday.com/38125/how-long-have-humans-been-on-earth/

Pimm, S. L., Jenkins, C. N., Abell, R., Brooks, T. M., Gittleman, J. L., Joppa, L. N., . . . Sexton, J. O. (2014). The biodiversity of species and their rates of extinction, distribution, and protection. Science, 344(6187), 1246752-1246752. doi:10.1126/science.1246752

[GIF] Dinosaur struck by an asteroid. (n.d.) Retrived on 10 September 2018, from GIPHY website: https://giphy.com/gifs/dinosaurs-smack-asteroids-3jbA22JWJPHcQ

[PIC]¬†Ceballos, G., Ehrlich, P. R., Barnosky, A. D., Garc√≠a, A., Pringle, R. M., & Palmer, T. M. (2015). Accelerated modern human‚Äďinduced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction. Science Advances, 1(5).

Introductions!

Hello World!

I’m Qi Han, a person who enjoys the outdoors, animals and observing nature in its undisturbed form. Since I was a child, I have been amazed by this seemingly impossible world. What particularly captivates me are the intricate ways in which different organisms interact with one another and with Mother Nature, forming a balanced and sustainable system. However, what surprises me, even more, are the ways in which humans interact with this whole system and manage to tip the balance despite being only one of the many different organisms on Earth.

Before humans, mass extinctions have always been due to the changes in nature and nature has been able to re-regulate itself. The 6th mass extinction, on the other hand, is mostly anthropogenic. To me, the impact of humans on the environment and biodiversity is comparable to that of deadly natural disasters. Hence in my blog, I am going to discuss where we, humans stand as part of the ecosystem, our impact on biodiversity and our attempts to maintain and reverse the loss of biodiversity.

On a side note, each week I will feature different articles in which human pollution has affected the lives of other animals. (You can view them using the button at the top or at the links portion if you’re interested!). Hopefully, the topics I‚Äôm passionate about are of interest to you as well!¬†Hope to see you back on this blog again!

Cheers,
Qi Han