Let’s be quite clear, climate change and global warming are real and will pose a clear and present danger to wildlife in the coming years, but a new study in the journal Nature points out that at present human practices are the more immediate danger.
75% of the 9,000 studied plant and animal species studied under threat by humans
According to lead author Sean Maxwell a professor at the University of Queensland in Australia, he and his team looked at just shy of 9,000 species with the researchers finding that human greed, need and practices has nearly three-quarters of these species threatened whether by poaching for body parts deemed important often by Asian nations for status or medicine, hunting for meat, or farming. The researchers found that only 19% of those studied are presently in danger due to climate change.
Examples of the former include the Western gorilla and Chinese pangolin which are hunted for body parts and are now nearly extinct, while Sumatran rhinoceros’ horns are so prized in China that they too are nearly extinct.
Industrial farms and plantations that raise cattle and other livestock, or crops grown for fuel and food threaten the habitats of countless species worldwide.
While you occasionally read a story about an undiscovered lion population and habitat being found, this is certainly not par for the course with the opposite generally being the case and it’s key that nations and governing international organizations reflect this understanding in their conservation practices.
“Addressing the old foes of over-harvesting and agricultural activities are key to turning around the biodiversity extinction crisis,” says Maxwell.
Unfortunately, especially for poorer nations, global warming and climate change often siphon resources and countries are left unable to adequately protect plant and animal populations with more traditional means like refuges and enforcement of poaching laws.
While the Nature study makes salient points, another study this week argues a bit
Perhaps not so much as an argument as a belief that multiple approaches to conservation are necessary, not a “one or the other” practice that fails to address the problems from climate change that will only become worse in the coming decades.
“There is no need to see trade offs among different conservation priorities — we need them all,” Peter MacIntyre, an expert on the ecology of fresh-water systems at the University of Wisconsin told AFP this week following the publication of the Nature study.
MacIntyre spoke of a study that was published this week showing that over-fishing and climate change have seriously depleted Africa’s Lake Tanganyika, which millions depend on as a food source.
“What good is it protecting a habitat that becomes oxygen-deprived or too hot for its current species due to climate warming, or where lake levels drop due to changes in precipitation patterns?” he recently asked reporters.
James Watson, a biodiversity expert at the Wildlife Conservation Society, who was a co-author of the Nature study doesn’t necessarily disagree with the University of Wisconsin professor but repeats, “But, overwhelmingly, the most immediate threat comes from agriculture and over-exploitation.”
“It is hard to exaggerate just how dramatic the threat to Earth’s species really is,” Watson said.
Essentially, all quoted here are correct and it should be pointed out that these differing opinions all have a common theme, humans are threatening wildlife with climate change as well as hunting and farming.