This ad was ponsored by the World Wildlife Fund. Founded on April 29, 1961, this international non-governmental organization works on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment. (For more about the WWF history, here is a web page.)
Working in 100 countries, and supported by more than 1.1 million members in the United States and 5 million globally, the WWF is considered the world's leading conservation organization.
The problem of saving the planet is, in fact, a battle to save the world from mankind. According to several studies in the journal Science, we are in the midst of the sixth "mass extinction of life on Earth. That, scientists report, is not hypothetical but already happening.
One study found that although human population has doubled in the past 35 years, the number of invertebrate animals – such as beetles, butterflies, spiders and worms – has decreased by 45% during that same period.There are many people in the world who wouldn't fret about a life without worms and spiders. And even a world without butterflies is preferable to starvation, they might say. We can save the tigers, rhinos and pandas, right?
Scientists warn that the resiliency of Earth's ecosystem is not limitless, Environmentalists say that "even the disappearance of the tiniest beetle can significantly change the various ecosystems on which humans depend."
Since our ancestors stumbled out of Africa, extinction rates, estimate scientists, have increased by a factor of 100. The last one was the catastrophe around 65 million years ago that wiped out dinosaurs along with three out of four species on the planet. An earlier one, about 252 million years ago, eliminated about 90% of life on Earth.
Goodbye to the Forests
The top cause of the mass extinction is habitat loss, which is defined as the process in which natural habitat is rendered functionally unable to support the species present.
Covering less than 2 percent of the Earth's total surface area, the world's rain forests are home to 50 percent of the Earth's plants and animals. Since 57% of all tropical rain forest are situated in developing countries, they are particularly vulnerable to commercial exploitation.
Rain forests provide many important products for people: timber, coffee, cocoa and many medicinal products, including those used in the treatment of cancer. All of these commodities mean money in the bank for countries that are some of the poorest. At one time, not too long ago, about six million square miles of tropical rain forest existed worldwide.
Today, due to deforestation, only 2.4 million square miles remain. At the current rate of tropical forest loss, 5–10 percent of tropical rain forest species will be lost per decade.
At some point in the near future, deforestation of the world's tropical rain forests will- without any doubt- have a catastrophic impact on the planet's climate. This is especially true as greenhouse gases begin to accumulate. Rain forests act as the world's thermostat by regulating temperatures and weather patterns.
The self-regulation of the planet is an extraordinarily delicate balance of systems. The more we learn, the more marvelous it seems.
And the more tragic and pointless its loss.
A Future without Us?
An analysis of the the geological history of the planet shows that the present conditions- the one we consider as normal- is ideal but certainly a fixed state. In terms of climate, where you stand today was very likely a very different looking place a few million years ago. Your home today may have been buried under rolling mountains of ice, or under the sea, or forest slowly changing into swamp, to grassland, to desert.
Will the planet be rendered absolutely uninhabitable? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Life on Earth has passed through these choke points in the past.
However, what emerged was radically different than what had existed before. Something that the human species would struggle with varying degrees of success to cope with.
It would become a fight for survival that we can say with absolute certainly, the majority of the human population would lose. The self-regulation of the planet would continue by eliminating the root cause of the problem: overpopulation.
Nature will survive but what remains after we have destroyed thing may make civilization as we know it and indeed human life itself impossible.