Are We In A Countdown To Extinction?

This New York Times article discusses the effect that rising global temperatures are having on the species of the earth.  Quoting:

Over the next 100 years, many scientists predict, 20 percent to 30 percent of species could be lost if the temperature rises 3.6 degrees to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit. If the most extreme warming predictions are realized, the loss could be over 50 percent, according to the United Nations climate change panel.

Birds are good barometers of biodiversity because amateur birdwatchers keep such extensive records of their sightings. But other animals are similarly affected.  




Australian white lemuroid possum



Two years ago, scientists blamed a warming climate for the disappearance of the white lemuroid possum, a niche mountain dweller in Australia that prefers cool weather, and that was cute enough to be the object of nature tours. Many scientists, suspecting that the furry animal had died off during a period of unusually extreme heat, labeled the disappearance the first climate-related animal extinction
As the climate shifts, mountain animals on all continents will face similar problems. Scientists at the University of California at Berkeley recently documented that in Yosemite National Park, where there is a century-old animal survey for comparison, half the mountain species had moved their habitats up by an average of 550 yards to find cooler ground.
Elsewhere in the United States, the pika, the alpine chipmunk and the San Bernardino flying squirrel have all been moving upslope in a pattern tightly linked to rising temperatures. They are now considered at serious risk of disappearing, said Shaye Wolf, climate science director of the Center for Biological Diversity in San Francisco, which in 2010 applied to protect a number of American mountain species under the United States’ Endangered Species Act.

The plight of the Australian white lemuroid possum is a sad object lesson on this 23rd day of January. As has been stated before, our ecosystem is a delicate tree of life with all life forms interconnected to this maternal source. The Mayans referred to this system as Yaxche.

What affects one species eventually affects all species adversely on this planet traversing the cosmos. The gradual rising of temperatures is having effects across the planet.

For example: the Andes Mountain in South America: 

The increase in global temperatures during the past 27 years has caused the loss of some 12 billion cubic metres of snow from the glaciers of the Peruvian Andes, according to experts here.

The problem of global warming, caused by greenhouse gases emitted through the burning of fossil fuels, has affected 20 zones of the Andean region and caused possibly irreversible damage to the Peruvian environment, said Ramiro Valdivia, a physicist at the Higher University of San Marcos, in Lima. At the same time the flow of water for urban and agricultural uses, has dropped considerably, he added. 

Global warming is quickly melting glaciers in South America’s Andes mountains, threatening to cut available drinking water for millions of residents and cripple hydro-electricity generation projects. The melting of the Andean glaciers from Chile to Venezuela threatens the largest supply of fresh water outside the North and South poles, with the snow-cap of Venezuela’s 4979 meter Bolivar Peak possibly disappearing in five years.

Bolivar Peak 

Peru is experiencing rapid glacial change. A 2009 World Bank report states that, due to warmer temperatures, Peru’s glaciers have declined 22 percent since 1975 and are likely to disappear altogether in two decades, threatening to provoke more floods and eliminating a major source of water and hydropower for its people. 

 What is happening to this planet should be a concern for all of us. The gradual rise in temperatures will affect us all in the decades to come.  And what of our children and grandchildren for the remaining decades of this century?  What kind of world will they be living in the years to come?

G. D. Williams       © 2011

For additional information on the Australian white lemuroid possum and its fight for survival in a hostile environment: 

Queensland Government Environment and Resource Management

Lemuroid Ringtail Possum: additional information

Here are some other animals mentioned above being affecting by rising temperatures:




Alpine Chipmunk
San Bernardino flying squirrel