The forgotten world

Photo credit: Getty Images. “The sighting of the blue whale has been described as “extremely rare” (file photo).

A few articles which I came across this week.

Beneath the first article, a link to the second article: Oil is under siege, oversupply and plummeting oil prices. As we continue to destroy the world with little thought to other creatures that deserve life as we do, and the environment, we will ultimately pay the price.

The third article, Sydney blue whale: Rare sighting was ‘possibly third in 100 years’.

Earth’s ‘lost species’ only the tip of the iceberg

By Helen Briggs BBC Environment correspondent

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-54034134

An endangered white-handed gibbon: the right conservation strategies can save the day. Photograph credit: Getty Images

“Scientists have calculated how many mammals might be lost this century, based on fossil evidence of past extinctions.

Their predictions suggest at least 550 species will follow in the footsteps of the mammoth and sabre-toothed cat.

With every “lost species” we lose part of the Earth’s natural history, they say.

Yet, despite these “grim” projections, we can save hundreds of species by stepping up conservation efforts.

The new research, published in the journal Science Advances, suggests that humans are almost entirely responsible for extinctions of mammals in past decades.

And rates will escalate in the future if we don’t take action now.

Despite this “alarming” scenario, we could save hundreds if not thousands of species with more targeted and efficient conservation strategies, said Tobias Andermann of the Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre and the University of Gothenburg.

In order to achieve this, we must increase our collective awareness about the “looming escalation of the biodiversity crisis, and take action in combatting this global emergency”.

“Time is pressing,” he said. “With every lost species, we irreversibly lose a unique portion of Earth’s natural history.”

The scientists compiled a large dataset of fossils, which provided evidence for the timing and scale of recent extinctions.

Their computer-based simulations predict large increases in extinction rates by the year 2100, based on the current threat status of species.

According to these models, the extinctions that have occurred in past centuries only represent the tip of the iceberg, compared with the looming extinctions of the next decades.

“Reconstructing our past impacts on biodiversity is essential to understand why some species and ecosystems have been particularly vulnerable to human activities – which can hopefully allow us to develop more effective conservation actions to combat extinction,” said Prof Samuel Turvey of ZSL (Zoological Society of London).

Last year an intergovernmental panel of scientists said one million animal and plant species were now threatened with extinction.

Scientists have warned that we are entering the sixth mass extinction, with whatever we do now likely to define the future of humanity.”

The second article:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2020/08/17/trump-drilling-arctic-national-wildlife-refuge-alaska/

The third article:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-54030000

Sydney blue whale: Rare sighting was ‘possibly third in 100 years’

‘A blue whale has been spotted off the coast of Sydney in Australia for possibly only the third time in almost 100 years, wildlife authorities say.

The whale was seen last month in waters near the beachside suburb of Maroubra in New South Wales.

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) confirmed the “extremely rare” sighting on Friday.

Blue whales – the largest animals on Earth – are rarely seen so close to the shore, it said.

“The blue whale is the largest animal on the planet yet despite its size it could have easily slipped by Sydney’s coast unnoticed,” Andrew Marshall of the NPWS said in a news release.

Mr Marshall said the sea creature may have been more than 25m (82ft) in length and weighed more than 100 tonnes (100,000kg).

Yet despite their size, blue whales are “largely ‘invisible’ even to the most avid whale watchers”, Mr Marshall said.

“They are not often seen because they tend to live very far out to sea, their populations are widely dispersed and we have very limited data on its migration and critical habitat,” he said.

The rarity of the sighting was not lost on one photographer, who managed to take pictures of the whale as it swam along the coast near Maroubra’.

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