Planet is los­ing an­i­mal species ev­ery hour – and we are caus­ing it

The Corkman - - LIFESTYLE -

The re­cent an­nounce­ment by Bord na Móna of its plans to cease ex­ploita­tion of sev­eral bogs for peat har­vest­ing has to be wel­comed from an en­vi­ron­men­tal point of view although it comes at a high price in terms of job losses and the re­sult­ing body blow to the econ­omy and so­cial fab­ric of the Mid­lands.

The an­nounce­ment co­in­cided with the pro­mo­tion by the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA) of its series of lec­tures and na­tional dia­logue on cli­mate change and global warm­ing.

Since we have evolved to re­spond quickly to im­me­di­ate threats, as a peo­ple we are bet­ter at deal­ing with fire brigade events that long-term plan­ning. If houses flood, peo­ple are great at ral­ly­ing to as­sist neigh­bours, help man the pumps, make sand­wiches, fill sand­bags and con­trib­ute to char­i­ties. We are not as good or as fo­cused when it comes to an­tic­i­pat­ing the con­se­quences of build­ing houses on flood plains.

Con­sider the long-term overview for a mo­ment. For 350 mil­lion years car­bon diox­ide was drawn out of the air by plants and locked away un­der­ground as peat, coal, oil and gas. We only started ex­tract­ing and burn­ing these fos­sil fu­els in a sig­nif­i­cant way some 250 years ago. Most of the growth in emis­sions of harm­ful green­house gasses has been in the last 50 years.

The green­house gasses in the air trap heat en­ergy mak­ing the planet warmer. En­ergy is be­ing added to our at­mos­phere at a rate equiv­a­lent to that of five Hiroshima-style atomic bombs ex­plod­ing ev­ery sec­ond.

En­ergy in the at­mos­phere makes weather. And since more en­ergy makes worse weather, ex­treme events like storms, dam­ag­ing winds, heavy rain, floods, drift­ing snow and sum­mer droughts are all likely to be­come more fre­quent, more se­ri­ous and more dam­ag­ing with ob­vi­ous im­pli­ca­tions for hu­man sur­vival, safety, health and well­be­ing.

For a wildlife point of view, fail­ure to ad­dress global warm­ing and cli­mate change in a mean­ing­ful way is re­sult­ing in global mass ex­tinc­tion of bio­di­ver­sity. The EPA notes we have halved the num­ber of back-boned an­i­mals on the planet since only 1970. The stark­est statis­tic is that we are los­ing species at the rate of eight ev­ery hour, the great­est and fastest rate of ex­tinc­tion the planet has ever seen. And we are caus­ing it.

The afore­men­tioned EPA’s series of pub­lic lec­tures and na­tional dia­logue on global warm­ing and cli­mate change is broad­cast to the web. For in­for­ma­tion on the lec­tures and re­lated cli­mate science in­for­ma­tion go to www.epa.ie/cli­mate/com­mu­ni­cat­ing­cli­mate­science.

Fail­ure to ad­dress global warm­ing and cli­mate change in is re­sult­ing in global mass ex­tinc­tion of bio­di­ver­sity.

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