In this issue of Need to Know: Science & Insight I look at some of the underlying causes of extinctions, what can be done, and how you and I can help. And, believe it or not, it starts with a breakfast with a cassowary, a really big en and dangerous endangered species.
Is there a middle ground between economic interests, livelihoods and conservation?
By Stephen Leahy
VANCOUVER, Canada (IPS)
The Earth’s life support system, which generates the planet’s air, water and food, is powered by 8.7 million living species, according to the latest best estimate. We know little about 99 percent of those unique species, except that far too many are rapidly going extinct.
What can be done to slow down this process, which could eventually lead to the extinction of the human species?
“The challenge is to find the middle ground between economic interests, livelihoods and conservation,” says Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, the newly appointed head of the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the international agency charged with helping countries slow and reverse the loss of plants, animals and other species.
A native of Brazil, Dias holds a doctorate in zoology from the University of Edinburgh, and worked for many years at the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment, where his last position prior to joining the CBD was as Secretary of Biodiversity and Forests.
An exclusive interview with BRAULIO FERREIRA DE SOUZA DIAS, executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity
Q: Why are species going extinct and why does it matter?
Feb 27 (IPS) – Free, authoritative and online: 1.8 million species.
That is the ultimate goal of the Encyclopedia of Life project, which put its first 30,000 species on the Internet this week. This ambitious global project will provide the details of every known species — habitat, range, lifecycle, pictures and more — and archive everything online so anyone can access this important information about life on Earth.
From sharks to mushrooms to bacteria, the Encyclopedia of Life will provide scientifically verified information that will satisfy both a grade school child’s curiosity or enable a university researcher — or amateur naturalist — to make a scientific breakthrough, says James Edward, new executive director of the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) project headquartered in Washington at the Smithsonian Institution. Continue reading