The wealth of the world

"The wealth of the world if measured by domestic product and per capita consumption, is rising. But if calculated from the condition of the biosphere, it is falling. The state of the latter, natural economy, as opposed to that of the former, market economy, is measured by the condition of the world's forest, freshwater, and marine ecosystems."



actual biotic wealth fell 30 per cent

1990s the decline is 3 per cent per year

"the faraway fall of ancient forests and extinction of species are easily deferred as 'externalities'."

p. 42

"Overpopulation and environmentally ignorant development are everywhere shrinking natural habitats and biological diversity."

"it will be a Cadmean victory, in which first the biosphere loses, then humanity."

p. 43


Hawaii 125-145 endemic bird species before humans, now 35 remain and 24 are endangered.


Pigs and ants are wreaking havoc on native flora and fauna


"Homogecene" meaning that everything humans influence becomes less diverse or more alike with less and less genetic difference among individuals of teh same species, such as yellow corn, idaho potatoes or alfalfa grass.

rats, mongooses, cats all simplify the island ecological relations into which they are introduced.


"the decline of any particular species rarely has a single cause."

Typically, multiple forces entrained by human activity reinforce one another and either simultaneously or in sequence force the species down.

These factors are summarized by conservation biologists under the acronym HIPPO:

HIPPO is the acronym to recall their combined impact on decreasing animal and plant diversity.


"the prime mover of the incursive forces around the world is the second P in HIPPO – too many people consuming too much of the land and sea space and the resources they contain.

HIPPO forces join to weaken and extinguish biological diversity." (p. 51)

Story of the Vancouver Island marmot


Among the most massive losses of recent decades has been the frog die-off.

Since the 1980sÉ"were in steep decline."


"reports poured in of decline of amphibians elsewhere."

Of 936 amphibian populations in 37 nations

"they concluded that amphibian numbers had been dropping at the rate of 2 percent per year since at least as far back as the 1960s."


Rana mucosa disappeared from the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada


destruction of habitat and an increase in UVb radiation in the Cascades

"due,Éto the thinning of the EarthÕs ozone layer, another human caused alteration of the environment and one most severe in high latitudes."


"The growth of abnormalities are believed to  be caused by chemical pollutants; among the prime suspects is methoprene, sprayed in the water to prevent the growth of mosquito larva."


"Frogs are natureÕs canary in the mine."


"We ourselves could not have devised a better early warning device for general environmental deterioration than a frog."


"Ten percent is not enough to save the Amazon as we know it."


"In short, the damage inflicted on the great Asian forests by human activity has turned El NinoÕs from creators to destroyers.


ENSO: El Nino Southern Oscillation

"In recent years ENSOs have grown in frequency and amplitude. It is tempting to link the trend to global warming, as some experts have done. The conclusion is not firm,....

"Meanwhile, there can no longer be any reasonable doubt of global warming itself and its generally malign consequences for the environment and the human economy."


"According to estimates based on tree rings, fossil air samples trapped in glacial ice, and other proxies (pollen grains and ocean sediments), the mean surface temperature of the Earth varied by less than 2¼F during most of the ten thousand years following the end of the last ice age. Then, from 1500 to 1900, it rose approximately .9¼F , and from 1900 to the present, it has increased another 0.9¼F.


The concentrations of carbon dioxide are now at the highest level recorded for the 400,l000 year span and now show no sign of leveling off. The same is true of methane and nitrous oxide."


In 1995, IPCC scientistsÉprojected that the acceleration of global mean surface temperature will continue, resulting in a further increase between 1.8¼F and 6.3¼F by the year 2100."


"predict that if nothing is done

"mean global surface temperature will rise  by at least 2.5¼F and as high as 10.4¼F within this century."


"Many native species are already trapped in natural reserves that have become islands in a sea of cropland and suburban sprawl."

FLA – drowned, refugia are isolated an have nowhere to go.


"No matter how sophisticated our science and technology advanced our culture, or powerful our robotic auxiliaries are, Homo sapiens remains in 2100 a relatively unchanged biological species."


"the genetic homogenization of the world population by intermarriage, already well advanced, by 2000, has accelerated."

feedback loops "bite back"

"Like human genetic diversity, the fragmentary biodiversity that survived to 2100 has also become much more geographically simplified."


"The most memorable heritage of the twenty-first century will be the Age of Loneliness that lies before humanity."


Because we are killing off the residents of our natural neighborhoods, we will be alone, solitary creatures stalking an empty world.

"The wondrous world that used to be."

E. O. Wilson, The Future of Life.

When updated? 8-jan-06.

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