Wildlife decline and loss of water due to land-use

Background | Information | Essay | Argument | Conclusion | Lesson

Crocodiles | Fisheries | Tigers | Rhinoceros


Atlantic salt-water crocodile, Everglades National Park. J. V. Siry 2008


“the effort to enlarge productive land will wipe out a large part of the world’s flora and fauna.”

Edward O. Wilson, (2000), The Future of Life

Human use and appropriation of productive land is defined as the ecological footprint

“In short, the Earth has lost its ability to regenerate -- unless global consumption is reduced, or global production is increased, or both”

p. 27


“If humanity were to replace the ‘free’ services of the natural economy with substitutes of its own manufacture, the Global GNP would have to be raised by at least $33 trillion.”


Crocodiles | Fisheries | Tigers | Rhinoceros


“During the 1990s the global catch leveled of at about 909 million tons.”

food webs
North Atlantic, Caribbean and Black Sea fisheries have collapsed”


Watersheds in the US

“...forested watersheds capture rainwater and purify it before returning it by gradual runoffs to the lakes and the sea, all for free,”

Edward O. Wilson, (2000), pp, 106-107

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Bengal tiger in captivity, Walt Disney World Wild Animal Park, J.V. Siry, 2010.

Atlantic Cod fisheryseacrass

Atmospheric pollution, biological fragmentation, climate change, and destruction of water quality are diminishing the value of ecological services on public lands where wildlife and fisheries are threatened.

Disturbance, degradation and damage to natural areas due to polluted air, nutrient laden runoff, underground water contamination and acid precipitation are compounding the survival potential of traditionally protected, birds, mammals and fisheries. Each of the impacts is cumulative. Though one or more disturbances may appear insignificant, when viewed in light of poorly designed developments, increasing mobile sources of air pollution and diversion of surface water runoff, the combined influence of each degrading intrusion on wild lands can and often does damage fishery and wildlife populations.

Actions taken in isolation to protect a species here or a land area there are laudable and in the spirit of a national and international conservation ethos. But protecting places without considering the protection of the air and the water that move through these places is an ineffective step when hoping to reduce wildlife and fishery losses.

Taken separately the protection of vast areas may appear effective, but wildlife and fishery populations are not indiscriminate dwellers on our lands and in our waters. Instead animals, vegetation fungi and the bacterial relations that support our wildlife and fisheries require specific geographical locations with peculiar water, energy, air and landscape features. Without these requisite conditions the capacity of a place to sustain life is undermined.



"Life operates on only 10% of the sun's energy reaching the earth's surface, that portions fixed by the photosynthesis of green plants."

(p. 36, E. O. Wilson, The Diversity of Life, 1994)

Xian, China landuseXi'an, China land-use patterns.

“We already appropriate 40% o father planet’s organic matter produced by green plants.”

(p. 33, Edward O. Wilson, The Future of Life, (2000).

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biodiversity hotspots


Crocodiles | Fisheries | Tigers | Rhinoceros

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1628, Plymouth Colony regulates the cutting and sale of timber on common lands.

1871, US Fish Commission was created to study and improve fishery stocks.

1879, April 10 set aside as Arbor Day by effort of John Sterling Morton.

1885, New York state declares the Adirondack forest preserve to protect water supplies.

1897, Forest Management Act defines the purpose of forestry reserves.

1900, Lacey Act protecting migratory birds and their ranges passed.

1903, National Wildlife Refuge system inaugurated by Presidential action to protect declining wildlife

Crocodiles | Fisheries | Tigers | Rhinoceros

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"Throughout the nation today a series of state ad federal estuarine refuges exist as quiet testimony to the ideals, efforts and commitment of local conservation groups, planners, engineers, and scientists. These advocates possess a resolute maturity in asserting that some places must be set aside for future generations because, as Rachel Carson once remarked, 'man's way is not always the best.' "

(Siry, 1984, p. 17.)

Extinctionpolar bear

It is time to expand the ecological ethic to include future generations of fish and wildlife with adequate agricultural and forested buffers to the ranges, breeding and feeding terrain so that the recovery and not mere protection of landscapes can occur within the next thirty years. Although the side effects in benefits to the economy are direct and measurable, the moral imperative of recovering sufficient land and water resources to renew fishery and wildlife populations is of imminent importance.


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Every minute, 50 acres of natural or farm land is developed in the USA.

Farm subsidies

Endangered species by state

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Unseen impacts of disturbing biological and geochemical cycles.



Black Rhinoceros: Activist network information @ http://www.blackrhinoceros.org/actions/pollution.html

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In just sixty years every resident of the United States has only half the amount of room per person, as did their grandparents. The paradox lies here in the fact that half of us live in twice the square footage now as we did when we were children. Richer today than in the past many Americans find it hard to see let alone comprehend, the costs associated with rapid growth. In places like California, Texas and Florida where population change is faster than even in poor African countries. Migration and birth have altered familiar places beyond all recognition.

USA greenhouse gasLost in the paradox of wealth, growth, decay and poverty modern people are unprepared to face the fact that it takes nine to twelve acres of resources per person to sustain our standard of living in the United States. Hidden from our view by economic prosperity and social values to indulge ourselves in pastimes are clues to a quickening calamity of unsustainable consumption and unimaginable numbers.

We have little time for reflection and even less room for error because population momentum is an accelerating process that takes place over time and that means we are approaching the crest of the roller coaster. Either we limit our demands to avert the downward plunge or we control population growth before natural causes leave us too unprepared for the ride of our lives.


Crocodiles | Fisheries | Tigers | Rhinoceros

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We have the capability and the wealth to invest now in the protection of the ecological services inherent in land and water. The Land and Water Conservation Fund of the federal treasury was designed for such a purpose by Congress in 1964 and has been growing in size. Unless changes are made to the law and funds appropriated to develop management practices, employ appropriate tools and recover sufficient space for water recharge, energy conservation, air quality improvement and landscape renewal, the restoration of fisheries and wildlife will not occur in time to avert a serious loss of birds, mammals, commercial and sport fisheries. Such a loss will mean costly investments by municipalities to provide adequate recreation and utility sites. The loss of ecological services will burden state and local taxing authorities and generate a revenue loss from diminished opportunities to view nature, fish, hunt or passively experience the wild outdoors.


Crocodiles | Fisheries | Tigers | Rhinoceros

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The gift of a “shimmering physical disequilibrium

“The soil , water and atmosphere of its surface have evolved over hundreds of millions of years to their present condition by the activity of the biosphere, a stupendously complex layer of living creatures whose activities are locked together in precise but tenuous global cycles of energy and transformed organic matter,”

“When we destroy ecosystems and extinguish species, we degrade the greatest heritage this planet has to offer and thereby threaten our own existence.”

Wilson, p. 39

This urgency to protect natural areas and landscape features for more than merely their scenic qualities arises from fact that only forty years ago the Earth had half the people it does today. This growth carries an existing momentum that will cause the world's population to double again on or before 2060. Such unprecedented growth enriches the few at the cost of the many and even in the wealthy United States creates crowding, undermines health, and degrades surroundings.

Industrial societies, like ours, have already exceeded the capacity of land, air and water to sustain rising demands for security and shelter. Stripped of the capacity to assimilate our mounting wastes the countryside is exhausted by people's accelerating consumption, growing numbers and unrestrained appetites. In this situation the loss of wildlife and fisheries are only a symptom of a deeper disturbance. Psychologically we are ill-equipped to see that the land and water from which we draw our economic sustenance and mental health is dying, because we have learned, incorrectly, that the land and water are inanimate objects subject to our disposal or use.

Crocodiles | Fisheries | Tigers | Rhinoceros

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"Everything has changed, except the way we think," is an often quoted point Einstein made about society. Does not the plight of today's wildlife bear this out?

Albert Einstein


Title | Background | Information | Essay | Argument | Conclusion | Lesson

Darwin | Mayr | Ehrlich | Faulkner | Hardin | Hooke | Bronowski | Tattersall | Margulis | Miller | Wilson | Einstein's equation | Thomas