Rapid Extinction of Species Concerns Scientists

Dau Qiu

PureInsight | June 24, 2002

The University of Minnesota Press reported on April 25, 2002, that a recent study shows that the number of species that exists now is actually much smaller than what scientists previously estimated. This study was funded by the National Science Foundation and was conducted by a special taskforce consisting of botanists, entomologists, and ecologists from countries over the world over an eight-year period.

The subjects of the study were samples of plant and insect species collected from the subtropical rainforests in New Guinea. Based on the result of the study, new estimates on the number of species existing on the earth were made. Scientists stated that there are about four to six million species, a number significantly lower than the 31 million species as previously estimated. The result of the study was published in the April issue of the magazine, 'Nature.'

This study provides a better understanding of the diversity of species, as well as their rapid speed of extinction. The taskforce further suggested that such an understanding is critical for public policy making in the area of environmental protection.

New Guinea, due to its rich diversity of species, is an ideal nature laboratory for this study. Its rainforests have a land area similar to that of Texas, yet it represents 5% of all species on the earth. On the island of New Guinea, there are more than 12,000 types of plants, which is ten times the number of Minnesota. This study shows, however, that the mass extinction of species has severely damaged the rainforests' ecological system. The system is the key to protecting soil conditions, adjusting local climate, natural cleaning and recycling of water, and providing food and medicine.

The study concluded that if humans don't change the way they consume resources, in the next 50 years, approximately half of the species that exist today will become extinct. The consequences are so severe that we need to make every effort to save as many species as possible.

[Commentary]: With the development of modern technology, the planet that humans live on is experiencing unprecedented damage. Frequent flooding, acid rain, loss of forested areas, sandstorms, air and water pollution, and the extinction of species, are all symptoms of the damage. From land, oceans, to the sky, the earth is being ceaselessly exploited by greedy people. The deteriorating environment is both a victim and an indication of degenerating human morals. The root of the problem lies in us, the people. We seek answers from politicians or economists; however, they can only offer superficial and temporary solutions. We, ourselves, must return to our conscience, purify our heart and mind, and improve the human moral standard. Only then will we see the hope for the world.

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