The Future of Earth’s Ecosystems

In a talk delivered on Monday, the speaker elaborated on the evolving state of the Earth’s ecosystem.  The majority of his talk was focused on the constant degradation of the natural environment and the consequential effects on the native animal species.

As a resident of California, I was disturbed to hear that the famous California Grizzly Bear actually doesn’t reside in California anymore.  In fact, a species that was native to California, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Washington has been restricted more and more until now it only can be found wild in parts of Montana like Yosemite Park and western Canada.  Sadly, only 500-600 California Grizzly Bears actually live in Yosemite Park, an infinitesimal number compared to the population size a century ago.  The simple fact is that these animals are constricted because of our need to expand.  Now I’m not going to go on a rant blaming human ignorance and arrogance for this, but just consider how we affect them.

California Grizzly Bears are not the only species affected by human expansion.  Down on the border between Arizona and Mexico, relatives of deer are being blocked from their migration path by a 15-foot-high wall that is ironically more effective at stopping animals than humans.  Other migration paths, in Montana for example, are cut off by expansive inter-state highways and railways.  With the frequency of trains exceeding 4 dozen a day, incidents of groups of animals dying while waiting for an opportunity to cross the tracks are becoming more and more frequent.

An concept of an animal highway crossing.  Source: Web Ecoist

For human infrastructure that has overrun migratory paths in use for thousands of year s, plans to build an artificial crossing for native species.  The above picture is a concept art for a new crossing, but it bears many similarities to already constructed ones.  These bridges are a simple, cost-effective (relative to the total budget), and effectively solve one of the greatest problems facing the animal kingdom at the moment.

I never really understood the gravity that animal species were being effected by human expansion.  Hopefully we will see some changes soon that can help reduce the problems we’ve created for them.


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