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Lonesome George – Extinction is Forever
The Pinta Island tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra abingdoni) is gone, forever. Lonesome George, a sad sentinel for his subspecies and a symbol of the destruction of species caused by humankind, died today of unknown causes. George was the last survivor of his subspecies of the famed Galapagos tortoise, which contributed to Charles Darwin developing his theory of evolution when he noticed the differences in tortoises and other wildlife, residing on the various Galapagos Islands.
Sadder yet is that the extinction of this sub-species is only the tip of the iceberg, given climate change and other factors. Every day species are disappearing forever in one of the greatest waves of extinction ever in the history of the planet, on par with the wave of extinction that spelled doom for the dinosaurs. But the current wave of extinction is different in that one species, Homo sapiens, is so wildly out of control that we are the cause of extinction of countless other species.
Unlike the highly visible death of Lonesome George and his subspecies, most species are becoming extinct without us even knowing when the last bell tolls. Human factors—habitat destruction, invasive species, pollution and others—have been wiping out species for decades, undoubtedly some we never even discovered before they were gone forever.
Now mankind is the driving force behind another extinction factor that is expected to move a third of the world’s species a step closer to extinction, within the lifespan of children born today. This driving force of extinction is, of course, climate change.
Yet, closed-minded people ignorant of science continue to deny Darwin’s theory of evolution and others still dispute man-driven climate change despite mountains of evidence. Both are so well-proven that informed non-believers could only be willfully ignoring or distorting the truth for their own self-serving purposes…such as getting re-elected to office or making money by preserving the status quo. Denying the reality of climate change (and evolution, for that matter) doesn’t change the truth.
It’s time we leave behind the dogmatic deniers of climate change. We’ll move forward without them, and we can. It won’t be easy to resolve the climate change crisis caused by our own pollution, but I think mankind has the ability to make changes. After all, we’ve made changes before. And we should do it again, not only for all the Lonesome Georges in the world, but in fact for ourselves.
Urge Congress to ensure that conservation programs are protected from federal budget cuts, and to support completion and implementation of the recent draft national plan to protect wildlife and wildlife habitat from the impacts of climate change. Budget cuts to conservation programs and failure to safeguard wildlife from climate change will lead more species, like the Florida Panther, to suffer the same fate as Lonesome George’s subspecies.
America’s investments in wildlife and natural resource conservation are in line with the values of the American.
Flickr photo by Scott Ableman used under a Creative Commons license.