FWD: Extinction and education (Re: Traffic...)
dyanega at mono.icb.ufmg.br
Sun Sep 20 12:22:01 EDT 1998
This message would seem pertinent to the present discussion.
>Date: Sat, 19 Sep 1998 04:07:32 EDT
>From: C <THCLAX00 at UKCC.UKY.EDU>
>Subject: Education and the biodiversity crisis
>To: ECOLOG-L at UMDD.UMD.EDU
>Fastest mass extinction in Earth history
>Wednesday, September 16, 1998
>by Ed Ayres
> | The survey also found that "while |
> | science teachers have a much clearer |
> | sense of the dimensions and urgency of |
> | the biodiversity crisis than the general |
> | public, more than 50 percent of science |
> | teachers do not believe that we are in |
> | the midst of a mass extinction, and only |
> | 38 percent describe themselves as being |
> | very familiar with the concept of |
> | biodiversity." |
> Scientists believe we are in the
> midst of a mass extinction
> faster even than the crash which
> occurred when the dinosaurs died
> some 65 million years ago.
>Seven out of 10 biologists believe the world is now in the midst
>of the fastest mass extinction of living things in the 4.5
>billion-year history of the planet, according to a poll conducted
>by the American Museum of Natural History and the Louis Harris
>survey research firm.
>That makes it faster even than the crash which occurred when the
>dinosaurs died some 65 million years ago. Unlike that and other
>mass extinctions of the pre-human past, the current one is the
>result of human activity, and not natural phenomena, say the
>The scientists surveyed rated biodiversity loss as a more serious
>environmental problem than the depletion of the ozone layer, global
>warming or pollution and contamination. A majority (70 percent)
>said they believe that during the next 30 years as many as
>one-fifth of all species alive today will become extinct, and a
>third of the respondents think as many as half the species on Earth
>will die out in that time.
>"This survey is a dramatic wake-up call to individuals, governments
>and institutions that we are facing a truly formidable threat not
>only to the health of the planet but also to humanity's own
>well-being and survival -- a threat that is virtually unrecognized
>by the public at large," commented Museum of Natural History
>president Ellen V. Futter.
>The Biodiversity in the Next Millennium survey was administered to
>400 members of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.
>Respondents included experts in biochemistry, botany, conservation
>biology, entomology, genetics, marine biology, molecular biology,
>neuroscience, physiology and other fields. A parallel survey was
>given to 100 middle-school and high-school science teachers drawn
>from the National Science Teachers' Association and to 1,000
>members of the general public in order to gauge differences in
>their views on biodiversity issues.
>The comparisons revealed that "the general public is relatively
>unaware of the loss of species and the threats that it poses," said
>museum spokesman Elizabeth Chapman. The survey also found that
>"while science teachers have a much clearer sense of the dimensions
>and urgency of the biodiversity crisis than the general public,
>more than 50 percent of science teachers do not believe that we are
>in the midst of a mass extinction, and only 38 percent describe
>themselves as being very familiar with the concept of
>"Notwithstanding the public's lack of recognition of the
>significance of biodiversity loss, scientists feel that it is
>critical to act now to stem the tide of extinction," said Chapman.
>"Overwhelmingly, scientists think that the threat of the
>biodiversity crisis is underestimated by most segments of society:
>95 percent think the general public underestimates the threat; 87
>percent think the government underestimates it; 80 percent think
>the media does; and 58 percent felt that educators do not
>accurately recognize it."
>Both the scientific experts and the science teachers were willing
>to admit that they themselves are part of the communication
>Seventy percent of the scientists and 67 percent of the science
>teachers say they have not done an adequate job of disseminating
>information about the consequences of the biodiversity crisis. "I
>can think of no generation of scientists that has faced a greater
>challenge than we confront today, for no other generation has stood
>at the cross roads between the continued existence of the Earth's
>biological diversity and an irrevocable catastrophe to the biota,"
>commented Museum Provost of Science Michael J. Novacek.
Doug Yanega Depto. de Biologia Geral, Instituto de Ciencias Biologicas,
Univ. Fed. de Minas Gerais, Cx.P. 486, 30.161-970 Belo Horizonte, MG BRAZIL
phone: 31-499-2579, fax: 31-499-2567 (from U.S., prefix 011-55)
"There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
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