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Humanity’s Choice

It was a cold morning in mid August in 2013 when the choice finally dawned on me, after almost 3 years at University and two ecology majors, not once before had this thought crossed my mind. Not once in the times I analysed data, climate data, plant data and all species data – had I once visited the ideal that this choice was something all of humanity had to face. When the thought settled into my mind, I was grief struck, I was awe struck, I felt sick, tangled and distraught. Not once had something hit so far home. In all the textbooks, in all of the lectures, in all of the labs; not once had something hit me as hard as this did- in all of my time whilst doing Environmental Science had I ever even imagined. What happened on that cold morning in mid August 2013 in my lecture? I understood something that I never did before. For you to understand the concept in just the right amount of intensity that I felt at that very moment, you need to let go of the pre-conceived notions that fill you with ideas about the environment. Think about what those words ‘threatened’ and ‘endangered’ mean to both you, and to others around you.

When I ask- what does the label endangered or threatened species really mean? The first thing you think is, ‘Oh my god, extinction!’ Your first response will probably be ‘my children will never get to see rhinos and elephants- they will only be in text books’. We all know about the risk of losing species, and we all know about the attempts to save those species at risk and we all know that no attempts to save species will ultimately lead to their extinction. But, have we ever even considered what will happen if we can’t ‘save’ them all? In mid August 2013, something dawned on me.

Blinded by ideals, my class mates and I worked on the lesson task and discussed species loss. We had been given a task to devise ways to save species at risk and how they can be saved using modern Environmental Science. With a blind heart full of dreams, my initial thought was ‘all species would be saved- because surely all environmentalists will save them all’. By the end of the class, my thinking suddenly changed. Then it dawned on me, there are over 30,000 endangered/threatened species (Baillie et al, 2004), we simply cannot save them all, no amount of conservation will save them all. My heart sunk and it was then that I knew.

I was faced with the cruel raw reality standing before me. Humanity has to make a choice, in fact humanity has NO choice but to make a choice. Humanity must decide who stays or goes, my hands were shaking and I looked over at my class mates with their hearts still full of dreams and it felt like my heart stopped.

So… now I ask the question, how do we make that choice, how do we make the most difficult and the most important decision a single species (humanity) is ever going to make? Similarly, a scarier thought… what if… we had, already made that choice? What if in all the haste to save the rhino, the panda and the Siberian tiger, have we unconsciously made the wrong choice? On that cold mid August morning I was faced with the biggest reality of them all, what will humanity choose?

To understand the complexity of this seemingly endless swell, we need to explore the ideas behind species loss, and what it really means to ‘lose’, a species. What is the context of these words ‘threatened and endangered’, what do they mean? How is each label determined? Baillie et al, (2004) states, these words are used as a reference point from the IUCN list (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and are categorised according to risk intensity. Different risks for each different species can lead to the loss of an entire species OR simply extinction. To assess this risk intensity, scientists look at the number of, the increase/decrease of a population of a species over time and the relative breeding success of the given species over time. From these deductions the risk for each species is ranked into categories, serving as a reference point as to just how intense the risk of losing the species in question is.

The real question here is, can humans make the most important choice of all, can we chose to save the right species from the brink of extinction? Can we really make the right choice and can this choice be unaided by previous influence? Is it something we can do with a subjective eye? Of course we can- right? Well actually, probably not. It isn’t something we like to think about too often, least of all scientists… but, humans are bias. But just how bias are we?

Scientists now know that humans have what is called a ‘cute’ meter in our brains, it’s called ‘Baby Schema’ (Glocker et al, 2009), this means, we respond to things we deem as cute, and from the age of 3 our brain is programmed to respond to specific features that mimic a human infant. The human brain responds to features such as, a rounded bulbous head, high cheekbones and large wide bulbous eyes (Sanefuji et al 2007). So… in actual fact, since humans find these traits more appealing, where ever these traits are evident, humans have an automatic emotional response to cuddle, nurture and care for any species with similar aesthetics. Therefore, in saying this, it isn’t too surprising that the most documented and heard of threatened species management cases worldwide belong to the cute, the cuddly and the downright adorable (Smith, 2007). That is, most threatened species management goes to species such as (to name a few), the panda, tiger and rhino. Unfortunately, it is all too true, and those species which are not deemed as ‘cute’, actually do receive less attention, in fact it’s well documented that this is the case. Scientists even have a name for it, it’s called; the Noahs Ark problem (Perry, 2010).

Aside from the lack of subjectivity and clear bias, the fact is, we (the human species) are selecting cute animals to save. By simply selecting our ‘favourite species’, it is unlikely to affect the planet in droves isn’t it? No. Actually, it is likely that in making this choice to save only ‘cute species’, other species will die as a result (Chaplin et al, 2000). It pains me to say this so casually and without emotion, yes- other species will die. If we painfully ignore that concept as part of our future- on the other hand, what if choosing to let a species die could actually not just wipe out one or two species (which is sadly a given and therefore not the most devastating aspect here) – but instead an entire community and the community that depends on that community? Not only will humanity have to consciously decide which species will go extinct, humanity could unconsciously choose to let the wrong species go extinct! All, without even considering the consequence, that humanity too will suffer! Such a species like this in science is what is known as a keystone species, and if you lose a keystone species, entire communities can cease to exist (Dobson et al, 2006).

So what are keystone species? What do they do? What happens if you remove a key stone species? Keystone species are those species that mandate the function and unity of ecosystems. Keystone species hold all species in the community together in what is known as a trophic level order (Duanne et al, 2002). Any species loss is biodiversity loss and when a keystone species is lost, it is likely to cause a cascade effect, or a trophic cascade. As a result, entire communities hang in the balance. Ecosystems provide services to humans in what is collectively referred to as, ecosystem services (Chaplin et al, 2000). If a keystone species is lost, not only will an entire community collapse, humans will lose the service an ecosystem has to offer too. For example, removing a keystone species such as tuna, can affect an entire food web causing mass species extinction and mass economic welfare to the fishing industry (Chaplin et al, 2000).

Humanity has created an experiment. Not only could we make the wrong choices, but there’s nothing to say we haven’t already! There’s nothing to say, that ANY of the species we are trying to save are OR are not keystone species, just like the tuna. Consider this, it’s a scary terrifying thought to question whether saving a species such as the panda or rhino is right, but quite another to consider the possibility that a tiny little invertebrate such an ugly snail or warty toad, holds the key to the survival of every living species within the community the rhino or panda exist in. Then ask yourself, what happens if we a) never know of their existence and b) never know AND let them go extinct in our quest for cuteness? Sadly, the answer is, we don’t know. Scientists don’t know what the consequence of selecting cuteness will bring, we don’t know what the consequence of our already pre-programmed appeal to nurture and care for animals (that remind us of our own cute little infants)-will bring.

Humanity must decide, not only do we have to roll up our sleeves and open our minds to the incredibly difficult decision as to what species we will save, we also we need to be aware that our decision is pre-programmed instinct. An instinct designed to assist us in rearing our own young, which can be incredibly emotionally driven and without subjectivity (Sanefuji et al, 2007). All the while, these choices are strongly affected by the biological desire to protect all that we deem as cute. If all of the animals we want to save are all ‘cute’, which cute ones do we save (will it be the rhino, the elephant, the tiger or maybe the panda?) Nevertheless, perhaps more importantly, we also need to consider- in our quest to save cute, have the not- so -cute completely lucked out? Are we creating our own unique biodiversity loss, is there a not –so- cute keystone species being driven to extinction? If so, what will happen to the environment if we make the wrong choice? OR have we already made the wrong choice?

Humanity has a choice, this is no ordinary choice, it is a choice that hangs in the balance of our very existence. Asking the question to anyone, ‘which species should live and which species should die’, is truly shocking, but there is nothing more real about this statement. On that cold day in mind August 2013, it wasn’t the fact that some species were not going to be saved that shook me. No, it was the likely hood that humanity would make the wrong choice and would not save the right ones. For me, it’s not simply the question of asking which ‘species we save and which we should not’, for the question in its self is riddled with discomfort. It’s also not even the notion of which ‘not- so- cute’ keystone species we should save or let go- despite that it’s even more confronting and uncomfortable as the later. No, for me, it’s considering the likely hood that anything that isn’t cute- be it keystone species or not, will be forgotten and will not be saved ; going down in history as humanity’s secret pushed – to – the – corner, shame. The shameful choice, the choice that alters the future of the planet for every single living thing. And, perhaps the most confronting of them all on that cold mid August morning- the thing that terrified me the most and the thing that really hit home? That subconscious scientific affirmation that, I, as an Environmental Scientist – already knew the answer. The answer, that humanity has probably already made that choice. Because for humanity, the final decision will always be the elephant in the room (or not, depending on how ‘cute’ that elephant is) and when faced with a double-edged sword for who stays and who goes; for humanity, not unlike all species, instinct will always reign supreme.

 

Baillie, J., Hilton-Taylor, C., & Stuart, S. N. (Eds.). (2004). 2004 IUCN red list of threatened species: a global species assessment. IUCN.

Chapin III, F. S., Zavaleta, E. S., Eviner, V. T., Naylor, R. L., Vitousek, P. M., Reynolds, H. L., … & Díaz, S. (2000). Consequences of changing biodiversity.Nature, 405(6783), 234-242.

Dobson, A., Lodge, D., Alder, J., Cumming, G. S., Keymer, J., McGlade, J., … & Xenopoulos, M. A. (2006). Habitat loss, trophic collapse, and the decline of ecosystem services. Ecology, 87(8), 1915-1924.

Dunne, J. A., Williams, R. J., & Martinez, N. D. (2002). Network structure and biodiversity loss in food webs: robustness increases with connectance. Ecology letters, 5(4), 558-567.

Glocker, M. L., Langleben, D. D., Ruparel, K., Loughead, J. W., Gur, R. C., & Sachser, N. (2009). Baby schema in infant faces induces cuteness perception and motivation for caretaking in adults. Ethology, 115(3), 257-263.

Perry, N. (2010). The ecological importance of species and the Noah’s Ark problem. Ecological Economics, 69(3), 478-485.

Sanefuji, W., Ohgami, H., & Hashiya, K. (2007). Development of preference for baby faces across species in humans (Homo sapiens). Journal of Ethology,25(3), 249-254.

Smith, K. Funding Distribution of the Endangered Species Act. (2007).

 

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36 comments

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  1. David

    Wow!, wow, and double wow!. As a current mature aged student at Murdoch studying sustainability this is quite a pertinent subject. Thanks for bringing this rather not so “…cute” subject to the light of day. Nicely written and succinctly put. It was only recently that I put baby Elephants being saved from mud-holes (video) on my Facebook page as they were so damned cute! What an eye opener.

  2. Nicole Clark

    Thank you David, I’m so glad to hear it! What year of study are you currently in, awesome choice of a degree too! 🙂

  3. mikestasse

    Thank you for sharing your epiphany Nicole. I wish a few more of us would have epiphanies like this, then humanity might come to its senses and realise we can’t consume the planet to death and expect to survive ourselves.

    But I don’t expect anything will work out well……. after all, as Charles Eisenstein says, as long as we have this stupid economic system that says as long as ‘there’s no money in it’, only zealots like us will bother trying to save the world…..

  4. John Armour

    only zealots like us will bother trying to save the world…..

    I thought your preoccupation these days was trying to save yourself Mike

    : )

  5. corvus boreus

    The NSW LNP govt has legislated a ‘triage’ equation for endangered species.
    They apply a formula comparing the economic benefit of a species, the likelihood of success and the projected monetary cost of interventive action.
    Importance of species to overall ecology appears to be an externality.
    When bees dies, trees dies. When trees dies…
    Good article, Nicole. Welcome back.

  6. Kaye Lee

    It’s a sobering idea that, in the fossil record, man will go down as a mass extinction event.

  7. John Kelly

    Not that those who could provide the necessary leadership care, but subsequent generations will look back on this era and make judgements about us that will reflect badly. Much the same as we look back at events like the Crusades and WW1 and Hiroshima.

  8. Douglas Evans

    Nice piece but the idea that we have the option of exercising choice in respect of which species to save strikes me as misleading. I guess that as we clearly don’t know all of the key stone species many of these will disappear/have already disappeared before their importance is discovered. If this is right the ecosystems they underpin will transform or collapse entirely taking out many more species irrespective of whether we have decided to conserve them or not. It seems to me that the choice for humans is which species to preserve in artificial environments like zoos as the environmental conditions necessary for their survival in the wild disappear. Perhaps this is what you mean by conservation?

    Although it means a fairly lengthy comment I’ll share my own ecological epiphany – the point at which the scale of the disaster underway and our helplessness in the face of it were driven home to me. It occurred in the middle of the night two years ago and this is how I wrote it at the time.

    Today I woke early. Around 4am. Turned on the radio and heard a discussion with a cheery US environmentalist. Yes he WAS cheery. I’m NOT being sarcastic although given the topic of conversation it’s hard to understand his good humour. He was talking about the devastation being wrought on north America’s vast conifer forests by the bark beetle. His name is Dr Reese Halter. He is an award winning science communicator and he’s written a book, ‘The Insatiable Bark Beetle’ about these insects that are devastating vast tracts of forests. Previously their numbers were controlled by lower winter temperatures that killed off most of them every year. Now, warmer temperatures caused by global warming mean they survive in vast numbers and they are eating north America’s softwood forests at an unimaginable rate.

    The problem is not restricted to North America. It is also happening right across northern Europe and indeed this scenario is repeating at different speeds world wide. According to Doctor Halter the entire forests of the Rocky Mountain chain from Alaska to the south Western United States are dead or dying, an area of around 260,000 square kilometres estimated to contain 30 billion trees will be finished off within a few years and there is nothing that can be done to stop this happening. Nothing. For comparison this is about half the area of France, about the same area as mainland Italy and roughly twice the area of Great Britain. A vast control mechanism for the regulation of greenhouse gas gone in a puff of smoke – literally.

    By this I mean that once dead, these billions of trees form a vast pile of kindling for forest fires which of course are also becoming bigger, more dangerous and more frequent courtesy global warming and this summer’s fire season has been very severe and may yet get worse. Of course bush fires are intensified by drought, and the US midwest is subject to serious drought and record high temperatures. So high in fact that NBC Meteorologist Bill Karins said on Friday, “We’ve never really seen a heat wave like this in the month of June.” One result of prolonged drought and high temperatures is what Joe Romm has called dust bowlification, the destruction of agricultural land due to wind borne top soil loss. This has the potential to destroy the foodbowl of the US midwest and has grave implications for food security. Global warming is behind the increasing occurrence of extreme weather but it looks as though this is the new climate reality. In 2011, extreme weather caused more than $148 billion in economic losses, and $55 billion in insured losses globally. A major chunk of those insured losses — more than $30 billion — were in the U.S. where 14 severe weather events caused losses of more than $1 billion each, far more than in any previous year. Globally these impacts are already beginning to generate conflict over access to vital food and water.
    Climate Armageddon has already dawned in the USA but has anyone noticed.

  9. Michael Taylor

    Douglas, I think The Tea Party controls the climate in America. 😉

  10. Matters Not

    About a year ago, I travelled through Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (the Balkans) with a number of Americans, including an FBI agent and his brother-in-law from Colorado. We spent some late nights talking about ‘climate change’. They were sceptical about the likely effects and leaders in the field like James Hansen were complete unknowns.

    Unfortunately the guy from Colorado had to depart dramatically. His property including a magnificent residence was destroyed by the firestorms which hit in late June of that year. One might say he was mugged by reality but I don’t know whether he has changed his views. Probably not.

  11. Michael Taylor

    Matters Not, in our own country we have an infamous fire-fighter who he himself debunks climate change. Me thinks his future will be more involved in fighting fires than being a prime minister.

    No, wait. Maybe when he’s no longer PM he may not feel the need for the fire-fighting photo ops.

  12. Nicole Clark

    That’s very insightful Douglas, but just remember that climate change is a symptom of global warming, global warming doesn’t actually mean an increase in temperatures, it’s because the globe is warming that we have climate change and that the mean global temperature is increasing. Also some of the biggest threats for any vegetation is actually not climate change, for instance right now it’s habitat fragmentation and alien species invasion. Climate Change can exacerbate these processes in various forms. But nevertheless it is shocking how much we are going to lose, and there are so many confounding factors.

  13. corvus boreus

    Nicole,
    It is very hard to quantify the most serious threats to vegetation. It’s all very much case by case with so many factors not readily apparent, and inclined to compound each other. Fragmentation has so many repercussions, alien species covers such a range of biota from all kingdoms. Climate change, with its weather extremes, can dry things up, knock them down then wash it all away.
    There are also the hidden pressures in the biota associated with the vegetation.
    There is the decline, acknowledged as a concerning reality but uncertain in extent, of the invertebrate life that are symbiotically essential to vegetative ecosystem function. This includes the readily visible, above ground life such as pollinating insects, and the subterranean elements, the soil invertebrates, fungi and microbia that act akin to our own digestive flora.
    There is the factors of pollutants, both atmospheric(acid sulfate rains spring to mind), and terrestial(metals, pesticides, petro-plastics etc), that all act to the detriment of the already weakened vegetation and its attendant life.
    Then, of course, there is always the combination of bulldozers, fire, greed and stupidity.

  14. Nicole Clark

    Yes Corvus, very true, ‘hidden pressures’ with plant species that spring to mind are ‘inter-specific competition; where respective species compete with another species for the same niche. Invasion is a big problem with this regard, as invasive species typically exhibit high phenotypic plasticity and therefore have affordable benefits when acquiring these niches, more often than not invasive species can out compete native ones simply as they have biological and physiological differences that allow them to more readily adapt to the environment they have colonised. Then of course, other influences are, the general life span of both the invasive and native, for instance if the invasive is a perennial species and the native is an annual, the perennial species will acquire the empty niche when the annual is still in the soil seed bank. These concepts fascinate me to no end, and truly the future of vegetation science will undoubtedly be heavily impacted by climate change. It’s this concept that will no doubt be the topic of my post graduate degree! Me thinks!

  15. ' george hanson '

    let’s reverse the situation …..if the harmonious animal kingdom had to choose whether to save humankind …would they ?

  16. corvus boreus

    ‘george hanson’,
    The brown rats, roaches and jellyfish vote in humanity’s favour, the rest of the animals vote that we be extinguished. The ants abstain from voting as they are too busy ruling the planet.

  17. Nicole Clark

    Ah lets not forget the corvids, the Australian raven and torresian crow! George, when all is said and done, the planet will survive, but humans will not.

  18. corvus boreus

    So the rest of the antipodean corvidae don’t feel offended, big wing up to the corvids tasmanicus, mellori and benetti, as well as the venerable boreus.
    P.s the common name ‘relict raven’ for Corvus boreus(raven of woods) makes as much sense in binomial nomenclature as the green tree frog being called the ‘blue beach’ frog(Litoria caerulia).

  19. Nicole Clark

    Well in that case let’s extend that to Artamidae as well! Because they are truly just as capable.

  20. corvus boreus

    I’ll not raise a wing to the pies, I do have a right to bigotry. 😉

  21. RalphG

    corvus boreus, a raven! And here’s me thinking you were a world-weary astronomer. 😉

  22. corvus boreus

    RalphG,
    “here’s me thinking”.
    Brother, It is good that you do that.
    However, I am not predominantly weary of this world, it is too wondrous, and I have seen and know so little of it.
    Humans will, as Nicole said, most likely go the way of all things(or, alternatively, evolve beyond recognition).
    This Earth, with it’s life, shall one day pass, as eventually shall our sustaining Sol.
    Elsewhere, as time passes, void is filled by energy and matter, which builds structure, which becomes life, which complexifies and diversifies.
    Enjoy It while you are with It.
    As for Astronomy, I know embarrassingly little about the the nocturnal sky. I will rectify.

  23. donwreford

    What does it matter if all animal species die? surely as long as we can keep having chubby little babies, this will fill the void, especially if they become well informed?

  24. Nicole Clark

    Donwreford? You are joking right? If not, I’m not sure you got to read the article properly.

  25. corvus boreus

    Purely anthropocentric viewpoints often ignore fundamentals of biology.

  26. Douglas Evans

    Hi Nicole
    Not sure I completely understand your response. I wasn’t trying to compare one class of environmental disaster with another. I was trying to illustrate what seems to me the increasingly illusory idea that we are able to choose between outcomes in our unfolding environmental catastrophe. If the possibility ever existed it’s pretty well out of our hands by now isn’t it?

  27. corvus boreus

    Siberian Traps.

    Methane monster wakes,
    rampages, throwing tantrum.
    We don’t hold the leash.

    Concealed consequences and hidden repercussions combined, multiplied and amplified in feedback loops.

  28. Douglas Evans

    @corvus boreus
    couldn’t have said it better myself.

  29. RalphG

    “As for Astronomy, I know embarrassingly little about the the nocturnal sky. I will rectify.”

    Excellent idea CB. Maybe you would like to start with the constellation Corvus. 😉

  30. RalphG

    “Siberian Traps.”

    The most amazing landscape I have ever seen (via Google Earth).

    There is speculation that the Siberian traps were formed by a meteor impact in Antarctica – the Wilkes Land crater.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilkes_Land_crater

  31. corvus boreus

    RalphG,
    Thanks for the info, both on Wilke’s crater and the constellation ‘Corvus’.
    Each time I successfully identify that group of 11 stars, or reference that Antarctic depression, I shall project gratitudes to RalphG.

  32. Nicole Clark

    Sorry Douglas I guess I was not quite sure what you meant, can you elaborate?

  33. Douglas Evans

    Hi Nicole
    Nothing to be sorry about. Your article focused on the impossibility of saving all threatened species, the difficulties of choosing which species to conserve and the likelihood that we will not choose the right ones to conserve. My point was that (as far as I can see) the climatic changes in train are of such magnitude that these combined with our incomplete knowledge of what sustains what in the global ecological network make the possibility of rational choice in this matter illusory. Simply put, it seems to me (a cynical old-timer) that it is already out of our hands. We are simply being swept along by the forces we have unleashed. Rather like Paul Klee’s Angel of History if you are familiar with this image (if not it’s well worth googling and reflecting on).

    My example of the vast damage being wrought by bark beetles world wide and the fact that there is absolutely nothing we can do to stop this happening was simply meant to illustrate this point. We started the destruction but we cannot choose to halt it. It is out of our hands. None of this is intended to trivialize the vital work you and your colleagues world wide must do over the coming decades. I guess any species you can pluck out of the maelstrom we have created and plop into a life raft of some sort will be worth conserving but with the background conditions underpinning their existence in the first place altering so fundamentally, can we even be sure of that?

    Apropos my lengthy ramble on the climate driven destruction of the world’s forests I’ve just turned up this from Climate News Network which illustrates:
    a. that this massive change is not just confined to North America but is global.
    b. that it is both driven by and reinforces global warming.
    —————————————————————————————————————————————-
    New research shows that forest ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to rapid changes in the climate and have been suffering intensified disturbance in Europe for decades.

    LONDON, 5 August, 2014 Climate change is here, it’s happening now, and for the last few decades it has been demonstrably bad news for many of Europe’s forests.

    An international team of researchers say in a report from the European Forest Institute that climate change is altering the environment, and it is long-lived ecosystems like forests that are particularly vulnerable to the comparatively rapid changes occurring in the climate system.

    The report, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, shows that damage from wind, bark beetles, and wild-fires has increased significantly in Europe’s forests in recent years. Windthrow ‘the wind’s effect in damaging or uprooting trees’ is an increasing problem.

    Increasing challenges

    The authors show that damage caused by forest disturbance has increased continuously over the last 40 years in Europe, reaching 56 million cubic metres of timber annually in the years from 2002 to 2010.

    Analysis of scenarios for the decades ahead suggest this trend will continue, with the study estimating that forest disturbance will increase damage by another million cubic metres of timber every year over the next 20 years.

    The authors say climate change is the main driver behind the increase.

    They estimate that forest fires will cause increased damage on the Iberian peninsula, with damage by bark beetles increasing most markedly in the Alps. Wind damage, they say, is likely to increase most in central and western Europe.

    Feedback effect

    What the climate does to the forests is not a one-way street, the study says. There is a strong feedback effect from forest disturbances on the climate system.

    Europe’s forests are at present helping to mitigate climate change by absorbing large quantities of carbon dioxide. But the carbon lost from the increasing numbers of trees that are damaged or die could reduce this effect and reverse the positive impact of forest management measures aimed at reducing climate change.

  34. Douglas Evans

    While I’m on the topic of forest fires and their feedback to climate change an article from The Daily Climate reports that even in what has been a relatively mild fire season smoke from the western United States and Canada has drifted as far east as Greenland dropping soot on the Greenland ice (exacerbating the melt of the ice cap). Every year for the last decade forest fires in north America have burned an area of forest almost equivalent to the combined areas of greater Melbourne and greater Sydney – every year! Sorry for wandering so far from Nicole’s article.

  35. Nicole Clark

    Hi Doug, you’re not wandering too far from my article at all, let me re-read this tomorrow with a clear head (I have been researching sharks ecotourism all day and my brain is fried!) and then I’ll see if I can add to your thoughts. I’m not one to be so morbid, and I think the points are valid, but some are a little extreme and unnecessarily so. Give me some time to think and I’ll get back to you 🙂

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