Playing dominoes with the planet

Unless you’ve had your head in sand over the past few years, you’ll know that the planet is in a sorry state. All fingers point to climate change and during the 20th century it’s been ripping through the earth like you won’t believe. And as well as global warming, its list of achievements include floods, droughts, storms and rising sea levels. An impressive list we’re sure you’ll agree. One of the innocent victims to all this change are animals, so read on if you want to know the full extent.

Melting ice caps in the Antarctic are giving four species of penguins a lot to think about. A new report from the WWF says that global warming is occurring five times faster there than anywhere else in the world. Meaning that the clock’s ticking for the Emperor, Gentoo, Chinstrap and Adelie species. It doesn’t get any prettier when you click here.

Apes have also been circled out by climate change. The destruction of their habitats in Africa and South East Asia have had the numbers of gorillas, chimps and orangutans dropping quicker than ever before. So be prepared to wave goodbye to them in our lifetime.

And not helping matters for orangutans is the illegal logging, forest fires and hunting. Talk about kicking them when they’re down. Here are more words on deforestation:www.greenpeace.org.uk/forests/climate-change

While time’s running out for penguins and apes, one animal’s already had its day due to the world’s state of play. The Golden Toad was a small, yellow/orange amphibian found in a 30 square kilometre area of Costa Rica. They were already pretty rare, but for a couple of weeks in April every year, hundreds of the amazingly coloured things hooked up in pools for breeding. But from their discovery in 1967 they were already performing their disappearing act.

In ’67 there were several thousand. In ’88 there were just 10. Extinction was well and truly banging on the door and in 2004 the Golden Toad was finally classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a defunct species. Reading doesn’t get any prettier here: www.petermaas.nl/extinct/speciesinfo/goldentoad.htm
If the problems that come from global warming have got your back up, you could get involved as:

  • physicist designing computer models of atmospheric circulation and infra-red radiation transmission
  • An environmental scientist examining atmospheric chemicals and their reactions
  • biologist analysing plant and animal contributions to carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere
  • zoologist or ecologist working in conservation monitoring populations of threatened species
  • An oceanographer studying the effects of melting polar ice caps on ocean volume and land mass
  • geoscientist or geologist researching the effects of thawing of the soil surface
  • meteorologist predicting the effects on future weather systems