David Quammen, an environmental writer, believes that the Earth during the next century will become a “planet of weeds,” where human domination forces the extinction of most undomesticated living things. Quammen expects that the flora and fauna of the Earth eventually will include food crops, animals raised to be eaten or petted, and a few stubborn weed species which will benefit from a harsher, hotter world. By 2050, Quammen believes that deforestation will cause half the world’s wild birds and two-thirds of other wild animal species to become extinct (Quammen 1998, 61, 69). “Wildlife,” he writes, “will consist of pigeons, coyotes, rats, roaches, house sparrows, crows, and feral dogs” (Quammen 1998, 67). Human beings—“remarkably widespread, prolific, and adaptable,” are “the consummate weed” (Quammen 1998, 68).
Albert K. Bates supports Quammen’s opinion: “Sixty-five million years ago, 60 to 80 percent of the world’s species disappeared in a cataclysmic mass extinction, possibly caused by an asteroid’s impact with Earth. Human population, not an asteroid, will cut the remaining number of species in half again, in just the next few years” (Bates and Project Plenty 1990, 137). Another observer, Robert L. Peters, factors climate change into a similar picture of the Earth’s biological future:
Habitat destruction in conjunction with climate change sets the stage for an even larger wave of extinction than previously imagined, based on consideration of human encroachment alone. Small, remnant populations of most species, surrounded by cities, roads, reservoirs, and farmland, would have little chance of reaching new habitat if climate change makes the old unsuitable. Few animals or plants would be able to cross Los Angeles on the way to the promised land. (Peters 1989, 91)
Global warming could destroy or fundamentally alter a third of the world’s plant and animal habitats within a century, bringing extinction to thousands of
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Publication information: Book title: The Global Warming Desk Reference. Contributors: Bruce E. Johansen - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2002. Page number: 183.
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