The Global Warming Desk Reference

By Bruce E. Johansen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6

Flora and Fauna

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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The Global Warming Desk Reference
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface: Diary of a Warm Winter vii
  • Introduction xiii
  • References xvii
  • Chapter 1 - A Sketch of the Problem 1
  • Chapter 2 - The General Consensus on Global Warming 33
  • Chapter 3 - Warmer is Better; Richer is Healthier: Global-Warming Skeptics 83
  • Chapter 4 - Icemelt: Glacial, Arctic, and Antarctic 123
  • Chapter 5 - Warming Seas 153
  • References 177
  • Chapter 6 - Flora and Fauna 183
  • Chapter 7 - Human Health 209
  • References 218
  • Chapter 8 - A Fact of Daily Life: Global Warming and Indigenous Peoples 221
  • Chapter 9 - Greenhouse Gases and the Weather: Now, and in the Year 2100 231
  • Chapter 10 - Possible Solutions 251
  • Postscript 275
  • References 279
  • Bibliography 281
  • Index 345
  • About the Author 355
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