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The Future of Life nrpi book

The Future of Life nrpi book - The Bottleneck The 20 th...

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The Future of Life : To the Ends of the Earth The truth is, we have only begun to explore life on earth. About 10,000 species of ants are known, but that number may double when tropical regions are more fully explored. Ever deeper rounds of zoological exploration, driven by a sense of urgency over vanishing environments, have revealed surprising numbers of new vertebrates, many of which are placed on the endangered list as soon as they are discovered. More than half the plant and animal species of the world are believed to occur in the tropical rainforests. A single coral head in Indonesia can harbor hundreds of species of crustaceans, polychaete worms, and other invertebrates and maybe a fish or two. And our tragedy, because a large part of it is being lost forever before we learn what it is and the best means by which it can be savored and used.
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Unformatted text preview: The Bottleneck The 20 th century was a time of exponential scientific technical advance, the freeing of arts by an exuberant modernism, and the spread of democracy and human rights throughout the world. The ecological footprint-the av amt of productive land and shallow sea appropriated by each person in bits and pieces from around the world for food, water, housing, energy, transportation, commerce and waste absorption-is about 1 hectare in developing nations and 9.6 hectares in the US. For every person in the world to reach present US levels of consumption with existing technology would require 4 more Earth’s Homo sapiens has become a geophysical force, the 1 st species in world history to attain that dubious destinction. The ecologist is focused on unsustainable crop yields, overdrawn aquifiers, and threatened ecosystems....
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