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habitat loss

Who gives a hoot about habitat?
"Who gives a hoot about habitat?"

Orangutan Composite Population Graph

orangutan comp gr

"There are now more human babies born each day-- about 350,000-- than there are individuals left in all the great ape species combined, including gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans." (Richard Cincotta, ecologist and senior researcher, Population Action International)

Orangutans once numbered in the single digit millions. Numbers of orangutans in the wild are currently estimated by ecologists to be in the single digit thousands. That works out to a SANI value of about one-tenth. The subpopulations are fragmented but somewhat above Minimum Viable Population levels. Their survival is dependent upon the preservation of their habitat. This condition exists because the regions of the world in which these organisms previously found habitat is overpopulated by humans. Global warming is expected to deal a disproportionately severe blow to the tropics and subtropics. Therefore these primates are in great risk. That is no secret. Everyone has watched a nature special about these organisms on TV. The narrators inevitably mention that these organisms are at great risk. Yet their status remains in peril. The human juggernaut has not slowed down one iota in sympathy for orangutans. Nor can it be expected to slow down enough to significantly benefit these organisms in the near future.

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Conservation of orangutan numbers must be undertaken in order to preserve the illusion that humans have not overpopulated the planet. They are very entertaining animals. Creative graph technique can reduce anxiety about dwindling orangutan numbers until such time as their habitat destruction is complete and they exist only in zoos.

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This little graph shows the increase in human numbers in the last few thousand years. In this case, the distance from 1,000 million to 7,600 million is 7.6 times the distance from zero to 1,000 million. 7.6 billion is demographers' mid projection. Graph curve is from Learning Tools, KQED TV, San Francisco, a PBS educational tv station. Overpopulation denialists right and left have asked about the source, so now you know. The leader of the Task Force on Amphibian Decline living in Britain objected calling the graph extreme and, "off the scale." But it isn't. It is simply demographer's mid projection.

Usually when such a graph is drawn, a short time scale is used. But an evolutionarily significant time scale can more easily show relevant amounts of increase per unit of time.

The distance from 1,000 million to 7,600 million is 7.6 times the distance from zero to 1,000 million. The graph is an accurate representation.

KQED, a PBS program available on video tape to eligible schools and non-profit groups. 60 minutes. To Order: Call Films for the Humanities, 1.800.257.5126

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ESA TheScientist

Food, Energy, Society
Food, Energy, Society



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