Our planet’s increasingly interdependent human and ecological systems has crushed many natural habitats, but also continues to threaten the survival of millions more.
Habitat conservation is a land management practice that seeks to conserve, protect and restore, habitat areas for wild animals and plants that are in threat of destruction. Habitats are destroyed by:
Destructive fishing activity: Bottom trawling and dynamiting coral reefs destroy entire ecosystems.
Coastal Development: Habitats are destroyed when marshes are dredged for real estate development. Soil runoff and erosion result in excess nutrients from fertilizers and domestic sewage, which then leads to harmful algae blooms that block sunlight and deplete the water of oxygen. It also causes slit to build-up on coral reefs, which blocks sunlight necessary for coral to grow.
Pollution: Development near coastal waters contaminates oceans with toxic substances, such as industrial chemicals, pesticides, and motor oil. For example, one gallon of motor oil can pollute as much as 1 million gallons of water.
Dredging ship channels: Removes accumulated sediment and pollutants, re-suspending them into the water. Dredging can also destroy sea grass beds and other habitats that provide food, shelter, and breeding grounds. The dredged material must be disposed of, and is often dumped into salt marshes, damaging very productive marine habitats in the process.
- Natural resources extraction: In order to fuel demands for energy, companies drill in the ocean and mine our lands to extract valuable natural resources.
- Invasive species: Sometimes nature can attack itself thanks to human influence. Human introduction of species such as kudzoo (most popular), bamboo, and privet have led to the rapid growth of these plants in their non-native habitats where they take resources that would otherwise been available for native species. Invasives tilt the natural ecological balance that makes our planet work smoothly and sometimes encourage the spread of pathogens.
Habitat conservation for wild species is one of the most important issues facing the environment today – both in the ocean and on land. As human populations increase, land use increases, and wild species have smaller places to call home. More than half of Earth’s terrestrial surface has been altered due to human activity, resulting in drastic deforestation, erosion and loss of topsoil, biodiversity loss, and extinction. Species can’t survive outside their natural habitat without human intervention, such as the habitats found in a zoo or aquarium, for example. Preserving habitats is essential to preserving biodiversity. Migratory species are particularly vulnerable to habitat destruction because they tend to inhabit more than one natural habitat. This creates the need to not only preserve the two habitats for migratory species, but also their migratory route. Altering a natural habitat even slightly can result in a domino effect that harms the entire ecosystem.
The following is an example illustrating this point by Dr. Peter Moyle: “Habitats don’t exist in isolation; most of them have inputs and outputs connected to other habitats and ecosystems. Take Mono Lake, for instance, a spectacular lake on the east side of the Sierra Nevada in California. Its water source is streams fed by winter rains and melting snow in the mountains. In its natural state, water leaves the lake only by evaporation. The balance between the inflowing streams and evaporation created a saline lake with many unique features, including a species of brine shrimp found only in Mono Lake. As a large, food-rich body of water in a desert area, the lake is a major fueling stop for migratory waterbirds and a major nesting area for other species, such as California gulls. When water from the lake’s inflowing streams was diverted to quench the ever-growing thirst of Southern California, the lake level dropped drastically. islands in the lake became connected to the mainland, giving coyotes and other predators access to an easy source of food: nesting California gulls. With adequate inflowing water, the islands were a good nesting habitat; without the water they were unsuitable as a nesting habitat. Without adequate inflowing water, the lake also would become too saline for the Mono bine shrimp to survive and for migratory waterbirds to feed in. Recognition of this fundamental relationship between inflow and habitat for many species was the partial basis of a successful court action that reduced the diversion of water from the inflowing streams.”
What can you do to help save endangered species?
Wood Sources: You will be surprised with how many wood products come from endangered rainforests. Support FSC paper. FSC paper is paper that has been independently evaluated by the Forest Stewardship council. This type of paper has to come from forest-friendly sources and may come from recycled, reclaimed, or post-consumer waste wood products. Look for the FCS logo on products.
Sponsor an Acre: The Sierra Club and Nature Conservancy offers programs where you can donate a certain amount of money to help protect endangered areas all over our world.
Organize: Gather up a group of concerned citizens and write or speak to a company or industry that is the cause for animal habitat loss in your community. See what they are doing to help the environment and offer suggestions on how they can improve their business activities.
Contact Your Local Politicians: If you learn of local animal and plant endangerment, write or speak to a city or state politician and offer suggestions as to what can be done to solve the problem.
Tell a friend: Help spread the word by telling a friend.
Background and Vision
Oil and natural gas are so dominant and subsidized that alternative solutions seem out of reach. Change happens whether we are ready or not. Global oil production is peaking right about now; the downslope means that growth for the world corporate economy is directly threatened.
Everyone must get ready for sustainable alternatives to survive oil scarcity. Isn’t it time for a cap on much of the greenhouse gases, such as from offshore oil drilling as a form of fossil fuel combustion? It’s time to make it happen. One reason is that technofixes for a huge, green consumer economy are not truly sustainable, even if they were ready now. Meanwhile their assumed arrival puts off serious and overdue cuts in energy waste today. We will incorporate slashing energy use now with our efforts to stop the exploitation of oil fields that should be off limits forever. Help bring this about by linking together with us.
Most Americans agree it’s time to protect the environment and stop giving out more corporate welfare to the polluting energy companies. Offshore oil drilling and development of the East Coast and the sensitive Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) are questionable supply-bandaids to try delaying the inevitable post-peak oil collapse by a few years. Local-based groups are understaffed and underfunded for this daunting task in their threatened areas. Our attention to their struggles is a significant way to help galvanize support.
The Case against Offshore Oil
(compiled by Rainforest Action Network, courtesy Mendocino Environmental Center)
- A steady stream of pollution from offshore rigs causes a wide range of health and reproductive problems for fish and other marine life.
- Offshore drilling exposes wildlife to the threat of oil spills that would devastate their populations.
- Offshore drilling activities destroy kelp beds, reefs and coastal wetlands.
Over its lifetime, a single oil rig can:
- Dump more than 90,000 metric tons of drilling fluid and metal cuttings into the ocean;
- Drill between 50-100 wells, each dumping 25,000 pounds of toxic metals, such as lead, chromium and mercury, and potent carcinogens like toluene, benzene, and xylene into the ocean, and
- Pollute the air as much as 7,000 cars driving 50 miles a day.
History of accidents and violations
- In May 1992, Chevron USA pleaded guilty to 65 violations of the Clean Water Act and paid $8 million in fines for illegal discharges from the company’s production platform of the California coast.
- In March 1997, Chevron was fined 1.2 million for operating a well off the coast of Ventura with a broken ant-blowout valve, a key environmental protection on an offshore oil well.
- In 1998, a rupture in Torch Oil’s pipeline spilled 21,000 gallons of oil, damaging a rich ocean fishing ground and killing wildlife in the delicate coastal ecosystem at the mouth of the Santa Ynez River.
- State and local authorities repeatedly cited the Venoco Corporation for releases of deadly hydrogen sulfide gas at its Goleta platform in 1998-99.
- An ARCO pipeline ruptured in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, spilling 193,000 gallons of oil into the Santa Clara River.
- “When the Deepwater Horizon fell two days after exploding on April 20, 2010, BP announced that the hole in the Gulf floor was leaking at a rate of 1,000 barrels a day. On April 28th, that number increased to 5,000.”
Recent figures based on the latest scientific data bring the gushing Deepwater Horizon well to between 1.47 and 2.7 million gallons a day.
Global oil extraction history
- Since 1859, 800 billion barrels of oil have been burned worldwide.
- The oil industry spends approximately $150 billion annually to search for new drilling sites.
- There is an ecological limit to the use of oil: scientists warn of serious global warming as we continue to burn more and more oil.
- Since 1988, the oil industry has drilled more than 100,000 exploratory wells, threatening frontier forests in 22 countries, coral reefs in 38 countries, mangrove swamps in 46 countries, indigenous people on six continents, and global climate stability worldwide.