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Thread: Another Global Warming Question

  1. #1 Another Global Warming Question 
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    Is there a point at which we could all just die and the planet can then begin to recover? Or will the planet be completely and helplessly terminal by the time it gets bad enough to make us extinct?


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  3. #2 Re: Another Global Warming Question 
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScienceFictionNut
    Is there a point at which we could all just die and the planet can then begin to recover? Or will the planet be completely and helplessly terminal by the time it gets bad enough to make us extinct?
    Life proves to be quite flexible, and I doubt earth as a whole will have any problem recovering and reaching it's equilibrium again (you can't beat entropy). I'm not sure global warming is enough to wipe out the human race even.


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  4. #3  
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    The one thing Gaia can't recover from is evolution.
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  5. #4  
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    The planet will die of global warming some time between 500 million years and 2 billion in the future. However, this is not our current global warming problem. This is the inevitable heating as our sun expands. Eventually, in 5 to 6 billion years, it will be a red giant of sufficient diameter to engulf the Earth, but all life will be dead of over heating billions of years before that happens.
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  6. #5 Re: Another Global Warming Question 
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScienceFictionNut
    Is there a point at which we could all just die and the planet can then begin to recover? Or will the planet be completely and helplessly terminal by the time it gets bad enough to make us extinct?
    Really too broad a question, but a few things come to mind:

    We're among the most adaptable species on the planet-fully able to live in every land environment on the planet; most of the biosphere would be long gone before our extinction. I think it more likely we'll engineer a replacement homo species then it is we screw up the planet so bad that even we can't live here.

    We're already in the mist of a massive species die off, mostly of our own making. Once a species is gone, it's gone. We're at the point were entire ecosystems may also disappear. With massive extinctions, there is no recovery; only replacement of one set of species with another set.
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  7. #6  
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    While I agree we are in a massive species die off, it is worth remembering that such extinction events are rapidly followed by speciation events. What will come will be numerous new species adapted to the wide range of new ecological niches that humans are creating.
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    T...adapted to the wide range of new ecological niches that humans are creating.
    or vacating ?
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  9. #8  
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    There is an entirely new branch of ecology which deals with life forms that adapt to urban areas. Foxes and raccoons in cities. Raptors that nest on sky scrapers. Here in NZ we have a massive population explosion of swallows that nest preferentially on man-made structures that provide a steel ledge to build a nest on.

    The biggest part of this adaptation explosion is yet to come, but the beginnings are there for anyone with eyes to see.
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  10. #9  
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    maybe i didn't make myself clear enough : what if, instead creating new niches, humans vacated them by going extinct ? i'm sure there would be an outburst of speciation because food resources would no longer be sequestered to a large extent by humans and their domesticated animals and plants
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  11. #10  
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    I see no likelihood of human extinction any time soon. Obviously, if that happened, it would have profound effects on evolution of other species. Some species would suffer, and others would thrive. New species would evolve to adapt to a changing world.

    However, what I see as more likely is simply that humans are creating a vast range of new niches, which will induce adaptive evolution in many species. For example, we build networks of tunnels, some dry like rail and road tunnels, and some wet like canals, sewers and drains. How many species will adapt to making use of these tunnels as habitats? Rats have already done so, and more species must follow.
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  12. #11  
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    Physical evolution can't match the rate of change. Look at how we've tilted ocean ecology this way and that, by selectively harvesting one species, then another.

    Sea gulls now populate Alberta. A niche we've created. It's the same gull with webbed feet and a taste for fish guts.

    But learning mammals adapt behaviours most rapidly. I'm especially concerned about reports of mice gnawing our newfangled plastic pipes, to get the water.
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    There are two forms of adaptation.
    1. Acclimation. In which an organism changes as an individual to make use of a new environment. eg. Arctic hare growing more fur, or mouse learning to gnaw pipes.
    2. Evolution : A long term genetic change affecting entire populations.

    Of course evolution is slow. The fastest species change I am aware of in animals is a cichlid fish in Africa that changed species, albeit minimally, in 100 years. For true evolution over many species, we are probably talking thousands of years. However, I am convinced that the process has started. And thousands of years in terms of evolutionary biology is a mere eye blink of time.
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  14. #13  
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    Of course that assumes that urban centers are the same thousands of years from now as they are now. Certainly cities have changed dramatically just in the last 200 years or so. Far less fecal matter in the streets for one thing

    The book "The Mote in Gods Eye" has an alien species which has been trapped in its solar system for thousands of years, with a cyclic history to civilization (rise then downfall). All the fauna on their planet have adapted to the alien race and their civilization, with some animals even having latent ability with technology.
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    How many species will adapt to making use of these tunnels as habitats? Rats have already done so, and more species must follow.
    Unfortunately the answer is comparably small number. There's probably more diversity in the wild few acres behind my house because it's adjacent to a wild zone along a major river than in the entirety of Central Park for example. Both are completely devoid of large mammal that originally lived there (bobcat, black bears, cougar etc) which depend on large areas.
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    From the point of view of biodiversity and biomass, the number of large animals is not necessarily the most important. The most biodiverse group on Earth are the beetles. And the greatest biomass on planet Earth, by far, is bacteria. We need to open our eyes to the wider picture when talking diversity, and biomass.

    Next time around, evolution may not favour the large.
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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Lynx
    From the point of view of biodiversity and biomass, the number of large animals is not necessarily the most important. The most biodiverse group on Earth are the beetles. And the greatest biomass on planet Earth, by far, is bacteria. We need to open our eyes to the wider picture when talking diversity, and biomass.

    Next time around, evolution may not favour the large.
    Are there any studies, what so ever, which suggest humans create more diversity in our cities, on our farms etc, than what we replaced? It's far from my expertise, but I'd find that darn hard to believe given how homogeneous we humans build our ecosystems.
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  18. #17  
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    There are any number of studies on the changes to ecosystems created by humans, and a lot that describe the new ecologies that operate around human institutions such as cities, suburbs, farms etc. Enough to make it very clear that the human influence has changed ecology markedly and to point out the adaptations that plants and animals adopt to thrive in the new ecologies.

    There are, of course, no studies on evolution in those new ecologies, for the simple reason that too little time has passed to permit that evolution to achieve a measurable change. It is inevitable that geneticists will direct their attention there in due course. Once we have cheap and rapid means of determining whole genomes, there will be a record that will show genetic changes in populations affected by humans.

    Human changes are by no means all homogeneous. For example, the biodiversity in suburban gardens in some respects outdoes unaltered nature. Gardens contain a wide range of cultivated plants, which are exploited by insects and birds. This means a wider range of plant, insect and bird species in suburbia than is found, for example, in a natural temperate woodland.
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  19. #18 Re: Another Global Warming Question 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox
    We're already in the mist of a massive species die off, mostly of our own making.
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    While I agree we are in a massive species die off [...]
    I hate to rain on your parades of self guilt, but we are not in the midst of a massive species die off, and most certainly not one caused by humans. Penn & teller season 3 episode 11 "Endangered species" highlights this very clearly. A description of this episode can be seen here, but the clip appears broken.
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  20. #19  
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    I agree at least for Western Canada a great number of species introduced by humans now seem to hold their own. We even have Atlantic salmon breeding in the Pacific. This is really good insurance against extinction, because even wiped out of former ranges they'll survive elsewhere. Presumably these transplants will speciate over time.

    I'll bet every forum member wherever they live can point to more introductions to their region than extinctions.

    The raw numbers do say more species are becoming extinct. I think that's inflated by jungle ecosystems, that support an exceptional level of diversity. We shouldn't judge Christmas doomed because Toys 'R Us is going belly up.
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    Introduced species are, in fact, probably the main force driving extinctions. The fact that one in ten introduced species thrives in a new habitat is simply a reflection of different degrees of fitness. Everywhere we introduce new species, old ones die off. Rats and mongoose in Hawaii killing off native birds. Brown snake in Guam wiping out substantial numbers. And in my home, New Zealand, stoats, rats and Australian possum killing off native species like there is no tomorrow.

    The actual number of species driven extinct is a bit moot. Greenpeace claims about 250,000 per year. However, Greenpeace are, and have been, living in La La Land for decades. The number of species actually recorded and later found to be extinct is about 20 per year, with a big plus or minus error factor. This is doubtless conservative, since we have probably described no more than 10% of all species that exist. A simple calculation then suggests that humans are wiping out about 200 species per year, plus or minus a big error factor. This is significant and substantial.
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  22. #21  
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    Welcome to evolution. It has to happen sooner or later. The very small numbers of species that are going extinct are going extinct because they're unfit for survival. At least as far as the introduction of other animals are concerned.

    This link offers a chart of the biodiversity throughout Earths evolution, with the current level estimated to be the highest. There are claims that another mass extinction is being caused by humans, but these claims are never backed up by any sufficient evidence. In fact wikipedia only states so because some crackpot wrote it in a book (go figure).

    Assuming humans are making any real dent on biodiversity, the best (and most efficient) way to withdraw human impact would be to reduce global population.

    P.S: The numbers you pulled out of your ass are really out of your ass. this link on wikipedia lists all "modern" extinct species. It totals to less than 200 in the past 500 years. Although liberal bias is everywhere screaming humans are to blame, in reading a number of these I don't see it. I just see claims and blame thrown around.
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  23. #22  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Introduced species are, in fact, probably the main force driving extinctions.
    Makes sense. And we stress and destroy habitats. I've never doubted that humans are largely responsible for most meaningful extinctions since... oh, like the last ice age. Here I'm rating the extinction of say pygmy mammoth or polar bear more meaningful than a dozen rainforest butterflies wiped out by forest fire.
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Introduced species are, in fact, probably the main force driving extinctions.
    Makes sense. And we stress and destroy habitats. I've never doubted that humans are largely responsible for most meaningful extinctions since... oh, like the last ice age. Here I'm rating the extinction of say pygmy mammoth or polar bear more meaningful than a dozen rainforest butterflies wiped out by forest fire.

    Ah Pong, but you rate aribitraily. You forget that you humans are a homogenous part of the mix. You all ARE nature so to whom you extinct you extinct naturally.

    But Lo! You humans have brains. You uncover that extinctions are ongoing,

    But hell! I say last man standing. :-D
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  25. #24  
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    Do not credit Wiki with ultimate wisdom. I have also seen the figures you quote. According to Bjorn Lomborg (The Skeptical Environmentalist) from 1500 to 2000 AD, approximately 1000 extinctions have been recorded - that is 2 per year.

    However, more recent figures have shown 20 per year in the 21st Century. It is anyone's guess how accurate the earlier figure was, but was probably distorted downwards quite substantially by the lack of appreciation of the number of non vertebrate extinctions. In fact, the modern figure is almost certainly wrong also, as I stated in my previous post, and the true figure about 10 times as high.

    If you don't like my figures, try the eminent ecologist, Prof. E.O. Wilson, who estimates 30,000 extinctions per year! However, I happen to know that his figure is a calculation based on debatable assumptions.
    http://www.whole-systems.org/extinctions.html
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  26. #25  
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    I would not, but sadly any alternatives I have seen contain as much bias as a luthern preacher on Evolution. I am intrigued by Mr. Lomborg, however, and will most definitely read "The skeptical environmentalist". However, I do credit wiki with being very active with information updates. If an extinct species is not listed there, then I question its official recognition. Which you should allow me considering the heavy amount of bias from Green Peace articles that are EVERYWHERE, and the huge amount of misinformation being spread in the name of personal dogma.

    So, all in all, I would much rather trust wiki for actually HAVING a list. I would very much welcome a website or book that gives a detailed list of every species extinct, though.

    Edit: Curiously, if I enter in Google "Extinctions in X" for a specific year, I cannot find any information on a new extinction for those years. This leads me to believe either the exact information is never publicized, or highly exaggerated (read: outright lying). If there are two extinctions per year, surely they would be listed on the internet as proof and surely they would be listed on wiki.
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  27. #26  
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    Quote Originally Posted by milum
    Ah Pong, but you rate aribitraily. You forget that you humans are a homogenous part of the mix. You all ARE nature so to whom you extinct you extinct naturally.

    But Lo! You humans have brains. You uncover that extinctions are ongoing,

    But hell! I say last man standing. :-D
    I wasn't moralizing, and I agree we're part of nature. On the other hand it seems in our nature to appreciate diversity and project stewardship, just as love of butterflies and sunlight through foliage is in our nature. We may as well heed our timeless instincts telling us what is good, despite clever notions of moral license.
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    Heh, I didn't expect this post to have so much wind. I'm interested in this "what defines nature?" bit, though.

    It's my understanding that part of global warming is undeniably natural, but I can't imagine, on any other planet, an intelligent, land-dwelling species taking a route radically different than ours... wouldn't they discover industry almost exactly as we did? Would they not power their vehicles in a manner that also released carbon emissions? Would they not damage their own ozone layer and cause "unnatural" climate change?

    I guess what I'm asking is this: Isn't our pollution and our effect on "nature" (nature other than us) just a natural course for an intelligent civilization?
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  29. #28  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScienceFictionNut
    I guess what I'm asking is this: Isn't our pollution and our effect on "nature" (nature other than us) just a natural course for an intelligent civilization?
    Why'd you ask? To rate us against hypothetical ET? If most plausible ETs are "better" does that make us "bad"? Better you set our standards than aliens.
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    lol good point. From now on I will just assume the hypothetical aliens blew themselves up shortly after discovering nuclear weaponry, which would automatically make us better than them.

    No, I wasn't asking to compare, but is there really any other route they could have followed? I guess if the hypothetical ETs went completely nuclear in their power plants early (and never had a meltdown) and if they had evolved wings so they didn't need to rely too heavily on gasoline vehicles, they may have polluted their planet a lot less, but I can't imagine them living a lifestyle that hardcore environmentalists would consider absolutely "natural."
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    it might be an answer to the question "why is there no-one out there ?"
    maybe advanced civilisations don't last long enough to make it into deep space
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  32. #31  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScienceFictionNut
    ...they may have polluted their planet a lot less, but I can't imagine them living a lifestyle that hardcore environmentalists would consider absolutely "natural."
    Why not. Maybe they're society advanced enough so they take what they need, rather than to accumulate useless junk.
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    There is no reason why an advanced technology cannot have economic and material growth without harming the environment. It is just a matter of being smarter. Build everything out of recycleable or biodegradable substances. Nuclear fusion for electricity. Cars running on advanced batteries. Biofuels or synthetic fuels. Fertilisers from genetically modified seaweeds. etc.
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    I'm not suggesting that it can't be done and I'm certainly not suggesting that we won't do it in the future. But there's a reason we used gasoline before we used battery drives in our cars... we discovered gasoline first. And, if I'm not mistaken, nothing else had quite the bang for the buck... literally speaking, of course.

    Are you guys suggesting these ETs would have discovered safe, efficient fuel sources before they realized they could tap into their own fossil fuels? Or are you saying they would have (and we COULD have) converted to cleaner energy resources sooner?
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  35. #34  
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    I don't suppose most ETs drive around in cars. They're unlikely to mirror us so closely. Maybe they ooze glacially underwater?
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  36. #35  
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    Quote Originally Posted by darius
    P.S: The numbers you pulled out of your ass are really out of your ass. this link on wikipedia lists all "modern" extinct species. It totals to less than 200 in the past 500 years. Although liberal bias is everywhere screaming humans are to blame, in reading a number of these I don't see it. I just see claims and blame thrown around.
    A quick glance at your link shows more than 300 species without even including Oceania. And no plants are counted.

    Especially with insects and the like, most extinctions go unrecorded.

    And there are several "effectively extinct" species, such as NA Condors, whose remnants would vanish almost immediately without constant human maintenance.

    In addition to the number of species gone, some thought to the prevalence and importance of the casualties seems warranted.

    The Passenger Pigeon in the US, for example, was probably the most numerous and ecologically important bird - one of the most numerous and influential bird species in the world.

    The American Chestnut - effectively extinct, although a breeding program hopes to create a new species with most of its characteristics - was the dominant tree of the great eastern hardwood forests both ecologically and commercially, unmatched for value in all respects.

    The plague locusts of the Depression era prairie were a major feature of the environment.

    The Auks were the Arctic version of penguins - an entire niche now empty.

    These were not marginal, peripheral species.
    Quote Originally Posted by darius
    This link offers a chart of the biodiversity throughout Earths evolution, with the current level estimated to be the highest.
    The current level is not, however, agreed to be the highest. The estimates based on the fossil record are hardly solid.
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    I think a lot of the problem is when do we declare something extinct? It's often hard to definitively state with certainty that a species is entire gone down the last member, or even below a genetically viable population. In large animals we often read, a "last seen" date. I think the high numbers are probably estimates that examine the more confident dramatic drops in population and presume some percent of that, and species that depend on that population have gone extinct.

    I haven't found a definitive standard yet? Has anyone else seen one? I'll try to research how the UN's red list is put together.
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    There is no definitive standard of extinctions. Instead there are a wide range of estimates, going from the number currently known to have disappeared (about 10 to 20 per year after the year 2000AD) to wild 'guesstimates' by the politically motivated. The highest I have seen is Greenpeace at 250,000 per year. But they do not really dwell on Planet Earth.

    My own estimate is ten times the known extinction rate (100 to 200 per year) based on the fact that we have probably only 'discovered' about 10% of all eucaryote species - though that is also a guess.

    It is fascinating to see how the estimates of total number of species that exist sky rocket with increasing genomic technology. For example : my field of industrial microbiology deals with many species. One is a mould called Trichoderma viride. It is clearly a separate and unique species based on microscopic examination and traditional biochemistry. However, once it is subject to 18s ribosomal RNA sequencing, it is revealed that it is at least 100 different species.

    This is by no means unusual, and it is predicatable that estimates of total number of species on planet Earth will increase as more and more are tested using genomics.
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  39. #38  
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura
    A quick glance at your link shows more than 300 species without even including Oceania. And no plants are counted.
    Um, what link now? When I looked at it there was no such number, and furthermore is it even cited? This is wikipedia.

    Especially with insects and the like, most extinctions go unrecorded.
    Pink flying unicorns exist, but their existence is unrecorded. This proves absolutely nothing other than the fact you BELIEVE there are mass extinctions that mostly go unrecorded.

    And there are several "effectively extinct" species, such as NA Condors, whose remnants would vanish almost immediately without constant human maintenance.
    According to penn&teller and a number of other websites analyzing the protection act: BULLSHIT. Try watching the penn&teller episode on this. It's true. There are no proven success stories. None. Most species recover on their own and some even go extinct or become further endangered by our protection acts!

    he Passenger Pigeon in the US, for example, was probably the most numerous and ecologically important bird - one of the most numerous and influential bird species in the world.
    Sorry, nope! They were numerous, but they weren't ecologically important. When they were gone almost nothing changed in the ecosystem. They likely would have gone extinct naturally without human help.

    The American Chestnut - effectively extinct, although a breeding program hopes to create a new species with most of its characteristics - was the dominant tree of the great eastern hardwood forests both ecologically and commercially, unmatched for value in all respects.
    This tree should be extinct. By attempting to reintroduce it to the wild ecology we are effectively FIGHTING evolution and, by the same means, doing the opposite of what preservation should do. The tree, according to evolution, is unfit to survive. Humans did not devistate it, a fungus did. I fully support preserving few specimens for research or study, but not reintroducing it into the wild in any way.

    The plague locusts of the Depression era prairie were a major feature of the environment.
    Actually it was the farming methods of the time that REALLY fucked things up. Locusts helped, but farming methods did most of the damage. Methods we have since changed for the betterment of all.

    The Auks were the Arctic version of penguins - an entire niche now empty.
    You mean the Great Auk. Incidentally, again, there were no severe (or really bothersome in any way) ecological rammifications.

    The current level is not, however, agreed to be the highest. The estimates based on the fossil record are hardly solid.
    That's like an argument. Stating that there is disagreement does nothing to prove me wrong.
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    To Darius
    Just a couple of minor corrections.

    1. There are, indeed, success stories at helping out endangered species. I can quote some from my country, but I am sure there will be many globally.
    eg. The New Zealand Chatham Island Black Robin - destined for extinction till humans helped it recover.
    http://christchurchcitylibraries.com...ls/BlackRobin/

    Another example is the kakapo - a flightless parrot that was on the road to extinction but is now in recovery mode.
    http://www.kakaporecovery.org.nz/

    and the Campbell Island teal
    http://www.mtbruce.org.nz/campbell_Island_return.htm

    And other examples also.

    2. Passenger Pigeon extinction. No, they would NOT have gone extinct on their own. It took a concerted effort of thousands of hunters shooting them willy nilly to drive them to extinction. This was done for their meat. The numbers were so great (estimated 5 billion!) that their extinction was a feat of extinction. Utterly unexpected, and requiring enormous effort.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passenger_Pigeon

    3. The American chestnut. This should NOT be going extinct. It used to be very numerous. The downfall was the introduction of a pathogenic fungus from Asia that killed them in large numbers.
    http://www.ppws.vt.edu/griffin/blight.html

    The introduction of pathogens, predators, and competitors by humans, into environments where they are alien and the species present are unadapted to handle those alien species, is one of the top causes of species extinctions. Overhunting/fishing is the other major cause.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    To Darius
    Just a couple of minor corrections.
    Corrections imply validity. I guess they didn't teach that in school.

    1. There are, indeed, success stories at helping out endangered species. I can quote some from my country, but I am sure there will be many globally.
    eg. The New Zealand Chatham Island Black Robin - destined for extinction till humans helped it recover.
    http://christchurchcitylibraries.com...ls/BlackRobin/
    First, your source is called "christchurchcitylibraries". Christ. Church. Yeah. Okay. I'm going to trust a religious division that still says the Earth was createdin 7 days. Regardless, checking http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chatham_Island_Black_Robin (also unsourced, curiously) more or less corraborates a similar story. Let me ask you this: You call that a success? You can't rescue a species with that severe of a genetic bottleneck. They're going to be stinted and suffer slow to no evolution for hundreds of thousands of years. If anything humans committed an ultimate sin: They damned a species by trying to save it.

    On top of that this particular species is almost completely incapable of surviving in the presence of any real predator. This is a success? No.

    Another example is the kakapo - a flightless parrot that was on the road to extinction but is now in recovery mode.
    http://www.kakaporecovery.org.nz/
    Riiiight. Success. Uh huh. Yet ANOTHER worthless species utterly incapable of competition...WITH DOMESTIC HOUSE CATS. This species will inevitably become extinct when the land masses rejoin and major predators finish them off. Or, hell, if ANY predator managed to find its way to the island somehow. Success tends to mean saving something worth saving. This particular species has no use to us or the island ecology, and house cats probably fill the niche BETTER anyway.

    ...There are no words.
    A small population of 25 captive-bred individuals was released on Codfish Island in 1999 and 2000 – already intensively managed and pest-free as an important habitat for the critically endangered Kakapo. In the final phase of the ecological restoration of Campbell Island (cattle, sheep and cats had already been removed), the world's largest rat eradication campaign was undertaken by helicopter drops of more than 120 tonnes of poisoned bait over the entirety of the island's 11,331 hectare area in 2001 - this operation successfully removed what was estimated to be the world's densest population of Norway rats (200,000) from Campbell Island - it was officially declared rat free in 2003.
    Yes. Um. Okay. See above two comments and a big ol' WHAT THE FUCK for this.

    2. Passenger Pigeon extinction. No, they would NOT have gone extinct on their own. It took a concerted effort of thousands of hunters shooting them willy nilly to drive them to extinction. This was done for their meat. The numbers were so great (estimated 5 billion!) that their extinction was a feat of extinction. Utterly unexpected, and requiring enormous effort.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passenger_Pigeon
    Sorry, but their migratory patterns are suicide. Up to a billion per wave? Are you FUCKING kidding me? I can't wait until they hit a hurricane. On top of that as there numbers WERE so great their food source would have likely been eaten into extinction had the trend continued (they did, after all, reach 5 billion). Extinction was inevitable. Or do you want us to try and save anaerobic organisms responsible for the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen_catastrophe ? Any species that grows beyond their means (or begins to) will inevitably go extinct. Oh look! Veiled reference to humans!

    The American chestnut. This should NOT be going extinct. It used to be very numerous. The downfall was the introduction of a pathogenic fungus from Asia that killed them in large numbers.
    I wonder how long it would have taken for one of the MANY BIRDS that migrate to spread such a fungus. Lands on a chestnut. O snap, fungi arrived. Bizzarrely this tends to happen with diseases of all sorts, even though you think it'd die off en route. That chestnut is incapable of adapting, as evident by the fact NONE OF THEM ARE IMMUNE. Therefore it has to go. Simple. We have better varities anyway, and its absence from the ecosystem has caused no problems.

    The introduction of pathogens, predators, and competitors by humans, into environments where they are alien and the species present are unadapted to handle those alien species, is one of the top causes of species extinctions. Overhunting/fishing is the other major cause.
    Every single thing you've listed so far would be incapable of adapting when the INEVITABLE would happen. Islands rejoining landmasses, birds carrying diseases, god knows what else can cause transcontinental spreading of biodiversity. Name ONE species worth saving, and name ONE that's actually MEANINGFUL to the ecology of an area.
    Om mani padme hum

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    It is true that the Chatham Island Black Robin ends up in-bred. However, there are thousands of species around the world that are severely inbred (there was an article on the subject in Scientific American a few years back), and they survive well. In fact, the human species is essentially inbred. The low level of genetic variation in the mitochondria shows that we are all descended from a very few women. The human species almost went extinct some 60,000 to 100,000 years ago, but recovered as a severely in-bred population, and has covered the world with excess numbers. Indicates that being inbred is not necessary a recipe for disaster.

    Kakapo and Campbell Island Teal are recovering from near extinction under the care of humans. This simply shows that human effort CAN make a difference, and has done so, whether you regard these species as worthy or not.

    Passenger pigeons were rendered extinct by humans. Before guns came to North America, they thrived, and most probably would have continued thriving indefinitely if there were no hunters with guns.

    The American Chestnut succombed to a fungus that was imported with soil in pots containing young trees imported from Asia. There is no evidence that birds can carry the fungus, and they certainly did not before the end of the 19th Century. Again, a disaster caused by humans which would not have happened otherwise.

    You asked me to name a species that went extinct that was meaningful to ecology. Again, looking at my home, we could mention the large avian flightless browsers, such as the moa, and the adzebills. They kept the undergrowth down, and induced trees to evolve toxic leaves in the lower parts, where the birds could reach. Without those avian browsers, the ecology has changed drastically, with masses of dense undergrowth in our rain forests, and a very substantial change in forest flora and fauna in response.

    Another example would be the elephant. In Africa, the elephant keeps the grasslands healthy, by killing the trees that would otherwise overrun the area. The grasslands support a massive and diverse ecology, including some of the planet's most spectacular animals. Elephant numbers are down, and if they are reduced beyond a certain point, the grasslands will begin to shrink.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Darius
    It is true that the Chatham Island Black Robin ends up in-bred. However, there are thousands of species around the world that are severely inbred (there was an article on the subject in Scientific American a few years back), and they survive well. In fact, the human species is essentially inbred. The low level of genetic variation in the mitochondria shows that we are all descended from a very few women. The human species almost went extinct some 60,000 to 100,000 years ago, but recovered as a severely in-bred population, and has covered the world with excess numbers. Indicates that being inbred is not necessary a recipe for disaster.
    I disagree with such a claim. In fact 60,000 is very DIVERSE, especially considering nomadic patterns and slight variations. Humans recovered easily enough, but there IS a defined limit. Arguably some of those tribes did...considerably better than others (hence why most of us descend from a select few), but yeah. You cannot revive a species from five members. They just won't stick around.

    Kakapo and Campbell Island Teal are recovering from near extinction under the care of humans. This simply shows that human effort CAN make a difference, and has done so, whether you regard these species as worthy or not.
    So? Humans made a difference by supposedly driving passenger pidgins to extinction! The thing is this isn't any difference, they're making a BAD difference once again.

    Passenger pigeons were rendered extinct by humans. Before guns came to North America, they thrived, and most probably would have continued thriving indefinitely if there were no hunters with guns.
    That misses my point entirely. Invariably the species would have hit a population wall where food supply did not keep up and, eventually, this would render them extinct. If no natural predators curbed their population (wtf five billion). It was inevitable with in a relatively short time span.

    The American Chestnut succombed to a fungus that was imported with soil in pots containing young trees imported from Asia. There is no evidence that birds can carry the fungus, and they certainly did not before the end of the 19th Century. Again, a disaster caused by humans which would not have happened otherwise.
    I was referring to probability. A migrating bird may have some of that soil stuck in its talons, and then it scrapes a tree. Suddenly it's everwhere. I have no doubts this has happened before in history, but MOST trees survive. The American Chestnut is the ONLY tree to be devistated by the fungus, and is evolutionally the weakest. It's also ecologically insignificant. Disastrous my ass. Usually a species that will continue to adapt and survive would have enough genetic variation for a few specific types to survive. Humans, for example, during the Black Plague.

    You asked me to name a species that went extinct that was meaningful to ecology. Again, looking at my home, we could mention the large avian flightless browsers, such as the moa, and the adzebills. They kept the undergrowth down, and induced trees to evolve toxic leaves in the lower parts, where the birds could reach. Without those avian browsers, the ecology has changed drastically, with masses of dense undergrowth in our rain forests, and a very substantial change in forest flora and fauna in response.
    Nice emotional spin there. You know what I heard? "The birds stopped eating away the other plants." There's nothing disastrus abotu that change, and indeed seems only like an ASTHETIC change. In fact, without those retarded birds constantly DESTROYING the lower levels of the rain forests, more DIVERSE flora and fauna will be allowed to develop.

    Another example would be the elephant. In Africa, the elephant keeps the grasslands healthy, by killing the trees that would otherwise overrun the area. The grasslands support a massive and diverse ecology, including some of the planet's most spectacular animals. Elephant numbers are down, and if they are reduced beyond a certain point, the grasslands will begin to shrink.
    Frankly, this is the only time I agree. Elephants help. But they don't need our help. They just need us to stop killing them. They take care of themselves.
    Om mani padme hum

    "In dishonorable things we are not bound to obey any man." - The Book of the Courtier [1561], pg 99 (144 in pdf)
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    I did not say 60,000 humans survived. I said the problem arose 60,000 to 100,000 years ago. Some authorities think the total number of women in the entire world at one point may have been as low as 5. Yet the human species not only survived, but thrived as no other mammal in our size range ever has.

    Why is saving species bad???

    Re passenger pigeons. Sorry. You are not correct. There is no principle in ecology that says overpopulation means extinction. Take lemmings. No suicides, but definite population number crashes due to regular overpopulation. However, the species always recovers, and remains an important part of Arctic ecologies.

    There is, of course, no such thing as ecological destruction. There is only ecological change. If a key species is rendered extinct, the ecology changes. That is the definition of key species. If humans do enough damage, we could leave the world inhabited only by cockroaches and their ilk. However, there would still be an ecology - just a very different one.

    Bearing this in mind, the flightless browsing birds of my country 1000 years ago were key species, in that their removal led to serious ecological change.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Darius
    I did not say 60,000 humans survived. I said the problem arose 60,000 to 100,000 years ago. Some authorities think the total number of women in the entire world at one point may have been as low as 5. Yet the human species not only survived, but thrived as no other mammal in our size range ever has.
    I noticed my error while reading the "population bottleneck" wiki page. Also, you're outright lying to everyone and probably yourself. The LOWEST ANY evidence supports is a drop to 15,000, but even as a theory it uses a lot of indirect evidence. I agree with it, but it's worth mentioning. By "severe bottleneck" scientists speak relatively, and relatively it is severe. Overall, though, it doesn't seem to be too much of an issue.

    Re passenger pigeons. Sorry. You are not correct. There is no principle in ecology that says overpopulation means extinction. Take lemmings. No suicides, but definite population number crashes due to regular overpopulation. However, the species always recovers, and remains an important part of Arctic ecologies.
    I hold that it's an entirely different scale. Lemmings are in relatively short supply to begin with, so their crashes do not crash very far. That and lemmings evolved to do this, while passenger pidgeons have not. These are very important differences. Some species can handle massive dieoffs, while others seem to flaunder about aimlessly until extinction. The fact the carrier pidgeon was so numerous suggests it was comfy with its constant food sources and did not take well to changes. Which is one of the reasons humans eradicated it so damn easily.

    There is, of course, no such thing as ecological destruction. There is only ecological change. If a key species is rendered extinct, the ecology changes. That is the definition of key species. If humans do enough damage, we could leave the world inhabited only by cockroaches and their ilk. However, there would still be an ecology - just a very different one.
    That's LIKE an argument. There is no evidence (as stated and cited exhaustively before) for massive dieoffs. Period. End of story. I've done exhaustive googling on this matter. I dare you to find proof that doesn't have beads in its hair and a tie-dye headband. Localized extinctions seem to have been inevitable whether humans arrived or not, due to said species being rather inferior to deal with anything REMOTELY like a challenge. Interestingly, so far everything you've described as "disastrus" could be beneficial to humanity. Take that scruffy brush eating bastard, for example. Now more flora and fauna can grow and evolve, and potentially cure cancer. No, really!
    Om mani padme hum

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    Darius
    No-one appreciates being told they are a liar. I suggest you should refrain from this.

    On the fact that humanity was in-bred, I said that some authorities suggest our species was once down to as low as 5 women. This does not mean it was correct - just that some authorities thought it might be true. And that is not a lie. Whatever the correct number, it remains that mitochondrial genetic diversity in Homo sapiens is very low. This strongly suggests very few women at some stage, and that requires inbreeding to create the numbers we have now.

    I am not sure what you mean by no evidence for massive die offs???? Substantial extinction events are very well documented, and caused by humans. For example : the sub-fossil record shows evidence of 2000 species of birds on Pacific Islands that were alive until the arrival of humans. People carried rats with them, and the combination of human hunting of larger birds and rat predation of smaller birds led to this extremely substantial set of extinctions. A similar set of evidence exists for a somewhat smaller extinction series in the Caribbean when the Carib Indians arrived there.

    In my own country, the native polynesians (the Maori) arrived only 800 years ago. After their arrival, a total of 36 bird species went extinct, followed by a further 16 after Europeans arrived. This included all the larger bird species that made excellent meals for Maori. Among those were 11 species of moa, two adzebills, two pelican species, and so on. Due to a lack of mammal predators, New Zealand had a lot of flightless birds, and they proved most vulnerable.

    We even have a documented case of an extinction that was, at the end, caused by a single predator - a cat. The Stephens Island Rock Wren was a small flightless bird that had been wiped out everywhere else than Stephens Island by the polynesian rat. A lighthouse was set up, and the keeper, tragically, had a cat. The cat delivered to the keep, every day, a much mauled dead bird. The keeper sent a speciment off to the Wellington museum, and to the excitement was researchers, it was an undescribed species. By the time the researchers got to Stephens Island, no wrens were left alive. The cat got them all.

    You may feel that this wren did not deserve to live, since it was not adapted to resist mammalian predators. However, we will never know what value it may have had. We have lost the opportunity.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    On the fact that humanity was in-bred, I said that some authorities suggest our species was once down to as low as 5 women. This does not mean it was correct - just that some authorities thought it might be true. And that is not a lie. Whatever the correct number, it remains that mitochondrial genetic diversity in Homo sapiens is very low. This strongly suggests very few women at some stage, and that requires inbreeding to create the numbers we have now.
    Stop lying. What sources? Who? If they exist show them do me, for I guarentee they either do not, or are creationists. The most minimal estimates are around 15,000, which is MORE than enough for ANY species to recover. In fact we have not suffered much at all from it.

    I am not sure what you mean by no evidence for massive die off? Substantial extinction events are very well documented, and caused by humans. For example : the sub-fossil record shows evidence of 2000 species of birds on Pacific Islands that were alive until the arrival of humans. People carried rats with them, and the combination of human hunting of larger birds and rat predation of smaller birds led to this extremely substantial set of extinctions. A similar set of evidence exists for a somewhat smaller extinction series in the Caribbean when the Carib Indians arrived there.
    I only see your claims, not your sources.

    In my own country, the native polynesians (the Maori) arrived only 800 years ago. After their arrival, a total of 36 bird species went extinct, followed by a further 16 after Europeans arrived. This included all the larger bird species that made excellent meals for Maori. Among those were 11 species of moa, two adzebills, two pelican species, and so on. Due to a lack of mammal predators, New Zealand had a lot of flightless birds, and they proved most vulnerable.
    I see no sources? Funny that.

    We even have a documented case of an extinction that was, at the end, caused by a single predator - a cat. The Stephens Island Rock Wren was a small flightless bird that had been wiped out everywhere else than Stephens Island by the polynesian rat. A lighthouse was set up, and the keeper, tragically, had a cat. The cat delivered to the keep, every day, a much mauled dead bird. The keeper sent a speciment off to the Wellington museum, and to the excitement was researchers, it was an undescribed species. By the time the researchers got to Stephens Island, no wrens were left alive. The cat got them all.
    Lol. Right. No sources again? Funny, that.

    The extinctions you speak of are all isolated and VERY unimportant, even if they are true. Quite frankly we could nuke all the islands in the world with no ill effects. I cannot recall one thing beneficial, cure or otherwise, humans have gotten from an island. Of course, frankly, I don't believe you. I cannot find any evidence or information regarding massive die-offs other than the typical slow spots here and there.

    However, I should emphasize that your focus appears to be on the past. "see! See! Massive die-offs two hundred years ago!" um...No. If you're right, okay? Fact is, in modern times, there ARE NO massive die-offs. All I see are claims, unsubstantiated ones, that two species die every day (or was it year?). I have consistently provided evidence, such as the fossil record, that our biodiversity is greater today than it ever was. Even if you compensate by TRIPLING the estimates of ancient biodiversity, ours is still greater. What have you provided? A lot of stories.
    Om mani padme hum

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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    On the fact that humanity was in-bred, I said that some authorities suggest our species was once down to as low as 5 women. This does not mean it was correct - just that some authorities thought it might be true. And that is not a lie. Whatever the correct number, it remains that mitochondrial genetic diversity in Homo sapiens is very low. This strongly suggests very few women at some stage, and that requires inbreeding to create the numbers we have now.
    I believe this is more to do with the nature of mitochondria than the effects of breeding.

    Mitochondria were originally a seperate organism, which became symbiotes around 1.5 biollion years ago. They are still not a part of the organism they inhabit, as such, as they reproduce by binary fission independant of the host cell (but only when prompted to). So any diversity in mitochondrial DNA comes from mutation, not from miosis.
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    Re mitochondria
    Turtle is correct, but the lack of genetic diversity in mitochondria is just the indicator - the genetic tool that shows that, at one stage there were few human females.

    To Darius
    A reference to mitochondrial studies showign limited genetic diversity is below, from the prestigious scientific journal "Nature", and referring to Mitochondrial Eve - the most extreme view from the interpretation of limited mitochondrial genetic diversity. This idea actually suggests all humanity came from one ancestress. Personally I find that hard to believe, but the limited diversity is written in the mitochondria.
    http://www.nature.com/scitable/topic...onary-Tree-417

    I quote :
    "Specifically, Cann and colleagues hypothesized that the ancestress of all of modern humanity lived only 200,000 years ago, rather than more than a million years ago, when primitive humans first walked the earth. According to Cann et al., humans who lived elsewhere in the world at the time of mitochondrial Eve were completely replaced by her descendants - modern-form humans - migrating out of Africa 100,000 years ago."

    On extinctions.
    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/art...i?artid=122582
    I quote :
    "On most Polynesian islands, for example, more species of birds were lost prehistorically than survived to be recorded alive by scientists (25). For lizards in Oceania, a prehistoric record is only now emerging, but also suggests considerable extinction, especially among large-bodied species, after human colonization "

    Extinctions in New Zealand.
    http://www.terranature.org/extinctBirds.htm
    I quote :
    "The first 38 extinctions during human settlement were influenced by Maori hunting for food, indiscriminate forest burning, and introduction of the Polynesian rat and dogs. Since mid-1800 European arrival there have been another 19 losses caused by logging, forest clearing for pasture, and introduction of a hoard of predatory animals including bird enemies numbers one and two, stoats and rats. The prominent extinction groups are all 14 moas, 11 rails, 6 wrens and both eagles."

    On the Stephens Island Rock Wren.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephens_Island_Wren
    I admit that the details of this account are slightly different to my previous account, which I obtained from a different source. However, the basics are very similar.
    I quote
    "June?: A cat - probably one of the young animals taken in as a pet; the name "Tibbles" is apparently conjectural and it does not seem to have belonged to Lyall - starts to bring carcasses of a species of small bird to the lighthouse keepers' housings. Lyall, who was interested in natural history, has one taken to Walter Buller by A. W. Bethune, second engineer on the government steamboat Hinemoa.

    Stephens Island Wrens (bottom right) by John Gerrard KeulemansBefore July 25?: The specimen reaches Buller, who at once recognizes it as distinct species and prepares a scientific description, to be published in the journal Ibis. Bethune lends Buller the specimen so it can be sent to London for the famed artist John Gerrard Keulemans to make a lithograph plate to accompany the description."


    and

    "August: In a paper for the Wellington Philosophical Society, Buller speaks of a female bird he recently had examined. He later purchases this specimen.
    November 28: Travers informs Hartert that Lyall was not able to find more specimens during the winter, and believes the bird to be extinct. He offers 2 alcohol specimens for sale, for the price of 50 apiece (nearly 4200 in 2002's money - to compare, the average lighthouse keeper's wage in 1895 was 140 a year).
    December: Travers tries another search for the bird, again without success. "


    At this stage, the wren is extinct. Where I got details wrong is that it appears that, in addition to the lighthouse keepers cat, there were cats accidentally released which went wild, and wiped out the wren. I apologise for presenting a story a bit different to the Wiki story, which I am now sure is the correct version. However, the central point, that the wren was made extinct by cats, is correct.

    Anyway, Darius, you owe me an apology for suggesting I lied.
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