you're young, you often have to depend on adults to help you
understand how the world works. Grown-ups seem to know everything or
sometimes nothing. What does a smart, rational person (yes, kids,
that means you!) do when someone in authority, older or with more
experience tells you something works a certain way or is a scientific
teachers and parents know important things--like you need to wash
your hands to keep from getting sick. Then you look around and
Derrick over there never washes his hands and is perfectly healthy.
What's up with that? Why isn't Derrick sick? Don't parents and
teachers know anything?
will always be true that there are exceptions to general rules--like
hand-washing. It's believed that over the long run, hand washing
helps prevent the spread of disease. It's based on past experience
and observations. Does this mean everyone who washes their hands
will stay well? No, but based on the way diseases are spread, it is
more likely people who wash hand will be sick less often than those
about more complicated ideas--for example, are we changing our
climate by burning fossil fuels and we are going to cause a very
severe temperature rise on the planet? Your teacher may have told
you "everyone agrees" this is happening. That is not true.
There are many climate scientists who do not agree that our burning
oil and coal and natural gas are threatening our planet. These
things do have an effect, just as everything on the planet affects
everything else. Climate is very complicated. Wait, though, our
president said it's important. Yes, President Obama did say global
warming is real. He also said "We don't have time for a meeting
of the Flat Earth society" which was meant to insult those who
do not agree (we know the earth is not flat so he wanted to make
people who disagreed look foolish). However, it turns out some
members of the Flat Earth society do believe we are changing our
climate with fossil fuels. That shows clearly that there is not
agreement on this and trying to insult others is not really a good
way to convince people you are right.
the climate and global warming also got mixed in with politics, which
is a very bad thing. Science is based on evidence, politics is
mostly based on emotions. So politics is what is out there trying to
make people feel guilty about driving cars and living a modern life.
That's not science.
then, can you know what is science and what is politics? Asking
questions can help. Ask why the fossil fuels hurt the planet. You
may get and answer such as "It's physics". Part of it is,
part of it is computer models and mathematics which are not always
accurate. If when you ask about why fossil fuel burning is bad the
person calls you names (like denier or says you're just stupid) it's
probably because this is something they believe but they don't know
why. Or it could be that the person just doesn't want to be asked
questions on their beliefs--which means this is politics. Science
loves questions and will always take the time to explain.
warming is important we are told and very dangerous. There are all
kinds of scary predictions. Shouldn't we DO something? Shouldn't we
be worried? These are important questions. If fossil fuels really
are hurting the earth, shouldn't we stop using them?
if we did stop using fossil fuels? We would have to give up
full-time electricity, cars, and go back to the old way people lived,
without lights, cell phones, television, computers, etc. It would be
very, very difficult and would harm a lot of people. We know this
harm will happen, while we don't know for sure if CO2 and fossil
fuels are actually going to cause something bad.
about wind and solar? Can't we use those? They have free fuel.
Yes, the fuel is free. The electricity is part-time and only when
nature delivers it, not necessarily when we need it. Making the
turbines and solar panels takes fossil fuels and mining. Then
there's installation and we change the landscape. Plus, both forms
of energy are very damaging to bird and bats. Neither energy source
is practical today--it's why we stopped using such things and went to
a young person who has heard all the scary stories about climate.
How can you know what is true and what is fiction? Honest
answer--you can't. What you can do is sensible things to keep the
earth livable, like not littering, not wasting energy, reuse things
and so forth. There are energy efficient lights, recycling, fuel
efficient cars all of which are fine things to do if it's what you
want to do. Will it save the planet? It's doubtful, both because
these things are very small cuts in usage in the big picture and
because we really don't know the planet is in need of saving. These
are just ideas that make people feel good and do save on clutter and
landfills. Keeping the planet reasonably clean is just a good idea.
you be worried the planet is dying--no. The science is not complete
on what is involved in climate regulation on earth and whether we
humans can really cause massive changes in the climate. It may not
be understood before you have grandchildren. Maybe not ever. Panic
and fear are the wrong responses to changes on the planet. It's also
wrong to burden children with this and very wrong to try and frighten
children into believing that global warming is absolutely true for
political gain. Sadly, that is very often done as you can see in the
news with all the name-calling and insults about those who do not
agree with the global warming science.
should you deal with this? You can be the person who finds a new
efficient power source--one that truly revolutionizes things. You
could be the one that does what Henry Ford did and takes us to a new
way of traveling (I still want flying cars! Maybe you could be the
one that creates one!) Maybe you could do like Edison and find a new
way to make light (LEDs are a good start). What the planet needs is
smart, curious people who try to make life better, not someone
preaching fear and doom while demanding people go backward in their
living conditions. Ask questions, study science and math. Learn how
things work and take us to a better future. That's what you can do!
Seven years ago, the Aldara banded snail was declared extinct. It was said to have gone extinct due to climate change. Reports said it was one of the first species to have been lost to climate change. The theory was that declining rainfall on their atoll had caused the snails all to die out.
Once again, nature proved to be much more capable of handling change than some scientists believe it can. The small snail was found by a team of researchers.
Many news articles say climate change is still a threat to these snails. It's so sad that humans can't celebrate the tough little snail instead of worrying about its future. Nature is so remarkable and fascinating. Enjoy it.
is much talk of climate change leading to animal extinctions. The
belief is more and more animals will go extinct because they cannot
adapt. Humans are really very poor at knowing if animals are gone
from the planet, however. Here are examples of animals science
declared extinct, only to find the very resilient animals still out
very large fish believed to go extinct 65 million years ago during
the Cretaceous period. The fish was discovered in 1938 off the shore
of Southern Africa.
small sea bird thought to be extinct 330 years ago. Eighteen nesting
pairs were found in 1951in Castle Harbor (Bermuda).
critter was first described in 1930 based on fossils. It was
believed to be extinct. In 1971, living peccaries were discovered in
Howe Island Stick Insect
original Lord Howe Island Stick insects disappeared after rats
escaped from a ship that ran aground. The rats had a taste for the
insects. By 1960, the insects were declared extinct. In 2001, they
were rediscovered on Ball's Pyramid, a volcanic stack 23 km (14
miles) from Lord Howe Island, living under the one bush growing on
the very barren island. Two were brought back and breeding was
tried. That attempt failed, but later, another pair did reproduce in
captivity. If the rats can be removed by 2015, the scientists hope
to reintroduce the insect to Lord Howe Island.
fairly large flightless bird thought to be extinct after the last
four specimens were taken in 1894. Then in 1948, after searching for
the birds, a few pairs were found on the South Island, New Zealand.
rat-like animal found in 1861 and then thought to be extinct since no
others were found. In 1974/1975 three were rediscovered in Cuba.
Only 37 specimens have ever been caught.
Caledonian Crested Gecko
were described in 1866 then none found until 1994. This gecko is
popular in the pet trade, which greatly increased the species numbers
and chances of remaining "not extinct".
described in 1843 but not seen thereafter, the mouse was believed to
be extinct until 1967 when it was rediscovered in Australia.
very large worm was first seen in 1897, but disappeared thereafter.
In 2010, scientists located the worm in Washington and Idaho.
in 1851, the ferret was declared extinct in 1979. In 1981, a rancher
in Wyoming had a dog bring home a dead ferret. A colony was located
and trapped, then a captive breeding program started. These have
been reintroduced to the wild in several states.
the 1800's the Java elephant was declared extinct. In 2006, a group
of these elephants were discovered on Java Island, where they had
been transplanted by a Sultan. The animal's survival was enabled by
critters were discovered in the fossil record and believed to be
extinct. In 1996, some possums were discovered at a sky resort in
New South Wales.
animal looks very much like a Furby ( a child's toy, if you are not familiar with the Furby). They were believed to be
extinct in the early 20th century. In 2000, they were discovered in
sighting of this horse was in 637 AD. In 1965, s person looking for
a small horse for her children to ride found a small horse in
northern Iran that resembled more a horse than pony. Additional
research showed it to be the Caspian Horse.
in 1840, the Gilbert's potoroo was considered extinct for 120 years
before being found in 1994 in Australia.
marsupial considered to be extinct for 11 million years, found only in
fossil records. Then a population of these critters was found in
Chile and Argentina.
As you can see from this list, which is not a complete list, we humans are not very accurate when saying things are "extinct". Just because we cannot find an animal does not mean they are gone. Of course, some are, no doubt extinct (dinosaurs are, as are dodo birds and passenger pidgeons as far as we know) . That's part of survival of the adequately fit that is seen in evolution. Some species survive and others do not. However, when people start predicting species extinctions and saying how bad this would be, remember these animals that fooled science and survived sometimes for millions of years as a species.