By; Rob Monroe
The Mauna Loa carbon dioxide (CO2) record, also known as the “Keeling Curve,” is the world’s longest unbroken record of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. This record, from the NOAA-operated Mauna Loa Observatory, near the top of Mauna Loa on the big island of Hawaii, shows that carbon dioxide has been increasing steadily from values around 317 parts per million (ppm) when Charles D. Keeling began measurements in 1958, to nearly 400 ppm today.
Scientists make CO2 measurements in remote locations to obtain air that is representative of a large volume of Earth’s atmosphere and relatively free from local influences that could skew readings. The quality of data is verified before daily average values are determined.
“Despite our many advances, our environment is still threatened by a range of problems including; global climate change, energy dependence on unsustainable fossil fuels, and loss of biodiversity.” – Dan Lipinski
Should humans be concerned with the extinction rate?
If humans are not concerned with terrestrial or aquatic extinction they should be, especially when it comes to the trophic cascade of the African Forest Elephant which is a keystone species in Kenya. Trophic cascade is defined as the “cascading effect that a change in the size of one population at the top of the food web has on the population below it.” (Turk & Bensel, 2014) Because of the rapid decline of the African Forest Elephant due to human-wildlife conflict other r-selected and k-selected species that rely on elephant activity for their survival will also be affected.
African Forest Elephants are a lot like humans whereas they are family orientated, social, self-aware, mourn the loss of family members, and the calf’s are dependent upon their mother’s milk the first few years of their life. Without their mother or families to protect them it would only be a matter of time before the calf would succumb to the elements or from a broken heart. (Bradshaw, 2004) Because African Forest Elephants gestation period is roughly two years, when herds of elephants are killed by poachers for their ivory the chances of extinction increases as maturity levels for reproduction do not occur until around 15 years of age. Continue reading