Running Head: ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTABILITY Here yesterday, gone today: Extinction and the human influence Here yesterday, gone today: Extinction and the human influence The only creature on earth that is known to create widespread devastation to the eco-system is the human. Elements of human conquest including deforestation, urban crawl, and the consumption of disproportionate resources have led to the early extinction of a great number of species. According to Miller (2009), “ The balance between the formation of new species and extinction of existing species determines the earth’s biodiversity” (p. 185). Therefore, it must be understood that extinction is part of the natural process of the development of life. Human activity, however, has accelerated the rate at which species have slipped into extinction. No matter the size of the creature, human activities should be measured for their impact upon the population of each species as the ecology is designed for the interaction of the multiple species that create the functions of the biological world. Human activities are accelerating the rate of species extinction to the extent that the current species that exist on earth are likely to be reduced by 25% by the 2050 and 50% by the year 3000. According to Miller (2009), the natural rate of extinction is about . 0001% which existed before human beings appeared to have come into existence. The current rate of extinction fluctuates between . 1% and 1%, thus showing a marked increase in the rate of loss within the of the world (p. 186). Miller (2009) quotes biodiversity expert Norman Myers as saying that “ Within just a few human generations we shall – in the absence of greatly expanded conservation efforts – impoverish the biosphere to an extent that will persist for at least 200, 000 human generations or twenty times longer than the period since humans emerged as a species” (p. 186). Through the loss of the creatures that inhabit the earth, the eco-balance will threaten humans, thus suggesting that not only the aspect of righteous cause should be a foundation of supporting conservatism, but the need to promote human survival through the conservation of an ecosystem that provides needed resources. The study of ecology is concerned with understanding the relationships between animals, plants, fungi, and microbes on earth. According to Krebs (2008), “ These organisms interact in ecological systems, which include all the organisms in an area as well as their non-living (abiotic) environment” (p. 4). An ecology is a delicate balance that depends on each element of that environment to remain in balance in order to support the functioning continuation of resources within that environment. Change one element, and the whole balance is thrown off, leaving a rippling set of changes throughout the environment. On the other side of the equation, introduce an element, and it can provide a benefit. As an example, in 1762 the mynah bird, a native of India, was brought to the island of Mauritius in order to bring under control the red locusts, a problem which was considered resolved by 1770. (Krebs, 2008, p. 5). One of the problems with the understanding of the ecology is that humans have missed the greater picture, that the whole earth is a single ecology within which the balance must be sustained in order to continue the cycling of resources. In ignoring the accelerated rate of extinction, the balance is put in jeopardy. Examples of the effects of human activity on ecological balance can be seen through several examples. The deforestation of the rainforests, as an example, was accomplished through the setting of fires, creating a dryer overall environment within those forests, which are promoting more naturally occurring fires, releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the air which in turn contributes to global warming and climate change. There is a strong suspicion that the increased El-Nino activity is directly related to the intervening activities of humans in creating devastating change to the rainforests (Gay, 2001, p. 33). Therefore, the human activity in one area of the world can have an impact on a global level. However, not all impact is as obvious. The affects of human activity that cannot be predicted through the extinction of the smallest of creatures is a threat that is far to often ignored. Insects are even more susceptible to extinction because of the wide variety of insects, many of which are species that are specifically natural to one habitat. When the balance of that habitat is disturbed, or that habitat is eliminated, the species most often falls into extinction. The function of the insect is then gone from the world, a resource that might cause a ripple effect that creates devastation on other levels (Speight, Watt, & Hunter, 1999, p. 205). The problem with destroying one species through human consumption of resources is that it is difficult to fully predict the effect of the disappearance of a species on the world. Predictions of the effects of premature extinction are difficult to assess, therefore should be taken far more seriously than current human activity reflects. Therefore, the extinction of each species through the destruction of each ecological region, must be considered important enough to create a pause before human activity disturbs or wipes out a ecological system. Instead of barreling through the world on a rampage of consumption without regard to the effects of human actions, the human world should be in balance with its actions, each power responsible and held accountable for the actions that are taken. Unfortunately, this is a utopian desire, a hope that is unlikely to be achieved as the world is filled with powers that are in conflict and have no desire to work in concert to promote ecological harmony. That as a species, humans should be concerned with their ecological impact on the world does not empower the global community to enforce that responsibility. However, through the example of the rainforest and the way that the detrimental change through human interruption has impacted the world climate, all nations must stand up and be accountable for controlling the interruption of ecologies within their territories, or the world will suffer. References Gay, K. (2001). Rainforests of the world: A reference handbook. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC- CLIO. Krebs, C. J. (2008). The ecological world view. Berkeley: University of California Press. Miller, G. T. (2009). Living in the environment : principles, connections and solutions. Belmont, CA : Thomson Brooks/Cole. Speight, M. R., Watt, A. D., & Hunter, M. D. (1999). Ecology of insects: Concepts and applications. Oxford: Blackwell Science.