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Population growth crowding animals, plants

A visit to the Chattanooga Aquarium never fails to rekindle one’s sense of wonder at the natural world and its amazing creatures.
Yet it also leaves one with a sad impression, as the conservation status for many of the creatures shown there is precarious at best.
Far too many species, overall, are trembling on the brink of disappearance, within some years or decades hence.
The causes of the problem of species extinction are known — loss of natural habitat, the spread of invasive pests and diseases due to global commerce, overhunting, the suffusion with thousands of man-made chemicals of the atmosphere and terrestrial environment, climate change and others.
The importance of preserving the life forms that cohabit the planet with us caused the United Nations to designate 2010 as Year of Biodiversity and the 2011-2020 span as Decade of Biodiversity.
In March, famed British naturalist, author and long-time broadcaster Sir David Attenborough commemorated this UN action at a Royal Society President’s Lecture.
As reported in the journal Population Press, he recalled the founding of the World Wildlife Fund 50 years ago when “the California condor was down to about 60” and the dwindling numbers of many other animals were beginning to cause concern. The lecture cites many accomplishments by the Fund and other, subsequent initiatives.
And yet, Attenborough notes, “today there are more problems, not less, more species at risk of disappearance than ever before. Why?”
Suggesting an answer, he elaborates on an underlying reason that is seldom, if ever, mentioned as being the driver or multiplier of species-endangerment effects — the rapid numbers growth in one, the human species.
“Fifty years ago, when the WWF was founded,” he points out, “there were about three billion people on earth. Now there are almost seven billion…and every one of them needing space. Space for their homes, space to grow their food (or to get others to grow it for them), space to build schools and roads and airfields.
A little of that space might be taken from land occupied by other people, but most of it could only come from the land which, for millions of years, animals and plants have had to themselves.”
The world’s population is growing by nearly 80 million a year, or 10,000 every hour.