Cambodia | Global Warming | Nature | News

More Signs of a Planet in Crisis?

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The population of giant catfish, once plentiful in the Mekong Delta in Southeast Asia, have dwindled by 95 to 99 percent in the last century, according to scientists.

National Geographic reports that "since 2000 five to ten fish have been caught by accident each year throughout the Mekong area." The one pictured here was caught by accident on November 13 near Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and released unharmed, according to fisheries biologist Zeb Hogan (pictured).

Said Hogan: "This is the only giant catfish that has been caught this year so far, making it the worst year on record for catch of giant fish species."

A recent climate report from the IPCC warned that the world could see extinction of one-third of all species as it warms up. That's a terrifying thought.

In semi-related news, that wayward Minke whale that was found swimming 1,000 miles up the Amazon didn't make it out alive.

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  1. Well, it's a sign that humans overfish at least, not really global warming.

    Posted by: anon (gmail.com) | Nov 21, 2007 5:32:33 PM


  2. I'm no expert, but I guess I'm a bit concerned over all this global warming talk. These days there's supposedly all this science that says humans are causing changes to the environment and/or we're causing mass extinctions.

    I guess I've got issues/concerns about this for a bunch of reasons. One, 500 years ago people would have said that the sun revolves around the earth or that the earth was flat. How in the world do we know that certainty about global warming isn't the same thing? Two, I've had enough science classes to know that things come into existence and things die. Species extinction isn't new. Scientists believe that there have been prior periods in which mass extinctions occurred-- like the dinosaurs. How do we know that we're not in one of these periods? Or, that extinct animals wouldn't have died if humans didn't exist. Three, seeing humans as the "cause" of animal or plant extinction seems to take humans out of the equation. It's as if humans are separate and apart from the planet. If humans are part of the great web, aren't our attempts to survive and the resultant ramifications to other creatures on Earth just part of what happens? If a bunch of herbivores decimate the plants in their area and starve as a result, no one blames the herbivores for being herbivores.

    With that said, I'm not arguing for letting businesses flout environmental regulations. I believe in recycling, investing in renewable energy, etc. But, I'm a proponent of these things not because I have to believe that humans are warming the planet or necessarily causing irreparable damage in some way that's out of proportion to what we should be doing as just one species on the planet. I believe in environmentalism because (a) I believe that it's a good idea to be a good steward of the planet and putting out toxins and other pollutants is inconsistent with that AND (b), and most importantly, environmentalism is really about saving our own butts.

    I would bet a lot of money that an Earth that isn't habitable for humans may well be habitable for insects, plants, and other forms of life. If HUMAN life is to continue on Earth, I think we have to be careful of what we put into the air, the streams, etc.

    Given that, I think I'd like to hear less talk about what's happening to animals in the debates about environmentalism and more talk about what will happen to people. That's not because we should not be concerned about animals. In fact, I think that killing or harming living things generates negative karma and that we have an obligation to treat living things with compassion. However, I'm just not sure that stories about animals gets people to focus enough?

    I'm not sure people will get up at night because the spotted owl might die off. But, fear that your kids will have two heads if you don't stop putting chemicals in the water might work better.

    Thoughts?

    Posted by: Brandon | Nov 22, 2007 12:05:48 AM


  3. I think human greed and overfishing has played a part the decline of the Giant Catfish, rather than Global Warming. Do a Google Image Search for "Mekong Giant Catfish" and *every* resultant picture is of some knobhead holding up the huge fish they've caught and killed...

    Posted by: Wirrrn | Nov 22, 2007 12:22:21 AM


  4. Brandon, if we lived in isolation from the rest of the living world then I might agree with you. However, our ecosystem is fragile, and slight changes to any parts of it can ultimately have a negative impact on us.

    I say I might agree with you because I would still have a problem with the selfish attitude that only humans matter. And I don't even believe in karma. I don't need a reason to be kind.

    Posted by: wetcnt | Nov 24, 2007 8:45:39 PM


  5. That thing will haunt my nightmares for weeks now...thanks for that


    ps, can you take off that stupid anti-spam thing? as somebody with dyslexia it is nearly impossible, takes at least 3 tries to do it

    Posted by: jacknasty | Nov 26, 2007 9:47:30 PM


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