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影响地球生物多样性的隐秘危机

更新时间:2017/11/23 20:17:32 来源:本站原创 作者:佚名

The hidden crisis shaping life on Earth
影响地球生物多样性的隐秘危机

The year I was born, the little-known bubal hartebeest was vanishing from the wild. Aggressively hunted and squeezed from its natural habitat, this North African resident became the latest victim of the ‘sixth great wave’ of mass extinction.

我出生的那一年,鲜为人知的北非麋羚从野外消失了。过度的猎杀以及自然栖息地被压缩,使得这个北非物种成为"第六次大规模物种灭绝浪潮"中最新的牺牲品。

Extinction has always been a part of life on Earth. But mass extinctions – including the one that ended the dinosaurs’ reign 65 million years ago, and the one that we’re on the brink of today – are much more rare. A mass extinction event is defined as one that far exceeds the normal, or ‘background’ rate of species extinction. And the ‘background’ rate is benchmarked by looking at the fossil record.

物种灭绝始终是地球生活的一部分。但是大规模的灭绝却相当罕见,这其中既包括6500万年前终结恐龙对地球统治的那一次大灭绝,也包括现今即将到来的这一次。大规模物种灭绝被定义为以远超物种灭绝正常或者物种灭绝的"背景"速度。而"背景"速度是根据对化石记录观测所确定。

If recent trends continue, scientists estimate that there’ll be between 269-350 further extinctions of birds and mammals by 2100. But if efforts to conserve the species on the Endangered or Critically Endangered list don’t work, the number could be as high as 1,000. Much less is known about plants and invertebrates – but losses among vertebrates give a decent estimate of losses in other parts of the ecosystem.

如果近来的趋势持续下去,科学家们预测,到2100年将有269-350种鸟类和哺乳动物灭绝。但是如果扭转《濒危物种或极度濒危物种名单》(Endangered or Critically Endangered)的努力未能奏效,那么这一数字将高达1000种。虽然我们对植物和无脊椎动物则所知甚少,但是根据脊椎动物的损失数量,可以对生态系统中的其它门类损失的预测更为确切。

Whatever the exact projection, it’s clear that we’re losing biodiversity fast. Biodiversity is defined as the variety of living organisms, but also the diversity within each species, between species and of ecosystems. The biologist EO Wilson once described this loss as a “hidden and immense” tragedy, overshadowed by the threat of climate change.

不论预测确切度如何,可以明确的是我们生物多样性正在快速消失。生物多样性不仅指有生命的有机体的种类差别,也指同一物种内、物种之间以及生态系统之间的差异性。生物学家爱德华·奥斯本·威尔逊(EO Wilson)曾经将此类损失形容为"隐秘而巨大的"悲剧,被气候变化的威胁而被大家低估。

There are, however, ways to do something about it.

然而,我们依然可以为此做些事情。

Why is life on Earth getting less diverse?

为何地球上的生物多样性正在变得越来越少?

The short answer is easy. Humans.

答案很简单。因为人类。

If recent extinctions have a common factor, it’s the natural habitats that humans have badly damaged. Farming is largely responsible – think of the swathes of Amazon jungle, converted into land for rearing cattle and growing soybeans. But also building cities. Reclaiming wetlands from the edges of cities like New Orleans and Kolkata allows for urban growth, but decimates habitats through drainage and pollution.

如果说近期的物种灭绝有一个共同因素,那就是自然栖息地被人类严重的破坏。农业生产要负很大责任——想一想大片的亚马逊雨林中被改造为养牛和种植豆子的耕地。还有城市的建设。像新奥尔良和加尔各答这样的城市为了扩张而在城市外围填埋湿地,但是却因为排干积水与污染导致生物栖息地遭到大规模破坏。

Humans have also introduced, time and again, invasive species. Non-native species arrive either intentionally or accidentally, with catastrophic effects. Native species can’t compete with these invaders that grow and reproduce faster, face fewer natural predators, or are more resistant to disease. Native island populations are particularly susceptible, with the dodo in Mauritius and the flying fox on Guam, poignant examples.

人类也一次又一次地引进入侵物种。非原生物种要么被有意引入,要么被无意间带来,但结果都是灾难性的。本地物种无法与这些繁殖与发育更快、天敌更少或具有更高抗病性的入侵者相匹敌。岛屿上的土著种群特别容易受到影响,毛里求斯(Mauritius)的渡渡鸟和关岛(Guam)的飞狐就是其中令人痛心疾首的例子。

Human-driven climate change plays its part; it’s already disrupting ecosystems and is likely to climb the ranks as a driver of extinction. There will be winners and losers under climate change, but species that specialise in a particular ecology, don’t roam far, or fail to set up new communities in different habitats, are nailed-on candidates for extinction.

人类活动导致的气候变化也在其中发挥了作用;它破坏了生态系统,并且其对物种灭绝的破坏力逐步攀升。在气候变化的大背景之下会有赢家和输家,但那些只在某一特定生态环境存活、无法远途迁徙、或未能在不同栖息环境中建立新群落的物种,将注定成为濒危物种。

In most cases, lots of factors conspire to reduce biodiversity. Take the cutting of a new road through a forest, as an example. This will obviously reduces the area of forest habitat, but it can also introduce diseases and invasive species, which could change the forest microclimate. The road itself can open up the area to poaching, logging and other forms of exploitation.

在大多数情况下,许多因素共同造成了生物多样性的递减。以在森林中辟出一条新的道路为例。这将明显减少森林栖息地的面积,同时还将带来疾病和入侵物种,从而改变森林的小环境。这条公路本身还会导致盗猎、盗采等其他形式的资源掠夺。

Does it matter to humans?

这对人类而言是否重要?

There’s been a noticeable trend in recent years to ‘re-cast’ biodiversity in terms of ‘natural capital’ and ‘ecosystem services’, which tries to quantify the goods and financial advantage that nature provides, free of charge.

近年来有一个明显的趋势,即用"自然资本"和"生态系统服务"等概念为生物多样性赋予"新的含义",这些概念试图量化自然能够免费提供的物资与资金收益。

These goods and services, when put together globally, can have a high value – between $125-145 trillion per year based on things like plants storing carbon, insects pollinating crops and trees filtering water. This valuation approach is controversial because many services are essential and irreplaceable. And some are impossible to ‘cost’ in monetary terms. How do you put a price on the cultural, spiritual and wellbeing benefits of green spaces and wild places to humans?

这些物资与资金收益,当在全球范围内统计时,基于像植物所储存的碳、昆虫为农作物所做的授粉和树木对水的过滤等服务进行计算,其价值可以高达每年125至145万亿美元。由于许多服务是必不可少的,也是不可替代的,因此这种估值方法存在争议。有些服务是不可能用货币计算的。比如你如何为绿地和野生场所给人类带来的文化、精神和福利好处定价?

The loss or decline of a single species might seem relatively trivial. But a single loss can reverberate through an entire ecosystem, disrupting food webs and altering what an ecosystem provides. In extreme cases it can lead to the total collapse of an ecosystem, as seen with some of the world’s fisheries.

单个物种的损失或衰减相对似乎微不足道。但是单个的损失会影响整个生态系统,破坏食物网络,改变生态系统提供的东西。在极端情况下,它可能导致整个生态系统的崩溃,就像世界上一些渔场所经历的那样。

These biodiversity losses haven’t taken us by surprise, they have happened while we’ve been actively trying to stop them. Sadly, conservation efforts over the past 60 years have been swamped by the massive effects of human population growth and the increasing consumption of individuals across the planet.

生物多样性的损失并没有让我们感到惊讶,它们已经发生,而我们一直在试图积极地阻止它们。可悲的是,过去60年的保护工作被人类人口增长的巨大影响和整个星球上越来越多的个人消费所淹没。

Does anyone have the power to change the trend?

是否有人有力量去改变这一趋势?

The history books paint a pretty gloomy picture of humans driving species to extinction for the last 60,000 years, but the future doesn’t need to be the same. Humans also hold the key to unlocking ways of slowing, stopping and even reversing this trend.

历史著作描绘了一幅在过去60,000年里人类驱使物种走向灭绝的阴郁画卷,但未来却不必重蹈覆辙。人类也掌握着减缓、阻止甚至扭转这种趋势的钥匙。

We can look to hopeful futures from global commitments like the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and Sustainable Development Goals. They might come from national initiatives like China’s Ecological Civilization plan, or more local ones like the re-introduction of large carnivores to parts of Europe. Or they might come from new and emerging technologies.

我们可以从爱知生物多样性目标和可持续发展目标(Aichi Biodiversity Targetsand Sustainable Development Goals)等全球计划中看到一个充满希望的未来。他们可能是国家级倡议,例如中国的生态文明建设计划;或更多的是地方性的计划,比如重新将大型食肉动物引入欧洲部分地区;或者可能是新兴技术。

For so long, technology has been part of the problem of species extinction, but the latest array of technologies and biological techniques present opportunities, and some risks, for biodiversity. New genetic technologies like genome editing, gene drives (applying genetic tweaks that prevent reproduction, for instance) and synthetic biology might possess enough potential to compete with the might of human population growth.

长期以来,技术一直是物种灭绝问题的原因之一,但最新的科技和生物技术给生物多样性带来了机遇,也带来了一些风险。新的基因技术,如基因组编辑、基因驱动(例如利用基因微调阻止繁殖)以及合成生物学等具备足够的可能性与人口增长的破坏力一较高下。

Speaking in Boston earlier this year, Venki Ramakrishnan, president of the UK Royal Society, said that “while controversial, and as yet unproven, attempts to resurrect extinct species can tend to grab headlines, the potential use of genetic technologies to reduce or eradicate invasive species could be a more plausible conservation measure”.

英国皇家学会(UK Royal Society)主席文基·拉玛克里什南(Venki Ramakrishnan)今年早些时候在波士顿发表演说,"虽然有争议,且尚未得到验证,复活灭绝物种的企图会成为新闻头条,而使利用遗传技术来减少或根除入侵物种这种潜在方式是一个更合理的保护措施。"

Gene drive technology, for example, could be a way to control invasive mouse populations by making them infertile. It’s also being considered for wasps in New Zealand and cane toads in Australia.

例如,基因驱动技术可能是一种通过使老鼠不育而控制入侵老鼠种群的方法。有人正考虑使用这种方法控制新西兰的黄蜂种群和澳大利亚的甘蔗蟾蜍。

So, could new human interventions protect nature rather than endangering it? I certainly hope so. Faced with a sixth mass extinction – and the first one caused by humans – I personally believe we’ll only uncover the solutions once we re-imagine our relationship with the natural world.

那么,新的人类干预能否保护而不是危及自然吗?我当然希望如此。面对第六次大规模灭绝,以及第一次由人类引发的灭绝,我个人认为,只有我们重新设想我们与自然世界的关系,我们才能发现解决办法。

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