One of the arguments some people make when discussing human causes of climate change is that people can’t cause such massive changes. However, there is a long historical record of human-driven ecological and climatic change in Europe, North America and New Zealand, among other places.
Utah’s Great Salt Lake is the largest salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere and is the largest body of water in the United States after the five Great Lakes. When the pioneers first arrived in the area back in the middle of the 19th century, the lake spread across about 1,600 square miles. Now, the lake covers an area of only about 1,050 square miles, a reduction of about 35%.
A recent study has identified the steep decline of more than 300 species of mammals as a result of unregulated or illegal hunting. Humans are consuming many of the world’s wild mammals to the point of extinction.
In the Canadian province of Quebec, a study of more than 26,000 trees across an area the size of Spain forecasts winners and losers in a changing climate.
For more than half a century, scientists have converged on Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire’s White Mountains to explore how forest ecosystems work. The site was established by the U.S. Forest Service to study the relationship between forests and New England’s water supply. In the 1960s, inquiry was expanded to include ecology, biogeochemistry, and studies of birds and other animals.
Natural world heritage sites exemplify the world’s greatest areas of natural beauty, ecology, geology, and biodiversity. They are recognized internationally for their value as places with significance that is “so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity.” Many of these areas also are a vital source of food, fuel, and water for rural communities, and provide a revenue stream for national economies through tourism and recreation. The livelihoods of some 11 million people are directly dependent on these areas.
When most people hear the word ‘ecology’ – chances are it conjures up images of scientists working in distant, wild landscapes, such as old growth forests or remote mountain lakes. Increasingly, however, ecological studies are focused on urban and suburban areas.