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Environment: Earth Day 2019


"Wow, is that pretty!"

Astronaut William Anders took the "Earthrise" photograph (the original is shown above) during the Apollo 8 mission, December 24, 1968.
Nature photographer Galen Rowell called it "the most influential environmental photograph ever taken".  Earthrise was chosen as the symbol for the first World Earth Day in 1970.  
Read more about "the moment the Apollo 8 astronauts spotted Earth".

By The Numbers

By The Numbers:

  • 26,500 species are threatened with extinction.

  • Almost 60% of the world’s 504 primate species are threatened with extinction.

  • 1 in 8 bird species is threatened with global extinction.

  • Over 20,000 elephants are poached every year; more than 100 elephants are killed every day for their tusks.

  • 40% of all lizard species will be extinct by 2080.

  • One in five of the world’s plant species is threatened with extinction; however 1,700 new species were discovered in 2016.

(from IUCNEarth Day Network, and "State of the World's Plants" reports for 2016 and 2017 by Royal Botanic Gardens Kew)

The Endangered Species Act

The U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) mandates that state and federal entities protect all species threatened with extinction that fall within the borders of the mainland and its outlying territories.  The Act is administered by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The ESA prohibits unauthorized harvest, custody, trade, and transport of endangered plants, animals, and other at-risk organisms and allows for the application of civil and criminal penalties.  Currently there are 1,300 species listed as either endangered or threatened under the ESA.

Read more about how a species gets the Endangered or Threatened designation here.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) provides a list of endangered species by state; click for the list of species "believed to or known to occur" for Missouri and Kansas.

The "Barometer of Life"

The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species has become the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species.  The group's Red List, established in 1964, classifies species into nine categories according to their risk of extinction:

IUCN Chart

The IUCN has assessed 96,500 species for inclusion in the Red List; their goal is 160,000 species by 2020.

Endangered Species

Queen Alexandra's Birdwing Butterfly (Papua New Guinea)
Population: Unknown (IUCN)

Eskimo Curlew (Northwestern US)
Population: less than 50 individuals (IUCN)


Black-footed Ferret (West-Central US)
Population: ~ 370 in the wild

Bog Turtle
(Eastern US)
Population: Unknown (IUCN)

Golden-cheeked Warbler (Central TX)
Population: Unknown (IUCN)

Critically Endangered Species

Malayan tiger (Malay Peninsula, Thailand)
Population: less than 350 (WWF)

Vaquita (Gulf of California, Mexico)
Population: ~30 (WWF)

Torrey Pine (Southern CA)
Population: 4000-4500 (IUCN)

Saola (Laos, Vietnam)
Population: less than 750 (IUCN)

Black rhinoceros
(Coastal East Africa)
Population: ~5,400 (WWF)

Extinct/Extinct in the Wild

Christmas Island Blue-tailed Shinning-skink
Extinct in the Wild; last seen 2010
Successfully breeding in captivity

Guam Rail
Extinct in the Wild; last seen 1987
Successfully breeding in captivity

Wood's Hau Kuahiwi 
(Kauai, Hawaii)
Extinct; last seen 1999

Père David's Deer
Extinct in the Wild; last seen 1939
Captive population in China increasing

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