Koalas may go extinct in 30 years

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86 Responses to “Koalas may go extinct in 30 years”

  1. 2k says:

    Shee-eesh!
    It’s only a creature.
    A bunch of other stuff went extinct you know!
    Stupid, stupid Koala-creatures!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I happen to be a biologist, and have a little more perspective on the issue. Unfortunately the AKF likes to exaggerate things slightly (Being a lobby group rather than a research foundation), as bending the truth can lead to increased donations. While Koala’s have been in decline in the Queensland (In the north of Australia where ACF is based), the story in the south is very different.
    In the south (Victoria) overpopulation is a huge problem, which can result in tree deaths (& loss of food sources). Due to pressure from groups such as the AKF and others, management options are very limited (no culling and limited sterilisation). The Victorian koala population is ‘large and thriving’ and is in no danger of extinction

    Link to Vic government policy document on managing overpopulation of koalas
    http://www.dse.vic.gov.au/DSE/nrenpa.nsf/LinkView/E260BBD07DD52CF4CA256DE3007F11443B3BE6168C8BE71ECA256E5A0010BD5C

  3. Cardinal Biggles says:

    The Australian Koala foundation has a professional interest in hyping this as hard as they can- and they are. As a species, they are not endangered, but koala populations in some regions are under varying degrees of environmental pressure- from the current severe drought, and land clearing for urban development, and also from chlamydia.
    @coaxial- koalas are widely distributed across Australia- the problem for Tassie Devils is just that- they are restricted to a relatively small island(Tasmania- hence their name), so the total population is susceptible to rapid transmission of the tumours.

  4. Multifarious says:

    No koala hate here, yet I do agree on a more common-sense approach to extinction. Here’s three species which are SERIOUSLY on the brink of extinction. I think none of these will get the support the cute and cuddly koala’s will get: they are hindered by a low-grade-cuddlyness.

    http://www.arkive.org/horseshoe-crab/limulus-polyphemus/
    http://www.arkive.org/aye-aye/daubentonia-madagascariensis/
    http://www.arkive.org/emperor-scorpion/pandinus-imperator/

    For you fundies: I’m NOT saying they don’t get any support at all (they are at least in the arkive). I’m just saying the notice of their extinction will go down with a lot less “awwww.. the poor cuddly so-and-so” then the koala’s. And an apparent lack of said notice doesn’t help either.

    If anyone IS seriously interested in conservation of species other then favoring the teddy bear types (koala’s, panda’s etc) then here’s a good site to give you an idea of what you’re up against: http://www.iucn.org/about/work/programmes/species/red_list/

    As for my own opinion, extinction can’t be helped. However sad I can become of the idea that my children’s children will not be able to see a real live polar bear in the wild (my personal teddy-bear-favorite), I’m very much aware that is the natural order of things. As is our own incessant intruding in other species habitat.
    Someone else already said it: 99,9% of all creatures which populated this planet has already become extinct, without any help from us. Seems like nature has been doing a fine job at it for millenia.
    And since we’re part of nature too (WE aren’t the space invaders) I guess you can’t really blame us for it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    so many other creatures may also become extinct. sad

  6. haggidubious says:

    All the folks who’re pushing the barrow of “they’re just cute” or “they’re a failed species, who cares?” make me feel at once murderous, sick and tired. Most of the problem is habitat loss. Most of that could’ve been avoided by better urban planning. Why should we? Because turning the east coast of my country into one giant suburb is a pretty boring prospect. Your boring “people only” world view is depressing.

  7. DamnitDani says:

    As long as the males enjoy sex they’re ahead of the panda population.

  8. MossWatson says:

    @danlalan #53

    “we behave just like all other organisms that have ever existed, we are just much, much better at it.”

    I disagree. As a culture (civilized humans) we behave in a fundamentally different way than most other organisms as well as most other cultures of humans.

    “Evolution is all about the efficiency of individuals within a population acquiring the resources needed to reproduce more successfully than other individuals within that population”

    well…if this is what you think it’s no wonder you think we’re doing “better” (I’d say that cultures which were/are able to live in one place for tens of thousands of years were most certainly doing something better than we are).

    to quote Derrick Jensen:
    “Those creatures who have survived in the long run have survived in the long run; if you hyper-exploit your surroundings you will deplete them and die off (as we shall soon see with industrialized humans); the only way to survive in the long run is to give back more than you take, to improve your habitat. Instead of survival of the fittest, it’s survival of the “fit”: how well you fit into your habitat, how much better you make it, on its own terms, by your existence.”

    • danlalan says:

      As a culture (civilized humans) we behave in a fundamentally different way than most other organisms as well as most other cultures of humans.

      In terms of extracting resources from the environment, beyond the scale of what we do what fundamental difference from other organisms/cultures is there? Please enlighten me.

      I’d say that cultures which were/are able to live in one place for tens of thousands of years were most certainly doing something better than we are

      What cultures? Tens of thousands of years is a pretty hefty claim considering modern man’s brief tenure. And beyond having relatively low population densities, what “something” did they do that made them “better than we are”?

  9. Antiqueight says:

    Having met Koala bears in Australia I came to the conclusion that they have developed as nature intended and it is wildlife lovers who are preventing them from occupying their niche – they are perfectly designed to be living room ornaments. They barely move, don’t pee and eat from one food source. They look cute and if treated appropriately they don’t attack.

    But no one seems to believe me.

  10. danlalan says:

    While it is true that extinctions are an integral part of the history of life on the planet, and more species are extinct than are currently extant, it is also true that the rates of recent extinctions are orders of magnitude faster than they were before our species became major players. In North America, the current rate of vertebrate extinctions has been calculated to be 7000 times faster than the rates seen from fossil evidence before humans arrived in significant numbers.
    http://darwin.eeb.uconn.edu/eeb310/lecture-notes/extinctions/node6.html

    While there is certainly some error in the calculations, no biologists are disputing that extinction rates are significantly higher than background. We are moving mass extinction producers, however you care to parse it.

    Before Rachel Carson et al began raising red flags, we were pretty much oblivious to our impact on the planet. But by now it should be painfully obvious to all but the most ardent reality deniers that we are acting like the biological equivalent of an large asteroid impact. It is in our own best interests (not to mention the interest of our fellow critters) that we start using our big brains for more than stripping the planet of resources in the most efficient manner possible.

    Even though we probably can’t kill all life on the planet, and may be able to survive our mindlessly self-generated mass extinction event, is that really the world we want to live in? I mean, rats, pigeons, cockroaches and body lice are cool and all, but seriously…

    Good luck, little Koala.

  11. MossWatson says:

    we see the world as ours to exploit. we believe in infinite growth. we see ourselves as separate from nature. We take more than we give back.

    those who survive in the long run do not do these things.
    those who do these things do not survive in the long run.

    • danlalan says:

      So…do you advocate only abandoning modern industrial society and allowing our populations to die off to levels sustainable by subsistence farming, or do you think we should give up on this agriculture stuff altogether and return to hunting and gathering? Destroying modern civilization will certainly do away with its ills, but the 5-6.5 billion people that will have to go to put your vision into place may object.
      And if you really believe this anarcho-primitivist stuff, what are you doing on the internet? There are still places you can go make lithic tools and have a rather iffy existence living off of nature’s bounty. Have at it.

      • MossWatson says:

        do you consider industrial civilization to be sustainable? if not, you obviously realize that we either change or we eventually crash. However bad this would be now, it will surely be worse the longer it takes – higher populations, less resources.

        ps, passing judgment on my personal lifestyle does nothing to change the facts of the situation.

      • MossWatson says:

        do you consider industrial civilization to be sustainable? if not, you obviously realize that we either change or we eventually crash. However bad this would be now, it will surely be worse the longer it takes – higher populations, less resources.

        ps, passing judgment on my personal lifestyle does nothing to change the facts of the situation.

        • danlalan says:

          Yes, I think there is every chance that we can modify our existing societies to become sustainable for both us and other creatures, and certainly hope its true. And I’m not passing judgement, just asking why if you talk the talk, you don’t walk the walk.

          • MossWatson says:

            If me giving up my computer would somehow stop deforestation, stop mountaintop removal mining, stop the poisoning of our water, air and soil, stop the hyper-exploitation of any and all resources, I’d do it in a second.

            If me living in a mud hut and eating only wild food would accomplish any of those things I would do it tomorrow – but if that was all I did, it would only be a matter of time before I got the same treatment that the last sustainable culture who lived here got.

            “Yes, I think there is every chance that we can modify our existing societies to become sustainable”

            can you be a little more specific? are you saying industrial civilization is sustainable?

          • danlalan says:

            I’ll make you a deal, you answer my questions, I’ll answer yours.

            In terms of extracting resources from the environment, beyond the scale of what we do what fundamental difference from other organisms/cultures is there?

            What cultures? Tens of thousands of years is a pretty hefty claim considering modern man’s brief tenure. And beyond having relatively low population densities, what “something” did they do that made them “better than we are”?

            do you advocate only abandoning modern industrial society and allowing our populations to die off to levels sustainable by subsistence farming, or do you think we should give up on this agriculture stuff altogether and return to hunting and gathering?

            We cannot afford to keep expanding, or it will be starvation and dehydration reducing population instead of good planning.

            I agree completely, and there has been a massive ongoing effort for the last 50 years to curb population growth, which has every appearance of having the desired effect. Current estimates put peak population growth at about 9 billion people, give or take a few hundred million. Population growth is clearly a threat, but destroying the technology based cultures that are keeping people alive so they starve is not the best way to get populations down.

          • MossWatson says:

            “In terms of extracting resources from the environment, beyond the scale of what we do what fundamental difference from other organisms/cultures is there?”

            our fundamental relationship with nature.
            we (our culture/civilization) see the world as if it is ours to exploit. we believe in infinite growth. we see ourselves as separate from nature. We see ourselves as more important than the rest of the natural world. We take more than we give back.

            “What cultures? Tens of thousands of years is a pretty hefty claim considering modern man’s brief tenure. ”

            several examples would be Australian aboriginal cultures, and the !Kung of the Kalahari.

            “do you advocate only abandoning modern industrial society and allowing our populations to die off to levels sustainable by subsistence farming, or do you think we should give up on this agriculture stuff altogether and return to hunting and gathering?”

            I don’t think that there is any one right way to live. I think that people should live in connection with their landbase, and live as if they expected to be living on that landbase for the next several thousand years. This will look different depending on where you live.

          • danlalan says:

            Ok, you’re part way there, but don’t forget this:
            And beyond having relatively low population densities, what “something” did they do that made them “better than we are”?

            Both cultures you name are hunter gatherer/horticultural groups with very low population densities, and the Australian aboriginal groups in particular are implicated in the extinctions of many of the large animals that lived in Australia prior to their arrival, and in causing widespread changes to the environment through the use of fire. Hardly the poster children for living in harmony with nature.

            You believe that modern societies are separate from nature, and that we somehow act differently than other animals and cultures at a fundamental level. They aren’t and we don’t. When we study animal populations, we find that they increase their numbers until they come into dynamic resource limited equilibrium with their environments, and equilibrium populations depend on factors such available resource densities, predator populations and total area of the environment they occupy. They are not immune from overpopulating and degrading their environments. There are numerous animal studies that show that they go through boom and bust cycles as they overshoot and undershoot equilibrium populations before arriving at more or less steady state numbers in response to changes in those factors that affect their populations. They increase their numbers as much as available resources and environmental conditions like predators will allow.

            Human beings are not different in kind, only in scale. Even humans that live in industrial societies. The range for our species is planetwide because of our command of basic technologies, like clothing, fire and boats. Other than the scale at which we operate we act exactly like other animals, taking the resources we need from the environment to increase our numbers. We modify the environment to better suit us, but we are hardly alone in that. How we do it may be different, but the fact of doing it is not unique to us. We may overshoot our equilibrium population and we are degrading our environment, but we share that possibility with all other species and cultures that are not already at equilibrium. You listed some beliefs as if there were some common set of beliefs that all humans in modern societies share, but I don’t hold any of those beliefs, and neither do you. Nor do any of my associates. The fact that we have beliefs about our relationship with nature is the most striking difference we have from other animals. In any case, beliefs are not behaviors.

            I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “we take more than we give back”. Perhaps you will expand on this.

            To answer your question briefly:

            The most unsustainable parts of modern global industrial societies is that we consume resources and increase our populations in an uncontrolled fashion like all animals that have not come into resource limited equilibrium with their environments. We must get control of the energy that makes our societies run and stop population growth on our own before we outstrip our ability to produce food. We must find an energy supply that is not based on a limited resource, that does not cause environmental degradation or have climate change implications. Photovoltaics and wind come to mind, and we are actively (if frustratingly slowly) working in that direction. We are also actively working to get population growth to stop without relying on resource depletion to act as a limit like other animals do, and after decades of work it appears that it education and improved health care will stop growth and start a gradual decline when we reach about 9 or 10 billion people by the best current forecasts. That’s a whole lot of people, but if we can solve the energy problem, we can feed ourselves with the techniques developed during the green revolution of the 70s.
            Deforestation and the destruction of wildlife habitats both must and can be addressed by developing alternatives to the resources we take from the forests, by either farming trees or switching to more widely available materials, like rammed earth.Convincing individuals to behave more responsibly about how they use resources will also help immensely.

            All of these things are achievable, and once achieved there is no reason they cannot be sustained for the long term. The solution is to act less like our fellow creatures and more like beings that take advantage of our ability to reason and are capable of acting in ways that benefit us and them.

            If we fail, the same forces that limit populations for all other animals will limit ours as well. Deliberately discarding the good parts of modern society because it has bad parts and suffering the resultant starvation that will reduce our population rather than trying to fix the bad parts and keep the good hardly seems like the solution to me.

          • MossWatson says:

            “Ok, you’re part way there, but don’t forget this:
            And beyond having relatively low population densities, what “something” did they do that made them “better than we are”?”

            I never said they were “better than we are”. I said they were “doing something better than we are” in that they were/are able to live in the same place for thousands of years without denuding their landbase. Whatever damage the aboriginal people may have done in their 10,000+ years is nothing compared to what we have done in the last 100.

            “You believe that modern societies are separate from nature”

            No, of course I don’t think that. I’m saying that one of the main differences between “civilized” cultures and “non-civilized” cultures is the belief (whether recognized, or underlying) that we (humans) are separate from nature. You and I may not believe that humans are separate from nature, but enough people do (and have in the past to get us where we are)

            “…and that we somehow act differently than other animals and cultures at a fundamental level…we don’t.”

            but we do, and I believe the reason we do is based on our (civilized humans) underlying belief that we are separate and more important than the rest of nature.
            what we do differently -as Daniel Quinn does a good job of explaining in Ishmael (http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Ishmael#Spelling_out_the_law)-
            is that we attempt to eliminate our competitors, by either killing them directly or by denying them access to food. You do not see this in the rest of nature.

            As for your proposed solutions, they all sound nice but expecting them to actually happen seems a bit far fetched. You’re plan is based on finding “an energy supply that is not based on a limited resource, that does not cause environmental degradation or have climate change implications”. That’s a tall order, and a huge “if”. Especially considering that photovoltaics and wind power are reliant on copper and other metals, which require extensive mining operations and transportation.

            “if we can solve the energy problem, we can feed ourselves with the techniques developed during the green revolution of the 70s.”
            you mean relying on petroleum based pesticides and fertilizers?

            “Deforestation and the destruction of wildlife habitats both must and can be addressed by developing alternatives to the resources we take from the forests, by either farming trees…”

            replacing a forest with a tree farm is the problem. We don’t have a shortage of wood, we have a shortage of forests. A tree farm is NOT a forest.

            “Convincing individuals to behave more responsibly about how they use resources will also help immensely.”

            sure, but people have been trying to do this for the past 7o years. If they’re not convinced by now, when will they be?

            “Deliberately discarding the good parts of modern society because it has bad parts and suffering the resultant starvation that will reduce our population rather than trying to fix the bad parts and keep the good hardly seems like the solution to me.”

            Again, your solution contains some huge ‘if’s – the discovery of an entirely new energy source, millions of people suddenly coming to a realization and changing their ways, and essentially expecting the rich and powerful to give up their riches and their power.
            However bad you think it would be to abandon industrial civilization now (and I’m not saying it would be pretty), it will surely be much much worse to continue on our current path only to realize that any one of your big ‘if’s didn’t come true, and find ourselves in a world with even more people and even less resources.

          • danlalan says:

            I said they were “doing something better than we are” in that they were/are able to live in the same place for thousands of years without denuding their landbase.

            The “something they did” was have very low population densities, and the two examples you cite are nomadic hunter gatherers who did not stay in the same place at all. This is the solution you seek?

            people have been trying to do this for the past 7o years.

            That is one human lifetime. Much less time than was required to cause the problems. Real life on the planet is not like a television show, and rarely do problems or solutions happen at the short timescales individuals see. Modern industrial civilization is not the first human culture to face collapse from degraded environments, but the Maya, Nazcans, Rapanui, Chacoans and others that did so did not have industry and capitalism, so maybe you should consider the idea that the fundamental problem isn’t technology, industry and purportedly widespread beliefs that are inimical to the rest of life on the planet, it is that we as a species behave as other species do, just more efficiently. Succeeding ourselves to failure is not unique to modern cultures, or even to human beings.

            what we do differently…is that we attempt to eliminate our competitors, by either killing them directly or by denying them access to food. You do not see this in the rest of nature.

            You really need to look at the way other animals behave if you believe this. Animals protect their ranges and food supplies by driving out or killing competitors routinely, or strip the local environments of resources and move on, or both (the solution favored by the nomadic groups you cite). The problem we face is that our range is global, our numbers are immense, and we compete with a broad cross section of life, so acting like our fellow animals is producing the bad results we see around us. Again, it is the scale at which we act, not the fundamental way we act in relation to our environment that is different. And if we don’t figure out how to escape that underlying dilemma now and instead implement the massive die off you advocate, what will prevent this problem from happening again in 500, 1000 or 10,000 years?

            A tree farm is NOT a forest.

            No argument there, and an agricultural field is not a meadow. But both of these things can be done on the same pieces of land in perpetuity, and can leave the rest of the natural landscape alone and stop deforestation and habitat destruction if done wisely.

            …your solution contains some huge ‘if’s – the discovery of an entirely new energy source, millions of people suddenly coming to a realization and changing their ways, and essentially expecting the rich and powerful to give up their riches and their power.

            “My” solution, as you put it, does not require “discovery” of new energy sources but implementation of existing ones at a much larger scale (as I said). Your solution also requires “millions of people suddenly coming to a realization and changing their ways” and “the rich and powerful to give up their riches and their power”, but rather than implementing sustainable energy solutions it also requires that we deliberately allow billions and billions of people to starve to death. Convincing people to change their behaviors to prevent their deaths, or letting them die in vast numbers…hmmm, which solution to try? I’d rather put up solar panels et al and encourage others to do the same, myself.

            You seem like a smart, caring person. Please stop trying to hand out jonestown punch as a short term fix to our problems and help implement long term solutions that don’t require unprecedented starvation and suffering. If we fail, the starvation and suffering will happen anyway, it doesn’t need your help.

          • MossWatson says:

            The “something they did” was have very low population densities…”
            “Again, it is the scale at which we act, not the fundamental way we act ”

            did it ever occur to you that having some concern for your growth may have something to do with your sustainability?
            Did it ever occur to you that your fundamental beliefs as a society could have something to do with whether or not you maintain reasonable and sustainable numbers?

            “rarely do problems or solutions happen at the short timescales individuals see.”

            look at the condition of the environment now vs one human lifetime ago. Look at the rate of species extirpation, look at the rates of deforestation, pollution, etc. We don’t have another 70 years to keep going at this rate.

            “it is that we as a species behave as other species do, just more efficiently.”

            you can repeat this mantra of your as many times as you like, but it doesn’t make it true.

            “Succeeding ourselves to failure is not unique to modern cultures, or even to human beings.”

            if what you are doing leads to failure, it is not successful. There is no such thing as “succeeding yourself to failure”. That’s absolutely delusional thinking.

            “Animals protect their ranges and food supplies by driving out or killing competitors routinely”

            can you give me an example of an animal who routinely kills it’s competitors – not to eat them, but just to eliminate them? Can you give me an example of an animal who strips the environment of resources – not to consume them, but simply to wipe them out so that others cannot have them?

            “(the solution favored by the nomadic groups you cite)”.
            ok…i will try to spell this out again. Whatever those groups were doing, it obviously left the natural systems around them intact enough for them to survive in the same general area for thousands of years. what we are doing will not allow this.

            “massive die off you advocate…”

            can you please point to where I ever advocated a mass die off?
            I resent the implication. Please read my comments a little more carefully before you write things like this. You’ll save everyone time.

            What I am hoping to avoid is the mass die off that will surely occur if we continue on this path, increasing our numbers and destroying the environment with nothing but some flimsy “hopes” about maybe finding an “energy supply that is not based on a limited resource, that does not cause environmental degradation or have climate change implications”.

            “what will prevent this problem from happening again in 500, 1000 or 10,000 years?”

            if your house is on fire you put it out. You do not stand around and say “well…we could do that…but what if another fire breaks out next month…”. If you don’t save what you have now, there will be no house to speak of “next month”.

            “…it also requires that we deliberately allow billions and billions of people to starve to death.”

            “Please stop trying to hand out jonestown punch as a short term fix to our problems…”

            When did I say these things? It’s kind of like you’re talking to yourself, because you’re certainly not listening to me. This conversation is quickly becoming unproductive.

            it’s been fun. i’ll see you on the next thread.

          • danlalan says:

            can you please point to where I ever advocated a mass die off? I resent the implication.

            No, you don’t overtly advocate that 5 billion people starve. That would be inhuman, wouldn’t it?

            But since we are about 5 billion people past what traditional non-industrially based agriculture can feed, and even more beyond what hunter/gatherer lifestyles can maintain, that is the practical result of what you do openly advocate. I am listening to what you say, you’re the one who isn’t considering the implications of what you advocate.

            Perhaps you should.

          • MossWatson says:

            I know I said I was done…and I am…we disagree and that’s fine.
            I just wanted to pass on this dialogue that was posted in the Guardian this summer. It’s two people having basically the same conversation ours has turned into. It’s an interesting article about a complex issue. Of course I wish they would have let Paul Kingsnorth respond one more time, but nonetheless…

            http://www.alternet.org/environment/142051/is_there_any_point_in_fighting_to_stave_off_industrial_apocalypse/?page=entire

  12. MossWatson says:

    wow, I am really surprised at the amount of ignorant, anthropocentric, and hate-filled responses here.

    where to start?

    yes, koalas are cute, and some people only seem to care about the extinction of cute species. The proper response to this would be “yes, koalas are cute, but let’s not forget that somewhere between a quarter and a third of ALL mammals are at risk of extinction
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/oct/07/endangeredspecies.wildlife

    and the claim that “99% of all species that have ever existed have gone extinct” is absolutely ridiculous and inappropriate for this conversation. Yes, species go extinct, it is a part of nature. People also die, so do entire cultures, and that is just a part of nature, but would this be a good justification for genocide?

    This “failure to adapt” line is just as ridiculous. Of course, it is the koala’s fault that we are depleting mass quantities of their habitat. They should learn to deal with our irresponsible behavior or simply die off?

    Where is our responsibility? There is a difference between trying to make sure every species always survives, and not actively facilitating one’s extinction. No species can survive on it’s own. Life is a complex web of relationships between species. Life on the planet requires a diverse population of species and our activities are clearly threatening that diversity.

    But while protecting other species will in the long run benefit humans, it’s still not just about that. Life should not simply be valued at it’s benefit to humans. All life should be seen as valued on it’s own, as life.

  13. danlalan says:

    did it ever occur to you that having some concern for your growth may have something to do with your sustainability?
    Did it ever occur to you that your fundamental beliefs as a society could have something to do with whether or not you maintain reasonable and sustainable numbers?

    I’m going to flog this dead horse one last time.

    Did it occur to you that the populations that human cultures grow to traditionally have little if anything to do with their fundamental beliefs? You assert that our problems stem from modern industrial cultures behaving fundamentally different than past cultures or other animals. There is some truth to the idea that educated modern populations have worldviews that make them behave differently, but the effect of the difference is not what you claim.

    Analysis of any human culture in the past shows that their populations grow until limited by their environments. The hunter gatherer cultures you have cited had resource limited populations that had come into the same kind of dynamic equilibrium with their environments that every other animal population has or will go to given enough time. Cultures that adopted agriculture and found stability came into equilibrium at higher population densities than hunter gatherers did because there were greater resources available to them, but still grew until resources limited their growth. They don’t stop growing their populations because of their worldview, they did so because they could not grow any more with the available resources. Cultures like the Nile civilizations were able to achieve relative stability because they were limited by geographic constraints (bounded by the desert on all sides) and because the Nile provided an environment that was relatively immune to climatic changes, and cultures like the Maya collapsed because they grew until their agriculturally based environment became sensitive to climatic change, and when that change occurred their food base was dramatically reduced, the culture collapsed, and the populations fell to the point that could be supported under the new environmental conditions. The difference was not because the ancient Egyptians had a more eco-friendly worldview, but because the resource base of the Maya was more sensitive to environmental change.

    In the modern world some cultures have been able to limit their populations short of becoming resource limited because of widespread education and health care. In the developing world, the increase in resource availability provided by better farming techniques gave rise to exponential population growth rates that have only recently begun to drop as education and health care become more widespread no matter what the “fundamental beliefs” of the cultures are.

    We have a chance, limited as it may be, to avoid the boom and bust cycles that past cultures have endured and that our fellow creatures go through as they approach resource limited equilibrium by not acting like our fellow creatures do and past cultures did, but by making educated, rational choices.

    If in the end we cannot meet the challenges presented by the problems we all agree we have, modern cultures will collapse and populations will crash as we go through the “bust” part of the all too natural boom and bust cycles that all animal populations go through as they come into the resource limited dynamic equilibrium. But by not giving up and not deciding that the impending crash is the best solution to our problems we at least have the chance of escaping the kind of boom and bust cycles that nature uses to keep populations in check, and that humanity will be doomed to endure once the education and health care that have allowed some cultures to consciously limit their growth are gone.

  14. Anonymous says:

    The koalas have started realising that they live in Australia and have begun to drop dead. 30 years from now the last one will have realised this and died.

  15. Hmpf says:

    About *a third* of all species that still existed in the 1970s have gone extinct since then. In the next fifty or so years, between 30% and 80% of all species that still exist now are expected to go extinct, too. Contemplate those numbers for a moment.

    Here’s the fun part: we are dependent on a complex ecosystem. It’s so complex we’re still far from understanding it properly. So we can’t say with any certainty which species are crucial to keeping that system viable and which – cute or not – aren’t, and at what point of the current extinction event the so-called “ecosystem services” we unthinkingly rely on will collapse.

    Isn’t it great to be living in the glorious 21st century?

    (I’m sorry. I’m not usually this bitter – really. I think it’s immoral to give in to despair. But this thread is somewhat trying.)

  16. MossWatson says:

    @Hmpf #38

    “About *a third* of all species that still existed in the 1970s have gone extinct since then.”

    citation?

  17. jonathan_v says:

    i suppose the fact that their diet is only eucalyptus leaves, and their species has failed to adapt to eating anything else is to blame too.

    • Anonymous says:

      You know, rare is the starvation that couldn’t be fixed if people would only adapt to eating grass and leaves. Sadly, evolution doesn’t work that way.

  18. Hmpf says:

    Okay, I think this is what I should have said:

    Don’t just sadly shrug your shoulders and move on when you read stuff like this. Don’t tell yourself “I can’t do anything”, or “this is just the way the world works”. If you can spare any time and energy at all, find a way to get active to *save the f*****g world*, okay?

    Because it really *is* about saving the world. This isn’t just about a couple of cute critters. We’re all in the same sinking boat here, and it’s sinking fast. We have crises of apocalyptic dimensions looming in every direction; we need to get *serious* about changing our way of life, our economy, our politics, etc. We need nothing short of a huge, radical movement here. “Radical” in the sense of “getting to the roots of our problem” (“radix” = “root”).

    So get angry, people. And then get active. Build that movement.

  19. nuorder says:

    Koalas are insanely cute!!! I just adore the Mitch Hedberg joke about Koalas…

    “I have a koala infestation. It is the cutest infestation ever. I turn on the light and they all scatter and I’m like, Wait! Let me hold one of you.”

  20. Boondocker says:

    Haha. ‘Failed to adapt,’ like it’s their fault. Maybe we need to cut back on the deforestation while they evolve, eh?

  21. Xeni Jardin says:

    sure, BLAME THE KOALAS.

  22. Hmpf says:

    @MossWatson:

    http://news.mongabay.com/2008/0516-wildlife.html – that is not the original study, of course, just an article about it.

    Ah, found the original: http://assets.panda.org/downloads/living_planet_report_2008.pdf

    I don’t have a citation for the projections of future losses. It’s my own ‘summary’ of the numbers given in a whole slew of studies and articles. So, basically, just a vague, in the ballpark estimate synthesised from a variety of sources.

  23. nanuq says:

    Like it or not, over-adaptation can be a factor in whether a species goes extinct. As it is, koalas only survived as long as they did because there were so few large predators in Australia.

  24. skeletoncityrepeater says:

    “Failed to adapt”? That’s like telling a kid they “failed” to be tall enough to go on this amusement park ride.. A species can’t know anything, they just adapt to what is there, and it takes a long, long time. The invasiveness of humans is tantamount to a massive natural disaster as far as the evolutionary process is concerned. Are all the polar bears ‘failing’ at being a darker color?

  25. J France says:

    Considering only a year or two ago they were contemplating a Koala cull on Kangaroo Island (off the coast of South Australia), due to over-population and lack of natural predators, I think there is more than a healthy chance of rehabiliting important pockets of wilderness on the mainland.

    The other thing that leaves me scratching my head – I saw 4 or 5 of them THIS WEEKEND visiting a friends place in the metropolitan area of my capital city. Sure, you also see them as roadkill of the freeway, but I can’t help but feel that this is putting a cute, cuddly face of a different wildlife crisis. The forests which are slowly turning into logging wastelands and/or tinderboxes.

  26. MossWatson says:

    @hmpf

    thanks. and well said.

  27. The Chemist says:

    Seriously? What the hell is with all the koala hate people? What’s next? Do we start serving gray bats with eviction notices because they fail to pay rent for rooftops on public buildings?

    “What? I don’t care that you evolved to sleep upside down in belfries- that’s YOUR fault now isn’t it?”

    • Hughes Morty says:

      @The Chemist; The reason I see why koalas would hate people is that we are disturbing they natural way of living or their natural habitat. It’s like the Tarsier in Philippines, their slowly becoming extinct, slowly dying because of too much human interaction which we are neglecting that they also wanted to be free alone with their type of species.

  28. schmutze says:

    I blame abstinence education. If those slutty koalas had been taught about condoms, maybe chlamydia wouldn’t have killed so many of them.

  29. nanuq says:

    “Are all the polar bears ‘failing’ at being a darker color?”

    Nobody is blaming the polar bears and koalas, it’s just an observation. Some species are better at adapting to man-made changes than others. More than ninety-nine percent of all plant and animal species that have ever existed on Earth have gone extinct, most of them without any help from us. Would koalas last longer if we had never come along? Perhaps, but any monumental change in their environment would likely have had the same result eventually.

  30. adamnvillani says:

    there were so few large predators in Australia

    This wasn’t true until about 40,000 years ago when humans arrived and killed off the large predators. Living up in trees and blending in with their surroundings was probably how they survived while there were still large predators in Australia.

  31. KeithIrwin says:

    First off, koalas are not going to be extinct within our lifetimes as there are enough living in zoos and wildlife parks (which are like zoos in Australia except that they only feature Australian animals) that there is certainly a stable captive breeding population (and they are successfuly bred in captivity). Further, on Kangaroo Island, koalas have become so numerous that they are threatening other species. They have, in fact, considered culling koalas on the island because the population may have reached unsustainable levels. This is unlikely to happen because of how cute and cuddly the animals are.

    So really, the worst case scenario of what we’re talking about is the potential for koalas to be extinct in the wild on the Australian mainland. Now, mind you, I’m not saying we shouldn’t be worried about this, but we don’t need to be quite this alarmist. We can be accurate with the facts and still be concerned with the ongoing loss of koala habitat and what that means both for koalas and other animals which share the same ecosystem.

    The population decrease is quite steep and we should be concerned. I would in favor of increasing conservation measures, but it’s tough to know what the recommend specifically since I’m not sure what the existing laws are.

    • coaxial says:

      @KeithIrwin

      I was thinking the same thing, but then I realized that:
      1. I’m not a biologist
      2. I have no idea what the population of koalas in the world are
      3. Apparently the koala population has crashed in recent years (see wikipedia’s koala entry)
      4. Koalas were already almost hunted to extinction at the beginning of the 19th century
      5. I have no idea what size the captive population of koalas are (not many for sure)
      6. I have no idea what how many are needed for a viable population
      7. How many captives have clamydia

      Interestingly Tasmanian Devils are also due to infection disease. (Devil facial tumour disease) They bite each others’ faces, and then then a tumor grows on their jaws, and they starve.

  32. deckard68 says:

    “do you advocate…allowing our populations to die off to levels sustainable by subsistence farming?”

    We should just be encouraging families to only have one child, two at the most. Status quo, or reduction. We cannot afford to keep expanding, or it will be starvation and dehydration reducing population instead of good planning.

  33. adamnvillani says:

    Whoa, Hmpf. I thank you for linking to the original report, but your interpretation of it is overreaching.

    What’s declined 30% since the 70s is the Living Planet Index, which tracks trends in large populations of selected vertebrates. It’s like the Dow Jones Industrial Average of species. It can go up or down, depending on the health of the populations of the species it tracks. In fact, in the original report, the index for populations living in temperate zones actually increased by 6%. This is not to say that all is well — it isn’t –, and in fact, it means that tropical species fared even worse than a 30% loss, losing about 51% on their index.

    But what it does point out is that a 30% loss on the index does *not* mean that 30% of the species in the world, or even 30% of the tracked species, have gone extinct. Otherwise, the 6% uptick in the temperate species index would indicate that there were somehow 6% more species in temperate zones than there were in 1970, which we know is absurd.

    It’s not entirely clear how exactly the index is calculated, but, aside from some weighing of different components, what it means is that the population of the selected vertebrates has decreased by 30%, not that the number of different species has decreased by that amount.

  34. inkadinka12 says:

    Extinction is a very natural event. It has happened countless times before. The only reason people care about koalas is that they are cute. I agree, they are very cute. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that saving the koalas would be some great thing for nature; in fact you would be doing something very un-natural. It’s not a matter of blaminig the koalas, it’s just nature doing its thing. I think that’s the way it should be.

    • Boondocker says:

      The only reason people care about koalas is that they are cute.

      Yeah, actually, the only person who’s said that they’re cute didn’t even mention extinction.

      I love that you guys can all read minds, and know without a doubt that the only reason a person can care about extinction is because they are shallow and have nostalgic memories of their childhood stuffed animals.

      The great barrier reef is dying, and it’s not cute — oh wait, fish are cute. Can’t care about that one — Okay, the cod has been overfished to the point of — crap, I must be pining for a traditional but sadly unsustainable way of life, can’t do that — um, the tigers, elephants, and rhinos — nope, they’re all African or Asian, and Westerners can’t tell other cultures what to do — the whales & dolphins — crap on a stick, they’re considered more intelligent, and that’s just animal RACISM — polar bears make me a sucker for Coca Cola, sea turtles mean I’m hoodwinked by Greenpeace, great apes is just ’cause they look like me, manatees are so ugly they’re cute… man, there’s no species that I can be concerned about in an unbiased, uninterested way!

      Ha! Found one! I also care about Aphaenogaster bidentatus, an endangered ant from the U.S.A. I don’t even know what this sucker looks like. Expose my motivations for that one, jackasses!

  35. goldfroggy says:

    “As it is, koalas only survived as long as they did because there were so few large predators in Australia.”

    Thylacoleo
    Thylacine
    Genyornis
    Megalania

  36. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Extinction is a very natural event.

    So is global thermonuclear war. It’s just nature’s electrons doing their natural thing. Right? Right?

    • inkadinka12 says:

      “So is global thermonuclear war.”

      I’ve never heard of a planet spontaneously breaking out in a thermonuclear war, so I’ll have to take your word for it.

      But even if you are correct, it doesn’t address the point others are making, which is that the only reason this seems to be a big deal is that koalas are cute and cuddly. People like to collect cute things, like unicorn statues, troll dolls, and beanie babies. People who are crying about the koalas are collectors, they want to keep their collection intact, they want all the rare items and they want a complete set. I see most of the “oh no, a creature is going extinct” people as the living equivalent of my neighbor, a rabid beanie baby collector. She would do most anything to protect her collection. The koala keepers are no more natural thank my beanie baby keeping neighbor.

      • mdh says:

        As your neighbor, i’ll still offer to help you out the day the power goes out, no matter what you think of me and my fascination with the natural order.

  37. Hmpf says:

    I don’t know why people always see only the options “industrial society with very minor tweaks (if any)” and “rural, quasi-tribal non-technological society” when they’re talking about sustainability. Isn’t it imaginable that we could uphold some level of technology etc. and *still* transform society radically? I don’t see why certain things couldn’t be preserved. Communications infrastructure and medicine, for instance, are two areas where I’d do a lot to preserve something akin to our present level of development.

    Mind you, this does not mean that it’s sustainable for us to exchange our computers for a more powerful machine every other year, and get a new mobile every year. We’ll have to make do with less – and we’ll have to make our stuff so it *lasts*.

    We’ll just have to decide what’s worth preserving. Five widescreen TVs per house? Probably not. One computer? Probably yes.

    As for people not walking the walk – how do you know we don’t? How do you know how old my computer is, for instance, and how long I still intend to keep it? What if I don’t have a car, don’t fly, don’t have a tv, don’t use an electric clothes dryer, eat meat maybe ten times a year, don’t throw away clothes or shoes before they’re *really* worn out (current record: one seventeen-year-old sweater *g*), live in a tiny flat, volunteer with an environmental organisation, etc.? Do I really have to move to a hut in the forest to be believable?

    (Sorry, this is a rambling half-reply to various posts here. I’m too tired for something more coherent now. Signing off now. ;-))

    • danlalan says:

      As for people not walking the walk – how do you know we don’t?

      I apologize if it sounded like I was saying you didn’t. The kinds of things you do and advocate are exactly what we need to do as a society, IMO. I was specifically responding to MossWatson’s quotes from Derrick Jensen, from whom he seems to take his cues. Derrick Jensen is an “anarcho-primitivist” who does advocate abandoning industrial civilization altogether and returning to rural, quasi-tribal non-technological society.

      I salute you for your sustainable posture, sir.

  38. Darren Garrison says:

    I read a book about koalas just a few days ago. Pretty good. You can steal it here:

    http://avaxhome.ws/ebooks/koala_origins_of_an_icon.html

    After that I read the thylacine book

    http://avaxhome.ws/ebooks/animals/David13Tiger.html

    and soon will read the tasmanian devil book

    http://avaxhome.ws/ebooks/animals/Tasmanian_Devil_A_Unique_and_Threatened_Animal.html

    (of course, all these can be bought as deadtree versions on Amazon)

  39. Hmpf says:

    Well, okay. But frankly, it’s the ballpark numbers that matter here, and those are alarming enough. Whether extinction rates are up 7000% as I read in one article, or 10,000%, as I read in another, or – let’s be hugely optimistic here and assume those were *extremely* exaggerated numbers and the real increase of the extinction rate due to human expansion were merely 1000% – even *that* would be alarming enough.

    Same goes for other crises we’re facing. Most of the prognoses are so massively, dramatically horrible that even correcting some of the numbers downwards a bit or whatever doesn’t really change the clearly visible, catastrophic trend. It doesn’t matter if we’d need 3 or just 2 planets at our current rate of using up nature’s resources: what matters that we only have one, and no matter how you crunch the numbers, we’re far above any sensible consumption rate for, well, basically, any resource you can think of.

    (And yeah, I know it’s callous to call biodiversity a resource; I’m just using the term ‘resources’ here as a very loosely-fitting catch-all term.)

    My call for, essentially, a revolution of some sort here (not necessarily a violent one, mind you) is not really based *just* on biodiversity, you know…

  40. adamnvillani says:

    I’m with you, man — I’m not arguing that there’s a huge crisis here. I’m just saying that we need to keep the facts on our side. I don’t know how many species we’ve lost since 1970, but it’s nowhere near a third of them.

  41. adamnvillani says:

    I mean, I’m not arguing *against* there being a huge crisis.

  42. danlalan says:

    The biggest problem we face in trying to deal with this and most of the other major problems we are trying to deal with is that we behave just like all other organisms that have ever existed, we are just much, much better at it. The “tapestry of life” is not a designed system, it is a self organizing one, produced by each individual organism acting in its own short term interest.

    Evolution is all about the efficiency of individuals within a population acquiring the resources needed to reproduce more successfully than other individuals within that population, and the success of any species depends on its ability to compete with other species for the resources available within a given environment. It is axiomatic in biology that if two species are both dependent on the same resources within an environment, the one that is better at acquiring those resources will drive the other either to extinction, to exploiting a different resource, or to inhabiting a different environment. The difficultly we need to address is that we inhabit virtually every terrestrial environment and out compete almost every other species for most of the resources within those environments. We also exploit environments we don’t live in like the oceans for the resources available there at the expense of the organisms that do live there. For now, the deep ocean environments like sea-floor vents are reasonably intact, but be sure someone is casting an eye toward those as well. And we compete with one another for the resources available within our self-created social environments, all following the principle of the individual acting in what they perceive to be their own best interest, even when it is obviously not in our collective long term interest to do so.

    In light of this biological reality, we have some choices if we wish to avoid the impending disasters we are creating.

    1) Devise a way to make it so that the short term interest of the individual is in accord with the long term interest of both us collectively and the other species with which we share the planet.

    2) Figure out how to make a break from biology and the self-organizing principles of competition that produced us and all other life on the planet by taking advantage of our quasi-unique purported ability to use reason to act collectively in a way that benefits both us as individuals and the rest of life on the planet.

    3) Some combination of these two.

    4) Dramatically reduce our populations (a solution that will likely be imposed on us if we can’t figure out how to do one of the first three.)

    5) Something else (aliens, the harmonic convergence, rapture, or something more realistic I haven’t thought of)

  43. Anonymous says:

    People. We have GOT to stop eating them!

  44. Anonymous says:

    Extinction is a natural event, but when it happens much faster than speciation, it’s reasonable to be concerned. And while it’s true the koalas are being singled out because they’re cute, it doesn’t matter. Any resulting conservation should help whatever less cuddly species live in the same vanishing habitats.

    As for the idea that koalas are simply an inferior design, is there any indication they’d be on their way out if not for us? Needing eucalyptus leaves isn’t that much of a weakness, since they’re a significant component of Australian forests – it would be the equivalent of eating only acorns in the eastern US. And adapting in the absence of large predators is not a weakness on a continent that doesn’t support any, although as goldfroggy points out, koalas actually date back to when they were present.

    Of course you could argue that western civilization is now a part of nature that they have to adapt to. But if our incursions are natural, our decision to protect them would be too, so that’s a red herring.

    So, why the rush to criticize this species and people who want to help it?

    • Anonymous says:

      And those large predators that are now extinct…

      3 of the 4 mentioned went extinct within a few thousand years of the arrival of humans ~50000 years ago, quite probably because we ate them/ ate their prey.

      The fourth went extinct on the australian mainland a few millennia ago, and on tasmania after the europeans arrived.

      Yes, extinction happens in nature. This does not make human-caused extinction a good or natural thing. Yes, we like cute cuddly animals. This does not make using such animals as a reason to protect habitat shared by many other species any less of a good thing.

  45. Hmpf says:

    The first article which I read about that report (not the one I linked but one in my daily newspaper, a while ago) phrased it that way, so some journalist screwed up there. And that idea then got lodged in my mind. I have to admit I don’t read every single study or report I read about – it’s hard enough to keep up with just the summaries and overviews. I should probably read more sources, but there’s only so much time…

    Basically, I’m a non-scientist trying to get an overview of the science of the state of the planet. Since I don’t have the time to go back to uni to study science (and which one? Not like I could study them all!) I have to rely on second-hand and occasionally third-hand information. While I am well aware that there is probably a lot of exaggeration, distortion, misunderstanding etc. in some individual articles about the latest scientific findings, I still trust that the general trends can be determined well enough that way.

    I’m rambling, sorry. This – the issue of getting the science right – is something I struggle with. I agree it’s important, but there’s only so much reading and understanding the layperson can do. Being a non-expert with an incomplete understanding of many issues, every time I step up and address any of these issues, I open myself up to criticism, because there’s always the danger I’ll get some detail wrong. Maybe I should just not mention details anymore? Hm. But then I’m reduced to extremely vague statements of “I feel…” and “I think…” (Okay – here on the internet, I *could* have done some more reading before I posted. Mea culpa.)

    Gah. I don’t have a solution here. How *do* you speak effectively about the Big Picture you’ve assembled from reading hundreds of different sources over several years? People usually want numbers, sources, concrete facts. All I really have is a vague, though alarming enough, synthesis of years of reading alarming stuff… I remember the occasional number, but – as above – I also get the occasional number wrong, or put it in the wrong context. Doesn’t change the big picture – but to opponents in a discussion it’s a welcome opening, of course.

    Sorry. Veering off topic here. I’ll shut up now.

  46. adamnvillani says:

    OK, thanks… this isn’t my area of specialty (I do have an undergrad degree in Geology), it’s just that my skepticism antennae went buzzing with the figures that went up. Certainly we can hope that journalists will get these things right when reporting on them, but alas, such is not the case.

    It’s OK, we’re all trying to understand the world the best we can and take action when it becomes necessary. There’s no shame in getting things wrong every now and then as long as we learn from our mistakes.

  47. Hmpf says:

    Whoops, forgot to mention that my last post was a reply to adamnvillani.

    And, @danlalan: well, since cooperation and some kinds of selflessness are *also* innate to humans (as is reason, as is – to some degree – a love of nature, and many other fine qualities), I don’t even think we’d have to make a complete “break from biology” as you put it. We’d just need to design a society that didn’t emphasise the competitive aspect of human nature so much. Society is not determined by our genes, and, although it’s grown, not made, we do have some influence on the way it grows and changes. Not all societies have been quite as destructive and competitive as ours; it has to be possible to redesign ours.

    • danlalan says:

      …since cooperation and some kinds of selflessness are *also* innate to humans

      People generally cooperate for their own interests even though acting collectively. And you’re right, altruism exists (even outside humanity), and the debate over why altruism exists is a longstanding one within biology. From a purely mechanistic evolutionary sense, any behavior that will put your genes into the next generation is adaptive. Since you share your genes with your close relatives helping them at your expense can be adaptive, and since we evolved in closely related groups the argument can be made that altruism is in an individuals evolutionary best interests. Or like the man said,”I would give my life for 3 brothers or 9 cousins”. But I digress.

      We are clearly able to act beyond biological imperatives, and this may well be our saving grace. Individual behaviors cover the complete spectrum from absolute selfishness to complete selflessness. But for behaviors that benefit us all in the long run despite having no immediate benefit for an individual to have an impact on the problems we face, we will have to figure out how to make such behavior the rule, rather than the exception.

      Not all societies have been quite as destructive and competitive as ours

      You have a citation for this? I’m not saying you’re wrong, but in my studies the primary differences in the destructiveness of societies has been how high the population density was and their technical ability to gather resources. I would love to find a real exception.

      Admitting how we actually behave and developing a solution within that reality, rather than creating a fiction of how we would like to behave by pointing to mythical groups of humans living in harmony with nature and each other may be unpleasant but is likely to produce better results.

  48. Sam says:

    That’s what they get for being on our land before we got there.

    Public enemy #1: bears.

  49. Anonymous says:

    If we start eating Koalas then they won’t go extinct. I don’t know how I feel about that trade off though.

  50. Kyle Armbruster says:

    So another organism has started to use resources that they used to have more access to, and they are stuck eating one nutrient-poor food.

    Yes, they are going to go extinct. Yes, it is because of us. No, it doesn’t matter. No, we shouldn’t feel bad about it.

    They are a complete failure as a species, like the vast majority of species which have walked this planet. Environmentalists criticize their opposition for taking the Biblical idea that man has dominion over the earth literally, but they, too fall into that trap. We’re not responsible for the well-being of any other species but our own, and it’s not for us to say which ones survive and don’t. It’s important to protect the earth for ourselves. That’s it.

    Screw the koalas.

    Not literally. They all have chlamydia.

    All-round pathetic, pointless creatures, although they are, indeed, adorable.

  51. jonathan_v says:

    At no time did I say that I hated Koalas. I like them a lot.

    The issue isn’t about a species failing to adapt to a particular food source — such as humans and grass. The issue that Koalas have adapted to eating virtually ONLY eucalyptus, and are incredibly picky eaters that have been known to starve themselves until they get certain leaves from certain species at a certain maturity. This isn’t an evolutionary failure to adapt to something, its an evolutionary addiction.

  52. thequickbrownfox says:

    There has been a heat wave in Adelaide, South Australia, for the last 10 days or so.

    40+ deg C every day and koalas are dropping their usual mistrust of humans and are begging for water.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mz6fwDph8wQ

  53. deckard68 says:

    When flappers were dancing in their speakeasys the human population was only 2 billion. When Kennedy was president, the Earth held 3 billion. Today, we are 7 billion.

    The Koalas haven’t a chance at evolving into bipedal, sophisticated people. They’d need to be left alone for a very long time, and “alone” is soon to be an unfamiliar concept, if it is not already.

  54. lerasmus says:

    and jonathan went down to the last remaining eucalyptus grove to observe with cynical pride the end of the koala race. it was a rainy day, raining oblong drops of tears – koala tears. as he stood in a puddle and looked up into the trees, a koala recognized the 2-legged below, the one who dared to blame the koalas for not adapting. he had just picked a seed pod, and, with a nod to his sister on the branch over, implemented a move he had been rehearsing for days. with the skill one only gains from routinely snorting eucalyptus bark, the koala hurled the seed pod, which squarely landed on the left eyeball of the proud jonathan subspecies below. it so happened that jonathan had a weakened nervous system and a chronic eye strain condition from reading too many hack darwinist blog postings, and that seed in the eyeball caused a mild seizure to begin. with the rain a thundering torrent of tears, the puddle in which he stood became an electrical conduit for the seizure energy, creating an electrical ark that acted as a beacon to a family of electric eels that had remained dormant for some time. swimming with all the speed they could muster, they found the quivering mass of jonathan and struck him asunder. electrical arcs shot from his sodium laureth sulfate-coated hair follicles into the sky, and the combination of the eucalyptus powder, rain, and electrical energy overtook that koala, who mutated into a giant abstraction of his former self. now 60 feet in height, the mutant electric king koala set off from the eucalyptus to claim his revenge against the 2-leggeds who had stunk up the earth with their phony hair care products.

  55. schr0559 says:

    Koalas are cute but not cuddly, like most Australian wildlife. They have long claws and can scratch your eyes out if threatened.

    They may not be the most worthwhile niche species to save, as many have claimed. It’s still a bummer that we can watch this happen, shrug our shoulders, and go right on building subdivisions.

  56. el duderino says:

    WTF is with the koala hate here? “A complete failure as a species?” So says some Sir Flatulent Gasbag, the apparent representative of the most successful species our little planet has ever produced. So successful in fact that it has not only outcompeted every other species on the planet but has precipitated the sixth extinction event in the globe’s 5 billion year history, just to be sure of the job. Huzzah!

    If we allow the koala to become extinct we’ll have proven ourselves the failed species. I’d love to see one of the haters, say Kyle Armbruster, survive a week in the Australian bush away from their computer screens and auto-opinion generators. I wonder how *successful* they would be? I’d wager they’d be complete a complete failure as a person.

  57. Anonymous says:

    Chlamydia. The silent koala killer

  58. braininavat says:

    The photo of the Koala on this page is also a picture of the photographer – if you save the photo to your computer (it’s CC) then open it with a photo viewer and zoom in on the koalas eye you will see the reflection of the photographer.

  59. MadRat says:

    I heard that sexually transmitted diseases are also a serious threat to koalas (that’s not a joke).

  60. Hawley says:

    you are now aware that the only reason you care about this species extinction is because the koalas are cute and cuddly looking.
    if some buck toothed lizard was on its way to the history books you wouldn’t think twice.

    shameless hypocrites, the lot of you!

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