It's no secret that our planet is in a pretty dire condition. Extinction rates have been estimated to be about 1,000 times higher than they should be, and that's all due to human influence—and interference. With around 20,000 species at risk for extinction and countless others that we haven't even discovered yet also dying, scientists are rushing to figure out what we can do about it. Some have suggested the sixth great mass extinction is looming on the horizon, and the problem is a massive one. It's so big that there are things that you do every day that are helping to bring about the end of the world, and chances are that you might not even know it.
10.Using Disposable Chopsticks
Chances are good that you don't even think about environmental impact when you pull a pair of wooden chopsticks out with your order of takeout, but those chopsticks are having a devastating impact on China's forests. China produces a whopping 80 billion disposable chopsticks every year. The vast majority are used—and thrown away—in China itself. A mind-blowing number, 80 billion is enough to blanket Beijing's Tiananmen Square in at least 360 layers of chopsticks.
That kind of production takes 20 million trees, and not just any trees. Twenty-year-old trees. The impact of that is exactly as bad as you'd think. China suffers from a major deforestation problem for no reason other than chopsticks. It's also not helped by the fact that demand for disposable wooden chopsticks is increasing dramatically, up from 57 billion in 2009. That's resulted in China ranking somewhere around 139th place when it comes to per capita forest coverage with less than a quarter of the world's average. The problem has gotten so bad that China is now imposing restrictions on the production of chopsticks, limiting quantities companies can produce and increasing the taxes imposed on purchases. They're also starting a big push to introduce the idea of carrying reusable chopsticks in a bid to aid in the recovery of the nation's forests. By 2020, they hope to add 40 million hectares of trees, but that can only happen if they can alleviate some of the stress placed on the environment by chopsticks.
9.Birth Control Is Working On Fish, Too
Know anyone who's on the pill? They're also spreading pregnancy prevention to marine wildlife, and that's a problem.
In 2014, researchers at the University of New Brunswick released the results of a study that had been going on for several decades. They were looking at wastewater treatment and its impact on freshwater ecosystems, and they found that even trace amounts of estrogen in the environment can wipe out entire species. In 2001, a small amount of estrogen, one of the active ingredients in birth control pills and hormone therapy treatments, was introduced into a freshwater lake research facility in Ontario. The impact was almost immediate. Male fish first began producing egg proteins and then producing eggs. Even tiny trace amounts were enough to feminize the male fish, which led to a complete crash of the ecosystem. The insect populations normally kept in check by the fish suddenly skyrocketed. As the minnow population plummeted, so did the population of the lake trout that fed on them. It's not just happening in research facilities, either. Calgary's Red Deer and Oldman rivers have been hit by the same problem. The cause has been traced back to the release of improperly treated wastewater that contains hormones from hormone therapy drugs and birth control pills. Hormones that aren't absorbed or used end up in the sewer system after they cycle through the human body. In areas where that sewer water is dumped into lakes and rivers, the average fish population is about 85 percent female, a stark contrast to the normal 55 percent. Fish exposed to the hormones not only lose the ability to reproduce, but their accidental hormone treatment impacts eggs at the development stage as well.
8.Birds On Prozac
Record numbers of people are taking antidepressant drugs like Prozac. While many of them might be concerned primarily about feeling different, they should also be concerned about what they're doing to the environment.
According to a study from the University of York, the amount of antidepressants (specifically Prozac) that are found in the environment can be potentially devastating to birds. They started by measuring the amount of Prozac that made its way into the earthworms that were feeding on sewage and wastewater. The dose was small, only about 3 to 5 percent of an average human dose. They then fed the Prozac-laced worms to a group of 24 starlings and recorded their behavior for the next six months. The birds began to show the same side effects to the drug that are reported in humans. They lost interest in food and stopped eating. They also lost interest in starlings of the opposite sex. The two main side effects have dual impacts; their loss of interest in food makes them weaker and less likely to make it through winter months, and their loss of libido has the potential to severely impact breeding numbers. The birds didn't seem to have any of the good effects of Prozac. Their general mood and disposition remained the same. Just how widespread an impact this could have on the world's bird populations isn't known, but it's thought that it might have something to do with the decline in the starling population over the last few decades—to the tune of about 50 million birds.
Chances are good that if you get a cold drink at any restaurant, you'll be handed a straw, too. We curse the people working the drive-through when we're halfway down the block and realize we don't have one, but straws are having a pretty devastating impact on our planet.
Every day, the United States alone uses about 500 million drinking straws. For a visual, that means we could fill 46,400 school buses with straws every year. In the last 25 years, about six million of those have been picked up on beaches across the country during annual cleanups. Those are just part of the sum that ends up on the beach, and according to the Ocean Conservancy, drinking straws rank in the top 10 types of trash found floating in the ocean. Straws are light, easily picked up by wind and water currents, and made from a polypropylene plastic that doesn't disintegrate or dissolve. These millions of straws are around forever, making up a huge part of the estimated 12 to 24 tons of plastic that ends up ingested by fish and other marine wildlife every year. And that includes about one million seabirds that die after eating plastics. One of the most common items found in autopsies? The drinking straws that come attached to juice boxes.
Far from exclusively a fancy French entree, frog is such a popular food that it has become a huge global industry. Bullfrogs are typically raised on farms in South America. They are then either used there for food or shipped overseas. Japan and the United States are two of the biggest consumers of frogs, with more than five million imported into the US alone each year. That's proving fatal for countless amphibians—and not just those being eaten.
Many of the bullfrogs shipped out of South America are infected with chytrid fungus. The fungus is completely harmless to humans. The North American bullfrog is highly resistant to it, making them the ideal carrier for the fungal disease that can infect toads, salamanders, and other types of frogs. The fungus that's being spread by the live food trade is different than one that's being blamed for most of the recent die-offs. It's thought that the strain is not only being spread, but that it's being hybridized into a new, extremely virulent strain. There are a few different strains of the fungus, and researchers from the University of Michigan have been able to track which frogs are carrying which strains into which countries. They've also been able to trace which strains of the fungus can reproduce with other strains, leading to more and more different varieties of deadly fungus. The consequences of the fungus and its ability to hybridize create the potential to unleash an epidemic across the globe.
审校：浅芷湄 编辑：Lion 来源：前十网