What We Killed Thursday

Ascension Island is a teeny tiny island in the middle of nowhere.  However, you’ve almost certainly heard of it (or at least seen it on a nature show) since it’s one of the most important breeding grounds for seabirds in the tropical Atlantic.  It’s a relatively young island and so it is in a very early stage of colonization.

Dryopteris ascensionis was an endemic fern on the island.  It was possibly seen in 1976 but the last confirmed sighting was in the late 1800s.  It is assumed to be extinct.  D. ascensionis isn’t the only species to disappear on Ascension Island and many others are in danger.

We have done incredible damage to this island through the introduction of exotic species.  D. ascensionis habitat is now completely covered in non-native vegetation, feral cats have decimated the seabird population, the introduced Mexican thorn-bush threatens turtles that come to the island, and introduced rats, donkeys, rabbits, and sheep disrupt native plant and animal communities.

And now the remaining native species on this island must face the threat of climate change.  A third of the CO2 emmissions in the US are from transportation.  More reliance on public transportation will dramatically reduce our CO2 emmissions.  Write to the chair of the energy committee, Henry Waxman, in support of CLEAN-TEA, “a proposal that would direct funding from President Obama’s climate initiative to transportation investments like public transportation and passenger rail, business development around transit stops, and neighborhood improvements that increase safety for cyclists and pedestrians.”