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Tiki the Penguin's guide for kids which explains why so much life on Earth is in trouble
Tiki the Penguin's guide for kids which explains why so much life on Earth is in trouble
I'm a dodo, now extinct because of humans

What's going on?

Now do you see what I mean when I say life is in trouble? Stop!
All the indicators are on red; stop! Help! And the trouble (sorry! I always seem to be having to say this) is you people. You're

  • cutting down forests
  • covering good land in concrete, buildings and new roads
  • polluting the land, air and water (seas, rivers and lakes) because of cars, airplanes, ships, farming chemicals and fertilisers, garbage (especially plastic), sewerage, fish farming
  • vacuuming the oceans of fish so that in many parts there are hardly any left
  • trying to kid yourselves that there's no problem


People are even covering the seas in garbage and other pollution like oil spills

All these things cause other animals and plants to die off and become extinct... and they are doing in a big way. They either starve to death or are poisoned. But the biggest cause of this man-made extinction is loss of habitat — the destruction of places in which creatures used to live.

RARE: A celebration of wonderful life from Joel Sartore on Vimeo.

Five ways people are wrecking the planet

By "wrecking the planet", I mean people are damaging that part of the planet in which all we living things exist: the biosphere

  1. Climate change and ozone-destruction caused by pollution from humans' machines could completely upset global weather patterns and cause catastrophe. No-one yet knows what will happen but we do know it is already starting
    What is climate change?
    I have made a guide about climate change — also called global warming. Click here to see it now.
    What is pollution?
    I have made a guide about pollution. Click here to see it now.

    killing animals for fun. Ugh, some humans!
  2. killing for food is okay but not killing for funover-hunting for food, for fur or, nowadays, fun. Thousands of creatures have been wiped out by people. Some of the most famous are the dodo, the passenger pigeon and the great auk.
    Dodo, a flightless pigeon. It was discovered by humans in 1598 on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. 60 years later it was extinct, killed and eaten by humans and its habitat destroyed. Image: The British Library
    Passenger pigeon, These beautiful birds once existed in vast flocks North America but these. Were rapidly hunted to extinction by humans and the last one was shot in 1900. Image: "Birds of eastern Canada" (1919)
    Great auk. Because it was flightless and easily caught, the great auk was hunted to extinction by humans, the last recorded pair being killed in Iceland in 1844. Image: The British Library

    people killed all of us hundreds of years ago
  3. I'm a tiger but there aren't many of my kind leftintroducing alien species. Sometimes people do this by accident but often it's deliberate. Australia is one of the most notorious examples of the damage done by alien species. European migrants brought with them many animals and plants and some of these have become serious problems. Cats, foxes and rats have driven many once common creatures almost to extinction by hunting them. Rabbits are a serious pest too because they breed so fast, eat almost anything green and are almost impossible to control. And then there's the great cane toad disaster...
  4. frogs everywhere are in troubledestroying the natural world by cutting and burning rainforests, covering the ground with more houses, office blocks, factories and roads or using life-destroying farming methods
    spraying poisons on crops
  5. Genes could be in trouble too. If you've read my guide about genetic engineering, you'll know that they are the building blocks of life. And yes, they're in trouble because of what people are doing to them. This is partly because of genetic engineering and partly because the gene pool is getting smaller.
    What is the gene pool?
    Everything that is alive contains thousands of genes. The gene pool is a sort of imaginary pool in which every single gene from every single living thing can be found. If some living thing becomes extinct, then some of the genes which were only found in that formerly living thing are lost forever. So the gene pool becomes a little smaller. Humans are causing many extinctions and so there are many potentially useful genes being lost all the time from the gene pool.

me with a DNA molecule, the stuff of genes Genetic engineering could make matters even worse because the world could come to depend on even fewer varieties of food crops. And many ofthese could be controlled by the big corporations who will own the seeds...

Or genetic engineering could make matters much better because fortunately, a great deal of research into improving food crops using genetic engineering is open-source.
The common sense solution is to learn from nature and be sure to preserve that wonderful mix of genes which gives us all that even more wonderful variety of life.


Try my Wrecking the Planet Quiz to see how you're doing.

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