GeoWorld July 2011

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Why Conservation Can Help Everyone POSITION T BY TODD DANIELSON he July GeoWorld issue typically focuses on issues such as conservation and sustainability. We do that to coincide with the annual Esri User Conference, which I attend and where such issues are prominent. We have several great features in this issue that focus on sustainable practices toward wildlife, feeding the poor, creating better neighborhoods, and more-efficiently disposing of our solid waste and recyclable material. But in this column, I’d like to share a couple other examples of how conservation can make the world a better place, and not just for those things actively being “conserved.” Tiger’s Roar One of our readers alerted me to a great project that’s taking place in India to conserve its wild tigers. The National Tiger Conservation Authority and independent technical experts and insti- tutions used geotechnology to evaluate the population status of tigers in tiger reserve states. There’s a fascinating article at, including an amazing picture of a leaping tiger (below). are interested in saving tigers just for the tigers’ sake, but many people need a personal justification. Some examples of why saving tigers is important to India include the following: • Existing tiger reserves represent around one-third of the country’s high-density forest area. • More than 350 rivers originate from tiger reserves, which sequester car- bon, provide oxygen and slowly release groundwater to regulate floods. • As top predators, tigers prevent over-grazing of the ecosystem by limiting herbivore numbers. Planet Earth Write me letter if you’d like, but I believe Earth’s climate is changing rapidly, and humans are influencing it. There, I said it. Each month, more scientific evidence is added to the argument, to the point where the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that “scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.” Besides those who believe the moon landing was a hoax, most people trust NASA and its scientists. So I think it’s telling that NASA has a very prominent Web page at climate.nasa. gov featuring a wealth of information on climate change, the evidence for it, and some of the expected consequences. Similar to saving tigers in India, I think it’s important to accentuate how Earth conservation can benefit mankind. For example, slowing or controlling this phase of climate change can lessen the following negative consequences: increased amounts and intensity of hur- ricanes, cyclones and tornados; severe drought and famine; and widespread flooding. Many lives are at stake. I cringe when I hear people say a One of my favorite elements of the Todd Danielson is editor of GeoWorld magazine, PO Box 773498, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477; e-mail: 4 GEO W ORLD / JUL Y 2O11 report is a section that describes why it’s important to humans to save tigers. It addresses the always-present “what’s in it for me?” element that conservation movements often forget. Some people snowstorm is a sign that global warm- ing isn’t happening, and I treat talk of local tornados and storm patterns the same way. But when everything is added together and averaged, the evidence continues to mount. And if we don’t work to conserve and sustain Earth’s resources, we’ll end up with the same fate as the tiger: on the Endangered Species’ list.

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