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I would like to introduce you to Lonesome George, the last member of Chelonoidis abingdonii, a species of giant tortoise endemic to the tiny island of Pinta in the Galapagos Islands. He was the last of his species and now he, as well as the rest of his species are all gone. And here is Lonely George, a Hawaiian tree snail—and the last known member of the species Achatinella apexfulva. George died on New Year’s Day, 2018. He was 14, which is quite old for a snail of his kind. This stark reality is that I can only introduce you to Lonesome George and Lonely George is by a photograph. Like so many other species of plants and animals around the world within the last 100 years, they are gone, and gone forever. Scientists around the world are saying that our planet is experiencing a 6th extinction, and it appears that we (humans) are the cause of this. The book The 6th Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert documents accounts of several species that were once plentiful that are now on the verge of no longer inhabiting this earth. The reasons for this range from the sport of hunting to illegal poaching, to the toxic air from our cars and industry. These pollutants travel across borders, and as the rain falls from the clouds, they poison our streams and lakes, accounting for the disruption of the lifecycles of amphibians. As we ignore drug warnings and dispose of our medications down the toilets, we now find endocrine disruptors in our drinking water. 7.6 billion people on the planet have contributed to massive habitat loss, and there is nowhere for many species to go. As Rachel Carson told us, in Silent Spring, that DDT was a disruptor in the formation in bald eagle eggs, humanity’s toxic reach across the planet continues. Just up the road to the north of us is the San Bernardino Mountain range, covering approximately 800,000 acres. The San Bernardinos are home to some 1,600 plant and 440 animal species, including many endangered species. Some of these are the San Bernardino flying squirrel, the California Spotted Owl, and the Mountain yellow-legged frog to name a few. Between 2012-2016 over 148 million people visited the SanBernardino Mountains; the stress on the infrastructure is immense, but the ecological impact, with its effects on habitats, is being pushed to new limits. So you may ask, where is the photography connection? We are excited about two great programs revolving around these profound issues scheduled for February, and we wantyou to have a heads up so you can be sure to be here. So get your cameras ready and for an exciting February!
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