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Barometer of Life

Biologists want $60 million to map the effects of agriculture, development and global warming on earth's biodiversity; currently 140,000 species die out annually. "A barometer measures atmospheric pressure. Now a coalition of biologists is calling for a similar scientific tool to measure extinction pressure on Earth's biodiversity—a so-called 'barometer of life'. After all, scientists have conclusively identified only a fraction of the species that exist on Earth; the roughly 1.9 million species catalogued to date may represent only 20 percent of the total biodiversity on the planet. 'Species disappear before we know they existed,' wrote biologists Simon Stuart, chair of the Species Survival Commission at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Edward O. Wilson of Harvard University, and others in the April 9 issue of Science, calling for an international effort to fund the creation of such a bio-barometer. Adds Stuart: 'The point of conservation is to turn that negative trend into a positive trend.'"
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