Over 1,000 new species discovered in New Guinea; all threatened by deforestation  »

The World Wildlife Fund has released a new study and holy cannoli!: “Final Frontier: Newly Discovered species of New Guinea (1998-2008) [pdf] shows that 218 new kinds of plants, 43 reptiles and 12 mammals, including a unique snub-fin dolphin, 580 invertebrates, 134 amphibians, 2 birds and 71 fish, among them an extremely rare 2.5m long river shark, have been found on the tropical island over a 10-year period.” I believe the word you are looking for is DANG.

First of all, a river shark? I didn’t know that was a thing! I wish I still didn’t! Man, I’m never going in a river again. I already have alligator nightmares. Now this. And don’t get me started on Hippos. I said don’t get me started! Actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a river. I’ve done lakes but the rivers where I come from are more like science experiments from a Simpsons Halloween episode than somewhere you would swim.

The species I’m really excited about are these new dolphins! They’re totes pink! Well, pale pink. Well, look for yourself:

Look at that smile! That’s a “snub nose” he’s sporting. So adorbs.

But guys, you can’t just go finding a zillion new species every day; New Guinea is pretty special. Scientists found new species at two a week during those 10 years, and apparently that is out of control unheard of and prob not something that will ever happen again. And check this out: “The island covers less than 0.5 percent of the Earth’s landmass but shelters 6 to 8 percent of the world’s species.” I believe that is also DANG-worthy.

It’s not all fun and finding new species up in New Guinea, though: their environment is in major danger. Thus far, New Guinea’s forests have been pretty lucky—don’t get me wrong, they’ve been significantly effed, just not as much as the rest of the world. It’s like only one-quarter of their forests are destroyed, versus one half. But deforestation is picking up as people clear the rainforest to make more palm oil—I told you that shiz was the devil! Logging is also to blame for a lot of the clearing. But they got other problems too; oddly enough, climate change is causing trouble! That wacky climate change, seems like it’s everywhere. And it’s not just the forests that are threatened, freshwater and marine life are getting screwed from the aforementioned issues as well as mining, which has dumped a lot of pollution into the water. Nature can’t catch a break.

There are reasons to be hopeful, however. Many companies are trying to get certified as Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). So let’s keep an eye out for that! I’ll look into it more. Additionally, they have cool “schemes” (they keep saying schemes, that sounds malicious to me!) like this: “Opportunities exist through schemes that offer payment for environmental services. The crucial role of natural forests in the carbon cycle and the world’s climate is generally recognised, and planning is well advanced for schemes such as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, which pays developing countries for the carbon they store in their natural forests.” That’s pretty cool, because I don’t think it’s that fair to just be like, “we already destroyed the rest of the world’s environment, so now you can’t destroy yours!” The entire world benefits from a group of people not using their natural resources; maybe the entire world should kick in a little change.

Think of it like this: What if New Guinea had a crazy machine that makes carbon dioxide disappear and what if we could collect all the carbon dioxide we produce and ship it over there to be disposed of for a fee? We would pay them for this service, would we not? We totally would. But since this process happens naturally, New Guinea gets no credit. Let’s pretend the rainforest is a crazy machine! Let’s pay them to keep it running! Sounds good? Sounds good. Pink dolphins for everyone!

[Varanus macraei photo by Lutz Olbegonner; Orcaella heinsohni by Guido J. Parra via WWF]

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