Here’s an example of the commentary: “A keystone species of California’s Carrizo Plain National Monument, giant kangaroo rats are starving as drought turns these once-vast grasslands into desert, depriving the rodents of plants and seeds they depend on for food. Before the drought, researchers estimated the rodent’s population in the hundreds of thousands, with up to 100 of the animals per acre. That number had fallen to only seven per acre this spring—a crisis for the entire ecosystem.
“Giant kangaroo rats are a main prey source for endangered San Joaquin kit foxes as well as for coyotes, raptors, snakes, weasels and other predators. In addition, the rats’ burrowing churns up nutrient-rich soils that lead to higher levels of plant and invertebrate diversity. Due to habitat loss outside the national monument, the Carrizo Plain kangaroo rat population is the largest remaining in California, says Justin Brashares, a professor of wildlife ecology at the University of California–Berkeley. “If we lose this population, we could see federal support for the start of a captive-breeding population.” www.nwf.org
GR: This is a refreshing change from the typical coverage of the California drought. The focus of most drought stories is on human problems. Humans aren’t having problems like wild species are; the human population is growing. Other species’ populations aren’t. The World Wildlife Fund reports that more than half of all vertebrates are gone now and the losses are continuing. Very little is being done to reverse the decline. So.., are California representatives of the people telling them, and the rest of the world, to slow down? No, not at all. Much of the world still sees the profits to be gained from growing populations of consumers and workers. That has to change. Either we manage our population, or we let drought, flood, famine, and war do it for us.