Saturday, June 16, 2012

Endangered Species and Justin Bieber

Google Insights graphic of searches for biodiversity versus celebrities shows Justin Bieber is more popular than biodiversity
Google Trends as collected by Saving Species 

The good people over at Saving Species had a nice post earlier this spring showing how interest in celebrity trivia absolutely drowns out more important issues like the biodiversity crisis. Biodiversity crisis? What biodiversity crisis? The one where we're losing 50 to 100 species per day to habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, over-exploitation and climate change. Oh, that biodiversity crisis. The post goes on to mention that according to the relative volume of searches, searches for Britney Spears outnumbered "biodiversity" 23 to 1 -- that is, for every one person who searched for "biodiversity", 23 people searched for Britney Spears.

Maybe we should ask what biodiversity is (the totality of genes, species and ecosystems in a region; a measure of the health of the region) because it seems few people are searching for it on Google.
Here are the trends for five terms: biodiversity (light blue), extinction (red), endangered species (orange), pollution (green) and global warming (dark blue):
biodiversity, endangered species, extinction, pollution, global warming

The results aren't surprising. Searches for the specific terms "extinction" and "endangered species" are twice as common as searches for biodiversity, which is a general catch-all term. Similarly, there is high concern for pollution in the environment and the effects of global warming as these outnumber "biodiversity" searches by about 5 to 1 for 2011.

To find out more about endangered species in your state, you can check out the excellent resource called the extinction Go to the page on US Extinction memorial and you can find out what species each state has already lost and what it's in danger of losing.

Biodiversity is the capital of the planet. Despite all the new planets found around other stars, we're still the only place in the universe with life. Our future depends on our stewardship of biodiversity, not on celebrity fads.

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