On planet Earth, there are 11,167
species of animals and plants that are known to be
in danger of extinction, warns the latest edition
of the so-called "Red List" published by
the World Conservation Union (IUCN), considered an
important tool for evaluating the state of biological
List of Threatened Species 2002 includes 121 entries
more than in the previous edition, from 2000.
In an information
kit accompanying the Red List, the IUCN warns
that many species are diminishing to critical population
levels. The conservation organizations also states
that the loss of biodiversity is one of the most pressing
crises affecting the world, while acknowledging that
concern and awareness are increasing about how biological
resources are needed for human life as well.
The species included in the Red
List are categorized according to their level of risk:
critical, threatened or vulnerable. The IUCN estimates
that the threat of extinction today is 1,000 to 10,000
times greater than it would be naturally, without
the intervention of human activities and their impacts
on the Earth.
Habitat destruction, overexploitation
of resources, contamination, illegal trafficking in
plant and animal species, degradation of ecosystems
and phenomena related to climate change - caused by
human activities - are all factors that contribute
to species extinction.
Threats to biodiversity, understood
as the variety of plants, animals and microorganisms
that inhabit the planet, are a source of concern to
the international community, as evidenced by the sheer
amount of information available on the this issue
via the Internet.
This widespread worry about the
Earth's natural wealth has led to agreements among
the world's governments. Perhaps the most important
on this issue is the Convention
on Biological Diversity, signed in 1992. The website
of the Convention's secretariat reports that there
are 13 million identified living species.
But it is thought that the true
total is much higher. The All
Species Foundation is carrying out a project that
seeks to identify all living organisms within the
next 25 years. Its website allows the cybernaut to
ponder more than 800,000 species.
Another initiative aimed at protecting
species is the Convention on International Trade of
Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, known
the purpose of which is to fight the illegal trafficking
of protected plants and animals.
Red List of Threatened Species 2002
List 2002 Information Kit
Species Survival Commission
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
Connect Yourself to Biodiversity
Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
websites on endangered species
Links on endangered species
The War against Malaria
The war to wipe out malaria has
made enormous steps since the announcement that the
genomes of the most dangerous of the parasites causing
the disease and of the mosquito that transmits it
had been decoded.
Simultaneously in early October
2002, the prestigious journals Science
published the results of an international effort to
decipher the sequences of those genomes, which is
expected to provide key information for developing
methods to control or cure malaria.
The genomes decoded where those
of the mosquito Anopheles gambiae and of the parasite
Plasmodium falciparum, which in combination produce
the strongest strains of malaria.
Science magazine hailed the results
of the study, as the search for weapons against the
disease is important. At least 40 percent of the world's
population lives in areas where malaria is endemic.
The World Health Organization
(WHO), which has a section
of its website dedicated to information about
this disease, reports that more than 300 million people
are infected with malaria each year, and more than
a million die -- mostly children under age five in
With the passage of time, the
medications used in fighting malaria lose effectiveness,
as the parasite develops resistance.
The search for ways to prevent
the disease has also been complicated. Throughout
much of the 20th century, the strategy was to eradicate
the mosquito vector, but in spite of limited success
in some countries, it was impossible to keep the mosquito
population under control for very long.
Nor has the search for a vaccine
been easy. One of the farthest-reaching initiatives
in this area has been that of Colombian doctor Manuel
but no definitive solution has been reached.
The magnitude of the malaria
problem is reflected in the abundance
of websites related to the disease, with some
dedicated to its characteristics, its transmission
vector, or places
on the planet where it is most common. Malaria
OnLine points out that malaria has been around
since ancient times, and in the past also affected
And it is a major problem for
the Americas, because in several countries of this
hemisphere malaria is endemic. The Pan-American
Health Organization (PAHO) provides numerous documents
on its website that cover the impact of malaria on
Magazine: The Mosquito Genome - anopheles gambiae
Magazine: special edition on malaria
Health Organization: Malaria
Health Organization: documents on malaria
Dr. Patarroyo and the Drive to Eradicate Malaria
Malaria in the world
Special coverage - a discovery in the fight against
The annual hurricane season brings
with it the fury of nature: a combination of powerful
winds, giant ocean waves and torrential rains that
almost every year leave their mark somewhere in the
Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico or even farther north
along the coast of the United States.
The force unleashed by this meteorological
phenomenon causes reactions that range from alarm
to outright fear. Although hurricanes are inevitable,
society tries to reduce the damage they cause, implementing
preventive measures. One of the most important tools
is information, and the Internet
plays a key role in its dissemination.
In cyberspace there are numerous
websites that track the evolution of hurricanes and
tropical storms in the area of the Atlantic Ocean
where, says webpage Stormcarib,
the season extends from June 1 to November 30.
Information about the nature
and characteristics of hurricanes also abounds,
and the web surfer can also find multimedia applications
that show the behavior
of a hurricane once it has formed.
One of the most complete websites
is the National
Hurricane Center of the U.S. National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which complements
its information with satellite images, recommendations
for action in emergency situations, and an archive
with extensive information about these meteorological
The English word "hurricane"
originates in the name that the Taino Indians, a native
Carib population, gave these powerful storms: hurakán.
According to the definition given
by the website Infoplease,
hurricanes are cyclones in which wind speed surpasses
119 km (74 miles) per hour. Although the term is used
only for such storms in the North Atlantic, the phenomenon
also appears in other parts of the world, and in the
Pacific is known as a typhoon or a tropical cyclone.
The energy produced by the movement
of a hurricane in one day is the equivalent of all
the energy that would be consumed in the United States
in six months, says another hurricane-dedicated Internet
NOAA: National Hurricane Center
Caribbean Hurricane Network
is a hurricane?
Special coverage: Hurricane Season