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Environmental scientist offers optimism but concern about what the future holds  

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Human actions are driving species to extinction 1,000 times faster than Mother Nature has created new species, according to a top environmental scientist at Duke University.

Stuart Pimm, the university's Doris Duke Professor of Conservation Ecology, has dedicated his career to understanding what causes extinction and is focused on finding science-based solutions.

“We are handing to our children and grandchildren, a world that is deplete of things that matter to us," Pimm said during a SUNY ESF visit for the school's Earth Week celebration.

Pimm said the response is a mix of individual and global solutions.

“Do we have to consume as much fossil fuel as we do? But then there are things beyond that. Lots of the world leaders buy into the idea that we need to be protecting our planet— now we need to protect the right places," he said.

But while damage has already been done, Pimm said it’s not irreversible.

“Yes, we are driving a lot of species to extinction. But equally, we’ll learning to save species, and save species very effectively. There are many things we can do. And I hope we can be energized to ensure we pass a beautiful and biologically rich planet to our children and grandchildren," Pimm said.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at