2012 endings: What we'll miss most
It's so hard to recall in December things that happened in January. Don't believe me? Look at the Oscars; filmmakers and distributors try to cram their new releases into the last two months of the year, fearful that January is as distant as 1776 in the minds of Oscar voters. So here's a little trolling through spotty memory lane to note and lament some matters of heft and moment that we will say goodbye to along with 2012 itself. -- Patt Morrison
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The Japanese river otter( Dugald Stermer / For The Times )
... and all the other species that were declared extinct in 2012. Killed off for their fur, doomed by the polluting of and building in their habitat, the otter hasn't been seen for 30 years -- thus the declaration. He/she joins multiple thousands of species that have gone under in the last 20 years, and thousands teetering on the brink of extinction. This doesn't happen in isolation; it's a domino effect. Aldo Leopold likened extinctions to a plane in flight. You can lose one rivet, two, 10, but eventually you pop the final rivet that holds the plane together and it crashes. So it is with our ecosystem.
Above: Illustration of river otters.