Threat of Mass Extinction

Photo Courtesy of PlanetPals

Humans have been polluting Earth’s environment for thousands of years, changing the planet’s landscapes and habitats as a result. From rising temperatures to extremely powerful hurricanes, there is overwhelming evidence pointing to the fact that we need to stop abusing the environment before it is too late. A recent study, which led some scientists to believe that Earth is on the brink of the sixth mass extinction, is another piece of evidence confirming the degradation of our surrounding environment.

A recent study, published in the journal Nature, discusses “where mammals and other species stand today in terms of possible extinction, compared with the past 540 million years…” Unless appropriate measures for improvement are taken, the accumulated data points toward a legitimate possibility of us moving into the “mass extinction realm” within 3 to 22 centuries. This theory is largely based on the assumption that most of species currently listed as threatened are going to eventually become extinct.

According to the authors of this scientific paper, Anthony D. Barnosky and Charles Marshall, only 1 to 2 percent of the observed species have gone extinct so far. However, it should be emphasized that “… the small number of recorded extinctions to date does not mean we are not in crisis.” The low magnitude of the modern extinction of animals does not portray an accurate picture of the current crisis.

The problem of animal extinctions looms largely because the rate at which these extinctions occur is much higher than during most past mass extinctions. Barnosky estimates that over the past 500 years, approximately 80 mammal species have gone extinct. This rate is enormous compared to the fact that based on the study of fossils; the average extinction rate for mammals is less than two extinctions over a million years.

Authors of the paper acknowledge that if this problem is not addressed as soon as possible, there is a possibility that it could result in “… unforeseen and irreversible negative consequences to the environment and humanity.” Devoting monetary resources and passing the appropriate legislation laws aimed toward species conservation is a mandatory step toward avoiding a mass extinction. Eliminating habitat fragmentation, decreasing the amount of diseases and dealing with the problem of global warming are some of the other factors that need to improve in order to stop the fast-paced eradication of animals from Earth.

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Written by: Sergey Chikvashvili


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