Earth’s 6th mass extinction is underway—Humans causing ‘biological annihilation’ of wildlife

Scientists have made dire warnings about the future of our planet saying that Earth’s sixth mass extinction is already underway and that humans are causing a “biological annihilation” of wildlife.

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Things aren’t looking bright for the future of our planet it seems. Scientists say that humans have kickstarted the sixth mass extinction on Earth, and that wildlife will face further anihilation—meaning thousands of species are at risk of disappearing forever—if we don’t change in the next twenty years in order to counter the ‘powerful assaults on biodiversity’.

The most notorious factors behind this apocalyptic event are human greed and overpopulation which has resulted in the destruction of our planet—as humans have failed to protect the planet, resulting in a nearly irreversible negative impact on ecosystems across the planet, say researchers.

The warning was presented in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal and its one we should take into consideration more than ever.

“In the last few decades, habitat loss, overexploitation, invasive organisms, pollution, toxification, and more recently climate disruption, as well as the interactions among these factors, have led to the catastrophic declines in both the numbers and sizes of populations of both common and rare vertebrate species,” wrote scientists in the report.

The report indicates that the hidden rate of species population decreases mean “Earth’s sixth mass extinction episode has proceeded further than most assume”.

As noted by CBC News, lions have historically occupied roughly 2,000 of the 10,000-square-kilometer cells across several continents, but now occupy little more than 600 cells in sub-Saharan Africa and India. In South and Southeast Asia, all the large-bodied mammals analyzed have lost more than 80 percent of their geographic ranges.

The report was presented by experts from both Stanford and Mexico City universities who discovered that the current rate of vertebrate extinction equals to TWO species a year.

Furthermore, scientists state that the estimates—which are beyond worrying—are most likely conservative as there are various species of mammals endangered even though they were at relatively safe levels at the turn of the millennium.

Reports by the Atlantic suggest that since the 1980s, the giraffe population has fallen by up to 40 percent, from at least 152,000 animals to just 98,000 in 2015. In the last decade, savanna elephant numbers have fallen by 30 percent, and 80 percent of forest elephants were slaughtered in a national park that was one of their last strongholds. Cheetahs are down to their last 7,000 individuals, and orangutans to their last 5,000.

The report indicates that “as much as 50 percent of the number of animal individuals that once shared Earth with us are already gone, as are billions of populations,” Ceballos and his colleagues write.

“While the biosphere is undergoing mass species extinction, it is also being ravaged by a much more serious and rapid wave of population declines and extinctions. We’re basically killing of wildlife because we are destroying their habitat, and polluting and changing the climate, say researchers. However, what’s perhaps the most important factor according to researchers is “human overpopulation and continued population growth.”

The report—which was based on an analysis of around 28,000 mammals, reptiles and amphibians—adds that “The resulting biological annihilation obviously will also have serious ecological, economic, and social consequences,” and that “Humanity will eventually pay a very high price for the decimation of the only assemblage of life that we know of in the universe.”

Furthermore, “The strong focus among scientists on species extinctions, however, conveys a common impression that Earth’s biota is not dramatically threatened, or is just slowly entering an episode of major biodiversity loss that need not generate deep concern now.”

“Thus, there might be sufficient time to address the decay of biodiversity later, or to develop technologies for “deextinction”—the possibility of the latter being an especially dangerous misimpression.”

Experts concluded that “Population extinctions today are orders of magnitude more frequent than species extinctions. Population extinctions, however, are a prelude to species extinctions, so Earth’s sixth mass extinction episode has proceeded further than most assume. The massive loss of populations is already damaging the services ecosystems provide to civilization. When considering this frightening assault on the foundations of human civilization, one must never forget that Earth’s capacity to support life, including human life, has been shaped by life itself.”

Source: PNAS

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