Earth Has Entered A Sixth Mass Extinction, Scientists Warn

Posted: Jul 13 2017, 10:20pm CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Earth has Entered a Sixth Mass Extinction, Scientists Warn
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Earth's wildlife is disappearing at an alarming rate, mainly due to human activity

A new study claims that Earth’s sixth mass extinction is already underway and this devastation in progress is directly blamed on humans.

In the Earth’s 4.5 billion year history, there have been five mass extinction events in which a large number of species on the planet suddenly killed off. The last such event occurred some 66 billion years ago, leading to the extinction of dinosaurs. Overall, more than 90 percent of species that have ever lived on Earth are now gone.

Previous mass extinctions were caused by natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, oxygen depletion or asteroid impact. But now the situation is different and if we really are in the middle of a mass extinction, this time the cause is not an asteroid strike or volcanic eruption. It’s the work of a single driving force: human beings. Human activities like poaching, deforestation and pollution are contributing to accelerate climate change which in turn affects species living on Earth . Human’s impact on Earth’s ecosystem is so severe that it could diminish three-quarters of all species in next few centuries.

“The massive loss of populations and species reflects our lack of empathy to all the wild species that have been our companions since our origins," said study's lead author, Gerardo Ceballos from National Autonomous University of Mexico. "It is a prelude to the disappearance of many more species and the decline of natural systems that make civilization possible.”

To arrive at the conclusion, researchers looked at the population of 27,600 species of birds, amphibians, mammals and reptiles as well as 177 species of mammals and found that Earth’s wildlife population is disappearing at an alarming rate. More than 30 percent of vertebrate species have lost their population size and geographic range between 1900 and 2015. Around 40% of those species are experiencing “severe population declines” as they have lost at least 80% of their ranges during that time.

The study looks at the trends of animal populations and reveals the extent of human impact on Earth’s environment. If the current trends continue, people will lose many biodiversity benefits like honeybees' crop pollination and wetlands' water purification within just three generations.

“Earth is experiencing a huge episode of population declines and extirpations, which will have negative cascading consequences on ecosystem functioning and services vital to sustaining civilization. We describe this as a “biological annihilation” to highlight the current magnitude of Earth’s ongoing sixth major extinction event.” Study concludes.

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