Back in 2015, a team of scientists led by Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich published a study claiming that the Earth was entering its sixth mass extinction, triggering a rapid decline in biodiversity. Now, in the form of new research, researchers have revealed that the rate of extinction is increasing at an unprecedented rate, which scientists fear could create a domino effect that poses a real threat to human survival.
The 2015 paper outlines a new mass extinction event, which, in addition to the five previously identified species mass extinction events, also says that a new mass extinction event has occurred. Asteroid impacts and sudden changes in the carbon cycle are the drivers behind these historical events, and scientists warn that our unsustainable relationship with the natural world is creating a new danger.
Humans depend heavily on biodiversity and healthy ecosystems for survival and prosperity, whether because of the bees pollinating our crops, marine species that maintain marine health and reliable food sources, or expanding biological species. As these species disappear due to habitat destruction, wildlife trade, pollution and climate change, so do important parts of the delicate system on which we depend.
“When human activity causes the extinction of other organisms’ populations and species, it is like sawing off the limbs on which it depends, destroying the work of our own life support system,” Ehrlich said. “
Ehrlich and the international team behind the new study looked at the distribution of endangered species around the world and found that 515 of them (1.7 percent of the total number analyzed by the team) were on the verge of extinction and could disappear within the next 20 years. The team estimates that throughout the 20th century, about the same number of organisms were extinct.
“How we respond to the current extinction crisis over the next two decades will determine the fate of millions of species. Gerardo Ceballos, lead author of the study and a senior researcher at the Institute of Ecology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said. “We are facing a last-chance opportunity to ensure that many of the services that nature provides us are not irretrievably destroyed. “
The number of individual species of 515 species considered to be endangered is less than 1,000, of which about half are less than 250. Most of these species live in tropical and subtropical regions that are vulnerable to human influence, and scientists are particularly concerned about the domino effect. This refers to the extinction of one species, which affects other species that depend on it for survival, and thus puts them at risk of extinction in a destructive chain reaction.
The researchers have come up with a number of ways to address this problem, starting with a global ban on the trade in wild species. The study also highlights the best conservation of species and regions, which in turn highlights which factors are most likely to contribute to these accelerated extinctions.
“The link between human health and well-being, and the health of our planet, is well known,” said Dr Rohan Clarke, a lecturer at Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences in Australia, who was not involved in the study. “This study highlights the vulnerability of the Earth’s support system and the urgent need for action. There is a sense of urgency and urgency to call for the protection of endangered species to be raised to a national and global emergency. “
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the following video provides an overview of the study.