In the past 500 million years, there have been five “mass extinctions”, during which several species die. Most famously know extinction was that of the dinosaurs.
Scientists believe that we’ve entered the sixth mass extinction and that humans are the cause says a new study.
This is the case of a biological annihilation occurring globally,” said co-author Rodolfo Dirzo, a professor of biology at Stanford University.
Unavoidable And Uncontrollable
The previous mass extinctions were all because of unavoidable or controllable natural climate changes such as huge volcanic eruptions or catastrophic meteor strikes. However, humans have been the cause of deforestation, overpopulation, pollution, poaching, man-caused global warming which has led to extreme weather events. All these factors have led to species after species to extinction.
“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 the new study’s lead author, Gerardo Ceballos of the 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.”
Researchers found that that billions of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians have been lost worldwide, the study suggests that 50% of the animal individuals that shared the Earth with us have disappeared.
This amounts to “a massive erosion of the greatest biological diversity in the history of Earth.” the authors said.
Some of the most effected have been the mammals of South and Southeast Asia. All large bodied species of mammals have lost 80% their geographical range to inhabit.
Even if the species isn’t yet extinct, but in decline, it can still cause “cascading effects on vegetation and habitat” which will affect the ecological systems that need a balance between animals, plants and microorganisms.
The authors wrote in the conclusion, “the resulting biological annihilation obviously will have serious ecological, economic and social consequences. Humanity will eventually pay a very high price for the decimation of the only assemblage of life that we know of in the universe.”
“All signs point to ever more powerful assaults on biodiversity in the next two decades, painting a dismal picture of the future of life, including human life.” said the researchers.