According to scientists, a mass extinction event is looming on the horizon. To put just how important that is into perspective, the definition of ‘mass extinction’ is that three-quarters of all species would be forever destroyed.
The study, which was published in the journal Nature shows that the rate at which mammals, birds, and amphibians were becoming extinct is exponentially higher when compared to the last five mass extinctions. This comparison is made in spite of the fact that the last five mass extinctions were caused by massive cataclysmic forces including meteorite strikes and even volcanic explosions.
As it stands, the human population continues to grow, and scientists estimate that it will rise to over 10 billion by 2060. In turn, our increasing demand for resources will put stress on the rest of the natural world.
The Independent reported that tens of thousands of species, including 25 percent of all mammals and 13 percent of birds are now threatened more than ever with the threat of extinction due to over-hunting, poaching, pollution, loss of habitat and the arrival of invasive species.
However, the scientists that conducted the study also concluded that the sixth mass extinction was not inevitable. Instead, it could, in fact, be avoided. In order to avoid it, humans would need to begin protecting habitats, and also change our diets to less land-intensive foods.
According to one team of international scientists, as published in Nature,
“The ever-increasing and unprecedented extent and impact of human activities on land and in the oceans over the past few centuries has dramatically reduced global biodiversity.
“There is overwhelming evidence that habitat loss and fragmentation, over-exploitation of biological resources, pollution, species invasions and climate change have increased rates of global species extinctions to levels that are much higher than those observed in the fossil record.”
And while it may be hard to believe, we are not invincible or immune to such issues ourselves. If we encountered such a loss of biodiversity we could “substantially diminish the benefits that people derive from nature,” the scientists warned in their paper.
To put this all into perspective, since 1900 69 mammal species have gone extinct, along with 400 other types of vertebrates. And there isn’t much evidence to support that the rest of life on Earth is doing any better. Sadly, experts say this is only the beginning.
In order to stop this horrible event in its steps, it is up to a generation. We must begin to protect and preserve our planet, and the creatures contained on it before we go too far. “We have the potential of initiating a mass extinction episode which has been unparalleled for 65 million years,” co-author Gerardo Ceballos told CNN. “But I’m optimistic in the sense that humans react — in the past, we have made quantum leaps when we worked together to solve our problems.”