by Angela Cockayne
There have been five mass extinctions in the last half a billion years; scientists today are currently monitoring the current. Asteroid impact is believed to account for the last ; dinosaur extinction, but this time evidence suggests the sixth mass extinction could be preventable as the cataclysm is ‘man made’ and caused by our own impact upon our environment.
Scientists now believe that the sixth mass extinction probably began fifty years ago through overharvesting, habitat destruction, pollution, global warming, alien displacement and human overpopulation. After 4 billion years of evolution, human activities and influences are accelerating the rate of species extinction at an alarming rate.
It has been reported that animal population across the planet has decreased by 80% since 1900. 50% of animals have been wiped off the face of the earth in the last fifty years alone. The ‘normal ‘ expected rate of extinction is 200 species a year; a current estimate is 30,000 species a year. At the current rate of deforestation we have ten years left of the Amazon rainforest, and on our current trajectory only 30 years to fishless oceans.
We have known for over one hundred years that carbon dioxide and man made emissions are harmful to our environment yet we have failed to act on this, even the media prefer to fuel the controversy about its ‘potential’ ever increasing devastating impact, rather than confront the scientific evidence. The oceans like the Amazon rain forests, filter two thirds of the oxygen we breathe. Acidification though sea temperatures rising, is harming vital microscopic plankton for the air we breathe.
Unfortunately it appears that we must wait for a catastrophe greater than the famines in Africa, melting ice caps, radio-active fallouts even more dramatic than the post apocalyptic movies, before we are able to face up to the problems our impact and proliferation has caused for all life form on the planet.
We are I believe at a pivotal point in history, nature will address the balance but perhaps to a world with out mankind if we do not face up to our responsibilities on an collective and international scale. The map is man made we must act beyond territories and plan a future that accommodates for biodiversity, sustainability and an environment for all life to flourish.
In the scheme of things, the blink of 100 years, we seem to have plundered the planet, and continue on a course to potentially devastate our own habitat, a paradise that took billions of years to evolve. Our own future like that of many species may hang in the balance if we continue to consume unsustainably in a finite system, our dominion may also be our downfall.
We have a moral responsibility to protect biodiversity, and time is running out. It is imperative we eliminate Co2 emissions the cause of global warming and climate change and act collectively to stop this catastrophe of our own making… before its too late.