Extinction and threat of extinction – Current path of humanity Amur Leopard: The world’s rarest cat: Only 40 left in Russia’s Far East

The number of extinct animals in 2017 is on the rise. The continuation and rapid speed of extinction and threat to extinction are causing the biodiversity loss which has negative impacts on the balance and whole ecosystems globally.

There can be different correlations found with previous extinctions on the earth in the past compared to the current trends of unsustainable living, with the use of fossil fuels, mass consumption, pollution and unsustainable use of natural resources as well as the continuation of global climate change consequences. The difference between the previous extinction of different species and today’s so-called era of sixth mass extinction is that they were in the past caused by nature and natural phenomena, but the current one is caused by humans. The report by the Ceballos, Ehrlich and Dirzo[1] shows that the extinction of species is not a possible future scenario, but the today’s reality. The graph below is taken from the above-mentioned report, which shows the percentage of the endangered different species in the year 2017. The graph presented shows the percentage of the endangered and low concern species on the global scale.

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The massive extinction and loss of biodiversity are more severe than presented in the most media, which impacts action taken by the common people and government and non-governmental organizations. Pointing only to the number of extinct species does not suffice, since also endangered, vulnerable, near threatened as well as low concern species must be taken into an account. The fact is that 50% of the animal species which inhabited earth, which means billions of populations are already gone. There were almost 200 species of vertebrates gone and extinct in the last 100 years alone. The authors also give a window for action to only two to three decades before the continued human overconsumption, growth, habitat conversion and destruction, climate change, pollution, overexploitation, and invasive species continuation will lead to the severe loss of biodiversity and massive degradation of global species and have an impact on the population.

The International Union for Conservation has reported that more than 23.000 species are on the edge of extinction, among them “41% of amphibians, 34% of conifers, 33% of reef building corals, 25% of mammals and 13% of birds”. The estimate shows that the current extinction rate is 1.000 times faster as the average pace in the history of Earth. There is an estimation of 1.000 species being extinct in 200.000 years as long as we have been on the planet. The diversity of species has drastically shrunk after the year 1500.  Furthermore, the 28% of all animal populations has become smaller because of the human activity.

If not for the sake of the animals and plants, we surely should act because of our self-preservation. Based on the data available there is too little awareness rising and writing on the topic in the mainstream media, which will have profound impacts all over the globe without the instant and near future actions to preserve the planet and all of the living beings on it.

[1] http://m.pnas.org/content/early/2017/07/05/1704949114.full.pdf

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Teja Palko

Defense Editor

Teja Palko is a Slovenian writer. She finished studies on Master’s Degree programme in Defense Science at the Faculty of Social Science at University in Ljubljana.

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