The Threat Of Losing Our World’s Species

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endangered butterfly

The most well know mass extinction event occurred with the dinosaurs, in the present age, a host of plants and animals are facing extinction due to humans. What is worrisome is that humans are forcing them out faster than a new species can evolve. The world is on the brink of it sixth mass extinction event. This is being driven by human encroaching on the hunting grounds, the encroachment into their habitats and the spread of new diseases into their ecosystem. Climate change also has a large effect on a species ability to adapt. In previous times, the rate at which life was evolving matched with the pace of the changes, however that is no longer the case.

Until recently it has been hoped that the rate at which new species were evolving could keep pace with the loss of diversity of life. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has made an basement of the worlds habitants and have calculated that the current extinction rate has reached or even passes one hundred to one thousand times the amount present prior to humans presence on the earth.

Periodic extinction is a normal part of evolution and life. Since the year 1500, there have been 869 recorded extinctions. There are any where between five and thirty millions species in the world, and there is no way to ascertain the exact number of species that have gone extinct because there is no way to document and track them all. Scientists have come up with a number based on the current cataloged species and their rate of extinction. Since the figures rely on a lot of assumptions and estimations, there is a large margin for error in the number, but even when paired with the margin, the low numbers are very alarming. The numbers, however, are not enough to move expensive conservation projects forward.

Many scientists think the IUCN estimate was too conservative, this is mainly due to the fact that a lot of species have not been declared extinct despite not being seen for decades. This applies to both animals and plants and invertebrates. The stated 208 species that are listed as “possibly extinct” are not verifiable. There are currently 17,500 species that have been declared under severe threat of becoming extinct. Of this number, one in eight are from the bird family, one in five are from the mammal family, one in four are from the coral family, and one in three are from the amphibian family. Loss of each of these will have a cumulative effect on human life on earth.

Although these problems are increasing and climate change is rapidly changing the face of the earth, expert’s state that we must push for better understanding of the problem so that conservation efforts can be properly targeted. Educating the population as well as the youth will be key to assuring the current and next generation have the proper tools and understanding to help tackle the global problem. A better awareness of the problem will allow large scale and small scale conservation programs to be initiated and implemented internationally and locally.

Photo Credit: Some rights reserved by USFWS Headquarters via Flickr.

About John Tarantino (325 Posts)

My name is John Tarantino ... and no, I am not related to Quinton Tarantino the movie director. I love writing about the environment, traveling, and capturing the world with my Lens as an amateur photographer. You can connect with me via Google+ or via Twitter: Follow @EnvironmentBlog

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4 Comments on “The Threat Of Losing Our World’s Species

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