Planet Earth is well on its way towards the sixth mass extinction, according to scientists. They believe that thousands of species of plants and animals will get extinct over the next couple of decades. The most distressing part of this news is that this “biological annihilation” is a direct consequence of human activities.
These revelations were made in a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It was conducted by Gerardo Ceballos from National Autonomous University of Mexico, Paul Ehrlich and Rodolfo Dirzo from the biology department of Stanford University. The report concludes that the next two decades are extremely crucial in deciding the pace of the extinction.
According to the study, 200 species have become extinct in the last 100 years. Even populations of animals like cheetah, giraffe, lions, etc have declined significantly since 1900. In comparison, two species were lost every hundred years for the previous two million years.
The report also mentioned the causes behind this imminent massive decline in animal population. These included habitat conversion, climate disruption, overexploitation, toxification, species invasions, disease, and (potentially) large-scale nuclear war. However, the researchers warned that it was overpopulation of humans and overconsumption by existing human beings.
While drawing their conclusion, the researchers said, “A glance at our maps suggests that as much as 50% of the number of animal individuals that once shared Earth with us are already gone, as are billions of populations. The sixth mass extinction is already here and the window for effective action is very short, probably two or three decades at most”
They suggest reducing hunting and poaching, increasing dependence on plant based foods and changing agricultural practices.