If the disappearance of invertebrates is included, the the earth It is in the process of its sixth mass extinction, caused in this case entirely by human activities.
Biologists from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France, recently published a comprehensive assessment of the evidence for this ongoing extinction event in the journal Biological Reviews.
“Species extinction rates have increased dramatically, and declines in the abundance of many animals and plants are well documented, but some deny that these events amount to mass extinctions,” Robert Coy, lead author of the study, said in a statement. Professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa Research Center for Earth and Ocean Sciences and Technology (SOEST).
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“This denial is based on a biased view of the crisis focused on Mammals and the the birds It ignores invertebrates, which of course make up the vast majority of biodiversity.”
Extrapolating from estimates obtained from land snails and slugs, Coy and colleagues estimated that since 1500, Earth may have already lost between 7.5 and 13% of the Earth’s two million known species: a staggering 150,000 to 260,000 species.
Certainly, we are only witnessing the beginning
“The inclusion of invertebrates was a major factor in confirming that we were indeed witnessing the beginning of the sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history,” Coy said.
However, the situation is not the same everywhere. Although marine species face significant threats, there is no evidence that the crisis is affecting the oceans as much as land.
On land, isolated species, such as those on the Hawaiian Islands, are affected much more than those on the mainland. The rate of plant extinction appears to be lower than the rate of wild animal extinction.
Unfortunately, along with the denial of science taking hold in modern society about a variety of issues, the new study suggests that some people also deny that the Sixth Extinction began.
Moreover, others accept it as a new and natural evolutionary path, because humans are just another species that plays its natural role in Earth’s history.
Some even consider Biodiversity It should only be manipulated for the good of humanity, but who are the authors wondering.
“Humans are the only species capable of manipulating the biosphere on a large scale,” Coy stressed. “We are not just another species evolving in the face of external influences. Instead, we are the only species that has a conscious choice regarding our future and the future of Earth’s biodiversity.”
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To combat the crisis, several conservation initiatives for some animals have been successful. But these initiatives cannot target all species, nor can they reverse the general trend of species extinction. However, it is essential to continue these efforts, to continue cultivating the wonders of nature and documenting biodiversity before it disappears, they say.
“Despite the rhetoric about the seriousness of the crisis, despite the existence of corrective solutions and drawing the attention of decision-makers, it is clear that the political will is missing,” Cui said.
“Denying the crisis, accepting it without reacting or even encouraging it, detracts from humanity’s shared responsibility and sets the stage for the Earth to continue its sad path toward the sixth mass extinction.”
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