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The Current Extinction Rate Throughout The World: We Must Act Now

656 words - 3 pages

Human beings are heavily reliant on nature’s biodiversity. This biodiversity, however, is threatened by accelerating extinction rates which are approaching past mass extinction levels. Human activities are largely responsible for this trend, and, while there has been some success in preserving select species, the scale of the impending extinction will necessitate the conservation of existing ecosystems if biodiversity is to be preserved. Fortunately, the relative geographical concentration of most biodiversity makes such efforts both possible and economically feasible.
The past 400 million years of earth’s biological history have been marked by five great periods of extinction, in which the existing life was largely replaced by new forms. The most recent of these occurred some 65 million years ago, marking the end of the Mesozoic Era. Now, evidence indicates that another of these cataclysmic periods is beginning, with one key difference; it will be brought about by humans. In the 150,000 of human existence the extinction rate has risen by a factor of 100, and possibly by as much as 500 (79). This number is projected to increase to 1,000 or even 10,000 times pre-human levels, placing current times on par with the preceding mass extinctions (79). This trend of extinction can be seen most readily among amphibian species, 32.5 percent of which are in danger of extinction (80). This is in addition to the 122 species thought to have gone extinct since 1980 (80).
The role of humanity in bringing about these extinctions cannot be ignored. Human-caused climate change alone, by one 2004 estimate, could result in the extinction of a quarter of all land species (74). The largest contributions to biodiversity loss are all rooted in human overpopulation, and brought about largely by human activity (75). The chief cause, habitat loss, is largely the result of human development and land clearing. The spread of invasive species, the second most destructive cause, stems from both purposeful and involuntary transportation of species by humans (36,...

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