Facing Mass Extinction

I like to think that we live in a very diverse world. It is very diverse! Look at all of the different countries with different people and cultures; think of how different all of these thousands of places and millions of people are from you, but also how similar many of them are. It is so easy to experience these cultures today with all of the technology we have today. We can watch or read the news happening around the world, talk to people thousands of miles a way with our cell phones or computers, or even visit a foreign land by travelling by plane. The world is at our fingertips. However, while everyone is immersed in the people and the media, does anyone ever stop to look around at their surroundings? Do you ever stop and see that the rest of the world is dying around you?

We can revel in awe at all of these various cultures, but there are so many other things that account for diversity. There are many more plant, animal, and insect species than there are different anthropogenic cultures, but most people do not pay attention to these or really care if they do something to protect these other species. Biodiversity, however, is critically important to every ecosystem. Every living being from the largest elephant, to the tiniest protozoan, has a significant impact on the ecosystem that it lives in. The reason for this is that every living thing on the world and every ecosystem have evolved so slowly over time with all of these creatures to help each ecosystem run as efficiently as possible. Everything in the ecosystem is healthy and thriving when there is sufficient biodiversity. Although you may think that there is “survival of the fittest” each living being actually depends on others. Think of it this way: nobody can do everything on their own. As independent as you may think you are, you do not do anything on your own – nobody does. We all rely on thousands of people in various professions to do their jobs so that we do not have to. We rely on doctors to help take care of us when we are sick, sanitary workers to take away our trash, construction workers to build our homes, many businesses to produce items we use every day, etc. We all depend on each other to do tasks (that we cannot do ourselves) to keep the system running.

It is quite normal for different species to go extinct, but unfortunately, scientific experts on the matter are estimating the extinction rate today to be one to ten thousand times higher than the natural extinction rate. This means that up to 100,000 species are becoming extinct each year. Almost half of all plant life, 90% of all large fish, and 60% of all large herbivorous mammals are amongst the many species facing extinction. That is a lot of dying plants and animals! It has become so extreme that scientists think that we are in the beginning stages of the sixth mass extinction.

Not only are we in the beginning of a mass extinction, but scientists are calling it “anthropocene defaunation,” which basically means that humans are causing this. Human actions such as deforestation, hunting, poaching, mass production and consumption, factory farming, animal agriculture, and really just the lack of care for the rest of the planet are killing it and everything on it. Humans have become the most destructive, oppressive specie on the planet.

Now that you know the depressing truth of your modern depression, you should feel obligated to help save the world! Our mass extinction should not come this soon, and you can stop it. Saving the world is not only for super heroes, national defense, or the government. Everybody can do a part to help. Start rising up against these things that are killing the planet and take a stand for the life of all. You do not even have to become an activist – just change things in your every day life that are contributing to the planetary destruction. Do your part to live a better life for everybody.

Written by Kirsten Toft, ESLLC 2015-2016

“How Many Species Are We Losing?” WWF –. World Wildlife Fund, n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2015. <http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/biodiversity/biodiversity/>.

Pappas, Stephanie. “Earth’s Ecosystems Nearing Catastrophic ‘tipping Point,’ Warn Scientists (+video).” The Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor, 7 June 2012. Web. 09 Nov. 2015. <http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2012/0607/Earth-s-ecosystems-nearing-catastrophic-tipping-point-warn-scientists-video>.

Rice, Doyle. “Study: Earth in the Midst of Sixth Mass Extinction.” Usa Today. N.p., 24 July 2014. Web. 9 Nov. 2015. <http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2014/07/24/mass-extinction-study/13096445/>.

Ripple, William J., Thomas M. Newsome, Christopher Wolf, et al. “Collapse of the World’s Largest Herbivores.”Http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/4/e1400103.full. American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2015. Web. 9 Nov. 2015. <http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/4/e1400103.full>.

Shah, Anup. “Why Is Biodiversity Important? Who Cares?” – Global Issues. N.p., 19 Jan. 2014. Web. 09 Nov. 2015. <http://www.globalissues.org/article/170/why-is-biodiversity-important-who-cares>.

Walton, Marsha. “Study: Only 10 Percent of Big Ocean Fish Remain.” CNN. Cable News Network, 14 May 2003. Web. 09 Nov. 2015. <http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/science/05/14/coolsc.disappearingfish/>.

“World’s Plants under Pressure.” BBC News. BBC, 01 Nov. 2002. Web. 09 Nov. 2015. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/2385591.stm>.


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