The Sixth Mass Extinction

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Warnings of the sixth mass extinction should be a huge wake up call for all of humanity that is time for a BIG CHANGE in our global stewardship.


planet Earth is four and a half billion years old
the earliest complex life first appeared
around 1 billion years ago in the
hundreds of millions of years since then
our planet has faced five major
extinction events from giant impactors
to super volcanoes to potential
gamma-ray bursts the causes of each
extinction have generally been
apocalyptic single events now for the
first time in human history our species
is experiencing an ongoing extinction
all around us and the cause isn’t a
giant meteor or gamma-ray burst
it’s us as we enter the new decade
recent scientific studies have helped to
shed light on just how extreme the
situation is and what ramifications we
can expect as the human race has
expanded its control over the planet and
its resources other forms of life have
faced greatly reduced habitats and
sometimes complete annihilation unless
immediate action is taken elephants
could disappear from Africa within a
generation critical bee populations
could collapse and the oceans will
become so acidic that the remainder of
the coral reefs will die as of 2019 1
million out of the planet’s eight
million species are at risk of
extinction and the global rate of
species extinction is thousands of times
higher than it has been on average over
the past 10 million years the primary
reasons for this should be obvious by
now the destruction of plant and animal
habitats the exploitation of the
planet’s natural resources huge amounts
of pollution and climate change a recent
United Nations report has determined
that since pre-industrial times humans
have altered 73 percent of the planet’s
land and 66 percent of its marine
ecosystems this alteration varies by
location from strip mining for valuable
minerals to dumping trash into bodies of
water the bottom line is that we’re
shooting ourselves in the foot leaving
aside the ethical implications of
eradicating much of the life on Earth
and destroying once pristine
environments we’re also threatening our
own food supply agriculture is at risk
due to reduced biodiversity we’ve over
fished the oceans exhausted once fertile
land and we have more mouths to feed
than ever if this trend continues we’ll
be in a pretty tough spot in the coming
decades so what do we do
in early January 2020 the UN Convention
on Biological Diversity released a plan
to adapt and respond to the ongoing
biodiversity crisis we’ve created this
isn’t the first time we’ve tried to
implement risk mitigation measures the U
set similar targets in 2010 but as
humans usually do we failed to meet most
of the goals for the decade and now face
a far worse problem than we had 10 years
ago including risk for our own survival
the new planned States biodiversity and
the benefits it provides is fundamental
to human wellbeing and a healthy planet
despite ongoing efforts biodiversity is
deteriorating worldwide and this decline
is projected to continue or worsen under
business-as-usual scenarios it goes on
to say the framework aims to galvanize
urgent and transformative action by
governments and all of society including
indigenous peoples and local communities
civil society and businesses to achieve
the outcomes the main goal is to
stabilize the planets threatened
biodiversity by 2030 and allow
ecosystems to recover by 2050 finally
realizing the vision of quote living in
harmony with nature that’s something
that a lot of people tend to scoff at
humans like to think of themselves as
above nature rather than part of it
we rely on stable ecosystems and a
healthy planet too and as the most
advanced species on earth we should see
ourselves as stewards of the planet’s
precious and fragile life forms and resources
so what specifics does the plan offer
one of the main methods of achieving the
2030 goals is through conservation
specifically giving protected status to
areas important for biodiversity the UN
is aiming for 30% of these land and sea
areas to be fully protected by 2030 with
at least 10% of them under quote strict
protection another crucial step outlined
in the plan is the reduction of
pollution the Framework aims to reduce
pollution from plastic waste biocides
and excess nutrients by at least 50%
other methods include clamping down on
the trade of plant and animal species
and ensuring that trade is done legally
and sustainably which will go a long way
towards both protecting at-risk species
and limiting the introduction of
non-native species into fragile
ecosystems but not all of the goals are
about conservation and plants and
animals some are focused on improving
human quality of life and hoping that by
extension these improvements will reduce
human wildlife conflict these changes
would include providing better food
security and clean drinking water for
vulnerable communities the UN plan is
bold and comprehensive and could be
incredibly beneficial to the planet and
the human race if we meet their targets
but what if we don’t how will this sixth
major extinction event affect us the
biggest risk for humans is how fragile
our global food supply is if we can’t produce enough
to feed our various populations we’re in
for some real trouble for years now
thanks to human activity biodiversity at
the genetic species and ecosystem levels
have all been declining
long story short that means our food and
agricultural systems are losing their
ability to respond to and recover from
shocks caused by disease or the changing climate
40% of insects are at risk of extinction
including bees which play a crucial role
in pollination and over 25% of large
livestock breeds are at risk as well
we’re destroying critical plant species
at a breakneck pace 600 species of plant
have gone extinct in the last 250 years
a rate 500 times faster than would have
occurred before human interference
unfortunately for us the problem is only
going to get worse as our activity
continues to annihilate plant and animal
species and ecosystems at an alarming
rate our population continues to grow
it’s estimated there will be eight point
six billion people on earth by 2030 and
nine point eight billion by 2050 more
people means more demand for resources
and land and with our available
resources dwindling and much of the
planet surface already fully exploited
we’re going to have quite a predicament
on our hands now this isn’t to say that
the world is overpopulated it’s not and
it won’t be in 2050 we just need to be
more conscious of how we use available
land and resources we need to practice
sustainable farming fishing and
development we need to drastically
reduce our carbon footprint tidy up
after ourselves and realize that the
planet isn’t going to take care of
itself it’s time we started acting like
the highly advanced species we are and
take some accountability for our actions
the new UN plan is a good place to start with you

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