Mass Extinction Imminent: Half of all Wild Animals Diminished In the Last 40 Years

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Kate Good from One Green Planet put it best when she wrote that humankind, more than any other species has the ability to mold and shape the world. And while that has resulted in many accomplishments, the downside is becoming evermore apparent. It’s a mass extinction alert. 

Scientists have reported that plant and animal species are going extinct at a rate that’s nearly 1,000 times faster than normal. And as a result, scientists and conservationists are declaring that the 6th mass extinction is upon us. But the difference between this mass extinction and those of the past, is that humans are to blame.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, planet Earth has lost 50 percent of its wild animal populations in the past 40 years. Whether on land in rivers or the ocean, humans are diminishing and extinguishing their existence.

“If half the animals died in London zoo next week it would be front page news,” Professor Ken Norris, ZSL’s director of science said to The Guardian. “But that is happening in the great outdoors. This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live.”

The data was collected by calculating 10,000 different populations, covering 3,000 species total in a “Living Planet Index” that reflects 45,000 known vertebras. In all, 37 percent of loss is due to animal exploitation, 31 percent habitat degradation, 13 percent to habitat loss, 11 percent to other, and 7 percent to global climate change.

“We have lost one half of the animal population and knowing this is driven by human consumption, this is clearly a call to arms and we must act now,” Mike Barratt, director of science and policy at WWF said to The Guardian.

Whether it’s forest elephants in central Africa, where poaching rates now exceed birth rates, turtles drowning in fish nets as a result of unsustainable fishing practices, or the now 35,000 walruses that have come ashore in Alaska because the ice they once found refuge on has melted–these massive declines are due to humans consuming FAR more than is sustainable. In fact, we would need 1.5 planet Earths to consume at the current rate.

But there are steps that you personally can take to make a huge difference in stopping this mass extinction including cutting out meat considering that 22 percent of global carbon emissions come from meat production. Stop deforestation by cutting out palm oil, which is found in many places that might surprise you including organic and vegan products. Stop eating seafood because overfishing is killing our oceans. And finally, spread the word. Read more here.

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Image: jinterwas