Imagine a world where a third of Earth’s species simply don’t exist. No elephants roaming African plains. No colourful coral reefs where little clown fish grow up. No orangutans swinging from trees in Indonesia.
The world is experiencing a ‘biological annihilation’ of its animal species at the hands of humans’, with extinction levels 1000 times higher than expected because of human activity.
A group of experts from the spheres of science told UNILAD how we’re in a sixth mass extinction the likes of which hasn’t been seen for 66 million years.
The rate of extinction is occurring at an alarming rate. Up to 200 species of plants, insects, birds and mammals are declared gone from this planet every 24 hours.
Global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have declined by 58 per cent between 1970 and 2012, according to research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But don’t take my word for it.
Watch what the experts have to say – and heed their warnings – below:
[ooyala player_id=”5df2ff5a35d24237905833bd032cd5d8″ auto=”true” width=”1000″ height=”1000″ autoplay=”true” pcode=”twa2oyOnjiGwU8-cvdRQbrVTiR2l” code=”E0dDVjZTE6P89WsrHBlzqkKCoqbOG_C5″]
Professor of Animal Welfare & Ethics at University of Winchester, Andrew Knight, told UNILAD:
A mass extinction event is one in which more than 50 per cent of all species have gone extinct. The greatest tragedy of our time is that we’re wiping out all the other species we share the planet with.
Even our beloved lions, for example, are facing troubles in Ghana’s Mole National Park, where the population declined by more than 90 per cent in 40 years due to local conflicts contributing to their slaughter.
The dinosaurs went extinct in the most famous wipe out, known as the Creataceous-Teritary mass extinction (approximately 66 million years ago) which was sparked by the 18-million-year-long process of the Triassic-Jurassic mass extinction.
Before then, a staggering 96 per cent of species died out during the Permian mass extinction, which was nicknamed The Great Dying, since all life on Earth today is descended from the tiny 4 per cent of species which survived.
Even pre-dating that, the Late Devonian mass extinction and Ordovician-Silurian mass extinction saw huge numbers of species wiped out, in naturally-occurring processes.
Yet this time it’s different, Sailesh Rao, Executive Director of Climate Healers explains:
No other major extinction event in the past was caused by one species.
We’re the only species currently destroying the planet. We’re losing another three per cent [of species] per year.
At that rate, by 2026, it will be 100 per cent. Once they die off, we’re next on the line.
Keegan Kuhn, who co-created Cowspiracy, told UNILAD:
Right now we’re living in the largest mass extinction seen on this planet in 65 million years. The leading cause of species extinction around the world is raising animals for food.
We clear massive areas of natural habitat for endangered and threatened species to make room for livestock. We wipe out the ability of those species to recover from imminent extinction.
We will see potentially 1.2 billion people on this planet starving to death, because we will not have enough food or water or space to feed everybody in this world.
Kuhn predicts climate wars, food wars and mass migrations of humanity ‘trying to feed their populations because we’re trying to feed the wrong species’.
Kate Powell, a vegan activist, condemned the human contribution, saying:
It’s the greatest crime against animals that has ever been committed in the history of the world.
The destruction of land is the number one cause of these species dying. There’s nowhere left for them to go.
2.7 trillion animals are dragged out of the ocean every year. How can we take that much out of the ocean every single year as if it was nothing?
Marine life, which Dr Callum Roberts, a Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of York tells us, was formerly thought to be ‘extinction-proof’, is now ‘facing the end‘.
Humans could cause the oceans to be fishless by 2048, as Dr Roberts explains:
The extent to which we are impacting them has grown so rapidly, we’ll see the disappearance of species within the space of a few human generations.
For Dr Mark Williams, a professor of Palaeobiology at the University of Leicester, it’s an emotional matter of preserving Mother Nature for his 12-year-old daughter.
While remaining hopeful for her future, he lamented:
I don’t want her to live in a world where there are no elephants, no coral reefs.
I don’t want her to spend the last part of her life wondering about all those wonderful organisms that we’ve lost.
What I’m hoping – and what I’m seeing – is humans are starting to move forward to actually become stewards of the planet rather than, if you like, children raiding the sweet shop.
You can watch the full UNILAD documentary, Meat The End, below:
WWF’s Living Planet Report revealed, by the end of this decade, wildlife populations will have fallen on average by a staggering 67 per cent from 1970 levels.
More than 90 per cent of all the organisms which have ever lived on Earth are extinct.
Just two weeks ago, the Eastern Puma was finally declared extinct after not being sighted in the wild for thirty years.
By 2020 we could be witnessing a two-thirds decline in animal life in the last 50 years, according to the Living Planet Index.
…Unless we act now.
A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.