Scientists are warning that Earth’s sixth mass extinction event is under way as a study reveals that billions of populations of animals have been lost in recent decades.
The research paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences peer-reviewed journal, talks about a ‘biological annihilation’ of wildlife that’s led to a mass extinction event that is more severe than previously feared.
Looking at both common and rare species, scientists found that billions of regional and local populations have been lost, and humans are to blame.
The paper cites human overpopulation and over-consumption as behind the crisis and says that unless we address this human civilisation is under threat.
And worst of all, time is quickly running out.
If you think this is all a tad extreme, the man who led the work, Professor Gerardo Ceballos from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, wrote:
The situation has become so bad it would not be ethical not to use strong language.
Previous studies have revealed species are becoming extinct at a faster rate than before, but extinctions are still relatively rare.
However, this research found a third of the thousands of species losing populations are not currently listed as being endangered and up to 50 per cent of all individual animals have been lost in recent decades.
The scientists concluded:
The resulting biological annihilation obviously will have serious ecological, economic and social consequences.
Humanity will eventually pay a very high price for the decimation of the only assemblage of life that we know of in the universe.
All signs point to ever more powerful assaults on biodiversity in the next two decades, painting a dismal picture of the future of life, including human life.
It will, sadly, take a long time to humanely begin the population shrinkage required if civilisation is to long survive, but much could be done on the consumption front and with ‘band aids’ – wildlife reserves, diversity protection laws – in the meantime.
So it isn’t exactly good news then. We really need to start acting now.
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.