World is facing biggest threat of extinction since the dinosaurs

World is facing biggest threat of extinction since the dinosaurs

Although the theory is that dinosaurs were wiped off the planet due to a giant meteor, the threat of extinction facing thousands of species today may be more subtle and gradual, but it is just as dangerous and real. That threat is humans.

The recent Living Planet Index produced by the WWF, has analysed data for 3,706 species on the planet, which is said to be the most comprehensive study of its kind, recording the current state of global wildlife.

The report has revealed that over the past 50 years, there has been a dramatic decline in wildlife populations around the world. This ranges from all different kinds of habitats and species, from well-documented instances of elephants and gorillas, through to lesser known vultures, salamanders and anteaters. The current rate indicates a 58% decline between 1970 and 2012, which is predicted to increase to 67% by 2020, if no action is taken by governments, conservationists and the human race as a whole.


The human threat

In light of the recent Living Planet Index analysis and other studies, geologists are on the brink of declaring a new epoch called Anthropocene that derives from the Greek for human. This is because in the future this era will be defined by human domination of the planet and the destruction of our wildlife, which will be evident in fossils and rock formations in thousands of years.

It is the intervention and domination of human kind that has caused such a dramatic impact on global wildlife. The culmination of human activities has been major contributors to the declining wildlife populations.


The key causes

The greatest cause has been through the destruction of wildlife habitats that are being used for logging, farming and human settlements, which naturally eat into the wildlife’s long-standing natural habitats, giving them fewer areas to populate.

In addition, there have been well-publicised problems with over-fishing and poaching for meat consumption that has resulted in huge population declines. It is thought that over 300 mammal species alone are being eaten into extinction, never mind the marine species.

Another significant contributor is the pollution that we are exposing wildlife to. Many of the pollutants that get pumped into our oceans, rivers and lakes, are highly toxic and last for years. There are also chemicals used in animal treatments that can be harmful to other species when consumed in the natural circle of life.

Disturbingly, all of these factors are human-led and are having a significant impact on the world that we know and love. Also, tie all this in with global warming, also a human triggered factor, and we’re currently on the road to disaster and extinction of hundreds, potentially thousands of wildlife species.

While this just gives a broad overview of the situation, for me the message is clear. As humans, we need to take action. It is our responsibility as mankind to do something about preserving and protecting these species today to secure their future that is intrinsically linked with our own.

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