It's the End of the World as we Know it
Scientists have suggested that there may be a mass extinction of animals in the near future due to climate changes and numerous other factors. A study revealed that the earth may go through another mass extinction of animal species, similar to that of five other time periods that saw mass extinction in the past 540 million years.
However, unlike these other periods of extinction, this would be the first time that humans or any other species were primarily responsible for the event. The past five mass extinctions of animal species are believed to be related to natural disasters or natural shifts in the earthâs climate.
The study, which is set to be published in the March edition of the journal Nature, warned that unless we react quickly there is the potential for a mass extinction of animals. There is already a concern over the growing number of animals that have been placed on the endangered species list. With an increase in the human population, destruction of habitats, higher levels of pollution, disease and a shift in climate patterns, many scientists believe that a mass extinction of animals over a short period of time is a very possible outcome in the future.Â Â Â Â
"If you look only at the critically endangered mammalsâthose where the risk of extinction is at least 50 percent within three of their generations and assume that their time will run out, they will be extinct in 1,000 years. That puts us clearly outside any range of normal, and tells us that we are moving into the mass extinction realm," saidÂ the studyâs main author Anthony D. Barnosky who works as a professor of integrative biology in UC Berkley and as a research paleontologist with the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology.
Yet, Barnosky suggested that there was still time to remedy the situation and said, âit's not too late to save these critically endangered mammals and other such species and stop short of the tipping point. That would require dealing with a perfect storm of threats, including habitat fragmentation, invasive species, disease and global warming.â
The UC Berkley professor was optimistic that something could be done to halt the trend of animal species extinction."So far, only one to two percent of all species have gone extinct in the groups we can look at clearly, so by those numbers, it looks like we are not far down the road to extinction. We still have a lot of Earth's biota to save. It's very important to devote resources and legislation toward species conservation if we don't want to be the species whose activity caused a mass extinction," he added.
The program director of the National Science Foundation's Division of Earth Sciences, H. Richard Lane whose organization funded the research agreed with Barnoskyâs assessment and said, âThe modern global mass extinction is a largely unaddressed hazard of climate change and human activities. Its continued progression, as this paper shows, could result in unforeseen and irreversible negative consequences to the environment and to humanity."
photo credit: muke