Humans dramatically increased animal extinction rates

Animal extinction rates – In the history of the earth, there have been 5 great extinctions within the last 500 million years since complex organisms arose. Each of these extinctions have been caused by either dramatic changes in the Earth’s environment or extraterrestrial forces that have conspired to destroy most of life on earth. However, many scientists say that we are in the midst of a sixth great extinction and that this time the culprit is none other than ourselves.

Ever since humans started living in settled communities over 10,000 years ago,we have been dramatically altering the face of the earth to suit our needs. We’ve burned forests, dammed rivers, and mined mountains to extract the precious natural resources to sustain and expand human civilization. However, such actions come at a high cost to other species that live on the planet with us.

Within the last four hundred years, and especially since the onset of industrialization(about 150 years ago), we’ve seen animal extinction rates across the board sky-rocket to perhaps 50 times the usual background extinction rate. In the last 400 years alone, we’ve seen the extinction of nearly 100 known mammalian species along with the extinction of many more reptiles, amphibians, insects, and birds. The reasons of such high rates of extinctions are many but most of these are human-related. The biggest culprit is the destruction of habitat, especially the lush rainforest habitats which are always hotbeds of species diversity.

Humans dramatically increased animal extinction

Within the last 40 years, we’ve cut down more than half of all the rainforests on earth, severely depleting the habitats of many species. Some of the more adaptable species(such as rats and raccoons) have carved out a niche within our cities and have continued to thrive while other species, especially those that are endemic to one area(meaning they only live in once place one earth) have shrunk or have simply vanished from the face of the earth.  At the current rate of human expansion, most of the current pockets of bio-diversity will have to be compromised to make room for human expansion and the loss of species, especially large mammalian ones, will continue to increase. Large species such as forest elephants, as well as species of large cats that depend on forest corridors to travel from one place to the next will be forced more and more into isolated forest pockets where they may not have the resources to survive.

The depletion of natural resources and bio-diversity will be so severe at the current rate that it will soon effect the quality of our own life on earth. Services that nature provides for free such as the filtration of water from forest roots will be lost and billions of dollars will have to be spent to artificially replace these services. Storms and natural disasters as well as processes like desertification will become more severe, displacing millions more. In short, by disrupting and destroying the natural ecosystems and balance that nature has built over millions of years, we are not only destroying the species that live around us but perhaps in the long run, we will make the planet unbearable and eventually cause the extinction of our own species as well.