The news should not come as a surprise to anybody. The sixth mass extinction is inevitable and has already started, in fact, according to researchers. The greatest extinction since the dinosaurs is predicted within three generations of human lives.
Within the past 100+ years, humans started what is called “The Industrial Revolution.” It was unlike anything seen in earth’s history. Machines, factories, and assembly lines were the norm. Mass production was kicking in for all types of goods- giant skyscraper buildings erected. The birth of Big Business America came about. Make no mistake, this incredible leap forward in technology projected humans forward much faster than anything else seen in history. It also made America stand out on the map to become the most powerful nation on earth. Entrepreneurs capitalized on the opportunity of a brand new industrial country, people were also put to work which catapulted the economy.
The repercussions to all the new machines and factories would be a slow death sentence for the environment. Pollution started becoming a problem. Forests were torn down to create cities, driving animals out of their habitat. The population of species have been declining at a rapid rate and several have already gone extinct. A study conducted had shown that species today are vanishing at a 100-fold rate compared the normal between mass extinctions in history. The sixth mass extinction is inevitable, but it appears to be approaching at a much faster rate than predicted.
The past mass extinctions were all catastrophic events of nature, but this upcoming one is human influenced. Human behavior has caused, the controversial subject among politicians, global warming. Animals living in arctic climates are disappearing due to all the ice beginning to melt. Pesticides in plants harm the ecosystem, and massive human wastes end up on the ocean. The rapidly increasing human population only drives the need for more food and shelter. Everything has an opportunity cost, so to create more food and shelter would require sacrificing more animal lives as well as habitat.
The destruction of ecosystems has a chain reaction effect on everything else. The bees dying off would halt the pollination of flowers and fruit-producing plants would suffer. The destruction of wetlands would cease the planet’s natural water filtration. The mass extinction would cause most of the planet’s life to die off and will require millions of years to recover.
Although the extinction stuff sounds scary, there is a possibility of hope. It is always easy to prevent a problem than to clean it up. Despite the sixth mass extinction being inevitable, it could be prevented or prolonged at the very least. It would require massive conservation efforts, however. Besides limiting greenhouse emissions and the use of pesticides, species of endangered animals would have to be relocated to accommodate the altering climates. Humans have been able to travel in space, cure diseases, make technological advances, so there is hope in reversing the likely extinction.
Opinion By Frank Grados
Scientific American – Fact or Fiction?: The Sixth Mass Extinction Can Be Stopped
Daily Mail – The sixth mass extinction on Earth has officially begun and could threaten humanity’s existence, scientists warn
Photo Courtesy of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License