Sixth Mass Extinction to Eclipse Global Warming Concerns

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The ‘confirmed’ sixth mass extinction of the entire world is the new, or rather, ongoing worry being ratcheted up, while talk of global warming has essentially moved backstage. The term global warming has been replaced over the years by climate change, extreme weather, etc. Before talking about a study which suggests our inevitable extinction, it must be clarified that this article does not question theories which suggest human activities like deforestation, vehicular pollution, use of fossil fuels and other pollutants for power generation and that increased carbon emissions are responsible for the increase in global temperature. The article does not advocate scepticism about the call for moving towards sustainable, renewable and cleaner energy sources like solar, wind and hydro. The rise in the level of sea water due to melting ice in Antarctica is a fact, and many coastal cities around the world are threatened because of it. However, the talk of mass extinction has now taken center stage because of a new study which has brought focus on the subject.

A new study, which was published in the journal Science Advances, confirms that the world in which we live is now witnessing its sixth mass extinction. The evidence used to back this theory is the speed of extinction of various species of animals all over the world. It is also mentioned in the study that the world has been a witness to five recognizable mass extinctions in the past, with the final one being 66 million years ago, and which wiped out the dinosaurs.

mass extinctionThe study warns that the sixth mass extinction threatens the existence of humans as it is the dominant species on the planet today. The issue with this theory is that, until now, it was suggested that dinosaurs died close to 60 million years ago because of an asteroid or a meteorite that impacted the Earth. There are many scientific as well as geological reports with authenticated evidence to prove that the extinction of dinosaurs was caused by an asteroid impact. The study says that by conservative estimates, various species are disappearing at a rate which is about 100 times faster than normal rates of extinction. It has not shared what or how the normal rate of extinction of species was calculated or measured.

The biggest problem with this theory is that it suggests that humans are causing a mass extinction similar to the fate of dinosaurs due to the destruction of wildlife habitat. However, it does not explain in detail how the dinosaurs faced the inevitable mass extinction and the reasons and activities which caused it to happen. It is a fact that many animal species are now extinct or are on the verge of extinction. Animals like tigers, lions, rhinos,and certain breeds of deer, as well as whales, sharks, and other aquatic life are categorized as endangered species today.

mass extinctionHowever, if one looks at human history over the past few hundred years, the explanation as to why these species are facing extinction can be determined. The massive hunting and poaching, which goes on even to this day, is the real reason for their extinction. Human habits, like hunting, are responsible for the apparent sixth mass extinction the entire world is facing, instead of the inevitability theory that seems to be the new worry that is being ratcheted up, while talk of global warming has essentially moved backstage.

Paul Ehrlich, a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, says there are examples of species all over the world that are, essentially, the walking dead. He says that the study explains how the world is moving towards the sixth great mass extinction event. Other researchers have also warned that humans could be among the species that gets wiped off the Earth because of this. Elizabeth Kolbert, the author of The Sixth Extinction, suggests that unlike any other species that ever roamed on the planet which faced mass extinction, humans are causing the sixth mass extinction.

This theory has been challenged by many scholars who have suggested that the estimates of the study have been devised upon an overestimation of crisis. However, the researchers of the study which suggests that we are headed towards the sixth mass extinction, have emphasized that their calculations have severely underestimated the extinction crisis. Their aim behind this was to give a realistic lower bound on the impact caused on biodiversity by humans. The apparently ‘confirmed’ sixth mass extinction of the entire world is the new or rather ongoing worry that is being ratcheted up, as talk of global warming has essentially moved backstage. Instead of such scaremongering, emphasis should be given to cutting down carbon emissions, adopting sustainable energy sources, stopping illegal hunting of animals and aquatic life and massive deforestation, as well as curbing vehicular pollution and use of other pollutants like wood, coal and cow dung for heating and cooking purposes around the world. Conservation of our planet and resources must be the focus of everyone’s attention.

Opinion by Ankur Sinha

Business Insider- Earth is on the edge of a ‘Sixth Extinction’
MSN- Scientists Warn Humans Causing Sixth Great Extinction
The Indian Express- World witnessing 6th mass extinction, animals dying off faster: study