Endangerment and subsequent extinction of animals
Wednesday, August 9th, 2023
Many species on the earth (both plants and animals) have become endangered. If numbers of any animal diminishes to the extent that it faces extinction in near future then such an animal is called endangered. Point to be noted here is that threatened species are not endangered species, threatened species are those that are at the risk of becoming endangered species in foreseeable future. Hence list of endangered species and threatened species will not be same.
Reasons for endangerment and eventual extinction
Animals often become endangered naturally as extinction is known to happen naturally. But the fact that sets the alarm bells ringing is that the current rate of extinction of plants and animals is higher compared to the past. Climatic change, asteroid strikes, loss of habitat, disease, lack of genetic diversity, pollution and better adapted completion are some reasons for endangerment and eventual extinction. Currently habitat loss and overexploitation of wildlife for commercial reasons are regarded as two major reasons for increased rate of extinction of animals. Pollution is another major reason for increased rate of extinction.
Five major mass extinctions have occurred on the earth and sixth mass extinction is on right now. 99% of species that ever existed on the earth have become extinct. The Ordovician Mass Extinction (about 440 million years ago), The Devonian Mass Extinction (about 375 million years ago), The Permian Mass Extinction (about 250 million years ago), The Triassic-Jurassic Mass Extinction (about 200 million years ago), The K-T Mass Extinction (about 65 million years ago) are five major mass extinctions recorded in fossil record. Sixth major mass extinction is on right now. It is believed that sixth mass extinction started during the Pleistocene (2.58 million to 11,700 years ago).
Unlike other mass extinctions 6th mass extinction driven by human activity
It is believed that sixth mass extinction is different from other five major mass extinctions. Natural phenomena caused previous five mass extinctions but ongoing mass extinction is being driven by human activity. Unsustainable use of land, water and energy is primarily responsible for accelerating 6th mass extinction. 40% of land has seen conversion for food production, agriculture has caused 90% of deforestation and 70% of fresh water is being used for agriculture. This is majorly altering habitat of many species pushing them to the brink of extinction. Moreover, human activity is causing climate change. This is aggravating the situation even more.
Steps taken to limit human role in endangerment and mass extinction
Some steps have been taken and some more need to be taken to limit the human role in endangering species and mass extinction. Paris agreement was done to cut carbon emissions. Cutting carbon emissions is not the prerogative of governments only. Corporates, businesses, communities also have a role to play and we at individual level need to act too.