The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEW) will publisha report on Wednesday stating that more than 11,000endangered animal and plant species, including more than1,000 mammal species, or 1/4 of the world's total, arelikely to go extinct over the next few decades. 12% of birdspecies and over 5,000 different plant species are alsolikely to die out. In the oceans, the loss is already almostimmeasurable, with almost all major species of larger fishat risk, and massive diebacks of plankton in the Antarctic,the North Sea and elsewhere contributing to the destructionof whole ecologies.
As earth enters the final years of an eons-long extinctionevent, rapid mass extinctions are certain. A change in theplanet's geologic configuration destabilized the climate 2.8million years ago, when Central America rose and blocked thegreat equatorial current that had kept the climateessentially stable for 15 million years. Since then,continuous fluctuation between extremely cold (ice) ages andshorter warm periods has taken place too fast for manyspecies to adapt.
This has caused a continuous decline in species, with thegreatest diebacks taking place at the points of changebetween ice ages and interglacials. For example, there was ahuge dieback of large ungulates 15,000 years ago, as thelast ice age ended.
At present, the additional pressure caused by theoverpopulation of the human species has intensified thespeed of dieback that would normally take place as thecurrent interglacial ends and a new ice age emerges.
Mankind's sudden and extreme increase in population over thepast five hundred years, and in particular the past fiftyyears, has ensured that this dieback is likely to be asaggressive as the one that ended the age of dinosaurs.
Unfortunately, our species has not developed socialinstitutions that might have been effective in reducing theintensity of the dieback by intervening appropriately in theenvironment. Therefore, the process of dieback will extenduntil it includes a substantial proportion of mankind aswell, which will be decimated over the next decades byviolent weather, disease and famine caused by disruptions inthe growing patterns of food crops.
To read about the UNEP reportclick here.
To read about fish extinctions,clickhere.
To read about the current mass extinction,clickhere.
To read about the devastating destruction of wildlife inAfrica,click here.
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