Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Species Are Going Extinct 1,000 Times Faster Because of Humans

A new landmark study, published yesterday in Science, has found that the current rate of species extinctions is more than 1,000 times greater than their natural rate, calculated from the fossil record and genetic data spanning millions of years, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

The new study used the fossil record and genetic data to determine that species of plants and animals are going extinct 1,000 times faster than their natural rate—that is, when humans arrived.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The primary cause of this dramatic rise in loss of species is human population growth, habitat loss and increased consumption, as well as uncertainties in predicting future extinctions from the spread of invasive species, diseases and climate change

“This important study confirms that species are going extinct at a pace not seen in tens of millions of years, and unlike past extinction events, the cause is us,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The loss of species has drastic consequences for us all by degrading ecosystems that clean our air and water and are a source of food and medicine, and by making our world less interesting and a more lonely place. This study underscores the importance of laws like the Endangered Species Act and the need for swift action to reverse the disturbing trend of extinction.” 

The study is one of the most comprehensive assessment on species extinction rates. Data on species distribution and impending threats were used to estimate the extinction rate, which is actually considered conservative because of the large number of species still unknown to science.

Acclaimed conservation biologist Dr. Stuart Pimm of Duke University and lead author of the study found that over the last four decades, the number of species under threat of extinction would have been 20 percent higher were it not for conservation efforts. 

“The findings of this study are alarming to say the least,” said Greenwald. “But it also shows we can make a difference if we choose to and should be a clarion call to take action to protect more habitat for species besides our own and to check our own population growth and consumption.” 

Further noted in the study, some groups of species are going extinct at even greater rates, such as freshwater fish in North America, due to the degradation of rivers and lakes from dams, pollution, spread of non-native species and direct destruction. One example of this is the continent’s slugs and snails—their current extinction rate is nearly 10,000 times their natural rate.

“There can be no question that we’re fouling our own nest, but what this study shows is that this has consequences not just for us, but for the millions of other species with which we share this world,” said Greenwald.

--------

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

To 10 New Species for 2014

Small Wild Cats Face Big Threats, Including Lack of Conservation Funds

100 Rarest Birds in the World

-------- 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Food Tank

By Danielle Nierenberg and Alonso Diaz

With record high unemployment, a reeling global economy, and concerns of food shortages, the world as we know it is changing. But even as these shifts expose inequities in the health and food systems, many experts hope that the current moment offers an opportunity to build a new and more sustainable food system.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Brian J. Love and Julie Rieland

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the U.S. recycling industry. Waste sources, quantities and destinations are all in flux, and shutdowns have devastated an industry that was already struggling.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

Unhealthy foods play a primary role in many people gaining weight and developing chronic health conditions, more now than ever before.

Read More Show Less
A man pushes his mother in a wheelchair down Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami on May 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.

Read More Show Less
To better understand how people influence the overall health of dolphins, Oklahoma State University's Unmanned Systems Research Institute is developing a drone to collect samples from the spray that comes from their blowholes. Ken Y. / CC by 2.0

By Jason Bruck

Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.

Read More Show Less

Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks. jacqueline / CC by 2.0

By Kelli McGrane

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks.

Read More Show Less