The Sixth Extinction is Underway: Are You Worried Yet?
"There is a holocaust happening. Right now," writes Jeff Corwin, author of 100 Heartbeats, in the Los Angeles Times. "And it's not confined to one nation or even one region. It is a global crisis. Species are going extinct en masse." Corwin goes on to explain:
"Every 20 minutes we lose an animal species. If this rate continues, by century's end, 50% of all living species will be gone. It is a phenomenon known as the sixth extinction. The fifth extinction took place 65 million years ago when a meteor smashed into the Earth, killing off the dinosaurs and many other species and opening the door for the rise of mammals. Currently, the sixth extinction is on track to dwarf the fifth."
"Whether they're big or small, extinctions change the world," writes Tracy V. Wilson at HowStuffWorks.com, before adding that the background rate of extinction is somewhere between one and five species per year. Today, however, "the extinction rate appears to be anywhere from 100 to 1,000 times greater than that."
"The causes of this mass die-off are many: overpopulation, loss of habitat, global warming, species exploitation (the black market for rare animal parts is the third-largest illegal trade in the world, outranked only by weapons and drugs)," writes Corwin. "The list goes on, but it all points to us."
Once again, we're the bad guys; but so what?
Extinction is more than just dinosaurs and dodos. Every species plays its role in the delicate balance of our eco-system. Lose one and well, let's just say the slope gets mighty slippery. So if you're not losing sleep over the sixth extinction, let's talk about honeybees. We may not give honeybees much thought but a fair portion of our food relies on them (specifically commercial honeybees) at the critical early stages of its development. This is why the sudden disappearance of honeybees, a.k.a. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), is all the more alarming. Jasmin Malik Chua at TreeHugger.com tells us: "The bee losses are especially distressing in light of a study last year that concluded that pollinators such as bees, birds and bats affect 35 percent of the world's crop production, increasing the output of 87 of the leading food crops worldwide."
This is, to say the least, some disconcerting news. While everything doesn't look rosy for bees, all is not lost.
4 Immediate Steps to Help Combat Extinction
1. Learn more about extinction and spread the word 2. Take steps to address our carbon footprint. Climate change, for example, creates habitat loss which in turn, leads to extinctions. 3. Reconsider our eating habits. the meat-based diet requires deforestation (read: more habitat loss). 4. Recognize the toll of (human) overpopulation