You might well be a little confused to hear about a sixth mass extinction, even if you are aware of the five mass extinctions that have taken place in geological history. The first thing you should know is that, until a few weeks ago, there were only five of them. If you are surprised by the discovery of a sixth mass extinction, you will probably be shocked to hear that it is happening now.
A new study published by Science Advances states that we have entered the greatest mass extinction period since the extinction of dinosaurs, which was around 65 million years ago.According to the paper, the present extinction rates of vertebrates are over 100 times higher than their extinction rates under normal circumstances.
There is no way to avoid confronting this situation. And if you thought it couldn’t be any worse, think again. We are not just observing this (probably long-term) global mass catastrophe: we are the most likely the cause. Gerardo Caballos and his co-workers, who published the alarming news, say that even in the most optimistic of scenarios, human interference would have had a substantial impact.
The authors say that it is still possible to reduce the impact on biodiversity, keeping it from becoming a more severe mass extinction, if humanity acts fast. The rates of extinction have never risen at this speed and their current magnitude is rare in natural history. Human population and consumption growth correlates with the increase in extinction rates. There is an undeniable connection between human development and the catalysis of a sixth mass extinction, especially with deforestation, climate change and the depletion of natural resources on the rise.
Countries like Brazil, China, Mexico, India and South Africa should fear the future implications of this mass extinction the most, as they are host to a great many different species, contributing to the Earth’s floral and faunal biodiversity. You might notice that these are examples of developing countries that are consolidating their political and economic power on the global stage. They are likely to be the countries that will define the policies that will make a difference in the future, not only on biodiversity, but about environmental issues as a whole.
Even though governments have not officially made statements over this study specifically, the discussion is urgent. This issue is likely to reach greater proportions sooner rather than later, defining the next obstacles and goals in the preservation of life itself. Until the government and policymakers take control of the situation, it is up to the average citizens to raise awareness, press government officials for statements and promote research; and these are just a glimpses of all the possible actions that can be taken