The grim situation of our planet has come to the fore in a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences made by biologists Geraldo Ceballos, Paul R. Ehrlich and Rodolfo Dirzo.
The 2015 study has pointed out that the populations of nearly 9,000 vertebrate species, including mammals, have significantly declined between 1900 and 2015. Almost 200 species have gone extinct in the last 100 years alone. This study indicates that Earth is facing “ongoing six major extinction events” and that it is sure to have a devastating effect on human beings as well.
Over 41 percent of all amphibian species and 26 percent of all mammals are facing extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which maintains a list of threatened and extinct species.
Habitat loss, overexploitation, invasive organisms, pollution, toxification and climate change can be cited as the major for this global disaster.
“This is the case of a biological annihilation occurring globally, even if the species these populations belong to are still present somewhere on Earth,” Rodolfo Dirzo, the study’s co-author and a Stanford University biology professor, said in a news release.
“Thus, we emphasise that the sixth mass extinction is already here and the window for effective action is very short, probably two or three decades at most,” the authors wrote. “All signs point to ever more powerful assaults on biodiversity in the next two decades, painting a dismal picture of the future of life, including human life.”
There were around 7,000 cheetahs in existence last year, and their population might drop to 53 percent over the next 15 years, National Geographic surveys. Borneo and Sumatran orangutans have been considered endangered for years mainly because of loss of habitat.
The population of African lions has dropped by more than 40 percent in the last 20 years. West African lions, in particular, are nearing extinction, with only about 400 animals left. Lions, today, are found only in scattered populations in sub-Saharan Africa and also at Gir Forest National Park in India, according to the study.
A division of opinion exists in the community of scientists on this study that has been carried out by the Stanford researchers. Stuart Pimm, head of the conservation ecology at Duke University in North Carolina and Doug Erwin, curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History agree to the fact the Earth is facing a loss of biodiversity, and that is a matter of concern. However, they both agree that the prediction of doomsday by the study in question is far-fetched in nature.
Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity and Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity confirm the worries put forward in the alarming study.
The only good news in this grim scenario is the realisation that human beings take the task of saving endangered species very seriously once those species have been marked as ‘endangered’. “Because once they go on endangered species list, they go from neglect or maybe tacit management to very active, focused efforts to save them. And those work,” Suckling said.