We are currently in the middle of the Sixth Mass Extinction on planet Earth. That’s right – the sixth one. The difference this time is that one species, Homo Sapiens (yup that’s you and me) is responsible.
Elizabeth Kolbert, author of the non-fiction book, The Sixth Extinction, maintains that we are living in the Anthropocene period of Earth’s history. A time period characterized by human beings’ attempts to manipulate our environment, resulting in the extinction or near-extinction of many different species.
Just as with Climate Change, there are those who would deny that human activity has such a negative impact on the Earth. They would say that climate change and mass extinctions are a natural part of Earth’s history. And they would be right – I mean this IS the Sixth Mass Extinction. However, the previous five weren’t caused by a single species. This one is. Us.
Some anthropologists would even argue that this mass extinction started thousands of years ago when man hunted pre-historic animals like the mastodon and the giant sloth to extinction. But it’s accelerated within the last 100 years during the Industrial Age when we began spewing carbon into the atmosphere.
Carbon emissions are causing global warming and increased temperatures in the oceans which destroys coral reefs. Increased ocean acidity is killing off clams, barnacles and starfish. There are currently 1414 species of fish at risk of extinction. Due mostly to overfishing.
The animals on the Endangered Species List categorized as Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable include leopards, rhinos, gorillas, orangutans, elephants, giraffes, porpoises, dolphins, whales, pandas, hippos, turtles, bears, bison and bees. Rainforest deforestation by farmers and ranchers will result in many species that will not survive the reduction in habitat. And the species that rely on them will also perish because the biodiversity of the rainforest is inner-connected.
That is the single most important FACT to take away from this. We are ALL inner-connected. What happens to elephants in Africa has an impact on humans in Detroit or Albuquerque or Poland. Fires in Australia are impacted by rains in Indonesia. The nuclear plant meltdown in Fukushima, Japan in 2011 is STILL spreading radiation throughout the Pacific Ocean killing fish, contaminating the water and exposing millions of Homo Sapiens (that’s US again) to radiation as far away as the west coast of the United States and beyond. Ocean currents will eventually carry the radiation across the globe.
Concerned? You should be. Not sure what to do? SPEAK UP!!! Contact your senators and representatives. Attend Climate Change rallies. VOTE for environmental candidates. Look at what one girl in Sweden started by skipping school and sitting outside the parliament on Fridays. Fridays For Our Future is now a global movement of young people and Greta Thunberg is Time magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year.
It’s not enough to simply reduce your use of plastic and recycle your newspapers. Time is running out. There is no second planet. The Earth needs us to act now.