A current mass extinction is waving through the whole planet. About sixty-five million years ago, the dinosaurs went extinct due to extreme changes in the weather that made them unable to survive and multiply. Now, after sixty-five million years, another mass extinction is occurring that would drive out as much as one half of the total number of species that exist here on earth.
However, unlike in the past when climate and weather conditions were the basic factors that swept away the dinosaurs, this time it is not climate monsters anymore but pointless human beings that sweep away the inhabitants, food supply and the perfect environment that would make nature proliferate in large numbers across the world. According to David Ulansey (2007), “If present trends continue, one half of all species of life on earth will be extinct in less than 100 years, as a result of habitat destruction, pollution, invasive species, and climate change” (par.
1). Once this happens, then there is no exact estimation on how serious and awful the consequences would be, since the extinction of plants, animals, habitats and ocean species like coral reefs would affect our sources of supply of food, water, climate, medicinal supplies and energy. Thus, it may be that the extinction of plants and animals may be the beginning of the future extinction of men.
In this paper it will be revealed how serious the current mass extinction is, and what the impact will be concerning the sustainability of our anthropogenic home planet. It shall be discussed why the issue is important to human beings—even now that science and technology is driving fast and remarkable changes in societies. In a world where human beings rule and affect the world, what exactly is at stake? And what can be done given the present condition of the environment?
In the end, we come out with the conclusion on the best strategy that would help make our world a better place to live in. The Extinction of Species Based on the report printed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), it was revealed that there are about 11,000 endangered species in the plant and animal category (Podger, 2002, par. 3). This number includes a total of 1,000 mammals, which is “nearly a quarter of the world’s total” (Podger, 2002, par. 3).
This will take place in a matter of just three decades, due primarily to the destruction of habitants, which have been made faster due to tremendous increases in illegal fishing and logging, the conversion of forests to farms, cities and villages, as well as the destruction made by pollution and greenhouse gases that lead to a global climactic change that gives threat to these species. Also, another reason for the destruction of habitants is the transferring of alien species to a far-away, different habitat in which the species are unable to bear or sustain.
Aside from plants and animals, the bird species is also at the threat of extinction, since more than 5,000 birds are enlisted by UNEP as being endangered (Podger, 2002, par. 4). Yet what is most threatening is that, despite the condition nowadays on how half of all species are about to get extinct, still, the factors that lead to their extinction are continuing and strengthening with an ‘ever-increasing intensity’ (Podger, 2002, par. 3).
Perhaps the most basic and hard-to-prevent factor that leads to this extinction may be under illegal human settlements in areas that have been prevented by governments, such as the wilderness, the rainforests, and the wetlands. Worldwide denial or ignorance could also be an important factor that led to this. As stated by Joby Warrick (1998) of Washington Post, this mass extinction of species has been declared as the ‘gravest environmental worries’ of time (par. 2). The Impact of Mass Extinction
The extinction of 11,000 endangered animal and plant species reveals serious consequence that could depreciate as much as a quarter of the world’s human population. With as much as 6. 1 billion living and relying on nothing more than these creatures for the sake of survival and nourishment, the extinction will draw problems that would especially trigger the third world countries. Nowadays, even the present sources of food and living are scant by as much as 20%, as stated by Jeffrey Kluger and Andrea Dorfman (2002) of the Time Magazine.
The traditional way of managing natural resources can be defined as ‘putting people first, and the environment second’ (Kluger&Dorfman, 2002, par. 4). However, as administrator Mark Malloch Brown of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) initiated, “[W]hen you exhaust resources, you destroy people” (Kluger&Dorfman, 2002, par. 4). This is because the means of survival for homo sapiens also lean largely on the natural resources—nearly everything that is found in air, water and land. Let us face it then… the number of people on earth is still huge, especially in the third world countries that are situated in Asia.
In the long run, what is good news is that the growth rate decreased in the year 2000 by as much as 25% as compared to that of 1950-1975 (Kluger&Dorfman, 2002, par. 5). It was even declared that, by the latter half of this century, the population should continue to decrease in large tracks, which is also good. However, even if the overall population is decreasing, food will not be enough for the six billion people if species continue to vanish. Even now, as much as two billion people starve in the poorer countries (Kluger&Dorfman, 2002, par. 8), with no water and food to eat.
With mass extinction, the fatal consequences will land—not only on food—but also on the lack of water, energy, medicinal supplies and climate, especially that global warming has started to ruin the present generation. In the future, more deserts will, thus, surround us. The Thing To Do In reaction to the severe endangering of species around the world that burst only since the start of the 20th century, there are many things to do given the circumstances. First is the use and encouragement of what is known as ‘human potential’ around the world.
It is evident that our world is an ‘anthropogenic’ world—having derived and produced everything out of human activities… including destruction. Human influences are causing intricate ruin in our home planet and, for this, there is a vital need to draw people of different profession, races, cultures, languages, societies and government background. Policies in marine and agriculture could be created for the sake of sustaining environment, especially that there are certain techniques (e. g. , slash-and-burn or cross-breeding) that are more ‘friendly to nature’.
The use of information and education will also yield fruitful ways in counteracting the crisis, especially since everyone uses water, which means that everyone can do something for the planet. Second strategy that can be implemented is to use power and force in counteracting the destruction of the environment, such as issuing laws and policies that improve the state of the planet. This happens to be very useful in governing pollution and sources of energy, so that global warming will not worsen, which happens to be a very influential factor that forces the extinction of species.
Here, South Asians can be forced to counteract the ‘Asian brown cloud’ that is hovering above them, since these clouds lead to “rising seas, fiercer storms, severe droughts and other climatic disruptions” (Kluger&Dorfman, 2002, par. 17). Third and last strategy is to use research, science and technology in studying about the environment and, at the same time, to make essential ways or strategies that would greatly improve the condition. This strategy is most beneficial in the course of finding means of producing energy, and in finding ways to cure the destruction of species.
Examples are the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) Program that provides studies, water services and training in hygiene, as well as the New Deal Program that lessens the emission of greenhouse gases. Conclusion The current mass extinction is so grave that the impact is bound to threaten—not just the physical environment—but also the lives of people in the present and future days. The impact will fall largely on poor people—those who have less money to buy food, water and energy sources. These are the same people who usually live in overcrowded cities and even in areas that have been defined as ‘illegal human settlement areas’.
However, as the impact falls largely on people, the answer itself lies on these same people, especially those who live in third world countries where illegal fishing and logging are mostly seen. Being unable to understand why they should sacrifice for the sake of plants and animals, and not being able to understand what tragedy awaits them after a number of decades of continued abandonment and neglect, they carry the biggest role that would lead to sustainability of our anthropogenic home planet.
Now that science and technology is driving changes, we can make use of it in terms of preserving the environment and the species, since the act would also lead to preserving our lives. In a world where human beings rule and affect the world, there is no other option but to counteract the threat using the very ingredient that drives the threat—people. If not, our lives will be at stake, and it would then be too late to turn back again and alter our ways. This means that the best strategy nowadays falls on all strategies—first, second, and third—since all revolve around people.
The best strategy is to use human potential, power and force, as well as the use of research, science and technology. It is sure that governments and the mass of almost all countries will attune to this strategy. The problem, however, lands on economists, on specific businesspersons, and on the poor people. Yet what we face now is actually the gravest environmental worries of all time (according to Warrick), but there is still time to change ways and prevent… the very extinction of men. Works Cited: Kirby, A.
(2003, May 19). Wake-up call on extinction wave. Retrieved April 22, 2007, from BBC News Science/Nature database: http://news. bbc. co. uk/2/hi/science/nature/3039803. stm. Kluger, J. , & Dorfman, A. (2002). The green century: the challenges we face. Retrieved April 22, 2007, from the Time Magazine database: http://www. time. com/time/2002/greencentury/enopener. html. Podger, C. (2002, May 21). Quarter of mammals face extinction. Retrieved April 22, 2007, from the BBC News Science/Nature database: http://news.
bbc. co. uk/2/hi/science/nature/2000325. stm. Warrick, J. (1998, April 21). Mass extinction underway, majority of biologists say. Retrieved April 22, 2007, from The Current Mass Extinction database: http://www. well. com/user/davidu/extinction. html. Additional reference: Buchanan, M. (2002, July 8). The extinction of species and why it matters more than you think; it’s a small world: take anybody else on earth, and you are probably linked through sex acquaintances. New Statesman, 131 (4595): 30+.