If that just scared the pants off you, I'm glad, because it means you understand what a devastating thing that would be. The results of this recent study say that due to climate change, development and shrinking habitats, humans will be wholly responsible for this planet-wide extinction if we don't act fast.
Study co-author Anthony Barnosky, a paleontologist at the University of California-Berkeley, told U.S. News, “Scientists never like to say anything for sure, but this is close as we’re ever going to get to saying, ‘We’re certain that this is a huge problem.'" One of the first major losses will be the coral reefs, which the study says could be gone as soon as 2070, taking with them a quarter of the ocean's species. If you think that won't affect the human population, you're sorely mistaken.
The species we're talking about does so much for us and our ecosystem besides looking majestic in pictures. By taking it out of the picture, the food chain will collapse, and things like pollination of plants and water purification will be threatened. Without these things in place, our food and water supplies will dwindle, which will leave our great-grandchildren in dire straits."
The last mass extinction was the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, but this is the first time a single species will be entirely responsible. In this most conservative study, scientists looked at normal rates of extinction versus what's been happening in just the last 100 years. They found birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish died 72 times faster than "normal." Overall, 468 vertebrate species were wiped out in that time.
However, all hope is not lost. Barnosky says we have the ability to fix the problems causing the extinction, but it must be a planet-wide effort. Yes, that includes switching to renewable energy sources wherever possible and stopping the industrialized burning of coal, which is majorly responsible for this massive speedup of extinction.
Our world leaders are already calling us to arms against this great catastrophe that's approaching. Now, it's about continuing to help our planet every day as much as we can to avoid losing all the animals to which we owe our lives.
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