Is the biosphere currently experiencing a mass extinction? More harrowing, are humans the cause of this massive loss of life? Unfortunately, new scientific studies reveal that the answers to both of these questions may be yes. Based upon the fossil record, scientists have determined that the normal rate of extinction is about one species per million species per year, which is equivalent to between 10 and 100 species per year. The current levels of extinction are frighteningly higher than this value: 27,000 species are lost every year in tropical rain forests alone. Another study found that 41 percent of all amphibians, 33 percent of reef building corals, 25 percent of mammals, 13 percent of birds, and 30 percent of conifers are threatened with extinction.
What is the root cause for these numbers? Unfortunately, the answer is likely humanity. Humans modify the environment, destroying the habitats of species, effectively killing them. This mass extinction is not just detrimental for biodiversity, but also for humans themselves. We rely upon the environment to survive and thrive, drawing resources from it to feed, shelter, and provide medication, along with numerous other benefits. With each passing year, the decrease in biodiversity limits the potential boons that could be gained from these resources.
Must biodiversity continue to diminish at this astounding rate? Fortunately, the answer is no. Scientists have recently released a study at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) finding that just 80 billion dollars per year is required to prevent future extinctions from occurring. Unfortunately, just 12% of the funding required to reduce this mass extinction is currently being provided.
The green tip of the week is a very simple lifestyle modification: when washing clothing, use the cold setting. Most loads don’t require hot water, and 90% of all energy used by a washing machine goes into heating water. Therefore, decreasing the temperature of the water will decrease the negative impact upon the environment.