Protecting endangered species

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.

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3 Responses to Protecting endangered species

  1. Kathleen Forichon says:

    I also remember learning about the increased extinction rates in AP Environmental. Although the world goes through natural cycles of extinction through the ages, these cycles are being speed up by none other than us as humans.

  2. Lauren Kearney says:

    In elementary school, the only books that I read were about animals and consequently I actually learned a ton about endangered species. I find it really sad when people don’t care about the prospect of a whole species dying out, and the efforts by zoos and reservations to repopulate certain species have saved us more times that most would think.

  3. Audrey Goldman says:

    I remember learning about the extremely rapid extinction rates in AP Environmental Science, and was alarmed. I also agree that it majorly humans’ faults in the destruction that is currently happening to the plant and animal kingdoms in regard to extinction and endangerment rates.

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