There have been five mass extinctions in the history of the Earth, and numerous experts have warned that the sixth mass extinction could be the result of human activity, reports Live Science. Some specialists believe that due to climate change, many of the animal and plant species known to us will disappear by 2050.
According to the “Red Book of Threated Species”, published by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Its Resources, 41 thousand people are currently endangered with extinction. animal species. Many of them have been classified as “Critically Endangered”. The high risk of extinction concerns, among others Sumatran orangutan, Amur leopard, Sumatran elephant and black rhino.
Climate change and mass extinctions
The category “critically endangered” includes, inter alia, those species that have an extremely high risk extinction as a result of a rapid population decline from 80 to over 90 percent in the past 10 years (or three generations), with a current population size of less than 50 individuals.
Many of these species are so severely endangered that may not last until 2050. Live Science points out that, for example, 70 Amur leopards live in the wild, while the California porpoise, a species considered the rarest marine mammal in the world, has only 10 individuals.
Sixth mass extinctions is definitely likely. If species do not become even globally extinct, it is likely that those that cannot adapt to our rapidly changing world will reduce their range (…) and become functionally extinct – claims quoted by Live Science Nic Rawlence, Director of the Otago Paleogenetics Laboratory and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Zoology at the University of Otago, New Zealand.
Scientists’ analyzes are not optimistic. Some experts say that by 2050 up to 40 percent may become extinct. endangered species of animals and approx. 30 percent. plants. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that fauna and flora may decrease by 20 to 30%, if global average temperatures reach projected levels by 2100.
Experts indicate that the evolution would have to take place 10 thousand. times faster than usual for most species to adapt to new conditions and avoid extinction. Up to 90 percent may also disappear within 30 years. coral reefs.
Mass Extinction –Can We Prevent It?
Faced with these predictions, is there any way to stop the mass extinctions of species? According to Rawlence, the first thing to be done is to resolve “the conflict between short-term political benefits and long-term financing of protective initiatives.”
Many of our endangered species have survived only through intensive conservation management. If governmental and public willpower and resources change, the situation will be very different – indicates the expert. Of course, organizations, researchers and projects whose mission is to slow down and even stop human-related climate change have a big impact on stopping this process.
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In Rawlence’s opinion, conclusions from the past should also be drawn. To save biodiversity left behind, we need to know how it has responded to past and present climate change and human impact – He said. In short, it takes more research and hard work before it’s too late, Live Science concludes.
Adam Gaafar, journalist for Wirtualna Polska