The sixth mass extinction is underway | Letter

Mammals, birds, and amphibians are currently becoming extinct at rates comparable to the previous five mass extinctions when cataclysmic forces had taken out a vast majority of species, even the dinosaurs.

Today I’m talking about the sixth mass extinction that’s going underway and how humans are diminishing the animal life on earth by demanding more and more resources as they become wealthier, ramping up pressure on the natural world. The reason this should scare you is because by killing off all these species, it will eventually kill us all as a human race.

These animals are dying because of over-hunting, poaching, pollution, loss of habitat, climate change, the arrival of invasive species, and many other human-caused problems, like our over population. According to a team of international scientist writing for Nature Magazine, the decrease in biodiversity will “substantially diminish the benefits that people derive from nature.”

Everyone relies on animals, just imagine a day we weren’t. No milk, no meat, no commercial products that we require from animals. Without animals, the ecosystem falls apart, entire industries would collapse without fish, cattle, or even sheep. The only protein left would be plants, and each other. If all life ceased to exist, the human race would last roughly three to four years. Without insects, pollination will no longer help to continue plant life. All plants and trees would die. The drastic decrease of this plant life would create a mass build up of carbon dioxide, which then would accelerate global warming greatly.

This is all very important because not only are more and more animals dying, and going closer to the brink of extinction, but we’ll eventually be pushed to that same edge due to our overwhelming greediness for wealth. People are slaughtering elephants for their tusks. Roughly 100 die a year because poachers in Africa want their ivory just to make money. Another animal being abused for their features are pangolins.

Pangolins are one of the most trafficked animals in the world, with at least a million being traded in the last decade to supply its demand for its meat and scales in Asian markets. Of the eight species of pangolin, four are listed as vulnerable, two are listed as endangered, and the other two are listed as critically endangered. Local researchers found up to 2.7 million pangolins die a year because of poachers.

There are also plenty of animals being exploited for alternative medicine, such as; feral water buffaloes, rhinos, sun bears, musk deer, Hawks-Bill sea turtle, Grevy’s zebras, Chinese alligators, banteng feral cattle, Asian tigers, and Asian elephants.

But, there are ways you can help, you can protect their habitats, change your diet to less land intensive foods, or other forms of conservation. You could donate to International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), or reducing your carbon footprint by taking the bus, walking, biking, or carpooling.

I need you to do at least one; make your home environmentally friendly by putting up bird houses, or planting native plants to give shelter to birds and other native wildlife; avoid using pesticides and herbicides, as it harms the animals and potentially kills them; never buy anything made from endangered species (ivory or some furs, etc.); vote for political candidates who support the environment; or donate to IFAW, who help endangered species

So far, we’ve killed off half the world’s animals since 1970. By the time this class of students is near the age of 64, most of the animal life could be gone if we continue ignoring this huge issue. With the animal life diminishing, we’ll eventually go down with it. These results show that it’s time to react, even if the window is small, we can still do something to save species and populations. So, don’t just do this for the animals, do it for yourself too.

Olivia Weyn,

Bothell

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