More than half of all animal species have disappeared in the last 50 years… Scientists warn humans could be next if we don’t make major changes
Earth’s 5th mass extinction was 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs and countless other species disappeared. Humans could go out with the 6th, if they don’t make some major changes quick… but no one seems to care or even notice that it’s happening.
“Earth’s sixth mass extinction event is underway,” the headlines of dozens of major newspapers warned last summer.
The number of wild animals in the world has been cut in half in the last 50 years, and nearly half of all mammals have lost more than 80 percent of their range/population in the last 100 years, said a study published last July in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study’s authors call the massive loss of wildlife a “biological annihilation” and say it poses a “frightening assault on the foundations of human civilization.”
“The situation has become so bad it would not be ethical not to use strong language,” Gerardo Ceballos, senior researcher at the Institute of Ecology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, who led the work, told The Guardian.
Human overpopulation and overconsumption are the primary culprits of the extinction crisis say the scientists behind the study, who include Paul Ehrlich, president of Stanford University’s Center for Conservation Biology, and author of the 1968 book The Population Bomb.
Civilization “depends utterly” on the plant, animal and microorganism species we are losing for crop pollination and protection, food from the sea, clean air and water, and maintaining a livable climate, Ehrlich told The Guardian.
“The time to act is very short,” he said. “It will, sadly, take a long time to humanely begin the population shrinkage required if civilization is to long survive, but much could be done on the consumption front and with ‘band aids’ – wildlife reserves, diversity protection laws – in the meantime.”
While Ehrlich’s 1968 statement that hundreds of millions of people would die of starvation in the 1970s did not come to pass, thanks to the Green Revolution (aka the conversion of oil into food), he and other ecologists believe a human population collapse is eventually inevitable once we hit the downward slope of peak oil.
Overpopulation is a hallmark of agriculture: Agriculture: The Worst Mistake Humans Ever Made
Despite his prediction being delayed, Ehrlich’s message remains blunt today: “Show me a scientist who claims there is no population problem and I’ll show you an idiot.”
RELATED: How Permaculture Can Save Humanity
In addition to a cascade of species extinctions, atmospheric carbon levels passed the point of no return — the point at which no amount of cutbacks on greenhouse gas emissions will save us from potentially catastrophic global warming — a little over a year ago, and now the oceans are losing oxygen at breathtaking rates, threatening mass extinction of marine life.
So there you have it, humans are on the verge of disappearing like the dinosaurs, along with all the other species we’ve wiped out, and no one cares. Whenever I post about these issues, they are my least popular posts.
Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort or psychological stress experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas or values.
I’m learning that many of us cannot even begin to entertain the following ideas:
- Global warming is real
- 2/3 of the once fertile land on Earth has been converted or is converting to desert
- Catastrophic climate change could make the earth uninhabitable
- The oceans are dying
- Humans have overpopulated, threatening our own existence
- Agriculture might’ve been a mistake
Because they conflict with our currently held values and beliefs:
- I like my stuff
- I like my modern conveniences and technologies
- I like my agricultural food
- I like my lifestyle
- Nature is scary
- A simpler, more natural lifestyle sounds boring and scary
- Babies are cute and always a blessing, we should have more
But cognitive dissonance kills, people. And the stronger it is, the more people it kills.
Thanks to the Green Revolution, billions of people will now die of starvation, instead of hundreds of millions, over the next century or so, in the aftermath of peak oil and peak food production. The social chaos will be exponentially more chaotic.
And this is the best case scenario! Worst case is human extinction. So let’s wake up from the dream, face the grim reality, learn from it and make it better. Because there are ways to make it better (have fewer babies, learn permaculture, set factory farmed grazing livestock free to restore grasslands, live in simple, nature-based communities) but we can’t even begin to talk about the solutions until we acknowledge there’s a problem.