Biological Annihilation: A study describes the numbers of loss of animal species, habitats, individual specimens. It did not look so bad at the end of the dinosaurs.
We are close to the biological extermination of wild animals. It is not academic practice to use such strong terms in a scientific publication, but Gerardo Ceballos, ecologist at the Autonomous National University of Mexico, believed that it would not be morally right to use more sober expressions to describe the situation of our planet.
The scientist has led the last extensive study on the distribution and demographic downturn of land vertebrates, published on PNAS: a research that we would find in an already advanced phase of the sixth mass extinction (after the one that swept away the dinosaurs, 65 Millions of years ago).
DEMOCRATIC CATASTROPHE. The work starts from the premise that reports of individual extinctions of rare and threatened species do not clearly describe the current picture: reading the special stories of rhinos, penguins without ice, and large decimated carnivores almost gives the impression that they are disappearing gradually and isolated.
Not only are the endangered species vanishing at an ever-increasing pace; but one third of the species that are more than just being thinned is not currently considered threatened (it will soon become so, going on like this). In addition, 50% of individual animal specimens have been lost in recent decades.
LESS, AND WITHOUT HOUSE. Ceballos and colleagues considered a sample of 27,600 species of vertebrates (mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians) cited by the IUCN, to which they added the more detailed data of 177 earth mammals studied from 1900 to 2015. They have thus discovered that decreasing of the animal population is extremely high for species that, based on current classifications, are not threatened.
What is biodiversity?
32% of the vertebrate sample considered (about half of the earth’s vertebrates) accuse significant losses both in the number and distribution range. Of the 177 species of mammals studied closely, they all saw their homes more than 30% shrinking, and more than 40% lost more than 80% (with the worst damages recorded, in order, in Asia, Australia, Africa – follow Europe and America).
THE CAUSES. Under accusation is the overpopulation and the continuous growth of the number of human beings, leading to excessive exploitation of resources, habitat destruction, discouraged hunting, pollution and invasion of alien species. Man will also be the one who most of all will pay for the consequences in terms of loss of food resources and degradation of ecosystems.
But man is also the only one who can intervene: if anything else, with containable “patches” such as the establishment of several protected areas, a review of consumption and laws for the protection of animal species.