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Species Are Going Extinct 1,000 Times Faster Because of Humans

Species Are Going Extinct 1,000 Times Faster Because of Humans

This post originally appeared on EcoWatch

new landmark study, published last week in Science, has found that the current rate of species extinctions is more than 1,000 times greater than their natural rate, calculated from the fossil record and genetic data spanning millions of years, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

The new study used the fossil record and genetic data to determine that species of plants and animals are going extinct 1,000 times faster than their natural rate—that is, when humans arrived.

The primary cause of this dramatic rise in loss of species is human population growth, habitat loss and increased consumption, as well as uncertainties in predicting future extinctions from the spread of invasive species, diseases and climate change.

“This important study confirms that species are going extinct at a pace not seen in tens of millions of years, and unlike past extinction events, the cause is us,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. ”The loss of species has drastic consequences for us all by degrading ecosystems that clean our air and water and are a source of food and medicine, and by making our world less interesting and a more lonely place. This study underscores the importance of laws like the Endangered Species Act and the need for swift action to reverse the disturbing trend of extinction.”

The study is one of the most comprehensive assessment on species extinction rates. Data on species distribution and impending threats were used to estimate the extinction rate, which is actually considered conservative because of the large number of species still unknown to science.

Acclaimed conservation biologist Dr. Stuart Pimm of Duke University and lead author of the study found that over the last four decades, the number of species under threat of extinction would have been 20 percent higher were it not for conservation efforts.

“The findings of this study are alarming to say the least,” said Greenwald. “But it also shows we can make a difference if we choose to and should be a clarion call to take action to protect more habitat for species besides our own and to check our own population growth and consumption.”

Further noted in the study, some groups of species are going extinct at even greater rates, such as freshwater fish in North America, due to the degradation of rivers and lakes from dams, pollution, spread of non-native species and direct destruction. One example of this is the continent’s slugs and snails—their current extinction rate is nearly 10,000 times their natural rate.

“There can be no question that we’re fouling our own nest, but what this study shows is that this has consequences not just for us, but for the millions of other species with which we share this world,” said Greenwald.

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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105 comments

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10:25AM PDT on Jun 15, 2014

We must control the human population.

6:58AM PDT on Jun 9, 2014

Yup, sounds about right.

2:30PM PDT on Jun 7, 2014

population control, we need to make our peace with that happening.

9:44AM PDT on Jun 7, 2014

Until people start seriously looking at some form of population control there's not a whole lot that can really be done, humans are selfish and greedy and they will keep spreading until everything else is dead. (Then they'll panic and realise the stupid mistake they've made and die out themselves.)

1:21AM PDT on Jun 6, 2014

By all means cull the population, but let's start with the biggest polluters first, starting with the U.S followed closely by Europe.

1:18AM PDT on Jun 6, 2014

Not all humans! Just some! You can't blame the aborigines in Australia. The tribespeople in the rain forests of South America, Africa or Asia, or even the rice farmer in Paddy fields in China. A U.S child uses as much water and resources as 200 Africans, Europe to Africa = 1:160, China to Africa =1:10. The biggest culprits are us! Europe and its colonies (US, Oz etc) ...do the math, stop blaming ALL humans for our Eurocentric messes, that is disingenuous at best and only exacerbates the problem - meaning that the people who are responsible, get to wrongfully share the blame with the innocent, and that, is the biggest crime of all!

11:48PM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

Humans are the biggest threat to earth. They multiply even in the most poorest and harshest conditions and their need for food and space to live will be the total destruction and annihilation of all fauna and flora on this planet. And yes, their need for war and killing certainly helps too...💀

4:51PM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

It's such an injustice. Sadly I don't think many people could care less. As a species, our greed, selfishness and arrogance are beyond belief.

2:20PM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

I'm sure someone here has already stated that this is obviously a Democratic Lie ( Yes this is sarcasm and I am rolling my eyes ) The earth is a living organism seriously infested with parasites, Us.

1:25PM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

Yet another reason to start culling the human population.

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