Adapted in English by Valérie Harnois
The observations are troubling and unmistakable: two thirds of the wild fauna has disappeared in less than 50 years. This shocking declaration of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is sounding the alarm, identifying the primary cause of this decline as human activity. It is approximately 4 000 vertebrate species, spread across 21 000 animals across the world that have disappeared following the destruction of their natural habitat, mainly for agriculture.
Everywhere across the world, scientists watch for warning signs of a sixth extinction, which would be the most devastating since the asteroid that caused the extinction of dinosaurs. There are already one million endangered species and that number keeps growing. Unless there is a significant change in the human pattern of consumption, nature will pursue its decline.
« The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) [..] highlighted five ways people are reducing biodiversity: Turning forests, grasslands and other areas into farms, cities and other developments. The habitat loss leaves plants and animals homeless. About three-quarters of Earth’s land, two-thirds of its oceans and 85 per cent of crucial wetlands have been severely altered or lost, making it harder for species to survive, the report said. Overfishing the world’s oceans. A third of the world’s fish stocks are overfished. »CBC, May 6, 2019
This sixth extinction would be the first to be directly linked to human behaviour and habits. It would also be the first that can be stopped if concrete and sustainable actions are put in place promptly. A study entitled Bending the curve of terrestrial biodiversity needs an integrated strategy, published in Nature, puts forth a series of possible scenarios. These possible courses of action ensure the preservation of natural resources, species, and reduce the human footprint with regard to agricultural production and human consumption :
«Through further sustainable intensification and trade, reduced food waste and more plant-based human diets, more than two thirds of future biodiversity losses are avoided and the biodiversity trends from habitat conversion are reversed by 2050 for almost all of the models. »International Institute for Applied System Analysis, September 10, 2020
« Many of the worst effects can be prevented by changing the way we grow food, produce energy, deal with climate change and dispose of waste, the report said. That involves concerted action by governments, companies and people. Individuals can help with simple changes to the way they eat and use energy, said the co-chairman of the report, ecological scientist Josef Settele of the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Germany. That doesn’t mean becoming a vegetarian or vegan, but balancing meat, vegetables and fruit, and walking and biking more, Watson said. »CBC May 6, 2020
Here are a few articles on the topic of the sixth mass extinction. Choose one and create a cognitive map using Popplet to extract the important elements. You can also create a sketchnote using Tayasui Sketches to summarize the article and make your thoughts visible.
Articles on the sixth mass extinction:
- The Sixth Mass Extinction is Happening Faster than Expected. Scientists say it’s our Fault. CNN, June 1,2020
- Will Humans Survive the Sixth Great Extinction? National Geographic, June 23, 2015.
- Are We Really in a 6th Mass Extinction? Here’s the Science. Science Alert, November 18, 2019
- Earth’s Sixth Mass Extinction Event Under Way, Scientists Warn. The Guardian. July 10, 2017
- Coming: The Sixth Mass Extinction? Science News for Students. October 17, 2014
- Earth Is Not in the Midst of a Sixth Mass Extinction. The Atlantic, June 13, 2017
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