The statement that the Earth’s biota is entering a sixth ‘mass extinction’ has been quoted many times over the years. Proving it, however, has been an issue. It’s a long and difficult process to confirm that a single species has gone extinct as you have to ascertain that there are no longer any individuals alive in the wild or in captivity. Imagine how hard this is to do in practice when you’re working in remote and inhospitable areas, then multiple that by the number of species on this planet!
On Friday, Dr. Gerardo Caballos published a paper stating that even when they analysed the most conservative extinction rates, the rate at which vertebrates were being lost forever was far higher than in the last five mass extinctions. A sixth mass extinction, therefore, IS beginning. They estimate that it would grow to rival the last great catastrophe of the past, when the dinosaurs and much else died out 65m years ago, in as little as three human lifetimes. The team behind the new analysis said “rapid, greatly intensified efforts” would be needed to stop or slow the extinctions currently underway.
Rather than being depressed by this news, let’s each take personal responsibility to intensify our efforts to live more harmoniously on this planet. The time to act is now and nobody is too small to make a difference.
According to the IUCN, the lemur faces a real struggle to avoid extinction in the wild in the coming years.
In November, I’ll be travelling to Madagascar to see if ecotourism is a viable tool in keeping their populations extant.