Did you know that our Earth is losing one-hundred thousand species a year, if not more? It is true, and it is a very big problem that this generation is going to have to try its best to fix. Species everyday are going from threatened, to vulnerable, to critically endangered. There are many different reasons we are seeing so many species start to disappear, but humans are one of the main ones. Animal populations are decreasing more and more today as a direct result of humans' actions.
A species is a group of individuals that resemble one another more than they resemble any others. Being an endangered species though is when an animal or plant species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The ways that scientists can determine if a species is actually going extinct is based on its population, range, and habitat size. For example, if scientists want to know the number of insect species that are still alive they must count them to find out, so this can be a very difficult task making it hard to determine exact numbers.
When it comes to extinction, there are many different levels of it that a species can be on. We can define a species as critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable, near threatened, threatened, and least concerned. Critically endangered is our biggest issue while the least concern is the smallest issue. Vulnerable would be located between critically endangered and least concern, being an issue that is present but not the biggest one to be concerned about. Species are considered vulnerable whenever there are ten-thousand or less of their kind still alive, or if all of their population can be located in the same two-thousand kilometers (or less.) A few popular species that are now becoming vulnerable today are sea turtles, snow leopards, African elephants, and even giant pandas.
There are many different reasons that so many species today are going extinct. The first major reason is habitat loss. For example, new infrastructure projects are already being said to take up and use many miles of forest habitat just in the United States. However, humans are not only starting to use many of the land-animal habitats but also polluting some of our ocean-animals habitats. With all of the plastic and trash being put into the oceans, and more being produced every year, plastic is actually said to be a major concern all of two-thousand nineteen.
Other major causes of this mass extinction occurring in the generation today are also linked to humans. Global warming and climate change (mostly caused by humans) are starting to affect our species today more than ever. Because population numbers are decreasing, a problem with that is now genetic variation (there is not enough of it.) Genetic variation has a lot to do with how the species are made up, and it leads to problems with the reproduction of healthy offspring through the parents.
We know that habitat loss is a big cause of endangered species today, but to be more specific we can classify it as deforestation. Deforestation is when a large area is cleared of all its trees, basically taking away the environment from animals who use it as their homes. For example, tropical rainforests are home to more than half of the planet's species. These same forests have been reduced to more than half their size because of deforestation. This means that the homes of thousands and thousands of species have been taken away from them just to clear land for humans to build more buildings and even just to use for more infrastructure projects.
Scientists have found a lot of different percentages and statistics based on their research on animals going extinct. They found that if we had never had any problems with habitat loss, or even just smaller ones at that, we could have (for example) at least eleven thousand different bird species but now we have around just nine thousand. Specialists at Harvard say that we can easily lose one-hundred thousand different species per year, and many more if not that. There was also a study done on insect populations that tell us their populations have gone down by more than seventy-five percent worldwide in the past twenty-eight years.
Besides different statistics, there is a lot of different evidence of extinction in the world today. For example, polar bears have always been killed for their skin and just to use as a trophy. Now, as a consequence, that species has become critically endangered all around the world. Another animal with a similar problem is the oryx, an antelope-like species. The oryx was killed for its meat and ¨as a trophy¨ for so long that in less than thirty years its entire population had been reduced to less than one hundred.
We know that species going extinct is bad simply because we lose all of one's kind, but there are also many more problems that start to occur when species go extinct. Some of these problems can have a very big impact on the world, while some problems just affect humans. For example, ẅhen these animals lose their habitats they will have to roam more into ours. This will lead to increased encounters between wild animal species and people. Another one that will affect humans specifically is with plants. As we see plant species start to disappear around the world, a new problem for us will be with agriculture, making it harder to farm.
When species go extinct, there is an increase in problems around the globe. Not only for humans, but for the food chain. Whole habitats are disappearing so more than one species is being lost at a time. Based off of things we see on television, many people believe that only plants and some animals are going extinct. However, the problem is much bigger than that, with hundreds of thousands of plant and animal species going extinct each year.
Even though we have already lost many different species due to human activity, there is still a way we can make up for it. To help protect some of the species that we already know are vulnerable or becoming threatened, we can better manage our ecosystems so that we can better keep track of the statistics for that species. We already have many organizations set to help these species, but the main thing with that is we need to advertise them more so more people are aware of what they stand for and what they do. The Species Survival Plan (SSP) was created by zoo directors in the late eighties to help protect endangered species and because so many people were aware of it, it has ended up helping many endangered species thrive again so they are no longer endangered.
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