03/15/2012 // New York, NY, USA // Igor Purlantov // Igor Purlantov
Scientists have discovered that animals and plants around the world are being killed off by humans faster than new ones can evolve. This is the first time this has ever happened since dinosaurs became extinct says Igor Purlantov. According to conservationists one in three amphibian species, one in five mammal species and one in eight bird species are now at risk of extinction which is worse than originally believed. There are more than 45,000 species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species although this is largely underestimated given that less than 3% of the world’s 1.8 million known species have been analyzed.
What is more alarming is that extinctions are happening 1,000 times faster than the natural normal extinction rate otherwise known as the background rate. Earth is currently losing species at a rate comparable to the mass extinction of the dinosaurs. Studies have found that 36% of animals and plants that are used for medicine and food are threatened versus the average of 21% across all mammals which show that there is not only a risk to wildlife but also to human health says Igor Purlantov. Unfortunately, it comes as no surprise that humans are the main reason for most of the decline in species around the world with habitat destruction and degradation leading the way as the largest root of the problem. Other significant causes include over exploitation, pollution and disease which make it clear that wild plants and animals need to have large amounts of natural land preserved in order for them to survive.
Unless something is done to reserve this alarming trend, hundreds if not thousands of species of mammals, birds, amphibians and plants could be lost as a result of human actions within our lifetime warns Igor Purlantov. The Endangered Species Act is a good start toward reserving this negative trend although proposed policy changes would limit the protection of wild animals and plants that need it most. More than 80 conservation groups and nearly 100 prominent scientists have already expressed disapproval of changes to the Act that would seek to reduce the protection of wildlife by changing the consideration of where the species currently live and not include information about original home areas. Also, scientists have argued that the process for getting wildlife listed for protection comes as too little too late since by the time some species are reviewed and added their numbers and habitat remaining are so depleted that any legal protection afforded to protect them cannot help and they needlessly go extinct.
In order to protect these endangered animals and plants, there must be cooperation on a global scale and a clear set of goals to reverse these alarming trends so as to ensure that animals and plants are protected. Without the ability to protect endangered species there is no way for many plants and animals to continue providing the Earth with much needed benefits such as nutrient cycling, pollination and climate regulation. Ultimately, if anything is going to change, protective measurements need to be taken so that the ultimate goal is not merely to prevent the extinction of animals and plants but to return these species to the point that they are viable components of their ecosystems says Igor Purlantov.
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