Rumblings about the sixth major die-off of species in our planet’s history have been spreading around the internet and the scientific community for years, but a study published Friday in the Journal Science Advances has seemingly confirmed that we are indeed on the cusp of what has been termed the “Holocene Extinction”.
For the first time since the dramatic disappearance of the Dinosaurs, the rate of species loss in the last century is more than 100 times greater than the normal “background rate” of about one to five species per year.
This time around, of course there was no asteroid, no ice age, no massive single event. So what caused it? You may have a sneaking suspicion, given where you’re reading this.
It’s us. More specifically, the impact of things that we do to our natural environment. Years of clear-cutting forests which provided habitat for countless animal species, spewing gases which warm our atmosphere and pollute our air, dumping all manner of hazardous chemicals into our rivers, continuously stretching to dirtier and dirtier forms of fossil fuels–all of this human activity is wreaking havoc on our fellow Earthlings.
The study poses a sobering truth: if we can’t slow it down, humans will lose a host of biodiversity effects and benefits permanently. After earlier mass extinctions, the Earth took usually hundreds of thousands to millions of years to recover its biodiversity.