Researchers from Duke University in the United States warned that planet Earth is on the brink of a mass extinction event comparable to the one that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
Professor Stuart Pimm, a biologist and lead author of the study which included input from scientists all across the globe, says that human activity has accelerated the rate at which species are going extinct by 1,000 times, and that failure to make a significant change could result in another mass extinction that would completely alter the planet that we know.
Pimm cites deforestation, global industrialization, pollution, habitat encroachment and the depletion of our ocean fisheries as being among the main causes of this extinction event, and says that we have only a decade or two to put in place new mechanisms that will allow existing species to regenerate.
“We can compare that to what we know from the fossil data and incidentally what we know from the DNA data because data on DNA, differences between species give us some idea of the timescale at which species are born and die,” Pimm told Reuters in a video interview.
“And when we make those two comparisons we find that species are going extinct one thousand times faster than they should be.”
While the situation really is dire and we face a completely new planet by century’s end if we continue with business as usual, Pimm says it’s not impossible for us to improve the situation that we have created.
He told Reuters that we have the technology and the conservation know how to protect endangered species, and that education is essential to spread the importance of sustainability.
But if we don’t, he notes that it took five to 10 million years to recover from the last mass extinction, so while the planet may recover, it “won’t happen overnight.”
Dinosaur in the desert | Shutterstock