Mass Wildlife Extinction Reportedly Underway, Researchers Expect Two-Thirds To Be Gone By 2020

Patricia Ramirez - Author
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Oct. 28 2016, Updated 4:13 p.m. ET

According to a new report from the World Wildlife Fund, a mass wildlife extinction is currently underway on planet Earth. According to the WWF, if nothing substantially changes in the very immediate future, roughly two-thirds of the planet’s vertebrate wildlife could be wiped out as soon as 2020. The report, which was released Thursday, indicates that the mass wildlife extinction is already well underway, with Earth already having lost nearly 60 percent of its fish, mammals, birds, and reptiles since just 1970.

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As CNN reports, during the mass wildlife extinction, which has been ongoing for decades, wildlife numbers across the globe have been dropping by about 2 percent annually. Further, the WWF’s latest report regarding the current mass wildlife extinction decimating Earth’s animal populations substantiates that the Earth is in the midst of the sixth mass extinction and that humans are contributing to the problem.

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“This is definitely human impact, we’re in the sixth mass extinction. There’s only been five before this and we’re definitely in the sixth.”

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According to WWF conservation scientist Martin Taylor, humans are actively contributing to the current mass wildlife extinction, and without massive changes to how we live our lives, it may be unstoppable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkoG9_7Fix0

Taylor states that the current mass wildlife extinction is being perpetuated by humanity’s unsustainable sprawl and lifestyle, adding that we are polluting too much, destroying massive swaths of natural habitat, polluting on an epic scale, and our Industrial Age is contributing to destructive climate change.

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“It’s because we’re using so much of the planet and we’re destroying so much of (these animals’) habitat.”

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While many, many species are being devastatingly impacted by the current mass wildlife extinction, some animals and their ecosystems are being negatively impacted more than others. For instance, wildlife that depends on fresh water has been disproportionately eradicated, with the wildlife depending on rivers, lakes, and wetlands being among the most adversely impacted of all. Reportedly, over 80 percent of wildlife species depending on these ecosystems have already been wiped out by the current mass wildlife extinction, at a rate of approximately 4 percent annually.

Other animal groups that have suffered more excessively than most as a result of the current mass wildlife extinction include sharks, rays, and elephants.

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While some people shrug off the idea of a mass wildlife extinction as applying only to animals, experts warn that what’s happening right now could have a dire and devastating impact on individual humans and even all of humanity.

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“Governments (need) to take action to halt the slow death of the planet because it isn’t just affecting wild species it’s affecting us too. This is a threat to our future as a species, what we’re doing to the planet. We only have one planet if we screw it up then we’re gone.”

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According to Taylor of the WWF, the current mass wildlife extinction is currently spiraling into a sixth mass extinction that could forever change life on this planet. However, there are some things that could be done to try to halt the effects and maybe even stem the extinction tide. That is if people are willing to take serious and sometimes drastic steps to change the way they live and the way our civilization functions.

What are some ideas that we can do to reverse these effects? Using renewable energy sources, buying sustainable food and other products, and by fighting for laws that protect the environment.

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While the WWF report of a mass wildlife extinction looks pretty legitimate and sounds bleak on the surface, there are some people who are questioning the way the WWF came up with their numbers, alleging that the group’s published findings could be “misleading” to some.

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“It mixes what’s going on in the ocean with what’s going on in the land. It mixes studies of bird populations in Europe with mammal populations in Africa. It has very few data points in South America.”

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Still, the WWF is standing by its findings, stating that the organization was “transparent” about how it calculated percentages and what data was used in creating the environmental report.

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Stanford University’s Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve executive director has pointed out that some people might be confused about the wording of the report, adding that the “two-thirds” number represents the number of individual animals that are expected to be lost by 2020, not the percentage of species that are expected to go extinct.

Despite pointing out the distinction, Anthony Barnosky added that if two-thirds of individual animals are wiped out during the current mass wildlife extinction event, the loss of innumerable species will be unstoppable.

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“I don’t think I would quibble with the trend they’re pointing out. We’re losing individuals of species and geographic ranges at a really rapid rate. If you keep that up, extinction of lots of species is inevitable.”

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What do you think? Should humanity be concerned about the WWF’s report? Do you think that this mass extinction event is the direct result of human activity? Do you think that humanity is capable of making the social changes needed to change the course of the current mass wildlife extinction?

[Featured Image by Angela Waye/Shutterstock]

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