A new study has voiced out one of the worst fears of humanity: humans are allegedly now at risk of being eliminated completely. According to a group of biologists, vertebrates are currently going extinct more than ever before – the fastest rate of disappearance since the dinosaurs were wiped out. Humans might be next. The findings have been published in the journal Science Advances.
The words of one of the researchers sound like a walking-talking nightmare:-
“[The study] shows without any significant doubt that we are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event,” said Paul Ehrlich from Stanford University in the US, in a statement.
According to the research, humans themselves have the triggered the event. This concept is not entirely new. Biologists have repeatedly said that the Earth will soon witness a major extinction event. On the other hand, opponents of this idea have claimed that the estimates of the rate of disappearance of species are the result of inconsistent data.
The scientists of the new study have compared the current extinction rate to the background extinction rate (the expected rate of disappearance). The latter was calculated from well-verified data and vertebrate fossil records; the result obtained was twice as large as previous estimates. The researchers then found out that animals are going extinct from 15 to 100 times faster than they ought to. The rate of extinction is the highest since dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago.
At this rate, the scientists calculated that around 26 % of all mammals and 40 % of all amphibian species will be gone for good. This would mean the apocalypse for humans as well.
“If it is allowed to continue, life would take many millions of years to recover, and our species itself would likely disappear early on,” said one of the lead researchers, Gerardo Ceballos from the Universidad Autónoma de México.
“We are sawing off the limb that we are sitting on,” added Ehrlich.
Now, what would cause the disappearance of humans? According to the interpretation of the scientists, the reason is man-made. Unsustainable human activities have the potential to lead to the wiping out of humanity, namely deforestation, introduction of invasive species, carbon emissions, and pollution of ecosystems.
“We emphasise that our calculations very likely underestimate the severity of the extinction crisis, because our aim was to place a realistic lower bound on humanity’s impact on biodiversity,” the researchers write on Science Advances.