First published on September 23, 2022, 2:16 PM IST
There have been five mass extinctions in Earth’s history. Many experts have warned that a sixth mass extinction may already be occurring as a result of human activity since the Age of Exploration. Some scientists suggest that 40 percent of the species currently living on our planet could disappear as early as 2050.
But is this a dire situation? Is it possible for life on Earth to be so extinct?
Nick Rawls, director of the Otago Paleogenetics Laboratory and senior lecturer in ancient DNA in the Department of Zoology at the University of Otago in New Zealand, says that the sixth mass extinction is certainly plausible, according to the journal Live Science.
There are currently around 41,000 species threatened with extinction according to the Red List of Threatened Species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The list of suspected endangered species includes the Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abeli), the Amur leopard (Panthera purdus orientalis), the Sumatran elephant (Eliphas maximus sumatranus), the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), and the tortoise sea hawk (Eretmolyschelys) imtymolyschelys .
The beautiful Tekro tiger and the river gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli) are listed as ‘Critically Endangered’. That is, according to the IUCN and the Worldwide Fund for Nature, they are endangered in the wild.
Many of these species are critically endangered and may not make it to 2050. For example, there are only 70 Amur leopards left in the wild, while only ten of the vaquita (Phocoena sinus), a species of a porpoise considered to be the rarest marine mammal in the world, which remains.
According to a 2018 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), even if global warming is kept at 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius), 90 percent of the world’s coral reefs will be lost by 2050 The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is even more worrying. A global temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius expected to occur in the early 2030s “will cause heat waves on 99 percent of the world’s rocks,” the report said.
A report published in 2022 in the journal Nature estimates that two out of five amphibian species (40.7%) are now threatened with extinction, while a 2016 report published in the journal Biology Letters states that by 2050, 35 percent of frogs in the wet tropics in Queensland, Australia, may be threatened with extinction. Scientists admit they have struggled to gather detailed information on many amphibians, and these species are classified as data deficient (DD). According to a report published in 2022 in the journal Communications Biology, 85 percent of DD amphibians and more than half of DD species in many other taxonomic groups are at risk of extinction.
Therefore, it is difficult to determine the exact number of species that are likely to disappear by 2050. Human activities can accelerate the rate of species extinction. Over time, many species can adapt to climate change and changes in their natural environment. But the difficulty is to have such time allotted to the living beings.
Last Updated on September 23, 2022, 2:16 PM IST