The Next Mass Extinction?
The Earth is filled with beautiful landscapes and biomes full of life. It is hard to believe that for most of this planet’s existence, there was no life at all. However, it is even harder to imagine that there were moments in Earth’s history when all life was close to being eradicated forever but that is exactly what happened. It's called a mass extinction event in which much of life is wiped out for various reasons. Scientists have concluded that Earth has currently been through 5 major extinction events, which life has fortunately survived. However, some believe that we have been in danger of facing a 6th one.
Previous mass extinction events were caused by natural causes such as the infamous asteroid that killed the dinosaurs or volcanic ash. As such, scientists believe that mass extinctions are a natural, albeit cruel, part of the drama that is life. However, the 6th extinction will more likely be caused by human activity.
Since the Industrial Revolution, humanity has increased their reliance on the Earth hundreds times more than our prehistoric predecessors. We have cut down forests, burned fossil fuels, and drained the oceans’ fishes. All of these activities cause problems that disrupt the equilibrium of the natural world. We have entered an age in which climate change, sea level rising, and resource depletion are all critical issues caused by anthropogenic activities. The Earth, to us humans, is so vast and it's difficult for us to comprehend that our planet doesn’t have infinite resources. However, due to our current usage of Earth’s natural and finite resources, we may very well see the consequence of our actions very soon, climaxing in an extinction that might kill us and all life soon.
It’s not all doom and gloom though as quick action may remedy the situation and its honestly very simple. The best way to prevent our own extinction is to reduce our impact on the environment. This could include reducing our usage of fossil fuels or eating less meat. Investing in renewable and sustainable energy and preventing urban sprawl can also help.
There have been 5 mass extinctions in the past but there could possibly be a 6th. While we may be headed down a dark path, if all of us work together, we can prevent our own extinction and preserve life on Earth.