There are anywhere from 10 million to 1 trillion species in the world, and we’re on the road to killing every one of them.
Deforestation, pollution and the growth of the human population is driving every single species on the fast track to the earth’s 6th mass extinction. Extinction is undeniably a natural occurrence, but we have seen more animals make the endangered species list and go extinct at an accelerated rate within the last few years.
Of the 44,838 species assessed worldwide using the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List criteria, as of 2011, 905 are extinct and 16,928 are endangered. This is an alarming number yet we are nowhere near, or seemingly interested, in changing it.
Honeybees are a prime example. They are vital pollinators and are also dangerously close to extinction. If bees were to go extinct, honey, almonds, apples, avocados, onions and coffee would be scarce and expensive or simply nonexistent. It seems like a minor inconvenience so many will brush it off.
Fungi, both aquatic and terrestrial, are crucial for biodiversity of ecosystems and for everyday life. If Penicillin went extinct, we would have to find an alternative medicine for Penicillin, which could potentially take years and cost a substantial amount of money. There are also several species of fungi that promote plant growth through mycorrhizal association.
Without these fungi, plants would begin to die. Without these plants, animals and humans would face starvation. But, deforestation and habitat destruction is still raging.
Should we throw ourselves into research and exploration to find and describe unknown species or should we gloss them over with shopping malls and coalmines? What about increasing conservation efforts?
From the looks of it, we’re just going to dig in our heels and hope that it doesn’t accelerate human extinction.
No amount of technology can keep that from happening.