Man Against Nature
“Today it is humans who should accept responsibility for the increasing rates of species extinction.”—JANE GOODALL, CONSERVATIONIST.
LIFE on earth is dynamic and interrelated. We humans are an intrinsic part of it. We depend on the living world for our food and medicines, the oxygen we breathe, and the elements that form our bodies. In the course of a normal day, earth’s human population utilizes more than 40,000 other living species. All of earth’s species together weave a complex, astonishing, and intricate web of life.
However, many experts who study this complex web feel that it is under attack! Perhaps you have heard about endangered rhino, tigers, pandas, and whales. Some scientists claim that 50 percent of all plant and animal species could vanish from the earth in 75 years. Researchers fear that some species may disappear 10,000 times faster than what scientists call natural extinction rates. One expert estimates that species are dying at the average rate of one every 10 to 20 minutes.
Scientists believe that in the distant past, species extinction was mostly triggered by natural causes. But the principal cause of the present crisis is different, they say. Evidently, today’s extinctions are caused by human activity. One scientist referred to humans as the “exterminator species.”
Are human activities really causing this dramatic loss of biological diversity? If so, how? Can we survive without the kaleidoscope of life on earth? Is anything being done to stem the tide of what many feel is an extinction crisis in the living world?
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