Guilty! Climate Change and Recent Wave of Extinctions

Does the understanding that we have helped to cause previous mass extinctions help us to become less nonchalant about our role in the present wave of mass extinction?

During the last million of years, our planet has experienced several cycles of cooling and warming. Unlike the relatively stable conditions the Earth has experienced the last 10 000 years, the Earth has undergone a series of climate fluctuations. The last cooling, the ice age, ran from about 75 000 to 15 000 years ago.

Animals have disappeared during these fluctuations in climate. For example, the largest ever living marsupial, the diprotodon, disappeared about 45 000 years ago. During this period, about 90 percent of Australia’ s megafauna disappeared together with the diprotodon.

Diprotodon_optatum

Diprotodon optatum

The climate on Earth never rest, it is constantly changing. As a result of these changes in climate different species have disappeared. Did Sapiens play any role in the previous waves of mass extinction?

The disappearance of the diprotodon around 45 000 years ago in Australia just when Sapiens arrived there, this is circumstantial evidence. Yet, there are several indications that Sapiens did indeed contribute to the extinctions of large marsupials in Australia. Not only does the arrival of Sapiens coincide with the extinctions of the animals but there is also no evidence of any extinctions of animals in the oceans. Usually, sea creatures are hit as hard as land dwellers when the major underlying reason for the extinction was changes in the climate. Thus, this suggests that the presence of humans on land contributed to the extinctions of these animals.

Similar pattern can we found when you examine extinction of animals in New Zealand, Madagascar, and other islands as well as inĀ  North America, where the arrival of animals and changes in climate resulted in the extinction of several species.

The idea that human beings are powerful and responsible for negative impacts on the environment have been debated. Yet, the present extinction of animals and the changes in climate are indeed the result of human activities linked to the IndustrialĀ  Revolution.

ghgconc2000-large

The graph shows the increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere over the last 2,000 years.

The rate of extinction of animals may be 1 000 times faster due to human activities. Yet, we are also inventing new technologies and methods to save animals.

Why not be part of the solution? Join a group that works to save animals!

reflektion 1

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save