Mass extinction? The earth has never harbored as much diversity as now
You may have read more than once about the predictions made by several leading scientists that we are heading towards an imminent mass extinction. There are even those who guarantee that the earth is already in the process of seeing thousands of species disappearing from the planet.
However, in an article published by the aeon portal, writer Stewart Brand - president of the Long Now Foundation, co-founder of the Revive and Restore project and editor of the Whole Earth Catalog - assures that there is no cause for panic. According to him, we are not in the process or about to witness the much-talked about "Sixth Great Mass Extinction", an event whose proportions would rival the extinction that annihilated the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.
According to Brand, the five major extinctions have eliminated about 70% - or more - of all species on the planet in a relatively short period of time, and his evidence suggests that this is not happening right now. On the contrary, according to the writer, life is flourishing, and our planet has never harbored as much diversity as it does now. According to him, although some animals have disappeared, the cycle continues.
Brand argues that the current focus on the disappearance of countless species and the - almost - inevitable progress towards further mass extinction - may even be negative, and explains that, in fact, the planet is unlikely to go through. this catastrophic event as several endangered species are recovering.
Still according to Brand, it is also unlikely that all animals listed as endangered - and with more than 23, 000 species - would die from climate change. As he explained, there are over 1.5 million known species in the world, and instead of disappearing due to environmental impact, they would probably evolve and adapt to survive the new conditions.
According to Brand, studies have shown that damage to certain ecosystems has been reduced, while others suffering from low diversity are witnessing an increase in species variety. In addition, the writer also mentions recent research conducted by the University of Auckland, New Zealand, which found that about 18, 000 new species are being discovered each year.
The same study also found that the current rate of extinction - equivalent to 1% of species per decade - is much lower than the rate of discovery, which is 3% of new species per decade. What's more, fossil analysis indicates that for the last 200 million years, the planet's biodiversity has only been increasing, and this growth is currently the highest ever recorded.
The writer disagrees with the views of conservationists who hold the view that human action is endangering the disappearance of a large number of species. According to him, analyzing each aspect of conservation from the point of view of extinction is not only simplistic and irrelevant, but also introduces an emotional burden that makes the problem seem even bigger - and unsolved.
However, conservation issues should be viewed as one-off challenges that can be addressed. In this regard, Brand cites initiatives conducted on countless islands around the world in which there are vulnerable endemic species, which included work on the eradication of invasive species. Another example mentioned was the recovery of some fish populations through the creation of efficient restrictions.
Brand also explained that several areas are being repopulated by native species, such as wolves, grizzly bears and bobcats - which are spreading again in some parts of Europe. In the US and elsewhere, efforts are also being made to reintroduce animals into their former habitats, and the fruits of these initiatives are already beginning to be reaped.
The writer also advocates the use of biotechnology to prevent extinction and, why not, "revive" species such as mammoths, for example. Brand argues that just as medicine is developing techniques to cure patients through minor interventions on their genomes, so could conservation techniques based on adjusting the genetic code of animals to facilitate their survival.
Stewart Brand believes that despite the pessimism - and the unfavorable and sensational news we see out there - about conservation efforts, the time is right. Although the impression is that we are suffering setbacks and setbacks, the truth is that, given a “macro” outlook, conservation seems to be winning the battle. What we cannot allow is for our (negative) perception to stand in the way of success.
And the fact that Brand rules out the possibility that the earth is heading for a new mass extinction does not mean that there are no problems - nor that they are close to being solved. However, conservation issues need to be faced objectively and without panic.