Ever since we were little kids, we’ve been taught about endangered animals and how we need to do our best to ensure their safety. However, just how important are they and are we doing anything to keep them safe? Well, first off, we have the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which was enacted in 1973 to protect “endangered species and the ecosystems on which they rely” and to aid in their recovery.
The United States government has proposed a variety of ideas that would undermine the ESA. These include provisions that allow for the consideration of economic implications while implementing the ESA, as well as measures that make it simpler to remove species off the endangered list.
There’s Nothing New
In some ways, this isn’t surprising because the ESA has been attacked for decades by businesses such as building, development, logging, water management, fossil fuel extraction, and others who claim it stifles economic progress. However, there were around 150 attempts to undermine the ESA between 2016 and 2018, and from July 8 to 22, 2018, Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration submitted 24 such legislation and budget bill amendments.
The Amount Of Species Going Extinct Keep Increasing
Ninety-nine percent of all species have gone extinct during the span of five major extinctions, which were mostly caused by natural factors such as volcanic eruptions and asteroid strikes in the past. Because of human activities, the pace of extinction is now 1,000 to 10,000 times quicker. Loss and deterioration of habitat (mostly deforestation), overexploitation (hunting, overfishing), invasive species, climate change, and nitrogen pollution are the primary current causes of extinction.
Other risks to species include the ocean’s ubiquitous plastic pollution—recent research indicated that 100% of sea turtles have trash or microplastic in their systems.
How Many Species Are Currently Endangered?
Over 26,500 species are on the Red List of Threatened Species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 40 percent of amphibians, 34 percent of conifers, 33 percent of reef-building corals, 25% of mammals, and 14% of birds fall into this category. Over 1,600 species are vulnerable or endangered in the United States.
The California condor, giraffe, Hellbender salamander, Humboldt marten, leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles, red wolf, rusty patched bumble bee, and red wolf are among 10 species threatened by the Trump administration’s policies, according to a 2018 analysis by the Endangered Species Coalition.
The Biological Chain Of Life
While the loss of one salamander or rat species may appear little, it is significant because all species are interconnected in a web of life. Each species serves a crucial function in a healthy and biodiverse ecosystem, and it relies on the services given by other species to live. Ecosystems that are healthy are more productive and resistant to change.
“Because all species are intertwined in the web of life, our article reveals that even the most tolerant species eventually succumb to extinction when the less-tolerant species on which they depend perish,” one of the study’s authors stated.
What Happens When A Species Goes Extinct?
The following are just some of the consequences our planet may experience due to the continuous effect of extinction:
- If a species serves a particular purpose in its ecosystem, its extinction can have cascading repercussions across the food chain (a “trophic cascade”), affecting other species as well as the ecosystem as a whole. They’re going to vanish.”
- According to one research, humans’ most catastrophic influence on nature may be the extinction of huge predators at the top of the food chain, known as “apex species.” Because they live longer, reproduce more slowly, have smaller numbers, and require more food and habitat, these huge species are more susceptible. According to scientists, their extinction has contributed to pandemics, wildfires, the extinction of valuable species and the increase of invasive species, the degradation of ecosystem services, and reduced carbon sequestration.
- Insects and other animals pollinate 75% of the world’s food crops, while mammals pollinate virtually all blooming plants in the tropical rainforest. Pollinator extinction might lead to a reduction in seed and fruit production, resulting in the demise of many vital plants.
- Continued extinction of species, according to a United Nations report, may cost the world 18 percent of global economic output by 2050. Species extinction has already had an economic influence on a number of businesses. Bee population reduction has harmed many in the $50 billion global honey sector. Since the 15th century, Atlantic cod in the waters around Newfoundland has been the backbone of the local economy – until overfishing wrecked local fishermen’s livelihoods.
How Can We Prevent A Species From Going Extinct?
Extinction is difficult to detect. Because the “baseline” changes with each generation, we may not understand how much of the natural environment has been destroyed. What we consider natural today would have been considered badly damaged by previous generations, and what we consider natural today would be considered natural by our descendants.
The most essential thing, according to Wooddell, is to exert pressure on Congress and elected officials to develop land management, pollution, and other sustainable laws that conserve biodiversity and the environment. Because top-down policies are unlikely to be implemented in the present political context, she proposes rallying grassroots community organizations to develop “bottom-up” policies.