Endangered Species: Should We Be More Concerned With the Current Rate of Extinction?

Topics: Global warming, Rainforest, Plant Pages: 7 (2107 words) Published: February 13, 2014
Should We Be More Concerned With The Current Rate of Extinction?

Preserving endangered species isn’t an unfamiliar concept – everyone has seen the tiger commercials looking for donations, and most people are familiar with the “Save the Whales!” ballyhoo, but the question is: is it as big of a concern as people make it out to be? Some people think no, it’s not because extinction is a natural process that has been occurring since life existed on Earth and that the issue is being exaggerated. However, some people believe it to be one of the major global concerns that we are being faced with today. We rely on plants and animals to clean our air and regulate weather, as well as help to control pests and diseases that infest our crops. Because of our dependency on Earth’s species, people are concerned about the high fluctuation involving the extinction of species and the affects that it will have on in the future.

The extinction of animals occurs from change in the environment. All species are bound to go extinct eventually; however, the rate of extinction has risen drastically past natural tendencies over the years. “Scientists from around the world published the 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, estimated that the current annual rate of species extinction is a at least 100 to 1,000 times the background rate of about 0.0001% which existed before modern humans appeared…” (Hartley) The background rate refers to the standard rate of extinction before human involvement. So the question is: why are we seeing such a high fluctuation is animal

extinctions and what affects will it have on us in the future? Also, are we to blame? And what are we doing to save the species?

Global warming has recently become a significantly universal concern for most people in the world. However, we aren’t the only ones suffering from the climate change. The increase in temperature around the world is disrupting habitats and killing off plants and animals unable to adapt to the new weather conditions. Take for example, the melting ice caps that are destroying the Arctic and jeopardizing the existence of so many species. For most people, an image of a polar bear stuck on an ice block in the middle of the ocean probably comes to mind but there are many more species that are being affected by the melting caps. Due to the melting ice, there has been a vast reduction in ice algae which has led to the decline in the krill population that thrives off it. This is a problem because krill are an essential food source for a variety of marine species. Another type of algae that krill rely heavily on for sustenance is phytoplankton, but their relationship is in risk of being severely disrupted because of the increase in UV radiation over the years. It is getting in the way of the phytoplankton’s ability to complete photosynthesis which, when done, has a huge impact on our carbon dioxide levels. When photosynthesis is occurring within the phytoplankton, carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is absorbed into the cells and taken out of the environment, fixing more than 100 million tons of inorganic carbon in a single day. (Observatory)

In relation to the impact global warming is having on the existence of species, a study was done at the University of East Anglia where researches looked at 50,000 different species and how current warming trends are likely to change their habitat. They predicted that “two- thirds of all plant and animal life are expected to decline dramatically, if not disappear, if the planet continues on its current warming trend” (Bryne). In the study they found that because of

new climate changes around the world, the Earth’s landscape is changing and species are losing the vast habitual range they once had, putting Earth’s biodiversity at risk. The scientists predicted that, “Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, Amazonia, and Australia stand to lose the most in terms of both plants and animals, while North Africa, central...

Cited: Geographic, National. Modern-day Plague. 2013.
Pimm, Stuart L. "Biodiversity: Extinction by Numbers." Nature: International Weekly Journal of
Science (2004): 843-845.
Science, Truth in. The Peppered Moth. 2005-2013. Taylor, Lisa. Rainforest facts. 21 December 2012.
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