According to the world’s leading biologists, ecologists and economists in a recent meeting, one in five species on Earth now faces extinction, and that will rise to 50% by the end of the century unless urgent action is taken.
“The living fabric of the world is slipping through our fingers without our showing much sign of caring,” say the organisers of the Biological Extinction
conference held at the Vatican.
Massive species are in danger for extinction, experts say (c) Richelle Lavin
The experts argue in the recent meeting that little attention is paid to the eradication of most other life forms. They said these animals and plants provide us with our food and medicine. They purify our water and air, while also absorbing carbon emissions from our cars and factories, regenerating soil, and providing us with aesthetic inspiration.
“Rich western countries are now siphoning up the planet’s resources and destroying its ecosystems at an unprecedented rate,” said biologist Paul Ehrlich, of Stanford University in California.
“We want to build highways across the Serengeti to get more rare earth minerals for our cellphones. We grab all the fish from the sea, wreck the coral reefs and put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We have triggered a major extinction event. The question is: how do we stop it?”
But not everyone is happy about talk. Ehrlich's point of view, who believes that wider use of birth control is needed to halt the world’s spiralling population, has been denounced by many conservative Catholics. They have set up a petition calling for the pope to withdraw the invitation for him to speak at the meeting. “I believe they have about 11,000 signatures,” Ehrlich told the Observer.
Theory of extinction..not.
“If you value people, you want to have the maximum number you can support sustainably. You do not want almost 12 billion living unsustainably on Earth by the end of the century – with the result that civilisation will collapse and there are only a few hundred survivors,” Ehrlich remained uncompromising on population control.
Ehrlich argues, a world population of around a billion would have an overall pro-life effect. This could be supported for many millennia and sustain many more human lives in the long term compared with our current uncontrolled growth and prospect of sudden collapse.
In addition to that, UN statistics suggest that the global population will increase from the current 7.4 billion to 11.2 billion by 2100. Biologist Professor Peter Raven, of the Missouri Botanical Garden agreed with Ehrlich noting, most of these extra billions will appear in Africa, where the fertility rate is still twice that of the rest of the world.
Dasgupta said, the crucial point is to put the problem of biological extinctions in a social context. “That gives us a far better opportunity of working out what we need to in the near future. We have to act quickly, however.”
“We are wrecking our planet’s life support systems. We have the capacity to stop that. The trouble is that the danger does not seem obvious to most people, and that is something we must put right,” Ehrlich said.