Crazy Facts About The Rapid Species Decline We Are Seeing Today

May 04, 2019 3 min read

1 Comment

Crazy Facts About The Rapid Species Decline We Are Seeing Today

What’s a worse problem than climate change? Even though this probably sounds like the start to a bad joke, it’s a serious question with a terrifying answer: mass extinction. Today, we are experiencing the sixth mass extinction with losses of 1,000 to 10,000 times the normal rate of decline. This rapid loss of species derives from one main source: humans.

Our manipulation of the land for agriculture and development, globalization that brings species to unfamiliar ecosystems, and greenhouse gas emissions that lead to rising global temperatures have all pose serious risks to the other species that inhabit the planet. And yes, it keeps scientists awake at night, tossing and turning--even more than climate change.

These mind-blowing facts show the immensity of the problem and the deeply troubling truth about the state of our planet.    

 Wildlife has more than halved

Overall wildlife populations have declined by 60% since 1970. That’s more than half of all of the world’s vertebrates lost since Earth Day was first celebrated. Some species are hit harder than others, too. Freshwater species declined by 86% in that time frame.

We’re Outpacing Evolution

At the normal rate of evolutionary replacement, it would take 3 million to 7 million years to replace the species that have been lost during the sixth mass extinction.


Amphibians: Canaries in the Coal Mine

Sleek and moist, our friends of the swamp are most sensitive to the environmental changes that have thrown their ecosystems into turmoil. Roughly 40% of toads, frogs and salamanders are at risk of extinction. The trouble for humans is that amphibians reflect the overall biological health of an ecosystem and their decline might signal a much greater catastrophe on the way.

Apart from climate change and habitat loss, just one amphibian-killing fungus has caused more total loss of life than any other documented disease: chytridiomycosis. It attacks the amphibians’ skin and feeds off of the species and it has impacted at least 501 different species, causing mass die-offs.

Insects: Triggering a Domino Effect

Forty percent of all Insect species are in decline. This puts our food and numerous other species at risk, because insects form the foundation of the food web and they pollinate the flowers of ⅓ of our agricultural crops. The insects at most risk include moths and butterflies, bees, and beetles that help decompose biowaste.


Coral Reef Bleaching

New coral growth has dropped by 89% since the mass bleaching events of 2016 and 2017. The coral species of the Great Barrier Reef cannot breed due to the suffering state of the bleached corals. The problem with loss of coral reef is that this species provides a home to numerous other species of tropical fish. Scientists blame the bleaching events on rising sea temperatures and suggest that climate change must be addressed to see improvement.

Overfishing and Bycatch Endangers Marine LIfe

One of the biggest threats to marine species is bycatch. This is the accidental entanglement in fishing gear. Large aquatic mammals and fish are victims of bycatch 65% to 75% of the time. Scientists say both species fished commercially and endangered species getting caught by bycatch would benefit from reduced fishing to replenish species.

Threats to Large Animals and their Mythological Power

All of the different means of animal slaughter including poaching, trapping, and hunting have made large animals face startling declines of 70% since 1970. Direct human killing depletes species due to demand for their prized hides, horns, tusks, or meat. Not only do they help keep ecosystems in balance, elephants, tigers and bears play important roles in our imaginations through mythology and folklore.    

Species decline puts our food at risk

Because of the rapid species decline, our agricultural crops are now at risk. The combined loss of genetic diversity, pollinators, crop and soil resilience has farmers and global policymakers itching with discomfort. This paired with population rise means that we could soon face serious global food insecurity.  
As you can see humans and the world’s rich biodiversity alike are at risk from the rapid species decline underway. We need to take this issue seriously by revising our untenable relationship to animals and ecosystems.

1 Response

Keli Bennett
Keli Bennett

June 30, 2020

Yes! PLEASE continue to share this info!
Hopefully, if enough people know, something might change.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

You may also like...
Liquid error: Could not find asset snippets/cf-implementations.liquid