The eradication of the world’s remaining wildlife seems to be continuing at pace, going by the most recent IUCN Endangered Species List — with numerous species that were until recently common now “disappearing faster than they can be counted.”
Of particular note are the many species of North American ash trees, which have been rapidly disappearing thanks in part to invasive beetles that are being given a helping hand by the warming climate.
Also noteworthy is the inclusion of 5 African antelope species on the list — species which had been assumed to be “safe” until recently.
“Our activities as humans are pushing species to the brink so fast that it’s impossible for conservationists to assess the declines in real time,” commented Inger Andersen, IUCN director general. “Even those species that we thought were abundant and safe — such as antelopes in Africa or ash trees in the US — now face an imminent threat of extinction.”
The Guardian provides more: “In July, scientists reported that a ‘biological annihilation’ of wildlife in recent decades means a sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history is under way and is more severe than previously feared. Half of all animals on the planet have been lost in the past 40 years, due to the destruction of wild areas, hunting and pollution as the human population grows.”
“… The six most common ash tree species in North America, representing nine billion trees, have entered the red list for the first time, with five assessed as being in the most at-risk category of critically endangered. They are being destroyed by the fast-spreading emerald ash borer beetle, which arrived in Michigan from Asia in the late 1990s in infested shipping pallets.
“The beetle has already killed tens of millions of trees and can wipe out a whole forest in six years. Climate change is also helping the alien invader enter new areas that were previously too cold. One of the affected species, the once-plentiful white ash is one of the most valuable timber trees in North America, used for making furniture, baseball bats and hockey sticks.
“… In Africa, five species of antelope previously thought to be safe are declining drastically, including the world’s largest antelope, the giant eland. It is now classed as vulnerable, with no more that 14,000 left.”
The antelope decline has largely been driven by ever expanding human populations in their home range — with land clearing for agriculture, road building, and bushmeat harvesting all playing a part.
As a bit of a reminder here, to really drive home the reality of what’s been happening over the last few hundred years, it wasn’t all that long ago that people were just another type of megafauna on the earth, making up just a tiny fraction of overall animal biomass, but that’s not the case anymore. People now represent an overwhelming proportion of the overall land-animal biomass of the world, and when livestock and pets are factored in as well, the “non-wild” world is practically non-existent nowadays.
To say that again — humans and their livestock now account for nearly all of the land-animal biomass of the world. Forms of life that have been going strong for tens of millions of years now (or longer), amongst others, have over just the past 400 or so years seen their numbers plummet to near the point of extinction (if they aren’t actually extinct already).
Much of the cause of this loss has been the habitat destruction that has accompanied agricultural and urban expansion. The reality is that even people who live on nothing but grain have hands that are quite bloody at this point. Everyone who takes part in the modern industrial world is partly responsible for what has happened, and is continuing to happen.
I bring this up regardless of environmental “beliefs” — if one is taking part in the modern world, then they have a hand in this. Regardless of political affiliation, if one goes on holidays every year to the other side of the world by jet, then they have a hand in this. If one lives on cheap food produced by the industrial agricultural sector, then one has a hand in this.
Most of all, if the unspoken fulcrum of the problems — human overpopulation — is never even permitted to be acknowledged, then nothing of actual effectiveness will ever be done to prevent the wholesale destruction of the world. If there’s anything that comes close to providing the sort of positive environmental impact that a negative human population trend would result in, then I’ve never heard of it.
Some of those reading this will probably choose to misinterpret this as me advocating for genocide, but no, I’m not — I’m simply advocating for people to stop having kids, or at the very least to stop having more than the replacement rate (2).