What is animal extinction and how bad is it?
Extinction is the disappearance or dying out of a species. The moment of extinction is when the last individual of a certain species dies. There are an estimated 16,928 species worldwide that are threatened with extinction. A total of 5,210 species are critically endangered and 860 species are currently extinct. Our planet is currently undergoing the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals due to human activities. The rate of this animal extinction is the most rapid since the loss of dinosaurs 65 million years ago. The previous mass extinctions were caused by geological events such as asteroid strikes, climate change, melting glaciers or volcanic eruptions. 99 percent of species on this planet are currently at risk for extinction due to harmful human activities.
Animals at risk of extinction
Amphibians, such as frogs, toads and salamanders, have the highest rate of endangerment with more than a third of their species at risk.
Bird populations are declining in habitats around the world. 12 percent of the 9,865 bird species are considered threatened due to habitat loss and other harmful factors.
21 percent of fish species in both freshwater and marine habitats are at risk because of water pollution, invasive species and other factors.
Invertebrates, such as butterflies, mollusks, earthworms and corals, make up 97 percent of animal species on this planet. 30 percent of the 1.3 million invertebrate species are facing extinction.
Half of the world’s 5,491 mammals are declining due to harmful human activities. Almost 50 percent of primate species, which are the species closest related to humans, are at risk of extinction.
Reptiles are also at risk of extinction with 21 percent of reptile species considered endangered or vulnerable.
Plants are also affected by extinction because they can not move if their habitat is destroyed which makes plants more vulnerable. 68 percent of plant species that have been evaluated are threatened with extinction.
Causes of animal extinction
Agriculture, specifically livestock farming, is a major threat to endangered animals and their habitats. Livestock farming is a growing industry due to the growing population on this planet. Livestock destroys and degrades land by overgrazing, compaction and erosion. Agriculture destroys land with animal waste, antibiotics, hormones, fertilizers and pesticides. Livestock business does not only pollute the land but also pollutes the air. Livestock farming accounts for 9 percent of carbon dioxide, 65 percent of nitrous oxide, and 37 percent of methane emissions that contribute to global warming.
Agriculture is the biggest driver of deforestation which is a major cause of habitat loss. Livestock pastures for farming take up 30 percent of earth’s land surface. For example, 70 percent of the amazon rainforest is grazing land for livestock rather than natural habitats for wildlife. Logging operations which cut down many trees every year for wood and paper products also drives deforestation. Tropical rainforests are where deforestation is most prevalent and also where over half of plant and animal species live. 7.3 billion hectares of forest, which are equal to 100 acres each, are lost each year due to deforestation. 137 species of animals become extinct each day due to deforestation which adds up to 50,000 species becoming extinct every year.
The largest causes of pollution in the United States are the burning of fossil fuels and the emissions coming from automobiles. Burning fossil fuels for electricity, such as coal, generates about 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year in the United States. Emissions from transportation vehicles is the second largest source of pollution in this country, producing about 1.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year. Human activity all over the world currently produces about 37 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year. These pollutants are causing drastic change of temperature around the world known as global warming. The rapid change to the land and sea that animals inhabit are causing many animals to go endangered and extinct. This is because they are not able to adapt quickly enough to their changing environment. Studies show that the most wildlife extinctions have occurred in the last 114 years which corresponds with the rise in pollution and global temperature. Global warming has also caused a 59 percent increase in wildfires which is a cause of habitat loss for many animals.
Poaching which is the illegal hunting, killing and capturing of wild animals is also a leading cause of animal extinction. India, Kenya, Namibia and South Africa are the countries that have the largest poaching problems. In the year of 2013 India lost a total of 23 tigers, 38 elephants and 41 rhinos due to poaching. 59 rhinos and 309 elephants were poached in Kenya in the year of 2013. In the year 2014 the country Namibia lost 24 rhinos and 116 elephants due to poaching. South Africa has the highest rates of poaching with 1,004 rhinos killed in 2013 and 1,215 rhinos killed in 2014.
The LEAP party has made proposals to rid pollutants and put a stop to poaching. We proposed the use of renewable resources rather than the use of nonrenewable resources. Our party wants to push for the sale of only hybrid cars which have a low impact on the environment. Reducing our carbon footprint will help all wild animals and humans in the years to come. We want to strengthen laws and form stricter punishments for poachers and work towards protecting all wild animals. Since agriculture is such a large cause of habitat loss, pollution, and deforestation, the LEAP party would like to propose ways for greener and better methods of agriculture. Stopping the use of harmful antibiotics, hormones, fertilizers and pesticides on farms would lower pollutants. We want to stop logging companies from clear cutting which is cutting down most or all trees in one area. We aim to replace wood and paper products with recycled items to minimize the amount of trees being cut down each year. Also, replanting most of the trees that are cut down would stop many habitats from getting destroyed. We also aim to defend and strengthen the Endangered Species Act which provides a legal safety net to prevent plant and animal species from becoming extinct.