How does agriculture accelerate species extinction?

This week on 60 Minutes, correspondent Scott Bailey Experiences of one thing scientists name the sixth mass extinction. There have been 5 main die-offs within the historical past of our planet, when not less than 75 p.c of recognized species disappeared. The final mass extinction occurred 66 million years in the past, when an asteroid worn out the dinosaurs. Scientists now consider that people are hastening one other mass extermination of vegetation and animals. Among the many causes this time are air pollution, habitat destruction, over-exploitation of assets, and local weather change.

Mexican ecologist Gerardo Ceballos is among the many world’s main scientists on extinction. It confirmed us how harmful the state of affairs has been over the previous century.

Gerardo Ceballos: There are solely 2 p.c of the massive fish that have been within the oceans 50 years in the past. Solely 2 p.c survive. We have misplaced about 70 p.c of all of the animals that have been on the planet. All the large animals, all of the mammals, the birds, 70 p.c are gone since 1918. In Southeast Asia, you understand, we have misplaced 90 p.c of the tropical forests in Southeast Asia since 2000. So, our influence is so huge that we turn into this meteor that impacts the planet. The distinction with earlier mass extinctions is that they took tens of hundreds, a whole bunch of hundreds, even hundreds of thousands of years for them to occur. On this explicit case, it occurs in a short time, now in solely two or three many years – even species that weren’t straight affected by the extinction disaster wouldn’t have had sufficient time to evolve and survive the influence that we do.

Each two years, the World Wildlife Fund points a doc known asResiding Planet Report. It’s a biennial report card detailing the well being of the planet’s wildlife, exhibiting the common decline in species numbers since they have been first noticed in 1970.

Rebecca Shaw: We noticed a extremely huge change between the 2018 report and the 2020 report that shocked us. It has gone from 64 p.c to 68 p.c. Do not count on to see that a lot decline in a few years.

Rebecca Shaw is Chief Scientist and Senior Vice President on the World Wildlife Fund.

Rebecca Shaw: The factor that’s undermining species populations globally, the primary factor is habitat destruction. Habitat destruction often comes from the growth of farmland. So, slicing down tropical rainforests to develop soybeans, to develop corn, or to graze cows. We not have the companies that these rainforests present us, like stabilizing the planet’s local weather, like stabilizing climate patterns, like producing meals and recent water. We use 70 p.c of the planet’s recent water to irrigate our crops.

Scott Pelley: Did you simply say that 70 p.c of the recent water on the planet is used for irrigation?

Rebecca Shaw: Yeah, it is modified for meals manufacturing and irrigation.

Scott Pelley: Is there something that may be carried out to reverse this course of? And if that’s the case, what’s it?

Rebecca Shaw: One of the vital necessary issues we will do going ahead is get lots higher at what we produce, the place we produce it, and the way we produce it. Be sure we eat meals which might be planet and species pleasant and that we do not waste meals. Presently, 40 p.c of all meals produced is wasted. And if that’s the case, which means it’s good to draw 40 p.c extra on nature to provide that meals. Thus, they cease losing meals.

The scientists who spoke on 60 Minutes stated that with out altering our conduct, this extinction disaster will turn into irreversible.

Rebecca Shaw: Not one of the dinosaurs turned extinct over the past mass extinction. People is not going to survive this mass extinction.

Scott Pelley: Why not?

Rebecca Shaw: As a result of we want plenty of nature, pure assets, stability from nature, stability from local weather so as to thrive. And if we do not succeed, if we do not have meals to eat, recent water, clear air, we will not thrive, we will not survive. I actually really feel that we have now the chance and alternative to work collectively to cease local weather change, to cease the decline of biodiversity. And we do it for our personal good. And I believe we’ll discover out. We simply have to search out out before we in all probability will.

Scott Pelley: Does this need to occur on this era?

Rebecca Shaw: It’s. Sure it’s.

The video above was produced by Brit McCandless Farmer and Will Croxton. Edited by Will Croxton.

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