Remember Martha, the last of her kind, who died on this day a century ago. September 1st marks the extinction of the passenger pigeon, a species of North American bird with incomparable population numbers before they were completely eradicated by humans at the beginning of the 20th century.
3.7 billion to 0 in forty years.
And if you are wishing this wouldn’t happen again, hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself - remember that we are currently enduring the sixth major mass extinction event. While the other five in our earth’s history were naturally caused by everything from major meteoritic impacts, to extreme cooling or warming of the environment, and frequently changing atmosphere - the latest event, Number Six, is being completely attributed to humans. This is the Holocene Extinction.
In 2012 the IUCN reported that 30% of amphibians are at risk of extinction; as well as 21% of mammals, reptiles, and fish, 12% of birds, 68% of plants. We are looking to lose 30-50% of all species of life on our planet by the middle of the century.
This may feel like a hopeless inevitability, but the future is not set in stone. What we need for this cause is awareness. What we need is an investment of personal interest. We need voices, and students, and teachers. We need scientists, and law makers, and committees and new legislation for the environment. We need communicators. We need enthusiasts and what we really need is to ruin apathy. This is a shared planet, not just between ourselves but with every miraculous piece of life that has erupted on its unlikely surface in the last billion years. We owe it to that great improbability not to mess this up.