“A clear and present danger to the planet,” by Navjot S. Sodhi. The Straits Times 8 Dec 2007.
Take heed: Man’s unsustainable exploitation of nature is precipitating a global extinction crisis
WE HUMANS have badly mauled the planet, but all is not lost – yet.
The majority of native habitats and species are in decline. Our actions are precipitating a global extinction crisis – the ‘sixth mass extinction’, comparable to past extinction events, such as the one that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
Unlike those in previous eras, which were attributed to natural catastrophes, such as volcanic eruptions, meteorite impact and global cooling, the current mass extinction will primarily be caused by us.
It is estimated that, currently, at least a few thousand species are being extinguished annually.
Why should humans worry about vanishing nature?
Being the dominant species and earth’s de facto custodians, humans have a moral obligation to ensure the long-term persistence of the mountains, rainforests, coral reefs, tigers, lions, rhinoceroses, elephants and numerous other creatures.
All these make this planet awesome. Our imagination will be bankrupt if wild nature is obliterated.
In addition to moral and aesthetic reasons, we have a selfish reason to preserve nature: It provides countless goods and services.