What are the Causes of Extinction of Plants and Animals?

“When they are gone, when every last life has been stolen, how will you remember them?”

– Claire Deaton

Earth is home to lots of wonderful plants and animals, but sadly, some species that once called our planet home no longer exist and we are left wondering what caused the extinction of these plants and animals.

According to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), more than 1 million species of plants and animals are facing extinction – some with a span of as short as 10 years, and at this rate, their number will increase if we don’t do something about it.

Animals and plants become extinct for a number of reasons. So what are the main causes of extinction of plants and animals?

Human Activities
1. Agriculture – Because of the drive for more food production, there has been a significant impact on approximately 75% of the Earth’s land and 66% of the oceans. Moreover, 33% of land and 75% or fresh water are currently being occupied by crop and livestock. Because of this, some species are being forced out of their natural habitat, which significantly affects their lives and will lead to their extinction. On another note, agricultural activities, specifically the use of fertilizers, are some of the major contributors to human emissions of greenhouse gases. And as the world’s population continues to grow, these agricultural threats are also expected to increase.
2. Logging, Hunting and Fishing – These activities exploit Mother Nature. Not only are specific species being harvested uncontrollably, but they are also being chased away from their homes.

Climate Change
The IBPES report also showed the link between climate change and extinction. An increase of 2°C above pre-industrial levels threatens an estimated 5% of all species into extinction. And this change in the climate is expected to be reached in the next few decades, unless of course measures are applied to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And worse, when the average global rise in temperature increases to more than 4.3°C, around 16% of the Earth’s species could be lost.

If people are being affected by pollution, so are Mother Nature’s creatures. Indirect pollution threatens the habitat of animals. And direct pollution in the form of synthetic animals and oil have significantly affected both the species and their homes.

Spread of Invasive Species
The IBPES has revealed that the number of native plants, animals and insects have decreased by at least 20% since 1900 because of invasive species. Whether this invasion is because of human introducing such species to major ecosystems, we can’t really tell. But when this continues, all that will be left are those who dominate and diversity will suffer.

There may be some disparity between the report of the IBPES and other analysis reports, but one thing is clear. Extinction is real. And its effects will soon be felt by everyone when no effort to stop it is done.

The extinction of many plants and animals is a warning sign from our planet. Its message is to stop exploiting the Earth, because in our quest to be more comfortable in life, there are other lives being destroyed.

There is so much we can do to protect these animals and species from extinction, but we must make these changes now. And our children can be a part of it, because in our simplest way, each of us can contribute to prevent this global crisis.

So what can kids do to help save endangered species?

Be Aware and Spread Awareness
Visiting wildlife sanctuaries and nature reserves is a great way for kids to learn about endangered plants and animals and how they can protect them. Then they can simply talk about what they learned to family and friends in order to spread awareness. They can also encourage others to do the same and visit these places.

Start Planting
If you have a garden, then you can let your kids join you in planting and taking care of the plants. This allows them to be hands on in the campaign for saving the Earth and teaches them responsibility, plus it lets you spend quality time with your kids. But make sure you stay away from pesticides. If you don’t have a garden, maybe it is time to start one. But if a garden is not possible, don’t worry. You and your kids can join tree planting activities in your community.

Teach your children about recycling, and try to stop using disposable or single-use items. These items can end up in some species’ habitat and kill them. Using sustainable products and practicing recycling has a huge impact on the environment and can definitely help our planet from the threat of extinction.

Extinction is a real issue so let us all make a difference even in our own little way. For more on helping endangered species, visit: http://www.endangered.org

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