The Extinction Epidemic

A+deer+in+India%2C+surrounded+by+litter%2C+as+it+scavenges+for+food.+
Back to Article
Back to Article

The Extinction Epidemic

A deer in India, surrounded by litter, as it scavenges for food.

A deer in India, surrounded by litter, as it scavenges for food.

A deer in India, surrounded by litter, as it scavenges for food.

A deer in India, surrounded by litter, as it scavenges for food.

Peyton Long, Reporter

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The extinction of plants and animals is a major problem that affects every living organism on Earth. Between 200 to 2,000 extinctions occur every year and that number continues to grow. World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) experts say the rapid extinction of animals is 1,000 to 10,000 times the natural extinction rate and it is due to the human race.

This year, the Blue Spix Macaw went completely extinct in the wild. While there are still birds of this species in captivity, it is estimated they will never make a full recovery. The Northern White Rhinoceros is now also extinct in the wild, as the last male of the species died in captivity during 2018.

Deforestation is a major contributor to animal downfall. It is estimated by the WWF that forests cover 31 percent of the planet. According to the WWF, the Earth is losing 18.7 million acres of forests annually, equivalent to 27 soccer fields every minute. WWF researchers say 17 percent of the Amazon Rainforest has been lost in the last 50 years. It is estimated that 15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions are the result of deforestation. Every part of the forest cut down for housing, farmland or to make consumer goods, kills and displaces many animals.

Thousands of endangered animals are killed yearly by poachers. This hits elephants and rhinos extremely hard; they are often killed for their horns and tusks. Elephant tusks are used for ivory and Rhino horns are believed by some cultures to have medical benefits. Despite most governments – including the US –  cracking down on the illegal ivory and horn trade, this does not stop them from being distributed on the black market.

Pollution and carbon emissions are the biggest human contribution to extinction; it affects every type of animal and it is very deadly. Every piece of trash not thrown away can kill an animal, the most common cause of death being suffocation. Litter ruins most underwater ecosystems, mainly coral reefs. It is estimated by the WWF that over half of the reefs have disappeared in the last 30 years.

Carbon emissions is a main cause of global warming, which will displace hundreds of millions of animals and will drastically increase extinction rates. Recently, the US opted out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which forces manufacturers to limit carbon emissions.  

Despite these problems there are ways to help. The easiest way is to reduce, reuse and recycle. Marion has a recycling program that any citizen can take part in, they will even pick up bags of recyclables just like they do with trash. Reuse things like bottles and plastic bags instead of just throwing them away. If there is trash on the ground pick it up and either recycle it or throw it away.

There are also many charities to help, either major ones that cover all endangered animals like WWF or smaller ones that just cover one species like Save The Rhino. The worst thing that one can do is turn a blind eye to the problem.