“Call of Life: Facing the Mass Extinction” is a documentary that featured and investigated about the growing threat to Earth’s life systems due to loss of biodiversity. This video is a warning: mass extinction is happening on this Earth and human behaviors are only accelerating this process. If this current trend continues, scientists predict that within a few decades at least half of all plant and animal species on Earth will disappear forever. Through interviews with various experts in different fields, this film not only explores the causes and effects of the mass extinction but also suggests solutions and responses to these problems.
Throughout history, species evolve and extinct naturally. Before human interruption, the global trend used to be more evolution and emergent species than extinct species, creating greater complexity and diversity. Now, however, mankind had changed the old trend that lasted millions of years, making the rate of extinction today vastly greater than the rate of new species appearing, thus making Earth less diverse and less complex every day.
Scientists used to blame extinction on natural disasters: asteroid impact or major earthquake or unusual volcanic activities. But today, a new theory proposed that mankind is the major cause of mass extinction. At least half of all plant and animal species are likely to disappear in the wild within the next 30-50 years, and scientists hypothesized that by 2050, 1 million species could be doomed by global warming or climate change. These extinct species has a more severe impact than just the sadness that they are gone forever.
It is the biodiversity that sustains the current human population. Without the other species, human will unavoidably extinct as well. Thus, the human population need to make this issue as their top priority due to the interdependence on other species for their survival.
Some causes that had speed up the mass extinction are habitat loss, pollution, climate change, over-exploitation, and overpopulation. Habitat loss could be due to deforestation and literal destruction of the habitat or it could be because of an introduced, invasive species that took over the habitat of the original species; either way, habitat loss is a major catalyst of mass extinction as it accounts for approximately 80% of the decline in biodiversity. Then comes pollution. Every year 14 billion pounds of garbage and other waste are deposited into the oceans of the world. This resulted in a floating pile of plastic trash the size of Texas in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. In addition, nutrient runoff is also a serious issue. Due to the growing population, humans need more fertilizer to grow food more efficiently. But then the excess Nitrogen in the fertilizers runoff during flooding or heavy rains into rivers and ocean and then became dangerous pollutants to marine life. Runoff from agricultural fields into streams boosts algal population and creates dead zones, where organisms cannot live due to oxygen depletion in the water. The climate change also contributes to habitat destruction and mass extinction. As the Earth warms due to increasing CO2 and the thinning of the ozone layer, more species and plants are forced to migrate to new regions and readapt in order to survival. Those that could not catch up with the shifting will cease to exist. Even if species managed to survive all the previous threatening
factors, they still need to face their ultimate predator―human―for hunting and overexploitation. For animals, it is overconsumption and for plants, it is over-harvesting. Humans are currently using about 50% of all the fresh water available on the planet each year, harvesting 50% of all the annual production from photosynthesis, and using half of all the new plant produced on the Earth each year. This is an unsustainable rate of harvest―humans are consuming almost everything much more than they can, or the Earth can reproduce―breaking the homeostasis of this planet. This demand will likely to only increase as time goes on due to the overpopulation of human―the last major factor that drives mass extinction. The populations of all species are normally held in check by environmental limitations, the carrying capacity, but the human species has successfully circumvented those limitations through technology. Experts hypothesized that the optimal human population might be around three billion, but there are already nearly seven billion in the world today, more than double the predicted carrying capacity. As a result, the environment is deteriorating faster than ever.
In order to stop this trend, humans can either wipe out half of the current global population, or, using the most advanced technologies yet created to change, save, and stop the damages they are making towards Earth. And the first step to do so is education: raising public awareness and the sense of urgency. Humans should stop making themselves the separate, superior being. But instead, mankind should view the nature and everything living in it as one single family―the commonwealth of humanity and the future generations of all species. Humans are the reason that destruction on the planet sped up, therefore, people need to take responsibility to stop and save what they had destroyed. Everyone should conserve more, consume less and more wisely, and reduce his levels of waste by only buying goods and services from environmental-friendly businesses. People should always reuse and recycle as well. It’s not too late to stop the mass extinction if people began to rethink and rearrange their top priorities, face their responsibilities, and act.