Humanity has come to influence so much the changes on Earth that some scientists say we have entered a new era — Anthropocene — and we are moving at breakneck speed toward the sixth mass extinction.
The term Anthropocene seems to have been used since the 1960s by the Soviet Union’s scientists, but was popularized in 2000 by the atmospheric chemist and Nobel laureate Paul Jozef Crutzen, term meant to describe a new era caused by the effects of human activities on the environment.
The first changes that characterize the Anthropocene is believed to have roots during the Industrial Revolution, the late 18th century, but since the second half of the twentieth century changes are happening at an accelerated rate.
From air pollution to soil or water pollution, the effects of human activities are felt every day. For decades in the rock layers we have found thousands of years old fossils, but now we can also find layers of waste from human activities: plastic, building materials, glass etc. This waste is called technofossil and its impact on environment is very high.
Some scientists say that the human impact on environment is comparable to the 5 catastrophic events of the past 600 million years (Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, Triassic-Jurassic extinction event, Permian-Triassic extinction event, Late Devonian extinction, Ordovician-Silurian extinction events) during which up to 95% of the species on the planet disappeared.
Among the species in danger of extinction it’s a large number of plants and animals including invertebrates, freshwater fishes, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. In the last 500 years there have been about 875 documented extinctions, but it’s believed that the vast majority of the extinctions is not documented.
Currently, while some experts estimate an extinction rate of about 8700 species per year (or 24 species per day), other predictions are more gloomy: 150 species per day.
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