Solar power valley China Peng Zhaozhi/ZumaPress

Les humains, responsables d’une extinction massive d’espèces

STANFORD – Il ne fait aucun doute que la Terre subit la sixième extinction de masse depuis sa création – la première depuis le cataclysme à l’origine de la disparition des dinosaures il y a 65 millions d’années environ. Selon une étude récente, les espèces s’éteignent entre dix et plusieurs milliers de fois plus vite que durant les périodes stables de la planète, et au sein de ces espèces, les populations disparaissent des centaines ou des milliers de fois plus rapidement encore. Selon une estimation, la Terre a perdu la moitié de sa faune et flore au cours des 40 dernières années. Aucun doute non plus quant aux causes de cette extinction massive : nous en sommes responsables.

Nous somme en train de tuer nos seuls compagnons connus dans l’univers, souvent magnifiques, et toujours complexes et intéressants. C’est une tragédie, même pour ceux qui ne se soucient pas de la protection de l’environnement. Ces espèces qui disparaissent aussi rapidement fournissent des services écosystémiques vitaux pour les êtres humains : la régulation du climat, la maintien de la fertilité des sols, la pollinisation des cultures et une protection contre les nuisibles, une filtration de l’eau douce et l’approvisionnement en nourriture.

La raison de cette soudaine accélération de la perte de la biodiversité est claire : l’expansion rapide des activités humaines, qui s’explique par une surpopulation croissante et une augmentation de la consommation par habitant. Nous détruisons les habitats naturels pour établir des fermes, des pâturages, des routes et des villes. La pollution perturbe le climat et empoisonne les sols, les eaux et l’air. Nous propageons des organismes invasifs à travers le globe et exploitons à l’excès des plantes et des animaux présentant une valeur commerciale ou nutritionnelle.

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