Solar power valley China Peng Zhaozhi/ZumaPress

Wie der Mensch Massenaussterben verursacht

STANFORD – Es besteht kein Zweifel, dass die Erde derzeit das sechste Massenaussterben in ihrer Geschichte erlebt – das erste seit der Katastrophe, die vor rund 65 Millionen Jahren die Dinosaurier ausgelöscht hat. Einer aktuellen Studie zufolge sterben Arten zwischen zehn und mehreren Tausend Mal schneller aus als während stabiler Phasen in der Geschichte des Planeten, und Populationen innerhalb von Arten verschwinden noch hunderte oder tausende Mal schneller. Einer Schätzung zufolge hat die Erde in den vergangenen 40 Jahren die Hälfte ihrer Tierwelt verloren. Es besteht ebenfalls kein Zweifel über die Ursache: Wir sind es.

Wir sind dabei, unsere einzigen bekannten Gefährten im Universum auszurotten. Viele von ihnen sind wunderschön, und alle sind komplex und interessant. Es ist eine Tragödie, auch für jene von uns, denen der Verlust der Artenvielfalt unwichtig erscheinen mag. Die Arten, die gerade so schnell verschwinden, erweisen dem Ökosystem Erde und somit uns Menschen einen unverzichtbaren Dienst: sie regulieren das Klima, erhalten die Bodenfruchtbarkeit, bestäuben Feldfrüchte und schützen sie vor Schädlingen, filtern Frischwasser und versorgen uns mit Nahrungsmitteln.

Der Grund für diese enorme Beschleunigung des Verlustes an Biodiversität des Planeten liegt auf der Hand: die rasante Ausweitung menschlicher Aktivität unter dem Druck der steigenden Überbevölkerung und des zunehmenden Pro-Kopf-Verbrauchs. Wir zerstören Lebensräume, um Platz für landwirtschaftliche Betriebe, Weideland, Straßen und Städte zu schaffen. Unsere Umweltverschmutzung verursacht Störungen des Klimasystems und vergiftet den Boden, das Wasser und die Luft. Wir schleppen rund um den Globus invasive Organismen ein und betreiben Raubbau an kommerziell oder ernährungsphysiologisch wertvollen Pflanzen und Tieren.

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