Solar power valley China Peng Zhaozhi/ZumaPress

Cómo los humanos causan extinciones masivas

STANFORD – No cabe duda de que en la Tierra está ocurriendo la sexta extinción masiva de su historia –la primera desde el cataclismo que exterminó a los dinosaurios hace sesenta y cinco millones de años. Según los resultados de una investigación reciente, la extinción de las especies se produce entre diez y hasta miles de veces más rápido que la ocurrida durante periodos estables de la historia del planeta, y las poblaciones de las especies están desapareciendo incluso más rápido, a un factor de cientos a miles de veces más rápido. De acuerdo con un estudio, la Tierra ha perdido la mitad de su fauna silvestre en los últimos cuarenta años. Tampoco queda duda de cuál es la causa: nosotros.

Estamos participando en un proceso de eliminación de nuestros únicos compañeros conocidos en el universo, muchos de ellos hermosos y todos complejos e interesantes. Esto es una tragedia, también para aquellos que no les interesa la pérdida de vida silvestre. Las especies que están desapareciendo tan rápidamente ofrecen a los seres humanos servicios indispensables de los ecosistemas: regulación climática, conservación de la fertilidad del suelo, polinización de cultivos y protección de las plagas, filtración de agua dulce y oferta alimentaria.

La causa de esta gran velocidad en la pérdida de la biodiversidad del planeta es clara: una rápida expansión de las actividades humanas, impulsada por una sobrepoblación desenfrenada y consumo  per cápita creciente. Estamos destruyendo hábitats para crear plantaciones, pastizales, caminos y ciudades. Nuestra contaminación está perturbando el clima e intoxicando los suelos, el agua y el aire. Transportamos organismos invasivos por todo el mundo y sobreexplotamos plantas o animales que tienen un valor comercial o nutricional.

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