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How to stop species extinction and save biodiversity

Species extinction - definition, causes, consequences & solutions

What is actually meant by the term species extinction? Our everyday behavior and political and economic decisions have a massive impact on the animal and plant species that live on Earth just like us. Human activity is now threatening more species than ever before₁ and, with the extinction of species, has created one of the biggest environmental problems of our time provoked. Deforestation of the tropical rainforest alone is causing around 100 species to become extinct every day.₂

In this article, I would like to give you everything you need to know about definitions, statistics, causes, consequences and solutions in the fight against species extinction and for a great biodiversity.

Here is another short Table of contents about the article:

  1. Definition
  2. Statistics
  3. Threatened species
  4. History
  5. Causes
  6. Follow
  7. Solutions
  8. Closing words

What does species extinction mean?

Species extinction - definition and solutions

In the dictionary, species extinction is briefly described as the extinction of certain animal or plant species.₃ In the public debate, however, species extinction primarily refers to the loss of species due to man-made Environmental destruction and extinction.

In the same breath as species extinction, the term Biodiversity. It describes the biological diversity of habitats, genes and species. The greater the biodiversity or diversity of species, the more stable and healthy ecosystems are.₄

Species extinction statistics

Surveys, facts and figures compiled by experts are crucial for addressing the complex issue of species extinction. Here are some statistics that underpin the reasons for the environmental problem and the urgency of solutions.

  • Around eight million animal and plant species live on Earth, including 5.5 million insect species.₅
  • Around one million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction. This means that around one in eight animal and plant species is acutely threatened with extinction.₆
  • Around 500,000 species no longer have a vital habitat for long-term survival.₇
  • 33% of fish stocks in the world's oceans were overfished in 2015.₈
  • 85% of the wetlands that existed in 1700 no longer existed in 2000.₉
  • Around half of the Earth's vegetated land area is agricultural land.₁₀

Which animals and plants are threatened with extinction?

Here I would like to give you a few examples of species that may no longer exist in Germany or on our planet in the near future.

Endangered species in Germany

When people think of the "extinction" of certain animal species, they usually have polar bears or rhinos in mind. But species extinction is also happening right on our doorstep in Germany. The following animal and plant species are threatened with extinction or endangered.

Animal species:

  • Field hamster
  • Lapwing
  • Sea Eagle
  • Wolf
  • Lynx
  • Bees

Plant species:

  • Arnica
  • Corn cockle
  • Heart spoon
  • Bog violets

Endangered species worldwide

On an international level, endangered animal and plant species certainly come to mind even more easily due to the greater global media impact. Here are some more examples for you:

Animal species:

  • Mountain gorilla
  • Orang Utan
  • Panda
  • Rhino
  • Tiger
  • Polar bear
  • Sperm whale
  • Shark
  • Bees

Plant species:

  • Eagle wood
  • Pimpernel
  • Ardisia
  • St. John's wort

Of course, I can only name a few prominent examples of endangered species here. The WWF regularly updates the Red List of threatened animal and plant species (IUCN)which provides you with even more detailed information.

Species extinction in history

You will also find similar environmental changes in the eternal history of the earth. Here I would like to give you a brief overview of the great mass extinctions of the past:

  • 2.33 billion years ago: The first mass extinction, when the atmosphere was enriched with oxygen, killed off the previously anaerobic living world.₁₁
  • 444 million years ago: At the end of the Ordovician, it suddenly became very cold after previously high temperatures. The high concentration of carbon dioxide and today's continents enabled the glaciers to expand and remove water from the sea.₁₂
  • 372 - 359 million years ago: It is suspected that oxygen depletion in the oceans, rising sea levels and the subsequent drop in global temperatures are the cause.₁₃
  • 252 million years ago: This extinction wiped out 90% of all species that leave fossils. 77% of all land animal species also disappeared after this extinction.₁₄
  • 201 million years ago: At this time in Earth's history, species extinction affected 75% of all existing species. Reefs in particular lost around 95% of their biomass. Here, too, volcanism and low sea levels were the cause.₁₅
  • 66 million years ago: This date describes the extinction of the dinosaurs and the end of the Cretaceous period. It is estimated that the total loss of species during this time was around 57%. The main cause is said to have been the impact of an asteroid into the Yucatan Peninsula.₁₆

The extinction of species is therefore nothing new. Nevertheless, depending on the species and estimate, the extinction rate (or "background rate") is around 100 - 10,000 times the natural rate, which is around 1 - 3 extinct species per year.₁₇

Causes of species extinction

Species extinction and biodiversity decline - consequences

Even though there have already been several major species extinctions in history, there are clear natural reasons for the current rapid decline in biodiversity on Earth. Even if the research into the causes is much more complex, I would now like to name the main causes of species extinction:

Industrial agriculture with poisons

Monotonous, industrial agriculture in particular is one of the main reasons for species extinction. It poisons the fields - in Germany alone, 48,000 tons of agricultural poisons were sprayed in 2015.₁₈ Plants lose their habitat as the nitrogen content in the soil also decreases. Entire forests are being cleared to make room for industrial agriculture - the tropical rainforest is particularly affected. As a result, the habitat of many species is being lost, so species extinction is the logical consequence.

Large-scale industry & organic farmers in competition

The fact that companies in industrial agriculture are in direct market competition with organic farmers with organic farming methods means that there is often a lack of economic incentives for sustainable agriculture. Currently, only the price and the ideology of the free market count.

Preference for low-maintenance gardens & parks

Gardens and parks are very tidy these days - green spaces should be weed-free and easy to maintain. Many people prefer rock gardens with few plants and use insecticides to keep them tidy. If there is a lawn, it is mowed regularly. These modern habits do not provide a basis for biodiversity - and birds and other animals in the food chain disappear along with the insects.

Strain on the oceans

Under the Overfishing This is understood to mean the removal of more fish from the oceans than could grow back naturally. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization reported that around 52% of fish stocks in the sea have been fished so intensively that no further increase is possible.₁₉ Human-induced overfishing in turn deprives other marine animals of a food source, meaning that the populations of many other marine species are also reduced.

In addition, there was a Acidosis of the oceans due to increased CO2-emissions from humans. The increased acidity is particularly dangerous for shellfish and corals.₂₀

The Waste load in the sea is also extreme and endangers marine animal and plant species. According to Nabu, around 135,000 marine mammals and one million seabirds die every year as a result.

You can find out more about this in the article about the big Garbage vortex in the sea.

Change in natural land areas

The environmental problem of the Deforestation of the forests naturally poses a massive threat to biodiversity on our planet. Between 1990 and 2015, 239 million hectares of the world's natural forests were destroyed.₂₁ As already described in the statistics, 85% of all wetlands have also been destroyed since the year 1700. The habitat for animals and plants is disappearing - and one of the logical consequences is the extinction of species.

Illegal Predation & Poaching

For example, by cutting down forests, we are depriving animals and plants of their habitat. Through illegal poaching, hunting and animal smuggling, we are also threatening a particularly large number of animal species. Shark fins, for example, are considered a delicacy in China₂₂, which is why the animals are hunted, stripped of their fins and thrown back into the sea.

It is particularly alarming that many countries legalize poaching for wealthy interested parties.₂₃

Spatial boundaries through roads & urbanization

Due to global population growth (from 3.7 to 7.6 billion people since 1970₂₄), urban areas on Earth have increased by more than 100% since 1992.₂₅ Here, too, we are depriving animals and plants of their essential habitat.

In addition, we also ensure that the Environmental problem of air pollution This is why the basis of life for many species is dwindling. Roads also separate habitats from animal species, which are unable to reproduce at all or only at a much slower rate.₂₆

Behavior of politicians, entrepreneurs & consumers

The majority of Politicians and entrepreneurs strives for power & profit and thinks short term instead of long term. German Agriculture Minister Julia Glöckner openly confirms in a "promotional video" with the food company Nestlé that lobbying is a daily part of a politician's work.₂₇

Consumers want everything fast & cheap and buy short-lived instead of long-lived products. If you look around the supermarket, you see some Products with organic sealsbut the majority have no seal at all. Natural organic products should actually be the norm in supermarkets and products from genetically modified or Factory farming be provided with an appropriate seal.

In my opinion, this is the social basis that is responsible for the extinction of species. Nevertheless, the 2019 European elections also showed that a new awareness has emerged in our society that gives us hope for the future.

Consequences of species extinction

We now know the reasons for the current extinction of species - but what are the short and long-term consequences of the decline in biodiversity? In this paragraph, I would like to show you from both an ecological and an economic perspective how this environmental problem affects our coexistence on this planet.

Ecological consequences of species extinction

With every species that dies out, biodiversity dwindles and with it the basis of life for other creatures. In Germany, the effects of species extinction can be described using a simple ecological chain reaction that underlines how sensitive an ecosystem actually is.

  1. Due to the poisoning of the arable land, it contains a significantly lower number of insects.
  2. However, these are an important food source for the field hamster
  3. Which in turn is the one favorite meal of the owl
  4. As it has difficulty finding food, it leaves its habitat.

This brief example shows how dependent the existence of many species is on other species.

Economic consequences of species extinction

Economic reasons are often cited for deciding against measures to save biodiversity. In the long term, however, species extinction has a devastating impact on the economy. Here are some examples of the economic consequences:

  • Food sources are lost: Not only animal and plant species are affected by the dwindling food supply, but ultimately also we humans, who are at the bottom of the food chain.
  • Sources of medicines are being lost: We obtain our medicine from the plants of this earth. The decline in biodiversity therefore not only threatens the animals that feed on them, but also our own medical care.₂₈
  • Crop losses due to threats to crops: 210 to 515 billion euros)per year is the value of the global crop yield that is at risk due to the decline in pollinator populations.₂₉ In China, insect extinction has already reached such dramatic proportions that the flowers of the plants have to be pollinated by human hands.₃₀

This means that the extinction of species is already having extreme consequences for our economy, showing that a rethink is essential.

Solutions - What to do about species extinction?

Species extinction causes consequences and solutions

As we ourselves are responsible for the extinction of species, we can of course also counteract the environmental problem. But what does this look like in practice? What can I do in my everyday life to combat the extinction of species and ensure a wonderful diversity of species on our planet??

In the following, I would like to give you a little inspiration for a sustainable life in the interests of species protection and also show the extent to which politics and business must join us in our commitment.

What can each of us do?

Don't think that you can't influence biodiversity on earth in your everyday life. After all, human behavior is what created the problem in the first place. In the following way, you have the best chance of becoming part of the solution for saving thousands of animal and plant species:

Start or sign petitions

Through targeted signature campaigns in the social media, each individual can uncover and change grievances. Simply start a petition yourself in the fight for biodiversity or join some existing petitions. Here are two good examples at Open Petition and Change.org:

Set up garden meadow instead of rock garden

Promoting biodiversity in your own garden is not that difficult. It's even relatively easy, as you no longer have to mow your lawn. Just give nature a bit of free rein and turn your smooth lawn into a flower meadow of biodiversity. When the insects come back, you can also enjoy more birdsong again.

Tip: Create protective hedges and build a nesting aid for bees, such as an insect hotel made from old Euro pallets. You can find more information in the article about the Creation of a bee friendly garden.

Vegan or vegetarian diet

Probably the most effective everyday remedy against species extinction is the Starting a vegan diet without animal products. Just giving up meat can make a decisive difference. Did you know, for example, that it takes around 15,500 liters of water to produce 1 kg of beef? ₃₁ But it's not just the water consumption of livestock farming that is enormous - forests around the world are cut down for pastures and, above all, for arable land for animal feed (mostly soybean meal). Especially in the tropical belt.

In order to prevent the extinction of species and also the Stop climate changeso giving up meat and other products of animal origin helps. Take a look at our article on the Connection between nutrition and the environment an.

Buy organic food

Fortunately, our society is currently undergoing a fundamental change - we are consuming more consciously and focusing more on organic products. This automatically promotes nature conservation, as organic food generally comes from organic farming with many arable weed species and low fertilizer use.

Saving paper to save the forests

Of course, you can also save forests and biodiversity by showing greater appreciation for paper and the material it is made of. For example, save documents digitally instead of filing them in thousands of folders. And if there really is no way around the printer, then at least print on recycled paper and double-sided.

In the article about the Saving paper in everyday life you will receive many more tips. Also the paperless office may be of interest to you.

Don't spend money on circus animals or ivory souvenirs

For example, Sweden banned circus performances by elephants and sea lions in 2018. This is a valuable step towards protecting animal species. In your everyday life, you should avoid circus visits involving animals and, for example, not bring home any objects made of ivory or similar souvenirs.

Tip: More about sustainable souvenirs and what you should look out for when buying souvenirs can be found in the linked article.

Do not buy products with palm oil

Surely you know that for the production of Palm oil Rainforest cut down and destroyed. Instead, monotonous palm oil plantations are created that consist of only one plant and offer no basis for biodiversity. With the App CodeCheck you can identify products with questionable ingredients such as palm oil within seconds by scanning a barcode. Try it out.

Notice: Just like large plastic parts Microplastics in the sea a major threat to biodiversity. Fortunately, with the CodeCheck app, you can also detect whether there are any toxins in shower gel or other products. Products microplastics hidden.

Pick wild flowers, berries and herbs with care

Of course you can eat a few wild raspberries. But remember that wild plants such as berries or herbs also Food source of many animal species are and that such plants develop more quickly spreadif you just let them grow. Just be aware of this and don't pick all the berries and herbs you can find.

Observe FSC seal when buying wood products

With an estimated annual turnover of 30 - 100 billion euros, illegal logging is the world's second largest area of organized crime.₃₂ As a consumer, you should therefore always look out for the FSC seal, which certifies that garden furniture, tables and other wooden products are made of certified forest enterprises to originate.

Tip: You can get your Dining table also build yourself from old wooden planks. Look you with pleasure in the DIY furniture blog and let yourself be inspired.

Start & support campaigns for species protection

Of course, you can also lend a hand yourself. For example, you can help out on the beach in Germany or on a vacation trip abroad. Even a Beach CleanUp against plastic waste and for the protection of the oceans and to organize it in our worldwide Beach CleanUp group on Facebook share

To support campaigns in Germany, you can also simply go to the Dates database of the NABU look. There you can see the Events for example, filter by location, lecture, field trip, or nursing assignment.

What do politics and business need to do?

Even though we already have many starting points for saving species in our everyday lives, politics and business in particular are called upon to take action against species extinction. Here are some plans and ideas that need to be implemented.

  • Ban on palm oil as an ingredient in consumer goods
  • Promotion of a vegan diet
  • A strict ban on single-use plastic
  • Establishment of further nature reserves and areas where nature is left to its own devices
  • Provide greater subsidies for farmers
  • Renaturation of land₃₃₃
  • Ubiquitous access to education and intensive educational work around the World population growth to end acceleration
  • More wild growth in city parks
  • Strict measures against illegal deforestation

You always get the feeling that many politicians make decisions based on the length of their own term of office. To stop the extinction of species, but must be thought of in the long term. Politicians often use the argument that they want to protect the economy to justify deforestation or similar overexploitation of nature. This is short-term thinking - because since the economy is dependent on the laws of nature and not the other way around, we also preserve the economy in the long term by protecting species.

What about the future of biodiversity?

Species extinction causes consequences and solutions

We must all understand that everything on this planet is subject to the laws of nature and that we cannot simply shape the world as we please. Any private or political decision can lead to the extinction of other animal or plant species, accompanied by the Climate change extinction. But it can also ensure that species recover.

With the help of the tips in this article, we can all play our part in protecting biodiversity in our everyday lives. In the end, it all depends on us escaping our ingrained habits and questioning things critically. Protecting nature and species must take priority over everything else, otherwise we will eventually lose the very basis of life that enables us to live on this planet.

Do you have any questions, suggestions or experiences with the topic of species extinction that you would like to share? Then please write a comment below this article. Please share this article to educate as many people as possible.

Stay clean,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS: Since the main reasons for species extinction are of human origin, we can counteract this environmental problem on a daily basis. Please read the article about the Tips for sustainable living inspire.

References:

₁ https://www.bmu.de/themen/natur-biologische-vielfalt-arten/naturschutz-biologische-vielfalt/biologische-vielfalt-international/weltbiodiversitaetsrat-ipbes

₂ https://www.abenteuer-regenwald.de/wissen/folgen

₃ https://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/Artensterben

₄ http://www.bpb.de/gesellschaft/umwelt/anthropozaen/256780/artensterben

₅,₆,₇ Summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, IPBES, 06.05.2019, p.13.

₈ Summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, IPBES, 06.05.2019, p.12.

₉ Summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, IPBES, 06.05.2019, p.3.

₁₀ https://www.faz.net/aktuell/wissen/22-schritte-gegen-das-globale-artensterben-16181995.html

₁₁ http://www.bpb.de/gesellschaft/umwelt/anthropozaen/256780/artensterben

₁₂,₁₃,₁₄,₁₅,₁₆ https://www.faz.net/aktuell/wissen/massenaussterben-fuenfmal-ging-die-welt-schon-unter-14424429.html

₁₇ https://www.spektrum.de/lexikon/biologie/artensterben/5204

₁₈ http://www.umweltinstitut.org/themen/landwirtschaft/artensterben.html

₁₉ The state of World Fisheries and Aquaculture, Rome, 2006, p.29.

₂₀ https://www.fnweb.de/fraenkische-nachrichten_artikel,-landwirtschaft-und-natur-das-artensterben-und-seine-folgen-darum-ist-artenschutz-ueberlebenswichtig-_arid,1139787.html

₂₁ https://www.wwf.de/themen-projekte/waelder/waldbericht-2018

₂₂ https://www.nzz.ch/panorama/aktuelle-themen/haifischflossensuppe-in-china-tierschuetzer-schlagen-alarm-ld.123682

₂₃ https://www.prowildlife.de/jagd-wilderei

₂₄ Summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, IPBES, 06.05.2019, p.17.

₂₅ Summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, IPBES, 06.05.2019, p.4.

₂₆ https://www.morgenpost.de/ratgeber/article207114153/Rote-Liste-14-000-Tierarten-in-Deutschland-sind-bedroht.html

₂₇ https://www.morgenpost.de/politik/article225952773/Ministerin-Julia-Kloeckner-lobt-Nestle-und-erntet-Shitstorm-Eskalation-bei-Twitter.html

₂₈ https://www.geo.de/natur/oekologie/11818-bstr-artensterben-fuer-die-medizin

₂₉ Summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, IPBES, 06.05.2019, p.2.

₃₀ http://www.bee-careful.com/de/initiative/menschliche-bienen-china

₃₁ https://waterfootprint.org/media/downloads/Hoekstra_and_Chapagain_2006.pdf

₃₂ INTERPOL/World Bank. 2009. CHAINSAW PROJECT An INTERPOL perspective on law enforcement in illegal logging. INTERPOL General Secretariat, Lyon - https://www.interpol.int/Media/Files/Crime-areas/Environ-mental-crime/Chainsaw-Project-An-INTERPOL-perspective-on-law-enforcement-in-illegal-logging-2009

₃₃ https://www.zdf.de/nachrichten/heute/bericht-ueber-artensterben-verlangt-sofortiges-handeln-100.html

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Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

4 thoughts on “Artensterben – Definition, Ursachen, Folgen & Lösungen”

  1. Very helpful thank you 😀

    With the WILD FLOWERS, BERRIES AND HERBS MAXIMUM IN MASS PLUGGING it should certainly be called Maaßen.

    1. Hello Tim! Thank you for your feedback and the tip. The headline can unfortunately no "ß" - in this case it was really very unfortunate 😀 Have adjusted the sentence accordingly.

      Many greetings
      Christoph

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