By chasing large-bodied animals, humans have had a great effect on the evolution of many species and the balance of nature as a whole.
Since our development as an advanced Species, humans have changed the face of Earth completely.
In our ascension as a species, we disturb natural environments and alter ecosystems. In our search for energy sources, we have left no stone unturned.
Anthropocene activities have been often synonymous with excessive consumption, overexploitation, and depletion.
While all living organisms affect their environment, in the case of humans, the impact is considerably negative on pretty much all planetary systems.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is a wildlife NGO that, since its creation in 1961, releases periodic reports on the situation of animal populations.
According to its latest report “Living Planet 2008“, the WWF experts say that in a little over four decades (1970 to 2014) animal populations have plummeted by a whopping 60% due to intense human activities.
“We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff. If there was a 60% decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China, and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done,” Mike Barrett, the executive director of science and conservation at WWF told the Guardian.
Unfortunately, the picture is even more somber than that.
Impact of Anthropocene Activities on Evolution
Not only do human-induced stresses on the planet’s biodiversity, like global climatic changes and widespread pollution, affect animal numbers, but also their evolutionary trajectories.
This is the broad conclusion of a new study by a researcher at the University of British Columbia in Canada.
In her study “Adaptation, speciation, and extinction in the Anthropocene” Sarah P. Otto, a biologist, and zoologist says that Anthropocene activities and the very presence of humans on the planet altered the course of evolution.
Now, the scale of the human impact on the planet is so wide and deep that “it’s reshaping of the tree of life.”, and the trend “promises to escalate.”
The planet has witnessed at least five mass extinctions, but these, as Otto notes, were gradual, compared to the speed with which natural habitats are changing and species going extinct over the last hundred years.
There’s also the fact that one species, namely humans, are entirely responsible for this evolutionary change.
“Humans have dramatically altered the planet over the course of a century, from the acidity of our oceans to the fragmentation of our landscapes and the temperature of our climate. Species find themselves in novel environments, within communities assembled from never before encountered mixtures of invasives and natives.”
What will be the shock that actually wakes us up from this escalating destruction?
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