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Effects of Overpopulation On Wildlife

Human overpopulation is among the most pressing environmental issues, silently aggravating the forces behind global warming, environmental pollution, habitat loss, the sixth mass extinction, intensive farming practices and the consumption of finite natural resources, such as freshwater, arable land and fossil fuels, at speeds faster than their rate of regeneration. However, ecological issues are just the beginning.

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overpopulation and wildlife

Human beings are currently causing the greatest mass extinction of species since the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago at rates 1000 to 10,000 times faster than normal. The 2012 update of the IUCN

Red List of Threatened Species shows that of the 63,837 species examined worldwide, 19,817 are threatened with extinction – nearly a third of the total. If present trends continue, scientists warn that within a few decades, at least half of all plant and animal species on Earth will be extinct, as a result of climate change, habitat loss, pollution, acidifying oceans, invasive species, over-exploitation of natural resources, overfishing, poaching and human overpopulation.

Human overpopulation has been dominating planetary physical, chemical, and biological conditions and limits, with an annual absorption of 42% of the Earth’s terrestrial net primary productivity, 30% of its marine net primary productivity, 50% of its freshwater, 40% of its land devoted to human food production, up from 7% in 1700, 50% of its landmass being transformed for human use and atmospheric nitrogen being fixated by humans than all other natural processes combined.

Compared to the natural background rate of one extinction per million species per year, we are now losing 30,000 species per year, or three species per hour, which is faster than new species can evolve. The chart below further exemplifies the correlation between the human population and species extinction.