In June of 2016, a group of scientists reported that a tiny rodent found only on a single island off the coast of Australia had officially gone extinct — the first mammalian causality, according to the scientists, of man-made climate change.
The tiny mammals might have been the first to go extinct due to man-made climate change, but it’s unlikely they’ll be the last. One in five species now faces extinction, and that trend could climb to as high as one in two by the end of the century, according to biologists attending a meeting this week at the Vatican aimed at discussing ways to stave off a major extinction event.
“Rich western countries are now siphoning up the planet’s resources and destroying its ecosystems at an unprecedented rate,” biologist Paul Ehrlich, who is attending this week’s meeting, told the Guardian. “We want to build highways across the Serengeti to get more rare earth minerals for our cellphones. We grab all the fish from the sea, wreck the coral reefs and put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We have triggered a major extinction event. The question is: how do we stop it?”
Organizers of the event are focusing extra attention on the way humans are competing with other species — and each other — for finite resources, such as arable land for raising crops and livestock.