The Anthropocene And Biodiversity Loss

by | Jun 26, 2024 | Environment, Wildlife

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The Anthropocene is a term that many people use to describe our current era. Humans have become the planet’s most potent species, creating significant global warming and other changes to the land, environment, water, organisms, and climate. This biodiversity loss threatens ecological services critical to human well-being, such as clean water, rich soil, and climate regulation.

What is Anthropocene?

The name Anthropocene is derived from the Greek words for human (‘anthropo’) and new (‘cene’), although its definition is debatable. It was first coined in the 1980s and popularised in 2000 by Paul J Crutzen an atmospheric chemist and diatom researcher Eugene F Stoermer. The duo proposed that we are living in a new geological period.

It is commonly acknowledged that our species, Homo sapiens, has had such a substantial effect on Earth and its inhabitants that we will have long-term – and potentially permanent – biodiversity effects.

The Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and modern humans have only existed for about 200,000 years. However, in that time, we have fundamentally transformed the world’s physical, chemical, and biological processes, on which humans and all other animals rely.

These human consequences, particularly over the last 60 years, have occurred at an unexpected tempo and extent. This period is sometimes referred to as the Great Acceleration. Carbon dioxide emissions, ocean acidification, habitat devastation, global warming, extinction, and widespread natural resource extraction indicate that humanity has drastically altered our planet.

Only some feel these changes provide sufficient evidence to designate a new formal geological period, the Anthropocene. However, scientists worldwide are still debating.

Also Read: How Does Climate Affect Biodiversity? Insights Into Environmental Impacts

Understanding the Loss of Biodiversity in the Anthropocene Era

The loss of biodiversity during the Anthropocene period, the current geological age marked by significant human impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems, represents an unparalleled environmental calamity. Human actions, mainly deforestation, habitat destruction, pollution, climate change, and species overexploitation, drive extinction rates far beyond natural background values. The current rate of species extinction is estimated to be 100 to 1,000 times higher than the natural background rate, primarily due to human activities. If this trend continues, over one million species will fall under the risk of extinction within the next few decades.

The Anthropocene has significantly contributed to habitat loss due to deforestation and wetland loss. It is estimated that approximately 18 million hectares of forest are lost each year, and over 50% of the world’s wetlands have been destroyed in the last century. This leads to thousands of species facing habit loss and eventually perishing.

Not only land animals, but this era has significantly destroyed marine ecosystems as well. Approximately 50% of the world’s coral reefs have been lost in the past 30 years due to climate change, overfishing, and pollution, and 33% of global fish stocks are overfished. Talking about climate change, a 1.5°C increase in global temperatures could result in the loss of 70-90% of coral reefs, and a 2°C rise could wipe out more than 99% of them. 

This loss jeopardises ecological stability, limiting the ability to deliver critical functions, including pollination, water purification, and weather management. Because of species interdependence, one species’ extinction can set off a chain reaction of losses, increasing ecosystem collapse. Furthermore, the loss of genetic variety within species impairs their ability to adapt to changing circumstances, putting their survival at risk.

The cultural and economic repercussions are significant, as many communities depend on biodiversity for their livelihoods, food security, and traditional knowledge. The decline in pollinator populations (e.g., bees) is estimated to result in an annual global economic loss of up to $577 billion in crop production. Similarly, overfishing and marine habitat destruction are expected to cost the global economy $50 billion annually. Addressing biodiversity loss necessitates international collaboration, rigorous conservation efforts, sustainable practices, and policies incorporating ecological value into economic systems. Understanding and reducing our effects enables society to move towards a more sustainable coexistence with the natural world, maintaining its complicated web of life for future generations.

Conservation Strategies to Combat Biodiversity Losses in the Anthropocene

Conservation Strategies to Combat Biodiversity Losses in the Anthropocene

  1. Purchase sustainable and fair trade products: Purchasing sustainable and Fairtrade products is a simple yet effective shift anybody can make.
  2. Ditch the lawn and garden chemicals: Pesticides, fertilisers, and insecticides contaminate soil and water and can harm insects, birds, fish, pets, and even children. Instead of chemical-based solutions, choose natural formulae and deterrents that do not contribute to local biodiversity loss.
  3. Plant a tree to promote biodiversity: Forest ecosystems have a diverse range of habitat types that support a staggering amount of biodiversity, including 80% of amphibian species, 75% of bird species, and 68% of mammal species. Planting trees provides crucial habitats for biodiversity, some found nowhere else on Earth.
  4. Protect local habitats: Trash may harm ecosystems and the animals that rely on them. Whether you join a beach cleanup or remove rubbish from your neighbourhood every day, keeping the world clean is an easy approach to maintaining local biodiversity.
  5. Create a biodiversity patch in your yard: While well-kept yards may appear attractive, they are unnatural environments for the animals in your neighbourhood. Divide your yard into sections and plant native shrubs, flowers, or trees to help local wildlife find food, clean water, and shelter. You might attract captivating new guests like butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds! And, with monarch butterflies recently listed as endangered, this is more crucial than ever.
  6. Take a stand for the environment: Support local projects that safeguard threatened habitats and increase species diversity. This can include writing to your local political representatives, participating in peaceful protests, purchasing wildlife-friendly products, and campaigning for the preservation of endangered plants and animals.

Final Words

In conclusion, the Anthropocene epoch has seen tremendous human effects on the Earth’s geology and ecosystems, resulting in unparalleled biodiversity loss. Human actions such as deforestation, pollution, climate change, and resource overexploitation have accelerated species extinction, disturbing the ecological balance. Addressing these difficulties necessitates a global commitment to sustainable practices and conservation activities. By recognising the interconnectivity of human and environmental systems, we can mitigate the Anthropocene’s negative consequences on biodiversity.

Also Read: Exploring Biodiversity In A Rainforest: Ecosystems Teeming With Life



  • Dr. Emily Greenfield

    Dr. Emily Greenfield is a highly accomplished environmentalist with over 30 years of experience in writing, reviewing, and publishing content on various environmental topics. Hailing from the United States, she has dedicated her career to raising awareness about environmental issues and promoting sustainable practices.

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