Last week, Pope Francis did what many might have thought inconceivable. In a 184-page letter, Francis thrust the Catholic church into the climate change debate, calling climate change a man-made threat to the planet and to the planet’s poor.
“The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” Francis wrote. “In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish. … Frequently no measures are taken until after people’s health has been irreversibly affected.”
The Pope’s words were enforced this week when a number of prominent biologists went public with statements and papers warning that the planet was headed to a mass extinction event that could rival the extinction of dinosaurs some 65 million years ago.
In a short video describing a paper his school has published, Paul Ehlrich, Bing Professor of Population Studies at Stanford University, said analysis of species extinction over the last 100 years points, “without a doubt” to a mass extinction event.
“We are now moving into another one of these events that could easily ruin the lives of everybody on the planet,” he says in the video.
Ehrlich’s colleague, Jan Zalasiewizc, a professor of paleobiology at Leicester University also warned of another mass extinction event in a Guardian piece reiterates the heavy human hand in not only pollution but speies managment, noting that wild animals only make up about 5 percent of all land vertebrates on the planet. The rest are humans and animals we raise for food.
Biologists say there is still time for humans to change course. At current rates, they say mass extinction is between 250 and 500 years away. But the time to act is now:
“Averting a mass extinction is still possible – but we don’t have much time,” Zalasiewizc wrote.