biodiversity loss by habitat destruction
Humanity's ever-increasing population and consumption, and ever-growing global economic activities create an overwhelming and ever growing human domination of the surface of Earth, supplanting Earth's natural environments.
To get an indication of how much of Earth we now dominate, fly in an aeroplane and watch out the window, or 'spin the globe' in Google Earth, and look down on any land mass on Earth, and you will almost certainly find that you are looking at human interference on the surface; if not, then you are probably looking at desert.
Humanity has taken over much of the usable land surface of Earth:
- 75% of Earth’s ice-free land area can no longer can no longer be considered wild
- 83% of Earth’s ice-free land area directly influence is likely directly influenced by human beings.
- 30% of Earth’s ice-free land area is occupied by our livestock
- 97% of the biomass of all terrestrial mammals consists of humans and our domesticated animals that we keep to feed ourselves, now make up.
Much of this human activity that takes over the surface of Earth involves agriculture for food production and production of industrial products. However, there are other ways in which humanity has damaged habitats and reduced biodiversity:
Introduced invasive species
Humanity also damages habitats with the intentional and unintentional transfer of plants and animals species from place to place around Earth. These plants and animals commonly become feral weeds, displacing and exterminating the original species.
Like most continents, Australia's biodiversity has been greatly reduced in the last two-hundred years by the introduction of cane toads, foxes, rabbits, cats, water buffalo, prickly pear cactus, camphor laurel trees, Chinese elm trees, lantana, blackberries, ochna, and many others. These invasive species have directly exterminated or displaced many endemic Australian species.
As the climate changes as a result of human activities that release greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, so the environments that it forms part of changes, too. As environments change they effectively become new environments. Many species that are highly adapted to specific environments cannot readapt as those environments change, and so become extinct.
A major human-caused habitat change that is beginning to take effect now is the acidification of oceans as increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere dissolves into the sea, forming carbonic acid. The carbonic acid reduces the ability of many marine animals to form shells. Affected animals include molluscs, crustaceans, and corals.
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