The Extinction of Wildlife Threatens Global Food Supplies

Scientists are warning that the Earth's current mass extinction event will result in loss of plant life.
Scientists are warning that the Earth's current mass extinction event will result in loss of plant life.

Nature is showing humanity some weird form of tough love as a reminder of the effects of destructive human activities on the environment if recent natural events are anything to go by. Effects caused by Storm Harvey which hit the southern parts of North America and the Caribbean are slowly being contained. Fortunately, modern technology in the form of early warning systems has made the storm to be less deadly. However, technology cannot do much to avert the reality that weather-related natural disasters are on the increase since the late 20th century. A recent report from The Economist states that changes in weather patterns have caused weather-related disasters to increase over the past few decades.

Current Extinction Event Faster, Human-Driven

There is another global calamity that has for the past century been growing in effect to the earth’s biosphere. The planet is undergoing what scientists call “a mass extinction event” where hundreds of species become extinct and entire ecosystems being decimated. The current extinction event is the sixth of its kind to occur in the earth’s history and according to The Guardian, is the primarily caused by human overconsumption and overpopulation. Populations are disappearing from the earth in their billions, and terrestrial species have lost as much as 80% of their original range in the past 100 years. While the event might seem a slow and gradual process, reports from The Science Mag show that the current extinction event is occurring at a much faster rate than all five previous mass extinction events.

Extinction Threatening Plants Used For Human Survival

The information about the ongoing extinction of species is not new to most people, as conservationists have been quite vocal to this effect for many years and therefore people tend to ignore the information since the extinction does not seem to affect human survival directly. However, recent studies have shown an interrelation behind the increasing food shortages grappling the world in recent years, and the sixth mass extinction event. What most people tend to forget is that the extinction event does not only happen to animal species but also to plant species, some of which are used for human consumption. Currently, the entire globe relies on 12 plant species which account for three-quarters of food consumed in the world. About a 150 years ago, the world witnessed what can happen when one of these plant species is affected, through the Irish Potato Famine which led to the starvation of millions of people. According to researchers from Biodiversity International, many plant species which are rarely cultivated but offer great nutrition benefits are at risk of being lost forever in the ongoing purge. These plants are ideal candidates for becoming alternative staple crops if production of the primary staple crops is affected.


Benjamin Elisha Sawe is a writer based in Kenya. He holds an MBA from the University of Nairobi.


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