Extinction: just how bad is it and why should we care?

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‘Dad, the world is missing amazing animals. I wish extinction wasn’t forever.’

Despite my wife and I working as biologists, our five-year-old son came to make this statement independently.

He is highlighting what I and many others consider to be society’s biggest challenge, and arguably failure: the continuing loss of species from Earth. The massive impact we are having on the planet has firmly entrenched us in a period of our history commonly called the Anthropocene.

The environment was front and centre of public consciousness and a key election focus in Australia in 2007, but following the global financial crisis and continuing economic uncertainty, we seem to care less and less about the environment and more and more about budgets and surpluses.

If the environment were a bank and species its money, it would need a rescue package that would make the recent European bail-outs look insignificant.

 

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