We cannot say how many species we are losing because nobody knows how many we have - they have not been discovered yet. What we do know is that however many species we share our planet with, the devastation caused by human activity bears a heavy weight on the natural biosphere around us.
In 1980, in a study of nineteen trees in Panama, it was discovered that eighty per cent of the 1,200 beetle species found were unknown. Experts estimate that human activity is causing an extinction rate between one thousand and ten thousand times higher the natural extinction rate. The pessimistic conclusion is that we are losing between ten thousand and one hundred thousand unique species each and every year even before we have catalogued and studied them and their unique attributes, skills and potential.
At the very least, and being optimistic, the lowest number we are losing yearly is, according to scientists reported in a World Wildlife Fund annual report, between two hundred and two thousand species, while between 1.4 and 1.8 million species have been identified.
And the cause of this loss is human activity. In fact, over the last 35 years, biodiversity on our planet has decreased by over one quarter - we have 25 plus per cent fewer species than we had in 1980 and the Living Planet Index shows a 52 per cent reduction from 1970 to 2010.
Habitat destruction, poaching, the wildlife trade. The three evils, the three feathers in the cap of humankind which is on a steady path towards destroying the biodiversity of our planet, steam-rolling over the other species we share it with and ignoring the fact that when we have killed off a critical mass of our neighbors, we are already doomed as the next in line, long before animal and plant life die out forever.
The over-exploitation we are engaging in, is not sustainable. In short, we are bleeding our planet dry, while the climate change we are causing - or which is happening anyway through natural reasons - is doing the rest.
It will take you two to four minutes to read this article and by the time you have finished, one of the unique species that we share this planet with will have been the last one of its kind, and will have died out - extinct, forever. By the time you log on tomorrow morning, between one hundred and fifty and two hundred species will have followed it.
One quarter, or twenty-five per cent, or one in four, of our mammal species are threatened with extinction in the short term. For birds, the figure is one in eight, for sharks, one in five, for coniferous trees, one in four, for amphibians, one in three. In total, 23 per cent of mammals and 12 per cent of birds are considered as being in danger of extinction.
If something is not done, then our grandchildren will regard a long list of species as we today regard the Dodo, another victim of human activity. Then our planet will be as dead as a Dodo or an Amur Leopard, or a Black Rhinoceros, or a Cross River Gorilla, or a Hawksbill Turtle, or a Javan Rhinoceros, or a Leatherback Turtle, or a Mountain Gorilla, or a Pangolin, or a Saola, or a South China Tiger, or a Sumatran Elephant, or a Sumatran Orangutang, or a Sumatran Rhinoceros, or a Sumatran Tiger, or a Vaquita, or a Western Lowland Gorilla, or a Yangtze Finless Porpoise, or an African Wild Dog, or an Amur Tiger, or an Asian Elephant, or a Black Spider Monkey, or a Bengal Tiger, or a Black-footed Ferret, or a Blue Whale, or a Bluefin Tuna, or a Bonobo, or a Bornean Orangutang, or a Borneo Pygmy Elephant, or a Chimpanzee, or an Eastern Lowland Gorilla, or a Fin Whale, or a Galapagos Penguin, or a Ganges River Dolphin, or a Giant Panda, or a Green Turtle,or Hector's Dolphin,or a Humphead Wrasse, or an Indian Elephant, or an Indochinese Tiger, or an Indus River Dolphin, or a Loggerhead Turtle, or a Malayan Tiger, or a North Atlantic Right Whale, or an Orangutang, or a Sea Lion,or a Sei Whale, or a Snow Leopard, or a Sri Lankan Elephant, or a Tiger or a Whale. If you read the whole list, two of the Earth's unique species have already died out since when you read Amur Leopard.
Wouldn't it just be easier for Mother Nature to eliminate the one species causing all of this? Maybe she will...maybe she will.
*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru.