Our planet is in crisis. We are currently undergoing a sixth mass extinction event and species are becoming extinct at an alarming rate. The last time something so serious happened was 65 million years ago, when a meteorite falling from space wiped out three-quarters of life on Earth – including the dinosaurs.
With so many animal species being lost, we wondered how seriously children take the issue and how much they would sacrifice to save a species. After all, the future of the planet depends on them.
For our latest survey we asked a total of 2,002 children the following question: “How much would you give to save an animal species?” Now, financial amounts are relative. £100 to one is the equivalent of £10,000 to another, or 10p to someone better off. To get around this we offered a choice of five possible answers: Nothing, A nominal amount, Everything I don't need for myself, Half of what I have, or Everything I have.
This is what we found:
The results are very heartening. Only 28% (just over a quarter) would be prepared to sacrifice nothing or just a nominal amount. The remaining 72% (almost three-quarters) would give generously to save an animal species.
That is very good news. With drastic action required to save the planet, severe sacrifices may have to be made by future generations let down by our current lack of action.
Life has existed on Earth for around three and a half billion years. During that time, 95% of species that have ever lived have become extinct. Extinction is a natural process and a side-effect of life. But at certain times the extinction rate becomes much larger. We call these times mass extinctions, and we are currently in the sixth – this one caused entirely by mankind.
Ordinarily, when everything is in balance, a few species become extinct every year. But at the moment things are far from balanced. Estimates vary but somewhere around 100,000 species are dying out each year, all because of human activity. That’s one extinction every five minutes - over 1,000 times more than would ordinarily disappear.
Species are dying out so quickly that over 20% are at serious risk. What is more, unless drastic action is taken very soon, that figure could rise to over 50% by the end of the century. The reason, as I’ve said, is mankind and his relentless exploitation of the planet and its resources. But what exactly is causing such a dire situation?
Here are the main threats:
That’s six perils species face and every one of them caused by us.
So many animals are at risk that it is impossible to list them all. So, to give you an idea, here are just a few which scientists fear could no longer be around just 40 years from now:
These are just a tiny sample of the species in trouble. Many more are under threat, including:
As you can see, the world’s species face a terrible threat, and one which we could stop – if only we chose to do so. Thank heavens that the younger generation are prepared to make the sacrifices their predecessors were not.More Survey Results
Here are the results from the 2,002 children who answered our question "How much would you give to save an animal species?". The survey was conducted in the fortnight ending December 6th, 2020.
|How much would you give to save an animal species?||Percentage of Respondents|
|A nominal amount||16%|
|Everything I don't need for myself||28%|
|Half of what I have||14%|
|Everything I have||30%|