What We’ve Lost: The Species Declared Extinct in 2020
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM John R. Platt, TheRevelator.org
January 2021

We need to recognize what we’ve lost, or potentially lost. We can mourn them and vow to prevent as many others as possible from joining their ranks.

The red handfish, a relative of the extinct smooth handfish. Photo: Thor Carter/CSIRO Marine Research (CC BY 3.0)

Dozens of frogs, fish, orchids and other species — many not seen for decades — may no longer exist due to humanity’s destructive effects on the planet.

A few months ago a group of scientists warned about the rise of “extinction denial,” an effort much like climate denial to mischaracterize the extinction crisis and suggest that human activity isn’t really having a damaging effect on ecosystems and the whole planet.

That damaging effect is, in reality, impossible to deny.

This past year scientists and conservation organizations declared that a long list of species may have gone extinct, including dozens of frogs, orchids and fish. Most of these species haven’t been seen in decades, despite frequent and regular expeditions to find out if they still exist. The causes of these extinctions range from diseases to invasive species to habitat loss, but most boil down to human behavior.

Of course, proving a negative is always hard, and scientists are often cautious about declaring species truly lost. Do it too soon, they warn, and the last conservation efforts necessary to save a species could evaporate, a problem known as the Romeo and Juliet Effect. Because of that, and because many of these species live in hard-to-survey regions, many of the announcements this past year declared species possibly or probably lost, a sign that hope springs eternal....


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