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Overpopulation is one of the most pressing problems faced by our society. Around the world, cities are becoming overcrowded, leading to the emergence of dirty slums that lack access to clean water, sanitation, and other basic human needs.
Habitats are being destroyed. Entire ecosystems are being threatened. In fact, industrialization and overpopulation problems are responsible for a mass extinction comparable to that of the dinosaurs.
Along with fueling massive animal extinction, population growth contributes heavily to habitat loss. Around the world, in low-density regions as well as in high-density ones, population pressures create incentives to clear and develop land, in particular forests.
Deforestation not only eliminates land and destroys ecosystems, but also fragments and changes many animals’ migration patterns and makes them easier targets for poachers. In addition, the expansion of suburbs further and further away from urban areas clears significant amounts of natural land and puts many animals and plants in danger.
To avoid the continuation of these patterns, humans must cease clear-cutting forests and promote vertical development rather than outward development.
Habitat loss, in particular deforestation, also fragments and alters animal migration patterns. Not only are animal species unable to survive in the remnants of forested land left behind, but the “fragmentation of forests due to road, agriculture and human settlement development also impacts on wildlife by reducing the corridors used to move or migrate”.
Millions of monarch butterflies migrate to the reserve annually for the winter months, but a thinning forest has the potential to change that as only an intact, continuous forest canopy can protect the monarchs “from both freezing cold during winter storms and from excessive warmth during the days”.
In addition, rapid growth in the demand for suburban housing has pushed human development farther and farther away from cities, destroying more habitats and endangering more species.
To avoid a continuation of the “sixth mass extinction,” humans must stop clear-cutting forests and attempt to promote vertical development rather than sprawl. If we, as a species, don’t change our behaviour, other species will continue to die off, biodiversity will be threatened, and ecosystems will be threatened.