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Rethinking Capitalism (ReCap) Webinar Series: "The Sixth Mass Extinction, the Environmental Crisis and the Future of Humanity"

The Rethinking Capitalism (ReCap) Webinar Series is held online in association with the Center for European Studies (CefES-DEMS) and The Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis (RCEA-Europe), under the auspices of the JRC.

Capitalism is in a human, political, social, and environmental crisis.

The Rethinking Capitalism (ReCap) Webinar Series is an opportunity to reflect on the failures of our cultural and production model.

The objective of these talks is to foster awareness, cooperation, and activism among academics and guide policymakers in implementing corrective policies to bring our societies back on a sustainable path.

The webinar: The Sixth Mass Extinction, the Environmental Crisis and the Future of Humanity

In the history of life on Earth, there have been five mass extinctions – episodes where largenumbers of species became extinct in a short time.

All previous mass extinctions stemmed from natural catastrophes, such as volcanic eruptions, depletion of oxygen in the oceans, and meteorite's impact.

The ongoing sixth mass extinction is different, as it is caused by human activity. According to a natural, physiological extinction rate, one would expect to lose two species for every 10,000 species present every 100 years. Current figures show that 477 species have become extinct in the last 100 years.

Under a natural extinction rate, we would have expected to have only nine extinctions; in other words, there were 468 more extinctions than would be expected in the last century! This evidence is dramatic and tragic.

At this pace, we may lose a large proportion of vertebrates, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fishes, in the next two to three decades. Losing them has many consequences.

Those species are essential to maintain ecosystem services, which are all the benefits that we get for free from the proper function of nature. The combination of the atmosphere's gases, the quality and quantity of water, soil fertilization, pollination are ecosystem services. By losing species, we are eroding the conditions of Earth that are essential for human well-being.

Habitat loss, due to agriculture, forestry, mining, and urbanization, overfishing and overhunting, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and human overpopulation are the leading causes of the ongoing mass extinction. We still has time to avoid the most tragic consequences of the sixth mass extinction: saving endangered animals is the only way humanity has to save itself.

Presented by Gerardo Ceballos, Senior Researcher and Professor at the Institute of Ecology at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM); Senior Researcher at the Breakthrough Institute.

  • sustainable economic growth strategy | environmental impact
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  • Live streaming available

Practical information

Joint Research Centre
Rethinking Capitalism (ReCap) Webinar Series