Extinction Mass: Remembrance for Lost Species


Our planet is now in the midst of its 6th mass extinction. Unlike past mass extinctions, caused by events like the Chicxulub asteroid and natural climate shifts, the current crisis is almost entirely caused by humans.

In fact 99 percent of currently threatened species are at risk from human activities, primarily those driving habitat loss, introduction of exotic species, and global heating [1]. Industrial farming with its heavy use of pesticides and fertilizer is the number one culprit, followed by climate catastrophe and loss of habitat. Carbon emissions are largely responsible for the heating and acidification of the oceans, making them largely inhospitable.

Dozens of species are going extinct every day [2]. More than 28,000 species are threatened with extinction (see the IUCN redlist for species status). Thousands of species have passed out of existence in the last hundred years, from microscopic all the way up to large mammals. We have lost them before we ever knew them and now begin to become painfully aware of their critical roles in the intricately interdependent web of life that our planet has supported. It could be a scary future indeed, with as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly heading toward extinction by mid-century [3].

To honor and mourn the species that have already been hunted, poisoned and starved to extinction, XR NYC held an “Extinction Mass: Remembrance for Lost Species.” At the core of the event was a reading of some 100 extinct species followed by a moment of silence. An endless marathon of spoken names, common and scientific, provided both moments of tribute and grief. A procession with song engaged with park goers, ending with a solemn circle and collective commitments to end extinction now. 

The ceremony and procession took place on April 14th, 2019 in Prospect Park, Brooklyn.

Sarah Malvasia