THE Earth is risking a major ecological breakdown that could eventually render it largely uninhabitable.

This is one of the warnings contained in ‘Surviving the 21st Century’ a powerful new book released recently by global science publisher Springer International.

Our combined actions may be leading to “. . . gross ecological breakdown that will strike humanity harder than anything in our experience”, the book cautions.

Author and science writer Julian Cribb says, “In the past week alone has come news that global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles declined by 58 per cent between 1970 and 2012. From 20-30 per cent of known species now appear at risk of extinction.”

“This is an extermination of life on Earth without precedent. The human impact is on track to exceed the catastrophe that took out the dinosaurs.

“Many people don’t realise it, but our own fate is completely bound up with these other creatures, plants and organisms we heedlessly destroy. They provide the clean air and water, the food, the nutrient recycling, the de-toxing, the medications, the clothing and timber that we ourselves need for survival.

“Humans are now engaged in demolishing our own home, brick by brick. Every dollar we spend on food or material goods sends a tiny, almost-imperceptible signal down long industrial and market chains to accelerate the devastation

“Together those signals are causing the very systems we ourselves need for survival to break down, as forests fall, deserts spread and oceans acidify.”

A recent study by Princeton University found oxygen levels in the Earth’s atmosphere have fallen by 0.1 per cent in the past 100 years, probably due to land clearing, ocean acidification and burning of fossil fuels. “Though it is still a small signal, it is another indicator of our ability to disrupt the Earth’s life-support system,” Cribb says.