Yes, according to reports, even conservative calculations show the world is in the midst of a sixth mass extinction that’s being caused by US — and is likely to lead to humanity’s demise. The scientists’ analysis, published in the journal Science Advances, show a “rapid loss of global biodiversity”. Many experts say the loss has risen to the scale seen during the five previous global extinction events — the most recent occurred 65 million years ago when the dinosaurs were wiped out, likely by an asteroid that hit Mexico. The theme of Elizabeth Kolbert‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Sixth Extinction provides much of the info and data, but of course such claims have drawn skepticism too.
A list of extinct species maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the IUCN — which is characterized as “conservative”, the extinction rate since 1900 has been eight to 100 times higher than before. (See chart) One of the study’s co-authors, Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University, said;
“The particularly high losses in the last several decades accentuate the increasing severity of the modern extinction crisis. There are examples of species all over the world that are essentially the walking dead.”
The researchers noted that amphibians, which account for 7,300 of the species documented by the IUCN, have been particularly hard-hit;
“Only 34 extinctions have been documented with a high level of certainty since 1500, yet [more than] 100 species have likely disappeared since 1980.”
Many of the causes for biodiversity loss have been traced to industrialization, deforestation and human factors. In the case of the amphibians, the wave of extinctions have been traced to the rapid spread of a fatal fungus through global shipping. The human species itself could eventually fall victim to the sixth extinction.
“If it is allowed to continue, life would take millions of years to recover, and our species itself would disappear early on.”
If you burrow down into the stats, some have said we could be finished in three human lifetimes –don’t forget, the process hs already started so, let’s say life expectancy is 70-80 years, so 250 years max. Yes that’s a depressing picture, but Gerardo Ceballos of the National Autonomous University of Mexico and his colleagues hold out a slender ray of hope;
“Avoiding a true sixth mass extinction will require rapid, greatly intensified efforts to conserve already threatened species, and to alleviate pressures on their populations — notably habitat loss, overexploitation for economic gain and climate change. All of these are related to human population size and growth, which increases consumption (especially among the rich), and economic inequity. However, the window of opportunity is rapidly closing.”
Well, I don’t have to tell you, that conservation or even the CONVERSATION is not going to happen in our current climate in this country, anyway. We can’t even agree that climate change is happening or that we have too many guns. But I have some good news! We’ll all be dead soon! Everyone in our selfish culture knows this too, and it is going to be someone else problem. Namely, our children’s children children. I don’t have any, but no one ever talks about the population explosion anymore. Since I’ve been on the planet –a time period so short that it doesn’t even register in the 4 billion years and 5 mass extinctions since earth has been a “thing”– the amount of humans has doubled and continues to exponentially. Does all that sound pessimistic? My nature is actually pretty optimistic, but I’m also a realist, and I see where the world seems to be headed. Given our behavior as humans, it doesn’t really seem like such a big loss though. Oh, well, there are lots of other planets out there –what makes this one so special? Hey, kinda makes you want to see Jurassic World, huh?
If you’d like to read the full report, go here.
(via NBC News)