Saturday, 20 October, 2018

The sixth mass extinction is already underway on earth, say scientists

An endangered Sumatran orangutan in Indonesia An endangered Sumatran orangutan
Theresa Hayes | 12 July, 2017, 03:26

The report was based on analysis of 27,600 mammals, reptiles and amphibians, and cited double-digit decreases in the populations of species such as African lion, which has seen a 43 per cent drop since 1993.

The new study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study concluded that Earth was now experiencing its sixth mass extinction and there was a short window for effective action.

"Our data indicate that beyond global species extinctions, Earth is experiencing a huge episode of population declines and extirpations, which will have negative cascading consequences on ecosystem functioning and services vital to sustaining civilization", said the researchers.

"We find that the rate of population loss in terrestrial vertebrates is extremely high-even in 'species of low concern, '" the authors wrote.

The group of mammals all had lost 30 percent or more of their global geographic ranges - and almost half (40 percent) had lost more than 80 percent of those ranges, they conclude.

Fortunately, most of those species have not gone extinct. According to most scientists, a sixth is in progress.

"Humanity will eventually pay a very high price for the decimation of the only assemblage of life that we know of in the universe", according to the findings in the report claiming a sixth mass extinction event is approaching.

The scientists issuing the warning about a sixth mass extinction of wildlife on Earth came to their conclusion by analyzing the extensive loss of both common and endangered species over the course of the past several decades.

Climate change, caused by the burning of fossil fuels, is sending toxic chemicals into the environment; forests and other habitats are being repurposed for agriculture; and poachers are continuing to endanger the survival of animals such as elephants, pangolins, rhinos, and giraffes - driven by consumer demand. They are also pointing out society's belief in a "fictional" idea.

Previous studies have shown species are becoming extinct at a significantly faster rate than for millions of years before, but even so extinctions remain relatively rare giving the impression of a gradual loss of biodiversity. "It is a prelude to the disappearance of many more species and the decline of natural systems that make civilization possible". The scientific researchers deem the biological annihilation the study describes as a "frightening assault" on the very foundations upon which human civilization is built. According to a new study, the case of biological annihilation is now occurring on a global scale and is part of the ongoing 6th mass extinction.

The last one was some 66 million years ago, when 76 per cent of all species were lost, including the dinosaurs, due to volcanic activity, climate change and asteroid impact.

Earth has already undergone five mass extinction events in the past, during which most living species disappeared entirely. Giving an example, Ceballos said: "We used to have swallows nesting every year in my home near Mexico city - but for the last 10 years there are none".

Mr Ehrlich added that although the loss of species was "bad and largely irreversible", losing individuals and groups was "equally important or more important" because it was "wrecking our life-support machinery".