Best Evidence Yet Supports We Are Undergoing a Mass Extinction
Best Evidence Yet Supports We Are Undergoing a Mass Extinction
By Bob Novella / theskepticsguide.org

The latest evidence shows with a high degree of confidence that we are currently undergoing Earth’s 6th Mass Extinction Event.

Do a Google search on earth’s most massive extinction events in which a significant chunk of its species disappeared off the face of the earth. You will most often find that 5 such events have been identified throughout earth’s history, the most famous being the extinction 60+ million years ago that wiped out the Dinosaurs (except the birds of course).

For years now there’s been talk and studies that show that we are in another such period of time in history, sometimes called the Holocene Extinction. These studies have been criticized however for assumptions that were seen as exaggerating the extent of the crisis.

A new paper recently published, “Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction” concludes that our fears are justified.

They used a conservative estimate for the amount of extinctions that occur when there is no mass extinction currently happening. This is essentially the business-as-usual extinctions that are always happening. This is called the Baseline extinction rate and this number is critical because anything near this figure could clearly not be considered a mass extinction. The baseline used for this study was 2 E/MSY which means: 2 extinctions for 10,000 vertebrate species every 100 years.

As described in the paper:

“That background extinction rate was empirically determined using the exceptionally good fossil records of mammals, combining extinction counts from paleontological databases and published literature on the fossil, subfossil, and historical records”

This number was twice as large as previous estimates and therefore provides “a stringent test for assessing whether current modern extinction rates indicate that a mass extinction event is under way”.

Even with such a conservative baseline estimate, the researchers conclude that the vertebrate loss of the past 100 years is 15 to 114 times greater than this new baseline. That means that the extinctions we have experienced the past century would normally take 800 to 10,000 years to happen if we were in a baseline period. This loss of life has been linked to our destruction of natural habitats and climate change caused by our carbon emissions.

CO-Author Paul Ehrlich, Bing Professor of Population Studies Biology Senior Fellow, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment said:

“Our paper is the icing on the cake. It shows without any significant doubt that we are now entering the 6th great mass extinction event”

If this isn’t bad enough for you then you’re in luck, it’s actually worse. This isn’t just about not being able to go to the zoo and see a panda. Many species will not completely die out but they will have their populations ravaged to such a degree that the so-called “natural services” that they provide for us will no longer be an option. These services are not trivial unless you consider things like many types of food and the climate trivial. Just look at what’s happening with honey bees for a great example.

If Paul’s last quote didn’t get your attention, perhaps this will:

“We are now moving into another one of these events that could easily…easily ruin the lives of everybody on the planet”

Is all hope lost? No, there’s always nanotech….kidding

The researchers recommend a major initiative for habitat and wildlife conservation but they warn that the “window of opportunity is rapidly closing.”

Given our track record, we may need to soon consider permanently adding #6 to that list.

Abstract

3.8 ·
2
What's Next
Trending Today
93 Documentaries to Expand Your Consciousness
Films For Action · 10,261 views today · There are over 800 documentaries now cataloged in our library of social change films. That's probably way too many for any mortal to ever watch in a lifetime, let alone a few...
Social Media Echo Chambers: Here's How Most of Us are Living in One
2 min · 4,091 views today · Americans are blocking out the friends and news sites that won't confirm their views.
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 3,578 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
This Short Film Plays Out Like an Epic Movie That Will Shake Your Soul - But the Movie Is Real, and We are The Actors
6 min · 3,438 views today · For next year, we need a resolution capable of confronting the crisis we face, and making a future worth fighting for. This short film looks back on the crisis and confusion...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 3,239 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Why We Need Big Picture Activism
Helena Norberg-Hodge · 2,498 views today · Despite the countless grassroots projects already under way, the global economic juggernaut can seem too powerful to stop. But because more and more of us are becoming aware of...
The Daily Show's Trevor Noah Talks With Conservative Host Tomi Lahren
14 min · 2,328 views today · "Tomi" host Tomi Lahren gives her take on the Black Lives Matter movement and explains why she lashed out against Colin Kaepernick for his national anthem protest.
Where Do You Draw the Line? (2016)
60 min · 2,023 views today · Why is the Ecuadorian government proposing to extract oil in an area frequently classified by ecologists as one of the most bio-diverse rainforest regions left intact on earth?...
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 1,407 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
Escape! From the Cult of Materialism (2016)
50 min · 1,277 views today · Does the philosophy of materialism work to destroy our identities, experience, and environment? Join narrator Daphne Ellis on a radical romp through the evidence and decide for...
Law Professor's Epic Response to Black Lives Matter Shirt Complaint
Social Design Notes · 1,022 views today · A first year law school student wrote a complaint about her professor having worn a Black Lives Matter T-shirt during class. The professor’s response is priceless. Scans of...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 921 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
How a Land High in the Western Himalayas Can Help Us Understand The Crisis of The Modern World
9 min · 904 views today · This is a clip from The Economics of Happiness. Watch it here. It's a brilliant film that was easy to put at the top of our list of the top 100 documentaries we can use to...
Who's Really to Blame for Fake News? Look in the Mirror, America.
Neal Gabler · 845 views today · Consider for a moment the oxymoronic concept of “fake news,” which we have been hearing so much about lately. This isn’t your typical disinformation or misinformation —...
Bernie Sanders: Carrier Just Showed Corporations How to Beat Donald Trump
Bernie Sanders · 698 views today · We need a president who can stand up to big corporations, not fold to their demands.
The Most Mind-Altering Photograph of All Time
4 min · 626 views today · Carl Sagan narrates the story of the Pale Blue Dot, the one place we all call home. 
The 6 Grand Illusions That Keep Us Enslaved
Sigmund Fraud · 551 views today · For a magician to fool his audience his deceit must go unseen, and to this end he crafts an illusion to avert attention from reality. While the audience is entranced, the...
South Koreans Are Really Good at Protesting
2 min · 542 views today · South Koreans organize some of the largest and most peaceful protests in the world. Here's what makes them so good at protesting.
Corporate Giants' "Sustainable" Palm Oil Revealed as Sham
Nika Knight · 466 views today · Nestlé, Kellogg's, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and others are linked to child labor and forced labor in Indonesia
What Humans Are Really Doing to Our Planet, in 19 Jaw-Dropping Images
Michael McCutcheon · 416 views today · Last week, Pope Francis and church officials encouraged everyone to consume less and think more about our impact on the environment. It's a timely warning because the next six...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Best Evidence Yet Supports We Are Undergoing a Mass Extinction