Sixth Extinction: Implications

Sixth Extinction: Implications

Question: Many conservationists have held for years that a mass extinction event akin to the one that wiped out the dinosaurs is occurring as humans destroy natural habitats. A recent study found that the sixth extinction is prevalent on earth. Elaborate.

• After analysing the most conservative extinction rates, rate at which vertebrates were being lost was higher than the previous 5 mass extinctions.

• There has been a massive loss of species, say researchers from National Autonomous University of Mexico.

• Prior studies had warned humans about the impact of humans taking land for buildings, farmer and timber leading to species extinction at an unprecedented rate in the 4.5 billion year history of earth.

• Humanity’s population bomb is ticking, says study co author Paul. R. Ehrlich.

• As per the study, under the natural rate of extinction, two species per 10,000 per 100 years are turning extinct rather than one species as assumed by previous work.

• Modern extinction rates have risen by 8 to 100 times higher. For instance, 477 vertebrates have reached extinction since 1900 as against 9 expected at natural rates .

• We have entered the phase of the sixth extinction driven by man and regular extinction rates are 100 times higher than in the past.

• This is a major biodiversity crises wherein we are facing a fast acceleration of current extinction rates or a couple of centuries at current extinction rate for the current process to become a sixth mass extinction.

• Losing species will result in a fall in the “good standard of living.”

• Life on earth may soon reach a tipping point.

• Cost and economic losses of sixth extinction are manifold.

• Earth’s oceans and forests will lose untold number of species even before these are discovered.

• This will eventually push humanity towards extinction.

• Balance of nature and the food cycle will be disrupted.

• Due to loss of species, natural habitats will undergo change.

• The sixth extinction will harm biodiversity and create an imbalance.

Facts and Stats

• The Sixth Extinction, a book authored by journalist Elizabeth Kolbert has won the Pulitzer Prize this year for non fiction.

• Researchers have estimated that around 75% of animal species could be extinct within many human lifetimes.

• Scientists have estimated that in the past, species went extinct at 0.1 to 1 species per million species per year.

• The rate at which species are currently going extinct has accelerated far beyond this.
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