Mass Extinction

Arthur Chapman

Arthur Chapman

Several recent articles on EXTINCTION and Population Declines

John Timmer, writing for ArsTechnia:

At various times in its past, the Earth has succeeded in killing off most of its inhabitants. Although the impact that killed the non-avian dinosaurs and many other species gets most of the attention, the majority of the mass extinctions we’re aware of were driven by geological processes and the changes in climate that they triggered.

Unfortunately, based on the current rate at which animals are vanishing for good, we’re currently in the midst of another mass extinction, this one driven by a single species: humans. (And many of the extinctions occurred before we started getting serious about messing with the climate.) This week’s edition of Science contains a series of articles tracking the pace of the extinction and examining our initial efforts to contain it.
A comprehensive review of birds has identified hundreds of new species that have previously been lumped with known ones — and a quarter of the newly discovered birds are already being listed as threatened.

BirdLife International assessed the 361 newly recognized bird species on behalf of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). More than 25 percent of them were instantly placed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. About 13 percent of all birds are already listed.
The decline of various animal populations and species loss are occurring at alarming rates on Earth, contributing to the world’s sixth mass extinction. While these deadly events may ultimately pave way for the emergence of new species, Stanford scientists have warned that if this “defaunation” that we are currently experiencing continues, it will likely have serious downstream impacts on human health. The study has been published in Science.

Biodiversity on Earth is extremely rich at present; it’s estimated to be the highest in the history of life on our planet. But scientists have been recording species abundance and population numbers for some time now and it is evident that we are experiencing a sharp downward trend. While the extinction of a species is normal and occurs at a natural “background” rate of around 1-5 per year, species loss is currently occurring at over 1,000 times the background rate.

Reference: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

Extinct is less. It cannot be fully described with words. You must feel the loss to understand it. To feel the loss is what you will learn.