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Earth Entering 6th Mass Extinction

bsh1
Posts: 27,503
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11/15/2015 5:21:19 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Some new research suggests Earth is entering a new mass extinction phase [http://www.iflscience.com...]. This data is based on a comparison of normal species' death rates to current ones, and the results are troubling:

"Earth has entered its sixth mass extinction with animals now dying out at 100 times the normal rate, scientists have warned. Humans have created a toxic mix of habitat loss, pollution and climate change, which has already led to the loss of at least 77 species of mammals, 140 types of bird since and 34 amphibians since 1500." [http://www.telegraph.co.uk...]

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Akhenaten
Posts: 854
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11/16/2015 1:12:14 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
We are the new T-Rex. T-Rex ate all its competitors until there was nothing left but to start eating its own species. We will eventually get to that stage also, its just a matter of time.
RuvDraba
Posts: 6,033
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11/16/2015 6:51:19 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 11/15/2015 5:21:19 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Some new research suggests Earth is entering a new mass extinction phase [http://www.iflscience.com...]. This data is based on a comparison of normal species' death rates to current ones, and the results are troubling:

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It's not unheard of for species to change the biosphere.

Plants did it, for example -- repeatedly. They've caused massive climate and species change. Without them, we wouldn't be here. Insects too, have massively changed the flora and fauna of earth.

It's hard to see that we won't make continue to make biospheric changes. For me the issue is that we're making them unaware, unmanaged, unaccountably, and against our own species interests.

We won't seek to revert to a few hundred thousand hunter-gatherers, so our only alternative is to be responsible terraformers. This ignorant, in-between stuff is what's really dangerous.
RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
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11/16/2015 8:39:38 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
The study is from Paul Ehrlich, who has confidently predicted the end of life on earth about every 20 minutes for the last 40 years. His "The Population Bomb" was a big hit back in the 70s predicting worldwide economic disaster by the year 2000 due to overpopulation exhausting resources. Ehrlich's said in print, "If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000." He's not credible.

The specific study compares extinction in the fossil record to extinction as reported in recent times. To identify extinction in the fossil record, there has to be a continuous record of fossils for a species up to some point, and then confidence that there were none after that. But fossils are extremely rare, and new species are still being discovered in fossils. Also, most species are displaced by new species; mammals came to prominence after dinosaurs became extinct. So the creation rate of new species is as important as the loss of old species. There are about 8.7 million species currently on earth, few of them in the fossil record. An estimated 80% are still undiscovered. http://www.nature.com... Hence, Ehrlich has no reliable baseline. Many species could have come into existence and gone into extinction without any record.

With respect to mammals, Ehrlich claims a historical rate of one extinction of one species every 5000 years, now reduced about one every 45 years. But 300 new species of mammals have been discovered in the first decade of the 21st century. http://www.smithsonianmag.com... Apparently none of them were in the fossil record. See the problem? When the total numbers are unknown, calculating arrivals and extinctions is speculative.
beng100
Posts: 1,055
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11/16/2015 8:55:15 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 11/15/2015 5:21:19 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Some new research suggests Earth is entering a new mass extinction phase [http://www.iflscience.com...]. This data is based on a comparison of normal species' death rates to current ones, and the results are troubling:

"Earth has entered its sixth mass extinction with animals now dying out at 100 times the normal rate, scientists have warned. Humans have created a toxic mix of habitat loss, pollution and climate change, which has already led to the loss of at least 77 species of mammals, 140 types of bird since and 34 amphibians since 1500." [http://www.telegraph.co.uk...]

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Firstly its difficult to calculate if this is the case as many more species can be identified in modern times than through fossil records. It cannot be conclusively proven if more extinctions are happening now or there is simply more known species and therefore more known extinctions. Whatever the case in my view it is a minor concern. Extinctions have happened naturally throughout earths history often as a direct result of other species activities. Humans are just another species of earth and if the actions of humans lead to extinctions of other species it is simply a natural process. It is simply a normal part of the evolutionary process. It is of no concern to humanity whatsoever in my opinion. It could also be argued trying to prevent extinctions is actually more artificial and unnatural than simply letting nature take its course.