World can end. Humans can be wiped off from the face of the earth. US study says our world entered sixth great MASS EXTINCTION
There is no longer any doubt: We are entering a mass extinction that threatens humanity's existence. That is the bad news at the center of a new study by a group of scientists including Paul Ehrlich, the Bing Professor of Population Studies in biology and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. Ehrlich and his co-authors call for fast action to conserve threatened species, populations and habitat, but warn that the window of opportunity is rapidly closing.
The new study, published in the journal Science Advances, shows that even with extremely conservative estimates, species are disappearing up to about 100 times faster than the normal rate.
The world has seen five recognisable mass extinctions till now and the final one wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.
"(The study) shows without any significant doubt that we are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event," said Paul Ehrlich, senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.
The researchers have warned that humans could be among the species lost as a result of the current mass extinction event.
"If it is allowed to continue, life would take many millions of years to recover, and our species itself would likely disappear early on," said lead author Gerardo Ceballos from the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico.
There is general agreement among scientists that extinction rates have reached unparalleled levels since the dinosaurs died out 66 million years ago.
However, some have challenged the theory, believing earlier estimates rested on assumptions that overestimated the crisis.
Using fossil records and extinction counts from a range of records, the researchers compared a highly conservative estimate of current extinctions with a normal "background" rate estimate twice as high as those widely used in previous analyses.
This way, they brought the two estimates - current extinction rate and average background or going-on-all-the-time extinction rate - as close to each other as possible.
"We emphasise that our calculations very likely underestimate the severity of the extinction crisis, because our aim was to place a realistic lower bound on humanity's impact on biodiversity," the researchers wrote.
Now, the specter of extinction hangs over about 41 percent of all amphibian species and 26 percent of all mammals, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which maintains an authoritative list of threatened and extinct species.
"There are examples of species all over the world that are essentially the walking dead," Ehrlich said.
About The Sixth Extinction
Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In The Sixth Extinction, two-time winner of the National Magazine Award and New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert draws on the work of scores of researchers in half a dozen disciplines, accompanying many of them into the field: geologists who study deep ocean cores, botanists who follow the tree line as it climbs up the Andes, marine biologists who dive off the Great Barrier Reef. She introduces us to a dozen species, some already gone, others facing extinction, including the Panamian golden frog, staghorn coral, the great auk, and the Sumatran rhino. Through these stories, Kolbert provides a moving account of the disappearances occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy; as Kolbert observes, it compels us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.