Scientists warn Earth on the brink of 6th Extinction

March 3, 2011 – With the steep decline in populations of many animal species, from frogs and fish to tigers, some scientists have warned that Earth is on the brink of a mass extinction like those that occurred only five times before during the past 540 million years. Each of these ‘Big Five’ saw three-quarters or more of all animal species go extinct. In a study to be published in the March 3 issue of the journal Nature, University of California, Berkeley, paleobiologists assess where mammals and other species stand today in terms of possible extinction, compared with the past 540 million years, and they find cause for hope as well as alarm. “If you look only at the critically endangered mammals – those where the risk of extinction is at least 50 percent within three of their generations – and assume that their time will run out, and they will be extinct in 1,000 years, that puts us clearly outside any range of normal, and tells us that we are moving into the mass extinction realm,” said principal author Anthony D. Barnosky, UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology, a curator in the Museum of Paleontology and a research paleontologist in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. “If currently threatened species – those officially classed as critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable – actually went extinct, and that rate of extinction continued, the sixth mass extinction could arrive within as little as 3 to 22 centuries,” he said. Nevertheless, Barnosky added, it’s not too late to save these critically endangered mammals and other such species and stop short of the tipping point. That would require dealing with a perfect storm of threats, including habitat fragmentation, invasive species, disease and global warming. Coauthor Charles Marshall, UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology and director of the campus’s Museum of Paleontology, emphasized that the small number of recorded extinctions to date does not mean we are not in a crisis. “Just because the magnitude is low compared to the biggest mass extinctions we’ve seen in a half a billion years doesn’t mean to say that they aren’t significant,” he said. “Even though the magnitude is fairly low, present rates are higher than during most past mass extinctions.” –Physics.org        75% of all life wiped outDaily Mail
 
Well, looks like once again… We’re ahead of the curve and saw this coming over the horizon. Learn more about the somber reality the world will wake up to a lot sooner than most realize.
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